Poor Jud is Daid

I wrote this short play or the Lee St. Theatre upcoming evening of 10 minute plays on the theme “6 feet under.” Comedies about death. Alas, it wasn’t selected by Lee Street, so I thought I’d share it here!

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Walking 10,000 steps in Walmart

We’ve had some rain lately.

I don’t mind walking in some kinds of rain, but I’m not wild about the kind Forrest Gump calls “big fat rain.”  It’s just too cold.

So, the past two nights, I finished my daily 10k steps inside Walmart.

One lap around the interior of the store is about 900 steps.  Sometimes I detour through the aisles in order to bump the number to 1000.

Sometimes I listen to books.  Sometimes I look at the merchandise (a little boring after a couple of laps).

But I can’t help but to watch employees haul out the palettes and stock the shelves — and they do this a lot when I’m there, generally fairly late.

Walmart employees work very hard — and I’m wondering if they work a little harder when they see me walking and observing.

It occurred to me, this morning, that there may have been some people working there last night who thought I was in management, from corporate.

It’s not that I’m dressed well.  I’m not.  But I’m constantly walking and watching.

Last night, I saw a manager sort of raise his voice to an employee.  He was barking instructions on which part of the floor to clean first.

I looked at him, and he looked back — and I think he may have slightly checked his tone with that employee. I think he may have thought I was somebody.  I kept walking.

Of course, he may have just thought I was a pest, getting in his way.

I do have an imagination, and I’ve held an added fascination with Walmart ever since I read (or listened to, rather, while walking) Cheap, the High Cost of Discount Culture.  And, the mind can do funny things — and those inside walks do seem much longer and are certainly more boring than walking in nature.  So, it’s more likely that nobody even noticed me at all.

Hype for my new book of plays

cover of An Actor's Dozen
cover of An Actor's Dozen

This is the cover of a book I’m publishing.  Consider this the pre-publication publicity hype.

These days, with print-on-demand, self-publishing can be remarkably easy, and cheap.

It’s also possible, of course, to pay editors and graphic artists, etc.

But it’s nearly free if you do your own editing, typesetting, and design — and upload the files yourself.

Of course, then you get book covers that look like…this.

In a few days, this book will be available on Createspace.com, Amazon.com, the local bookstore (Literary Bookpost), the store at The Looking Glass Artist Collective, and from the trunk of my car.

The media blitz will be minimal — but so was the risk.

It didn’t cost me anything but missed sleep.

I seriously doubt any traditional publisher would have been interested in the least.  The cost is high and the market is small.

If nobody buys it — so what?  It’s stored on a computer and printed only when somebody wants a copy (except for the ones I buy, that will be in the trunk of my car).

If people do buy it, good for me.  I make a few dollars profit per book (instead of the tiny royalty a hypothetical traditional publisher would hypothetically pay, if they would hypothetically publish it ).

If anybody wants to read the plays for free — they’re all here, on the website.  Lots of people do every day.  There’s nothing new in the book other than the more portable form and a little more editorial scrutiny.

This is just to state the obvious:  publishing is really changing.

10,000 steps a day in 2009

my pedometer tonight
my pedometer tonight
pick-up basketball
Walking tonight: pick-up basketball on an empty Catawba College campus. Spring in NC.

Is it a habit?

An obsession?

Whatever – it’s a New Year’s Resolution.  And certainly the only one I remember fulfilling.

Pedometers are not new to me.  I’ve counted my steps for years.  When I worked in schools, I did a lot of walking – going to classrooms to troubleshoot computers and hoofing it around the computer lab itself.  My feet got tired.  I got in a lot of steps.

When I stopped teaching and started my own business, Coffee News, I delivered the papers and got plenty of steps that way. I once got over 17,000 steps delivering Coffee News.  But that was only a couple of days a week.

I eventually hired people to deliver and now spend my time with sales, layout, and ad design.  Sitting.

When business slowed this past fall (as did everybody’s business), we let lapse our lifelong membership to the YMCA.  Wasn’t using it much anyway.

My exercise used to be tennis.  I’ve spent much of my life on the tennis court – playing and teaching.

About ten years ago, for various reasons, that stopped.

There were many injuries:  knee, elbow, shoulder, feet, wrist, neck, back.  I’ve had surgery, shots, wraps, drugs – and plenty of heat and ice.

