Sunday, September 28, 2014

You got too much soul.

Last night I dreamed I was at a party where I was the least interesting person there. No one wanted to talk to me. Also, I was wearing one of my daughter's bedazzled black hoodies.

Last night I was at an actual party where I was talking to many people, though I cannot account for any interest I may or may not have generated. I spoke with a colleague about his great success in dropping forty-five pounds through the past year.

I knew he had been trying to control his weight, he's been working at that for some time now. What was stunning to me was the recent day where I looked at him and suddenly realized he'd done it. To me, it appeared like he'd done it overnight.

He was so happy, telling me about the day he realized he just had to do something serious and exactly what that was, not just about eating too much, but all the casual drinking, and complete lack of activity. So, he changed his habits. He decided to change them, and here was the result. He looks great.

I mentioned how I have put on more weight than I would like to have, and he politely remarked that I don't show it, I'm too tall, I carry myself tall. That was very nice to hear but it doesn't change the fact that I am in my mid-40s and carrying a tire that as I age becomes increasingly difficult to burn.

As I bounce ideas back and forth inside my head (artistic ideas, you know, we do that) I have considered revising and reviving the marathon play. So many changes in the past five years, I feel that it is not finished. In order to play it, however, I would need to lose twenty pounds. Performing it last in 2011, I was at least that much heavier than when it debuted, and I felt like I was going to have a heart attack one night.

No heart attacks, please.

Temperature: 68°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Sunshiny morning over the Heights, and humid. Feeling good, but breathy. I think this fall the designated beverage at home will be tea, sweet herbal tea. The children have started requesting tea as a regular beverage, and can prepare it themselves. We should make a lot of it at a time and enjoy it all evening.

Sleep has been an issue, all year, all summer long. My sleep patterns have been horrible. Too much caffeine, all day, and any alcohol at all. Friends send me links on meditation and yoga, and perhaps I will visit those articles some day. One thing at a time.

It has been almost a year since I began my experiment in writing, which has been successful beyond imagining. The running happens, but not the races. Four runs in September? It's the second best month for running in the entire year.

The best is, of course, October.

Jane's Getting Serious Playlist
Jane's Getting Serious - Jon Astley
Valerie - Steve Winwood
The Oogum Boogum Song - Brenton Wood
She Bop - Cyndi Lauper
Do You Really Want To Know - George Michael
Save Me - k.d. lang
Straight To My Heart * - Sting

Yes. We are wistful and nostalgic, but also troubled. I wrote a ten-minute play last week. It's either awful or just about an awful thing. We'll read it Thursday and find out which.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

I know you'll want to run around.

"If you could give one magic pill that would improve physical health, mood, reduce weight," this would be it, [Dr. Robert Waldinger, psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard University] says. Federal health officials recommend 30 minutes of moderate aerobic activity every day.

Best To Not Sweat The Small Stuff, Because It Could Kill You

NPR - Morning Edition, Sept. 22, 2014
A few years back some "friends" chose to share with me this report which suggests there is no empirical evidence that exercise helps with depression. Except the other day NPR tells me, as part of their ongoing reports on STRESS (which I should tell you are very stressful to listen to) that physical exercise can improve physical health and mood.

So there's that.

Temperature: 73°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Big, beautiful night. Numerous runners and walkers and others.

What's the word for that awkward moment you have to pass someone who is almost but not quite just going as fast as you, and then you speed up because you want to put a lot of space between them and you and you notice your shorts are stuffed up your buttcrack?

There has to be one.

The Current Playlist
Dangerous -  Big Data
After the Disco - Broken Bells
I'm Only Joking - Kongos
Youth Without Youth - Metric
Harlem - New Politics
We Come Running  - Youngblood Hawke
Pumpin Blood - NONONO
Right Action - Franz Ferdinand

Sunday, September 21, 2014

My pulse is racing.


No seriously, I haven't run for a long time and I am not happy about that. It's golden hour, the fall, when the gear is still at a minimum but so is the sweat.

We have been in rehearsal for the residency program, which makes for early mornings, long days, and many of them (we rehearse on Saturdays, too) and my wife has begun her second year teaching high school English, so my evenings are largely housework related -- and spending time with my children, who have suddenly exploded into the larger world.

