Sunday, April 14, 2013

These Days

"Morning seems strange, almost out of place" - Joy Division

I am awake. It is dark. Rolling over, I feel my vertebrae clicking and shifting. I lie still for a few moments, checking to see if I'm going to fall back asleep quickly.


I rise from bed carefully. I can't remember the layout of the room or if I left anything on the floor. I shuffle carefully to the bathroom and get a glass of water. Clock says 5:00 am.

I get back in bed and start doing time math, budgeting for some exercise, shower, breakfast, walk time...I should really just get up now. I'm awake anyhow.

I load a cartridge into the espresso gun and wait for it to calibrate.

Yesterday - Saturday, or Sunday, depending on your perspective - I was home. I walked on the beach with my wife, the cold air scouring our faces with sand as the waves came and went. I returned to SFO for my 3rd round trip in 3 days and sat on a plane for 11 hours to arrive here: London.

I didn't sleep much on the plane. Too hot. Too cold. Too many people snoring. Too much on my mind.  Unable to get comfortable.

The taxi ride was unpleasant, between the greenhouse conditions in the back seat and fatigue, I attained a near-transcendent state of nausea. Then the cabbie dropped us off at the wrong place with the wrong directions.

But I did what anyone else would do after 11+ hours of travel: I worked out. The hotel gym was blissfully deserted, and their treadmill had some crazy graphics showing virtual mountains, islands, and tracks.

My feet go thump thump thump thump over the whine of the belt. I run my first 5K in under 29 minutes, starting cold and including a 5 minute warm-up. Then I run another 65 minutes at 80% of my maximum heart rate, before dropping into a 5 minute cool-down. My shirt is drenched. My face is red. I don't know it at the time, but I am chapped in several sensitive areas.

It's been at least a week since I was able to put in a good long cardio session. I think the last time was Tokyo, which was, what, last week? But after the Tokyo flight I was too tired to go this long and this hard. It feels good. And it feels awful.

Los Angeles was 48 hours ago. Tokyo was 72. It is April now. Mid-April. Sunday.

I cool down, sweat still pouring from my face and chest.

Shower, clean clothes. My colleague and I head out into the beautiful London night. There's a restaurant nearby up on the 32nd floor of a building. The view of London as the sun sets is spectacular, and the food is delicious.

I get all the way to the end before the jet lag fog starts creeping in. My voice gets creaky. Back at the hotel we have a drink in the deserted and beautiful lounge and talk about our life, such as it is these days.

Scrambled time to go with scrambled eggs. Coffee and whiskey. Sit for a long time, run for a long time.

I think of the flooded streets of London described in Ballard's "The Drowned World". Piano music.

A knock at the door. Room service. The day calls.

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