Monthly Archives: March 2010

March’s Last Fling

A friend sent me this quote to support me in my walking quest.

I eat in silence, I write in silence, I walk in laughter, I ride the radiance


Yesterday, the last day of my CLEANSE, was a tough day where I felt isolated, riding around from meeting to meeting in the pouring, last cold rain of the winter. I felt chilled from not having my usual fueling of hot whatever comes to mind, whenever the spirit moves me, but proud to have motored through the program.

I did feel light and excited and a wee bit changed. As I worked writing or attempting to inveigle others to join projects, hire me to write, or donate to the Haiti benefit, I had a sense of focus layered with exhaustion. I carried all three poems with me and ricocheted from one to the other alighting on the bumpy areas and polishing them

It felt similar to when I run my fingers over my dried pottery creations before I put them into the kiln to be fired, bisqued, for the first time. I run my hands over the surface reading the surface like Braille to find where hidden snags or sharp edges hide. The fire will harden them and turn them into tiny razors, not a plus on a teacup, plate or vase. I want the things I make to be turned over and rubbed, stroked and seen with digits, eyes and felt with mouths and hands.

Memorizing feels like this to me.

I rub my mind first across the poem as a whole. Do I resonate with it?Do I see where the poet is going, what they feel?  Even if I am not all the way there, can I stand for the stanza’s time to occupy in the artist’s orbit?

And when I have been co-opted by the text, and gestalt, then I move to feeling with my ears. Can I dance to the rhythm? Is there enough fish- like-leap to keep my busy brain engaged whilst whiling away the time to put it safely into my memory?

I am not necessarily aware of all these things as segregated motions, but from a distance I review my unconscious choice making and say, yes this is what I do.

And so today I am reading and reciting Elizabeth Macklin’s By Daylight as I rake the yard, write my own words and wait for my mid-day meeting. As the month dwindles, the winters fades, and I come close to capturing my third poem.

As a postscript, today would have been my father’s 95th birthday. Many of you knew Wild Billy Boyle so I include a link to the piece I wrote about him after he passed away, called Out Like a Lion.

Back to Cleansing and Observing My Fortune

My brain is spinning so full of ideas, thought wonders and imaginings today. I am on the CLEANSE again, no real food except chocolate dusty chewy things which work like a miracle to stop hunger, but nothing to abate the Oh I’d love a grilled cheese sandwich on such a cold gray day feeling.

In fact on my bike ride to 23 Street for a meeting to add more passages to the manual I was helping craft for really the best Pilates studio (Power Pilates) I couldn’t help feeling like a cartoon character who is portrayed as so hungry that he is lead everywhere by his nose as his is lured and tugged like a fish into a restaurant. I kept peddling, drank my cleansing drink and took a way-too-hard for today class and rode on to another meeting about travel writing. I am counting bike riding as walking today and the hell with it.

Here I sat while a colleague ate a perfectly pedestrian grilled chicken salad, however by the time she finished the croutons had taken on the sheen of gold and I was sure she had inhaled the Holy Grail right before me. But I am, as my mother used to say, Hell bent for Thunder to finish this nine-day program. I did stray last night, Oh gosh that sounds so Catholic or bad spouse. Hell I ate actual food: Hot food, spicy food, creamy food. And wine too. I wrote to my cleanse mentor, what a world we live in, where we buy a product and it comes with a mentor or coach to cheer us on. Well I wrote or confessed to her  Last night I ate fish and drank wine and it was divine, and all mine and my husband, whose celebration it was, said the night was sublime.

Has all this poetry infected me in perhaps a too cute way or am I delirious from not eating whatever and whenever I want? Either way it was a funny email to see leap from my fingers bypassing my brain.

Today, riding home from Midtown Manhattan, still on the bike, brakes really uncomfortably wet by now, I was beginning to feel put upon by this idea of a cleanse and detach. I wanted to stop for, a hero, or pizza or my much fantasized grilled cheese, or a steak, salad and frites. Instead I rode south snaking to less traveled roads and off the Avenues. And as I wound through the industrial streets in North TriBeCa or Southern SOHO I was alone except for the trucks parked nose dug into the loading docks. And there I spied a man who had constructed a home over a heat grate, his worldly possessions surrounding him in shopping carts and he was bundled into a ratty comforter reading a hard cover book. I know most of you gentle readers know about my Bike Fund, but for those who don’t, it is my new year’s charity. When I ride my bike I endeavor to donate the money I save immediately to the homeless.

