Monthly Archives: April 2013
I am looking forward to writing in retrospect on my last days in Watertown and I hope my writing comes out funny.
Actually, it might come out sounding rather pathetic. Life has rather sucked.
There are a few people I don’t actually look forward to telling that I am moving, or planning to move, namely, my brothers, because they will tell me it’s a stupid idiot thing to do. Why will they tell me this? Because they tell me everything I do is stupid and idiotic. They do this because they only care about their own monetary gain.
To my brother Ned, I am not a “real writer” because I am not published in the New Yorker. That’s how he defines real writers. He constantly puts me down and I hate talking to him.
I hate talking to my brother Phil because it’s damn obvious he doesn’t give a shit about me. He only cares about his own stupid petty life.
I think I will move and not tell them until after I’m moved. No rule that says I have to tell them.
But meanwhile, back to life in Watertown. Remember I told you someone might come out of the woodwork and tell me they were going to miss me or something? Well, I think folks are looking forward to not having me around.
After all, I’m nothing but a nasty bitch, right? No one really likes me and I never do any good for anyone.
I never did anything good for the church. Not that I was really asked to or even allowed to. I wasn’t on a committee and didn’t make any meaningful contributions in any way. I don’t think anyone really wanted me around. I think they will just breathe a sigh of relief when I’m gone and know that they won’t have to deal with me anymore. Folks just kinda put up with me and they won’t have to do that anymore.
Me, I can hardly wait to get out of here. Itching to take off. I can’t afford to fly there and check out places, so wherever I settle for, I’m going to have to take it sight unseen. I know folks who have done that before and although I have heard of scams, it often works out just fine.
There was one place that sounded okay, but then it sort of didn’t, and then it turned out she would not take Puzzle. I thought about the place and decided I didn’t like the idea that the owner would be showing up every now and again whenever she felt like it (she claimed it would be extremely rarely, and just to do business for a few hours) as “absentee roommate” and giving me a lower price for that deal, so it’s just as well that our conversation ended abruptly as soon as she found out about Puzzle.
I can hardly wait to write about how crappy my life has been these past couple of weeks. I will tell you once I’m out of here and safely in my new town. I can hardly wait to split the scene. Mostly, I’ve been in bed. Not that that matters and not that anyone really cares. And no one really knows why or cares to know why or understands even or wants to understand.
I’ve pretty much given up on the idea of having a friend, or anything resembling one. I mean someone you can really tell what’s going on with you, and share and stuff. That’s kinda sad.
As far as staying on the planet, well, we’ll see. Might give up on that, too, at the rate things are going. Just seems pointless. But, you know, starting a new life in a new place, who knows…anything can happen.
Basically, my plan now is to find the new place and spend a lot of time in bed for quite a while. After all, I’m going to be tired, right? Then, we’ll see. Life might be worth living, might not.
You can cry and walk your dog at the same time so long as you have a supply of tissues in your pocket. That way, you don’t have to use your sleeves. Another thing I’d suggest is to make sure nobody’s looking. And if you do anything out loud, make like you are talking to your dog or talking on a cell phone just in case anyone drives by or walks by with their own dog, or is listening out their window. That way, it’s all kinda foolproof.
So I was out walking Puzzle this morning down a street I frequently walk on, and sure enough, started thinking about folks at church. Don’t ask me why I thought of this particular person, never mind who, but this person is wicked, wicked nice. I said to myself, “Oh honestly, Julie, you have not had one single negative interchange with this person, it’s all been entirely positive and pleasant. Julie, this person and this person’s spouse, they are about the nicest people you could ask for.” And then I proceeded to think up more people at church that I thought were the nicest people you could ask for, and more and more people. In fact, I had such a list that there was no list at all. I just kept thinking of more and more wonderful people, a whole conglomerate of them. You’d think I’d thought up a whole church full of them, more than ever show up on any given Sunday. Actually, if that many people filled our teensy parking lot, a zillion cars would be double-parked and I guess there would be all sorts of problems for the first ones that had arrived.
