Bad behavior in the city

One month. January 2020. Four things that I’ve only experienced living in a big city.

Wrong way Amazon van

The first incident can only be described as wacky. I was jogging north on Arlington Avenue. I first noticed a car stopped in the right lane. My eye quickly noticed the Amazon delivery van behind it. Turning around quickly, the van driver headed the other direction, going north in the southbound lane.

I captured each street image from Google Earth.

To the north, the next stoplight was three blocks away. As the driver sped away, I noticed the light turn green and the southbound traffic begin to move. Surely, those vehicles saw the wrong way van.

Glancing back at the van, the driver reached a side street. Careening over the concrete in the median, the van was now headed the right direction. Turning the stoplight corner, it vanished.

The woman got out of the stopped car. “Did you see that?! The woman in that van hit me and then took off!”

I had not see the collision. But, having seen what I had, I agreed to tell the police, should they investigate. We traded phone numbers.

I’ve not heard from anyone.

The street is our trash can

Julie and I pulled up to the intersection nearest our house. The light was red. In the photo, below, we are the green waiting behind the red.

The red car’s front passenger door opened. Before we could wonder what was up, out came an arm. The hand holding the foam cup dropped it onto the street.

“What the heck?”

The person wasn’t done. Out came the arm again, the hand dropping another cup.

“Man, I’d love to get out, pick up those cups, and tell that person they dropped something.”

The light changed. We moved on. Just another littering scene in the city.

The world is our outhouse

Four weeks after the wrong-way van incident, I was a block south of that spot. Across the street, I man was walking. He left the sidewalk. I wondered what he was doing.

The arrow, above, points to the spot he stopped. Since it’s January, it looks a lot different. The area is all scrub brush.

He stopped at the edge of the scrub. He proceeded to assume the position.

In full view of the street, he relieved himself.

It was then that I began thinking, “What a month it’s been. I need to blog about this.”

It’s not okay to let your dogs terrorize people on the street

I’ve been jogging for forty years. Before moving to Indianapolis, I could count on one hand the number of times a loose dog gave me trouble. Here, it only takes a few months to fill five fingers.

Last year, my concern was heightened when, for the first time, large dogs came into the street after me. Before two months elapsed, that happened three times. I now feared I could be seriously hurt. I knew I had to do something.

I now wear this horn when I run:

I had it the final six months of 2019. I used it five times.

This January, I’ve already used it three times.

And, here’s the thing. I’m going down all the same roads, yet I’m encountering dogs out of their yards where I’ve never had to be concerned.

Ugh.

This is a three-pronged thing.

  1. The law is that your pets are not to be out in the street.
  2. Owners should be concerned for the welfare of their pets.
  3. These are city streets, and joggers and walkers should not have to fear for their safety from straying dogs.

Whether or not I see a person (I rarely do), I holler, “Your dog doesn’t belong in the street!” I hope the owners hear the horn.

The dogs do. So far, it’s worked every time.

I wonder how the peeing man would react to it.

2019: 3 unthinkable things

2019 was mostly an excellent year. I achieved an older goal and a newer one, both which had seemed insurmountable, even unthinkable. Along the way, another unthinkable thing occurred, one that cut deeply.

I’ll get that one out of the way, so that I can end on a high note. In the spring, I was told that if I continued to go the local transgender support group, there were some who would not attend. Because I did not want to be a roadblock for anyone, I elected to stop attending.

Julie and I started going to this group in January 2015. We attended most meetings. We received support and provided it. Because Julie was able to grasp transitioning in a loving, compassionate manner, she was especially helpful to SOFFAs (significant others, family, friends, allies). With my pastoral experience and natural gift for gab, and because I experienced every step in transitioning, I too offered my share. Indeed, the Christian faith was a familiar topic, especially those suffering rejection by Christian family members, and I regularly provided insights and understanding.

A year earlier, I had resumed living as a male, so why would I want to continue to attend? The reasons were numerous. This had become my group. I had made some good friends. Retirement from the ministry had ripped me away from people; this group filled a void. And, because I like helping others, I could continue to be helpful.

