September 13, 2010

Since my surgeon stressed the need to drink a minimum of two liters of water and walk a mile each day, I’ve been the most obedient of patients. Because of the anesthesia screwing around with your intestines and stuff it’s critical to drink lots of fluids and do a lot of moving in order to keep things, well, moving. Keeping up with the fluids is the easiest of the two; Tracey has made sure there’s a pitcher of water in front of me at all times, and I’ve combined that with every possible form of water-based fluid she can think of: juices, popsicles, Gatorades, etc.

The walking part is, at least theoretically so, equally easy: we live on a cul-de-sac in a subdivision with big sidewalks and not a lot of traffic. We looked over the terrain and figured out where 1/10 of a mile gets you, so all I’d need to do is make ten circuits to make my daily mile. I figured I’d exceed my surgeon’s expectations and actually do eleven: four in the morning before it gets too hot, three in the afternoon under the searing sun, and four after dark after the heat breaks. It sounded easy enough, and even though there are a lot of houses I’d actually have to pass in that route, how busy can it possibly get? This was important to me, since, at least for the first few days, the only apparel comfortable enough to accommodate my situation and gear would be my bathrobe.

Silly me. After three full days of walking, I’ve met all but one of my nineteen neighbors – eighteen of them! – most for the first time, just me and my bathrobe. I find it uncanny how many people are either coming or going just when I’m to pass by their houses: it’s like I’m some kind of arrival/departure magnet or something. I have to say, all of them have been very nice and understanding. Except, of course, the Muslim lady across the street who (I think) does her prayers while walking back and forth on the sidewalk in front of her house every night around the same time. In all the years we’ve been here, she’s never said so much as a word or even smirked a smile when any of us neighbors have tried to engage her. With me the infidel motoring my way around the streets, as soon as she sees me coming, she high tails it to the safety of her front door until I pass by, then heads back for the sidewalk. She has to keep a wary out out for me, however, because I’m on a mission and as soon as she sees me coming down the opposite side from her, she knows she’s got 3-4 minutes at the most to head back to safety.

When I’m walking, it’s a good time to sort out thoughts and just listen to the sounds of things. I keep my head down because I don’t want to accidentally lose my footing or get into any rhythm that might disturb my catheter, so it’s easy to hear when I’ve disturbed a bird in a tree I’m passing, or when (inevitably) a neighbor’s garage door opener engages, telling me I’ll have yet another opportunity to meet yet another neighbor for the first time. Time almost seems to stand still, it’s almost like meditation. I suppose I could (and should) do my daily prayers, but I find the time useful to just let random thoughts run through my brain.

Like this morning, for instance, when I was thinking that my thoughts on the death penalty, while not in accordance with what the Roman Catholic Church believes (i.e., that all life is sacred), is perfectly logical: while it’s true that all life is sacred, you give up the sacredness of your life if you kill someone else in pure premeditated fashion. I’m not talking about auto accidents or drunk drivers: if you set out to kill someone and achieve your goal, your life no longer is sacred, and you ought to lose yours for it. It not only makes perfect sense, you’d save a helluva lot of money keeping people in prison who have forfeited their own right to keep on living. And once that decision is made, let’s not lallygag about how it gets done: figure out the best way to do it efficiently and quickly, and dispose of the person. Keep it simple.

But not all my random thoughts are so heavy. I find thoughts of yesterday, or last month, or decades ago popping in and out, some good, some bad, all to the sounds of birds or crickets chirping, leaves in the trees, someone cutting wood a block over, or the motorcycles from “the Clampetts” who live three doors down from where I make my first turn towards back to our house.

(Everyone calls them “the Clampetts” because they’re a motorcycle family with every kind of motor toy imaginable, with the seeming goal of seeing how many notices and fines they can run up with our HOA for parking things where they shouldn’t, never taking their barrels in, and – the biggest sin – planting this humongous tree by their driveway that doesn’t fit with the rest of the neighborhood and constantly sheds little tiny leaves that end up in every other neighbor’s driveway or lawn. Every now I see him cruises his big purple hog with his young son on his lap around our cul-de- sac: I can almost hear him saying, “Son, some day you’ll be old enough to piss all these people off just as your daddy done do.” It’s pretty funny, actually.)

The one thing I don’t do while walking is think of the future in any way, shape, or form. This procedure has taught me a bit about my own mortality, and the importance of just living each day to whatever it brings you. I guess I’m the kind of optimist William Faulkner writes about: because you expect the worst to happen every day and most days it doesn’t, you have an optimistic view of life.

Our friend Jana wanted me to post a picture of me doing my bathrobe walkabout, but there are decency laws. Besides, today I was able to shed my bathrobe and go to a smaller collection bag that enables me to wear lounge pants and a T-shirt. From the reactions my neighbors don’t really seem to care – especially the Muslim lady across the street. She just tries to avoid me every way she can.

Pool temp: 84 degrees

Filed in: Uncategorized by The Great White Shank at 00:13 | Comments (3)
  1. That poor Muslim lady is most likely terrified of being “stoned to death” if she so much as makes eye contact with you. You know that they cannot be in the presence of another man without their husband being present. She may not even speak English yet or very well. Or she may be terrified that she is the only Muslim woman on the block. Can you imagine being the only Muslim on the block in this day and time…scary.

    Glad you are enjoying your walks…perhaps you will one day get a chance to go on silent retreat and walk labyrinths.

    Glad you are meeting your neighbors…walking is good for noticing things you’d otherwise not ever see. Maybe you will be the host of the next block party/bbq. Hope Tracey starts walking with you…great time spent holding hands.

    Comment by Jana — September 13, 2010 @ 6:02 am

  2. Glad to see you up and around, GWS. I agree with Jana. She’s probably timid because of the proximity of the 911 anniversary and the fact that she undoubtedly stands out. She may even have had a bad experience.

    My cousin converted to Islam to marry a Muslim. She’s still bold and brassy.

    Comment by Rob — September 13, 2010 @ 3:46 pm

  3. Actually it’s hard to say what’s going on there. There’s certainly nothing culturally wrong with nodding or smiling or waving back, act least acknowledging your presence. The Muslim lady I get my prescriptions from at Walgreens is a lovely, friendly lady. And I know it’s not just me, my neighbor John and his wife have both gotten the same response, so they don’t think it’s a male/female thing.

    For all I know, that’s not praying she’s doing – she could be babbling nonsensically like I do occasionally and be either: a) odd, b) an eccentric, or c) a raving loon. Maybe all three. Like Tracey thinks of me. But that’s OK, I mean her no ill will; I’m just a naturally outgoing and friendly guy.

    I do know they’re better neighbors for us than what the neighbors of “the Clampetts” have to deal with down the street. Every neighborhood has one, and I’m just glad ours is .25 miles away instead of 40 feet. 🙂

    Comment by The Great White Shank — September 13, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

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