Monday, September 30, 2013

I'm friends with the President.

I find it almost amazing to believe that I have been running in the clown shoes for over a year. In that time I have suffered no negative effects, to the contrary my feet feel strong and devoid of pain, my knees have not troubled me, my hips and other joints have felt fine and springy. No complaints.

I run fast in these shoes, maybe not as fast as in traditional running shoes, that's my major observation, it seems to take more effort to run in zero drop shoes. But so what? I don't need to get anyplace so fast I have to hurt myself any longer.

Temperature: 66°
Climate: cool and lovely
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 173 lbs.

Cool fall running at dusk. This is most perfect. So many half marathons this season, and not a moment for training. But I am glad to be out now, every other day, the way it should be.

Ringfinger Playlist
Everyday Is Halloween - Ministry
Join In The Chant - Nitzer Ebb
We're A Happy Family - The Ramones
Stone Cold Crazy - Metallica
I Wanna Be a Cowboy - Boys Don't Cry
They Say - Scars on Broadway
In The End - Green Day
Down In It (Shred) - Nine Inch Nails

And now my Millennial children, let us speak of government shutdowns. Those who forget the past, are condemned to repeat it. So totes chillax, brah. We got this.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Before we kick the bucket.

2013: The year Millennials discovered the word "Millennial" a term coined by William Strauss and Neil Howe in 1992 in the groundbreaking work Generations: The History of America's Future.

Nineteen Ninety-Two. You were labeled before you were born. Im'a take your grampa's etymology.

God, you people can't do anything original, can you?

In brief: Twenty years ago these sociologists predicted that the children of the Baby Boom generation would 1) over-praise their children but 2) leave them without a single job.

As Douglas Coupland described Baby Boomer cultural behavior in his novel Generation X (1991) "grabbing the best piece of cake first and then putting a barbed wire fence around the rest."

We know this. We are the generation inbetween the most self-absorbed generation in American history and the second-most self-absorbed generation in American history.

Watching it all unfold after having read the book on it only makes it that much more amusing.

Here's the thing. Before the Baby Boomers called you hipsters, they called us slackers. And they called us lazy and useless and we did that without social media. They also called us stupid. So, you know. Stop complaining about your gold-plated education.

But hey, they're not my parents.

This video might be funny.
But I can't hear it over all the whining.

2013 Playlist
The Fox - Ylvis
Royals (170 bpm) - Lorde
Walk Us Downtown - Elvis Costello & The Roots
Bezerk - Eminem
Clarity - Zedd
Mirrors (155 bpm) - Justin Timerlake
Blow Me (One Last Kiss)  - Pink
I Love It - Icona Pop
Blurred Lines - Robin Thicke

Temperature: 72°
Climate: bright and sunny
Distance: 4 miles
Weight: 174 lbs.

DANGER: Feels like a tiny piece of glass in my big left toe. Could be:
  1. Tiny piece of glass.
  2. That other thing I really don't want to think about.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

In your imagination you're a thousand miles away.

Now that's how you make blood, children.

It is easy to reach back twenty or thirty years, and find some solitary moment or building to focus upon, to tell a little story. Ten years is more challenging. So much has changed ... but not so much. I occupy the same space, I am merely older.

Even at thirty-five, I do not feel I had a clear idea of who I am. But I worked for the same company, as an actor-teacher for the school residency program. I was an actor, and a teacher. I had a new play I had written about my wife and my experiences with stillbirth. That was new. I took it to Minnesota, by fall I was being asked to perform the work for nurses and midwives and doctors, a journey that would continue for several years.

I started my first blog ten years ago.

We had a girl, a baby girl. She could push herself onto her knees by August. All was new again, fresh and new.

How could that have been ten years ago, already? Where did that time go? And do I have a clear idea of who I am yet? And will I ever?

Temperature: 63°
Climate: coolish
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 174.5 lbs.

Okay, here's an interesting piece of running-related information ... for the longest time, my left toenail was very sensitive. Like, if one of the children accidentally stepped on my big toe, it would really hurt and I would be all crabby-daddy and shit.

