Friday, June 29, 2007

I have discovered YouTube

And I have further discovered how YouTube can suck the hours out of your day faster than you can say, "I wonder if they have that one Carol Burnett clip I used to love so long ago, way before the Internets." Which, of course, they do.

Of all my new YouTube discoveries, I keep coming back to this one. Which in some cultures makes it my favorite:

I especially love the Susan B. Anthony verse, mostly for its epic poetry.

Be sure to play this clip every day for the next few days because it's all you're gonna get from me. We get up at five freakin' o'clock tomorrow to run 14 miles, and then I hop in the car for a five-hour drive to Iowa where I will 1) hope I don't fall asleep on the way, 2) sing in a reunion choir assembled to honor the long-retired music director at my folks' church, 3) help my folks move out of the house they've lived in for the last 30 years, 4) help my sister's family refinish the floors, replace the kitchen and move themselves in to the house my folks just vacated, and 5) run in the 5th Season 8K, which passes in front of said house on the morning of the fourth. I'm pre-exhausted just thinking about it all.

Happy Indepencence Day if I don't talk to you before I get back!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Our marathon training routine:

On Saturdays, we get up at 6:00, the boyfriend whines about getting up at 6:00, we run our long training runs with our AIDS Marathon pace groups, we stink, we go out for brunch, we come home, we shower, we nap if our schedules allow it.

On Tuesdays and Thursdays, we get up at 6:00, the boyfriend whines about getting up at 6:00, we run five miles, we stink, we eat, we shower, we go to work. Where we nap.

And all the while, our waists remain steadfastly un-ripped and un-rock-hard. Stupid waists.

The boyfriend is traveling this week, though, and yesterday he found himself in Rhode Island. He knew he wouldn’t have time to run today, so he took off in a random direction last night from his hotel and quickly found himself at the gates of a cemetery, which he decided would make a lovely, traffic-free place to pound out five miles. Unfortunately, when he runs he gets spitty. Now it’s no big deal to hawk a few loogies when you run along Chicago’s lakefront trail—I’ve seen dogs peeing there and Sox fans picnicking there, so it’s not like the ground is exactly clean anyway. But spitting on dead people? Especially dead Rhode Islanders? I know Rhode Island is the Ocean State, but I don’t think they mean oceans of corpses drowned in boyfriend spit.

In any case, I chose not to ask whether he desecrated all those graves, instead picturing him running five miles around the Oval Office and spitting on Dubya every time he passed the little table with the butcher-block paper and the big box of crayons.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

It's Wednesday

Which means I’ve been taking my damn sweet time to post pix from this weekend. Unfortunately, I don’t have very many to share.

The Proud to Run Big Gay 10K on Saturday morning gave us the perfect running weather: cool, slightly misty and packed with homosexuals. I had a good run, though I came in 40th of the 51 guys in my age group. (I thought that once the guys my age started dying out I’d suddenly surge forward in race rankings without having to do much more than bury a few bodies. Clearly I was wrong.)

I also thought my smile looked lucid when this picture was taken, so what the hell do I know? (Also: I didn’t know I had started to develop what look to be lumpy manboobs. For now, I choose to blame the camera.)(See that mess of colored dots hanging on the awards stage behind us? I assume it’s supposed to be some abstraction of the rainbow-colored pride flag. Or a mangled Twister mat. But it came off more as evidence that the race had been sponsored by Wonder Bread. I'm just sayin’.)

Unfortunately, that cool, slightly misty weather lingered all afternoon, and it made us downright cold as we sat outside Crew sipping our drinks and eating our might-have-been-warm-at-one-time burgers. Though a lot of pictures were taken, I didn’t end up being in many of them. In fact, I managed to worm my way into only one and a half of them. Just so you know what I was wearing, here’s what I looked like shivering in my solo portrait:

And to prove I wasn’t sitting there alone, asking strangers to take my picture in a pathetic attempt to make you-all think I have friends I hang out at bars with, here’s a group picture featuring two mostly intact people framed by random parts of other members from our drinking and dining party:

Notice my headless torso off to the side. See? I was there! Notice also that while my compatriots were still quaffing alcoholic beverages, I had switched to Diet Coke by the time this picture was taken. Because half-cooked burgers and light beer seem to do weird things to my stomach. Kind of like Ann Coulter and Paris Hilton, both of whom reappeared this week to darken our world once the clouds and the rain cleared after race day. But it’s sunny and muggy today, so they must have crawled back in their holes. And if they want to come back out Saturday morning when we have to pound out a 14-mile training run, I guess I’d welcome the frosty clouds of brain death they bring with them. Bring on the pointless blonds!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

What the hell do gay people
have to be so proud of?

