Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Chiropractor Visit

Galdang! Have you ever been to the chiropractor? As part of the Flaco Athleticism Reclamation Tour, I headed to Dr. Al "The Adjuster" today for a $40 chiropractic primer.

You remember the "Seinfeld" episode where Kramer played amateur chiropractor for Elaine? Yeah. Picture the eccentric Kramer as the equally eccentric Dr. Al, and me as Elaine, and you get a pretty vivid picture of what went down.

As I filled out my personal information in the cramped office with more plasma TVs than rooms, Dr. Al drew a few smiles with some jokes cornier than the ones I use in class (a true artist has got to give props to other artists in the same field). There was something about him that screamed "Used Car Salesman," but there was also a part of him that made me want to trust him. Hmm...perhaps this gained trust is part of the act to separate schmucks like me from our money.

As a man who always feels gipped by the experience at the doctor (my friend Tony and I joke that today's doctors spend more time looking at their computers than at their patients, more words summing up your visit on your chart than come filtering from his mouth), I was determined to be the aggressor and ask the hard-hitting questions of Dr. Al.

His seeming indifference to my question about how often a prospective client should come in for an "adjustment" made me again feel like I stood in front of a chiropractic Gandhi, an altruistic man whose heart beat fully when helping people to discover their full, spine-lengthened potential.

The clincher for me was his assurance that our session this day would not be painful. "I won't push the pain," he said, giving his best Cal Worthington/Tony Robbins smile.

As I felt the slight man grab onto my neck and twist, I felt confident that there was gain, even with no pain. That is why there is such training for these people, so that they can get results without pain for the patient.

Pain? It wasn't pain so much as bug-eyed shock that registered when he twisted my neck such that the pop it elicited sounded almost fake. The pop in my back; now, that had to be fake, right? The echo it produced, both audibly, and in my short-term memory, though, told me that maybe Kramer and Dr. Al were classmates.

After the peculiar experience of feeling and hearing some more body parts "pop," the session was over. It ended awkwardly, like so many first dates, with one partner trying a little bit too hard to gauge the other's interest in a second date. I assured Dr. Al with an overly cool tone that I would contact him in that murky time period we call "Soon," though I left the office with no intention of calling again, the snaps, crackles, and pops clouding my brain.

Might I reconsider? I might. There is a special bit of potential alchemy for me in that office, with a big part of me assuming that something that awkward, that potentially painful, must have some dose of relief in it for the patient pilgrim. Why else, then, would there still be so many chiropractors in business then?

Alluding to my last question, Dear Reader, you may say that I must be the same guy who thinks that he can actually win in Vegas, despite, or maybe because of, the opulent hotels and furnishings that exist there. Let's leave that one alone...

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Harbinger of Old Age

I just became a registered member of National Public Radio.
That is all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Interlude-"The Move"

It is a normal eighth-grade practice at the crackerbox Our Lady of Perpetual Help "gymnasium." The gym is more often used as a parish staging area, or for school pancake breakfasts or for rowdy parish group meetings. And it shows--faded free-throw line, incredibly inconsistent three point-lines and ridiculously-small spacing between three-point lines and halfcourt, baselines and wall.  
In the middle of a heated practice for the varsity boys team, I catch an outlet pass around "halfcourt," where I am met immediately by Tom Bermudez, a friend and the type of friend who you compete against on a daily basis for neighborhood pride.  His ball hawking forces me to catch the pass, transfer it to my left hand, spin (for some reason) off him, and catch the ball in stride with a my right hand, whereupon I continue dribbling towards the basket with an astonished Tom left in my wake.
Years later, when Allen Iverson was at the apex of his fame and ability, he made a Reebok commercial in which he made a similiar move, one that clearly could not be used in a game, and Tom joked that I should get royalty fees.  Tom is and was the type of guy with a childlike enthusiasm such that he couldn't contain his glee after I made "The Move," even if he were the victim of such tricky greatness.  Even today when we see each other, the conversation invariably comes back to "The Move," no matter the occasion or the conversation topic.
The truth?  It was a lucky move, one that was forced by the particular circumstances, one that I do not honestly think could be replicated by me in 100 tries.  
But, man, did I feel like The Ish after that move and whenever it was brought up as evidence of my prodigious Game.  
This was Street Cred.  This was Juice.  This was Respect.
Man, I should have retired right then and there, complete with crocodile tears at a press conference held at the school and replete with Jim Brown comparisons... 

