Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Night run

Tonight I went on a run for the first time in a while.  By the time I got outside after work it was already pitch dark, but not too cool.  I ran across 114th to Riverside Park and ran up and down Riverside Drive, between 79th and 120th.  It was one of those nights when I felt propelled; when I was constantly trying to run faster and faster.  Lately it seems like I have these moments when I'm walking calmly down the street but I suddenly have the urge to run, to release some energy through my legs and into the receptive asphalt below.  To remind myself that I live and am a force.

I had never run at night before in this neighborhood, and I had to keep a close eye on the rolling paving stones under my feet to make sure I didn't trip.  The street lights offered bright, filmy circles to guide my way, narrowing the park to this single artery.  I listened to a new playlist of my 20 favorite songs of the year, and I kept an eye on my shadows around me, quick, consistent, faster than I thought I was. 

When I finished my legs were aching pleasantly and my throat was cold from the night air.  I felt so good.  The last great run I had was during our weekend upstate in Patterson, running along winding mountain roads, past old farmhouses and barns, beneath a storm of bright fall color.  Tonight was different, simpler, more elemental: feet pounding the road, lungs pumping air, breath and heartbeat and sweat.  A reminder that I can create force.

Of course, somehow on the walk home I appear to have lost my work ID.  A fun new project for the morning.  Two steps forward, always one back.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Cry of the velociraptor, cont'd

Further entries to the index of sounds that A makes:

1. The Rebel Yell -- Oftentimes, instead of crying, Alice will opt to yell.  It sounds like this: "AAAAAAAAAH!"  There is remarkably little variation in tone.  She yells with a cartoonish consistency, an admirable lack of hesitation or vibrato.  When she yells like this her anger and petulance are cute in their intensity.  "Pay attention to me!"  "I don't like this!"  "Let me put the remote control in my mouth!"  These are just a few of the messages she conveys.

2. The Gaga Ooh La La -- Alice seems to have adopted the lyrical genius found in Lady Gaga's song "Bad Romance," the part of the chorus that goes: Rah rah ah ah ah, Roma roma ma, Ga ga ooh la la, Want your bad romance.  (As an aside, note that until just now I thought that the last lyric was "watch out for romance," which to me is more interesting, but the internet has informed me that I'm wrong.)  Not unlike Lady Gaga, Alice enjoys consonants and vowels.  We often hear her little murmurings of ba, ga, ma, da, ra, etc.  These are most likely to emerge when she is quiet or happy, sing-songing her little words to go along with the blather of the adults in the room.  This appears to be the extent of Lady Gaga's influence on our child, at least for the time being.

3.  The Constant Vigilance -- This is not a sound per se, but I find it amusing.  When you hold her against you she will crane her neck to check out what's to the side of you.  You will turn to that side, thinking you are doing her a favor, when she will lean back and swivel her head to check out the other side.  "What's happening over here?  Now what's happening over there?  Did something happen over here?"  It's kind of weird.  It seems like something a fairly stupid but lovable dog would do.  A dog...and our baby.

4. The Rappeller -- This is another behavior, rather than a sound.  Thanks to her ever-more muscular physique, sometimes when you hold her to your chest she wants nothing to do with you, so she will dig a foot into your hip or belt and push herself away from you, holding much of her weight with her locked legs and bracing herself against your chest with an outstretched arm as you keep her balanced with a hand on her back.  It's very amusing to see her hanging out there, head cocked to the side as she casually leans back into the empty space in front of you.  Can you imagine her on a little rock face hoisted up with some ropes, with her fat little baby hands covered in chalk?  Can you even fathom how cute a little baby caribiner would be?  I can't.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Truth in advertising

We're watching Matt Lauer's interview with errant schoolboy/former president George W. Bush, where W. is hawking his new book, "Decision Points."  The hilarious part, aside from the inappropriate laughter, awkward smiles, and frowny faces, is that most of these decision points turned out to be...not so great: Invading Iraq under false pretenses!  A ten-year war in Afghanistan!  No Osama! "Mission Accomplished"!  Katrina!  The great recession!  Those decisions all worked out great, huh? 

