Tag Archives: little old ladies

run, forrest, run. & “a.”

i have a little venting to do about the gym.

i rode horses for sixteen years. going to the barn has always been my gym. fresh air and the smell of leather. not to mention a twelve hundred pound animal between your legs. if you are like me, this is your idea of heaven.

when i lived in new york city, i joined a gym and would do something that would make me sweat about five times a week. i hated it (well, exercise itself feels great, but it’s the process that i hate). i hate gyms. i hate running in circles. i hate treadmills and elliptical trainers even more – they are just glorified hamster wheels in my opinion. how unsatisfying is it to run for twenty minutes solid and arrive nowhere ? there are mirrors everywhere that only remind you of why you are there in the first place. but you also get a glimpse and (usually a strong) smell of all the other people there who are sweating it out. some may be regulars, some may be obsessive, and some may just feel really guilty about the cheeseburger they ate for lunch that day. and is it just me ? or do they seem to play The Food Network all the time at the gym ? the more i think about it, the more i think that i hate the gym just as much as i hate the laundromat.

i know plenty of people who love going to the gym. more power to them. i admire them one hundred percent, seriously. perhaps if i lifted weights and reveled in my own self reflection, i’d like the gym, too. i’ll never forget this tiny gym i joined in new york city on 14th street. i went there about five times a week to stretch, do crunches, and run one or two miles. my two strongest memories are as follows ::

1. the old ladies gathered in the ladies locker room about twice a week. they would sit together, naked, chatting about their lives, their days. they were all well over sixty years old. i never stared at them, but when you are amongst a flock of older ladies in a tiny locker room whilst you are changing, you’ll catch a glimpse of the naked bodies surrounding you. their bodies were old, worn, and sagged. but beautiful. so beautiful. what made them so beautiful was not the bodies themselves, but their complete comfort with themselves. sure, their breasts hung at strange and low angles, they had more fat on their bodies than the average girl would ever consider appropriate, but they just sat around talking to each other as if they were fully clothed, with nothing to hide, no secrets. so, i applaud them. and their self comfort. and lack of low self esteem. those ladies completely rule as far as i’m concerned.

2. a gentleman who must have been around fifty years old – give or take. he always came to the gym dressed in short shorts – black spandex. hugging and “exaggerating” every part of his male form from the waist down. he wore a tight white “wife beater” tank and on his head an american flag bandana. he’d flex his muscles into the mirrors and admire himself. he was never the sort to look at the girls in the gym (which is refreshing, because having those over-confident males stare at you while you are breaking a sweat on the treadmill is entirely disgusting). he would arrive, do his thing, and leave. and i always considered him awesome because of it.

oh, the gym. if you go to a gym and like it, keep going. more power to you. if you are like me, you will cancel your gym membership and begin jogging on the streets for free. the perk being that it is free, the non-perk being that i have a bad back which hates running on pavement and i have apparently even worse ankles that hate the unavoidable hills that this city forces you to climb or descend when going for a run. but i’ve become addicted to running. i haven’t run for forty eight hours because of a terrible blister on my right heel and a cold i just came down with this morning. i want to run so badly right now, but i know that doing so will only cause my ankles further harm. and as for my head cold ? it’s left me so exhausted, i shouldn’t be exerting any energy right now unless it is towards health and a good night of sleep.

running on the streets of san francisco has been so rewarding. i’ve seen more of the city in the past two weeks than i have in the year that i have lived here. and i happen to run at strange times. i will fall to sleep early and rise at 4:30am feeling restless. and run. run down the middle of streets that are usually crowded with cars and people during the “normal” hours of the day, but at 4:30am, they are empty and feel like nothing short of a meditation session. so i wear my pink sneakers. and i feel like Mr. Gump. i just can’t wait to run. maybe i’m running away from something i’m feeling. or maybe i’m running towards something. it really doesn’t matter because all i know is that it feels damn good either way. 

as for “a.” there is a small deli downstairs from my apartment run by a very sweet family. the mother and father are always there and i almost always see their son, who i’ll call “A,” because he’s there doing his homework after school (i usually only get there after work). in the last week, he’s started selling his paintings. he’s about nine years old and does theses fantastic drawings which he prices anywhere from 5 cents to 50 cents. i am now the proud owner of four of them ::

 

i love life. it has a funny way of working itself out.

these drawings make my heart smile and sing so loudly that i’d be surprised if you couldn’t hear it by now.

jessi

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Filed under design, illustration (both acrylic and oilt)

the kindness of strangers

just a few weeks ago i boarded a bus bound for Hayes Valley. it wasn’t entirely crowded, but most of the seats were occupied. i was facing forward in the seats nearest to the handicap section in the front of the bus. i was running a little late, as was the bus, so my nerves were up just a little bit knowing that i would be arriving at my destination late – and i dislike being late. i appreciate punctuality although i do find myself usually running around ten minutes late at all times in my life. i’m not sure how that happened or when it began. i would chalk it up to the fact that perhaps i was born ten minutes late (wouldn’t that be great to blame it on that?!), but in reality – i was born several days early – so, yes, i’m still searching for the someone or something to blame for my eternal tardiness.


half way to my destination, i hear the stairs in the front of the bus lower. that pump-of-air-being-released sound. this could only mean one thing :: a wheelchair. alright, alright. before you start plotting ways to burn me at the stake, i’m not being rude about people in wheelchairs (in fact, i have a great deal of compassion and admiration for any and all people who are faced with such a fate). at this point, i just thought, ‘ok, well.. if i wasn’t late before, i’m extra late now.’ you know what i mean ? human beings can be so terribly self involved – it has been our downfall since the dawn of time (damn it, Eve)(ok, scratch that, i don’t believe in God and i sure as hell don’t think that one female is to blame for our ‘sins’ – it’s a highly comical story though). as the lady in her wheelchair is slowly being raised onto the bus, those sitting in the handicap section who are not handicapped, begin to gather their things and find new seats or places to stand. this included one very adorable elderly woman who begins to carefully gather her purse and shopping bags. as she slowly meanders towards the open seat next to me, i see she’s dropped a dollar bill out of the pocket of her trench coat. i point to the seat behind her, but she only looks at me with a very puzzled expression. i was afraid of saying, “hey, you dropped some money !” because in all honesty ? this is public transportation in a major city and i had visions of people rushing towards her now empty seat in an effort to score one whole dollar before the little old lady realized what happened – yes, i have quite an active imagination. so i stand up, walk to the seat, grab the dollar, and hand it to her as we both sit down together, saying “you dropped this.”


she turned to me with this genuine look of complete amazement and bewilderment.  she begins to thank me profusely, saying things like, “anyone else would have taken that, thank you so much.” i just replied by saying, “well, i would hope someone would do the same for me, but you’re welcome, it’s no big deal.” so the bus starts up again and continues to barrel down Van Ness Ave. a few minutes pass and i am sitting in silence, facing forward, patiently awaiting my stop, when the little old lady taps me on the arm a few times. i turn to her with an expression of ‘what?’ on my face and she holds her hand out like she is going to give me  something. perplexed, i hold my hand out and she drops two quarters into my palm. she looks at me and says, “it’s only fair. anyone else would have taken that whole dollar from me. thank you so much.” i try to give the quarters back to her, telling her that was totally unnecessary, but she insisted i keep them. at that point, we began talking about the city and where we are from. a few stops later, she climbs off the bus. she thanked me again, wished me a good day, and from the sidewalk outside of the bus she waved at me through the window with a big smile on her face. ‘what a beautiful way to start the day,’ i think, forgetting all about the time.

[colored pencil on paper]

jessi

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Filed under illustration (both acrylic and oilt)