March 11, 2003

mutant marathon runner

Today must have been one of my international super-mutant training days. As I said, I got up at 4:45 to slide into my super ugly Geek suit, perform a semi-standard morning routine, pick up Sandy from the LSH Lobby, and make it to the Channel 3 studio before 6:00. They promised the door would be held open with a road cone but it was really an ash cistern. I found that a bit disappointing, as the cigarette butts destroyed any degree of class that would have been provided by the use of a road cone, but at least it still let us walk right into a citadel of journalism without resistance.

We met up with the Master Geeks in the dressing room and eventually sidled down to the break room to practice our lines and enjoy Machine Coffee. At around 6:45 they were ready for us and we populated the living room set. After a few chaotic commerical minutes of scrambling for microphones we uttered our geeky lines, and just like that the spot was over. Throughout the day no one told me they saw me on TV, which makes me wonder if college students actually watch the morning news. You would think some would be getting ready for bed around that time.

After exchanging special goods with fellow geeks in the parking lot, Sandy and I hit the road and ended up at the Canal Park Caribou Coffee by 7:00. The registrar squinted at us because the sun was directly in her eyes, and it was reminded of my quirky days five years ago, when I worked at a Caribou in Minnetonka. It seems that a random Caribou Coffee experience reminds me of my working days only when I see the employees suffering. Funny how that works.

We grabbed our lattes (their menu is much more diverse and convoluted than it was when I worked there… WHY, BACK IN MY DAY WE DIDN’T HAVE ALL THESE FANCY-SCHMANCY COFFEES. WE JUST TOSSED A HANDFUL OF FARM DIRT IN THE TEA KETTLE, BOILED ALL THE WATER OFF, AND CHEWED WHATEVER WAS LEFT OVER. THAT WAS LIVIN’, KIDS.) and sat in the loft upstairs, as the morning sun caught the Aerial Lift Bridge and Canal Park warmed up from nine below zero to eight below zero.

I dropped Sandy off, got back to my apartment at a decent hour, wrote a bit, and tried unsuccessfully to sleep for an hour. My brain was finally so wrapped around the axle that it refused any moment of respite that it had earned. No dice. I got up, ate a Pop Tart, worked on some webpages for class, and transcribed some notes for an essay that’s due on Wednesday. Soon enough it was time to catch my 12:00 philosophy class, and I stumbled to the University in a stupor. We discussed feminist and virtue moral theories, but I had missed Friday’s class for a jazz dress-rehearsal and didn’t had time to do the reading over the weekend, so I felt a bit out of the loop.

After philosophy I went to the library to find some resources for my improvisation paper for my communication class, but I was slow and clumsy and soon it was 2:00 and I had run out of time and had to leave to make it to today’s exam in the very same class. The exam was all short answer. Piece of cake. At 3:00 I had persuasion class, where we discussed post-modernism and got our test scores back from last week. I got an 86.

“86?” I asked.

“Yep. 86,” my professor replied.

“Out of?” I asked.


“Hmm,” I said. “That’s disappointing.”

“You can come and talk to me about it later if you want.”

“Will do.”

Funny how I can score a 58 out of 60 on a really difficult short-answer ethics test in philosophy, but can only manage an 86 on a multiple choice test in persuasion. After class at 4:00 I hoofed back to the library to finish the job I had left undone. Last week I made about six requests for inter-library loan material to be sent to me in PDF form. Four of those requests bounced back because UMD already has them on the shelves. In half an hour I managed to find two of them and went to the front desk to check ’em out before jazz.

“Hmm,” I said. “Materials newer than five years are not to be circulated.”

“Yep,” said the library employee. “You can take this one, but this one here needs to stay in the library.”

“OK, I’ll just take that one, then.”

“Alright, here you go. It’s due back next Monday.”

“Erm… I’m going to be in the woods on the other side of the country on Monday.”

“Well, you could come back this Friday and renew it. That would push the renewal to next Friday.”

“I’ll still be in the woods. Uhh, crap.”


I pulled back from the desk and spun around.

