Saturday, October 22, 2011

on the night shift

"The dream is always the same. Instead of going home, I go to the neighbors. I ring, but nobody answers. The door is open, so I go inside. I'm looking around for the people, but nobody seems to be there. And then I hear the shower running..."

~~joel goodson, risky business

the act of living is fraught with anxiety. mostly about dying.

which would go a long way toward explaining recurrent anxiety dreams. what it doesn't explain is why those dreams are so bizarre and disconnected from living or dying.

for me, anyway.

i have at least three such nightmares, and while they never end in death, they also never end well. plus, the symbolism in these nacht-shades is odd to say the least.

one is a classic that many report: it's final exam day, and i've not attended class all semester. somehow i just forgot to show up until this very moment; it's far too late to drop the class, and failure is inevitable.

then i get distracted by something more important~~like the plane i'm aboard, which is flying extremely low, between power lines, just above rush hour traffic. how did i end up in a pilot's final exam nightmare?

i've also dreamed about playing tennis with jimmy connors. i find myself across the net from him, racquet in hand, with a very important problem: i don't play tennis. i used to, many years ago, but i can't even figure out how to toss the ball for a proper serve. and, it's jimmy connors.

then i get distracted by something more important, like actually crash-landing in a plane. my friend mike ditzler is usually traveling with me on these flights, and typically we walk away unfazed, as if this kind of thing happened all the time. then we wander off to begin a vacation somewhere.

somewhere like the pebble beach golf club. where it's late in the afternoon, verging on dusk, and we haven't teed off yet. there's no time to go to the driving range for a practice swing~~we have to get to the tee straight away.

inconveniently, i no longer play golf, and haven't swung a club in years. i swing badly (much like when i did play) and the ball heads into the rough in the trees on a hill next to a winding dirt path. or some variation thereof. i go to look for the ball, and darkess is falling. groups behind us are playing through, so i rush back to the fairway and try to play on. but we're now hopelessly behind.

a chance to play at a golfer's dream course (a very expensive opportunity) is frittered away forever.

what kind of anxiety dreams are these? golf at pebble beach? tennis with jimmy connors? flying, unflying, mike ditzler?

maybe these are just the symbols through which the fear of death whispers in my ear. and really, the specter could be much worse, much more perhaps i should be grateful.

but just once...can't i stare across the net and fire a rocket down the line? can't i stand confidently over the ball and send a beautiful drive down the middle of the fairway? can't i show up for the final having attended class and actually done a useful bit of studying?

apparently not. the arc of the dreams is always the same, and i'm chronically unprepared. then i get distracted by something more important.

weirdly like real life.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

ringing endorsement

it was particularly uproarious recently when my phone began ringing just as i was walking into the men's room. at the moscone convention center. in san francisco.

my ringtone...

hilarity ensued.

Sunday, October 09, 2011

running on...

looking out at the road rushing under my wheels
i don't know how to tell you all
just how crazy this life feels
i look around for the friends that I used to turn to
to pull me through
looking into their eyes I see them running too
running on, running on empty
running on, running blind
running on, running into the sun
but I'm running behind

~jackson browne

i still don't like running.

but i'm hating it less, recently. especially today.

the difference? for one, this morning my daughter ran with me.

it was the inaugural "run the bluff" 12k/5k event held in our very own neighborhood. i ran the 12k~~she and a friend ran the 5k.

the day started rainy and cold, but improved by race time to chilly and misty. the precipitation stopped for the start, but restarted before the finish. which is to say, we got wet.

this seems like a good time to mention that 12k is 7.456 miles. if you're cruising the highway at 65 mph or so, it's nothing. it's 7 minutes of your life that you don't notice going by at all.

if you're running those 12000 meters, however, it takes a lot longer. and me, i noticed every mile.

i noticed that it's easier to run with several hundred people than to run alone. i noticed i'm not the only one who struggles on long uphill climbs. i noticed it's impossible to drink water out of little paper cups when you're running, and trying to do so will empty the cup all down your front. and onto your shoes.

