feb 27/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
26 degrees
100% clear!

Windy today. Not too crowded. Sunny. My legs felt weird for a mile or so–like they weren’t quite working. Heavy, plodding. Listened to a New Yorker poetry podcast with a poet I just discovered (Craig Morgan Teicher) and felt like I was in a dream. Barely on the path, floating, cocooned in layers, unable to hear birds or trickling water or striking feet. The river was open. Stopped and admired it by the trestle. Then turned on my new playlist. No Daily Walker but a few others walkers, at least one biker. Felt fast in the second half as I flew down the hill by the lake street bridge. Sprinted up the final hill. Don’t remember much from the run. What a wonderful thing it is to lose myself for 30 minutes!

Before I ran, I had a great morning. Started by listening to part of an episode with Victoria Change on Commonplace. At one point, they discuss their shifts in writing in first and third person which got me thinking about my own choice, in my latest project, to write in second person. Why am I using you? Who is you? Found some very interesting essays on second person online: Stuck on You: an ode the second person and the intimacy of writing in the second person in a bar. Then I started thinking about how Mary Oliver uses you, like in Wild Geese (You do not have to be good/you do not have to walk on your knees…). Finally I thought about who the I and the You are in my project. One answer: I = Teacher self and You = Student Self.

After all of that excellent thinking, I checked out twitter and found these lines from the poem Tomorrow and Tomorrow Again/Craig Morgan Teicher:

One cannot lock eyes with a bird,
its eyes vacant as ball bearings, but
mustn’t there be some recognition
in everything?

eyes vacant as black ball bearings? What a great line that reminds me of my own about not being able to see people’s pupils: “soul less black balls”. I looked Teicher up and found his poem, “Eye Contact”. I wondered, does he have macular degeneration or some other vision problem? Couldn’t find anything, but he sure does like referencing blindness. His poetry collection from 2012 is titled, To Keep Love Blurry and check out the titles he gave his NPR end of the year poetry reviews: “Keeping the Dark at Bay” and “In the Dark, The Eye Begins to See.” Hmm…I need to study his writing more. At this point, early on, I can’t decide what he’s doing with these references to blindness–is it signaling his own experiences/preoccupations with blindness or is it serving as metaphor, where blind = dark = bad = shame = grief = loss = death?

Tomorrow and Tomorrow Again/ Craig Morgan Teicher

Of course I don’t know what
happens to us: if we survive in the
hands of love; if Cal, if Simone
and all the trembling answers
those questions entail; whether
by time or by disease or by
an atom bomb right in the eye. Is it
possible death could be thrilling
and fun? And after could there be
something somewhere and what
will we do if we see each other
there? Will the same songs stay stuck
in our heads? Will medicine
succeed in making life so long
we will beg for medicine to end it?
One cannot lock eyes with a bird,
its eyes vacant as ball bearings, but
mustn’t there be some recognition
in everything? Some fury, some
questioning? If one phrase could echo
throughout eternity, would the ear
on the other side return
a word? But what am I asking?
Will I ever see a whale, and will his size
compared to mine be a true
form of knowledge? Loneliness
has depths writing fails to fathom.
I could be clearer, say more, but
it wouldn’t mean as much. Mother
will I ever find you again? Is fear
of spiders fair? Is a power
above minding the scales, be it
science or gods or the weather,
and can they be tipped toward
balance from here? Is beauty more
than another form of pleasure?
What, which, when, how is better?

Eye Contact/ Craig Morgan Teicher

As if bees are known for their pride.
But what’s so great about horses? They’re stuck 
on the earth except when they jump,

but even then they’re not bees.
But is there anything we value so highly 
as streetlights, which, unlike bees,

watch over us with their swan-like
necks and open their eyes at the right time 
every night? The answer is lonely

and whoever among us is brave enough 
to find it will come home to a family 
that won’t even look us in the eyes.


2

But what’s so great about eye contact? 
As if a horse knows a newspaper 
when he sees it. Streetlights don’t live

in hives; they’re not more afraid
of us than we are, fortified by stingers and swarms. 
Bees don’t brighten the alleyways

in which we commit our most heinous crimes 
to keep things moving and fill 
the papers with news. Why don’t we have

a holiday to recognize the alleyways?
The answer is lonely and whoever
among us is brave will have nowhere to jump.


3

Why don’t we sing a song that makes 
the bees proud? What’s so great 
about desolate meadows? The answer

is lonely. Why don’t we come home 
and look at our family? Why don’t we 
designate an hour to brag about news?

