Giro means 'ride', not 'tasty meat sandwich.'

One more resolution: I will not seek out drama. Seeking drama is not the same thing as seeking out challenges. Drama is what people do when they're bored and want to create conflict so they can resolve it. A challenge is something you hunt when you want to evolve. Enough conflict. Let's have some mother-grabbin' growth.

Wednesday, December 18, 2002
12:28 p.m.


Roll 1d20 for Wandering Blonde.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002
03:58 p.m.


The problem with snark is that it eventually eats itself out of existence. Contrary to popular collegiate belief, bile and bad attitude don't nourish creativity, at least not in the long run. They are the literary equivalent of super fertilizer: yes, it'll give you one hell of a yield of fifty-pound potatoes, but it'll also burn out your soil in a few years. And, after a while, everyone will realize that the potatoes, while huge, taste like crap.

Oh, but I know, we're all supposed to be snarky, all of us who grew up in the Reagan years. We're supposed to be cynical and pessimistic because our parents and our teachers and our leaders let us down, and we can't trust love because we don't know anything about it, and sex is a minefield, and the more self-referential our art is the better. You know what? If that's my generational context, shoot me now. Each generation is supposed to fix the mistakes or build on the successes of the previous one. If you're not up to the challenge, if you can only tear things down without having a clear idea of what to put up in their place, then you have no right to lead. You are letting down your end of the bargain, and you'd better get the hell out of the way. I say this to every awful member of the Me Generation (and, no, that doesn't include my parents, whom I both like and love and respect, even if they drive me up the wall every now and then, but, hell, who doesn't get driven up the wall by their parents every now and then? Even Jesus got sick of Mary and had to go out drinking with his disciples every now and then) and to everyone in my generation who describes himself as snarky. You know what? I don't mind sarcasm, and I don't mind pointing out the myriad problems of this world. Hell, I do both of those all the time.

But I like to think I have more of a clue of what we can do to fix things. And I'm dumb enough to think that we will fix things if enough of us start demanding change. Sure, I'll get demoralized. How can I not? But I also have to keep on fighting, because I have a debt to pay. So take your snark and get stuffed. You're boring, you're not funny, and you know what? Any girl who has sex with you isn't doing it because your searing wit has turned her panties into jelly. She's only doing it out of pity.

Tuesday, December 17, 2002
03:36 p.m.


I decided a long time ago that I like New Year's better than Christmas, just because of what New Year's represents: a chance to start over. All of the joy and magic of Christmas has long been drained away by commercials and ad inserts for Rite-Aid, but no one seems to have fucked up New Year's that much. I like the tradition my family has: we gather in the kitchen and make crab cakes, and then Chris and I run down to Carl's Jr. for french fries ('cause you can't have crab cakes without fries). Granted, Chris won't be down here this year, but I'm still gonna show up on Mom & Dad's doorstep before going off to cavort with the Tribe.

And then there is the Tribal tradition of starting the New Year off with some kind of nudity, whether you're mooning the moon or just streaking the neighborhood. Dave Alles's family would walk out the back door and walk in the front door, which certainly is a good start, but isn't it that much better when you run out naked and run back in naked? I thought as much.

And then there's my personal tradition, the Burning Of Shit. Specifically, the burning of what I'm going to let go in the New Year. I write these things down, look my friends in the eye and say, "This year I'm going to let go of..." and then recite the list and torch the fucker. It's very liberating, and also very warm if you're standing around without any clothes.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002
11:53 a.m.


It's not that I'm clueless, it's...

...okay. I am clueless.

Wednesday, December 11, 2002
11:53 a.m.


"We were so much younger then."

"So?"

"The whole world was ours to explore."

"And it isn't now?"

"Well...it's different now."

"No, it's different for you, because you're a great big whining sacka crap. You've done nothing but whine and moan since college about how the whole world is passing you by, and you're missing everything, and that you're just sitting there on the couch listening to your ass expand. I'm sick of listening to you. Up!"

"But..."

"Silence! Up! Rise! Off the couch! We're going for a walk, and then, while you sit on the porch and wheeze away, I'm going to take a chainsaw to this couch and give you the motivation you need. It's time to live!"

Monday, December 9, 2002
04:30 p.m.


Giving gifts.

Giving gifts.

Not gifting, Goddammit!

I'm all for language evolving and becoming more pragmatic and useful, but, damn your laziness, English already has a perfectly good expression for the act of handing over a token of affection with no strings attached. It's called giving or gift giving if you want a little more precision. I don't know who the marketing genius is who decided that to gift is a valid infinitive, but I want to beat him over the head with a copy of Strunk & White's that's been wrapped around a large brick.

Don't you understand that expressions like gifting suck the life out of language, you money-grubbing, whore-hopping goatfuckers? Language has heart, it has soul, it has balls, Goddammit, and your shortcuts crush all three. (And the same goes for all of you who say that you journal. Fuck you! You write a fucking journal! Do you also turkey during Thanksgiving? Do you vagina when you have sex? Christ Almighty, I hope not.)

This is not the same as misusing apostrophes or mixing up homonyms. Those are just being ignorant of the rules of language. This, this...circumcising of verbs, this willful stupidity in the name of less verbiage, it infuriates me. After all these years of getting English down and learning how to make the written word stand up and sing, I'll be damned if someone will go and twist things around just to save space on an ad. Take your feeble, water-headed attempts at Newspeak and shove 'em up your ass. Or go and enema, if you don't understand what I mean.

Monday, December 9, 2002
10:56 a.m.


Everyday poets
Sit in the coffeehouse
Scribble in their notebooks
And stare at the wall.

How easily they forget
About their real job:
They can't remember
That it's their duty
To sing!

Thursday, December 5, 2002
04:00 p.m.


ReachreachbreathereachreachbreathreachreachbreathereachreachbreatheTURNgliiiiiiiide...

Reachreachbreathe...

Repeat until won.

Wednesday, December 4, 2002
10:20 a.m.


You want to tell him to get over it. You want to tell him that she was too immature, didn't know who she was or what she wanted. You want to tell your friend just to let the hell go of her and get on with his life 'cause it's going to be infinitely better than it was when she was dragging him down and crushing him with her insecurity and cluelessness. You want to tell him to be a fucking man and stand up on his own two feet, accept a challenge and grow for Crissakes. You want to tell him that if he can't find a woman who is his intellectual, spiritual and physical match than he doesn't deserve to pass his genes on to the next generation, that they should wither on the vine 'cause he doesn't have the fucking balls to make the world a better place. You want to tell him that she was a frightening, skanky whore, a child who was going to cause him nothing but pain and suffering anyway, and that she laughed like the bastard child of a hyena and a broken chainsaw, and that, Christ, none of us liked her at all. You want to tell him that he has been given another lease on life.

You want to tell him all these things because he's your best friend in the whole Goddamned world, and you care about him more than you do for yourself. But you can't, because he's not ready to hear it, so all you can do is buy him a beer and listen to him moan about how he'll never find anyone who loved him the way she did. And you choke down the bile, stifle your urge to pop him one in the jaw just to get him to shut the fuck up, and order another beer for yourself.

From The Brooklyn Mating Ritual by Sonny diSalvo

Wednesday, December 4, 2002
10:06 a.m.


Travel is expanding, travel is broadening, travel gives one an opportunity to step outside one's normal life and give it a twist on the nipples. Travel is all about shaking things up and experiencing a different kind of life, the kind that you think you'd like to live but aren't quite sure. Travel is taking another life out for a test drive.

But the one thing that no one ever mentions about travel is the best part: coming home. After days or weeks or years on the road, I always look forward to coming through my front door, cooking something in my kitchen, and reading something on my couch while I sip a cup of tea. Home is underrated in America, I think, despite the mountain of catalogues and shows dedicated to improving one's home. These are not the way to build a home, friends; they are a way to get more shit so your apartment or house will look like someone else's home.

Home is organic. Homes grow. They fade. Homes are like gardens: they need tending, they need care, but, if you're good enough, you can get your home to take off like gangbusters if you put in some scutwork. Home is where you gather strength, it's where you're safest. You only invite people into your home if you really, really like them and want them to be a part of your life (I learned that lesson back in college). If someone mocks your home, don't invite 'em back. Period.

But, anyway. I'm home for a little while. Another road trip in a week, some madness for Christmas and New Year's, and then that's it. I ain't going anywhere until next spring. I have scutwork to do.

Wednesday, December 4, 2002
09:50 a.m.


I start at the end, and then have a hell of a time getting back to the beginning.

We are archaeologists who were there at the scene of the crime. We've just forgotten what happened; we write out stories, and every time you write out a sentence, you're brushing away another layer of dust. You remember what happened, so, when you've got the whole story done, you've got the whole picture. You can say to yourself, "Huh. That's what happened."

Anything else is wankery, though there's a place for that, too.

Monday, December 2, 2002
12:34 p.m.


"The only way I would move to a place as cold, desolate and boring as that would be if there were a really hot chick there. Amazingly beautiful."

"And she'd have to be fit."

"Oh, yeah. Like, Olympic triathlete fit."

"Right. Smart, too."

"She'd have to know five different languages, have a Master's in philosophy or comparitive literature. Maybe a Ph.D."

"Also, an opera singer."

"Right. Artistic. An accomplished painter."

"And poet. She'd publish work in an obscure quarterly out of New England."

"And a cook."

"An executive chef. Sous chef at least."

"And she'd have to be an instructor in tantric sex."

"Of course."

"But, since a girl like that doesn't exist, I don't ever have to worry about leaving California for her."

Monday, December 2, 2002
11:25 a.m.


Parallel worlds. Parallel lives. This is the life I have lived before, and I have known you in countless ages. You and I have travelled on paths that don't exist anymore, told stories that are forgotten. This is the life we lead, passed down from one generation to the next. We pay for our children, work to make their lives better. We are paying the price for expedited evolution, shelling out for an environment that will accelerate change. Take your conservative attitudes, shove 'em up your ass and go back to the Stone Age: give me genetic manipulation, uploading, downloading, augments, nanotech, stem cell martinis. Strip away the things my genes don't need: my bad eyesight, my allergies, my penchant for bad poetry at three in the morning (okay, maybe not that one). This world is good, but it could be better, and I can think of no finer work than making sure we all get that chance to evolve. Even you thumbless fuckers who want to hold me and my children back. One day you'll understand the value of opposable digits, and what a glorious day it will be.

