Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Dear Jake,

I am Dan W., an English language editor working on a book to be published in Japan for students of contemporary English and American culture. I have found your writing on the web to be very interesting and would like your permission to include portions of it in a book on which we are presently working.

I am to contemporary English and American culture what Dubya is to coherent English and American thinking. But this sounds like fun. So OK.

The working title of the book is “Journals of Thirty Americans Volume 2,” and the anticipated publication date is March 2007. The book will contain several blog entries from 30 writers from various locations and demographics. We hope to show the Japanese reader a view of ordinary life in English-speaking countries and the use of English in everyday circumstances.

My incoherent ramblings rendered in Japanese as some sort of primer on American English and culture? Wow. This could take us back to 1941.

I’ll check with you to see if what I have chosen is acceptable to you. A Japanese translation of your writing will be included in the book along with the original English.

Seriously. I joke about killing hookers in the basement and I openly mock wingnuts like Mel Gibson and Rush Limbaugh at every available opportunity. Do sarcasm and loathing even translate in Japanese? And is it true that the Japanese character for Coulter is the same one they use for people who leave pee on the toilet seat?

You can view a sample of our first book, “Journals of Thirty Americans,” here or see us on Amazon Japan here.

I suddenly feel like Paul Lynde, looking vaguely heterosexual and singing “Ed Sullivan!” incredulously into the Fresnels. (Is it OK if I make an “Ed Surrivan” joke here? Because an Asian friend of mine dressed as a leprechaun for Halloween, and he thought it was pretty funny when I told him he was actually a reprechaun.)

If the attached terms and conditions for the use of parts of your blog are acceptable to you, please reply to me by the end of October with your personal information and the words “I accept” at the end of the message.

My name is Jake, and I approve this request.

(Please accept our apologies in advance if we are unable to include parts of your blog in the book even if you accept, which may happen for editorial reasons.)

Nobody puts Baby in a corner. But since no money is changing hands here, I see no reason to get upset if I end up on the cutting-room floor.

Thank you,

Dan W., English editor
Kosaido Publishing Co.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Update!

The Job
It’s nice to have structure again. Sleeping late and lounging in sunspots and watching CSI reruns while the rest of the world was in meetings was nice, but I don’t do well when I’m not overscheduled.

The company I’m working for specializes in the flavor of direct marketing I’ve always been extremely good at, so I was able to breeze in on the first day and start being productive right away. My first project is with an interesting client, and my team is both talented and enthusiastic, so I have to say I’m pretty happy where I landed.

As an added bonus, the companies I’d interviewed with who dragged their heels have started calling me to schedule followup interviews and to actually make offers, and I get to 1) gently (ever so gently) scold them for being slow and inefficient and 2) bask in the glow of being in demand. I’m happy enough where I am that it would take an awfully compelling compensation package and/or client base to make me uproot for an 11th-hour offer—but I might change jobs if I got an offer from someone with bigger bathrooms. Seriously: Our bathroom is no bigger than what you’d find in a nice private home, except we’ve packed ours with two toilet stalls and a urinal. I dread the day I share that room when I’m feeling a little noisy. The embarrassment will haunt me for decades.

The Condo
The developer of my new place finally got its act together, signed my contract and hooked me up with its designer, with whom the boyfriend and I spent two very gay hours last weekend picking cabinets and countertops and tiles and carpets. First revelation: I have very expensive tastes. Second revelation: Marble countertops in both bathrooms equals five weeks of welfare checks. Third revelation: I deserve marble countertops in my bathrooms.

Picking all that stuff can be a little overwhelming, though, and when it was all done, I’d discovered I’d ended up decorating the whole place in basically the same colors, textures and materials. Which isn’t such a bad thing, I guess. And I can always use paint and knickknacks to give each room its own personality. Thank goodness I’ve invested heavily in knickknacks.

The down side: My September 1 delivery is now somewhere in the nebulous world of December. The boyfriend thinks it might even be in January, but I don’t want to think about that. The friends I’m staying with are gracious and welcoming and their house is beyond lovely (and cozy on cold mornings) and it’s actually been really fun living with roommates for the first time since college. But I miss walking around naked and leaving cereal bowls in the living room and peeing with the door open. And I miss my own knickknacks.

