Early May birds, and a cancer look back

Today was a banner day for me in Prospect Park: six hours spent outside, six miles run, and 67 (count ’em!) species of birds seen. That total includes a gorgeous bay-breasted warbler (which should really be called the “red velvet bird,” because that’s what its head and throat appear to be fashioned from), rare cerulean and Kentucky warblers, a roosting nighthawk, and a cutie-pie Lincoln’s sparrow.

Ten years ago, in contrast, I was wondering when my hair would start falling out. Continue reading

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Race report: the NYC Gaza 5(ish)K (March 24, 2018)

gaza 5k 2018

Photo credit: Murray Rosenblith

How can you not love an event that bills itself as a combination 5K and dabke party? I ran this race two years ago, missed it last year, and was thrilled to be running it again. It’s less a race than a community celebration . . . for Brooklyn’s Palestinian-American community, primarily, but also the larger Arab community, the Muslim community, Jewish peace activists and various and sundry other folks. While I was shamefully lax in my fundraising this year (by which I mean, I didn’t fundraise at all), other participants raised thousands of dollars for mental health services for kids in Gaza.

The first indication that this race is going to be a little different is the fact that a “light breakfast” (I’m quoting from the official schedule of events) is served beforehand. The starting time is approximate – hey, it starts when it starts – and so is the distance. Two years ago, we ran a smidgen over 3 miles; this year, we ran a full 3.3 mile loop of the part. There are more walkers than runners, and even among the runners, it was evident from the starting area chatter – “I hope I can finish . . . how will we know how far we’ve gone?” – that many were running their first 5K. (Or better – given the vagueness of the course measurement – their first 5ishK.) Continue reading

Losses

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Donald James Ewing, Jr. – January 7, 1931 – March 9, 2018

My father slipped away two weeks ago today, while I held one of his hands and my mother held the other. I detest euphemisms generally, and I especially detest those that pretend to soften death’s bluntness. But in this case, “slipped away” seems about right. One moment he was breathing – a bit of a rattle in his throat, nothing loud or harsh – and then he wasn’t.

How do you recognize the last of something: winter’s last snowfall, summer’s last swallow, your father’s last breath?  Lasts don’t trumpet their significance, the way firsts do. They can only be known after the fact, negatively, through the slow accretion of absence.

In other words: they slip away. Continue reading

Race report: Prospect Park Track Club Cherry Tree 10 Miler (February 18, 2018)

710BB4E2-3CA6-46E2-81A2-DA2A35CA7295This race, sponsored by the best running club ever, is a President’s Day weekend tradition. Its official name alludes to the legendary honesty of Brooklyn battler (and father of our country) George Washington. Its unofficial name – “the race for the hardcore” – alludes to the fact that mid-February can be a pretty miserable time of year for three full loops of Prospect Park.

Not yesterday, though. The snow that had fallen overnight was already melting in the bright sun and 40-something temperatures, and the park roads were mostly – but not entirely – clear of slick spots by the race’s 10 am start. Conditions, in other words, were perfect: comfortable, but just sloppy and slick enough to justify taking it easy.

More races should come with built-in excuses. Continue reading

A bump in the road

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MRI-speak

This is a continuation of my walk down cancer’s memory lane. Ten years ago today, I was sitting in a meeting to plan another meeting when my phone vibrated with a call from my breast surgeon’s office.

An observation: trying to follow the discussion in a work meeting when your phone holds an unopened voicemail from your surgeon is a great focusing exercise that I pretty much failed.

I’m not sure where I listened to the message – did I duck into the bathroom? a stairwell? I very much doubt I waited until I was back in my office – and I don’t remember the exact words, only the gist.

MRI results. Suspicious. More tests.  Continue reading

Rainy day wisdom

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Seen (in front of my own nose) along Flatbush Avenue

Rainy days like today call for a warm blanket, a hot drink and – street art. This is a continuation of a series of posts capturing wall posters with cryptic – sometimes unsettling – sayings slapped up around Brooklyn. One reader commented that they look like “humongous fortune cookie fortunes, but with disturbing messages from a dystopic society,” which is an apt description.

Here are some new (or newish) examples that I’ve come across on runs over the last few months. Continue reading

Ten years out

B5F3050A-E52C-4F14-973B-9530ABCE1C9CI’m back.

Having allowed this blog to lie fallow for an embarrassingly long time, I was struggling with bloggers’ block; each day that passed simultaneously raised the stakes and worsened my paralysis. Surely I owed readers an explanation, or at least an especially insightful post. Something, you know, about the passage of time, good-bye-and-good-riddance-2017/you’d-better-be-better-2018 – why else had I staged that photo with a glittery “Happy New Year” tiara in a pile of dirty snow? – but it couldn’t be lame and trite, it called for a light touch and wry humor and blah blah blah.

And so a week went by. And another. And another.

Then, on January 15, an extremely kind and thoughtful reader sent me an email message congratulating me on my 10-year “cancerversary.” She had read my 2015 post on the topic of cancer anniversaries, and remembered both the date and that this marked a decade for me.

I had forgotten.  Continue reading