Tag Archives: words

Children Laughing In the Rain

It’s been two and a half years since the intro guitar class I took at the Princeton Adult School, and I’m thinking back now with fond memories of the first class.

I had signed up for “Folk and Popular Guitar 1,” which went for about an hour on Tuesday nights and which was immediately followed by “Folk and Popular Guitar 2,” which also went for an hour. The level 1 class was at or near capacity, while the level 2 class apparently only had a few people. The same person was also teaching them both, the wonderful and energetic, CM (I’ll use her initials).

Towards the end of the first class, she had us take turns introducing ourselves, saying why we were taking the class and if we had ever played before. At one point, when someone would say they had played in the past, she started to respnd by saying enthusiastically, “You’re promoted!”

 

Even though I had only tried playing briefly (for a month or so) many years ago, I got the same response when it got to my turn.

“Have you ever played a chord before?”

“Yeah, but it was a long time ago…”

“You’re promoted!”

I decided to stay for the level 2 class that followed that night, and though the pace seemed a little fast for me, I figured I would go with it. So I switched. I’d be learning more, and fewer people in the class would mean more attention from the teacher.

Both of these things turned out to be true, as did the following experience: the experience of me getting frustrated many times when I wasn’t picking something up right away, like a new strumming pattern, a new chord progression, or whatever else. I was like, “Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I do it right away? Why can’t I keep up? I should be good at this immediately and never have to struggle or get frustrated or make any mistakes along the way in order to learn and get better!”

I know – it’s the height of unreasonableness to expect something for nothing.

I did keep at it though, and I kept learning and improving with each class and with the practicing between the classes. I’ve kept it going since then too, as I’ve continued to play, practice, write songs, and let go a little. I wouldn’t say irrational thoughts are completely gone, but the wall of perfection isn’t quite as high as it used to be.

The point is to relax, trust yourself and where you’re at, and keep going. Keep working at it, and see what happens. It’s hard to imagine my life today without all the things that playing guitar, playing with words, and being musically creative bring.

I wrote this song last fall, but it’s a spring song, and here we are still in spring. I used to hate listening to the sound of my recorded voice, but listening to this song makes me smile. It also makes me want to sing along, which I will admit I have done several times.

I love how it feels to sing it, and now also, how it feels to read the words from top to bottom with the melody in my mind.

Thank you too, CM, for the strumming start, and thank you to the many others who’ve provided inspiration along the way.

Children Laughing In Rain (mp3)

Butterflies in the wind,
See how they move,
Floating here and there,
Dancing as they choose –
Moving higher
Spreading wider
Flapping happy and
Smiling all around and,
Searching meadows and
Sending hellos and
Loving clovers and
Going flower by flower and

Can you see it here,
Can you leave the ground,
It’s all around us here

Children laughing in the rain,
Skipping on their way,
Puddles without umbrellas
Favorite kind of day –
Bounding on and
Showers of fun and
Loving jumping and
Running all around and,
Telling secrets and
Making keepsakes and
Loving feeling and
Greeting everyone and

Can you see it here,
Can you hear the sounds,
They’re all around us here

Playing music in the park,
Singing lullabies,
Every day a melody
Of seasons passing by –
There’s winter warming and
Flowers forming and
Spring on tour and
More there to come and,
Weather wither and
Brother sister and
Loving whispers and
Kisses every day and

Can you see it here,
Can you hear the sounds,
They’re all around us here

And summertime and whipoorwills and
Ice cream days and evening thrills and
As the days come fanciful and
Say ‘Let’s go’ all whimsical,
The winds are full and filling sails all true,
Wishes real and coming back to you

The winds are full and filling sails all true,
Wishes real and coming back to you,
Children and all their kisses too,
Wishes real and coming back to you –
Wishes real and coming back to you

Odds and Ends and Pots and Pans

Odds and ends
And pots and pans,
Champagne pops
And starts and stops,
Plants and things
And in between,
Tabletops with
Art and feeling.

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And art on my brother’s driveway.

Oh, assonance… And consonance…  And rhyme…  And half-rhyme… Happy new year, and new post, to you too.

Yes, a new year has begun (plus a few weeks now), and I’m happy to be starting it here with words and art, and to be sharing them with you. Words and art, yes, sounds like a good start. That’s one of several thoughts, or odds and ends, that I’ve been collecting. And here are a few more. They follow below, shared as always as a gift for me and you, to peruse and read and at your own pace go through.

1) Pots and Pans: I usually make a few resolutions at the start of each year (any time is good though), and this year was no different. On the afternoon of January 1st, I found myself creating a new note on my phone, a five-minute exercise that left me with some old favorites and general reminders.

