As the Wheel Turns

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

As the Wheel Turns

Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.” -Henry Ford

Tootsie didn’t understand what had happened to her relationship with Pete.  At first, it had all been so promising.  He had been attentive when she had first moved in.  Pete had held her tight and traced his fingers lightly over her chin while she drifted off to sleep.  Tootsie had woken up to meals that Pete had prepared just for her.  He would read her stories and keep her company until the wee small hours of the morning.  Yes, things had all started so happily for a lad and his hamster.

Then, as inevitably happens, Pete grew weary of Tootsie’s presence.  He would let a comment slip about the jowls around Tootsie’s neck.  He stopped feeding her expensive food and let her nibble on whatever morsels lay around the house.

When she had first moved in, Tootsie had been allowed free roam of their shared living space. Now she was confined to a metal cage.  She felt it terribly unfair that Pete was allowed to strap on his jogging shoes and run around outside, but Tootsie was expected to be content with her tiny world.  Pete was the one making jokes to his friends about how chubby Tootsie looked, but she was the one trapped with an exercise wheel and no other activities.  Tootsie wondered how inspired Pete would be to keep in shape if he were trapped running on the same boring machine hour after hour, every day.

Tootsie took a sip from the giant water bottle and took in a few stale drops of water.  The sweat from her morning stroll around the wheel was dripping down her body, matting clumps of hair together.  She wanted some sort of fun before she began yet another stroll around the circular treadmill later in the afternoon.  She had long ago wondered if all this exercise was really worth the benefits.  She knew that she could still squeeze through an empty cardboard tube.  Paper towels, toilet paper; she was up for any tiny obstacle that was placed in her path.  Yet, as she looked in her smudged mirror with the blue plastic frame that only slightly cheered up her drab environment, Tootsie saw no difference in her appearance.  She still appeared, as Pete so succinctly put it, like a giant fluffed up furball.

Staring at the clock on the wall, Tootsie tried to slow down her heart rate.  Her goal was always the same.  She wanted her heart to beat at the same tempo as the second hand.  If it was a good enough goal for Pete, then it was fine for her.  Yet, try as she might, the thump-thump sound of her chest was always ticking away much faster than any clock.  She closed her eyes, took deep breaths, tried to picture a white pearl in front of her nose in a black room; none of it worked.  As healthy as Tootsie should have been with her maddening exercise routine, she just couldn’t seem to measure up to Pete’s goals.

Maybe that was what was keeping them apart, Tootsie wondered.  When they had started spending so much time together, Pete’s attentions had been focused solely on his precious hamster.  Tootsie had thought that she was Pete’s entire world.  He laughed as she burrowed underneath her bedding, made sure her water was fresh, and generally watched her every adorable move.  But Tootsie had to admit that upon second thought, there had been signs that his attention had been waning.  Pete had other things on his mind.  He had work, friends, television, and books.  All Tootsie had were her cage and Pete’s affections.  She still liked having Pete around, but she wanted more.  Pete had started off holding the key to her heart, and now he wouldn’t even unlock the cage.

In desperation at her state, Tootsie crawled into the corner of her living quarters.  She was in no mood to eat or exercise.  She simply wanted to the world to make sense.  She wanted the same amount of attention that she had once gotten.  Why couldn’t anyone make Tootsie the center of her world?

Little did she know, Tootsie’s unheard pleadings were about to be answered.  Pete opened the apartment door at that moment with a paper bag in his hand and a smile on his face.  He walked straight to Tootsie’s cage as he reached inside the sack.

“I thought you could use a little pick-me up”, Pete teased.  “I know I haven’t been around much, but hopefully this’ll help.”

Tootsie heard a squeak come from the bag.  She hunched nervously in the corner, not sure what to expect.  Pete opened the cage door, placed his other fist inside, and then closed the squeaky latch once more.

There, much to Tootsie’s delight; was a male hamster.  And he was quite cute.

