I had a deep and personal talk with a dear friend, electrocuted dozens of middle schoolers for science, ate fresh bread and good cheese, played on swings and left treasures in a protogeocache, watched earnest college students (SO YOUNG) sing Doctor Horrible, ran a personal best 10k next to a pretty girl I hadn’t seen in years, cooked a giant lunch, took a walk in the sunshine, and spent hours at Planet Motherfucker eating incredible barbecue and laughing with smart people. I am very lucky. This was a good weekend.
So, when I got the aforementioned iPad at a delicious Moroccan dinner with Kara’s family, I thought I had had a lovely thirtieth birthday and now all that nonsense was over with. She and I had planned to go get lunch and see Meek’s Cutoff with our friend Arlie yesterday, and I thought that would be a neat Saturday. When we parked near the theater downtown, though, she kept insisting we had to go meet Arlie at Pioneer Square a few blocks away. Okay, I thought, whatever.
Except when we got there, I saw someone else I recognized. Hey neat, I thought, Kellie’s here too! And so are a lot of our other friends! Wow, this is a weird coincidence. Why are they holding signs and shouting at me?
Kara had been planning a giant pervasive game involving everyone we know–even utilizing international design services–for a month behind my back. I was completely unaware of this until well after she started explaining the rules. It was basically a version of Journey to the End of the Night, except during the day, and also the only person being chased was me. I had to run around, getting the signatures of people stationed at five different checkpoints on the “happy” side of my birthday card. Each checkpoint had a small safe zone around it, but outside those, everyone else would be chasing me down; if they tagged me they got to sign the “unhappy” side of the card, and the person who did so most often got a prize. (Spoilers: no he didn’t.)
Herein follows the narrative of my desperate attempt to evade my relentless, sadistic friends. You can follow along on the big map I drew. It’s color-coded by time: my route to the first checkpoint is in blue, then red, then green, then orange.
We started in Pioneer Square, where I took off in an attempt to get a head start before I had completely finished reading the handout. THIS WOULD BE IMPORTANT LATER. I circled around down off the bottom border of the map and made my way up along Naito Parkway to the first checkpoint, the fountain at Saturday Market. I got into the safe zone just ahead of Kellie, in plenty of time to get my card signed by Tony and Mandy, then successfully lost any pursuers in the crowd.
Unfortunately, in doing so, I also dropped the card and couldn’t find it even after repeatedly retracing my steps. I ended up paying three bucks at the Market for a little card with an engraving of a cat holding a fish on it just so I could continue the game. I headed up to a good place to take the measure of the second checkpoint, the Chinese Gardens, and even from blocks away I could see a cluster of chasers just waiting for me.
“Aha!” I thought, as the stealthy Matthew Schuler walked right up and tagged me from behind. “I have clearly tricked these poor saps into thinking I will hit each checkpoint in order, which is not required by these rules that I have not read all the way through! I’ll just skip up to checkpoint 4 now and double back after they get bored and wander off. Good thing I have limitless endurance and it is not hailing!”
I was wrong about many of these things.
I actually used the hail as cover to get into the fourth checkpoint, the Blue Room at Powell’s Books, cleverly evading the nonexistent people I was convinced were waiting at THAT entrance. I then wandered around the Blue Room for ten minutes, wondering where the hell my signatory was, before Susan finally deigned to arrive and inform me that the window for her checkpoint had yet to open.
“Window?” I said.
“Did you read the rules?” she said.
I had already missed my chance to hit checkpoint 2, by dint of sheer idiocy, but I had maybe enough time to still make it to checkpoint 3 if I really hustled. This is why the red segment on the map is the longest one! I did hustle, and made it to the ticketing counter at Portland Union Station with a minute to spare, though my desperate, wheezing jog meant that I had no time for stealth and got ambushed by a whole group of fuckers in the driveway.
I threw off most of them by sneaking out a side entrance and hiding behind a bus, but just as I was thinking I’d sneak up the stairs to the Broadway Bridge and take that back down into the Pearl, I saw Matt Nolan tripping eagerly down them. I was still very annoyed at having my tag-count increased fivefold at the entrance, and I decided right there that Matt was NOT going to get me. No way! ALL I HAD TO DO WAS RUN INFINITELY FAR.
