Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Jazz is an unsolved math problem

So, it turns out, I'm perfectly fine being single and, in fact, I'm really good at it.

Also turns out I live big on my own. And there are a lot of amazing, beautiful, wonderful women out there.

I've spent a lot of time living kinda big, trying to show those in my life how to live big.

Unencumbered, loose from the weight of those following me, those drafting off of my ability to strangle the most out of a day, I've hit a stride I'd forgotten I had.

The perfect sample moment was last week in NYC. Sitting across from a lovely new friend, sharing a breathtaking meal, and even better Italian wine, our scintillating, fun, wide-ranging, never the slightest bit dull, insanely interesting conversation moved to jazz.

"I used to hate jazz. It was too messy, no order at all. Now, I love jazz. Why?", she says.

"Maybe because now that you see that the 'perfect, orderly life' doesn't always stay that way you can appreciate the messiness of jazz", I tell her.

"But music is mathematical. It has rules. Jazz doesn't follow the rules", she says.

"Life, if properly lived, doesn't always make sense, and there certainly aren't any rules.", I posit.

"Fuck. You're right. That's why I like jazz", she says. "Jazz is like an unsolved math problem."

Those of you who know of my long love affair with mathematics can imagine my swoon.

That's just 45 seconds out of a 3 hour dinner conversation. And every second was that good. 

And don't get me started on the Birdman Bar Miracle.

Even if I never see her again, I will carry every second of that evening with me. And really, isn't that how we should try to live? Shouldn't we be collecting those moments that change us, that open our eyes, that put us into a new place in our own lives?

Though that night was the highlight of my work week in NYC, the whole week was a bag chock full of wonderful moments, both personal and professional. And none of those moments would have happened if I hadn't been there alone.

My motto is "Live wide open, eat well, travel far, run often, seek out amazing people, don't waste time on the dull, and love... love big."

I'm not giving up on love, but I'm not obsessing over it either. And moreover, I'm not about to sacrifice my thirst for living a great, full life for anyone.

I'm casting a wide net, setting the bar very high, and waiting patiently to see if I find anyone who can clear that bar, someone who can keep up with me.*

In the meantime, I am living a fantastic life, meeting interesting people, and eating some outrageously great food.

Oh, and running quite well, thank you very much.

Good running,

*If you, dear reader, think you have the perfect woman for me, please let me know. Like I said, I'm casting a wide net. I'm all for meeting amazing people.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

I want to sink down to the bottom of the sea

I feel like I owe you loyal readers a bit of an update. It's been a crazy few weeks.

Please forgive the unbridled self-indulgence with this one. And feel free to skip it. It's long. It's a catharsis. It's all about me. It's a sad tale of a great love thrown away out of fear.

When we last touched base, I was recently heartbroken, worse, heartshredded, and utterly bewildered as to why.

Since then, I met with the girl formerly known as the absolute love of my life, twice. The (my) short version of the story is that she took a harmless event, let it percolate in her head for 10 days, until it turned into her not being enough for me... that I was not trustworthy. The reality is that she was scared to death that I'd find someone else while she was in Peru. Plain and simple, with all of the bullshit stripped away, that's what it boiled down to.

Despite my admittedly desperate/pathetic pleas of "You have got to be kidding me! I'm insanely in love with you and only you.", she wouldn't hear it. She and her imagination had constructed their own reality and I couldn't break through it. The woman who told me she devoted herself to truth and love, refused to hear the former, and refused to accept the latter.

I even tried Operation Hail Mary, a last ditch, bold, foolish, ultimately disastrous attempt to shine a light on the stupidity of throwing away something so great. Seriously... great. The idea was a grand, romantic gesture every day:

Day 1 - One big ass bouquet of roses with a note:
"My Dearest Mary,
Our Love Is Too Rare, Too Special To Walk Away From
Because You're Going To Peru, Because You Are Scared.
I'm Not Going To Stand By And Let Something So Great For Both Of Us Die.
Forever In Love With You, Doug"

Response - A text: "The flowers are just beautiful - thank you" - I took this a positive sign.

Day 2 - Edible Arrangement for her last day of volunteering with at-risk kids
"Dear Miss Mary, Thank you for everything you have done for us. Love, your kids
P.S. Please remind us to sign the vase"
(I attached a sharpie to the card)

Response - (crickets)

Day 3 - T-shirt from the Slippery Noodle, sight of our first kiss, with a CD from Gene Deere who was playing that night. I also enclosed an insanely romantic letter with the titles of the CD tracks inter-woven into the message, describing how... well it really doesn't matter, because...

