When number forty-five was elected president I believed (hoped, maybe?) that the west coast states would secede. Or at least break out into civil war. It still could happen. I’m not so sure about British Columbia joining Cascadia but whatever. But now with this ridiculous trade war over wine and oil that B.C. is caught up in with the petulant, spoilt child that is Alberta, who knows. American War imagines America has finally caught up with reality and sees no future in fossil fuels but the South loses its mind being told it has to drive solar cars and so there’s a civil war. Sounds familiar, except wine. Or maybe sounds ominous. The book follows the life of Sarat Chestnut, not a northerner and not quite a southerner either. I really liked this book — a post-apocalyptic hellscape sans the nuclear winter. The scenario actually seems more plausible than the impending radioactive mass extinction that we’re currently potentially facing. For better or for worse (as far as reading is concerned, for worse) American War drew me back into playing Fallout 4. As if I needed another excuse. I thought this book was great, especially for being El Akkad’s first novel. His depiction of the war-torn South is vivid and the characters are very well developed. Plus a strong female protagonist that I cared about in spite of disagreeing with her. This is a good read.
I took the week off running after the knee twist and shout at the First Half last week. A trip to physio and for some ultrasound and electroshock therapy helped a bit. Dr. Physio and I had an honest and frank discussion. I have three races on the horizon: West Van 10K is one I’m not happy to but willing to burn. My eye is still on the BMO in May, but I’m starting to think half instead of full, and then a full in Kelowna or Victoria in the fall. Then Helsinki is towards the end of May and I really, really don’t want to be traipsing around Skandinavia on a reruined knee.
Good news is that Dr. Physio ruled out ACL or any tearing, but clearly my meniscus is not so happy. She said I can swim, but I hate swimming, and she said I can ride my bicycle. I don’t mind riding my bicycle so I did a fair amount of that. But I also went for a tour of the YWCA Health + Fitness Centre down on Hornby — the one I walk past going to and from physio. It seems nice, and SC has been going steady there longer than with me. She seems to like it, and it’s nearly half the cost of the Robert Lee YM on Burrard. So I’m considering forcing myself to go swim once or twice a week, hate it or not, and it will be nice to have access to bikes for those rainy days, even if those bikes go nowhere.
this week — 48.72
to date — 607.16
I read Ticknor in one round-trip transit ride to-and-from work. It’s pretty short. But short is good sometimes too. You’ve noticed the amount of poetry in these posts, yes? Ticknor was not what I was expecting. It’s nothing like How Should a Person Be?. There were times when I was reading Ticknor and it felt like I was reading Kafka. My edition has an introduction by Ben Lerner and I didn’t bother reading it and then I finished Ticknor and I was around Nanaimo Station and still had another four stops on the Skytrain to go so I decided to take a look at what Benny had to say about the book and he writes that Ticknor reminds him of Kafka’s “The Next Village”. I don’t recall reading “The Next Village” and there’s a good chance that I have not. Yet, anyway. Maybe I should. I mentioned a couple weeks/posts ago the Talonbooks launch. Clint Burnham reading “No Poems on Stolen Land” from his collection Pount @ Guantanamo was far and away the best part of the evening. And most of the evening was pretty good. I like this collection. There’s a rather odd little shout-out to Poetry is Dead in the acknowledgements that I’m a bit confused by. There’s maybe a story there. Or maybe not. I really like Clint; I miss @prof_clinty in my Twitter feed.
Until lately I’ve been grossly ignorant about all the races, and I was lamenting the other day that it would be nice if there was a list somewhere. Well, there are a few, and I was just grossly ignorant when it came to my Googling. Be that as it may, I learned from a Skytrain Station ad that apparently if I sign up for and complete the Granville Island Turkey Trot 8 km race over Thanksgiving and the Fall Classic at UBC in mid November (probably the half marathon) then, along with the BMO ten days ago, I’ll have the RUNVAN Hat Trick. I think I might give it a shot. Registration closes on May 31 so I’ve a bit of time to decide, but I think I should just sign up before I convince myself to back out. The word “trot” though. I really dislike that word. I broke 600 kilometres somewhere around the lighthouse under the Lions Gate Bridge today, so that’s exciting. I’m 30 per cent away from my goal of 2,000 kilometres this year and 36.5 per cent through the year. I’m pretty happy with those numbers.
this week — 42.81
to date — 558.44
Hey here’s an idea let’s go spend the majority of Sunday’s midday standing in line outside of some kitsch-decored otherwise hole-in-the-wall restaurant so we can pay $15 for $1.50 worth of poached eggs and fried potatoes. I guess the other $12 goes toward the shitty service? Nope, you have to tip for that. Anyway, I never ever liked going out for brunch. I don’t worship at the cult of bacon. And I pretty much agree with everything else that Micallef writes in this book. But especially his hatred of brunch. That’s okay because I know a lot of people that hate even the idea of running. I really liked Just Kids and so I thought that I would really like M Train but I did not. I found it dreadfully boring, and for some reason the Patti Smith voice in my head the whole time I was reading this was this whiny, dramatic, annoying voice that seemed perpetually on the verge of catastrophe, even if that catastrophe was something as mundane as someone sitting at “her” table at the coffee shop she frequents. I feel her pain; I used to love to spend my Saturday mornings in Kamloops having a coffee and reading on a street bench in the middle of the 200-block of Victoria Street in Kamloops and I’d be pretty disappointed to get there and see that it was already occupied. But not quite Patti-Smith-disappointed. I read that people disliked the overly romanticized (revisionist?) historicity of Just Kids but I didn’t mind. Plus, at the risk of alienating any photographer friends that might be reading this, I kind of like Robert Mapplethorpe. He’s a tragic story to say the least, and yet somehow I didn’t get that from the invariably tragic Patti Smith. But who am I kidding? Nobody is reading this, much less any artist acquaintance. Anyway, since no one’s reading this anyway, all aboard the M Train to Yawnville.