Even more, what I experienced in feeling male after transitioning proved beneficial. As I related what was going on, others opened up. I broke the ground for some to admit that they don’t always feel strictly male or female, and it sometimes scares them because they transitioned.

A young trans woman approached me about what she was experiencing. She visited at our house a few times, where we had long talks. Soon, she resumed living as a guy. He’s doing fine now, feeling he’s sorted through things. I was happy to help him.

Others admitted that my detransitioning scared them. I suspect that one or two didn’t want me at the meetings because they feared what happened with me could happen with them.

One of those trans women unfriended me on Facebook, without saying a word. She and I had been close. It hurt a lot.

Indeed, the Facebook unfriending became rampant. No one told me, of course; they simply did it. I had to figure it out, recognizing I was no longer seeing them in my newsfeed.

Many didn’t unfriend me, but they’ve kept their distance. Only one local trans woman has acted the same toward me as she did when I was a trans woman.

I found it all so absurd. Some of the same people, who cry for acceptance, now rejected me. I was the same person I always had been, but by no longer identifying as transgender they turned from me.

They turned from me the way they hate how others turn from them.

And so it goes. There is no one group of people fully able to do for others what they ask from them.

My final meeting came right after I received my memoir in print. I brought it to the meeting. Before leaving, I addressed the group. I read some paragraphs, showing them how I was still supporting them. My final words to them were, “Whether or not I see you again, I will be speaking up for you and educating wherever I can.”

In 2020, I will publish my second book, Ministering to Transgender Christians.

That’s a nice segue to the older of the two major goals I achieved in 2019. I had long been wanting to write a book, which I thought would be a novel. (That sits in my computer, unfinished and untouched for years.) Ever since my therapist, in 2013, told me to write what I was experiencing with my gender dysphoria, I had been compiling my memoirs. In September 2018, I completed the first draft.

At that time, I knew nothing of self-publishing, so I had no clue whether I would be able to get it into print. When I learned that I could, cost free, publish it through Amazon, I was elated and took the plunge.

The other previously unthinkable goal, which I’ve only had since taking up jogging year-round in 2016, was to log one thousand miles in a year. I hit the mark the first week of November. As I type this on December 30, the following screenshot from my app reveals where I stand for 2019.

My 2020 goal? 1,200 miles—to average 100 per month.

My second 2020 goal? Publish my second book.

My third 2020 goal? Get cracking on promoting my books and my program of transgender education.

Forty years of running

I began distance running in 1980. That made 2019 my fortieth year as a jogger.

Though I began running in Montague, it wasn’t until 2018 that I ran by this namesake corner.

I’ve logged tens of thousands of miles in what I estimate to be more than 5,000 outings—nowadays sometimes running the entire route, occasionally walking it, and often with a bit of walking mixed in with the running.

As a kid, I always loved running. In baseball, roaming the outfield was my passion. In football, wide receiver and I were a perfect fit. Living a mile from high school, most afternoons I ran all the way home.

When I got married in December 1979, Kim and I made our first home across from Montague’s high school. I had taken up tennis, and the school’s tennis court had a concrete wall. When I had no partner, I beat the ball against the wall.

One summer-of-1980 day, as I was once again waging a battle royale against the wall, I paused to catch my breath. I gazed through the pine trees and past the baseball field, observing the track on which I had run in school. I put my tennis gear in the car. I walked over to the track.

I began to run.

I came back a few days later and ran some more. Soon, I was bored with the track. I hit the road.

I never stopped.

In the early years, I typically ran only two or three miles. In the 1990s, when at seminary, I got to know a guy who was a distance runner, who told me that to burn fat I needed to run longer. More like five miles per run.

So, that’s what I did.

Living most of my life in Michigan and Iowa, snow and cold kept my jogging to spring through autumn. For years, I didn’t do any exercise in the winter. Then, we got a treadmill. Finally, we bought an elliptical.

