Sunday, October 28, 2007

Top Halloween costumes for women, 2007

Slutty nurse
Slutty cop
Slutty matador
Slutty UN Peacekeeper
Slutty clergymember
Slutty terrorist
Slutty ghost
Slutty prostitute
Slutty kitten
Slutty Hillary Rodham Clinton
Slutty pumpkin
Slutty headless horseperson
Slutty witch
Normal bitchy witch.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Fall into the gap

L and I went on a massive shopping excursion today, a four-hour trek that left us exhausted (her) and irritable (me). Besides our fruitless search for cool sneakers, the main point was a trip to The Gap (specifically, Gap Men) for my official fall/winter shopping "spree" ("spree" means, "I went to the store willing to buy more than one item, but I still felt bad about it").

Here's what I got: a pair of dark jeans, a pair of brown pants that are somewhat jeans-like, a dark blue sweater that will probably get a lot of use, and a cool sort of shiny brown shirt that I can wear when go out. The shirt is shiny in such a way that it looks like it might be water-resistant, or possibly flame retardant, or might even be made of actual tent material, but I think it's coolness really radiates through. Things I didn't buy: a striped button-down shirt that made me look like 1989, a pair of bizarrely skinny jeans with a button-fly that took me way too long to deal with, and a pair of gray pants that looked like half of a gas station attendant's uniform.

The best part was that they were playing awesome music throughout our time in the store: some Beyonce, Janet, Usher, Amerie, and more. So of course when it was time to hit the dressing room I made a beeline for the handicapped room (with the full-length door) so I could rock out as I changed my clothes. It was great, and made trying on clothes a lot more like a music video, which is my general aspiration for life in general.

As we paid for the stuff, we complemented the guy at the register on the music selection. "Oh, we're not actually supposed to be playing this," he said.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Marathon training update: week 17, day 5

Now is the time in the marathon training schedule when I am getting freaked out by the whole thing. Sometimes I'll be ambling along the street feeling good about my life, and then a malicious little voice in my head will chirp, "You think you're going to run a marathon in a week!? Bwa ha ha!" And the stone drops into the pit of my stomach and I'm in an existential funk.

The other day I saw an email that a fellow marathoner sent out to wide list of people. This email included: a spreadsheet with her anticipated times and mileage markers, the address of the bar where she booked a room for the after party on Sunday afternoon, the colors of the clothing she would wear, the fact that there are special t-shirts made up for the people who are cheering her on, and a detailed explanation of where people could watch her run, and which parts of the course would be especially challenging.

This email blew me away because compared to her, I am grossly unprepared. We haven't figured out where L and my family and hopefully my friends will be; I assume I'll be wearing running clothes, but I haven't quite committed to that yet; based on previous experience, I'm planning on spending the afternoon after the marathon in bed or in the bathroom; and I had figured on not worrying too much about the course, since I knew I wouldn't make a wrong turn anywhere and since I'm already fantastically bored with Central Park, which right now is about as new and exotic to me as my local subway stop. I'm trying to keep this marathon under control in my head: it's just a long run that I'm ready for, and know I can complete. It's going to be a little crowded and weird, but ultimately it's just about me and the road and running in a smart way.

The other day my mom asked what would happen if it rained on the marathon day. I had never even considered this possibility, with my marathon fantasies involving crisp autumn days with leaves falling majestically around me. So I'm trying to broaden my imagination here, to make sure I'll be ready for the main event, no matter what happens. I'm focusing hard on resting and not getting hurt and staying healthy and upbeat; the hard part of the training is done, and now I'm trying to let my body recover until it reaches that point where it is awake and springing up, ready and alert and alive and hungry to do the longest run it has ever known.

This is the marathon.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Languishing in the library

I've been here a while now, eight, nine hours, maybe more. Same carrel for the last three days. Extremely little progress on the paper -- now I'm just summarizing all these cases so I can hopefully arrange them in an interesting and enlightening way later on. I hope this is helpful and not stupid. Sometimes it seems like a fine line, much finer than it ought to be, but these are the lines we draw when we do things with reluctance. And resentment, maybe.

