Get a Fitbit, he said, your brain is a shit show and your resting heart rate is a disaster. Get a Fitbit and start walking it off.
Get a Fitbit, he said, you'll probably like it.
I'm not sure 'like it' is an accurate assessment. I think these things are just short of dangerous for people like me but surely the novelty will wear off before I walk myself and the dog off a cliff - or reduce Toto to hiding me in a broom closet at 2 AM because I've pissed off one too many Elite Guests on the eighth floor (silent like the silent car on the train) for doing barefoot sprints up and down the carpeted hallways. The operative words are carpeted and barefoot. They were up Netflix binging anyway.
Who the hell was doing stair sprints last night?! Overheard in the lobby at 6 AM... Someone is going to have a heart attack and we're not going to find the body until the next time the fire alarm goes off. It was probably Ms Alecto, she was doing hall sprints on the eighth floor Monday night. Toto got her back to bed on the last tray round. She got a fitbit... Oh... Great.
Like is not accurate. I live or die by the damn thing. I haven't decided if this is a good witch or a bad witch yet. If I get run over on 278 southbound at 5 AM we'll have an answer.
Here is something that occurred to me the other day. I work in an enormous building. OK, maybe enormous isn't as accurate as it feels because the walking circumference is only a mile (I would have thought, given the warren of nested buildings and floors it would have occupied more real estate but ok) so let's call it extra large. Super sized. I don't know when Human Resources got on the health kick but it was more then a couple of years ago; back when the cost of medical insurance first started making those nasty annual premium jumps and corporations began offloading some of those nasty chunks onto the insured. The insured made a mighty racket and the corporate response was, OK, fine, you want a discount, show me you can take better care of yourself because the insurance company says the cost of your care is atrocious and their actuaries say it's only going to get worse so they're sucking us dry up front. Stop smoking, lose weight, get off your ass and get your heart rate elevated. Have a couple of well visits while you're at it and BOOM! the take care of yourself in the workplace movement was born. The age of the executive only gym became the age of the all inclusive gym if the company was large enough to have one and it was free or it was subsidized.
On the walls of this building there are quarter mile markers. They read like this: (with a big arrow pointing down the hall) 1/4 mile to the end of the hall and back from here. The suggestion is that if you are on your way to somewhere or if you are just walking that maybe you take a few steps more and circle back and those miles or steps will start adding up
I looked around the other day and noticed two things: people were either all wearing black or multi-colored bands or the women wore the pendants. I'm not particularly trusting of anything that swings away from the body in motion, but OK, it's pretty. The opportunity to take stairs instead of elevators is ample. Signage promotes the use of stairs. When I put on the black band I slipped easily into a stream of active walkers who may not even remember that elevators exist in the building. And then I walked right past them. I am no longer capable of walking straight down the hall for a cup of coffee; I compulsively turn left at the first intersection, make my way past the next and on to the first set of stairs. If I'm not short on time I continue to the next. I descend from the third to the first and back up, bypassing the third, touching the wall at the fourth, making my re-entry at the south end of building five. I find it difficult to wait patiently for the machine to spit out my coffee but have discovered that 1. a walk even to the window and back will leave people waiting for me to retrieve a completed brew and 2. walking in circles around the giant counter no matter how slowly is not something I'm willing to admit to, this being wound so tightly.
Every hour I am prompted to walk 250 steps. This can be accomplished in under 90 seconds if the halls are clear and 500 plus stairs if no one is looking. I like 750 and back to my seat. I nearly excused myself from a meeting last week because I wasn't going to make the hour. I don't know what I would have said other than, 'be back in 90 seconds, hold that thought'. We don't have many face to face meetings with our business partners but when we can I take full advantage of the luxury and walking out for a minute and a half of sixty nearly unheard of minutes wouldn't have landed well. I sat.
I was running the meeting.
The days I work from home are easier. I don't have to take my ten or fifteen or even twenty minute chunks of time and pace the hallways causing the workers in the open spaces to wonder whether or not the woman who has recently swapped her heels out for flats is stalking them or their co-workers. The days I work from home I can either pace my own house with the meeting in my headset or I can walk out the front door... with the dog. Which brings us to another sort of compulsive altogether.
The dog, since day one, has always been difficult to walk. This wasn't a surprise and didn't bother me all that much given that her predecessor was never leash trained. Wasn't for lack of trying, Homer just had this odd thing going on with the leash and we couldn't seem to break him of the, uh, we'll call it a nervous tick.