Monday, December 2, 2002
10:48 a.m.


"What are you thinking about?"

"The day I unplugged the house. I started with the phones, then the tv, then the radio, the stereo. Then that wasn't enough. I could hear the A/C humming, the fridge cranking away. I just ran around the house, pulling everything out of the sockets. I wanted silence, and there was no way in hell I was going to get it."

"...you're insane. You realize that, right?"

"Oh, absolutely."

Monday, November 25, 2002
06:28 p.m.


"In what do you trust?"

"My rig."

"And?"

"My legs."

"And?"

"My heart."

"Of all these things, the last is the greatest. Trust in your heart in all matters, and you will not fail." The Coach smiled at Jake, then turned to leave. He paused in the door, turned back and said, "Though, I have to admit, it's tough to finish a race without the first two."

From Satori and Sports Drinks by D.D. Guberton

Friday, November 22, 2002
10:52 a.m.


Think about the things that matter, shrink them down, place them in a marble bag, and carry them around with you in your pocket. These are the things that remind you why you're still alive after you've done nothing but watch television for forty hours.

Thursday, November 21, 2002
02:57 p.m.


Boldness. Adventure. That's what you come here for, right?

Right.

That's why I know you'll dig it all the more when I tell you this: I'm not in Santa Monica right now. I'm nowhere near it. I decided to step off a plane before my final destination, and now I'm in San Rafael. Yesterday, I rode around the Tiburon loop, and today I'm going to sit in a cafe and write. The point is that I'm not where I thought I'd be, and that is righteous.

Plus, I'm eating fig bread from Noe Valley. I haven't had that in years.

Wednesday, November 13, 2002
09:35 a.m.


Fuckin' A.

Monday, October 28, 2002
11:58 a.m.


It's the end of the century
And I can't think of anything
But you, all, all, I, need

This lyric comes before one of most righteous guitar bridges ever written. And I will bare-knuckle fight anyone who says otherwise about that bridge. No, it's not James Brown, Can-I-Take-'Em-On-To-The-Bridge righteous; Papa James is in an entirely other category. Hell, he's on another plane of existance. No, this little bit of beauty from Jeff Tweedy and Co. just plain rocks. And God knows there isn't enough music that does that these days. Rock should rock. End of story.

Wednesday, October 23, 2002
10:02 a.m.


Run, Forrest, Run!

Well.

A few weeks ago, I ran my first 10K in Manhattan Beach, and did it without a) whining or b) throwing up. Granted, I took plenty of walk breaks and wound up averaging 12 minutes a mile, but I did the damn thing, which was the whole point. All these little bits and pieces add up.

Today, I found these photos. Yes, that's me, folks, somewhere on the Strand wondering how much longer I had to run. I probably need to work on my form, and, Jebus, what tan lines. But spending the whole summer in the office will do that to a guy.

Monday, October 21, 2002
12:21 p.m.


Every time I get into the pool, I have to fight a few million years of evolution. I was not built for water, so I have to calm down that reptile brain that says to keep breathing, no matter what. I have to calm down and think. Technique will get me through the first stretch of the tri with plenty of juice to spare, and I am bound and determined to get that technique down pat.

Long, weightless strokes. Effortless kicking. Reaching for every pull, slipping through the water, not against it. These are the things I tell myself as I do one length after another, relaxing more and more and feeling the water do all the work. I'm just passing through. Don't mind me. Just on the way to my bike.

Wednesday, October 16, 2002
09:35 a.m.


One down.

Two to go.

Tuesday, October 15, 2002
04:40 p.m.


Love is work. Love is not an accessory, not something you buy at the store on sale. Love is not something you go and get because it looks good on a friend. Love is something you earn, something you strive towards. And if you're not ready to work, then you should just stick to chasing after sorority girls.

Friday, October 11, 2002
09:49 a.m.


I don't wanna hear about it.

Just shut the fuck up. Please.

Monday, October 7, 2002
02:07 a.m.


Though the party was a blast (Farfrompuken!), and the following morning was even better (espresso! Bagels! Conversations with real human beings!), it certainly ended on a down note. I'm not sure what was more insulting: getting a parking ticket (fucking San Marino no-street-parking-between-2-and-6 fascists) or getting bitten by the house dog. I mean, I like dogs. Dogs usually like me. To have one of 'em sniff me out, decide I wasn't worthy and then chomp down on my wrist...well, that's just not polite.

Sunday, October 6, 2002
12:06 p.m.


So. Very. Close.

Tonight, we turn in code, and I will try to sleep for seven hours before getting up at the colon of dawn to shlep down to Manhattan Beach to run a 10K before coming back to work for the rest of the day and then running out to Culver City for a Tri Club meeting and then going out to San Marino for Oktoberfest. I intend on collapsing about 11.34 tomorrow night and curling up to sleep in the gentle arms of the tuba players.

And then Sunday, back to work to catch any extraneous bugs, any little fuckers who want to fly under our radar and make us look like feebs. We will ship this fucking game, oh, yes, we will, and then I will ride, swim, run, dance, cook, write, chase girls, and do all the things that Normal Human Beings do. Just you wait.

Friday, October 4, 2002
07:05 p.m.


Ah, hell. The New Times has been killed. Hang your heads in shame, Village Voice Media and NT Media! You murdered my favorite paper. I can only hope that Dick Riordan gets off the stick and launches his own weekly toute suite.

Thursday, October 3, 2002
11:17 a.m.


There are plenty of things in life you can't control, and you just have to learn to accept it, deal with it, and move on. This does not mean that you have to hand over the reins and say, "Thanks, that'll do for me. You can handle it from here."

You can turn off the tv. You can start writing. You can work in the garden. You can ask that pretty girl on the bus what her deal is. You can get to bed earlier and get more sleep. You can pick up a book. You can eat more vegetables and fruits. You can be bold and goddamn daring. You can look the world in the eye and say, "This is what I want. I don't think I'm asking for too much, and I think I'm leaving plenty for everyone to share. But this time, this space, this life, this is what I want."

Tuesday, October 1, 2002
10:19 a.m.


The trick isn't to curb your enthusiasm, but to keep it simmering. Listen: you can keep stock at a lazy boil all day long, and you can maintain a good pace even longer. You have enough fat in your body to keep up a good burn 'til the cows come home; save the speed for the last mile, when you really need it.

Monday, September 30, 2002
11:59 a.m.


Tonight: dinner with Russ, followed by sweet, blissful sleep free of drunken Quebecois.

Tomorrow, brunch with Russ and Julie, followed by a nice, long ride on Amélie, during which I will contemplate the double entendre of the previous statement.

Saturday, September 28, 2002
05:52 p.m.


"I don't know what to name my bike," I said.

"What's the name of your first crush?" Darwin asked.

"Michelle," I said, "but that's not exactly a fast name."

"No, it's not. How 'bout your current crush?"

"That girl I met on the plane. Stacy."

"That's not really the right name either."

"No."

"How 'bout a movie star or a character or-"

"Amélie," I answered without thinking.

"Amélie," Darwin repeated. "That's a good name."

Yes, it is. My bike's new name is Amélie.

Friday, September 27, 2002
04:48 p.m.


So. Very. Tired.

I keep reading articles about the fires out in Williams Canyon and am filled with what feels like childhood nostalgic sadness. I first learned how to mountain bike out there. Williams was my reward for a long day at class; I'd race home, ditch my backpack, hit the trail, get all muddy and disgusting, come home, shower, watch Animaniacs, fall asleep, wake up in the middle of Batman, make dinner, do homework, write, and go to sleep. Except for the lack of regular sex and the mild emotional traumas of college, it was an ideal life, and Williams was an ideal ride. It was fifteen minutes from my door to the trailhead, and the trail itself was nothing but fun. It may not have been incredibly technical, but who the hell wants to think about threading a rusty needle after a day of quantum turning one's brain into balloon animals?

Yes, people's homes are gonna burn, and that's never good, but the trail, the canyon...I haven't been out there, and it's probably gonna burn for another month according to some sources. I don't think the trail will ever be the same.

Friday, September 27, 2002
12:02 a.m.


It goes like this: I spend 18 hours a day in a corner office with a giant window that I never look out of. I'm on the phone yelling at someone, or walking the halls yelling at someone, or I'm having lunch and yelling at someone. I have four cars that I don't drive, two dozen Italian suits I never wear, and three gorgeous girlfriends I don't have sex with. I don't even know how much money is still in my bank account, and I could care less. I pay a very large German man named Uwe very large sums of money to yell at me and break my body five times a week, and I have the washboard abs to prove it. I am a god, and I can't understand why my stinky hippy-freak brother keeps sending me these goddamn booklets by Buddhist nuns every Christmas. I love my life. It's mine. I built it, borrowed it, outright stole it. I wear boxer shorts that are hand-sewn by an eighty-seven year old Latvian woman who is, according to the rumors, still a virgin. I can run a 10K, drink an entire bottle of Maker's Mark, and still get it up on command to bang the anorexic model at the end of the bar. You are nothing to me. You envy me. You want to be me.

Or you did, until the day my intern rammed one of my golf clubs through my skull. Now I don't want to be me.

From Sheer Bastard by Rory Brandybuck

Thursday, September 26, 2002
04:03 p.m.


I am bouncing off the walls. I am waiting for my legs to get back, waiting for this game to ship, waiting for the ALL CLEAR on my life. I have many miles to ride, many friends to cook for, and many pretty girls to chase. I am at the starting line, dammit, just sound the gun!

Thursday, September 26, 2002
03:49 p.m.


"I am not a jock."

"No? Coulda fooled me. How many hours a week are you on that bike?"

"...all of them..."

"See? You don't do anything other than ride that damn thing or tinker with it in your garage. All of your friends are maniacs with bikes just like you. And if you're not there, you're at the gym, crunching or lifting or whatever. You obsess over your heart rate and your caloric intake. And you don't even do this for a living! If you were a pro rider, I could understand it, because it's your job. But you have a job, and you don't care about it anymore. And you have me, but you don't seem to care about me anymore. Your whole life is that damned bike. And you think you're not a jock? Bullshit!"