The Marathon
Well, at least it didn’t rain. Last Sunday was cold—not kill-me-now cold, but extremely, uncomfortably cold—and the temperature set the tone for my worst marathon ever. In a nutshell: I finished in 4:53:40, over half an hour slower than last year. I hit my wall around mile 18, instead of mile 22, where I usually start to feel like crap. My knees also blew out around mile 18, and for eight excruciating miles, they hurt worse than Rush Limbaugh’s conscience on Don’t Be A Drug-Addled Divorce Junkie Who Makes Fun Of People With Crippling Diseases Day. But Fearless Leader Matthew was also hurting on the same mileage schedule, and one way or another we spurred each other on and crossed the finish line together. And I technically beat him by one second, which makes me the victorious winner and him a big girlie-man loser.

On the plus side, I ended up really liking the cheap headband, gloves and sweatshirt I bought with the intention of throwing them away once my body warmed up. So I got to keep them—though they’re gonna cut a good $20 out of my marble-countertops-in-the-bathroom budget.

But I have pictures!

Here is most of my team before the race, our knees and dignity still intact and our bodies reasonably warm in the AIDS Marathon tent:

The crowd before the marathon starts is DENSE. Thankfully I was able to bring a photographer and enough hair and makeup people into the throng to take a picture that makes me look both small-nosed and non-chipmunk-cheeked:

Fearless Leader Matthew and I were the picture of happiness and enthusiasm as we crossed the LaSalle bridge somewhere around mile 4. Notice how my spiffy new sweatshirt allowed me to stay warm and yet be unzipped enough to display my marathon bib and number. These are the same useful features I’ll probably look for when I’m shopping for garments to wear when the boyfriend finally puts me in the Home For Aged Bloggers With Shattered Marathon Dreams:

I think this is mile 15. Or maybe it’s mile 17. In any case, I’m showing it here because it makes my quads look really pumped:

Here I am blurrily approaching my mom at mile 16. I do not look even remotely gay:

Just across the finish line. NOT doing well:

Notice how my spiffy new sweatshirt can be zipped AND hooded. I can’t imagine what these fashion designers will think of next:

Fearless Leader Matthew probably would want me to point out that he was wearing some kind of tummy pack filled with drugs and marathon snacks under his running togs. Please do not think he has problems with portion control:

Back in the AIDS Marathon tent. Those medals may be shiny, but they don’t provide a lick of warmth:

I had foolishly agreed to run a tap audition at 4:00 after the marathon. Here I am at 2:00 forced by mutinous knees to descend a staircase backward on my way home to clean up before the audition. Which is further proof that people who run marathons don’t have an ounce of common sense:

Friday, October 27, 2006

New job. First typo.

It's only $19.95—and whipping is free if you order before January 1, 2007!

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Not dead.

Just very, very busy. The new job is requiring lots of my time and attention, and I haven't yet determined whether or not it's cool to do things like blog and shop for mail-order brides on my work computer. So I have to do those things when I'm at home. Which hasn't been starting until after 9 pm, when I'd rather be eating or snuggling on the couch with the boyfriend.

But the job is great, the people are nice and talented and extremely passionate about their work, and even though I'm in a cube, I have a nice view of the bathroom.

My joints are mostly recovered from the marathon, but the extremely cold weather and any other factors I can pin blame on made me run 30 minutes slower than last year's time—which, though not the end of the world, was nevertheless frustrating and slightly wounding to my machismo. The official photos aren't yet ready for purchase, but I'll post a full report complete with visual aids and whimpering self-pity in the near future.

In the mean time: SLEEP.

Monday, October 23, 2006

A marathon arrived

and a marathon dispatched.

It's over. It did NOT go well. But I finished, with my knees and my dignity barely intact.

Details and photos to come. Just as soon as I get through my first day at my fabulous new job!

Which means I guess I'll be having lots and lots of details to cough up this week ...

Saturday, October 21, 2006

It’s time …

Time to run my third Chicago Marathon! I’ll be up at 5:30ish tomorrow for my final round of carbo-loading, stretching, carbo-loading some more and heading out into the cold to be miserable for a good four-plus hours.

And it’s really supposed to be miserable tomorrow: rainy (80% chance) and cold (high of 44°) and whiny (Jake). I was planning on being all moved into my new place by now, but the developers are taking their sweet, sweet time, so all my cold-weather running gear is still packed away in storage. And so are all my junky old clothes I could wear for the first bit of the marathon and throw away without missing them when I get warm. So I just stopped by my friendly organized clean neighborhood TJ Maxx to buy some cheap sweatpants ($7.99) and a hooded sweatshirt ($12.99) I can wear as long as I need and then throw them away the moment I reach equilibrium. Or the moment they get so drenched they start dragging me down.

