Latest night ever!

Eyes bleary from lack of sleep and mouth acrid from stale coffee, I
check in with my faithful readership. I don’t know how I got myself
roped into working the graveyard shift here at the Emotional Trauma
Center and Whine Ward. It’s been refreshingly quiet and the phone has
not rung since I got here at 10:30 p.m. Jason, tonight’s able
assistant, and the pet mouse sit in the front room, buying motorcycle
helmets online.

 It seems like a long time since I went biking this afternoon in the
warmer weather. I actually stripped down to short-sleeves for the
first time in about three weeks and was rewarded with a good hustling
pace, making 18 mph on my pair of seven-mile loops. Unfortunately for
me, the fickle wind shifted direction between the first loop and the
second. On my first loop, I was cycling in the doctrinally correct
manner, pushing against the wind on the out leg and reaping the
benefit of the tailwind on the return leg. That created a nice reverse
split, where the back half was faster than the front half.

 On my second trip around, I noticed myself daydreaming a little bit
about the book I was reading (Kate Atkinson’s Case Histories)
instead of really pushing hard, and a couple minutes later at the far
western extent of the loop, I checked my time and saw that though I
hadn’t pushed too hard, I had still beaten my corresponding split time
on the first lap. Of course, the return leg was a doozy because I was
pedaling into the wind. Takeaway lesson from that is: if it feels too
easy, it probably is and you should push more.

 On that last doomed leg, however, I discovered something new: an extra
(fourth) gear. Not really a gear, as if I had an automatic
transmission instead of two leggy-pegs, but a metaphorical gear. First
gear is just pushing the pedals along, second gear drops the elbows to
relax the arms and lower the upper body while the legs start to move
the pedals in circles, both pushing down and lifting up (I have found
that not overlubricating the chain is actually a pretty good way to
determine this because I can hear the ruff-ruff of the mostly pushing
stroke, as opposed to the smoother circular stroke sound). Third gear
involves pushing the ischial tuberosities back off the end of the
saddle, which moves the fulcrum of my femurs slightly more distal,
like choking up on a baseball bat, shortening the pedal stroke. This
new fourth gear, which came upon me as unexpectedly as a power-up in a
video game, involves the same position as third gear except for a
slight extra bend forward and just more pedal strokes, more quickly. I
wonder if I’ll be able to get to it again.

Not exactly leaping from bed, but…

Every once in a while I surprise myself. Somehow I managed to bring
myself from sleeping in bed all the way out to the second revetment
and home again, 5.6 miles, in the predawn chill.

 It helped that I had turned the heat off last night, so the imminent
threat of freezing to death actually woke me up about ten past four,
about five minutes before the alarm went off. I rearranged the
blankets on top of the bed, instead of underneath it, and then the
alarm went. I remember exactly the moment I realized I was going
running: when I put on sweatpants instead of shorts to run to the ab
unit. From there, I just tossed on the jacket (I’d filled the pockets
with all the paraphernalia last night) and I was out the door on my
way to run.

 As a bonus, I even managed to psyche myself into not turning around at
12th street, like I did the day before yesterday. It’s cold out, sure,
and dark because the waxing moon has set long before I start out, and
the other day I told myself that it was okay to turn around, that the
marginal value of running an extra 20 minutes was overcome by the
marginal value of not freezing to death (I think there was a stiffer
wind Saturday, too). But today I felt OK and I realized that once I
was out there, dressed and warmed up, with warm, heavy gloves on, I
might as well just push the extra two miles. So I ran up the hill in
the pleasant darkness all the way to the second revetment and back
comme d’habitude.

 Coming back home along the main boulevard, I pass the car wash and
ice plant, where it’s always a little busy, and then there’s one
block, between the firehouse and the stadium, where every morning it
always seems like toytown down here in the secret city: it’s just so
quiet and peaceful. It reminds me of a Richard Scarry town before all
the madness begins, or maybe that’s just my impression of my little
secret city here: by day, it’s a little busytown, with the distinctive
rumble of the Mitsubishi standard-transmission 23-pax buses and the
water splashing out of the tops of the water trucks as they apparently
drive in endless loops around town. And every once in a while a house
or a bathroom will drive by (on the back of a flatbed, usually).


Can I take that back and try to wake up again?

What a surprise! I woke up not ten minutes ago [back at four forty-five a.m., but no internet until now] to a rushing heartbeat and the unmistakable wobbly sensation of being too far up a coniferous tree. Plus the pegs feel like twin Jul logs of lactic acid, smoldering away for a third party to appreciate.

I shed the pajamas, pulled on shorts, and socks, and the old pair of trainers, and went out for a quick trip to the ab unit, feeling bewildered. What kind of switcheroo was this, G. Samsa of Secret City? What happened to the chipper fellow I’d gone to sleep as, who’d dined on beet salad, three cups of tea, a slice of pizza, and a manageable scoop of coffee ice cream?

I’d been ready, I’d been motivated. I’d read about Jean C installing a new kitchen sink. Was all that preparation just a blithe, fantastical dream? Is this sad state my reality? A drab paneled cube of lodging space furnished with empty beds and dusty footlockers, invisibly striated like a USA Today weather map by the crisp, dry and insufficient heat from the wall unit? A googly-eyed trio of stuffed animals, all repeating the same story when asked about my motivation—ya se fue, boss, it done left.