A Marathon, Not a Sprint

If you look at this page via a Windows browser, there should be a logo on left side of the tab at top, a little green-brown-yellow blob.

It is a photo of a duck. I first placed the picture there, seen full-size at top, as an inside joke with myself, but the story is worth sharing. (Most of this first appeared in a post from December 2013, “A Duck About Town.”)

The photo was taken in 2013 (with friends alongside: LT and HG), and it was added at the very last second on the very first post written later that same year. If you have looked at this web site once or a thousand times (thanks, mom!), the duck has been there, on whatever device you use, each time. It is this site’s mascot, a companion to each piece I write.
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A Trip to the City

Public transportation is a wonderful thing. The Tri-State area surrounding New York City, where I live, is more than adequately served by public transit. All 20,000,000-plus of us who reside here live at maximum a short drive away from a train station or a bus stop that offers regular service to and from the Big City and parts in between; thousands (perhaps millions) of us live within walking distance of a bus or a train station.

The last vehicles that leave NYC leave well after midnight, and the earliest vehicles heading to NYC from the farthest reaches outside the city leave only a couple hours after that time, so public transportation runs almost 20 of the 24 hours a day.

If you live or travel in New York City, you know the official Metropolitan Transportation Authority subway map. NYC has 490 stops or stations spread among its five boroughs, and the picturesque map shows the lines snaking through the city:
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Mountains out of Steps

My least favorite cases are staircases. My least favorite ways are stairways. My least favorite air is a stair.

The photo above (not at all) accurately depicts (for reasons of comic exaggeration) what every staircase resembles in my mind’s eye. Including the one in my home. It is life with mobility impairment. Once upon a pair of teenage legs ago, I took stairs two at a time.

In 2012 my first neurologist, Dr. M, diagnosed me with late-onset Friedreich’s ataxia, or at least he reported that he felt I have a form of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), a disease that has dozens of forms and is genetic in origin.
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Take the Stairs

My least favorite cases are staircases. My least favorite ways are stairways. My least favorite air is a stair.

The photo above (not at all) accurately depicts (for reasons of comic exaggeration) what every staircase resembles in my mind’s eye. Including the one in my home. It is life with mobility impairment. Once upon a pair of teenage legs ago, I took stairs two at a time.

In 2012 my first neurologist, Dr. M, diagnosed me with late-onset Friedreich’s ataxia, or at least he reported that he felt I have a form of spinocerebellar ataxia (SCA), a disease that has dozens of forms and is genetic in origin.
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Oh! The Places You Won’t Go

Mistakes suck. Errors do, too.

Adverbs will never go hungry for a lack of work in many writers’ drafts, including mine, but that part of speech demands erasure whenever one encounters it. Adverbs are the empty calories of the English language: They are tasty, and they appear to be helpful when we want to bend a verb to do our verbal bidding and guide our eager reader(s) to share our thought-patterns, when context and the verb itself are capable of handling the task just fine on their own. They are potato chips and cotton candy blended into a linguistic smoothie.

All of the personal errors in my history can be described with an adverb, colorfully. Merely an adverb minus a verb or other details, so no personal stuff, no self-incriminating or embarrassing information might be revealed: complacently, awkwardly, abruptly, vigorously, languorously, braggingly, disgustingly, violently, wrongly. Timidly. Brazenly. Very. Many “verys” in there.
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Donald Trump’s Disability

Donald Trump’s disability is a terrible one, one that I would not wish on anyone: There is little that is more disabling than a mean spirit.

* * * *
“Four eyes!”

The elementary school bullies used to yell that. I hated the plastic tortoise-shell glasses for their book-thickness, their weight, but most of all, I hated them for the taunts. There were other kids who wore glasses in our school, so I could not have been the only one who was taunted, but my glasses truly were thicker than anyone else’s. By high school I took up the affectation of not needing them, because, as a near-sighted person, I could see light and dark and shapes and so I could negotiate my way from classroom to classroom. I stopped the affectation one day when I did not recognize my own sister among the shapes and colors of our high school halls.
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The Curse of the Should-Have-Dones

I do not know the attractive couple entering the above photo from the left side of the frame, but that is okay, as I did not take the photo, and this is not about them.

If I had a steadier hand with the photo-editing Clone Stamp tool, the two of them would instead be an oddly tall bush of purple flowers or another stack of blue Peroni umbrellas or two more versions of the bicycle that they are walking towards.

My hand is not that steady with the photo-editing tools, so their brief moment together (are they still together?) was spared awkward editing. May the rest of their lives together or the remainder of their lives apart continue to be free of terrible editing decisions or (yikes!) deletion by a heavy-handed photo perfectionist like me.
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Near-Life Experiences

“Shall not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.” I heard that somewhere. Recently a friend was bemoaning the lack of romantic exploits in his past, that he could have cheated on past companions but did not; he said that he still regrets that he had been “too shy.”

“Why create regrets about mistakes you did not make?” I asked. Because I live in a comic book in my head, I added, “That’s some deathbed scene, telling your wife and kids that you only regret that you hadn’t screwed up more.” My friend did not invite me to leave his moving vehicle.

Perhaps mistakes are the spice that makes life interesting, but it seems to me that I do not need to be anyone else’s mistake.

My present relationship is the longest I have experienced, three years last week. I am 46, so this statement represents a lot of dumb work on my part. A quarter-century of it. A lot of effort went into the fight to remain self-obsessed and increasingly isolated.
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