We used to do this all the time. I’m doing it now on a slow afternoon while I try to stay awake and get through a bad cold. Who is your hero? Probably Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and I hope she becomes president someday. If you could …
Here’s a fun exercise for memoir writers. It’s journal-writing combined with word association. This is not “add a new associated word” but write an idea about what this word or phrase means right now. During a cold winter night, as I’m trying to renew myself …
I said last year that I didn’t want this blog to be a place where I posted really personal stuff, like health issues. I don’t have any serious issues, but part of my doctor’s plan in the last few months was to try various medications to counteract symptoms arising from heart palpitations–and all of them made me nauseous and made me feel like a zombie. So I was walking around like an undead and feeling gross while also not feeling like doing much at all. This made me kind of numb and also pretty bored. She took me off those medications, and suddenly it is summer and I feel alive again. I’m back to the trail again and have all kinds of energy like I used to. The heart palpitations are still here; they are not dangerous, but do make me lightheaded and stuff. I’m hoping for another ablation soon. I guess I’m learning to live with them though as best as I can.
I have gone on several hikes in the past few months, and even a couple short jogs, but have not felt up to my regular activity until I got off those meds. Now I am getting back into hiking and even just walking more. Even just taking the train to work, if I walk up to the station and don’t take a bus from the train stop down to work, and walk instead, I can get about 3K in per day. That’s not including other walks or hikes. I’ve also been able to get on the trails around campus. I really feel like running a lot, too, though still have some issues with balance due to a weak left ankle/foot. I don’t see any reason, however, that I couldn’t get back up to running 5K a few times a week. It’s a slow journey and isn’t anything I can brag about really–though to me, it is a sure boon to my life because of the way I feel when I can run or even just hike regularly. I’ve also gotten back into editing my novel Back to the Garden for republication this fall as part of a new series I’m writing, and it makes me feel good to get into this again. I’m not really changing the story much–just trying to get it into shape to have a couple sequels.
So I have been reading this novel by Evie Gaughan called The Story Collector. It is set in Ireland and parallels the lives of two women, one living in 2010 and one in 1910. I will talk more on this novel later, but reading it at night immerses me completely into the memory and cradle of my beloved Ireland, and so many things that interested me about Ireland–fairy myths, Yeats, the wilds of Ireland. I feel like, though I have never met the author, she is a soul sister. So many things in this novel are inside my memory, reality, and dreams; it’s as if the novel was written for me, though of course it could not have been. The other big thing in Evie’s novel: trees and nature play a really important part of the story!
I recall so many times running in the past few years where I imagined fairy and other Irish myths, like when running in autumn and seeing a whirl of leaves caught in a gust of wind and flying and whispering around me. Anyway, just a quickie blog post as I have a million things to do.
I am working on a eco-weird story, a new novel, but am finding a hard time to be able to really sit down and write. I’m up to chapter 4, though. As I noted earlier, part of it is set in Ireland, and it helped very much to go there and see some of the exact places I had imagined in my head, especially the Cliffs of Moher and the real Lake Isle of Innisfree.
It has been so hot here lately that my run this morning was a “beat the heat” run at 6:30 am, and even then it was sweltering hot. I listened to the same album I heard when running across the cliffs in Ireland (“Silverball” by Barenaked Ladies), and though I was profusely sweating and uncomfortable this morning, the typical happiness when running and listening to good music set in, and even though I only had the time for a couple miles, I had a great wake-up moment this morning. And the music reminded me of Ireland and where my novel is going.
First, the Ireland memories. I still look back on that trip as a journey of enlightenment, beauty, and exploration. The crazy storms, the white horses, the thousands of seabirds on the cliffs, the old old ways in a long-forgotten pastoral life, the ancient cathedrals and ruins, the coming alive of Yeats’ words and worlds, the lively pubs with friendly folks, the misty ocean…these things all were beyond my normal window to the world and modern society that is so concerned about self and possessions. To place myself in that idyllic otherworld was to lose some identity, enter a fugue state, and re-imagine life in a different perspective.
Running this morning under entirely different circumstances, a half world away, in a part urban, part forested area during a heat wave was far different from running atop the cool, wind-swept cliffs, which were so isolated and lonely. I ran before work today, not at leisure, particularly–whereas back then, in June, I had all the time in the world, and in fact, ended up in Doolin to browse around an old bookstore after the run, and then continue to waste the rest of the day away.
Yet, the music unifies as I heard it then and now. It’s what Faraday in “Lost” might have called a constant. Music can transform time and space. In the song “Toe to Toe,” off the “Silverball” album, there’s a lyric that goes:
There’s a body of water
Dividing you and me
I’m not afraid of getting wet
This lyric reminds me of my time there and here, and it crosses a sea from me to me.
I don’t remember when I first heard the entire album, sometime last year when it came out, but in Ireland, I specifically listened to it when running along the Cliffs of Moher trail and once more the night before we left to spend the final night and day in Dublin, marking the end of our trip. That night I was up on the west coast cottage’s second floor, in a room that had three big windows open to the west. There was a magnificent sunset that evening; it was a mix of clear sky and stormy sky, producing the most transient and brilliant colors. The sun set late during the early Irish summer, close to 11:00 p.m. Mom had gone to bed. Morgan was reading. I was drinking the last of our red wine, listening to “Silverball,” and gazing sadly out the windows, where the sea and sky began to merge in color. And I really felt sentimental, as if I were leaving my heart behind. In a way I did. We can fall in love with places.
Well, writing my novel is a way to revisit it, remember it, and envision it in a speculative way. The music, the writing–these constants–tie me back. But I think this novel is also important in the story it tells. It is about a lost love, a stolen love. It is about how societal breakdowns can mirror ecological losses. I’m excited about it.
Even though I ran this morning, I am hiking again 2-3 miles this afternoon, probably the hottest day of the year. I’m really enjoying these daily outings and heat of the sun and great music. I decided to stop the 10K training for now. I am really past that point now (especially the short runs, being too short), and it feels like going backward. As soon as fall starts, I will continue with the longer weekend runs up to 10K. Right now it’s just too hot! Yet not too hot for a hike over to the lake, listening once again to that beautiful constant–the music tying me to Irish memory.
I will arise and go now…