Monday, July 27, 2015

Rhythm Romance With My Shoes

My favorite running shoe.  Thank you nice
person at Brooks who sent them to me after
the Trance knocked me out of commission.
A serious ankle roll as a result of last winter's phenomenal amount of snow fall in Boston left me sidelined for far too long this year.

About four weeks ago, I began running again.  I've been enjoying going out for my run/walks (.25 miles run/.25 miles walk/repeat) and my pace is finally starting to pick up a little.  Four miles is starting to become comfortable again.  I'm finding new spots along area rivers to explore.  It has been an enjoyable cycle this time through.  Even in Ohio last week running along the marshes of Lake Erie near Sandusky was enjoyable (except for when I ran down a hiking trail and through a spider web that had me squeal and shriek like a 5 year old).

Today's run started with an old Nils Lofgren song "I Came to Dance" from the disco era.  It's one of the few from that time period that I still remember and love.  It's a song about an artist and his manager arguing about commercial viability vs artistic integrity.  The artist declares he's having a "rhythm romance with my shoes" as all he wants to do is make music that makes people dance.

That's how it felt today, I was having a rhythm romance with my shoes.  Moving in time with a nostalgic playlist from that around that era, to the sound of the coach on the launch yelling to the rowers through his bullhorn, to the movement of the cars and other runners.  Today was definitely about rhythm.

It wasn't an easy run but it was an enjoyable one and that's all I ask for these days, to enjoy my running.  If all goes as plan, I should be running the Tufts 10k in October this year.  After that I want to stay in at least 10k shape with a regular 7 mile run.  Until then, when I'm out running I will remind myself that I came to run as I continue my rhythm romance with my shoes.

If you don't remember the song (or weren't around for when it came out) here's a reminder:

Friday, July 3, 2015

Camp NanoWrimo Day Three: On the Road

Last week Bunny worked up the courage to go on an adventure with Boar.  This is the beginning of the adventure.

On The Road

“I’ve never been on a ferry before, is it scary?” Bunny asked nervously.  He tried to wriggle down into the bag a little more.

“You’ll enjoy it,” Boar said with a smile, “besides, I promise I won’t leave your side.  It will be fun.”

The whistle blew and Bunny shuddered.

“Do you want me to tell you about having a cappuccino in Milan again?”

“I think that would make me feel better,” Bunny whispered.  “It makes me feel better to know I’m with an experienced traveler like you.”

“Stick with me kid and you’ll be fine.  So here I was in Milan, sitting on the table in a cafe...” he began.  Bunny closed his eyes and listened to Boar’s tale of strong coffee and sweet pastries before boarding a train in Italy.

Bunny could smell the salt in the air and the rhythm of the boat was beginning to lull him to sleep a bit.  Snuggling up to Boar he felt a little less timid.  He woke up when he felt a gentle nuzzle on his ear.

“Open your eyes and take a look.”

Bunny saw the most amazing thing,  In front of them was nothing like water.  A bit of foam formed a line across the water, much the way he imagined lane markers in a pool would mark the shallow from the deep end.  Here, the ocean was saying, “You’re entering the deep end.  You must be on a boat this big to cross this line safely.”

The boat powered through the line past a pair of rocking buoys.  On one side of the boat, Bunny could see the outline of the shore.  Sail boats skipped across the choppy waves in the bright sunlight and hearty breeze.  Greedy birds wheeled around in the air above them, circling slowly looking for food and crying out for a little attention in hopes someone would take pity on them and toss a morsel to them.  The steady thrum of the engines drove the boat forward in the water towards a far point barely visible in the distance.

“I like the wind in my ears,” Bunny admitted.

“It’s a good day to be at sea,” Boar responded.  “If it’s too much, let me know and we’ll sit inside for a little bit.  The sun may feel a bit hot and there’s no shame in taking shelter.”

Bunny angled his face into the wind and let out a happy sigh.  He felt free sitting on the railing with Boar a bit back from the nose of the ferry.  

“I’m ready to go in Boar,” Bunny said finally when the sun began to feel a bit too warm on his face.

With a silent nod, Boar lead the way where they sat on a table while the woman sipped from her water bottle and drew in her book.  

“I hope you’re enjoying the ferry Bunny,” she smiled before she went back to her drawing.  

Looking over Bunny noticed she had drawn a sketch of him and Boar together.  He liked the smile on his face.  He noticed Boar was in a slightly defensive stance, shielding Bunny.

“Are you enjoying the trip so far?” Boar asked him.