He looked down at his sandaled feet, looked at the chainring-shaped grease stain on his right calf, looked at the nick on his left knee where he'd cut himself shaving that morning. He looked at the deep tan lines around his ankles, how his pale feet looked like peach-colored socks compared to the dark brown of his legs. He looked up at her and said, "I'm happy when I'm with you. Don't ever think otherwise. But I'm happiest when I'm on this bike. Whenever I'm on the road, everything makes sense: my legs turn, my body leans, and I fly. I get to fly whenever I'm in the saddle. The rest of the time, I'm on the ground."

"Are you on the ground with me? I don't make you fly?"

"Not in the same way. Why do you think I keep asking you to come riding with me, though? I want you to fly with me."

Thursday, September 26, 2002
03:13 p.m.


Build up to it. One foot in front of the other, one word after another, one brick on top of another. Keep building, keep making that foundation strong, keep adding to the pile until you've got something big, ridiculous and beautiful.

Thursday, September 26, 2002
03:01 p.m.


Complaints are for wimps. Complaints are for those who lack imagination. Complaints are the sign of someone who doesn't have the stones and the vision to change the situation.

And I'll be damned if I ever slip back into that pattern.

Thursday, September 26, 2002
11:19 a.m.


I should probably mention that Libby the Bicycle had to go back to the store, as she was too small for me. As gorgeous as that finish was, it doesn't make up for being two centimeters too short. Comfort beats style in the long run.

As luck would have it, I got a rig that was bigger and better for about a hundred bucks more. Haven't come up with a name yet, but I will tell you that she is fast. I broke 30 mph on a flat out sprint today. While that's not a land speed record, it was a blast to shoot down San Vicente like that. Completely bonked me afterwards, of course, but it was worth it.

Wednesday, September 25, 2002
04:16 p.m.


How much do you have to give?

Keep in mind that the world will always want to take from you. People will want your time, focus, energy, mojo, tortillas, extra pepper, that last cookie you were saving for dessert. The world will also give back, sometimes more, sometimes less. But you have to be able to give before you can recieve.

How much do you have to give? When you're running on empty, how far down inside can you reach for the reserves? How much more of yourself can you pass along when someone needs it more than you? And how do you say no when you are at the edge of death, when you cannot give any more? How much more can you give?

Monday, September 23, 2002
02:33 p.m.


If there is anything funnier than hearing the blond Valley Girl maitre d' saying "Arigato" as we walked out of Sushi Roku last night, please, encode it and send it my way. Christ Almighty, you work in a Japanese restaurant; at least learn how to pronounce it without sounding like you just came from a day at the Galleria.

Thursday, September 19, 2002
11:11 a.m.


You ever have one of those days when you suddenly think, "Huh. I wonder if I started a horrible drug/alcohol/smoking/cheddar cheese habit, just to escape the crushing hours and soul-sucking annoyances of my co-workers at my job, would it be bad for me?"?

'Cause I'm sure having one right now. Bring on the cheddar!

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
03:24 p.m.


Though, upon taking her for a spin, I decided that Betsy is not the proper name for my new rig. I brought her into the house, propped her against the wall, and it hit me: Libby. Not Betsy, for Betsy Ross, but Libby, for Liberty. Because what is more liberating than a bicycle? And what is more liberating than the True America we all strive for? So what could be more liberating than a bicycle painted with the American flag?

Libby it is.

Tuesday, September 17, 2002
02:23 p.m.


I think my epitaph is going to be, "He ate his words with gusto and extra salsa." I once swore I would never buy an upright bike, and now I'm the proud owner of a Cannondale R700si, which is very upright. It's like buying a Miata after driving around my Subaru of a recumbent. Not that I'm going to give up on Tess, my recumbent; oh, no...Tess is still going to carry my ass across America next year, and she's still going to take me to work and back.

But I still need this speed demon for the triathlon, and the sale price was just too good to pass up. And she's red, white and blue, which is why I'm naming her Betsy, after our famous flag designer. Might not be the fastest name around, but what the hell.

Sunday, September 15, 2002
04:57 p.m.


I am making lunch for friends when she comes in with a trayful of red peppers and onions, all charred and roasted after sitting on the grill. I put the peppers in a paper bag so they will steam, making the skins easier to peel off. I get to work on the onions, their purple skins scored by scorch marks, their smell mellowed by the smoke and fire. I begin chopping them, and the smell unlocks a rush of memories: of garden parties, of salsa measured by the gallon, of a romantic dinner that misfired when I found out, two courses in, that my date was allergic to cilantro. I remember my hands smelled like onions on that night as I drove her to the hospital and carried her inside. She was a good sport about it, and teased me about how most couples wait to kill each other after a few years, not on the first date. I brushed the hair away from her face; how she managed to look so beautiful with that oxygen tube sticking out of her nose, I'll never know.

From Five Fresh Fish by Anson MacGruder

Friday, September 13, 2002
03:42 p.m.


In my dream, I am on an expedition to Antarctica. I am surrounded by tourists and emperor penguins, when a yellow school bus pulls in front of me. A man holding a old telephone, the kind with separate talking and listening pices, steps out, and he hands me the phone. My dad is on the other end, and he tells me that he is running off to Vegas with a woman named Barbara, who he then puts on the phone. Her voice is like a chorus of chainsaws cutting through plywood and kittens. I'm not sure what disturbs me more: my dad's infidelity or his bad taste. Before I can respond, the tourists board the school bus, leaving me in the middle of an ice shelf with a flock of penguins and a telephone that no longer works.

I have really got to cut out on the NyQuil before bed.

Friday, September 13, 2002
02:01 p.m.


I started a Ride this morning about politics, liberty, and all the stuff that's going on tomorrow. I was full of that self-righteous anger that comes about from thinking you're right, everyone's wrong, and get stuffed for not knowing the difference.

And then the email came down from on high. The word is in. Finally. We have a target do-or-die ship date. My life is now effectively cancelled until September 23.

Of course, we'll slip. We always do. We've been slipping since the beginning of August. But when the boss says that the time has come to put in all the effort you've got for the next fourteen days, all day...well, it feels like the end is in sight. They've finally stopped moving the finish line, or at least someone's shot the bastards who kept moving the tape farther up the road.

So my priorities change. They always do, and they have to, because life is fluid and waits for no one. I can stand still all I want, but I'm just going to get left behind. Time to keep my head down and move ahead, which, I think, is what we should all be doing tomorrow instead of tuning into the weepfest that's going to consume the television, radio, newspapers, and every car with a wilted American flag on the antenna. Tomorrow should not be a day to swell our chests with pride about being Americans, or about playing Lee Greenwood's thrice-damned song over and over until one's ears bleed. September 11 has changed America, and I'd like that change to be for the better.

I'd like us to be more contemplative. I'd like us to be aware that the choices we make every day, the choices in the grocery store, at the pump, in the voting booth, on the street, everywhere, they have repercussions that span the world. Like it or not, our fate has been tied in to the rest of the world for the past century, no matter how isolationist we've tried to be. I'd like us to know that we may be an independent nation, but we are an interdependent part of a species, a planet. What we do today echoes back to us tomorrow.

I'd like us to think about what it means to be an American. We don't think about that on July 4 anymore; it's become a day about fireworks and BBQs and half-off sales. While these are definitely part of being an American, they are not the whole of the experience. I'd like to us to remember our revolutionary, humanistic roots. My mom said that we should go and watch 1776, the excellent musical about the signing of the Declaration of Independence, and I concur. Any time some jerkoff tries to talk about the Founding Fathers as if they were gods from on high, I think about John Adams arguing at the tops of his lungs with John Dickinson about the meanings of liberty and freedom. We are a nation of laws founded by very human men who made mistakes but had excellent intentions that became excellent ideas. Our government has a simple, unmistakable mandate, and we'd do well to remember that, too:

We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

We are loyal to our nation, to each other. The everyday heroics of September 11 show that. We will come together in a time of crisis. We will rise to the occasion.

And we are also wary of anyone who betrays the mandate laid out in the Constitution. My friend Amy pointed out that one of the big differences between Europeans and Americans is that we have an inherent distrust of government, which is why I think it says, "We the people" rather than "We the Congress" or "We the Government." We are loyal to our nation, not our government. And now is certainly the time to be distrustful of our federal government as they figure out new and interesting ways to wipe their ass on the Constitution in order to carry out their nefarious and shortsighted plans.

Is it un-American to say that our leaders are corrupt swine? Is it unpatriotic to wait for the day when we can vote them out of office and start throwing around subpoenas when the shield of Executive Privilege has been stripped away? Absolutely not. We are a nation of laws, but we are also a nation of revolutionaries. Any government that fails to uphold its social contract with us, the people, deserves to be drug out into the street and beaten until its nipples bleed.

These are dangerous times, and they will get more dangerous if we fail to uphold our end of the bargain, which is this: to question, to ponder, to demand change, to make sure our common defense is truly provided for, that there is domestic tranquility. I say there is not. I say our common defense has had holes punched in it because those who could effect change are too goddamn cheap. I'd say our general welfare is being sold up the river so that Halliburton, Unocal, GM, and a whole slew of other bastards can make a quick buck. I see no long-term thinking for our long-term problems. I see nothing being done about the environment, our relations with other nations. All I see is talk about taking out a monster we helped make, and I only see that happening to take our attention away from the thieves who are stealing our money, clean air, and freedoms.

I see frightened hawks who have never seen combat screaming for blood and demanding giant orders from their backers in defense. I see an uptight swine who is terrified of the sight of a statue's breast thinking of ways to spy on us, to turn our great nation into a police state. I see the Vice President, a man so lacking in moral fiber that it's a miracle he can take a crap, demanding we engage in a war while his friends lick their chops at the great big infrastructure contracts they'll win in the aftermath. I see our leader, still indifferent to what the rest of the world thinks, still clueless as how to make a truly great nation, still counting down the days until he gets re-elected by rote so he can then go on to become baseball commissioner.

What do I know, right? I'm just a slightly lefty dink with an email list and an axe to grind. I haven't studied government, I don't know from politics, I'm just howling away because that's what we lefties do, right?

