Sunday, September 28, 2008

Week One, or, Is Jack Really Going To Write In Excruciating Detail About His Mundane Daily Activities From Now On?

Monday was exactly the kind of day I was hoping to have when I decided to quit watching TV and movies. I woke up around 9:30 and picked up the book that was sitting next to my bed - Everything Is Illuminated. I bought it at Powell's last winter because they had a copy for $5 and I had heard good things, but I hadn't picked it up until recently. As of Monday morning I had read about 50 pages and not been particularly impressed, but I promised myself I'd read at least a third before I gave up. I read about ten pages and started to feel a little bit more involved in the plot, but took a break that turned into a nap. I woke up again at 10:30, and, angry with myself for having slept so late (for no good reason), quickly got out of bed and got dressed to go jogging.

A few weeks ago I had a fitness-related freak-out and decided to start jogging again when I was at home staying with my parents. I drove to Blair (my high school) and ran two miles around the track. It took me longer than it should have and I felt wrecked afterward, so I resolved to get back in the habit that I had discarded years ago when I started riding my bike. My route in New York takes me through industrial Bushwick, across Flushing into residential/commercial Bushwick, up to Cypress, which is the border between Brooklyn and Queens, and back home through Ridgewood. The first time I ran along that route I was shocked at how suburban - and, most conspicuously, how green - Ridgewood Queens is. There are trees along the street and yards in front of the old brick row houses.

On this particular morning, the run took a little over 20 minutes and I felt pretty good afterward; it's encouraging how easy it is to get back in shape when you have been in the past. When I got home I did the rest of my workout, which lately consists of three sets each of push-ups, verticle push-ups, and chin-ups, as well as a single set each of three different types of ab workouts. It took longer than it should have but less time than it often does. My goal is to reach the point of being able to do a certain amount of each exercise and then to stop increasing the number of reps and get really good at doing that amount quickly, efficiently, and with good form. Ultimately, I'd like to end up one of those crazy old dudes who is in too-good shape for his age because he has had simple but consistent fitness habits throughout the last three decades of his life, so I'm shooting for a two-mile run, one hundred reps per set of push-ups, twenty five for chin-ups, twenty for verticle push-ups, and an as yet undecided number for various ab workouts, and to be able to do the whole thing in less than 45 minutes without exerting myself so that it will become feasible to do it first thing in the morning every morning.

In between my first and second sets, I went out to breakfast with Tamara. We rode to Bogart street looking for a vegan cafe that I found on the internet, but which turns out to no longer exist. We opted for Life Cafe as a backup plan, and I had a decent tofu scramble over a bagel for $6, which is more than reasonable. We had a very nice conversation about, among other things, print-making. I really enjoy her company and I'm always very glad for the occasions when we talk one-on-one because I've always felt that we have certain perspectives in common that come out only when no one else is around.

I returned home, finished workout out, spent 20 minutes on my knees in the shower scrubbing the mildew, and then washed myself. And here is where it gets really good. I spent almost the entire rest of the day on the couch reading. Page 70 is about where Everything Is Illuminated starts to get good, so as soon as I sat down to continue reading I was hooked. I read the remaining 200 pages in practically one sitting, finishing just in time for Julia's birthday dinner down the hall in apartment 201.

What a fucking perfect day. To recap: running, working out, breakfast with good company, house cleaning, and reading a book nearly cover to cover in one long sitting. If I could spend every day of my life that way I probably would. I am actually that boring. Unfortunately, I agreed to work for Brad the next morning instead of enjoying my usual second day off of the normal work week, and the rest of the week was much busier.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Computer fast

While sitting on the toilet I came up with a great plan. I was going to sell my computer and use the money to buy a record player, a bunch of my favorite records (which until this point I'd only had in digital format), and a typewriter. I'd become too addicted to serial dramas and lowbrow flicks. Every time I sat down to read a book if I didn't find myself enthralled within minutes my mind would start to wander, resting, eventually, on the enticing path of least resistance: the episodes of Gilmore Girls I'd downloaded. I have perhaps the typical attention span of my generation. I lack intrinsic motivation and discipline. And I was sick of being unproductive.

Realistically, however, I needed to consider the practical pros of the computer. I'm in the middle of booking several shows, and myspace is the de facto medium of communication for all parties involved. I also couldn't possibly afford to buy all of my favorite records, even if I sell my laptop, and iTunes is damn convinient. And I don't want to never be able to watch movies - sometimes it can be a fun thing to do with company.

So here's the new plan: one whole month without using my computer for entertainment purposes. A detox. No TV, no Movies (unless I have company), no "surfing" the "internet", and no gchat. I will come home, respond to my email, choose a record or two, and close the lid. Maybe I'll read, maybe I'll write, maybe I'll write music or lyrics, maybe I'll go jogging or do some push-ups. Another approved use of the computer is writing in this blog. I need the mental exercise, I need an outlet, and I need the practice. I've been intended forever to start writing regularly - and not just when I'm traveling. My life has it's interesting moments, and it's bound to be more intellectually productive to document them than to mediate on them while eating Tings and watching Firefly.

I bought a record player anyway. It was only $30 on eBay, and it's something I've been meaning to do for a while. I'll spare you the spiel on why I used to hate record collecting and why I've started to see the merit in, if not collecting records per se, owning them. It's not a very interesting argument.

Tonight I watched Wonder Boys, partially because I was bored, partially for inspiration, and partially for one last hurrah with my old pal Windows Media Player. The book was better. So, here it goes.