Thursday, April 25, 2013

Which is it?

Hey, conspiracy people! Is the government incapable of organizing a piss-up in a brewery, or is it single-handedly masterminding large-scale attacks against its own people?

Choose one, because I don't think you can have both.


Go feed the homeless or something.

Or are they a false flag, too?

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Boston: a Tribute

I must share this blog post from runner Dave Munger:

Mungerrunns: In Praise of Boston

From the piece:

"Marathon day in Boston is one of the warmest and most heartfelt holidays and events that I have ever been a part of. Someone tried to take that away from the people of Boston yesterday, but I don't think they succeeded. They only gave Boston another chance to show how generous and brave its people are. While I am horrified by the events that occurred yesterday, I'm glad to have had the chance to see so many people at their best." -Dave Munger

Monday, April 15, 2013

Runner's High (Repost)

Note: I wrote this in October of 2005, when my uncle ran in the Twin Cities Marathon. In the midst of the horror that happened this afternoon in Boston, I wanted to remember this day in the past, when I first had a glimmer of understanding as to why people would want to run a marathon. To everyone in Boston, my family and friends there, anyone who is feeling shaken, sad, and angry; all who are affected by this senseless violence... love and light to you.

I don’t like running

If I had to run for my life, I’d die.

I quit track after 9th grade because they would not let me just run fast and then jump, and they would not let me just run fast and then stop. They wanted me to run. They made me run. And run. Just run. Run and run and run.

I didn’t like it.

This past weekend was beautiful. A showcase of Twin Cities autumnal majesty. One sparkling, warm yellow light day, and one grey blue breezy day. It was the weekend of the annual Twin Cities Marathon, and my uncle and aunt had arrived so that my uncle could run in it. I was excited to see them as they are two of my favorite people in the world and my example of how a couple should behave; madly in love, even when you are doing the dishes. But I don’t like running. I don’t know if I have mentioned this, but I just don’t like it. It kills my prematurely old knees, and it makes me sad, deep in my respiratory system. It would be great to cheer Mike on, but being that close to so many people who are running…. I just didn’t know.

I don’t understand marathons; I don’t know why anyone would want to do it; I don’t see the point. This does not mean that I am not impressed by the achievement because I most certainly am, but I did not see how I could get much actual personal enjoyment out of being a spectator for a marathon. And actual personal enjoyment is an important pursuit in my life.

Pete and I decided to ride our bicycles. Most of the route through St. Paul was familiar and relatively close to our house, and it seemed strange to use the car to cheer on people who are running. Jump in the car, drive the car, park the car, get out of the car, “GO MIKE YAY MIKE”, jump in the car, drive the car, park the car, get out of the car, etc. I figured it would stress me out and make me feel even more of a fitness loser than I already am. I jumped astride Stan and Pete got his bicycle (who will remain nameless), and we struck off to meet the marathoners.

We arrived at the Lake Street Bridge that connects Minneapolis to St. Paul where the Mississippi River separates them. People, everywhere. Cheering and whooping. Waving signs and clapping. Runners passing under us on the River Road, clearly members of the elite, still cruising along at Mile 21 like they had just started out. We were meeting the family at mile 18, across the river. I was surprised by my reaction to all the activity. It was as if the air was full of the runners’ endorphins, and I felt no pain, just a positive sense of ineffable joy. It was the kind of free-floating goodwill that makes you say nice things to people you don’t know, remark on the cuteness of strangers’ dogs, and walk around with an idiotic grin on your face, directing the glow at everyone in your vicinity. I found myself looking for things to compliment. “Nice boots!” “I love your top.” I look forward to moods like that.

We crossed the river and rode up the path alongside the course. The family was there, dutifully waiting for Mike. Spectators were stretched out as far as we could see, each way along the route, and the runners formed a steady stream of endurance. Almost eight thousand people would pass through here once the day was over, running, wheeling, walking, breathing, smiling, wheezing, and sweating. It was unbelievable, and I felt emotional, teary. I thought that perhaps I was losing my mind until I looked at Pete, who said, eyes red, “I feel like crying.” Freak. Freak like me.