Wrong.

I am Adam Romas Rakunas, first generation American, and my voice counts as much as yours and everyone else's. I am one of those People in the Preamble. I vote. I write letters. I pay attention and form opinions and get ideas and change them based on the data I process. And I am here to say that I want a better America.

I want us not to live in fear.

I want us to live the joyful, amazing lives we all deserve.

I want us not to prop up corrupt regimes so others can make a buck.

I want us to be a true beacon of liberty by setting an example of who a nation can and should be run.

I want us not to depend on our enemies to power our lives.

I want us to evolve and get off this fucking planet.

I want to say I'm an American and not be ashamed of the bad behavior of my government or my fellow citizens. I want to know that we're an aware people.

I want us to turn off the televisions and radios tomorrow. I want us to spurn the commemorative copy of USA Today or Time. I want us to gather with friends and family, the ones we care about, and have a good meal and be glad we're alive. I want us to reflect on how to build a truly great and wonderful America.

And then I want us to carry that feeling into our everyday lives. Change starts small, but it can expand and snowball into something big and ridiculous. Becoming a nation that leads by example, not by rote, that's something big and ridiculous. That's something worth fighting for. That's the evolution I want.

Tomorrow, I will not wear red, white and blue. I will not light a candle. I will not fly a flag. I carry these things inside me all the time, and I have no need to display them as an act of defiance. Tomorrow, I will go for a run, ride my bike to work, and crunch away for the next twelve hours. I will write letters. I will count down the days until Election Day. And I will hold up my hope that we will become the America we should be.

-A.

Wednesday, September 10, 2002
10:37 p.m.


"Can you make me laugh?"

"Baby, right now I don't have the energy to make me laugh."

Tuesday, September 10, 2002
09:03 p.m.


Here is your life, stretched out in front of you like a golden cord. And there are so many grasping, greedy hands plucking away at it, trying to tie it up in knots and slash at it with bloody razors, all of them wanting to take bits and pieces of your life for themselves.

Here is the whole of your life, maybe forty years, maybe a hundred and forty. Your parents and their parents and their parents have given you this life, whether you asked for it or not. How can you let them all down by allowing these bastards take it away from you?

In a flash of love and anger, you grab the cord with both hands and shake it as hard as you can. Most of them let go; their grip is light because they've never expected you to put up a fight. A tenuous few hang on; they're desperate, having lived off other people's lives for so long. They know they are lost if they can't take your life for theirs, but you shake them off anyway.

This is your life, yours now for the living. You might share it with others, you might keep it all to yourself. But you will protect it with every breath. You're paid for. Don't let them down.

Monday, September 9, 2002
10:13 a.m.


"We have had truly great moments as a nation. We have fought back our childish fears of the Other. We have learned how to sustain ourselves and our culture without treading on other people; in fact, we have helped others to gain the lives they've always wanted. We have turned back the tide of our ignorance, and we as a species are blossoming into something wonderful."

"How did you do it?"

"Well...first we took the money out of politics."

"Ah."

"Yes. And then we made all the rich people live like the poorest."

"Ah."

"And then, most blessedly, we rounded up all of the advertising, film, television, radio, publishing, media, and music executives in the country, all the members of Congress, the Supreme Court, the Executive Branch, all the lobbyists, the pundits and the telemarketers, led them into the Superdome, and charged everyone in the world a buck a head to come in and throw rocks at them for an hour."

"How barbaric!"

"Hardly. We had a chance to restart government and culture overnight. Plus, we raised enough money that no one has yet to pay taxes."

"And when did this happen?"

"About fifty years ago. Truly, we live in a golden age."

Friday, September 6, 2002
07:39 p.m.


Wearing a heart monitor is the closest I'm going to come to wearing a strapless jog bra. How in hell do you women do it?

Tuesday, September 3, 2002
09:19 p.m.


"I don't hate him because of the color of his skin. I don't hate him for his sexual orientation. I don't hate him because of his religion, or his politics, or his job, or any of that. I hate him because he's a smug, creepy asshole."

"Well, that's an enlightened point of view..."

"Isn't it? I have evolved beyond labels and stereotypes. I am proud to say that I judge men based on the content of their character, and I know for a fact that he has none. The man is unpleasant. He sneers at kittens and purposely frightens small children. He manhandles fruit at the market, and squishes the bread at the bakery. He doesn't shower, not because he can't afford running water, not for philosophical reasons, but because he knows his body odor will repel all around him. I have tried to reach out to him time and again, and I always get the finger on a good day and a loogy in my face on a bad one. Therefore, I wash my hands of him. Let that miserable fuck stew in his own filth. I hope he dies alone and his dogs feast on his corpse."

"That's not a very compassionate way of thinking."

"Fuck that. Even Buddha would have a hard time being compassionate to him."

From Enlightenment and Double-Doubles by Jacquiline Basille

Tuesday, September 3, 2002
11:39 a.m.


You there, the discriminating customer. You've got seven bucks burning a hole in your pocket. You could go and do something unproductive with it, like buy bad pornography or a Slurpee. Or you could increase your desirability towards the opposite sex and support independent media by buying Greaseguns and Feathers, the little book I wrote that features illustrations by the brilliant Dan Santat. You won't regret it. And, even if you do, you won't put your family to shame by buying pr0n.

Friday, August 30, 2002
05:42 p.m.


Press! Paper! Schwa!

I don't think I mentioned it here, but I'm on paper. Really. Swear to God. Right now, if you live in Austin, Texas, you can march into BookPeople and say, "Show me the So New Media shelf. I want to buy a book by Adam Rakunas." And those people will point you to the shelf, and you can plunk down your hard-earned cash to buy the book.

Don't believe me? Check this out.

Friday, August 30, 2002
09:39 a.m.


You know what bums me out? That I didn't win the haiku contest over at Nerve. Feh. I rock the 5-7-5. Watch:

Autumn leaves tumble.
No editorial love.
Those fuckers will pay.

Wednesday, August 28, 2002
12:59 p.m.


"I write only when I'm inspired. Fortunately I'm inspired at 9 o'clock every morning."

-William Faulkner

Tuesday, August 27, 2002
10:29 a.m.


The story is not something to discover, and neither is its voice. Don't go looking for conflict or tension or plot points. It is not constructed as much as it is introduced.

Listen: two people are having a conversation in your head. It is your job to write down what they are saying, and leave it up to the reader to wonder why.

Tuesday, August 27, 2002
09:50 a.m.


*cough, cough*

This is your body reminding you to take it easy for the next week. As much as you'd like to leap back into the pool tomorrow, we're not going to let you. You will get to bed at a decent hour, ingest heroic amounts of vitamin C, and let your mind drift. You can go back to beating the bejeezus out of us next week. Until then, we will not let you. Dinner tonight shall be tom yong goong, followed by chamomile tea and a hot soak.

beep

Monday, August 26, 2002
11:33 a.m.


We are better than this.

And I don't mean better in competitive sense. I mean better as in finer, more compassionate, more big-hearted. We, as a nation, have had a golden opportunity to look ourselves in the mirror and see what's right and what's wrong about us, and we are frittering it away.

I am frittering it away.

I send letters to my Congresscritters. I send money to the EFF. I support measures that will build us more schools, hospitals, fire departments. I support living wages. I ride my bike, buy local and granola. I yell and scream here. Yet, I know it's not enough.

What to do? How do we make things better? How do become the excellent global citizens we once were? How do we make it so we truly are that golden lamp of freedom and opportunity? We keep saying we're the leaders of the Free World. How do we prove it?

Thursday, August 22, 2002
02:49 p.m.


It takes a special breed of maniac to put on a Speedo and wade into a chilly swimming pool at 7 in the morning to do laps. It takes another variety of maniac to shave his legs, arms, and chest before doing the thing with the pool.

And it takes an entirely different kind of maniac, one to be feared and avoided, to think that all this stuff is fun and get excited about next week's swim sessions so he can do it all over again.

Thursday, August 22, 2002
10:16 a.m.


I will say this here and now, for all you spying bastards making your lists to see:

You idiots are barking up the wrong tree. Yes, Saddam Hussein is a paranoid, excreble swine. He is an autocrat of the worst kind, a narcissist with an army. He is also a creation of our misguided foreign and energy policies. Saddam Hussein is a beast fueled by our addiction to oil and our bungling in controlling the fates of nations.

Yes, he used nerve gas on the Kurds. Yes, he fired Scuds at Israel. Yes, he should be removed, but not by us. Not in this way. Not yet.

We need to go after the real bastards: the House of Saud. We need to kick these brutal savages to the curb. We need to make them pay for all the harm they have done to Islam and the world. We need to take the fangs away from that virulent form of Islam, Wahhabism. We need to drain the coffers of the Saudi royal family, make them pay for the Twin Towers, for the chaos they've unleashed in Pakistan and Afghanistan. We need to return to the savage, bassackwards nomads they were before T.E. Lawrence did his little thing in the Arabian penninsula.

But it won't happen. George and Dick and Donny and probably that evil psycho fuckwit Attorney General of ours are up to their eyeballs in oil and auto and infrastructure money. They won't cut off their friends in industry at the knees, not even if it means sacrificing another thousand innocent people. They've got too much cash tied up in Saudi Arabia to pull out now or ever.

Let's get this straight, America: we are a nation that should not depend on murderers and thieves and savage fucks in order for us to live great and joyful lives. Being American means relying on yourself and your family and your friends and being able to recognize who's in what category. A nation that spends the money it earned from us to finance schools that teach kids to hate us and to finance groups that will fly passenger planes into buildings is not our friend. Never has been, never will be. Fuck the Saudis and their oil.

How do we make this work? How can we start to build a truly safe and secure future for us and all freedom loving people in the world? Kick the oil habit, first of all. Drive less, drive together, don't drive at all. Demand changes in our energy infrastructure. If we're going to drill in Alaska, fine, but only if we demand insane increases in fuel efficiency now. Don't buy Detroit's bullshit about increases in fuel efficiency meaning cars will be less safe. That's just a bunch of scared businessmen talking. It degrades and belittles their engineers, who I know can do righteous work. We're fucking Americans, you bloated, white-collar pussies. How dare you say it can't be done?

