Overheard

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Some things just brought this to mind today, but I heard it this summer, waiting around the Clayton docks for the kids to finish up in the restroom. A town worker was down there with his truck, getting some gear out of a storage area, and he was talking on his cell phone to someone at the same time. And he said to the other end, “I’m gonna tell you something Larry told me a long time ago. You can be the best boss in the world until you have to tell somebody to do something they don’t want to do. Then you’re an asshole.”
So, this guy working on the town crew pretty much has it figured out.

Wide World of Sports

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Survived the 5k. Liked the course much better than last year’s. Official time was something like 25:05, but I would swear the clock was still in the 24s when I crossed the line. No matter. Shaved a minute and a half off last year’s, stuck to my plan, never seriously thought about dropping out or even slacking back. Still, it’s disheartening when a schlub I know runs for no more than an hour once a week can come in right behind me. Sucks to be genetically challenged. But what a great time. I liked the support and chatter with other runners, the whole atmosphere, and it was a great time. Gonna psych myself up to do the Fiddlers in a few weeks. Plus, my family came and cheered me on at the finish, and that was wonderful. Then we had swim lessons, ballet lessons, lunch, a birthday party. During the party, Lee and I went down to Steiner’s and I got my bike.
I said, I GOT MY BIKE! Love it. Just love it. Fits me perfectly. Had to go with a somewhat softer seat than it was equipped with, but it’s still a bit of a hardtail, so my next pair of bike shorts is going to have to be a little higher tech (read: gel under my ass). I took it out yesterday for a great 22 mile ride through the hills of Luther and Best, all the way out to West Sand Lake, then back in on 43 (too much traffic), and down through Rensselaer (not quite intentionally, but I was trying to get away from the cars). Had to walk up Aiken Avenue, I was just about done with hills then no matter how low this thing cranks. And it cranks quite low. I took every other hill with aplomb. It was warmish, the sun was out, the fall colors were starting, and the ride through the country was just wonderful. Best bike ride of my life. No challenge to my lungs at all. And today I’m not even sore.
But I did have to take a nap yesterday afternoon. I was just beat.
Can’t wait to get it out next weekend!

Top 10

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10. It’s Not About the Bike by Lance Armstrong. Because it’s not. It’s about riding the bike. Fast. And having a heart 1/3 larger than normal, a resting heart rate around 32, and a VO2 rate that’s off the charts.
9. Having the blood pressure of a teenage girl. And the ankles of a 20-year-old.
8. Ric Burns’ “New York” documentary. So many reasons to love that fascinating city.
7. Driving too fast with the moonroof open, blasting Joe Jackson’s “Look Sharp”.
6. Ben & Jerry’s World’s Best Chocolate Ice Cream.
5. Little girl kisses.
4. My Legendary Girlfriend by Mike Gayle. At least so far. Light, funny, a little bit British but not obnoxiously so.
3. Snapfish.com, which for some reason gave me a mess of 4×6 prints on my photo order absolutely free, and which provided a connection to a real greeting card printer for my Christmas cards, instead of just those one-sided photo prints. Christmas cards MUST fold, dammit!
2. The Ramones: Leave Home and End of the Century, both really amazingly remastered and with massive bonus tracks, live stuff from 1976. I haven’t really heard these songs other than on very worn TDK tape in a long long time. I have been an idiot.
1. The Larry Sanders Show on Bravo. I can’t believe I’ve had to wait this long to see this, but boy was it worth it. While they’re at it, couldn’t they bring back the old Garry Shandling Show? It was also brilliant.

Xmas is coming! Xmas is coming!

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And for once I’m well-situated. I finally found a copy of Marshall Crenshaw’s “Sock it to Me Santa (Santa’s Got a Brand New Bag)” at the end of the last Christmas season — I would swear I had a copy of it somewhere, and I couldn’t find it anywhere. Not on any tape, not on any CD, and yet I knew the song perfectly, so I MUST have owned it. Finally found a copy on a lame compilation disc with some Boyz II Men and Whitney Houston type stuff, but by then I was desperate and I got it used through Amazon, so w.t.f. And, drum roll please . . . I actually ordered my Christmas cards last night. I did NOT have Snapfish mail them for me, though there’s that option, too. Full fold photo cards so that I can write something (I usually do, which is why Christmas cards get out every other year). Should have them in a couple of weeks, maybe even start addressing and writing them this month.
THIS IS THE YEAR! I WILL SEND CHRISTMAS CARDS!