Monday, August 9, 2010

August 9, 2010--Back on the Horse

"Time flies." What does that even mean? How can time fly? Isn't time just time? Doesn't time tick away in the same practical and emotionless way each day?
I must say, however, that time does fly, it seems. It has been a year since my first post, and it seems like my quest to dunk is situated exactly where it was a year ago.
Here I sit--again with a few weeks of free time before I start teaching again, with the hours stretching ahead listlessly. The life of a teacher and basketball coach is such a frenetic one during 10-11 months of a year, so much so that the remaining month or two is alternately absolutely necessary for sanity and strangely boring in its leisurely pace.
I am happy to report a return to the dunk workout schedule tonight, my workout a quiet success, if only for its workmanlike nature. I did my 25 calf raises, 20 rim touches, 20 squats, and five knee-to-chest jumps. These exercises are exactly what was prescribed by my high school workout book. This is also the exact same number that I started with a year ago. Should I be comforted by this uniformity, or disturbed that I haven't made any measurable progress in 365 days?
It seems significant to me that I have returned to my workouts on the day of my "birthday." Today I am exactly 29 years and six months old. Based on the fact that I was born at 1:10 am, doesn't this mean that I am closer to 30 than I am to 29? Maybe this milestone will inspire me to dunk, for real, by the big 3-0...

Friday, July 16, 2010

(Interlude) What My Pre-set Radio Stations Say About Me

After about 14 months, I finally got around to learning how to lock in the pre-set radio stations on my lumbering 1991 Oldsmobile. I should say that my girlfriend did this for me. Part of my personality contains an annoying trait that I am fully aware of but usually not in control of. This personality trait is partly a tendency to procrastinate--an every-human quality, I think--and partly a tendency to make things harder than they have to be.
My sister has always teased me about my tendency to exit her street via a right turn, though I need to go left to get on the road to my place. My modus operandi makes sense to me, but apparently, to my sister and much of the outside world, this right turn is as strange as Aunt Viv changing from one actress to another during that one random season of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air."
My peculiar sense of impatience, you see, impels me to do something while I'm waiting for both directions of traffic to slow enough for me to end up heading towards home. Instead of venturing into the center lane to wait for the far lane to open up, I routinely take a quick right out of my sister's place, then pop a quick (and illegal) u-turn.
Why this bit of u-turn madness? I don't know. And, you know what? I'll probably do it again next time.
Now back to the tell-tale pre-set radio stations--why, you ask, did I not just invest two to four minutes to set the channels ahead of time instead of inefficiently flipping through the channels slowly for one whole year, always settling on the same few stations?
Of these four stations, one is the local hip-hop station, another the local rock station. The third station is the local "old school" hip hop and R & B channel, complete with a lot of West Coast 90s rap-Snoop, Dre, Kurupt, Westside Connection, E-40 and Too Short. The fourth is...drumroll...NPR.
Yes, National Public Radio. The station I swore I'd never like, the station of ol' Garrison Keillor and his aw-shucks, Midwestern spoof mainly enjoyed by those who remember the days when people made a huge deal out of the Lutheran/Methodist divide.
I remember, as a kid, hitching a ride with a friend's father who constantly had the dial set to NPR, insisting on discussing the current events mentioned on the radio with my friend and me. That the two of us had some 25 years of combined life was unimportant, as the father was really just using us as practice, as a sounding board, so that he could impress his contemporaries at parties and the water cooler with his in-depth knowledge of the dicey political world.
Though I couldn't have verbalized it at the time, there was something vaguely adult, vaguely nerdy about someone who listened to NPR. It didn't feature flashy commercials, announcers with deep bass to their voices, or cool million dollar giveaways. And it was quite obvious to me at that point in my life that there was no greater harbinger of old age than the discussion of politics.
Democrats? Republicans? Might as well be 90 years old.

