Maintenance week – Jan. 23 – Jan. 29

WEEK SUMMARY

 

 

Another low mileage week, but I did get a lot of workouts in.  I practiced some Vinyasa yoga twice, and it’s something that I plan to stick with.  Both runs, though, felt a little weird.  The 3 miler and the 6 miler, just felt like I was plodding along.  For my second run, I actually had turned around and came home after about 0.2 miles, but right before heading back upstairs, I decided to stop listening to that devil on my shoulder and I went back out there.  So while the mileage may have been low, I consider that a win.

 

Running is so much about turning off the mental thoughts in your mind.  Sometimes heading out for a run is easy, and sometimes your mind is telling you every excuse in the world not to do it.  So slaying that negativity, no matter how low the weekly mileage has been, is a positive step forward I think.

 

On my 6 mile run, I did my usual route up to the Capitol.  On the way there, I encountered a protest originating and Union Station and terminating at the Capitol Building.  The protest was against Betsy Devos, Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Education.  I paused my run and joined in the march, and it was a great example of our democracy in action.

 

But it paled in comparison to the demonstration that took place at the end of my run.  There, at Lafayette Square, hundreds and hundreds of people showed up to demonstrate against the immigration executive order signed by Trump on Friday.  It was very reassuring to see citizens come out and participate.

 

So, this week, two runs, totally 9.47 miles:

 

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TWIR (This Week In Running)

 

The week started off pretty quiet.  Nothing too crazy, other than the usual routine.  Jess and I did start a new show, The Man in the High Castle.  It’s a pretty damn good show.  Really interesting alternative history narrative.

 

On Friday, Jess’s family came into town and her dad and brothers helped us get some stuff ready for Mini’s room.  It was incredibly helpful, they were able to install some doors, shelves and other furniture for us.  Place is looking pretty great, and I feel like we’re almost ready for the big arrival.

 

On Sunday, there were a couple of big protests around DC.  The first was an anti- Betsy DeVos demonstration, and the second was a demonstration against the executive order on immigration signed by Trump.  There’s a lot to get into with both of these, and I’m not sure I have the energy to write all of it out, but I will say that it is absolutely encouraging to see our democracy at work like this.  I overhead a woman tell her young daughter:  “When you care about something, it’s very important that you show up.”  If that doesn’t summarize the future hopefulness of our country and what we can be, then I don’t know what does.

 

All in all, I will say this about the immigration executive order.  There are some very important things we often forget about as a collective society.  The reason why America is the greatest nation in the world, why ideals of American exceptionalism extend and inspire the entire planet, is not because there is something inherently exceptional about us.  Rather, it is our ability to use our soft power (through our culture, moral leadership and humanitarian tone) together with our ability to execute with strong power, whether that be economic, military, or otherwise.  That the world can depend that America is not simply another a place, but instead that it’s a state of mind, an ideology for freedom.  That’s what causes people to leave their homes.  Not to move to South Carolina because it’s South Carolina, but to move to America because of the possibility of what that country can mean for them, and also what they can give to contribute to the larger ideal of America.  When you remove that idealism, America becomes just another place, one of the myriad of countries and societies in this world.

 

I am going take you on a tangent here.  I recently read a book called Endzone, by John Bacon.  It’s about the rise, fall and resurgence of Michigan Football.  In it, the author makes a point that Michigan football fandom is about more than just the football game.  It’s about the ideal, the experience, the nostalgia, the hope, of what a game or season can mean to a fan with an emotional connection to the game.  Once you implement policies to devalue that or to rip that apart, the game becomes just a game.  When you go 0-12, but you still care about the ideal of Michigan football, you’ll still go to the game, perhaps begrudgingly, but you’ll still go. Your belief in the experience, in something bigger than yourself, or the metaphors of possibility powers you through.  When you’re 7-5, and the notion of that larger ideal is removed, you’ll go to some games, you’ll skip others, and you certainly won’t stick around with as much faith as you do when times are tough.  When the team loses, well then, shit, you’re paying for a product at that point. You’ll fork over top dollar for a night game against Norte Dame, but you won’t take two free tickets given away with your Coke purchase for a game against Minnesota. 

 

The immigration executive order undermines this very notion of soft power.  That people who suffer terrible plights have a beacon of America to look to.  Maybe they can’t get here, but they can live assured that there is a place in the world where the notion of freedom and security for all exists, even if in a real way it fails to live up to that promise.  It’s the ideal that exists, the chase of a more perfect union, that somewhere in the word, there’s an ideal out there. That we are not trying to chase another society, but that we are trying to chase a more perfect way to live with one another, with different views, conservative and liberal and in between, of what that means.  When you take that away, we become just another country, just another football team hoping to be better than 7-5 so our fans will show up.

