A little Valentine for all 5 you reading this blog

For all of you out there who are feeling the tug of National Singles Awareness Day, a little quote for you:

Love is like a booger. You keep picking at it until you get it, then wonder what to do with it.

- Unknown

And if you’re panicking about whether you’ll ever find that special someone, here’s a comic to give you hope.

Also, if you’ve been single for a real long time, you might want to consider moving to another city. Apparently the odds are strongly in your favor if you’re a single male living on the east coast or a single female living in the western part of the country. But does San Francisco really count?

Also, if you’re feeling really lonely and ambitious, you could take a cue form Karen over at Cordarounds, and see if you can crowdsource yourself a partner. (Thanks to Nick O’Neill for sharing that tidbit.)

For myself, I’m going to enjoy the day. It’s cold but it’s sunny, and I have lots to smile about. I wish everyone lots of love (romantic or otherwise) and a Happy Valentine’s Day!

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“No one could have conveyed how I was feeling better than Phil Collins.”

I discovered yesterday that This American Life” is great listening for a run. I thought music would be better, because it has a beat and makes you want to move, but for my long run yesterday, hearing Ira Glass tell me stories made me forget I’m running at all.

During this week’s long run I listened to an old podcast, entitled “Break-Up.” It carried me through the first 6 miles of my 11-mile run to Bethesda.

I have to confess, my friend Jim turned me onto this particular episode. I was telling him about some recent difficulties in my romantic life, and he asked me if I’d ever heard it. He heard it when it first aired in August, when he too was having hard times in his relationship. The show really struck him, and he told me that I HAD to listen to it.

I now pass the recommendation along. You can listen for free streaming on the web. I will say I was disappointed to discover that there is now a charge for downloads of past episodes – they used to be all free. Still I paid the $0.95 so I could put it on my iPod. I can hardly begrudge Chicago Public Radio a dollar.

Listening to the episode actually did made me feel a lot better. And by better, I mean better. :-)

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Yes we can.

All political advertisements should be music videos.

There have been some that have said that this video makes Obama look even more like a candidate that’s all rhetoric and no experience. Hogwash, I say.

The man has tons of experience. Yes, it is impossible not to agree that Hillary has more experience (though I would argue it’s not the kind of experience America needs.) But experience doesn’t win elections. If people voted for the best qualified, most experienced candidates, we wouldn’t have ended up with half of the presidents we have had. The fact is that most people vote with their emotions, with how they feel about a candidate.

So making an emotionally-manipulative video makes a lot of sense. At least this emotionally-manipulative video has a positive message, as opposed to what we’re usually assaulted with.

Of course, I think Obama both inspires people and will be a good leader that unites our country.

Keep in mind, more Americans vote in American Idol than in presidential elections. Maybe we need a candidate who can MTV it up, just to get people out to the voting booth.

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Once

If you have not seen the movie Once, I urge you, I implore you: rent it. I wish I had seen it in the theater, but I missed it. But finally it came in my Netflix this week. My mom and I watched it tonight.

The story is so simple and wonderful. But the music, the music. Together Glen Hansard (of The Frames) and Marketa Irglova create aching melodies, haunting harmonies, and beautiful lyrics that moved me to near tears a few times. I now cannot get the songs out of my head. (They’ve also since released another CD together called The Swell Season, which I want to check out.)

I really recommend watching the movie before listening to any of the music on its own. But if you really think you’ll never watch the movie, here’s a taste of what you’re missing.

[Falling Slowly - Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova]
[When Your Mind's Made Up - Glen Hansard and, Marketa Irglova]

I am absolutely buying the soundtrack. And then I’m moving to Ireland and starting a band.

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Marathon training is under way!

Wednesday night marked my return to speed work. If I am going to finish a marathon, and finish it faster than I did the last time I attempted one, speed work is, unfortunately, necessary.

For the record, when I started doing speed work last year to train for my abortive attempt at the Shamrock Marathon, I had a real love/hate relationship with it. I trained with Dave out in Ballston with a running group, complete with a coach doling out workouts like prison sentences. 1200 x 4 at 8:15 – go!

Ugh.

Speed work is hard for me. I have, over time, gotten so used to running at a comfortable pace, that when I push myself to run faster and experience all of the discomfort that goes along with making greater demands on my body, it almost feels… wrong. In training for the Dublin Marathon and subsequent races, I discovered I really do enjoy endurance training. Running for long periods of time at a conversational pace feels good. But oh man, I do not love running in a repetitive loop so fast that my lungs burn and my legs begin to feel like jelly. It’s just (good) pain.

Hashing was my speed work for awhile – I was running after something and trying to keep up with faster runners, so I had something to distract me from the pain of pushing my speed. But running around a track, there’s not much else to concentrate on.

Still, this year, I’m determined to rock those track workouts as defined in my training program. They won’t be too bad – it’s all just 400 repeats with a rest between each one. That’s just one lap around the track. And I have a partner to keep me motivated, which really helps. Even better, we’re doing the workouts at Cardozo High School, instead of out in fucking Ballston, which is a motivator in and of itself, given that I can jog there in 5 minutes.

Our workout on Wednesday night was a little fast – we were supposed to be doing the repeats at 2:05 to 2:15, but we were clocking in at 1:45 to 2:00. But it didn’t hurt. It was hard, but my joints all felt fine, and I even had a ton of energy for the rest of the evening and even the next day.

Saturday I have 7 miles on my own – I’ll be in Atlanta visiting my mom. Luckily she lives right near some nice asphalt running trails, complete with mile markers, so I should be in good shape.