Friday, May 21, 2010

"old like you..."

If there's one thing that I hang my hat on as a teacher of teenagers, it is that my corny jokes and trying-too-hard pop culture references will at least get some reaction. Most of the time the reaction is a "Weaaaak" call, a groan, or a laugh, a bit too hearty. At these times, I actually feel bad for the one who laughs. My joke, my pop culture reference is usually not funny enough to warrant laughter.
But you see, Dear Reader, I am playing a part. I am the man who plays the man who is funny by purposely not being funny. Get it?
So, on a particularly listless day in my classroom, a first period lesson on the armistice signed after World War I, I referenced a primary source document we were reading in which an American soldier writes a love letter to his girlfriend from Europe.
As I spoke about the letter and its significance, I dropped a line about the soldier missing his "baby boo."
Suddenly, from the waves of sleeping students came a high-pitched manaical laugh. The girl, pint-sized and always full of energy and opinions, could not stop laughing.
" 'Baby boo!' " she said in explanation.
"What?" I said, playing Gene Wilder to her Richard Pryor. Playing, though, you see, as I knew that I was being coy, and that's what made it funnier...
"It's just funny when someone old..." she started, and the class, silent before, became even more silent.
"No need to finish," I said, moving on, a bit too quickly to more tidbits about World War I.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Interlude--Tony Montana

I really, really love teaching. I do. But it's a job that takes a ridiculous amount of hours; that is, if you want to do your job well. My curse is that I love my job. If I didn't, I could see myself pulling a 9 to 5 (err...7:30-3:30) and being out the door, but nope, not when the job consumes you (in a good way). Dang it, I hate my job that I love.
In this bubble of grading, worrying about grading, lesson planning (and not doing my dunk workout!), physical outlets--hoops, running, lifting--are so necessary, but they are often the first to be neglected.
In that particular teacher-funk brought on by a weekend in which very little recreation was had, very much fretting over grading was done, and comparatively little grading was done, followed by a day in which I'm still grading at 8:57 pm, I gotta let a little Tony Montana out...

Is this it? Is this what's it's all about? Eating on the run, drinking, grading, correcting? You're eating this microwaved stuff, you haven't exercised in days, you got spaghetti sauce on the World War II essay. Your youth is there but lays idle like a tarpcovered car. So, say goodnight to the bad guy. The one who talks a big game but doesn't train as much as he should, who doesn't give you as much scintillating description of the quest to dunk a ornage oval as you were expecting from this oddly-titled blog...
In the words of Don Fannuci from The Godfather, Part II: "Tomorrow. Always tomorrow."

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Good workout!-March 31

Man, I was humming today! Bouyed by my new Strength Shoes pill, I managed to greatly up my dosage of exercises. I increased the number of calf raises by 10 to 40, the number of squats by five to 30, and the number of knee-to-chest jumps (this time with Strength Shoes) was doubled to 10. I also did 100 jumps with both legs separately, and 100 jumps with both legs together, for a total of 300 plyometric repetitions while wearing the Strength Shoes--video of this should be posted tomorrow.
Measurable progress is what I need now. There is something liberating about such a prodigious leap in the number of repetitions, and the relative ease with which I completed all of the exercises makes me wonder if I have been pushing myself quite hard enough. Perhaps this lack of a deadline, lack of a "drop dead" date by which I will need to dunk (mentioned in yesterday's post) has brought on a sense of malaise.
I've had friends recommend measurable goals and ways to stick to them. Perhaps, said one friend, you have people donate a dollar to cancer research for every inch gained, or every quarter-inch. Or, said another friend, you have to have people bet on the date on which you will first dunk.
I gotta say, I love the wording of the second friend. Many teachers, myself included, speak about college and say, "When," not "If you go to college..." when disussing university in the classroom. In the same way, I will from now on use the certainty of the term "when" in looking forward to the day when that skinny wrist, bright orange ball in hand, climbs enough above Everest to place the ball in a downward motion into a net.
That's a dunk for all you literal people out there. A slam dunk. Word.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Strength Shoes, Day One

