because nothing’s happening, that’s why!
(I’m not happy about this!)
because nothing’s happening, that’s why!
(I’m not happy about this!)
So I was in Brooklyn, New York to see a little fellow, but I had to get some miles run, so I laced up on Sunday (when there was a break in the otherwise wretched weather) and headed out. I had a destination in mind, of course. About a mile and a half from my grandson’s apartment is the Green-Wood Cemetery.
It looks like a beautiful place, but they don’t let people run in there (and the security guard reminded me of that as I entered, though he told me there was no “jogging” allowed). I only went in (walking) as far as the magnificent entrance gate, which you can see the top portion of above. (The sky was an overcast white, but the photo turned out pretty good.)
Green-Wood is home to a number of notable people, including Basquiat, Boss Tweed, Leonard Bernstein, and Horace Greeley, but that wasn’t why I dodged people, strollers, cyclists, cars, and pigeons to run there. Instead I wanted to see the monk parrots.
Green-Wood’s most famous newest residents are a thriving population of monk parrots, native to South America and now established in Brooklyn. There are a few urban legends as to how the birds got there, but regardless of their veracity, they are there and famous. (I’d even heard of them out in the Midwest.)
Alas, the parrots were somewhere else when I ran there. (I expect I’ll be making future trips to Brooklyn.) What I did get to see was their massive nest at the top of the cemetery’s entrance gate. Can you see it above?
Here is a crop from the first photo. The darker snarl near the top is the nest of the monk parrots. The view from the other side of the gate is better, but the contrast was bad; the image was washed out.
As I said, I expect to return to Brooklyn, and the 6.55 mile route I ran on this day is pretty good (with a nice half mile downhill finish). I’ll run it again. Maybe I’ll see the actual parrots then.
Note: This post is in my “let’s diversify this tired old blog” category.
At this time of the year, when shadows are long, there are occasional periods when the season loosens its iron grip and allows a series of warm, sunny days. And when that happens, I generally lace up and head out on the trail.
The community where I live has created a series of interconnected trails, mostly along streams that cut through the area, that walkers and bikers and skaters and skateboarders and runners can use. And they do.
We’ve had a string of warm days lately, and that’s meant that I’ve been turning away from the treadmill to run outside on the trail. In the photo above I am on the Indian Creek Trail, right at mile post 10, which is about two miles from my house. The ICT happens to run through my neighborhood, and the distance from my front door to the nearest access points is only .6 miles (downhill going that direction). I can go east or west from there and depending on my ambition, I may take the flatter route to the west or the hilly route to the east. (Since I’m observing Drynuary, I am not running to sports bars in either direction on this trail to meet my wife and rehydrate as I had before. And since I also expect February to return the iron grip of winter, I may not be out on the trails much then to run to the sports bars.)
I’m told (but have not personally verified) that you can, if you make the correct turns at the correct points, cobble together a full 26 mile loop on these trails, ending where you started. Part of that would involve running along much of the Tomahawk Creek Trail as well as the Indian Creek Trail. I generally find my way to the TCT on Sunday mornings (alas, three miles from my house to the closest access). Then, purely coincidentally, I finish five miles further at a salad and sandwich shop where my wife is waiting for me. I want to keep her company, so I generally allow myself a salad and iced tea (unsweetened, of course).
The trails are well maintained. In recent years, some kind soul has started painting white stripes to mark each quarter mile. (When I’m looking for an excuse to take a break, I can tell myself I’ll run to the next quarter mile marker. And then when I get there, I usually push to go to the next one.) Parts get resurfaced so that, I’m guessing, the entire route either gets new asphalt or new sealer once a year passes. (I don’t mind the new asphalt, but the sealer can by slippery underfoot for a few weeks. It also covers the quarter mile markers.) In some cities that the trails pass through, they will even plow away the snow. (Not my community though. I don’t mind running on snow, but it soon enuf turns into ice, which ain’t no fun.)
The mile post you see above is on the Tomahawk Creek Trail. The mileage there — an odd 2.2 measurement — is the distance from there to the end of the trail, where it connects with the ICT. Alternatively, it can also be taken as the distance made since the beginning of the trail if you’re going thataway. I don’t know why they put a mile post at 2.2 miles, but there is also one on the Indian Creek Trail. In that case it measures the distance to (or from) the state line betwixt Missouri and Kansas. (There are organized runs of 2.2 miles. I don’t know the significance of that distance though.) The salad and sandwich shop happens to be about a half mile in on the Missouri side, just off the trail. It makes for a good Sunday long run, though I need to start grabbing longer distances.
I’ve been thinking for a while that I should broaden the scope of this blog to include bits of my life that are not about my (sputtering) writing efforts.
