The Pleasure Of... Upgrades

On setting & beating goals.

A big chunk of Astoria Park has been closed off for the best part of a year while the Parks Department upgrades the running track. In practice this meant tall black fencing cutting off our usual entrance and routes through the park as well as the track, with a projected completion date of spring 2020. Then, out of yesterday’s clear blue sky, T texted me a news report that the work was finished and the park reopening. Leaving aside the insanity of that scheduling, this is happy news. T went to the park at dawn to get in one of his last marathon training runs, and took these lovely shots of the track, which is bright blue, and workers tearing down the last of the fencing.

I’m not marathoning this year for ~reasons~ but I’ve been extremely inspired by watching T actually train. We’ve both run twice, in 2016 and 2017, and both times our training got us about as far as not dying. This time, he’s been doing it for real, sticking with a plan, and knocking not just a few seconds but whole chunks of time off his various PRs. I’m taking some time off running, but it’s good to think about next summer and what my ambitions might be. I got comfortable with it, and there is an argument for that, for routine and knowing what I can do, and enjoying it. But I’m getting dissatisfied with being at the middle of the pack. I’m never going to win a race, but I do want to see if I can get consistently under nine minutes a mile, if I can move up a corral in NYRR, if I can be faster, for longer, and how that would feel. I’m heartened by increasing evidence that age isn’t a consistent measure of running ability. Perhaps if I’d actually been athletic as a kid I’d have some records I’d never beat, some sense of glory lost. But I never did, so there’s no benchmark I’ll never hit again. It’s still out there to be set. 

Reading & Viewing Pleasures

I finished Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous under a library-return deadline, and liked it more the deeper into it I got, perhaps because a child’s-eye perspective, with all its deep impressions and fragmentary understanding, can get frustrating, and I think there was more going on when the narrator was a teenager and a young adult. I remain suspicious of anything that feels built to be taught in an MFA classroom, but it’s unfair to blame a beautiful, intense, and often wildly original and strange novel for the pale imitations it’s bound to inspire.

I’m not sure anyone’s going to set out to imitate Parasite, which we finally saw at IFC Center late last Friday night, with half of New York, it felt like. Really as mind-blowing as everyone says, and I just want to talk and talk and talk about it. This fantastic Inkoo Kang interview/overview of director Bong Joon-ho’s career is a great start to all the reading, and possibly writing, I want to do about it.

This week brought to you by lunch dates and deadlines, so apologies for brevity. Go see Parasite and come back so we can talk about it :)