What’s so great about the way the papers 
blow through alleyways in the evening 
like deflated rats? As if pride could

brighten the meadows at night. Whoever 
among us is brave enough to forgive
a family gets to make eyes with a lonely horse.


4

As if the answer is flowers. As if 
we could gather streetlights
in a bouquet from the alleyways

and brighten family after 
beekeeping family. But what’s so 
great about seeing the truth?

Beneath every meadow is the earth’s 
molten core, red and hot as an evil eye. 
Why don’t we blow through the streets

at night? The answer is lonely, even 
if a horse knows the way home. 
What’s so great about being brave?


freeze-thaw, a different perspective

added in a few hours after I first posted this entry: Scrolling through my twitter feed, I encountered this very helpful, perspective-shifting idea from Paul Huttner on MPR Weather:

Temperatures over the next week look perfect for gradually reducing snowpack across the Upper Midwest. Days above the thawing point will melt snow. Nights below freezing mean that snowmelt will gradually be released into area rivers.

This gradual release helps mitigate the early-spring threat of flooding. Wow! All this time, I’ve been cranking about how much I hate these freeze-thaw cycles. I’m glad to read that they’re helpful. I still might not like how dangerous they make the path, but now I can get over myself and think about how they help the river. What a nice opportunity to shift my perspective. And, as a bonus: it will be warmer during the day next week!

feb 25/RUN

3.3 miles
ford bridge turn around
40 degrees

(Not sure about my dictation project. I don’t like doing the dictation inside and I’m already home. Maybe I should try it when it’s warmer outside?)

Another cycle of melting in the afternoon, re-freezing at night, frozen in the morning, melting in the afternoon. This sort of ice, just barely frozen, is the slickest and most dangerous. So I waited to run until after noon, when it had melted–12:13, to be exact (according to my apple watch). Had the wind at my back heading south, giving me a nice push. Kept thinking about how the wind would be in my face when I turned around. And it was, which made it harder. Noticed several new dips and cracks and holes in the path near 38th street. All the freezing and melting and re-freezing is hard on the asphalt. There was a deep puddle on the double-bridge, right where it bottoms out. Luckily I could climb on some snow to avoid it. Encountered a few walkers on the path. Saw an adult and a kid sitting on a bench, surrounded by snow. Heard, and briefly saw (I think) a runner below me on the Winchell trail. Noticed the river, open and flowing. The path right by the Ford bridge was terrible, almost completely covered in a thin, slick sheet of ice. When I turned around, I put in some headphones and listened to a new playlist. Heard, “Eye of the Tiger,” “Bad Guy,” “Juice,” “Rock and Roll Ain’t Noise Pollution,” and “Let’s Go Crazy.”

Anything else I remember? I don’t remember hearing water gushing out of the sewer or kids at the school playground or music coming from a car or people talking loudly or geese honking or dogs barking. And I don’t remember having any deep thoughts or revelations. Did I?

Oh my god, this poem!

I want to read this book, and had requested it from the library, but I was unable to pick it up in time. I should request it again. I’m very glad that Our Poetica did a video of the text revealing itself as Diana Khoi Nguyen read it. So powerful!

Here’s another poem I found and copied into my green notebook on May 1st, 2019:

A Skull/ Dana Levin

is like a house
          with a brain inside. Another place
where eating
          and thinking
                     tango and spar—

At night
           you lean out, releasing
thought balloons.
           On the roof
                      someone stands ready

                      with a pin—

I’d like to put this poem and the idea of the skull as a house beside the two other poems with houses that I posted on feb 22.

feb 6/RUN

4 miles
river road, north/south
27 degrees
100% clear

1

Sun! Sun! Sun! Didn’t realize how much I was missing the sun until it came back and I was able to see shadows everywhere.

2

Heard the birds as I was heading to the river and thought about how clichéd it seems to mention chirping birds and then that I still like mentioning them and then how I wish I could identify birds better or had better words for describing their sound and then that the simple word, “bird” and the sound description “chirp” still give me a thrill so I’m fine not searching for fancier words right now. I’ll spend my time enjoying the sound of birds chirping. Of course, now that I have made this declaration I had to look up synonyms for chirp: cheep, peep, trill, warble, and purl. Purl fascinates me. So many definitions and room for synonyms! I always thought of it in terms of knitting, but it also can be defined as:

  1. a purling, swirling stream or rill (a gentle brook)
  2. a gentle murmur or movement (purling water)
  3. to make the soft, murmuring sound like that of a purling stream

3

Greeted Dave the Daily Walker. Admired the floodplain forest. No snow on the trees today, just carpeting the floor. The river had a few ice floes but was mostly open. Ran into the wind. It felt hard. Heard my breathing and my feet shuffling on the grit. Stopped for a almost a minute to put my headphones in at the turn around. Ran back a little faster. Sprinted up the final hill. Did I look foolish to the drivers? Why do I care? Forgot to look down at the ravine at the end of my run.

