from here to new jersey.

Lily is quite the stickler for properly situating a bookmark before we cease our reading each evening.  If I forget this step and dare leave the book unmarked, she chastises me sternly.

Rightfully so, she wants to cover new ground when we settle in the following night.  There isn't time in her young life, I suppose, for backtracking.

Sooner or later, she's going to start cracking open my books and I'm afraid they're going to drive her crazy, as I fold down the corner of any and every page that contains a paragraph of interest, an eye-catching photo or even just a single stunning sentence.  For me, these marks aren't intended to denote stopping points from which to begin again, but, rather, as places to which I'd like to return and linger.

Having put Lil to bed the other evening after receiving yet another scolding (I'm forgetful, you see), I revisited my own shelves and pulled down a few random books to see what I'd find.  Pressed leaves tumbled off of or clung courageously to many pages, revealing another obsession for which I'll likely have to explain myself once the girls start greater exploration into my library.  A couple of stray feathers hid there too and I resolved to make certain that Lily and Piper both got a peek at these artifacts before they are damaged or lost entirely.

On some pages I couldn't determine exactly what it was that had led to the original folding of the corner, but even this was a warm reminder of why revisiting beloved books with the always changing perspective of "real" life brings rekindled appreciation and new revelations.

I'd read From Here to Eternity by James Jones years and years ago, so long ago, in fact, I was somewhat surprised to find that I'd done anything more than store pretty leaves within its pages.  I do not remember much about the book, sadly, but a 20-something me had found reason to call out a specific passage that has taken on new meaning with the tests of ultra running.  The following words were especially timely from the vantage point of my experiences at this past weekend's Febapple Frozen 50, a 50-mile race that I was blessed to complete despite the fact that more than half of the starters failed to finish due to treacherous footing and hypothermia-inducing weather conditions:

“He knew how to handle pain. You had to lie down with pain, not draw back away from it. You let yourself sort of move around the outside edge of pain like with cold water until you finally got up your nerve to take yourself in hand. Then you took a deep breath and dove in and let yourself sink down it clear to the bottom. And after you had been down inside pain a while you found that like with cold water it was not nearly as cold as you had thought it was when your muscles were cringing themselves away from the outside edge of it as you moved around it trying to get up your nerve. He knew pain.”

My interests all prove wedded in the end.  The music that speaks to me, the words that move me, the movement that sings to me all overlap and intertwine until I can't distinguish one from the other.  And I adore that.

I think little of graves or tombstones.  Infrequently do I ponder how I'd like to be remembered.  But, should my family decide it imperative that a marker be erected in my memory upon my slipping from this earth, I think I could live (ha!) with

"He knew how to handle pain."

Better yet, save the real estate and whatever materials were to be used for the marker and fold a corner or two in my honor when something strikes you as worthy of a return visit.


do glad.

Today not tomorrow, that's what I've been saying.

So, when my wife's busy work/school schedule found her observing in an operating room for the day, babysitting options weren't available and I needed to skip out on work to watch Piper, I made the most of my time out of the office by dropping the car off for a much needed repair and heading to a nearby diner to enjoy a rare Daddy-and-daughter-and-nobody-else breakfast.

Piper Bea settled happily into her pancake, a pickle and a tall cup of chocolate milk.

I sipped coffee and listened to her tell me about whatever popped into her about-to-be-4-year old head.  Sipped, listened and smiled.  Taking full advantage of not being interrupted by her verbose big sister, Piper covered a lot of topics while we sat in our little booth-for-two.  She didn't make me swear to secrecy, but, all the same, I think I'll not share the details as it makes me feel like I alone was invited "in".

As we neared the end of our meals, the television monitor perched in the corner of the room showed the portrait of a woman celebrating her 108th birthday.  My not-what-they-once-were eyes couldn't read her name in the captioning and the sound of the TV was drowned out by our conversation and the crooning of oldies drifting from the overhead speakers...which was fine by me.

One hundred and eight years old.

Can you imagine?  You can't.  I can't.

Trying to imagine brings "today not tomorrow" right back into the discussion.  Perhaps if you make it the whole way to 108 you start believing that you'll never stop ticking and the days'll just go on and on forever.  Maybe that's the fear.

Or the hope.

Or maybe every day feels certain to be the last.

Who knows?  Not you and not me.

I silently wished that woman well and hoped that she was better able than me to make sense of the dizzying ways in which the world has evolved.

In that very same diner, two older (suddenly, mid-70's didn't seem all that old) gentlemen sat poring over a road map.  

Remember those?

I do and you do too.

But, maybe just maybe, our kids won't or at least not outside the context of museums and quaint postcards.  Of course, museums and postcards might not be long for this world either with any and all information available at our fingertips and the mail system, our modern day pony express, likely going the way of, well, the pony express.

I marvel at how much has changed in my lifetime.  Can't even begin to wrap my head around it, actually.  And, despite what my children believe, I haven't been alive all that long.