We’re proud because despite relentless persecution everywhere we turn—when organized religion viciously attacks and censures and vilifies us in the name of “morality,” when our families disown us, when our elected officials bargain away our equality for hate votes, when entire states vote us into second-class status, when our employers fire us, when our landlords evict us, when our police harass us, when our neighbors and colleagues and fellow citizens openly insult and condemn and mock and berate and even beat and kill us—we continue to survive.

We’re proud because pride is the opposite of shame—and despite what the Christian hate industry works so hard to make the world believe, there is nothing shameful about being gay.

We’re proud because more and more, we are able to live our lives openly and joyfully without fear of losing our jobs, losing our housing, losing our families and losing our lives.

We’re proud because we are smart enough to overcome the self-loathing that our increasingly venomous, mindlessly theocratic society forces on us, and we have the power to stop its destructive cycle by fighting back and by making intelligent choices involving sex and drugs and religion and money and relationships and the way we live our lives.

We’re proud because after all we’ve been through, the world is starting to notice and respect us and emulate the often fabulous culture we’ve assembled from the common struggles and glorious diversity of our disparate lives.

We (and from this point on, I really mean “I” when I say “we”) are proud because we got up on Saturday and ran the Big Gay 10K in perfect weather and then relaxed at Crew with our running peeps for a few hours and then went and bought paint and actually got the untiled walls of the kitchen painted. We’re also proud because we stayed in the lines and it ended up looking really awesome.

We’re proud because we went to a heterosexual wedding instead of going to the pride parade and everyone asked about our boyfriend who unfortunately couldn’t be there because of work and when we mentioned that he and we were talking about maybe having a wedding of our own, everyone treated us as though our relationship and our love and our commitment and our future were just as valid as the bride’s and groom’s, even though people who position themselves as our moral leaders are working overtime to convince the world that our love couldn’t possibly be valid because it’s gay.

Quite simply, we’re proud that we have so much to be proud of.

Friday, June 22, 2007


Easy-target humor from my favorite straight blogger:

(Of course, this would probably be funnier if we didn't have three—three!—presidential candidates who earnestly believe that Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church. But it's still funny.)

We’re here! We’re queer! We have clean dishes!

The boyfriend opened the dishwasher this week to find: 1) clean dishes 2) a broken glass and 3) a wheel that looks like it belongs on one of the dishwasher racks but none of the wheels in our dishwasher is missing. How spooky is THAT?

We’re thinking the whole thing is the perfect metaphor for pride weekend in Chicago because: 1) gays like clean dishes 2) “broken glass” sounds kinda like “assless chaps” and 3) the boyfriend has to work on pride Sunday so I’ll be the extra wheel in the unlikely event I pal around that day with four round people who share a nice rack.

I’ve never been a huge fan of pride parades because anymore they just seem like an excuse for people to get drunk and obnoxious but with even less parking. Don’t get me wrong—I love the pride parades’ Book-of-Revelation displays of nakedness and debauchery simply because they send the thumper crowd into paroxysms of self-righteous apoplexy. And in some cases I just like the displays of nakedness. And I most certainly share in the community pride we feel after surviving another year of hostile attacks from butt-stupid religious freaks and sleazy politicians who trade our rights and equality and access to insurance and health care for hate votes.

But as I careen toward my dotage, I’m becoming less and less of a fan of crowds and noise and rowdiness and sparkle shoes that rarely go with anything. And since I’ll be all alone on pride Sunday (sniff) I’m not even going to go to the parade. OK, and since my boss’ wedding reception is during the parade, I’m not going to the parade either. But I have no plans to go from the reception to the messy parade aftermath. At least not in seersucker.

I’m not a total Eeyore, though; I am running the Big Gay 10K (which I think is a better name than “Proud to Run” but nobody asked my opinion when they were namestorming) on Saturday morning with the boyfriend and a bunch of people from my marathon pace group. And we may go to Crew (the gay sports bar with the fancy pub grub) afterwards to fill our bellies with celebratory food and drink. And I plan on painting the non-tiled walls of the kitchen this weekend, but we’re going with a light gray-green, which isn’t one of the rainbow colors in that ugly pride flag so I guess that project doesn’t count.

And once I make sure that wheel isn’t some vital part of the dishwasher, I plan on doing some more dishes. As we learned above, gays like clean dishes. So I guess I will be doing my part for pride after all.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Love it seeks! Love it finds!

So I had this idea for a romantic date night last night. And it was FREE!