“Hey there”, the Hamster said as he winked one of his brown eyes.  “I’m Hugh.  How you doin’?”

“I’m fine”, Tootsie found herself saying.  “Much better now that you’re here.”

On that day Tootsie’s lonely and cramped world opened up.  All kinds of possibilities were now hers to explore.

Early Dawn

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told. Some will be fun, some will not. Some will be great, some will be less so. Some stories are true, some are merely possible. This is one of them.

Early Dawn

There is nothing comparable to the endurance of a woman. In military life she would tire out an army of men, either in camp or on the march.” -Mark Twain

The alarm clock roused Dawn from her peaceful sleep.  She lifted her head from the warm flannel-clad pillow to confirm the time.  To her disbelief, it was time to get up.  She let her face collide with her pillow and let out a slow moan of frustration that was muted by the fabric.  Dawn’s cat, Chaos; laid by her waist, unmoving.  The cat was used to it all and was undisturbed by his bedmate’s protests.

After she had allowed herself an extra minute or two of pretend sleep, Dawn slowly counted to five.  She had learned the old trick in a drama class and it worked well.  She told herself that she was becoming more awake as she counted to four.  She told her arms and legs to start getting blood flowing through them as she reached three.  She adjusted her neck and fingers ever so slightly as she counted to two.  When she reached one, she sat up and opened her eyes.  It had mostly done the job, but she still felt sleepy.  She rolled out of bed, doing her best not to disturb Chaos, and let her legs hit the floor.  The rest of her body followed suit and she found herself standing on the carpet.  She stood at full height and reached her fingers to the ceiling.  Chaos lifted his eyes just enough to survey the terrain.  No food was in sight, so he stayed on the warm comforter.  Dawn looked at the cat enviously and then plodded into the bathroom.

Flipping on the light switch, Dawn was met by the blinding lights above her mirror.  She had never wanted three bulbs above her mirror; she had even unscrewed one of them, but the two remaining lights filled her sleepy eyes with splotches.  Dawn blinked away the intrusion and let her eyes adjust to the light.  She took a comb in her hands and began her brief routine.

Dawn was an attractive woman.  Most people seemed to think so at least, and several fellows had been forward enough to express that opinion in myriad ways.  Dawn thought she was all right and liked to keep it that way.  When she had brushed all of her long brown hair back, she pulled it into a loose ponytail behind her.  It was hardly a fashion statement, but it would do for the morning’s routine.  She took her glasses from their nightly perch by the sink and placed them on her small nose.  Her brown oval-shaped eyes still had tired lines and a hint of redness.  Dawn sighed in annoyance but reminded herself that it was four in the morning; what did she expect?  The dimple on her chin agreed, but felt it wasn’t its place to speak without being spoken to first.

Dawn returned to the bedroom and went towards her dresser.  Chaos hadn’t moved an inch.  His tail had been bothering him, so Dawn wasn’t surprised that he lacked any vim or vigor.  She was confident that he would remain the sentinel of the mattress until he heard the can opener leap into action, then he would do the same.  Dawn opened the second drawer, pulled out a pair of black yoga pants, and put those on in place of her plaid shorts.  Her U2 t-shirt was regrettably abandoned as she pulled on her snug green tank-top.  She threw the shorts at the laundry basket, missed, and threw the shirt in.  She felt that one out of two wasn’t so bad and headed towards the living room.  She decided on her way that the shorts added contrast to the brown carpet and therefore it was a fashion choice, not her laziness; that allowed them to remain where they had landed.

Dawn found her yoga mat just where it always was.  The corner of her living room was quiet.  There were no decorations here, simply her mat and the window.  A serene view of the lake was visible and Dawn was once again pleased that she had picked this apartment.