Among the highlights was the perennial, “Learn how to juggle five” :), written more actionably and meditatively this time though as, “Juggle five – practice every day for five minutes, relax, and have fun.” (I’ve practiced a few days so far, but not quite yet…every day.) A few general feel-good reminders included, “Be kind every day” and “Be grateful every day.” And then there were some healthy environment ones like, “Do the dishes at least every other day.”

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They can really stack up after a while, right??? This was a week’s worth, and actually the first week of the year’s worth. To be fair though, I was sick and wasn’t doing much of anything that week. How about that After picture though?? Yes, thank you very much. (Two weeks later, I’m still kind of working on the ‘at least every other day’ part of this one…but details.)

2) Planting Plant Plans: I have a lot of starter houseplants and a lot of pots waiting for them, so one of my goals over the next few weeks is to bring them together. I have a vision for a garden apartment, with the garden on the inside.

Meanwhile on the outside, I planted some garlic.

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Planting garlic and growing and harvesting it is one of the easiest, and most satisfying, garden things you can do. It practically grows itself. It’s like magic – each clove that you plant turns into a full head of garlic.

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If you’re interested, and I hope you are :), here’s what to do. First get some garlic bulbs at the farmer’s market (the bulbs at the supermarket might have been treated to prevent sprouting). Then pull the cloves apart, leaving the papery husks on, and plant the cloves right side up about 2″ deep and 8″ apart. Usually, you plant them in late fall, but I’ve planted them as late as December…or also now, well, January 8th according to my notes. We’ll see how it goes! I also planted them in pots for the first time.

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The outer five, they got the garlic

It’s okay if the ground freezes after you plant the cloves too. The new plants should come up in the spring if not sooner. Then in April/May/June you snap off the garlic scapes (the green stems that start curling around themselves) to force more energy into the new bulb, and in June/July you harvest (dig up) the new bulbs when the leaves start to brown.

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Future houseplants, modeling

3) Freezer Files 

The fridge in my apartment came with a freezer (I know, pretty cool, right?), and over the past three years I’ve been doing my best to fill it.

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This was the actual view as of two weeks ago. The thing is, this was also essentially the actual view as of five months ago.

I’d filled it over time, and then I got leftover and other-frozen-food usage paralysis. I knew what I wanted to do, which was to go through everything, use it all, and write about it at the same time. It seemed so daunting though, so I never got started. What would the rules be? Would I have to eat only from the freezer until it was all gone? (Meaning no cooking, i.e., not doing something I like?) How long would it take? Would I write a single post at the end about the process, or also one at the beginning? Or should I write several along the way? What if I started and it didn’t go like I thought it would? What if it didn’t work out? What if I messed it up??

Okay, brain, let’s hold the phone for a second there.

What if I just started and saw how it went?

So that’s what I did (and recalled that, yes, that has worked many times in the past (ex. 1, ex. 2)). The beauty and the truth is that of course it’ll work, and that’s what it’s doing now, working out. Now a few weeks in, I’ve eaten or combined into new dishes several freezer items. I’ve also tossed a few items, a temporary affront to my ‘never waste anything’ ideal, but otherwise it’s going great. And it feels great. Item by frozen item, I’m cleaning up the freezer. I’m putting things to use, and I’m simplifying and letting go. Less is more.

Mmmmmmm, no longer frozen and so tasty again eggplant rollatini

Food is meant to be eaten. And you have to start somewhere, so start where you’re at. Get going.

The rules are There are no rules. I’ll use as many things as I can, cook and combine them whenever possible, and take notes along the way, leading to probably a final post but perhaps some interim ones too. I’ll figure it out as I go.

4) Marathon Miles

I signed up for the New Jersey Marathon! Yay!

That decision, made two months ago, was followed by me starting to increase my miles and do some speed workouts. Also yay, except that my doctor had advised against doing the latter workouts so as not to aggravate a minor hip injury. After about three weeks, I realized I should have followed his advice. Boo.

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So I bought myself a foam roller (thank you, Princeton Running Company) and have been doing some eggplant side-rollatini-ing. And doing way fewer miles. And going slower. I also starting some physical therapy (diagnosis: gluteus medius strain (yup…weak cheeks)).

The calendar reality is that I don’t think I’ll be doing the marathon now. Maybe I could still do the half, but we’ll see. My freezer file mind is reminding that it’ll all work out, and that once again, as always, I should start where I’m at.

If you can’t run 10 miles, run 3.
If you’re injured, do PT.
If you have an itch in the middle of your leg, scratch your knee.

Okay, that last one was just for the rhymes 🙂

5) March Saneness

This one deserves to go in the opposite direction of alliteration.