Response - An email that made it exceptionally clear that Operation Hail Mary was not going to work. I'd include it, but frankly I'm worried that it might go viral, such was the tone, the vitriol. Trust me, it's uncomfortable to read, even if it's not directed at you. Admittedly though, it did the job.

There's nothing like seeing the other side of someone, a side you would have wagered your soul didn't exist, to cleanse the palette.

The following phases of Operation Hail Mary, though queued up, were, obviously aborted. Some required significant work to undo.

Still, I'm going to list them if only to demonstrate my level of commitment to the bit, my total (humiliating) devotion to a woman who had thrown me away, my obsession with doing absolutely everything, no matter how humiliating, to try to bring us back together, and frankly, my unparalleled ability to rock the shit out of romance. Really, I just want to one day remind myself that no matter the odds, no mater where I find myself one day, that at least once, I loved big. Without fear. Without the slightest concern for the consequences. And that I put everything on the line to protect and preserve the greatest love I may ever know.

So here are the days I had planned before the operation was scrubbed...

Day 4 - My good friend Andy dug up the sound board recordings from the Polkaboy show that was the centerpiece of our first date.

"My Dearest Mary, some Friday night you'll be in Peru, missing Polkaboy, and who knows... maybe me. When that Friday comes, put in your earbuds, and relive Aug 22, 2014, the best first date ever. Forever in love with you, Doug"

Day 5 - 6 bottles of Zombie Killer, her favorite cider. "Favorite" isn't quite adequate. She loves the shit. And for good reason. It's $11 a bottle. And hard as hell to find.

"My dearest Mary, As you enjoy this Zombie Killer, I hope you can picture those ideas that have been filling your head this last month, doubts of my love and devotion to you, and that this awesome cider does indeed kill them. Forever in love with you, Doug"

Day 6 - A copy of "Birds without a Nest: A Novel: A Story of Indian Life and Priestly Oppression in Peru" by Naomi Lindstrom, a female Peruvian writer. Anyone who knows Mary knows that this book would have made her cry with heartbreak, scream with fury, and spurred her to even greater action for the oppressed. Yeah, I know. I'm pretty fucking good.

Oh, and I got a copy for myself.

"Dearest Mary, save this for when you are settled in your assignment. I have a copy, too. Let me know when you start, and we can read it together chapter by chapter, and talk about it when we connect. I hope it inspires you to an even greater level of compassion, service, and love for those you are there for. I'm so proud of you. Forever in love with you, Doug"

Day 7 - Chocolatier Blue - While we were in San Francisco, we stopped into a chocolate shop with the most beautiful, and delicious chocolates. We savored them, together, over two nights. It was very sweet, very romantic. Fuck!

"Nearly as sweet and delicious as our love.
But these are produced by the hundreds,
and our love is one in 7 billion.
Forever in love with you, Doug

Day 8 - 5K Entry - We loved doing races together.

"My dearest Mary, enjoy this stress reliever. I'd love to join you, if you'd like. If not, don't let the cannon shot at the start startle you into absolute mayhem. If you show up 5 minutes after the start, don't let that keep you from pressing on. And of course, don't forget your sweat rag. Forever in love with you, my favorite running partner, Doug."

Day 9 - Tacos from her favorite Taco place.
"My dearest Mary, I hope you enjoy these lovely tacos. And thank you for introducing me to real, fabulous Mexican food. P.S. They wouldn't let me send a Margarita.
Forever in love with you, Doug"

Day 10 - When we were in San Francisco, we went on a walking tour of The Mission District. On the tour, they gave us round name tags. After the tour, I took hers and stuck it to mine, back-to-back.
"My Dearest Mary, the second I stuck these two name tags together, I thought they'd make a great Christmas tree ornament one day. I entrust these to you until we decorate the first Christmas tree we share. Forever in love with you, Doug."

Day 11 - Video montage of our best photos/moments together, set to Cake's "Love you Madly". For those who know me, and how I've approached relationships, you'll appreciate the quantum leap this was for me. I honestly and truly and completely loved this girl.

Those who know me also know how I can kick the shit out of these videos. It would have been pretty awesome.

