you never know 

To live is to fly
Low and high
So shake the dust off of your wings
And the sleep out of your eyes
— the prophet townes van zandt

sure, it’s probably not going to happen. but you keep watching. just in case.

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the Great Rulolph Run of 2017

Does the McMillan calculator account for running in a Rudolph suit?

I entered a virtual race put on by Dave, the guy who owns Runner’s World. That’s a lot of pressure. And then there’s the problem that I can’t really run anymore. The solution? In the grand tradition of Mike Rossi and Rosie Ruiz, I looked to cut corners.

The race offers bonus points. 3 points if it’s over 100 degrees. 1 point each for running with Loopsters. 1 point for a silly hat. 4 points for a really silly hat. 5 points for a bib. Done, done, done, done and done. Now all I had to do was run.

Mo’s printer is whacked, so she agreed to make a bib by hand. The right hand. Mo is a right-handed artist, which always makes me view her suspiciously. But she hasn’t suffocated me in my sleep yet, so there’s that.

Do you want to come with, I asked her. Buy me a brownie? she asked. Mo is pretty easy.

It wasn’t quite 80 today, but this thing is a fur coat. This was a Rudolph made before breathability became a thing. So I’m guessing it was over 100 inside easily. After a couple of laps I was drenched, and not in the good way. But. Dave.

For maximum scoring, I wore both the Day-Glo Orange Lightweight Alpaca Racing Beanie (anything is just a wool hat) AND the Texas straw hat that we bought at a truck stop many years ago because we wanted to be tourists. It worked better in Texas because then people assumed Rudolph was a local, and it made him less likely to get nailed by a trigger-happy good ol’ boy. Pro tip: Never eat the reindeer corn.

If you know my history with Rudolph, you will remember that the first (and last) time I tried on the head. We were in Texas and Rudolph had just arrived from Arizona, a souvenir of the old paper sent by my pal CeCe.  I was alone, and I got hopelessly stuck. I spent an extended time pondering whether it was 911-worthy before I finally yanked it off. Learning from that experience, I didn’t put the head all the way on. Upside: Don’t have to wear it to work next week. Downside: Couldn’t see a damn thing. I was able to see through a little slit in the mouth (rather than the eyes in the way it was designed), so all I could see was a small section of the two stripes on the track. Luckily, I’ve trained for this run countless hours. I used to run on this track wearing a bandana over my eyes to restrict my vision in an effort to create a deprivation chamber. Music cranked up, no vision, my own version of Tommy the Pinball Wizard. This was about the same, so it felt great. I strolled a little and trotted a little and repeated. The head was much heavier than I anticipated and I realized that is yet another place where I have no muscles. Did I mention it was hot? I thought a lot about how this would be the best EMS call ever. Dead reindeer in lane 9.

And just as I was thinking screw it, Gumbo and Caroline called on facetime. Caroline was a bit freaked out at first to find herself talking to a reindeer, but within a few minutes she was calling me friend. If you ever need a mid-run boost, I recommend this one highly.

And then back to running. There had been a fast guy in lane 1 and a woman on the infield when we arrived, but they cleared out as soon as the Rudolph costume came out of the box. Coincidence?

The miles flew by. The garmin has a buzzer mode, so I could feel the mile splits. Then just a matter of peeking a couple of times for the .10 mark. Then, after 46 minutes and 39 seconds, I was able to scratch my nose.

I think this photo properly captures the joy that filled my soul as the cool breeze blew across my face. I was slightly annoyed because I had predicted 59:59 and totally blew my bonus points there, but there was no way I was going to sandbag 15 minutes if it meant staying in this thing.

I worried a lot about heat stroking out. There was no breeze, no water and I felt bonky. There was one point where I entertained the notion of barfing, which would have been spectacularly unpleasant. But it ended up fine. The usual look back at how I could’ve gone faster and mentally scheming for the next time. Although not in this lifetime.

As I was slowly regaining the will to live, Liz stopped by, for another bonus Loopster point. I think she dialed a wrong number and was annoyed I was not the bagel delivery guy.

And that was that. We stopped on the way out to pay our respects to the burrowing owls, Mo posed next to the thermometer, and we went off in search of Panda Express which became Subway which became Rolberto’s.

Because after all, if you run in a Rudolph suit, you must have cabeza issues.

Thanks for a fun afternoon, Dave. But I still wish you hadn’t shut down Running Times …

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life with an artist, part 16

finally admitting the inherent unhealthiness of painting cupcakes, mo has moved on. 
to doughnuts. 

only now do i understand why she became an artist.

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living with an artist, part 14

It’s late. I’m hungry. I want a Little Something. And there’s a cupcake in the fridge. Except it’s not a cupcake. It’s a still life subject. 

Mo paints cupcakes. I suspect it’s because when you paint fruit, all you have when you finish is fruit. She’s been painting versions of this one for the past day. 

She made it clear before she went to bed that she’s not done. Don’t eat it, she said. I’m not sure what she meant by that. Some sort of lofty artist statement, I suppose. 

i’m in the living room, and it’s calling me. What to do? I din’t want to violate Mo’s trust, but I DO want a cupcake. 

And then the answer hits me. I replace it with one of the paintings. Maybe she won’t notice the cupcake has lost a dimension or two. Hopefully it will buy me enough time to get safely across the state line. 

Living with an artist is hard. But tasty too …

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life is funny, part 371

I got a thing or two to say
Before I walk on by
I’m feeling good today
But if die a little farther along
I’m trusting everyone to carry on
— the prophet jackson browne

I’ve been on this ride before. I remember sitting in this exact spot. I recall this feeling in my gut.

I’m peeking over the top of the car, staring into the abyss. It’s terrifying, in a no alternative here i am check the safety belt breathe deeply stop thinking no turning back sort of way.

It’s going to be OK, i tell myself. Myself is skeptical. But what else can you do? The boards are creaking underneath me, the car is at the top. It’s all a matter of gravity at this point.

You spend so much time riding that safe little carousel. Your only worries are choosing which seat. Horse? Tiger? Lion? Ups and downs free of drama. Life is so easy to take for granted.

And then here you are, on the ride you hoped would never come again.

But it did. Breathe deep, hang on, fight the urge to scream like a little girl. What goes down must come up, right? It’s going to be OK. It must.

I close my eyes, clinch my teeth, take a deep breath and feel the wind in my face. It’s going to be OK, I tell myself one last time. It’s going to be OK. It’s going to be OK.

Life is funny …

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things i wish i had said, part 66

“Never give up. And never, under any circumstances, face the facts.”

— Ruth Gordon

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once upon a friendship

Bad days:

— In the second grade, I ran away from school because I hadn’t done my homework. I hid in the alley all afternoon while plotting a scheme that would keep me from having to return.

— On my 41st birthday, I figured that was enough. I tried to kill myself. It didn’t work.

— Because of a paltry few health hazards, they stopped making Blue Bell ice cream for a while.

Those were bad weeks. But they couldn’t compare to this week.

I’m that guy being swept downstream, trying desperately to keep his head above water while dodging boulders along the way. It’s not working that well.

And then.

For no particular reason, I got a text from my sister today. It said simply: “I’m glad you were born.”

Life is all about perspective. You win some, you lose some. And sometimes when you’re losing a lot, you forget. I guess that’s why you have friends. That little reminder that life is worth living for, no matter what Rudy says.

I don’t know what’s around the next turn. I’m buckling up the seat belt, breathing deeply and hoping for the best as we go into the tunnel. Life is funny. Let’s laugh more, OK?

I’m glad you were born, too.



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