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There was nothing mad about the Women’s March on Washington this past Saturday. It was solidarity, love, inspiration, and the opposite of hate and madness. I can’t think of a more right place to have been that day than right there with a number of friends, and with everyone else who marched there in Washington and also around the county and the world. We all have our own steps, and for me there was no decision to make but to step out of my own quiet kitchen and start going. The following is what I shared on Facebook that evening:

“We will not go from being a nation of immigrants to a nation of ignorance” – America Ferrera
“Courage will not skip this generation” – Roslyn Brock
“Sometimes we must put our bodies where our beliefs are.” – Gloria Steinem

– Words heard and felt today in Washington, D.C.

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6) The Art of Food and Life

How lucky are we, how lucky am I, really.

I have friends I can march with. I can take care of my body, and my mind. I have a freezer full of food. I have plants. I have a kitchen. I have words, and I have art.

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There is art on driveways (thank you, artist sister-in-law). And there is art on my kitchen table, a rotating temporary art installation. The current view includes tomatoes from the community garden at work, grapefruit from my mom, and odds and ends from myself and friends.

The view, the backdrop, also includes one of my grandfather’s watercolors, a gift a few years ago from my great aunt. There was a time I thought I would hang it up one day, but I’ve realized I like where it’s at. Along with everything else, it helps make for a full table. And it feels good.

Coming Home

All the lessons of my life
Come out in song and sung and rhyme,
The trick is hearing what you sing
And dancing to it all in time.

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A note of hope all through the art,
A time to tell and time to start,
Feelings felt through voice and strings –
Each time, a lullaby for the heart.

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These stanzas may or may not make it into a future song, but they’re true.

I wrote the first one a few weeks ago in a five-minute bit of inspiration, and the second one came a few days later on my bike ride home from work. Exercising and not driving is good for that, songwriting and soul-rising and half-rhyming  🙂

I actually gave a small preview of the song below in a post a few months ago, Orlando in words and pictures – Part I. I was singing it then, I was singing it a year ago when I wrote it, and I’m singing it today.

The difference today is that today I’m sharing it with you. I’ve written several songs in the past close-to-two years since I started playing the guitar, and I’ve only played a few of them, in a few instances, for other people. They’ve mostly been mine and for me, and they’ve served a purpose, but I’ve been feeling a little more ready to be a little less selfish 🙂

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The flowers are blooming all the hours, the rivers are running on, and it’s time to share a song. The lyrics are below, and the voice and the guitar, me singing and playing, are in the link. Enjoy! 🙂

Coming Home (mp3)

On the road and I’m a
Coming home and I’m a
Thinking how I’m gonna
Rock and roll again and
When the stars turn in and
Wake the sun again I’m
Gonna see the light in your eyes

Once upon a time I
Had a dream and I was
Flying high up in the
Amber sky and I was
Trying to find a piece of
Pie and ice cream and I
Found it when I woke in your arms

Clouds are passing by and
Here the sun is shining
On the path that leads to your heart,

Rivers running on and
I’m a swimming, coming
To the grand parade for my part

Steps and notes and fanfare
On the road and my hair
Mussed and tussled wildly
Worldly I must go there
Cares are there behind me
Like a run that’s finally
One touch closer to my old home

Memories come and go and
Stir the love that’s flowing
Like a spring that rises and falls

Water ever pure and
Nourishing the thirst for
More of what’s to come and recall

Images of learning
How to ride and turning
This and that way wildly
On my hands and scraped knees
Tears are falling and I’m
Up again and rolling
On my way to where the heart is

***************************

Rolling on and I’m a
Walking on and I’m a
Talking to the sun a-
bove and down below the
View I’m coming to and
Once again I’m choosing
Going to the hills with my dear

Daylight coming and I’m
Waking up and moving
With July and August
Days that heat us up and
Meet us where we’re at and
Bring the joy and laughter
Of the road right into our hearts

Hundred miles and counting
Down to the old fountain
Where we shared a drink and long kiss

First of many more and
Then I went out touring
Looking for what I thought I’d missed

Wishing wells and daisies
Pushing through the hazy
Skies to find the light and
Shine it on the fields and
Feeling like it’s time to
Greet the rushing tide and
When it comes I know I’ll be there

Everywhere the day is
Singing our good graces,
Feel the breeze upon your soft cheek

And there comes the sunrise,
Morning dew and our eyes,
Misty with all that we do seek

Open to the wind and
Going through with vintage
Shades that let the light come
In like joy from children
Laughing and all playing
And I know I’m making
My way back to where the love is

**************************

On the road and I’m a
Coming home and I’m a
Thinking how I’m gonna
Rock and roll again and
When the stars turn in and
Wake the sun again I’m
Gonna see the light in your eyes