I had cut back my toenail, to try and relieve pressure on the nail bed, but often that just made the problem worse. I had gotten used to (but by no means any happier with) the idea that my big toe would always be sore. Never asked anyone what to do about it, never thought deeper about the problem.

Then I realized or noticed that the nail bed itself was the problem, not the nail. The nail bed was deeply calloused. As you may be aware, pressure on a callous can cause pain, especially in a sensitive area, like a toe.

What to do? I got OTC callous-removing medicine -- salicylic acid. You realize, of course, this is the same stuff which is the main ingredient in everything for skin problems, not just for callouses but also for warts. It just dissolves skin, that's what it does.

I used this stuff to carefully dissolve the callous on my nail bed. After a few days, however, I noticed that the surrounding skin appeared to be necrotized -- it was gray and not sensitive to the touch, so I discontinued use. But soon the callous detached, I used a brush to gently clean most of it away, and the surrounding flesh regained health.

And now my toe doesn't hurt anymore. I am not a doctor, I do not recommend this treatment. But I will try some dangerous shit.

2003 Playlist
Sunrise - Simple Red
The District Sleeps Tonight - The Postal Service
Never Coming Home (Gonna Live My Life Remix) - Sting
Boombox (160 bpm)  - Mosquitos
Transatlanticism  - Death Cab For Cutie
Extraordinary - Liz Phair
Go Brown - Kaada

Crazy-ass guy at the bus stop near my home tonight, screaming into his cellphone, "I swear to God I am going to shoot somebody!" I hear him yell it as I ran past. Crazy-ass guy.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Stumble in my footsteps.

Google Maps Street View vs. The City of Cleveland Heights
Heights Wins!

On October 1, 2013 I will have legally owned this house for twenty years. I didn't even find it, that would be my ex-wife who saw it in the Home section of the Plain Dealer (back when they covered more than Sports) but in the end I was the one who wouldn't leave.

The place has had its ups and down. The kitchen it better, the deck is worse, and someday soon either we will tear down the garage or it will collapse. Our bedroom is now our daughter's and all the better for it, it's a lovely girl's room ... and hopefully the rest of us will have a place to sleep before Christmas.

I love this house. I have my ex-wife to thank for this.

I know twenty-five year-old morons, and yet when I was twenty-five I acquired a mortgage, how stupid was that? Security and baggage, a sense of permanence and doubt. I have often imagined what it would have been like not to be anchored with this. But I am very attached to this place. And I wouldn't want to live anywhere else. At least, not in the United States.

Seriously. I said that. This is the best city in America.

1993 Playlist
Walking In My Shoes - Depeche Mode
Streets of Philadelphia - Bruce Springtseen
Lonely Planet - The The
My Sister - Juliana Hatfield Three
Sunflower - Paul Weller
Connected - Stereo MCs

Wow. That playlist is pretty incredible.

Temperature: 59°
Climate: cool, still humid
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 176.5 lbs.

Congratulations to you, Mrs. L. ... Best wishes to you on this beautiful day, I am so glad you have found this wonderful happiness.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The pain that grows dark.

I want to go to cool places with you.

Thirty years ago I had a life-altering experience. Summer 1983 was spent washing dishes and cleaning up at a local diner, hanging around the comic books store, and watching as much MTV as possible, for fear I might miss something important.

August meant marching band practice, and pool night that summer, the summer before my sophomore year, was much like the year before. I was with the exact same people -- my friends -- cannonballing, splashing, pushing people in. Horseplay. I was fifteen and still acting like a kid.

Maybe an hour into the festivities, one particular crew walked in late, and to me it was like one of those slow-motion moments when that cool gang walks down the street. In this case the soundtrack would probably be Robert Plant's Big Log.

In the lead was the lead snare, with him that trumpet player -- both now seniors and always wearing shades. One Rockette from my grade, her boyfriend, also trumpet and a senior, and the new girl, the tall one from Kansas, also a sophomore, the cymbal player.

Only tonight she was wearing a white two-piece. No one wore bikinis in Bay Village in 1983.

I was fucking blinded. I mean, brain-blinded. It's like some one slapped me in the face, trying to wake me up. You spent the summer in front of the TV, you're a teenager for God's sake, get busy!