Here are a couple of the significant events that occurred in the year 1905, the year today's birthday girl was born.  The first forest fire lookout tower went into operation in Greenville, Maine.  Ty Cobb made his professional baseball debut.  A physics journal published the article that unveiled Albert Einstein's E=mc2 equation.  The Intercollegiate Athletic Association of the US was founded (it wouldn't officially become the NCAA until 5 years later).

One year earlier work began on Grand Central Station, the Wright brothers took their initial flight, fingerprinting was first introduced as a way to investigate crime and the ice cream cone was invented.  The ice cream cone was invented!

CAN YOU IMAGINE?  You can't and I could drive myself mad trying to...today not yesterday, today not tomorrow.

Piper Bea and I left the diner, she with cookie in hand, and we found the car repaired and waiting for us.

As we drove home, we passed by a beautiful restored farmhouse that I recalled residing in a different location just a few years earlier.  A construction/restoration group had plucked the once ailing structure from the ground, ratcheted it up onto a wheeled platform and towed it to a new, more idyllic, perch a few miles down the road.

I CAN imagine, but only because I saw it with my very own stunned eyes.  Amazing and certainly unthinkable not all that long ago.  I'm betting an undertaking such as this would have qualified as science-fiction back in 1905.

And I'm guessing "science-fiction' was hardly a household term at the time.  I should visit a museum to find out for sure.  Or, wait, I could just ask my phone...yes, I could actually speak into my phone and just wait one second for the answer.


I have a 50-mile race coming up on Saturday, the FebApple Frozen 50 in Maplewood, New Jersey.  It seems a daunting undertaking this early in the year, especially with sickness and subsequent inactivity not too far behind me.

However, it doesn't seem nearly so daunting when held up against waking, rising and making one's way through the day, every damn day, for 108 years.

The woman in that photo was smiling and it was a beautiful, happy-to-be-alive smile.  Could've been taken a few years ago, of course, but that hardly tarnishes the message if she was, what, 105?

And maybe it was that smile that jarred something in my holes-punched-in-it memory about the number 108.  I did a little digging (you bet I employed my phone) and discovered that it is a Harshad number, an integer that is divisible by the sum of its digits (1 + 0 + 8 = 9 and 108 divided by 9 is 12).  That's a curiosity but what I found more interesting was the fact the "Harshad" is derived from two Sanskrit words, harsa and da.  Harsa means "joy" and da means "give".

Joy giver?

Seems too good to be true for the sake of this story, but it goes a long way toward explaining that lovely smile and the unmistakable happiness I felt in seeing it.

So, 50 miles?  A hundred?  No problem.  A blink of the eye really.  A joy.

Glancing at Facebook upon arriving home, I discovered a typo in a friend's status update.  She was sharing her relief at sneaking in a run before expected freezing rain began to fall.  "So glad" was accidentally replaced with "Do glad".


I love it.

I turn 39 this year.  Piper Bea will be 4 in April and her sister turns 6 just two weeks later.  People are celebrating 108 years on this planet.

What a gift.

How could you not do glad?  You can't.  I can't.

Do glad and do it today...AND tomorrow.


gone workin'.

Little time for writing at the present, sadly, as January and February always mark the busiest of seasons in my work year, a juggling act of deadlines and demands.  It all pays off as said deadlines are met (somehow) and said demands diminish with each accomplished task.

Free time is limited and devoted solely to running and sleeping, restorative activities that keep frazzled from evolving into fried.  If I lose the thread of what I'm working on to chase words and build sentences of my own, I just prolong the work process that keeps me from being able to get fully lost in my own creative pursuits. 

So, instead, like Dory in Finding Nemo (as I was reminded by a friend just a run or two ago), I "just keep swimming, just keep swimming", knowing that I'll eventually get where I'm going.  (Listen, if you're saying to yourself right now something along the lines of "Finding Nemo, seriously", you either aren't a parent or, well anyway, trust me you're missing out on one heckuva running mantra by not having watched at least that scene.)

While swimming headphones and music are a nice distraction, however, though even these can get me off track, at least for a moment or two of reflection.  Not that I'm complaining.

"These are secrets a world sung to me truer than the truth."

Can the album Rainbows from Atoms really be 20 years old?  Of course it can.  Anyway, for the uninitiated, Lungfish's Creation Story hardly qualifies as a song and is certainly not representative of the band's full body of work, but it is as fine a collection of words as you could hope to hear in just 3 and a half minutes and, though cryptic, the sentiments of those words are just as timely as they were 2 decades (gasp) ago.

Every single waking day something makes me think of a line or two or ten from this lovely poem.  And, yes, the closing comment is the text that surrounds Lily's newborn footprint on my upper right arm just below her drawing of she and her sister at play that a friend transferred with care to make it apparent that it originated, and could only have originated, from an earnest child's crayon and imagination.

"It was children that crafted a parent and resolved in children we shall live."


And with Spring looming, as predicted or otherwise, there's soon more adventuring to be done and time to be spent NOT in the office.  Together.

To that end and while Lily and Piper sleep blissfully, I must hit "publish" and return to the swimming at hand...with a little daydreaming mixed in for good measure.