Right Down Santa Claus Lane
Santa Claus has his own LANE now? Just what the leftwing media wants.
Good Lord, It’s December Already
Folks. What the hell. Yesterday I woke up and it was April 3rd, and this morning it’s December 1st. To be fair, I was in a coma for six months. That’s on me. But the point still stands: what the hell is happening with time? Because this surely isn’t an aging thing anymore. No, for some reason time is moving faster and faster for everyone. I’m convinced based on my singular anecdotal evidence. I suspect this can only be because the universe itself is speeding up as it inevitably rips itself apart in a matter of a dozen billion years or so. Scientists talk a lot about the Big Crunch or even the Big Freeze, but nobody talks about the Big Rip, except for that story my dad tells about that one Thanksgiving in 1986.
Hey, so some of the things I write in this newsletter come from my website blog! I only pick a couple of them, it’s not like every single one, okay? Also they are updated for this newsletter. (Also, transferring them from WordPress to Substack puts random spaces between words, which is infuriating!) But if you want More Content so you don’t have to think about your own problems, go check out the blog! Bookmark it, like we’re in 1998!
My Fifteen-Year-Old Christmas Album
As is holiday tradition, after Thanksgiving I promote a Christmas album I recorded fifteen years ago. It’s called Get Behind Me, Santa!, which is a play on Get Behind Me Satan, which you might know as a phrase from the Bible, but for me is the name of the White Stripes’ fifth album, released in 2005.
It is free to download and listen to on Bandcamp. It’s silly and heartfelt and a nice little encapsulation of 24-year-old me. Give it a listen, will ya?
Post-Giving of Thanks
My Thanksgiving was nonexistent. My dad is in the hospital back in Boise as of this writing for a gallstone issue which became a slightly more concerning thing involving infection and inflammation. He’s better now but it’s a lot of “two steps forward, one step back” at the moment. That has taken my mind away from most anything else. The guy’s 80 years old, he could have a hangnail and I would request a hospice nurse and a priest. (Dad, if you’re reading this I love you and I’m going to visit as soon as possible!) So, not much happened on my end. I didn’t even eat a pumpkin pie. Holidays be like that, sometimes. I hope your Thanksgiving went well and that you ate twice the recommended daily allowance of calories.
I’ve been meditating for awhile now, using Medito’s 30-day challenge. It’s been pretty great. Medito is an amazing and totally free meditation app. It’s run on donations and it’s not trying to sell you anything. Highly recommend it! For me, meditating can be difficult, not because I’m easily distracted (I am, but not when I’m meditating), but because meditating tends to dredge up whatever energy I’m holding onto or trying to push away. So when I’m done I often feel melancholy or sad, which makes me feel like I’ve failed the meditation, which is trying to get me to acknowledge and let go of thoughts and emotions.
But lately I’ve come to realize that this is all part of the plan. Some things are easier to let go of while meditating, while others require some purging, so to speak. And lately I’ve been finding myself both feeling depressed and acknowledging my depression, almost as it from a third person perspective, which feels different than normal. Normally I feel bad about myself when I get depressed; now I am able to compartmentalize it, in a way. Not the right word — I give compassion to myself for how I am feeling.
After I meditate I write a little bit in a journal which is meant just for after meditation. It’s another one of those notebooks I’ve had forever (2016 in this case) but barely write in. Another acknowledgement: I have to stop buying notebooks. But I write how I feel or just whatever thoughts come to me, and then I write down three things that I’m grateful for. That part is the hardest, because for some reason I decided in my head that the three things have to be different each morning. A couple of days ago I realized I was doing that and very kindly told myself that they don’t have to be different things and, in fact, they could all be the same three things if that’s all I could think of. The idea is not to think about it or give that many rules to it; I only picked three things because it seemed more beneficial than one, but writing ten things every day sounded like a chore.
(Since writing this, I have stopped writing the three things, not because it’s difficult, but because I feel like my mind is in a place where I can more organically acknowledge things I’m grateful for throughout the day. I do still recommend writing about things you’re grateful for!)
Anyway, the holidays always tend to make me depressed for reasons that go to the therapist, not to my blog. Suffice it to say, it’s nice to be able to acknowledge that without wallowing in it. I can’t say that every day will be like this, but it’s good to know that they do exist, and that the feeling of them will pass. My higher brain telling my lizard brain that things will be alright. It’s good.
I Ran Another 5k
Introducing, the 2022 Turkey Trot.