See, a couple years ago I was blading along the lakefront with my friend Dan when we rounded a corner near a beach and discovered we had the most amazing view of the fireworks over Navy Pier. I remember thinking at the time it was a shame Dan and I weren’t boyfriends because this would have been a pretty damn romantic thing to share with a boyfriend but Dan didn’t want to be boyfriends even though I thought we’d make great boyfriends but he just saw me as just a friend so who the hell needs Dan? What a jerk. With a cute butt and a great smile and even a nice cat. Jerk.

Where was I? Oh, yes: Aren’t the “ex-gays” funny? They try so hard to convince themselves that being gay is something they can “escape” or “walk out of” or some other bland, meaningless metaphor that conspicuously leaves the door wiiiiiide open for them to eventually accept that gay isn’t something you can shake off like a cowl-neck sweater or a schoolboy crush on Robert Hays in “Angie.” Let the time flow! Let the love grow! Let the rain shower! Let’s try to imagine Robert Hays in the shower! But look at his pictures through 2007 eyes—my goodness was he fluffy-haired little thing back then! What the heck was I thinking? And he wasn’t exactly macho—he looked about as butch as an “ex-gay” staff member. See what I mean about funny?

Man. Once again I got myself sidetracked here. Let me backtrack a second: Robert Hays … “ex-gays” … roller skates … cheap dates … that’s it! The boyfriend and I had a cheap fireworks date last night! And it was pretty cool.

Except I totally remember this mysterious vantage point that Dan and I found being right on Montrose Beach. So the boyfriend and I hiked over there last night … and hiked … and hiked … and not only is Montrose Beach like 72 miles farther out to sea (OK, to lake) than any other point on the Chicago shoreline, but once we finally found a perch with a view of Navy Pier, it was definitely not the perch I’d found way back when with Dan. I remember our spot giving us a pretty up-close view of the fireworks. And while the spot we found last night gave us a breathtaking view of downtown Chicago all lit up and twinkling, we were so far away that the fireworks looked no bigger than the little sparks that fly up when you accidentally pee on an electrical outlet in your living room.

I tried to take a picture with my camera phone, but it came out as dark and murky as a Mitt Romney political position. And I deleted it already so just squeeze your eyes shut and then prop one slightly open with a chewed-off fingernail and you’ll get an idea of what the picture looked like.

Worthless camera phones notwithstanding, as the boyfriend and I sat there in the dark last night holding hands and joking and laughing with the moon over us and the lake breeze bringing us faint echoes of the fireworks as they danced and played on the horizon, I reveled in the fact that I had everything I’d ever wanted in the world. And then we worked our way home and enjoyed peanut-butter sandwiches over the sink and fell asleep together in front of the TV and I can’t think of a better way to spend an evening.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Bus update

So today I woke up late. This happens a lot. Because I’m a morning person in the same way Newt Gingrich is a reliable husband. But today I was really late; I hit my snooze button six times, which at nine-minute snooze intervals equals almost an entire hour of lost begging in the NPR fund drive.

And by the time I got myself dolled up for work and standing at my bus stop, it still took about 15 minutes for a bus to show up. Which means I had 15 minutes to take what is usually a 35-minute ride if I was going to make it to my morning staff meeting.

And then something weird happened: Our country elected an inarticulate, semi-literate, draft-dodging, opportunistically religious boob to be president two terms in a row. Oh, wait … that’s something weird that happened a couple years ago. The thing that happened this morning that was so weird is this: The bus climbed on Lake Shore Drive and went express a half a mile early. And then there was no traffic whatsoever to slow us down. And I actually made it to my staff meeting. I didn’t get my favorite chair, so the day is basically ruined, but my magical powers over space and time actually worked this morning and in a way I was rewarded for being a lazy, unmotivated slug.

And … um … that’s the end of my story. I wish I had something more interesting to share, but it’s all I got.

Except this: I didn’t get a seat on the bus, so if Rush Limbaugh was even there I didn’t have to sit next to him. So even though my hands are probably crawling with germs from holding on to the don’t-fall-over pole, my virtue—at least as far as being defiled by Drug-Addled Divorce Boy goes—remains intact.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Bus luck

Thursday: Our bus bottomed out after I got on. Seriously. As soon as we boarded at my stop and the bus pulled away, it made this horrible scraping sound on the pavement. So we had to get off and wait for a new bus. And I had to lay off the doughnuts for a whole day.

Friday: I got stuck waiting with Impatient Bus Lady, who insisted on doing her bus waiting in the middle of the street.

Monday: The bus didn’t come for 35 minutes. It was hot. There is no cool, shady, spa-like shelter featuring oily bodybuilders wafting bergamot-scented palm fronds at my stop for some reason. So I was a sweaty, sticky mess by the time I finally rolled into work. Just in time for lunch.