Oh no, I didn’t get that far in my thinking. By then, I was bawling my eyes out. Don’t ask me how many tissues I needed cuz I have no clue. Me, leave Watertown? Well, yeah, I really am planning to leave. It does truly suck when you end up getting sad over stuff like this.
Relationships. Well, like I said in previous entries, stuff happens like this. There will always be folks I wished I had gotten to know better while I was here. And folks might appear at some point and make it known that they wished they had gotten to know me a bit. It was like that in every town I lived in and then moved away from, years ago, and so the pattern will continue.
Oh sure, there are certain thing I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. But maybe I would wish them on people that done me wrong in times past.
You know, like, revenge.
So, I do, occasionally, wish bad things would happen to people like that. Silly little thoughts cross my mind.
What is YOUR worst nightmare? Admit it. That one day, you wake up FAT.
Okay, anyone that ever looked down on me, you got it.
I guess I’ve been through this before. I pick a new place, set a date, get my stuff packed. And then, eventually, word gets out. A few weeks pass. My stuff is packed. Boxes, boxes, boxes, everywhere.
Why is Julie leaving? What’s the scandal? Talk, talk, talk….
So my door rings. Or knocks. I never did have a doorbell. I suppose this was 1986.
There were two women who came to my door that I recall right before I moved who had about the same message. They were both on foot. It was essentially this:
I wish I had gotten to know you better, Julie.
Well, I’m sorry, too. Maybe I’m not. It didn’t happen while I was here. I mean, you didn’t come around, then, right? So I’m leaving. That’s the breaks.
Of course, I didn’t actually say that stuff. These two women let me know separately and privately that they were sorry the town of Bennington and North Bennington, Vermont and Bennington College had been rotten to me, and they wished it had not gone sour for me due to gossip and mental health stigma.
I assured them that I was going to a big city and I was steering clear of small town gossip.
Am I expecting about the same thing to happen now. Yep. Someone’s gonna come out of the woodwork and tell me the same thing. Someone’s gonna tell me they wished they had gotten to know me better. Or I’ll get to know someone suddenly and they’ll introduce themselves and then say, “Oh, sorry you’re leaving.”
Well, damnit, too bad.
Not that I have a destination in mind or anything yet. I’m sort of thinking Tennessee. There’s a river there. That’s a good thing. It’s inexpensive. Cheap is good. It’s warmer than here. There are a lot of small cities, but I don’t want cities that are too small, because too small means gossip and it also means the public transportation system’s gonna suck, or the budget won’t hold out and they will cancel the buses the year after I move there.
People ask me why I don’t drive. I know this sounds dumb, but to me, it was like slavery to a piece of metal. It was like all these mechanics would ask me, “Oh, are you Jewish? You must have rich parents. I will charge you an extra $100.” So I’d get slapped with an extra $100. I’m not kidding you. And in the gossipy town I lived in in Vermont, there was only one mechanic, and he’d charge an extra $100 every time he’d fix my car.
It was similar with all health care practitioners in that town. “You have Jewish parents? Let me see if I can call your parents and arrange finances….” That part of it totally blew. I’d tell them over and over that I was over 18 and not dependent on my parents, and not to betray my confidentiality, but that didn’t matter. Money mattered more than confidentiality.
I suppose that’s the way real life is anyway. People do what they damn well want to do and they don’t care what the law is, whether it’s legal or not doesn’t matter.
So goodbye, Watertown, hello, wherever I end up.
When my brother first suggested I see her, I knew his implication that the situation was “dire” was untrue. Otherwise, he’d be hopping into town in a flash to rush to her bedside. Instead, he was waiting two weeks. Meanwhile, the whole Boston Marathon 2013 bombing incident here in Watertown happened and was over. For a stunning bunch of hours, I got to be, in my own way, famous only because I lived here in this town, that is, I got to show off on Facebook, then, suddenly, I wasn’t.
