Thursday, May 30, 2013

All ends with beginnings.

Google "atari breakout" then click "images".You're welcome.

The music of Daft Punk continues to remind me of visiting the Everybody's Game Room video arcade circa 1980. It's like they intentionally create the idea of what contemporary dance music might sound like if there were never new-wave nor hip-hop. 

Temperature: 73°
Climate: calm. sweaty.
Distance: 3.25 miles
Knee bends: 15

All pains are related. From my ankle, through my calf, now piercing in a straight line through the dorsal region of my right thigh. And the backaches, the wife believes they are associated. And I believe she is right. I need to perform exercises to protect the hamstring, again.

Get Lucky Playlist
Get Lucky - Daft Punk ft. Pharrell Williams 
Around the World - Daft Punk
Get Innocuous! - LCD Soundsystem
Road to Recovery - Midnight Juggernaut
Faker - Miike Snow
I'm Your Villain - Franz Ferdinand
Tomorrow Comes Today - Gorillaz

Yeah Yeah (D. Ramirez Vocal Clubm Mix) - Bodyrox

Monday, May 27, 2013

It's not so deep, I'm not so slow.

When I was a kid and I broke my leg, I would lie away unable to sleep, and stare at the pictures on the wall next to my bed. Some of them were pages from the Plain Dealer -- full-page images, like posters, of comic strip characters that ran in the paper.

I became obsessed with one in which the enlargement exaggerated a gap in a pen line. I wanted to take a pen and complete that line. I wouldn't, I wouldn't draw on the image, I was old enough to know that was wrong, I didn't have the right to correct that artist's work, but I couldn't stop wanting to complete that line.

On any given day I may sit at the dining room table and imagine how, exactly, I will best stack the plates, in what order, picking up spoon to nest and empty dish, replace the spoon, move onto another -- how may I best stack dirty dishes in as few moves as possible, to carry them away to the kitchen?

The house is replete with things which must be fixed. Every day for the past year and a half I walked through the side door and looked at the broken glass and every time I thought, I need to place that. How will I do that? When will I do that? Every weekend would pass and nothing would change.

The glass has been replaced. The old, terrible curtain has been removed just so I no longer have to look at it, and will soon be replaced with something new -- this will also be done, I am sure. The wooden doors, side and front, have been primed with fresh-smelling oil. There is an American flag hanging just outside our bedroom window.

The girl is in her room, sorting clothes to give away, to sell in the yard sale, to toss, to fold and put away. The wife is writing. We are not grilling today, today we are industrious.

The boy is merely playing with Legos, but he can be forgiven -- for his birthday he got over a hundred bucks in Lego cards, and walked out of the Lego store with an admirable haul. I am proud of him, too.

Temperature: 59°
Climate: overcast & cool - perfect
Distance: 3.25 miles

And yet, stuck in the middle of a day where all are occupied and there are no other obligations, I feel conflicted about running, tired, a little low. Shall I say, anxious.I get permission. I run anyway, but though the physicality feels all right, and my pace remains brisk, thoughts are troubling, peppy, adolescent music notwithstanding.

I feel it now, not in the pit of my stomach, but just above. A rising anxiousness. My wife reminds me how good the weekend has been, how rewarding, relaxing, time with friends, surrounded by kids. Things are good.

I keep telling myself that. Things are good. Things are good. Things are good.

Love Plus One Playlist
Love Plus One - Haircut 100
Mirror Man - Human League
I Got You - Split Enz
Poison Arrow - ABC
Oblivious - Aztec Camera
Just Got Lucky - JoBoxers
Antmusic - Adam and the Ants

Sunday, May 26, 2013

I feel like I'm running up a steep hill.

Housework is so freaking rewarding, even when you feel like a hapless clown attempting some aspect of it for the first time. A pane of glass in the side door fractured a year and a half ago. I taped it with clear packing tape to keep the loose glass from falling out, but that just gave me the opportunity to ignore it for this long.

