Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Seriously, though

First, a touch of good news: Chip and I had a marvelous triathlon on Saturday.
I broke all previous personal records, and managed to actually place 3rd in my age group (25-29)!! This is a huge personal accomplishment, and has firmly cemented my future (and present) as a triathlete. Soon, I will post a photo of myself during the race, which will firmly cement my reputation as a slightly deranged person, as I typically find myself grinning throughout the entire bike/run legs of the race. I know. No one else is.

Next, I am really curious what my brilliant friends and family think about the extremely tenuous current state of the American economy and banking system.

Young people do not seem to be concerned. Older people do not seem all that concerned. I am utterly shocked at how HUGE an issue this is, and how little mainstream alarm seems to be raised.

In my opinion, if you are not deeply concerned about this, you are simply not paying attention! Things look mighty grim, and the Fed just prevented catastrophic global economic collapse by bailing out Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.

But the headlines are still peppered with celebrity news amidst a coy "Euro climbs to 1.60 record high against US Dollar" sidebar. What is wrong with us?

Anyhow. I'll stop being an alarmist and just ask quite sincerely for your comments. I really do want to know what you all think. I'll even enable easy, anonymous commenting.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

And now, for something completely different...

Okay, okay, so I'm a bit harsh on my Dad's side of the family. It's okay, this is a blog- my blog, in fact, where I get to exercise free speech and the like to my little heart's content. It's an opinion, dear ones, not fact.

So, here is an utterly self-indulgent piece I wrote a few days ago, pre-triathlon. (Chip and I just completed a triathlon this morning).


This weekend another race will impose itself upon my body, only this time I am ready. And it's been a bittersweet discovery, these past 2 months, unearthing a hidden resolve, long obscured by books and obligations, uncertainty and the denial offered by distance of every description.

I no longer dread exertion, no longer find myself longing to taper or terminate. In the cemetery, I learn the true origin of the term "cutting corners", as the lacy weave-work of paths makes it possible to do exactly that at any given moment. There is a turning point, where the body craves addition rather than subtraction, begins to endure more, and for longer--for its own reward.

I'm sanguine in this half-light, flexing beneath the waning light in the sky, urged on like any whip-worn beast bearing the weight of a chariot. There is pride in the bearing of any burden. Everyone secretly knows this.

Night encroaches, cracking a whip composed of thunder and lightning on the fringe of the sky, and although I know I should head in, instead I take another loop composed of several miles, as the light drains away, leaving the contrast of the tombstones against the shaded slopes as my only company.

Soon, I'm alone behind the locked cemetery gates, darkness clinging to everything, lighting pulsating and thunder growling, and I find myself swimming through a luminous soup of heavy air ripe with rain, illuminated by an army of fireflies. And it is not scary here in the graveyard, not eerie or unsettling. It's just delicious.

Lately, I find myself on a difficult to define level with the earth, while moving alongside it I am aware of something new and intrepid: as I move forward, whether running, or swimming, or cycling...

I've discovered that I have terrible technique in 2 out of 3 disciplines, and I am having to re-learn the way. There is a childishness in this discovery of familiar motion made strange, and it is not discouraging, but rather inspiring.

I am playing tug-of-war with the ground beneath my wheels or feet, and every advance feels as though I am gripping at some invisible rope, clicking my tongue and muttering, "C'mere!" as I tug at it, pulling it away and under and beyond myself.

It is like anything else, these small advances. Like learning a new language, where at first all the gobbledygook runs together: a puzzle, a mystery, heavy-laden with intrigue. Then the pieces begin to form, small keys to the puzzle, piecemeal. And then, one day, sentences form. And much to your surprise, the mystery is solved, and is made shockingly mundane. There is no arcana, no unraveling of secret volumes of lore. No. Instead, it is all, "I saw your sister at the store, and she told me you were looking for a job." or "No, I cannot go on Friday, because I have to work on Saturday early in the morning."

And all this intrigue filtered into mundane reality should be discouraging, but it is not.

Instead, it is a grand opening of filters, as if the world parted her curtains for a moment and said, "You there, come here and see, that all of the world comes bearing sweat, and tears that are salty, smiles that curve into upturned crescents, and hopes for tomorrow...Just. Like. You. Do."

What you do with this is yours. But for me, my feet just keep time, pulling the earth toward me in turn, murmuring, "C'mere!" to the intermittent gravel and slender blades of grass. The thread of existence, in this case, as thick as a rope, sliding between my fingers, pulling along each inch, each foot, each mile one knotted length at a time, like prayer-beads on a rosary- it ties me to something neither here nor there, but gracefully slung in between.

Here everything is new, every moment an uncovered artifact to be discovered, only to fall behind into the backlog of experience. To be perhaps unearthed another day, shining with the promise of mystery and intrigue.

I cannot complain, as every day sheds its skin and invites me to discover it again the next, like the mirror exposing a new face with every encounter.

Life, I love you. You can never push me away.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

A Question of Blood, and its Indeterminable Value

This is a weirdly sensitive post, but I just feel like I need to get it off my chest.

My father's family has always been a difficult subject for me to broach, for a lot of reasons. I realized this morning, after an unnecessarily explosive conversation with my dear old dad, that I am still not over it, not after all these years.

Here I am, almost 30, still smarting at the way my father's family has made me feel for most of my life. It's hard to say why I even care, considering that I honestly think they are sort of assholes, in general.

You see, after my father's incarceration (the final consummation of his well-earned position as the black sheep of the Calderoni clan), it just seems as though we were always the familia non grata of that entire branch of the family tree.

Granted, my cousins were older, but that isn't really the issue at all. My uncles all took on the name "Calderoni" after their father's death. I don't know what reason they would give, if you were to ask them outright they would probably say it was their way of honoring their mother by taking on her maiden name.

But the truth is, that in their social-climbing quest, I don't think they wanted to be saddled with the low-class connotations and stigma of being "Hernandez's".

Nor did they want they want their scrappy younger brother and his rag-tag kids around. We didn't dress right. Mom and Dad weren't rich, didn't drive nice cars and live in extravagant homes full of fancy things. And we didn't get sports cars for graduation.

So, we were invited on odd occasions to visit, like on Christmas, after all their friends had left. We could come in then, like servants- eating whatever leavings remained. I distinctly remember as a child having one of my uncles ask me what I wanted to do when I grew up. I told him I wanted to be an artist.

And he looked me straight in the eye and said,

"Why would you want to waste your brain on art?"

Years of this sort of thing have pretty much left me impartial to that entire side of the family. The scars go deep, the feelings of worthlessness those people have embedded in my psyche over the years.

So, every time my father implies that I should go visit with them, I freeze up. Nothing sounds less enjoyable than that, seriously.

I'm fortunate to have a family on Mom's side that is wonderful, warm, genuine, and loving. I'm blessed with a family of friends that make me feel at home in the world.

But yeah, I'm always very frustrated by my father's wounded response when I tell him that I am not interested in visiting with these people.

I'm almost 30. If we were going to have a connection beyond our bloodline, I suspect it would have happened by now. And anyhow, I doubt very seriously that I will ever be in a business that makes enough money to impress them.

So why even bother? Life is terribly short, you know?