Then there's the change of season, allergy, feeling headachy and sick thing.

Gripe, gripe, gripe (the boys are marching.)

Temperature: 75°
Distance: 3.25 miles
 Let's Cool It In The Bedroom  
by Gretchen Reynolds
New York Times - July 17, 2014

Woke just before 3 am, certain I would slide into another sleepless night and wake in pain. I could feel my head expand and tighten. I crawled out of bed for water and pain reliever, and threw off the covers to sleep cool.

The NYTimes link provided above, and which I read during the summer, does not actually relate to my personal discoveries about sleep, though it is interesting. All I know is staying up late, sleeping warm, sleeping in (thereby missing out on morning caffeine) and even modest amounts of alcohol, combine to create a really awful morning. You may call it a hangover, but it happens whether I have had anything to drink or not, and always on the weekend.

I woke again at 7 am, feeling much better, and ready to just roll over, when it occurred to me to make coffee, which I did, by which time I was a little awake. I have not written in two days, not even nonsense. Lately I have been fretting - a lot - about my ability to write anything, ever, of any value, ever again.

Coffee, morning birds and a blank sheet of paper, combined with a half hour of thinking and rotating my wrist and I have the beginning of what may be a 10-minute play, which is great because I find those to be most difficult of all.

Then I went back to sleep for two hours, the best sleep I've had in over a month. It is 11 am, everyone is gone for the day, and I have housework to happily tend to. But first, we run.

Under Pressure Playlist
Under Pressure - Queen & David Bowie
The Ocean - Led Zeppelin
Roundabout - Yes
These Are The Days of Our Lives - Queen
Stone Cold Crazy - Metallica
I'm Free - The Who
Living After Midnight - Judas Priest

Bright and warm, but cool and breezy. This is fall. I feel good, I need to resume cross-training, these slacks won't put themselves on.

So glad we live in a universe where Under Pressure happened. When you are putting together that memorial video for me after my death, please use this song, it's kind of everything.

Sunday, September 07, 2014

I'm never gonna live again.

What's in the jug this year?
Last week I snarked about my hometown, and their penchant for intolerance and feckless cruelty. It was a little out of left field, and as is normal when I lash out with provocation I usually feel a little bad about it. So, thanks for proving me right this week in such spectacular fashion. You people are fucking terrible.

Temperature: 70°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Long week of rehearsal, but satisfying. Boxes get ticked, the work continues. The only setting my teeth on edge is that in those quiet in-between moments, on my own time, I don't know what to do. Writing happens, but we are in the non-formative area (in which I used to constantly live) where the words swirl but the ideas are not compelling.

This morning there are many house jobs to tend to, but even at 10 AM I am bleary, unfocused a little pained, stiff and unsettled. Time for a run.

If I Can't Change Your Mind Playlist
Tears of a Clown - The Beat
Back of a Car - Big Star
Feel - Big Star
Nearly Lost You - Screaming Trees
And We Danced - Hooters
Holidays In The Sun - Sex Pistols
Everyday Is Halloween - Ministry
September Gurls - Big Star

Neighborhood association coming up with ideas for a 5K this fall.  Time to ask the city how best to close down these streets for a morning.

Monday, September 01, 2014

If I tell you what I'm doing today will you shut up and get out of my way?


In this house, Labor Day is about housework. No planes, no picnics, just cleaning up and planning for the future. Feeling adrift ... so many endings, too many beginnings. So we run.

Temperature: 77°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Hot, sweaty, bright (no sunglasses), wearying but good.

Middle School Playlist (1979-81)
I'm a Cult Hero - Cult Hero
Clampdown - The Clash
Got The Time - Joe Jackson
Love This Life - The Blue Nile
Forever In Blue Jeans - Neil Diamond
Life Begins at the Hop - XTC
That's Entertainment - The Jam
Rock Lobster - The B-52's

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Burning in the outside lane.


This fall is one of great moment and change. I am not just talking about the painting I am doing this week in the downstairs bathroom (we've had one functioning bathroom for well over a year, maybe two, that's how we roll in this house) but the advances our kids are making in school.

The boy has moved from one elementary school to another, as his sister did before him, to take advantage of programming. And she is now in middle school.

Middle school was possibly the worst period in my life. There have been terrible events, which can be managed in one way or another or not at all, some brought on by my own poor judgement and others entirely by fate.