And so training begins…

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An MP3 for Friday.

I probably will be laughed at by some for liking this song, and even moreso for liking a lot of songs I’ve listened to by the band, Needtobreathe.

But whatever. So what if it was featured in the film P.S. I Love You, which was so schmaltzy that nearly made me roll my eyes a couple of times? (Though it still ended up making me teary – maybe because I like Irish dudes…) So what if this band is popular with Southern, alternative Christian music types? So what if their sound is a little more mainstream and poppy than the music I have lately been absorbed in?

So what? I like the song anyhow. It makes me feel dreamy. It makes me think of the movie, and how parts of it touched me.

So I’m going to share it.

[More Time - Needtobreathe]

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Some quotes I’ve been digging lately

“The glory of friendship is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile, nor the joy of companionship; it is the spiritual inspiration that comes to one when you discover that someone else believes in you and is willing to trust you with a friendship.”

-Ralph Waldo Emerson

“We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence, but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”

-Aristotle

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Two Chicks at Chix

My friend Robin and I checked out the relatively-new Chix, on U Street and 11th. Chix’s tagline is “Eat Responsibly,” and they try to uphold this mantra by offering organic rotisserie chicken (provided by Freebird in Lancaster, PA), black beans seasoned with cumin and orange served with brown rice, roasted sweet potatoes, and juice-flavored water.

All food is packaged in to-go containers, whether you eat in or not, but the plastic cups are made of compostable cornstarch, napkins made from recycled paper, and the cardboard containers are made of compostable sugar cane fiber. Even the restaurant itself is built from largely sustainable materials.

But back to the food. We actually did not sample the chicken, though I plan to when (when, not if) I return. The black beans and rice, however, were wonderful, and the sweet potatoes, roasted to perfection and seasoned with just a little bit of heat, were to die for. The cheese-noodle thing was pretty tasty too.

Given that this is a local venture, reasonably-priced, and in my neighborhood, I plan to visit often and bring lots of friends. Given that the FDA just recently gave the thumbs up on using cloned animals for food, I’m more than happy to put more of my dollars towards local, sustainable, and healthy food.

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Accountability!

Training for the Cleveland Marathon begins next week. I’m already trying to get a head start by reminding my body what it feels like to run more than 3 miles. So far, so good. But if I’m going to make it through the next four months of training, I am going to have to be accountable. I think I only finished the Dublin Marathon because I told hundreds (literally, hundreds) of people I was going to do it, and a lot of them donated to the cause I was running for.

This time I want to do more than finish. I want to smash to bits all of my expectations of what my body can do. My friend Dan turned me onto a book called “4 Months to a 4-Hour Marathon,” and he and I will be following the training schedule outlined in that book.

So that I’m accountable this time around, I am posting it publicly here for all to see:

Yep, this is what I’m going to do. Let’s get ready to rock!

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Living at the border?

On my overpopulated RSS feed reader, I follow this woman’s personal blog. She’s a professional blogger, writing for Web Worker Daily among other blogs, but I have really liked a few of the posts on her personal blog.

Her most recent post
, reflecting on the past year, was really startling for me. She talks about “living at the border” – the border being the line where your comfort zone ends.

I have generally long aimed for this ideal. It’s how I became who I am. This year, certainly, I have several times (thought sometimes with coaxing) plunged right into situations that I have found frightening, unfamiliar, uncontrolled, and uncomfortable. When I take those kinds of huge, scary steps, I usually feel really courageous. I also often feel like I’m making strides forward in my life, growing stronger and better.

I think it works really well for me. I make mistakes, but I don’t cry about it, nor let it discourage me. Usually setbacks just motivate me to keep pushing on.

But sometimes, instead what happens is this: I falter. I chicken out. I get insecure. I fall backwards into dark but familiar patterns. Or I somehow decide that I’m being foolish. This retreat leaves me feeling unhappy. Or even like I’ve failed.

I don’t think this means I should give up on seeking to live on the border of my comfort zones. In all honesty, I think pushing boundaries is at least a piece of the whole point of living, and that people who live to tread the same familiar pathways over and over again are stagnating, wasting themselves.

We aren’t here to be comfortable. We are here “to be open fully to the energies and possibilities that are emerging, regardless of their threat to habit, comfort, and stereotyped expectations.” I’ll add to that, regardless of their threat to our understood perceptions about ourselves or others or our place in the world around us. We often benefit from embracing the things that we find difficult and scary and unusual.

That being said, recently I have been rethinking some of my latest attempts to exist “at the edge of impasse”. I don’t like admitting I have limitations, and I don’t like giving up on something just because it’s hard or uncomfortable. But in recently, I’ve just kept on failing and flailing. Should I continue persist anyhow? Or should I retreat from the edge to where I feel safe again? Give myself time to regroup?

Or could I just be wrong about what I am trying to accomplish?

I mean, sometimes there’s a reason to be uncomfortable. If I jumped out of a plane with no parachute, it would be exciting and terrifying and very uncomfortable – particularly when I hit the ground and my body became smashed and very very dead. Sometimes, discomfort is a sign that you’re doing the wrong thing.

Living at the border can mean pushing into new and wonderful territory. But you could also be flirting with self-destruction. Referencing artists, as Anne’s quote does, how many artists’ lack of borders have been tied to a relentless determination to immolate themselves? Is that where I want to go?

Oh, how to know when the border one is living at also happens to be the edge of a cliff…

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