The time has come to take care of household damage, Memorial Day weekend is perfect for that. And so, I got a pane of glass, glazing, shims, the whole deal -- mostly from Heights Hardware, thank you very much. (Don't be a yokel, shop local.)

Can I also say I went back to Heights Hardware when I cracked the first pane of glass? Thank you, Heights Hardware, your Cleveland Heights hardware store since 1911.

I also got some nails and wood glue from Home Depot because I have this gift card, but you shut up about that. Gift. Card.

I had believed the boy had cracked the glass when slamming the door too hard, that year and a half, maybe two years ago. Turns out the window frame for this particular pane of glass is cracked straight through. He didn't do that, it was like that a long time ago, and I believe the frame re-cracked itself. Chipping away the glaze and glass and removing the trim I am once again astounded at how poorly previous owners of this house had repaired things.

I would like to imagine that one day I will eventually leave this house better than I found it. The kitchen certainly is, even half-finished. We'll get there. Listen to me, I'm becoming Willy Loman.

Temperature: 57°
Climate: bright & cool. ideal, seriously.
Distance: 3.25 miles

Lord. I fix one pane of glass and have to tell everyone about it.

But what about the running? Incredible. There is still a stiffness in my right calf, same old thing. Not as bad as it used to be. Breathing is excellent ... I still haven't lost those pounds. I think if I dropped five pounds I would fit much better into my world.

Taking several days at a time off running and the pain in my back returns during the night, strange flare-ups in my legs. Better to stick with it. Every other day, at least.

Now I am going to oil the front door. That is not a euphemism, I am going to rub wood oil onto ... okay, that just sounds worse. My house. Housework. Later.

Whenever You're On My Mind Playlist
Valerie Loves Me - Material Issue
Hourglass - Squeeze
Better Things - The Kinks
Swallowed By The Cracks - David & David
He Can't Love You - Michael Stanley Band
Someday, Someway - Marshall Crenshaw
Another Nail In My Heart - Squeeze
Oldest Story In The World - The Plimsouls
Welcome To The Boomtown - David & David

It's an All-Request Power-Pop Weekend!

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Your legs give way, you hit the ground.

We return to JJ, for additional guidance in managing anxiety and depression. Anxiety, of course, can stimulate one to act, which I have found very effective. It is in combination with depression that we get into trouble. I do not feel I have been depressed lately, at least not for maybe two months. No ass-dragging depression. Just anxiety. Constant anxiety. Relentless anxiety.

We had a date last night, the wife and I. We went to see There Is a Happiness That Morning Is at CPT. That was incredible, really enjoyable, emotional and outrageous and hilarious and ultimately satisfying.  The moment I walked in and saw the set I was filled with joy. And yet, there were moments when my thoughts flew away on a troubling journey of analysis.

About a half-hour in, after bringing her up-to-date on everything that has occurred in the past two or so years since out last session (by and large, there were good things to report) she asked me what makes me happy. I spoke before I even thought.

"Running," I said. "I love running." And then I started to tear up. "Running makes me happy."

Temperature: 50°
Climate: Bright, cool, perfect
Distance: 3.25 miles

So what keeps you from running? You say you are now running once a week, if it makes you happy, why only once a week?

The Annual Playlists are a major motivation to get out and run during the coldest months. Trying to get them all in before the end of April, for example. That's not me saying I want to run, that is a task to be accomplished, something outside of myself, a compulsion, even. And a satisfying one. It has a beginning, a middle and end. There is a celebration.

And then, transition. How do you handle transitions? Transitions are very depressing, aren't they? Even transitions from the planning to the execution, the waiting, it is time to fear failure, that you are a joke, that no one loves you. Until they all show up and everyone has a good time and you were a fool for doubting yourself.

I am in transition. Another transition. A big transition. We all know that. So. Running will help. How do we run more than once or twice a week? The wife helps, but she is not responsible for this on her own.

Keeping my kit clean, and folded and organized, that always helps. Lord, I hate having to search for my shoes.

We will meet again in two weeks.

