Saturday, June 28, 2014

Turn around. Back again.

Never enter into an artistic collaboration where you have to be DC and they get to play Marvel.

Summer is marked by events, large and small which loom larger in the mind than others. A movie witnessed out of doors, lying on a blanket on a field in the city. The act of planting a vegetable in a large pot.

Our week began with sun, sun, and more sun. Blasting into the waves, the trauma and relief over a pair of glasses. Fishing when its much too hot. Running side-by-side without shoes.

My sister-in-law and her friend left early yesterday morning, and apparently took the sun with them. Yesterday was rainy, today has started overcast and cool, or at least cooler (it's not actually cooler, it just seems that way.)

After several days of non-stop immersion in HERE, in the grateful and absolute abandonment of THERE, this day I wonder why we are still HERE. The last day should have been Thursday, and it certainly felt like it was.

The drive out to a vacation destination may carry more memories than the drive back in, because on the way back the mind bends toward home and business.

Temperature: 78°
Barefoot run: 1 mile

Splayed into a wicker chair, safe in the air-conditioned living room, flipping through Instagram, she casts a attitudinous glare at me from above the rim of her glasses. "I'll never be able to run a mile again," she says. I tell her I'm getting suited up and she should, too.

We ran a mile, no complaints. Just breathing.

Temperature: 79°
Distance (solo w/shoes): 3 miles

Not true, she said one thing as we turned around: "I prefer running into the wind."

Last run of Topsail Beach for 2014, I began by running into the wind, heading for the first time this year north of the pier. She's right. I preferred the run out than the one back. But then, the clouds had finally broken and I was feeling the power of the sun on my back. My black-shirted back.

We depart tomorrow.

Tracking Treasure Down Playlist
Atom Bomb (Atomix 1) - Fluke
Who Wants To Be Alone - Tiesto ft. Nelly Furtado
Tracking Treasure Down - Gabriel & Dresden
It's All True - Tracey Thorn
Don't Look Back - Télépopmusik
Smile - Télépopmusik

Last spring I read Song of Spider-Man, and currently Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, and I finally get it. Julie Taymor was the epitome of early 1970s Marvel Comics, and Glen Berger was DC Comics. Or really he was like Stan Lee, accepting credit for what wasn't his. Or just a low-paid functionary of Disney. Anyway, Julie Taymor is Marvel. That's what I figured out.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Tell me that my soul's forgiven.

Slow morning. Rose early, yes. Wrote a short story, yes. Read many pages, yes. I put on my running kit, looked into the mirror and saw someone miserable. My stomach hurt. I did not want to spend the next half hour running. I got back into comfortable clothes, made a second breakfast and sat on the deck and ate and read some more.

Barefoot run: .5 mile

As the morning dragged on, the kids were at cross-purposes with each other, and with me. Said I would fish with the boy, we dug for bait, then the girl wanted to play catch. Her interest soon waned and she was just going to head in and watch the Disney Channel again, so I asked if we could run, right then. I was in my shorts and cotton tee, but really who cares? I know I didn’t.

At the halfway point, she announced she would walk back. She announced she’d never be able to run a marathon. I assured her she would, if she wanted to, but she wasn’t having it. So it begins.

Temperature: 77°
Barefoot run (solo): 1 mile

After the rain, after the big dinner, everyone settled in to watch Zapped (starring Willie Ames and Scott Baio!) and I thought, right. I am supposed to run now, because I can. I suited up, with shoes, and hit the beach. I ran about one hundred yards and just stopped.

It was high tide, the only sand available was soft, it was difficult, and I did not want difficult. I wanted … I wanted a run on the beach, breezy and easy, wind in my face, light and happy. Not bloated and sweaty and difficult.

DID YOU KNOW ..? In the year 2011, I ran less than 70 times. On average, I run at least 120 times a year. The reason should be obvious, I was on antidepressants for most of the calendar year. Being depressed makes me want to run. Those who wish to share scientific documentation which disproves the mental palliative effects of running may keep them, you cannot disprove that running makes me feel happy.

