Is this thing on?

I feel sheepish.

Not, like, covered in wool and gnawing on grass.

No, more of a meek, foot shuffling, head down and askew, half-guilty-grimace-filled-with-hope-for-forgiveness kind of sheepish.

You see, I blather and blather about balance and doing important work and finding your purpose and all that.  Yet what do I do as soon as I get back to being employed?  Drop the writing habit like a brick.

Luckily I have great people to push me back on the path. First off I’ve gotta give huge thanks to my friend and multi-talented (writing / poetry / art / fashion and more) creative force DCT. She must have been just dithering around and happened to sketch out a scene from my Halloween trip to Howl with Fruit Cup:

Sketch 2014-02-10 05_36_16
What up, panda?

She has poked me with a sharpened stick a few times in the last couple weeks (with kindness and heart, no blood drawn yet, but a poke nonetheless) as a hint that I need to get back to writing.  When she sent me the picture above, it made me go back and re-read some of my past entries.  And that re-connected me to the feeling of being a little more in balance.  A little more connected to things that matter.  And I want to get back there.

Next I have to thank Trauma Queen.  Recently we made a pact to exchange stories every day.

Every.

Day.

This means I’ve got to crank out something on a daily basis *AND* share it with someone.  Which, frankly, seems a bit ambitious.  However, I’m reading the book “On Writing”, and in it Mr. King asserts that he writes for six hours every day.

Every.

Day.

So I think “ambitious” in this context deserves a little bit of comparison and level-setting.

So yeah: mea culpa and all that.  Back to the writing board.  As an opening submission, I present a conversation between an overweight middle aged runner and his inner critical voice:

______________________________________________________________
Don’t sit down.  Don’t do it.  You won’t get back up and you promised yourself you’d run today.  It’s after work, this is your only time.
Fine.  Fine.  I’ll get my shorts on.

Not your shorts.  You need tights.  It’s cold.  And… that other reason.
Really?  Tights?  I’ll feel like a stuffed sausage.  I’ll look like it too.
It’s the only way to ensure a good run.

There.  Tights.  Happy now?  Jeez-us.  I look ridiculous.
Yep.  Deal with it.  Also don’t worry, it’s dark out.  

I’m not doing this.  I’m putting my shorts on.
You did that on Monday.  Didn’t work out, did it?

What?  It was fine…
It wasn’t.  You stopped early.  You stopped because your thighs were rubbing.  Friction. Lots of it.  You were starting fires down there.  It was a like a boy scout’s camping practice.

Fine!  I’m wearing my shorts over the tights though.
Yep, that’ll help.  Nobody will notice that cover up.  They’ll all think “wow, look at that super-fit guy, he’s being all stylish with tights AND shorts.”

I’m going to ignore you now.
Good luck with that.

Alright.  Let’s do this.  Hit the toilet quickly, blow my nose, glass of water, then out the door.  Music on, running app on. First: up to Broadway bridge.  Cold out here.  I feel good actually!  Light, fast.  The night air is invigorating. Man, I’m glad I got out here.  The desk job just kinda takes it outta ya.  Really, just getting out is a success.

Holy crap, that’s some serious wind on the bridge!
Whatever, sissy.  it’s a light breeze, push through.  You are just getting started, don’t start making excuses.

No, seriously, this is some major headwind.  This is gonna add, like, thirty seconds on my per-mile pace.
The candy trough you feed from at work is what is putting thirty seconds on your time, fatty.

Crap, the wind just ripped my headphones out!  You can’t tell me this isn’t some crazy wind!
Fine.  It’s wind.  Deal with it.  Push through.

Man!  There go my headphones again.  This is craziness.
Don’t even THINK of turning back, fatty.  You aren’t even a mile in, this is no time to make excuses.

I didn’t think that at all!  Give me some credit.  I’m just sayin’: wind!

Okay, off the bridge.  This is better.  Man, I’m a bit winded already.  Hah!  Winded.  I kill me.
Yeah, you should probably go do stand up with that kind of material.  