Today: Our brakes locked up three stops after I got on. The driver couldn’t make the bus move, though her jerky attempts to get going made us all a bit queasy. So we had to get off, find our sea legs and wait for another bus.

Tomorrow: At the rate I’m going, I’ll probably end up sitting next to a sweaty Rush Limbaugh. And you know that bitch is gonna be a seat hog. And as a drug-addled divorce junkie, he’s probably gonna be all hands.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

12 miles!

It was hot this morning. I choke when I run in the heat. Therefore, I choked. I was more worthless than a show of hands at a presidential “debate.” I choked so bad I didn’t even finish the training run with my team—I had to walk off some of my light-headedness and I came in nine minutes after they did. Which actually surprised me; I figured I was more like 20 minutes behind them. Stupid light-headedness. It even fucks up my perceptions of space and time.

But I still have pictures!

Here we are before the run. We didn’t all plan to wear our yellow AIDS Marathon shirts today. Honest. In fact, I find them itchy so I have no intention of ever wearing mine. But I did manage to grab a yellow shirt when I got dressed this morning. We’re so in tune with each other as a team it’s almost SPOOKY:

Here’s another picture before the run. Perhaps I should have spent more time psyching myself up for a battle with heat stroke and less time mugging for the camera:

Here I am with Fearless Leader Matthew and George somewhere around mile 8. We’re all that remains of last year’s team. Some cultures think that when you have your picture taken, you lose a bit of your soul. (Come to think of it, how often has Dubya had his picture taken? Just wondering.) After today, I think that when you have your picture taken, you lose some of your ability to run with your team, for it was shortly after this picture that I started to crash:

Here are a few of us after the run—once Pokey the Blogger managed to waddle his sluggish ass across the finish line. Again with the yellow shirts:

Our whole team, minus one guy who was off peeing and we didn’t notice because we were hungry and we wanted to get our damn picture taken so we could go get some damn food:

We usually have our post-run gorging at a diner in Boystown that has remarkably mediocre food but for some reason plenty of seating. We were getting pretty tired of bland eggs and cold pancakes, though, so this week we headed to Ann Sather, a local Swedish landmark with food that’s generally a few notches above mediocre. Unfortunately, it was pretty crowded and we were all rather gamey, so instead of having a whole back room to stink up by ourselves, we were crammed in among the respectable folk who didn’t smell like living crime scenes:

Friday, June 15, 2007

Dear lady in the wispy skirt at my bus stop this morning,

I know that waiting for the bus can be boring and sometimes even frustrating. And since there is no bench or shelter at our stop, we can’t even lounge in the shade while we wait. But what was so compelling about knowing when the bus was coming this morning that you felt justified to stand in the street craning your neck while you waited for it?

We know that getting on that bus was important to you. Your audible sighs and incessant pacing around the intersection made your needs more than clear.

But what did standing in the middle of the street really buy you? Do you enjoy elevating the possibility of car-on-pedestrian accidents? Do you like watching cars swerve into each other to avoid hitting you? Do you like the sound of honking? Did you somehow make the bus come faster?

Does it make you feel extra-important knowing you’ll be the first person at your bus stop to know when the bus is coming?

P.S. That dress needs a slip. Everyone who gave you the evil eye this morning got a pretty good glimpse of your lady business in return.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Happy anniversary to my folks!

They married in 1964. It is now 2007. I just had to triple check the math—on a calculator, no less—because I’m still not convinced they’ve been married for 43 years. That number seems so … gargantuan.

I remember sitting in high-school gym class a couple (ahem) decades ago on my dad’s 45th birthday worrying that he was going to die. Because 45 was just so impossibly old.

And now he’s been married for almost 45 years. And I’m in my third paragraph of obsessing about it. I’ll stop now, trusting that you get the picture.

Mom and Dad have never been big on pomp and ceremony, though, which has made anniversary celebrations pretty easy for my sister and me to plan. And since my folks and my sister’s family are both moving in the next month and both their anniversaries, Father’s Day and my sister’s birthday are in the next few weeks (June is Drive Jake To Bankruptcy Month!), everyone’s getting Home Depot gift certificates. And maybe cheap cards from Walgreen’s if I find a moment to shop for them. I am nothing if not practical and unimaginative when it comes to gift-giving.

In any case, happy anniversary, Mom and Dad! I’m glad you’re both still here. I’m proud you’re both still married (to each other—not in the Republican presidential candidate definition of “still married”). I love you.

And please act surprised when you get your gift certificate.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Monday in the Park with Gays

On Monday, the Department of Unexpected Coincidences gave both the boyfriend and me the day off from work. As a bonus, the Department went even further to make Monday the unofficial Gay Days at Six Flags.

