Archive for March, 2012|Monthly archive page

me, ants and self pity

the earth has rotated on its axis twice and I’ve spent virtually all of that time lying on my goddamn back on my apartment floor.

this isn’t an invalid, somebody-call-the-fire-department kind of problem. I mean, I can get up, move around. and cabin fever will move your ass — yesterday I even got up and walked to both the post office and then to the local insufferable coffee shop before looping on back home through Ledroit Park. but by the time I made it back I was literally dragging a leg.

back pain will put you in a bad mood. while lurching down a forlone and trafficky stretch of Florida Avenue, I fantasized about ordering a small coffee, hearing the ridiculous price, and then righteously telling the barista off. “$4.50? fuck that, fuck this place, and fuck you.” I’d pour the drink out on the floor. glare at an unemployed twentysomething with an iPad and an expensive haircut. shamble outside.

but it wasn’t, it was $2.20. and fuck it, I paid it. “shitty coffee,” I mumbled to no one as I lurched down the street. this is what passes for taking a stand these days.

normally I could go back and remember whether or not I had described my back pain before, but I’ve been writing so infrequently that it’s probably a safe bet that I haven’t. so a quick recap: my back, or the small of my back, has bothered me for a while now. very tense muscles make it painful to sit for too long. and that’s a problem because I work in an office and am on my ass in front of a computer for hours on end. so yes, that’s right, I’m developing back pain. this is how they’ll put me out to pasture.

one day in December I woke up, rolled out of bed and realized that I had aggrevated this pain in some way. so I dragged myself to a walk-in clinic, and then a week later to my physician’s, and then to a physical therapist that my doctor recommended. and that guy worked wonders, he helped me correct my posture (or, at least acknowledge that it’s awful) and showed me how to strengthen the weaker muscles in my back. this in turn has helped my running. a stronger back equals a stronger abdomen, and a strong abdomen makes it easier to run — you aren’t as hunched over, and the core of your body does less laboring.

but, apparently, I’ve been slipping on the posture and exercising. because I woke up on Monday morning and — to use a phrase I’ve been leaning on to describe this sensation — it felt like I’d been kicked by a mule. this is probably an insult to hillbillies and animal handlers everywhere, as mules kick hard. but my back, goddamn. it really hurt. hurts still.

as such, I’m not much good at work right now, because I can’t focus while sitting. standing for a long period of  time eventually calls up this throbbing pain too, so I can’t stand at my desk. and laying out for an extended period just makes you feel like a slovenly asshole … and even moreso when you’re in a communal work room. people stepping over you to get to the copier, rolling their eyes at the overgrown child lolling about on the grey carpet.

I can’t keep doing this. this, this presently, but also this desk job. I like my job, but this function doesn’t work — my body is actively rejecting it. I’m closing in on 30, and I have back pain from a fucking desk job. so something must be done; some fix must be found. becasue I’ve been on my couch in my apartment for … well, we’re closing in on day three. and it just sucks, man. being laid out just sucks.

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do you want whole-grain or do you want the truth

tonight, people with cable everywhere are watching Don Draper philander, drink and look good in a suit. if there was a sense of justice among the writers of “Mad Men” there’d be a viscious mugging of a main character per episode.
but alas, there isn’t, and I don’t have cable. so I’m watching the first episode of “Twin Peaks,” and I get the feeling that I should be spending more time paying attention to this, what with all the names and sideways glances and the clues, etcetera. but I think I’m taking it in pretty well. I dig it. I already like this more than anything else I’ve ever seen Kyle Maclachlan in. and I wish I could get a tank of gas from a place like this:

legit.

I took in some speed chess in Dupont Circle today. two older gentlemen, one with a Russian accent and the other with one I couldn’t place — some sort of central- or eastern-European something — and they were cursing at each other and slapping the timer with gusto. gave the scene an offbeat staccato. 
these games would move quick, and near the end they’d search for their captured queens and then grasp them tightly in their hands and hold them close to their chests. chess is both pastime and freakout passion for these dudes.

so here’s a little sample dialogue:

mister mystery accent: “I’m kicking your ass because I learned the end game from Tom Murphy in the 80s, while you did not!”
the Russian guy who had a funny way of emphasizing his words: “shut the fuck up!”

