"It never gets any easier. You just go faster." ---Greg Lemond
"Don't buy upgrades. Ride up grades." --- Eddy Merckx
"You drive like shit." ---The Car Whisperer


Hump Day

First, something's been on my mind a bit...

Let the sunrise speak and sing a song to you
With ripened fruit overrunning with truth,
And words and lines as plain as the day it breaks.
There should be no fear to run along the banks
While screaming, wildly spinning arms and legs
Alone or not, the sand is your audience.

For to be on stage is to read from a script
And be force fed from those golden hands cupped
Holding rancid wine and stale moldy bread.
Intoning outward to rapt eyes his lies whispered
Into your tender ears, unable to cry or scream
Feet nailed to the ancient wood, unable to dream.

I've been reading a lot Dylan Thomas lately, and above is an attempt to emulate it. I find his prose and his rhyming schemes fascinating. I actually don't read a lot of poetry, but his work especially speaks to me for his ability to paint with such vibrant colored words. It really doesn't matter what he's saying, but none it is dry or dull at all. And uncovering the puzzle of his rhyming is so freeing and enlightening. There is no limit to what he creates - lines that rhyme with others right below, or four and five away, at the bottom of the stanza. Or not really rhyming at all, just matching syllables and phonics.

His writing is indescribably beautiful, inspiring, and mystifying.


About three years ago a very good friend named Joe gave me a book for Christmas, over drinks with a few of us at the Hungry Brain. The Modern Drunkard's "Handbook For Drinking in the 21st Century." We got pretty sloshed that night, unironically. The Christmas before, Mat - who was also at the Brain that night and received one in return - gave a me flask full of Jameson at rehearsal on Christmas eve, that I drank and refilled and drank again...and then got us thrown out of Simon's by literally passing out while standing in the middle of the goddamn bar.

As a rehabilitated drunk - not through AA, but rather cycling - I look back on those four or five 3am nights a week with still more than bit of fondness. I loved the socializing that ran like an engine with its oil freshly changed...smoking cigarettes and sloshing the smallest drops of Irish Whisky down my jeans in between laughs and gesticulation...going home with a different woman seemingly every night. It was degenerate to be sure, but I was good at it, had a nice balance. I made it to work on time every morning, for the most part. I never caught an STD...and I never did any drugs harder than weed...

Stopping was hard. I feel as if I've abandoned a lot of people in my life, people I now hardly see anymore. But I know they are they there, and we see each other when we can, and frankly, the mornings after were harder. They aren't awake in the mornings.

I am now.

The sunrise at 25 miles an hour on a beautiful weekend morning is just as good a social lubricant. And no less degenerate if you've ever been privy to a conversation between me, Peter and Newt on those morning rides. The enjoyment and satisfaction of putting in, physically, more in 4 hours than most get done in a week is what pushes me at 6 am without an alarm.

And that hot, strong coffee and chocolate chip cookie eaten and drank as my tired legs rest taste far better than the highest top-shelf Manhattan and cigarette bummed from a woman far out of my league ever will.

Not that I don't miss it. That and my friends. And don't think for a minute that I am a teetotaler. I still enjoy a Manhattan, a Martini, a fine glass of Goose Island - Chicago's finest - and certainly a good bottle of wine. And I still drink with those friends. Drinking to get wasted is empty. So is bringing home a new woman every night.

Alcohol and sex are gifts. Ultimately, doing each for love makes both worthwhile.

My old Christmas present reminded me of that yesterday, after I dug it out of the bookshelf and really began to read it for the first time. A lot of it is stupid, Mad magazine exaggeration, stuff that in real life would land you in an episode of Rehab - but there are some genuinely truthful moments in there.

The tips on pulling off a successful party are a must read:

Think of your party as one of those chimp-piloted rockets they used to send up into space. They were huge, bad-ass rocket ships doing important scientific stuff and did it matter if a wild-eyed monkey was flying the fucking thing? Of course not. If anything, it made those missions even cooler. Why? because most people like monkeys even better than astronauts and - trust me - everybody likes monkeys more than prison wardens.

And the chapter on drinking alone is actually a beautifully written lesson. Drinking alone was never something I was afraid of. In fact, it helped me move from the perpetually paranoid, cringe-inducing, nervous-wreck I was from sixth grade through roughly age 28 to the semi-normal person who laughs at his own jokes and craves attention at all costs that you know today. All human foibles. And drinking alone - and getting to know and learning to love my inner self in the process - gave me the confidence to embrace them.

The best part, though, is when I read the book, I hear Joe's voice narrating it in my head.

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