We can't attack Saudi Arabia, because a) attacking a sovreign nation is just bad juju and b) it will inflame every anti-American Islamic nutjob in the world. I don't want to see a holy war in my backyard or yours. We can, however, hit them where it really hurts: their pocketbooks. We must stop sending American dollars to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and all of our "allies" who wouldn't mind if we suddenly dropped dead. To hell with them.

Write your congresscritters demanding we get America off the oil habit. Demand real money be spent on renewable energy and higher efficiency standards for everything. The only people who say that conservation is merely a virtue are the people who sell you energy; anyone with half a brain knows that conservation is good business. Every penny you don't spend goes towards putting you in the black.

Vote. Vote, goddammit, vote. Look at the candidates this fall. Argue, fight, bitch, whine, moan, but fucking vote.

And in two years, we'll get to overthrow this pack of thieves, liars, and Miserable Bastards in the great American way: by voting their asses out of office. And then, baby, let the indictments roll. Let justice be served. I can't wait to see Dick Cheney and Gee Dubya in orange jumpsuits, picking up trash along the sides of the highways after they've been found guilty of corruption, obstruction of justice, racketeering and generally being swine. Your heads are gonna roll, motherfuckers, and I will be first in line to watch.

This is America, where we think for ourselves. It hurts, but the alternative is much worse.

Wednesday, August 21, 2002
10:29 a.m.


So tired.
So wired.
A long day, with more to come. I have hit the wall.
I should hit the couch. It's okay after a day like this.
Down on the down, book in hand, glasses on nose.
And I think:

Sometimes, I still miss you.

When something funny happens, I want to email you.
When the day is slow, I want to write you haiku and love letters.
When the morning is relaxing, I want to surprise you with brunch.

I miss the curve of your breasts, the smell of your hair.
I miss your laugh.
I miss you being glad to see me.

I've said these things before, of course. This is nothing new.
But in the stuffy office night, I think back two years.
I remember flirting with you.
I remember you being happy.
I remember the santuary of your touch.

But this is nothing new. This is gone. I know this.

Replace bad habits with good ones. Replace bad memories with good ones. Move on, or else the past will stake you in place. Let go, and continue.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002
09:31 p.m.


Done! Done, done, done, done, done! The radio play script is done! Oh joy! Oh accomplishment! Oh...I need a cup of chai and a danish. Excuse me.

Tuesday, August 20, 2002
10:22 a.m.


It's Self-Pity Night, which, but a stroke of luck, coincides with Hot Pants Night.

Monday, August 19, 2002
08:07 p.m.


I can look at you and tell what you'll sound like. I can figure out your vocalizations from the shape of your mouth, the flip of your hair, the way you sneer or grin when you smile. I can tell if you talk through your nose, if your voice is like a clarinet or a chainsaw. I can tell all of these things, and, sweet Jesus, I could care less right now.

Monday, August 19, 2002
08:03 p.m.


Fly higher. Run faster. Stretch. Go outside your boundaries, and know the only one who made them is you. Apologize for your past hurts, and embrace your present pair of pants. Make goals and break goals and shuffle and arrange goals. Always buy a round, even if you bought the last one. Don't be afraid to take the piss out of a friend. Drink plenty of water, no matter what They say. Always have something to read with you at all times. Know where your towel is. Tie your shoelaces, zip up your fly, and always bring a hanky to weddings, funerals and monster truck rallies. Dance when you can, which should be always. Don't fear down times, but don't linger in them, either. Ask for extra salsa with your rice and beans. Use mental floss when needed, moral fiber when not. Always greet unexpected guests as if you were ready for them. Balance your affairs and your check book. And did I mention dance?

Monday, August 19, 2002
07:50 p.m.


What to do, what to do? Culinary school? Teaching? More college? A middling job that will subsidize writing? Another geek gig? What to do, what to do?

Monday, August 19, 2002
11:26 a.m.


Mile 24, and I feel like crap.

Let's not mince words: the only thing I want now is a swift, merciful death. I don't care if I'm only two miles out; I'm out of steam. Whatever I did back around mile 15, it was wrong. My body has kicked in the wrong system. I've burnt out all the fuel in my muscles, and the sugar gunk they passed out at the aid station at mile 20 isn't helping at all.

But I can't stop, dammit. I must finish this. I'm so close. I must finish this.

And then I hear it, faint at first, but soon it drowns out my footfalls. The rest of the Monkey Squad is standing on the side of the road, clapping my name, clapping in time with my feet, and then they start chanting, just like they said they would:

Drive boy dog boy
Dirty numb angel boy
In the doorway boy
She was a lipstick boy
She was a beautiful boy
And tears boy
And all in your innerspace boy
You had
hands girl boy
and steel boy
You had chemicals boy
I've grown so close to you
Boy and you just groan boy
She said comeover comeover
She smiled at you boy.

Those assholes. Those beautiful, beautiful assholes. I had no trouble smiling and flashing a V as I charged past to finish this goddamned race.

From Cheaper Than Heroin by Douglas Cruickshank

Saturday, August 17, 2002
04:28 p.m.


And that goes for writing, too. This scratchpad has been my mental jogging for the past...what. Year and a half? No, two and a half years. This is where I put in the base training for the real heavy lifting. It's all good. And it's still fun.

Saturday, August 17, 2002
12:45 p.m.


So, here's the thing to think about: how do I work smarter rather than harder? How do I work more efficiently? How do I use less energy to get farther? Right now, I'm still working on surviving my runs, getting past that block that says, "You will not be able to run 30 minutes continuously." I'm thinking about the swimming, now, too, especially since that's the first leg of the triathlon and the one where I'm bound to blow the most energy early. How do I make sure that I get farther faster with fewer strokes that use up less energy that I'm gonna need on the bike and the feet?

Practice, baby, practice. This is gonna be fun. I've always loved that graceful feeling in the water, and I'll have to remind myself of that when I climb into a freezing cold pool on Tuesday morning. Be graceful. Be smooth. Be a fish.

Saturday, August 17, 2002
12:41 p.m.


It was most certainly a college flashback: standing in a crowded room of jumping bodies, all of us singing along to "People Everyday" by Arrested Development. But the differences this time were plenty: I wore my new Arsenal jersey, my brother was standing next to me, both of us with black & tans in hands, and Speech was there, on stage, leading us along. My legs were sore from that morning's run and ride, and I really shouldn't have been drinking any beer (I'm in training, remember?), but, like the Zen master says, when an opportunity comes along, think twice about it, but don't pass it up.

I challenge you to a game of horseshoes!

Saturday, August 17, 2002
10:12 a.m.


You ask yourself: at the end of the day, what do you want?

I want to be happy. I want to create. I want to move like a panther and dance like Gene Kelly. I want my time to be my own to give and share, and I want to answer to no one.

It's the end of the day. Replace your bad habits with good ones. Turn on the typewriter, finish your script, and continue.

Friday, August 16, 2002
07:27 p.m.


I'm imagining the moment when I can run non-stop, when I hit the water, when I put down the hammer on the bike. I'm imagining the wetsuit peeling away from a freshly-shorn back, the way the numbers look on my arms and legs, the feel of the sweat pouring onto my cheap sunglasses. I'm imagining the AB&J sandwich, the taste of Cytomax, the slurp of water as I glide, not pound, down the 5K. I'm imagining not only finishing, but finishing well.

I imagine all these things, months out, because they get me through training. Remember: you're in this for life.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002
06:08 p.m.


Lap and a half. 600 meters. Twice.

Slowly and surely, I'm building up a full head of steam. I will keep up with the laps. I will keep up at the gym. I start swimming next week. I will replace my bad habits with good ones. I am the Geek Superjock I say I am. Next year, sprint triathlons and the Great Cross Country Bike Ride. The year after that, Olympic distance tris and Europe. And after that, the goddamn Ironman and the world.

Wednesday, August 14, 2002
10:46 a.m.


Good gravy, but it seems like the whole world is telling me this one, overriding thing: you'd be better off if you're part of a couple. If it isn't popup ads for online dating services, it's Michel's goddamned Sex and the City DVDs, though those put an entirely separate bug up my ass (never in my life have I seen four characters that make me pray that someone will drop a bus on them. So selfish, neurotic, unrealistic, hung up on weird shit and just plain unlikable. The only person I've liked on that show, which I have taken to calling "Whiney Bitches in Manhattan," the only one I'd want to sit down and drink a few beers with is Steve the bartender. The rest: bus, baby). Everything and everyone is saying: you'd be that much happier! Everything and everyone is saying: man, I'm glad I'm not dating any more.

Gah! Shut up! Working! Don't have time to follow biological imperative to reproduce! Too busy following biological imperative to hunt and gather! The search for a soul mate doesn't pay the rent!

Tuesday, August 13, 2002
04:50 p.m.


Watched The Lifestyle last night, courtesy of GreenCine, and I'm not sure what's more disturbing: the fact that I had no problem with retiree suburban Republican swinger parties, or the fact that some of them went on in my home town. Swear to God. Right there in Costa Mesa.

And these are the same people who put Ronald Reagan in the White House. Who knew?

Tuesday, August 13, 2002
10:53 a.m.


It's a boy, Nate tells me, healthy and perfect and strong. We're all uncles. I can't help but feel good.

Saturday, August 10, 2002
09:06 a.m.


"What about what the critics have said?"

Dougal stopped in mid-strum; the guitar's strings choked silent. He looked off into space for a minute, then turned to the reporter. "What was that?"

The man from Tasty blinked and cleared his throat. He had thought this interview was going to be a big score, but he realized he'd just put his foot in it. "Um...your last two albums were well-received by the critics and sold pretty well. They seemed like a good balance. But after playing those tracks off your new album last week at the Royal, some have said that you're slipping into irrelevance."

