Archive for December, 2013

1531677_1379384392315582_2113765239_nClichés can be so insipid. But there’s one I can’t get out of my head–the one about living every day like it’s your last.

Last Wednesday was Steve Pryseski’s last day. He died at 54 years old. His friends, of which I’m honored to have been one since 1984, called him Pry (that’s him on the right, sitting). Only a few months ago, Pry’s world was normal, proceeding on course. Then came cancer, then an operation, then complications, then more cancer, then death. A wife and daughter suffering with him, by his side watching it happen.

Like so much death I’ve witnessed, Steve’s leaves me just numb and befuddled. His passing reminds me of just how much things have changed–in the world, in my life, and in the way death has evolved for me.

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imagesI prepared my friend that this would be a holiday party attended mainly by women.

Wow, I was spot on. It was like walking into a Tri Delt reunion. Or accidentally wandering into the women’s locker room at the gym.

These are writers who are part of an online community of which I’m also a member. But I’m new so I don’t recognize anybody and know only a few names. I predicted it would be mainly women because I see the daily postings, and they’re mostly women’s names.

Sure, there are a handful of guys at the party. A Burl Ives clone on the couch. A middle-aged dude in a tattered pilot jacket, nearly as disheveled as me—who may have hitchhiked to the party. Two cute guys in the far corner who, other than my friend and me, might be the only other gay guys here (spoiler alert: turns out they’re not gay.) And the husband of the couple who hosted the party.

Those are the men I remember seeing. And then there were like a hundred women.

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running-manThis guy, Michael Ward, worked the same job for 10 years, hammering out a routine that began at 6 every morning. When he got laid off, his internal clock didn’t get the message. He found himself wide awake at the crack of dawn every day with nothing to do. He had never been a runner, but he decided to start. First with just a couple miles a day. And then building, and building and building, and eventually, he ran a marathon. He called running his salvation in a time of tremendous financial and professional strife.

Wow, I totally get that. I’ve been running for years but it’s never been more necessary than in the last year, as I purposely set out to create a new identify after intentionally abandoning the previous one.

Running is now something I need every day, like a glass of Malbec and a few minutes with Jon Stewart. The best thing I did for my health when I was in my 30s was to stop smoking. The best thing I did for my health in my 40s was to start running.

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KnittingWorldWar2_LifeMagazine1941-746717“What’s up with the knife,” a fragile-looking teenager asks me at Starbucks, overhearing my request for the disposable utinsil.

“Self defense,” I say. “I hear it’s a bad neighborhood.”

Clearly I’m joking. It’s a flimsy plastic knife and this is Palm Springs, where the worst crime is wearing plaid shorts and a striped shirt.

He doesn’t give up. “Did you order a bagel?”

Dear god, I think, what does this child want?

“What are you knitting?” I change the subject. He draws yarn from a spool stuffed deep inside his coat pocket, never looking at the needles.

“A beanie.”

“Like the one you have on?” I ask. Yep, sure enough, he made that one, too.

I complement his work, wish him a good day, and retreat to the patio, alone, but not for long.

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