169 tagged with #daily

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Colder Days

I've a reputation for stubbornly biking through any weather conditions, and the thought of having to rely on any other method of transportation often leaves me antsy and impatient; regardless, I've allowed myself to admit occasional defeat to the wind chill and the rapidly deteriorating condition of my snowpants, which were not designed with the friction of a bicycle seat in mind. I can hardly bear to decide to walk, knowing that I'm operating on an entirely different order of magnitude for transit times, but as soon as my boots hit the ground, the antsy thoughts are blown away.

There's a distinct place that my brain can afford to enter on a long walk, freed from the level of alertness required of any faster mode of transportation. When I know I have an hour during which I am not expected to do anything but keep putting one foot in front of another, my thoughts stretch out in a continuous line tracing from the door I've exited to the door I'm entering.

I wear an earphone in one ear when I walk, not wanting to silence the environmental noises while still trying to catch up on podcasts and old radio shows. The combination of flannel, nylon, wool, down, and the dry winter air forks a constant stream of static up the wire, popping against my eardrum and numbing my earlobes. It's painful and distracting, but I find no reason to avoid it.

Drivers stare at me for walking outside in this weather, and I wonder what motivates them to dig into their frozen cars just to drive a mile to the grocery store for a gallon of milk and half a dozen frozen pizzas. They can't be much warmer inside their cars than I am swaddled in winter clothes; my blood generates heat just as their internal combustion engines burn. I conclude that I'm just lucky to have learned to live without the burden of believing I need to drive everywhere, even though people seem bewildered that I don't accept their pity for my lack of a car.

29 January 2014 11:28

Spring Head

The cardio room stocks a pair of indoor rowers, placed next to each other in one corner. It's rare that I use one and am alone through my entire workout; it's hard to keep my own pace when someone else is rowing inches to my side. Usually, I outrow my partner, and usually, I go through several of them before I'm ready to quit. Yesterday, I was trounced, and it felt good. The chances of finding a spare rower are much higher than a spare treadmill, and the activity is much more interesting to me on a purely intellectual level. I have very little desire to row an actual boat, but the ergometer provides an interesting set of statistics to stare at.

I stretch on a mat that overlooks the lap pool, and remember the days when I swam thrice a week. I have never been a fast or strong swimmer, but one summer of stubborn grinding at least gave me the ability to spend hours paddling. A few weeks ago, I swam over a spring head feeding northern Florida's waterways, a crack in the bedrock thirty feet below the surface that pushed sixty-five million gallons of water out of the aquifer per day. I could sustain swimming into it, if not for the pressure that crushed against my ears.

I have never been a diver. The draw of swimming hard against the invisible current kept me hovering in place, twenty feet below the surface, the point at which I could not sustain the pain enough to keep pressing downwards.

My mother never realized I had learned to swim; my childhood swimming was characterized by floundering in place and never moving in any direction I intended. She was raised in the water herself, but I still swam circles around her when we were looking at the spring head. My father spent years as a lifeguard, yet was terrified to put his head completely under.

There are days when I realize I've exceeded my parents in some things, and those are strange thoughts.

28 January 2014 11:26


Howling winds wake me before 5, but it's racing thoughts that keep me from dismissing the weather and going back to sleep. It's late night hunger and a growing todo list and a fascination with the sound. It's the lizard brain feeling irrationally confused and upset by the winds that pulls me out of bed because of how useless an attempt to sleep feels. My head is a puppy in the hour before a thunderstorm, and when I decide to get out of bed far ahead of my alarm, my phone is full of weather alerts.

I've never seen wind like the wind in the desert, and every time the gusts build up I wait for the moment where the air itself has a character and a force, a solid object that presses against old window panes and crushes leafless trees.

The adrenaline rush is too much for me to go back to sleep, but fades by the time I finish breakfast. I walk to work anyway, knowing that a long day sits ahead of me.

There's a four foot long transperancy print over my desk of the treeline ringing Ethan Pond. In lieu of a window in my office, I have a campus weather camera running fullscreen on one of my desktops. The back of my office is a door that leads into the steam tunnels, and I have to turn up my music to drown out the constant thrum of machines. I don't actually want to drown out the machines; instead, they provide a baseline that remains constant no matter what my mental state.

The physical state of my office is not significantly impacted by the skies; my house is all empty space and long windows and I am never not aware of the strength of the sun at any moment.

I've covered the steam tunnel door with prints, scraps and tests, works in progress, abandoned student work, scraps of newspapers. I nail things to the wall so the room is cluttered and closed in; there are few things I can tolerate less than an empty white plane.

27 January 2014 13:33


Just over a year ago, I was given a pair of snowshoes as a Christmas present. This was especially cruel because a week afterwards, I boarded a plane to the Arabian Desert, where snow wouldn't happen.

My trail conditioning routine this past fall included a weekly roundtrip from my house to the top of the Cathedral of Learning with a 25 lb. sandbag in my pack. After a month of travels and getting fat on holiday food, I got back to training today. At the same time, I decided it would be a great day to break in the snowshoes. I have never been snowshoeing before. Perhaps I could have picked a day when I wasn't also pack-training.

I learned how to spot snow deep enough to make the snowshoeing worthwhile. I learned how to let my feet flex freely in the bindings while the webbing floated on top of gently packed powder. I learned to not stare at my feet, that getting all my feedback from feel alone would let me glide across the snowdrifts better than if I worried about where I was placing my boots.

There's an extra layer of feet beyond my feet, like I'm running on top of a net that follows me everywhere. I'd sink into the snow if I thought about the motion too much, like the cartoon character who plummets to the ground as soon as he realizes he's been running in midair off the side of a cliff. When I took a break from the pack weight and paced in circles around the golf course, it was like tiptoeing through clouds.

I never made it to the Cathedral. That building is there every weekend, but there is not always snow.

On the way home, a car I passed stopped so its driver could ask me if there was enough snow to go snowshoeing. My brand new snowshoes were strapped to my pack while I trudged back through half-shovelled sidewalks, but we were within sight of the golf course and snow dusted my pants up to the thigh. I gave him a quick rundown of the snow conditions, and as he drove away, I wondered why he didn't just go and see for himself.

26 January 2014 18:59

Cold Worlds

The wind cuts through my eyes and tears stream down my face; that same wind freezes a crust of salt onto my cheeks. I don't even flinch when a car passes me too close, window rolled down so the driver can lean over and yell "FUCK YOU" at me. I no longer bother expending the energy getting angry at motorists. It's too easy to get angry at motorists.

Inhale with your nose, exhale with your mouth; it's the old rule I still live by from high school winter track practice. The tissue is tinged pink from broken nasal capillaries. I am terrified every time I set a foot on the newly constructed porch steps, its posts encased with ice. I have already forgotten how rickety the old ones were after the drunk old woman who used to live downstairs backed into it twice a day for a decade.

The snow drifts down ceaselessly and I cannot help but smile whenever the wind penetrates through my clothing and chaps my skin. It has been years since I've felt such a satisfyingly pervasive cold; I miss the long, relentless Midwest winters of my childhood. I miss the allure of an ambiguous open snowfield, the world silent as if the planet was holding its breath. I miss the inky black skies that blend with the forking tree skeletons cracking the surface of those glowing white plains while the moon pushes sunlight back to us. We are never far from the sun so long as the moon hangs fat and full in crisp glass skies.

It's been a long time since I've felt that love.

25 January 2014 21:28

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