Archive for July, 2013
“Sir, what did you just do?”
“You were kissing the plane.”
“Well if you already knew, then why’d you ask?”
“Why were you kissing the plane?”
The inquisition ends as my fellow passenger waddles towards the tail of the plane. She mumbles the entire way and points at me. This is not the first time the Kiss of Jeff has elicited this reaction.
So I am flying to the U.S. in about 16 hours, and therefore I am doing what I normally do the day before a flight: worry. To be honest, I do not hate flying the way I used to. I used to treat the day before a flight as though it was my last on Earth. Every woman on the tram was the potential love of my life, every conversation my last, every hotdog a sentimental tubular affair. I would glare with jealousy at those who I presumed were remaining on the ground the next day.
But a few years ago, I realized the key to not becoming an emotional wreck was to relax the day before a flight. So I began watching silly movies, reading light books, and essentially filling my day with comedy rather than drama.
It was around that time that I realized the Internet hated me.
I click on a news site today, in the hopes of finding a light story to write about. Instead, I am greeted with headlines about dead babies, poor women dying, and a shark attack. Not just a shark attack, but a shark attack on someone who was already drowning. Surely the woman’s autopsy will reveal that she was also being struck by lightning at the exact same moment. Everything on the Internet makes me think of sadness, death, torture, and airplanes in some way.
I can read your minds, folks: Oh my God, not another one about his cat! That’s almost as annoying as when he refers to himself in the third person. And just for that, he is going to write that way for the remainder of this post.
Don’t hate him, for he is unable to think clearly in weather warmer than 80 degrees. Further, he has been editing a great deal of articles for an academic journal, and this is pretty much the way his inner monologue goes at the moment.
The author of this quasi-scientific post (in no way scientific, actually), has been cohabitating with a white and gray cat named Bela for the last four years. She is a lunatic, eats living beings, shows moments of sociopathic genius, and quacks when excited. In this time together the author has noticed that his location in the flat, various actions, and even position garners a distinct reaction from Bela (aka: The B Monster).
Some of those observations are outlined below. The author apologizes in advance for any mental images you are forced to endure throughout the duration of this post. If one is exceedingly disturbing, he will buy you a drink to help you forget. For the purposes of this post, the author will be referred to as Pavlov.
Today is a whole new day in my running experience. You see, today I am using a few of these so-called ‘applications’ that my phone employs. Finally, after scanning beyond the first two pages of my Smartphone, I have found a whole list of these ‘applications’ just sitting there, waiting to be used, and add difficulties and frustrations to my life that I didn’t even know existed.
Last night, I made a very short playlist of running music. That way I can avoid scanning my MP3 player, whose playlist option is broken, for something other than the Yogi transcendental sleep music and Cutting Edge Upper Intermediate 3.4.
I am also using something called Runkeeper, which uses GPS to measure time and distance. Bertha updates my distance and pace every five minutes. (She is my RunKeeper Lady. I named her Bertha because I am uncomfortable being judged by a computer, but I’ve been judged by women my whole life.)
I step outside this morning excited to run along the Vltava, feeling a little like a Luddite in Plato’s cave…only with GPS capabilities and the Rolling Stones. What follows is an overview of the next 45 minutes of my life.
As a rule, it’s never good when a person spends more than two seconds peering into a just used toilet. It’s even worse if they are sniffing; worse still if they are wearing a look that universally depicts confusion. And if that person standing above the toilet smells watermelon and roofer’s glue, then, well, Houston, we’ve got a problem.
I shall explain.
One of the only benefits to having no sense of smell is that you are spared the rotten smells that everyday life has to offer. So, I do not fear public bathrooms. The B Monster’s morning bunghole greetings do not disturb me with the obvious odor, but rather the fact that she thinks I’m her proctologist.
And as a short man in a city whose inhabitants embrace the use of public transport and the nonuse of deodorant, I should be in hell. But instead I stand between homeless men covered in their own waste, and beneath armpits that are soaked through. In a place which is married to the ideas of greasy foods, smoking in pubs, not cleaning beer splashed floors and not opening windows, I can deal better than other expats. With this disability that revokes so much pleasure from my life, I have clung to this anti-superhero inability to avoid assault from disgusting stenches.
But now, it seems that there is one thing I can smell: urine. And not just urine, but different, uh, flavored urine.
For some reason my summer reading always consists of at least one historical novel. I don’t know why this is the case, perhaps after a boring year of teaching I need to find vicarious excitement in life at some other time in some other place. Here are five that I cannot recommend enough.
You want a readable, fun view into the fascinating history of New York? Here it is, in fantasy novel form.
Pete Hamill’s Forever is the story of Cormac O’Connor, an Irish immigrant who comes to America in 1740 and is immortal…as long as he stays on Manhattan. This book has got damn good characters, great action, and lots and lots of death, fucking, and killing. In other words: Awesome.
The historical allure here is the unwavering view of New York over nearly three centuries. And, folks, it was not always pretty. This book will surely snap that perception one has of New York – and Manhattan specifically – of a place of perennial snobbery, brownstones, Starbucks, and bad Richard Gere movies. There are cholera epidemics, the Revolutionary War, the slave riots, the draft riots, and the great fire of 1835. There is also the history of the world in three centuries as Cormac sees it.
Read this if you are interested in New York or just want to be glued to your couch.
It is T minus 18 days before I am on a metal death tube to the United States. I am now regarded as a short timer by my expat peers, deemed lucky to be heading to the land of SUVs and drive thru windows. If you are reading this and you think I am an idiot for joyfully exaggerating time spent in the U.S., then you have not been overseas long enough.
The List is made up of mostly edible things; food is to The List what Jews were to Schindler’s List. Every time I add a food item to The List, I go for a run. I figure that if I lose it now, I can gain it them. Completely illogical? Words don’t even make sense? Three words: I don’t care. I guess that’s technically four words.
The List is growing.
The way I see it, the 4th of July is the day to spend 24 hours doing exactly what you want to be doing. It is a day to celebrate your independence from rules, obligations, pants…and Britain.
In the first place, I have decided to spend this holy day wholly on my own. And I have determined to be as lazy, relaxed, intoxicated, unenthused, and calorie-filled as humanly possible.
Feel free to follow my lead…
The day began with pancakes and sausages. In fact, it started with pancakes wrapped around sausages. In the end, they actually looked like tiny deformed goat heads with thumbs sticking out of them, but they were delicious nonetheless. Chocolate chips helped.
I am enjoying a Sunday evening, lounging with a zombie show and a bowl of popcorn, when my phone suddenly begins emitting a series of metallic rings. That means notification. Lots of notifications. I am now excited, for a hovel dwelling, cat owning troglodyte, lots of notifications means not only someone, but some people, are requesting the pleasure of my…well, at least attention.
The first notification shows an icon of a little man in mid-stride; an icon I am unfamiliar with. It’s the running application I downloaded last week reminding me that I haven’t scheduled a run yet.
I am being scolded.
I sit back on the couch and shout across the room to my phone, “For your information, I ran 14.2 miles last week, you pushy little dick.”
Sometimes I think technology’s overall goal is to make me feel guilty. Being scolded by humans is difficult enough, but being scolded by a computer is just too much.
So I sit down and I write this email to technology.
I have a bone to pick with you; you’re getting a little too pushy.