Monday, July 31, 2006


This morning I walked out of my house to catch the trolley to West Philadelphia to see a friend preach at a Mennonite church. I turned down Chestnut street. The sun was shining, and I was happy. So I smiled.

I heard a voice yell out, "fucking faggot!". I turned to see who was getting yelled at. On the other side of the sidewalk, a young black man was looking right at me. He repeated, "fucking faggot! what you smiling at?". I then realized he was yelling at me. He ran right at me and stopped a foot away, yelling, "FUCKING FAGGOT WHAT ARE YOU SMILING AT?" Just then, a father and his young son were right next to us, and they broke into a dead run to get away. Everyone on the street was looking at us.

I don't know why I did what I did next. I smiled at him, turned away, and signaled to the crowd that it was all right. Then I walked away. I could hear him behind me, murmuring, "faggot... fuck faggots... smiling mother fucker".

I guess I could have died back there. I'm glad I didn't try to fight him. I wondered how he saw me smiling and concluded, "faggot". And I wonder about what suffering he is in.

As I walked away, a toothless old homeless guy came up to me and signaled that he wanted some money to get something to eat. I smiled at him and said, "I'm sorry. I'm not in the mood to help now."

I'm trying to wrest a lesson for myself out of all of this.

UPDATE: See Hate 2: City Face.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

19:07 Around Old City (2.2 Miles) - Els Pets/Miguel Bose

It's hot today. I actually like running in hot weather. When I was in Barcelona it would be cooking in the summer and I would freeze a water bottle and go running with it. The doctors say that this is what caused my last embolism... no, seriously, it was okay. Barcelona was just beautiful to run in-- I would run up over the hil from Guinardo into Parq Guell with Daniel in the baby jogger. I miss those days.

I went out and did a loop through old city today. It's pretty here, too, but in a different way. People looked at me like I was nuts running in the heat, and I guess I was.

I listened to Els Pets and MigĂșel BosĂ© on the MP3. Guess I miss Spain a little.

Sunday, July 9, 2006

1:30 Glen Echo with DC Harriettes and Harriers (DCH4)

I moved to Washington DC in 1989. I was stationed there after I rotated out of Okinawa, Japan with the Marines. DC was a big chunk of my life; on and off I lived there for about eight years.

One of the first things I did in DC when I first arrived was to start running with the Hash House Harriers. It was the running equivalent of a rugby club-- there were a lot of songs and beer drinking, and many of the people running were either attached to the embassies or had gone overseas with the military or the Peace Corps. One of the officers I was assigned with was involved with the hash and encouraged me to come.

Some of my oldest friendships date from that initial hash-- for example, my friend Lou, who I'm having brunch with today, was at that first hash, 16 years ago. I eventually drifted away from the hash-- it was difficult to go to the hash when I first stopped drinking.

Sonia and Daniel are still in Barcelona, so I realized yesterday morning that I could make the drive down to DC from Philadelphia and see my old friends. I hit pay dirt (sort of): a lot of the same people who ran 16 years ago were there yesterday. The run was in Glen Echo, where I had lived back then, so it was a run down memory lane for me.

Friday, July 7, 2006

1:08 Ben Franklin Pkwy to Boathouse Row (10K) - Antonia Font/Alegria

I decided to go for a long run today-- I realized two miles out that I only had to run one mile more to make a 10k (I was running out and back), so I did.

I listened to an album that was recommended to me by a catalan girl in FNAC in Barcelona-- Antonia Font/Alegria. It was fine, didn't really trip my trigger the way Els Pets does. Actually, by heart wasn't in it anyway. I mostly was running to get my mind off of a problem.

It worked, somewhat. I've been trying to be mindful lately, and I received the suggestion that I concentrate on my breathing. I ran along, thinking, "Breathing in, I move forward. Breathing out I move forward". That didn't work for me. I couldn't stay focused on the moment at all. Finally I hit on the most basic: "breathing in I breathe in. breathing out I breathe out." It sounds laughable, but I can actually concentrate on the moment without disassociating by telling myself that.

I noticed after doing this for a while that I sometimes have trouble synchronizing my breathing with the tension in my abdominal muscles. I actually fight my breath a little bit. I relaxed my abs and relaxed them breathing in, tensed them breathing out. That helped a lot.

I was slow as hell, that I can say. The last time I paid attention to my 10K time, I was 27. I ran a sub-40 10K at the Cherry Blossom in DC. Of course, that was 15 years ago, and it was a race-- I didn't have to stop for traffic lights. Still, how the (marginally) mighty are fallen.

Thursday, July 6, 2006

My Dalai Lama story

Today is the Dalai Lama's birthday. He's 71. In honor of this occasion I'll tell my Dalai Lama story.

In 1996 I was on a project for Oracle in Denver. I was to meet some friends at a bar in lower downtown. They were late arriving. Newly sober, I was uncomfortable hanging out in the bar, so I decided to walk around the block. I saw a group of people in saffron and maroon robes on the sidewalk near a hotel, holding signs and chanting. I didn't know what they were there for, but they all seemed pretty happy.

A black limosine pulled up, and a group got out. They rushed into the hotel, and a large crowd formed around the front of the hotel. They were having a press conference, and it was visible through the front glass of the hotel. I ran up and joined the crowd, still unaware of who was giving the press conference. I was working my way through the crowd to see who was inside, when suddenly the crowd parted in front of me, and I fell forward towards the glass. I put my hands up to break my fall and thumped the glass.

Just at that moment, I saw the Dalai Lama answering reporters' questions. He stopped to see what the ruckus had been, saw me with my hands still up above my head against the glass, and must have thought I was waving at him. I'll never forget this moment: He looked me straight in the eye, smiled, and waved back at me. I'm not sure what he was thinking, but he seemed to be amused.