rough, very rough, draft of almost nothing

He walks down the road thinking this foot hits that crack just below the toe but this foot hits that ice just above the heel and then he does it all over again, wondering if the cold against his face will get worse around the next bend because it’s just plain cold outside or if it will be warmer with more and faster stepping.

She walks down the path thinking the coffee in her right hand is doing the trick but her left hand in the pocket is colder but not too cold and really a little warmer than the outside of the hand that holds the hot coffee.

He wonders if his father could lend him just a hundred dollars but then how to pay him back. Maybe out of the next paycheck but that needs to pay rent water electric and the muffler is sounding bad but who needs a muffler if you don’t have the money for gas and what kind of mood will his father be in and what would be the best way to ask.  The right foot is far from meeting the next stick in the middle so he shortens his stride and almost makes a little hop.

She could light a cigarette but one hand will have to be cold then and the dorm is still three blocks away more than it takes to smoke a cigarette and really too far to walk with one hand really that cold considering her neck is also freezing.  She could enter the room quietly and let her roommate sleep but her roommate needs to wake up for her own good.  She has work to do and sleeping is just avoidance.  She would be doing her a favor to make a little noise even though it wouldn’t help the relationship at all because it’s a known and proven fact that she’ll get mad and say something mean even though she loves her roommate.

He sees her coming in his direction and looks up and down at the bumps of snow and back up and then down again.  Up and down and up and down.  The air in his chest cools because she’s the girl from that class who likes to answer questions.

She knows that he wants to be an actor but he’s really a singer and not much of an actor if only he knew it and now the cold wind moves from her neck to her cheeks.  He’s the boy from that class.

When they pass she almost smiles and he almost keeps his head down and then he grunts and says hi and she does smile and says hi.

“It’s cold.”

“No shit.”

“Going to get coffee.”

“Just got some.”

“Want some more?”

Her hands warm now and his steps weaving.  His dad could be okay and her roommate could need more catch-up sleep.

the smaller the space, the longer the walk

At the end of this month, I will complete my second year of walking 10k steps each day.

My record is nearly perfect, although I admit I’ve fallen a few steps short three or four times (and always compensated for it the following day).

I think all of these imperfect days were in 2009.   In 2010, the compulsiveness of the behavior has increased.

Most days, it’s quite easy to do.  Some days are more challenging.

Which brings me to my point — a profound, existential, obvious awareness:  the smaller the space, the longer the walk.

Last night, I had quite a bit of work to do and finished late.  I had two thousand steps to go.  Ordinarily, I would have walked down the street, or around the campus, or around the block — and it would have been a piece of cake.

But it was raining hard, so I walked around the couch many, many times.  Sure, there was TV — but it seemed to be a long ways.  And it seemed to take a long time.

Tonight, I walked in the mall while listening to a book.  There was a smattering of Christmas shopping in progress, which does offer some entertainment.  There are people to greet.  There’s the holiday merchandise to notice.  But it’s still a confined space that’s not all that interesting — and it makes for a fairly long walk.

When I’m outside, the 10 thousand steps fly by in no time at all.

The smaller the space, the longer the walk.

One could argue that 10k steps is 10k steps — no matter where — and that it’s the same amount of walking.  One could argue that it’s only my perception that is different.

But perception is all I’ve got — so I’m sticking to my story:  the smaller the space, the longer the walk.

I’m pretty sure this could be applied to all areas of life, but who’s got time for that?  Who knows, it might even be in the Tao Te Ching (although Lao-tzu certainly would have said it better).

Tonight, while walking, a gentleman remarked to me that it was cold outside.

“It’s getting down to 27 tonight,” he said.  “That’s cold!”

I agreed.  I was wearing a sports coat that was perfectly warm earlier in the day.  But the sun had set and it was no longer sufficient.

“I’m gonna freeze walking to my car,” I said.

cold weather
cold weather

This prompted me to look at the weather forecast on my phone for Fairbanks, Alaska — which is where my dear daughter, Sarah, now lives.

It was 22 below, and predicted to be 34 below later in the evening.

Reality has more to do with how we see things than with the things themselves.

It's nice to have Sarah home

My daughter Sarah, who we have not seen in almost a year, has navigated the highways and airways and airports between Fairbanks, Alaska and Salisbury, North Carolina — and is now home for a visit.

