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The Clock Stands Still… The Race That Isn’t…

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BMO Vancouver Marathon / RUNVAN®

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SUNDAY, May 5, 2019.

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BANG!

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YAHOO!!

17,000+ of us fresh-faced/fresh-bodied fools smile and joke as we break into a slow jog down the long tree-lined tube … the chute leads us out of bucolic Queen Elizabeth Park… first into a gentle uphill climb… then turning hard right onto Vancouver’s Cambie Street and immediately into a 2 km.-long downhill slope leading onto the Cambie Bridge… overlooking some of this world’s finest ocean-mountain scenery on an early Sunday spring morning.

The beginning of any large race like this – the Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon – is the danger zone.

All of us runners are looking down and sideways, gingerly avoiding bumps and crashes and possible trips over others’ feet that send us ass over teakettle.

The newly-risen sun is brilliant but the air is cool and delicious, filled with scents of fresh-brewed coffee and mentholated body rubs.

Families and friends already line the long asphalt route with funny signs and cantankerous noisemakers to stimulate and energize the jogging throngs.

Simultaneously run-breathing and laughing can be complicated sometimes.

OMG it’s breathtaking and inspiring and likely as close to endorphin spiritual nirvana as I can come. I’ve done this particular race for maybe 10 years now and I get monster goosebumps every time.

Yes – right as I publish this week’s post – this Sunday is the annual Vancouver Marathon/Half Marathon race.

EXCEPT. NOT. THIS. YEAR.

Cambie bridge running

No boisterous crowds, no joyful noise, no communal sweat.

*sigh*

The first Sunday of May is a perennial event day like a hundred… a thousand… a million other world-wide events that won’t achieve their “annual” billing this time around the sun.

The year the earth stood still. The clocks stopped and went silent.

You and I can count on our fingers and toes all of the things we might normally do over the coming weeks and months… but not this year.

We take it all for granted because our lives have always been this way. (This is a needed reminder to us to avoid using the words ALWAYS and NEVER)

Remember Y2K?

We chewed our fingernails, anticipating and worrying for a couple of years leading up to the stroke of midnight.

It was going to be an end-of-the-world happening.

Respirators and electricity and computers would seize up and go to sleep. People would perish and insurrection would flame like Dante’s Inferno around the globe.

Nothing would be the same afterwards… except… everything was the same afterwards. We worried and anticipated needlessly.

But how many of us woke up on New Year’s Day of 2020, rubbed our eyes, and thought to ourselves… I wonder what strange and possibly horrific event will take place this year where my life will be turned upside down in ways I can’t imagine?

Now, 1/5th of the way into this new century, we’re barely a third of the year in and EVERYTHING looks different and none of us had the slightest clue of it all.

The Black Swan caught us in her trap.

black swan

So, this Sunday morning I’ll wake up early and slip into my running tights and shoes and head out into the early morning air.

Quiet. Still. No 17,000 runners. No noisemakers. No crazy signs.

I’ll absorb the (hopefully) gentle warmth of the sunshine on my face. I’ll smell the heady scent of spring apple blossoms and lilac.

It will seem just like a thousand other beautiful mornings throughout my life…

… everything will look and smell the same, but inside… in my inner core…

… I’ll feel a slight difference, a little like you feel shortly after a loved one has died and you know that your world will never be quite the same again.

On the surface, nothing has altered… the sun rises and sets, the moon continues to wax and wane… but beneath the still surface waters… the undercurrents have turned decidedly chillier … for a while at least.

And as I run along solo, I’ll miss the comradeship of those 17,000 people.

People of all colours and ages and genders and body types that shared with me a couple hours of intense sweaty physicality… a physicality we can only experience alone … for now…

And… ultimately friends… this is all small potatoes in the larger picture where many many people are coughing and feverish… people gasp a final breath in wards surrounded by gowned and masked angels… people are separated from family and adequate housing and food.

It’s all a stark reminder to me of how friggin’ fortunate I am to exist in a bubble of health and goodness…

I can wait for the clocks to start ticking again one day.