I've rediscovered YouTube as my own personal jukebox. One of the first bands I really was into was called The Party, and they sprang fully-formed, like Athena out of the head of Zeus, from the Mickey Mouse Club on the Disney Channel, which could very well be the pinnacle of all television for a lot of reasons. Anyways, The Party was this ethnically-diverse, totally rocking pop band from about 1990-92 that came out with some really kicky songs. Needless to say I bought their first tape immediately and my entire family was really into their music. And who wasn't? "That's Why," "Coulda Shoulda Woulda," "Summer Vacation," "I Found Love"... The list goes on. Honestly, can you even imagine 1991 without "Coulda Shoulda Woulda"? Unrecognizable!

So I've been rocking out to The Party on YouTube, wondering why they aren't on iTunes, noting with dismay that their cds are bizarrely expensive on Amazon. Some of the clips on YouTube are from a concert special they had on the Disney Channel, and I laughed when I saw the screaming fans. Not out of callousness or mockery of their early 1990s style; no, I laughed because I immediately recognized my long-dormant envy of those lucky 13-year olds who actually got to go, since at that point I would have gladly sold myself into white slavery to make their concert, and was stuck instead banging on the tv screen with my hammy youthful fists and dry-heaving a little bit, and yet now I can't even find their music. I'm pretty sure I tossed out their tape a few years ago.

Man, why can't I write a 25-page paper about The Party? I definitely have a lot more to say.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Call me Ishmael

I signed up for NaNoWriMo, the horribly abbreviated name for National Novel Writing Month, which is this project where you bang out a novel in the month of November that's at least 50,000 words, or at least 175 pages. I heard about this last year but I missed the boat on signing up for it. I'm excited to do it, to have a project post-marathon, even though I'm already right on schedule to develop carpal tunnel even without this, thanks to the law school professors who just won't rest until I have bloody fingertips and wristguards on both hands.

The NaNoWriMo people say that the important thing is just getting the words out, and to not worry about editing or direction or anything like that -- the goal is quantity, not quality. This is the kind of low expectation that makes me think this could actually work. Every once in a while I feel a strong hankering to write creatively, so for a few nights in a row I'll irritate L by punching at the keyboard while she's trying to sleep, then I'll come up with a few vignettes and false starts and nothing to show for it. When I was younger I used to write a lot more: in 8th grade there was this ridiculous adventure story featuring a character who was basically Bilbo Baggins, enmeshed in the Colombian drug trade; there were also a few stories, humiliatingly enough, imagining adventures for the cast of "Star Trek: The Next Generation." ("Lt. Worf, throw me a phaser!")

I'm thinking for this latest attempt that I'll generally stay away from sci-fi fan fiction. Instead I'm thinking it will probably be a thinly-veiled autobiography, about some young dude in the city, maybe with some wacky neighbors and friends, work experience in the legal realm, and a dope soundtrack. But hopefully I can make it a little bolder than that.

Anyways, I'm sort of excited about this. Hopefully having some external framework around the writing process will help me get through it better, like training wheels or physical therapy. If I manage to complete it, chances are the novel will be a total trainwreck, but at least I'll be the only one who knows it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live"

Last night I had a really remarkable dream. Usually I find that people generally don't care about other people's dreams, but this one was significant and I don't want to forget about it, so I'm putting it up here.

In my dream I was with myself as a young child in a strange and foreign place. It was like Cormac McCarthy's "The Road" -- we were outside in this barren wasteland, me and myself as a kid and many other people, on this dirty road next to a gully or something, stark and empty. There was a body in a plastic bag off to the side. And yet it wasn't a threatening environment, really -- it's just where we were.

So I was with this other version of myself as a little kid, and I was there to protect him and watch over him. I felt a strange love for him, as he was myself and yet someone totally different. Yet his physicality was so familiar to me. At one point I asked him if he thought we looked alike, and he laughed and said no. I remember walking along holding his hand and just chatting and moving through the day.

I don't think I've ever felt such paternal feelings before, consciously or not. As I've mulled over this dream today I keep thinking about different facets of my life that were expressed by it. Current facets as well as things I can't begin to grasp: the idea of fatherhood, of being responsible for a child, of feeling that innate connection, of seeing someone else with your very features. Knowing someone as intimately as anyone possibly could, because you knew and loved them from the start. Yet unlike fatherhood, in my dream I loved this kid because I knew he was me and that things would work out for him and he would be happy. I knew he would have a sense of humor and that the body he would grow into would be mine.

