Walking the walk

Both my favorite form of meditation and my favorite form of exercise is walking. Sometimes I try to notice tiny details about the world around me that would otherwise go unseen, sometimes I use the walk as a time to work out a problem in a story I’m writing, and sometimes I just let my mind go blank. This love of walking started way back when I was too young to even think of it as exercise and just did it for fun. My grandmother would take me to our local cemetery (which had enough flora to seem more like a park) and we would wander around looking at the trees and interesting gravestones and then eat a picnic lunch on her mother’s grave.

When I was 18 and had just graduated from high school, I made the somewhat odd decision to live at my parent’s summer house upstate and go to college there. Having lived with family in the city for my entire life, I don’t think I was prepared for just how bored I would be, living by myself in the country. Out of sheer boredom, I just started walking down the road one day. I ended up walking for about two hours a day, every day. Years later, living in Westchester county (north of NYC by about a half hour), I found myself still in this habit of long walks. But by this time, it was less out of boredom and more out of desire. I always walked alone and found I liked the quiet and solitude. If a few days went by and I didn’t get my walk in, I would start to get stressed.

Eventually I met and married my husband and moved back to NYC. And while I do and probably always will love it here, there are not many places where one can find a walk in solitude. Not having as much free time as I used to pre-kids, out of necessity I’ve learned to make due with the mile-long walk from the subway station to my house. It may not be as green and peaceful as a country road or a park, but when I put on my headphones and tune out the world, I can sometimes grasp that tiny bit of quietness in a busy day that can keep me sane.

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Me on a wooded trail in FDR Park, Westchester County, New York.

My list of strong dislike

Recently, my husband asked me to write a list of things I hate. (Why we give each other seemingly arbitrary and meaningless tasks is a story for another day.) My list, of course, is still in progress, as I expect to continue and maybe even grow my hatred as I get older. Anyway, here is the first draft of the list:

1) All puppets with the exception of sock. Do I really need to explain? All are so creepy, especially ventriloquist dummies. Sock puppets, however, are on my love list. All my sons’ school projects will hopefully be able to be done in sock puppet.

2) When, on a television show or movie, or in a book, someone throws away the results of a paternity test without opening it. I will stop watching. Seriously, it’s why I stopped watching Veronica Mars. (That and I couldn’t tell any of the male characters apart for some reason; they looked like identical clones to me.) If you are going through the trouble of ordering the test, at least look at the results!

3) Cooking. There are few things in the world that I hate as much as a hate cooking. Even though I am half Italian, I get little to no joy out of watching my kids eat something I’ve cooked. One of the reasons I still bother release paper copies of my books is I love seeing the tangible results of my endeavors. When you cook something, the most you can hope for is that it will all be gone in an hour or two. No matter how yummy it is, I think, “Why did I even bother?” I also had to stop bringing sandwiches to work for lunch because the act of putting something between two slices of bread and wrapping it up was enough to infuriate me. Now I just bring frozen dinners that everyone yells at me for eating because of the salt, but at least microwaving them doesn’t make me want to rage at the world.

I think it’s also the time sink of cooking that bothers me. When we get home from work and school, we have very little time together as a family before the kids go to bed, and I would really rather spend that time with them than in the kitchen. Nothing puts me in a better mood than going to the park after work, and then getting a slice of pizza. I get to have fun outside with the kids, and then no cooking and no clean up. But even though we live in New York City, and yes, we have some of the best pizza available, sometimes I am forced to cook nevertheless. But nothing makes you appreciate the days of swings and mozzarella like those days with the oven and dishes.

As I’m writing this, I remember my son reprimanding me this morning for using the word “hate,” so I am downgrading this to the list of strong dislike. But I want it noted that “dislike” doesn’t seem like a powerful enough word to adequately describe the loathing and horror I feel when I see a ventriloquist dummy.

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