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THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE – The Song

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blessing curse

INTO Week Six of isolation here and now we’re disinfecting our outer AND … by gonzo suggestion from the top… inner… surfaces.

It’s like a Shakespearean tragi-comedy, except we can’t spit out our words like dramatic stage actors for fear of an impending manslaughter charge. No aerosols please!

Last week I mused about our collective situation of isolation and suggested some ideas that might help deal with our fresh new world. I quoted singer Garth Brooks who noted that everything we want comes with both a blessing and a curse.

The words stuck in my head like a *yum* peanut butter and banana sandwich does to the roof of my mouth.

Blessing AND Curse.

garth

Neither you nor I know what our world will look like in a year, there are too many moving and interactive parts for any rational assessment. This is the scientist in me speaking. My inner Bill Gates. We need rational thinkers like Bill and Melinda.

But with all of these unknowns… the artist, the creative me … holds onto a desire to think also in loftier terms, more emotional terms. It’s our artists – the musicians, the writers, the painters – that give us hope and joy in difficult times. We need artists as much as we need scientists.

And so I’m finding a bit more time in my days to write more prose, more song.

Yes, we’re on a ride folks.

And since the peanut butter phrase Blessing and Curse stuck with me I’m using it once again this week, this time in poetry and song form.

I hate cliches, but I’ll stoop now.

Be Humble. Be Kind. Stay Safe.

69465831 - young man composing the song with guitar on table with tea cup

 

THE BLESSING AND THE CURSE

by Larry Green

Little ones chase that coin
the one rolling down the street
towards the gutter or the drain
your two hands reach to grab and save
both mamas pull the chain

Last month I sipped sweet coffee from your cup
stopped in narrow grocery aisles and chatted
you pass me by at distance now
wild-eyed like something rabid
can we resurrect the sacred cow

CHORUS
Flip the hands, see the change
litter scattered in the desert whirling
shrink from shadows watch the afterbirths
there’s beauty and there’s hurting
Fill me up don’t leave me empty
The blessing and the curse

Stash your voice inside your house
Strike x’s through your plans
Bake bread to soothe your troubled soul
Muse about the coulds and shoulda-haves
Search blind and madly fill the holes

Alone now but are you lonely
put the Tanqueray away
this fog confines but stars abound in space
bright neon light will shine again
we’ll leave our separate places

Next year I hope we meet once more
unlock the chains and hug the children
I’ll touch your shoulder when you’re shaking
Wipe the tears with ungloved hands
we’ll walk the road untaken

CHORUS
Flip the hands, see the change
litter scattered in the desert whirling
shrink from shadows watch the afterbirths
there’s beauty and there’s hurting
Fill me up don’t leave me empty
The blessing and the curse

stars on beach

 

The Blessing And The Curse … COVID-19 Version

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blessings-curses

Quick… TRIVIA Quiz…

What are the names of the 7 von Trapp family children in the movie THE SOUND OF MUSIC? (Don’t cheat… answers may be found at the end of this post).

The Sound of Music (or to be really silly in these dark COVID times… it might be renamed The Sound of Mucous) has been a recurring theme in this house for the past few weeks. If you’ve never heard of or never *NOOOOO* seen the movie, this might be a good time for you to sign out of this post… just sayin’…

Since the oncoming rushing train we’ve labelled COVID-19 was introduced to us in the last couple of months, the entire world has had this sci-fi common experience of physical isolation, but definitely NOT social isolation.

This isn’t your great grandparents’ version of the Spanish Flu… *drum roll* … introducing the INTERNET! Have you heard of it?

The planet has adapted in many many ways to keeping our hands and expelled body fluids away from each other.

The friendly exchange of our body’s bacterial and viral biome with others has been our way of communicating, connecting and bonding with our family, friends and acquaintances for millennia.

Shake my hand, hug me, cheek buss, bum pat (SLAP… OK, this one is long out of bounds!)…

STOP! Do Not Touch! Anyone! Anything!

It’s tough and it can be slightly embarrassing or uncomfortable. It’s just plain weird to turn a lifetimes’ social learning and flip it on its head.

Which brings me back to The Sound of Music.