When Homer was about nine months old we had him out at Acadia with the baby (that would be Elizabeth) on a trail, I don't recall which and there were a lot of people because it was summer and he was a puppy and he'd been doing OK with the leash business, more or less as much as you'd expect of a Rat Terrier. But the interaction with the people threw him over the edge. He pulled and strained and coughed and hacked and we shortened the leash until he really couldn't go very far. A man growled and barked at him. He wasn't growling or barking at the man or anyone else. He was jumping, rushing, pulling, panting, twisting, and otherwise making a general nuisance of himself. He was about eighteen pounds. Maybe. He sounded like he had laryngitis by the time we got back but when the leash came off he was fine.
From that day forward until the day he died, the minute the leash snapped onto his collar, Homer immediately began the gasping, hacking, choking, I'm going to die sounds. He did this while he was sitting still. The year we took him to Lake Placid we got him a harness in a desperate attempt to avoid embarrassment. In the middle of Main Street our dog stood still in his harness (which went nowhere near his neck), coughing, choking, gasping, hacking, I'm going to die, brother, can you spare a dime, until a group of people stopped and asked us why we were trying to kill our dog.
The final compromise was that I let Homer run around the circle in the neighborhood leash-less with me in the morning as long as he strayed no more then 6 - 8 feet from me at any time. All I had to do was say, 'stay with me' and he'd come trotting right back to my side if he'd wandered too far.
So, Leafy. She pulls, she hacks, she gasps, she chokes and worst of all she loses her mind and screams like a dying baby over certain stimuli. By dying baby I mean, dying baby of the sort that's being shaken brutally by a psychotic adult. She does this if I leave the house without her also. The neighborhood has learned not to call the police.
I've never been able to figure out why some dogs and not others. Bosco on the final hard bend coming down the steep hill around the circle drove her batshit to the point that Elizabeth used to pick her up and run out of fear and embarrassment. Picking that dog up and running or even walking past Bosco was tantamount to taking your life in your hands; sixteen pounds of muscle, claw and raw intention is a lot harder then it looks to contain. She never actually bit any of us, the dog is NOT a biter, but I swear she thought about it once or twice. We don't know why Bosco.
Portnoy who did not grow up with dogs, just one dog, not dogs, decided he knew about dogs and overrode my very CLEAR instructions with regard to dog management and doggie boundaries. Leafy was introduced to Bosco through the fence. Later Leafy peed in the middle of my bed. In her nine years that's the loudest editorial statement she's yet to make. Mom. I need something done about the beast done the street and I need it done NOW. What more do I need to get your attention?
About two years ago Leafy lost all semblance of a well mannered dog. To be clear, the dog has never harbored ill intentions toward any actual human being once she has clearly established that she's dealing with an actual human being. It took me until just recently to work that out. That she's high strung and always has been is not in question. A few years ago we started having to dose the girl with benedryl if she was likely to become over stimulated and the day of the first block party she spent isolated in her crate at the top of the stairs which was good and not so good. If I thought I could have moved the crate to the bedroom I would have. Moving the crate to another location would have changed the crate from her safe place to a jail which would have resulted in epic temper tantrums and continuous screaming. Leaving the crate at the top of the stairs resulted in a slow stream of children marching past to use the bathroom. Most of the time they were accompanied by a teenager who kept their hands out of the crate but couldn't do much to keep them quiet. By the end of the night she was reduced to quivering wreckage. Had I introduced her via leash to the sixty-eight visitors in the driveway she might have lasted all of twenty minutes before taking one of the food tables out, leash or no leash.
The day she took a flying leap from the top of the stairs (six stairs), bounced off the marble tile in the foyer, flipped over, and slammed into the door at the arrival of the UPS man was the day I realized she'd completely lost her mind. The UPS man who'd been coming to the house for at least three years looked at the dog who'd just slapped the door into his knees, looked at me and said, 'your dog has finally lost it'.
Yes. Yes she has. Wait, I'll crate her.
When she is walked around the neighborhood, she is walked on a thirty inch leash. When she starts wailing and thrashing I lift my right arm a few inches and her fore legs come off the ground. This isn't helpful when she's already come up on her hind legs and is WALKING straight toward the offensive whatever in question. The best I can do at that point is pull back hard which slaps her flat on her back before an abrupt 180 degree turn in the opposite direction.
She is learning though.
When I first started out with the abbreviated leash, the hacking, choking, gasping was appalling. It took significant muscle to keep her at my right side and not out in front of me and the continuous stream of, 'stay with me, stay with me, stay with me' kept up from the front door to the front door. Eventually the hacking stopped and when the hacking stopped we got to the root of the problem.
This. This is the root of the problem:
One afternoon at the end of a four mile walk, on the UPHILL end of a four mile walk, she saw him. I thought we were going to have a SQUIRREL event; you know, the sort where the attention goes from, walking, walking, walking (working, working, working, focused, focused, focused) to SQUIRREL! OMG SQUIRREL DISTRACTED DISTRACTED DISTRACTED.
