you can’t answer ‘nothing’

Ok, world. You don’t like me and I don’t like you.

(World meekly pipes up “I like you”)

You do?

Once a year, on our birthday, everyone wishes us a “Happy Birthday” and poses a horrifying, paralyzing question to us.

“What are you gonna do?”
“What are you doing for your birthday?”

And they want an answer.

This is a level beyond casual weather conversation which can be brushed off by a “crazy, right? It’s raining needles filled with heroin in July? Global warming.”

It’s beyond “What are you doing this weekend.”

What are you doing on the day that simultaneously represents your beginning and ending?

What are you gonna do?

 

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2015: The Paul Awakens

You’re not going to believe this, but I felt that Facebook’s “Your Year In Review” did not present me with an adequate representation of my year’s experiences that I wanted to share with everyone.

“Paul, it’s for fun. Its not supposed to be accurate.”

“Paul, it’s a free social media platform, what more do you want from it?”

“Paul, are you a bit of a narcissist?”

Yes, yes, and a resounding YES, internal voice (and everyone reading this)!

But, this is my site that I pay $20 a year for, and you chose to not hide me on Facebook/Twitter/Livejournal, so here we are.

One big obvious thing I did this year was that I ran. You all know this. Its an unescapable part of me now. I run. I tell people about it. If you feel I do so too much, I’m sorry, but a huge part of what keeps me doing it is sharing that experience. It makes me accountable. Or at least in my head it does. I’m training for the New York City Marathon now, after qualifying this past year by completing New York Road Runner’s 9+1 program. I did a lot of running, and I’m going to do a whole lot more. Running has given me something I didn’t know I was missing, and I’m grateful for it. Thanks to my mother-in-law Michele for getting me into it, thanks to my wife Chrystal for supporting me through every run, and thanks to everyone who bears with my non-stop running talk/posting.

Another big to-do from this year was that I completed a Certificate in Marketing program at NYU’s School of Continuing Professional Studies. Taking these classes has really rounded me out professionally, and given me a lot of organizational tools to better do my job. I also got to meet a ton of interesting people from all over the world, as NYU draws in a lot of international students. I didn’t expect that, nor did I expect to enjoy going back to school so much. Seriously. I still have nightmares about needing to take one more English class to finish high school and/or college, but I enjoyed the heck out of this. Thanks to Justin and to Nice Shoes for putting me on this path.

Completely Normal, the feature film that I cowrote, made its way through a number of festivals this year. Congrats to Rob, Andrew, Molly, Seth, Jenny, Geneva, Whitney, Jim, all the various Chris’s (there’s about 18 of them altogether ), Harnick, Yost, Mike, Heather, Danielle, David, and anyone else who I’m missing who made this awesome film. Collaborating on this film was a unique experience that I didn’t fully appreciate as it was happening, and I’m incredibly grateful to have been a part of it. I can’t wait til everyone can see what we all made, and a shoutout once again to Rob for being the unstoppable force (he’s a directorial Juggernaut!) that made it happen.

I have also realized that I’m pretty damn self-absorbed.

I have been extremely fortunate throughout my 31 years on this Earth, and if I’ve learned anything in this past year, its that I’ve taken a lot, and I haven’t given much back. I’m not talking about money. I’m talking about time. About listening. About helping/volunteering/service. Whatever actions I can take to put a little bit back into the world. I can be a better husband, son, brother, nephew, uncle, cousin, friend, coworker, neighbor. I can be a better Paul.

 

I know that writing this very post is inherently selfish. I want to feel better about myself. But this is the world we live in, where selfish thoughts are posted publicly on a regular basis. I’m seriously going back and forth on whether to hit publish. But I’m going to. I need this out there to hold myself accountable. So that a year from now (or a few months from now when I google myself), I can check to see if I’ve put anything positive back into the world.

 

 

Runnerversary

Its about the good pain.

The pain that feels like accomplishment instead of weariness.

Its about the hunger.

The appetite that arises from the damn near absolute expenditure of energy rather than boredom or routine.

Its about the loss of control.

The feeling of overwhelming, physical, emotions that take me to the verge of both tears and laughter.

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Two years ago, I ran my first 5K on the 4th of July. I didn’t like running. I didn’t know why people ran. I only knew it was something I had to try. If only to prove that I could.

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Now I’ve lost track of the 5Ks and 10Ks. I’ve done three half marathons. I’m training for a full marathon. I’ve volunteered at a run. These are things I didn’t see myself doing at any point in my life prior to two years ago, and I certainly didn’t even imagine half of them when I finished that first run. But I’m a different person now. I mean, that’s true of all of us. We change a little bit with every moment, but I can truly say that running has made me a different person. It’s brought me to a place where I truly feel that I’m myself.

I probably talk about it too much. I’ve probably invited way too many of you to do a run with me. But some of you have, and some of you maybe know what I’m talking about. Or you at least have the thing that makes you feel this way.

So yeah. I didn’t think I’d ever say “I’m a runner.” Because moreso than any previous aversion to exercise, I’m also the kind of pretentious asshole who likes to claim that they “don’t like labels.”

But yeah, I’m two years older. I’ve run quite a few miles. Lets dial back my pretension a bit.

I’m a runner. More than anything else, that’s who I am and what I do. The people I run with, my family. We used to call ourselves “Team Beer and Cupcakes.”

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Now we’re “Team Don’t Die.” Because its not just about rewarding yourself with indulgences because you burned off some calories. Nor is it just about living a little longer. Its about pushing as hard as you can and not dying while doing so. Its about FEELING it. Feeling and physically knowing that you accomplished something amazing. Beyond what any t-shirt or medal or long-winded blog post can remind you.

Its about the good pain.