“Hi, I’d like to return this.”

“Uhh, ok.”

At 4:30 I went to jazz, where we had a little talkie about this weekend’s Head of the Lakes concert. We had a number of stupid and nearly serious mistakes, but I thought overall it was a good concert. Our director (and other band members) were less forgiving, and perhaps rightly so. I felt that I played really well at the concert, which probably colored my impression of the concert, overall. I mean, I’m still proud of that soprano solo I did with K Dub, but perhaps in my own performance I missed hearing what kind of junk was actually going on around me. Whatevs. The talk really put a downer on my already long day, so I was grateful that we got let out at 5:00 so I could go home, eat something more substantial than Pop Tarts, and take a nap before my 11:00 gig.

I ate yogurt and pudding and a Tombstone Mexican pizza and a slice of wheat bread loaded with formaldehyde and other preservatives. I ate and simultaneously put the finishing touches on my web design project, which was due at 6:00, tonight. Somewhere in there Dave brought to my attention the Animatrix series, where a bunch of heavy-hitter Anime artists put together animations that take place in the Matrix universe. Super, super cool stuff. If you check out nothing else, The Second Renaissance Part I is incredible.

Once everything was done, and all my meetings for tomorrow were set up, and all my e-mail duties for the day had been performed, it was a little after 7:00 and I thought I’d get a nappy in before our Spontaneous Combustion show, tonight. I tried for nearly an hour to sleep, but still my brain was chundered and refused. I called my sister on the phone and shared my woes, we talked a bit, and she suggested I go out and get some exercise. At 8:00 I tossed on my running clothes, threw my Real Book in my backpack and ran at the track for 45 minutes. Sandy was there, too, with her bright red hair, running in true German Techno style. EEEEEE.

When I felt good and tired I trucked on down to the basement of Humanities and ran some parts for our gig. At 9:30 I decided it was done, went home to my apartment, changed into my country bumpkin look for the gig, and got to Pizza Luce around 10:00. Flam Shiram was playing, and we didn’t go on until 11:00 so I grabbed a hard cider on the house and got all riled up with the band.

“You know, a lot of people think that we play jazz because we love the music. No. This isn’t the case. We play jazz because we love the ladies. You don’t play jazz because you like it, you play jazz because you HATE it. You play jazz because it HURTS.”

“I’m sufferin’ from jazz pain!”

“Ooh! Hates so good!”

“You got any Excedrin for your jazz cramps?”

We had a really good crowd of… well… probably about 100 people. By the time we went on-stage I was worked into a frothy frenzy and was ready to tear the roof off the sucker with my horn. Unfortunately the PA system wasn’t hooked up right, so Dave and I needed to blow our brains out just to be heard over the rhythm section. Nevertheless, it was our tightest, wildest, most climactic gig, yet. Whenever one of us took a solo the other band members shout and jeer to egg ’em on. Dave and I coordinated excited jumps and clumsy dance moves. Our first set ended with a long jammed out version of Blue Bee that tensed and released, and built a glorious finale.

Most of our crowd left after the first set (Hey, it was 12:00 on a Monday night, for Pete’s sake), but the six people that hung around were treated to a wild ride through “Dane’s Funk,” a segue into “I Don’t Want No War,” a rocking version of “Well Ya Needn’t” that involved the horns leaping off the stage to take their solos, sit-ins from the keyboardist from Flam Shiram, and a smooth version of Blue Monk to bring everyone down gently in the end.

Best. Show. Ever.

I drove home from Luce at 1:30 in the morning, embraced by snowflakes, streetlights and the smell of my car burning oil.

And now it’s 2:45. If I could manage to stay up for another two hours I will have been awake for 24 hours straight. Seeing as how I didn’t really have a weekend because of gigs and festivals, and I keep forgetting what day today is, and I keep forgetting that I was awake at 4:45 this morning, and I keep thinking it’s Friday, I don’t think even the bragging rights are worth it.

Unless, of course, my brain still isn’t tired yet. If that’s the case, meet me at the track in thirty minutes.