Dougal sucked on his teeth, and made a face as if they had turned into lemon drops. He looked back to his guitar and absently picked at the D string. "Lemme tell you something," he said, running his right hand up and down the fret. "There are only four people in this world that I care about pleasing with my music. The first is me. That should be obvious. The second is my wife; she's my Audience of One. If I'm not moving her with my music, then I'm doing something wrong. The third is the rest of the band. Yeah, I know," he cut off the reporter's correction, "they're four other guys with distinct personalities. But I see them as a collective whole when it comes to music. If I can't move that group, then I've failed again. Then, there are the fans, the ones who come to our shows and start web sites and swap live mp3s and send us Christmas cards and sweaters. We make them happy when we play. I make them happy when we play. That's a powerful thing, man, and I respect their hard-earned cash. They could spend it on other bands, on other things than music. But they come to our shows from all over. Hell, we had only one date in California last year, and we had people from all over the Southwest drive hours and hours to see us. How can I not respect and honor that?"

Dougal put the guitar back on the stand. "But you'll notice that nowhere in there do I give a flying fuck about The Critics. From junior high until now, I loathe and spit on anyone who cannot try and grasp any kind of art with nothing but respect and love, especially if that person is someone who hasn't put in the time and effort to create something himself. I've had to put up with all kinds of insults from people who never tried to pick up a guitar and learn to play. Would I ever criticize Dr. J's style? Hell, no, because I can't play basketball worth a damn. I respect his talent and the amount of practice he's put in. Critics respect neither because they're lazy parasites who make a living putting other people down. If someone sucks, you know what? The lack of an audience will tell him. I've written plenty of crap, and the other three people have told me. I respect their opinions because they respect my work ethic. So take that back to your magazine and tell Tchad Fairlight and all those other aging hippies to shut the fuck up. If they don't like our music, they don't have to buy it."

From Rock Critics and Other Lower Lifeforms by Stanley Havenhurst

Friday, August 9, 2002
12:19 p.m.


I have to admit I was just a little down in the aftermath of the reunion, for this reason only: I had a major jones for one of my classmates, and I think she politely blew off my invitation for a beer. Granted, I have no idea if she's with someone or married and just keeping her name or not into guys or what, but I felt a little hopeful after talking with her briefly at the reunion. She commented on how good I looked, which is always an ego boost.

I pondered this at the gym yesterday, and realized that I'd been working so hard in preparation for this damn reunion, and you know what? That's the wrong reason to exercise. That's the wrong reason to lift, bike, run, cut back on the batter-fried fried dough with extra lard sauce. If I'm going to the gym just to impress people, then I might as well cancel my membership right now.

No, I realized, it's for more than that. I do this so I can run two flights of stairs and not wish for a merciful death. I do it so I'll have to stop buying new pants in a bigger size every year. I do it 'cause it feels good, dammit, and the cosmetic benefits are just a side-effect. I'm not in this for looking good once every ten years; I'm in this for life.

Tomorrow, I'm shooting for running more than a lap and a half. I'm going for two, then walking for a half, then running for two. April's race is eight months away, and I intend on stomping all over myself out there. I am going to kick no one's ass but my own. Look out. I'm coming my way with ferocity and grace, with a spring in my step and a naturally funky metronome in my head.

Tuesday, August 6, 2002
05:13 p.m.


As if the album weren't groovy enough, I Am Trying to Break Your Heart rocks. Kicks. Swoons. Go see it before it disappears.

Monday, August 5, 2002
09:30 p.m.


Watch over all of us on the road.
Give us clarity and awareness.
Help us pay attention and react accordingly.
And turn that SUV into a pile of daisies.

Amen.

Saturday, August 3, 2002
02:12 p.m.


I just want to be on the road right now. That's all.

I can't think of the last time I have felt so all-fired restless. I'm sure it has everything to do with being in the office on a Saturday, but then there are small demons poking at my backside:
-Like finishing the radio script
-Like ditching the reunion tonight and just going skating with Rob and Cat
-Like wondering why in hell I'm off dating when I don't have the time, energy or, admit it, the desire to do anything but go and pollinate.

It all adds up to one thing: get on your bike and ride. Go. Point Vicente and back in a day, and then inhale a Kahuna at Wahoo's. Everything else will sort itself out afterwards.

But I can't. Not today. Not 'til next week when Jen lays out my new workout schedule to turn me into a lean, mean, triathlon machine. Until then, I can only take it easy and keep bouncing off the walls.

Saturday, August 3, 2002
01:12 p.m.


Holy good gravy. I finally got Wilco's new album last night, and it is righteous. That first listen was a little fluffy, but it's growing on me more and more. Excellent buy.

Friday, August 2, 2002
12:22 p.m.


Gustatory athletics have overtaken my team at work, God help us all. It started with someone challenging Caruso to eat 30 bananas in 8 hours. He made it to 15 before throwing in the towel. Busse stepped up to plate next and got to 18, making him the champ. Caruso tried again for the Tour de Banana, but couldn't get up the intestinal fortitude.

Today, we have begun the Saltine Challenge: 10 whole saltines, 60 seconds, no water, no pre-moistening, 2 witnesses. The record is 6, done in two flights of 3 by Amrit. I fear this will only get uglier, and we will have to give the boys from Stinkfactor a run for their money.

Wednesday, July 31, 2002
11:13 a.m.


Well, that's it. I have sold my car. Betty is now in the hands of a nice man from Glendale who will replace the clutch and give it to his kid, who will undoubtedly treat her worse than I did. There's an empty space in my garage where Betty once sat between trips, and it'll feel weird to fill it with a bicycle. But it's over and done, and she was a good rig while she lasted. Good luck, babe.

Monday, July 29, 2002
05:04 p.m.


I have a serious problem with anyone who classifies himself as "conservative," and it's not their politics (which, yes, I think belong in a world that has long since passed, thank God). No, it's their smugness. I think I have yet to meet a conservative who doesn't have the attitude that they're right, you're wrong, and, boy howdy, aren't you the fool for thinking otherwise. It's tough to have a decent political conversation with someone whom you want to smack in the face with a copy of the Constitution that happens to be wrapped around a very hefty brick.

I think it's the insular attitude. Conservatives, in theory, fear change. They like things to stay the Way They Are. This, unfortunately, leads to a fear of change, which leads to a fear of Anything They Don't Understand, which leads to Why In Hell Should I Understand Someone Else's Viewpoint When I'm Right Anyway?

Of course, there's the paradox that conservatives want the government to leave their business affairs along, but they have no problem with the government meddling in people's personal affairs. I'll never understand how anyone can live that kind of split life and expect me to take them seriously. Consistency in philosophy, that's one of my many mottos, and the lines "It's in the Bible" or "That's just how I am" don't cut the mustard. If you want deregulation, pal, then keep your goddamn spying eyes out of my house. If you want the freedom to steal from your stockholders, then I want the freedom to look at yak porn while shooting up heroin (note to my mother: I do neither of these things, but I like knowing that I have the option).

Anyway. As I've gotten older, I've realized that it's not woth getting worked up over these fun-killing swine, unless they possess any real (ie political or military) power. Yeah, yeah, I know that it's powerful for some right-wing meathead to get his own radio show or web page, but that's one place where we're on a level playing field. If we're both firing messages to the world, true, they may be able to buy bigger cannons, but we have the feet on the street. In the battle for the hearts and minds of America, I think common sense will still win out once people allow themselves to relax and let theirs kick in. Fire away, motherfuckers! Your high blood pressure and blocked colon will kill you before you're 35 anyway!

Thursday, July 25, 2002
05:03 p.m.


Those chords on Planet Telex are like waves of glass knifeblades washing right through my brain. Shivers go from one ear to the other, and I am lining up for each one as I ride it around the Universe and inside my bellybutton.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
04:59 p.m.


Even a house of cards needs a table to stand on.

(I know that makes no sense, but it sure sounds deep, don't it?)

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
03:11 p.m.


I'm still laughing and fuming over this article and the discussion it's spawned over at Metafilter. I've been more and more reliant on my bike and public transit lately, so anyone who wants to take away one of my options for mobility just 'cause it, y'know, slows him down makes me want to pitch a fit.

One thing: I agree that cyclists need to respect the rules of the road when they ride. I agree that the cyclist going the wrong way down a busy street with no helmet, lights, or regard to traffic is just begging for his Darwin Award. Guys like that make the rest of us look bad. I'm not perfect; I run the stop signs along Pearl if there's no one there, but then I think our traffic laws should be like those of Idaho: bikes are allowed to roll through stop signs because speed and momentum equal mobility equals survival.

Cars and bikes need to share the road. That's a fact of life, and don't you dare tell me otherwise. I pay my goddamn taxes, so I have as much right to right on the street as you and your SUV, Sparky. I'll look out for you, just 'cause I know you're not looking out for me. But don't you dare get upset because I'm out there. You don't see me bringing down the thunder on you and your pollution machine, even though I should. If you can't wait an extra ten seconds to slow down and pass me, then you're too impatient and too much of an asshole to be driving anyway. Get off the road; some of us are trying to ride.

Wednesday, July 24, 2002
12:33 p.m.


I have just been informed that the Chieftains are the John Tesh of Celtic music. Great.

Tuesday, July 23, 2002
01:47 p.m.


It's pretty clear that she was the kind of woman I was going to fall in love with: she was difficult, stubborn, prone to long bouts of depression and poetry writing, and declared time and again how she was through with sex and the notion that she'd ever take one lover. She was a train wreck, the Hindinburg, the Chicago Fire, every Iranian earthquake and Bangladeshi flood all rolled up into one package. She drank too much and ate too little, bristled at the thought of a hug and bitter that she never received one. She was Trouble, and, of course, I was drawn to her like a moth to a Kleig light. It's a wonder I got away with my spine in tact.

From Cosmopolitan Flavored Soap Does Not Make Depth by C.C. "Bug" Bayles

Tuesday, July 23, 2002
01:41 p.m.


There's something mildly subversive about listening to The Chieftains whist lifting. I know I should be listening to something modern and sleek and sampled, but it's just as groovy to hear the fiddle, penny whistle and bodhrán all jamming along with the wail of the uilean pipes and accordion. I had to stop myself from leaping up and doing a jig in the middle of my set.

Which brings me to something that's always bothered me about going to gyms: why does everyone looks so pissed off? Granted, I know we're all exerting ourselves, and we have to pay to use the gym's crappy facilities, but...come on! We're lifting! We're sweating! We're not in our cubes! We're not on our couches! We're pumping iron, swimming laps, running in place, and we're putting these bodies of ours to good use! We're gonna be in shape! We're gonna feel great! We're all gonna be dead sexy, for cryin' out loud! Let's see some smiles! Or, at least, some blank looks! No more scowls! No more beetled brows! Everyone, turn on your Chieftains, find your dumbbells, and dance!

