Wednesday, January 09, 2008

How I Spent My Christmas Vacation


The number one rule of blogging is, "Blog for yourself first." The number one rule of writing is always, "Never bore yourself." Keeping both of these maxims in mind, when what I was writing became too much of a task, too much like homework, I simply stopped and moved on to the next thing, or laid everything aside until something interesting happened, and then started writing again.

That said, I was--still am--fired up for this Presidential campaign. Politics for the sake of politics is something that grabbed ahold of me when I was seven, wearing my "Nixon Now" button to school on election day, which button I won for being a "good listener" when some seventy-ish woman came by our class a ffew days before the Nixon-McGovern tilt armed with oil prints she unveiled, one at a time, to show us first the Pilgrims, then the Revolutionary War and the Declaration of Independence. (It occurred to me then--and does now--that she rather skipped over the intervening 150 years, merely telling us that "As time went on, soon they (the Pilgrims, I guessed) gave way to their children and grandchildren." Any explanation in a storm.) At the conclusion of her talk, she said she'd brought some buttons, one for each student the teacher identified as "good listeners." I had come armed to this talk with some vague notion of the Revolutionary War and Thanksgiving (first grade had been in the suburbs of Boston, where one invariably choked on William Bradford and Miles Standish every November), but had--I suppose--sat spellbound for the entire hour. Still, it was with some surprise that Mrs. Chapman singled me out in front of the rest: "I think Joseph McDade was a good listener." Ordinarily, I would take this approbation as a badge of dishonor--my true aspiration was to be the class cut-up, a role I was to play to much acclaim in later years--but, c'mon: Nixon Now!

This past week, I was with much anticipation I awaited Iowa, then New Hampshire, thinking I'd type all night, at least to have my own record of the first election since 1928 in which neither a sitting President nor Vice-President is running. I planned Hillary skin-crawl moments (the manic smile, the cackle). I planned John Edwards drinking games (one shot for "mill," one for "Americas," plural). I wanted to bathe in the MSM's effort to prop up Mike Huckabee as the most likely GOPer to fall to Obama in November. I wanted, I wanted . . . .

Then reality intervened:

1) Santa Semester. One three-hour class in the morning, another at night. And how was your vacation? Short but lucrative.

2) The marathon. As in Houston, January 13, training for, me. With a huge assist from a sister-in-law. Problem is: once you train past ten miles, your weekly One Long Run becomes something requiring three days advance warning, in bed by ten . . . jump your distance, at intervals, to 14, 16, 18, then 20 miles, and, really, three days for every week are spoken for. The day before you run you eat, rest, and eat some more, and then sleep early. On run day you run. The day after you run you feel like crap, and recover. The day after that you catch up with your life. Blah blah.

3) The sharp shooting pain in my side that cropped up five days before the marathon (the complex term I'm searching for is "yesterday"), which pain may be a pull or a strain but certainly disrupted my life. Too much training? A bad spill? Muscles ribbing from my rib cage? Emily Dickinson wrote about pain knowing no universe but itself; in such a climate my books, my papers, my care about politics and sports were all set aside against the groaning effort necessary to hoist myself to a sitting position, and thence to the bathroom. Postpone the race? (My participation, until next year.) We shall see.

So, in the face of exhaustion, the world parades by, uncommented by me, for me. USC wins Rose Bowl! Steelers eliminated! Celtics 29-3! Roger Clemens . . . oh, I'm too tired. Goose Gossage enters Hall (aside from that Rose Bowl, the most gratifying moment of the past two weeks)! Cinco Paul--in a creative, strike-inspired outburst--writes Bubble Boy: The Musical!

Nine thousand movies open!

And Obama, Hill, Huck, Mitt, Mac, Fred and the Silky Pony make the first of the year so gratifying!

Oh, I'm going to bed.

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