I was enthralled.
at the chess boards in Dupont Circle, you get all comers. winos, street folks. quite a few grown men wearing sweatpants. today, at least, one American Indian. and a lot of sharks, because they’re all playing for money. and while I like Dupont quite a bit, this section of the park is a nice respite from the expensive neighborhood surroundings. expensive bars, expensive book stores, expensive coffee shops.
so I’m gonna have to find a way to get in on this. there’s a pretty simple way to do that, I know: bring five bucks. but I’ll have to step my game up before I start throwing cash in the ring, because if you didn’t know this already, I’m awful at chess. god awful. and who’s got five bucks to just throw around? you, moneybags?

I got a whole stack of books waiting

I’m reading a memoir right now called “Eastern Approaches” by Fitzroy Maclean, in which the author, who was a junior-level British diplomat in Europe during the 1930s, describes touring around the Soviet interior while being surveiled by what he describes as a laughably incompetent NKVD. yes. a regular bunch of keystone kops they were, Stalin’s secret police.

it does, however, provide one of the few glimpses you would get into what rural Kazakhstan looked like 75 years ago — to a member of the Scottish gentry, at least. as such it’s a pretty intereting read, and though I’m not too far in yet I’m told it covers this guy’s eventual enlistment in the British army after the outbreak of world war dos, his campaigns in the north African desert and then his experiences fighting alongside Yugoslav partisans. so goddamn. he stayed busy.

and that shit makes you feel really lazy. and it nudges me toward wanderlust. good ol’ wanderlust is a wonderful thing. it moves me from my ass, from my couch and television and social media. and though it has to get pretty strong to drag me out the door, those few moments when it has are the ones that I retreat to when I imagine my romanticized concept of personal freedom.

this wave hasn’t crested yet. and maybe it’s just the nice weather. but according to this book, this haughty Scottish asshole made it all the way to Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 1937, examining every Soviet hick he came across along the way. and if he can do that then by god I could too.

…. in the general sense, of course. I’m not planning to strike out for Kazakhstan tomorrow to sneer at the locals. but I’m not getting any younger, and Central Asia — or the great American midwest, or the gulf coast, or the pacific northwest — isn’t getting any closer. gas prices be damned. road trips beckon. life exists outside of DC.

candy nostalgia

I keep a bag of Werther’s candies in my desk.

I just popped one; I didn’t even take my goddamn eyes off the computer screen. the motion of doing so has been engrained. pick up my right hand, drop it to my side, feel for the drawer grip, pull, dig inside, locate bag, extract single piece of candy, unwrap, partake. that’s execution.

it seems that, whenever my affection for this candy comes up — and it has once or twice in the last few months, usually when I’m walking back from CVS with a fresh bag of these dressed-up dollops of corn syrup — the observation is made: my grandmother used to have these all the time!

yeah, mine did too.

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I’m a regular Leonard Maltin

the story will come in parts, I feel. gimme a couple of days yet.

I just watched “A Fistful of Dollars.”

I would imagine that in this day and age, a lot of people don’t like westerns. fair enough. but if you’re going to watch one, this particular one isn’t such an awful one to settle on, what with its wanton violence and ample cliches. it’s among those movies where it would take some doing, some focused effort, to count the number of onscreen deaths. Eastwood is a deadeye with his pistol. and he slays a lot of cowboy gangster banditos.

I will say, though, that I dig action movies from fifty years ago — god dang, that’s actually about right, it says here “A Fistful of Dollars” was made in ’64.  but yes. I dig them. and I’ve been on a Clint Eastwood kick recently, matter of fact. fifty years ago, that now-cranky old bastard was in his wheelhouse. so I watched “Kelley’s Heroes” not too long ago, and earlier still I watched “Where Eagles Dare,” which is the one where Richard Burton wrestles with two Germans  on top of a gondola in the Austrian alps while he tries to escape from a nazi spy castle. yeah, you’re right it is legit. I bet you can’t guess who gets the pin.

it has been very warm out here lately, warm enough that it feels like we skipped a season. it’s been in the seventies for the past few days, and there’s been an early bloom. I was kind of looking forward to spring, but I don’t know if there’s anyone I can really blame for the weather. who do you blame for the weather? where can you register your complaint?

two-month absence

I take a little time sometimes. but the story continues! editing be damned, below:

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