The Mogolog

…but I digress…

This blog has moved to a new home: davidmogolov.com

Hello!

I’ve moved the Mogolog. Though I love WordPress, and enjoy good traffic here, I’ve decided to consolidate my two sites into one at: http://www.davidmogolov.com. The blog itself is now at http://www.davidmogolov.com/mogolog. I hope you’ll come over there and bookmark it or subscribe to the RSS feed.

David

 

Boston

I was just remarking to Lisa the other day that I’ve been in Boston nearly half of my life. Given how many times we moved growing up, Boston is the place I’ve lived longest, by far. Because of all that moving, I never really developed a sense of place, a sense of home. My home was where my family was, but since I left Kansas for college, my family has slowly broken away from there, too, so that we are scattered across the country: Kansas, Nevada, Colorado. The rest are in Iowa. South Dakota. Virginia. Florida. I have ties to all of these places, but none of them are home.

At 17, I decided to move to Boston. I’d enrolled at Boston University, sight unseen (there’s a story of how this happened, but it’s another post). I flew out for orientation after high school ended. Me and my friend Kim. Our first night in town, we walked away from the campus. She wanted to go to a store called Newbury Comics. We got a little lost. Not hugely lost, but a little. We spent some time at Nuggets. Stared into Deli Haus. Got a little intimidated by Mass Ave. Found Newbury Comics. Worked our way back, but took the wrong fork at Kenmore Square and walked toward Brookline, up Beacon. Figured out where Fenway Park is. It was fine. We were exploring.

We were, unbeknownst to me, crossing and recrossing the route of the Boston Marathon. We were walking streets that have since become as familiar as anything I’ll ever know. As a rootless guy, I didn’t have any idea I was setting down roots. Weak little roots, slightly scared little roots, but roots. Today, I have been in Boston nearly 17 years. All of my adult experience is as a quasi-Bostonian. I went to school here. I got my first job here. Got laid off from that job here. Fell in love. Gave directions. Volunteered (not enough). Made friends. Got lost. Got drunk. Watched marathons. Got into theater. Got into comedy. Got married. Got a house. Got kids. Found a life for myself. I’ve gotten an awful lot. All of it in Boston, from Boston.

Today, I see terrible photos of the intersection where I had my first job: Boylston and Exeter. My desk was at a window, looking across at the Lenox Hotel. I see terrible photos of the store I bought shoes at just over a month ago, shoes to train for a marathon. I see terrible photos of Copley Square, where I sat with my grandmother two days before my wedding. I see terrible photos of runners held back at the underpass on Commonwealth Avenue, just before their excited turn onto Hereford, the last turn before the finishing sprint down Boylston Street. I see terrible photos of a bar where I watched with a packed room as Pedro Martinez threw 17 strikeouts and gave up one hit. I see railings at restaurants I know, familiar street signs, the Copley T sign. And it’s all terrible, these photos of these places I know.

I’ve long said that you can’t become a Bostonian, that you can become a Californian, or a Texan, or a New Yorker, or almost anything else, but that you can’t become a Bostonian or a Frenchman. Today I’m not so sure. I don’t know what it’s like to really have a hometown, to feel that pride and that pull, but today, looking at those photos, I wonder if I’ve been wrong. Maybe you can become a Bostonian. I didn’t think I had a place, but I do. My place is Boston.

And today, I learned that one of the critically injured is a Boston University student. Just some kid who decided to come to school in Boston, standing on the street, excited to be a part of something absolutely good, absolutely positive, in a great city on a beautiful day. And that place, for that student, forever, is the place where the bomb went off. And it breaks my heart, because to me, that’s not what that place is. That’s the place where I bought my marathon shoes. Where I worked with three people who are friends to this day. Where I talked with my grandmother about her mother. Where I did the things you do in your hometown.