So I turned and he observed me keenly. It took me a while to peal off my damp gloves and dig out my wet dollar bills. What is this silly girl up to disturbing my reading? his gaze asked. I just walked over and handed him the bills saying I thought you might like a hot cup of coffee later. No great exchange and I mounted up rode south and he kept reading. I felt really shallow questioning my sincerity and dedication to Cleanse while other folks live outside in the rain and still find time to read.The world challenges me, it pushes me to ask what I can do to be more, give more, help more and regard myself less. I am a tiny cog.

Still Cleansing Me and Spring Cleaning in the Garden

Day Six of the Cleanse and believe me that is most of my news right there. For six days I have eaten either A) Nothing (but had incredible energy drink) or B) eaten one small meal at lunch and two magic powder shakes which are like a secret potion, but do nothing for my emotional hunger. And truth be told, some dusty chocolate tablets which make me feel yes less hungry, but also like I should be nibbling them out of someone’s hand as they have a horse treat feel to them. I know what you want to know, well did you lose weight. In fact I don’t know because although this plan IsAgenix, there now I plugged it, wants you to measure yourself and get on a scale; all those things seem so shaming and even counter-productive to me. If I can’t tell when I feel better with out exterior markers then yes, shame on me.

I did this Cleanse because I wanted to unplug myself from all the care taking I do attached to food. I wanted to see how I felt as me without cooking, cleaning up, making snacks and fueling myself with a stream of too much. So when friend of mine, who used to be one of my most respected editors, now turned fitness and yoga guru, suggested this plan, I leapt in during the first week of spring. And I feel great that I am doing it.

Last night my husband, gotta love men, ate an entire bag of potatoes chips while we watched The Blind Side. It was torture. But I didn’t take any. Remember Bet you can’t eat Just one! I do. Small steps, which are making me, feel virtuous. And even if I am the same size, the same me when it is over, then I had, what my girl friend Rachel called a MECATION of sorts. Time for just me with a different cast. I walked more, I went to therapy, I took Pilates class, I wrote and wrote, and I talked with friends and family with no drinks or food involved. Amazing.

And today while doing yard work I did poop out faster than when I am eating my normal farm wife fare: a hearty breakfast, big lunch and snacks all throughout the burning, sweeping, planting, weeding. So I checked out earlier than usual and took a nap covered in cats. Wonderful. When I woke up I went through my March poem and I nearly have it.

I am a tad embarrassed, as it is such a short, simple poem. I picked it because I was supposed to have launched for India, but since the trip was postponed I stayed on course with the very terse, but deep to me, Daylight. Perhaps this month has been about seeing myself more as that Sweating older woman and loving her, loving the old bitch, whole because she is me.

I wanted to see how I felt as me without cooking, cleaning up, making snacks and fueling myself with a stream of too much. So when friend of mine, who used to be one of my most respected editors, now turned fitness and yoga guru, suggested this plan, I leapt in during the first week of spring. And I feel great that I am doing it.

A Girl Crush Gets Me Walking

Where did this month go? Where did I go during this month?

Spring is fully here and I am in the fourth day of a cleanse, where I  finished two days liquids only and am now eating one meal a day. I feel as if I vacillate between being so sluggish and sleepy, or being a crack head speed freak. Energy up and down. Mostly wonderful though. The feeling of not having to cook for anyone, and of not looking for what I feel or need in a little snack or tid-bit along the way.

Yesterday was the biggest walking day yet in this Memory & Movement experiment and it all happened through wonderful serendipity. Maestro a little back story please.

Every year I order and pick up our Thanksgiving turkey from the best butcher downtown, Ottomanelli. It is a ritual, as you have to wait in a long snaky line and find your name scribbled on butcher paper tacked high on the wall. It takes a good bit of time, but every year I meet wonderful fellow waiters and chefs.

This year there was a very beautiful grown up woman standing behind me, gray hair, sweeping natural hair do, steel blue eyes, Roman nose; she could have been my mother’s sister, if she’d had one. We started to talk and my opening salvo was, “I love that jacket, I have one but it is too small now.” Hers was a boiled wool Austrian jacket with green piping and horn buttons. Since I was conceived in Austria my mother saw to it that I had dirndls and Tyrolean jackets and I bemoaned my extra girth every time I saw my red jacket abandoned in the hall closet. The new gal piped up that her jacket was too big, as she had recently lost a lot of weight because she stared walking and changed the way she ate.  OK I could have hated her.

This is how is goes on the line for turkeys, deep and quick intimate conversation. I suggested, or she suggested, a prisoner exchange. We continued chatted about who was coming for Thanksgiving dinner, what we’d cook and gave each other our cards. And a quick six weeks later, after all the holiday folderol subsided, we met for coffee in the Village where she lives. We brought the jackets and they fit like little woolly gloves. Perfect each on the other. We shared stories and great chitchat and went our merry ways clutching new coats.

Then we emailed back and forth a bit and I sent out my blast saying Hey read my blog and new gal did, and this is what she sent back.