Wandering far and wide and
Pondering on the time and
Watching mountains rising
And the eagles flying
All a part of life and
Loving the reminder
To look round and call you my dear

Clouds are passing by and
Birds are fast supplying
Melodies that sing of one love

Rivers running on and
Shaping stunning canyons
To behold from my view above

Lovely trees are swaying
In the breeze and saying
Come with me, we’re playing,
And the leaves displaying
Green right now and later
Red and orange and oh how
Like the sun they love the big stage

Colors come and go and
All along they’re showing
Spring and fall and all the new days

And I see the flowers
Blooming all the hours
Pedals ready and now awake

Steady was the dream and
Towards the love and gleaming
Did I go believing
In the wonders weaving
And now I can see the
Sun and clouds and streams and
With the light I’m shining my way

Shine the light and shine it
Nice and bright,
I’m coming

Shine the light and shine it
Nice and bright,
I’m feeling

Shine the light and shine it
Day and night,
I’m coming

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Kitchen tips and kitchen blips

From my kitchen lips
To your kitchen ears,
I share with you a list
From the past year:
Kitchen tips and kitchen blips.

Good things come in threes,
Melt and melt and sauce,
Take the heat a piece,
And cut your losses:
The truth is in the reading.

Which brings me to the following,
One and two and three,
Each with a tip, and
Each with a blip:
Now for all to see.

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The hot air vent: yes, located just below the “FRIGIDAIRE”

1) Did you know: You can use the hot air that comes out of the oven vent for more than just passively heating your kitchen??

Kitchen tip: When making pumpkin bread (or zucchini bread or lemon pound cake or the like) and waiting for the oven to preheat, you can put your 9″ x 5″ x 3″ loaf pan under the vent, and the hot air will melt a small tab of butter for you, for easy greasing and flouring of the pan.

Kitchen blip: You could also put your salad spinner under the hot air vent as a way to speed the drying process and save time, but then you might, well, happen to melt the plastic such that the the spinner no longer spins.

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My replacement Oxo Good Grips salad spinner that a friend gave me, same model as the original

2) Did you know: You can use the stove-top’s flat surface for more than just cooking food??

Kitchen tip: When doing the dishes, and when the dish-drying rack is full (and when the rest of the counter is covered with starter houseplants growing in pots), you can set the extra dishes on the stove-top as another place to let them dry.

Kitchen blip: This might seem like a good idea, and it is, most of the time. When it is not a good idea is when you might, well, mean to turn on the front burner but instead turn on the back one, which is fine until you realize you have a glass dish with a plastic lid sitting on the burner in the back.

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He’s not much, but he’s my plastic horseshoe crab

3) Did you know: Vodka sauce isn’t too difficult to make??

Kitchen tip: All you need is vodka, tomato sauce, heavy cream, and some other ingredients. And a little practice, to figure out the right amount of vodka, when to add it, and how long to simmer it off for.

Kitchen blip: Vodka sauce can help make a meal feel higher class – and penne vodka would go great with a big Italian-themed dinner, like the big fundraising dinner I did two weeks ago for the Anchor House. Vodka sauce can only help in this regard when it makes an appearance though, rather than remaining in the fridge because you might have, well, added too much vodka at the beginning or not let it simmer long enough.

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The vodka sauce, adjusted later for personal consumption

When I tasted the sauce while it was in progress, I thought, “Hmmm, it’s got a little too much vodka taste…I know, I’ll add some more crushed tomatoes!” I didn’t want to throw it away and start over, so rather than doing that and cutting my losses, I…cut my losses by adding more tomatoes. And then I added some more tomatoes. And some more after that. But it wasn’t working.

So into the fridge it went to stay,
Until I had more time another day.

When I came back to it a few days later, I found myself rewriting the script. This time rather than cutting my losses, I cut my gains. I started with some new crushed tomatoes, and then I added a smaller amount of the not-quite-right-yet vodka sauce to it. With some trial and error, I figured out that in this case, I needed 2 parts new tomatoes to 1 part old vodka sauce. Which is to say: I found my gains by starting a-gain, and the result wasn’t perfect, but it was perfectly post-party edible. And now, in the freezer at work (the one at home is full), I’ve got approximately 64 ounces of new vodka sauce, ready to go.

Which is also to say, bonus tip! Aka kitchen tip reiteration:

With practice, play, and iteration,
The over-taste, it comes and goes,
Have faith in trials and taste-sensations,
And tomatoes placed with some knowing.

And okay, what the heck, one more 🙂

Bonus: Kitchen tip and kitchen blip: There are many places in the kitchen you could place the plastic wrap. On top of the stove’s back panel works, but a little down below? Not so much.

