Sunday, September 30, 2007

alright, already

I've been getting a lot of complaints because I haven't posted in over two weeks. Sorry, just been sort of busy.

So here's a whirlwind update...

I've been juggling a bunch of stuff at work, one of which was a speech the Mayor delivered on Thursday to the National Conference of Editorial Writers. It got some pretty good attention.

I'm still on track with the marathon training. Last weekend I ran 9 miles. Next weekend I'll run 10.5. And on October 20 I'll run the Kansas City half marathon. It's been going great. I'm actually getting faster, without even trying. Like, I feel like I'm running just as slow as when I started, but I'm moving a good two-minutes-a-mile faster.

The paperback comes out next week.

Allie and I got deluxe digital cable, complete with the full HBO package. We immediately got hooked on Tell Me You Love Me. More on that later...

And this weekend Allie and I finished painting the bedroom. We painted the walls a deep purple a year or so ago, but we painted the ceiling a gross fleshy color that we didn't like, and we never got around to the trim. So we finally knuckled down and redid the ceiling in light blue, and the trim in a really bright blue. Ultimately the room will be filled with all kinds of patterns and colors and knick knacks and such -- what Allie calls "cheap Bohemian hotel." For now, here are some pix, in which the flash ultra-electifies the electric blue.






Tuesday, September 11, 2007

greg beck

I'm sort of reeling right now after learning that Greg Beck has died. He was one of the best bloggers anywhere, a true testament to the awesome fun of this medium. He was just a regular cat with a treasure trove of crazy stories who started a blog to write whatever the hell he wanted, audience be damned. But he wound up having a pretty good sized following anyway, because he was so authentic and honest -- and a damn good writer. I'll sure miss his voice.

Thursday, September 06, 2007


Allie and I went to a poetry reading last night. To be honest, I wasn't eager to go. I generally dislike poetry. Worse, this particular poet is a hot shot young staff writer for the New Yorker (based in Los Angeles, no less) so I knew my jealousy would kick in at least once during the evening. And it did, but I walked away inspired, too.

Allie didn't care for the woman's poems, but I liked them quite a bit. They were sort of like poems I might write -- short pieces that convey a sense of place, mood and just a hint of story. I had an inkling as I listened to her read that some of the blog entries I've written recently might well be beginnings of poems.

So I thought, Maybe I should be writing poetry.

Not a thought I was expecting to have. As I said, I don't really like poetry. Almost never read it.

Also, writing poetry would more than likely mean writing for nobody, except me and Allie and, maybe, the folks who read this blog. That's a challenge, because for me writing is wrapped up, for better or worse, in my capitalistic drive. It's hard for me to write something just for the sake of writing something. Of course, that's what I do with this blog, but this blog is all first draft stuff. You can't write poetry in one draft.

But then, maybe that's all the more reason why I should be writing poetry, precisely because it's worthless. Worthless, that is, within the value scale of my American life.

Maybe the true worth of life is measured in the moments we can steal away from our duties to net worth.

Wednesday, September 05, 2007


My friend Brad rides the bus in Seattle and hears the darnedest things. I ride in Kansas CIty and hear what I choose to hear. Yesterday I was hearing John Coltrane's A Love Supreme.

The bus was not quite full. There was a woman sitting up near the front with a baby in a stroller. The stroller was turned away from her, so the baby faced all of us in the back. A man seated near me made funny faces at the baby. He smiled and giggled, pleased as can be. The woman's wasn't quite twisted in a scowl, but it was a couple shades past indifference. She wore a wifebeater and jeans, and when her cell phone wrang with a hip hop beat she answered it and talked for the rest of the ride.

I listened to Coltrane as I watched the scene. A Love Supreme is one of a handful of jazz albums that push the genre into the realm of high art. Unlike most jazz recordings, it's hard to imagine it being played in a smoky bar where people are talking and maybe only half listening. There's not a note of cliche in it. It's all unique, utterly its own, as if it were some base element of sound that was discovered, not created.

It tells a story of love, of course, in so much as musical notes can tell stories, and the scene on the bus told a story of love, too, and I thought it beutiful and sad the way these two stories -- the one in my ears and the one in my eyes -- didn't connect. I imagined being a young radical in 1965, and listening to this disc and believing in the revolution its handful of tracks foretold. Back then, you'd have to listen to the album in your living room, or in a friend's living room. I think that might have made the vision all the more believable. The same way a painting is more inspiring in a safe gallery space, set against a clean white wall.