I played a lot of tournaments, and spent a lot of time playing with my son.  He got better and wanted to have a little more fun.  He wanted harder hitters and competition.  And, like me, he didn’t like competing hard with his father.

My father was my best practice, and about the time my son didn’t want to play with me my father was forced to stop playing. Often, when my dad and I got on a tennis court, the first rally would last so long that he’d say, “Well, you want to call it a day or hit another ball?” It was a valid question. We had hit so much with each other over the years that we rarely missed.  Neither of us had to run.  We didn’t need a bucket of balls or even a can.  We could have easily used one ball.

When his health declined and he stopped playing, I stopped.

Thus, I noticed last year I was getting a little sedentary.  I was getting five or six thousand steps a day, or less.  Sometimes much less.

On New Years Day, I made a resolution to get 10,000 steps a day in 2009.  The economy seemed to be shot.  Why not get in shape?

I admit my feet were a little sore the first couple of weeks.  I’ve only bought one pair of shoes since then – and that was for $12 in the mall, during my walk, on an impulse.  They are completely shot now and I need a new pair soon.  I procrastinate with shoes like I do with haircuts, and with steps.

Some days, I walk to the drug store, or grocery store, or coffee shop, or convenience store, or knock around town calling on businesses.  These steps add up.  A short walk in the evening completes the 10k.

Most days, I walk to my mother’s house.  Sometimes two or three times.  That’s 1200 steps, round trip.

If I sit around all day, the evening walk is fairly long.  Usually, I use the Catawba Nature preserve.  If it’s dark, I walk around the campus.

Sometimes I put the dog in the car, go downtown, and walk there. Once, I walked to the theatre downtown, and back home.

In bad weather, I’ve done my share of walking in the mall, Walmart, and Lowe’s. Boring.

I think I’m in better shape than my dog.  She starts to drag after about twenty minutes, sometimes lagging a hundred yards behind.

But she certainly enjoys every moment — the anticipation, the walk itself, and the aftermath. The highlight of my day is looking at my pedometer and contemplating a walk (I don’t even have to say anything anymore).  She starts to smile, jump, and whine with excitement.

She used to dart after the deer.  She doesn’t try anymore.  She knows she doesn’t have a chance.

On warm days, she takes a swim.  Or two.  Or three.

There have been a few days when I didn’t feel like it – but not many.  It’s basically become a part of my day, like brushing my teeth or making coffee.

Often, I procrastinate.  At 11:30 pm, I pull myself off the couch take a few laps around the Catawba campus.

A few times, I’ve gone uptown for a beer before finishing the steps.  I’ll drink one, walk around the block, and return to the bar.

One cold night, I walked a thousand steps inside Brick Street Tavern. This would have been embarrassing, but it was such a slow night at the bar (Robert Jones, Bobby — the bartender — and maybe a couple other people).

The night Obama spoke to both houses of Congress, I had had a busy day and recorded only six thousand steps.  I wanted to watch the speech and all the talking heads blather afterwards.  That night, I put in four thousand steps walking around my couch, watching the new President.

Sound crazy?  Hey — a goal is a goal.

No, I haven’t lost any weight.

Question is, what about 2010?  Do I increase the goal to 11,000?  I’ll be older, but I certainly don’t want less than 10k.  Maybe I should increase the goal to 12k and then decrease by one thousand when I turn 60 (seven years from now) and then down to 10k when I’m 70.  That should keep me in decent shape for a while.

The great thing about walking is that it’s easy to be consistent.  There aren’t many injuries and you can even do it when you’re a little sick (although I haven’t been sick).  I did have a tooth pulled and took hydrocodone.  I may have walked a little slower that day, but the buzz was rather pleasant.

I find that walking is the most productive part of my day.  Either I’m thinking, which is good.  Or not thinking (better).  I’ve listened to some great books on my iPhone.  I’ve grown to appreciate my neighborhood and taken lots of pictures. I’ve enjoyed my wife, my dog, communed with deer, beavers, herons, geese, turtles, frogs, trees, flowers, grass, water, vines, streets, students, neighbors, parking lots, and sidewalks.

Don’t know where this will go – but at least I know I’ve found my post-tennis sport.  Except it’s not a sport, I don’t think.