Anyway, it was a complicated stew of emotions and thoughts, from walking around an alien place with a little kid who was and was not me. It was oddly serene, and I felt all right when I woke up. This dream, though, took a lot of threads in my life and knotted them up in a way that I can't quite untangle.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

Marathon training update: week 15, day 6

Today I ran 20 miles. Twenty miles is so far, today I basically ran from New York to LA and back. And then back and again. Or at least that's what it was feeling like for the last few miles, and specifically how it felt when I stopped for water with my finish line in sight, having already run 19.96 miles, but I was thirsty, dammit, and I was going to stop and walk for a moment because at that point most of my leg muscles had dissolved into liquid and were sloshing around in my calves.

It wasn't really that bad. In fact, when I finally made it up to the park today, tired and boozy, I was shocked into wakefulness by the beauty of the day: bright clear sky, brazenly cloudless, a brisk breeze and the first signs of fall hanging from the trees and underfoot. It reminded me that it was almost time to bring out ol' "Autumn in New York" -- another year, another season of change and renewal.

As I ran I thought about how this is such a pleasant experience, to be placing one foot in front of another, keeping it nice and easy, in such a beautiful place -- where else would I rather be right now? The truth, for the most part, is nowhere.

The low point, inevitably, was when I sort of walked into a woman on a bike. I had just finished 12, and was getting ready to buy a gatorade, when I turned a corner and basically walked into a European woman who, fortunately, was riding her bike at a glacial pace. I apologized immediately, and she chided me with a "be more careful" in a lilting accent, and I couldn't even be mad. Unless she had been targeting me with her slow, rickety bike, like a 1912 missile.

So I came home, showered, iced, and fell asleep, hard, until now. I haven't eaten anything and I feel a little woozy, so I need to find some food and draw up some energy. I feel tired and beat, but in a very good way. This week was the most intense training of the whole 18-week program, so now I just taper down until the actual event in November. This is the marathon!

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Rocket ship

This morning I was standing on the train considering the fact that I was facing opposite the exact same girl from yesterday morning's commute. I could tell it was her because she carried the same black plastic purse with spacey pink flowers spiraling towards you -- I had been listening to Kanye West's "Flashing Lights" and was considering how this song could send you into a real psychedelic trance with the art on that purse, and how I was surprised that the subway provided me with this bizarre visual nugget that coincided so aptly with my song of choice. I was thinking about this, and wondering if the girl had any clue that she had seen me yesterday in the exact same circumstances, when a crazy person got on the train.

You get used to crazy people in New York; you learn to ignore them, for your dignity and their own. This person was short and stout, in casual clothes, with a majestic, jet-black pompadour that flowed into a mullet trailing down most of his back. He carried a red folder high over his mouth, like he was in a choir. He started talking.

"I am an angel," he said. "I am an angel Don't look at me my eyes are sensitive I am an angel."

I turned off my ipod so I could hear him better. He started talking about how he was in the ministry, and how he was friends with God and God had sent him rocket ships for all the unbelievers, and they would be shot into space. Also in attendance on these spacebound rocket ships: demons, disbelievers in his ministry and followers of Sodom and Gomorrah. All the while he was clutching this folder in front of his face and telling people not to look at him, as he turned and addressed everyone.

"For those of you who have just come on board, I am an angel," he would helpfully announce when new people got on. I actually couldn't help but laugh at the good-natured crazy of it all, and I made eye contact with one guy who was smiling too. Most people ignored him with the Manhattan expression of studied indifference. By the time we got to Columbus Circle he had been drowned out by the crowd and he couldn't command the same kind of audience.

It was nice to have a laugh on the subway today, to break my morning stupor. I wonder if he finally got off the train thinking he had finished his day's work, or if he's still riding around telling people not to look at him. Either way, no sign of any rocket ships today.