Not only that, but I’m sick and tired of rah rahing the cops and people in uniform and want to leave this place real bad. It’s a little different when you live here, that is, when folks look down on you all the time, and if you live in low income housing yourself you know “that look” people give you that I’m talking about. Franklin Street over there, that whole area, that’s not low-income housing projects like here. So crap, man.
So given all that, I was expecting I’d be driven over to my mom’s, and I expected the whole day to go differently. And I’ll bet my brother did as well. Now I’ll bet he expected my other brother, the middle boy, to show up and my other brother flaked out. I’ll betcha. All this behind my back. So the youngest, in desperation, decided to do it all another way. He phoned me in the morning. I was in bed, sleeping in, trying real hard to make up for the fact that I’d stayed up way to late last night. He said he was calling me at 1. I said fine, and went back to sleep.
Or tried to sleep as much as I could, then got up. By some miracle, my hot water was working. Often, it doesn’t work well enough to take a shower or wash dishes. It’s like tepid or barely there or completely cold. Last night, the water was so hot, I’d say it was the only time all week it was really the way it should be, and I told myself I’d better shower then, but I didn’t, and I was cursing myself telling myself that in the morning I was going to be out of luck. In this building, it’s kinda hit or miss. I’m telling ya, I gotta move.
Anyway, I showered, and got myself all clean. Walked the dog and stuff and got her fed and her teeth brushed and my brother calls and says, “I’m bringing Mom over to your place.”
My place. Oh great.
“Don’t worry, she can’t hear a thing.”
Well gee, that’s a good thing. Cuz the carbon monoxide detectors are all going off all the time. The Housing Authority never bothered to replace the batteries in these things. They are supposed to do this every six months. So every six months, if you don’t change these batteries, they sound an alarm notifying you to change the batteries. Trust me, you will freaking hear this unless you have truly the worst hearing.
This sound, this beep, beep, beep, every 30 seconds or so has become the sound of my life. Guess what? I hear it here nonstop now. This maintenance department here refuses to do the simple job of going around the building and changing batteries and has left it up to residents (those with normal hearing) to do it themselves. When I hear an alarm very close to my apartment going off on a night or weekend, I just have to put up with it, because they tell me if I make a call to report it I will have to pay these guys for “overtime.” Bastards.
They tell me my hearing is “abnormal” and have suggested that I turn on a TV to drown it out. Oh, please.
I saw a guy in the elevator holding his alarm in his hand. He had gotten onto a ladder or reached up (liability!) and gotten his alarm off the wall. He was holding it in his hand. I asked him about it and assumed it was the batteries…of course, I was right. He said, “I just want this thing to quiet down. How do I get it to stop making that noise?”
“Tell the Housing Authority,” I said. “They need to change all the batteries in all the detectors. They should have done this six months ago.”
But he didn’t understand. “How do I get it to stop?”
“Ask them to show you how to open it up. Take that thing to the office.”
There are people who do not wear their hearing aids whose detectors are beeping in their apartments for hours and hours and they don’t even know it. Kinda useless, huh? So these are folks who play their TV’s at triple volume just so they can hear their TV’s.
Such is my own hallway, the second floor. Blasting TV’s.
“So Mom is coming over here?” I ask. “I’m not sure I have a good chair for her to sit. A lot of my chairs sort are sort of falling apart, you know?”
I know one of my wood chairs broke when I tried to lift it, so I don’t want my mother in that. There’s a circular chair that might be hard to get out of, so that’s out. I don’t want her on my couch, cuz I sleep on that. So it would be my desk chair. Only you’re not supposed to put a whole lot of weight on the arms. It’s not hugely techno. But Mom was coming in a walker, wasn’t she?
Honestly, I don’t have any clue.