I finally put the hibernating Strength Shoes into action today, some two months after they arrived in an awkward-sized package. With a week off from teaching (Spring Break 2010, woo!), but not a week off from grading history projects on World War II and Japanese-American internment camps, the perfect time has arrived for the beginning of the Strength Shoes Era. The need to take some time off from the monotony of grading cookie-cutter teenage projects, coupled with five days off, has given me the perfect time to start a Phase II in my quest to dunk.
The workout was a very good one, tantalized to its peak by this new object in the mix. With the strapping on of the suprisingly un-unwieldy shoes, I felt heartened, as if this new pill would help me get well. In addition to my usual dunk workout of 30 calf raises, 25 squats with a 10lb. medicine ball, 20 rim/ceiling touches and five knee-to-chest jumps in place, I did 300 plyometric jumps with the Shoes on--100 with both legs at the same time, and 100 with each leg separately. I also hopped through 75 jump rope repetitions with the Shoes on, pleased that I didn't fall on formerly wobbly legs adjusting to having my calves so prominently platformed.
So, what's ahead? Is this dunk imminent? I wonder now if I have to set myself a deadline an arbitrary or not-so-arbitrary date by which I will dunk. My next birthday, a holiday, New Year's?
Last week, a student of mine turned in a twoweeksearly essay, written with great passion about a subject close to her heart. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, she wrote a hasty but passionate summary of the Nazi camps, her loving paean to her grandparents and her idealistic attempt to use her pen to say "Never Again."
With the words, "Here's the final draft," and a throw/flutter of the paper from her hand to my desk, she smiled, turned, and with a flourish, walked away into her cave of friends, with the Hollywood scene missing only a bar of soap and a washbasin for her hands.
Talking to her later, I fumbled through my words in trying to convince her that what she had turned in to me had in fact been a rough draft, but one stripe of a stilldeveloping road. "The only thing that makes a draft a final draft," I said, navigating clumsily into a strong-sounding aphorism, perhaps stolen from another source in my past, "is a deadline."
So maybe the Shoes are my revisions, my last touches, on the project I have been dallying on a bit too much. Maybe the Shoes arrival will force me to set a deadline for The Dunk.
Or maybe the Shoes are a panacea, a harbinger of more procrastination to come, because we all know that once the aspirin sinks in, we are now living in an altered world, and it's hard to tell where the world's devices and our personal choices intersect...

Monday, March 29, 2010

Interlude--Youth and the Young

"Youth is wasted on the young," said the great writer George Bernard Shaw, and I think yesterday's tennis partner and his sore lower body would agree. I dusted off the racket, bought for about $15 at Ross--is there anything they don't have there?--and proceeded to beat my friend 6-3, 6-3. His compliments were heartfelt, but there was an intensity and hardness of resolve that attached itself to his declaration that he would simply need "to make a few adjustments and get me next time." His forty-year-old body, though, may have something to say about that.

Do not get me wrong--forty is no advanced age. Forty is Favre, Jamie Moyer (at least 2003 Jamie Moyer), Dikembe Mutumbo (well, bad example)...it is an age that allows one physical freedoms that will not peter out fully for quite a while, hopefully.

But what would have happened had my friend had his incites, his mental acuity, when he was a seventeen-year-old speedster, equally adept at stealing bases, running deep routes on the football field, and leaking out early to his offensive side on missed jump shots?

What would have happened if I had possessed that killer instinct evident in so many one-point games at the local health club? What would have happened had I possessed the confidence (some might say stubborness) to shoot a three-pointer in rhythm, with my team down game point to 19 in a 21 point game?