4

Trying to remember some deep and helpful thought I had as I was starting out. I remember thinking, “Oh, that’s good. I should remember that.” Now I can’t remember it.

5

Last night, driving on the river road in the winter dark of early evening, I noticed runners on the path, some running in packs, others alone. Some with headlamps, others with super bright reflective shirts. I said to Scott and my daughter, “I always say I would never want to run at night, that it would be miserable, but I also used to say that about cold winter running and I love it now. Maybe if I tried running at night, I’d love it too?” Then, Scott said, “But how can you run in the dark with your vision?” And my daughter added, “and because you’re a woman?” Sigh. A sad truth. My failing vision is a bummer, but I see my fear as a woman running in the dark by herself as much more of a burden/hindrance.

6

Randomly found this poem and I love it. I was drawn to the title, wondering what the hell it meant. Then the first stanza sucked me in.

I Heart Your Dog’s Head/ Erin Belieu

I’m watching football, which is odd as
I hate football
in a hyperbolic and clinically revealing way,
but I hate Bill Parcells more,
because he is the illuminated manuscript
of cruel, successful men, those with the slitty eyes of ancient reptiles,
who wear their smugness like a tight white turtleneck,
and revel in their lack of empathy
for any living thing.
So I’m watching football, staying up late to watch football,
hoping to witness (as I think of it)
The Humiliation of the Tuna
(as he is called),
which is rightly Parcells’s first time back in the Meadowlands
since taking up with the Cowboys,
who are, as we all know,
thugs, even by the NFL’s standards. The reasons

I hate football are clear and complicated and were born,
as I was, in Nebraska,
where football is to life what sleep deprivation is
to Amnesty International, that is,
the best researched and most effective method
of breaking a soul. Yes,
there’s the glorification of violence, the weird nexus
knitting the homo, both phobic and erotic,
but also, and worse, my parents in 1971, drunk as
Australian parrots in a bottlebush, screeching
WE’RE #1, WE’RE #1!
when the Huskers finally clinched the Orange Bowl,
the two of them
bouncing up and down crazily on the couch, their index
fingers jutting holes through the ubiquitous trail of smoke rings
that was the weather in our house,
until the whole deranged mess that was them,
my parents, the couch, their lit cigarettes,
flipped over backward onto my brother and me. My husband
thinks that’s a funny story and, in an effort to be a “good sport,”
I say I think it is, too.

Which leads me to recall the three Chihuahuas
who’ve spent the fullness of their agitated lives penned
in the back of my neighbor’s yard.
Today they barked continuously for 12 minutes (I timed it) as
the UPS guy made his daily round.
They bark so piercingly, they tremble with such exquisite outrage,
that I’ve begun to root for them, though it’s fashionable
to hate them and increasingly dark threats
against their tiny persons move between the houses on our block.
But isn’t that what’s wrong with this version of America:
the jittering, small-skulled, inbred-by-no-choice-
of-their-own are despised? And Bill Parcells—
the truth is he’ll win
this game. I know it and you know it and, sadly,
did it ever seem there was another possible outcome?

It’s a small deposit,
but I’m putting my faith in reincarnation. I need to believe
in the sweetness of one righteous image,
in Bill Parcells trapped in the body of a teacup poodle,
as any despised thing,
forced to yap away his next life staked to
a clothesline pole or doing hard time on a rich old matron’s lap,
dyed lilac to match her outfit.