God forbid if she wants to use the bathroom. Get this: the toilet seat they gave me? Guess what it’s made of. Pressed wood that’s painted. And the paint’s chipped. Now of course, that’s rather unsanitary, but if I ask for a replacement, I’m sure they’ll give me something far worse. This one at least stays in place. Now you know there are a lot of toilet seats out there that wobble when you sit on them. We don’t like wobbly toilet seats. So I’m sticking with this very gross one I’ve got. However, Mom is bound to make some snide comment. The object is to keep her out of the bathroom, see?
So I give my brother directions a zillion times. Here in Watertown, the town that’s been kinda showered with bullets lately and circled a zillion times over by helicopters last week. But never mind that. I tell him the landmarks to look for.
My dog, Puzzle, barks a whole bunch when the bell rings. Not that I blame my little dog. I buzz them in. I can hear my mom yelling all the way down the hall. Oh, anticipation. No, this lady ain’t so frail.
So, readers. You know I focus a large amount of my blog on the topic of eating disorders, because some 30+ years ago this malady came into my life. I have not seen my mom for over two years, meaning that she has not seen me for over two years as well.
Guess what the first words out of her damn mouth are?
You got it.
It was a remark about my weight. And no, she did not say this in a quiet voice, and yes, my walls are paper thin.
My brother kicked her. Well, sorta kicked her.
The discussion went on from there. My mom chit-chatted, in an extremely loud and obnoxious voice, on the topic of money. Thankfully, she doesn’t make much sense these days. Everything she said was as loud as can be.
And when they left, the two walked down the hall, my mom carrying on as loudly as she could. Lord knows what she was saying but I’m sure if it’s true that “old people become more like themselves as they age” she did her best to embarrass me and I cannot imagine what “comments” she made with my curious neighbors all lined up along the hall wondering, “Who the heck is that loud old lady coming out of that girl’s apartment?” Knowing my luck, my mom freaking introduced herself to those assholes.
After they left, I curled up with Puzzle and went to sleep for a long time. Now, I really don’t know what to think except I’m glad it’s over. Tomorrow is another, quieter day.
Did I speak too soon? Watertown has been the center of the world’s attention and I have been lapping it up
Oh sure, as a person who for certain is not Miss Popularity, I can tell you I have never before had so many “likes” on Facebook than over the past week when we had our little adventure here in Watertown following the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings. I made sure to let everyone from out of town know that yes, I did live in Watertown.
Why? I am quite the ham at heart. I love getting up on stage and getting the attention of an audience and have rarely had stage fright. As a writer, I love giving readings, that is, reading my own writings aloud to live audiences, and making folks laugh or cry or giving them chills.
More than anything, I want to make a footprint on the world. But generally, on Facebook, as I said, I am not Miss Popularity and I am overlooked and I consider Facebook more or less a popularity contest. The whole Facebook scene in the past has sickened me that way. I think Facebook is very dangerous and can be used in a harmful manner for this reason.
It’s like a huge version of my elementary school playground, when the kids used to pick teams. It was all stacked against me. I was the shortest kid in the class. I was doomed. The last to be picked for the team. The first to be called for Red Rover, because I was bound to blow it. To make things worse, I wore glasses, I was Jewish, and I was a girl. My mom always embarrassed me with her loud talk, she always forgot to pick me up from school, would send me to school wearing the most embarrassing clothes imaginable….
I suppose each of the kids in the same school would tell you the same story. We were all embarrassed kids. The other kid had it better. The grass was always greener. Every kid had their moment they wished they never had to go back to school ever again.
I’m not sure if other people grow up and are comfortable fading into the woodwork and never making a mark on the world, slipping away unnoticed. I can’t see that this is a way to live a satisfying life. I think it is human need to have a sense of purpose in life. Generally, this means we change something here in our environment. Sometimes it means having a relationship with another human, raising animals, or raising good children and then setting them loose in the world. Other times, it means doing work in writing or the arts and setting our works loose just the same as if they were children.
There were a lot of changes here in Watertown I guess over the past week or two. I hammed it up on Facebook, just for the “likes” and stuff like that. I just figured that my phone wasn’t going to ring anyway and I’ve been dumped by most of my real-life friends, so I might as well have a little fun for the heck of it.
