Looking Back: The First Year

So it’s been a year, more or less, for this blog.

Always one for looking back and keeping track, I thought I’d take a moment to highlight some of my favorite posts from the first year, the ones I had the most fun writing, each for a different reason. Think of this as an “If you only read five, read these five” kind of list:

• (Avoiding) The Road To Provincetown.  Forget five. If you’re only going to read one post from this blog, read this one. In it, I describe a whirlwind trip to Provincetown, on the very tip of Cape Cod, in September. It was my first trip back to my brother’s home since his memorial service, 23 years ago, and even though I’d been looking forward to it for months — years, really — I was completely surprised by the storm of emotions that blew over me during my 18-hour visit.  The actual writing of this post, much of it in near-real time during the trip, may have been the only thing that kept me on an even keel.

• Boycott The Bowls! In my endless quest for social justice. I took on a corrupt American institution to try to make things fairer for everyone. Unsuccessful so far, but we must keep at it!

• Marathon Dreams (Continued). This was, essentially, an account of my best running race of 2010, a half marathon from Clayton to Forest Park and back. Perhaps it wasn’t my best running prose of the year, but it was my best race, so I like this one.:-)  An earlier race report, on the Quivering Quads Trail Half Marathon in March, was far and away my most-read post of the year, thanks to its inclusion on race sponsor Fleet Feet Sports’ Web page. That one still gets a few hits just about every day, even more now that this year’s race is rapidly approaching.

• A One-Way Drive In 1980. Fairly early in this blogging business, I was thinking back to major anniversaries in my life, and realized that the year 1980 — 30 years back from when I was writing — was perhaps one of the most significant years in my personal story. So I undertook to: a) try to document the highlights and b) make it interesting enough for people other than myself to read. I’m not sure I succeeded in either part of that effort, but this was one of my favorite “1980” posts. It was actually the first of three parts, documenting a wild weekend that led up to concert by The Who in St. Louis in April 1980.

• A New Way To Look At St. Louis. This was an all-too-unusual post for me this last year. I had thought, going in, that I’d do a lot of these little photo-story posts, but I guess I just didn’t really take as many worthwhile pictures last year as I hoped. Anyway, this one was fun; I took a long lunch, walked across Eads Bridge to investigate a new park I’d never visited before, and snapped a few pictures along the way. Then, within an hour or so, put it up here. That’s the way it’s supposed to go, I think, and hopefully I’ll do more of that in the future.

And there you have it. The first year of Shoulblog is in the books. To anyone who actually made it to the end of any of these posts, thank you for reading, and especially thank you to those who have left comments along the way. As for the future of this blog, I have no plans other than to keep going where the currents take me. And I welcome you along for the ride.

A Birthday Party

I can hear you asking: John, how is it that you, who are so attuned to dates and anniversaries (more examples here and here and here ), how did you let your blog’s first birthday slip by uncelebrated?

Excellent question, and thanks for asking.

Actually, although I pledge allegiance to the Gregorian calendar — despite its unequal months, its awkward solution to the extra-quarter-day problem and its odd names for the last four months — it felt like the Shoulblog Anniversary needed a more, well, celestial observation. So, following on the scientific wisdom of ancient Christians (that’s a joke, in case you don’t know me very well), Shoulblog decided to adopt a lunisolar dating system.

My first blog post was on February 16, 2010. That was 47 days before the Sunday after the first full moon after the 2010 vernal equinox. With me so far? So we’ll use the same general calculation for all future Shoulblog Anniversaries. That means the big day for 2011 is  … March 8, or tomorrow!

In the future, to avoid having to go through all those calculations, you can get any halfway decent calendar, and look in the spring months for “Ash Wednesday.” Count back exactly one day, and you have our big day. If you have a truly excellent calendar, the day itself will be denoted as “Mardi Gras.” In the future, truly excellent AND hip calendars will call the day what it is: Shoulblog Anniversary!

Here in St. Louis, the World Headquarters for Shoulblog, the anniversary celebration has been going on for a week, and will come to a head tomorrow evening with a big parade  downtown. This follows an even bigger parade held last Saturday. Tomorrow night’s celebration promises to be an exciting and raucous affair: strangers will unite, beer will be drunk, beads will be thrown, breasts will be bared, revelers will fall down … you get the idea.

However you celebrate out there, though, please be careful. We want you around to be reading Shoulblog for years to come!

A Month, Lost

Yes, it has been more than a month since I last wrote here. The entire month of February didn’t see a single post from me — the first time that’s happened since I started this blog a year ago. And unfortunately, it wasn’t just the keyboard that I neglected last month; my running shoes didn’t get much action, either. I ran fewer miles in February than in any month since I returned to running almost two years ago.

Bronchitis. Viral bronchitis, to be exact (which means: there’s no magic antibiotic to cure it). I’m glad I went to the doctor so I could put a name to what I had. Because saying I have “a really bad cold” (which is what I would have called it had the doctor not diagnosed the bronchitis; symptomatically, it was no different from bad colds I’d had before)  just doesn’t seem all that impressive.

For more than three weeks, I sneezed, I coughed, I felt completely wiped out. Mostly, I coughed. Oh yeah, and I lost about five pounds, just by blowing my nose. The meds I got from the doctor helped the symptoms a little, but the stuff that was supposed to help me sleep at night  turned out to be the best caffeine substitute I’ve ever found.

Gradually, the symptoms faded away.  Even now, there’s still some congestion in there, some dust in the ductwork, so to speak, but it’s not much more than what I usually have over the winter months. Finally, 18 days into February, I was able to do some tentative running.

Then I wrenched my back. It was the simple act of pulling a bag of chicken breasts out of the freezer that did it. I felt a strong twinge, and then almost immediately my whole lower back started to seize up. That happened a week ago yesterday, and, although in the past, things like that have faded away after a few days, this time the pain has hung on, every time I sit for more than a couple of minutes, or — horrors! — stand up after sitting for a while. Needless to say, the running shoes are back in the closet, getting lonely. I’m hopeful that this will clear up and I’ll get back to running in few days, but I’m not so sure.

Anyway, That inactive February means that any hope I had of running the Quivering Quads Trail Half Marathon again this year are shot. The race is only 15 days away, and 15 is coincidentally the total number of miles I’ve run in the last five weeks. Oh well, it was fun to think about, but it’s just not happening this year.