What you probably think of as Pittsburgh is actually a patchwork of 90-something mostly tiny municipalities, each with its own police force, fire department, and local government. Whereas “The City of Pittsburgh” has a population of only about 300,000, the greater Pittsburgh area - not including outlying suburbs - is closer to 2.7 million.
I live in a borough called Emsworth. Emsworth, with a population of roughly 2,500, sits on the Ohio River, on the northwest side of the city, about five or six miles from downtown.
At last month’s borough council meeting, one of the councilmen resigned his post. I had considered running for council last November but didn’t for mostly dumb reasons. So when I heard there was a vacancy in January, I submitted a letter of interest. The seat was to be filled at the next meeting, which was last night. In a 4-2 council vote, I was selected to fill that seat. I was sworn in and got a stack of papers to study as homework, a seat and a mailbox at the borough building, and some peppermint patties to get me through my 3-hour first meeting as a councilman.
Everyone says all politics is local. I live literally three doors away from the Emsworth borough building, so I expect that platitude to be especially true for me now. If you know me, you know I believe pretty strongly that we are obligated by democracy to participate as public servants at some point, to the extent our lives allow. I delayed this level of participation for many years because the demands of raising a family felt too great to find room for sustained public service. Last night, as I tromped down my snowy street to my first council meeting, my boys waving me off and wishing me luck, promising to clean the dinner dishes and shower and call if there were any emergencies, I could really feel that time having passed. It’s not like they’re all grown-up or whatever (Jack tried to prank-call me as I was being sworn in), but they’re closer. And besides, I can now issue empty-but-convincing threats of legal and/or police trouble should they step too far out of line.
Anyway, totally a local politician.
Today is Monday. So far, so good.
Woke up at 5:45, made a whole mess of breakfasts, took the kids to school, and went to the YMCA. Arrived as Ben was leaving, got to visit for five minutes in the hallway between the locker room and the gym. Because I’m still laboring under the illusion that I am going to run a half marathon in April, I am training as if. So I ran four and a half miles on the treadmill. Guys, this is a big deal. I haven’t exactly made a secret of my surprise that I’m actually able to run at all, and every time my body pulls off something new, it’s a thrill. Today’s thrill was that I ran my second mile in 6:39. Exclamation point. I mean holy shit, right? That’s awfully near as fast as I was ever able to run any mile, period. I’m just a couple of months of training and a time-machine shy of beating the snot out of high-school me (a longtime dream). And the other thing? My average pace per mile was 9:01. Another exclamation point. This running stuff is bringing me enormous satisfaction and joy, at a time when I’m surely more vulnerable than usual to depression and self-loathing. BRB knocking on wood.
After I left the Y, I caught up with my parents on the phone. We talked mostly about me and work - predictably - but also about the boys, what they’re up to in school, who has a girlfriend and who doesn’t, and so on. I’m really fortunate to have a great relationship with my parents. They’re kind and present, and we have a lot in common. Yes, I said that. Anyway, we talked for over an hour. Not too long ago, having an hour to talk on the phone was unheard-of. Carpe diem.
Then I had breakfast, but at lunchtime. Yogurt and blueberries and granola. And I sat down to pay bills and, upon sitting in my chair, lost all ambition to pay the bills and decided to ignore them instead and see what that felt like. And it kinda feels great? Not ignoring an important task, per se, but letting nothing become more pressing than it truly needs to be. Feels like the kind of thing I should turn into a rule, maybe the kind of rule that will be the title of a chapter in my memoir someday.
Let nothing become more pressing than it truly needs to be.
It’s the paradoxical core of my experience right now. Paradoxical because the need to earn a living will eventually become truly pressing. Core because my actual days, right now, provide little by which to feel pressed. It’s a sometimes unsettling, foreign feeling. My thinking brain thinks it’s an ambush. But my being brain is sidling up to it, getting to know the emptiness, working out how to love it just right.
It will pass soon. And when it does, I’m sure I will welcome its passing with exuberance.
But for now, nothing pressing has the wheel, its foot resting gently on the gas, itself dozing off while I gaze out the passenger window and wonder, in a world where all roads connect, if it’s really ever possible to be lost.
Let me tell you a little about being a ward of the state:
Hey, since I’m going to have a couple of weeks off work, I’m going to take a few hours or days to make updates to the Pragmatist theme. I have a short list of things I want to do to it, but am entertaining requests too. Here’s my list:
- Allow finer-grained positioning control over background images
- Give novice users menu of available fonts (typekit support will still exist for more advanced users)
- Allow users to choose squared, rounded-corner, or circle avatar crops
- Allow optional placement of blog description in the header instead of in the sidebar (maybe)
Okay so that’s my list. If there’s something you’d like to see on there, let me know here.
Sadly, Tumblr provides no way for me to locate users of themes for feedback. Anyway, totally reblogging myself.