You are making WAY too big a deal of this walking thing!  Humor me for a moment:  you need to separate your goals into 2 different boxes—one for memory and another for walking. Obviously combining the 2 is not working.

Memorize your poetry when you are on the subway or the post office line, etc.

Learn to walk for fun–let me help you with the walking.  Encouraging you can be MY new project.  We can start with it being social and watching spring bloom;  once the walking becomes second nature, it is easy.   In piano, it is called finger memory; I guess with walking it could be called body memory.

When I walk for exercise, I use the time to think, to worry and to obsess—by the end of my fast walk, my head is clear. I don’t even remember where I walked!  When I have nothing bothering me, I listen to audio books; you can go back to the poetry.

What’s your schedule look like?

Let’s schedule by phone—easier to negotiate.

This was a miracle. I am usually the one saying let me help you, let me turn your life around. And to further enhance the magic of all of this, the email was waiting for me when I returned from therapy where the wise Peter said, “ You have to ask for help, you have to express what you want and not just be angry when you don’t get it, if you have NOT asked.” So it was a walking miracle.

I called immediately and we walked yesterday for near to an hour. We met at the appointed time at the end of my street and after a brief tutorial on walking, really who knew there was technique, we set off. Here is the skinny on walking from the woman my daughter calls, my girl crush.

Take small steps, clench your butt (easier to do in winter when your coat is long, said she) and tilt your pelvis slightly. According to the walking guru it gives you a great butt and does a better toning job. I am all in.

So we walked, we talked; we looked at the spring blooms popping through the manicured gardens along the Hudson. Beautiful beds already perfectly racked and covered in new pungent mulch, much nicer than mine. We talked about cooking and friends and her trip to the Caribbean and her conference. We stopped for a pit stop, Girl Crush also knows where all the nice public toilets are sequestered, a plus.

I know she was gentle with me, because as I saw her downshift to walk away North to the Villaage, she was zooming. I was loggy and ready to get another one of my gluey shakes into me, but so grateful for someone who had taken me on as a project. We meet again on Friday morning.  This is a good spring story.

Day 2 of the Big Cleanse

What a day. Day two of the CLEANSE, what that means is no food, and so much liquid I feel as if I am an over filled water balloon and might be tossed and burst. But I also feel freed from the decisions of what to eat or not eat.

OK here is my thought process as I rode my bike to therapy this morning. (Have I said I went back to therapy, yes I did and it is exciting more to come?) So I ride my bike from TriBeCa to Bellevue which sounds like a song. Up town and across town. Maybe 3 miles and I drool watching the bagel and coffee carriers, I inhale the street food, burnt wood fires cooking chicken, I see every pizza parlor, thin crust to thick and I think, well I don’t have to decide today what I am going to eat. And I am going to see that as a gift to me.

After therapy so much stuff, bubbling inside me, thinking and also hungry I decide to go to Pilates because I have an agreement with the owner of the studio, we barter mother info for exercise, a lifetime barter. Amazing. I adore her and love to talk about her wonderful daughter; we both feel a deep connection to each other through the places where we connect to help each other by crossing over with our knowledge. So my pal was supposed to teach and she is gifted and calm, but instead it was a wild young teacher who moves the class as if we needed to finish before the room catches fire. Wow way beyond my slow unfed self, but I persevered.

There was poetry in my head for a few moments in the class

And then, where the surface wavered.

I saw surprise—a sweating older-woman,

And yes there I was the sweating older woman in the class with most folks much younger than I.

Home to work, write, edit, calls and follow this cleanse, which might as well be a job in itself as you have to drink ounces which become gallons of water and take accelerator capsules and drink a murky liquid which tastes like bad orange chewing gum mixed with dirt. Not as terrible as some of these things go and with ice, it’s a veritable cocktail of choice. I am full of energy and the thought of potential and then the news.

Oh why do I watch the news? It seems the Brigham Women’s Hospital in Boston has just released a study which shows that exercise, especially for middle age to older women, does nothing to help them control or lose weight. Of course they were quick to point out that there are other benefits to exercise, but it gives credence to my self-observed status. I see so many people wanting to form their mouths to ask the question, How can you ride your bike everywhere, go to Pilates, play tennis, do whatever else you are always doing and look the way you do? And now we see it is not just me.

So that put me a little off my game, but still I now have two full days alone in my loft home with no cooking,  no solid food, no cleaning and no one else to please. I am feeling extremely lucky and happy, oh and I found a pair of boots I had been lusting after for ten bucks. Yes that’s right. The store was going out of business and the boots, great low black motorcycle chick kind of things, had a few drops of paint on one sole. Brand new to me and a perfect fit.