It’s also the place where thousands upon thousands of people have realized, on crossing the finish line, that they’re capable of something more than they ever thought, and a place where they can look back 26.2 miles and see an unceasing corridor of people supporting them. Boston has a reputation for coldness, but there’s no coldness on Marathon Day. There’s no coldness in Copley Square.

It’s a terrible thing that’s happened to that place, and I don’t want it to have a name like Ground Zero. It’s not that. It’s Copley Square, and it’s not a place defined by bomb blasts. It’s a place where people have amazing and mundane lives.

My heart and my support goes out to those who were hurt or love those who were hurt. I’ve gotten so much from Boston. I’d love to give something back. I think a lot of people will be looking for a way to do just that. Let’s look for that in the days to come.

Good night, friends.

Runner down!

It was a lovely afternoon in the Boston area, and I was excited to get out and run. It was my long run for the week, and I was killing it. I felt great.

At the halfway point, 3.5 miles from my house, my running app announced the mileage, and though I felt I could have run another mile out, I dutifully turned around, and feeling good, made my way to the intersection without changing my pace, looked both ways for oncoming traffic, and stepped out to cross and head home.

Crunch.

I was watching for danger from cars on the road, not the road itself. I had unknowingly come down right on the edge of a pothole, the inner side of my left sole caught just a wisp of concrete–maybe the width of a julienned carrot–but that was enough to ensure than I didn’t thunk fully into the pothole, but instead twisted my foot over entirely.

I knew it was hurt, but I was in the road, so I trotted across. Because I trotted across, I thought, “maybe it’s not so bad,” so I jogged a pained little burst to see how it took weight. It didn’t take weight well. So I gingerly walked up the hill towards the town center, putting my weight on the inside and back of my foot, where the pain wasn’t so severe. That worked for awhile, maybe 200 feet. Then I stopped to lean on a parking meter. At that point, a concerned middle aged couple stopped, and the man asked if I was OK.

“You know, I think I just broke my foot.” As I said this, it was news to me, but I was pretty certain it was true.

“You broke your foot?”

“Yeah, in a, in a pothole back there. By the, uh… (I couldn’t remember the word “library”)…” I waved back down the hill.

“What do you need?”

“I need to get to Natick Center, I guess.”

“Could you call a cab?”

“Yeah, I could do that. I just need to…”

They suggested the bench in front of the ice cream shop. I plopped down on the bench and called my wife. I don’t call her while I’m out running, so she answered with, “Are you OK?”

“Yeah, but, uh, I think I broke my foot.” We talked logistics. Our kids were both asleep. If I’d lost the foot, maybe waking the children would be an OK move. But a possible break? No no no. I’d call a cab, I’d come home, I’d elevate and ice it, and we’d reassess.

I called three cab companies. The first two had no cabs. The third would send one in 15 minutes. So for fifteen minutes, I sat on the bench, wearing one shoe, looking at my surely broken foot in wonder. Or, I’d have been content to pass the time this way. There was a knocking on the window behind me. It was the woman from the couple. She mimed drinking. I smiled, thanked her, held up my water bottle. I played with my phone for a moment.

Two young women approached me with clipboards. “We’re students at Boston University doing market research. Do you have 3 minutes to answer some questions for us?” I looked at my foot. It could bear this weight. I said yes. One student asked my impression of a local boutique hotel, how frequently I stay in hotels in my own city (this is a question that gets asked, apparently), and what I thought of a proposed package deal at said romantic local boutique hotel. It sounded like a great deal for people who stay in hotels in their own city.

