the circular runner

Posts Tagged ‘random thoughts’

The Monster Inside Me

In humor, life, observations, Uncategorized, writing on December 16, 2011 at 5:17 am

It’s happened more than once lately. I’m sleeping and off in the distance, I hear something. It’s not me. It can’t be. It’s just too horrible. So, being human, I do the same thing we have done forever as a species when faced with the incomprehensible: I have tried to come up with stories, reasons and causes, to help me make sense of the frightening thing that’s making the racket in my room. One time, I heard this pinging sound and I imagined that the plumbing in my Edwardian flat was going bad and that soon, a flood of sewage would be washing my wife and I away. Another time, I imagined that the low, vast murmur off in the distance was some kind of beast, like a giant toad, bellowing its war cry just as it was about to attack. Most recently, I imagined that the percussive beat that was engulfing the room was coming from some traveling German rave scene that had chosen to camp out right next to my bed. I can still see the giant Gunther-looking dude DJ’ing and his head bobbing aggressively to Kraftwerk. (If you’ve ever heard the song, Autobahn, then you know that this is the most frightening images of all.)

The sounds, of course, were not caused by any of these things.  As much as I don’t want to admit it, the sounds were all in my head–literally. I am snoring. My wife has said this for some time, but I wouldn’t accept it. She had to be wrong. I just don’t do that. Why I react this way to the idea of snoring probably has to do with the fact that for me, snoring is just such the cliche of the old, bald, cranky man. I don’t see myself that way. Bald and cranky, I’ll cop to that. Maybe I’m even a little proud of those qualities, but old? Me? I think the traveling techno party in my room or the giant toad makes a lot more sense. At least I did until recently.

Now that I’m actually hearing it myself, actually hearing all that volume in my sleep, what can I say? Guilty as charged. (And guilty is the right word because every time it happens, every time I catch myself, I sit straight up and look around to see who’s noticed what I’ve done, which basically means, I look to see if my wife is looking at me with a little smile, as if to say, Yes, dearest, that giant alien-vacuum cleaner you’re imagining–that’s no alien appliance. That’s you. I’d love to film my reaction. She never is awake. She’s used to me snoring, I guess. I know this, but still, I seem to forget every time I go to sleep.

I know I must look nuts jumping out of bed, attempting a furtive glance as the reality settles in on me: I’m just getting older. In one more way, I am becoming my father.


Secret Santas Suck…And They Shoudn’t Be Secret, Either

In humor, life, observations, Uncategorized on December 15, 2011 at 12:17 am

Look, I’m cheery. I am. I don’t like forced community put upon me by holiday parties at work, but the holidays themselves are nice, great even. I wholeheartedly accept the power of the Santa or the Dreidel or claymation Frosty the Snowmen to make people feel warm and fuzzy inside. I don’t even mind the music I have to put up with in every store I enter–unless it’s The Little Drummer Boy–THAT SONG IS UNBEARABLE!! But then there’s the Secret Santa thing, and that just makes me sad and angry. I’m ok with the idea in the abstract, but where I work, the Ladies (and yes, they are all ladies) have decided that we have to give presents and that we can’t give gift cads or money. AND that we have to keep it secret until the day of the party when we all have to watch each other open each other’s gifts. Yes, this has the makings of sadness.

I point out that my enemies in this are ladies because, rightly or wrongly, I have noticed a gender divide on the question of gifts. I usually hate these kinds of divides. I am not a subscriber to the men are from mars and women are from…where are they supposed to be from again? See, I don’t even know the title of that stupid book. But there might be a real difference between the sexes when it comes to gift-giving philosophies. First off, I’ve never met a guy who said he didn’t like money for a gift–never. And gift cards, most men agree unless they are hard-core cash lovers, are almost as good. But I have met many a woman who, like the Ladies at my job, resist the practical beauty of cold hard cash and/or gift cards. Why? I ask this simple question.

Look, I understand the principle involved in this stance. It kind of sucks when you see spouses giving each other money. And maybe I get it with siblings, too. In both cases, we’re talking family members, intimates. Hopefully, you know your family well enough to know what to buy them.  But really? With people you work with, people you don’t know well, why not give cash? The guy I was assigned this year is a nice guy, a good person, but I see him once a month at staff meetings. I know he’s a new father. I know he drinks coke. That’s it. And good reader, these two facts don’t give me much to go on as far as what to buy him. Should I give the guy a case of coke and a baby bottle so that he can get his son started early? Should I buy him…Fuck, I don’t even know him well enough to make ridiculous over-the-top jokes about what I should give him.

