I used to do it all the time, this writing for fun thing. But then, I started doing it for money and, lo and behold, I felt like I lost a dollar for every word I wrote, so I kind of tucked it all away, thinking, you know, that I'd come back and do it later. I just looked at my watch, and guess what. It's later.
It's funny, because writing for fun is always on my mind, just like training for another 5K is always on my mind. When I was training for a 5K, I was so proud of myself, even though hitting that doggone trail would just about kill me some days, and I'd think pretty hard about puking up something essential from the depths of my body as the bottoms of my $100 running shoes made impact with the pavement. But I'd finish, with all my vital organs still in the generally correct location they have always been inside my gut, and, hoo doggies, would I be glad that was over. But I'd also be like, "next time, I'll go farther," or, "I'll bet next time, I'll do it faster," and, though I'd totally dread it, I'd start preparing almost immediately for the next three miles of torture.
Now that I'm not running anymore (something really is wrong with my gut, and I think part of it is going to have to be surgically removed to alleviate the pain and nausea I feel constantly now), I still think about it almost every day. In fact, I often dream that I'm zipping along effortlessly, and dream-me is like, "Oh, yeah! I knew this day would come! I knew I'd get to the point where I wouldn't have to use an inhaler when I run, or lose chunks of my lungs on the trailside, or even try to put one foot in front of the other. Look how FAST I am!" But then I wake up, and I'm totally bummed that I can't run like that.
But with writing, I mean, what's the problem? It's not physically painful. It doesn't cost me anything--not even a trip to the trail, and it's therapeutic as all getout. It doesn't make those lumps on my thighs disappear, but it does make me feel good, like I've accomplished something. Like I've gone some sort of distance. But when I write, I do it with a bag of Cheetos at my side, which are not such great running partners.
Tonight while my nerdling and I were making a late-ish run to Wendy's to conquer a chili-and-baked-potato hankering, we spotted a deer, a two-point buck, staring at us from the side of the road and wondering what the sam hill we were doing in his neck of the woods. Petey the Wonder Dog muscled his way onto the center console to see what we were staring at that would warrant stopping the entire car when we clearly had no intention of letting him explore the veritable smorgasbord of rotting roadside carcases (carcasi?).
That buck truly piqued the boy's curiosity, and he made a break for it, leaping straight throught the open back window and making a bee-line for the retreating buck. I thought for sure that was the end of my beloved pooch, that my toes would never again be the beneficiary of his slumbering form. But as soon as he rescued us from the vehicle-stopping beast, he bounded back into the car, and we were on our way.
It's mid-July here in o-HI-o, which means it can either be the kind of weather where you need a second pair of socks or, at the very least, another dog, or the kind of weather where you want to sleep in a bathtub full of icewater with an industrial-strength, high-velocity fan pointed at your melting face. Right now, it's the latter. I'm not keen on this kind of weather because, number one, as I read in this article today, affective agressive behavior rises with the temperature, especially when it slides up past 92. My friend Susan told me about this phenonmenon, so I had to look it up, because she told me there was a Ray Bradbury short story, "Touched with Fire," about how people get to killing each other when it hits 92 degrees. I haven't read it before, so now I have to find it. I also don't like this weather because, as someone commenting on the aforementioned article said, "I would much rather be cold. You can always put on more clothes. But when you're hot, you can only get so naked." I find this to be true. Plus, in fall and winter? Layers. Hello.
People like my nutso friend John actually like this kind of weather. What's more, John likes to actually be outside in it, literally moving around and stuff. He rides his bike 73 million miles to and from work every day, and he mentioned today that a day like today--affected-aggressive-behavior degrees and as still as a two-point-buck in the headlights--is his favorite kind of day. He even penned this love poem to it:
JulyAt 65 miles-per-hourI reach out the windowto grab a whole armful of July.I turn my hand just right.Art long practicedby children ofwindows-down generation.To funnel a blastover graying chestacross stubbled chininto expanding scalpCrowning myself “Bozo Kingof Male-pattern Baldness.”I steer the breezeinto my heart and mind.I want it to live thereSo I’m never too farfrom July
JulyGo far away from me.Send October instead.I like her better.
Sometimes, when things like this happen, I crook my finger at God and say, "You know, you tricked me. You put that good-looking bass player in my path and made me fall in love with him, and then you did the ol' bait and switch, and, the next thing I knew, WHAM!, I was dumbly staring into the face of a miniature, cross-eyed human who yanked all my guts out and replaced them with these massive heavy-duty garbage bags stuffed to the brim with dreams and ideals, along with a few grocery-store bags full of pride, and I somehow figured that if I treated this little derpy being the way Jesus said to treat all human beings, he'd be so loving and kind and caring, it would break your heart, and he'd tower above his mother and reach things on top shelves for her, and protect her and defend her fiercely to anyone who dared to criticize her OCD tendencies, choice of footwear or jiggly thighs. But that's not what happened, God. And I was duped."
One time, I sat on the sloping front lawn of my house, the stiff blades stabbing me in the butt, just weeping after a particularly hostile conversation between my son and me, I carried on that hostile conversation with God, the one where I got upset with the Almighty for duping me, and I crooked my finger at the sky, because that's where we seem to think God lives. And God crooked a finger back at me and said, "What makes you think this is about you?" And I didn't get it at first, because, wait, isn't everything about me? but God said, "This is his story, not your story. This is between me and him." I'd like to say I just shut my trap after that, but I didn't. I blubbered on for awhile, and I'm still blubbering intermittently, and I'll continue blubbering while that skinny calf gets fattened. Of course, that's the happy ending, sort of. I know there are lots of not-so-happy endings, too. I don't want to think about those right now, though, okay?
It's weird. Sometimes I feel like that buck, completely frozen and paralyzed, the light completely soaking and exposing me while I figure out where on God's green earth I'm supposed to go, if anywhere. And other times, I feel like Petey the Pup, staring at this wild thing I've never seen before and wondering what I would do with it if I could leap out the window and chase it down while the people I love are in the car shouting, "Get back here. It's dark. You don't even know where you're going." And sometimes, I'm just me. Sitting in the driver's seat on a late-ish run to Wendy's, trying not to care about the people I've failed. Trying to be distracted by the wildlife on the side of the road and the wilder life inside my brain.