So now it’s all over. What is friendship, anyway? You get to know it’s kind of meaningless after a while. Especially when you are lying down in Watertown with your dog, they have told you you cannot leave and no one can come in, and the incessant helicopters are flying overhead, over and over. Who is with you? Your dog and no one else. That is the reality.
It is what I have been saying all along. You are all alone in this world.
And so the helicopters flew over, again and again, and the Watertown sky darkened with the stink of them. I saw on a streamed-in news station that our tiny malls that sold cheap bargain products from China were suddenly riddled with FBI agents and the like. No one from Watertown ever went to these malls. They were for out-of-towners to do their Christmas shopping, with the exception of Best Buy or Home Depot. I guess a lot of local elderly people still go to that restaurant in the Watertown Mall called Old Country Buffet, but to me, the food that place serves smells like nursing home food.
I guess I am lucky. Many dogs aren’t very happy about the idea of having a toothbrush or anything resembling one anywhere near the inside of their mouths, however, my little dog Puzzle is delighted every time we do this activity.
Recently, yesterday, in fact, I saw an ad for a product that made claims to “freshen dog breath.” Now listen carefully. First of all, the advertiser stated that brushing a dog’s teeth was not something a dog owner wanted to do, claiming that this was an unpleasant, yucky activity for both dog and owner that every dog owner would pay good money to avoid.
Really? You can brush your dog’s teeth and avoid yuckiness such as tartar buildup, eventual loss of teeth, god knows what resulting pain and suffering (your dog’s, that is), of course bad breath (your dog’s), and huge vet bills (yours).
So the entire ad started with this premise and went onward. What to do about bad dog breath? I have no idea about the price of this product, and when a product’s price is not advertised, I’m sure it’s either sky high or the company has “special offers” and is deceptive about its prices, offering what people think are “bargains,” but we all know what that means.
So the product cleans the dog’s tongue, thereby freshening breath. Technology at work, folks. Listen carefully to the ad. It makes claim to freshen your dog’s breath, and makes claim to clean the tartar off your dog’s tongue, but not from your dog’s teeth.
So, you’ll be paying a fortune for the tongue scraper, and then paying for the special gel for it, probably a they want to dupe you into a subscription payment, and then paying the vet for the teeth cleaning once every few years, anyway.
So back to dog teeth brushing. It’s not expensive at all. It’s just like brushing my own teeth, only for me, brushing Puzzle’s teeth is less disgusting than brushing my own teeth. Dogs need different toothpaste. They need what’s known as “enzymatic” toothpaste, not the toothpaste people use, such as “Crest” or “Colgate.”
I ran out of the dog toothpaste I’d been using for a few years. Trust me, dog toothpaste is one of those things like tissues or toilet paper, one of those things you just don’t want to run out of. Luckily, I had an Amazon gift certificate. I went online and peeked at the Amazon product reviews. Naturally, I take these reviews with a grain of salt. So many of these reviews are all about how fast the product arrived, or if Amazon shipped the wrong product. Finally, I found overwhelmingly positive reviews of a dog toothpaste called CET.
I have the product right here in my hand, and I will tell you what else it says on the box: C.E.T. Enzymatic Toothpaste, Virbac Animal Health I think that’s all the information you will need. You can get this product from many veterinarians right at their offices, and you will find that it is highly recommended. The tube only 2.5 ounces, not particularly a lot but sold for well under ten dollars a tube, if I recall correctly. If you go through the Amazon site, you will find the product sold by various vendors at varying prices. CET comes in a variety of flavors. Pick whatever you think your dog will like best.
For a few days, Puzzle and I were out of dog toothpaste. Trust me, it was not a good thing. I have always brushed Puzzle’s teeth I was cringing thinking of her going without brushing for those days. Then, the CET arrived at the post office. We began using it. I was surprised because I figured it would take much longer than it did to clear up the yucky buildup from the days that Puzzle went without having her teeth brushed.