Early on in this isolation period, our family began a weekly Zoom get-together on Monday nights to have a Pub Trivia Night in Canada.

It’s a weekly chance to remind me why I didn’t get selected to join the Jeopardy TV family despite challenging the “Contestant Test”.

Physical isolation YES… Social Isolation NO…

In week one of our Zoom sessions, we posited the final BONUS question to our physically-distanced kids and partners: What are the names of the 7 Von Trapp family children in the movie THE SOUND OF MUSIC?

Despite some close attempts, no one quite accomplished the task successfully.

Then, once again, in week 4 of the family Zoom nights, our daughter posed the same question. And again, no one quite jumped over the high bar.

Furthering this Sound of Music theme that has been stuck in my little head… I finished up my online tutoring session with my Syrian friend this week by asking him to listen to a YouTube version of Julie Andrews and the 7 von Trapp children singing… My Favourite Things.

His homework quest was to listen to the spirited song and then write down all of the favourite things that Julie (ie Maria) and the children list in song. The good news is that he managed fine although he found Julie Andrews British accent a bit “dawwwnting”.

 

Our favourite things have changed now that COVID-19 has taken and taken.

We all have a sense of what we’ve given up during this enforced “Lent-of-Sorts”. There are myriads of sadnesses and laments over what and who has been lost.

My mind wanders this way and that… I was watching a TV documentary about country singer Garth Brooks last week. He calmly stared into the camera, slowly flipping his hands back and forth, and said, “Everything you want has a blessing and a curse…”

… and this led me to the Idea Sex concept of this week’s blog… to combine COVID-19 and My Favourite Things  (the curse and the blessing)…  granted, an odd combination… but folks… you’re dealing with an odd mind here… so….

… here goes…

These Are A Few of My 8 Favourite Things

COVID-19 Version

1. This one is easy … and clever too. The Coronavirus version of DO-RE-MI

 

2. Music. The needed push for me to quit procrastinating and spend some time not only playing and practising guitar (this is easy), but also the time to sweat through songwriting sessions (this is NOT easy!). Developing unique and interesting melodies is akin to running the half marathon for me… intense and exhausting but ultimately exhilarating. Does this sound more like a happy ending than a songwriting session?

3. Garden. Setting up a new low-water use irrigation system for the garden. The old 1990’s underground sprinklers are fabulous for soaking huge areas in huge quantities in water… but this is so 20th century thinking. Drippers and micro-sprayers use a fraction of the water and accomplish the goal of keeping everything lush, colourful and beautiful, just like my own peacock’s feathers (right, in your head Larry!)

4. Exercise. Re-discovering my self-motivation exercise gene. For many years, I’ve relied on spin classes, boot camp classes, yoga classes, organized runs etc, to get me out the door and sweating. Now I wake up (and it’s almost light now at 5 am!) and begin my own motivational self-talk session that eventually results in a salty sweat-stained set of shorts and T-shirt. Then I get out of bed. My beer and bread belly has only increased – you can’t see me, right? – marginally!

5. Cooking. Working harder and with more enthusiasm to broaden my ethnic cooking horizon. For many years, I’ve routinely alternated the style of cuisine I prepare… Indian, Italian, German, Moroccan, Thai, Peruvian, North American, and so on, you get it. My quest now is to expand on these ethnic directions by adding new dishes into the mix. Wanna try my Pad Thai Pizza, Prime Rib Ceviche, or Schnitzel Tajine?

6. Vegging. Yes, oodles of time where there are multitudes of streaming shows that entice and seduce like creamy smooth chocolate. My favourite indulgence recently is the Netflix mini-series UNORTHODOX… or is it Gossip Girl? shhhhh… Recent credible research suggests that binge-watching produces a surge of IgG and IgM antibodies biologically active against… absolutely nothing.

7. Soul Searching. Having an intense internal conversation with my inner voices and demons where I play Trevor Noah or Jimmy Kimmel to myself. I earnestly ask myself all the questions I’ve always wanted answered: Why does Mom love my brother more? If I’m so GD handsome, how come no one ever asked me to pose for Playgirl magazine? Should I sue Keith Urban for plagiarizing my voice?