I love the way the final stanza brings it all together. And I love the small deposit of faith and “doing hard time on a rich old matron’s lap, dyed lilac to match her outfit” and “But isn’t that what’s wrong with this version of America:/ jittering, small-mulled, inbred-by-no-choice-/ of-their-own are despised?”

jan 25/RUN

5.2 miles
franklin hill turn around
31 degrees
30-40% snow and ice covered

Hooray for great runs! Hooray for clearer paths! Hooray for strong legs and adequate knees and functioning feet! I wasn’t planning to run to the bottom of the franklin hill but I did. The path was not perfect–icy and slushy spots, but I didn’t fall or get too tired. Ran straight into the wind heading north. Had it at my back on the return trip. Encountered many other runners, a few fat tires. No skiers. A dog or two. Heard a few birds–no geese or crows. Glanced at the river at least once. Dark brown, then half white. Greeted Dave, the Daily Walker near the end of my run. I called out, “What a great day to be out!” Anything else? Forgot to look at the river when I reached the bottom of the hill, so I have no idea if it was moving and how fast.

One of my sisters posted a link to a gigantic list of collective nouns for animals. So cool! My favorite from the Sea Animal list: a shiver of sharks, a glint of goldfish, and a squad of squid, or a squid squad.

This has me wondering what a group of Saras might be called.

  • a satchel of Saras
  • a sink of Saras
  • a swarm of Saras
  • a swath of Saras
  • a swirl of Saras
  • a shiver of Saras
  • a nest of Saras
  • a charm of Saras
  • a stand of Saras
  • a squad of Saras
  • a sedge of Saras
  • a stable of Saras
  • a surfeit of Saras
  • a string of Saras
  • a school of Saras

Maybe I’ll try to work this into my poem-in-progress, the Saras?

jan 21/RUN

2.5 miles
river road, south/north
15 degrees/ feels like 0
50% snow-covered

14 mph wind straight in my face, running south. Wasn’t expecting it to feel so cold today, so I underdressed. No hat, only a bright pink headband that covered my ears. Felt sore and a little tired, but better after having spent some time outside by the gorge. The river was open and flowing. The path was mostly clear. Noticed at least 2 dogs and their humans walking the lower path–the one that I like to run in the summer. Encountered a few other runners, no skiers or bikers. No geese. One spazzy squirrel.

I love this poem. I love how listing what you love makes you want to love harder and more expansively, and so does reading someone else’s love list.

Love/ Alex Dimitrov

I love you early in the morning and it’s difficult to love you.

I love the January sky and knowing it will change although unlike us.

I love watching people read.

I love photo booths.

I love midnight.

I love writing letters and this is my letter. To the world that never wrote to me.

I love snow and briefly.

I love the first minutes in a warm room after stepping out of the cold.

I love my twenties and want them back every day.

I love time.

I love people.

I love people and my time away from them the most.

I love the part of my desk that’s darkened by my elbows.

I love feeling nothing but relief during the chorus of a song.

I love space.

I love every planet.

I love the big unknowns but need to know who called or wrote, who’s coming—if they want the same things I do, if they want much less.

I love not loving Valentine’s Day.

I love how February is the shortest month.

I love that Barack Obama was president.

I love the quick, charged time between two people smoking a cigarette outside a bar.

I love everyone on Friday night.

I love New York City.

I love New York City a lot.

I love that day in childhood when I thought I was someone else.

I love wondering how animals perceive our daily failures.

I love the lines in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof when Brick’s father says “Life is important. There’s nothing else to hold onto.”

I love Brick.

I love that we can fail at love and continue to live.

I love writing this and not knowing what I’ll love next.

I love looking at paintings and being reminded I am alive.

I love Turner’s paintings and the sublime.

I love the coming of spring even in the most withholding March.

I love skipping anything casual—“hi, how are you, it’s been forever”—and getting straight to the center of pain. Or happiness.

I love opening a window in a room.

I love the feeling of possibility by the end of the first cup of coffee.

I love hearing anyone listen to Nina Simone.

I love Nina Simone.

I love how we can choose our own families.

I love when no one knows where I am but feel terrified to be forgotten.

I love Saturdays.

I love that despite our mistakes this will end.

I love how people get on planes to New York and California.

I love the hour after rain and the beginning of the cruelest month.

I love imagining Weldon Kees on a secret island.

I love the beach on a cloudy day.

I love never being disappointed by chocolate.

I love that morning when I was twenty and had just met someone very important (though I didn’t know it) and I walked down an almost empty State Street because it was still early and not at all late—and of course I could change everything (though I also didn’t know it)—I could find anyone, go anywhere, I wasn’t sorry for who I was.

I love the impulse to change.

I love seeing what we do with what we can’t change.

I love the moon’s independent indifference.

I love walking the same streets as Warhol.

I love what losing something does but I don’t love losing it.

I love how the past shifts when there’s more.