The sixteen year old me was tireless, skinny, athletic, crafty for my age, and limited in my game by a shaky jump shot and an almost blind belief that my job was to be a garbageman, a banger, a rebounder who controlled the paint. Though it occurred to me that a 6'2" 145lb. center was a rarity, almost as unheard of as a 6'2" 145 dominant center, my previous coaching, my upbringing, and my fragile self-esteem dictated that I stay away from the perimeter and play my role.

What is about the macho need to impose one's will on an athletic match that makes one so stubborn? This high school version of me has spawned a coach who, impressed by the sheer force with which his high school coach derided zone defense as "for weakspirited teams," has very rarely called such a scheme into action for his high school teams, maybe at the expense of a win or two? Or three?

Perhaps youth and its lingering bravado is wasted on the kinda young, too...

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Interlude--What's My Motivation?

Last night, I accompanied my basketball players, most of them sophomores and juniors, to a local rec center for some Friday night basketball. Dressed in my best Crockett and Tubbs outfit, with a white polo shirt tucked into khaki slacks and black dress pants, I definitely didn't look the part of a baller. I did, however, have a set of shorts, t-shirt, and basketball shoes (with double socks, of course, stuffed into them). Gotta be ready in case a bball game ever breaks out.

As the game began, I observed that basketball first-date routine, with both teams, some players unknown to each other just a few minutes before, sizing each other up. There is that same lack of genuine personality in both first date and first few minutes of ball, with players and daters a little bit further apart physically than normal, a bit more stilted in words and actions.

As the game worn on, each player whom I knew stood out as an individual with his own particular goals manifested--or was I just a bit too analytical? My sophomore point guard went out of the way to handle the ball at every opportunity, sometimes to the detriment of the team, such as the fast breaks that he slowed up by riding the back shoulder of the willowy big man who ran the middle of the fast break, demanding the ball.

This willowy big man tried, and failed valiantly, at least three times to take a charge, flopping to the ground at the slightest contact from the one he was guarding. Governed by playground rules in which the "lesser" violations like offensive fouls, backcourt, and over-the-back are neglected unless the violation is an egregious one, the flop is that most cowardly of moves, and this big man was rewarded with silence and a few playful taunts when he demanded that his team get the ball on multiple offensive fouls.

The junior off-guard, who has been obsessive in his workout regimen since the season ended about two months ago, was loath to shoot from the outside even when the shots were wide open. He continually drove to the basket with reckless abandon at times, showing off his improved quickness, explosion, and strength for all to see, thanks to two-a-day workouts with weights and plyometrics, and long runs with a classmate who longs to be a Marine and trains like it.

The point guard is motivated by the team's need for a reliable ballhandler to make himself known, the big man by outer and inner criticism about his physical and mental toughness, and the off-guard by the defenders in previous years who crowded his jump shot with little regard for any possible drives to the basket.

And me? What's my motivation? Is it an inner motivation? If so, why have I opened up my goal, my dream, to so many outsiders (shotout to the three of you reading my blog on a regular basis!)? Is this opening up just another way of motivating myself from within, heaping on a sort of pressure to make myself more accountable to others, though they may be "Internet friends?"

Is it the thesis posited in my Introduction that I want to prove to myself that I was (am?) good, athletic, an achiever?

Watching my players on this night struggle, sweat, dive, and push themselves and their teammates, I have no clear epiphany on my goal, no way to make my vague goal to dunk completely understandable to my readers and to myself, but I do know that I miss the game very, very much.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Interlude--What's Next, 4:15pm dinner at Denny's?

