the quotable mo sheppo, part 21

“Do you want to take something for dinner? I have some stuff you won’t like!”

This is why I love her so. It’s also why I’m often hungry.

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it’s a snap

Snap, thump, run.

One guy, one ball, one trash can. He snaps, hits the can, runs to get the ball, runs back. He does this over and over and over and over and over and over and over. It’s just me and a long snapper on a 107-degree day.

Snap, thump, run. Such dedication and mental toughness. It looks so easy when you see it in the game in September. It looks so hard when you see it on a field in June. He repeats the little one-man parade forever, eventually collapsing on the field in a pool of sweat.

A minute later, he gets up and starts again.

Snap, thump, run. Repeat as necessary.

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the secret to life

1. left foot

2. right foot

3. breathe

4. repeat as necessary.

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American dream

It’s Monday afternoon and we’re out to look at art. We have great museums and one of the world’s best Fancy Pants Art Districts, but we always end up here instead.

The neighborhood is a bit iffy, but the art is magical. You can feel people’s stories, their heritage, their love. “Build your own American dream,” the mural says. My heart breaks for the hundredth time.

A day earlier, I was editing a story about congressmen in McAllen who were touring the cages crammed full of children. The stories about the guy who says the kids are being used as props by killers to sneak into the country. Those photos of tearful kids with their mothers and a terrifying future. It’s too much to bear.

But today is happy. It feels like we’re home in Corpus. Low riders and luchadores and flying skulls. Vibrant colors and inspiring artwork by incredibly gifted artists who are happy to paint on walls in forgotten alleys because the art is inside them and they need to let it out.

The messages are a slap across the face. A mural shows a white hand shaking a brown hand. So simple. So hopeful. Why is this so hard?

A little sign going into the tiny community where Mo is looking for The Cement Virgin Mary says simply: “Forget your politics. Protect the niños.”

They’re people, not numbers, these folks fleeing poverty and political persecution and atrocities that those of us grousing over only having 200 TV channels can’t even fathom. They come because they have no choice. They bring their children because the alternative is unthinkable. They take their chances because we’re their only hope, this land built on the idea that we would always leave the light on for the tired, the poor, the huddled masses yearning to breathe free. Those shouldn’t just be words. They should be what we stand for. Every one of us.

“Let love in … then give it back.” What would Jesus do? What would Willie Nelson do?

I don’t know what to do. So I edit stories, give them headlines I hope will cause people to read them, and spend my day off admiring the work of people building their own American Dream. Maybe you can stop people from entering, but you can never stop them from dreaming.

Here’s to dreaming …

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dear kate, part 3

mo: you always have kate’s back, right?

me: sure.

mo: so why don’t you have her back for this?

me: ummmmmmm

mo is wise. I’ve got your back.

I’d better be flower girl …

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football season

“I know it’s a longshot, but I’m wondering if there might be a camping spot at Bright Angel at the end of June,” I ask the nice park ranger.

She looks at me. I look at her. She smiles.

“Not a longshot at all,” she says. “Nobody wants to camp there once I tell them it’s 140 degrees.” She watches me intently, waiting to bask in the expression of horror sure to sweep across my face.

“That sounds great!” I exclaim. “Afternoon in the creek,” Mo adds.

We work nights. We go out for our jaunts each day at 11 a.m. We are students of knowing how hot it is as we walk out without having to check the temps. 105, I will guess. 110 easy, Mo says. I am skeptical till I step into the sun. 110 indeed.

140? Just another day in phx. Maybe we’ll have to tote a sweater down, but that’s negligible weight.

The ranger seems vaguely disappointed at our enthusiasm, but grudgingly gives us the permit, a bittersweet escape to a place a day earlier we had no idea we’d be.

So now we’re at SCC at 11 a.m., doing the big loop. It’s an open-the-oven-door kind of day. We make the big dirt-road loop and come around to the track’s Secret Door. Longtime readers will recall they have closed the track forever, but the little gate next to the restrooms has been open for a couple of days. We saw it because we were hiking past it. But how do other people discover this? The track is an odd place.

We ask the groundskeeper guy for the 100th time if it’s OK. He tells us for the 100th time it’s the “schizo” security guys who close it and it’s our damn track and we should call someone and ask why we’re paying taxes for stuff they don’t let us use and hell yes we can use the track. I think I know who’s accidentally leaving this gate next to his shed unlocked.

We step onto the little oval where the temperature is a few degrees cooler because the heat doesn’t reflect. An oasis. And there they are.

Three guys. Serious Guys.

The first one flies by us, a blur. He has calves that would make Mild Sauce blush. He’s wearing a long-sleeved shirt with a nondescript Cardinals logo. He’s clutching a football. NFL guys? Would pros work out here? Don’t they have their own joint?

He’s with two other guys. One has huge dreads on top that he covers with a cap when he runs. He’s also in long sleeves. Did I mention it’s 140? The third is shirtless with long pants, revealing a body that would appear to be worth $2 million a year or whatever average NFL players make these days.

They’re engaged in some sort of playful torture. They run 400 relays, then 100s, then a fartlek sort of game where one runner takes the lead and the others catch him, then another takes the lead, etc. The shirtless guy is clearly the fastest, running with the grace and power of a sprinter who hasn’t even bothered to kick into the fast gear. The other guys hang on for their lives. It’s good TV.

The guy in the white shirt ends a blurry lap right next to us. Too hot to be that fast, I tell him, and pat him on the back. The good thing about being old is that you can pat guys on the back. The bad thing is he’s very sweaty. He just smiles. He doesn’t ease up on his vice grip on the football.

But here’s the thing. They have brought their kids. They’re maybe 6, 8, 10 years old. A pack of them are playing some sort of baseball game on the “Stay off the grass” field. Baseball? Traitors. There’s a big wagon with water gallons in it parked on Lane 9. They will run over now and then for a drink, then back on the field. It’s the pro athlete version of a picnic, I guess.

We finish our 2 miles and walk off, envisioning where we would be if we were on the South Kaibab. Hiding under a scrawny tree for shade, I imagine.

I remember for the millionth time why I love this track. It’s a community, a place for people who love nothing more than 400 meters of heaven, even when the thermometer says hell. All speeds, all ages, no judgments. I’m glad it’s open again, even if it’s only till Someone Important finds out.

I hope the groundskeeper guy doesn’t get fired. And I hope the guy in the white Cardinals shirt never lets go of that football. Always hold on to your dreams …

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dear kate, part 2

Just because you don’t see the three-legged spider doesn’t mean it’s not there anymore. It may just be watching from a distance in a place you can’t quite see, making sure the boat doesn’t turn over from your laughing. Hmmm. Metaphors may not work before 8 a.m.

We can lose a few legs. We’ll be OK. We’ll still have our hearts. That’s enough. Even if they get broken now and then.

Beaver Street Brewery now has four IPAs. Mo wants to sample them all in one sitting. Please make room at your place for the neon sign from atop the Monte V. after her next plundering excursion.

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