Before I head out, I owe many of you a HUGE thanks for your donations to my AIDS Marathon fundraising. My goal was $1,400, but I just checked the numbers, and they top out at $2,740. Some of that money is from family and friends and coworkers who are morally obligated to quantify their love for me monetarily, but a giant part of it is from the complete strangers who read my blog. You people and your generosity truly rock, and I’ll keep your names and stories with me for the whole run tomorrow. Your donations make such a difference in the lives of people living with HIV and AIDS, and I am proud to run and earn the donations you have made on my behalf.

Before I head to bed with my belly full of carbs, I leave you with a look at our final training run last Saturday, where we got PLENTY of practice running in the bitter cold. I hope you enjoy them as much as I didn’t:

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Jake Regrets: The ugly truth

I was a homely child. I was a homely child until I was about 23, when I joined my first gym—and even then it took a long-ass time for my body to fill out. And for the chicks to start noticing me. Or at least noticing me noticing other guys, who took their own sweet time noticing me back.

I have bravely posted photographic proof of my young homeliness on this site, only to be met with mockery and derision from certain readers who accused me of trying to pass off cuteish pictures of myself as proof that it was sometimes challenging even for my own mother to hug me.

Well now the gloves are off. Or at least the dignity is. Whatever was left of it. Because I dug around in the darkest corners of my old photo albums and found some of the last remaining Photos of Shame that hadn’t been destroyed by me or self-exterminated in a heroic act of community service.

I scanned six pictures before I put all my albums in storage, and I’m presenting three of them to you here (in chronological order so you can more easily chart my descent into unsightliness). The other three have a theatrical theme (go figure) and qualify for their own special category of horror. Which means I have a Halloween post all ready to go. Less work for me!

In the mean time, grab your stomachs and avert your eyes, because you’re about to see some pictures of me that, when you consider the fact that I’ve never been placed in a home for frightening children, qualify my parents for sainthood.

You’ve been warned.

The summer of 1984:

Things I had discovered in 1984: Canvas shoes from Target. The gender-bending subversiveness of wearing an ankle bracelet. White fake Ray-Bans with little black music notes all over them. Gravity-defying hair. Things I had not yet discovered in 1984: Going to a gym. Having the good sense not to wear tank tops in public. Having the good sense not to wear white fake Ray-Bans with little black music notes all over them.

My 21st birthday:

I’m not sure what’s most disturbing about this picture: the bar mitzvah clown smile, the Disney villain eyes, the dinner-plate glasses, the scarecrow neck, the weird-ass way I wore my watch on the inside of my wrist or the pink-on-white shirt that hung on me with all the sex appeal of a party dress on a toddler. The girls on my floor (Loser alert! I was living in a co-ed dorm!) had decorated my door with pink 21s. Probably to match the shirt. Or the homosexuality. I’m not sure where I got the wine, but I am sure I had only a sip of it to celebrate reaching such a milestone age. Because actually drinking a whole glass of alcohol on my 21st birthday would have been something the cool kids would do.

College graduation:

First of all, I guess I had a cute little habit of saying Yay! about situations that met my approval when I was in college. Unfortunately, Mom (who correctly thought Yay! would be fitting sentiment to express over a college graduation) and the cake decorator (who probably didn’t have an advanced degree in spelling) ended up producing a graduation cake that said yeah in my honor. Which only underscores what the rest of this picture is saying about me. For instance: The glasses. Bigger than my face. Lower than my eyebrows. I’m just a home perm and a cameo brooch away from being Sophia Petrillo. And don’t get me started on the shirt. I’d thought it was one of the coolest shirts ever when I first found it wadded up on the tumble table at the local County Seat. It was red and white, see, but it had blue stuff sewn in to the collar and sleeves (and, inexplicably, that saggy pocket) to make it look like it was layered. It was also probably a small, yet it hung on me like a Mayan burial gown on an immolated corpse. And in any case, the whole look was in direct violation of the contract I signed when they gave me my English degree: no bright colors, no perky smiles, no Sally Jesse Raphaël glasses. And no misspelled pastries.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Our time

They say some of the hardest things to go through in life include losing a job, looking for a job, moving, being homeless, and losing your nice belt but finding it again a few days later. I don’t know who the hell “they” are or how they knew about the belt—which is actually pretty creepy when you think about it—but they missed something. Something that can be very difficult to survive when you don’t see it coming.