That's not what we got. We got:
Uhhhh... Mom... Up the hill on the left, do you see it?
What? Do I see what?
Mom... Come on. Up the hill on the left. We might die. I am not shitting you, Mom. WE. MIGHT. DIE. ABORT ABORT ABORT TURN AROUND AND GO BACK DOWN THE HILL ABORT ABORT ABORT
Jesus, Leafy! What the fuck?!
And just like that, the dog went from trying to run away to charging up the hill at the enemy except there was no charging because of the thirty inch leash. There was a lunge of such epic proportion that it threw her right over on her back. We got up and continued, thrashing and wailing while the SQUIRREL calmly crossed the street and about three quarters of the way across the street that son of a bitch stopped.
The bastard stopped and looked at my dog.
And the last three marbles rolling around in the back of my dog's skull dropped out one ear, bounced onto the pavement, and vanished into the roadside scrub.
My dog is in therapy now. It's the sort of therapy which involves as many walks through the neighborhood and the neighboring neighborhood as possible. The neighboring neighborhood isn't particularly fond of us but last I checked we haven't yet changed our national anthem and since I belong to the correct demographic, own property in this town, and pay my taxes on time, there is no just cause for calling the local constable and ejecting (followed by arresting for suspicion of casing the place) me and my little dog too from the neighborhood. Therefore we walk up the VERY long VERY steep hill into the neighboring neighborhood of Singing Oaks (which used to be a summer camp and after that a horsey type place with an indoor arena where we either did or did not trailer the horses a couple of miles to ride in the winter in the late eighties can't remember anymore) which upon closer inspection is NOT the cookie cutter neighborhood of oversized McMansions I once thought it was (I've only done a couple of drive throughs in the last twelve years) but is in fact a let me one up you neighborhood of mine is WAY bigger then yours and check out the penis I installed in my pool house. It is an erie place to walk through though, all those great, sweeping lawns in front of glorious white facades and not a sign of life anywhere.
Except once in a while someone will come out and peer at the grubby, sweaty woman with the crazed grey-blue terrier on that weird looking bunched up black leash and is that collar really pink?! And why does she keep flipping her wrist over and is she actually singing or is she yelling at the dog? Both? What is she singing? Can anybody tell? Seriously? Chuck Prophet? How can you tell? That's horrible! Make it stop!
Yes? (taking one earbud out)
Do you live here?
Yes, do you?
Yes, I live right over there, where do you live?
I live right over there (pointing back down the hill).
Which house do you live in?
Um, I don't actually know you... and you're making me really uncomfortable right now (turning music player back into a phone)
But you're a Weston resident?
Uh, yeah. Would I be walking my dog in this ridiculous neighborhood without sidewalks if I didn't live here?
OK, I'm just checking. We all get a little nervous around here.
I'll bet you do.
What does that mean?
That means this is one of the neighborhoods with the neurotic women on the moms in weston board constantly posting about strange cars in their driveways in the middle of the day and I can't imagine what that's all about.
You don't have that problem where you live?
Not really, no.
Where do you live?
I told you, down there.
Where is down there?
Jesus, dude, you don't get out much, do you? Let's put it this way. I'm your neighbor. I live within walking distance of your house. Clearly I live within walking distance of your house. I'm here with my dog frequently enough that you've profiled me. Am I wearing the wrong shoes? I have the right phone. I'll give you a hint. Logistically speaking, my property is better situated then yours.
What does that mean?!
You're sitting on nothing. You're surrounded by nothing. You have nowhere to go. I'm surrounded by 2,200 acres of forest. Mine is better. Plus no strange people come to my neighborhood. Usually. I have to admit that your pavement is way better then ours though. Not sure what's up with that.
So my dog is an idiot and my heart rate has dropped below eighty and that's a problem. It was nice meeting you, Mr....?
Now they just watch me. Sometimes they send someone out with a dog but we don't mind. Some people have learned NOT to come out with their dogs. We also don't mind.
We don't stop to talk to the UPS man even though I smile and wave, but we do our very best to pass him by without an episode. The UPS man looks like this:
When the little old lady walking the white fluff bag sees us, she still turns and hobbles back home as fast as her sensible shoes will take her. She is somebody's mother in law with those shoes, I think.
And lastly, an explanation for the peeing in the middle of mommy's bed incident. Meet Bosco:
Bosco is no longer with us but she can still smell the brimstone rising up out of the storm grates, especially the storm grate at the corner by his house. I cannot even begin to discuss the issue of storm grates in general. Apparently there are Orcs...