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

Thursday, August 28, 2014

When you woke up today.

Suddenly, school year. Evenings are spent in the service of others, cooking, cleaning, generally being with. We, all of us, after just three days, wake up so tired. We strive to bed down earlier, and so I must work to rise early, too. To run.

As with marathon training, I need to put out my kit the night before. It makes waking up so much easier, to know I need not search for my outsit. It's there, I put it on, and am moving down the street before I know I am awake.

Temperature: 64°
Distance: 3.25 miles

Morning. So cool. So tired. So hard.

Sub-culture Playlist
She's Lost Control - Joy Division
Nothing - Depeche Mode
Play For Today * - The Cure
Peek-a-boo - Siouxsie & the Banshee
Shellshock - New Order
Subculture - New Order
So Hard - Pet Shop Boys

Sunday, August 24, 2014

We're running our last race.

Potter Village Block Party 2014

We move into fall. At the block party last night the DJ played September, a song about nostalgia, from the nostalgia decade, one which carries additional nostalgia not simply because it reminds me of my own adolescence, but because it was featured in an ice show on the big boat in 2009, when the kids were small and the future so uncertain.

That was also the first year for the block party, and our whole lives have altered so much since then, except in the ways in which it hasn't. We are still here, and strong, and dedicated. It was a great party. This is a great neighborhood.

Temperature: 68°
Distance: 3.25 miles
Climate: gorgeous, but humid

The Globe Playlist
The Globe (12" Mix) - BAD II
Rise * - Public Image Limited
The Mayor of Simpleton - XTC
Right Here, Right Now (Gulf Edit) - Jesus Jones
Ana Ng - They Might Be Giants
I'll Be You - The Replacements
Destination Unknown - Missing Persons

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Blow your mind.

Why take a run into an oncoming thunderstorm? Leg pain.  My thigh aches, and I really craved exercise. Just as dinner was ending, the trees started getting crazy and I put on a kit ASAP to try and beat the storm. At the very worst, I'd get wet, and when it's warm, that's fun, too.

Then rain it did, and thunder. And lightning. I read this piece some years ago about a guy who lost hearing in both ears when he was struck by lightning wearing headphones. Just exploded his eardrums.

So that wasn't fun to think about and I took off my headphones. So I thought about my earbuds conducting electricity through my neck, and that was also no fun. I was wet, and having no fun. So I turned around.

Temperature: 81°
Climate: Thunderstorm!
Distance: Maybe one mile.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

He must be happy in his work.

La Tea Dolly Little Free Library
1637 Lee Rd.
Whereas I had expected a compete malaise induced breakdown upon our return from vacation, I have experienced something altogether different. There are a billion things to do, on the professional, personal, artistic, familial and intimate tip. They will not all be accomplished. But if I can press forward at a steady pace, I will do more than that which is expected, or that has been accomplished, in days past.

Side note: This laptop is breaking down. The mousepad is sticky and the screen has a disconnection with the board which makes it flicker from time to time. New things become old things. We endure, repair, replace, and move on. Kind of like what I am experiencing with my own body.

There are massive emails out for which I await a reply, and calls for which I await return. There was a reading of Script Number Three this week, I am currently editing Script Number Four.

No, I have never written three play scripts in one year in my entire life. You can lament time wasted (and there has been so much time wasted) or you can shrug casually and press on. One track is considerably more productive.

Today, we sand and maybe later, paint. Cut the grass, pull the weeds, edit the script. It is a day of social media bedrest. We produce. And we run.

Temperature: 75°
Distance: 3.25 miles
Weight: 175 lbs.

The good news, I gained no weight over summer vacation. The bad news, will I ever weight less than 175 pounds again before I die? It is a question.

Last night I ...
  • Had two cocktails.
  • Stayed up past midnight
  • Slept until 9 AM
And yet I rose this morning feeling refreshed and free of head pain. Discuss.

Boy Run

Distance: .85 mile

Took the boy out for a trot around the block. He only had to stop a couple times with a stitch in his side. That was good fun.

Echo Beach Playlist
Echo Beach * - Martha and the Muffins
Town Called Malice- The Jam
Because the Night - The Patti Smith Group
Going Underground * - The Jam
Making Plans for Nigel - XTC
We Close Our Eyes - Go West
Atomic - Blondie
Two Tribes - Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Monday, August 11, 2014

I've come to take you home.

Happy volunteers in the house!
Home again and no time to look back. The Gay Games are on and in Cleveland! We were driving home when numerous happy friends were posting selfies and other amazing pictures from the opening ceremonies on Saturday night. Today a crew from Great Lakes headed over to the Renaissance to contribute to their massive force of volunteers.

