During these challenging times, the already struggling United States Postal Service is under threat in favor of privatization and corporations. This is also due to a long and winding presidential grudge against Amazon, the Washington Post, the media and ultimately, the truth. So to show support I purchased stamps. I enjoyed browsing the wide array of themes on the USPS website and I finally landed on the ‘Saving Vanishing Species’ set pictured with this post. It resonated with me because of another story popping in and out of my sight lines on a daily basis now. Horrified, and admittedly captivated, Jeff and I watched the entire Tiger King docuseries while sheltering at home in Buffalo, Ny. It’s easy to dismiss the show as merely spectacle, and from what I’ve read, it appears that it was edited and engineered with the goal of creating a golden nugget of money making entertainment. But there’s more to it, I think. As the series unravels, we’re introduced to the ultra tan, roadside zoo keeper, Joe Exotic. His wild hairstyle and paranoid rants against his arch enemy, Carole Baskin eerily mirror our own president’s demeanor as he rails against imaginary foes like the “fake news media” and the Deep State in his daily coronavirus press briefings. But what struck me most about Tiger King is the rare glimpse into the subculture the show’s cast of unseemly characters reveals. I was already skeptical about the idea of wild animals as pets, but I wasn’t fully aware of the atrocities that were laid bare here. There are far fewer tigers living in the wild than living in captivity. Less than 5% of captive tigers in the US belong to one of the Association of Zoos and Aquariums, meaning the rest fall outside of federal oversight. Further research tells me that “poaching and illegal wildlife trade is the most immediate threat to wild tigers. Every part of the tiger, from whisker to tail has been found in illegal wildlife markets.” Learning this and seeing how the big cats were treated in the show, caused me to feel deep sadness for the animals. In a time when 20,000 + Americans have died and the president is incapable of expressing even a hint of empathy, this kind of sadness can take a firm hold. In my opinion, opening ourselves up to witnessing potentially unpleasant things can help us gain perspective. Tiger King activated something in me, and as a result I want to do more. I know my $13.00 purchase of first class stamps is not going to save the tigers or the USPS, for that matter, but I can be a voice for change and I can do more. When the stamps arrive in the mail, I’ll add them to the small collection I’ve accumulated over the years. When I come across them again in the future several things may come to mind. I’ll remember sheltering at home with Jeff, a new found empathy for tigers, and a feeling of searching for some kind of meaning in it all. I’ll also remember the rage I felt upon realizing that this attack on the post office is an attack on the November election. In the time of coronavirus, every tidbit of news that breaks through the noise and touches our awareness has the potential to become ingrained in our overall experience in meaningful ways. What manages to stick can be very personal. How will we look back? What will the sensory triggers to remembering all of this be?
Instagram understandably gets a pretty bad rap for poor file quality, but to me there is an intriguing side. It’s simple system of organizing chronologically makes it a perfect time capsule for ongoing visual reportage. And if that weren’t enough, it’s inherent idealized aesthetic makes collecting “perfect little specimens” of an experience effortless. This is especially interesting to me when I return to Omaha, because I always want to capture “home” perfectly, but in the end I know that is an impossible goal. Over time Instagrams start to become memories that precede the actual events they represent. I enjoy playing in this space creatively and visually. I think Instagrams are best viewed on the tiny screen of a smart phone device, which can be held ever so tenderly in the palm of your hand like a butterfly. Here are a few snaps from my recent visit home.
Elizabeth and me right before the Omaha Half 9/18/16
I just completed my second Half Marathon on September 18. This was a big event for me on a personal level because it took place in my hometown, Omaha, NE and my bff from junior high and I ran it together. I finished with a PR that I’m very pleased with. I started as a brand new runner on June 30, 2015. I’m enjoying tracking my progress and challenging myself to keep improving. In addition to continuing my training for various upcoming half marathons, I’m also working towards a goal of reaching 1,000 road and trail miles for 2016. As of today, I’m at 788 miles, none of which were run on a treadmill. Here’s a break down of all my races so far.
September 4 – Champions 5k – 30:50 9:56/mi
November 26 – 120th Annual YMCA Turkey Trot 8k – 53:04 10:41/mi
December 13 – Freezer 5k – 28:42 9:14/mi
January 9 – Winter Warrior 4 person Half Marathon Relay (3.3 miles) – 9:33/mi
May 29 – Buffalo Half Marathon – 02:13:19 10:11/mi
June 11 – Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 5k – 26:47 8:36/mi
June 23 – J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge 3.5 miles – 30:35 8:44/mi September 18 – Omaha Half Marathon – 02:02:21 9:20/mi