I love kissing.

I love hailing a cab and going home alone.

I love being surprised by May although it happens every year.

I love closing down anything—a bar, restaurant, party—and that time between late night and dawn when one lamp goes on wherever you are and you know. You know what you know even if it’s hard to know it.

I love being a poet.

I love all poets.

I love Jim Morrison for saying, “I’d like to do a song or a piece of music that’s just a pure expression of joy, like a celebration of existence, like the coming of spring or the sun rising, just pure unbounded joy. I don’t think we’ve really done that yet.”

I love everything I haven’t done.

I love looking at someone without need or panic.

I love the quiet of the trees in a new city.

I love how the sky is connected to a part of us that understands something big and knows nothing about it too.

I love the minutes before you’re about to see someone you love.

I love any film that delays resolution.

I love being in a cemetery because judgment can’t live there.

I love being on a highway in June or anytime at all.

I love magic.

I love the zodiac.

I love all of my past lives.

I love that hour of the party when everyone’s settled into their discomfort and someone tells you something really important—in passing—because it’s too painful any other way.

I love the last moments before sleep.

I love the promise of summer.

I love going to the theater and seeing who we are.

I love glamour—shamelessly—and all glamour. Which is not needed to live but shows people love life. What else is it there for? Why not ask for more?

I love red shoes.

I love black leather.

I love the grotesque ways in which people eat ice cream—on sidewalks, alone—however they need it, whenever they feel free enough.

I love being in the middle of a novel.

I love how mostly everyone in Jane Austen is looking for love.

I love July and its slowness.

I love the idea of liberation and think about it all the time.

I love imagining a world without money.

I love imagining a life with enough money to write when I want.

I love standing in front of the ocean.

I love that sooner or later we forget even “the important things.”

I love how people write in the sand, on buildings, on paper. Their own bodies. Fogged mirrors. Texts they’ll draft but never send.

I love silence.

I love owning a velvet cape and not knowing how to cook.

I love that instant when an arc of light passes through a room and I’m reminded that everything really is moving.

I love August and its sadness.

I love Sunday for that too.

I love jumping in a pool and how somewhere on the way up your body relaxes and accepts the shock of the water.

I love Paris for being Paris.

I love Godard’s films.

I love anyplace that makes room for loneliness.

I love how the Universe is 95% dark matter and energy and somewhere in the rest of it there is us.

I love bookstores and the autonomy when I’m in one.

I love that despite my distrust in politics I am able to vote.

I love wherever my friends are.

I love voting though know art and not power is what changes human character.

I love what seems to me the discerning indifference of cats.

I love the often uncomplicated joy of dogs.

I love Robert Lax for living alone.

I love the extra glass of wine happening somewhere, right now.

I love schools and teachers.

I love September and how we see it as a way to begin.

I love knowledge. Even the fatal kind. Even the one without “use value.”

I love getting dressed more than getting undressed.

I love mystery.

I love lighting candles.

I love religious spaces though I’m sometimes lost there.

I love the sun for worshipping no one.

I love the sun for showing up every day.

I love the felt order after a morning of errands.

I love walking toward nowhere in particular and the short-lived chance of finding something new.

I love people who smile only when moved to.

I love that a day on Venus lasts longer than a year.

I love Whitman for writing, “the fever of doubtful news, the fitful events; / These come to me days and nights and go from me again, / But they are not the Me myself.”

I love October when the veil between worlds is thinnest.

I love how at any moment I could forgive someone from the past.

I love the wind and how we never see it.

I love the performed sincerity in pornography and wonder if its embarrassing transparency is worth adopting in other parts of life.

I love how magnified emotions are at airports.

I love dreams. Conscious and unconscious. Lived and not yet.

I love anyone who risks their life for their ideal one.

I love Marsha P. Johnson and Sylvia Rivera.

I love how people make art even in times of impossible pain.

I love all animals.

I love ghosts.

I love that we continue to invent meaning.

I love the blue hours between three and five when Plath wrote Ariel.

I love that despite having one body there are many ways to live.

I love November because I was born there.

I love people who teach children that most holidays are a product of capitalism and have little to do with love—which would never celebrate massacre—which would never care about money or greed.

I love people who’ve quit their jobs to be artists.

I love you for reading this as opposed to anything else.

I love the nostalgia of the future.

I love that the tallest mountain in our solar system is safe and on Mars.

I love dancing.

I love being in love with the wrong people.