I was supposed to go to KRS-One two nights ago in concert. There was something rebellious in this Tuesday night outing, something vaguely liberating. It was, I think, a salvo against middle, old age, the notion of disappearing youth. It was all set to go: myself, three friends, a pre-party. As Monday approached, doubt set in--will I be too tired to "perform" as a teacher on Wednesday? Will the next day be a waste? KRS isn't going on 'til 11? Dang! That's late...he gets on at 11/11:15, goes for an hour, I get outta there at 1 am, get home 1:30, get about five hours sleep max...
A few reps of "Sound of Da Police" and "Step into a World" culled my energy and resolve. Hell yeah, I was gonna go! KRS live? Local? Shoot, I might even let it slip to my students that I was out the night before. Late. At a concert. Dare them to ask. KRS One? You've never heard of him? Let me tell you a little somethin..."
The afternoon of the concert, with the tickets still not bought (a harbinger, I can now see, looking back, and Strike One), I ran into my coworker and fellow concertgoer. We both made small talk with no mention of that night's concert--Strike Two. I received two sorrowful texts from the other concertgoers, pleading too much work, errands, but really hoping that I still go to the concert-Strike Three. My courage sapped, my will fading, I capitulated.
"Hey, man" my coworker says, "About tonight...I'm kinda stuffed up, and..."
The saddest part? I had to act like I was upset, bummed out, steely in my resolve to hit up the Tuesday nightlife like I used to.
I might as well have hit up Denny's for a late-afternoon dinner, gotten that discount, and gotten off the streets before all the "weirdos" came out with the darkness.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Interlude-Youth as a Natural Link

My first year of teaching-I taught Spanish I, II, and III to non-native Spanish speakers--was a nightmare. I hated each day equally, and though I am aware of the exponential growth of legend over the years, I still am confident saying that I enjoyed somewhere between ten and zero days of school that year.
I was twenty-two, two months removed from college graduation and the charmed life. Two months removed from highlighter parties, Thursday night "Just Because" bar hops, half-assed on-campus jobs, and a place where I was clearly Jaime. Two months later, I am wearing a tie (more about that in a little while), badly-wrinkled khaki slacks, and am trying to comport myself like the "Mr. Flaco" that is my new title in the classroom.
I spoke much more English than I should have in a Spanish language classroom, but not because of any lack of Spanish know-how. I figured out very quickly that the total-language immersion model touted by my credential-class teaching, ivory-tower-dwelling college professors failed to take into account the fact that "BE QUIET!" or "STOP TALKING!" are much more powerful than "Callense!", particularly when coupled with a beet-red face and spittle that serve to quiet the class, if not for a long while, then at least for a "Whoa, his head's gonna pop off!" moment of awed silence.
Throughout my first year of teaching, I was alternately too mellow, too excitable, a yeller, a soothsayer, a tough grader, an easy grader, a time-waster, a time-spendthrift, too friendly, not friendly enough, too relaxed, too tightlywound, and usually not mature and professional enough, though I did throw in a few instances of student-puzzling utter formality.
I threw a few yet-to-be graded assignments in the roundfile--and by "few" I mean "many." I singlehandedly proved to the students the need for some sort of rubric system with a fickle and unfathomable grading system. I showed to my superiors no organization either in classroom setup or lesson plans.
But the students loved me. They loved me, though not enough to be quiet for minutes at a time, though not enough to not drive me to tropical drinks a few times, and not often to show or verbalize it too many times during that tumultuous first year.
I learned of the this love at times outside of class, through teenage verbal code that is always hard to crack, through gossip, through secondhand accounts from my students' parents and friends.
In reading student surveys given to my students at the end of the year, I received glowing praise and hearty thankyous. They were for "being cool," for "knowing what it's like to be a teenager," for "understanding," for "being more of a friend than a teacher--sometimes."
The subtext of these glowing comments? I received more praise for my youth than my teaching, more love for my love of the Sacramento Kings in a Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers town than my pedagogy, more adoration for my daily "Chappelle Show" and hip hop allusions than my lesson plans.
I was young. They were young. I had an instant connection through no merit of my own. I was young, and this youth gave me instant credibility that my older colleagues, more worldly, possessive of much more experience with teenagers than the young buck named "Senor Flaco."
I was a very, very bad teacher. I once pretended to have lost my voice to avoid a lecture in class. I presented lessons on such disparate themes as slavery in Colombia, -ar verb conjugation, and Spanish numbers that my students couldn't help but be lost by the lack of unifying concepts.
I was a poor teacher, the kind whose lack of confidence shone on his face like a Vegas hotel. And young people are, if nothing else, very skilled at smelling that professional fear.
I was a horrendous teacher, but in many ways, in the fleeting and fickle world of the teenager, I was cool, and that was all that mattered.
Oh yeah, and once I showed "A Bronx Tale" in class. The film was not dubbed or subtitled for Spanish. I taught Spanish class. We were not studying patriarchy in the Italian-American community, nor the urban racial tensions of the late 1960s in my Spanish class.
The kids loved it.
The kids loved me.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Interlude: The Immediacy of Today, the Fogginess of Yesterday