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I mentioned that hot air vent thing, right???

Yes, a final kitchen tip,
And also kitchen blip,
As shared and told,
In words and pics.

Orlando, in song

Right now, in the present moment, I am sitting on the porch steps in front of my apartment.

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Orlando

I just re-read my last three posts, the story of my Orlando trip, and it’s time for one more, part four.

Part I – Orlando, in words and pictures
Part II – Orlando, in words, pictures, and art
Part III – Orlando, in words, pictures, art, and numbers

Part IV is Orlando, in song.

It’s all part of the story – the process and the progress, the love and the hope, and the bits in between where I fail, learn, and grow, and have the courage to share it for myself and others, to tell, turn, and show.

I’m doing my best, and I’m proud of the storytelling, and the story-living.

The truth is also that Part IV is the first one I wrote. It was the guide for the rest, and when you go back and read Parts I, II, and III, for the full artist’s statement, I have a feeling you’ll be able to see it. 🙂

I went for a run in my hometown this weekend, on streets I’d never been before, and found myself making up the route as I went and trusting that I’d make it back alright to my friends’ house. And I did make it back, and at the same time made it forward, with good thoughts including the one that All roads lead home. We all have it all within us.

With peace, self-love, hope, letting go, and faith, I share with you the next part: Orlando, in song.

Come Home Orlando (mp3 a cappella)

Walking in the park
And singing to the stars,
I feel them right
There within me,
Reflecting
A beating heart,
The trees above
And sand below,
A fire burning
A noble spark,
The path it comes
And on it goes,
And I’m there,
I’m there with you

Come home Orlando,
Where you been
Where you going,
It’s been a long time
Without you,
I’ve been waiting
And a knowing,
That the days they
Come and go and
Everyday you’re
Ever flowing
And I feel more
Where I’m going
And I’m there,
I’m there with you

Drawing in a bar,
All the lines
And the parts,
I see them right
There before me,
The model near
The model far,
And fast it comes
And also stalls,
The graph it grows
And homeward calls,
And on we play
Our growing roles,
And I’m there,
I’m there with you.

Come home Orlando,
Where you been
Where you going,
It’s been a long time
Without you,
I’ve been waiting
And a knowing,
That the days they
Come and go and
Everyday you’re
Ever flowing,
And I see more
Where I’m going,
And I’m there,
I’m there with you

Running in the streets,
And listening
To the beat,
The loop it grows
Fast under feet,
And continues
When I see
The Dinky Line
An orange Einstein
And the avenue
With the Shine,
And yes it’s time
A thrift store find,
To go and see
A show and be.

Come home Orlando,
Where you been
Where you going,
It’s been a long time
Without you,
I’ve been waiting
And a knowing,
That the days they
Come and go and
Everyday you’re
Ever flowing,
And I know more
Where I’m going,
And I’m there,
I’m there with you.

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Princeton

Orlando, in words, pictures, art, and numbers – Part III

And now, we return to Orlando. Welcome back, for Part III.

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When I woke up that Friday morning, my fourth day in Orlando, I knew I had one main choice to make for the day: whether to go back to Wekiwa Springs State Park and go kayaking for most of the day (as I originally thought I would do – Part 1) or stay in the city and relax.

I wanted to do both, but thinking of all I’d done on Thursday (Part II) and what I most wanted out of Friday, I chose the latter.

The decision was actually easier than I thought, and my feeling that it was the right decision was confirmed during my morning run, an easy 35-minutes around town.

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Yes, this is what I want to be doing, I thought as I jogged – taking it easy, not rushing, and letting come what may. What if I didn’t worry and just did that? Yes, let’s go.

About ten minutes into the run, I got to the Orlando Urban Trail, a paved running and biking trail similar to the Cady Way Trail that I’d been on two days earlier.

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I couldn’t believe it, but there it was, in Orlando – the Dinky Line!

This was remarkable because in Princeton we have the Dinky too! Technically it’s the Princeton Shuttle, a 2.9-mile NJ Transit commuter rail line that connects Princeton and Princeton Junction (where you can then go north to New York, or south to Trenton and Philly). To anyone who’s local, it’s the Dinky. I promised myself I’d come back later and get a picture (which I did the next day).

With a Dinky-inspired smile, I continued on my run, passing through Lake Eola Park, Thornton Park, and then Mills 50 on my way back to my Airbnb. Along the way, I found myself smiling again when I happened upon another reminder of home.

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Yes, in the Mills 50 neighborhood in Orlando, at the intersection of art and utility boxes, there’s an orange Einstein.