Before her workout, she looked down at her belly.  She had a few more pounds on her than she liked.  Most of it was due to her pool schedule.  She used to like to go in at six a.m. and avoid any of the crowds.  The water buoyed her, calmed her, and drowned out the outside racket that life often brought.  Recently though, her gym had added a morning class.  She wasn’t sure exactly what they were doing, but it seemed like some sort aquatic jazzercise.  Dawn had considered joining in so that she could be in the water, but she wanted calm and quiet while the group preferred bouncing and flailing to boy bands from the nineties.  Dawn hadn’t swum in months and she missed it.

Also, Dawn liked carbs.  Most of all, she enjoyed doughnuts.  People would bring them to work, they would sit there and look inviting while she shopped for bagels; it was as if they were calling to her.  If she didn’t eat a few maple bars, then clearly she was depriving them of their purpose.  She couldn’t sleep knowing that she hadn’t done her part to help out the hard-working doughnut population.  Also, the pizza shop that had opened in the lobby of her office was not helping matters.

Dawn was still in fine shape.  Her years of yoga had honed her arms and legs into slender shape, even if her lack of exercise had caused to her lose some of her tone.  She could feel the muscles in her stomach waiting to come forth; she just needed to help them along.  Dawn liked to be in shape.  She was always happier when her body was ready for anything.  She had to admit that winter had slowed her down.  It was hard to go jogging when the thermometer wouldn’t reach above the thirties and without her pool she had found herself rather couch bound.  She still did some yoga, she still went hiking, but her routine was lazy.  Winter had come and gone, spring was in full force, and Dawn felt summer rapidly approaching.  One extra bit of motivation to get back to her former physique was Louis.

Louis and Dawn worked together and they had just clicked.  They were from two different states, two different backgrounds; two different upbringings. Somehow the two had fallen into synch almost immediately.  She liked how casual he could be in an office of stodgy coworkers while he liked the insights that she offered that no one had ever recognized before.  They had spent lunch together, gone on a few hikes together, and even been to see a play together.  He was just tall enough for her to put her head on his shoulder and he always made an effort to open doors for her.  She liked his style and had been expressing herself in frisky ways recently.  Louis was often telling her how nice she looked or how beautiful she was, so Dawn wasn’t afraid of him being too reserved in his displays of affection.  Still, if she could regain the stomach she had at this time last year…  Dawn smiled to herself.  It would be fun to see Louis’ jaw drop; the poor guy.

Dawn pulled her exercise ball close to her and pretended she was going to do a push-up on it.  She placed her legs shoulder-length apart and lifted one knee up to her chest.  She repeated this several times and then switched legs.  Then she lay on her mat, let her arms go loose at her side, tucked her stomach in while she breathed through her chest and let her knees fold.  She tightened the muscles in her core as she lifted her waist up into the air, lowered it, and repeated the motion as much as she could.  She then laid on her side, her out-stretched body taking up the length of the mat.  She told herself that she was looking pretty good, and turned onto her side.  Each leg got its time to be lifted into the air in a long, graceful line.  As Dawn wrapped up, she started thinking she should probably cut back on the doughnuts.  If nothing else, they were getting expensive.  She decided that she would limit herself to two of them a day.  Or maybe three…, she considered.  There was no need to make rash decisions, after all.

Dawn felt a few beads of sweat drift down her face and welcomed the cooling trickles of moisture.  She reached for the water bottle that she hadn’t finished yesterday and took long, refreshing sips.  She needed to remember to drink more water too.  She added that to the running to-do list that was constantly asking for her attention.  If there was one thing Louis brought to her life, it was that he distracted Dawn from her list of endless tasks.  She appreciated that about him.

Dawn sat on the mat, her legs crossed and intertwined.  She put the water bottle aside and put her hands on her knees.  As she took deep breaths she tried to block the world from her mind.  She pushed away her work day in front of her.  She discarded the car repairs she needed to have done.  She fought to remove any thoughts of her pregnant sister who was far too young to be having a kid.  Finally, and with a bit of regret, she stopped thinking about Louis and how he looked when he wore that blue shirt and hadn’t shaved for a day.  It took her a minute or two, but soon it was just Dawn and the quiet.  Chaos would bother her soon enough.  Her pet would demand to be fed soon enough.  For now, she simply breathed in and out, focused on nothing, and enjoyed this tranquil moment as the sun started to shine through her window.