I love that on November 23, 1920, Virginia Woolf wrote, “We have bitten off a large piece of life—but why not? Did I not make out a philosophy some time ago which comes to this—that one must always be on the move?”

I love how athletes believe in the body and know it will fail them.

I love dessert for breakfast.

I love all of the dead.

I love gardens.

I love holding my breath under water.

I love whoever it is untying our shoes.

I love that December is summer in Australia.

I love statues in a downpour.

I love how no matter where on the island, at any hour, there’s at least one lit square at the top or bottom of a building in Manhattan.

I love diners.

I love that the stars can’t be touched.

I love getting in a car and turning the keys just to hear music.

I love ritual.

I love chance too.

I love people who have quietly survived being misunderstood yet remain kids.

And yes, I love that Marilyn Monroe requested Judy Garland’s “Over the Rainbow” to be played at her funeral. And her casket was lined in champagne satin. And Lee Strasberg ended his eulogy by saying, “I cannot say goodbye. Marilyn never liked goodbyes, but in the peculiar way she had of turning things around so that they faced reality, I will say au revoir.”

I love the different ways we have of saying the same thing.

I love anyone who cannot say goodbye.

jan 20/RUN

4.3 miles
minnehaha falls and back
10 degrees
100% snow-covered

What a wonderful day for a run! Hardly any wind. The feels like temperature is the same as the actual temperature. The path isn’t too slippery or sloppy or soft. The sun is shining, the sky is bright blue, the path isn’t crowded.

Reached the river and turned right today. Briefly glanced at the oak savanna. Looked at the open water on the river. Noticed a big hulking mound of snow near a bench. A mutated snowman? Not sure. Listened to my feet crunching on the path, scratching more than usual because of my yaktrax.

The falls are mostly frozen with only a small stream of water still falling. A handful of people came to look, most up above by me, some down below, exploring the ice columns in the off-limits area. Heard the creek still moving–not quite rushing–towards the edge.

Heading back, I put in my headphones and listened to a playlist. Admired my shadow as she led me home. Looked up and saw a big bird or a plane–can’t remember which now–in the sky. Heard some geese.

Anything else? This run made me happy. I smiled a lot at the passing cars and the snow-covered trees. Also, I stopped at the double bridge and walked in the deeper snow of the walking path. Looked down at the ravine, then at the snow on the path which was so bright and white that it seemed blue.

Smells and Poetry, a few recent and one not so recent encounter

1. Pungency

Of course, I don’t want my children to have exactly the same childhood as I did: that would almost be a definition of conservatism. But I would like them to be assaulted by the pungency, by the vivid strength and strangeness of detail, as I was as a child; and I want them to notice and remember. (I’m also aware that worrying about lack of pungency is a peculiarly middle-class, Western affliction; much of the world is full of people suffering from a surfeit of bloody pungency.) from The Nearest Thing to Life/ James Wood

2. The Smell of a Thought

one thing i love about poetry is how thinking and feeling don’t need to be distinguished. a thought that is a strange passion, yes. a feeling that is a philosophical argument, yes. and both physical, sensory too. the taste of a feeling. the smell of a thought. a tweet from @chenchenwrites

3. Smells and Memory, an Exercise

Jot down some smells that are appealing to you. For each one, describe the memory or experience associated with that smell, making sure you bring in the other sense in your description. Write a poem for each smell. Do the same with smells you don’t like. from The Poetry Companion/ Kim Addonizio

4. Smelling the Entrails of a Failed Soul

What Nietzsche writes about bad air in On the Genealogy of Morals: “What is it exactly that I find so totally unbearable? Something which I cannot deal with on my own, which makes me choke and feel faint? Bad air! Bad air! It’s when something which has failed comes close to me, when I have to smell the entrails of a failed soul!”

jan 15/RUN

run 1: 2.5 miles
river road, south/north
21 degrees
50% snow-covered

Such a beautiful morning for a run! Not too cold or too windy. A few flurries in the air. I’m planning to go to stadium running tonight with Scott, but I couldn’t resist getting out by the gorge this morning. It’s supposed to be ridiculously cold tomorrow morning and then lots of snow on Friday. I need to enjoy the clear path while I can. Running south today, I was able to admire the oak savanna from above. Don’t remember the trees, just the bare white stretching out. Oh–and the sound of a kid laughing and an empty stroller parked at the top of the trail that leads down into the savanna. Looked down at the river and noticed the variation in color–a pale blue then brown. Realized the blue was a thin layer of ice, the brown open water. Is that right? I’m pretty sure, but I debated it for a minute in my head. I was too far away and moving too fast to be sure. Admired the beautiful curve of the retaining wall above the ravine near the 44th street parking lot. Thought about trying out a bit of the Winchell Trail but wimped out. Too much snow. Heard groups of kids out on the playgrounds of the 2 schools I passed, out for recess.