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It’s good to get away and leave home for a fresh perspective. And it’s also good, when you’re away and relaxed, to be reminded of home. I was running at the pace of Dave, feeling a greater sense of self and doing what I wanted. And then, without trying, I found the Dinky and Einstein. I was away from home, yet I was at home at the same time. What if I brought some of this home back with me?

Part of my run also went down Shine Avenue. Yes, Orlando, full of great signs 🙂

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One of my reasons for dedicating the day, Friday, to relaxing and local exploring was that I was doing the Best Damn Race Orlando Half Marathon the next day. I didn’t want to rush when picking up my race packet, and staying local meant I could also take advantage of the kitchen in the Airbnb to cook my favorite pre-long-race meal.

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For a while, this pre-race meal (whenever possible) has been homemade tomato sauce and pasta. And that’s what I made. Crushed tomatoes, garlic, onions (the ones that I’d picked the day before at the farm!), olive oil, salt, and pepper. The leftovers were also good the next day after the race, and on the plane ride home on Sunday.

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I also sauteed some spinach and cut some carrots, because that’s what I do

After dinner, I wrapped up my Friday by going to an improv show at SAK Comedy Lab in downtown Orlando. I’d heard about SAK from someone at Tasty Tuesdays, and having done improv myself recently with some friends at home and knowing how hard/easy/stressful/freeing/awesome it can be to do – you should try it! if you want to – I was looking forward to seeing a live show.

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The show was great, and on top of that there was also the wall-art with the improv of life reminders.

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I had initially stopped by SAK in the afternoon to buy a ticket. Seeing no one at front desk, I continued on in and headed up the stairs. While looking at the Improv is Life wisdom-inspiration murals, I ran into the person, Dale, who would be hosting the show that night. He gave me the details on the tickets (can reserve them online) and the art (one of the performers, who is also a visual artist, designed everything).

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Sometimes at work in the morning, I’ll write daily intention reminders to myself on a yellow post-it. I didn’t realize it at the time, but taking these pictures at SAK was like doing the same thing, on a larger scale.

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I invite you to click, expand, and pan through the murals and see what thoughts and ideas resonate with you. And to see an improv show, and to try it too.

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The words in these pictures
And my words and pictures
Are for everyone,
Friends old and new and not yet known.
They’re there for me
And there for you,
Feelings felt and
Feelings shown

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For my last day in Orlando, part one was doing the half marathon. When I had originally signed up for it, I thought it would be my weekly long run as part of training for a spring marathon. I never found the right marathon motivation though, so I never signed up for one. This is also to say that had there been any doubt, my goal for the Best Damn Race Orlando Half Marathon was at this point definitely to have it mirror my goal for the trip as a whole – to move myself in the direction I wanted to go in, relax and enjoy it, and welcome the outcome and whatever comes.

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I found and welcomed the sunrise on my way to the start.

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I also found my lucky numbers, 313.
No better a birthday, or combination of primes, has the world known. I may be biased though.

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The route took us through some familiar neighborhoods and streets, including Shine Ave. There might have been delays for the cars that morning, but I wasn’t feeling any because, me, I wasn’t in a rush. I’ll race a race once in a while, but more often lately what I’ve been doing is appreciating the beauty of running at the pace that feels right for the day. I didn’t want to run as hard as possible and injure myself, so I didn’t. And I wanted to run at a more relaxed pace and enjoy it, so I did. It felt great, and I ran a few fun, faster miles towards the end. And I finished and lived to run another day.

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Repping PRC in ORD

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The wings, they spin

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I only had one of these recovery drinks. You saw all the sweat in that picture of me running, right?

A few days later when I looked at the results again, I was like, Wait a second, wow!
My gun time was 1:36:36.9, which meant that If I had kept running and were able to keep the same pace for a full marathon (that is, if I kept training and were then able to keep running the same pace), my final time would be 3:13:13! I’d found my numbers again, and again without trying.

Back to my last day in Orlando, post-half marathon, I had one final decision to make: to DRIP or not to DRIP.

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At the bar a few days earlier, I had heard about what sounded like an awesome performing-arts show, DRIP. Imagine dancers moving, choreographed paint and water and sand flying, colored lights moving, a live rock band playing music, everything happening in a dark and intimate warehouse bar setting, and the audience standing and watching on the edges of the performance space and becoming an increasingly painted and wet participant. And picture the audience coming early to get a drink and paint each other and hang out, and then doing more of the same afterwards.

It sounded great, and I thought, “I should go to that. I want to do that.” Adding to the awesomeness was that I only learned about the show because I happened to visit a particular bar (recommended by my hosts) and happen to sit in the one spot at the bar that I could have sat, at the right time, to happen to have a conversation with the woman, Mariko, who happened to be the creator of DRIP!