Midway through the interview, the concerned woman from inside brought me a bag of ice, interrupting the interview to say, “in case it’s not broken, ice might help a lot.” This was very kind of her, and I put the ice on my foot. The bag was paper, and immediately began to deteriorate. So I was holding some rapidly shredding paper and a growing pile of ice cubes was pouring from the used-to-be bag into my hands. Even though it was just ice, it didn’t seem right to drop it on the sidewalk, as that could cause somebody else to have a traumatic foot experience. So I stood up and hobbled around aimlessly in the small area around the bench trying to find a place to dispose of the mess. There was nowhere. The ice cream shop had no outside trashcan, just a watering bowl for passing dogs. I thought of putting the ice in the bowl, but I wasn’t sure. The woman returned then, carrying lots of paper napkins. They were lining her outstretched arms. Largely through gesture, she explained that I should dump the ice into her arms, which I awkwardly did. I then stumbled back to the bench and continued answering questions about boutique hotels I could stay in if I didn’t have a home in this city. The market researchers continued admirably in the face of my clear physical suffering.

They moved on, and a young couple emerged from the ice cream shop. The sat beside me on the bench, and as I sent a text message to my wife and checked the time repeatedly, they talked. He was impressing her with tales of his outdoor adventures in Alaska. They seemed very nice, and I hope it was a pleasant first or second date. He had a lot to say about one friend’s prowess with an ice pick. She said she’d love to go to Fairbanks, and he said he knew a guy in Fairbanks who’d been on reality TV three times.

The taxi arrived. The driver saw me waving, and he made no response. He continued driving. He drove a block, and then pulled over at the next intersection. So I stood up and walked.

The time I’d sat had done nothing good at all for my foot. Though I’d walked up a hill to get here, now it was agony to walk a block on flat ground. I walked with my leg sideways, putting all of my weight awkwardly on the inside of that foot, dragging the leg along until I got to the car. The driver didn’t apologize for passing me by, but did explain that it wasn’t legal to pull over on this road where I was because technically it’s a state highway. OK, that’s plausible. He drove me home, giving me lots of medical advice along the way. Courteously, he revealed that he was not a doctor, which was a relief to me.

At home, I crawled up the front stairs, plopped down on the couch, put my foot up, and applied ice. We discussed scenarios for getting an x-ray. Taking a baby to the emergency room seemed inadvisable. Having them drop me off would freak out my three-year-old daughter. I could call another cab, but then there’d need to be a third, and this was getting expensive. “Why don’t I drive myself?” I suggested. It was my left foot that was the problem, and our car is an automatic. I’d be fine!

I hobbled to the car, drove myself to the hospital, and found the parking lot nearest the emergency room. Putting as little weight as possible on the foot, I made my way, but a short ways along, I realized it was hurting too bad to keep on like this.

So I began hopping on one foot down the hill from the parking lot to the hospital. This was working! I was pain free! Not just pain free, but building up  momentum!

Uh oh. How was I going to stop? The other foot would have to be my brake. Otherwise, I risked just pitching forward onto my face. Realizing I was looking at either a  faceplant or an excruciating collision of broken foot and pavement, I veered toward the mulch. And sure enough, my central nervous system, sensing a fall coming, threw that bad foot out to stop the fall. The softer ground was a blessing, but oh, holy… I regained my footing and pressed onward, now on flat ground, so I began hopping again. A nurse emerged from the building. Her shift was over, but as she approached, she said, “Do you need a wheelchair?”

The correct answer was “yes” but my answer was “I’ve made it this far by pogoing, I think I’ll just keep going.”

“They’re not busy  in there at all. They could bring one out.”

I didn’t want to make her go back in. She was off shift. I declined, and pogoed my way into the emergency room. The staff of the emergency admissions desk was  amused by the style of my arrival.  I accepted their offer of a wheelchair. They asked me what happened, and I told them. “I hope it’s a sprain,” I said. “But I guess I should find out if, I don’t know, I broke my fifth metatarsal.” I’d been Googling while on the couch.

So, here’s the thing:

I broke my fifth metatarsal.

my broken foot

When I woke up, this photo would have been more symmetric.

I probably broke it in the pothole. Maybe on the hill up to the ice cream shop. Maybe running around the entrance of the shop with a bag of ice. Possibly chasing a cab. Potentially while pogoing through an emergency room parking lot. But really, almost certainly in that pothole. I felt it happen. I knew.

