Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Silver Linings

After whinging and whining about the state of humanity, God must have been listening.

Once I was left without wheels I immediately got on the phone to begin sorting out my day.

The first friend I called to say I'd be late for our meeting immediately offered to come and pick me up.

The next two friends I called to reschedule, immediately offered to lend me their vehicles for a portion of the day.

The people I know were all empathetic and full of sympathy and it made me glad that I can call them my friends.

It's all the bastards who want something from you and the fuckers in the film and television industry that you can't trust...


The transmission has imploded again in my car...

That's the new (well,new-used, that is...)twelve hundred dollar transmission that I popped for less than a month ago...

And the transmission that left me hoofing it for a solid week.

And frankly, as bad as this seems, this is actually the least of my worries right now.

If I was Irish, and I think there's a spot of Irish blood in there somewheres, I would be muttering darkly about the 'troubles'.

A mechanical disaster actually feels like a bit of a blessing after what has seemed like several weeks of pulling knives out of my back, thoughtfully inserted by individuals I have mistaken for friends - well, friends of friends - and colleagues in the film business.

Having had my taste for life soured by recent events, I have had no particular desire to post.

I keep remembering my Mother's old adage, "If you don't have something nice to say, don't say anything else at all."

Few things are worse than listening to someone ceaselessly whine about their life, unless its reading about it of course.

At least the sun is shining.

Looks like a good day to run...

Friday, October 20, 2006

The Pleasures of Walking

One of the great things about life is how a series of seemingly randomly occurring events can, when coming into conjunction, open your eyes to new possibilties and new revelations.

Since returning from France nearly a month ago, the lower mainland of British Columbia has in large part basked in a glorious stretch of sun-filled Indian Summer days. We have been treated to long periods of sunshine, an occasional intermittment rain storm, and then more blue skies and warm rays. No matter what the state of affairs your life is in, no matter how dismal the dating scene or the job market, well, a sunny day in October will just make you smile and put a little lift in your stride.

For me, the combination of sunny days, a car with no transmission and a series of nagging old injuries, reawakened the unexpected pleasures to be gleaned from the simple act of walking. Not strolling per se, or walking the dogs, or running for the bus, but the act of setting out several miles across town at a brisk pace knowing full well that it will take you anywhere from thirty to ninety minutes to get to where you you are headed. For a full week I had no vehicle and the knowledge that there was not a rain cloud in sight to justify my spending an absurd amount of money for a cab and knowing that by the time a bus finally wandered along that if I had simply set out on my journey I would already have arrived.

So I walked.

And I loved it.

I walked at a pace somewhere between three and four miles an hour. My heart rate was elevated and I had to dress in layers because no matter how brisk the weather was when I started within ten minutes I was breaking a sweat. It was the kind of pace that fieldhands must have once used to get around the countryside. Some days I easily must have walked seven or eight miles and that doesn't even account for the hour or so per day I walk my dogs. During the course of the week I also squeezed in a few very easy runs, but I was happier running. Much happier. The walking was easier on my aching neck and back, my often injured shoulders, all the old injuries that have been aggravated by sleeping in too many strange, soft European mattresses the past few months, followed by a stint of working around the clock when I returned home to get caught up on some behind schedule painting jobs.

The walking opened my eyes to my neighbourhood, so that I saw it in a completely new way. Little gardens I had never noticed before, new stores and restaurants, new homes, the changing colours of the leaves and the dying off of the flowers. Gardens in the last stages of harvest, squashes, pumpkins and gourds all that remained to be picked. I met many people walking their beloved dogs, on their way to school or work. I realized that walkers are comprised mostly of students, young working women, pet owners and the elderly.

And walkers are friendly people. Within days, as I walked to and fro from a job site, I was recognizing people, regulars so to speak. Invariably they began to nod and smile when they recognized me, which was not too difficult in my paint splattered clothes. And you could see that those who walked as I did, with an air of purpose to their stride, with an intent to cover the space between two points on a map, were remarkably trim and fit. There were any number whom I had trouble overtaking. Some overtook me. They were picking up their feet and putting them down. These folks were covering miles.

