Here are my five favorite news-related Twitter accounts:
Fix me in 45.
I should note two things here: (a) It wasn’t until I was in my late 30s that I first saw A Christmas Story, so I had no idea who Scott Farcas was for a long, long time and (2) It’s hard to imagine that the Less Than Jake song Scott Farcas Takes It on the Chin is about any city other than Los Angeles. Continue reading …
My five favorite places to spend a vacation:
On Monday I had a conversation about my mom with a fifty-year old woman who had also lost her mother. Her mother had been sick for some time, and she died peacefully in a hospice, holding her daughter’s hand. The woman told me her mother had had a stroke, but that somehow she smiled just before she died, and that she knew her mother had gone to a better place.
I said that it must have been very comforting for her, and tried my best to be polite and sensitive. She said that a good way to think about it was to think about a cruise ship. You’re standing on a dock and your loved one is on a cruise ship. You wave and watch the ship slowly drift over the horizon. You can no longer see the ship, but of course you know it is still there, and one day you will see your loved one again.
I told her that was, indeed, a lovely way to think about death. I smiled and tried not to cry and in my head I was thinking, “Shut up, you #$%@, &*(# F^+! piece of $#*^@. Just stop talking and leave me alone, please.” I pictured this kind and gentle person bursting into flames while we spoke, with her head melting like Dietrich’s and Toht’s at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.
I can’t seem to think of my mom’s death as if she is on a cruise, but after nine months I do have a nautical sort of handle on it. I think of my mom’s life as a classic, stately frigate. Maybe like the USS Constitution or a traditional pirate ship, weathered and worn but incredibly sturdy and strong and able to last forever, timeless if properly attended. And she is standing on the deck and I am on the dock, and we speak frequently. She is worried all the time that something is wrong with the ship, but I can see it is really a gorgeous piece of craftsmanship. She’s running around the decks touching up the paint all the time and mending the sails; she’s an incredibly gifted artist and does her best to keep it beautiful.
And then one day I see a leak, just below the waterline. The ship starts taking on water and it is a dire situation, although it is a slow leak and there is still plenty of time to fix it. So I start doing my best to put together a team of divers and woodworkers to help me patch it. She knows about the leak but there is nothing she can do about it because she can’t go belowdecks for some reason, so all she can do is keep sewing and painting and sweeping and swabbing and cooking and she is getting frantic but she knows I am working on the problem. And I am. Tirelessly. For months.
And the Coast Guard or the Port Authority or someone sees that the ship is taking on water and they announce that they are going to help and I am so relieved. But they really don’t care about the ship at all, and — as it turns out — by “help” what they mean is that they are going to scuttle the ship. And I am trying desperately to help and every time I turn around I see another cannonball fired from the big official buildings on the shore. And they leave huge gaping holes in the hull and start fires and I am panicking, and mom is panicking, and finally she just passes out from the fear.
And I do everything I can to make them stop but they don’t. I write letters and I call the Navy and the President and Congress and I ask all my friends for help and there are people who say they know all about the minor crack in the hull and how to fix it and there are other people who tell me how to get the authorities to stop shooting at her but it doesn’t stop and it gets worse every time I can catch a breath to look. And I know my mom does not want to die. I know more than anything she wants to keep talking to me and play with my son and sit in the sun and watch the water and I want to save her.
And then one afternoon — while I’m exhausted and passed out on the dock with a huge, massive hammer in my hand that I can’t possibly lift — the ship just sinks. It goes beneath the water with a thunderous crash, and it’s enough to wake mom from her stupor and her eyes open just long enough in fright as the water covers her and it wakes me and that is where I have been stuck since that moment: Eyes wide open and unable to scream, frozen and staring at her drowning and feeling that I am drowning, too.
And the cannonballs don’t stop.
Five things I would feel compelled to replace immediately if they stopped working:
I’ve had my Nike Fuel Band for 294 days. I know this because one of the statistics it tracks is how many days you’ve been “active”, and I have worn it every single day since I got it. I can’t begin to tell you what a great motivational tool it is. I am a little more than a month away from 40 and I’m in the best shape of my life. (Yes, including the time I spent rowing on Florida Crew.)
The Nike Fuel Band comes in three colors: black (the original), black ice, and white ice. The black ice and white ice versions were released several months after the original. Kelly gave me an original black for my birthday last year and I instantly fell in love with it. I only removed it when I went to sleep, which was its doom. The Band — like everything and everybody — has an Achilles’ heel.
You see, you can resize the band by adding or removing a little spacer. The spacer is held in place by an ingenious little spring mechanism. It comes with a little tool designed specifically to fit through a tiny hole in the band to press the spring and release the catch so you can change the spacers. (You could use a paper clip to do this; you don’t really need the “tool”.) And here is the problem. The band itself is waterproof. (The packaging says it’s only water resistant, but for all intents and purposes it is waterproof.) But the tiny spring is not. It is susceptible to rust. It will take a long, long time for it to degrade, because there is only a very tiny hole through which any water can get to it. But after about nine months of sweat and showers and more than a few swimming pools, it rusted to the point where it just disintegrated.
I took my broken Fuel Band to the Beverly Hills Nike Store the night it broke and they exchanged it immediately, even though I didn’t have a receipt and it was obvious that the tiny screw had rusted away which isn’t supposed to be covered by their warranty. The only snag was that they didn’t have any of the original black ones, so I had to get a black ice one. They changed the size system at some point in October 2012, too, so instead of an XL I had to get a M/L, which was a little bit tighter.
I didn’t like the black ice version at all. The digital display was very difficult to read because the band is semi-transparent, so the LEDs bled into each other. The clasp on the black ice (and the white ice) is made out of plastic instead of metal and didn’t feel nearly as secure. And, like I said, it was a little bit tighter on my wrist. I tried using the larger spacer, but that was too loose, so I had to live with it.