 

Safety is important.  But policy has nuance, and it is important to understand these nuances.  You have to arm yourself with knowledge, so that when someone says “yeah, let’s have a temporary ban because it keeps America safe,” let’s understand how that goal is accomplished.  Let’s specifically answer these questions head on, and be confident in the strengths and deficiencies in our analysis. I’ve started to find that when you challenge ignorance with knowledge, the veneer of good intentions falls off and both sides reveal themselves. 

So this is a goal for me. In other posts I would apologize for the politics written here. But I love this country to its core, too much to stay quiet with niceties. So knowledge, knowledge, knowledge, and speaking truth to power. 

Some pictures:


 

 

 

Maintenance week – Jan. 16 to Jan. 22

WEEK SUMMARY

 

This was a very eventful week in Washington DC.  With the people in town for Trump’s Inauguration as well as the people here for the Women’s March, the streets were filled and roads blocked off.  I ran three times this week, the first was an 8 miler, a kind of calm-before-the-storm type of run.  I tried to run on the evening after the Inauguration, but so many streets were closed off near me that I couldn’t hit a stride, so I turned around and came home after half a mile or so.  I ran on Saturday, down the Mall, to witness the March and also see what the situation was like.

 

So, overall this week 16.74 miles this week over three runs.

 

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TWIR (This Week In Running)

 

I’m kind of torn about what to write here.  On one hand, I live in Washington DC, and it is kind of hard not to write about the fact that the eyes of the entire world were watching this city over the last two or three days, the primary events of which were happening one mile away from where I live.  On the other hand, I don’t want to contaminate this blog with discussions and dispositions about politics.

 

But the momentous nature of Donald Trump’s Inauguration requires some commentary.  In fact, over the last few days, I feel a personal transition coming on.  For most of my life, I have settled into a quieter disposition about my knowledge, and lack thereof, of history, science, economics, politics, culture, etc.  I know what I know, and I know that there are many more things I don’t know.  I have always lived by the thought that you should never be the smartest person in the room, that you should always challenge and refine what you think you know and what you realize you don’t.

 

I still feel that way, but I’m also starting to realize that there are a whole lot of people out there that scream louder and more assuredly about things that they either don’t know much about or that I might know more about.  Usually, I write this stuff off to people just wanting a venue to be angry and to channel and misdirect some other feelings, often negative, about life and self.  My one biggest takeaway from the Trump Inauguration is this:  I am going to start using my knowledge as a weapon and start calling people out on things that they might not know.  And when I don’t know something, I am going to learn about it and then I will speak about it, whenever and wherever necessary.  I think, otherwise, our collective culture listens to the voices who aren’t afraid to look foolish or inaccurate or even ignorant.  As a kid, I’d always read corny slogans that knowledge is power.  The phrase is now coming to life for me.

 

There’s a quote by philosopher Bertrand Russell that sums this up:  “The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubt.”

 

My aim is to prove that quote wrong.  I’m not sitting here claiming to be a wise man.  What I am saying is that step 1 is to be curious, step 2 is to educate yourself, and step 3 is to speak up.  I feel like I do an alright job of steps 1 and 2, and now I’ll be pushing step 3.

 

This blog may not be the venue for all of that, but in the regular course of my life, I expect more of this type of discourse to follow.  So that’s what I feel about the events in DC this weekend.

 

So–this week.  Monday was a holiday, MLK day, and Jess and I returned from SC after having our baby shower there.  On Wednesday, my nephew from Arizona was in town with his school on a trip to visit DC for the Inauguration.  Jess and I met up with his group and we had dinner with him.  We don’t see him very often but I am very impressed with the young man that he is growing into!

 

On Friday, I worked from home to avoid the craziness of the Inauguration.  After Trump gave his speech, I went up to the roof top on our building and watched former President Obama’s helicopter fly over the DC airspace.  It was quite a surreal moment.

 

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On Saturday, I went for a run down to the Mall and checked out the Women’s March for a little bit.  Some pictures:

 

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Today, after the crowds have left, I went for a quick run, back to the Mall:

 

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Maintenance week – Jan. 9 to Jan. 15

WEEK SUMMARY

 

A whole lot was going on this week, so I had another low run week. I ran one time, 6.17 miles on Friday. I spent most of the first half of the week catching up from my very late night on Monday when I stayed up until around 3am after the national championship game. I was back in South Carolina from Thursday to Monday, and I was planning to run three times this weekend. The one run did feel good though, a six miler from my childhood home to my childhood park, Seven Oak Park. I have countless memories from that place. Playing little league, riding bikes with neighborhood friends, playing football, basketball and tennis up on the hill, going to the nearby elementary school with field days and picnics at Seven Oaks on the last days of school. Now that our daughter is almost here, I’m feeling more and more ready to trade in the city life for a quiet suburban life like that.  I guess that remains to be seen.

