Went running again tonight: Felt much better than it did a couple days ago, and I pushed it a little bit harder. When I felt myself hitting the wall, I made myself take longer, slower strides just to keep a pace going. I even got a second wind in the fourth mile and threw in an extra quarter-mile just to make sure I passed my distance goal. (I thought I’d taken a wrong turn in one of the housing developments and was going to cut myself short, so I also figured building in a just-in-case buffer wouldn’t hurt.)
Got home and checked the time: 47 minutes. Gmap-pedometer distance: 5.5 miles. Quick calculation: 8:32 per mile – my fastest so far – which would put me between 42 and 43 minutes for a five-mile, and holy moly, that’s better than my race day goal.
Okay, I admit: Setting myself a 45-minute five-mile barrier isn’t going to win me any medals, but this will be my first race to that distance, so I figured I’d dial my expectations back accordingly. Truth is, though, I’ve half-secretly been hoping to hit 40 minutes, and that now seems totally achievable, which is kind of a rush to this still-mostly-casual runner.
Return of the Jedi turned 25 this past weekend – I celebrated early, remember? – but writing about that movie’s opening got me thinking about the next-best movie-going experiences I’ve ever had, based, like that one, as much on the atmosphere as on the films themselves. (In some cases, probably more.) Jedi’s at the top already, but rounding out my list are:
Somewhere in the mid-1980s, Canton’s Palace Theater – $1.50 double feature of Ferris
Bueller’s Day Off and Crocodile Dundee. Aaron and I went. The Palace second-run shows were fun, but the balcony was usually closed because they didn’t draw big crowds. On this night, the place was absolutely packed to the rafters, mostly with high school kids, and it was just a rowdy blast, almost like being at a concert.
High school, Gold Circle Cinemas, A Fish Called Wanda. Me and my four best friends, Adam, Dave, Larry and Gary. Laughed so hard we couldn’t breathe, and of course, there’s the male bonding of the whole Jamie Lee Curtis getting hot on the rope scene.
Late 1993, early 1994 – Jurassic Park, the one-dollar theater in Orlando, Florida. I’m alone at my apartment and see there’s a showing coming up. I call this girl I have only recently met at the McDonald’s where I work. “Wanna go see ‘Jurassic Park‘” I ask. “When?” “I’m leaving now. Movie’s in 15 minutes.” “Sure.” And that was the first time my wife Jenn and I went out.
April or early May, 1997 – Same cheap, dingy dollar theater. The Star Wars Special Edition is hanging on, back in the small theater at the end of the hall that probably only seats 50 or 75 people. I’m in the back row, a new dad, with my six-week old daughter. She doesn’t make a peep through the whole movie, and she’ll never remember it, but I got to see her eyes looking up at Star Wars on the big screen. I like to think she slept through the Cantina bits, because everyone knows Han Shot First. (Honorable mention: Eight years later, she asks me to take her to opening night of Episode III. It’s the only Star Wars movie opening we got to see together.)
Summer (I think) 1999 – The Blair Witch Project, Canton. Jenn and I had planned to see this together, but the night we went, she got nervous and we left before it started and saw something else. I went to a noon showing on a brilliantly sunny and cheerful day, and it was the most horrifying movie experience I think I’m ever likely to have, because there were only two people in the theatre: Me in the center, about midway up, and trenchcoat guy sitting up in the top row corner. Nobody near me. Nobody to make smart-ass jokes to ease the tension or to share the collective jolts of surprise. Just me and trenchcoat guy, and I had to keep fighting the urge to check to see if he was still there because what if he wasn’t?
E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial, the re-release. Screw the digital gun removal and the CGI E.T. This one’s on the list because of my daughter. 1) She gets excited during the Attack of the Clones preview. 2) She recognizes the vintage Star Wars toys when Elliot plays with them onscreen. 3) This is the first time I see her truly emotionally invested in a movie: Silent tears run down her face when >SPOILER ALERT!<E.T. gets sick and dies. And finally, 4) When E.T. is weakening and all white and scaly, she is quietly sobbing and I’ve got a lump in my throat and she says to me in a whisper, “E.T. looks like a Frosted Mini-Wheat.”
