Wednesday, November 27, 2013

"Someday I Will Not Be Able To Do This" - Thanksgiving Thoughts

The thing I fear the most about anything I write is that it will sound cliche or trite. Unoriginal. Maybe because in my heart, I feel like an imposter of a copy of a clone pretending to be a doppleganger, Still, I have to join the blogging world and pontificate on season-inspired gratitude.

I just got back from a cold run under sunshine. I am still sore from running my last marathon. Not my muscles, my tendons and bones. My muscles repair themselves, but there seems to be parts of me that just may never heal. To stew in self-pity and stay suck in sorrow over that would lead to me giving up running forever.

I am going to make a runner cocky statement, but I think runners find gratitude in very unique ways found nowhere else. Running breeds gratitude, partly because it is impossible to run fueled by resentments without having them changed. Resentments may get you out the door, but somewhere out there on your travels you will find gratitude. Maybe for your legs, for your experience, for the sunshine, but also for your life and your family and your memories. The rush of blood in your veins and influx of fresh oxygen fueling your muscles breeds gratitude and well-being. It is where our love of life either explodes like a volcano in our brains or grows like a fungus in a petry dish in our heart.  The distance and time forces contemplation. The energy we give and get back paints it all in a spiritual glow. 


My favorite race sign of late has been "Some Day You Will Not Be Able To Do This. Today Is Not That Day." It gets me out of thinking of the inflamed tendons and slowing times. I am able to run, to finish marathons even. This statement won't always be true. These are the good old days of future memories I am living.

I have more than most, and certainly much more than I deserve.A beautiful family. Gainful employment. Twenty-plus years sober. My problems are first world problems, and my possible pasts are filled with much worse scenarios than I have fallen upon.

Father Martin is a  recovery icon who spoke to me in grainy black and white VHS tapes, but I remember his words: "Gratitude is the hinge upon which sobriety swings." As someone in recovery, having gratitude is a life-saver. You don't go drink and drug when you are grateful. It is self-pity or resentments that bring about misery. Resentment is the number one offender is an AA cliche that I am okay with.
Father Martin

So I hope to run and feast on gratitude, for someday I will not be able to run. Someday I will be just like that Turkey I am about to eat: I will be Dead and fodder for another organic being.

And that's a freaking miserable thing to write. But it's not cliche.

Someday I will not be able to. Today is not that day.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Talking Turkeys: Thanksgiving Day Excerpt

STRAY turns three years old this week and will be .99 cents until Saturday. Check out the latest cover.


.99¢ KINDLE Version

That strung out heroin addict on the cover is from a series of photos by Actor/Director/Producer David Beatty who graciously allowed me to use the image. To me, that makes him Good People, and I will give him a fist bump in heaven if I can get there. Surely his spot is secured. 

 The Golden Retriever sandwiched between used to have sole possession of the cover, and now he's back.  The blurb on the front is from Sacha Scoblic, author of the fabulous "Unwasted: My Lush Sobriety."

Here's a short Thanksgiving day themed excerpt from STRAY. James is a main character of STRAY who was raised on a turkey farm. He has an epiphany hanging out with the turkeys after taking his first hit of acid. Enjoy! 


James remembered sitting against the wired fence, with a bottle of Busch beer between his legs, and waiting for the LSD to take effect.  Turkeys shuffled in front of him, their herky-jerky heads bobbing this way and that, and they gobbled with every breath.  James sat relaxed, like watching waves fold upon the beach, and the turkeys weaved a wonderful dance as he drank his six-pack.

The sun was warm and glowing, and his senses started to drip like the sweat on his forehead.  The cells of his body seemed to be expanding, encompassing more and more, and James let it happen.  He felt his body oozing, the grass breathing, and the earth moving up and down to match the air in his lungs.  Sounds were deeper, richer, and were felt in his chest like loud bass from far away.

The sounds he felt in his chest were the gobbles.

The random gobbles from the turkeys, the backdrop of life for James his whole life, were now screams.  Cries.  Gobbles were cries, getting more and more intense, and speaking to James directly.  The turkeys were telling James they were finally glad he could hear them, finally glad he could hear their screams of fear, of being trapped.  We’ve always been here, marching off to our slow death, watching our family being hit with stun guns and propped up by their feet, and then sliding towards decapitation.  You can hear us now James, you’re realizing we smell the blood of our brothers in the air, see the blood squirt out of their necks.  We’re always scared and screaming, screaming in the gobbles, gobbles, gobbles, gobbles, but nobody hearing us, just watching us being slaughtered.  But now you know, James, today you can finally hear us.

They know they’re going to die, thought James, feeling his veins throb in his temple.  James had never been sure if they knew they were going to die or not, but now they were telling him.  The animals on the farm knew they were here to be slaughtered for someone else, and were living in terror everyday.