So I have a splint and crutches, and will be calling an orthopedist first thing tomorrow.  My house is full of steep steps and small child-laid booby traps. I really hope the crutches are just a short-term thing.

What does it mean for my training? Well, I won’t be running the May half marathon I signed up for. I still fully intend to run the marathon for TC in January. It will take at least 4-6 weeks to heal, but the orthopedist is going to call the shots there, and I haven’t met him yet. There’s no telling how my foot will heal, or at what pace.

What’s really depressing is that by breaking my foot, I’ve made my wife’s life extremely difficult: she’s gone from having a partner in raising two kids to having three kids. I’m useless. Maybe if I can get a walking cast, I can be helpful, but on crutches, and with agonizing pain when I put my foot down, I’m, at least on day one, utterly useless. I can’t soothe the baby to sleep: I can’t carry our daughter. I can’t pick up the baby, walk him across the room, and sit down to feed him. I can’t move with a glass of water. I can’t get down to the basement for laundry. I can’t carry dishes with my hands on crutches. My full list of accomplishments: I was able to remove something from the oven.

God of Walking Casts, smile upon me. Let me walk. Please.

That run? It was going really well. I was killing it.

Mission Accomplished

Last month, I posted a series about my goals for 2013. One was to retire my show, Dumber Faster, and make it available for download to those who contribute to Doctors Without Borders. This can now be moved from the “aspiration” to the “done deal” column.

You can download the final performance of Dumber Faster here, for a $5 (or more!) contribution to Doctors Without Borders. You also get the performances of guests Josh Gondelman and Veronica Ades.

The show was a lot of fun. Josh and Veronica are great, my hosting was a trainwreck, and Dumber Faster itself, well, I’ll leave that to others to decide.

So, between the sample chapter posted Monday, this, and my current ability to run six miles without pain, I think I’m making good progress towards the goals I set for the year. Onward!

 

Sample chapter of my book

Friends! Remember that parenting book I was writing? The funny one? Well, I wasn’t lying. I’ve written the introduction and nearly three chapters of it, and today, I’m posting the first revised chapter. It’s Chapter Four, Your Baby’s First Night at Home: The Worst Thing That’s Ever Happened To You (Yet)” (PDF).

Why am I posting it early and free? A couple reasons:

*  I still haven’t decided my ultimate aim for the book, but I’d love some advice.  This chapter is absolutely representative of the tone I’m aiming for elsewhere. I’d love more feedback.

*  I’m hoping that if you like it, you’ll share it. The more people who see it, the better my options for publishing it, publishing portions of it in appropriate places, and finding readers for it once it’s available in full.

Is this the unalterable, final version? No, but it’s reader-ready. If writing this book is like writing a show, I’ll later realize that I want to go back to set up a joke or drop in an explanation. I may want to add illustrations that early draft readers suggested. Lastly, I have great respect for the skills of a talented editor. Should I end up working with one, I have no doubt we’ll be tinkering on scales large and small.

So, with that, get to it.

READ: Your Baby’s First Night at Home (PDF)

UPDATE: Want to know more about the book or get in touch? Contact me here!

On Raising a Male Feminist

I’ve posted before about our goal of raising a daughter who rejects our culture’s marginalization of women. We want her to see herself as capable and equal and independent. I haven’t figured out how to do that, exactly, but keeping the goal in the forefront of my mind keeps me aware of my language and the messages she’s getting from her environment, and that awareness helps me make better decisions.

Well, now we have a son, too. He’s three months old. He’s great: a smiling, amiable, dimpled and unsleeping bag of semisolids. At this point, it’s nearly impossible to mold him into a misogynist. Heck, I’m not sure he knows the difference between me and the cat. Forget men and women.