Monday, July 22, 2002
02:19 p.m.


As I gimp around the office after another morning run, I am questioning my motives again and again. Why in hell am I thinking about doing this triathlon thing next spring? No, why am I doing this thing in the first place? Didn't I swear up and down years ago that I would never, ever run again unless I was being chased?

I did. I also swore, back when I was a kid, that I'd never lift weights or exercise or do anything like that. I'd been dealt a brain card back when I got the hand that is my life, and that was it. No work on the body; I'm all about the mind.

Well, a few years of being out of breath climbing the stairs and having doctors look at my blood pressure and say, "You're how old?" made me rethink that. It is possible to balance body and mind, and I'm having fun with improving the body (the mind is ongoing work). I feel like I've reached one plateau (getting the blood pressure and pants size to drop a sizable amount), so it's time to reach for another: a sprint triathlon. 500m swim, 24k bike ride, 5k run. One after the other.

Granted, I could do this now, but I'd be hating life afterwards. My time would be sad. If I'm going to do this, I'm going to do it right. I will train. It will hurt like hell now, but that means I'll be able to do this mad thing next April. As many of my teachers have told me, "If it's hard, it's worth doing. And if it's worth doing, it's worth doing well."

This, of course, doesn't mean that I can't stop whining about my legs being sore. Ow. Ow. Ow.

Friday, July 19, 2002
12:49 p.m.


Look out! Pink Robots!

Thursday, July 18, 2002
05:55 p.m.


My bike is back from the shop, my calves are almost back to normal, and, best of all, things are really working at work. This calls for a celebration. Tonight, I'm taking the long way home. There is nothing quite like hitting the westbound lane at Pearl and Euclid: pure downhill joy, baby.

Wednesday, July 17, 2002
07:02 p.m.


I'd rather have grease on my hands than cologne on my neck. And don't you forget it.

If I have to deal with one more waxed-body dink stinking of Drakkar Noir giving me funny looks as I ride by on my rig and he climbs into his Excursion, I'm going to be forced to do something drastic. Like pee on his shoes. That'll teach him.

Friday, July 12, 2002
11:56 a.m.


Thought I'd give you an update on the Fortune Cookie Sez Wednesday Is My Lucky Day front:

Overslept and overrushed to get to work. (minus)
Didn't accomplish much at work (minus)
Had lunch at In-N-Out (plus)
Got to work on radio play adaptation (plus)
Cheesesteaks for dinner (a very greasy plus)
Had no clean undershirts (minus)
But went dancing anyway (a very enthusiastic plus)
Saw a bunch of friends I hadn't seen in a while (plus)
Met a cute girl who danced wonderfully and lived within walking distance (plus)
...but I totally failed to get anywhere with her (minus)
Strained my hamstring a bit (minus)
But had a good time anyway (plus)
IHOP was out of ice cream, so no milkshake for me (minus)
Pavillions had all the sausages I was looking for for Beer O'Clock (plus)
Found my new fish floating belly-up in the Macintank (minus)

So, that's 7 minues vs. 8 plusses. Not completely lucky, but what the hell.

Thursday, July 11, 2002
09:55 a.m.


When you watch Showgirls, you lose a little piece of your soul, and you can never, ever get it back.

I'm ashamed to admit that, today, my soul is missing that little piece.

Wednesday, July 10, 2002
11:20 a.m.


The judge smashed her gavel on the bench. The centuries-old wood splintered and cracked, and she looked down at what she'd done. She ran her fingers through the broken wood, saw the raw grain that had been protected by varnish applied by hands long since dead.

She looked up at the courtroom and said, "This bench was carved out of the first trees to be felled when the colony began; it is as old as the city, and now it had been damaged. An appropriate thing, I think, as the defendent has damaged this city to its core. He has destroyed decades of work, of saving and thriftiness, and all for his own short-term gains. I hearby find him guilty on all counts. For his karmic crimes, I sentence him to be at the beck and call of all he has hurt until they are satisfied."

"Objection!" cried the defense attorney.

"Overruled on the grounds that you annoy me," she said. "This court is adjourned." She banged her gavel again.

Tuesday, July 9, 2002
06:12 p.m.


The fortune cookie that came with today's lunch said:

Wednesday is your lucky day.

I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 9, 2002
02:35 p.m.


You have those days where you so desperately want to pitch it all, to grab your monitor and heave it through the plate-glass window to the parking lot below, to tell the publisher that he can just get stuffed, to march out the door and never come back? And your head is full of nothing but thoughts of you on your bike on the road, two full bottles of Cytomax in the cages and a back pocket full of Balance bars and bananas, your feet spinning smoothly as you climb out of the saddle and onto the bars as you climb the crest of the big hill at Pepperdine, and you know you have the whole world in front of you, and to hell with whatever you left behind.

Tuesday, July 9, 2002
11:39 a.m.


Damn you, entropy!

Well, my car has gone belly-up again, and this time I fear it's for good. The clutch is gone. Shot. Kaput. I am without wheels, and you know what? I really don't give a stony rat's ass right now. I'm sick and tired of cars, man, and I can't wait to take this beast out into the nearest pasture and lovingly put a bullet in its engine block.

Which leaves me in a quandry, as usual: I can bike and bus to work, but without a car, can I still have a social life (which is Angeleno code for: will I be able to get laid without wheels)? Evidence suggests no. Actually, evidence called me up, laughed at me for ten minutes, and then said no before hanging up. You just can't do it. Not having a car in Los Angeles implies that you're a jobless loser who can't maintain an even strain, no matter how many miles you bike or how tight your hamstrings are. All of my friends have said that there is no way in God's green earth that a woman will go out with me once they find out I am without internal combustion.

I, of course, think otherwise. I know that Miss Right will not only not care about my lack of car, but she'll be able to tear past me on her own bike. Now that's sexy. Impossible, and probably not going to happen, but a man can dream, can't he?

Monday, July 8, 2002
03:04 p.m.


I Own Two .orgs, and I Love 'Em

spread the dot

Wednesday, July 3, 2002
09:32 a.m.


You know what problem I have with Amazon's new Gold Box program? It hits me right below the belt. A new Leatherman for fifteen bucks? A Sawzall for a hundred twenty-six? A Makita cordless drill? A belt sander? Amazon wants to sell me all this beautiful equipment, stuff that I really, really lust after, and I can't. I'm saving money for The Trip, and I can't justify the expense.

But I really wanna. I so, so wanna.

Tuesday, July 2, 2002
11:52 a.m.


Let's get something clear:

This is a nation of laws. And laws are written by human beings. Got it? We may get suggestions for laws from Providence (I think most of the 10 Commandments are pretty good ideas...killing and stealing make society difficult, and I sure as hell wouldn't mind having an official Day Of Rest, though I'd rather that day be every day), but the laws themselves are written, approved and enforced by people. That's what makes this country great: the trump card of religion ("My god said it's okay to beat you senseless") doesn't wash. In fact, in my book, pulling out religion opens your ass up to scorn and mockery. There is nothing more sad to me than someone who cannot think for himself, which is the one thing that modern American religion is good at stamping out.

I bring all this up because of the horseshit surrounding the Pledge of Allegiance. Why anyone would want to take a perfectly good bit of prose that celbrates the great and mighty humanist roots of our great nation and screw it up by imposing someone's religious views on the rest of us just to tell off those Godless Commies...gah! When it comes time to write the histories of the 20th Century, it will be clear that we as a species missed an excellent opportunity to take a step in our cultural evolution just so we could have better blenders.

But the point is that the flap over the Pledge is covering up the more important things, like the SCOTUS's continued assaults on the 4th Amendment and the lack of cracking down on corporate corruption. And everyone will beat their breasts and complain about how our Godless Lives have put us in the State We Are In. And I will have to do my best not to shut off my brain whenever someone brings out the God Card, just so I can understand and comprehend and give some compassion and understanding to this poor, misguided soul to help him evolve and grow, and also to keep me from grabbing the nearest blunt object and beating some sense into him. It's tough to maintain one's Buddha-nature when you're surrounded by so much nonsense...or should that make it easier? E pluribus unum, baby, and I love it.

Monday, July 1, 2002
11:23 a.m.


Writing is just like lifting: you use it, or you lose it. And you'd better have good form when you use it, or you might pull something.

Breathe in, breathe out, and go!

Wednesday, June 26, 2002
07:39 p.m.


When The Change comes, we will be ready. We will meet it with open hearts and minds, for it will be the moment we have waited for for generations: our species, our race, our life, our planet, all will open up at once, and we will know everything.

From Fables of the Outer Norms by Dushan Pulka

Tuesday, June 25, 2002
08:50 p.m.


Part 1

"What do you want to do now?" she asked.

Mal drained his pint glass and cocked his eyebrow. He gave Therese a wicked grin, one that, coming from another man, would have meant, "I'd like to take you back to my house and screw you eight ways to Sunday." Mal, however, wasn't that kind of man. He was more honorable. He was more subtle. He'd ask her to dance before asking her for sex.

But Therese didn't know that; she only recognized that grin and that eyebrow and her heart sank. Here, she'd hoped that Mal wasn't That Kind Of Guy.

Mal picked up on her despair right away but kept up with the grin and eyebrow. A laugh started way down inside, a foot below his throat but a few inches above the stout he'd just finished. He had no control over laughs like this; they were a reflex mechanism. His soul had longed for someone like Therese, and it was damned if she was going to scurry away because she thought Mal was buying her a beer just because he wanted to fuck her. Oh, no. She was Something Else, and that grin and eyebrow were doing their thing because they, like Mal's soul, knew that Therese was a woman Mal couldn't let out of his life.

"I'm not thinking what you're thinking I'm thinking," he said as the laugh kept on bubbling up and out.

Therese was intrigued. She answered with a raised eyebrow of her own. Mal's soul did a backflip, and he leaned in for the kill.