Wow, Portland at night is stunning along the river.  Just fantastic.  This is why I run outside instead of on a treadmill.
You don’t run on a treadmill because you are a distracted monkey; without a shiny object to focus on, you lose the will to run.  

Not true!  I’ve run on a treadmill before and gotten quite respectable results.
Right.  Like back when you were marathon training.  You got up to sixty minutes on one, right?  How long were you doing on streets?  Two hours?  I rest my case.

Whatever.  I like running outside.  Fresh air.  Scenery.  Always something new.  Crap, what’s with all the traffic?  Aw man, Blazers game is on.  Weave through, take it easy…
Good thing you wore black.  Wouldn’t want people to be able to see you at night.

Do you have anything nice to say?  I think you should just shut up.
Not gonna happen.  I’m here because you lack discipline.

“You lack discipline!”  Ha ha!  Remember that old prank where some radio show sampled Arnold quotes and used them to play back when calling random people?
Ha!  Yeah; “who is your daddy, and what does he do?  You lack discipline!  It’s not a toomah!”

Oh man, that was good stuff.  Wonder what ever happened to those phone pranks?
We should look them up when we get ho- waitaminit, you’re distracting us.  Focus, monkey, focus!

Right.  Doing well.  Woah!  One mile already!  And at a really good average pace!  Even with stopping a few times in all that traffic!
Told you that wind wasn’t anything.  

Yeah, and I pushed right through.  Doing good.  Getting my second wind.  Okay, back down along the water now.  Man that’s a pretty scene: the lit buildings reflecting in the water, glittering skyline, just stunning.
Keep blathering, monkey.

You’re not a real fun guy, you know?
Not my job to be fun.

Right, you are all about discipline, huh?  Well, you are also kind of a soul-crushing goober.  Some positive encouragement could go a long way.
Aw, what’samatter, you can’t make it without a cheering squad?  

Oh shut up.  Not gonna listen to your negativity.
Sure you will.  ‘cause I get results.

Okay, just focus on the run.  One foot in front of the other.  Moving along.  Wonder if I can maintain that per-mile pace?  Should pick it up a bit.  Oof, my legs are feeling a bit tired.  Breathing is fine though.  Feeling good.  Doing fine.  Gotta be about 1.5 miles now, right?  Sure, time to decide if I take Burnside bridge or Hawthorne?
Well, you aren’t gonna hit 2 miles until you pass Burnside, so you really gotta aim for Hawthorne.

Really?  Well, I think I can do that.  I’m feeling tired, but I’m not beat.  I’m fine.  Four plus is my goal tonight.  And to improve my per-mile pace.  Woah!  That was the two mile announcement!  Nice!
Yeah, but you blew your pace.  That speed you had at the beginning?  Lost it all and then some.  Better pick it up, fatty.

Well that’s maybe because I had to wait at that one stop light.  That put on like, probably 10 seconds at least.
Uh huh.  And you blew your pace by, like, more than twice that.

Just chill, alright?  I’m out here primarily to put in some distance.  If I push too hard for speed I’ll crap out early.
Sounds like excuses to me.

Whatever.  I haven’t done a mile without stopping for traffic or some other reason yet.  This mile we’ll see what my pace is when I don’t have to stop at all.  Okay, Hawthorne bridge coming up.  Man, my gut doesn’t feel good.  I feel, like, bloated.  Ugh.  Lotta pressure down there.
Stop whining.  Keep moving

I’m going!  I’m just… I don’t know, things feel bad down there.  Like, almost like… Oh god.  Oh no.
Can’t be.  We went before we left.

Maybe it’s just gas.  We already took care of this before we left!  Can’t be anything more, right?
Don’t risk it.  Don’t do it.  

But, come on, it feels like gas, right?  All that pressure and bloating?  It’s gotta be just gas.
Stop it.  One foot in front of the other.  Keep moving.  Keep everything in.  If it’s gas it might subside.