run 2: 3.25 miles
us bank stadium

Ran at the stadium with Scott. Again, not together, but at the same time and in the same place. Encountered a wonderful human in the elevator on the way upstairs. Long white hair, a ice skating/ roller skating skirt, cool rollerblades, a mustache maybe? Scott said he’s seen them roller blading by the river a lot in green tights. Not sure if I have. They got off the elevator before us, planning to roller blade instead of run. My younger self would have loved to roller blade (or roller skate) there. In 4th grade, way back in 1984, I was the roller skating queen of Salem, VA (at least in my own head). Went to the rink as many Saturdays as I could.

They were playing much better music today–“rock and roll ain’t noise pollution” RUSH, the Police–but I still ran with my headphones. Made sure to look down at the field, which was being prepared for an upcoming monster truck rally, and out the window at downtown. Realized why I hadn’t looked out these windows on Monday. It’s at the narrowest part of the route and I was too busy paying attention to not running into carts or other runners.

Not sure what the floor of the concourse is made of–concrete?–but it’s harder on the legs. The first mile felt awkward as I tried to adjust to the increased pounding my calves were experiencing.

Yesterday, I was skimming through Theodore Roethke’s book on poetry and craft and found these:

To day there’s no time for the
mistakes of a long and slow
development: dazzle or die.

Dazzle or die.

Are there dangers? Of course.
There are dangers every time I
open my mouth, hence at
times when I keep it shut, I try
to teach by grunts, sights,
shrugs.

jan 14/RUN

3.2 miles
trestle turn around
27 degrees
100% slushy loose snow-covered

It snowed a few inches on Sunday, a few more last night. Not enough to plow but enough to cause problems on the path. Wore my yak trax and that helped. Except for the bad stretch between the lake street bridge and the trestle. It’s always windy and the path is always covered. Nearing the trestle, my legs felt really tired from all of the sliding around I was doing. I stopped to take a break and put my headphones in. This seems to be a trend: running one way with no headphones, the other with them in. Not sure if I like this habit. It’s harder to listen to the gorge with headphones in.

the daily delight

Just after I reached the river, running on the bike path near the road, I heard a shimmering shaking sound as the wind blew roughly through some dead leaves on the trees closer to the gorge. It was my friends, the Welcoming Oaks! I imagined that they were calling out to me, “Hi friend, we miss you. When will you run on the walking path near us again?”

a strange image

With a quick glance down, the river looked like a brown wall to me. Flat and vertical instead of horizontal. So strange. Looking again, for longer, it stopped being a wall.

the daily walker

Perhaps the biggest reason I take note of and remember the Daily Walker is that he is always by the gorge walking. No matter what the weather. Usually wearing 2 long sleeved shirts and no coat. Rarely a hat. Since I started writing in this log, I’ve seen him almost every time I’ve ran. I admire his consistency and aspire to be him in a few decades. But there is another reason I take note of him: his gait. I’m not sure what happened to him–maybe he had a stroke?–but his arm swing–I think his left arm–is very exaggerated. It swings out wide. This swinging motion is how I can see that it is him. Without it, I’m not sure I would remember him. Even after passing him hundreds of times. I hardly ever remember faces anymore because I can’t see them clearly. I rely on other features–hair, clothes, how a body moves. As I near someone on the path, I always look for the tell-tale swing and I know it is him. Today he was there and we greeted each other.

A few days ago, I watched the short documentary, Notes on Blindness. Wow! Discovered that it’s been turned into a longer documentary and that it’s on Netflix. Cool. I’ll need to watch that soon. At some point in the film while discussing how we can’t see or remember his wife’s or kids’ faces, Hull asks,

To what extent is the loss of the image of the face tied up with the loss of the image of the self and with the consequent feeling of being a ghost or a mere spirit?

