On Running, Rushing and Rolling On

Dear English-B Interpreter Friends,

(First, my letter to you to using words from Post #18)

Last week
My (new) nephew came rushing into this world with inexplicable pressing urgency ten days before his due date, and we rendezvoused briefly over the internet hours after the well-deserved pomp of his arrival. It was a fleeting video chat, a precursor to a week that went from walk to trot to canter to gallop in short order. To keep me on my toes, variegated interpreting assignments included coliform, city planning and cerebral tumors. Smack in the middle of my booth-and-mic madness, I spent a day at a corporate acting job where I was wryly tasked with getting fretting candidates in a simulation exercise to squirm but not snivel during my unforgiving English-language mock interview. At one point in the week, I nearly ran out of gas along a solitary stretch of road flanked by endless sugarcane fields and no place to fill up in sight (reminding me – since happenstance makes for a good story – of the time I managed to get lost in the mud-soaked trails snaking through uncut sugarcane already 75 kilometers into my first ultramarathon four years ago). And on one day of what turned out to be a rather adventitious week, in exactly 20 minutes: I dropped off my car, hightailed through a parking lot, hurtled through an airport, careened up and down a flight of stairs, hastily sweet-talked the ticket agent to let me cut a massive line – all at a speed befitting an Olympic sprinter – and helter-skelter squeaked through a last call for boarding, collapsing in a profuse sweat in my assigned middle seat on the day’s last flight out to my destination. And now, having debunked the façade of being a good planner and well collected in general, I have begun frantically type out this digest while flying back home. Draw the curtains on this most motley week and cue…

This week
I am now seated at the federal police station located at the outlying airport (and having outed myself as the living version of Mr. Topsy-Turvy, it should come of no surprise that I arrived here two documents short of what I needed and had to trudge back into and out of the city to produce what will ultimately serve as file stuffers and dust collectors, that I had to look for two ATMs to take out money, that I had to work through the notary line twice because I forgot to photocopy one page of a passport that is no longer valid, that I had to convince the valet to watch my car at the notary while I found a place a few blocks away to take my morning mug shot, and (as the cherry on the cake) that I had to negotiate the cost of my cellphone repair because I had broken my phone precisely twenty-four hours after the previous repair). Also true to character, while sitting on uncomfortable waiting-room chairs, occasionally looking up to face the utterly unadorned walls of a government agency, I am smiling. It is my great fortune that my happiness does not at all hinge on outsmarting Brazilian bureaucracy, reconciling São Paulo traffic with airport schedules, knowing in advance when meetings will occur, or ensuring never getting lost among sugarcane fields (not that mastery of this omnibus skill set wouldn’t be most welcome in my life). To be sure, the cycle of running, rushing and rolling on underpinning the daily events of my life this week and last proved just a slightly (ok, substantially) more acute manifestation of my usually spirited approach to life. And as long as I can laugh (at myself) a shade more than I fret, I hold to the belief that these usual day-to-day adventures will continue to unfold in all their mysterious and masterful serendipity.

Happy words,

*** From this fascinating NYT article that weaves together the science, the culture, the joy and the oddness of running and racing, here are five words (in context) to bring into the booth:


— from “Man vs. Marathon

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