It wasn't just the bikini, it was the entire picture. Jumping off the high drive screaming like an asshole suddenly didn't interest me anymore. Keeping my eye on them, I made sure to notice when they were making to leave, and when the snare drummer picked up his stuff, I ran up and asked if he was headed out.

When he said yes, I got down onto my knees and begged, "Wherever you all are going, please take me with you."

He raised his eyebrows and smiled. "No problem, guy."

Temperature: 75°
Climate: cool breeze, but humid
Distance: 5.15 miles
Weight: 170.5 lbs.

Since Saturday I have had a sinus headache, every single day. Last night it was a full-blown migraine, covering the left half of my face, in my ear, my jaw, across to my nose, up and through my eye to the crown of my head. Horrible. It's been a long time, over-the-counter sinus medication has taken care of most attacks since I decide to cover them that way. But not Monday. Not yesterday.

Today it started after sitting in front of the screen at work for two hours, and the rehearsal hall does not help either, filter light and filtered air. They let me go early from work as the pain began to work its way from behind my right ear.  It has subsided a bit, and now, hopefully, some aerobic work will help clear my head.

1983 Playlist
Big Log - Robert Plant
Work That Skirt - The B-52s
I Will Follow - U2
Everyday People - Joan Jett & The Blackhearts
Come Dancing - The Kinks
Catapult - R.E.M.
What Difference Does It Make? (161 bpm) - The Smiths
Cool Places (159 bpm) - Sparks
Overkill - Men At Work
The Invisible Man - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Song For A Future Generation - The B-52s

... aaaaand my headache is gone. POOOF.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

You better run.


I remember running.

Sometimes, September is hard. I mean, it isn't, normally. I usually get in ten or more runs during the month of September, including last year. It's the best time of year to run.

But the girl's room has not yet been finished. There is only so much time in a day and after dinner, spending an hour or ninety minutes laying coats of primer and semi-gloss on the trim made for long evenings this week, indeed.

The wife's new job requires her to leave the house at seven. Packing lunches and making breakfast is entirely my responsibility, and one I have been handling just fine. But unless I get up at five am, there is no morning time for a run.

However, there is great joy in building this new bedroom for the girl. I wasn't aware it was eventually going to cost around $1,500 (paint, tools, bed, furnishings) but I look at it this way. This room doesn't get redone until at least 2021.

Temperature: 52°
Climate: cool
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 175.5 lbs.

Then there is the high level of snacking that goes on in rehearsal. I feel pregnant. And yet I haven't gained a pound. Okay.

Ringfinger Playlist
Ringfinger - Nine Inch Nails 
Run Like Hell - Pink Floyd
Sin - Nine Inch Nails
Local God - Everclear
Scoff - Nirvana
Hey Man, Nice Shot (1/4 Pound) - Filter 

Last week I guy I knew in college posted, "nine inch nails' pretty hate machine goes surprising well with arthur miller's the crucible." 

These things are true.

While I can comprehend that I have owned this house for twenty years, I find it challenging to stomach the fact that next year that album will be twenty-five years-old.

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Too tired for having fun.

September is hard. This year in particular, as we are camped out on an air mattress in the living room for the duration. Until our bed is set up in our new bedroom, sleep here we must. Until the girl's bedroom is finished, we will never set up our bed in our new bedroom.

James and Eva came over on Tuesday to sand the floor, but my schedule has been prohibitive. Our schedules have been prohibitive.

My wife began a new teaching job, so I am taking care of all morning preparation -- breakfast, lunches, transportation. Then nine hours of residency rehearsals, then surviving until bed, we all managing musical lessons, soccer games and dinner. That's fall.

And just in time, seasonal sinus attacks kick in and that makes my head hurt.

Man. I feel like I've gained ten pounds since returning from New York. I wish there were some way of measuring that.

Temperature: 70°
Climate: cool & overcast
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 175.5 lbs.

That was glorious, cool, early fall run. My head is clear, I am in good spirits, and ready to stain the floor.

I mean, literally. I have to put stain on a wooden floor.

