Wednesday, April 20, 2016

The Rundown

Walking nineteen miles in four days is a lot, I think.

One weekend when EH was visiting, we kept tabs on the pedometer on her phone. She used it to track how much walking she did at the hospital where she works, and also to make sure she was getting enough exercise with her crazy work hours. After just one day of walking around downtown, I noticed how much walking we did, how many miles we walked and how many calories we burned.

The magic number to walk per day, as maybe you've heard before, is 10,000 steps. This amount of steps, which at about five miles burns about 300 calories, is supposed to prevent weight gain on top of your daily activities. I started using the pedometer on my phone to keep track of how many steps I took in a day--last week it was off the charts and I wasn't even trying, I was just going about my life as usual.

I was scouting locations for a photoshoot on Monday in Brooklyn, I was running to and from interviews, I was photographing a concert, I was just plain going to a concert, and by Thursday I was hauling myself around a photography fair, having to pause every 30 minutes or so just to sit down. I was exhausted, and the over-60 crowd at the fair seemed to be speeding past me. By the end of that evening, when I was home sitting on my couch, I discovered I had walked nineteen miles during the week. I relaxed on Friday, or did my best to, but the week shortly caught up with me and I was blowing my nose like a foghorn by the end of the night. On Saturday, I thought if I took a nap before going to a friend's play I'd be fine, but even after the show I fell into bed, unable to do all of the work I had planned on doing.

SE and I were supposed to have plans that night, but when he called I sounded like death. "What can I bring you?" he said matter-of-factly, in a way that told me I was not to simply say "nothing," because he knew by this point that "nothing" would have been a lie. "Hot and sour soup, please," I croaked into the phone. The Chinese restaurant staple has a magical gift of clearing out my sinuses. It's also way less boring than Chicken Noodle. SE arrived at my door a short while afterward, forced to gaze upon me in all my sweatpantsed/hoodied glory, eyes swollen and shoulders slumped. I practically poured the soup into my veins and shortly afterward was able to speak and laugh like a normal human. He left and prescribed me bed-rest. I did that, but only realizing after he left that I also needed Vicks Vapo-Rub and a decongestant and probably an ice cream sandwich to heal my wounds. I pulled on boots and a leather jacket and trudged myself over to Duane Reade for my loot. I found out upon coming home I had purchased the wrong medication, but the Vicks really helped my poor nostrils regain their freedom. I was sleeping by 10pm, occasionally waking up in the middle of the night to reapply more Vicks, and woke up on my own around 9 o'clock the next morning, fully able to talk without blowing my nose.

SE and I sat in Central Park most of the day on a picnic blanket I brought that was much too small, eating gouda and watching a veritable circus of dogs pass in front of us. He made illicit bellinis for us and we listened to Rogue Wave and Metric and The Beastie Boys and Biz Markie. It was so nice to be able to sit in one spot and do nothing, even say nothing for long stretches of time. In many ways, it was exactly what I needed.

I recently stopped doing social media as part of my freelancing business--which is to say, I am fully employed as a writer and photographer now--and have been grinding my nose so hard against the grindstone that I have forgotten I still need my nose to breathe. I do this every so often, work so hard that my body just sort of goes "NOPE," then collapses underneath me.

My father called me Sunday night to yell at me about this. And by "yell" I mean speak very calmly and enunciate and say "I would like you to" and "do you understand?" at the beginning and end of every sentence.

"Elyssa, I would like you to remember to take time off so this doesn't happen again, do you understand?" he said.
"Yes, I understand, Dad."
"You understand, but do you understand?" he said.
"I understand," I said.
"Good. Then I would like you go to bed early tonight, do you understand?"
"Yes, Dad, I understand."

I love being busy; it makes me feel alive, like I'm earning every penny of my living. But all of the walking, all of the schlepping, all of the going and doing has to be punctuated with the relaxing, and not just because my dad says so (although as someone who built his own business, he knows quite well this is accurate). If not, there will be no going and doing to get done. "You are a one-man band," as my mother says. And the bandleader has to take care of her bandmates! In true New Yorker fashion, I am still learning how to relax. Lest I care to be blowing my nose again so fervently, though, I had better learn a little faster.