And as my eyes opened so too did my imagination. If I was going to be walking for an hour, I found myself mulling over problems, roiling them over, twisting them this way and that until they unraveled. I find myself humming often, and singing snatches of song lyrics. My mood was undoubtedly enhanced by all the oxygen I was sucking up. I was simply happier. Engaged as I was in the world outside my apartment and outside the rooms I was painting.

Creatively, I was feeling burned out. But in walking I found myself unconsciously composing little bits of dialogue, thinking of new ideas, getting inspired to write things I hadn't even been considering.

During my week spent walking I found myself revelling in the simple sensual pleasure that comes from using your physical self in the way it was designed over several million years and meant to be used. I have found a similar feeling running, especially on the long slow distance Sunday runs, but there was something different and unique in the pleasures I gleaned from walking.

In the span of seven days I lost three or four pounds, weight that has stayed off. When walking I seem inclined to eat less and have less appetite. Meals seem to taste better. Maybe my taste buds are better oxygenated! And even though I have my car back, I am still inclined to walk. Better yet, I am inclined to make the time to walk.

In fact, I think I'll go for a walk...

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Life at Home... Yawn!

Yes, I realize I haven't posted anything in two weeks. Not much to say for a change. Although I have been threatening to start a restaurant review Blog after some recent dining disasters. I'd like to dish out the dirt on dining in Vancouver some day. Some spectacular local restaurants but lots of dogs thrown into the mix... As usual, I digress.

No rest for the wicked. But oh, if only I were engaged in sin. Instead I am trying to get caught up on all the mundane aspects of life that have a habit of intruding when you have taken a month-long sabbatical. So, in reality, it's no rest for the boring either. I guess I should thank you for missing me, and asking what the Hell am I up to and have I died... No, not yet.

Writing and painting and Fall Cleaning, and painting and writing and trying to get my life squared away and MY CAR BROKE DOWN!

Yes, my car ate its transmission last Thursday and an imploded gear box has all kinds of ramifications. The main one being that i am on foot... For at least a week. The second being that I have even more reasons to keep my beak to the grindstone to earn the moolah necessary to get mobile again. And then I have to face up to the fact that my faithful Miata really does have over two hundred thousand Ks on the odometer, not unlike myself, and that it is time to get serious about finding a replacement... Sob!

It is helping me trim off the French fois gras fat I piled on in September. I am back down to 195-196 pounds...

Last week I was working on a site that was a forty-five minute walk from my hovel. So that was an hour and a half of walking at a brisk pace every day. Add in the two half hour walks that my dogs get and you can see the mileage adding up. Toss in eight or ten hours of physical labour six out of every seven days and you can see some calories being burned... Add in several hours of writing every day for The Vanishing Tattoo - www.vanishingtattoo.com - and you can see my free time being burned...

Not much new to report. Skipped the Royal Victoria Marathon this past Canadian Thanksgiving weekend because my heart simply wasn't in it. Had enough running for a while. Have managed to get in a 10K run every other day. Some fast, some easy. Have tackled a couple of 20K longer runs since I returned from Europe.

Still expecting to do Boston next Spring. Would like to be in good shape and fast to give the course its due respect.

Have no real desire for now to start the training necessary to do an Ironman next summer.

Still trying to figure out what I'm going to do with the next half of my life.

Had an interesting time at www.RealAge.com After answering all their questions about my health and lifestyle, the RealAge.com site said my 'real' age was 36 and not 46. Of course, if they had simply asked any of the women I've dated they could just as easily have learned that I've rarely acted my age and have often been accused of being immature. RealAge.com has now confirmed it scientifically.

Running-wise, the end of October for the last few years has meant the Cunningham Seawall Race - 9.5Km - so I AM looking forward to that.

Might even work up a sweat!