So screw it. Screw The Ladies and their principled stance on gift-giving. Screw the Secret Santa silliness. Tomorrow, I’m going to talk to the guy and I’m going to break it down for him: he needs to tell me what to buy him OR he needs to accept a gift card from Babies R Us or Target or some other store of his choosing. And let me say this now: I’m not only doing this for myself. I do this for men everywhere who want badly to give money and/or gift cards to strangers at their workplaces. God bless us. God bless us all.

What Some German Movie About Running Taught Me About Running and Writing and Why I Should Stop Eating Sweets

In humor, life, observations, writing on December 14, 2011 at 1:21 am

So, if you’ve been reading my posts lately, you’ll know that I’ve been struggling with a script that I should’ve had done last week. I’ve tried everything including writing on this blog about the problem, which should be good for something the way I figure it. I’m communicating fears, sharing my thoughts, etc. But it’s all been for naught. The truth is that I’ve been sucking it big time, and if I don’t stop, I’m going to become a butterball. Yes, I don’t know why, but somehow in my head I seem to think that if I fill my face with enough coffee and sweet things, I’ll get my mojo back and tackle this script.  Sugar and caffeine are great for a lot of things, but they don’t do fuck-all to make me write. They just jack me up, which makes my self-hate tick up a few mental decibels and no doubt, in the very near future, they’re going to make me gain weight, which, in turn, will make me angry at myself–angrier is more like it.

But then this morning, I decided to shake things up. I decided that telling myself I suck and then announcing it repeatedly on this blog was not the way to go. Instead, I said, screw it! I gave myself the morning off. I didn’t let myself look at the clock. I didn’t tell myself I had to go to Starbucks to write before starting the rest of my day. I pushed all of it out of my head. And what did I do? I watched a movie about running.

I love sports-movies—let me say it now! This, like my negative views on holiday parties, makes my wife sad, so most of the time, when I watch sports-movies, I do so by myself. I will also admit that sports-movies make me emo, as in weep-my-butt-off emotional.  Dramas don’t usually cut to my heart and comedies hardly ever make me laugh, but watching someone overcome some kind of adversity, which is the basic formula for the sports-movie, makes me weep and/or glow with excitement. At this moment, I’m trying not to think of the theme for that amazing and Oscar-overlooked movie, Rudy.  Just thinking of that film makes me…Oh no….man-tears…adams-apple flexing….

A moment…sorry, I’m just…Ok, one more sec… …..just one….

OK, OK. I’m better now. That movie was greatness. I can also recommend Hoosiers, Without Limits, American Flyers, Rocky up until the one when he goes to Russia—that one sucked. The Karate Kid (I think we can include martial arts as a sport, though I would not do the same for KK 2, 3, or 4 or Karate Girl—as with any good fighter, the Karate Kid franchise should’ve hung up the black belt before it became a dementia-laden mess.

As you can see, I like sports-movies, but of all sports movies, I like running-movies best. That reminds me, Running Brave was great. OH,  and there’s also Chariots of Fire, though I hate slow-mo scenes. AND there are some great running documentaries. (If you’d like, send me word, and I’ll make you a list.) So, it’s the running-movie that makes my heart beat fastest. Partly, it’s because I run. I’m not a runner, but I have gone out to run 3-4 times a week since high school. I love the way real runners look when they’re doing their thing. It’s so basic to who we are. It’s what people have been doing since the beginning of people.  And so this morning, without much thought, I put in a German movie called The Robber. It’s based on a real-life story about some Austrian marathon runner in the 80s who not only set national records, but also robbed banks on his free time. I don’t know if the movie is truthful to the real story, but if it is, then the reason that the runner robs is the same reason he runs: he wants to push himself beyond usual limits. As a bank robber, he wants to push his adrenaline-levels, and as a runner, he’s trying to do the same. In one scene, he pushes himself so hard in a race that he collapses at the finish line. If it wasn’t for the fact that there was 30 minutes left to the movie, I would’ve assumed that the German director was making an ironic point: a robber who dies not running from the police but  from himself. What’s the German word for DEEP? And yet, this movie is deep. It’s a F’n sports-movie, after all. So what do you expect?