With the new one I was aware of the potential for rusting the screw, so I removed it every time I took a shower. But it turns out I was right about the plastic clasp. It only lasted about two months and simply broke one day while I was playing basketball with my son. The plastic cracked and the Band flew off my wrist and I spent about ten minutes trying to find the little pieces in my driveway.
The next day I returned to the Beverly Hills Nike Store and they again exchanged it with no problem. And this time they had the original black in stock, so I feel much better about that. The metal clasp is definitely sturdier than the plastic.
Oh, and if you want to challenge me, I’m GatorDavid in the Nike universe.
It’s tough to be upset about a day that includes a ten-mile run before breakfast, lunch at The Stand, and a trip to Disneyland. But here we are. For the very first time since Kelly gave me my Nike Fuel Band almost a year ago, I didn’t wear it all day. I started leaving it on the bathroom counter when I take a shower, and I simply forgot it. I made my 4000-point goal easily by running ten miles, but then I didn’t earn any more points until I got home from work around five-thirty.
I managed to have my best Friday ever — 7537 points — because Nike technology is intelligent enough to acknowledge that chasing a toddler around Disneyland for four and a half hours is good exercise. But it should have been my new best day ever. (That’s currently stuck on January 7th, 2013, when I racked up 8836 points by running a half-marathon before going into the office.) That irks me. But, man, there’s nothing better than seeing how excited my son gets when he realizes we’re at The Happiest Place on Earth, so I can’t complain too much.
— David Vincent Gagne (@davidgagne) May 3, 2013
My five favorite breakfast foods:
It’s really hard for me to wrap my head around the idea that Tim might not make it in the NFL. It seems absurd to me. When my alarm rang at six this morning, there was a text waiting for me that read, “Heard Tebow was cut from NPR before ESPN.” My first thought was that finally he’d be free of the dumpster fire that is the NY Jets. But by the time I was a mile into my run all that was on my mind was my mom.
She adored Timmy, of course. All he did was win. And he
was is a Gator. And he’s a good Christian boy. And he didn’t cheat or play dirty or showboat or do anything like that. He put his whole heart and soul into every game and he bulldozed his way through defenses like a dump truck, driven by passion. How could she not love a guy like that? How could anyone not love a guy like that?
And I was thinking about how hard every day has been since she died. It’s impossible — still, after almost nine months — for me to not instinctively reach for my phone to call her a few dozen times each day. I’m sure at some point that will fade, but for now it just sucks that off-season news about an NFL quarterback can bring me to tears.
I just didn’t have the motivation to get into a groove, and headed home after just a few miles.
— David Vincent Gagne (@davidgagne) April 29, 2013
I love when I hit my 4000 Fuel Point goal early in the day; then I don’t have to sweat it. This morning I hit my goal before eight o’clock and was able to relax all day.
I had to take the car into the shop to get new brakes this morning so I knew I had enough time to knock out a full ten miles before work. I was really sore from the two P90X workouts I had to do yesterday in order to keep my Fuel streak alive, so it took me a bit to warm up. But once I started cruising I was able to put the hammer down and kept a sub-9 minute-mile pace the whole way.
— David Vincent Gagne (@davidgagne) April 26, 2013
I have been absolutely nuts for oranges and orange juice lately. I remember when I was a little kid I would go through phases during which I craved OJ like mad, but it’s been probably twenty-five years since the last time that happened. But now I’m drinking two or three glasses every morning and eating an orange (or two or three) every day, too. And after I run or lift weights, I don’t even want water; I just want OJ. Lucky for me they’re absurdly inexpensive here in LA right now. We can get a big bag of seedless Navel oranges for $3.99.
Anyway … Here are some of the things that were on my mind while I ran this morning:
— David Vincent Gagne (@davidgagne) April 22, 2013
I knocked out a quick four miles after watching all the drama in Boston on Friday night. I spent most of the run thinking about Miranda rights and terrorism and democracy. And when I wasn’t thinking about those things I was thinking about how much I wished I could talk to my mom about those things.
Mom loved this country so much. It sounds funny to write it, but she was a huge fan of the Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence, and — I can’t really think of a better way to say it — Truth, Justice, and the American Way. I found a letter she wrote to President Obama on her old computer which I’ll publish to her website one day, I’m sure. She truly believed in America, and I’m very happy that it’s something she passed to me.
— David Vincent Gagne (@davidgagne) April 20, 2013
My favorite sporting events:
My dad grew up in Somerville, spitting distance from the Davis Square T next to Tufts. When I was a little boy I would walk the city with him and he would tell me the fascinating story behind every brick and cobblestone. Who drank at this pub, how old this store was, this is where the original Patriots had their first stand, this was the site of a major battle against the Redcoats, this is where I collected empty pop bottles so I could get into the movies … I loved going on those walks.
And I loved watching Schoolhouse Rock, which seemed to always have something to say about Boston. My favorite was (of course) The Shot Heard ‘Round the World. I still have a huge coffee-table paperback on The U.S.S. Constitution. I read Johnny Tremain so many times that I could tell the story of the American Revolution as a bedtime story.
One of the biggest thrills of my life was getting to ride the subway into the city all by myself at the age of fourteen. I told everyone I only went as far as the Harvard and Porter stops, but of course I lied. I went to Fenway Park.
My favorite song — and I can sing every word of it to this day — was about the Boston subway. It begins:
“These are the times that try men’s souls. In the course of our nation’s history, the people of Boston have rallied bravely whenever the rights of men have been threatened.”
The Kingston Trio, M.T.A.