A Long Distance Out of My Way

The most memorable line in Edward Albee’s one-act play The Zoo Story is “Sometimes a person has to go a very long distance out of his way to come back a short distance correctly.”  I’m finding myself in that very situation–quite literally–right now.  I’m typing this in the Southwest Airlines boarding area at Port Columbus airport, over an hour and a half before I board a plane for San Francisco via Atlanta.

My goal is to be prolific with blog entries for the next 10 days, because I will be travelling and also celebrating a very significant milestone, all before Memorial Day.  At 10:50 a.m. Pacific Daylight Savings Time, I will (if all goes well) land in San Francisco, my first time there since my honeymoon in 1996, when Steph and I rode Amtrak from Cleveland to Emeryville by way of Chicago.

In the last year, I have lost close to 30 pounds.  Last summer, a co-worker was closing in on her 40th birthday.,  She and her husband were going to mark the occasion with a trip to Miami, and she wanted to lose enough weight to look good in a bikini.  As a gesture of solidarity, all of us in the section agreed to diet as well.

I seem to have been the only one to stick with it.  I did not want to go back to my high school weight (somewhere around 130 to 135), but I did want to lose my excess.  I walked for my lunch hour (usually around 45 minutes), and added long walks many evenings and weekends as well.  I began to track my calories, using the food diary on My Fitness Pal to log both exercise and meals.  I haven’t been 100% faithful and conscientious to eating more sensibly, but I have lost close to 30 to 35 pounds.  (Like most dieters, I have yo-yo’d back and forth quite a bit.)  Despite the multi-billion dollar diet industry’s promises and concoctions, I realized the only way to lose weight is to burn more calories than you consume.  This is true regardless of whether you adhere to a strict vegan diet or eat three meals a day at McDonald’s.  (Both of these extremes present issues all their own, but if you go by calories, all calories are equal.)  It takes two weeks to develop a habit, so it’s been second nature for quite some time for me to have a breakfast of yogurt and fruit and to drink Diet Snapple.  My lunch is, at most, three hard-boiled eggs.  (Again, I will lay my cards on the table: I have not been completely strict with this.  I can and do stray off course from time to time.)

To celebrate the weight loss, and to do some extreme walking, this Sunday morning I will be walking–not running–in Zappos.com Bay to Breakers, a 7½-mile footrace that goes from the Embarcadero to the Great Highway along Ocean Beach, passing through Golden Gate Park in the process.  The participants range from the serious runners who religiously read every column inch of Runner’s World monthly, to people who turn it into a West Coast version of Mardi Gras, with outrageous costumes (or complete nudity), and an after-party in Alamo Square that makes Columbus’ Pride festival and Comfest look like Baptist church picnics.  Each year, even before Zappos’ sponsorship, the city of San Francisco issued warnings that forbade nudity, open containers, and public drunkenness, but they re-learned the same lesson each time.  It was as realistic as trying to issue a law against thunderstorms.  Annually, reporter Stanley Roberts of KRON-TV posts YouTube videos entitled “Bay to Breakers–People Behaving Badly,” where he shoots video of the drunken revelers’ more extreme shenanigans while wringing his hands about the litter, idiocy, and property destruction.  (The Bay to Breakers Website home page features a more conservative costume–Thing 1 and Thing 2 of The Cat in the Hat fame–although there are a plethora of Barack Obamas, Elvis Presleys, and Wizard of Oz (1939) characters.)  UnderArmour is providing free T-shirts for the event, so I hope that doesn’t undercut the creativity of the runners.

Once again, I will be walking, not running.  If I attempted running, even in a comparatively level terrain like here in Columbus, I would not make it very far.  I don’t run because I do not have the stamina.  (Why don’t I have the stamina?  Because I don’t run.)

I will be in San Francisco until Monday morning.  My accommodations are going to be inexpensive and quite informal.  I am staying in the Green Tortoise Hostel on Broadway, in a shared room.  The entire cost for three nights is under $200, which is the average nightly rate for one night in a hotel.

But the travel madness doesn’t end there.  As I mentioned at the top of the entry, Susie graduates from Merritt Island High School a week from today, on the 22nd.  Naturally, I will be there.  On Monday morning, I am hopping on a Greyhound bus in San Francisco and riding–by way of Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, and Orlando–to Titusville, which is about 25 miles from Merritt Island.  I will be posting from the road as conditions permit.  I have found bus Wi-Fi and access to electrical outlets to be erratic, and I may not have enough elbow room for typing.  I will do what I can to keep a good record of this trip.

More momentous news follows Susie’s graduation.  She has been accepted at Stetson University, Seton Hall University, and my beloved Ohio University, but she feels she is not ready for college, and wants to take a hiatus of at least one year.  On Memorial Day, she will be flying back to Columbus with me and will start pounding pavement looking for a job.  She’ll be living with me while she does this.  I am overjoyed at this decision.  It is quite practical, since mass transit is much more extensive in Columbus than in Brevard County, and many more jobs are available here and accessible by bus.

I will be posting my own Bay to Breakers pictures on Sunday, post-race, so I won’t co-opt any of the ones already online.

Boarding will begin soon, so I’ll post this, close up the laptop, and shoulder my knapsack (and the damn CPAP), and join the hordes.

Past/future visitors to San Francisco (Stardate 8390), from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).

Past/future visitors to San Francisco (Stardate 8390), from Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986).


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