I guess that it was the upbeat nature of the event. It is what it is, and this positive sense of accomplishment for the sake of accomplishment was hanging in the autumn air, just underneath the canopy of grey clouds. And it was affecting everyone. From me with my low expectations and disdain of running to the women who were across the course from us on Mile 18, cheering indefatigably for anyone, everyone who went by, using some stand-out aspect of the participant’s costume or appearance to designate them. “Go Spam! YAAAAY!!! All right you guys, you’re looking great!! Woo Hoo! Number 8413!! Super Fly!! Sparkle head! Batman! Robin! Superman! Keep it up!! Great Job!! YAAAAAAAAYYY!!!” They were incredible. My uncle would tell us afterwards that the crowd was pretty quiet, compared, at least, to Pittsburgh. But we can’t be compared to steel workers of the western Appalachians. It’s just not fair. I posit that they were pretty loud for a bunch of passive aggressive Minnesotans.

It’s a gorgeous route to run, if you have to run. Or if you want to run. It starts in downtown Minneapolis and wends its way past the Sculpture Gardens, though neighborhoods that inspire envy, home of the Mary Tyler Moore house and Walter Mondale’s home, past the chain of three lakes, Isles, Calhoun, and Harriet, along the Minnehaha Parkway and around Lake Nokomis, north/northeast along the river and then back down the other side, over and up along Summit Avenue through Saint Paul, past the Governor’s Mansion, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s brownstone, Garrison Keillor’s neighborhood, and down past the Cathedral and on to the State Capitol. Pete and I put in over 16 miles on our bicycles, a pittance in physical expenditure compared to my uncle and the thousands of others who finished, but it felt good. It was fun to ride alongside, to look for him in the crowd, to cheer him on, to have that brief moment where I actually understood why someone would want to do this. I won’t be running a marathon any time soon, or ever, I should say, but I will probably get the bike out again next year, and cheer on a bunch of strangers.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Frailty, thy name is Minnesotan

It snowed last night. While we were sleeping, a soft blanket of fresh, white flakes covered the brown dreck of early spring. Over the dog poop, string cheese wrappers, cigarette packs, and other accumulated refuse of a season of neglect.

At 5:00 this morning, I heard the plows go by, but I didn't need that scraping sound to know that we would wake up to the solid form of precipitation most bemoaned by Minnesotans. I could tell from the quality of the light coming in through the curtains in Finn's room, where I had retired after one too many kicks to the back by himself.

In a few hours, I would wake to wailing and gnashing of teeth on various social media platforms as Midwesterners prove how not-resilient we are. We talk a good talk, but when it comes down to it, we don't cope very well with winter. Or summer. Or weather.

To be fair, it's most likely a condition of humanity in general. It's easy to complain about the weather, and most people are going to agree with you; then you can wallow in common misery. Fun!

But it's truly bizarre, in some ways. There is nothing we can do about it, so crying to the heavens about the cold or the snow is about as useful as, well, crying to the heavens about anything. Weather is truly, madly out of our hands. We have tools to cope with it, such as outerwear, sunblock, and indoor climate control, but the weather will be what it will be.

As I sit on my livingroom floor playing pretend kitten with my son, I can look out the windows at a grey sky and rooftops still striped with white, and I know that it is spring. We are not at the start of a long haul, nor are we trapped in the middle of what seems like endless cold. It is spring. The lilies and irises are poking up next to the garage. The ice that choked the driveway is almost gone. The earth has a smell of darkness and possibility to it.

This is spring. And it has snowed. The snow does not make it winter; we do. Indeed, it will snow more this evening and into the night.

This is my song of Shut the Fuck Up. Minnesotans, this is Minnesota. I think you have met before.

Just think. In a few short months, you can be bitching endlessly about how hot you are.

Won't that be fun?