i noticed that i don't like people passing me. and after the first several minutes of sorting things out, no one did. the faster people stayed in front of me, and the slower people stayed behind me. i mean, obviously.

a couple people tried to pass, but after i tripped them and told them to stay on the ground, they lost interest.


but really, between mile one and mile seven, no one passed me. i was feeling pretty good about this...right up to the point, with a half-mile to go, where the twenty-something mom (and her child) blew past me with the baby jogger. the moment was deeply symbolic of something, but i'm not sure what.

anyway, i ran, i finished, i didn't fall down, i didn't have a cardiac event. which means it was a very good day.

the girls, meanwhile, had an even better time.

did i mention, they're ten years old and were running their first race? they are, and they were. totally nonchalant about the whole thing, running ahead of me for the first several hundred yards (even though we started together).

they finished 80th among the 171 girls/women running the 5k. the average finishing time was 36:00 minutes, they finished in 34 minutes.

they got their picture taken and their names announced as they crossed the finish line. the only thing missing was al michaels saying, "do you believe in miracles? yes!"

ten years old.



update: several hours later, i'm tired. mostly from two hours shopping with the missus, i think. though it's possible the running may be a contributing factor.

the girl, conversely, is unfazed. smiling, wearing her event t-shirt, her race bib number pinned to her bulletin board.

we're talking about running the "seattle jingle bell walk/run" in a couple months.

it may actually be possible to enjoy running. who knew...



bib number: 1813
age: 10
gender: F
location: Seattle, WA
overall place: 131 out of 248
division place: 11 out of 19
gender place: 80 out of 171
time: 34:18
pace: 11:03

Number of Finishers: 248
Number of Females: 171
Number of Males: 77
Average Time: 36:00


bib number: 190
age: 50
gender: M
location: Seattle, WA
overall place: 89 out of 338
division place: 8 out of 15
gender place: 62 out of 127
time: 1:02:49
pace: 8:26

Number of Finishers: 338
Number of Females: 211
Number of Males: 127
Average Time: 1:12:14

Thursday, October 06, 2011

today, one dot at a time

“you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in the future.” ~~steve jobs

an amazingly poignant essay on how to live.

conditional certainty...

these times are so uncertain
there's a yearning undefined
and people filled with rage
we all need a little tenderness
how can love survive
in such a graceless age
the trust and self-assurance that lead to happiness
they're the very things we kill, i guess
pride and competition cannot fill these empty arms
and the work i put between us,
you know it doesn't keep me warm

i'm learning to live without you now
but i miss you, baby
the more i know, the less i understand
all the things i thought i figured out, i have to learn again
i've been trying to get down to the heart of the matter
but everything changes
and my friends seem to scatter
but i think it's about forgiveness
even if, even if you don't love me anymore

~~don henley

two things we know with great certainty: amanda knox is free, and troy davis is dead.

foxy knoxy, apparently the victim of a flawed murder conviction in italy, is now meandering the streets of seattle. also, she is alive. davis, apparently the victim of a flawed murder conviction in the usa, was recently executed. ergo he is dead. and not meandering.

let us stipulate that neither you nor i know if knox was innocent and davis was guilty. or vice versa. or some shade of red in between. what is clear is that the perky, affluent white chick survived the flawed conviction, and the permanently affected black guy did not.

when knox was incarcerated, many americans howled that the italian justice system was a sham. now that she's been freed by that system, we assume its image is rehabilitated in their eyes.

the u.s. justice system, meanwhile, continues to kill people whose guilt is in doubt. rehabilitate that, with a straight face.

curious, too, how many people are feting knox's return to seattle. though there's no certainty about her participation in a grisly crime, she's received a celebrity's welcome.

which is fine. she may very well be innocent.

but if you stumble across her using a butter knife in some secluded coffee shop, it might be prudent to keep a safe distance.

davis, meanwhile? dead. despite real doubts about his participation in a grisly crime. which should raise doubts about which legal system is more of a sham.

knox soon will be sorting through book deals and screenplays. her four years in prison will be worth millions. you know many people would make that bargain without batting an eye.

with great certainty we know troy davis would take it. if he weren't, you know, dead.