"My dearest Mary, I'm not a big song lyrics guy, but while I was in San Francisco for Dreamforce, watching Cake (and not Bruno Mars, thanks to you), the words to this song so completely encapsulated how I felt about you. How I wanted to ignore any doubts or history or worry and just love you. I'm so glad I did. Forever in love with you, Doug"
I don't want to wonder
If this is a blunder
I don't want to worry whether
We're gonna stay together till we die
I don't want to jump in
Unless this music's thumping
All the dishes rattle in the cupboards
When the elephants arrive
I want to love you madly
I want to love you now
I want to love you madly, way
I want to love you, love you, love you madly
I don't want to fake it
I just want to make it
The ornaments look pretty
But they're pulling down the branches of the tree
I don't want to think about it
I don't want to talk about it
When I kiss your lips
I want to sink down to the bottom of the sea
I want to love you madly
I want to love you now
I want to love you madly, a way
I want to love you, love you, love you madly
I don't want to hold back
I don't want to slip down
I don't want to think back
To the one thing that I know I should have done
I don't want to doubt you
Know everything about you
I don't want to sit across the table from you
Wishing I could run
I want to love you madly
I want to love you now
I want to love you madly, a way
I want to love you, love you, love you madly

Day 12 - Music Video - Polkaboy favorite "Can't Take My Eyes off of You" - With the help of my good friend Scooter, I was going to sing the whole damn song. Not that I haven't done it a hundred times before, but this time I'd be by myself, not surrounded by a thousand other poor singers. I loved dancing with her to that song, and loudly (and surely off pitch) declaring her beauty and my love for that girl to the world.
Cant Take My Eyes off of You
Franky Valli and the 4 seasons

Day 13 - This was the last day I'd planned. And please note, that I pulled all of this together in 3 days before she put the kibosh on it. I'm sure I could have added some more gestures: poems, letters, violins. But this was always planned as the last day.

The last time we were together, ostensibly as friends though I knew I couldn't resist trying to bring us back together, we had mussels. I knew things were going poorly when she compared herself to just another discarded shell on the plate of mussel shells.

I was going to give her a single pearl on a gold chain.

"My dearest Mary, love of my life, please wear this knowing that you were never just another shell... you are the pearl I've spent my life looking for. Truly and completely in love with you, forever, Doug."

Of course 10 of those grand gestures went ungestured. That really bothered me at first. I'd barely gotten started. But you can scream all you want at a stone, it's not going to change a fucking thing.

Getting that email on Day 3 was shocking, painful, humiliating... and liberating.

The love I thought I'd had, actually, never was.

The person I thought I'd love forever wasn't the person I thought she was. And frankly, anyone who would throw away something so rare and beautiful and wonderful on fear alone doesn't deserve the love I had for her.

I'm not in love with Mary B anymore.

I will be in love with the girl I thought she was forever.

Now I just need to find her.

I really do want to sink down to the bottom of that sea again, to give in completely, and to love with everything I have. But damn, the bar is set awfully high now.

Apologies for the schmaltz. I really needed to purge this shit.

More uplifting updates coming tomorrow. Seriously, things are looking up. Way up.

BTW, my running is going pretty well! #runningblog

Good running,

Friday, May 15, 2015

Laying it all out there

Some of my best races, the ones that I remember, the ones that taught me something, have been disasters.

The best of these was a 5K a few years ago. I was only a couple of weeks removed from what had
felt like a pretty easy sub-20 minute 5K, so I was feeling fast, strong, and pretty cocky. Just minutes before the start of this next race, on one of the season’s fastest courses, I decided I was going to break 19-minutes. “What’s another minute?”, I asked myself. “Nothing”, I replied.

From the gun, I was completely committed to laying it all out there, hammering it out with abandon, fully dedicated to going for it. And it went exactly to plan… for two and a quarter miles.

A little less than a mile from the finish, the proverbial wheels fell off. Like a teamster at 5 o’clock, my legs abruptly stopped working.

It came out of nowhere. It felt awful. There was pain, a dash of humiliation, and a pinch of bewilderment.

What the hell happened? Everything was fine! It just... blew up… with no warning.

I walked away a lot less cocky, and a fair bit wiser.

Pretty much every 5K, every race for that matter, is filled with people who are going to run smart, stay within themselves, race their plan. I’m usually one of those runners myself.

But those races, they’re not memorable, they lack adventure. You don’t learn anything being cautious. Safe, vanilla experiences don’t change you.

That 5K, going out in a napalm-doused fireball of glory, is for me a fond memory. I learned a lot about myself, about courage I didn’t know I had.

I came. I gave it a shot. I left with no regrets or what-ifs.

I’ve been reliving that twenty-some minutes from years ago, but this time it’s been spread out, over a long, torturous, exhausting week.

