Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Vasa Cross Country Race in Chang Chun

Went out to Chang Chun for the Vasa Cross Country Race: 30 km of lakeside sidewalks, boardwalks, hills, and winding paths through the forest.

My last race, a 10k'er almost killed me, but this 30 k'er was quite lovely.  Took an overnight train and met up w/ a group of 6 BJ runners and a few of their partners in a hotel. I was hoping to get Yoyo out for the 15 km run, but she a) couldn't be commit 2 days away from work and b) trained zilch.

Me: i ran pretty fast for the 1st 10 km, even though i knew i was pbly outpacing myself. (Which i was.) And by the time the 11 km marker crawled into view, my stomach was cramped and my speed was max'ed out at brisk walking pace; rather embarrassing.

But by 17km i had found a nice way to go: not fast, not slow, and i felt like i could keep it up indeterminately. I pbly ran more than 1/2 of the entire race solo. No runner ahead or behind of me. Just me, weaving through a beautiful forest and slicing through the fresh air. (The air wasn't awesome by Canadian standards, but it was pretty darn good nonetheless).

The last 5 km, included massive amounts of downhill. Gravity is my friend. My stride goes long, and each stride jams my toes into the fronts of my shoes in an effort to keep my velocity under control. A surprising number of runners would appear in the distance, grow larger, and the slip behind me.

After 2 hours, 46 min, i crossed the finish line, well ahead of my 3 hr goal. My whole body felt pretty darn good. It raises the question: could/should i have run faster? The answer: heck no. Maybe i coulda shaved off a minute or 2, if i wasn't stopping to take pictures (writing up a report for CRI), but i'm pretty happy w/ how my body performed in the end.

Final result: 26 out of 46 runners. Well that's disappointing. i generally expect to finish in the top 1/2 of runners, but i suspect that the runners who came out to this event were slightly faster than the usual crop of weekend joggers. But then again, what can i expect? i barely train more than once a week. it'd be great to run more, but it's hard sometimes when you have, like, a life on top of it, y'know?

Everyone Likes Having Their Emotions Manipulated

Last month, my writing group's assignment (at my suggestion) was to write a tearjerker. But there was no way i was gonna let story writing bowl over everything in my life like it did the previous month. So it's all about efficiency. How can i make people cry in 2 pages? There's two things i know that can squeeze out the tears fast: formulaic Chicken Soup for the Soul stories, and vids from It Gets Better Project. (The one above by Jake Shears of the Scissor Sisters isn't so much of tearjerker, but it's pretty darn honest and interesting).

So i whipped up this story in one sitting, thinking it was brilliant, and then pretty much hating it every reading since. IMO, there were some much better pieces of fiction produced, but my story did win the prize of being the only one that actually got some fluids flowing out of the tear ducts. So that's fun. Anyhow, if you have a bit of time, here's my story.