But then James began to envy the turkeys and his pulse began slowing.  The screams ringing in his ear became comforting.  The turkeys had a definite purpose, they knew their role, and they lived not in fear but acceptance.  They accepted they were supposed to be killed slowly, accepted they were supposed to live in terror.  It was all part of an absurd game for them to try to escape through cracks in the fence, to eat to get fat, and to wander aimlessly to get nowhere.  It was just why they were here, so let it happen.  And just as James found his mind comforted with this thought, they gobbled back in confirmation.  Yes, James, you’re finally getting it, yes, James, you’re getting it.  Gobbling in fear was just part of it.  Now you got it James, now you know. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

RUNNING MARATHONS KILLED THE RUNNER IN ME

Lunatic Fringe. I know you are out there. 
 You can run 3 marathons a year. You could probably get through 26.2 miles on any given day under 5 hours if you really had to.  30 mile weeks are recovery weeks and make you feel guilty. 
Not me.
After training for 4 marathons in 2 years, I am a wreck and trying to piece myself back together. So far I am on a 19 day ‘no-run’ streak after the New York Marathon and I’m pretty damn proud of myself. 
I was damaged goods most of last year. In fact, here’s a dirty little Lance Armstrong secret: I took 7 Ibuprofen the morning of NYCM, (4 of them a few hours before the race, 3 of them five minutes before the race.)
But for the first time in a long time, there is No Marathon on the schedule.   NO MARATHON on the training schedule. Read that is if your lips are dancing. I’m pretty happy to be marathon free, so now I can really run. Why’s that?
RUNNING MARATHONS KILLED THE RUNNER IN ME
During the first of these 4 marathons, my training was such that the long run was just the toughest day of the schedule. But since then, I have just been getting by. I was spending so much time recovering.
My legs became zombified. Dead and straggly. All the foam rolling in the world, all the 3 days off in the week, and all the cross-training the bike could offer didn't make a difference. It just wasn't as enjoyable as it should be.
And I stopped doing speed work.
I'm a big believer that tons of your miles need to be below marathon pace if you're looking to run for time, but I couldn’t hack it anymore so gave up. All it did was destroy me. I lost the speed work buzz
There is a buzz that comes from anaerobic dashes that you get nowhere else. It’s the difference between caffeine and cocaine, and a guy’s gotta have his snort of cocaine once in a while (metaphorically speaking).
I started to focus on weekly miles. Weekly Miles? Who cares about that?  The more I cared about weekly mileage, the more I realized how pathetic mine was. But in the past it hasn’t been much of an issue with me. That’s because I would do marathons just once a year and peak in the mid 40's and feel fine.
(I could go on, but, as Chad Stafko would say, I just need to stop talking and get over myself. )
Now I feel free to run as fast or slow or long or short as I please. I'm on a permanent fartlicking vacation. 
My natural running state isn’t in marathon prep mode, but it may be in half-marathon prep mode. Like the lunatic fringe folks who can run 26.2 on command, I feel like I can run 13.1 on command. So, Ms marathon, we are going to have to talk about seeing other distances. It’s not you, it’s me.
I hate training schedules. I hate plotting my novels. I don’t like following directions, and usually have to dig them out of the trash after I can’t put that damn IKEA piece together. So now I’m FREE. No more fitting in the 3 hour plus long runs. And all that prep time and recovery days.
No more gaining weight while marathon training. Yes, gaining weight because of it. I over-compensate with pizza and ice cream while running 20 milers
And I will have extra time!  Just think what I can do. I can write "STRAY, Part 2",  "The Jade Rabbit Redux," or "On the Lips of Children, Macon’s Revenge."
Of course, I still feel like marathons are the best experience on earth. I commune with mystical space creatures and inner demons and outer angels during those 26.2 miles. That’s why I hope to run the Disney Marathon in 2015. This is only 14 months away. Training will begin in about 10 months. 
Time to schedule a 20 miler. One year from today.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

American Horror Story Coven


(Spoilers included, up until the 11/13 episode)
I am thoroughly enjoying American Horror Story Coven. It is quite simply FUN. A wonderful dose of supernatural horror filled drama, with punchy one-liners that make you want to stand and cheer. I am dying to give a summary of each character. Here you go.




FIONA GOODE

Jessica Lange has made another amazing character. Strong on the outside with some fragile parts on the inside that threaten to break her all apart. Is she a good witch or a bad witch?  She's the supreme witch and leader of the Coven with the most powers. But this leader may be a bit unscrupulous. She kills those who get in her way and kills some just to have a bit of their youth. Once in a while she gets soft and nice, and does things like bringing a grieving mother's dead infant back to life. Part of this is because Fiona is getting sickly and having some last second change of parenting heart towards her own daughter.