“I am,” Bunny murmured, “traveling with a friend makes all the difference.”
Boar smiled to himself.

“Good, then you should be good if we stop for lunch after we reach the shore.  I bet our humans can find a good salad for us.”

Bunny nodded.  It wasn’t long before he heard the whistle blow again and he felt himself scooped up and put back in their bag with the sketch books and things.  Once they were in the car, he took them out and put them on dashboard with the car bears.  The car bears were a group of four bears: Always, Eggy, the Pirate Captain and Bruce.  Bruce was a small tan bear with a heart in his hands, the Pirate Captain had an eye patch and big black pirate hate.  Always was the largest, he was about the same size as Boar and carried a red rose.  Eggy was small, like Bunny, and he was nestled safely in Always’ arms.  

Bunny noticed there was a small window, just the right size for him so he could feel safe while enjoying the view outside pass by.

Eggy and Bunny spent a long time talking together as they were both a bit timid.

“Sometimes the Pirate Captain has a drop too much rum,” Eggy whispered conspiratorially to Bunny.  “When that happens, he gets a bit gruff but otherwise he’s a perfectly splendid bear to travel with in the car.  Bruce can get a bit emotional.  Always is my best friend.  He keeps me safe.”

“Boar is my best friend and he keeps me company so I won’t be so scared all the time.”

“It’s nice to have a friend like that, isn’t it.

“Perhaps we can travel together too for a little bit?”

“I would like that.”

Bunny looked back out the window at the big houses and green lawns as they traveled along the road.  It wasn’t long before they stopped and he knew it wouldn’t be long before he would be scooped up and put into the bag with Boar.

“Don’t you want to come Eggy?”

“We’re good in the car.  Don’t worry.  This your adventure Bunny, not mine.”

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Camp NanoWrimo Day Two: Bunny

I know I"m going to be writing and illustrating a number of stories about Bunny and Boar (with occasional visits from Mike and others).  But I wanted to figure out who Bunny was and I realized that he is actually very shy.  Last week he and Boar came to New York with me because he had always wanted to go on an adventure but was too scared.  Boar helped him be a little bolder as they rode the ferry, visited the Cloisters and, later, Manhattan.

This is more of a getting to know Bunny as a character study than a story really.  But it is another 780 words in the books (so to speak).


Bunny sat in the tin bucket with all the other small animals.  

He was a shy creature by nature, so whenever someone came by to look through the bucket at the stuffed animals, they tended to go for the bolder animals.  

The pigs with wings - sold out.  

The big bunnies with a little carrot sewn to their paws.  Flying out of the bucket like there was no tomorrow. 

The ducks with squeakers inside.  Gone.

Then there were the hand puppets.  They were soft and cuddly and could hold a full conversation with someone and then snuggle up like a stuffed animal.  The best of both worlds.  They took longer to sell as they were a bit pricey.

Some of the animals left with men, some left with woman.  Most left with children in various states of behavior.  

Some children were screaming, “But I WANT it!!!” and a tired adult sighing with a “Whatever,” response.  

Some of the children were quiet and had an animal forced on them by an adult.

It didn’t matter as he watched as the other animals disappeared one by one while he just moved deeper down into the tin bucket wondering if anyone would ever want a shy, yellow bunny.

Then he felt a hand on him.  The man who grabbed him put his nose up against a woman’s nose.  She had kind eyes.

“Hello,” the man said, “wouldn’t you like to take home a bunny.”

“It’s a yellow bunny,” she replied. 

Bunny liked her smile.

“You know you can’t ask me if I want to take home a bunny and then not let me take him home.”

“Not me Lord,” he said with a long exasperated sigh, “the woman you gave me.”

“Yeah!  I have a bunny!  I have a yellow bunny!” she exclaimed.

He enjoyed riding around with the vegetables and fruit as they moved up and down the aisles.  Every so often she would smile and talk to him before putting him back to add something else to the cart.  At the check out she looked at him.

“You’re going to come home with me and meet Boar and Mike.  They need a someone to play with when I’m at work.”

Bunny began to worry.  He was, after all, a timid bunny.  The other animals had pretty much ignored him in the bucket, even the other bunnies. He wasn’t sure about how other animals would receive him.

At home he met Boar.  Boar was a bit bigger than him.  He was tough and had two tusks that pointed in slightly different directions.  Mike was a red dragon with golden wings, about the same size as Boar.

“Who are you?”

“Now Boar, don’t be a boor!” Mike said as Bunny joined them on the table.

Boar looked at Mike.