I’m actually surprised how well I’ve managed this period of epic transition in my life. I owe a lot of it to the boyfriend, who has brought me such unexpected joy and unrelenting optimism (not to mention a delightful mix of giddiness, serenity, support, smiles that melt me in my tracks, text messages that make me laugh out loud and obscure Sondheim trivia that—quite frankly—gives him more sex appeal than he could achieve with a spray-on tan, a giant bowl of ice cream and two spoons) that for the first time in my life I see my future as more of an exhilarating journey than just an inevitable destination.

I also owe a lot to my friends Jim and Jeff, who welcomed me into their home when my house and my job suddenly disappeared beneath my feet. (Before you take up a collection on behalf of my poor downtroddenness, I should clarify that my house disappeared because my old place sold sooner than I expected and my new place is STILL not ready for me to move in. So I am not homeless out of destitution. But I did lose my job in a round of layoffs. And I am not too proud to accept donations of large bills.) Aside from giving me a lovely place to survive the stresses of moving and job hunting, they’ve also insisted on making me (and the boyfriend) actually live in their home with them—having dinner, relaxing in front of the fireplace, making conversation … the things I’d otherwise completely overlook in my concentrated mission to find a job and become a productive citizen again.

Wow. Somehow I blathered myself off on a tangent. Embarrassments of riches can have that effect on a guy.

In any case, I have honestly viewed this whole period of transition as more of an adventure than a burden. Aside from some basic frustrations, I have felt no emotional collapse. I have cursed no gods. I have shed no tears.

Until last night, where I found something unexpected that was actually quite hard to get through. And it wasn’t any of the abovementioned traumas; it was the lyrics to a song and the love of two parents.

I sing in the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus, and in addition to our three-show subscription season, we perform around town for things like mayoral events and Cubs games and conferences and private parties.

Last night was a private party. But it wasn’t the kind of party whose hosts you’d expect would bring in a group of gay men for musical entertainment. It was a birthday party. For a gay 18-year-old. And the hosts were his parents, who hired us to surprise him.

The party—in a private dining room at a restaurant—was in full swing when we arrived, and we marched in with the cake, singing in 12-part harmony as our surprise entrance. The birthday boy, who was a fan of ours, recognized us immediately. The look on his face was priceless.

He sat there as we sang, lost in his own reverie, his eyes closed and a half smile on his face, basking in the music and the obvious love of friends and family members who had spent the evening helping him celebrate.

And as I stood there, a gay man among a choir of gay men, hired by the parents of an out and proud gay teen to help him celebrate his birthday, I marveled at how far we’ve come in my lifetime alone. I watched his parents, who were obviously pleased with the love they had created in their family and had spread among their friends and community. I watched his friends, who were enthralled by our music instead of cracking jokes at our expense. I watched the wait staff, who stealthily delivered slices of cake between songs so as not to interrupt our performance. I watched the world changing. For the better.

And when we got to “Our Time,” a song of promise and hope and great optimism for the future—a song the boyfriend and I intend to have sung at our wedding, with the hope that by the time we get married our relationship will enjoy the same legal and social standing of heterosexual relationships—I couldn’t make any sound.

I had found the one thing among everything that’s happened over the last few months that could break my composure. It wasn’t being fired. It wasn’t staying relentlessly upbeat through endless interviews and waiting games and thank-you-but-we-aren’t-hiring-right-nows. It wasn’t living in temporary housing and wondering if I’d held onto enough winter clothing when I put everything I own in the world in storage.

It was love. Love that transcends a hostile zeitgeist. Love that eclipses legal and judicial discrimination. Love that outmoralizes a nation’s self-appointed morality police.

It IS our time.

Something is stirring,
Shifting ground … 

It’s just begun. 

Edges are blurring 

All around,
And yesterday is done. 

Feel the flow, 

Hear what’s happening: 

We’re what’s happening. 

Don’t you know? 

We’re the movers and we’re the shapers. 

We’re the names in tomorrow’s papers. 

Up to us, man, to show ’em … 

It’s our time, breathe it in: 

Worlds to change and worlds to win. 

Our turn coming through,
Me and you, man,
Me and you!

Feel how it quivers, 

On the brink …

Gives you the shivers,
Makes you think 

There’s so much stuff to sing! 

And you and me,
We’ll be singing it like the birds,
Me with music and you the words, 

Tell ’em things they don’t know! 

