Middle age problems

I knew it was coming. I knew that though eventually, though I exercise more than the average American, my less than perfect eating habits, coupled with my family history were going to catch up with me. And this week, they did. For the first time in over a decade, I had my cholesterol checked. And its high – my LDL is 150. That’s not emergency statins high, but it is definitely “you have to make some changes” high.

So changes I’m going to make.  Goodbye to the buttered toast in the morning, and a bag of chips at lunch. Hello to whole grain cereals, and fruits and/or vegetables at every meal. As of now, I’m not going to turn my diet completely upside down (I’ve tried that before, and failed). I’m not going to give up Sunday Chinese takeout with E, but the next time my coworkers want to go for cheese steaks, I’ll take a pass. The goal for now is reasonable, long term changes. If that doesn’t bring the numbers down sufficiently, I’ll consider becoming a frutarian.*

It’s funny, but I’m looking forward to making these changes. Exercise can hide aesthetic indicators of a poor diet, but it can’t hide the facts in the blood work.  For a long time now, I’ve said I needed to learn more about nutrition, and change the way I eat. Now I have the motivation to do so… and a deadline.

Next test is in three months. Let’s see how much progress I can make by then.


(not really).

The Brooklyn Half Marathon Preparty and the Dueling Cliches of Being an Aging Man in a Transforming Borough

Last night, after I went to pick up my bib for the Brooklyn Half Marathon, I posted this on Instagram:

Is there any greater sign that a man has become old then complaining about a party? Probably not. But something about the contrived Brookly-ness of the Brooklyn Half Pre Party really gets to me.

In part it is because they host it on a pier in Brooklyn Bridge Park, a good fifteen minute walk from the train. It is terribly inconvenient and I’m convinced they host it there to encourage runners to spend more time (and money) at the party.

But I also hate it because of the food trucks, beer, and DJs; the photo-ops with the Brooklyn Bridge in the background, and the vast array of merchandise for sale with “Brooklyn” on it.

Its all just a little too much.

Of course, all of this hoopla for a half marathon is, in part, because Brooklyn is having a moment – a sickening moment where it’s teetering on the edge of cool and clichéd. It’s a time when the hedge funds guys still rub shoulders with the municipal workers and teachers; where artisanal bakers can sell to graphic designers and start-up entrepreneurs; where everyone can grow a beard, but very few can afford the rent.

I love this place, I’ve lived here longer than I have lived anywhere else, but as another Brooklynite* said once its “bringing me down”. 

And to me, for whatever reason, the Brooklyn Half Pre-Party is a representation of just how out of control this is all getting — and of how close it all is to falling into pure cliché.

Because you see, big time half marathons are not cool. They never will be. Half marathons are the perfect distance for the average person, long enough to provide a sense of accomplishment, but not so long as to take over your life. They are, by design, run-of-the-mill. Sure midnight halfs, like the one put on by Orchard Street can be cool. But really, if you want cool, you have to go much further, or much shorter.  Half marathons are for the average jogger, the guy with the job, and the kid, and the mortgage.

Guys like me.

And we’re not cool.

Yet we’re also the future of Brooklyn.


Old guys, with child, at last year's Brooklyn Half.

Old guys, with child, at last year’s Brooklyn Half. Note aging punker with tattoos and beard.

Still, what the hell is wrong with me? Who begrudges people a good time on a sunny afternoon in park?

I do, apparently.

And in the end, perhaps that says more about me, and my nostalgia for a Brooklyn long gone, than it says about the goddamn pre-party.

Whatever, who knows. Tomorrow this old man is going to run, which is what the point of this is supposed to be anyway.


*Who owns a goddamn wine bar by the way. 

Friday Inspiration – Jordan Jovtchev, rings training, and getting old

I can only post videos of skinny guys running in circles for so many week before its time for a change.  This week, let’s watch some videos of a Jordan Jovtchev* the 39 year old Bulgarian gymnast who competed in his sixth Olympic games this year in London.

As an old dude, I always root for the grey beards in sports.  I’ve been fascinated with Jovtchev since I read this article about him in the lead up to the summer games.  Like many an aging athlete, he competes through pain, as he says in the Times article, just like the rest of us he’s trying to find that balance between doing too much, and not enough.  Unlike the rest of us, he’s an incredibly gifted athlete.  He also seems like a totally decent guy.

My climbing gym has a set of rings, and I fuck around on them from time to time.  Perhaps I should do some more serious workouts on them, maybe modeled off these video Jovtchev shot in his younger days. (Excuse the awful effects, it was the long time ago)

But as with everything else I have going on in my life, where will I find the time?  How do I strike the balance? After my climbing session this weekend, I’ll sneak in a little time, and think about the incredible things this old dude can do.

*Or is it Yordan Yovtchev? I’m going with Js since that is what the paper of record uses.  Transliteration is a fraught and complex business, someone should write a blog post about that.

A Final Stand Against Bourgeois Normalacy

Attention conservation notice: Total navel gazing, nothing of substance here.

There was a time when I lived in a punk house in San Francisco.  I worked thirty to forty hours a week loading trucks and the rest of my time was my own.  I spent it in doing political organizing, reading, traveling, going to rock and roll shows, and generally living a life outside the work-a-day grind.  Those days are over for me.  Now, I’m an attorney, a married man, and I’m about to buy an apartment.  I work a lot, and when I’m not working more often than not I’m thinking about work or real estate, or some other iteration of capitalism of which my twenty one year old self would have disapproved.  I still do political work, but it is part of my professional life now, and unless it intersects with sport or philosophy, I have little interest in writing about it here.  The me of today is in many ways different from the one of ten years ago*, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I don’t miss group houses, or being broke, or endless political meetings the outcome of which is the scheduling of more meetings, but I do hope to continue to carve out a little time for myself away from the forces of the market.  The activities which I write about here are what I do in that time.  Exercise, study, the other obsessions and interests I discuss here  are my final stand against bourgeois normalcy.  They cost me almost nothing to engage in and hold no economic benefit.  I do them purely for the joy of it.

As time goes on I hope this blog will both provide useful information for those who share my interests and give me a space to ruminate on my idiosyncratic hobbies.  I hope it isn’t too boring.  I’ll try to keep the navel gazing to a minimum.  Hebrew, rock climbing, stoicism and running have little in common, except as they reflect parts of me – a wannabe scholar and an aging jock.  As time goes on, the particular subject matters covered here will likely change.  Hebrew may become Latin, rock climbing may become yoga, but the over ridding principle that this website for me to explore the parts of me which do not fit into my professional persona will remain constant.  I hope you stick around.

* In many other ways, I am the same – I am still a slow runner and I still think Jim Calhoun is the greatest coach in the history of college basketball.