You will note that after the point labelled “MATT ATTACK” on the map, the green line travels around to the far side of the bridge entrance ramp, then up it, across traffic, to the top, back down, and into the Post Office. I only got that far because Matt was lugging a giant bag and a belly full of Indian food, and because I hid in the passport office with my gut sucked in and the lady at the postal counter heeded my desperate finger-to-lips silence gesture. I probably should have gotten arrested.
Anyway I left the post office, now running late for my RETURN VISIT to checkpoint 4, and immediately got tagged by Arlie, plus Matt finally caught up just outside the door to Powell’s. So much for all that. Despite my pulling moves which might humbly be described as “Bourneian” within the confines of Powell’s, I got tagged repeatedly in there too before I finally got Susan to sign my stupid card, and Grace (whom I hadn’t even met before!) pursued me doggedly through Whole Foods and in front of more speeding cars. It was only then that it occurred to me that Kara really should have gotten everyone to sign a waiver.
I limped up across the overpass, got ambushed, and lost the card AGAIN, though this time when I backtracked I actually did find it. That didn’t keep me from getting tagged like a brick wall on a street named after a civil rights activist, particularly by Jonathan (whom I’d faked out earlier) and Matt, who were out for blood. Not even sneaking through a parking garage under a building could throw them off. I finally staggered up to the fifth checkpoint outside the stadium with minutes to spare, and everybody got Oreo cupcakes and went back to a bar for beers and war stories.
I measured that route against the scale on Google Maps and, by that rough math, I ran about fifty-six thousand kilometers altogether. I was tired and the leg I pulled last week was throbbing. I had also lost the game by every measure possible. It was awesome! Thanks to Laura, Amy, Arlie, Jonathan, Matt, Matthew, Matthew, Harry, Harry, Grace, John, Casey, Kim, Greg, Susan, Marie, Mandy, Tony, Jeremy, Holly, Kevan, anybody else I forgot, and especially Kara for pulling off the most ridiculous tailored birthday stunt I can imagine.
I did a hundred pushups! In a row! I had done lots more in a session, just not in a single set. Also some of those reps at the end would have been pretty hilariously sloppy to anyone watching. But it still counts!
I’ve been following this workout plan since, uh, the beginning of March. It’s a six-week plan, and you will note that it has taken me three months to complete! In retrospect, that progression gets a bit suspicious at the end; even on the best-case track, you’re supposed to go from around 60 to 100 in a single week. I had to repeat week six several times, and then repeat week six/day one for a couple more weeks, adding five to ten more reps each time.
I’ve talked before about my complete lack of upper-body strength and how ashamed of it I’ve always been. I know how to maintain cardiovascular shape and build leg muscle–go running–and I have done so, because running is the only exercise that doesn’t bore and frustrate me. It’s also got a pretty low barrier to entry, whereas I perceived upper-body workouts to be fraught with torn tendons and requiring of huge weight sets. And if I want to actually build muscle in any serious way I probably will have to get some kind of free weights someday. I should probably learn to do the Ab Ripper first.
But meanwhile I’m just going to keep doing a hundred pushups every night and see how far I can take it! I hear there’s this fancy kind you can do with one arm.
Sumana called me out on my 2007 goal-announcement entry and asked what the follow-up was for 2010-2012. First, HOW IS IT 2010 ALREADY. Second, I thought I’d already done an update on how those goals went, but I can’t find it if I did, so here we go:
- Get driver’s license
- Everything else
Okay, so at 28 I have managed to just reach a 16-year-old’s level of basic competence. Right on track! I got accepted to Clarion but couldn’t afford it, and GSP gently declined my teaching application: this indicates an unsurprising trend of nonprofit programs being happier to take my money than to give me more. I stopped running not long after I posted that entry in 2007, but I struggled into reasonable shape last summer and might be able to get there again now that I own an inhaler.
So. Let’s try this again.
My goals for 2010 are to script a graphic novel and run a half-marathon.
My goals for 2011 are to write a novel and publish a computer game.
