Sunday, November 27, 2005
My dad and I became famous by hauling our asses out of bed on Thursday to go Turkey-Trotting before watching the Detroit-Atlanta "game" and eating our weight in tryptophan. Should I ever become famous, my dad needs to come on every interview with me: "So, Suz just ran the Detroit Marathon." "So, she has a blog. Let me give you the name." (I'm not joking. If you actually visit, Mr. Olson, hi!) I'm sure he was thrilled.
I have to go to work tomorrow?
Sunday, November 20, 2005
I truly never felt the urge. Ecstasy has never held an iota of appeal, not after experiencing the adrenaline surge of a flawless stage performance, a brilliantly executed piece of writing, or a perfect black-diamond ski-run. The "fulfillment" of coke? These people have clearly never experienced the thrill of running 12 miles and then downing a pint of cold Gatorade (which I frequently referred to as "liquid crack" during training). Bottom line, real life has always held more than enough thrills that I could get without doing permanent damage.
Or so I thought.
In reality, I've become addicted to a high which is unfortunately becoming harder and harder to obtain: football victories by Michigan teams. After watching the Wolverines on Saturday, and the Lions this afternoon, I feel as though I should enter therapy. I'm feeling shaky, withdrawn, mad at the world for irrational reasons.
As a Baltimorean, I never had this problem. We bitched about the Colts (which left when I was maybe two, so what did I care), turned up our noses at the CFL Champion Stallions, and then dubiously welcomed Modell and the Ravens. But it's always, at least for me, been low-key. Super Bowl? Cool. Felons? Too bad. It's just a random, purple part of life that one regards with equal parts amusement and skepticism. Like Barney, but less grating.
When I came to Ann Arbor, the drug scene probably wasn't appealing, because we had a campus straightline session every week in the Big House. Anyone who's been there knows what I'm talking about. The absolute, heart-pounding electricity of well-made plays, the intoxication of the crowd and the band, the light-headedness that occurs after standing in the heat/cold for three hours. Victory parties, especially after beating Notre Dame, State, and OSU? The energy could power a city for months.
And when you come crashing down, as we did yesterday when Michigan surrendered the lead to the Buckeyes* in the last minute, it hurts like no rational person can understand.
And the Lions? Jesus. At least the Wolverines have proved to be worth the love most of the time. This season sucked, yes, but usually you can take some solace in knowing that even though you're an addict, at least you're addicted to the good stuff. But the Honolulu Blue and Silver? I watch every year. I watch every week. I can't look away. I defend Harrington and Jones until I get tired of hearing myself talk. And yet it never seems to get any better. When you cling to Jason Hanson as an ever-present flicker of hope, you know you need to get out. But I don't: I wait every year for a high that always seems just out of reach.
Go elsewhere for analysis (hell, most of regular commentors here will probably write the analysis, so you need not look far). But if you need to vent over the cruelty of being in love with teams who build you up and then drop you, please sound off. Let me know I'm not alone here.
*Blogger spell-check thinks "Buckeyes" should be replaced with "Backwash." Nice.
Friday, November 18, 2005
Though I am now a little tougher, I am still ultra-grateful to grab the snuggly down interior layer of said parka when it gets brutally cold here. It was the ultimate protection during Big House Saturdays in late November, ski trips, and winter walks to the bar. I haven't needed it yet: the fall here has been seductively warm. I barely even needed a fall jacket--usually a heavy sweater and mittens for the morning sufficed. Until this week, when an icy blast slammed Michigan and sent me sprinting for my parka.
Determined to be a badass, I went running yesterday even though it was brutally cold. Five miles. Outside. I layered up, grabbed the iPod, and headed out. All was well during the run, but when I got home, it took forever to warm up. I stood under an atrociously hot shower for 20 minutes and still felt shivery.
In college, Ann and I had a unique way of warming up: the hair dryer. Upon entering our room/apartment, we'd run for the hair dryer and blast ourselves with it. Did we look ridiculous blowing hot air up our shirts? Yep, but it was effective. Ann was even known to warm her bed with the hair dryer before getting in. You think it's goofy, but it works.
To those braving the iciness at Michigan Stadium tomorrow, my thoughts are with you. I'll be on the couch with beer, pierogies, and warm socks; I'll send some Arctic-strength parka love your way.
Wednesday, November 16, 2005
Sunday, November 13, 2005
Some days, it is extremely important to contemplate the big questions--where is life going? Is it better to seize the day or plan cautiously? Are we living up to our potential? Are we appropriately appreciative?
Other days, it is more important to be happy that Joey Harrington had a good day, and so did you.
You would think that after such a bleh week, I would have savored every second of the weekend. I thought I was--but suddenly it's Sunday and I'm mere hours from starting another week. Fabulouso. I'm now going to enjoy the west-coast Wings action, and you should too. If you choose not to, get your hockey fix another way:
Christy at Behind the Jersey has characterized the most common types of hockey fans. There are the good (fun fans and hockey kids) and then lots of the bad and the ugly. My favorites:
- Always Wrong (the people who spout incorrect stats)
- Beer Guzzlers (I'm always particularly irritated at these people because if you repeatedly pay 7.50 for 22 ounces of watered down shit, you clearly have serious life issues)
- Delusional fans - who think everyone good is coming and playing for their team
Check it out, it's a good time.
