Saturday, June 12, 2010
Note: if you are not an animal person you may not understand; also, please know that Keely and I don’t have children so Neenah was truly our daughter. She made a couple into The Family.
The world is replete with cruel ironies, and yesterday when Neenah passed away, my wife and I experienced a hammer-to-the-head blow of irony. We had brought Neenah in for a routine check-up. She had experienced a little diarrhea over the past month and her hips were stiff; she was an old lady at sixteen but healthy. The vet had finished his initial exam and said she was in good shape. When he took her back to get a blood and stool sample–nothing odd there and something she had experienced before–Keely and I talked of plans we could make in light of Neenah’s health. We had returned to the States partially to give her a “retirement” somewhere safe and easy; not that she didn’t have it relatively safe and easy everywhere we took her, but psychologically we thought it best to ease back on travel in her golden years.
We realized she was just trucking along and our attention to her health over the years had kept her in great shape. So, we started talking of bringing her abroad again or even being able to handle living in a cabin in a remote section of Ecuador.
Healthy and in a safe place with a good vet doing a routine blood draw, she got scared, then had a seizure that we think led to a stroke. She never came back. We were right there hoping she would come out of the catatonic state she had fallen into–her eyes were open and widely dilated and her gums and tongue so pale we knew there was a circulation issue. Her heart was fine but her respirations shallow and erratic (she was intubated to help). She never came back. We called to her, stroked her, pinched her but she never came back. After forty-five minutes we realized that even if somehow she came out of that horrible state she would no longer be the same Neenah, her brain affected by a stroke and/or a serious lack of oxygen. We made the decision then to euthanize her.
We expected some illness to take her some time, and for the two of us to have to make a long, hard decision. That would’ve been a painful situation but one that we controlled. We couldn’t control this lightning quick descent.
An hour earlier we were planning our day with a casualness that now seems awful: after the vets we’ll drop Neenah off then go do errands, then maybe the beach. We couldn’t see a day without Neenah. We never have had a time without her.
Classic Irony heard us speaking of Neenah’s health and our plans of new freedoms and decided such hubris would not stand. Point taken Irony but fuck you anyway.
We don’t want the freedom we now have. Hey we can now take that six-month job cataloging a bird species in some remote area, way off the grid and requiring backcountry living and self-reliance. Fuck that too. I’d take this cushy suburban apartment and a mediocre day-to-day life over anything else, as long as we could have the ability to hear her wake us up every morning and greet us every afternoon.
We don't want this new freedom we have.
Friday, June 11, 2010
R.I.P. Neenah Marie Bargnesi-Cronin (1994-2010). The prettiest, most mellow, most well-traveled cat anyone has ever seen. Our daughter. Keely and I got Neenah when we started dating in the summer of 1994 and she was with us since then. Wherever we went in the world, whatever we were doing it was the three of us--The Family. She died unexpectedly this morning sending Keely and I into major shock and grief. The apartment will be too big without her. We loved her.
Saturday, May 29, 2010
In the last three days I’ve hiked, canoed, climbed, square-danced, done parkour, poked around in mountain creeks, skim boarded on the shore, “porpoised” in the ocean (more later on this), and just walked about having fun.
These are things I’ve done before (except the square dancing—insanely fun!), most of them done usually with intensity and with a serious bent. But more and more I’ve come around to the idea of playing as the most intense, yet non-serious, activity one can do.
Yeah, I know this is nothing new.
First, I was away on the SC-NC border, up in the mountains at 3100 feet, for a school fieldtrip. Try dealing with 105 thirteen year-olds and you will know what it takes to “Work Out.” Yet, for me, I seemed to build energy the more we did. Away from the classroom and the normal boundaries, I felt more alive.
Now, I got a little beat up on the trip but in a good way. Outdoor stuff is my forté so I felt at home, but having been out of it for a while my muscles were weak. The lesson? It doesn’t matter how much time in the gym you spend, real life activity works you differently. I’ve been living in the Lowcountry and we were up in the mountains so I was huffing and puffing a little.
One thing that really tweaked my fitness was playing around with kids who were starting to get into parkour (check it out). I had been doing stuff like that way back before it was ever had a name. So some kids were jumping off stuff, leaping, bouncing, etc. The mountain air must have charged me up enough to want to show the kids how to do it. I showed them that I could out jump, climb, swing, and bounce all of them. I don’t say this out of arrogance, because by doing that I established credentials that I could use to gain their trust and enthusiasm to try new things and appreciate the outdoors or at least appreciate the spirit of physical daring (parkour is not about the outdoors/the wild but I tried to turn it that way).
Even now, my right shoulder is a little tweaked because of particular move I kept trying to perfect, in which I leapt up a flagstone chimney wall and then rotated outward on my right hand, spinning back towards a further section of the wall with my left hand to land again. I never perfected it but damn it was great.
I came home from the trip on Friday night super tired (trying sleeping in the same cabin as fifteen 13 year boys who keep making fart noises!) and thought I was done for the weekend; however, this morning my wife and I went to the beach, like we always do, and there was no way I could avoid skim-boarding since the conditions were perfect. Like begets like. Once started, I felt the same energy I did in the mountains. Tweaked muscles and schwagged-out brain were banished once I started to skim and spin across the inch thin water. I was better today than I’ve ever been.
I’ve been slowly discovering the stuff I used to do all the time twenty-plus years ago. Somewhere between then and now certain aspects were lost or minimalized. Glad to be back.
Do I have any issues with these guys? Nope. Sisson is right on but could link the play more directly to the other aspects of his plan and Le Corre just needs to lighten up a little on the intensity, just like me (hey Erwan, Boulder’s more fun when you play and party!).
I want to extend the idea of play (for myself really since I know this is already going on). For example, when the Primal Blueprint talks of sprinting every seven to ten days, it is something I can’t disagree with, but I wonder if we couldn’t get those sprints in some other way. I thought of this idea this morning when I was skim-boarding with some intensity for about a half-hour. I realized that I had been sprinting for quite a while, every time I bolted after the board to jump on it. Was it a full fifty-yard sprint? Of course not. The difference? It was a shorter sprint but was then combined with balance and core strength. Most important was that it was fun and on the shore and not isolated like so many exercises are—it wasn’t just exercise, it was life, and it wasn’t just life but great living!
The idea is that one plays first and worries about fitness results second.
All of us need to play first.