This time, the prize wasn’t a 5K PR, it was a “Happily ever after” with the best woman, best person I’ve ever known.

I’ve spent most of my life treading lightly, tentatively into romantic relationships, being smart, staying within myself, protecting myself.

This time, though, I laced up my metaphorical shoes, good and tight, threw all caution to the wind, abandoned all vestige of security, dismissed every instinct of self-preservation, and I went for it. No shields, no armor. Heart forward, fully exposed.

On October 25th, while running a slow 10K in the paradise of Big Sur, I deciding not to hold anything back, to give in totally, to love this woman for all I was worth. She was the one I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. She was the one I would risk anything for.

And it went exactly to plan. It was the best decision I’d ever made. A fantastically fun, fulfilling, energizing, loving relationship, more than I thought possible … until Friday May 8th. At 6:11pm.

A four-minute phone call put a bullet in the best, and what I’d thought would be the last
relationship of my life,

Just like that 5K, it came out of nowhere. It feels profoundly awful. So, so painful, with a dash of humiliation, and a mounded bushel of bewilderment.

What the hell happened? Everything was fine! It just... blew up… with no warning.

Still, should I have kept a little back, gone into it more guarded, less exposed, just in case? And miss out on what could have been? Of course not.

I came. I loved deeply and completely and truly, with every ounce of my being. And somehow that wasn’t enough. I have no regrets.

I’m running a 5K this weekend. It won’t be sub 19-minutes. Not even close. I’m going to take it easy, go steady, see how it feels. hell, I may even blow it off and just run with the dog. But maybe someday I’ll have the guts to lay it all out there again.

And I hope that one day I meet another woman who inspires, who summons in me the courage to lay it all out there again, my life, my love, and my heart. The bar is set awfully high, but I’m not going to stop looking, nor settle for less.

Good running,

Friday, March 6, 2015

Winter in Indiana

As I type this, cold air is spilling over the edge of my laptop, an invisible waterfall, onto my fingers.

The durable, renewable, and insanely stylish aluminum was super-chilled overnight in the trunk of my car.

The fan in the computer turned on as soon as it booted up, not to cool it, but to get some warm air in and heat it up.

I have been in love with the great state of Indiana all my life, but I'm starting to believe that this may be an abusive relationship.

Eight inches of snow forced me into a parking garage for my Sunday run.

Think about that for a minute... running, a long run, in an underground garage.

Tuesday brought warmer temperatures, but also rain. With the ground frozen, the rain and the snow that it melted had no where to go. So what the day before passed as reasonable places to walk were turned into small canals, 3 inches deep in watery slush.

By Thursday the temps fell hard. Today, any travel outside, by car or by foot, is a concert of cracking ice, each "pop" reminding you that you are in a place not hospitable to human life.

I have a half-marathon in 15 days that I am in no way prepared for, and I have no where to train that isn't soul-sucking or limb-threatening.

A few hundred years ago, some brave people set off West looking for a better life. Those without the means for a new wagon, bought used, and paid the price. When their wagon broke down, on pool table flat ground, they were forced to settle down in what would become Indiana.

That's the only scenario I can imagine to explain why people chose to live here.

I long for Indiana spring, the lovely season between the ridiculously gray, cold, dreary winter and the oppressive humidity and high pollen counts... all 4 days of it.

Good running,

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Trail Dreams

Three Lakes Trail blaze
image from
I'd been dreaming, literally dreaming, of running along a narrow, wooded trail in the middle of winter, in the middle of nowhere, for weeks.

In the dreams single-track trail draws out in front of me. I can only see maybe 80 yards of it, and it swishes just a bit left and right. It's lined with trees too tall to measure, too numerous to count, too think to see very far. It's quiet except for my foot falls and my breath.

This vision wasn't just at night. Idle time during the day took me back there, deep in nature, far from the world.

It was as if there was a string looped around my heart, tugging, gently, but incessantly, pulling me to a place with hills and trees, lots of hills and lots of trees.

My genes, my lineage as a human, my primal instincts to run were telling me what I needed.

I needed to get lost in the woods.

Last Saturday, though I had no right to think I was fit for a 10 mile tough-ass trail run, I really didn't care.

The girl, the dog, and I headed to Morgan-Monroe State Forest and hit the Three Lakes Trail.

The run was a slog. A slow, lung rupturing, leg mutilating slog.

And it was glorious!

The sun shone bright though the wind was plenty cold. We took wrong turns, we crossed countless streams, we climbed endless hills, and we trudged our way through an ugly mile of muddy slop. (Why, oh why did I ignore that detour?)