Today, nothing was going to make me happy.

So I took off my shoes, and ran in the surf at top speed for an entire pop song, breathed heavily for a minute, and ran back to another one. I splashed wet sand up my back, dodging around middle aged couples taking a walk and teenagers with Solo cups. Returning to the beach house, I first waded thigh high in the surf.

I remain unhappy, but at least I am satisfied.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

You didn't run, you didn't lie, you knew I wanted just to hold you.

Land shark.

Surprised that my wife made it an entire day without a single match. Today is our anniversary, and we will celebrate by (among other events) taking in the USA v. Germany match at Gallagher's which is frequented by the American Outlaws, a USA National Soccer Team fan club. Win or lose, I am looking forward to that.

For the kids, much of our North Carolina vacations have involved Disney Channel. Last night's viewing of Teen Beach Movie made me long for the sweet, subtle sophistication of Lemonade Mouth.
"I don't think people were put here to be happy. I think if you decide to be an artist or a writer, you automatically accept the responsibility of being alone. However, after your 50 or 60 years are up you'll be able to look back and see this output that you've done that will endure long after you're gone, and will continue to fill the minds of millions of people."
- Jim Steranko (from Marvel Comics: The Untold Story)
Temperature: 78°
Distance: 3.2 miles

Rose earlier than ever today, a little past six. Wrote, read, drank coffee, and took what was the sweatiest run I have taken all week. The temperature was the same, but the sun was more fierce. Perhaps it had something to do with the tide ... the tide was high, and so I had to run in softer sand. The exertion perhaps. And I entirely forgot to eat anything again.

Ain't That Peculiar Playlist
Ain't That Peculiar * - Marvin Gaye
The Payback (Live) - James Brown
(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher - Jackie Wilson
Dancing Machine - The Jackson 5
I Never Loved a Man(The Way I Love You) - Aretha Franklin
Shotgun - Junior Walker
Never Can Say Goodbye - The Jackson 5
Try Me - James Brown
(I Know) I'm Losing You - The Temptations
Got To Get You Into My Life - Earth Wind & Fire

The girl was up until one a.m. last night, her aunt bleaching her hair. These are things you do on vacation, so she's not really up for running with me this morning but we discussed the possibility of her putting in a mile on her own when the tide goes out, and her parents are in the bar.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Like a flower I want to be the sun that you grow to.

 Look who can't pose for a photo without drinking.

My entire family, in the surf, searching for my wife's glasses, which had been whipped off with one unfortunate wave.

It had been ten minutes, maybe fifteen, of scanning the constantly churning waters, we only had the entire Atlantic to cover. My poor wife, confronting the rest of vacation not able to do anything, really. No more matches, no reading or writing, unable to cook or even enjoy the view.

Bereft, she finally succumbed to despair, wailing unhappily on the shore when I heard the girl cry out. I turned to spy her, thigh-deep behind me, holding up what appeared to be my wife's glasses.

Not one to spike the football, the girl had an unconfident look on her face, as if to ask, "Are these them?"

Temperature: 80°
Barefoot run: 1 mile

Straight out, no talk. She hit the half-way mark and immediately turned around and headed back, no stopping. "Today I wanted a fast run," she said. And so she took one.

Distance (solo w/shoes): 3.2 miles

The past two days, the wind was at our backs headed South, and in our faces headed back. Today, the wind was going in the opposite direction. Hoorah!

Tracking Treasure Down
Dangerous Power - Gabriel & Dresden
Keep Hope Alive (JDS Mix) - The Crystal Method
Five Fathoms - Everything But the Girl
Emerge - FischerSpooner

Okay. So? Should I revise and remount And Then You Die? This week I am not sure it is finished.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

It's a shiny, shiny morning.

Well, that's an ominous forecast.