I can still see the outline of faces and haven’t lost my memory of ones important to me, but this idea of losing a sense of the self–at least a self beside other selves–because I can’t see faces, resonates for me. When I don’t recognize family members’ and friends’ faces, I feel less human, more spectral.

jan 13/RUN

3.3 miles
U.S. Bank Stadium

Did another stadium run with Scott. We didn’t run together, but ran at the same time, in the same place. There weren’t too many people there. Mostly groups of runners. What do I remember? At the start, it felt awkward, like my legs weren’t moving quite right. Slowly it got better. There is a beautiful view of downtown Minneapolis from all of the big windows. Pretty sure I didn’t look at it even once. Also didn’t look down at the field while I was running. Didn’t really look at anything. I do remember feeling strange and dreamy, running around an almost empty stadium. And like I was running a bit too fast around mile 2. Following (20ft behind) a woman in gray who was running slightly faster than me. Passing another woman in gray multiple times who was running way slower than me.

This weekend I got some great recommendations from twitter about vision loss, including Eye Trouble by Alice Mattison. She has macular dystrophy, while I have cone dystrophy. I appreciate how she writes concretely about her specific vision quirks and her feelings around them. I’d like to do this too.

Also, randomly on twitter:

A tweet about the relationship between wonder and urgency in socially conscious art. Does it have too much wonder, no urgency, no bite? Does it have too much urgency and no wonder?

And a recommendation for a podcast about noise called Field Noise: “Field Noise is a show about the role of sound in our everyday lives. It’s a show about people who make sounds and people who listen to them. It’s a show about music and noise and silence and the politics of those categories. It’s a show about how disability, gender, race, and class are central to what we think about as “technology.” And it’s a show that is very much still finding its voice.”

I love twitter for recommendations on essays, poems, documentaries. I dislike it for almost everything else–well, I also like the random threads when people share stories about their childhood. 10 years ago, I taught students how to use twitter and wrote/taught about its ethical possibilities. Now, I mostly think it’s broken and confusing. Why is it no longer in real time? Why does responding to a thread seem so difficult? Why is it the word count gone? And, of course, why is Trump not banned yet?

jan 12/RUN

4.2 miles
to the falls and back
17 degrees/ feels like 5
25% ice and snow covered

Reached the river and turned right instead of left and headed to the falls. Today the river was blue. Grayish blue. Steel blue. Maybe Copenhagen blue? I can’t trust my color sense these days. Sometimes bright pink looks yellow or green looks gold. Regardless of what color you would call it, I’ll stick with steel blue. Beautiful. A few less ice floes down here, south of the lake street bridge. The path was stained a chalky white, the hard frozen snow brown. Sometimes it was difficult to see what was clear and what was not.

The falls were wonderful. Reaching the far end of the park, by the benches and fountain with Longfellow’s “Song of Hiawatha” etched on them, I heard the dim roar of the falls still flowing. Rounding the corner, the roar suddenly became louder. I stopped at the stone edge for a minute and marveled at the frozen columns of ice and the water falling beside them. Put it my headphones, turned around, and ran home. Felt strong and happy to be outside on a clear path.

Did Rise/ Jessica Rae Bergamino

Did tear along. 
Did carry the sour heave 
of memory. Did fold my body 
upon the pillow’s curve, 
did teach myself to pray. 
Did pray. Did sleep. Did choir 
an echo to swell through time. 
Did pocket watch, did compass. 
Did whisper a girl from the silence 
of ghost. Did travel on the folded map 
to the roaring inside. Did see myself 
smaller, at least, stranger, 
where the hinge of losing had not yet 
become loss. Did vein, did hollow 
in light, did hold my own chapped hand. 
Did hair, did makeup, did press 
the pigment on my broken lip. 
Did stutter. Did slur. Did shush 
my open mouth, the empty glove. 
Did grace, did dare, did learn the way 
forgiveness is the heaviest thing to bare. 
Did grieve. Did grief. Did check the weather, 
choose the sweater, did patch the jeans 
worn out along the seam. Did purchase, 
did pressure, did put the safety on the scissors. 
Did shuttle myself away, did haunt, did swallow 
a tongue of sweat formed on the belly 
of a day-old glass. Did ice, did block, 
did measure the doing. Did carry. 
Did return. Did slumber, did speak. 
Did wash blood from the bitten nail, 
the thumb that bruised. Did wash 
the dirt-stained face, the dirt-stained 
sheets. Did take the pills. Did not 
take the pills. Cut the knots 
from my own matted hair.

Love the repetition of this poem and the relentless “did” only stopped on the second to last line. Love the telling of a story and the expressing of feelings through the mundane listing of what she did.