‘Twas a foggy November evening at the Portland International Raceway when a gaggle of people gathered together to do a run. I was one of those people! The Turkey Trot is one of the Hood to Coast-affiliated races, and despite being a bit of a pain in the ass to register for, the run itself went swimmingly. I mean, I ran, I didn’t swim, but you know what I mean.
I had signed up for this the same day that I finished the Tar’n’Trail 5k race at Mt. Tabor, which you can read about here. In short: the race kicked my ass because of a variety of reasons, but mainly A) that I was in the middle of my Couch to 5k training program when I ran it, and B) IT WAS VERY MUCH UPHILL. Look at these stairs!
The race vibe itself was awesome though. A smaller group of chill people, an acknowledgment of the Native American land on which we were running before ther ace, and afterwards I got sugar cookies and booze. A++ in that regard.
Following that race, I took a day off, and then the day after, I started Couch to 5k again, right where I had left off. I am determined to finish this Zombies, Run program, even though I honestly don’t think I need to keep doing it. But anyway: running so soon after running a mostly uphill 5k was a bad idea. My feet were seizing up in a weird way—not like my toes were constantly curled, but the opposite, they felt like they were seized upwards? I don’t know how to explain it. But my shins hurt a lot about five minutes into the run and so I had to stop. Thankfully, my shins felt better a few minutes after stopping, which meant that the pain was muscular and not any sort of stress fractures or things that would be More Bad.
So, I took a couple of days off (still walking though) and then tried to run again. Shin splints. I took a few more days off, tried to run: shin splints. At this point, I was a week away from the Turkey Trot, and I thought to myself, “By gum, Josh, you’re going to have to not run for a whole damn week.” So I didn’t, I just walked. Frustrating, but necessary.
Then I had to go get my Turkey Trot bib. This was a pain in the ass. First, the bib was at a running store in Tualatin. For reference:
The southwest section of the Ross Island bridge in Portland is an absolute nightmare to navigate by car. It’s one of those places where sometimes in order to get to where you need to go, you have to merge from a far left lane into a far right lane with about 200ft of space and when three other roads are merging cars into the road as well. Plus one street has two roads right next to each other, heading the same direction, with a stop light at EACH of them which alternate I think for merging into one road. If that sounds confusing: it IS confusing. I ended up taking a wrong turn because I was trapped in my lane and had to double back over the bridge and drive over it again so I could finally get out onto I-5. The I-5 part was fine. THEN, I got to Tualatin and my exit, which was another absolute mess. It’s times like these that I honestly kind of miss Boise roads, because Boise is such a sprawling city that the roads have room to breathe. The Connector is a dream compared to the intricately and confusingly packed roads of Portland.
But, I got there, finally, and entered the building. A woman at the front of the store handed me a coupon for the store, but only for right then. Like, once I leave, the coupon ends.I get my bib; no issues there. Go to get my shirt and the guy there looked me up and down and sheepishly said, “Sorry, but the largest men’s size we have now is Medium.” I said, “Maybe I could get two and stitch them together.” He laughed politely and explained that everyone sized up when they got there for some reason. He gave me a Medium sized shirt. Great.
I grabbed a couple of free protein bars (which were as good as protein bars can be) and a free can of Celsius energy drink (which was actually pretty good). A woman next to me was lightly complaining about, I think, the shirt situation. I wasn’t really paying attention because I still get weird remnant covid anxiety in public indoor spaces.
As I left, the woman who gave me the day-of coupon said, “Good luck at the race!” I barely glanced at her and replied, “Thaaaanks” in a way that wasn’t meant to be sarcastic or mean, but feels like it in hindsight. There was a Best Buy in the shopping center area; I genuinely thought to myself, Is there anything I need from Best Buy? The closest one to me at home is in Clackamas, so, you know, it was an honest thought.
The traffic back to Portland was a mess because it’s always a mess, but more importantly, I left at around 4pm and so it was rush hour time. I ate a protein bar on the drive; maple donut flavored. Not too bad! Protein bars are always, at max, about 80% good. This is just how protein bars work.
The next day, work, work, work, and then after work, I drove to Portland International Raceway up at Historic Vanport for the race. I should mention that while I have GPS on my phone and all that, I don’t enable mobile data, so I oftentimes just have the list of directions from Google Maps, rather than a voice telling me when and where to turn. This, it turns out, is annoying, but whatever. The place was packed with cars trying to get in. Moreover, people were trying to park at the main lot, which was farther away. I, on the other hand, parked at the Delta Park & Ride Trimet stop, which was closer to the venue as far as I could tell. I suspect some people wanted to park farther away because they were WASPy types who were afraid of their car getting broken into by the nefarious hooligans who use public transportation.
