Friday, May 29, 2009

Simplify

Yesterday I had to do one of my least favorite chores:

Grocery shopping

Those of you that know me, know I despise the grocery store. It’s not that I don’t like food. I actually do like to eat. Sometimes. You ever have those weeks where you just don’t want to eat and hate that you have to eat? Chris and I call these Kibble Weeks. We only wish there was such a thing as human kibble we could throw in a bowl and scarf down in less than 30 seconds.

A la Boss.

But there is no human kibble, no chow, nothing easy. And so I go to the grocery store with 29340912840928934 choices in front of me for what to eat. I sometimes wish we didn’t have so many choices. Give me A or B. I choose A. That was easy, right? I don’t want A through Z. Too many choices, not enough time.

I saved the store until 3 pm. I had gone through every other chore until it was the only one left. I worked, I did laundry, I finished planting herbs. 3 o’clock rolled around and I knew I had a 1 hour window to get this trip done before the suburbs exploded in rush hour traffic.


It was now or never.

Finally I am in the car driving to Trader Joe’s. I arrive at Ogden to see a slow parade of cars inching along.

DAMMIT!

I forget that Ogden is under construction. ALONG WITH EVERY OTHER MAJOR INTERSECTION AROUND MY HOME! There are three months you can be outside in Illinois and in those three months they decide to repave, widen, reroute and close every road you need to actually go somewhere.

I really should just stay inside.

Quick correction and now I'm on the highway. This is ridiculous. I am on the highway, paying a toll to go to the grocery store. I am spending money to spend more money. Not only that but I am stuck in that traffic.

Let me explain:

You think working from home is a dream come true because you can do things at ANY time of the day. This is not the case. In my experience, the worst time to do things is during the day.

Why?

Let’s review who is home and drives around during the day:

1 – The unemployed. Not the laid off, those are quite worthy people that met bad circumstances. The unemployed are different. I am not sure the unemployed should drive.

2 – Exconvicts, addicts & felons. These are the guys you see riding their bike around the grocery store parking lot with a 24 pack of Miller Lite strapped on the back. Or the guy I saw in the White Hen parking lot the other day that committed the worst party foul – dropped his 40 while attempting a flying mount. I wanted to tell him I practice that sober and still can’t get it. Why are they riding bikes? Because their license was revoked. Until then, they are on the road with you.

3 – The elderly. I realize one day I will be in this category. But I will damn well make it a point to find something else to do with my time than to drive all over the suburbs to pick up Jell-o for 25 cents on sale at Walgreen’s, white bread on sale at the Jewel for $1.99 and then my prescriptions at CVS because I have a coupon.

In other words, you are dealing mostly with people who have no place to go. And because of that, they take their time. Because they have lots of it.

What does this mean? You spend a lot of time behind them going 50 mph on the tollway. This should be punishable by law. Or at least cost them an extra toll.

I am finally at the Trader Joe’s after taking my chances on the highway and driving behind every Crown Victoria made in the year 1981. And wouldn’t you know that today is the day they were repaving the Trader Joe parking lot?

I make my way through the thick of moms with carts filled with kids – and some food – past the massive banana display, avoiding (sadly) the wine, grabbing the chicken, cruising through frozen foods and finally arriving at the checkout line.

Things are moving along quickly. This, however, stopped me dead in my credit card swiping tracks:

Are any of these bars for immediate consumption?

I think the look on my face was dumbfounded. I purchased some bars for next weekend’s training. And what am I missing here….WHO goes to a grocery store chock full of 29340912840928934 choices and of all the things purchased walks out of the store staying, you know what I could go for right now?

A bar.

I tell him no. A vehemently opposed NO to anything bar-style or packaged. Give me my canvas bags you crazy man. You go eat one of those bars and tell me how immediately you are consumed with pleasure in your mouth. Have you ever been at mile 90 on the Queen K shouting to yourself I LOVE BARS as they crumble in warm mushy pieces out of your mouth?

Wheeling my cart out of the store, I realize I have forgotten the ONE thing I eat every day. Yogurt. Choices. What to do. I consider turning around and going back into the store but I am wheeling the cart down a ramp into the parking lot and my quads hurt so bad from yesterday’s hill repeats that the thought of stopping and having to climb that ramp (all 1% grade of it), stops me.

The yogurt can wait.

Driving back home I am stuck behind #1, 2 and 3 of above. Add to that school buses. Plus at this point it is nearing 4 pm so you can add “those that leave work early while no one is looking” to the list. I realize I am slowly getting nowhere. And then I see it. A sign:

Have you seen our bobcat?