My goal for 2012 is to be out of non-student-loan debt.
Leonard was here for a week! It was great! I didn’t blog about it because I was too busy hanging out with Leonard. Leonard didn’t blog about it because he apparently spends two weeks out of three on airplanes, to the point that travelblogging has become passé. The world demands Leonard.
Kara and I tried to show him the good side of the city: we ate at a lot of restaurants, played a lot of games, climbed a waterfall and discovered that happiness comes in gourds. Leonard also fixed my stupid hard drive (twice!) and helped me find a new grip on a game design problem that’s been bothering me for months. I can only assume that when Sumana visits in November, she will improve my gas mileage and teach me how to get free money from the government.
By the way! Kara and I are dating, in case you care but are not on Facebook. It is also great! Dating, I mean; Facebook is mostly okay.
Which means all my lovely readers in the UK are back from taking off St. Crispin’s Day or whatever, and all my lovely other readers are yawning and clicking idly on Digg as the work week slowly grinds into gear, and so it is the perfect time, my friends, to tell you that Ommatidia is for sale.
A couple sharp-eyed readers (from the old school of “actually checking the front page”) have already noticed that it was up over the weekend while I poked at it for bugs, but so far everything seems fine. Some things have changed since I made the original tentative announcement–most notably that the limited edition is now signed and numbered and includes a story written just for you, but is also the same softcover binding as the now-less-cheap viral edition (it is actually insane to bind a book this size in hardcover). And yes, it took me over two years to assemble a 133-page book. Turns out autodidactic self-publishing is sort of hard!
But I’m really proud of the result and I hope you’ll be satisfied. You can check out a preview at Lulu and see one of the fourteen all-new illustrations, and if you order soon you’ll be able to get your copy and read the last Cosette story before it goes up online next month. Finally, if you get your book, take a picture! If you send it to me or put it on Flickr and tag it “ommatidia book,” it’ll get pulled into the little badge I’m putting together now for the Ommatidia front page, and I’ll send you a copy of the “Welch” toon I hastily drew for buyers at my Stumptown booth.
Finally, some of you have probably already noticed that I’m linking to ommatidia.org in this post, rather than xorph.com/anacrusis–either URL scheme works almost exactly the same, because if there’s one poor web practice in which I want to engage, it’s duplicated content and split Pagerank. Seriously, think of Ommatidia as a web site for the book that happens to display a feed from Anacrusis. Both sites now include the other new toy I built this weekend: the “all names” page, which is not perfectly accurate, but is pretty close to an ongoing list of every name I’ve scrounged up for a story title. See why I have to steal from Leonard all the time?
Yesterday I saw a disc hovering in the endzone, juked on my defender, sprinted half the length of the field, saw it start to drop, leapt full-length and grasping, missed, slid a few feet on my face, caught on something and flipped a couple times to end up in a sort of collapsed headstand. Later, somebody spiked my hand with their cleats.
Ah, frisbee at something like my level. I missed you!
In San Francisco! Fourteen-hour drive! Exhausted! No pictures! But here and safe. Time to go get plantar warts.
I like “Horse with No Name” so much, and I don’t think I have it on my iPod! Which means I can’t play it over and over again tomorrow, my last day of driving through desert. So far the desert has had the pleasant effect of being very pretty. It has also had the unfortunate effects of making me drink three times as much water as usual, making me run the AC all the time, and oh yeah, being like a fucking desert.
Also, it scared Hugner, and not without reason. I had to take these pictures from a rest area without him in them. Unless… unless he was hiding somewhere!
But today’s drive (the shortest of this trip) was worth it for the chance to hang out in Phoenix, which included my being the first Kentucky-friend to get a tour of the new digs of the Chinese Shao-Lin Center from its proprietors:
Then they took me home, fed me delicious raw vegan “cheese” “cake,” and permitted me to indulge my gadgeteering impulses in the process of watching Love Actually. Now I am falling asleep while writing this on their couch. Tomorrow is the big push: Phoenix to SF in one day, hopefully by 8 pm. It’s not going to be easy. Hugner, better set snuggling to max.