If you need more hockey buzz, follow my self-indulgent link-love to Michigan College Hockey and learn how the fine folks at Wayne, Western, and Ferris spent their weekends.
Thanks to Hugh at gapingvoid.com for the coolness.
Thursday, November 10, 2005
On Wednesday, as I was leaving for work, I was saying bye to E, and he said, "I heard on the radio that Kwame won, but I thought I was having a nightmare and went back to sleep. I then realized it was real." That pretty much encapsulates the week.
While the rest of the country appears semi-bemused that Detroit re-elected a guy who seems destined to run the city further into the ground, the 313 continues to get no love from the rest of the country, as the Sacramento Kings ran a montage of stereotypical "let's connect Detroit and burning cars" images before the Kings-Pistons game this week. The organization has since apologized, running full-page "sorry" ads in the Detroit News today and the Free Press tomorrow. Is this worth caring about? Getting angry about? A Detroit Sports Report survey asks if fines, losses of draft choices, or sensitivity trainings are necessary.
I suppose I should be passionate. But I think that for tonight I shall choose to be passionate about my pillow and passionate about the fact that tomorrow will at last be Friday.
Tuesday, November 08, 2005
(I'll save my brilliant commentary for tomorrow, when it won't be expired in four hours)
Monday, November 07, 2005
Acting: Say what you will about the "Left" Wing or its implausible political scenarios, but Jimmy Smits and Alan Alda put on a performance last night that was mind-blowing in how far it was above the standard that's been set for "quality" network television. What composure, what talent, what grace it takes to run a scene that powerful LIVE. I'm sure that Alda's extensive stage work prepares him well for that sort of "one-take" environment. They both took the intensity of the episode to an admirable level.
Ellen: Who doesn't love Ellen?
Leaders: It will be a fine day in this country when we can watch a political debate and feel truly inspired by both of the political candidates--when it's hard to decide who to vote for, and not because they're both so abyssmally disappointing. True, there will always be Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives, pro-choice and pro-life, etc etc. There will always be people you disagree with, but it would be nice to know that the person at the top is someone admirable, intelligent, and thoughtful. Santos and Vinick, fictional characters though they were, seemed like two of the finest the country had to offer.
Why is real life so rarely like that? Why are politicians always the people who seem the least capable or passionate about running the country? Why are politicians who are passionate and competent run out of the race for being too "angry" or too "crazy"?
We're so far away from anything resembling a genuine debate of ideas and world views, and while I know, I know it's just a TV show, I shouldn't feel so desperate to live in that world.
Thoughts? Reactions? Let's talk if you watched or if you just want to comment on how Dule Hill seriously deserves his own spin-off show.
Sunday, November 06, 2005
I travelled there en route home from Zenaida, which I feel obligated to spread the word about--on a blustery Sunday afternoon, there were few better places to relax with friends than the cute chocolate lounge that's just opened on Ann Arbor's Main Street. It takes a minute to find (it's south of William, so a bit beyond the "main" area of the street), and apparently undiscovered because my group and I were the only ones in there. But it was a lovely hidden place: an atmosphere that blended comfort and style by way of extremely soft couches/chairs/floor pillows, dark tables, and exotic decorating (by exotic I mean "bold Mediterranean," and not "aphrodisial"). I had an extremely indulgent chocolate dulce (their hot chocolate menu was expansive and had an exciting variety of infusions--mint, honey, lavender, cinnamon, orange).
Their staff was super friendly, and there's free wireless! So stop in--it's a tasty time.
Saturday, November 05, 2005
I'm in the process of revisiting The Odyssey. I've always enjoyed The Odyssey more than The Iliad, because I find the characters to be more vibrant, the relationships more compelling, and the images and language more enticing. Odysseus's journey, while famously original, so strikingly illustrates situations of challenge, temptation, and weakness that we all face on the journey to our True Self.
Something else I've always liked about The Odyssey is its emphasis on female characters and their complicated relationships with the heroically-flawed Odysseus. Thus, I was really excited when one of my students shared Clemence McLaren's Waiting for Odysseus with me. The novel tells the scope of both Homer epics from the viewpoints of four key women--Penelope, Odysseus's wife; Circe, the witch who keeps Odysseus "captive" while turning his men into animals; Athena, the goddess who protects and guides Odysseus and his son; and Eurycleia, an old wise nurse who is one of the only to recognize Odysseus when he returns home in disguise.