The girl and I finished with salty faces and mud caked shoes and spattered legs. The dog seemed disappointed at stopping.

We were sore, and exhausted, and thrilled to have done it, and that it was over.

The three of us did little else for the rest of the weekend but watch movies in front of the fire... a fitting reward for surviving such a harrowing adventure.

As I think about that run, I can feel that string tugging again, calling me back.

Can you feel the string looped around your heart? Where is it pulling you?

Good running,

Sunday, January 18, 2015

1,500,000 Steps

My step tracker's app often sends me messages.

Two or three times a day it will tell me how many steps I've racked up so far. Occasionally it will send me a challenge to try to motivate me to move more. And for some reason, it seems very concerned when my band hasn't synced recently. The app is a little needy.

I notice most of these messages, but I have to admit, they usually don't get more than a glance.

Today, though, it sent me one that made me stop in my tracks...

Holy. Shit!

That number... 1,5000,000!

It was world-rocking... 1.5 Million steps, in less than a year.

I'm a math major. I have a really good idea of what one million is. It's a whole hell of a lot. Seriously, it's an assload.

And I moved 1.5 Million steps... without really trying. That boggles my fucking mind.

Ok, those of you who have done the math already know that my average is only 5000 steps a day, half what is recommended. Those of you who are getting your 10K steps a day are hitting over 3 Million a year.

But that's not the point, really.

My body, which is way past its warranty period, has remained more or less upright for 1.5 Million repetitions of walking, or running, without any real wear.

In 301 days.

That is remarkable. To think that my knees, hips, all of those little muscles and bones in my feet, have survived, unscathed, from well over 1,000,000 repetitions of the walking gait. Seriously... remarkable.

I feel very fortunate.

And it sure as hell makes me think... How many steps have I taken in my life? How many do I have left?

We move way more than we think we do.

We rely on our bodies way more than we are aware.

Imagine for a second, that it's not mine, but your knees and ankles and tendons and muscles and tissues moving that many times, supporting your weight, taking the shock, maintaining balance, moving you forward.

Now imagine that with every step, there is pain. Just a little pain, but pain nonetheless.

What if you had to feel that pain over 1,000,000 times a year? That's 3000 times a day.

Can you think of any pain small enough that you could bare it over 3000 times a day, 187 times per hour, about every 3 seconds you are awake? Neither can I.

If that were me, I'm pretty sure I'd move as little as possible.

And I can promise you, I'd be a royal pain in the ass to be around if I couldn't move across the surface of the planet as I pleased.

Take good care of your body. Stretch, workout, cross-train, keep/get your weight under control. Back off when you have pain. See a sports doc if it doesn't get better.

We have millions and millions of steps ahead of us. Let's make sure we get each and every one.

Good running!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Throwing a Fitbit

I own a fitness tracker... a Jawbone Up24.
Oh sure, it stopped working for a week. And, yes it's my second one after my first bought the farm. [Jawbone promptly replaced it.]

But I confess, I do love the damn thing.

Lots of people must love them... they're everywhere. They've become the new fitness vanity fashion accessory. Kinda like Livestrong bracelets 10 years ago, but way more expensive. Pretty much the same people wearing them, though.

I've found that not everyone is as fond of their tracker as I am. In fact, I think they are becoming the newest appliance of disdain, much like the maligned bathroom scale.

I've seen people visibly upset, at their tracker, because their step count was low for the day.

I know someone who bought a tracker, and didn't like the step counts it was reporting. So, she went and bought a different one, wore them both, and kept the one that recorded the slightly higher number of steps.

One day a running buddy threw his step tracker into the woods with a Yop! of frustration. A woman in the same office was beating his step count by mall walking.

Blaming, yelling at, or chucking your tracker is, well, kinda crazy.

It's a tool.

It's doing its job.

It's not the tracker's fault you spent too much time on your butt. Blame, yell at, but please don't chuck, yourself.

You bought the thing to do exactly what it's doing. Let it do it and quit bitching about the results.

I see my tracker as a polite, innocent well meaning nagger. It reminds me that I didn't run or walk enough to justify a snack.

It taps me on the shoulder (by vibrating on my wrist) if I've been sitting too long, urging me to get up, stretch my legs, maybe take a lap around the office.

It watches me in a not-at-all creepy way while I sleep and, in the morning, tells me how much and how well I slept.

It reminds me to try to get in more steps tomorrow and to go to bed a little earlier.

And then it goes back to counting... sometimes counting nothing... but that's its fault.

Good running,