Yesterday afternoon on the beach, a grandfather was wading with his grandson into the low-crashing waves. The boy, naked, must have been a couple months shy of his second birthday, more toddling than walking.

The boy stood on his own, facing the surf, alternately holding his vigilan grandfather's hand and rejecting it, as the waves splashed as high as his chest, his neck.

Every seventh wave would knock him right over and his anxious grandfather would straighten him up has the boy wiped salty foam from his eyes.

Grandfather suggested, physically (it was not possible to hear him) to turn the boy around and walk him back to shore, but the boy would always turn back to face the sea. It was all the old man could do to retard this little naked boy's brave march into the deep.

My wife and I, seated in our reading chairs, held hands and marveled.

Temperature: 75°
Distance (solo w/shoes): 3.2 miles

These sunglasses are ten years old. And a hinge just went crik and suddenly they don't sit properly. Nice timing, sunglasses.

Tracking Treasure Down Playlist
Tracking Treasure Down - Gabriel & Dresden
More Shine - Si*Se
Like A Pen - The Knife
I Get Around - Dragonette
Get Down (Calvin Harris Remix) - Groove Armada

Temperature: 80°
Barefoot run: 1 mile

The girl held her side as we approached the half-mile mark. I suggested we slow down but she said nothing. At the turn-around she pointed out the house which is the official half-mile mark, we briefly waded through a tide-pool, and she announced we would run back, which we did more or less in silence.

When disappointed she can predict the end of the known universe. When determined my girl is remarkably stoic. Which reminds me of absolutely no one.

Monday, June 23, 2014

She's broken out of jail and run for her life.

-The Oatmeal

The past two weeks have been wreaking havoc on my creative schedule. Launching into a new book can be treacherous, I think I need some time from research, however I began some enjoyable non-fiction but then almost immediately found I needed to join the rest of the adolescent world in reading TFIOS.

Meanwhile, ordinary life at the onset of summer (baseball games, World Cup matches, doing dishes) has kept me up late, but rising before dawn (or at dawn, whatever) has been challenging as I wake every morning with a sack of sand on my face.

Preparing to depart for VACATION™ at the best of times can fill me with increasing anxiety, but for some reason this summer has been the opposite. By Wednesday I wanted to just fall down and die, but by Friday evening I had become quite zen about the endeavor.

We would depart late. We always do. As the sun rises and falls and the tides they ebb and flow, so too are we a crew of malingering procrastinators and rather than crack the whip or sit and stew, I decided to move as slowly as anyone in our preparations, breathe deeply, and smile.

I have found the "serenity prayer" mildly irritating, ever since the second time I heard it, but it is true, sometimes a man has got to accept his limitations.


Rose to natural sunlight at 7:00 AM. Second or third to rise, I sat out on the deck and wrote longhand before joining MIL on the beach to read. There will be more writing. There will be much reading.

Temperature: 74°
Barefoot run: .5 miles

The girl and I mapped out a half-mile route along the shore, we would run barefoot both ways to make a mile. She was strong and determined, though close to the halfway point she complained of a cramp and stopping at the half-mile she bemoaned the fact that she would never be able to run another 5K ever again.

I asked her when she ran last and she said it had been a week and I suggested that might have something to do with it. That and I do not believe she has had any breakfast, nor did she drink water prior to running.

Perhaps I should remind her to do that.

Walking back in the surf her mood picked up considerably and we ran the last tenth of a mile back. We agreed it will be more successful tomorrow.

Distance (solo w/shoes): 3.2 miles

Two old man, running on the beach, pass each other and wave. One is wearing my shoes.

The Prisoner Playlist
The Brazilian - Genesis
The Prisoner - Squeeze
Lies * - The Rolling Stones
Paperlate - Genesis
Hourglass - Squeeze
Sole Salvation - The Beat
Girlfriend - Matthew Sweet
Tears of a Clown * - The Beat

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Who put these fingerprints on my imagination.