The book stays remarkably true to the texts of The Iliad and The Odyssey (and, I believe, to Homer's literary intent), and the characters are not glossed over or romanticized--just deepened. Homer recognizes that Penelope is Odysseus's equal as far as cunningness and strength of character, but this book makes that aspect of her personality come to life. The human impulses of the gods are deftly illustrated in the depictions of Circe and Athena, and the perspective of Eurycleia allows us to have a delightfully voyeuristic viewpoint into all angles of the hero's homecoming (it also, conveniently, lets us avoid the obvious inner tension Penelope must have felt about Odysseus's infidelity--Eurycleia is much more forgiving). In all cases, we see a more nuanced and complete version of the story, and particularly the impact of the Trojan war on society.
Adult men, this is probably not the book for you. The book is definitely geared toward adolescent girls, and the text, while certainly rich, dynamic, and well-written, gets incredibly romantic and emotional from time to time. It's enjoyable--but you have to let yourself get swept up in it a bit. But for any lover of the old Greek myths and the Homeric epics, this little novel is one to be appreciated. And for any youngster wanting an introduction to the story, this does so without warping the plot, which is more than I can say for Troy (ranting post to come on that later). The book is based on some of the most potent questions of The Odyssey, and McLaren's efforts add pretty significant fuel to those discussions.
Thursday, November 03, 2005
While I haven’t personally been witness to Ms. Winfrey’s tributes, I do think that it could be construed that such a tribute was more about Oprah and less about Rosa.
Similarly, while listening to the Parks funeral broadcast during my drive home yesterday, I was a little disheartened to hear a speaker taking the opportunity to chastise Bush for nominating an “anti-Rosa Parks” judge to the Supreme Court. While it could certainly be interpreted as an attempt to bring Parks’ legacy and goals to present-day events, it sat differently with me. Like Oprah, the action seemed less about what we can do for the cause of Rosa Parks, and more about what the cause of Rosa Parks can do for us.
I agree with all who have said that the legacy of Rosa Parks must be ongoing and living, not something that happily recedes into history. I agree that even as the members of that movement pass on, the urgency of their cause must not be forgotten. And I agree that it’s crucial that we make decisions and take action as though the spirits of great warriors of humanity were constantly watching over us.
But I disagree that such memories be used as rhetorical tools and instruments to serve personal purposes, however important those purposes must be.
Our society is egocentric. We are ambitious individuals. But in times like the past week, when I’ve watched a champion of civil rights be celebrated, when I’ve met a Holocaust survivor who went on to establish a school rooted in individuality and character development, when I’ve been reminded in subtle ways of people willingly throwing themselves in harm’s way each day for a cause they believe in, it compels me to step outside myself and my personal goals and desires.
Perhaps it’s not about devoting your life to ending racism or organizing a convention on human rights or building a statue or dedicating a park—perhaps it’s just about taking time to internalize the message and charge that Rosa Parks has left with us.
An everyday moment may require uncommon courage and genuine dedication to a cause and principles—and should I be placed in such a moment, I hope I’ll be able to do what’s necessary to live up to the standard Rosa Parks set.
Tuesday, November 01, 2005
I failed to mention that not only did I indeed finish the marathon, but I also raised $1,588 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Thank you also to everyone who pledged to my fundraising efforts. My family and friends answered the charge in admirable form. Thanks to my parents, grandma, aunts and uncles, cousins, in-laws, and friends who chipped in for the cause. Thank you notes are coming your way, probably featuring a picture at least as goofy as this one. It's amusing that in every picture of me running, I look like I have my thumbs up, whether I meant to or not. It spreads a little positive karma in the running world.
I haven't run since the race. I've taken brisk walks a few times after work (mainly to scope out the neighborhood pumpkin action), but haven't yet run. I've been asked quite frequently "will you do it again?" or "will you keep running?" and the answer is yes to both--but I'm coming back slow, and with different goals. Marathoning is awesome, but I'd like to just settle into having running be a permanent part of my life, marathon goal or not. I'd like to consistently run 5 miles or more ~3 times a week, but keep my focus on getting faster and stronger, not just able to go for as long as possible. Once I've got a few 5Ks, 10Ks, and halfs under my belt (a Baltimore Turkey Trot looks to be my next race, and then my annual Troy Reindeer Run), I think I'll train again for a marathon at a faster time. But I don't want to just keep doing marathons because it's fun to bust out at parties that you're training for a marathon. I want to do what's best for the Suz Life Plan, and for now, that's scaling back a bit.
I also tackled the marathon as a Big Life Achievement, and I'm also contemplating what the next significant adventure will be. On the list (yes, there's an actual list--back off) after the marathon was learning to speak a foreign language fluently, but that's going to require some serious motivation, cause... yeah. More likely, I'm going to con E into buying snowshoes for this winter. Now that's a serious life acheivement... owning and using snowshoes. Killer.
Thanks also to all those who got into the running thing with me these past few months. I know the Pub is a place for books (I have a Literary Adventure coming up, woo!), beer (I'm still drinking it), and those who do good (was anyone else at Sunday's Lions game and found it a bit unsettling that they recognized that guy from the Giants in the same breath as Rosa Parks?), but I'm glad you indulged a little of my training as well!