I know a lot of people don’t get this—not the sports-movie thing, but the running-thing. And there are a lot of sports-lovers who don’t think long distance running is exciting. But I do. There is an adrenaline to long distance running—it’s not the adrenaline you get jumping out of a plane or kayaking down a river, but it’s a slow kind, a personal kind.  The question a runner doesn’t ask but always has to face is: can I do this, can I finish the race and do so before anyone, before the clock winds down on whatever record I’m trying to shatter? Basically, what is my limit? Runners don’t ask that of themselves but the question is always there in their minds, and that question raises the stakes. I’ve never been brave enough to go all out while running, to risk my physical health. Even as a high school runner, I’d start my races worrying that I wouldn’t be able to finish if I went all out. Like any sport, you’re dealing with physical limits, and part of me was scared to face mine—I also am man enough to admit to my fear of physical pain.  The runner in the German movie faced the same question, but both as a robber and as a runner, he chose to push through and risk himself.

I know the old joke that the only good reason to run is if you’re being chased. Maybe that’s true. Maybe runners are chased by something in their make-up. I don’t know. I don’t think I care. What I can tell you is that there is something wonderful about being out somewhere moving through space, powered by your legs. There’s something lonely about it, and brave, and maybe, sadistic. The runner in the movie certainly had a sadistric streak in him.

For me, and how all of this relates to the script, I’d say that I’m stalling for the same reason I’m not a real runner: I am in fear of finding my limits and of the pain of effort required to even get to that place. In the end, that’s what I’m left with. So I either accept this fear and enjoy my life drinking coffee because I want to and not because I’m trying to avoid something, or I get off my butt and go for it. Balls out! No Limits!

Jesus, can you hear the Rocky theme playing in the background? I can. I can. I can.

Vegan Fascists at Whole Foods

In humor, life, observations, writing on December 12, 2011 at 12:03 am

Whole Foods, need I say more? Yeah, I better. There are a lot of things you can say about the store. I once got into a little bit of an argument with some people I work with about Whole Foods. They work for the “Community”—a word that doesn’t really mean anything unless it’s rooted in a context, which is great for people who work in non-profits. Though we are not corporations, we are corporate in one sense: we like acronyms and long meetings and phrases like community that sound so meaningful that no one ever dares to ask what that word actually means.

But I digress.

I got into an argument because someone was going off on the hack joke that whole foods should be called whole paycheck—LOL. It’s true, the place can be expensive. But then again, it’s not really more expensive than any other market if you’re comparing the same products. I mean, if you want Oreos, then you don’t really need the organic variety at Whole Foods, which are overpriced.  But, on the other hand, if you want a nectarine or a head of lettuce that isn’t funky and pestacized to death (your death) then I think Whole Foods is, relatively speaking, not outrageous. My defense of Whole Foods won me no friends in the room, but I was trying to be fair. I can live with that.

I say this even though now, I’m starting to think that fairness can suck it. Because last night, I went to Whole Foods and the cashier gave me a little lecture about my purchase, specifically, he was concerned with my purchase of meat. I know that in a recent post, I said that fascist is an overused word, so I wouldn’t let myself join that bandwagon. Well, originality, like fairness, can suck it.  I gotta call this one like I see it. My cashier was a vegan fascist.

The guy was classic San Fran. My wife thinks that means unwashed, but I’m not so sure. I think the point is to look unwashed because actually being unwashed is hard if you’re working—even in SF. It’s cooler and more ironic—qualities inherent in veganness—if you just pretend to be unwashed.

Anyway, so this guy had one of those giant ring-earing that was expanding his earlobe beyond reason. And he had the multi-colored arm tattoo running up and down most of his arm., which was pretty cool. I’m ok with all of it. I actually admire the commitment to that much body ink. I know I’m wrong about this, but I always assume that someone who looks like that will be cool, mellow, not judgmental, but no, inside this subversively faux-unclean self, was the heart of a fucking puritan.

Meat? Do I really need that it? That’s what the guy asked, and maybe he’s right. I don’t need the meat. But on the other hand, I don’t need the judgment, either.

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