We move into the perfect days of running, cool and crisp, not sweaty and muggy. If I can keep it together, this could be a productive season.

Eric Coble's The Velocity of Autumn is currently in previews at Arena Stage. I remember eighteen months ago when we began rehearsal for that play at Beck Center. The tour of Styles had just opened, when we began rehearsals for Velocity. I was also in training for the 2012 CLE Marathon.

One day in late March I ran twenty miles, and that evening I had a performance. These things can be done. Move forward.

Middle School Playlist
September - Earth Wind & Fire
Love Will Tear Us Apart - Joy Division
Generals and Majors - XTC
Ah! Leah! - Donnie Iris
Driven To Tears - The Police
Working In a Coal Mine - Devo
Can You Feel It - The Jacksons
Dream Police - Cheap Trick

UPDATE: Was reminded that it was five years ago TODAY that I received "Left knee arthroscopy and partial lateral menisectomy and meniscus repair." At that time I had doubts I would ever be able to run again. And yet, here we are. Forward, indeed.

Monday, September 02, 2013

I've got the goods.

Labor Day has been spent joyfully painting my daughter's new bedroom. Special attention has been paid to carefully -- but thickly -- applying black oil paint to the casement windows. My wife has ordered me to go outside, get fresh air and to go see beyond the middle distance.

I will going running for the second time in one day.

Temperature: 79°
Climate: nice!
Distance: 2 miles

Middle School Playlist
Super Freak - Rick James
Homosapien - Pete Shelley
DJ - David Bowie
Throw It Away - Joe Jackson
Making It - David Naughton
Plastic Passion (168 bpm)  - The Cure

I feel like an accident.

 Have the lambs stopped screaming?

Running late, going to bed right after. It puts me into a deep, deep sleep ... but one troubled by fast, dark thoughts of being out on the street, somewhere. Much more likely to give me dreams that take place at night, outside. Not scary, but surprisingly mind-bright and active. Waking is almost impossible, and lingering images linger.

Having said that, Friday was an extremely productive and positive day, charged with energy and mental action, even if I also felt somewhat lost and vacant. Does that make sense? Does it matter?

Temperature: 72°
Climate: muggy. sunny!
Distance: 3.25 miles

A three-day weekend with only one run, that is odd, and I would say unfortunate. Only these three days have been spent ripping up and remodeling the "master" bedroom ... we promised the girl her own room for fifth grade. She and the boy have co-habited since he moved out of our room. On Memorial Day weekend in 2009 their room was given a once-over which included a bunkbed and a fresh coat of paint.

Our room has been repainted a few times, though the crappy shag carpeting has remained -- until yesterday. God, what a disgusting mat. Underneath was newspaper from 1976. Seventies-era, chocolate brown shag, wall-to-wall carpeting. This was long overdue.

Middle School Playlist
Another Journey By Train - The Cure
C30, C60, C90, Go - Bow Wow Wow
Crosseyed and Painless - Talking Heads
Life Begins at the Hop - XTC
International Jet Set - The Specials
Sat In Your Lap -  Kate Bush
Chant No. 1 (I Don't Need This Pressure On) - Spandau Ballet
Cleveland Rocks - Ian Hunter

The bunion on my right foot has been acting up, it feels more extreme, a bit more bent, sore, the area tingly. I have not worn a toe-separator - which for all appearances works successfully at keeping it in check - for some time, not since I began using zero drop shoes. An experiment, perhaps.

On December 7, 1980 I broke my right leg. It was a minor, hairline fracture. I treated myself like an invalid (the pain!) and no one stopped me. There was no physical therapy after, just some words of advice. "Walk normal." My right ankle stiff from disuse, I began to walk by turning my right foot out. It wasn't until movement classes in college that this was pointed out to me. I try, I try very hard to "walk normal" and even more importantly to run normal. Any photograph of me running shows how much I fail at this.

I can balance on my left leg, but not my right. And there is this bending of my right toe, which may have happened anyway, but that it occurred, suddenly, during my first, serious intensive training for a marathon should, in hindsight, not be a surprise, even if it was at the time.

Middle school. Some of the worst years of my life, some of the best years of pop music in all recorded history.