Up to us, pal, to show ’em …

It’s our time, breathe it in: 

Worlds to change and worlds to win. 

Our turn, we’re what’s new,
Me and you, pal, 

Me and you! 

Feel the flow, 

Hear what’s happening: 

We’re what’s happening! 

Long ago 

All we had was that funny feeling, 

Saying someday we’d send ’em reeling, 

Now it looks like we can!
Someday just began …

It’s our heads on the block. 

Give us room and start the clock. 

Our time coming through, 

Me and you, pal, 

Me and you!
Me and you!
Me and you!
Me and you!
Me and you!
Me and you!

Friday, October 13, 2006


Five weeks.
100+ emails.
50+ phone calls.
40+ hours creating a web site of work samples.
$250+ in cab fares and dry cleaning and a new portfolio book.
Two welfare checks.
Constant, shameless networking.
14 interviews.

I had an 11:00 interview this morning. At 12:30 they decided they wanted me to meet with the president, but he was gone for lunch. I said I could be back at 2:30 (after my workout—a guy's gotta have some priorities). By 4:30 I had an offer.

I'm going to spend the weekend mulling. And relaxing. And celebrating.

And exhaling.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

You’re never fully prepared

My gym has a long history of broken equipment, surly staff members and a habit of losing perfectly valid memberships in its computer system. So when it gave me a coupon for a free smoothie WITH NO FINE PRINT, I should have been suspicious nonetheless. I’ve carried it around in my gym bag for months, deciding it wasn’t worth the inevitable hassle of trying to cash it in, but today I was especially hungry after my workout—and I’m still unemployed so I have a moral mandate to be scrimping and pinching—so I walked up to the smoothie counter fully expecting to get some excuse about how the coupon’s not good on days that end in Y or the gym only makes snoothies now and I’m sorry but that coupon is for a smoothie. But even my cynical mind wasn’t prepared for the excuse I got: stunned silence, followed by “I don’t know how to make smoothies.” When I pressed the issue with a helpful question suggesting that there was maybe someone else in the building who knew how to operate a scoop and a blender, I was told there was nobody in the entire gym certified in the smoothie sciences. Which leads me to believe that my gym installed a smoothie center complete with freezers and blenders and ingredients AND made a big sign about delicious smoothie flavors AND printed coupons it distributed to its members ALL AS A COMPLETE RUSE.

Microsoft Word thinks it knows what you want and it routinely modifies your documents accordingly—capitalizing words you don’t want capitalized, adding hotlinks where you just want text, making indented bullets where you just wanted plain-old asterisks and ignoring the editing preferences you very clearly give it. We’ve all learned to work around its many flaws, but there’s no way I could have been prepared for the way it sabotaged my job search this weekend. I bought these business-card forms, see, that you feed through your printer in one big page and then tear apart into standard business-card size business cards. I coaxed and cajoled some rudimentary design out of Word’s rudimentary formatting tools and printed a page of what turned out to be a rather handsome way to hand out my phone number, email address, and a URL with samples of my work and a downloadable PDF of my résumé to anyone I encountered who seemed to be a good job lead. Imagine my horror, though, when I discovered—after passing out a good half of the cards I printed, no less—that Word had decided my phone number was some sort of serial number that had to be automatically increased by one digit on each card. So I’ve now distributed business cards with sequential phone numbers—collect the whole set!—in a job search where I tout myself as a talented writer and proofreader. I hate you, Microsoft Worp!

My life has been kept interesting over the last month thanks to company layoffs on 9/11 and an extended holding pattern from my condo selling sooner than I expected and my new place not being ready until later than the developer had advertised. This week’s new wrinkle: a coughy, wheezy, grovely cold. So let’s add up the things that are making me currently sexy: unemployment, homelessness, sickness. And this picture, taken on Saturday after I ran 14 miles with Fearless Leader Matthew:

I wanted to show how I’d had my AIDS Marathon shirt customized so the race-day multitudes could cheer me on by name. But instead I just made a permanent record of my bedhead and my pasty white skin. So very sexy!

