Archive for February, 2007

If you consider the ability to mass-procreate lucky…

Date: Feb 26, 2007 6:56 PM
Subject: Job opening


I found your resume in a file. We have openings in our editorial departments
in Houston and Dallas, are you interested?


I applied for an editorial position with Paper City after I left NI (almost 2 years ago). Given my current job status, this is eerily coincidental, sadly pathetic, and funny all rolled into one.

I’m trying to conjure up a cheeky response, but I’m drawing a blank. I’m obviously not going to move to Dallas or Houston to work for a publication with such low circulation, and I think everyone can use a little ball-busting from time to time. Apparently, the rest of the world thinks so too because my balls to say anything clever lately seem to be nearly microscopic!

Instead of watching the Intel building die yesterday, I woke up at a reasonable hour and went for my first post-marathon run. The weather was perfect: bright, sunny, and chilly only when standing still.

I fled Jason’s house and ran through his/my old neighborhood for a little while before I found myself running up Metric. I was thinking about running to my old office and back, about three miles north. Or I could have run to my other old office and back, about three miles west. But then I thought, Must I waste this exhilirating run on a gorgeous day reminiscing my days as a beast of burden for the new millenium? I think not.

So I ran down Parmer and through a neighborhood next to Walnut Creek Park. I was planning to run alongside Walnut Creek Park for awhile, but I was tempted by the green trees and the trails and the idea that I could somehow cut through the park and get back to my old neighborhood.

Nope! I ended up running through a bunch of trails before I found that none of them really went south like I wanted them to, so I left the park the way I came. My path looked kind of like this:

Although I prefer predictable terrain, it was kind of cool to run on the unstable, gravelly paths in the park. I had to think about every single step, thus taking my mind off the unpleasant things I sometimes think about when I don’t have to pay attention to what I’m doing.

I ended up running down ol’ reliable North Lamar, which is kind of a bitch too but at least I knew where I was going: straight to hell because cars were passing me within squashing distance due to the narrow shoulder and precariously placed guard rails. Another fun fact about North Lamar is that there’s not much on it. Even near the downtown area, it’s kinda washed out. When you’re as far north as I was, there’s really nothing there. I passed a Muslim church, a bunch of public storage units, empty fields of garbage, some billboards…

The sun was beating down on me, my feet hurt from running on that gravel (oh yeah, and running a marathon a week before), and I felt like shit. Then I came upon a small rickety building with a sign that said “Mickey’s Thirsty Saloon.” I couldn’t see a door from where I was, but I read a small red sign that said “Open.” Like most things on North Lamar, it could have been that way for minutes or decades; it’s really hard to tell sometimes. It was only 10am, but it was worth a try.

In my infinite experience visiting local dive bars, I knew what to expect when I walked in: the smell of smoke in the walls, a seating area the size of my bedroom, a short, skinny bartender who called me sweetheart, and a couple of barflies nursing Bud Lights and talking about the nuances of Texas. In this case, it was the wind in the trees in Bastrop.

Even though I clearly had no money, the bartender was nice and gave me water. I explained to them that I was out for a run after a big race last week, and I was further from home than I thought. We chatted for about 10 minutes and I continued running, pleased that I had stopped in.

I came inside from my run and hour and a half after I left. I probably ran seven miles. Maybe eight. It was more than I planned. My next run definitely needs to take place in a controlled environment, preferrably one with water and a TV.

Tomorrow at 7am the Intel building in downtown Austin will implode, thus demolishing a grotesque shell of a monument that represents a satellite Silicon Valley’s dot-com boom’s decline before it was even fully established.

I would go watch it crumble if yesterday were today and I knew I’d be downtown picking up my car from the 4th Street lot at 6:30am. (Drove home with the top down; it was perfectly natural.)

Indian Buffet + Light Dinner + 10 Cape Cods = Red Poo

Who knew?

Yesterday I found out that someone broke into my house. Not my apartment in New York, but the house that Gus and I own in Austin and lease to a couple of sketchy dudes who we’ve never met.