But if there’s anything I’ve learned from my daughter, it’s that kids are QUICK learners. Every single day my daughter says something that reveals not just what she’s been actively taught, but what she’s been passively taught: what she intuited from our behaviors, our preferences, and our silences. From my haphazard approach to organization, she’s already learned an anti-orderliness we need to work on together. From my endless praising of “funny,” it’s become one of her cardinal virtues. Our focus on apologies taught her that the crime is not the crime: failing to apologize is the crime. Oh, that bud is getting nipped.

I’ve no reason to think my son will be any different. He is already watching everything. In a few months, he’ll be forming ideas, and in another year, beginning to express them. And so, surprise, I find myself thinking about how we can raise him to natively reject the marginalization of women. I want to make sure he has no rights or privileges that his sister does not, and to be certain he doesn’t expect them. I think about how we can raise not a gentleman, opening doors for charmed thankful ladies, but a good man making sure doors aren’t shut on deserving, equal women.

Parents with good intentions can easily raise a polite but chauvinistic man. The world doesn’t need more of those, but it’s what most of us are, and it’s what the media helps to manufacture. The American conception of a successful man is of an athletic or corporate conqueror, whose prizes are wealth and blondes. The American conception of a successful woman is the gorgeous blonde princess who captures the quarterback and has it all. Men are supposed to beat men and win women, and women are supposed to please the best men. We don’t say these things, but they’re everywhere. We teach misogyny implicitly, not explicitly.

We want to raise a son who can recognize this and act and speak against it. Not because women need him to in order to see themselves as equal, but because for society to normalize as equal, change has to happen from both sides. My daughter doesn’t need her brother to be a feminist in order for her to recognize her equality, but she needs her brother to help change male behavior. It shouldn’t take courage for a man to speak up against the sexist behavior of his friends, but very few men do or would. Despite our knowing what’s right, we live in a culture where what’s right isn’t normal, and it does take some courage to act against that. We still live in a culture of men as conquerors and women as prizes. For well-intentioned men to make a difference, they have to overcome their advantages. A major advantage men have is that we can do nothing and pay no consequence.

I haven’t thought this all through yet, but I’m beginning to think that fathers have to model a new way for their sons. It’s not enough for a boy to have strong women to learn from: he should see men pushing against the culture, the culture in which the Violence Against Women Act was not only endangered, but in which a Violence Against Women Act is necessary. It’s not enough to be a man that disagrees with the norm: quietly disagreeing doesn’t change anything. Quietly disagreeing reinforces the notion that nothing’s amiss, that the culture isn’t broken. Parenting a better generation requires better than that.

Help Offered

(This is the final post, but for a wrap-up, in a series describing some big plans for 2013.)

At the last minute, I’m moving the end of this post to the beginning. To read the rationale, scroll down. I didn’t want to bury the lede.

If you want 8-10 hours of my help with a creative project, I’m available.

For each remaining month of 2013, I am asking someone to ask me for my help. A website? A show? A video? A book? Your Hunger Games puppet opera? I want to help you. And I want to help you for at least 8 hours.

I’m not joking. If I know you already (sorry, complete strangers, friends get first pick), email, call, message, comment, or tweet. Get in touch. Claim a month. Here’s what I promise you: a minimum of 8 hours of my attention and participation in making your idea real.

Is there an element of hubris to this, to assume anybody wants my help? Sure. But nonetheless, I’m offering. I’m actually not offering, I’m asking. Put me in, coach.

OK. Now back to the beginning. Why am I doing this?

One of the tradeoffs if you want to be part of the life of your small children is that you don’t get out much. Some people are better at getting out into the world than others. Admittedly, I was a homebody before I had kids, but these days, I’m feeling a little Salingerean. I’m sure the frequency of my Facebook activity annoys some folks, but to them I say, “Shut it. My only connections to most of my friends are digital right now.” Now, as I said, being a bit of a recluse anyway, this isn’t meant as a complaint, just a depiction if reality.

