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Punctuality

Gratuitous nature pic, Day 475.

“If I’m ever late, alert the authorities; there’s been foul play.”

They could put that on my tombstone. I mean, hopefully they won’t; I’d much prefer natural causes, but you know what I mean. If I have anything close to a catchphrase, it’s that little nugget of brilliance. 😏 You might’ve even heard me say it, back in the days we used to go places, when I showed up somewhere like an hour or more early. (Thanks for humoring me with the polite chuckle, BTW.)

Punctuality is actually listed among my professional skills on my resume. It should probably have a “hyper-” before it.

Come to think of it, hyper is putting it mildly, considering the intense physical reaction I had those two or three times in my life when I thought I might be late for something. Still have nightmares about driving to the Atlanta airport on the early morning of Christmas Eve 2000, that fateful day the alarm in my Macon apartment didn’t go off and I ended up with only 15 minutes of wait time at my gate. 😱

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Patience

What I love about the Delaware Canal towpath — long, flat, soft stretches of trail uninterrupted by roadways — is also what I hate about it. How I’m feeling depends on whether I’m on the way out on a run, or on the way back, when I’ve gone as far as my achy lower back, touchy hamstrings and crampy calves can carry me without anything snapping or falling off, and I’ve slowed to a walking pace out of self-preservation.

That return trip to the car takes for-EVER.

It feels like plodding away on a treadmill, watching the seconds tick by but not really getting anywhere. You know you’re covering ground, but the distance ahead only seems to grow and grow. Your mind starts to dwell on all forms of discomfort: you’re cold, even moreso because you’re sweaty, and the coffee + energy drink from an hour ago is sloshing in your bladder, and your entire lower body is stiff as 🤬, and you wish like hell you could time warp to the point when you’re showered and cozy in house coat and pajama pants, probably also a winter hat for added warmth, and you’re eating egg whites with spinach and broccoli in front of some “Law & Order” rerun on TV.

It occurred to me, as that exact scenario played out on Sunday morning, that I spend a ridiculous amount of my life wishing away my life. I’m constantly looking at the clock, then looking anxiously ahead to when whatever is happening will be over.

This is why I’m not a good cook. Who wants to stand idly in a kitchen for 20 minutes, waiting for meat to reach that no-longer-potentially-deadly “done” point, or for a pizza to get un-soggy in the center? Who wants to spend TWO minutes heating up water for tea in the microwave? It’s so uncomfortable I have to, like, grab my phone and start scrolling through Twitter to occupy the emptiness.

Patience is a virtue…something something…” Hell, I couldn’t even stay in the moment long enough to listen to the entire proverb my grandmother used to say back in the day. No clue why she was always saying it to me. 😉

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Recommendation

The biggest news in my life right now, other than the tatt and what’s going on every week in Season 4 of “Fargo” (Timothy Olyphant 😍…that’s pretty much it), is my quest to study psychology in grad school.

We’re officially in Phase 2 of that quest; I just received an email from the admissions office saying they reviewed my application and they’d like to invite me to a formal interview with the program director and other high-ranking school officials.

🥳

I learned a few things during Phase 1:

  • Openly identifying as an addict isn’t a professional death sentence;
  • My GPA at Northwestern was lower than I thought;
  • Probably the best decision I made in my (pre-sobriety) life was to move to Bucks County, PA, to join the local newspaper community.

Like most things you’re immersed in day after day for years, I didn’t really appreciate what — and who — I had in that community until I left it. I had a surrogate home/family, both in the company buildings and out on the sports beat, even if my loner personality made me, like, the distant third cousin twice removed in that scenario.

(Here’s where I am obliged to mention that I met my husband at the paper back in 2002.)

Most of us who moved on from the Bucks County Courier Times/Doylestown Intelligencer in the Gatehouse era did not do so voluntarily, so we didn’t really get to stop on our way out the door, look around and get proper perspective on our careers there and all the relationships we built over the years.

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Spirituality

Living within walking distance of Tyler State Park is right up there at the top of my gratitude list, next to “super-supportive hubby,” and I’m in the park so often that I’ve become quite adept at stealthily squatting in the woods.

The bathrooms are closed, I assume because of COVID, and you gotta do what you gotta do, and there are plenty of large trees to hide behind in the off chance a family of bikers appears out of nowhere, as they always seem to do when I’m in the middle of saying my prayers out loud to the sky.

Yes, I’m a literal tree hugger who talks to nature. And however peculiar this might look to the random passerby — as far as I know, I haven’t traumatized anyone with my brief displays of public semi-nudity — this is how I stay sane at nearly 15 1/2 months sober.

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Fortitude

In a former life, my hobby was signing up for fitness competitions and paying to get my ass kicked — and my nerves rattled — for entire Saturdays, from pre-dawn until whenever the three, four, five workouts were complete, and I got knocked out of the running for the coveted plastic trophy/tin medal/commemorative T-shirt/$5-off Hylete coupon, and I’d fully drained the 12-pack of hard ciders I packed with my CrossFit gear.

Apart from the drinking, I honestly hated every second of those comps. I hated the whole day. It was awful to wake up scared, feeling immense pressure and dreading what I had to do — what I’d chosen to do — and wishing I could just choose not to do it, just change my mind, even if that made me a weakling or a coward.

It’s been a long time since I felt that particular kind of unpleasant anxiety. I’m feeling it now.

Tomorrow, I’m going to wake up and go get a tattoo, all by myself.

The last time I did this, four years ago, I white-knuckle-death-gripped my husband’s hand for 45 minutes straight as Sue, my tattoo artist, branded my shoulder with a simple, monochromatic ‘W’ flag in honor of the Cubs’ historic World Series victory. I think I branded Hubby in the process.

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Disappointment

Back in the box with you, hat I never wear anyway! 🐻👎🏻😫

Waking up sober is always — and I mean this sincerely — wonderful, but it’s a little extra gratifying on days when I reach over to the bedside table, swipe the DND lock off my phone and see a text from my dad.

I don’t even have to read it to know it’s good news.

He’s not much of a texter, but at some point in the 20 years since I left Chicago to pursue job opportunities in journalism, Dad started the tradition of firing off a “Cubbies woo!” after every Cubs victory. I remember getting those messages on my very first cell, the standard 5-pound Nokia brick that everyone had back in the early aughts.

Living out here in Pennsylvania (before that, Georgia), and seldom able to watch the game, those texts were a news report. They were also a lifeline. Reassurance that I was not alone, and someone out there was on my side, and we both had a good reason to feel joyful.

Of course, the man lying next to me in the bed for the past 13 years is a Cubs fan who also shares that joy. There’s just something about dads and daughters and baseball, though, right?

The other two Wielgus girls know what I’m talking about!

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