Whenever You're On My Mind Playlist
Whenever You're On My Mind - Marshall Crenshaw
Save It For Later - The Beat
In The Street - Big Star
Ah! Leah! - Donny Iris
If I Didn't Love You - Squeeze
The Ballad of El Goodo - Big Star
If I Can't Change Your Mind - Sugar
Helpless - Sugar

Music for Summer. Music for nostalgia. Here we go again.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Moving through the Cleveland heat.

Fuck tha police.

Outstanding! What a tremendous week, but one with no time for running. My wife and I simply cannot get to bed until midnight most days, there's so much going on.

This past weekend we held a fishing derby birthday party for an eight year-old, which turned into an all-day affair, as well as soccer games to attend and curtain speeches to make downtown. It's only Wednesday (morning) and we have conducted interviews for next year's actor-teachers, I led a tour of PlayhouseSquare for students from Lake County, and yesterday was packed with performance workshops and sharing I Hate This a medical conference.

We are also laying the groundwork for a fundraising campaign to get Double Heart to the New York Fringe, popping all over to shoot attractive, young actors video in exciting, outdoor locations.

So glad I did not also have to run a marathon last weekend.

However, it has been an entire week since my last run, and I only went out today because my wife suggested I should. I woke this morning with the same backache, and (surprise) a spasm in my left calf. So, yes. Run, we must. But I shouldn't have to spend the summer waiting until she tells me to to do it.

Temperature: 74°
Climate: cool breeze, but humid
Distance: 3.25 miles

School Is In Genius Playlist
Precious - The Pretenders
To Live and Die in L.A. - Wang Chung
Double Life - The Cars
Our Lips Are Sealed - The Go-Go's
Nightspots - The Cars
Last Chance on a Stairway - Duran Duran
Blood & Roses - The Smithereens
Mexican Radio (163 bpm) - Wall of Voodoo

Yes, children. These are the 80s.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

I'm staring at the asphalt.

Don't know what happened. I was driving home with the windows down and I felt fine. The drive home, that relatively speaking brief drive home can make me bleary-eyed, it's just boring. But I felt fine, for the most part ... but by the time I got to the grocery store, I was tired.

The grocery store can be a major soul-sucking experience, I don't care which store it is. Sometime it hits me in produce, Good God, it's the first section of the store and I have been here for half my life already. But that wasn't the case today, I was in and out of there real fast with a lot of great fruits and vegetables.

But then I went into the aisles ... I didn't think we needed much but whatever I wanted, I couldn't find it. That's when I aged a year. But the time I emerged into the hideously bright parking lot, I was spent. I came home, dinner was almost ready, everyone was active and on top of things, I am was like Zombie Dad. It was pathetic.

The boy needed to get to baseball, and the wife generously offered to take the girl to practice soccer in an adjacent field, so that I could do whatever I liked -- with an emphasis on taking a run. Maybe a short one. Could do me good.

Actually, just writing this has already done me good.

I think I was hungry.

Temperature: 82°
Climate: warm
Distance: 3.25 miles

Freshly-mow lawns, bright, early-evening sunshine, and what do you know -- other runners. The kind of people who regularly use the gym. That's nice. Get off my sidewalk, I was out here when it was nineteen degrees, who do you think you are?

Stopped by the schoolyard where the boy was practicing and the ladies were kicking the ball around with boys who were absolutely incapable of not touching the ball with their hands.

Running feels so good. The running feels good. I feel good. This day is nearing its end. There is so much to accomplish in each and every one. And these are good things to notice.

You Make Me Feel Genius Playlist
The District Sleeps Alone Tonight - The Postal Service
You May Be Right - Billy Joel
Die Another Day - Madonna
Big Girl (You Are Beautiful) - Mika
Next Girl (168 bpm) - The Black Keys
Free - Graffiti6
Taken - One Direction

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Running from the cops in our black bikini tops.

That's right, children. A man made that.

Things to do! Speeches to give! Plays to see! Work to be done! Rose early to make the mother-of-the-house special breakfast and called my own dear mom to remind her I love her ... and that's it. Later!