There is a consequence, though: my disappearance from the physical world of the creative people around me has diminished the opportunity to do fun things with them. Not doing sketch comedy, not working on one-off shows with others, not doing stand-up, not running into people in the lobby, all of these nots, they add up to what you’d expect: not + not + not + not = not much. And my absence also reinforces an idea that I’m not available. It’s so bad that I recently learned that several people thought I’d moved to New York. Still here! Still available!

I don’t think it’ll come as much of a surprise when I tell you that much of the inspiration to do all of these things I’ve been blogging about comes from reflecting on the passing of TC Cheever.  I mean, life is precious, and the reason TC could honestly say he had no regrets was that he didn’t squander his days on pettiness. He spent his days open to his friends and family, saying “yes” and “how can I help?” His friend Steve, at the memorial service, encouraged everybody to be more like TC. I will never do it as gracefully or as naturally as TC did, but if I make a commitment to say “yes” more, and to invite the people in my life back into my life, I think that’s a legitimate response to Steve’s request.

I can’t offer you more than what I’ve got, but I can write. I can edit. I can collaborate. I can act a little. I can brainstorm. I know a thing or two about the web and have some actual, professional marketing, communication and research skills. I’ve edited books and punched up scripts and hollowed out mannequin horse hooves in the pursuit of helping make ideas real. I’m willing to do any of that, or to stretch my skills.

This isn’t a Help Wanted sign. It’s a Help Offered sign. All I ask in return is that the next time a friend tells you about a great idea, help them. Remove an obstacle for them or make a contribution. We all need help. I’m going to need help with every goal I have this year. I can’t ask for that without also offering.

Pick a month. You’ve got at least 8 hours of my time.

The Maggie Beane Society

(nearly the final post in an unforgivably long series of posts about what’s going to happen to me in 2013).

Former roommates can tell you that I put an insane amount of time into writing a satirical suburban crime novel called Golden Years (the same roommates might complain that I spent even more time playing Tony Hawk and Final Fantasy 7 on PS2, depriving them of the TV). In hindsight, my honest assessment of the book is that it’s not bad, but I’d want to rewrite it almost completely before showing it in public. It was a great way to learn how not to write a novel. At the time that I wrote it, I was embracing a few bad ideas, and was determined to make them work even though they weren’t working (they were bad, see?). The major consequence of this is that when it came time to write the end, I just couldn’t. To this day, the final pages of the novel are only notes. I know EXACTLY how that story was going to end, but knowing it would be a bad novel, I think I amped up the procrastination until it was a foregone conclusion that the thing would never get done.

Now, given the to-do list I’ve created, I’m not foolish enough to say that I’m going to finish a novel in 2013. But I’m not going to use that to-do list as an excuse to not work on one in earnest. So, of the goals I’ve laid out, this one is a bit of an outlier. I do not intend to deliver what I’m about to describe as a finished product in 2013. But I do expect to make serious progress on it.

I’m writing this on February 9, 2013, the morning of an immense blizzard. During a similar blizzard years ago, I performed at a show at ImprovBoston, back when it was in Inman Square. Will Luera was hosting one of his irregular “The Artistic Director Presents” shows, and there were about 15 people in the audience. I did a 12 minute show called “The Haze,” a bizarre little spy story in which a man staking out a target he couldn’t identify spun stories of a near-mythical private, stateless spy agency called The Maggie Beane Society. The Maggie Beane Society, he explained, was so secretive that  most people in the intelligence world were convinced they didn’t actually exist. Will led a talkback session, and though the audience was small, I was struck by how enthusiastic people were about that particular aspect of the story: Maggie Beane.

The reason that it worked was that I knew a lot more about the Maggie Beane Society than I said onstage, and so I played it very fully: at that point I’d begun writing my second novel, a sprawling spy comedy in which the MBS was a major element. As I said, that was years ago. What happened to the novel? All sorts of delays and distractions, both real and manufactured, got in the way. But the real answer is that I procrastinated a lot. Last year, I got started again, meeting regularly with a small writing group, and I made real progress, knocking out a couple chapters and really getting the thing to start taking shape. The group stopped meeting, and I kept writing for a short while. But not for long. Without the pressure of a meeting to bring something to, it was easy to sideline the novel again.