8. Toes. Yes, rediscovering long distant body parts is great fun and refreshes me on things like simple arithmetic (how many are there again?) and also … just what have my piggies been doing all these years since childhood? And why is my toe jam more like toe peanut butter? So many intriguing questions… so much time.

Thank you COVID-19. And finally …

*The von Trapp childrens’ names?

  • Liesl
  • Friedrich
  • Louisa
  • Kurt
  • Brigitta
  • Marta
  • Gretl
beefcake fav things

HOT? Maybe… but Definitely NOT on MY list!

 

 

 

Are YOU Kidding ME?

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Coronavirus Lego (1)

Where are you going?

Right… NOWHERE. I can predict that with almost 100% certainty. It’s like I live inside a Magic 8 ball.

But you know why. I don’t have to spell it out.

I’ve got you where I want you *bwahhhh-ha-haaaaa* and now I have to decide what I’m going to do with you.

It’s cruel and it’s powerful and it’s a rare moment in the universe’s history, so far as we know.

I know that you’re likely stressed in some way, so I’d like to relieve your angst a wee tiny bit this week cuz that’s just the kind of nice guy I am. I want you to like me, even if I am a jerk.

Today I’m coming at you with some ideas on how to take your mind off the pretend/reality TV world that over a couple of weeks has transformed into a real/REALITY WORLD… aka…

SURVIVOR- Coronavirus Island

Now you may not consider all of my ideas as fun… after all, fun is in the eye of the beholder – we don’t all love the same music or movies – so skip past the ones that make you nauseous, groan or cringe and move on.

Some are IDEA SEX and some are… *wink* SEXY IDEAS. Either way, surely, we can find one or two things to make you smile through the tension.

So… here are 10 things to do to lift your socially-isolated day out of the doldrums:

 

1. Channel your inner pervert and wear your partner/friend’s: underwear, bra (most noses are adequately protected by a B cup), or sanitary pad as a face mask to the grocery store… if that doesn’t catch anyone’s eye, try practising your moonwalk in the middle of the natural food aisle, plus maintaining 2 metres distance from everyone whilst dancing backwards.

lettuce mask

This works too!

2. Send out this woefully soulful note to your family:

Gal Gadot (or Chris Hemsworth or…) and I were set to have our beautiful wedding this April. However, due to the coronavirus, we will be postponing the celebration of our love. We’re heartbroken. My apologies to our friends and loved ones. Do not ask Gal about this she’s busy…

3. Do like Benny and Joon and make grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron on your ironing board. Young Johnny Depp at his finest…

 

4. Draw a spider on the toilet paper roll.

5. Make up a new national holiday (eg. National Cherry Cheesecake Day, World Naked-At-Your-Front-Window Day). Write to all your contacts and ask them to celebrate the special day on their social media platforms. See if your new holiday goes “viral”.

6. Out of TP due to shortages? Buy a package of paper towels and slice them in half with a sharp knife. For more extreme fun, hang out a few reams of damp toilet paper on your outdoor laundry line for your neighbours enjoyment.

7. Make up new recipes for the times: think… Emergen-C banana breakfast bread, Cinnamon-buns with 15% toilet paper-infused cream cheese icing (a treat at both ends of the eating experience).

8. Do your best erotically seductive dance in front of the pharmacy counter to get first shot at the new shipment of sanitizer.

9. Take an online class such as : 1. Get Stuffed: How To Taxidermy Your Problematic Family Members 2. Tantalizing Toilet Paper Origami Projects 3. Make Your Own Porno Netflix Special – Scintillating Solo Sex For Singles 4. Fabulous Blender Cocktail Recipes Made From Sanitizer.

10. Send an e-mail to all your friends and relatives and give them a silly nickname. The more outrageous the nickname, the better. The more ludicrous it is the better. See if they remain your friend after this lock-up period.

BONUS: 11. Couch Scavenger Hunt – the best way to find all those matching socks (or… used condoms and pizza crusts) you’ve lost and a great way to recover some of your lost virus income in nickels and dimes.

And finally… get out the kleenex (if you have any left)… a little soft nostalgia below to help you through these difficult times…

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