Reggie Bush (or should I say, Barry Sanders) or Gale Sayers? Kobe Bryant or Michael Jordan? Brett Favre or Fran Tarkenton? Sophia Loren or Halle Berry?

Today's heroes, idols, and lowlifes are viewed in a oxymoronic way: both great because of their recent entries into our consciousness, and flawed because of this same recent entry. Kobe, for example, is great precisely because he is playing now, and our attention deficit disordered-society heaps immediate praise on the here, the now, the latest, the freshest.

This immediacy, however, and the flavor-of-the-month culture that it imbues and that flavors our daily lives paradoxically forces us to demand a higher and sustained level of greatness from today's heroes. It is precisely this idea that raises the level of greatness of Jim Brown, the football great, in our minds. He is both immediate--still alive, lively, and philanthropic--and an object of nostalgia--he retired at the "top of his game" at age 29, fresh off a season in which he tied a career high in touchdowns and gained the second most yards of his career.
Just don't judge his greatness based on "Original Gangsters."

When I was four years old, I saw a picture of my preschool class. We'd posed at lunch on a sunny day, on the playground where a youngster feels so contented. I pointed out to my mom that I was squinting, my right eye closed against the oppressive sunlight.
"It's called a 'stigmatism,' she said soothingly, "Doctor Pharrell told me that you have this. It's not bad, though, Honey. It's what makes you special."
So "special," in fact that it made me like the saints, or so I thought. A book sitting on my grandpa's toilet about Saint Veronica Giuliani, a famous stigmatic, and pilfered pieces of a conversation at church told me that it was just a matter of time before I would bear the telltale marks of Jesus' crucifixion on my hands.

When I was young, my parents were not Old. They were old, but they weren't Old. Subjectivity and objectivity can often be one and the same when we are young, and it was indeed their arbitrary birth year of 1950 that served as the acid test, the border between old and Old. My dad's older sister, a year older than he, had the great misfortune to be born slighly south of 1950. She was therefore marked as "Old" in the young boy's encyclopedia.

The simplicity and delineations in our minds as youngsters made things so easy. Sixty years old was clearly "Old"--though Mona Robinson of "Who's the Boss" reruns threw a confusing wrench into my categories--eighty years old was "ancient," and twenty was "cool old."

As I approach my dreaded twenty-ninth birthday, it helps to know that somewhere out there, somebody considers me both "cool old" and light years from "Old."

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

January 6, 2009

I hoping that I've reached the "tipping point" expounded upon in the book of the same name by the savvy Malcolm Gladwell. Tipping points are "the levels at which the momentum for change becomes unstoppable."[1] Gladwell defines a tipping point as a sociological term: "the moment of critical mass, the threshold, the boiling point."[2]

This book has me thinking about the way in which a phenomenon, a trend, operates in the same way as a ball rolling down a hill picks up steam. While it is often true that worrying about the inevitable forces it to come more quickly, it is also true that an assumption of a fact leads one to a self-perpetuating. Though not a 100% proven formula, I have found that writing beforehand of my jumping workout, in other words, visualizing it has led me to follow through with my workout, even in the face of fatigue, a busy schedule, and "Situations" occuring on Jersey Shore reruns.

My streak is at seven straight days, with the prescribed (and necessary) two days off for the weekend. I have had some good days, none great. A good hip-hop beat on the gym radio and a little bounce in my rim touches are enough to keep me coming back for another day, enough to make this perhaps-deluded quarter-lifer think a dunk is coming soon...but time is relative, isn't it?
How soon is soon?