We also had the chance to watch open rehearsal of DanceSport in the ballroom. Silly me, I didn't know the Renaissance has a ballroom -- but Lisa did! She went to Lakewood High and that is where they held their Prom. Damn! That must have been something.

Last night I slept better than I have for two weeks. I love vacation. I love home more.

Temperature: 72°
Distance: 3.25 miles
Climate: light rain

Came home from getting groceries to hear that Robin Williams has taken his own life. I am shaken and conflicted by this news, and finding it difficult to process. So I will listen to very gay music and run because sometimes that is the only way to cope.

Solsbury Hill Playlist
Solsbury Hill - Erasure
It Won't Be Long - Alison Moyet
Voulez Vous - Erasure
You Have Placed a Chill In My Heart - Eurythmics
Left To My Own Devices - Pet Shop Boys
Nothing - Depeche Mode
Situation - Yazoo

Thursday, August 07, 2014

When we come running.

It only makes sense that when I, of all people, go to see Guardians of the Galaxy, the power in the theater goes out before the post-credits scene.

Today is our last full day in the cove for the year. One more run in, the next time will be the well-trod path of my own neighborhood, and I am looking forward to that. But I will marvel for the trees and the scent and sight of the vast salt sea. Where did they go?

For now they are still right in front of me.

Temperature: 73°
Distance: 3.8 miles

Pompeii Playlist
Live Forever - Oasis
The Kids Don't Stand A Chance - Vampire Weekend
We Come Running - Youngblood Hawke
San Francisco - The Mowgli's
On Melancholy Hill - Gorillaz
Campus - Vampire Weekend
Over The Love - Florence + The Machine
Anna Sun - Walk the Moon

Tuesday, August 05, 2014

Desperate to connect.

Michele Kosboth (2014)

Just a perfect, well-timed morning. Rose early, at 6:30. My wife and I traded somnambulic places, for once I had a decent sleep while she was up reading American Gods in the middle of the night.

I made coffee. I sat on the porch and wrote nonsense for a half-hour or so. I came in and sat in front of the fire and figured out a key moment in the new work. I made pancakes in honor of my father's nativity.

Seventy-nine years. I am less impressed with his advanced years than disturbed by the fact that I am old enough to have a father who is seventy-nine years old.

Temperature: 77°
Distance: 4 miles

Stephani and I had an exchange on Facebook yesterday about my routes. It drives her to distraction that I always report a fraction of a mile in my routes, she has a thing about round numbers. This is where runners with OCD can't see eye to eye ... some must run to the nearest mile and if they step one over they have to run another mile. In my case, I must run from one definite point to another, and then map it so I know exactly how far I ran.

Pheidippides had the decency and good sense to run precisely 26 miles before dropping over dead. But then for the 1908 Olympics, fat old Edward VII wanted another 0.2 miles so the runners could finish right in front of him. This is why we had to help them out of the Great War.

This morning I went an additional 0.2 myself (you're welcome, Stephani) running in the opposite direction for a bit to say hello the horse. We just stared at each other for a moment, then he whinnied. I win.

Pompeii Playlist
The Wire - HAIM
Shine - Take That
Sad Beautiful Thing - Taylor Swift
Love Is Blindness * - Jack White
Symptoms - Atlas Genius
Youth - Daughter
Hearts A Mess - Gotye
Don't Panic - Coldplay
This Charming Man - The Smiths
Next Girl * - The Black Keys

Monday, August 04, 2014

I'm ashamed to be running away.

This is my mother.
A certain mental malaise set in yesterday, as I spent the day working rather than playing. A crew had gone to experience the WW&F narrow gauge railroad while I remained behind to read and write, mostly write. And the writing happened. But I also became office-like sedentary, in spite of the majestic ocean view before me, which has remained to this moment in late morning.

The kids are by the water. I am reading and even napping before noon. The nights have been poor for me, waking at least once in the middle of every night, wondering when exactly I will drift back to sleep. It is not the night noises, nor the night air. These things are relaxing. The wife suggests it may be all the caffeine and alcohol. So, what? I am supposed to stop drinking caffeine and alcohol? What kind of vacation is this?

I just miss my bed. And the bed can wait. And rather than waiting any longer, I am going to take a run, because if there's one thing that gets me moving, it is moving.

Temperature: 70°
Distance: 3.8 miles

Bizarre run, full of emotions and thoughts. Passed the girl's L.I. friend on my way out of the cove. She was making her own run, I passed and wished her good luck and put in the headphones.

Trying to figure out two important arguments/plot points for the new work. One splashed into mind, something I can work with, no idea if it were the British '00s pop tunes ... but it may have been. I was about to take a break at the halfway point when Hounds of Love came on, which has a brisk, irresistible BPM.

However, I did pause at the beach on Martin's Point, to drop down and clamber over a few rocks at low tide. Saying good-bye? It's only Monday, but we have been gone so long I feel I should be preparing to leave. I need to stop that, this is my vacation, dammit.