I’m not sure how to teach an older dog how to allow a toothbrush into their mouth, if the dog isn’t used to one. I used to brush my dog Tiger’s teeth and in fact scrape her teeth with a dental scraper. If I recall correctly, I didn’t do it daily. I think I did it once a week. I rolled her over on her back, and when I got the tartar off her teeth, I carefully lifted it out of her mouth to make sure she didn’t accidentally ingest it. Human dentists are careful also to make sure we do not ingest the crap they remove from our teeth. This was all so long ago.
Tiger’s teeth were much larger than Puzzle’s. Her head and body were differently shaped, and she had a different disposition, being a herding dog by instinct. Tiger often rolled over and lay with her belly exposed, and stayed in that posture for so long, her delicate front paws bent, waiting. I was always amazed at how vulnerable she allowed herself to be. It is a pose I rarely see Puzzle take on. Instead, Puzzle, who is much smaller, is more self-protective. If she is curled in what we humans think of as fetal position, in apparent sleep, she will have her ears up, always on the alert for possible danger, real or imagined.
This morning, Puzzle decided it was time for me to get up. I suppose it was. Puzzle decided to change positions from beside me with my arm around her to directly on top of me. This was not a lengthy commute. Perhaps a few inches. I wasn’t exactly awake, nor was I exactly asleep. So Puzzle got on top of me. I suppose she was saying, “Mama, get up.”
Then, right on top of me, she immediately fell into a deep sleep. Now what’s a dog owner to do? I had a funny-looking now-quite-white fourteen pound dog on top of me, fast asleep, and it was time to get up. I didn’t want to be rude or anything. She was truly in a doggie comatose state. Married folks, you know the situation, it’s heartbreaking to interrupt them, but you have to get out of bed somehow.
I thanked myself a zillion times that my asleep dog didn’t have bad breath. You sure don’t want a dog that’s suddenly fallen into a deep sleep for whatever reason breathing yuckiness all over you first thing in the morning.
As I remember correctly, I fell back asleep myself, my little dog I suppose in her own dream, too, and we were like that for a while until finally I awoke again.
And all over, upon waking, for me, it was again a surprise to see my dog, this wonder, this creation, how could this be? How could a creature be so small? How could a tiny creature love me with so much abandon and joy?
Readers, today I could not ask for more.
As I figured it, things were not going to be the same for runners for a while. Not for any runner anywhere. Not even on a treadmill. As I saw it, a shadow had been cast on the sport.
For me, I thought of the Marathon runners, how each had trained for a year to run in this event. Yes, a year. I had heard that it takes a year of solid work, specifically training to run this very long distance that our bodies are not really designed to do. I have heard that the half marathon, that is, approximately thirteen miles, is far easier on the body, whereas the full marathon is well beyond the scope of most people’s natural abilities.
Running is a solitary activity. I say this because you do it in your head. Or at least I do. I have never done it with another person, and don’t intend to. I cannot fathom it as a team thing. I see it as something one person’s body does by itself. It is not multiple bodies doing something in cooperation, as is synchronized swimming, a ballet troupe, or, say, a jazz quartet.
And so, when I run, I daydream. I go off places. Many places. Even when I ran at our track, called Victory Field, I loved to imagine I was ending my run at Copley Square, where the Boston Marathon ended each year. Yes, I imagined not that I was the winner in first place of the Boston Marathon, but that I was one of the runners of the race that was completing, anywhere, really, it didn’t matter to me, only that I had made it to the finish and was congratulated, a wreath of sorts placed around my neck as I passed across the line. I enjoyed this image every time I completed my final lap at Victory Field. I sped up as I rounded the curve. I told myself, “Julie, you’ve done it again. You are a winner.” Then, I’d leave the track, walk through the gate, and cherish that imagined wreath around my neck.