My plan was to check it out my last night in Orlando. Drip with sweat while running in the morning, and then drip with paint while seeing DRIP in the evening. That afternoon, though, I started dragging. Whether it was the good running-feeling subsiding, the growing thoughts of my pending return to regular life at home, or something else, I started feeling the stress and worry that I had been doing good at managing.

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So I took a beat and let myself be.

After getting my Dinky picture, I crossed the street and found a warm spot on the grass near Lake Highland. And then I laid down on my back, resting, breathing, looking up, not looking at anything, now with eyes closed, and I let my thoughts come and go, and along the way came the understanding that I would do whatever felt right and that that would be alright. If a more low-key evening is what was moving me, then that’s what I would do. If DRIP became the stronger part of my compass, I’d move in that direction.

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The first sign in favor of DRIP was the beet juice, which I’d gotten in my race goody bag. Beet Performer is 100% beet juice, and well, one sip confirmed for me that it’s not my cup of beet juice tea.

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This also explains why I had an open, nearly full can of beet juice in my rental car’s cup-holder, which was fine until I unexpectedly backed into a curb while parking, leading to the beet juice spilling and leaving a large maroon mark on my arm. How about that, I thought, I just painted myself.

Then next came the thrift store, which is what I was parking for. If I went to DRIP, I wanted to get a pair of flip flops, as Mariko had mentioned how most people wear old clothes and sandals that they don’t mind getting paint on. And what would you know: the thrift store had my exact size.

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I also got The Muppet Movie (a classic, for my nieces) and some reading for the plane.

The final push to DRIP was a therapy-like conversation I had with a bartender a short while later while eating dinner. The thoughts and talk on my end went something like this: Yes, I want to go, but I have a voice telling me I shouldn’t go because I would be going by myself and would feel like I’d have to talk to new people, and I don’t always feel like doing that, and then I would be self-conscious and not enjoy it, and so on. But I want to go. And, I’d already painted myself and found flip flips! And oh yeah, I met the person who created the show, and this is an opportunity to see it and see something awesome. Tonight. And, I can go and do whatever I want, talk to or not talk to people, and have a good time. I can just go and be.

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So that’s what I did.

Once upon a time, I wrote about a Two T-Shirt Day. After entering the DRIP bar area and collecting my t-shirt before the show started, I was treated to a zombie-cutting and sleeves-ripping.

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And that, when combined with my half marathon attire and with the rest of my day, perspective seen and perspective shown, turned it into a Two Tank Top Day.

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Afterwards, with a few of the performers in front, and with a blond Mariko photo-bomb in back

The show was amazing, and after it was over, I sat with myself for a few minutes in the bar area, continuing to be. Among the thoughts that came were, Yes, I’m okay, I’m doing okay, I’m me, I’m ready, Let’s go home, Let’s go.

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And up next: Orlando, in song – for the special encore

Orlando, in words, pictures, and art – Part II

There was walking and exploring and food trucks on Day 1.
And running, hiking, singing, and swimming on Day 2.
And there was going to be yoga, the beach, and art on Day 3.

Those were my general Day 3 Thursday plans at least, which came together while hiking and swimming during the day on Wednesday and also while getting a drink back at a bar in Orlando Wednesday night.

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Wall art, seen while walking back to my car, after leaving the bar, Wednesday night

As it turned out, Thursday would also include a visit to a farm and a second art event. Which is to say: there was a lot going on, and at some points too much as I tried to follow my interests and do too much. But in the end, it was all good. The story continues.

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From my hosts, I’d heard about East End Market, a neighborhood market a mile and half away that serves as a food hub, merchant space, and community center. Inside there was a variety of local food businesses (bread, cheese, produce, juice, beer), a coffee shop, a small book store, a plants store, a restaurant, and more. And outside there was a patio courtyard and a community garden project. And: everything Thursday morning, in partnership with Lululemon, there was a free yoga class!

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Shop, Learn, Live – the other side of the East End Market card above

So I got up early, jogged to the market, and started the day with yoga. I hadn’t done yoga in a while – the last time was several months prior, coincidentally at a free Lululemon class in Princeton – and I was also planning on doing a half marathon in two days (yes, the Best Damn Race Orlando), so I took it easy. And I was able to relax and it felt good. And with an intention set for the day – love and kindness all around, for myself and others – I got a sourdough loaf from the bakery and ambled around the market, inside and out, at my own pace.

Most of the shops weren’t open yet, but it made me smile to learn that the offices of Edible Orlando were housed there (I picked up the latest copy). And I found a local farms guide! Before jogging home, I sat for a few minutes, relaxing and being.