 Ladies and gentlemen ... Lana del Rey

Caught EC at the Palace last night, couldn't turn my head in the lobby without reuniting with everyone I know within a five-year radius of my age, and also Sasha.

Remarkable set, just Elvis and a collection of guitars. These days he looks and dresses like a mashup between Randy Newman and Van Morrison, only happy.

Cleveland's middle-aged rock set listened adoringly through the set and three encores with a mixture of wistful nostalgia punctuated with the odd, incongruous concert interjections:



"Thank you so much for coming to Cleveland!"

Temperature: 75°
Distance: 3.25 miles

How does it shape a boy's mind to be falling in love and hear Everyday I Write the Book for the first time? You never forget how it feels, that's for one thing.

Elvis Costello Playlist
The World and His Wife
Everyday I Write the Book (live)
Green Shirt
Radio Radio
Lipstick Vogue
Less Than Zero
Rosalita - Bruce Springsteen

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Senses working overtime.

Walking Warm-Up
Distance: 1 mile

The girl has had difficulty running since the last week of school. There was a field trip to a skating rink where she fell several times and her coccyx is sore when she attempts to run. We're looking into treatment, in the meantime she asked if I wouldn't join her in walking around the neighborhood route she has created for herself.

We talked about our plans for the summer, about Heights Music Camp and our impending trip to North Carolina. We talked about friends and enemies and how to deal with both.

This morning I rose not too late, not too early. Did some writing on the side porch, drank coffee,  and got a nifty new running shirt for Father's Day. And it's only just gone eleven.

Temperature: 68°
Distance: 4 miles

She and I are already discussing plans for running on vacation next week. She wants to run on the beach, and I remember too well how I overdid it the first day two years ago and seriously ripped up my feet. We will be careful.

Happy Hour Playlist
Happy Hour - The Housemartins
Oliver's Army - Elvis Costello & The Attractions
Senses Working Overtime - XTC
Oblivious - Aztec Camera
Think For A Minute - The Housemartins
All Together Now - The Farm
Stand And Deliver - Adam Ant
Poison Arrow - ABC
Caravan of Love - The Housemartins
Panic - The Smiths

In America, the world is neither football nor biscuit shaped.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

It's quicker if you run.


Whereas for days I have wanted to take a run, this morning was not one of those days. The days remain long, rising early to prepare for summer theater camp and to rouse the children who must join me on the forty-five minute drive to Berea, followed by evenings jammed with summer activity.

Last night we had our annual end-of-school-year celebration dinner at that chain fondue restaurant. Last year we had a gift card and still spent something close to $100 out of pocket for stale bread and a bag of cheese. However, the event made an impression on the kids and in spite of our (my wife and mine) collective dread over the sticker price, and no gift card, we somehow managed to pay less than we did last year. Hit me up for the details, it's not that important.

What is important is my reminder of why we enjoyed going so much last time, and again last night. You are forced to sit and talk between bites. We like talking to each other, meal spent, just the four of us, taking our time, make for the best evenings. But get so rushed. I am tired of that.

Temperature: 67°
Distance: 2 miles

Peeves the Poltergeist is not just irritating as a character, he's no fun to read. I am glad they cut him from the films, because if they hadn't, that's how my children would know Rik Mayall. Instead, they get to meet Lord Flashheart.

House of Fun Playlist
House of Fun - Madness
Rat Race - The Special
Hips Don't Lie - Shakira ft. Wyclef Jean
Electric Avenue - Eddy Grant
Safe and Sound - Rebelution
One Step Beyond - Madness

Saturday, June 07, 2014

When people run in circles it's a very, very ...

The middle of this week was quite bizarre. It feels like illness has been swirling around us, first me, then my wife, then my boss … and back to me. Not exactly ill, just a lingering malaise. No matter how much sleep I get, I wake very tired and headachy.