Someone actually broke the window next to the front door, unlocked the door, and walked in. I don’t know what they stole, but I’m hoping to get my hands on a police report that will tell me. I’m suspecting some foul play, of course, because people don’t generally break into random people’s houses through the front door. People don’t generally break into houses at all in my neighborhood. I really hope this shit doesn’t happen again. Windows are expensive to replace.

The news came to me while I was in Houston. Some advice for those who want it: If things aren’t going well or you’re feeling down, being in Houston doesn’t really help. I was there in the first place to see my sister and my friend, but the traffic, weather, and overall lack of culture in the whole pavement-laden, sprawling, unplanned city had me flying down I-10 this morning like something was chasing me.

I managed to have some fun before I left. Eric, Claire, and I ate some delicious sammiches at the Hobbit and hung out in the lounge at Benjy’s. I also got to check out the radio station and attend a college party. For some sick reason, I like to slam a few cheap/free beers at a college party every now and then just so I can remember why I didn’t do it more often when I was actually in college. They’re not bad, but I’ve never been to one I’d consider off the chain.

Yeah, I said “off the chain.”

That’s right, I did it! The AT&T; Marathon is finally over and I ran the whole thing. I wouldn’t allow myself to stop or walk at all except for water stops, so I finished under my projected time of five hours. My goal was simply to finish, no matter how long it took, but my official time ended up being 4:44:40. I love when numbers repeat themselves (for example, the street corner where I live). As many would guess, running this marathon was rather emotional for me, even though I wasn’t racing or even trying to achieve a personal best.

The race started off chilly and I was happy to have Brent at my side to help me pace myself for the first 10 miles. The first part of any long race is the trickiest because you think you have more energy than you really do, so you want to run faster than you probably should.

The sun rose quickly as Brent and I ran through my favorite parts of South Austin (South Congress and First Streets) and parted ways in Tarrytown. By the time I reached North Loop, it was getting hot and I could already feel a sunburn on my face. I kept going, and various parts of my body kept hurting.

But I love pain. And why stop at physical pain when you can wallow in mental anguish as well? I started to reflect on the past year. I was so happy the first few months I was back in Austin from the Bay Area. I looked and felt terrific. I had wonderful friends, a good family, a loving partner, and all of life’s necessities, plus a few cool extras. I was in a mental state I could be proud of—I was often level-headed and kind, and I was confident that most people respected me, whether a tight friend or a loose acquaintance.

At some point, I suppose when my job was in full-swing, things went awry. I started giving my time and energy to people who filled my head with doubt or just plain didn’t care about me. In attempts to build more friendships, I ended up wasting myself on an unsalvagable group of people instead of remembering all the things about my life that are truly fantastic. I’ve always had the cool things in my life that I mentioned above, but for a period of time, I neglected to recognize and appreciate them.

Knowing when to give up has never been a skill of mine, and many of the positive aspects of my life suffered as a result. I went from friendly, goofy, and fun to moody, restless, and unsure. I don’t think I’d been in such an inconceivably bad mental rut since I was a freakin’ teenager.

I thought moving to New York would give me a chance to start over, but keeping my job in Austin probably cancelled out whatever new beginnings I allowed myself to experience. Losing my job a couple weeks ago was probably the best thing that could have happened to me. My boss broke a connection this month that I should have broken myself back in May when Gus got hired at Bloomberg.

Even though I eventually moved up to New York so I could be with Gus, I wasn’t really all there. I needed a New York job with New York friends and a whole New York life. Depending on going back to Austin for social interaction was a mess; each trip was like mixing oil and water. I’d get to visit all my friends, but I couldn’t fully enjoy it because I was preoccupied with issues at work.

On a superficial level, I had a sweet setup. I was able to work from home so I could easily train for my marathon. I got to come back to Austin and party with my friends for free. But no matter what, there was a dark cloud looming over me that wouldn’t go away. I would run to the ends of the earth, drink myself into a stupor, eat like the Greeks, fast for days, travel in search of something that would excite me, write like I was gonna sell it… I put my body and mind through a zillion extremes constantly, thinking I could shake that un-right feeling. I think I knew all along what the problem was and I was just too afraid to do anything about it.