Hi, Jordan – By statusq “Dear Jordan,” he wrote before immediately scratching out “Dear” and replacing it with “Hi.” He sighed. Marie Hemsworth, the counselor, had instructed him to write this letter, and receiving his prescription of fluoxetine was impingent on satisfying her. But that was fine: it turned out he had no issues with counseling, surprised at his own lack of cynicism. He would write the letter, and even try not to do it badly.
 “I miss you.” He paused. It seemed so redundant, so obvious, but it was true. Marie said to write write write without thinking so much, but he was at a loss. “I miss you,” he wrote again, to help fill the page. “I don’t know what to say. You’re gone. I was really sad for a long time, but today I just feel empty.” It seemed so devoid of real meaning, no better than a three dollar Hallmark condolence card. He stared at the page, wanting to write it, wanting to get it over with. He stood up, shuffled to the kitchen and poured himself a half glass of scotch. One quick tip back, and it had dug its way down his throat. He had a spasm of coughs, his already red eyes watering. “Ok, good,” he gasped aloud, sitting down and grabbing the pen resolutely.
 “I don’t know why you did it. You shouldn’t have done it. Bloody smart kid doing a bloody stupid thing. Smart enough to get somewhere in life. Good with books. Teachers all said you were a nice kid. Even had a couple friends, even if they were a bit weird.
 “Grade 8’s not easy for lots of people, but they don’t just give up, solving their problems with a piece of rope. Stupid kid. Fucking fucking stupid.”
 He ground the pen into the period, just hard enough to poke through it. He was breathing heavier now, and worried that he might have a cry, he grabbed the bottle of scotch again, this time swigging from the bottle. He scratched out the last sentence before proceeding.
 “I gave you what you needed, didn’t I? Some decent clothes, that guitar, all that soccer stuff. I did what a father’s supposed to do. Tried to keep you out of trouble.
 “Maybe I was too easy on you. Let you get too soft. Maybe it was that kid Kyle. Shouldn’t have let you hang out with him. He seemed pretty wimpy. Never really knew what he was always going on about, always music and his cats. “I know you were mad when I told you not to bring him around anymore. But I couldn’t have you hanging out with softies. I know you weren’t like that. I know. ‘Cause I know you found my pornos and watched them.”
He shifted uncomfortably, glancing around the empty kitchen. Who cares. Marie said nobody would read this, and he’d just rip it up afterwards anyhow. He sniffed, looked at the bottle, but decided he was still a bit red in the face from the last swig.
 “So you’re not like that. You’re not a softie. No kid of mine a softie. What do you think your mom would have said if you were a softie? She might’ve given you the belt. I never did. I just hit you a bit. Not bad even, nobody knew. You know why? ‘Cause you’re my kid and I loved you. You don’t know what a parent has to do. It’s not easy. It’s bloody hard. I fought with my dad too. He beat me, a lot. I barely ever laid a finger on you. In the end I had to beat him back. That’s what a man does. I had to prove to him I wasn’t a softie. He laid off in the end. Not saying I was right. He was my dad, and it ripped me right up to hit him. It really ripped me right up inside. Fucking guy. He always had to be right. But he wasn’t always right. If he was, I wouldn’t have fought him. Never. But he thought I got his stupid car dented so I had to grab his fists, had to get on top of him. I cried like a baby when I did it but he knew I was no fucking softie then. He still beat me sometimes after that, but you could see in his eyes that he was a bit scared to do it after then. But you never fought back. And if I was wrong you would have. When you’re right, you have to fight. I tried to teach you that. Your mother tried to teach you that. Nobody wants a son like that. And you’re not like that. I knew you weren’t. But you didn’t even realize that other people might have thought you were soft. I didn’t know what to do. When your mother was still around I told her about the time I saw you hugging Brett after baseball. She didn’t think it meant anything. ‘It’s just kids playing,’ she said. But I never touched no boys when I was ten years old. Gives other people ideas. I didn’t say anything to you. Didn’t beat you or anything. ‘Cause you were just being a dumb kid. Just said I didn’t trust that Brett kid, always bragging about his homerun. Didn’t trust him. I always thought you might like that Andrea girl. Pimply girl seemed alright, but she talked less than you and was always wearing that weird make up. She wasn’t around much, but you mentioned her once in a while. Maybe I should’ve told you to invite her over. I probably didn’t help you as much as I should’ve, did I. Should’ve helped you find some friends. That’s why I tried to get you into soccer. I met lots of guys playing soccer. I know I acted mad when you didn’t play, but actually I wasn’t surprised. Maybe I shouldn’t have acted mad. Maybe not. I’m sorry I acted mad when I wasn’t. I shouldn’t have. I even felt bad about it after. Maybe I should have said sorry. So sorry, okay? I wasn’t mad about it, but I thought I should be. I said, ‘Are you a man?’ And I knew that wasn’t right, that I shouldn’t have said that. I know that made you mad. You should have said something back, should have yelled something, but you didn’t say a word. Just ran off to your room. You didn’t talk to me much for a while. We never talked all that much ever I guess. I never said sorry. When you were five or six we talked a lot. You told me about how the balloon would stick to the wall after you rubbed it in your hair, but it didn’t. You were so confused but you couldn’t stick it to the wall! I had to help you and I remember how you laughed, thinking that I tricked you somehow. And the time you told me that we had to make breakfast for mom for mother’s day, and you showed me how to fry an egg in the butter. I was amazed. You climbed right up onto the counter and squatting there put the pat of butter into the pan and cracked in two eggs, and you said, “Dad, you have to get me a fork, because there’s a bit of shell in there.” I was going to use my fingers and you shrieked at me, ‘You’ll get burned!’ And you were right. I shouldn’t be sticking my finger into the pan in front of a six year old. You were so good, Jordan. A real sweet kid. Actually used to look up to a shitty father like me. I don’t know when you started talking less, laughing less. When you stopped looking up to me.
 His pen hand was starting to feel a bit tired from his writing, which was now pushing the page to its margins. He was still breathing heavily, staring at the page, but not seeing it. The pen tip was on the page, frozen momentarily before it started moving again, slowly, deliberately.
 “I wish you could know how hard it’s been for me to be a good father to you. My dad was a shitty father too, but I knew he tried. I don’t think you know I tried.” The sound of the last school bus passing by in the street came and went, it’s diesel engine coughing softly. “I screwed up, didn’t I?” His hand was trembling, just slightly. “I screwed up. Called you soft. Said it like it was big, like it meant something. But I’m not sure if it does. I don’t.” He gently placed the pen down to the side of the page, leaned back in his chair, and wept into his hands.  

