Month: October 2014

note to my shoulder

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Swanson Works Out

Dear tendons and joints of my shoulder,

Could you please get it together? I got stuff to do and you are really killing my vibe.





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It’s 7:30 p.m. and I am sitting in my car outside my gym after my work out, trying to decide if I can put off going to the store for one more day.

I talk myself into thinking I don’t need milk.

It’s almost 8 by the time I weave through traffic and climb the steep stairs to my house. It doesn’t take long to regret my decision.

I stare at my open cupboards. They are a smorgasbord of snacks: popcorn, chips, trail mix … marshmallows. It’s like storage space for an upcoming Girls Scouts camping trip. There is nothing in there of substance.

I squat in front of my fridge.

I really don’t want eggs again tonight, I think.

I stand up and survey my cupboards.

I squat and peer into my fridge.

This goes on for several rounds, as if I am on a teeter-totter by myself.

I do this little exercise more frequently than  I would like to admit. I don’t enjoy grocery shopping. And even when I do it I never know the right collection of items to buy for a week’s worth of full-course meals. That requires forethought and looking up recipes and, of course, money.

But this time, I can’t even eat cereal, the ultimate dinner cop-out, because I don’t have milk.

This is unglamorous side of living alone .


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dr office

The doctor’s, chiropractic and physical therapy offices must have all bought their ceiling tiles from the same place.

note to my fourth grade teacher

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Dear Ms. G.,

I always wished I could spiral perm my hair like yours. I wonder where you are now and what your hair looks like.

– A

10,000 steps

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I am focused on her feet in front of me. Sand and black remnants of lava crumble from each of her footprints as she takes another step upwards. Then I follow suit.

My lungs are desperately sorting through the air I breathe for molecules of oxygen, which are evasive at 10,000 feet. The summit is a jagged black promise across a field of snow.

Two days ago, I wasn’t sure if I would make it here. Three jobs were demanding a lot of me. Deadlines were looming. I was exhausted from a series of out-of-town excursions. I had worn out the same words praying for my dad’s health as he recovered from chemo. A stubborn injury and some health-related bills had left me disillusioned.  It’s too much, I thought.

But for some reason, I summoned the little bit of energy I had and got in my car and drove for hours. Past hay fields and mountain passes and tiny towns with rusty water tanks.

At the top we let our legs hang off a ledge while we eat bagel sandwiches and carrots and trail mix. We laugh, and I forget all about home. The air has a bite, but the sun on my jacket is warm. Peaks ripple below the tips of our shoes. And suddenly everything, even the things that had loomed above me days before, seems very small.

This scene is over-saturated with color in surreal proportions: the red of the rock, the blue of the sky, the teal green of a glacial lake. I’m drinking in the colors with insatiable thirst, as if they will somehow refill my empty reserves.

There is something intoxicating about the color and the air and the sun at 10,000 feet. And there is something refreshing about the 10,000 steps it takes to get there.


open road

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I’m driving barefoot, eating a packet of half-melted Gushers.

A podcast takes me on a journey, as the miles tick by. I am engrossed in the controversy described within a school board in New York, to the point I begin to outline the argument I would make if I spoke at that meeting. I think with righteous indignation: I am going to go there and tell them what a mess they are making, for the children! Of course, I am not.

Fields of brittle grass seem to hover unchanged on the sides of the highway. The road is unnaturally straight. Like someone took a chalk string, strung it out for 400 miles and snapped it on the ground, then built a road on that chalky line.

It’s funny how eight hours trapped in a small moving compartment can be so freeing. Electric poles sweep by methodically, setting a rhythm to the drive. My car’s engine is soothing, like a cat purring. A smokey smell wafts from the back, where my camping equipment sits in tangled heaps and pasted with dried mud and leaves.

A few hours earlier, tufts of fog twisted and glided between hills of caramel-colored trees. The sun sat glimmering between the mountains, just having peaked over the horizon. The road pitched up and down hills. How the scenery has changed in just a few hundred miles.

Now, the heat from the sun’s rays are bouncing through my windows, pushed back by the fervent work of my AC, as it breathes cool air through the vents.

I play a game of leap frog with a few familiar cars.

The haunting feeling of reality is settling in the closer to home I get. There, I will have to unpack and do laundry and buy groceries and do all the normal every-day things I do all the time.  I sigh. The more trips I take, the harder it is to return to normalcy.

For now, though, I’m content in my car, snacking and listening to conspiracy stories, contemplating the origins of such a stick-straight highway.


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Pristine water and winding trails and jagged mountains are my therapy.