And—though we had never had The Roller Coaster Talk—we abandoned our grouting project, filled our baggy cargo shorts with emergency sunscreen and headed north (which is mysteriously called “west” on 90/94) for a day of big gay fun.

Gay Days at Six Flags used to be nothing more than a barely noticeable demographic shift—a few additional adult gay men wearing modest shirts and baggy cargo shorts filled with emergency sunscreen, all traveling unobtrusively from ride to ride in small, well-groomed groups. You know: the predatory child molesters that homo-obsessives like Jerry “Finally Dead” Falwell warned you about.

But somewhere along the way—maybe when the priests started getting caught buying season passes to Little Boy Land, maybe when conservatives’ breathless the-world-is-ending predictions at the dawn of Massachusetts’ legalized gay marriages failed to come true, maybe when Ted Haggard got caught crystal mething in the arms and butt of a male hooker—things have changed.

Because Gay Days on Monday was an endless parade of gay kids. And not “kids” in the sense that I’m almost 40 and everyone looks young and irritating to me—these were actual high-school and college kids traveling in we-don’t-care-if-you-know-we’re-gay groups, casually draped all over each other to the unfazed disinterest of their heterosexual friends.

That’s not to say they weren’t irritating. While I have serious reservations about the way these kids were dressing and behaving in public—wholly unlike the respectful, mature way kids dressed and behaved in my day—I have to say I was impressed. And heartened. And more than a little jealous. I spent three years scouring my high school for a single gay friend without finding one. On Monday, we waited in line (for over an hour for a roller coaster that gave me a headache*) behind a group of five affectionate lesbian couples who all looked too young to vote against Mitt Romney. Granted, they were mostly dressed in black on a hot summer day and they had more holes in their faces than Romney has in his campaign speeches, so I’m not saying they were totally living the dream. But they’d found each other and they were happy and they weren’t forced to grow up alone and terrified of being outed in Jerry Falwell’s world of Gay People Are Evil And Deserve To Be Abandoned By Their Parents And Die Alone Of AIDS Just Like It Says In The Bible Praise The Loving Lord.

* I must be too old for thrill rides. If they’re not noisy as all hell, they jostle me around and bang my head painfully against the padded things that are supposed to offer protection. But I’m not afraid of them, which is more than I can say for the boyfriend. To his credit, he rode every ride I dragged him on, but the poor boy looked positively ashen through every seatbelt check, twist, loop and plummet. Which was actually adorable, but a little shocking to discover for the first time the moment we climbed into our first coaster. So with my headaches and his abject fear, I guess we’re in a roller-coaster-concordant** relationship. But not for the usual reasons.

** Boys and girls (and boys and boys and girls and girls)! Make sure you have The Roller Coaster Talk before you start to get serious with each other. The same applies to The Good Decorating Taste Talk and The Pleated Vs. Flat Front Talk and The Mitt Romney Drinks The Blood Of Puppies Talk. Mixed marriages are nothing but heartache.

Why you should always carry a firearm in a theme park:
Reason No. 54: Gaggles of junior-high girls. They travel in packs. They sit right in front of you on the scary rides. They scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream and scream.
And then the ride starts.

Reason No. 72: Glamour Smurfs. They show up in discount couture, gravity-defying hair and cologne. They carry backpacks filled to bursting with what one can only assume is more discount couture. They stand in front of you in long lines and they keep hitting you with their backpacks every time they spin around to exclaim ohmyGODyouguys! to their friends.

Reason No. 105: Ted Haggard. You never know when he’s gonna pop up and demand a bump of meth and a fingerbang.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007


I just found out I didn't get picked in the lottery to run the New York Marathon this November, which will happen four weeks after I run the Chicago Marathon. I was hoping to parlay a whole summer's training into two rounds of marathon glory, but it's not gonna happen this year.

I probably got rejected because I'm so fat. And stupid. And clumsy. And I look funny when I run. And I don't let my scabs heal. And I'm really bad at grouting.

But this change of plans does mean I won't be cautiously conserving energy when I run Chicago. So I just may hit my 4:00 personal goal.

And I won't be out $1,000+ trying to find New York airfare and lodging. Which means I can maybe hire someone to do my damn grouting for me.

And while I'm on the topic of marathons and money, there's still time for you to sponsor me in the AIDS Marathon/Chicago Marathon thingie. Just click HERE and whip out your credit cards. It won't hurt a bit. And it might take the sting off my New York Marathon rejection. Which really, really, really hurts. Ouch. (See?)

Monday, June 11, 2007

Ten miles!