Dishonorable bottom of the barrel: 1988(?) – Cocktail (starring Tom Cruise. Yay.) Here’s the deal: Adam and his girlfriend are going on a date to see this, and his girlfriend has a friend who looks like the cute brunette daughter from that TV show “Kate and Allie,” so, being single, I am invited to go along. This is freaking great.
Of course, things go downhill even before we go to the movie, since a heretofore unmentioned Girl Number Three has invited herself along and she’s being unneccessarily cranky about pretty much everything-. Adam and I bring Dave along to even things up, but we can already sense things souring. We get to the theater. Adam sits next to his girlfriend. Cute brunette daughter from “Kate and Allie” look-alike sits next to her. I sit in the next seat. Girl Number Three pitches a fit and threatens to leave if not allowed to sit next to girl I’m supposed to be fixed up with. I spend next two hours between my buddy Dave and bitchy girl. This bites.
Also, I’m watching Cocktail.
My calves are upset with me. See, after doing a pretty decent job of running steadily and hitting a new distance mark on Sunday the 18th, I somehow let a full seven days go by without running a single mile. I decided to scale back to a five-miler this afternoon because of the lapse. At least three of those- and probably three-and-a-half, if I’m being totally honest with myself – were run in full-on in "just keep going because you’ll be pissed off if you quit" mode. Distance wound up being 5.45 miles in about 51 minutes, but man, the week off plus the heat and humidity really made it feel like a slog.
On the bright side, I finally made myself get some new shoes, having been running on the same pair for the last what, five, six years now? (In all fairness, of course, until the past two months, that’s been limited to two-milers, mostly summers only.) So I was a little psyched to be heading out to get a new pair. After a couple minutes, I grabbed four boxes off the shelves and sat down to try ‘em on. First pair looked sharp, felt OK – felt like new shoes, like a little possibility of extra spring, extra boost – like Bradbury captures so well in that story in Dandelion Wine. But they still felt kinda, well, new. Stiff-ish, like driving someone else’s new car. So I put on pair number two – same sort of feel. New, yeah, power, yeah, but still kind of not me.
I’m feeling a little pressure at this point because my knees have been reminding me lately that I need new shoes because the heels of my old ones are worn through like popped rubber blisters.
So I put on pair three and before I even stand up, I know. Because they just feel like my shoes. That’s the way I had to explain it to Jenn: They didn’t feel like my new shoes, they felt like MY shoes. I was excited to get back home and take them for a spin.
They passed, even if I struggled.
A fine end to a good weekend. Jenn & I took our daughter and her friend for a two-night visit to stay with friends in Columbus. (Aside: Having grown up as the only person my age in our extended family, I remember reaching that age where my parents allowed me to bring friends along when we were going somewhere where there wouldn’t really be anyone for me to play with, and it was pretty cool. It’s neat seeing that sort of friendship from the other side of the fence.) Here’s a partial adjective-noun summation: Old, close friends. Sun-drenched back patio. Beer-boiled bratwurst. Burgers. Burning River Pale Ale. Guitar Hero III. Glorious sunny park afternoon. Pizza. Uno. (Complete with a stunningly cutthroat pass-the-buck Draw Two/Draw Four rule!) Graeter’s. More Guitar Hero. WarioWare Smooth Moves. MarioKart. Much hanging out and company-enjoying.
If you grew up in the 80s, you know the gorgeousity that is the Mix Tape.
The Limited Edition John Booth Mix Tape titles included "Things Always Kept in a Glass on My Desk","Silent Fields on a Moonless Night", and "A Sunlit Bridge, a Duck in the Clouds, and a Dream of a Boat Called ‘Birdhouse.’" Mostly these were born in my first two years of college, when a) I was introduced to scads of new music and b) I was a DJ on WBGU and had access to a recording booth and piles and piles of albums.
My college friend Katrina – a fantastic writer, by the way. Seriously. Throat-clutch good – takes the Mix Tape concept to stratsospherically cool levels in this article for Poets & Writers.
Don’t believe me? John Green ("Looking for Alaksa") digs her. Take his word for it.
Got up this morning and, while the coffee and the computer were warming up, started reading "Powers," on recommendation from my buddy Adam and I had to drag myself out of the pages, because it’s absolutely cool. (Adam also loaned me the first season of "Arrested Development" last week, and I thought I’d give it a shot late Friday night before bed. Yeah, I was up until about three in the morning because I kept wanting to watch one more episode. As Cutter John of the Starchair Enterpoop once said, I got the best friends in all of explored space.)
