Monday, February 26, 2007

27 is the new 26

My weekend was intense and wonderful: an epic night at Benny's, a four-mile race to kick off the 2007 running year, a trip to the airport to see James, a birthday party, church, a classic Manhattan afternoon, a great gym class, and Oscar-night food coma. I want to write about all of this stuff, but it's too overwhelming, so I'm going to go all Orientalist on you and break it down haiku-style:


Juan's a good waiter:
'Ritas, black flowers, and shots
The men's room is home


Seven degrees, wind
7:28 per mile
He outruns the cold.


Wait at Arrivals...
Walk away happy and sad
Five months in one hour


Eight-count to the beat
It's my song! It's my birthday!!
Don't spill on my rug.


Twenty-seventh year:
Good wife, good life, good city,
church points out to me.


Usually in the back,
At the gym I play it cool--
now your boy's up front.


Friends, Oscars, excess
Life resumes so pleasantly
And they even sang.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Sliced and diced

Warning: this post is kind of gross, and not for the faint of heart.

This afternoon I went to go visit Enzo, John and Anna's cat, who we are feeding and chatting with while they're away in Mexico. Enzo is really one of the best cats I've ever known, because he's very dog-like: friendly, outgoing, affectionate.

Well, today I was standing at the counter, curling open a tin of wet cat food, Enzo mewling at my feet, when the edge of the can lid cut into the skin at the last joint of my pinkie finger. Suddenly there was blood running down my hand and onto the counter and into the sink. I was shocked at first - pressing the cut with a paper towel and simultaneously trying to clean up the mess. I dumped the food into Enzo's bowl to distract him and focused on the cut - I ran it under the cold faucet and watched the diluted blook wash away. The cut was like the open mouth of a smiley face. It hurt like hell. Every paper towel I pressed into it became a sodden bloody mess within a few minutes. Enzo was everywhere: between my legs, on the counter, rubbing against my arm. I thought, the last thing I need in the wound is cat hair. I thought, bury these towels deep in the trash so they don't freak out when they see them. I thought, don't let Enzo touch the blood or he'll turn into a vampire cat.

It wouldn't stop bleeding. After about 20 minutes I called L, and she called the student health people. I already had visions of my immaculate Thursday night being shot to hell - no great gym class, no good tv, just me in an ER waiting for stitches. I found band-aids in the bathroom, but I bled through two of them. After talking to L and deciding not to get stitches, I stumbled out of the apartment, doing everything with my left hand, promising Enzo, like a little feline deadbeat dad, that I would come back for more quality time tomorrow.

On the street I clutched my hands together and tried to hide the bloody paper towel from other people. In the pharmacy I jerked open the lid of the band-aid box and tried to apply it myself, with mixed results. As I returned to the street, though, I was shocked to see that the bleeding had abated. Instead of a gaping smiley mouth the wound was more like a ... parenthesis. A bold one, in a thick, unsubtle font, but only a parenthesis.

I went to the gym with high hopes. I made it on the treadmill and the pull-up thing, but then in class, we were ten minutes in when I saw that there was blood all over my hand. There was blood on the hardwood floor, too. Disgusted, I grabbed my towel and scrubbed at it, Lady MacBeth-style, and retreated to the lockerroom. With a fresh band-aid I returned, but it was only a few more minutes until I noticed blood again on my hand, and even traces on my shirt, and on the floor. I felt like that scene in "Carrie," when she gets her period in the locker room and the girls taunt her, except in my case, I expected the other hip hoppers to throw cans of cat food at me. I scrambled out, grabbed my stuff and returned to the lockerroom utterly cowed. I took a shower and left. I thought about staying to apologize to my teacher but I realized I was too angry to talk. I look forward to Thursday nights like no other; I was so disappointed.

Now I'm home, on band-aid number 4, fully expecting another tsunami of blood at any given moment. It really hurts. I figure, it must be better in the morning, right? I don't want stitches, I'm not going to the damn hospital. I tell you, these things always happen on the brink of something good (say, a chock-full birthday weekend: fun drinks tomorrow with Ashesh and Mona, a James cameo and rollicking party on Saturday, a lovely Sunday to follow). It even occurred to me that the blood stains on my hand are maybe reparations for the ashes that didn't stain my forehead yesterday.

Anyways, hopefully this will look better tomorrow morning. I hope the bleeding calms down, after a night of rest and no movement. Tomorrow I'm looking forward to returning to the scene of the crime and making amends with Enzo, getting some of the quality time that was cut short today, assuming of course that he hasn't developed a taste for human blood.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

State update: Florida

Well, our second attempt to enjoy some exotic warm weather was thwarted. Not by sudden hospitalization, thankfully, but because of the unseasonable chill that settled over southwestern Florida as soon as we landed, and that did not relent until we had come back to the barren icy hellhole of Manhattan. But we were able to have some good times in Naples, where L and I and my sister had a great long weekend with my grandparents.

