Running Without a Soundtrack

The silence running in the country was deafening.

I could not find my head phones. I usually run with ear buds listening to Pandora and the Omar Shariff sound-alike who calculates the distance of my run on my Cardio Trainer app.

I like running to Britney Spears songs like Piece of Me or Pat Benatar’s Hit Me with Your Best Shot. I think, “Yay, world, hit me. Try getting a piece of this.”

I know, I know. I am delirious after just five minutes of running, wondering, Is it time to take that well-deserved water break or walk yet? The music keeps me going.

So running without Britney, Pat or Omar, I felt a twinge of loneliness. The steadiest sound was the scraping labor of my own breath. Then the silence came alive.

running on a country road

There was a cawing of a crow, an old Buick rounding a corner, the wind swishing the hay in the field, and in the mix, my breath.

My breath was just a speck on the country road. Running helps you figure out where you fit in, a small piece in a big picture.

For this epiphany I rewarded myself by slowing down and walking.

Happy Bloomsday!

Grab some James Joyce. Read a section from Ulysses.

It all takes place on 16th of June and yes a day like others and yes a day like today and here we are in June in bloom and the sun and taxicabs as bright as dandelions and summer breathing down our neck like pearls…

Tonite I am celebrating Bloomsday with friends at the Irish American Bar Association at the rotunda at the Supreme Court in NY. (Thanks to my Irish attorney friends in book club).

We are promised readings from Molly’s soliloquy and general bawdiness.

I look forward to discussing the First Amendment — and how does that freedom relate to Anthony Weiner? And who among us is the first to throw stones at Weiner? I would like to know. Because, God knows, no one wants their tweets, updates, private messages, instant messages, blogs, emails, combed through too carefully. Not me.

And yes I am not a preacher nor a politician. I am a writer. And what power does a writer have?

Oh I don’t know. As the invitation to the Bloomsday celebration stated, “James Joyce did not just give us one of the greatest works of world literature. He also gave us a landmark ruling in First Amendment jurisprudence.”

Thanks to the Irish American Bar. Thanks to the Boston Globe for this article: and this awesome picture of Marilyn Monroe reading Ulysses.

And thanks, of course, to Joyce himself for this:

“God of heaven theres nothing like nature the wild mountains then the sea and the waves rushing then the beautiful country with the fields of oats and wheat and all kinds of things and all the fine cattle going about that would do your heart good to see rivers and lakes and flowers all sorts of shapes and smells and colours springing up even out of the ditches primroses and violets nature it is as for them saying theres no God I wouldnt give a snap of my two fingers for all their learning why dont they go and create something I often asked him atheists or whatever they call themselves go and wash the cobbles off themselves first then they go howling for the priest and they dying and why why because theyre afraid of hell on account of their bad conscience ah yes I know them well who was the first person in the universe before there was anybody that made it all who ah that they dont know neither do I so there you are they might as well try to stop the sun from rising tomorrow the sun shines for you he said the day we were lying among the rhododendrons on Howth head in the grey tweed suit and his straw hat the day I got him to propose to me yes first I gave him the bit of seedcake out of my mouth and it was leapyear like now yes 16 years ago my God after that long kiss I near lost my breath yes he said I was a flower of the mountain yes so we are flowers all a womans body yes that was one true thing he said in his life and the sun shines for you today yes that was why I liked him because I saw he understood or felt what a woman is and I knew I could always get round him and I gave him all the pleasure I could leading him on till he asked me to say yes and I wouldnt answer first only looked out over the sea and the sky I was thinking of so many things he didnt know of Mulvey and Mr Stanhope and Hester and father and old captain Groves and the sailors playing all birds fly and I say stoop and washing up dishes they called it on the pier and the sentry in front of the governors house with the thing round his white helmet poor devil half roasted and the Spanish girls laughing in their shawls and their tall combs and the auctions in the morning the Greeks and the jews and the Arabs and the devil knows who else from all the ends of Europe and Duke street and the fowl market all clucking outside Larby Sharons and the poor donkeys slipping half asleep and the vague fellows in the cloaks asleep in the shade on the steps and the big wheels of the carts of the bulls and the old castle thousands of years old yes and those handsome Moors all in white and turbans like kings asking you to sit down in their little bit of a shop and Ronda with the old windows of the posadas 2 glancing eyes a lattice hid for her lover to kiss the iron and the wineshops half open at night and the castanets and the night we missed the boat at Algeciras the watchman going about serene with his lamp and O that awful deepdown torrent O and the sea the sea crimson sometimes like fire and the glorious sunsets and the figtrees in the Alameda gardens yes and all the queer little streets and the pink and blue and yellow houses and the rosegardens and the jessamine and geraniums and cactuses and Gibraltar as a girl where I was a Flower of the mountain yes when I put the rose in my hair like the Andalusian girls used or shall I wear a red yes and how he kissed me under the Moorish wall and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again yes and then he asked me would I yes to say yes my mountain flower and first I put my arms around him yes and drew him down to me so he could feel my breasts all perfume yes and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes”
I’ve blogged about James Joyce before. About how his writing inspired an epiphany — when I looked up and saw a bird circle.

Synchronicity Happens Here

I believe that synchronicity – those magical moments of epiphany – happen more frequently in New York City than anywhere else in the world. I don’t know if there are studies to back me up on this. But I swear it’s true.

Like, one day you wake up in New York City, and all of the yellow cabs’ hoods are covered with these super-bright Peter Max-type flowers. Another day, there are big orange flags flying above you in Central Park.

Another day you’re riding your bike on Central Park West and you see Leo DiCaprio getting out of a car and he’s talking into a phone. So, you slow down to hear what he’s saying. And he says, “Ah, love’s labor lost.” Real sad-like. 

That’s what I’m talkin’ about. This blog is an homage to my city. It is a city I dreamed about when I was growing up in the Chicago suburb of Park Ridge, Illinois — also, Hillary Clinton’s hometown, which the New York Times once called the “lily whitest of towns.”

I remember as a kid looking at a picture of the skyline of Manhattan and wondering what life would be like inside that picture. Now, I know.

Living in NYC is not all glamorous celebrity sightings. I live in the slow lane alongside the fast lane of NYC. I don’t go out clubbing or to socialite events. But I do try to see every new show at the MoMA.

I try to get to every one of my kids’ AYSO soccer games. To do that, I usually have to drive through Harlem to get to Randall’s Island where they play. That’s when I wonder if I’m the only Soccer Mom in the country pointing out the historic Apollo Theatre on the way to the day’s game.

Sometimes I wonder if it is the city that keeps me going or is it possible that people like me — people in the slow lane who live in and love NYC  — keep the city going?

I love NYC theatre, museums, schools and parks. I love parenting my kids here. I love the brilliant people you meet and the amazing places you walk by every single day.