Thankfully, there’s the boyfriend, who continues to be … well, everything I could possibly hope for in a man. Even though he was a little freaked out when I told him I’d always thought there was something cute about Bob Saget—and then he was thoroughly freaked out when I told him he kind of had Bob Saget’s smile. Thankfully, that all happened after he bought me these little guys, which I’ve revoltingly cutely named after the two of us:

And because they’re so adorable, Mr. Boyfriend, I’m upgrading you from Bob Saget to Bob Hoskins. You can thank me later.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Not dead

Just busy. Well, unemployed-busy, which—aside from copying and pasting bits of my résumé into all the different fields in all the different job-search sites and going on endless interviews and remembering which companies have seen me in which ties so I don’t accidentally commit a tie repeat on a second interview—hardly qualifies as busy busy. But I’ve been too busy to do things like write blog posts. Which is why your life has felt so aimless and out of tune these last few days. Kind of like a Madonna movie.

And what’s been keeping me so darn busy? It’s all the boyfriend’s fault. He’s had some down time after his freakishly long business trip, see, and I had yet to “take time to enjoy being unemployed” as so many people have recommended I do, so for the last few days, he and I have enjoyed what my family has always called kitty days—the kinds of days where all you really do is follow sun spots around the house in search of a warm place to nap. In between all that lounging and not showering, though, we have accomplished a few things: We’ve watched quite a few episodes of The Mary Tyler Moore Show (including—finally!—the Veal Prince Orloff episode every gay man I know has gushed about for years), we’ve moved a few plants, we’ve had some cake, I helped a friend spell Auld Lang Syne and I opened an HSBC online savings account that will earn the proceeds from my condo sale a whopping 5.05% in interest until I need the money for the closing on my fabulous new Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo. (A helpful financial hint from Uncle Jake: 5.05%, for those of you who don’t pay attention to these things, is some seriously good interest. Unparalleled, actually—especially for a savings account with no minimum deposit or balance requirements. Open an account today. Dump all you can in it. Make your regular bank choke on the measly half-percent interest rate it wants to sell you.)

And while I’m on the topic of financial management. I also used a part of the proceeds from my condo to pay off my car. Because car interest—while not as hateful as credit-card interest—is still a pretty unproductive use of your money. So until my condo closes, I am now completely debt-free, aside from insurance and rent and COBRA and Botox and the storage of all my stuff until my fabulous new Two-Bathroomed Barbie Dream Condo is ready, of course.

Amid all this excitement, though, I’ve managed to cough up a few blogworthy accomplishments. For instance, the boyfriend and I have squeezed in two cultural events since Thursday: Camille Saint-Saëns’ mighty Organ Symphony (the dominant theme of which I believe was the inspiration for the opening chord progressions of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast score) at the CSO and the Steppenwolf’s disturbing The Pillowman, a Grand Guignol mixing dark, dark, dark, dark comedy with shocking plot twists reminiscent of The Sixth Sense.

I also attended the boyfriend’s niece’s christening on Sunday, which consisted of: wearing yet another suit and tie, charming his family, not talking with my mouth full, dancing skillfully around any discussion of whether I may or may not have a prison record, and posing for family pictures. And if that isn’t a testament to our long-term plans together, I don’t know what is. Except for maybe yesterday when he tentatively (because he very decidedly doesn’t like mine) showed me his china and stemware, which I ended up loving, so he and I are all clear to get married now. And you-all are going to have to scramble to find suitable gifts now since we won’t be registering for fancy dishes.

Otherwise, it’s been a low-key week. Except for that little part on Saturday morning where I ran a marathon. Saturday was the high (depending on how you look at it) point in our AIDS Marathon training: the full 26-mile training run. The day started out cold and rainy, but by the time we’d hit our first mile marker, it was sunny and lovely, and we had a great time—except for the part where we lost half our runners to injuries or fear of injuries. As always, Fearless Leader Matthew took some pix to share.

It’s now dark at 6:30 in the morning in Chicago. Which means summer is sadly over:

At mile 6, we were all smiley and happy, though not completely centered:

Ten miles later, still relatively smiley and happy, we posed for a semi-formal shot:

And two miles after that we took our last formal shot at a water station, where we ended up leaving two people so their aches and pains wouldn’t become injuries and debilitations:

The three remaining runners became pretty separated, but we all managed to cross the finish line. And since I came in dead last, my big finish got captured for posterity:

The AIDS Marathon organization gave us all medals on bright red ribbons, which clashed mightily with my deathly pallor:

Our group stretch was the least coordinated of the summer, as we all focused on our own personal aches and pains:

I was so weak after the run, the medal practically toppled me over. Or else maybe I felt the need to take a bow. In any case, I survived my run. And now all that’s left are a few 10-mile training runs and then the big day on October 22. And then next year’s goal: the Chicago and New York marathons back to back. Woo-hoo!