Once parked, I chugged my Celsius energy drink, hoping that the 200mg of caffeine within would help my body run while not absolutely destroying my sleep when I got home. (Spoiler: it kind of wrecked my sleep a bit.)
Every time I go to the Christmas lights display out here, it’s foggy, and this year was no different. It truly is lovely, though my camera didn’t do a great job of showcasing this.
The race was a run/walk situation (lots of people with strollers, too), so there were food carts selling things like pizza and beer and stuff that you probably don’t want to eat right before running. There were musicians, which, props to them for playing in the cold. A keyboardist, a drummer, and then after the race I noticed there was a third guy playing drumming on buckets. I don’t know. It felt very much like a “Oh shit we should have musicians for this” type of last minute concept.
Then, I unlocked a serendipitous achievement: the 5k was supposed to start at 6:45pm, but was pushed back to 7pm due to traffic. In that fifteen minute span, my stomach began to rumble, and for the first time ever running a race, I took a shit beforehand. My stomach had been weird all day and I was joking to myself on the way to the race that I was going to get the “turkey trots” at the Turkey Trot. And then I DID. Serendipity! If the race started at 6:45, would I have pooped my joggers on the raceway? In an alternate universe, yes, probably. There is nothing like navigating a porta-potty shit in the cold, damp, foggy evening though, I gotta tell you.
And then, the race! It went well! Most importantly: my shins did not explode. I was shocked. I expected them to give out on me about five minutes into the race, but I guess the adrenaline of a race plus the 200mg of caffeine kicked my body into high gear. The track was a joy to run around (even if it was a bit slick). Lots of festive lights, including the whole gamut of “Twelve Days of Christmas,”where each one was a visual display of each verse of the song, except for Ten Lords a-Leaping, which for some reason they had the visual display of a lord leaping and the words “Ten Lords a-Leaping” above it, I guess so that people knew for sure that this display was Ten Lords a-Leaping. There were also some dinosaur lights on display for some reason. (That’s the Keep Portland Weird that I like.) Also, I forgot to get a photo of it but there was a display of a reindeer that looked like A) it had shapely women’s legs and B) it was giving birth. I’ll let you fill that image out in your mind’s eye.
At the start of the race I ran a solid 7 minutes straight, without stopping to walk, which is a big improvement. I also was able to get in several shorter runs in between walking. My end time was 48:56, which is a :48 second improvement from the Tar’n’Trail run. Granted, this run was completely flat and didn’t have a section with a million stairs to climb, but still. Improvement is improvement, and I’m proud of what I accomplished.
After the run I got a medal that looks like a punkin pie!
I then went home and nursed my pinky toe, which quickly grew a big and terrible blister on it.
Lastly, the next day I signed up for yet another 5k. This one’s in February so I have some time. I took a couple days off to rest and recover with some walks, before getting back into the running routine again.
So that’s that. I’m a god damned runner now.
I’ve been watching a ton of James Hoffman videos lately. He’s a coffee nerd—not a snob, mind you, but a guy who loves coffee so much he’s willing to deep fry it. Very interesting breakdown of bean juice and the ways we make it.
There are a lot of DJ videos on YouTube and most of them (suggested to me, at least) are hot women with those digital DJ stations—no records, just two turntable things that act like turntables but instead just manipulate a .flac file or something. It’s all well and good but it doesn’t seem authentic. (And honestly I feel like those women don’t do much besides look hot and the videos are more just for views/money, but that’s another topic for another day.) My Analog Journal, however, is an excellent YT channel where people are actually playing a curated playlist of songs, on records, from a wide variety of genres. I’ve included the Japanese Funk and Soul video because it’s popular, but there truly are a lot of great setlists on this channel; you will find something you enjoy. It’s one of my favorite things to listen to on a Sunday morning with a cup of coffee.
Sorry these are so long. Even Substack is giving me notifications like, “Wrap it up, buddy.” Hope you have a great December and a good holiday season and I’ll see you in 2023, unless I decide to upload something else before then for whatever reason.
I suppose if I went back into the store immediately after leaving, the coupon would still be good, but why would I do that?
Side note: Firefox wants me to correct Clackamas to “Blackamoors,” which sounds racist and (looks it up) might actually be racist? and (looks it up some more) oh god is definitely, absolutely racist.
Brief tangent: the Genius lyrics page for this song has a representation for each verse. Are these for real? Am I to believe that “Eleven Pipers Piping” refers to the eleven apostles? What do pipers piping have to do with apostles? Why do Christian songs always have this weird-ass symbolism?