Although we spent a lot of time relaxing on the plush interior of one of many gated communities, my grandparents' taste for local flair gave us a lot of exposure to native Floridian culture. We drove an hour down to Goodland to eat stone crabs and sit on a restaurant deck amidst the Thousand Islands. It happened to be the day of the Mardi Gras boat parade, so gaudily festooned boats and yachts would troll past (sample themes: pink flamingoes, a drug bust, redneck yacht club) as the crowd at the restaurant - mostly old, many grizzled - downed their beer and twirled their colorful beads.

There's something strange about Florida - I can't put my finger on it, but I think it has something to do with cohabitating with alligators. Gators are such a big thing down there, a totem of something, and I think people's reaction to living among these fierce and timeless predators is to go a little bit weird. Floridians, for example, were much ruder and pushier than New Yorkers (or even Hawaiians - it's like the Aloha spirit landed here and rotted in a corner). They love their guns and Confederate flags. They're sort of trashy (can I say that?). It was interesting. Question: when we were in Florida, how many times did we hear the phrase "jew canoe"? Answer: more than never!

But, we had a great time. On the same day as the boat parade, Goodland also featured an outdoor concert by the Mullet Brothers, just outside of the Island Woman store, where we all tried on weird hats with fake wigs attached as a few locals drunkenly danced outside. I gaily tossed my fear of head lice aside so we could take many photos like this:

It was wonderful to spend some quality time with my grandparents, to read a couple great books, and to eat like a king: the signature key lime pie, fresh seafood at every turn, crisp apples, canteloupes, blueberries, and the most delicious strawberries I can remember. Although it was kind of a drag with the cold weather, I tried to buck myself up by reminding myself that at least it was thirty degrees warmer than back home. Anyways, so Florida: temperate, amusingly weird, fattening; not as warm as it could have been; good eating. That's the update on that.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Marathon man

I received an email notification from the New York Road Runners telling me I qualified for automatic entry into the New York City marathon. Twenty minutes and about $130 later, I am all signed up and ready to run on November 4th -- 26.2 miles. 26.2 miles, an extremely long distance. As I went through the registration process I realized I was just beginning to endure a ten-month barrage of opportunities to spend money to heighten the race experience, brought to me by the considerate sponsors of the event eager to scream about every possible thing you can purchase: moisture-wicking shirts! Shorts made of nylon, rayon, and mesh! Special charity shoelaces! Bags no one needs! Pasta dinners!

I have begun looking around at training programs, too. There's one I can join through NYRR that costs only $7 a month! But that seems too expensive. There's also one by a person named "Hal Higdon" that is very well-reviewed among my friends, but Hal's website is straight up Geocities circa 1998. I should go look in the bookstore, too, as well as the 400 specialty running shops that spring up in Manhattan every time a Tastee-D-Lite whimpers to a close. My mom says I should get a physical immediately to determine if I'm healthy enough to even attempt this. Always the optimist, my mom. I was also realizing that I will actually have to change my lifestyle to get ready for this thing, especially in the final weeks: I have to run and exercise in precise, calibrated ways; I have to eat very deliberately, with a weird balance of protein and fiber and whatever else; and I have to develop that bizarre marathon physique where your cheeks sink in and you start to run oddly, because your entire midsection has dissolved into three tendons holding up your new rayon running shorts.

But the good thing is that all of this is still extremely hypothetical -- since I'm already running and in reasonably good shape I don't really need to begin training in earnest for a few months, maybe late spring. But we can look forward to plenty of blisters, shin splints, and dry heaves in the weeks and months to come.

But damn if I'm not going to rock this marathon on November 4th. It's good to know the goal.

Thursday, February 08, 2007


I have a great idea for a new quality-of-life, public relations campaign for the city. It's called "Excuse Me New York." Maybe it's the inhumanly frigid temperatures we've been enduring, or fatigue with the war, or maybe New Yorkers are just genuine bastards, but I have decided that something needs to be done on a city-wide scale. Because these people are jerks.

The idea behind "Excuse Me New York" is to get people to say "excuse me" to their fellow citizens. The brilliance of this campaign, and the reason I'm convinced that it's destined for success, is that it encourages people to excuse themselves in one of two ways, which almost everyone will be willing to do: 1) the genuine, polite, decent way, the way that adults excuse themselves to avoid social embarassment and promote a civil society, or 2) the snarling, more acidic way, barking the phrase to gently remind the other person that he or she is an asshole. New Yorkers would be completely willing to support this campaign. Many of them already do.

Here are some examples of how this campaign would work, taken from my own life: To the girl in the library snacking on snap peas or something, chewing so loudly and violently that I couldn't concentrate on my reading: Excuse me. To the man at Chipotle in the unnecessary cowboy hat, reaching over the glass sneezeguard to point at (and into) the burrito ingredients he wanted: Excuse me. To the woman who barged into me at the gym, and, moments later, tossed her nasty sweat-towel towards me in a misguided attempt to put it in the bin: Excuse me, and get some glasses.

So you see what I'm saying. "EMNY" is going to be big in 2007, and it will really fill a void here in the city. If you want a t-shirt or a bumper sticker or something, let me know. Don't forget: Excuse Me New York.