I fear I’m becoming David Sedaris. No, no. I’m not worried that I’m poised to become a great American humorist. Rather, I’m worried I’m becoming a little obsessed about the number of miles I walk each day.

When Kin and I moved back to Hermosa Beach, I started getting up and walking each morning. We’re just a block away from The Strand, 20 miles of flat, paved path that runs along the beach – from south of us in Torrance to north of us in Santa Monica. It’s a nice walk, bustling with the SoCal exercise freaks in the mornings, dog walkers in the evenings, and on weekends far too many drunk people who’ve decided to rent bicycles. (God forbid the scooter craze comes here.)

From our apartment to a wall next to the “90210” Beach House and back again is 1.7 miles. That’s not quite half the made-up goal fitness trackers set of 10,000 steps a day. So I’ve started walking that route twice a day – once in the morning and once after dinner.

I also walk to the grocery store once (or even twice) a day – about a mile-and-a-half round-trip. Actual conversation from this week: “We forgot the Italian sausage? It’s no problem. I’ll go back to the store.”

Much like my return to cooking, my new obsession with walking has a lot to do with taking time away from The Internet. I can see the Malibu fires from The Strand this week, so I’m still reminded that the apocalypse is near. I’ll just walk a bit faster, I guess.

I don’t currently own a fitness tracker, which is probably the thing that stops me from, as Sedaris described in a New Yorker article a couple of years ago, “living the Fitbit life.” But I’m toying with the idea of getting one – other than the “health” app that’s pre-installed on my iPhone, which I am annoyed to have to remember to bring with me when I go out. (You see, my exercise clothes do not have pockets. Neither do many of the skirts I wear once I’ve showered and dressed for the day. But I often listen to audiobooks as I walk.)

I’ve been critical of the behaviorist bent of these fitness devices. And I’m also worried about the privacy and security implications of casually assuming they’re a sort of medical tech. I am fearful too about a push for more surveillance in the guise of “health” and “wellbeing” – particularly when employers and insurance companies offer discounts for wearing fitness trackers.

I haven’t worn a watch in decades, but I think I want an Apple Watch (rather than a FitBit). I realize it’s a gross little piece of conspicuous tech consumption. But I can convince myself that I didn’t buy it to track my fitness because I can wear it on my wrist and listen to my audiobooks when I walk and not have to carry a bag or my phone in my hand and, if I get one that doesn’t have cell service, never be interrupted while I’m walking with push notifications about the latest DC dumbassery.

(Don’t worry. I am not buying an Apple Watch.)

Audrey Watters


Audrey Watters


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