She’s presently taking a nap on our couch.  It’s nice to have her home.

When I first saw her, it didn’t take but a few minutes before I said what I say almost every time I talk with her:

“Why don’t you move back here?”

I know she enjoys her life there, and the good work she does as an advocate for battered women.  But is it a crime for a father to ask?  It’s a long ways to Fairbanks, and we miss her.

This time, my timing was off.  This afternoon, on September 24, it was 94 degrees.

“It’s too hot here,” she said.

She was sweating.

I had been out all day delivering papers, and I was pretty hot myself.

“This isn’t normal,” I said.  “It’ll cool off in a few days.”

“You don’t believe in climate change?”

I told her that of course I believe in climate change (not because I know anything about it, but because I believe the scientists know what they’re talking about, and I’ve seen some of the evidence they’ve put forth).

“But this isn’t climate change,” I said.  “This is weather.”

She said she flew over a lot of mountains that should have been snow covered that weren’t.

Christmas before last, she and my son, Aaron, took a trip to Israel together with the Birthright Israel program.  While they were there, the Gaza War broke out and dominated the news of the day.

At one point, Sarah sent me a text message:  “Aren’t you worried about us?”

Main Street Fairbanks in Winter

“No,” I answered.  “I worry about you in Fairbanks when it’s 40 below.”

This is not an exaggeration.  I check the Fairbanks weather almost every day, and it’s not that unusual to see a high for the day at -20 and low of -40.

That worries me.

Thankfully, things are supposed to cool here off this weekend.

It’s great to have her home.

ode to yoga

sometimes when I linger, out
feet are cold
can’t feel my snout

historic weather, so I’m told
neck is creaky
bones feel old

a pain in the foot, a little freaky
toe going rogue
nose is leaky

then I think of summer, hot springs in Saratoga!
get on my mat
and do some yoga

remarkable how one can wage
combat against one’s age

Winter poem

Why is poetry so hard to write
When the air is cold
and the sun so bright?

In the fragrant spring, it’s no big deal
And summer’s months
are easier still.

Perhaps the dark is too mundane.
The cold chills my bones
and even my brain.

12 things I like or don't like about this cold weather

Lately, it’s been pretty cold.  I’m not that surprised, since it’s January.

Things I like about this cold weather:
1. It’s North Carolina.  Even the coldest temperatures aren’t all that cold.
2. Feels that much better when it hits 65 degrees (soon).
3. Sort of crisp and bright and refreshing.
4. Makes a hot shower that much better.
5. Make a hot cup of coffee or tea that much better.
6. The air seems cleaner.
7. No worries about the fact that the air-conditioner in my car no longer works.
8. It’s cozy.

Things I don’t like about this cold weather:
1. Next month’s gas bill.
2. Exercising inside.
3. Waiting for the car to heat up.
4. Next month’s gas bill.

Buying a sweater

Interesting weather this week.

A ton of rain.  A ton of wind.  And then, yesterday, winter-like temperatures.

I was out, delivering our papers, when the temperature began dropping.  My sport coat and t-shirt were not doing the trick.

Stopped in at Goodwill and found a really nice Greg Norman sweater for $3.79.

A woman was there, also shopping the men’s sweater rack.

“This is perfect,” I said.  “My size. My color.  My type of sweater.”

It’s gray, and the material (don’t know what) is rather thin.

“I’m looking for an ugly Christmas sweater,” she said.

“You’ve got plenty to choose from,” I said.

And she did.  I’ve never seen so many awful sweaters in my life.

Had to wait quite a while to check out.  The attractive young woman with long red hair on the register was a bit on the slow side. She was taking forever to bag another customer’s items.

I had deliveries to finish, and she seemed to be getting slower and slower.  I admit I was getting impatient.

When she finally got done with the person ahead of me, I was, well, perhaps a little irritated.

She smiled, and diffused my anger quickly.

“Weren’t you a teacher?” she asked.

I was a teacher.  For 24 years.  Two years as a high school English teacher.  15 years as a middle school technology instructor.  And 7 years in elementary school, also with technology.  This was in a different city, and county — from the Goodwill store in which I was now standing.

It felt like it was in a different life.

“I had you in middle school,” she said.  “You were a good teacher.”

All of a sudden I wasn’t in such a hurry.

We chatted for a minute.

I see them often — former students.  It always makes my day.