Newsy Tidbits and Other Digressions

The news is just full of catalytic converters today. Honestly I don’t really even know what a “catalytic converter” does… but I’m imagining them, in the life of the mind, as “thought sparks.” So that’s what I mean.

I loved this quote from a teenage boy in the sports section yesterday in the Post (Washington, that is). He said, “I do feel like God has a plan for everybody. And even though mine has sucked so far, He has a plan. Something good is going to come out of it.” BOY HAVE I FELT THAT WAY, even though (lecture to self) I have a zillion reasons for gratitude.

Today’s paper yielded this gem, an outgoing (as opposed to “incoming,” not “introverted”) voice-mail message from a Maryland senator, Tom Bromwell, serving time in prison: “Hi. This is Senator Tom Bromwell. I can’t come to the phone right now because I’m in jail. If you care to leave a message, I’ll call you back in six years. By the way, I’m doing okay.”

I love it! I’d like to have a similar excuse sometimes (without actually serving time), especially on the days when my love-hate relationship with email takes a violent turn towards overwhelmedness. Don’t we all tire of the incessant reachability that we have, on the other hand, embraced. I once answered a phone call from a dear friend’s husband while “busy” in a restroom stall at a restaurant. Granted he did need to track her down because we were having so much fun that we had forgotten not only her phone but also some minor detail like a child’s dismissal from school. But I digress. People have a hold on us. That’s my point.

And saying no… that’s another issue. Before I developed an effective trust muscle, I used to feel incapable of saying no. I knew I had a problem when I was initially pleased that I had breast cancer because it would allow me to say, with impunity, “No I can’t bring brownies to the PTA meeting.” Sick but true!

A final catalytic converter for today before I get back to my real work, and that involves the always-lucrative speaking circuit in America. You know the drill; you go to a rubber-chicken dinner (or in these Top Chef- inspired days, you might actually get a Seared Quail Breast with Butter Poached Lobster Ravioli and Mango; thanks, Stephanie Izard!) , and while you eat your catered meal you hear an inspirational speech.

Well, I read an article yesterday in Outside magazine (which I can’t ever put down; I am obsessed with mountain-climbing rescue stories for some reason) about the speaking fees of various adventurers and athletes. And ironically (and only in America, I imagine) it turns out that you can make almost as much money speaking if your accomplishment is hot-dog-overconsumption as you can if you actually ran 50 marathons in 50 days in 50 states. Now the latter sounds truly impressive (if for no other reason than that there were no airline snafus that prevented showing up to the starting lines). And the former is, well, a little disgusting.

Seriously though, Takeru Kobayashi, competitive eater, finished off 63 hot dogs in 12 minutes, and he now takes his inspirational message (“Chow now!”) to the inspirationally-starved for $15,000 a pop. Whereas Dean Karnazes, ultramarathoner, touts the message, “Go the distance to find success!” for $20,000 a gig. $5000 would just not be enough money to move me from competitive eating to ultra-marathoning. But that’s just me. I don’t like to fly that much!

The final thought for today from my day’s readings (aren’t you glad I caffeine-loaded today?) is this: I rushed to read Outside‘s “Where to Live Now, The 20 Best Towns in America” so I would be armed with data to support change in my life (I love the idea of change). And guess what? I already live in the #1 city, and I didn’t even know it. So while the rest of you prepare to “Make the Move, Live the Dream,” I’m just going to rest on my laurels, enjoy the humidity, and brag about my zip code all day.

Eat your hearts out!

~ by Cary on July 14, 2008.

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