CORDELIA FOXX

Cordelia is Fiona's daughter, and Fiona hasn’t been too nice to her, and neither has the 3 seasons of AHS. She’s been trashed about so bad and this season is no different. First she wanted a child, but this couldn’t happen so she was going to try an elaborate voodoo procedure not for the faint of uterus. Then an acid splash from a hooded character left her blind (who did this? Nobody knows for sure just yet). Now that she is blinded, she has the power of second sight, and realizes her husband is a philandering ass. What she doesn’t realize is he’s also an undercover witch killer.




KYLE

Meet Kyle. His frat brothers drugged and gang-raped Madison so she flipped their bus and killed them all. They deserved it! Fuckers! Except Kyle tried to stop it. He was pretty cool.  “Hey, he didn’t deserve to die!”  So they went to the mortuary and mixed and matched some left over frat boy pieces and  “poof!” Kyle is back. Except he’s not really Kyle, not fully. He’s a bit confused, especially since we found out about his mother's Incestual Maneuvers in the Dark (If you leave, don’t leave now…). Kyle whacked his mom with a hammer and then wandered off before Zoe could feed him a rat-poison laced tuna sandwich.



MISTY DAY
 Kyle wandered back to Misty Day's secret abode. She’s a big Stevie Nicks fan. She Lives in the woods. Gives a great mud pack that heals frankenstein-like wounds while you relax to the tunes of Stevie Nicks (who is also a witch, but we always knew that) Misty is a loner witch, an outcast, well dressed. Seems to be looking for love in all the wrong places, and still looking for her tribe.I vote her witch I most want to have coffee with.


ZOE BENSON
 Her first time sleeping with a boy and he hemorrhaged and bled out. (That is gonna leave a mark.) Next thing she knows, men with suits and dark glasses took her off to witch camp. Oh the trauma. But now she seems to be embracing her witch self and ready to kick ass. We get the feeling she’s the new supreme. No longer afraid to use a chain saw on a zombie or summon axe murderers on the Ouija board.

NAN

She can hear your thoughts. Right now. She hears you, thinking what a cool blog post this is, I should buy this guy's book. She’s perhaps the purest of them all.  She has a crush on the dreamy boy next door. And he’s pretty cool right back to her.


QUEENIE

Raised in the "D" (that's Detroit to you and me) with a 313 attitude. She’s a walking voodoo doll. If she hurts herself, you will feel it, but she won’t feel a thing, and she knows how to take advantage of this.  She started to share an intimate moment with a Madame Delphine created, Marie Laveau enamored, Minotaur. It ended pretty badly, but she never lost her edge.



MADISON MONTGOMERY

She is a snarky, bitchy, movie star witch but kind of likable. Jessica Lange slit her throat thinking she was the supreme, then wrapped her up in the carpet. Her body was in the butler's lock box for a while, but now she’s back to life and wants a cigarette.


SPALDING
And this fellow kept her in the lock box.  He was so happy to have this hotty. You see, he likes to play with dolls. And dress up us a doll. It’s quite bizare. He doesn’t say much. He cut out his own tongue so he wouldn’t have to testify against Fiona Goode. “A tea serving necrophiliac”

MADAME DELPHINE LALAURIE
The New Orleans queen of  torture, based on a real person whose torture chamber in the attic is reportedly just as depicted in the tv show. When the voodoo queen Marie Laveau  poisoned her, it didn’t kill her, it made her live forever. Then she was buried under the ground. For 100 years she lay there with the ultimate insomonia… until Nan heard her thoughts and they dug her out. Now she’s been reaping a bit what she has sown. 


 MARIE LAVEAU
She’s not just any beauty shop owner, she's the coolest, hippest voodoo queen you ever had give you hair extensions. Also based on a true character. She's in a war with the Coven after the truce has been broken. She needs more screen time and I love when she rips off some one liners like: "You think I did that? Do I look like the Taliban to you? If I wanted to blind your little wife, I wouldn't have to leave my room." or "When I plant a fat-ass cracker in the ground, I expect her to stay planted, not to come up like some damn rag weed."  When the war of the witches breaks out and we all have to take sides, I'm lining up behind Marie Laveau, even if I am on the losing side.

Tonight's a new episode. Sure to be fun for the whole family.

