Tag Archives: insomnia

6 miles on January 24

In between truly frantic bouts of walking and running, visits to friends and appointments, I calculate that I covered about twenty-five miles of Brooklyn dirt-and-asphalt between Friday and Sunday evening, just barely keeping myself ahead of anxiety, insomnia, and numerous other purposeless maladies. I think that perhaps I was a shepherd in a former life, or a wandering penitent. A pilgrim of some sort. Or maybe a trades-person on the Silk Road hawking counterfeit perfumes.

Actually, now that I think about it, I’ve never had a job that required me to walk any distance, but I have had a remarkable number of early rising jobs.¬† In my younger days, to supplement my job at a museum, I would wake at 5:30am to bike blearily the five miles to a coffee-shop in downtown Minneapolis. Then, I would read the paper, bake scones, and drink endless amounts of coffee while waiting for my first beleaguered customers to arrive. In high school, I opened a coffee-shop in a mall where I would cheerily salute the mall-walkers who would descend upon the place before the selling began. One summer job at the embassy required me at 6am to get into a van filled with my directionless peers and be transported to the drab office where I would spend the next eight hours shredding. Finally, there was the 5:30am shift that I was forced to work as a bus-driver during college, which wasn’t so bad at all, considering.

Anyway, so today, I decided to run to Bay Ridge to investigate Owl’s Head Park on the edge of the Brooklyn peninsula. It turned out that this run was intensely tailored for my tastes: I ran up 5th Avenue for 47 blocks, passing Green-wood Cemetery, Sunset Park, the basilica, and all manner of slightly unpleasant industrial landscapes. Once I arrived, I found the park to be refreshingly free from the crazed athletes of Prospect Park: a forlorn birdwatcher informed me that nothing was to be seen in the trees, and some heavily-clothed man barked at me to “don’t stop — keep up the program!” as I sat on a bench watching the barges float against the backdrop of Staten Island.

On my way back home, I found a pile of free books on the sidewalk and picked up “Vanity Fair,” the journals of Athol Fugard, and some meditations on the Chesapeake Bay.

3.5 miles on January 13

I woke early this morning only to realize that it was 2:15am. Then, I listened to the awful pipes conversing and the sound of the tree branches clattering across the glass of the window panes and wished I could sleep. Of course, when 6:15am came, I was desperate to leave the house and reach the park. If you have nothing better to do, and you’re awake at that hour, I can think, honestly, of nothing more enjoyable than clambering up Lookout Hill¬† in time for the sunrise. Leaning against a tree, I felt the palpable absence of the street lamps when they all extinguished themselves at 7:19am, and then I watched the buildings of south Brooklyn light up before me, steam rising from brick structures as if I had been transported to some earlier time.

I visited some of my favorite haunts today: Columbia down to Central Park, then a ride on the M4 to look at the waterfalls through the bus windows. I walked 5th Avenue from the Conservatory Gardens all the way to 57th St., where I can’t help but enjoy the feel of Midtown at night, when it looks like a comic-book set to lights. I met a friend for dinner at a diner: she ordered a reasonable Greek salad and coffee and I ordered an entirely unreasonable grilled cheese and Budweiser, and we discussed the art of florid exposition. Funnily enough, I had arrived early and was completely privileged to hear the tail-end of a long-running conversation about movies between three men, each sitting at individual booths, calmly eating their meals and hurling pointed opinions at each other.