Every night, waking in the middle of the night with a dull pain, waking with same. Spending the day feeling weak, not quite shaky. Not how I want to begin the summer.

On Wednesday, I was so headachy and tired, and my eyes itched. I rinsed my face with cold water and my left eye swelled up terribly. Ah-ha. Not a lingering cold, but allergies.

Feeling so weak, going for a run seems anti-intuitive. But I feel stronger today, and I hope running in the hot air will clear my lungs a bit.

Today is shabbos, and I am distressed at how jittery that makes me. It is a mental chore, reminding myself that really, there’s nothing for me there online. Everything can wait. It’s not important. What is important is the work, the work of life.

The home, the health, the writing, the relationships. These things compose my life.

Temperature: 77°
Distance: 3.25 miles

What Difference Does It Make Playlist
Mad World - Tears for Fears
(Nice Dream) - Radiohead
Lullaby - The Cure
Sunday Morning - Velvet Underground
“The Stranger” * - The Cure
In Between Days - The Cure
Hand In Glove - The Smiths
Let’s Go To Bed - The Cure

I’d love to see Morrissey play Cleveland, just to hear him sigh, “Oh, God. I’m in Cleveland.”

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

I could run ...

For the past three years, I was reminded of National Running Day maybe the day before it happens, and then spend most of the day itself worrying whether or not I will get that symbolic run in. This time I set my alarm.

My daughter graduates from fifth grade this morning. The distance from 2009 to now has been vast, all the moments, all the achievements, all the injuries and disappointments. All the great, personal success. My wife is a mess about it. I take longer to process this stuff.

Yesterday the education department came to our house to close the book on a great year of work. That is something I can more easily wrap my head around.

GLT Actor-Teachers 2013-14

Temperature: 62°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Guns & Horses Playlist
New In Town - Little Boots
Youth - Daughter
I'm Not Gonna Teach Your Boyfriend How To Dance With You - Black Kids
Houdini - Foster the People
Pumpkin Soup - Kate Nash
Giving Up The Gun - Vampire Weekend
I'm Not Alone - Calvin Harris
Ready For The Weekend - Calvin Harris

Monday, June 02, 2014

I empty a bottle and I feel a bit free.

This past weekend was an incredible, jam-packed indication of exactly how wild and exciting, and long and arduous this summer is going to be. And I didn't even get one run in.

Summer! We had a yard sale! Kids sold lemonade, we unloaded some old crap and I picked up a $20 someone had dropped who knows when and I had no idea who it belonged to. That was my biggest sale.

Baseball! The boy had baseball games Thursday and Saturday. It was at the evening game Saturday that I realized I had unwittingly scored a sunburn during the yard sale. Sunburn!

Fifth grade graduation - the girl is moving on to middle school! The boy will be moving to the elementary school she is leaving! Our actor-teachers are packing their things, some are moving away, and we just scored three amazing new hires!

And finally -- finally -- the kids have gotten into Doctor Who! I see marathon viewing all summer long!

Temperature: 78°
Route: Shaker Lakes :3 laps
Distance: 4.1 miles

Running Shaker Lakes can be treacherous. There's pavement, wood chips, worn dirt, tree roots, drops, inclines, other runners and fat, dog-walkers three abreast (plus the dog.)

Last night I notied cramps in both my feet. Would that be ... longing? The run itself felt much longer than four miles, but it felt good to be out in it again. Late 70s post-punk helps, too.

Sitting by the ball field, watching the boy practice. He's got a nice batting stance, he is learning to connect. Looks like it may be a baseball summer.

Radio Clash Playlist
This Is Radio Clash - The Clash
Save It For Later - The Beat
Shattered - The Rolling Stones
Lost In The Supermarket - The Clash
Rock the Casbah - The Clash
Beat On The Brat - The Ramones
Pretty Vacant - Sex Pistols
Substitute - The Who
Another Nail In My Heart - Squeeze
Come Dancing - The Kinks
Destroyer - The Kinks