The essential problem of blogs

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and, the blood pressure of a teenage girl


Mainly, when I’m actually thinking of something worth writing down and putting out into the ether is NOT when I’m sitting at a computer. It’s in the shower, or doing dishes, great thoughts that I fail to put on a post-it and therefore never find their way into any of my various communications with the world and myself. Then I sit down at the blog and have nothing interesting to say.
Well, I turned 42, which surprised me. Well, I guess I’m not surprised anymore, but there certainly was a time when I didn’t expect to get here, figuring health or drinking or something like that would cut it short and sweet. But here I am, dry and happy, lo these many years, and healthier than I have ever been.
But I had a couple of spells of lightheadedness last week. I was absolutely certain it had something to do with some phenomenally hot habanero sauce I was sampling, but as the only reliably healthy person in the household, I had to make sure, so I went to the doc. My blood pressure is low, my resting pulse is low (55 at waking), and he watched my blood pressure fall twenty points as I stood up (that’s down into double digits on the topside), so he thought the extra dilation of the habaneros was indeed probably the cause. He said he mostly sees this in teenage girls, and that I essentially have the blood pressure of a teenage girl. Last year when I was having heel problems, he did an x-ray and told me I had the ankles of a 20-year-old. I wonder if he’s hitting on me?

Rinse, repeat

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Exhausted. Not running, and I’ve got a race next week I’d like to do well in. But with all the stuff that has to get done at home, I’m not getting to sleep any too early, so I can’t get up in the mornings. Just not pushing myself hard enough to do it. Girls have been sick, so there are the middle of the night coughing spells. Lee needed help with the computer, which kept me up until midnight last night (Suitcase problems, which I didn’t resolve but was able to kluge around). I had wanted to go see Richard Russo at the Writers Institute last night, but of course I couldn’t because Hannah had a Girl Scout meeting and ceremony, and I had this computer problem hanging over my head. So that’s twice I’ve missed him. Oh well. Not important, just something I would have liked to have done.
I want my new bicycle so badly….
Tonight, Hannah’s ballet class. Trying to sneak in a run, either then or earlier in the day. Going to pour tomorrow and probably into Saturday. Must. Train. But it turns out my little bike loop I did on Sunday was a healthy 16 miles, so I felt good about that. Aerobically, I’m in the best shape of my life. That run, even with all the uphills, didn’t leave me winded or even a little bit sore. Not bad.

They say . . .

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“They say these are the good times
But they don’t live around here…”
For reasons that aren’t quite clear to me, I’m actually fairly torn up over the news that Warren Zevon has inoperable lung cancer. I knew when Joey Ramone was sick, and his death was a marker to anyone of my age who grew up with the Ramones. And I LOVE the Ramones, still, so it was a terrible shame. His last album had a cover of the old Louis Armstrong “Wonderful World” that was incredibly poignant and still rocked. But other than that, Joey hadn’t really done much to break ground in a long time. The Ramones were sui generis, and they did what they did, it was always great but it was nearly always the same. That was the point. Loved it.
But Zevon has been giving us more and more interesting songs, starting out cynical. The earliest Zevon song I know of is “Outside Chance,” covered by The Turtles: “You can try to please me / but it won’t come easy / Stone walls surround me / I’m surprised that you even found me / And you don’t stand an outside chance / No you don’t stand an outside chance / But you can try.” They really raved it up, too. And from there he got darker, but his darkness always had a little smirk. Of course, “Werewolves of London” and “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner” established him, but then there are some songs of deep, desperate love as well (“you can’t start it like a car / you can’t stop it with a gun”). Ronstadt covers, and her best stuff, too. A little more obscurity and small club gigs all over, and I’ve never been able to catch him. “Splendid Isolation,” one of my all-time favorites, and the very funny “My Shit’s Fucked Up,” which now shows some extra meaning. Maybe he’s known for a long time. I haven’t really dug into the new album yet, the mood hasn’t been right. I can’t really listen to darkness when I’ve got my own darkness going on, that’s just wallowing. But the time will come and I’ll love the new songs, too, I’m sure.
I guess a guy whose logo is a grinning, smoking skull might have seen lung cancer coming. His ride’s here.

Okay, I’m over that

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Ignore that momentary loss of composure. A bad weekend, psychologically, spilled over. The thing is, I wait and wait for the weekends to come, and then there’s that whole glorious rollercoaster — Friday night, when anything’s possible (except that I never leave the house); Saturday, the wide open day when you can just do anything without repercussions or recrimination (except for back-to-back swimming and ballet lessons); and then Sunday, The Day That Cried, when you’re still free but soon you won’t be. Rinse, work like a dog for five days, repeat. I used to see the weekend cycle as a very common, pedestrian, undesirable thing; if I were truly cool, I wouldn’t have to rely on the weekend for my fun. Probably a healthy way to look at it back when I had to work weekends. Now, a weekend is to me what it is to most of the rest of America. I am what I am. This is my Non-Urban Life.
And so, when something emotionally gut-wrenching happens on Friday night, and it’s dragged on through the entire weekend, one arrives at Monday without any of the rest and refreshment one should have. And then one posts a dumb, depressing, mysterious blog.
And then one upbraids oneself for switching between the imperfect references in the second person and the use of the term “one”. And then one quits writing for the day.

Nothing is too much to bear

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That’s from a Townes Van Zandt song. “Everything is not enough / Nothing is too much to bear / Where you been is good and gone / All you keep is the gettin’ there.”
Trying to remind myself that nothing is too much to bear. Sometimes I wonder.