(I’m not a guy who looks at self-help books. I’m too self-conscious. But there is one book that sits squarely in the self-help genre that I recommend whole-heartedly, and it’s a book that describes exactly what I’m doing wrong. It’s called The War of Art by Steven Pressfield. If you’ve ever used writer’s block as an excuse for anything, or you struggle with procrastination, get a copy and keep it near wherever you work. Pressfield will shame you into getting back to work. I’m certainly moving my copy within arm’s reach, not just for this, but for I Should Have Done That Differently.)

There’s an argument to be made that if you’re not making a priority of something it’s not want you want to do. I disagree. I think sometimes you let something become less of a priority because it’s too daunting, not because it’s less important to you. You think, “nobody’s waiting for me to do this, so I’ll do it later.” And then you keep doing that day after day and month after month until you die. It’s how most novels go.

This particular novel, which I’ve picked up work on and put down again over and over for years, feels no less urgent or fresh an idea than it ever did. Just last week I was back at it, revising an early bit, reconceiving a character who’d never quite done what he needed to be doing. I know I want to be working on this book. So I will be working on this book.

A goal without a plan is a wish. I need a plan. Of all of these things I’m posting, this one has the least clear road to completion. So I’m making this plan on the fly, and I will hold to it (this approach works very, very well for me when I do it with scripts I’m working on).

I will have complete first or revised drafts of chapters on the following dates in 2013:

June 1

September 1

December 1

To keep me honest, I’m willing to send these drafts to anybody who asks for them. Ask for them. Keep me honest.

This is a very modest goal. Three chapters this year. That’s almost nothing, but alongside my other writing, it’s a real commitment.

One more post in this series. But first, I’m going sledding with my daughter.

 

Carry the Two

(another in a series of posts about what I plan to do in 2013)

So it was inevitable that one of these posts would be this one, right? I’m writing another solo show. My apologies, but compared to the other posts, I will say very little about this one, both to give myself the freedom to let the script evolve in unexpected directions and to maintain some element of surprise when the audience eventually turns up. I can say that while I never planned There Is No Good News and Dumber Faster as the first two parts of a trilogy, my friend Kevin Quigley is not wrong in expecting something like a conclusion here. A subtle arc has naturally taken shape, and the ideas I’m playing with in the third show, tentatively titled Carry the Two*, only really work in my brain because of the work I did on the last two shows.

As I wrote to my director, Steve: “If the financial crisis and saying goodbye to childhood sat at the center of There Is No Good News and the internet and cognitive bias are the core of Dumber Faster, the new show is about the economic concept of ______ and the show is almost entirely about ______.” I didn’t send him blanks, but I’d love to see your Mad Libs guesses for filling them in (something public/something personal). I’ve been procrastinating more than usual in getting this started, partly because my expectations for it are very high. On the other hand, I should be eager: I’m finally, finally, finally getting to talk on stage about my hatred for one of America’s most beloved advertising icons.

OK, one detail. It’s Jared the Subway guy. I fucking hate Jared. You can find out why sometime in the fall or winter. I’ll be getting started in earnest after Dumber Faster: A Benefit for Doctors Without Borders (for which you should buy tickets).

*There Is No Good News was originally titled My Housing Crisis and Dumber Faster was I’m Hungry From All This Eating. Carry the Two is not guaranteed to be the title.

The Marathon

(this is the third in a series of “important” vanity posts. Previous installments are here (I’m doing a cool show) and here (I’m writing a book that’s going to give all of our lives meaning).)