I have been posting accounts of the races I’ve run, and they seem to be appreciated. (Here’s a link to all of them.)
I’ve also started posting some things about this little guy:
(He’d just had his bath, and his hair was out of control.)
So in the spirit of diversification, let me share with you a non sequitur I experienced recently.
I was at a table with a man maybe ten years older than I. I’ve known him casually for a dozen years. He’s a nice enuf guy, but his orbit is far different from mine, so we don’t have much in common. This man is something like a business consultant. He travels the globe, telling companies large and small how to run their businesses. His advice is apparently much liked because he lives well and has many nice things. (Cars, homes, clothes)
This man was telling me the latest hiring advice he was giving his clients. He said that when an applicant came in for an interview, the first thing you should ask the person is what time it is. Likely he/she will either look at the watch on his/her wrist or pull his/her phone out of his/her pocket. And this man went on to say that if the applicant referred to a cell phone for the time, don’t hire the person!
Why is this?
Well, it seems there is a body of thought that says people who have watches on their wrists — and so in their faces much of the time — understand the passage of time better than those who must pull time out of pants pockets or purses. You can count on the former to BE ON TIME and the latter to have a lackadaisical attitude toward promptness.
He was absolutely serious about this assertion.
It has its appeal. It gives the interviewer an easy answer to a tough decision. And it has the scent of old-time work ethic-ness. Such easy answers, such sweeping generalizations are why advertising and religion work so well. They tell you what to buy, what to think, whom to hate, and so forth. You don’t have to think for yourself, at least about complex things like human interaction and morality.
Of course it’s bogus.
Before the advent of the cell phone, not everyone was absolutely prompt. I suspect the ratio of promptness to lateness was no different fifty years ago than it is today. (I don’t wear a watch, and I am chronically early.) Furthermore, many people I know with cell phones have them in their faces far more than they have their wrists in their faces. They have more ready access to the time than their counterparts.
And what would the hiring manager conclude if the applicant pulled a pocket watch out of a waistcoat pocket to check the time?
On the advice of several of you kind folk, I have stepped away from the Fathers and Sons stories for a while and begun my epic struggle with the unrelated story “Icarus” that I’ve mentioned here once or twice.
I’m not abandoning the Fathers and Sons stories. Over the weekend I tinkered with the two latest, shoring up this and that, finding stronger words, making ideas more clear. I think they’re in pretty good shape, and now I will let the collection simmer for a while. This seems to be an effective means of development for me. Thoughts will continue to come to me about them, thoughts that will sharpen and focus them. And I’ll probably drop in a few times just to put down whatever my latest brilliant thought is. If enuf critical mass develops, I may even start work on a totally new F&S story. (There are at least four more I must write.) If that happens, it will be a good thing; if it doesn’t, that won’t be bad either.
As for “Icarus” I feel as though I have made a good start on it. I worked on it for two hours on Saturday and wrote a whopping thirty-four words! I’m not being sarcastic. I think that was good.
I’d been making notes for this story on Google Docs (I think they call it Drive now.) I even wrote perhaps a thousand words of the story there. But it is evidently the wrong context for me. I look at the screen and the layout and all of that, and it isn’t conducive. I need Word (which I’m sure Microsoft is pleased about). I had intended to use Google Docs because I could access the story file from any online computer (read: at work) and be productive as inspiration struck. But I’ve found that I need the silence and solitude of my early morning sessions in my cozy writing room at home. That is the context I’ve created for my creativity. (I hope that doesn’t sound precious and self-indulgent; self knowledge is supposed to be a good thing.)
So I re-began “Icarus” over the weekend, in Word, not consulting the file of notes I have on Google Docs. I think (hope, wish, intend) I need a fresh start to the story. I think I started down the wrong road the first time, and I fear that if I go back even to peek at it, my thoughts will get stuck on that road. There are certainly parts I’ve already written that I’ll use in my new effort, but I’ll do so with a clean perspective.
Regardless, “Icarus” is going to be a tough story to write. (Hence the adjective “epic” above.) I’ll probably have to step away from it a few times as well.
Confounding all of my need to focus is this little matter:
Little Ken is now at home with his Mom and Dad (and dog, Crusher) in their tiny apartment in Brooklyn. I’ve been subsisting on the photos my daughter posts online, marathon texting sessions, and a few wonderful Facetime meetings. My wife and I will be going to New York in early February so we can meet the little guy in person. (I may also run a half marathon while I’m there depending on the weather.) I don’t think Little Ken will be talking or crawling by then, but I’m certain he is about as clever as they come, and I won’t be surprised by anything.