Saturday was one of those perfect-for-running days: it was cool, breezy and relatively devoid of snipers shooting at us from the bushes. And we pounded out 10 miles pretty easily Saturday morning … aside from the fact that marathon training has apparently caught on like the macarena (or whatever the kids are dancing to these days) and the running trail was PACKED. It has gotten so bad that as our pace groups have been dispatched each morning, we've been instructed to run in a strict two-abreast formation (unless one of us has more than one breast) and even flatten ourselves to single-file when we encounter another running group. But nothing was said about the convergence of three pace groups heading south and two pace groups heading north with a few clueless walkers thrown in. There were moments on Saturday morning where the trail was no different from a crowded dance floor (except we were all dancing to the rhythm of life and I have yet to encounter an angry biker on a dance floor, but then I don’t get out much so what the hell do I know?).

In any case, here we all are before the race, looking bleary-eyed and hung over at 6:30 on a Saturday morning. Which isn’t such an irony-laced joke anymore—I’d been out drinking the night before with a bunch of people from my old office, and I’d had an entire fruity martini. And now that I’m such a seasoned drinker, I can authoritatively complain about the moron who designed the martini glass to promote maximum spillage of the stickiest drink known to (gay) man.

And here we are squinting into the sun for our post-run, pre-brunch victory photo. Don’t I look like I deserve a big plate of French (unless it's still supposed to be called Freedom) toast?

In other weekend adventures, I’ve been installing tile on our kitchen backsplash, which is taking waaaaaay longer than I’d anticipated. The process has elevated “pain in the ass” to whole new levels—especially since our kitchen walls are as straight as a televangelist and the science of grouting is apparently still in its infancy because everything I’ve read on the topic gives conflicting advice. I’ll post photos and strings of expletives when the project is done. In 2012.

I also saw the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie on Saturday night with the boyfriend, Matthew from my pace group, blogger David visiting from New York (who is even cuter and more charming in person) and his Chicago friend Franklin. While the movie is longer and more bloated than it needs to be, it’s dripping with magical Disney ambience and sumptuous (for a pirate movie) set decoration and scenic design—especially the mountain of wrecked ships in the cleverly named Shipwreck Cove. Jack Sparrow’s expressionistic dream sequences are a bit of an endurance test, but I loved the movie otherwise. I can’t in good conscience report that the boys felt the same way. And we were all more than a little peeved that the bowling alley in the movie theater—where we were going to grab a quick bite before the movie—wouldn’t let us in because I was wearing a tank top and it had a dress code. Seriously. Because nothing ruins a good bowling game like a guy who shows up to have a burger in an outfit that doesn’t show respect for the sport.

The boyfriend and I capped off the weekend watching the Tony Awards with another couple, a table full of Thai takeout and a pitcher of fruity martinis. And even though I still didn’t win a damn Tony, I’d say the evening was just about perfect.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

How not to ride a crowded bus

Buy one of these goddamn things right before you get on:

I worked late enough tonight that I missed the last express bus that runs by my office. So I had to schlep to Michigan Avenue to catch an express bus there … and since I had to walk right by H20+ to get to a bus stop, I decided to stop in and get some face moisturizer with a high SPF just like my dermatologist instructed me to start using in March.

The moisturizer I bought was right next to some revolutionary anti-wrinkle stuff that smelled really nice even though it cost the equivalent of three cab rides home from work. But I'm 39 now, and I'm prone to start wrinkling. One of these days. So I bought it too. And since I had my credit cards out I thought I might as well stock up on some of my favorite H20+ spa products, which were 1) on sale and 2) on sale only when you buy them in some freakishly huge two-and-a-half-foot-long wooden display box for some reason. And the moment I squeezed myself into the bus with the damn thing I knew I was bound to hit someone with it before I got home.

Sure enough, once I got it wedged vertically between my legs as I stood in the crowded aisle, it toppled over as we all tried to move back to make room for more passengers. And it landed right on the flip-flopped foot of a woman who made a very painful-sounding OW! noise and looked genuinely hurt as I apologized to her. But she was one of those passengers who refused to move directly to the back of the bus when she got on, instead inching back every stop and forcing the rest of us to inch along with her. I'm not saying she deserved to be crippled by a freakishly long box of skin-care products, but if she had moved to the back of the bus the moment she boarded, I wouldn't have been forced to waddle down the aisle over and over again with the thing wedged between my legs like some egg-bearing penguin, eventually allowing it to become dislodged and dangerous.

If that weren't enough, I banged a kid squarely on the side of the head with it when I got off the bus. Again, I'm not saying he deserved to be a victim of spa-product battery, but he was sitting in an empty double seat bent over a video game with his feet and his whole torso in the aisle. If he'd been sitting upright in the chair like a more evolved bus passenger, his head would probably still be attached to his body and I wouldn't have this unsightly dent in my freakishly huge two-and-a-half-foot-long wooden display box.