But the extent to which I went from being a confident, creative soul in fifth grade to feeling entirely defeated in sixth grade was unnecessary. Say what you want about adolescence, and about the cruelty of children, it didn't have to be that way.

Perhaps there are things I will be entirely unable to protect my daughter (and son) from, but she has already marched into this new, expansive phase of her life with bravery and far less fear than I possessed at that time. She walks to school with a pack of friends (she walks to her neighborhood school, who does that anymore???) and is confident in her talents and aware of her weaknesses.

Her school, part of the most unfairly maligned school district in America, has many outlets for artistic creativity, whereas the middle school I attended, part of a district consistently rated in the "top ten" public school districts in Cuyahoga County (one can only assume they factor in high marks for racism, Antisemitism, homophobia and a general hatred for the poor) did not.

I had nothing to do in middle school. No outlet for my writing, for drawing, for acting, for anything. I was treading water, getting in trouble, weathering abuse, biding my time. It was awful. But the music was awesome.

Middle School Playlist (1979-81)
Turn It On Again - Genesis
Sat In Your Lap - Kate Bush
Dream Police - Cheap Trick
Deathwish - The Police
Only a Lad - Oingo Boingo
Landlord - The Police
Through Being Cool - Devo
Cool For Cats - Squeeze

Not emotionally nor physically prepared for running this afternoon. I felt a bit queasy, had spent an emotional afternoon having brunch with some friends (old and new) and yesterday I pulled a muscle in my right calf and it had been troubling me ever since.

I am to be on my own with the kids tonight, with one hour to either nap or run. What to do? I geared up, and this time brought a water bottle with me. It's so humid, I get so thirsty.

After a quarter mile, I felt sick to my stomach, exhausted and despondent. I drank some water and continued. Three miles later, I hadn't stopped running. Good for me.

Temperature: 79°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Last night my wife and I saw Boyhood, which is nothing short of amazing. I was seriously disoriented by the end, it is a dizzying, remarkable ride.

My wife pointed out that the final line of the film, a beautiful if simple observation, spoken by the main character who we have literally (I can say literally) watched age from 6 to 18 years old in the span of two and a half hours, could be sued to describe director Richard Linklater's entire aesthetic.

"It’s constant," he says, "the moments, it’s just — it’s like it’s always right now, you know?"

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Like, for this cat, the only reality ... is death, man.


I fear we have reached a technological zenith, and that we are, all of us, on the decline. Some first believed the iPhone looked ridiculous, because it was contrary to our belief system that something (videlicet, a phone) could be made better by being made larger. That is not how portable technology works, things are supposed to get smaller.

What we, which is to say me, entirely missed was that the iPhone was not a "phone" per se, but the entire Internet available in your hand. Put that way, it makes perfect sense. All of reality was now portable, and speaking to people over the "phone" would soon be obsolete, regardless.

However, and this is where things get weird. I still have an iPod from 2006. It is the size of a pack of gum. It holds 500-ish songs. It is not wifi-enabled, of course, it's old, it does not map my route. It plays MP3s, that is all it does, and it does that very well, especially for the purpose of entertainment while running.

When I was a young adult, I tried running with a cassette player in my hand. The thrill of listening to music while running quickly became a daily irritation with send the device back and forth, from one tired and hand to the other. Also, the mix tape. It's always the same tape, isn't it? Perhaps we were more discriminating in our music choices, only the best songs were on that tape. But seriously.

I am still extremely satisfied with my iPod nano, and hope it continues to last. Headphones come and go, the hardware remains.

However, as more and more individuals acquire smart phones, I have noticed a disturbing trend among runners, one which involves  holding the phone in your hand and playing music out loud from through its shitty speaker.

Holding the phone in your hand while running, listening through God's worst monaural speaker, and more horrifying of all, you're being loud in public with your terrible music.

Temperature: 86°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Middle School Playlist (79-81)
Golden Brown - The Stranglers
Kid - The Pretenders
Bye Bye Love (from "ll That Jazz") - Ben Vereen, Roy Scheider & Company
Rockestra Theme - Paul McCartney & Wings
Message In A Bottle - The Police
We Got The Beat - The Go-Go's
Boys Don't Cry - The Cure