I’m just glad it’s all over. Work, the marathon, all of it. My braces are coming off in less than six weeks and soon I’ll sell my car. I’ll finally pull back that one toe I’ve had dipped in Austin for so long and become a true resident of New York.

Coming back to Texas for the specific purpose of running the marathon and spending time with my people has helped me rediscover that I am a good person and I have the potential to make a positive impact on those around me. I don’t need to look perfect, I don’t need to drink to be interesting, and I definitely don’t need to worry about what anyone else thinks. I have a good family, the nicest friends in the world, and a total godsend of a man who watched me hit rock bottom (to his own detriment as well as mine) and had the faith that I was strong enough to pull through and return to being the fun, happy person he fell in love with.

And just for the record, I’m feeling good. Certain people had their minds made up that I would be out of commission for at least a day after running a marathon. I’m happy to report that I accomplished many of life’s administrative tasks yesterday (oil change, vet visit, etc.), and I got to do some fun stuff too. Things are looking a lot rosier, indeed. For real this time.

It’s been almost two months since I’ve posted anything, not because nothing happened, and not even because too much was happening. My intentions were good, just go on believing that. Anyway, in no particular order, here are some cool things that I’ve been meaning to describe in great detail with pictures and the whole nine yards.

The Master Cleanse Diet
For 10 whole days, Gus and I consumed nothing but tea made of lemons, maple syrup, and cayenne pepper, as directed by the The Master Cleanse Diet. (There are many other sites about this diet. As with most niche activity sites, most aren’t easy on the eyes, but this one pretty much sums it up.)

I thought it was a strange way to detox, but I read more about it and discovered that several people I know have successfully done it. I decided to give it a try, to lose weight and feel more energetic of course, and also to see if I could do it. Gus once again proved his awesomeness by doing it with me, which I really appreciate since we spend so much of our free time together.

The secret to this diet is keeping busy. I usually eat when I’m bored, so I just had to make sure I stayed active. The first couple of days were pretty easy. I never felt hungry, but after awhile I started to really miss ice cream and Indian food. I’m glad I had a few experienced people to talk to when I started to feel apprehensive. In the grand scheme of things, 10 days is not a long time to go without solid food. In fact, I would have gone without solid food for another 10 days if it guaranteed that I wouldn’t have to field any more questions about how I can function without protein.

This is probably the coolest thing Gus and I have ever done. A thousand New Yorkers woke up one brisk Saturday morning, dressed up like Santa Claus, and met on Delancey Street to begin what would become a wonderfully glaring spectacle. As it turns out, Santacon is an international event. I wish someone had told me earlier, but at the same time, I’m glad my first event was the New York City Santacon because it probably drew the largest crowd.

The first bar was so full, we didn’t even try to get in. Then we took a subway to Bryant Park. The tunnel was full of Santas, except for one street musician playing free-standing flutes and a guitar. The only Christmas song he knew was “Feliz Navidad” so he kept playing it over and over for all the dancing Santas waiting for the train. Most of the passengers on the train were bewildered but somewhat entertained. Most Santas were pretty courteous throughout the day, making sure regular people could easily get on and off the train. When we got off the train, I passed out piñata toys and let kids tell me what they wanted for Christmas.

We later went to a centrally located bar and danced to eighties music. When we proceeded to Central Park a little later, the pack had gotten pretty big. Santas convened on the grassy areas, rode the carousel, and hung from the playground equipment. My friend and I played on the swings for awhile and laughed at the Santas who had passed out on the lawn. Some people brought a bunch of Twister mats, so a lot of Santas were doing that too.

Once it got dark, everyone went to some other bar, but a group of us when to the Crocodile Lounge for drinks and free pizza. At some point, you need to sit down without a zillion people in your midst, even if they are all dressed like Santa Claus.

We met up with most of the Santas at the crowded Pussycat Lounge, where I stared at boobs and had my drink order ignored until someone told me to come upstairs. There, I enjoyed an attentive bartender, comfortable couches, and a burlesque show. Gus had gone to the Rainer Maria show for a few hours and met up with us just as the burlesque show ended.

I think most of the Santas had disbanded at this point. Maybe not, I don’t know. But our group went to The Patriot, which apparently, on Saturdays, is like a sad Coyote Ugly. One of the girls badgered me to get on the bar and dance and kept asking me for a kitty. I still wasn’t drunk enough for that kind of action.