A Running Commentary

In “Anecdotal Tales”, stories will be told.  Some will be fun, some will not.  Some will be great, some will be less so.  Some stories are true, some are merely possible.  This is one of them.

A Running Commentary

Jerry the Jogger is ready to go.  He puts his shoes on and wonders why his left shoe must always fit tighter than his right.  He empties his pockets of everything.  He wears only shorts, a simple t-shirt, and a wristband to hold his key.  Without another thought, Jerry the Jogger is ready to go.

Nothing stops Jerry the Jogger.  He sprints away from his front porch and heads out into the world.  The streets are empty; the sidewalks are his to command.  Jerry the Jogger has to admit that it is a rather pleasant morning, even if the sun is too lazy to full get out of bed.  The day has already started to warm up and it seems like the blue skies will shine brightly.  None of this slows down Jerry the Jogger.

Feeling the lungs in his chest finally warm up, Jerry the Jogger quickens his pace.  His mission is simple.  He must run, run quickly, and run skillfully.  There are no other people out yet to compete with.  The tasks and demands of the day can wait a bit longer.  Jerry the Jogger simply likes being outside.

Lone Jogger by Kim Newberg

A car delivering newspapers swerves all over the road.  Jerry the Jogger is undeterred.  He watches as the late 80’s hatchback tosses one bundle out the window, drives to the opposite of the street crossing the double yellow line without hesitating and deposits another bundle.  Jerry the Jogger sees the car coming towards him but does not change course.  The car and he have undergone this game of chicken before and Jerry the Jogger has yet to lose.  The car sees him, flicks its lights, and drives on.  The intrepid runner does not pause to wave.  Nothing can slow down Jerry the Jogger.

The typical obstacles present themselves.  A giant puddle from yesterday’s rain offers to “cool him off”, but Jerry the Jogger declines the invitation.  Tree branches sag down and threaten to scratch him in the face, but he skillfully avoids contact.  A crack looms in the pavement ahead, but he knows exactly where it is and how far it juts up off the ground.  Jerry the Jogger is fearless and yields to nothing.

A surprise greets Jerry the Jogger.  As the sun makes its full presence over the horizon, a new sight comes his way.  Two female runners approach.  They are in their late twenties and look very lovely in their running gear.  They pass with a smile and simultaneous “Hi” greetings, but Jerry the Jogger only nods and waves.  There is no time for distractions.  There is only the road.  Jerry the Jogger will not be distracted.

Nothing stops Jerry the Jogger, nothing.  Not even the cute cat that meows at him from across the street.  It does not matter that the cat is looking pretty adorable.  Jerry the Jogger cannot take time to stop and notice how the cat has cute little white spots on his feet that look like four matching white socks.  Jerry the Jogger rationalizes that he has a cat at home that he can go home and talk to.  Jerry the Jogger tries to avoid slowing down and crossing the street.  He tells himself t

hat he shouldn’t be walking to the cat slowly, quietly, as the cat walks up to him in reply.  Jerry the Jogger has a reputation of focus to maintain.  He shouldn’t be kneeling next to the cat and scratching its next; even though the neck really is quite soft.  Seriously, how does this cat get its neck to be so fluffy?  It’s like a cloud.  He reaches to scratch the cat on the back only to have the feline flee.

Fine.  Jerry the Jogger has other matters to attend to.  The cat was merely one more thing to take him away from his exercise.  Jerry the Jogger has to stay fit.  Jerry the Jogger is on a mission.  Jerry the Jogger stops for no one!  Well, except the occasional cat.

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