$3.99 on Amazon

"When I plant a fat-ass cracker bitch, I expect her to stay planted, not come back up like a damn ragweed!"
Read more at http://www.onenewspage.com/n/Entertainment/74w4f456r/American-Horror-Story-Coven-Episode-Recap-And.htm#ZZpLKOwXUuo0h2Mo.99
"When I plant a fat-ass cracker bitch, I expect her to stay planted, not come back up like a damn ragweed!"
Read more at http://www.onenewspage.com/n/Entertainment/74w4f456r/American-Horror-Story-Coven-Episode-Recap-And.htm#ZZpLKOwXUuo0h2Mo.99





Thursday, November 14, 2013

"Pictures or It Didn't Happen" Marathon Fotos of New York

I took the plunge and bought the whole set of shots from MarathonFoto. You will notice that "PROOF" isn't written conspicuously across the front. The marathon photo industry is a snake eating its own tail. They wouldn't have to charge so much if more runners bought the photos, and more runners would buy the photos if they didn't have to charge so much.  It's Kafkaesque, really, to quote the great Jesse Pinkman. 

Here's a handful of shots. Posting this collection of pictures should assure me a spot in the narcissist hall of fame.
About to slap hands with a Spectator
Of course I'm happy. I'm in 21,192nd place.
Damn it! They caught me walking.


In Central Park
Ridiculously happy

Bamn! Finished!
Exhaustion.

Monday, November 11, 2013

"Run Fast and Take Chances" Awards, Books, and Running Fit

I am pretty damn thrilled to announce that On the Lips of Children has been nominated by a Horror Review blog for "2013's best in Horror for a small or independent press." 

Golf claps all around!








  No, this is no Bram Stoker award, nor even a distant cousin, but I am very honored and will celebrate any award. Even being the skinniest kid at fat camp. A big thanks to Michael W Garza for the nomination.

If you are so inclined, I would love your vote! Check it out and vote here: 2013 Best in Small Press/Indie Horror. As of this time, I am in second place. The rest of the books are zombie novels, it seems, as the blogger is the author of  a zombie novel himself.  

What? You haven't read it yet! Well, here's some news:  Running Fit is now carrying my paperback on their shelves. If you are anywhere in Michigan, there is a Running Fit near you. Go in and check it out. Run, don't walk. Tell them you know the author and that you are faster than him. Steal a copy if you have to (NOT REALLY!!)
Box o'Books
All of them have been signed with the expression "Run Fast and Take Chances," a favorite saying of co-owner Randy Step meant to encourage runners to push themselves to run farther and faster than they thought possible. Taken out of context, it could also be to encourage you to run on dark San Diego trails where a bizarre family is raising their feral, blood thirsty children in a drug tunnel along the way.


At a Running Fit store near you.



 

Friday, November 8, 2013

How Running the New York City Marathon Was Like Doing LSD



24 hours after each of the two marathons I ran this year, I came to the very same conclusion.

The day after running a marathon feels very similar to the day after eating some mushrooms, taking some LSD, or dropping some acid.

The analogy smacked me on one cheek after the Bayshore Marathon, and then the other cheek after New York.


Peak experiences like running 26.2 miles in front of 3 million spectators through the biggest city on the planet, or astral travel, or taking some acid, burns a permanent memory into your brain, but it's hard to come down from them.

After your consciousness is expanded and your spirit is smeared across the street like road kill, the rest of the world can be pretty mundane. People driving to work seem packed like lemmings into shiny metal boxes, contestants in a suicidal race. (Footnote: The Police, "Synchronicity") The world seems in a coma. Nobody sweats, nobody high fives. There are no snot rockets. There aren't people rooting you on with Vaseline to put on your chaffed nipples.  Social media returns to its proper tiny silly corner of the world and you swear you'll never use it again.

But of course, before you know it, the mild sedative opiate of breathing everyday oxygen puts you back into the masses, and there you are, falling in line... Birth, Work, School, Death. (Footnote: The Godfathers)  Pretty soon you are back in your own shiny metal box, and back blogging and tweeting and other trivial matters.

The intensity and highs of using psychedelic drugs and the high of running a marathon are similar. There is an explosion of chemicals in your body that expand you into places you didn’t think possible. Every nerve cell is on fire. In fact, if madness is but over-acuteness of the senses (Footnote: Edgar Allan Poe)  you are briefly ‘mad’ while you are running a marathon. (when I say you, I really mean me. You may experience none of this). After you come down from such peak experiences and try to retract, there’s a sense of anhedonia: (Footnote: Anhedonia is the inability to gain pleasure from normally pleasurable experiences.).   Of course, you are still incredibly geeked about the thrill, but this excitement comes from the memory burn, not from present day stimuli. Your brain starts to look to the race calendar for the next trip.

While I do not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. (Footnote: Big Book of AA) the analogies end there. Using substances to expand the consciousness is the cowards way. It ultimately dulls the senses, kills the spirits, destroys the brain cells, and leaves you much less alive than before you started. Running, on the other hand, leaves you more alive, and I am so grateful I found the running drug to give me this same high.


So, if you're ran a marathon, you've probably experienced the same out of body experiences as one who has done acid. Congratulations, you've dropped out and tuned in. (Footnote: Timothy Leary).

Read more on this topic. FREE on amazon the next 2 days.



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