“Pardon me,” he said sarcastically, “might I inquire as to who you are?”

Bunny trembled a little.

“You poor thing, don’t be frightened.  I’m Michael and I normally live in the car.  I like feeling the wind against my wings and going to new places.  Boar may look and act a bit gruff, but he’s really rather nice once you get to know him.”


Mike laughed.

“So who are you little one?”


“Well Bunny, why are you here?”

“I don’t know.   I’m kind of... well, you know... I’m a bit shy really.”

Boar laughed.  It was a hearty, friendly laugh.

“If you are here, then that means she saw something special in you.  I am Boar.  She found me in Tuscany.  Boars are hunted there, I don’t know why as we are actually rather nice critters.  No one wanted me because my tusks aren’t even.  That’s why she wanted me to come home with her, because she said they gave me character.”

Bunny looked at Mike questioningly.

“So why am I here you wonder?  Correct?”

Bunny nodded.

“I suppose lots of reasons.  There are many thing that aren’t quite perfect on me.  Mostly because I am a car dragon.  I help protect her as she drives around, but sometimes I like to come inside and play because it can get a bit lonely out there.  I like Tek, he’s a good car but, well, he is a car.  He is full of good stories about his travels.  He has been to a lot of places and has many stories to tell.  Sometimes he prefers talking to the other cars when we’re parked in a lot, and forgets I’m there.  I think I hate those moments the most.”

They sat in silence for a moment.  

“What’s your story?”

“I don’t have a good story.  I’m just a little bunny.  All the other animals found homes long before me and now I’m here.  But I’m really just too little for most everything.”

“You’re just the right size,” Mike smiled, “to be a friend.”

Bunny began to relax.

Boar snuffled.  

“It will be good to have someone when Mike is in the car.  It can get a bit lonely in here too.”

The three sat together for a moment.

“So this is what it feels like,” Bunny said.

“Feels like what?”

“Why wanted of course,” Bunny replied.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Camp NanoWrimo Day One

I wanted to write a series of short stories for Camp NanoWrimo during July, so I started just doing a bit of a brain dump to get writing.  I got 1500 words in when I realized I set a 1,000 word goal, not the 1600+ goal of November.  I guess that means I can slack a little on a day that feels a bit stressed.

Thoughts on a New York State of Mind

After all the rain on Saturday and early fog on Sunday, Monday dawned bright and cheery.  Preparing for a day in Manhattan was a careful process:  what comfy shoes could I wear that looked “normal?”  Which bag(s) could I carry that didn’t scream tourist?  Should I wear normal headphones or my Pinkie Pie over the ear don’t f with me headphones?  How do I figure out where I’m going without looking like I’m lost or a tourist?

In other words, how do I look like I belong so that I blend into the background?

The day started with me boarding the Long Island Rail Road at the Syosset stop to head into the city.  The train was about half full of mostly commuters.  Hipsters dressed in suits that still screamed, “I’m unique like everyone else dammit!” but still looking like they were wearing the grown up clothes mom bought for them for family events. Then came the corporate types in their serious clothing.  
There was the scattered set of tourists and ladies who lunch types as well.  Me, I was styling my jeans and middle aged fat girl “slenderizing” tunic top, NaNo Messenger bag and the don’t F with me Pinkie Pie headphones.  Sitting next to a hipster on the train with the largest cup of Dunkies I could get my hands on, I kicked back and relaxed.  

Of equal importance, my soundtrack for the day.  Because of my mood, I started with Reel Big Fish’s “Hiding in my Headphones,” and hit the “radio” button to get the ska mix going that would be my underlying soundtrack.

Hipster boy looked up from his tablet long enough to see the headphones and go back to his electronic version of New York Newsday and I caught up on my email and social media on my phone as we rolled along.  I also used that time to map my destinations.  I knew I wanted to go to the Moleskine stores in NYC and just see what happened in between.  The decision: start in SoHo or Columbus Circle?  I was close to the end of my current notebook and needed a new one and I wasn’t sure if one would have more selection than the other.  The train ride convinced me to start at Columbus Circle as they were open.  Yes SoHo would be open by the time I walked there, but Columbus Circle was already open and it was at the entrance of Central Park.

As we rolled into Penn Station, I set up my map feature with walking directions so that I could discreetly find my way when Siri would pop on every so often to tell me when to turn or hold steady with no one else the wiser.  As I started down 8th Avenue, I noticed a woman I dubbed, “Yoga Woman.”  She was silver haired in capri length yoga pants and comfy shirt with the Gaiam bag and mat over her shoulder bustling down the street.  I followed her down the street when I detoured into a Starbucks for a few minutes.  As I started back down 8th, I noticed her just ahead of me still.  I figured she was my guide, so I followed her almost all the way to Columbus Circle.