Temperature: 45°
Climate: hail ... then bright sunshine
Distance: 3.25 miles

You Make Me Feel Genius Playlist
15 Step - Radiohead
Thank You - Dido
Same Mistakes - One Direction
Everlasting Light - The Black Keys
This Is What Makes Us Girls - Lana Del Rey
The Kids Don't Stand A Chance - Vampire Weekend
Deer In The Headlights - Ben Gibbard Owl City (whatever.)

Wow. I don't think I have ever had a Genius generated playlist featuring so many pop stars who wish they were someone else.

Friday, May 10, 2013

I can't be no super-man.

Welcome to my dreams.

Morning run. Spring weather, rainy lightly. Not too cool the the skin, just perfect. So much excitement in the air, annual benefit at work tomorrow night, year-end cultural arts project at the girl's school yesterday afternoon, children's theater festival downtown, making fringe festival fundraising plans, the weather stays nice, the days stay full and relatively free of stress.

Yes? Free of stress? Maybe. Well, no. In spite of putting in 3+ miles I still have a lightness in my belly which betrays anxiety. That, and the zombie dreams. Never too calm, never too sure. Perhaps that's for the best, it keeps me on my toes and in the street.

Temperature: 66°
Climate: a little rainy
Distance: 3.25 miles

You Make Me Feel Genius Playlist
You Make Me Feel ... - Cobra Starship ft. Sabi
Letters from the Sky - Civil Twilight
Suck My Kiss - Red Hot Chili Peppers
My Best Friend's Girlfriend - The Cars
Save You Tonight - One Direction
Animal - Ellie Goulding
Summer Skin (183 bpm) - Death Cab for Cutie
Boys Don't Cry * - The Cure

Wednesday, May 08, 2013

Moving into the universe.

The season of tearing down. It feels as though, following an era of abandonment and decay, people are finally taking action in the face of massive migration.

I'm not just talking about the housing collapse, though that is definitely part of it. There was a (relatively) small grocery store on Noble, behind the movie theater on Mayfield. It probably closed the year I bought my house. Unlike the aforementioned movie theater, which closed shortly after that, and has since been occupied by a Hollywood Video, later a pathetic-looking liquor store (they didn't even change the Hollywood video design, paint the walls or anything) the grocery store was never reused for any purpose at all. Just a big empty building, with a big empty lot.

Last month, they tore it down. But also, they ripped up the cracked, useless parking lot. Today I ran past, there was earth and ground cover and seed. One might say where there was something, there is now nothing. To me, it is exactly the opposite.

Temperature: 51°
Climate: cool, clear dawn
Distance: 4.2 miles

Morning run. Dropped the car off at the girl's school early and ran my way home, so that she and I could walk to school together this morning as part of Walk/Bike To School Morning. I am not too concerned about the girl's physical health, at least as far as getting up and moving is concerned. She is a psychotically sensibly dedicated soccer player.

Gorillaz Genius Playlist
Clint Eastwood - Gorillaz
No Surprises - Radiohead
Henrietta (183 bpm) - The Fratellis
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend
Perfect Day - Lou Reed
40 ft - Franz Ferdinand
On Melancholy Hill - Gorillaz
And She Was - Talking Heads
Life During Wartime - Taking Heads

Sunday, May 05, 2013

And it's not about you joggers who go round and round and round ...

Multi-tasking is something with which I have a certain degree of skill, but that does not mean it comes to me easily. Tomorrow is a rare example of a single day in which I have three major events scheduled, all of which, while pertaining to theater, consume a different part of my brain and soul.

In the early afternoon I am the designated speaker at a social event for which I am expected to detail my journey as a theater artist. For this event I have even created a PowerPoint presentation. About me.

Later in the afternoon I will conduct an audition workshop with three at-risk youth, and encourage them to get onto their feet and read Shakespeare. It can be done. That does not make it easy.

Finally, there will be a private table reading of a new play I have written. This will actually be the most relaxing part of the day, where I get to just sit and listen. That does not mean it is without stress. But having already done all of the advance work (rehearsal with actors, writing the damn thing) I do not need to speak very much, and just sink into my chair.

