"Reports of my Death..."
I'm sure most of you are familiar with the full quote from Mark Twain which begins in the title of today's post: "Reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated." This was part of a letter that Twain famously posted to the New York Journal in May, 1897, in response to an obituary the paper had printed earlier (the editor had apparently read a death notice for Twain's cousin, Samuel Ross Clemens, and confused the two). In the interest of historical accuracy, I suppose I ought to point out that the text of the actual handwritten note reads "... the report of my death was an exaggeration." Or something pretty close. Either way, the point is the same.
Anyway, regular readers here already know that I've endeavored to keep things interesting (or, at the very least, to feed my pretentions of scholarly and literary grandiosity) by littering these posts with occasional and sometimes gratuitous allusions to everyone from Homer to Haruki Murakami to Tim O'Brien to Virgil to Arthur Herzog (no, really!) to Charles Baudelaire and Walter Benjamin. Many of these references are arguably a bit on the oblique side (all the better to cultivate my pointy-headed mystique, of course) -- so why I am I now leading off with something as obvious and hackneyed as the quote from Twain?
I guess because it seemed appropriate, that's all. Seriously, I wasn't going to post anything for another couple of days, but I found myself compelled to pass along the following:
1) I am not mortally injured, and
2) I still plan on resuming this whole running thing.
A few days ago, I was surprised to receive a phone call from a reporter at the New York Post asking me to verify whether or not I was, in fact, abandoning my plan to run all the streets of Brooklyn. I of course replied in the negative, and went on to explain that I'm merely taking some time off to rest up and heal a bit. And while I hadn't really thought about it prior to talking with this guy, after our conversation I realized that there were indeed a few hints here and there that might lead people to this (quite erroneous) conclusion.
Some of the confusion, of course, probably has its origins in my predilection for self-deprecatory rhetoric, and my apparent fondness for endlessly writing about the various aches and pains I've encountered and my general physical decrepitude. (When reading back through the archived posts, in fact, I was struck by the frequency with which I engaged in this sort of grousing. Yikes!)
But some of the rest might be traced to brief mentions in two relatively small local media outlets. First, a couple of weeks ago the Brooklyn Paper (a free weekly distributed to "bulk drop" locations throughout the borough's more upscale neighborhoods) ran this short piece which, though I didn't seem to notice at the time, does offer a somewhat distorted version of things. It calls me an "Iowa native," for instance, even though the "About Me" box at the very top of this blog clearly states that I'd moved to Brooklyn after "thirty years in New Jersey and another ten in Iowa." Moreover, the piece seems to imply that I might not even run the second half because I didn't think things all the way through, or simply because I'm "too lazy."
This last quote was actually a (typically self-deprecating) comment responding to the question of why I didn't stretch more, though the writing isn't particularly clear and it's kind of hard to tell what it refers to. Nonetheless, between the Forest Gump comparisons, aforementioned "Iowa native" references, and out-of-context quotations, it's understandable how a reader might possibly come away from the article with the impression that I'm some kind of midwestern rube standing at the edge of Brooklyn, rubbing his eyes in disbelief at the sheer vastness of the Big City and wondering just what he's gotten himself into. I'm not quite sure whether the general tone of the story and its casual treatment of the facts are due to specific editorial policy or simply the result of a young reporter's inexperience, but regardless, it does make me seem a little ambivalent about continuing. (To be fair, however, I should note that over the course of a few emails and a short phone conversation my impression of the writer in question, Christine Rizk, was a positive one, and the photographer they sent out couldn't have been nicer.)
The second mention consisted of only two sentences in last Wednesday's end-of-the-day wrap-up in Gothamist (the widely-read blog covering local news, events, and popular culture), quoting me on some of the aches and pains I'd written about and implying that injury might prevent me from running the second half. And while there's obviously no malicious intent lurking behind this (frankly, I'm quite sure the folks over there don't spend all that much time thinking about me or my sore legs in the first place), and though I appreciate the concern (really, I do), the quote about occasional numbness in my legs was part a larger explanation of why I needed to take some time off before moving on to the second half, not instead of moving on to the second half.
Whatever. The reality is probably that the underlying meaning of almost anything I try to say here is hopelessly obscured as I attempt to negotiate the text of each post between the Scylla of my ineluctable loggorhea and the Charybdis of my complete inability to self-edit (see? I'm doing it again! It's like a disease!). In other words, I have only myself to blame if readers of my blog walk away confused. But self-incriminating finger-pointing aside, let me wrap things up by saying, as straightfowardly as possible:
True enough, the first half took its toll both mentally and physically. But I'm going to take a few more weeks off, and if everything heals up properly I'll pick up the running right where I left off -- hopefully some time in early March.
Now why couldn't I have just said that in the first place?
As usual, here are a few more pictures:
Somewhere in Midwood
Marcy Avenue, Williamsburg
Along Jamaica Avenue in Cypress Hills