As I walked through Victory Field’s small parking lot, careful to avoid exiting cars so that they wouldn’t back into me, I’d imagine I was coming home from the Boston Marathon a winner, a protective foil draped over me. Nobody would drive me home. In fact, I was once in Boston’s Red Line station and saw marathon runners going home alone on the subway alone. Yes, alone. With that foil draped over them, the foil that told me they’d run the marathon. The solitude of these runners made me so uncomfortable that I guess that’s why I felt the need to congratulate them. Now, I realize that maybe what they felt inside was enough. After all, they were going home.
Or maybe not. It was hard for me to remember. Were they going back to lonely hotels? But as I left Victory Field, I changed the music to something else. I turned it down so that I could hear an oncoming car. You sure don’t want to be hit, to be so lost in a daydream and get yelled at by a driver, “Hey, watch where you’re going, idiot!”
I had to switch to treadmill running quite suddenly. I guess it was November. My fingers and toes told me to do so. My body told me to do so. When you are on your way home from Victory Field after a run and it isn’t even all that cold out, and you are convinced you can snap off every single frozen finger and every single frozen toe, and no daydream will cure that notion, it’s time to look for a budget gym.
I’m not sure when the mailing came. My mailbox is barely big enough for a postage stamp to fit in, let alone a letter. But along with the usual ads for tires for the car I haven’t driven for maybe thirty years came an ad for a gym called GymIt. GymIt? What a weird name for a gym. It turned out that GymIt was the new budget gym in town that believe me, turned out to be the best gym I had ever belonged to.
GymIt is operated by a couple of brothers to my recollection. The staff are always friendly and truly proud of the place. So when I showed up the day after the 2013 Boston Marathon, checked in, and said hello to the very kind staff person at the desk, I decided I might as well throw in my two cents. I said, “I’m not going to be daydreaming that I’m at Copley Square while I’m on my run today.”
I guess she misunderstood me. She asked me if I’d been a runner at the marathon, that is, Boston Marathons of past years. I replied, “Oh, no, not me. I only pretend. I daydream.”
She laughed. “Oh,” she said. “I get it.” We both laughed. “But you can pretend you’re at the London Marathon.”
“Perhaps,” I said.
“Enjoy yourself, Julie,” she said, waving. They call me by name because they see it on my tag when I check in. I headed off to the locker room, being careful to go into the Ladies’ and not the Men’s. One of these days, I’ll make that goof, but I haven’t yet.
So once on the treadmill, I set my player to something I’ve been using lately by Podrunner. It’s free running music you can download off the Internet. I decided to use what I’ve downloaded from their “Intervals” training program by “DJ Beatsmith.” Actually, I call him “Steve” when I talk to him in my head, because the other DJ’s name who does the Podrunner mixes is Steve Boyett, so I figure I might as well call them both Steve. I talk to them both in my head while I run, not out loud, but to myself. I tell them I can run faster than them.
Today, the guy to my right was running up a storm already. You really should have seen this guy. He was so into it, not that you could blame him after what had happened the day before. He was throwing punches into the air. I do the same thing, but only in my head. I punch out anyone who ever called me Welfare scum. Sure I do. But this guy, he was really punching, really throwing his fists while he ran. I thought that was cool.
So I began the treadmill. Soon enough, it was going up close to the speed of 4.0, then over 4.0 as I walked. I generally don’t let it go past 4.3. See, I’m short, only 5’1″ tall. So short folks like me can’t walk super fast. But all the while, all I could think was that anyone who ever looked down on me was going to have something to reckon with. Then, the music gave its signal to break into a run.
I knew that this particular mix would have me running for twenty minutes straight. Given that I took a bit of a break in there, I knew that twenty minutes nonstop was perhaps at my age, 55, not something I should take lightly. I knew I shouldn’t do this at breakneck speed. At the same time, I’d done it a few times before in the past couple of weeks, and knew my capabilities. How much could I push myself?
As I began to run, I chose a speed far slower than usual, under 5.0. Suddenly, I found myself into a daydream, and I didn’t look back.
