Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Coward. Dry Little Coward.

It's too rainy for my morning walk and, as a result, I'm jittery. I've only been walking for three weeks, but even this modest bit of exercise is mildly addictive. This is prescribed exercise. Last month during a routine visit to my doctor my blood pressure was up -- it had been creeping up over the last couple years -- and he told me get it down or get on medication. (My cholesterol rose last year, so this is his second warning.)

Now five times a week I am walking 3.2 miles at a reasonably brisk pace. It seems to be helping my BP, which is certainly lower than it was in the doctor's office and is now -- at least sometimes -- going below 120/70.

One needs one's little trick, one's little psychological sleight of hand to make the exercise regimen stick. Mine is this: Since I am on sabbatical and my days are essentially one long exercise in Brownian movement, I lock in the walk time by driving my wife to work in downtown Oakland and after dropping her near her office, parking the car in its own little City of Oakland parking space. This leaves me 3.2 miles from where the day began. What to do? What to do?

I walk home.


George Carlin and Robert Frost know all about the word "home."

Right foot left foot right foot left foot. Sing it out the way a man sings, mocking the beloved thing:

Ain't no use in going home; Jody's got your girl and gone. Ain't no use in feeling blue; Jody's got your sister, too. Ain't no use in lookin' back; Jody's got your Cadillac.
Sound-off (1-2) Sound-off (3-4) Cadence count (1-2 -- 3-4).

And so off I go listening to NPR on my earbuds, except when Bush comes on the radio and goes all "big weasel" at which point my First Amendment fingers turn over to some kah-razy KPFA. You want to know the route I take look at this little map. I walk east on 12th until I hit the south end of Lake Merritt and then I walk north along the east side, on under the freeway and through our little shopping district on Lakeshore and thence home. Once a week if I've been a good boy, I stop at the Colonial Donuts for an old-fashioned chocolate doughnut.

Once a week.

Let me just say this in all sincerity. Though the weather is occasionally rainy here between November and March, we live in the best climate in the world, mild lovely day after mild lovely day. Those of you back East or in the Midwest or down South live in hell and its various suburbs. The good news is that when you need exercise you can go to your local gym and climb in the big hamster wheel just as if you were in oh say the third circle of Dante's inferno.

Meanwhile, for about 357 days of the year I will be strolling by Lake Merritt. Look. There are a hundred canvasbacks floating on the water. A third of them rise and fly. And then another third. And then the last of them, dragging furrows in the water with their feet before they rise.

The egrets are poised at the water's edge. Out in the middle of the lake a single scull passes the whaleboat full of grannies, which is just what it sounds like: a group of women, their wispy white hair lifting in the breeze, who row a whaleboat around the lake.

Even the wino rises from his stupor in the grass at scenes such as this.

Addendum: By midday the rain had stopped. Though it was still cloudy, the sky dark and fraught with possibility, I set forth on a walk around the lake, which I completed only moments ago. It was not an unmanly thing to do.


Anonymous said...

They're called endorphins, nature's heroin. You've heard of runner's high? That is what it's from. Yes, very addictive. George Carlin is in the nut house now for addiction to substances not quite as wholesome as endorphins. Remember when it used to be called "mental exhaustion" when movie stars went to clinics to dry out? George will be feeling better soon.

Anonymous said...

You look like a guy carrying some weight. Get into walking and watch the knees go. Get one or both replaced, but it means four days in the hospital (25 grand each) and a nurse wiping your ass when it's shitty. (That's why hospital food is so bad, by the way -- the less you eat the less mess for them to wipe off). Your cholesterol is going up whaatever you do. You're from the south and the Europeans who settled there and wiped out the redskins get bad tickers sooner or later. Reminds me of a T-shirt I saw once. "Excerise. Eat right. Get plenty of rest. Still die."

Anonymous said...

The wino again! Give it a rest.

....J.Michael Robertson said...

Not the same wino. This is one of the lake wino's, not our neighborhood wino. Know you nothing of territoriality?

Anonymous said...

Some of the comments posted have offensive language. You should clean them up before you show them.