So, I mentioned that I’m running a marathon in memory of my friend TC. Though I’m essentially starting from zero, I’ve realized that there’s zero and then there’s zero, and my zero is non-italicized. That is, I’ve got a little something to build on. I’m not starting from a complete sucking vacuum of bottomless non-fitness. As The Princess Brides Westley might ask, were I to propose this, “What are our assets?”

My assets:

  1. The marathon is next January, so I’ve got 11 and a half months to get from where I am today to 26.2 miles. That’s a GREAT amount of time.
  2. I just had a nasty bout of the flu, the silver lining of which is that I’m nearly at my ideal weight: paired with a commitment to eating better, I could very well be doing significantly less damage to my joints just by virtue of dragging less weight around the streets. I have no interest at all in body shaming or fat shaming, but this is, from an injury-prevention standpoint, good news. I’m 15 pounds lighter than I was a few months ago. Were I not, I’d be fine, I’d just have a little more work ahead of me, and a slightly higher chance of injury.
  3. I used to run some. I mean, I’ve hauled myself onto a gym treadmill on an irregular basis even up until late fall, but there was a time (six years ago, it turns out) when I was running so frequently that I was able to regularly go 5-8 miles, and my long runs could get to 10-12. So it’s not unprecedented. And that summer, 2007, I got to those 10-12 mile runs after about 4 months of effort. So based on past experience, I know this is doable, which is a psychological advantage.
  4. My wife is totally supportive of this, and is actively pushing me to train. That’s just huge. Life is complicated, and life with kids is absurd. It’s sooo easy to skip a run and have it feel justified when there’s so much that needs doing. Having my wife say, “go run. You need to go run,” when I’m dawdling? That makes this much, much easier.
  5. There’s a training group. Admittedly, I haven’t taken much advantage of it yet, mostly due to the flu, and the fact that I live out in the suburbs, but the fact that about a dozen other people on the TC run live in Boston and are eager to run as a group, and support each other online and off… another big asset.
  6. I have several good friends who’ve run marathons, and they’re offering a lot of support and advice, and are available. Again, seeing other non-athletes having done this, I know I can.
  7. I’ve been worried for a couple years about succumbing to the standard mid-30s/father of small children slide into gradual ill health. I don’t want to just gradually become more sedentary and less active and a decade later realize that digging out of that hole requires major lifestyle changes. This particular mission (the marathon) requires a level of commitment and activity that will hopefully lead to better habits in the long run. So while I didn’t decide to do it for health reasons, it directly addresses something that’s been bugging me.
  8. This book, The Non-Runner’s Marathon Trainer, is super helpful for helping set and meet practical goals.
  9. Being at TC’s memorial service last night was an astounding reminder of how much better a life I could live if I made the effort to be more like the guy we’re running for. As much as I love that we’ll be raising money to fight pancreatic cancer, I’m even more motivated by the simple desire to carry some of last night forward. Running next January with about three dozen (seriously!) friends is something that TC would have just loved.

So that’s not zero. That’s 9. And I got new shoes. I’m willing to call that 10.

I’ll post about this more throughout the year, particularly once we’ve got our fundraising up and running. But for now, I’ll just say this. I’ve gone from running about twice a month, on a treadmill, to already comfortably running in freezing January weather four times per week. The first run, just a few weeks ago involved a hacking cough at .8 miles. I can already run 30 minutes without stopping, and run 3 miles comfortably at about a 10 minute per mile pace. Maybe that’s not Olympian, but Olympian isn’t the goal. Finishing a marathon (and doing it without injuring myself) is my goal. I don’t expect it to be a continuous, easy improvement, and I don’t expect to not hate it at times. But I can’t overstate how immensely rewarding it is already to see how quickly change can happen if I commit to it. It’s so very easy to get in a rut, or assume you’re powerless. I don’t even like running. I really don’t. But being able to do what I can already do makes me think I can meet these other goals I’m writing about. Marathon training is going to be an immense time commitment, but I’m starting to believe that those hours don’t come entirely at the cost of other goals, but might set me up to reach the other goals more successfully.

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