I survived the treadmill and elliptical by watching TV. Even the best of shows never gave me the level of enjoyment that running provides. Not only do I like the movement of running, I love being outdoors.

The second year we were in Indianapolis, three things happened to propel me toward year-round running. First, we had a mild winter, with little snow, which allowed me to get out often. Second, I started to use a running app, which made it fun to track my progress. Third, the elliptical broke.

Julie fixed the elliptical.

I kept running.

I have to run over a mile to get to this trail, the Fall Creek Greenway. It’s worth every drop of sweat.

I’ve always loved statistics, so I began recording my miles on my computer, wiping my app clean with each new year. 2016 was my first year as a twelve-month runner, so it was a no-brainer that I set personal bests in total miles and number of outings. That year, I achieved 799 miles on 171 outings, a 4.67 average.

In 2017, I had surgeries in January, April, and November. After my April surgery, I could hardly walk, much less run. Fifteen days post-surgery, I was able to walk 1.5 miles. I restarted using the app. In three weeks, I was back to walking five miles. After my surgeon allowed me to run, three weeks later I was back to five miles.

I was hoping to hit 1,000 miles for the year. The November surgery got in the way. Still, I was mighty pleased to log 987 miles on 201 outings, a 4.91 average.

Last year, I was determined to get that 1,000. I was on pace when, late in the summer, I experienced pain in my joints and loss of strength in my muscles. By autumn, I could barely run above a walk. I finally had to stop, altogether.

I learned that my hormone levels were too low. In November, I restarted hormone injections. In a few weeks, my bones and muscles rallied. I completed the year with 839 miles on 180 outings, a 4.66 average.

As 2019 began, I was in good health. I had to negotiate some pretty lousy spring weather—recall all the rain that kept the farmers from planting—and then in June I hurt my back. I made up for it with a personal best August, getting out 28 days for 177 miles, smashing my previous best month’s record by 26 miles.

The first week of November, I hit the magic 1,000. I set my sights on 1,200, hoping to average 100 miles a month for the year.

As I type this on December 15, I am on track to get it, at 1,142 miles.

If the weather holds out.

It’s supposed to snow like crazy this week and then be cold.

Rats.

Whether or not I beat the weather or not, I am delighted that in my fortieth year of running, at age 62, I’ve achieved personal bests in miles, outings (209 at the moment), and average (5.46).

I began running because I loved it. I continue running because I love it and because of the health benefits, which are many, especially for my heart. Last week was my annual trip to my cardiologist. I showed him my app. He was as impressed with my knees holding out as he was with my miles.

I hope to run as long as I’m able. I’d like to make it to age eighty. And, if I do, to keep going.

After forty years at this, there is one thing of which am most pleased. Despite running against some high winds, in some hard rain, and staving off approaching lightning—despite pulling muscles, falling five times, and once breaking a toe with more than a mile left to get home—despite the new dangers Indianapolis has brought: dogs chasing me and cars nearly hitting me—

On every one of the more than 5,000 times I left the house on foot, I came home under my own steam.

Every. Single. Time.

When I twice had large dogs chase me in 2019, I took to wearing this horn. If a dog chases me into the street, he gets the horn, no matter his size. I’ve already used it six times.

1,000 miles in 2019!

On November 4, I achieved a goal that until the last few years was not even on my radar: I logged 1,000 miles on my running app.

I began distance running in 1980. Living in Michigan and Iowa, there was too much snow to run in the winter. I jogged from April to November, then headed inside to the treadmill and elliptical.

I also never liked running in the cold. But, having moved to Indianapolis, where there’s much less snow and, when it does snow, it usually doesn’t stick around too many days, if I could get used to jogging in the cold I could run year round.

Perhaps, it was my desire to be outside, not to be stuck in the basement on the elliptical, that drove me to get used to running in the cold. I did and, before long, I was digging it. Now, I love it, and have found that I can run better and farther than in the heat and humidity.

In 2017, I fell just short of 1,000 miles. I intended to hit the mark last year, but health issues kept me to 839. With my health issues resolved, I set my sights on 2019.