 

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So, 6.17 miles this week, over one run. But I’m feeling good. I’m going to hit a run this afternoon since I have the day off, maybe head over to MLK in honor of the holiday.

 
TWIR (This Week In Running)


Man oh man, what a week it has been. On Monday night (technically Tuesday morning), Clemson defeated Alabama to win the 2017 College Football National Championship. It sounds so cliche, but words cannot describe how that felt for me, a lifelong Clemson fan. I’ve said this before to others, I know that every place on the face of this planet has some sort of connection to sports, but in South Carolina, college football is the biggest shared cultural phenomenon. It just simply means so much to so many people. I went to college at Michigan, one of the most storied programs in college football, and I have lived in three NFL cities. I’ll always have a subjective bias, I am sure, but nothing I have seen in these sports towns matches what college football means in South Carolina (the Steelers in Pittsburgh, though, a close second). And to have Clemson (Clemson!) win a national championship, it’s just indescribable for me.

Here’s my ridiculous fan reaction to the game winning touchdown with one second left, as documented by Jess:

 

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I know I’ve written about this before, but when I psychoanalyze why college football is so meaningful for me, it certainly goes beyond the game. I never had the size or athleticism to play it on a high level beyond backyard games. It’s not about that. It’s something deeper about my identity and my place in this country and my family’s story here. I wrote something about this last year before the part 1 matchup between Clemson and Bama, (I’ll recopy the Facebook post here):

(Post):
“I’m not sure how exactly I became a Clemson fan. I grew up in the heart of Gamecock country. Most of my family and friends from early childhood were serious Carolina fans, and I risked life and limb choosing the Dark Side. I think it was the contrarian nature in me—I just wanted to be different. The earliest memory I have from my life is from when I was four years old, drawing “C’s” for “Clemson” with an orange crayon on the kitchen floor of our family’s one bedroom apartment.
Those who live or have ever lived in the US South know how important college football is to people. There is nothing like it. I guess people could say this about every sport ever played, and I’d hazard a guess that college basketball fans in Indiana or North Carolina or NFL fans in Pittsburgh or Seattle would take issue with my previous sentence. And that’s legitimate in its own way. But you can’t begin to understand how important college football is to Southerners without understanding Southern culture. You have to experience it. I’ve read that some sociologists view football in the American South as an institution that transcends the sport itself and is inextricably tied to the historical legacies, good and bad, of Jim Crow, Civil Rights, and modern day Federalism.
For me, college football has always been something personal. I never really knew why until reflecting on it recently. I think the reason why I care so much about it is because it gave my family (both immediate and extended) a quick way to assimilate to a society completely foreign and, frankly, somewhat scary. It served as a vehicle for our parents to find common ground with their neighbors, and it allowed their children to find their place in American culture early on in life. My family has traveled a long way from that one bedroom apartment off St. Andrews Road, and that journey still seems incredible and incomplete every time I think about. But in the 40 years that my parents have lived as Americans, I know that, in some material way, our original connection to this country follows the bloodline of cheering for Clemson and Carolina on Saturdays.
So, tonight’s game is nothing short of monumental for the good people of South Carolina. I know that my personal connection to the game is repeated, in different versions with different backdrops and different contexts, throughout South Carolina. And for #Gamecock fans and #Clemson fans alike, as hated as that rivalry is, what a day it would be if a fucking national championship in football came home to the state of South Carolina. Orange and White, Garnet and Black: we can all Nae Nae together with Dabo if things go right tonight.
Commencing countdown, engines on.
Go South Carolina. Go Tigers.  #BringYourOwnGuts

 

For me, this deep cultural passion has something to do with the idea that the game of college football served as the vehicle for for my family’s assimilation and belonging to this country.  A cultural shortcut that everyone shared, with a low barrier of entry to which my family could immediately participate, the absence of which could have lead to years or decades of reaching and struggling to feel like this country and their home has a place for them. Of course, football alone wasn’t enough, and there were many instances of feeling as outsiders, but football had always kind of been there for something we could go to, an anchor of sorts.
It’s what caused the first generation from these families to connect immediately with classmates who were different. It served as the initial point of common ground and the initial spark of conflict. I had friends not because of what I looked like but who I rooted for. I had enemies not because of where my family came from, or what food they ate or language they spoke, but because I was a Clemson fan in enemy territory.
I think this identity extended to my decision to leave South Carolina for college. That’s why I think I’m too crazy about Michigan football. It’s a way for me to validate the decisions I’ve made and to find room for a new identity to coexist with the old. In some ways I think it’s a strange Freudian allegory if the immigrant experience that will always run in the background of my life and the background of my psychology.