You know what would have been a better name for W.'s book than "Decision Points"?  "Fuck Ups." 

Maybe for the paperback edition.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

NYC marathon 2010

Today L and I trekked over to 125th & 5th to cheer on one of her friends who was running the New York City Marathon.  It was a beautiful day for it -- open blue skies, a biting chill in the air tempered by a strong sun.  As we approached 5th Avenue we could see the constant stream of runners moving through.  The nice thing about the uptown phase of the marathon is that it's fairly empty; we could easily take our place on the sidelines -- or more accurately, in the street, somewhat crowding the runners as they proceeded -- to cheer and clap and yell their names.  The crowd was thin but exuberant; everyone yelling out the names of people who had identified themselves, or their country, or their cause on their shirts.  "Go Amy!  Viva Mexico!  NYPD!  Go barefoot guy!  Go France!  Go Barthelona!  Go juggler!"

People would respond with a thumbs up, or a wave, or a smile.  At the time we were cheering, a lot of people were looking pretty rough.  We were near mile 21 or 22, a real low point in the marathon experience.  You're running farther than you ever have before, and you're back in Manhattan, but you're far from Central Park and the euphoria of those last turns in the road.  We saw a lot of grimaces, people limping.  When L's friend came around, she looked great -- strong and steady.  She received her hugs and kept on moving with a big grin on her face.  When I ran it, those brief encounters with loved ones gave me such fuel; I would anticipate them and then, afterwards, replay them, waiting for the next rendezvous, the next moment of sustenance.  Today one lady on the sidelines saw her friend running up, shrieked, gave her a wild hug, then started running alongside her, in leather boots. 

We saw old people, young people, blind people, people with walkers, foreign people, fit people, sexy people, chunky people, people running, walking, limping.  I felt really excited for them and really proud.  This afternoon before we left I spent a few scrambled minutes trying to find my old marathon stuff, maybe wear my medal out of solidarity.  I couldn't find it of course, so instead I just stood on the sidelines with Alice on my chest, clapping and yelling the name of every person I could identify.  It made me miss it, and think about possibilities for next year.  I had never been a marathon spectator before, and it was more enjoyable than I expected. 

It was three years ago that I ran it.  Not too long ago, but not yesterday, either.  Feeling those old rumblings rising up again... 

Friday, November 05, 2010

Sweet sorrow

On Monday, Alice was the id of our family.  We were in McLean, at my parents' house with my folks, grandparents, and L's mom.  We were heading to the train station to return to New York, but L's mom had come by to say goodbye -- she was leaving that day for an exciting year-long opportunity in Afghanistan.  It might be six months until we are able to see her again.

The house was simmering with the usual pre-departure anxiety, exacerbated by the presence of an unhappy, unsettled baby.  Alice hadn't slept well all weekend, and this morning she was crying and jabbering, arching her back against anyone who would hold her.  Her forlorn cries were the background as we bustled around with bags and last-minute details.

The goodbyes started as we made our way to the door with all of our things.  In the foyer L and her mom were hugging tearfully.  L's mom embraced me and said she loved me, and I said the same with a huge lump in my throat.  I said, "it will be good, it will be good."  In the driveway L and her mom hugged again with Alice strapped to her mama's chest.  How I wished she could remember this.  As L's mom got in her car I had my arm around my wife, who was leaning into me as our daughter craned her neck around to peer at her mama.

Soon enough we were on our way to Union Station with the realization that the goodbyes were behind us.  My grandma had said to me, "take care of your little family," and for a brief moment it felt like a daunting responsibility.  But now we are home, easing back into normal life.  Finding a way to live as our love and prayers fly through the night from our home to Afghanistan.