I entered the year strong. Indeed, not only have I achieved the total miles mark, I’ve averaged just shy of 5.5 miles per event. Never before have I averaged even five miles per outing.

As I lay in bed on November 3, I pondered what route I should take, needing four miles to hit 1,000. Immediately, a five-mile route came to mind, one which would have me arrive at the four-mile mark at the longest hill in our neighborhood—a hill I always walk up because it’s so long and high, and because I always arrive at it near the end of my run.

I hatched a plan. I would take this route, and I would celebrate my 1,000 mile achievement by running up that hill. To me, it would be achieving a huge goal by achieving a huge goal. And, to commemorate the moment, I would make a video as I ran.

Here’s my huffing and puffing recording of the moment:

November and December in Indianapolis provide generally good running weather. I have one more goal in mind for the year. Since I hit 1,000 miles in just over ten months, I bet you can guess how many miles I want to achieve for the year.

Photo jogging journal

Jogging provides me with way more than great exercise. I see lots of interesting things. Some are funny. Others odd. Several intriguing, At times, after passing by, the sight propels me to create a story about it.

I don’t like to interrupt my running to take photos, so when I see something about which I later found a fun angle, I plan my next run to return to that spot to capture it.

Sometimes, I miss my chance, as with the brick tied up in a bow, that was in the middle of the entrance of a driveway, which was gone the next day.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The photos that follow all come from this month—October, 2019—except for this one from 2016. I include this older picture because I can’t imagine the scenario in which an intact frozen pizza wound up on the side of a busy, 45 mph speed limit road.

Actually, I can imagine …

I see a car in which there are two occupants. These two are screaming at each other. It goes awry:

“I swear, Terry, I’ll throw these groceries out the window!”

“No, Tracy!”

“Oh, yea, Terry. Here goes the pizza—“

“For the love of Mike! If you have to toss something, why can’t it be the rutabagas?!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

At first glance, I thought this monster was preparing to kick a soccer ball. When I saw that ball was a skull, the soccer game stuck in my mind:

“Great game, Slayer!”

“Yargh! We really cracked some skulls!”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A half mile later, I came across the following, which was the only one of these things I stopped the first time to photograph.

Yes, I thought about picking it up and taking it to place next to the skull at the monster’s feet. Alas, satisfied with the photo, I resumed running.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I run across a lot of roadkill. Never had I ever seen a perfectly preserved skeleton before I saw this (which was mere feet from where that Digiorno pizza had been):

It’s as if someone placed the bones on top of the skin. Crazy.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Proving the old saying: records were made to be broken.

In case you were wondering, the group that made this album was Skip And The Vinyls.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I’ve mowed over plenty of acorns and pine cones, even my neighbor’s crabble apples. I suspect the owner of this house has to pick up these hedge apples before hitting the lawn.

If Newton had been sitting under a hedge apple tree, history might have been written far differently … probably by his assistant … after he laid Newton to rest.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I simply think this next thing is cool. Nowadays, it sits in the yard of condominiums. I would love to see the original house by which it stood, and know the reason it was built.

The easy answer is that it was used as a root cellar. The fun answer would be that it was a hiding place for bootleggers during Prohibition. The best answer is that it was a prison … for disobedient children.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Here’s my favorite, a situation with three parts to it.

Part 1: How fast did this guy have to be driving, and how hard were those brakes working, to rip into the ground like this?

Part 2: At what point did he realize he was about to come to a stop on top of a No Parking sign? Perhaps, that’s why he kept going, you know, so as not to break the law.

Part 3: The sign didn’t stop him, but this tree—or, the tree that used to be here—sure did.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I was running through this WALK sign as I took this picture.

Did I break the law? Should I have kept going until I plowed into a tree?

Whatever the case, the cops will have to catch me, because I’m on the run and I’m not stopping!

The first blare

On day six, I blew my horn.

On day five, I encountered the dog that pushed me over the edge, to equip myself in case of attack. Whence last I saw that dog, busy 46th Street was closed for construction, and he had no traffic to keep him from pursuing me from his side of the four lane road.