So it happened that on Sunday, May 1, I dragged my ass out of bed at 5 a.m. not to stand in line for brunch but rather to go to Queen Elizabeth Park and stand in a corral with a couple thousand other geniuses waiting for a 7 a.m. gun to tell us it was time to spend the next couple hours running 21.1 kilometres. But to each their own, I suppose. The BMO Half Marathon was my first official half marathon and it was really great. I’d been looking forward to this race ever since I registered back in November, immediately after purchasing the XBoxOne/Fallout4 bundle. I figured I needed to strike a balance. I mentioned a few weeks ago that I’d won a Platinum race package from Air France and all that I will say about it is if I had actually paid the extra $100 it cost (as 199 other people did) I probably would have asked for my money back. Not worth it. At all. Otherwise, the race was really great. I learned that I might need to add a few more hills to my running repertoire, and reconfirmed that I need a sippy-cup if I want to stay hydrated and not attempt some unerotic-asphyxiation. I bought one of those dorky looking fuel belts. I’ve yet to use it. When I signed up for this race back in November, I estimated my time to be 1:59. At that time, I’d never run more than 15 kilometres, so I was really guessing. I read that the average time for my age is 2:02 so I thought I’d set a goal of under two hours. A couple months ago I reassessed and set a goal of 1:49. My official time ended up being 1:46:00 and I am very happy with that. My knees cooperated the whole race, which was really great. Everything was great, right up until the last two or three kilometres when I felt like a pylon as runner after runner passed me. I need to work on my end game. Hills-hydration-finish. I have a few weeks until the Scotiabank Half Marathon at the end of June.
this week — 34.21
to date — 515.63
Alright so I’m in a bad mood. I’ll get to that later. Anyway, Murakami. I think that the first thing that I heard about this book was, “Not his best work.” Suffice it to say that Murakami fans seem to dislike What I Talk About When I Talk About Running; however, I am not a Murakami fan. That sounds bad so let me qualify. I’m reminded of being much younger and person X asks me if I like band Y and I have never heard band Y and therefore I have no opinion of band Y so I reply, “No, I do not like them.” Which is then interpreted as I hate band Y when in fact I simply do not like band Y because I have never heard [of] band Y. I neither dislike nor like band Y. I have no opinion. But the question was, do you like band Y. To which the only answer is, “Nope, I do not like them.” So I digress. I cannot tell you much about Murakami, or if this book is any good within the context of his catalogue, but I can honestly say it is my favourite book of his that I’ve read. I will even go so far as to say that I found this book, not inspirational, but motivating, and I can see myself going back to it from time to time. I didn’t like all of it, for instance I found the bit in the last third or so where he posits some doubt about global warming and tries to imply that the scientific consensus on the matter is not really a consensus, and really, really makes himself look like an ignorant ass, a bit trying given his massive influence and readership. But there it is. Maybe that’s why it’s not his best work. I should read some more and decide for myself. As far as books about running go, it was pretty good. Yesterday on the bus and Skytrain I read The Hatch and then last night I went to the 2016 Talonbooks spring launch and last year Colin Brown headlines the launch with readings from The Hatch and all that is to say that it took me a year to get around to reading Brown’s book. I think I need to revisit it and explore more of the Surrealist themes, but I probably won’t because there’s a lot of other stuff to read. But I liked it. Brown is one of those interesting characters in my life. We all know people that we mostly only know from social media and seeing them in the real world is sometimes weird. I especially like to make it weird because I have zero qualms about saying hello and trying to have a conversation with someone that I “only” know on social media. The results vary. Brown is in a different category, though, because he is an active member of the board of The Capilano Review society for which I was the managing editor for over two years, and yet interacting with him outside of a Capilano Review context always seems to inspire the “social media friend” reaction. “Hi Colin.” But in all honesty it could just be that he has no idea who I am. His book is good though. You should read it.
So I mentioned that I’m in a bad mood and the reason I’m in a bad mood is because I went for a run today for what was supposed to be me last or second-to-last run before the BMO Half Marathon on Sunday and at around kilometre six my knee started saying, “Nope” and by seven-and-a-half it was definitively NOPE and for the first time since I started running seriously I had to stop and walk. I ended up walking about two kilometres of my 12.5 km route and I’m not happy and I’m really concerned that Sunday is going to be ruined by this stupid knee. So I’m in a bad mood. Oh but I broke 500 km so far this year this week.