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Which Picture Has Been PHOTOSHOPPED?


or B?


Both of them.

Great copywriter (Justin, in white) leaves CRI, and China (for the moment?). So long, and good luck!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Leaving This Mortal Coil (Temporarily)

The meditation group at my apartment has been going for about 3 years now. Decent number of regulars, which is nice. Numbers range between 2 and 11 (11 is pretty much capacity).

so that's nice.

And it's super interesting that some people, including a couple people who only started meditating w/ this group have been having some pretty deep experiences.

Like having weird visualizations about the colored flowers opening up along the chakra points... Last time a woman had feelings of floating away from the body, a post-orgasmal type of blood flush, and then she was so spooked and "fragile" feeling after she wasn't really able to talk for 10 minutes or so. I worry a bit 'cause it could potentially be dangerous.

Luckily, another woman in the group has a weird amount of out-of-body-experience experience, so was able to offer some guidance and insight.

Anyhow, i feel particularly good about the group these days. Of course it's good for me but i've been feeling more like it really offers other folks something useful and helpful.

Now if i could just get other folks to step up and lead or guide once in a while...

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Dreams and the Butterfly-like Progress of Life

Part I

Last week, I had a weird dream. Me and some young friends were strolling along on a beautiful evening just before sunset when we stumbled across a sandy beach. The bronzed sun was just about to dip below the horizon. Overcome, we stripped off our clothes and joyously started charging toward the waters. I knew it’d be cold, but hey, I shouldn’t pass up the opportunity. So I ran along, slowing just enough to let a slice of log roll out of my way. It was rolling along in the shallow waters, weirdly pushed along by a current, and it momentarily blocked out the sun. I then plunged into the waters, quickly realizing that there was a strong current. It swept me along, and I couldn’t clamber back on shore. I was thinking fast about what to do when I spotted a nearby boat and managed to climb aboard. My friends had also climbed on, and the captain was trying to kick us off. Of course we all refused to get off since doing so would be death. So he grumpily took us back to shore, and I figured that even though I was annoyed at him, I’d certainly pay him much more money than he expected.

Then I woke up. And wondered, hm, that was a weird dream. What does it mean? If it tied in to anything, it would probably be the fact that I called Yoyo’s dad the previous afternoon to ask permission to request his daughter’s hand in marriage.

Analysis: ignorant youth, having fun, chasing beauty, living life. But potentially ignoring danger at the same time, which could have a monetary connection.

So, that eve I told Yoyo about my dream, because of course we don’t want to be dumb, jumping into marriage. Heck no, let’s check out and acknowledge the logs and current before jumping in.

But heck, by this point in time I’d already got the ring and wasn’t really considering the idea that marriage was the wrong move.

Part II
1.     I got the diamond ring, a very simple but nice one, that I sort of designed (‘cause it’s so f’ing hard to find a simple ring in this city!)
2.     I asked Yoyo’s dad to teach me to how to say “Will you marry me?” in the local dialect.
3.     It was the 1 year anniversary of the day we met.
4.     We went out for an fancy vegetarian meal.
5.     Then we biked to a park where I said I needed to run in and take a leak.
6.     On a little elevated plaza, i lit a bunch of candles and pulled out some wine and glasses. There were a few other people there, but I had no back up plan for that. Got all stressed out, ‘cause the wind kept blowing candles out.
7.     I said, “hey come see this thing I came across!”
8.     So while walking up, I recalled other local phrases I knew in that dialect, and added on the one new one (which I apparently completely mispronounced.) I pulled the ring out of my pocket and accidentally put it onto her wrong hand.
9.     Yoyo was totally surprised and said she felt like she was floating up above everything looking down.
10.   Then we had some wine and chocolate and just enjoyed sitting around a bit.
11.   Then we went out to a club to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ guitar player do his DJ thing. Incidentally we bumped into the friend who invited me to the Modern Sky party where we’d met exactly 365 nights previous. Then we got pretty drunk and had a rather fun time.

Yup, so now I’m a fiancĂ© and I have a fiancĂ©e. Which is great. And now it’s no longer anachronistic to tell people about the target wedding date next May (in Beijing).

Of course, I feel a bit nervous, but also really happy. Yoyo’s really awesome and sweet. Aside from having a penchant to criticize my hair or fashion sense, she’s incredibly accepting of my many idiosyncrasies. There’s times when she really brings out the best in me. And hopefully I do the same for her.

My First Video Report for CRI

i actually feel pretty proud about this piece, Rocking It with Beijing Climbing Club. Nice to get some new skills. Got lots of helpful tips from my coworkers and brother along the way.