Temperature: 59°
Climate: utter gorgeous
Distance: 4 miles

Anxiety can crush the will. Judging how much I yearn to accomplish vs. how much I want to just give up is a good barometer for whether I am depressed or merely stressed. This afternoon was tough because, I believe, this weekend, while entirely enjoyable, involved a lot of not doing those things that are running around my mind.

We were relaxing, attending the girl's orchestra concert, lazing about the botanical garden, taking in an art "happening", having dinner in Little Italy with my mother-in-law. Today it was the boy's soccer game. Hurry up and wait for Monday. That's no way to enjoy a weekend.

However, it even made me not want to run, rather than run. That lasted about two steps into my actual run. Synapses flashes, the pulse quickened, I came a live and alert. I even noticed that, for most of my run, I did not even open my mouth.

I breathe through my nose! To run! For miles, with my mouth closed! There was a time in my life when I could simply not have done that.

Gorillaz Genius Playlist
Feel Good Inc. - Gorillaz 
Suffragette City - David Bowie
Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend
Derezzed - Daft Punk
Close To Me - The Cure
Parklife - Blur
All I Need - Radiohead
L.E.S. Artistes - Santogold
Sleeping In - The Postal Service
Tron Legacy (End Theme) - Daft Punk

Friday, May 03, 2013

I'm where I want to be.

When winter passes, and moving into the out-of-doors is no longer uncomfortable (this, before the humidity that falls by mid-June) then all fretting of weight and size seems to pass. For a moment, for a brief moment. Not obsessed by consumption, or the size of my pants, or how my shirts fit. It's just pleasing passage through the air -- even hard smelling air, bright shocking sky, like that I experienced walking up Euclid for an after-work, happy hour drink to discuss FringeNYC plans with other members of the company. It's worth it to squint, when the breeze is not so cool as to chill, nor yet hot enough to make a sweat. Ideal, late afternoon stroll through downtown, which no longer feels desert, great crowds reclaiming the pavement, even if it's just because there's a game tonight. It feels like a city looking forward to summer.

And so am I. And so am I.

Temperature: 73°
Climate: cool & lightly breezy
Distance: 3.25 miles

Whatever anxieties followed me home melted in the cool night air as I ran, and picked up speed. Confusing conversation made sense, ideas fell into place, timing became a philosophy. These things can be managed and controlled and addressed and solved.

I could not find the clown shoes last Sunday and wore traditional running shoes. That did not feel good, I felt it in my knees, I felt wobbly and uncertain. In the zero drops I feel the pavement -- I know it is there, and I am aware of my alignment, of the way my toes are pointing. I feel it all. And it feels good.

Gorillaz Genius Playlist
DARE - Gorillaz
Too Long - Daft Punk
Like Eating Glass (160 bpm) - Bloc Party
Girls & Boys - Blur
Michael (158 bpm) - Franz Ferdinand
Nothing Better - The Postal Service

Wednesday, May 01, 2013

Where do we go from here?

Night run following a day like early summer. The wife has returned from five days in NYC, in which time I did manage to get a few runs in, but I say a silent prayer for all those single parents with small children who are also runners. You have my respect and sympathy.

So, again: The news. We will be taking Double Heart to New York for the Fringe. Much excitement, much apprehension. There will be a lot of work ... before we depart. After that it's a ball. Yes and I already checked, Summer Streets will continue this year and this year, maybe, I will go all the way from Central Park to the Brooklyn Bridge.

The only mystery is whether any of my compadres will be joining me. I know one of them runs.

Temperature: 77°
Climate: nice. humid.
Distance: 3.25 miles

Gorillaz Genius Playlist
19-2000 (Soulchild Remix) - Gorillaz
Robot Rock - Daft Punk
The Bends - Radiohead
Rock The House (172 bpm) - Gorillaz
Run Right Back (160 bpm) - The Black Keys
Starman - David Bowie
Once In a Lifetime - Talking Heads
A Forest [Tree Mix] (163 bpm) - The Cure