 
Clemson won a national championship on Monday. The state of South Carolina came to the top of the college football world. The Clemson flag flew atop the State Capitol in Columbia, in the same position that the Confederate Flag flew for so long. If that doesn’t ooze metaphors of history, sociology and cultural complexity, then you just don’t understand South Carolina. It’s a cause of celebration for all South Carolinians, Gamecocks and Tigers, and I can imagine that I’d feel generally the same if Carolina had brought it home, although with a more muted expression of happiness.

 

On Thursday, I flew to Charleston to attend an appointment with my mom.  She’s starting a new immunotherapy treatment regime which is very promising, and we are all very optimistic and hopeful that she will respond well to it and will have a durable response.

 

On Friday, I went on the aformentioned run to Seven Oaks Park before working from home.  Snapped a few pictures along the way, starting with home:

 

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Jess’s flight to SC was due later that night, and in a typically crappy American Airlines way, the flight was canceled from DCA at the last minute.  She had to go standby to Charlotte, but couldn’t connect into Columbia, so I drove to Charlotte to pick here up.  It was exceedingly frustrating, mainly because upon arrival at Charlotte, there is no where for incoming cars to pull over to pick up passengers from the arrival curb.  There are two lanes that have to keep moving, and the cops there make you keep going even if you stop for 10 seconds.  I drove to the end of the arrivals terminal and pulled over, as a cop was walking towards me.  I was about ready to tell her that she can go ahead and write a ticket for me, that I didn’t give a shit because I’m not looping back around through the airport funhouse, but before I got myself in trouble Jess came running along (mind you, she’s seven months pregnant) and got in the car.  What a trooper!

 

On Saturday we hung out with my family–I helped them rearrange the house a bit before a baby shower we had planned for Sunday.  Sunday was a good day.  My parents had family and friends over to celebrate a baby shower for Jess and me, and it was just a nice change of pace and atmosphere after everything we had been through over the last year.  It was good to have something positive to celebrate and look forward to.  A few of the many pictures we took:

 

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The party on Sunday went very well, and afterwards we did a small Lohri celebration (a Punjabi harvest celebration that commemorates the end of winter.

 

Now, it’s pretty much full on lockdown until the baby comes.  Still have a few more things we gotta get done, but by in large, we’re just preparing for Mini’s arrival.  She’ll be here before we know it, and we both are just so excited!

 

 

 

Maintenance week- Jan. 1 – Jan. 8

WEEK SUMMARY

 

This last week kind of went by in a blur.  I recharged a lot between Christmas and New Years, and came into 2017 with a new energy.  People often make fun of those who enter a new year with a mindset to get healthy.  I imagine this is because of some notion that those who make such commitments are going to give them up anyway in a matter of weeks, so why bother.  I disagree.  I think one of the great things about every new year is the sense of optimism and potential, and I think it’s a very positive thing to see people try to dedicate themselves to a healthier life.

 

 

I ran twice this week, once on New Years Day, and once on Saturday when it was pretty damn cold.  High of 24, windchill of 9 when I was running.  I hit six miles on that run, and I was proud of it.  In a weird way, I am starting to like the crappy weather forecasts, especially on weekends.  It allows me to test my resilience and commitment to running. There’s something extra special about running in conditions where many people are not.  As long as you’re smart about it.  There’s actually a pretty inspirational video made about “running in the rain”:

 

So, two runs this week for a total of 10.74 miles.  I’m traveling home to SC later this week, but I am hoping to increase that mileage.

 

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TWIR (THIS WEEK IN RUNNING)

 

This week was fairly uneventful, and after the last several weeks of craziness, I’m enjoying that.  Jess and I took a hospital tour to prepare for the baby’s arrival.  This weekend was the first snow for DC, and we got about an inch.  As I mentioned above, it was cold as hell this weekend, but it was nice to get out there for a run.  The Mall was pretty much empty.  Who needs a backyard when an empty National Mall is literally just a mile away.

 

On Saturday, we watched this movie called “Amal”.  It was an absolutely fantastic movie.  The story was about a rickshaw driver in India who has a fateful encounter when picking up a passenger.  The story was so well done, and it depicted such a realistic view of India in a straightforward, nonjudgmental and hopeful way.  I highly recommend anyone go and see it.

 

Tonight is the College Football National Championship.  A rematch between Alabama and Clemson.  And I’m beyond excited.  I think Clemson is going to take it this year.  I told Jess yesterday that if seven year-old me could look at me right now, he’d be screaming at me for not going to the game.  Of course, I thought about it (I actually had purchased tickets on SW Airlines for a flight to Tampa today expecting either Michigan or Clemson to be there, but I had to cancel because I’ve been traveling way too much recently).  Man, if Clemson can bring home a national championship to the state of South Carolina–what a big f’ing deal that would be.  Cautiously optimistic here.  Otherwise, I have entered 2017 with a new energy, a new bounce in my step, and I’m looking forward to tackling this new year.