Arriving at the Time Warner Building, I was excited to head up to the Moleskine store where I met an enthusiastic clerk.  He understood that Moleskine nerds came to visit all the time.  He told me if I visited the other two stores, they had different stamps and that the company was negotiating on a property to open a Boston store.  We talked about paper weights, he flipped through my watercolor sketches of Boar and Bunny from the weekend and helped me pose them so I could take a picture of them stamping my book.  It was a fun experience before I headed off to explore Central Park for a bit.  

Sitting at the Columbus Circle fountain, I sketched Boar and Bunny looking at the water towards the park and watched a commercial being made before heading across the street.  Just inside the interest was the official map to Central Park, so I figured for $2 I could have some fun.  The girl pointed me towards Strawberry Fields and I figure I knew how to avoid the parts Law & Order taught me to be scared of and meandered up the path.  When I found the GhostBusters building on the west side, I figured I had gone too far and chose to walk along the street instead of in the park.
At Strawberry Fields, the tourist were lined up to take photos of the Imagine circle.  A lone guitarist sat on a nearby bench playing Beatles songs with a sign on his case saying, “Out of work, anything helps.”  

I took Bunny and Boar out of my bag and placed them carefully on the Imagine circle (much to the dismay of many tourists in line behind me) and took their picture.  I quickly scooped them up and moved to a bench - unlike many of the disgruntled tourists who were upset at me setting up my shoot.  Sitting on the bench listening to the guitarist, and the next person who declared it would soon be his turn to play, I quickly sketched out the photo I just took into my notebook and moved along.  
I haven’t taken a pedicab since San Diego years ago, so I figured what the hell?  The driver only charged $2 a minute and I knew it would only take him a few minutes to get back to Columbus Circle, it was worth it for me.  I snapped Bunny and Boar in the “safety” net (more like a map pocket) and laughed at his thickly accented lame jokes tailored for tourists.  He showed me photos he took of himself with celebrities like Susan Sarandon and JLo.  As we rolled into Columbus Circle, I gave him $10 and an Asian couple sat there waiting and wanted to pay him for an hour.  
It’s all good. 
From there I hopped the C train down to the Village.  The day before had been the Pride celebration and the Village looked like how most of the celebrants must have felt.  Rainbow flags hung askew from windows and crumpled over sills or railings.  The sidewalks waiting to be hosed down matched with rainbow smears of food and drink that made encore appearances after celebrating a bit too much.  I carefully skirted the smears and wandered a bit past bars offering lunch choices as they aired out from the weekend and the overpriced luncheon options at the fancier places.  I crossed the imaginary line into SoHo.  I knew I crossed it because it was as if an imaginary “rainbow free zone” sign were hung at the border and the boutique shops of the well heeled began to appear one after the other in neat rows.  
By now it was almost one o’clock and my stomach was making itself known.  Stopping into a little lunch place, I grabbed a Proscuitto and talegia sandwich with a strawberry-rhubarb jam that was actually rather tasty.  I was able to plug my phone in and recharge the battery and took a picture of Boar and Bunny with the oversized Linzer cookie (there’s always room for cookies).

It was time to move on and I found the SoHo Moleskine store.  The two clerks in there were equally as pleasant and understood the nerd factor.  They had some of the collectible notebooks that the Time Warner small store didn’t have.  Bunny and Boar played with the stamps.  Bunny loved the “I’m a traveller” stamp because, this adventure story was all about Bunny climbing out of his shy place to be more adventurous with Boar’s bolder temperament to guide him.  Boar chose the West Broadway and Spring Street stamp because he was more about being in SoHo than traveling in the moment.

At least, that’s what their story will be about.

I spoke with the clerks about my paper issues.  I showed them how my fountain pen now bled through the paper and why that sort of pissed me off.  We looked at how my watercolors would shadow through a page as well.  The best they could offer was that Moleskine had adopted an environmentally friendlier acid-free paper.  The result was perhaps it was a bit lighter as a result.  I selected a couple of limited edition notebooks, an Alice in Wonderland and a Hello Kitty, even though neither had a gridded option.  I decided that Alice would be good for my summer notebook.  I did a little holiday shopping while I was there too.

Looking at my watch, it was time to say good bye to New York and grab the C train back to Penn Station and wait for the Acela back to Boston.