On my way back into the cove I passed L.I. walking. "Good run?" I asked. She said it was, and I appreciated the confirmation.

Pompeii Playlist
Munich - Editors
Giving Up The Gun - Vampire Weekend
Before the Worst - The Script
Hounds of Love * - The Futureheads
She's Long Gone * - The Balck Keys
Houdini - Foster the People
1901 - Phoenix

Sunday, August 03, 2014

Many days fell away with nothing to show.

Yesterday, the wife and I transported my brother and his family to Portland for their departure. In our absence, the kids remained in the cove, the girl anticipating the arrival of a summertime friend from Long Island.

This morning the two of them took a run together, along the route that I had shown her last week. She reported that the two of them made it a full mile, just past Crystal Pond to the community house. The girl said with a certain amount of pride that her friend had to stop a few times to catch her breath. In the presence of her peers the girl exhibits a steely resolve, she only complains to me.

Our time in Portland was marked by an auspicious visit to the PAM (Portland Museum of Art). Last Monday morning, waiting for breakfast sandwiches in a coffee shop in Springfield, I was taken by a painting on the wall. It wasn't a real painting, it was one of those photo-reproductions on canvas. I peered closer and squinted, and I felt sad because I was reminded that it has been a very long time since I have been to an art museum.

When I have been to museums, it has been with children, and that is a different experience entirely. For twenty years my wife and I have walked slowly, at the same pace, throughout galleries across the Midwest, the East Coast, in California and in England, searching paintings and sculpture. But it has been such a long time. I hadn't realized how much I missed it.

Richard Estes
Checkout (2012)
The PMA is currently featuring an retrospective of the photo-realistic paintings for Richard Estes. Not a particularly large museum, the PMA holds an extremely impressive collection of works in its permanent collection. However, beginning with Estes collection set me on an emotional pilgrimage which marked my entire experience in the museum.

Estes' ability to reproduce photography with paint brings into heightened relief the repetition and reflection in so much of what the human eye perceives in a modern, urban landscape. Also, his choice of subject matter, from Columbus Circle to Hubbard Glacier to coastal Maine just happens to capture travels I have taken with my wife.

These detailed images of Manhattan also remind me of the anticipation I have felt in this place for past theater festivals, both last year and also ten years ago. Treks are often their own reward, while others feel as elements upon which to continue building.

By the third floor of the museum I was nearly in tears. Searching paintings is an experience of emotional accumulation. Witnessing work that is new to me, I cannot help but be reminded of previous works, familiar technique, colors which are only present or noticeable in visual art, but repeat, and create mental connections across time and space and memory.

Tim Rollins and K.O.S.
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn - Asleep on the Raft (after Mark Twain)
Temperature: 66°
Distance: 3.8 miles
Gear: Agh! Cotton!

Pompeii Playlist
Guns and Horses - Ellie Goulding
Fitzpleasure - alt-J
Run Right Back * - Black Keys
Pompeii - Bastille
Paddling Out - Miike Snow
Oxford Comma - Vampire Weekend
Whistle for the Choir - The Fratellis
Amsterdam - Imagine Dragons
Something Good Can Work - Two Door Cinema Club

Friday, August 01, 2014

Kill and run.

Blueberries, buttermilk and baconfat.
For my birthday, my brother and his wife gave me a Kindle Paperwhite. I do not covet technology. I don't even have a smart phone, nor do I want one. However, this is truly beautiful and useful device and and I am very happy I have one.

The boy observed, "But ... you can't play games on that!" That is correct, my son. Hands off. Like my iPod nano, which still works and was a gift to me eight years ago, it does one thing, and does it very well.

My first download was H.G. Welles The Time Machine, a novel from 1895, which was free. Suck on that, Bezos.

Temperature: 63°
Distance: 3.8 miles

Last night, we toasted s'mores and later my brother acted as DM for mine and the boy's first ever foray into Dungeons & Dragons. Yes. Today I have already wow'ed all with my pancaking skills and we took a brief motor out to spy some seals.

Pompeii Playlist
Cape Cod Kawassa Kwassa - Vampire Weekend
Kill and Run - Sia
Into the Past - Nero
The Last Time - Taylor Swift ft. Lightbody
Harlem - New Politics
Flathead - The Fratellis
Sex - The 1975s
Sigh No More - Mumford & Sons
Golden Touch - Razorlight

Fridays are traditionally the beginning of the fun, in Vacationland it feels like the end. People are packing up from the week's stay (we have another week) and wishing farewell to friends they see once a year, rentals along my run were having their lawns mowed all along Martin's Point. My brother and his family depart tomorrow, their rooms to be occupied a day later by even more friends.