But at least I’ll have younger-looking skin. Starting tomorrow, no doubt. I'll be like totally dewy and desirable despite my physical barriers to beauty. Which is more than I can say for the crippled lady and the denty-headed kid I saw on my bus tonight.

Monday, June 04, 2007

It all comes down to shopping for shoes

So I’m deep into training for my fourth Chicago Marathon this October. I could also be in training for my fifth marathon as well, assuming I get picked this month to run New York City in November.

And with experience comes the need to impart wisdom. Or with addiction comes the need to recruit new blood. In any case, people have started asking me again for running advice. Which makes me kind of uncomfortable because while I see myself as an expert on many things (sale shopping, CSI, why Newt Gingrich is a cunt), I have never seen myself as an expert on anything athletic. But I’ve somehow managed to run three marathons, so I guess there are a couple things I know about the sport. And even though I’m finding the lakefront trail is getting way too crowded with runners who exist only to be in my way, I’m once again sharing my running knowledge with you in my ongoing crusade to spread the gospel of sweaty butts and inflamed IT bands.

So here are my friendly, not-professionally-endorsed-so-don’t-sue-me-if-you-get-hurt suggestions for taking up running or—if you're feeling extra ambitious—getting yourself addicted to the wonderful world of never having a personal life marathons:
• First of all, running a marathon is actually quite easy. If you put in your miles and make sure you don’t get injured, you will cross the start line with confidence and enjoy every minute of your run. And then you can proudly work your accomplishment into conversations for years to come.

Before you do anything, get fitted for real running shoes at a real running store. It’s worth the $100 to prevent injuries, correct problems in your stride and make your training more productive. But DO NOT BUY RUNNING SHOES BASED ON COLOR. Seriously. $100 shoes that look good while they hurt you are nothing but a Mitt Romney metaphor. And once you find something that works for you, keep buying the same brand and style until you get hit by a bus and can’t run anymore.

• I got fitted for custom orthotics this year to try to correct the mincy way I run that may be contributing to my chronic knee, hip and foot injuries. I’ve done a whopping three runs in them, though, so I can’t offer much in the way of helpful feedback/advice on the topic just yet.

• It’s also not a bad idea to invest in good running gear: breathable shorts with pockets for keys and running gel, cushioned absorbent socks, moisture-wicking shirts, etc. Of course, if you’re lucky enough not to have sweating and chafing issues (like me) these things aren’t really necessary. The cushioned socks are nice, though. And as your quads get more muscular, you might want to show them off in a flirty pair of shorty-short running shorts.

• Also get yourself some UV-blocking wraparound sunglasses. The sun is cruel enough when you’re pounding out your miles. Don’t let it blind you as well.

• While you have your credit cards out, energy bars and energy gels and Gatorade are pretty good investments as well. But so are fresh fruit and pasta and whole-grain bread and rice and plain-old water. Lots of it.

• Never try to run when you’re hungry. You will digest your innards and die before your first mile. But never try to run when you’re stuffed either. You’ll feel sluggish and you’ll look bloated in your shorty-short running shorts.

• Get a running buddy—especially if you’re prone to blowing off your runs. A dedicated running buddy will help you stick to your schedule, and an interesting running buddy can help make the long runs fly by.

Put in your miles. Most marathon training programs advocate longer runs on the weekends and two or three shorter runs during the weeks. Start with two or three miles and slowly work your way up on weekends, keeping your weeknight runs somewhere between 3 and 8 miles. Google marathon training and you’ll find a ton of free programs you can use.

• Don’t blow off your training. Especially your long runs. Even if you don’t feeeeeeeel like doing them.

• But listen to your body—it’s sometimes wise to skip a run now and then if you’re feeling seriously exhausted or sore. One tiny injury can wipe out months of training, so find your body’s balance between bad pain and I’m-just-being-a-pussy pain.

STRETCH. Do it when you wake up, before you run, after you run and before bed. Learn where your IT bands are and make sure they get a lot of attention—they’re the little buggers that usually blow out first in beginning runners.

• Eat well. You’ll actually crave good foods as your training gets more intense—and you’ll find your interest in junk food will really start to fade.

Hydrate. Even when you’re not running. If you ever get thirsty during a run, you’re doing something wrong.

• Wear sunscreen. You’re already dehydrating and exhausting your body on your long runs as it is—frying it isn’t going to help anything.

• Don’t be afraid to stop and walk or stretch once in a while. I’m on a training program where we run seven minutes and walk one minute on our long runs. I don’t do it on my shorter weeknight runs, but it’s really been awesome on my long runs—it gives me a chance to stretch, drink water without spilling it down my front and even enjoy mini-recoveries from the stresses of my seven-minutes exertions.