I think to myself…you know what? No. No, I have not seen the fucking bobcat and of all the things I have to do today seeing the bobcat is not one of them but it is something I would really like to do.

I turnaround and pull into the wildlife center. The wildlife center rehabilitates injured and rescued animals that are native to DuPage County. Yes, bobcat are native and yes, they roam around. It is thought that they come up along the Des Plaines River Valley and end up in our county. A few years ago, one was thought to be roaming in Waterfall Glen by urine marking scent and tracks it left behind.

The good news is that they are not a big threat to your children or dogs.

The bad news: But I might be.

Anyways, I’m a bit of a bobcat fan. First of all, I have always dreamed of driving a bobcat. There is a picture of me at the New Orleans Zoo actually touching a bobcat. The machinery, not the animal. I like the animal too. A little history: at the plant museum I created and led science programs for children and adults. The joke was really on everyone else because the one subject that I pretty much DNFed at in school was science. It is my belief, though, that most people only need a 3rd grade level of knowledge of something to know what they need to know. All that shit you learned in high school chemistry about dynamic equilibrium, isotopes and half lives? When was the last time you pulled out isotope in a sentence?

Exactly.

Anyhow, I had to learn about bobcats at about a 3rd grade level because I had to teach about them. That is when I became a fan. Elusive predatorial cat that prefers solitude amonst wide roaming territories. I learned this and more about all the native animals of DuPage. And to my surprise, while my perishables died a slow muggy death in the van, I viewed all of these animals at the center; fox, raccoon, owls, opossum, hawks and…there it was….beyond the Turkey Vulture, past vulpes vulpes….there sat…

BOBCAT lynx rufus

Whoa.

It sat in a small trunk-like tube suspended from the animal cage. It looked at me with wide cat-like eyes and tufted ears. As I moved, it followed me and winced to narrow its vision like any predator would.

I am in quiet awe as I look into the cage. The day just got exponentially better by nothing more than watching this cat. It reminded me of one of my favorite places to run, Los Penasquitos Canyon, a richly peaceful place, the one time I saw a bobcat off to the left in the hills, real time, looking at me. It reminded me of the quiet of life, how we are so small in the grandiosity of a natural scheme of plants and animals that exists with us, without us, time ticks on…we are small in our place. The quiet in a day of work, traffic, the busy disgruntled noise that sometimes fills our lives.

I watch the bobcat for awhile and realize it might be rude, for he did not come to my home to look at me. So I walk on, checking out the barn owls, the woodchuck and the bald eagle. They are all quiet with the only sound the nervous pacing and low bark of the fox from a few cages away.

These noises, this place, these animals remind me of why I love sport and most importantly – summer and the outdoor world. To get outside, to experience the world, to see a snake slithering out from the Fermilab prairie, a coyote skitters across the road, a heron at the edge of a lake.

I’m just riding through their world. It’s best to keep as quiet as possible and not make too much noise. There’s enough noise and busyness in the world as it is with tollways, traffic, too much clutter and choices.

Simplify.

I don’t know about you but I’m going for a ride.

5 comments:

Bob Mitera said...

I totally agree about mid-day traffic and construction. IL DoT (aka: ID-i-OT) is rebuilding all the east west roads at the same time. So in order to get through Barrington, it will take you about 1 hr and 15 minutes during rush hour.

The only time this laid off person is driving is when I'm going to an interview. The unemployed should be looking for work, but there is probably a reason they are unemployed and not RIF'd.

Molly said...

One of my best running experiences was spending about a mile of my run through the greenbelt (wash) in Scottsdale running alongside a coyote. We were about 100 yds apart, both headed the same direction, and we'd just look at each other every so often and then keep on going. You have to appreciate those little brushes with nature when you spend the rest of your life surrounded by cars and concrete!

Jennifer Harrison said...

You should have bought the f*cking wine.

I will grocery shop for you. Miss Daisy is a good shopper for food for little people.

Dave Jewell said...

Los Penasquitos Canyon. I'm almost there!
What I've seen while running the Canyon.
1. Deer - When you see deer you won't see the Lions.
2. Lions - Mountain Variety - no deer.
3. Bobcats - They sit on the side of the trail and watch you run by.
4. Rattle Snakes - 1-3 you only see early in the morning. These you see in the middle of the day.
5. Scott Tinley cheating in the Thanksgiving Ride and Tie. 8 years in a row.

Finally don't think it's just Chicago. Here in Germnay on the no speed limit Auto Bahn. Summer is the time to go super fast, summer is the time to repair. Generally aveage speed on the AB during summer is 80KPH.

Thanks for the Memories.

Erich Wegscheider said...

You used the f-word, hehe