Once I hit the keyboard and started knocking back cups of coffee, a couple hours flew by and something good happened: I finished the first draft of my second book. I’ve been carrying around yellow legal pads scribbled with notes and jotting down stuff on scrap paper in my car for the last year, and everything on that list has finally been checked off. I had already gone back and proofread everything I’d done to this point, so now I just need to take the red pen to the last few pieces and then hit up a couple edit-minded friends (see, being the best in all explored space comes with a price, right?) Then there’s a cover to come up with, and the thank-you list, but you know what?
To celebrate, Jenn & I went out and used some of an anniversary gift to buy a second Guitar Hero guitar and a couple Wii games.
I also got in a run this afternoon: A full seven-mile loop done over a pretty dramatic hour, weather-wise. I left home in the sun, ran through clouds and wind and a couple moments of dark-sky rain, though nothing steady. The downpour started about five minutes after I got home. Racing the storm, baby, racing the storm.
Along the way, this neat moment: I was approaching an intersection, probably about 100 yards from it, and a woman out for her own run had just crossed through on the street perpendicular to mine. When she got across, she turned and looked in my direction and raised an arm in greeting, which I returned. It was a nice mental boost, coming along late in the trip, just when I needed it.
Got home to find my daughter watching "Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade," which we’d been meaning to do in preparation for the new movie. It was on Sci-Fi, and she was almost an hour in, I think, but she said she’d missed the first 10 or 15 minutes. "Whoa, whoa, whoaaaaaaa," I said, "NOnonono – you CAN’T watch this movie without having seen the BEGINNING, so here’s what we’re gonna do: I’ll put the DVD in and we’ll watch the whole thing together, and yes, you can stay up a little past your bedtime.
We chose wisely.
I pushed a new personal running frontier today: 6.85 miles. And if I’d known it was going to be that close, I’d have dragged my ass back down to the end of the street and up one more time just to push it to seven. Picked a route my brother plotted on the Gmaps pedometer – we’re both now totally addicted to finding new loops and paths. Today’s run took me out into farm territory – fertilizer and dirt and dust and oil in the air – out on roads that were unfamiliar even though they’re close to home.
There’s nothing like seeing a road sign that says "Pavement ends" and then running past it.
I’m exhausted but managed to get in a solid half-hour of writing for the second book – still playing with the title, but this one’s non-fiction, so it’s a different animal than Crossing Decembers.
Speaking of which, this second book’s been my priority lately, because, frankly, it has to be: I’ve put it off long enough. And it hurts not to be taking more time to promote my novel, which I already knew I needed to put a lot more energy into even before Wil Wheaton reminded me this week:
Finally, an important note to all artists: nobody in the world
will work as hard as you will to promote your work, nobody will care
about promoting it as much as you do, and your work will be as
successful as you work to make it. Hopefully, you’ll get lucky
like I did and get some good word of mouth and connect with a
passionate group of people who will tell their friends about you, but
that’s never going to happen if you don’t work hard — really, really
hard — to make it happen.
Dammit, I know! I know! I’m working on a plan to offer an electronic version that wouldn’t require registration like Lulu or Wowio, but for the moment, 95% of the computer time I’m spending here at home is working on Book No. 2.
Still, I have gotten some extraordinarily nice comments about Crossing Decembers recently, and that’s encouraging, as is stumbling across something like this late at night.
But there’s always a further frontier.
Today’s xkcd reminds me of the time I tried to chop uncooked spaghetti into tiny pieces by sticking it through a fan. (Not that I needed chopped spaghetti – I just wanted to see if it would work. It didn’t.
A dozen years ago Sunday, Jenn & I got married. When she got home from work yesterday, we sat down and finished watching "Once." And now, we have a new "us" movie. It’s pretty short, but I don’t think either one of us stopped smiling the entire time.
So, May 4th: Our anniversary; Brent Sienna and Jade Fontaine get hitched and OMG Brent took off his sunglasses!!!
Also, when Jenn & I said our vows back in 1996, nobody had come up with unofficial Star Wars Day yet – that’s just been a nice nerdy bonus.