I don’t know.  It’s not going away.  Maybe I should just chance it…
Don’t.  Do.  It.  This won’t end well.

But if it’s just gas, it will relieve all this pressure.  And I can’t really focus on my running with all this going on.  I’m gonna risk it…

Told you not to.
Fine!   You’re right!  At least I clamped it shut quickly.  I think only a little bit got through.

Great.  Just great.  Now you are going to have to stop even when you said this would be a mile with no stops.
I’ll push through!  I don’t think more than just a little… I don’t know… a tiny squirt got through.

Gross.  Ugh: fine, let’s just stop talking about it.  It’s disgusting.
Ooooh, Mr. negativity can’t handle a little toilet talk?

I’m critical, I’m not classless.  
Yeah, you’re joyless is what you are.  Regardless I think it’ll be fine.  I don’t feel like’s there anything wrong, just normal sweat…

You have no idea what’s going on back there.  And let’s stop thinking about it.
Okay, agreed.

Coming off the bridge now.  Back on Westside.  Man, that Deckard sure makes some good mixes; love these tunes.  Makes running that much more enjoyable.
Said the monkey with the shiny object.

You could take the joy out of Disneyland, couldn’t you?
It’s an expensive park with long lines of screaming children and fake sensibilities where you’ll pay money just to come away with a stew of airborne diseases.

Wow.  Just wow.  Oh hey, three miles!  And that was without any breaks!
Yeah, but your pace sucks.  Pick it up, fatty.  

Look, celebrate the progress, right?  Besides, I’m really working here.  Breathing hard.  Maybe I should take a break…
There you go.  The going gets hard and the fatty sits down.

No!  Not like that.  Just, you know, for like ten seconds, catch my breath.
And ten seconds turns to ten minutes and then you find yourself in line at Voodoo donuts.

Shut up, I don’t even have money with me.  Okay, I’m moving, I’m moving.  I’ve got this.  A mile with no stops behind me, get to mile four with no stops as well.  Holy crap, that’s a lot of people standing around!  Oh, they are all in running gear.  Must be a run club… yep, and they are starting right as I pass.  Great, keep up the pace, don’t wanna be consumed by the crowd…

Aw man! A train!  And the crew piles in behind me.  The lame part about a train coming around this bend is I have no way to see if it’s almost done or not.  The cars just keep coming.  So much for a run with no stopping.  Better pause the running app, might be here a while.  Oop, crap, here we go again!

Okay, I’m ahead of the crowd.  Wow, I’m totally ahead of the crowd.  I’m not THAT fast, what’s up?  Errr, wow, they disappeared.  Must know a route I don’t.  Okay, get across the road, then I gotta get around the train to get home, so up the steps to the train overpass.  Oh, man!  Stairs kill me!
That’s ‘cause you have a twenty pound bag of sorrow attached to your gut.

I know that! You think I don’t know that?  That’s partly why I’m out here.  Every step I take is helping to work that off…
And every time you dip into the trough of M&M’s at work you pack it back on.

Can’t disagree with you there.  Gotta stop that.  But gimme a break, they are there taunting me every day!  You know, studies show that stress depletes your willpower over time…
Great excuse to cave in and gorge on sugar.  “But ma!  The scientists said I had no willpower left!”

Okay okay, focus here.  Woah!  Four mile mark!  Nice.  I’m in the home stretch.  Boy I’m tired.
This is it.  You’ve got this final hill to get up.  Don’t stop now.  

I’m moving.  I’m going. I got this.  Pick it up, pick it up.  I can go faster.  I can do this.

What’s that?  Got nothing to say now?  I’m crushing this hill!  Hell yes, I’m up!  Now to cruise down to my apartment.
Gotta admit; nice job on that hill.  Didn’t think you had it in ya.

Thanks.  And thanks for pushing me on all the time.  You keep me honest.
I try.  You did good though.

WE did good.  We did real good.
Right.  Now let’s get to the bathroom.