Friday, October 05, 2007

A great moment

This afternoon I stopped in the men's room after a particularly dispiriting day at law school. I had decided to leave my backpack in my locker overnight, since I'll be back first thing in the morning, so I was ready to go: I had the New Yorker rolled in my pocket and my ipod in my ears. So I walk into the men's room and there are a typical number of other people in there -- three, maybe four. So be it.

So I sidle up to the urinal and proceed to begin going about my business, when I quickly realize two facts: 1) through some horrible confluence of timing and circumstance, it is completely and utterly silent in the men's room, and 2) I am listening to the new Britney Spears song on my ipod, and it might be loud enough for other people to hear.

Gimme gimme MORE, gimme MORE, Gimme gimme MORE!

I can't very well try to change my ipod now, when I am fully engaged with the urinal process. I can't be that guy with one hand on his junk and the other spinning around the ipod wheel until you hit that perfect song to pee along with.

But wait a second -- what the hell are these other guys doing that it's so quiet in here? Mooning at their reflections in the mirror, staring at the paper towel dispenser, contemplating the urinal cakes? It's like a still life or something. Britney is still yammering away as I start to think, Make some noise, please someone make some noise. I will take whatever excruciatingly audible bodily function anybody wants to engage in, just somebody please wash out this constant and growing threat of

Gimme gimme MORE, gimme MORE, Gimme gimme MORE!

Ultimately, of course, I have to accept my situation and realize that I am the guy listening to Britney Spears as I pee. Maybe these other dudes will pass judgment on me, but my question to them is: what are you doing in the bathroom that makes no noise at all? Are you a ninja? Because if you're not, you should be making some noise by doing your business, running the faucets to wash your hands, slamming the crap out of the soap dispenser to get some soap, or pumping the paper towel box to finish up and get on out of there. Enough with the mime act, fellas -- either make some noise to bury my embarrassing musical selection, or leave so I can enjoy it in peace, and fleetingly wonder if my support of Britney Spears' musical career is contributing to her very downfall. See? Everyone's a winner.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Marathon training update: week 14, day 1

Yesterday I ran 18 miles. I have never run that far, and I find it hard to believe that anyone else ever has either, because that is a long way. I am happy to report, though, that it went very well. Keeping in mind my ultimate goal of 8:00 miles for the marathon (which is now looking more like 8:20, maybe) I aimed to mosey along at a nice 9:00 pace for the 18-miler, following my training plan. After a glacially-paced first mile at 9:30, I did a fine job of keeping it between 8:15 and 9:00 for the rest of the race. For the final mile, I wanted to finish strong, so I really tried to keep up a good clip, regulate my breathing, and end on a high note. I was pumping my legs, eyeing the finish line as it approached, systematically overcoming runners ahead of me, and after I ran through the line I checked my watch and was shocked to see that I ran that last mile in 7:31. Unbelievable! Where does this come from? How am I doing this?

I had a huge grin on my face for the next few moments as I shuffled along the line and got some Gatorade and an apple. I really didn't think I had it in me to run 18 miles, let alone run my 18th mile so well. This training program is actually working, apparently. (Incidentally, my average mile time for this race was 8:35, which was great, considering that I was trying to go even slower.)

Some more good news: the thigh/knee pain I've come to live with and accept, like a prominent mole or a conjoined twin, was nowhere to be found. Instead today all of my leg muscles are generally throbbing, and the muscle behind my left knee is pulled so tight that I can't quite extend my leg. I am trying to keep my limp under control, but it was well worth it.

Some good or bad news, as you look at it: my ipod battery died at mile 8 of the run (leaving me ten miles to go), so while I got some good thinking done during the race, it looks like it may be time for me to go blow a couple hundred bucks at the Apple store and come back with an awesome new ipod, one a' them fancy square kinds. I'll keep you posted. (I also have amassed some good new tunes lately: the new Kanye album, which is way better that I would have expected, the new Britney, which is undeniable, and a little touch of Reba for those tender post-run moments.)

A few weeks back I realized that this marathon is much more than the 26.2 miles I'll be doing in a month. I've come to consider each training run, each dreaded weekend long run, as a part of it, too. So even when I think to myself, I'm going to run a marathon!, I remind myself that I am running it already, and I've been running it for 14 weeks now, and what happens during that last 26.2 is merely the icing on the cake.

This is the marathon!