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Where I got into a little trouble that day, back at the house and at other points, was when I started thinking that I needed to do certain things and to fit a lot of things in.

I had the beach in mind, but now I also saw the possibility of visiting some local farms, and Google maps was telling me that logistically it would be possible to visit them on the way back from the beach, and then if I got back in time I could also go to this additional art thing that I’d learned about the night before at the bar. The timing would be tight though, and I couldn’t stay in any one place for too long. But it could work. But I’d be rushing. But it was possible. But I’d be thinking of next place and not relaxing in the moment. What should I do, what should I do… Wait, does this sound familiar?? Yes, to hike or to kayak, that is the question:)

In the end, I did them all and I had some stress about it. Who’s not perfect though? This guy.
And who feels better having said that, and having lived and learned through it? Also this guy.

But to move on from this guy,
Let’s talk about this sky.

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I brought my lunch with me to beach, and sat with this view.
There were just a few others, enjoying it too.

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The admission was free, the opposite of Jersey,
But if you wanted to drive, there was a $10 fee.

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There were also many palms,
At the beach and in the street.

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And also at the farm,
You can see them behind,

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With the strawberries in front,
Growing in lines.

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In the end I picked five quarts,
Some peppers and onions too,

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Because when the opportunity comes,
That’s what you do.

Yes, stopping at the farm added something to the trip. And strawberries in March, who knew! I didn’t get to also visit an orange grove, but in talking with the farmer while paying, I did learn a little about the orange industry. She told me how a disease, citrus greening, was threatening the entire industry and how her family had successfully transitioned from oranges to vegetables.

Back in Orlando, the first art event I went to that evening was 1st Thursdays at the art museum (good, but with everything else that day and the timing of it, it became part of my day’s too much). And then I went to Mystery Sketch Theater at the Falcon (better, because that’s what I really wanted to do).

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When my hosts had mentioned Mystery Sketch Theater – a monthly figure drawing session held at a local bar, where a live model dresses up as a superhero and other unique characters – I was like, “That sounds awesome, I would do that.” I like drawing, I thought, and it sounded like a fun social thing to do with like-minded people. Drawing, drinking, and hanging out, perhaps too with some new friends. I also happened to have brought with me from NJ a set drawing pencils, a sharpener, and a eraser (holiday gifts from one of my brothers that I hadn’t used yet). I’d packed them thinking that maybe I’d use them, and now here was an opportunity!

So I bought a sketchpad and showed up.

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The model started with one-minute poses, as a warm up for us as well as for her. This progressed into 5-minute and then 10-minute poses. And then about half-way in, near the hour mark, she took a break for a costume change. From 8 to 9 pm we were drawing a leather-bound Cat-woman type, and from 9 to 10 pm it was Ariel from The Little Mermaid.

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First costume

I liked the shortest poses the best – less time to worry about making mistakes. You have to dive in, draw, and be decisive with your lines.

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I found that the more time I had, the longer I often hesitated. With some of the longer poses, I’d have very little done until I found out there was a minute left, and then there’d be a flurry of lines and parts in the last 30-60 seconds. Sometimes it would look okay, sometimes not. At a certain point, I could feel myself getting self-critical: “There are so many mistakes in my drawings. They’re not perfect! I’m not perfect! Other people’s drawings look better than mine.” And then it passed.

The truth is, there were some talented artists that night at Mystery Sketch Theater. And while my drawings didn’t always have the right proportions or features (heads, hands, my undoing), that’s okay. I reminded myself, too, that to be good or great at something right away is unrealistic. As in, something that’s not real. And me? Yes, I’m real. And to get better at drawing, and anything in life – meeting new people, enjoying the present moment, seeing the beauty around you everyday – it takes time and practice. And with that in mind, I’m happy to say the following: Enjoy the rest of the art show!

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All the drawings, from top to bottom, appear in the order in which they were drawn.

The more I look at them, the more I realize there’s something about every one that I like. A line, a leg, a look, a gesture, a smile, a something. Every one, just like everyone, has something special. I like each one on its own, and all of them as a group.

Do you have a favorite?

Looking at them also makes me want to do more drawing. For context too, the one drawing with the words was the product of that night’s contest: Prior to everyone starting that one, which was the final drawing before the model’s costume change, the suggestion of “Stealing Easter” was selected as the concept for us to transform our drawings into while the model changed.

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Some of the Stealing Easter entries

I didn’t win the contest, but I won the day by drawing in a bar on vacation. It was a good Thursday decision. And after it ended, I got a bite to eat with two of the other artists.

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Up next: Part III for the Orlando conclusion – relaxing, running, and performing-arts seeing and being

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