• Carry a $20, especially on your longer runs. If you’re five miles from home and you get heat stroke or you find you need food or a nice vodka tonic to keep going, you’ll be glad you have it.

• Carry ID of some sort. If you collapse in the street and all the morgue has to identify you is your house key and your cute running shoes, you’re going to have some VERY angry next of kin who will say mean things at your funeral. Assuming they’re ever able to identify your body.

• Shower when you get home from your runs. You may not notice it, but you will stink. Your pits will reek, your feet will gag the dead, your butt will be chapped and nasty … and though you may wear these odors with pride, nobody else in your house will appreciate them.

Poop before you run. Trust me on this. Peeing’s not a bad idea either.

Look what I started!

I had what you might call a little adventure in moving from September through February. For those of you just joining us, highlights included a fraudulent contract, a murdered developer, a prolonged battle to get out of that contract and five months living with friends while it all got sorted out.

My family, drunkenly oblivious to what was obviously the first manifestation of a new family curse, is currently undertaking not one but two moves. Simultaneously!

Here’s their adventure in a nutshell: My sister’s family is moving into our childhood home. My displaced folks are downsizing to a very cool, very spacious, newish condo. All of this—namely contracts with my sister’s buyer and my folks’ seller—exploded from vague possibility to holy-shit reality in the last week. Which gives us all about six weeks to sort through 30+ years’ accumulation in a 100+-year-old house and make the move as efficient and painless as possible.

So on Friday, instead of spending the boyfriend’s birthday with him, I deadheaded to Iowa to spend two days filling two dumpsters with a generation of knickknacks, mementos, embarrassing crafts and broken dreams. And getting profoundly filthy in the process. A 100+-year-old-house is not exactly a haven of dry basements and dust-free attics, and our group sorting and throwing efforts made for some very muddy loads of laundry.

While I was there, I also squeezed in an 8-mile training run with my folks’ neighbor, who blew out his IT band in mile five and limped home while I pounded out what I hoped were three more miles in a city devoid of helpful mile markers. I also found some time to hang out with the niece and nephew, who of course contributed some adorable blogworthy stories during my visit: My niece, who tried to dress nicely for my arrival, put together a fashionable little ensemble that included silver sandals, an Aztec-y prairie skirt and what in her mind needed to be a very plain white shirt. Unfortunately, the plainest shirt she could find had two delicate bows sewn into the neck seams. After much consideration, she decided she could get away with wearing the shirt because “Uncle Jake probably won’t notice.” AS IF. And I got to watch my gangly little nephew, whose nascent athletic prowess is slowly eclipsing what little his Uncle Jake has, play in his flag football season closer on Saturday. My brother-in-law and I spent most of the game discussing everything but flag football, but the one time we looked up, my little nephew—who at the moment had been rotated in as a quarterback—decided to forgo that whole passing-the-ball thing that quarterbacks usually do and he actually made a touchdown. And then everyone in the whole league—even the losers who never made any quarterback touchdowns—got trophies. In lieu of a trophy, Uncle Jake got a farmer burn that is making all the farmers he encounters in Chicago shammelessly swoon.

Now I’m home and tired and everything I wore in Iowa—including my shoes—is being boiled in the washing machine. And I get to go back in four weeks for Round II!

Friday, June 01, 2007

Confidential to my boyfriend:

Last night we were talking about how people keep saying relationships take work. But since our relationship just gets happier and easier and more awesome by the day and all we do is just show up, we wondered if maybe we’re doing something wrong.

I don’t know about you, but I intend to keep doing whatever we're doing all wrong until we’re too old to tie our own shoes and hold our stomachs in at Sidetrack. I continue to marvel at the fact that I actually have you … that we live together … that I really get to keep coming home to you every night and waking up next to you every morning.

And I promise you this: I will make sure every day is as happy and giddy as the day we met. I will never take you for granted. And I will always fold my T-shirts crooked so you have a reason to fix them and feel needed. And maybe so you just give up and do the laundry full-time. And the dishes. And I noticed the dust buffalos are congregating under the guest room bed again.

In any case, happy birthday to the Rest Of My Life! I love you. And in case I haven’t made my gooey emotions completely clear here, I am encasing them in that most horrifying of lazy blogger tropes: the song quote. But this one is a show tune. And it doesn’t have one of those rigid rhyme schemes, so it’s kinda poetic. And I often catch myself singing it in my head when I think about you, so it’s totally appropriate. And it couldn’t be more true if it were sung by two witches who spent their days hanging out near an orchestra pit, so it’s wholly relevant to our life together:
I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return.
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true.
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun,
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood,
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good.