interview me harder

a journalist from Forbes Magazine emailed me the other day to get my number, not because he wanted to interview me for a specific story but so he can call me up when he needs a quick quote about new media. does that mean i've entered the punditocracy, in which i can bloviate at whim without any particular connection to the story at hand?

i would like to get on tv again sometime soon only because my last appearance was so dismally atrocious that i want to prove that it was just because it was my first time. you always assume that pundits can see the people interviewing them but in reality you have an ear piece and you just have to stare into the camera and pretend someone is there. as a result my eyes were darting all over the place. i stuttered, while the other journalist who was brought on (from wired magazine) was a seasoned pro. after the interview was over the producer came in my ear and said something like "we'll be sure to bring you on again" while his tone said "you reeked." now that i've seen myself though i know i can do it. just smile like you assume they're always cutting to you and do. not. break. eye. contact.

ah and the other rule i learned was don't look like a pasty white blowhard. might need to practice a few times to nail that one.

It's not about the bike

god i almost forgot how wonderful it is to ride my bike at night. however creepy it may be i like riding down residential roads and catching glimpses of people washing their dishes or watching tv. tonight i rode down to the cvs to pick up some fish oil pills and always i get that weird image of me skidding down on the road and a car running over my melon because it doesn't have time to stop.

i started practicing my piano again tonight, the plan being to get into the routine of three half hour practice sessions a week. the notes to the music i'm relearning are so fuzzy; my hands have a vague memory of where they are and if i don't think about it too intensely I can get through several measures before i remember that i don't really remember -- it's like Wile E. Coyote suspended in midair right before he looks down and realizes he has gone over a cliff and plummets.

What is this

ira glassLast night I went to see This American Life's Ira Glass speak in Charlottesville with some friends and god it is uncanny how deftly he can manipulate and bend you to feeling anything he wants you to feel. His speech was beautiful and sad and funny and insightful, his hands running fluidly over his sound board using it to interweave clips and music into his dialog, as if he were sitting there performing an actual episode of This American Life. Is it possible to go to that theater and hear him speak and -- gay or straight -- not fall in love with the person, this 50-year-old man with the odd voice?

What is this? What is this. In instances like these I see the subtle quirkiness of my own personality and my ambition and talent and I realize how silly it is that I get hung up on things. That I get sad about relationships gone sour or the minute problems that sometimes sprinkle my life like weeds. Because in many ways I am in the position to transcend that, move past it and only focus on being creative, fun, and, well, powerful. Ira spoke of the ways that over time he had perfected the narrative techniques that make him so successful on radio, and in that same way I have uncovered the machinations of social media and the narrative flow of journalism in such a way that I have gained growing clout within the online sphere. And in the same sense I live in DC, a city where it's possible to discard one failed relationship or social situation and try on a new one.

Which is all to say that speeches like Ira's give you those brief moments of clarity that you hope you can hold onto the next morning. And maybe this journal entry is a way of capturing it here, so whenever I'm staring down the barrel of mediocrity I can look back here, gain some perspective, and then move onto the next trinket, the next quirky, creative bubble of insight.


I've gone on looks alone forever now when trying to gauge whether I looked thin or overweight, and now that I have a scale and can quantitatively measure how much I weigh it's interesting how one-sided the self-perception has become. In the past any given time I looked in a mirror I could perceive myself as overweight or normal depending on the mirror, the angle, what I was wearing, the last time I had exercised, or all of the above. But now that I step on my ultra-accurate $70 scale every morning my mind has permanently readjusted to note that yes, I am heavier than I want to be, and so when I do catch a glance of myself in the mirror I see what the scale sees and nothing more.

Either way, the scale or something else has become the definitive point of resistance, the wall of chiseled-pecs in that shitty 300 movie, not letting the weird foreigners -- i.e., bad eating habits -- past. This has happened before, and almost always it takes some low point before the rage becomes too much and the cold and calculated dieter takes rank and consumption discipline previously alien to me suddenly rears its head.