But alls well that ends well. When Gus and I got home, we re-enacted that one scene from the movie, Bad Santa. Heh heh, you know the one…

The rest of my photos from Santacon
Bruno’s photos from Santacon
Someone else’s photos from Santacon

The price was right, so we decided to take a short Christmas vacation in Aruba. The warm weather felt especially good, but other than that, it’s almost as if we never left New York. The restaurants were good, the (duty-free!) shopping was plentiful, and I think half of Long Island decided to join us. In addition to our regularly scheduled drinking and gambling followed by a few recovery sessions on the beach, we went horseback riding and parasailing.

Horseback riding on the beach at sunset was very, very romantic an’ shit. I wasn’t expecting to still be on the horse at sunset, but I was and it was relaxing. Something about being able to connect with an animal after living in a concrete jungle for so long really put me at ease. My horse was named Geronimo, but I renamed him Spot. I still cheekily yelled, “Geronimo!” whenever he galloped, which I’m sure delighted the rest of the group. I hadn’t been horseback riding in over 15 years, so I was pretty excited (but as you can see, I played it totally cool).

Parasailing was nice, but uneventful. You go out, you go up, you look at shit, you go down. I did it. Check.

Oh, you wanted to know about the gambling. We spent a fair amount of time at the craps table at the Stellaris Casino at the Marriott. We stayed at the Radisson for the first few nights we were there, but their casino didn’t have as much action. On the upside, its minimums were lower so when there was action, it was pretty fun. We played poker there and I won an insane amount of money. I wasn’t sober when I sat down, so I couldn’t tell you how.

After cabbing it to Stellaris almost every night, we were pleased when Priceline gave us a room in that hotel for a couple extra nights when we decided to extend our vacation. There was no card room, so we spent the rest of our vacation playing craps and doing nothing.

The rest of my photos from Aruba

The 3M Half Marathon
I ran it! In two hours and 43 seconds! I beat my previous half marathon time by only a few seconds, but this time I got to the starting line before the race began and didn’t throw up afterward, so I’ll remember it as a huge improvement. I think I was generally more comfortable throughout this year’s 3M Half Marathon because I’ve been training for the full AT&T; Marathon, which will be here all too soon. Or maybe it was the nice ladies handing out tissues and Mardi Gras beads. I don’t feel 100 percent prepared for the big race, but this is my one chance to run 26.2 miles at 26.2 years of age. What? There are better criteria for choosing when to train for a marathon?

Manhattan Comedy School
Gus and I enrolled in a stand-up class at the Manhattan Comedy School to lift our spirits and meet some new people. Of course, one of the first things I found out is that I need to invite all my friends to my performance at Caroline’s in NYC on Saturday, March 3rd. Crap, these people are supposed to be my friends! Well, Jenny’s coming out from Wisconsin. Anyone else who’s been meaning to visit me in New York, now is the time. But Jenny signed up first, so she wins the couch.

What good is a passport if you can’t leave the country again and again? This time, we headed north to visit Katitude and play in a Poker Blogger Tournament, a.k.a. (eh-kay-eh) “Eh Vegas”. I placed fourth out of eight in the tournament (needless to say, not in the money), but I got to drop the hammer for a winning hand before I busted out, so I was happy.

We also took the bus to Casino Rama, which sounded like an okay idea but turned out to be a not-very-okay idea. We thought the bus would pick us up last and that it would be a two-hour ride. The bus actually picked us up first, so it was a three-hour ride. Someone had mentioned that Toronto has three Chinatowns, and I can confirm this because we went through each of them. We played cards the whole time since the only decent-sized minimum craps table was already full when we arrived.

When we got back, we ate at a wonderful restaurant in the Distillery District called Archeo and played some more cards with the other bloggers.

Of course, I couldn’t go to Canada without visiting Niagra Falls, and we couldn’t go to Niagra Falls without forgetting our camera. Below is a camera phone picture of me, Smokey the Kat-Burglar… Yes, I am as cold as I look! But even though the weather wasn’t great, the icy falls looked gorgeous.