But here it is, more than 40 years later, and I'm listening to it on a bus, on a hot day -- a hot Tuesday, no less, maybe the bleakest day of a long work week. And there's this cranky young mom, and this happy man who loves kids, and a baby with a dumb expression and spittle on his short stuck-out tongue, and all these other people sitting all around us staring out the window or at the floor or, like me, at the scene, when Coltrane starts chanting at the end of a blisteringly hot, impassioned solo, a love supreme... a love supreme... a love supreme.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

I ran this morning with Gobo. We got out the door at about six, when it was still dark. It was already warm, though, and quite humid. We went slowly.

It's been a while since I've done a dawn run. I used to do them all the time, when I lived alone in an apartment. I found spiritual uplift in the slow shift of light, from the orange of the street lamps to the deep blue of a new today.

It happened that way today, and I was greatly pleased.

Gobo is a reluctant running dog. He would prefer to piss on every tree and writhe against the leash any time he sees another dog or a person he doesn't like. But after a while he starts locking into a rhythm with me.

It takes ten minutes for a run to take hold, for the endorphines to kick in and for it to feel less like a struggle and more like a meditation. Must be the same for our canine bretheren.

Soon I'll be at work and Gobo will be doing whatever he does all day. Sleeping mostly, and rousing ocassionally to bark out the window at various passing threats. I wonder if he'll feel a little better all day, as I do. Is it medicine for him, too?

Monday, September 03, 2007


I love audiobooks. I listen to them while I garden, do housework, ride the bus, and sometimes when I exercize. Right now I'm listening to a biography of Einstein.

It was a bit hard to follow in the early parts, during the long passages about quantum theory and such. But the stuff about his later life is poignant and compelling.

I didn't realize how political he was.

Today I listened to the section about his involvement in the creation of the atomic bomb. It was a classic human tale: Lifelong pacifist sparks creation of man's most destructive force.

I also like the book's gentle narrative arc showing his transformation from young radical to aging conservative -- at least with regards to his work in science.

So a propos of humanity. Today's reformers are tomorrow's establishment.

Sons become their fathers.


I've written and deleted a few things here, hoping to close out the post in some profound way, however small. But I can't find the words. It's too close to bedtime. Time for a bath, and tea. The sun will rise tomorrow. Another day with millions of revolutions that have little chance of taking hold.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

long run

Today I ran six miles. When training for a marathon, you run one long run each week, the length of which you gradually increase in the months leading up to the race. The last time I embarked on a marathon training adventure, I got injured when my long run had been built up to six miles. At the end of that long run, two years ago, I felt completely warn out.

Today I feel like I jogged a mere mile. I have no pain in my legs. I'm not tired. I feel as though I could run another six miles right now, despite the heat of the afternoon.

I hate to sound like a spokesman, but it's all because if Jeff Galloway's training program. He calls for low mileage during the week and one long run each weekend. For the long run, he urges you to run two minutes per mile slower than your regualar pace and to take frequent walk breaks.

So I went out yesterday and bought a watch with an interval timer and programmed in to go off after three minutes and then one and then repeating ad ininitum. And today I ran during the three-minute spaces and walked during the ones.

I went the entire length of Cliff Drive and back (actually a little more than six miles). It was very sunny, and there was a hint of fall in the air. Cliff Drive always reminds me of West Virginia, even though I've never been there. It winds under a canopy of trees and dense vines, and every now and then one spots a limestone cliff peaking out through the vegetation. There's even a waterfall back there. All this just a jog away from the 'hood.

I went slower this week than I had in previous weeks, mostly because I ordered some of Galloway's books, and he says, over and over again, RUN SLOWLY! After a while it felt kind of like meditation. My watch seemed to beep every other second, and before I knew it, I was done, and not the least bit haggard.

Between now and February 17 I will gradually boost my Sunday run to 25 miles. Next week, I bump up to 7.5.

It's funny, though. I want to crank up the mileage right now. And I want to run faster. I want to do exactly the things that got me injured on two previous attempts.

This is a real exercize in patience. Which is maybe why I'm doing it, if on a subconcious level. Some of you dear readers likely know that I'm not a paragon of patience.

But it makes sense, I guess, considering where I am in life -- almost forty, newly married, working full-time again, pulling myself out of debt. Must be that this is when you shift the gears, start conserving gas, start working better and smarter. I have to say, it doesn't feel natural. But I like the prospects. From a distance, and even close at hand (Allie), the rewards appear positively transcendent.