Sunday, February 20, 2011

London Calling*

The girlfriend is celebrating a big birthday in a few months (25!), so we're heading to London at the end of March.

To quote that girl in Saved By the Bell before she became a stripper, "I'm so excited! I'm so excited! I'm so...scared."

While I can't wait to walk the streets of London with me bird in 'and, watch loveable chimney sweeps dance and sing, and get a banger in the mouth**, I don't really think I'm much of a traveler. I worry too much. I like my house too much. I'm constantly worried that my cat died or peed all over everything (which is usually the truth), or the house caught on fire, or my white trash neighbors noticed I wasn't home and decided to finally break in and steal my few sticks of furniture. And London, with their pickpockets and Jack the Rippers and Draculas and soccer hooligans running all over the place sounds pretty scary. Wait, Dracula hung around London, right?

But I'm going to try to let all that slide and have a good time, just like a normal person would. We'll see how it works.

Hey, anyone want to donate to my vacation fund? Paypal makes it easy.

*Yes, I realize using "London Calling" is the laziest headline ever when writing about London, but I'm feeling especially lazy today. It's the first day of spring, give me a break.

**Yes, all my knowledge of other countries comes from Fox TV shows, just like how all my knowledge of opera comes from Bugs Bunny cartoons.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Dear Lady in the Black Accord

First off, that red thing a block ago? That was a stop sign. You were supposed to apply the brakes.

Secondly, in America, when making a turn, we generally only use one of the two lanes in the road (i.e., not the one that might contain another car or bicyclist on his way to work). I'd go into how easy it is to make a turn signal in today's modern car, but I've given up on that. The savages have won.

You did look very happy talking on your phone, but did you ever stop to consider the person on the other end? Do they really want to listen to your bullshit at 8:15 in the morning?

"Guess what? I'm driving to work!"
"Daddy's little girl has certainly grown up."

"How's your day going?"
"I dunno. It's 8:15. It hasn't started yet."

However, if I hadn't stopped to yell at you, I might have missed seeing the following things on my way to work:

A black cat wearing a fluorescent pink cast chasing a bird

A fat guy with no shirt on, man boobs out in proud defiance of the laws of both God and man, pushing a dog in a baby cart in the 40 degree weather. He looked a lot like a younger version of this guy:

A woman in a '70s Cadillac singing along to the Eagles with the window open

A woman on the Riverwalk singing over and over again, "Jesus, Lord almighty."

It was like I was in an art film (the kitty with a cast represented my soul), or perhaps you actually did hit me like you wanted to and I was stuck in some sort of weird purgatory until I could absolve my sins.

So actually, thanks for running that stop sign, making a wide turn with no signals and almost hitting me. It started the day off on a surreal note.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

The Lonliness of the Long Distance Runner

I'm not sure how I stumbled into joining the track team. I think some friends from middle school joined freshman football and were already reaping the rewards in female attention. I would soon discover that there was a big difference between track and football when it came to the ladies.

It was determined that I was too uncoordinated for the hurdles, too wimpy for discus or shotput, and too slow for the sprints. So I was shuffled off to the distance events.

While some might see this as the deep right field of track (my position throughout middle school PE), it suited me just fine. I have a strong stubborn streak, so this was probably the best place for me. I could just keep on keepin' on, and try not to come in last.

Distance running was fun, giving me the same feeling long-distance bike rides give me now. You're completely alone, you don't have to talk to anyone, and you can use the time as a sort of meditation, to work out humorous blog posts or life-changing plans or what have you. Plus, at the end, you feel physically and mentally wrung out, a nice ...afterglow of a feeling.

But for all the character building and sportsmanship and whatnot I suppose I learned, one of the things a former high school distance runner will never forget is the boredom.

Getting out of school at 1:30 was awesome! Then you'd ride a bus for about an hour, which was cool, since I'd pass the time by blaring punk rock, throwing food out the window, and being obnoxious. Then you get to the school hosting the track meet.

Then you waited.

And waited.

And waited.

You'd watch everyone else compete in their events, at least for a while. You couldn't eat or drink anything. Well, maybe some people could. I couldn't. Distance events were the last things scheduled, so by the time your event rolled around, everyone else was sitting on the bus, ready to go home, while you had spent 7 hours alternately nervous and bored before your 15 minutes of running (or more. I once ran an extra lap since nobody was there to tell me how many I completed).

Cross country was a little better, if only because you ran through actual trails, with nature and stuff around you, and you were usually finished by 11 in the morning.

Secretly, we all realized running was boring, but still got all indignant that we weren't generating the same excitement as other sports. Once we were practicing while a TV crew set up to film that night's football game. With all the righteous anger a group of teenagers can gather, we peppered the poor cameraman with comments about how he should be filming the real athletes, us. Those football players didn't even have any lower body strength! There's no way those guys could last more than an 880!

Those were all great arguments, but you know why they didn't film us? Because we were boring! Who the hell would want to watch a bunch of teenagers huffing and puffing through the woods for 20 minutes? Hell, we didn't want to watch each other and we were on the team together.

I actively discouraged my parents from attending meets because I liked to act the fool without my parents around to assess the damage I was doing to the family name, but I'd also like to think I'd spare them the boredom of sitting on some unpleasant bleachers for hours on a Saturday morning after working all week. Mom and Dad, you're welcome.