The Lesson

In 1972 (weeks after I was born), my family moved from Cincinnati, Ohio to Carmel, Indiana. Despite my young age, I have quite a few recollections of our time there. Four years later, we moved to Loveland where I spent a rather idyllic childhood.

In 1994, I graduated from Miami (OH) University. I disliked my time at the school, and vowed I would never return in any capacity. (When I received my first alumni donation request form, I scrawled two very explicit words in black marker and returned the form. I have not received any mailings from the school since.)

In 1995, I left Cincinnati and embarked on a 12-year romp that took me from Texas, to the West, and to the East Coast (with various vacations and visits to Europe). As I made my way in the world, I swore that I would never return to my home in the Midwest to live. My life would be lived out galavanting across the globe.

In 2006, I left Boston and returned to the Greater Cincinnati area, my home for 18 years. In 2009, I left Cincinnati for a job in Muncie, Indiana, less than an hour from where I’d lived as a child.

June 15, 2012: The Max Klinger Syndrome.

I spent the afternoon arranging a meeting at Miami University with several friends of mine. I’m going there to help them figure out what they want to do with their course offerings.

Later in the evening, I would spend 3 hours looking for a home to buy in Carmel, Indiana. My fiancee and I have decided that we want to raise our (future) children there, and we want to live very near the Monon Trail so we can bike into Broad Ripple for morning coffee.

I’ve traveled tens of thousands of miles, lived in 8 cities, visited two continents, and when it’s all said and done, I’ll be living just a few miles from where it all began.

The Lesson

Neither your foot nor your pride tastes very good. Avoid ingesting at all cost. Best to relax and enjoy the ride. You don’t really know where it’s going. And you really don’t know where it’s going to end.

Aloha.

Week 1: Maxx + the Summer Heat

Maxx and I hit the Monon on Thursday for a 6.1 mile run, his longest by more than a mile. Unfortunately, it got much hotter much quicker than I’d hoped. (Apparently I read the weather report incorrectly.) My boy was a gamer, though. He willingly stopped at every water stop, and for 3.5 miles he chugged along quite well. We stopped for a 5-minute rest and water session on the way back and again at the 5.1 mile mark.

It’s weird being the owner of a running dog. When I get hot, I can tell my running partners I need a break. Maxx, the dog, however, will just keep running until he’s overheated. Since I’m new to this game, I’m sure we stop more than other dog owners but it’s just not that important to me that we set land-speed records. 

When he sits down, I keep my hand on his skin. If he’s hot, we stay there until he cools off (and if it’s not hot, I know he’s just being a pain in the ass and I give him a minute or so to compose himself before we go).

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Day 3: The Dog is Sad

Maxx, the dog spent most of yesterday clinging to me and sleeping at my feet. (He spent the night cuddled up on the bed as well.) This generally means he’s really, really tired. Instead of running with him, I decided to bike to Mo’Joe Coffee House.

I haven’t gotten my writing done yet, but I’ve knocked some work off my to do list. Tonight, I write.

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Day 2: Maxx is Tired

Maxx the dog struggled a little bit today. Two long days in a row may have been a bit much to ask of him especially since there were no moms, kids, or seniors to stop and pet him. He really likes that.

Still, he couldn’t wait to get started. When we got out of the car, he slid over to the fence surrounding Canterbury Park.

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90-in-90: Running + Writing

To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.

***

I spend my school year with one eye on the summer, the elusive beast that I imagine will somehow be filled with time of my own that I can fill with reading and writing. Seven years into my academic career I can tell you this: the beast does not exist.

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366 Days, or The Year of Us

The New Year used to mean very little to me, another day on the calendar. One more step towards the Great Oblivion when I could finally rest without the burden that addicts know too well.

It was Amateur Hour, the day when the whole world acted like I did the other 364 days of the year.

Most of the time, I stayed home, got drunk (one of the few times I would get drunk at home), and passed out while watching The Magnificent Seven.

Just a hair past three New Year’s Eves ago, I sobered up and the day took on a new meaning for me. As it has for so many others, the day became a benchmark in my life, a time when I could take the very long, very personal inventory of my life so that I might live with purpose.

It is, I suppose, very human to do so.

As with so many other parts of my sober life, I have taken that very basic human tick and turned it into a guidepost by which I live my life.

***

Each December, as the year winds down, I set about creating a singular goal for myself for the next year. The goal isn’t a resolution; those are too easily tossed aside. Instead, I create a mantra to help me focus my life on what I believe is most important.

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In Which We Get Engaged

This past February, I had a discussion with my friend Meggie about the idea of Love and Valentine’s Day. I don’t believe in much, but I am a Romantic at heart and I believe in love. I have never doubted for one day that it exists, and that it is the most powerful force in the universe.

I wrote A Valentine’s Day Treatise as my argument for why I believe Feb. 14 is the most special day of the year.

I knew this to be true in February. I knew this to be true 22 days ago. And I know it to be true more than ever.

Here is our story.

***

1211.Rebecca1. In Which We Talk, and Then Don’t

Her picture appeared in my Eharmony mailbox sometime in October. I’m not sure when. I just remember her picture because of her distinct grey streaks. And the traveling. Her picture were scattered across the globe.

Still, I was busy — as I’m always busy. I assume that I sent the first contact request but I couldn’t even tell you that for sure. (If you’re not familiar with the Eharmony system, you have to go through a series of automated steps before you can send someone a direct message. It’s all part of that system’s cognitive approach to dating.)

We slowly exchanged information. Every few days, one of us would respond using the multiple-choice menus that pigeon-hole your answers to questions like, “If you’re in a social situation with your partner, how would you act?”

By the time we reached the open question phase where one person asks three questions that require long-form answers, I was heading out of town for two weeks.

I set the communication aside — she was the only one I was speaking with — and set about my travels fully intending to respond to her when I had time, but not convinced this would lead anywhere in particular.

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Us

All stories are small, I tell my kids. If you find yourself unable to write – the so-called writer’s block – it’s probably because you’re trying to be too big. You’re trying to write something so universally true that there’s simply no way for it to exist, and you sit in front of a blank screen.

I know this about writing, and about life.

And yet sometimes everything changes – everything – and the idea of writing small seems overwhelming difficult because when everything changes how can that be tiny?

**

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The Thing I Didn’t Finish Today

I awoke off just a bit.

The alarm on my Xoom tablet went off: first at 5:10 and then again at 5:20. I got up at 5:40 after falling back asleep. Losing 20 minutes wasn’t a disaster — I build spare time into my race mornings — but it did set the tone.

I was rushed, annoyed, and bothered.

I showered, dressed, grabbed my Nathan as well as the assortment of little gear, and hit the road blasting Glee’s Rocky Horrow to try to change my mood.

At 6 am, the temperature was 28 degrees, cold enough to pull out my thermal gear for the first 19 miles when the sun would finally peak out and start warming things up. When I parked, I reached back to grab my equipment bag…and it wasn’t there.

The black mood came back.

There was already doubt in my head about my fitness. Less than 2 weeks removed from the St. Louis marathon, my legs and heart never felt fully recovered. Last night I started to feel normal, but I knew it was going to take a perfect day for me to survive.

Now: my mental state was shot.

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Remember at the End of the Day, It’s All about Her

The words are the only bits that have survived my life. The only elements that have passed the test, time after time. They are always there.

The reality is that it’s me that has betrayed them. I never found a way to live with them when I drank, and I’ve never found a way to write them once I stopped. Still, they stay with me. When there is nothing else…as there must never be…there are the words.

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