That day, he entered the road. I stopped, turned to him, and yelled as loud as I could, “Stop!” He stopped momentarily. As he was resuming his pursuit and I was still yelling, his owner appeared and called him back.

46th was recently reopened. The speed limit is 45 mph. When he (with both dogs in this piece, I don’t know their sex; I call both “he” because I don’t like calling a pet “it”) spied me, he went to the edge of the road, barking his lungs out. Thankfully, car after car zoomed between us, he stayed put, and my horn remained clipped to my waist.

The next day, my sixth carrying the horn, as I ran down Marilyn Street, more than five miles into my run, I recalled that a small dog sometimes runs out after me. Sure enough, there he was, and out he came.

I quickly slid the horn off my waist, put my finger on the trigger, and waited for him to approach me. As I continued to run, he got within ten feet of me. I let loose.

I gave him a one second blast.

And what did he do?

He stopped.

His ears went erect. He looked at me funny. He didn’t seem dazed, but he definitely looked confused.

Soon, I was past him and he resumed running. Now, however, he didn’t approach. He ran parallel to me, remaining on the edge of the street.

He returned to barking. I kept the horn pointed at him, my finger on the trigger.

Calmly, I kept saying to him, “Staaay. Staaay. Staaay.”

Finally, either he tired of the game or we got to his boundary (which should include the street, for Fido’s sake!). I holstered my weapon and finished my run.

Now I know the horn achieves what it advertises … at least on this dog.

I’ve vowed never to use the horn unless a dog enters the street. I’ll keep the vow but, having felt the power of my horn, I now have an itchy trigger finger.

Mind your dogs!

This is my fortieth year as a jogger. I’ve finally been frightened enough by dogs chasing me into the street that I am doing something to protect myself.

Small dogs don’t scare me. Though they never belong in the street, I figure if they get too close I can kick them. I don’t want to kick them, but I will if I have to protect myself.

Most of the dogs leaving their yards are small ones, which happens virtually every week. But twice this summer large dogs have come running at me, at full speed, barking fiercely. And both were showing their teeth.

I always stop and turn to the dog. I holler as loud as I can. “Stop! Go home!” I holler toward the house: “Get your dog! Your dog doesn’t belong in the street!”

These two times this summer the dogs have been large, I had never seen them before, so I wasn’t surprised their owners immediately appeared from behind their homes. I guess the dogs either got out by mistake or they were taken by surprise that they took off into the street. Thus, on the one hand, I don’t think it is the owners’ practice to allow their dogs to run free, but, on the other hand, they allowed them to get loose and, when they did, they ran into the street and after me.

Thankfully, in both cases, two positive things happened at once. When I turned and hollered, the dogs slowed down. They didn’t stop, and they kept barking and showing their teeth, but I felt more in control. Secondly, as their owners called for them, both dogs retreated.

I hollered to both owners: “Please mind your dogs. They don’t belong in the street.” One responded with his apology. The other did not. As I turned and continued my run, I shook from what could have occurred.

So, I’ve been thinking: at any given time, a dog could come at me, not back down, not have an owner there to call it, and attack me. And I could be in a world of hurt. I could even be killed.

I read of the attacks, every year: joggers who lost their lives at the mouths of vicious dogs. In my forty years of running, I’ve arrived home under my own steam every single time. I desire to continue my winning streak.

I told Julie of my fear. I asked her if, the next time she placed an online order, she might purchase me some pepper spray. I checked and, yes, it is legal to carry it and use it on human or animal in self defense.

Bless Julie’s researching heart, she came back to me after a bit with another suggestion: a horn.

The concern with pepper spray is twofold. First, the human or animal has to get close before you can spray at them. Second, you have to aim well, to hit them in the eyes.

With the horn, you can begin to blow it immediately. And you don’t have to aim it. And it could alert others to possible trouble.

The horn is on order. By the end of this week, I will be clipping it to my waist next to my phone, which is my constant jogging companion.

How long will it be before I find myself in need of using it?