No, I didn’t look back. I looked ahead. I watched the road ahead of me. I watched the pebbles. I didn’t want to fall. I concentrated. I thought of my legs. I didn’t think of my legs at all. My legs were not my legs at all.
I thought far, far ahead. I thought of a friend of mine, my friend Michael, whom I’d messaged with on Facebook the day before. My friend Michael who does not have a home.
I thought far, far ahead, to Copley Square. Ahead to Copley Square, to the Boston Public Library. Here, next to the library there is a grate where the homeless men and women sleep, by night, by day, to warm themselves.
No, Michael won’t be sleeping there. It is the day after the 2013 Boston Marathon and no homeless folk will be sleeping in Copley Square tonight, or anytime soon.
I thought far, far ahead as I ran on the treadmill, and the guy to the right of me punched as he ran. I punched in my head along with him and said to myself, Michael, this one’s for you.
I didn’t notice that DJ Beatsmith, whom I call Steve in my head, had signaled me to stop running. Or I guess I hadn’t noticed. In fact, the music had changed over to another mix entirely. I hadn’t noticed at all. I kept on running, and suddenly noticed that I’d gone on much longer than twenty minutes; in fact, I’d gone longer than thirty minutes. I had run nearly 5k. I kept on running and then there I was, the steps of the library, the Green Line entrances, the smell of sausages cooking, everything. I was there. Copley Square.
To my left, there had been a cycling of treadmill users. The two that had been there, two women conversing with each other had been replaced by two others who also conversed with each other. I thought that was amusing. The man to my right was about done with his run. I wanted to tell him, “You rock, fella,” but I didn’t. I figured it was unnecessary. I mere nod of my head was enough. Finally, I slowed my treadmill to a walk. I wanted to spend some cool-down time.
I thought of the foil draped over me. I thought of the blankets a homeless person such as my friend Michael might keep wrapped around him to stay warm on a cold night. I have passed by that grate many times. It is indeed warm there. I slowed the treadmill further. Michael, this one’s for you.
I passed by the desk and said goodbye to the GymIt staff. I had to wait a long time for the bus that evening. I didn’t realize that our town, Watertown, Massachusetts, would at the end of the week be at the center of the world’s attention. In fact, right where I was standing at the bus stop, where our tiny shopping malls were, hundreds of cops, FBI people, National Guard, media people, the military would be all over the place, and it sure wouldn’t look like what I was used to seeing. Sure, the atmosphere was tense. But for now, the sun was behind me, a nearly empty water bottle was nestled in my hand, and a daydream ran through my head, as free as daydreams can ever be.
To my dear most wonderful most awesome brothers and sisters with eating disorders all over the world
I want to say right now from the bottom of my heart I love you all.
I wouldn’t be here right now if it weren’t for you.
I feel like there’s this wall around me and the world. Folks around me don’t know what to say to me. They look at me and they make false assumptions.
They assume things about people who are stuck on “disability” that are not true.
The assume that because I am thin, I am not “recovered.” Why are they basing their assumption on my appearance? Do I judge others on their appearance?
Some people are afraid to get close to me. They are afraid to be friends with people who have a history of “mental health problems.”
Many people are resentful of the fact that I got better on my own. However, that’s what it boils down to. Humans will fail you.
Even the best therapists and nutritionists get laid off, get burnt out, drop dead, or retire. Please don’t rely on these people. Learn to rely on yourself.
People who are now around you, such as the person you now call your “best friend,” in ten years will most likely not be in your life. Chances are the folks in your life now, most of them in a year will be gone. New people will replace them. There is a cycling of humans. It is probable that in ten years you will be living in another location. You will still be yourself, and you won’t look the same, but you will be much wiser.
Perhaps a beloved dog or cat or other pet will travel with you. Such a blessing this is.
People with eating disorders, I love it when I get a message from one of you encouraging me to go on with it all. Keep going, folks, and I will, too.