Now I stick to a dietary regime and a hunger that would have had me dropping everything to eat a week ago can now be relegated to a slight annoyance that barely registers on my radar. Not only is my calorie consumption down, but my fruit and vegetable ratio has skyrocketed, I'm almost never eating out at all and I'm once again making my own meals. It's hard to say exactly how steep my calorie cut has been, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's between 500 and 1,000 calories a day. I just did back of the envelope calculations -- literally it was on the back of an envelope, carefully writing the calorie count for each food item -- and I consumed only 1,740 calories today. Not only that, but I probably burned at least another 600 with an intense workout.

The progress will be measured by week, so though I'm no stranger to the scale the only number that really counts is the one that will be displayed on Friday morning when I roll out of bed. I'm hoping to reach a significant part of my goal by the end of this month, and maybe then I'll be closer to looking into any mirror, at any angle, wearing any clothes and uniformly see a thin person staring back at me.

My PBS article for this week

For my PBS article this week, I attended a DC screening of about a dozen mini-documentaries shot by finalists for Project Report, a contest for non-professional journalists that was sponsored by YouTube and the Pulitzer Center. With all the questions as to what sites like Craigslist and Google can do to aid the struggling journalism industry, I thought it worth analyzing what part YouTube can play in the discussion.

The math, it just doesn't add up

Let me walk you through a day of my physical activity.

Every morning I walk to my bus stop, then ride the bus to the metro and then after taking the metro walk from it to work, and then at the end of the day walk back to the metro.

This adds up to at least 3/10s of a mile

I then get off at my metro stop and rather than waiting for a bus I walk all the way home.

My metro stop is 1.7 miles from home.

By now I've walked 2 miles, and the calculations I've found online say that a person of my size and weight burns about 100 calories a mile. That's 200 calories.

When I get home, I eventually get changed and work out. For 40 minutes straight I ride my stationary bike at its highest setting. Not on a program where it gets easy for a few minutes and then spikes up to a higher setting for a few minutes. It's on the hardest setting for all 40 of those minutes. Not to be gross, but I'm pretty sweaty by the end of that work out.

I then get off the bike and do 225 crunches. The hard kind that involve my legs swinging out as I'm doing the crunches, no hands behind my head.

I then get on my total gym and do 170 chest presses at about half my body weight, so a little over 100 pounds.

Then, depending on what day it is, I either do 35 curls (same weight) on the total gym or 55 of these tricep freestyle reps (which is really freaking hard).

All told, I've spent about 50 minutes doing a pretty intense work out. By conservative estimates between the walking and the workout I've burned a minimum of 700 calories.

I repeat the workout at least four times a week and walk 2 to 3 miles a day 7 days a week (pretty much anytime I go to the metro I'm walking to and from, plus all the walking I do in the city)

And what do I eat? I'm not the healthiest eater in the world but it's not like I go to McDonald's three times a day. For breakfast I had a blueberry muffin. For lunch some pizza with shrimp on it. For dinner eggs, potatoes and toast.

Given all this, I can't for the life of me understand why I always feel like I'm constantly battling my weight. Don't get me wrong, I'm not fat at all. But at the same time I'm definitely not thin. I definitely have a small but noticeable layer of fat around my torso. I don't necessarily have a gut but at the same time I don't have a flat stomach either.

I just don't understand, the calorie intake versus the calorie burn just doesn't seem to add up. In DC I pass and work with tons of people who are thinner than me all the time. And while I'm sure at least a few of them may eat less and actually exercise more than me, I highly doubt there are that many that do.

Could my metabolism really be that slow? I've read lots of articles that not only does your body continue to burn calories after you work out, but your body also burns more calories a day for every pounds of muscle you put on.

Yet I work out every day and I'm not seeing a lot of progress, even though my workouts have been getting increasingly harder. Six months ago I was only doing 25 minutes on the bike, 125 crunches, fewer than 100 chest presses and 25 tricep thingies. The length and difficulty has almost doubled in that time period.

Am I missing something. Is it just a matter of perspective and I look healthier than I feel? This is so frustrating.