feb 8/RUN

5.75 miles
franklin loop
24! degrees
5% snow-covered

Warmer today. Today’s high is 42. Sunny, not too much wind. Greeted Dave the Daily Walker and he called out, “a great day to be outside!” Yes. Not too crowded on the trail. Not too slushy either. Felt relaxed and motivated to run for a little less than an hour. For most of the run (the first 4.25 miles, until I reached the lake street bridge), I didn’t have headphones in, but for the last mile and a half, I put in my jan/feb playlist.

10 Things I Noticed

  1. the floodplain forest was white and open and empty
  2. the river was also white, with a few small cracks beginning to appear
  3. for the first mile, there was a strong smell of gasoline. Was it the quality of the air, moisture holding in the fumes?
  4. no one was sledding down the hill between edmund and the river road
  5. running under the railroad trestle, I heard a chirp or a beep. I wondered if it was some strange bird then realized it was a warning beep. Was there a train coming? I looked and listened but couldn’t sense any sign of one
  6. the huge boulder on the east side of the river was half covered with snow
  7. thought I noticed someone running below, on the walking path, through the tunnel of trees — a flash of a gold shirt — but it was just some dead leaves on a tree
  8. running west on the lake street bridge, the trees were a blur, whizzing past through the slats in the bridge railing
  9. ran above the part of the Winchell Trail that steeply descends to the gorge, noticed how it was buried under snow, and thought about hiking it in the fall, which feels so long ago, and encountering a family as we climbed up and they climbed down: a father, a toddler in pajamas, and a mother with a baby strapped to her front
  10. a few other speedy runners, 1 or 2 bikes, 2 or 3 dozen dogs, lots of walkers

This morning, I’m continuing to think about “as is” as a meaning for “what you see is what you get.” I suddenly remembered the island of misfit toys.

The misfit, mistake toys — a pistol that shoots jelly instead of water, a bird that swims instead of flies, a cowboy that rides an ostrich instead of a horse — all want to be accepted and loved by some “girl or a boy.” They lament their banishment to the island. At the end, they are “saved” by Rudolph and Santa and become presents. I didn’t watch the entire show; are they “fixed” or delivered “as is” to the kids? Will the kids (or their parents) be happy with broken/misfit/flawed toys? I mentioned this to Scott and he said, “I would LOVE a cowboy riding on an ostrich!” Much of my love for the State Fair Mannequins is because they continue to exist outside of the acceptable in an old, out-dated creative arts building. I don’t want them to fit in, or to have what “fits” be expanded to include them. I like that there is a space that seems to exist outside of progress and the newest, slickest model. But, there’s a tension for me, too: I appreciate (and identify with) these mannequins as strange, queer misfit resistors, but I also feel haunted by the pressure (and sometimes the desire) to fit in, where fit in = connect, be recognized as acceptable and human, not have to always work against the “normal.” I want to think about how I can express that unresolved/unresolvable tension.

Before I went out running, I watched the misfit toys clip and wrote some of the previous paragraph. As I ran, I thought about them and the mannequins and some words came to me. I held onto them until I could record them into a voice memo while I walked up the lake street bridge steps: “not improved, accommodated, fixed, cured. Just left alone.” I’d add now: left alone to be, away from the new, the novel, the latest model.

I found this poem when I searched, “mannequin” in the poetryfoundation.org database:

To the Mannequins/ HOWARD NEMEROV

Adorable images, 
Plaster of Paris 
Lilies of the field, 
You are not alive, therefore 
Pathos will be out of place. 

But I have learned 
A strange fact about your fate, 
And it is this: 

After you go out of fashion 
Beneath your many fashions, 
Or when your elbows and knees 
Have been bruised powdery white, 
So that you are no good to anybody— 

They will take away your gowns, 
Your sables and bathing suits, 
Leaving exposed before all men 
Your inaccessible bellies 
And pointless nubilities. 

Movers will come by night 
And load you all into trucks
And take you away to the Camps, 
Where soldiers, or the State Police, 
Will use you as targets 
For small-arms practice, 

Leading me to inquire, 
Since pathos is out of place, 
What it is that they are practicing.