"Don't get me wrong, Therese. I think you're a stunning woman. I also think I haven't had this much fun in ages, and that I don't want the fun to end right now. And leaping in the sack (as fun as it would probably be) is going to bring all this to a screeching halt. There's time for that other stuff later. But what I want to do right now is this-"

He leaned in close, and she leaned in, too.

"-I want to go for a bike ride."

Therese leaned back. "You what?"

Mal nodded. "A bike ride. It's a gorgeous night. And Rose Street is right behind this pub. You know why it's called Rose Street?"

Therese shook her head and took another sip of her IPA.

"Because it's lined with lilac bushes, of course."

Therese choked back a laugh and her beer. She swallowed and fought for air as she laughed and put down her pint glass. "You're mad, you know that?" she said.

"Absolutely," Mal replied. He stood up and dug a few coins out of his pants and tossed them on the table. He reached out his hand. "So...are you in?"

Therese flushed. "But...I don't have a bike."

"I do," said Mal. "Trust me."

Therese sat there and thought, You know what? My God, I do. She gave Mal her hand and stood up. They waved to the boys at the bar as they walked out into the warm summer night.

Monday, June 24, 2002
03:16 p.m.


I'm not even Quebecois, but after yesterday, it didn't matter. We threw a party to celebrate St. Jean Baptiste Day, which is a Big Deal in Quebec, which is where my roommate is from. So we had us a big ol' cookout, with lots of people and lots of Quebecois beer. It was a righteous time, firing up 35,000 BTUs of lovin' from our new Weber Silver B grill, which we have named Ginette. At the end of the grilling day, Michel led us in a Quebecois cheer. Vive le Quebec! Tabarnak!

Monday, June 24, 2002
11:57 a.m.


Hoy! Steve! Knock it off!

Are you as sick as I am of opening your mailbox, seeing it's full of things, thinking your Mailbox Karma is about to increase, when you see that they're nothing but those thrice-damned AOL CD-ROMs? Are you? Are you? 'Cause, man, I'm pretty freakin' fed up with 'em myself. If you want to get on the bandwagon and tell Steve Case where he can shove those CDs, fill out this here form and give him what fer.

Thursday, June 20, 2002
09:55 a.m.


The wind screamed out of the highlands like a horde of Visigoths, raping and pillaging any heat and light that got in its path. Even though I had on four layers, each more insulating and high-tech than the last, they didn't do a damn thing against the cold. My goosebumps quacked. My teeth were going to shatter from the chatter. I was about ready to turn to the group and say, "Thank you! I'm done! I'm going home! I know I'll probably die along the path down, but I don't care. I'm through with this!"

As if he could read my intentions, the old man turned to face me. He pulled his scarf off his face, smiled, and roared above the wind, "Have faith! We're going to make it!"

I stopped and looked up at him. "What?" I called back.

He hobbled down towards me and put his hand on my shoulder. "I said, have faith! Sometimes, it's the only thing that will keep us going, but it works!" He patted me on the shoulder, put his scarf back over his face, and continued up the trail.

And you know what? He was right.

From I'm Just Making This Up as I Go Along by Finbar Donahue

Wednesday, June 19, 2002
07:20 p.m.


Gluttony, thy name is unagi

Sweet baby Jesus...kill me now.

When I started out on this whole Geek Superjock course, one of the things I did was to change my eating habits. Rather than 3 squares a day, I have a lot of small meals throughout the day. This helps my body burn fuel more efficiently, as well as giving me an excuse not to go out to lunch ("So sorry, I just had a snack. There's no way I could survive a lunch at Big Billy's BBQ Brisket Basket.").

Every now and then, though, it's okay to splurge, so Dan and I went down to The Lighthouse on 2nd and Arizona. The Lighthouse has an all-you-can-eat sushi and seafood buffet for eleven bucks. We wanted to be sure we got our money's worth.

Oy. We did. Kill me now, please.

Wednesday, June 19, 2002
01:54 p.m.


Fuckin' A. Preordered and rarin' to go.

And we are now taking RSVPs for the pre-screening party for The Two Towers.

Tuesday, June 18, 2002
11:00 a.m.


Equipment Lust

Oh, man oh man oh man. Which panniers do I want? The ones from Radical Design? Or the ones from Arkel? Woof...

Thursday, June 13, 2002
06:30 p.m.


Lindy had never encountered something like this. Never. Her brain popped its clutch trying to reengage itself, make sense of the scene. It was all too much to take in, the fact that she was plugged into a transmitter/receiver at the base of the world and that the whole of creation was there for her to see, but not just to see, to feel. All the world, the Universe, the infinite dimensions, every possible way of understanding flowed up through her head and down through her toes. She was Creation, the wellspring of all art, ideas, culture, life. Rage, sex, light, germination, decay, renewal, the suns rose, died and were reborn and she knew it all. Her mouth opened in awe, and a dozen baby stars tumbled out and turned into firey mourning doves that whistled their way into supernova. She could feel dreams growing in her womb, and she gave birth to poetry and hatred in the same litter as all the lovers she'd never had sang to her in voices that she felt along her spine and made her skin ripple like sails on the high seas. She melted, spread out like radio waves, out to eternity, and she knew everything.

The salesman turned off the power switch. "Will that be cash or charge?" he said with a small smile.

From The Heavenly Music Company's Greatest Hits, Vol. 7 by Dora Qin Fenchurch

Thursday, June 13, 2002
03:48 p.m.


Almond butter and jelly sandwiches. Adding weight to the stack. Burning a CD that works. Asking pretty girls to dance and making them laugh. Getting the project to work. Smashing through writer's block. Trimming a few seconds off your best time. Cooking a damn fine meal. Remembering the lyrics to "Drunkard's Wave" and singing at the tops of your lungs on the way home as your friends applaud from the car next to you. Having a pint with your friends. Remembering to send the bills out on time. Watching the family of doves rebuild their nest outside your front porch. Waking up and being glad to be alive. Letting go of the burdens you put on your own soul. Planning for the future. Looking ahead. Living in today.

These are all small triumphs, but they add up to make for a good life, baby.

Thursday, June 13, 2002
10:28 a.m.


We need to know that is doesn't always work out the way we plan. We need to know that it isn't always going to go the way we think. We need to realize that the best years of our lives aren't around the corner; they are happening now.

I read somewhere, and I can't remember where, that someone asked the Baal Shem Tov what was the most important thing in the world. "Whatever I'm doing right now," he replied.

Pay attention. There will be no second chances. Second drafts, yes, but when the moment arrives, see it, know it, live it, and move on to the next one. Embrace and love that moment, and let it go when it's ready to move on, not when you're ready to move on.

(And, yes...I know. I need to follow my own ramblings. Or else what the hell kind of writer am I?)

Wednesday, June 12, 2002
10:21 a.m.


Ignorance and arrogance are two maladies that affect various members of the human race. You may know people who suffer from one or both; you've probably had a bout of I&A every now and then. You're human. It happens.

I have learned, though, that these are problems that will worsen as the condition continues. Therefore, I have found that the best cure is a swift kick in the landing gear of the afflicted person. Be sure to use the inside of your foot, not the toes, as this will lessen the damage to both the patient's ass and your foot. Your friend will thank you for it later.

Tuesday, June 11, 2002
07:37 p.m.


New goals

Before I turn 30, I will ride my bike across America. This mad scheme is already in motion.

Before I turn 31, I'm going to do the 24 Hours of Moab. Applications are now being taken for the team ('cause there's no way in hell I'm doing it solo).

And, now, before I turn 32, I will do a triathalon. Just 'cause Scott made it sound like a cool thing.

Monday, June 10, 2002
11:51 a.m.


I've had a revelation, and I though, hey, why not share?

I thought a bit this weekend about alcohol and pot television and other mental depressants (but only after indulging in two pints on Saturday and a glass of wine at Rich & Liora's wedding last night. I don't smoke weed any more because smoking is painful as hell. Brownies on the other hand...um, where was I?) and how they're used and abused so much. One of the things I keep hearing and reading about is the idea that our brains are these awful, horrible organs that think all the goddamn time, and how we do everything in our power to shut them up to have a moment of peace. (Meditation sort of does the same thing, though it has a purpose: you're calming your brain down to focus on Higher Meaning and Inner Peace. But this, as far as I can tell, is a Good Thing and should be practiced as much as possible.)

I think we're doing it all wrong. We should, in fact, learn how to harness all that messy, chaotic wonderfulness going on in our noggins. We shouldn't be telling our brains to shut up; we should be teaching them how to sing, and sing so beautifully that they explode out of our skulls and into the Universe.

I must do this. Yes. I must read more, geek more, write more. All of my mental turmoil about love, work, art, and happiness is just that: turmoil. There is no focus. There is no direction. There is no song. The time has come to start mental vocal lessons. Starting now.

Monday, June 10, 2002
11:40 a.m.


It's dawning on me more and more: I'm happiest when I'm a) dancing, b) in the saddle and c) writing.

Now, the important question: how in hell do I make a living out of all three?

Monday, June 10, 2002
10:54 a.m.


I've been getting more into the habit of waving and greeting strangers whenever I'm on my rig. I figure if someone's going to stare at me on my funny-looking bike, the least I could do is say hello.

This morning, a little old lady in an orange dress was walking through the alley, probably on her way to church. I smiled and said "Good morning."

She smiled back and said, in a warm Southern accent, "Ride one for me."

And how could I not?

Sunday, June 9, 2002
11:22 a.m.


Run, Luke, run!

Listen to the alarms in your head; no matter what those idiot psychobabblers say otherwise, those alarms are hardwired into your lizard brain for one reason and one reason only: to keep your ass alive. If one goes off, you don't have to run, but it certainly wouldn't hurt to pay attention. Two, and you may be in trouble. And if the whole goddamn board lights up, run, run, run, run, run. There is no shame in self-preservation.

-If she says she's a diva, run.
-If she doesn't laugh, run.
-If expresses disdain for children, dogs, or bicycles, run.
-If she asks if you're into vampirism, cover your neck and run.
-If she has a license plate holder that says PRINCESS or anything to that effect, for the love of God, run.
-If she starts off a story with "This one time at Cheerleader Camp," run, but buy her a beer first.

Thursday, June 6, 2002
01:53 p.m.


Sweep. Clean. Repeat.

Thursday, June 6, 2002
11:15 a.m.


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