project 223

A wasted youth is better by far
than a wise and productive old age.
— the prophet jim steinman


The facts as we know them:

1. Meat Load died.

2. Mo made meat loaf for dinner last night.

3. Louie Anderson died.

4. I avoided dinner tonight.

5. And now I’m craving Meat Loaf GU. Remember the old days when they made GU in good, basic flavors as opposed to today’s Caramel Macchiato and Cucumber Mint? Sure, the meat loaf wouldn’t come out of the little packet, but you could get an occasional squirt of ketchup if you stomped on it. 20 mg of caffeine AND 20 mg of meat loaf. ROCKET FUEL! I blame the lack of this stuff for my plummeting speed in my golden years. No idea why they’re golden years. I feel kind of tin canny.

6. The cormorants were back at the bird loop today. This makes me happy. I wonder if GU makes a cormorant flavor.

7. Mo came up with the solution for the weird hours. Little runs before and after work. Perfect. This is why I married her. Besides, of course, the meat loaf. And her spectacular bike crashes. Also, she’s a babe. No, no idea why she married ME. Sympathy, most likely. I’ll take it.

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project 224

sleep all day, out all night
I know where you’re goin’
— the prophet joseph fidler walsh

Above is an essay I wrote in the third grade. Yes, I had remarkable penmanship for a 4-year-old, or whatever age third graders are these days. Even as a young whippersnapper, I knew that I was not a fan of mornings or my mom’s beef liver, even with ridiculous amounts of ketchup. I did NOT know what a copy editor was at the time, or that I would eventually become a rabid runner, or that the world would need to be saved, or that catsup can be spelled two ways and would set off violent food fights among copy editors for many decades.

Mostly I needed an essay on deadline, and I had already written my “Ode to Why Paul McCartney Will Someday Destroy the Beatles” enough times that the teacher was on to me.

The rest, as they say, is history. I worked 3 p.m. to midnight, allowing me to lace up the Nike Waffle Trainers at 10 a.m., the exact point where the human body acknowledges that physical exertion might not be a bad thing, particularly if there are pancakes involved afterward.

I continued for many, many, many years. I was a clockwork 10 a.m. runner. Actually a Casio 10 a.m. runner, followed by a Timex 10 a.m. runner. When I had a career-ending injury that required me to switch to cycling, I formed the 10 a.m. Cycling Society with a couple of guys from work. When I got bored with cycling and switched back to running, still 10 a.m.

And then.

I still work for morning newspapers, but because of the changes in modern journalism and God’s ongoing efforts to make me miserable, I have become a Day Person. I now begin work in the morning, making my a.m. run impossible unless I start before my morning Cheerios, which is Not Going To Happen.

And that’s how I found myself on the bird loop in the dark tonight.

It was OK, I guess. I was tired and crabby and not feeling it, but maybe it’s an acquired taste. Like liver. And the Light Saber Boys were wreaking havoc on the basketball court, so there was entertainment.

Just 3 miles of strolling. Sign me skeptical. Maybe better start setting the alarm clock. Or buy a light saber. Damn McCartney …

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project 225


If you don’t have a challenge, find one.
— the prophet sheehan

She lies down in her spot by the window, basking in the morning sun. For a fleeting moment, she’s a kitten again.

It’s her traditional morning abode, the place where she passes the time lazily before it’s time for her noon nap. Watching the hummingbirds streaking past, the dogs who occasionally saunter by, the doves looking for any Dave’s Killer Bread that might have made its way onto the patio.

Life exists in the mind. She’s painfully old, limping from room to room when she finds the energy to get up, hanging on as we continue to set arbitrary deadlines (just hang in there until Christmas! That’s all we’re asking! Umm, New Year’s! Valentine’s! Independence Day! Don’t forget how much you love the industrial fireworks next door at the Air BnB!) She hasn’t been out here in a couple of weeks, content to stay in the little cave in the bedroom. Until today.

Lying here, looking out on the world on a warm morning, she’s feeling no pain, even if it’s only for a short while. She’s the same free spirit she’s been for 17 years, stretching out and crossing her paws, eyeing her prey, napping contentedly in the sun.

I’m thinking about her during today’s run. I’m on on the old Kleiman track in Mesa, a dirt oval I frequent while Mo is making dog growlers (dog growler, get it?) at the arts center. The old track has a gash in lane 3 these days where someone thought it would be a good idea to drive on just after a storm. A track from the old days before they got so fancy that they were locked up and nobody could use them anymore.

My mind drifts back to the old days at the Washington High track, those endless loops when I was young and dumb and invulnerable. Running hasn’t changed much over the years. My body has gotten older and my watch fancier, but it’s still the same. It’s just running.

I’m flying (relatively speaking) along at 13:30 pace, almost keeping up with a woman casually pushing a stroller with a slacker kid. Run the straights, walk the turns. Run the straights, walk the turns. Repeat as necessary.

I know how the Baby Kat feels. Running on a sunny day, I’m feeling no pain, even if it’s only for a short while. I’m the same free spirit I’ve been for 65 years, stretching my legs, eyeing that stroller up ahead, trotting contentedly in the sun.

A homeless guy comes by pushing his life in a shopping cart, putting things in perspective. I’m a lucky guy. Married to my best friend, hanging on for dear life to a cat who just signed a contract agreeing to hang around until Halloween (cats can’t read calendars all that well), and I’m still able to do the thing I love most in the world, moseying around in circles while my mind goes on vacation.

For a brief moment on a dirt track in a sketchy neighborhood in a town in Arizona, I’m a kitten again.

I have my challenge. Project Zero. I can do this.

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project 226

one more time around (might do it)
one more time around (might make it)
the day i tried to live
just like you
— the prophet cornell

I could have gone faster, but the guy with the slow sign had a flag, which seemed pretty official.

How do you do something you can’t do?

How can you not?

The important thing is to have fun. And today was fun.

It’s a start.

Now I just need to look for a finish.



If you’re stuck outside of Phoenix
I won’t stop to kick your crutch
But I’ll say that this was nowhere
And that might be saying too much
Oh well
— the prophet babb

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the cursor blinked where her mind was

Some people were very excited
to care about Russia again.
Others were not going to do it
no matter what. Because above all else,
the Cold War had been embarrassing.

Not just the ideas, but the jeans.

— Patricia Lockwood, “No One Is Talking About This”

Having shown up late for work yesterday, BK arrived today at precisely 2:30 p.m., exactly making up for the time I had docked her yesterday.

Mo rewarded her with the good stuff. She may or may not have noticed the meds smuggled into it.

I gave her butter and jam from the pancakes Mo was inspired to make by a New York Times article on Plain Pancakes vs. Fancy Pants Pancakes. I assume ours were Fancy Pants ones because of the jam.

Sure, BK turned around and went back to bed as soon as the food was gone. But it’s MLK Day and technically a holiday, so she didn’t need to come in at all.

Still, I’m glad she did.

And yes, those WERE unfortunate jeans.

my two favorite chicks on the planet. And they haven’t changed at all in 17 years.
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