Wednesday, April 18, 2007


"Summer afternoon - Summer afternoon... the two most beautiful words in the English language."

In his artful novel, The Master, Colm Toibin brings to life Henry James' rare sensibility. Toibin plumbs the writer's psyche, detailing James' rich interior life and progressive vision and shows the writer at work shaping the contours of stories. Toibin emphasizes the importance of solitude:
"He loved the glorious silence a morning brought, knowing that he had no appointments that afternoon and no engagements that evening. He had grown fat on solitude, he thought, and had learned to expect nothing from the day but at best a dull contentment. Sometimes the dullness came to the fore with a strange and insistent ache which he would entertain briefly, but learn to keep at bay. Mostly, however, it was the contentment he entertained; the slow ease and the silence could, once night had fallen, fill him with a happiness that nothing, no society nor the company of any individual, no glamour or glitter, could equal."
This week at TNYA's spring training, we have grown tone on swimming and learned to expect nothing from the day but blue skies, sun and water.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


"But for one brilliant moment, they dazzled."

Set in postcolonial Nigeria, Chris Abani's Graceland tells the tender story of a teenage Elvis impersonator who spends his days entertaining tourists and negotiating Lagos' ghetto walkways. While Elvis' father considers his dancing useless and friends suggest he "let go of his childish dreams," the teen proceeds wistfully determined as he sings "Hound Dog" off-key, imitates the King's hip thrusts and fantasizes about life in America. Abani traces a life of yearning and stirs wishes into a pot of bitter leaf soup. Consider the following early passage from this standout novel:
Giving up on reading, [Elvis] let his mind drift as he stared at the city, half slum, half paradise. How could a place be so ugly and violent yet beautiful at the same time? he wondered.

He hadn't known about the poverty and violence of Lagos until he arrived. It was as if people conspired with the city to weave a web of silence around its unsavory parts. People who didn't live in Lagos only saw postcards of skyscrapers, sweeping flyovers, beaches and hotels. And those who did, when they returned to their ancestral small towns at Christmas, wore designer clothes and threw money around. They breezed in, lived an expensive whirlwind life, and then left after a couple of weeks, to go back to their ghetto lives.

But for one brilliant moment, they dazzled: the women in flashy clothes, makeup and handbags that matched their shoes, daring to smoke in public and drink beer straight from the bottle; and the men, sharp dressers who did not rat on you to your parents if they caught you smoking. They let you take sips of their beer and shoved a few naira into your shirt pocket.

Sunday, April 08, 2007


"First, we holiday--then we suffer,"

Alfred amusingly pronounces as he pushes off the wall for a 16 x 100 freestyle set. An eager group of seven swimmers follows him up and down the lane as he alternates between moderate and hard intervals and ends with three fast 100-meter repeats.

The Way of the Champion by Jerry Lynch and Chungliang Al Huang is my current inspirational reading. In Chapter 3, the authors focus on preparing for competition and touch on the ability to learn from failure:
Athletics is a perfect environment for learning lessons about how to deal with crisis because, in the space of a one-hour contest, you are forced to face some or all of the many forms of adversity: defeat, mistakes, errors, failures, frustration, fatigue, injury, plateaus, and even success with its fleeting nature. By learning to adjust the focus of your lens of perception on these forms of adversity, and beginning to embrace them for what they ultimately offer, you take your first stop on the way of gaining the competitive edge in sport as well as all of life.

Tuesday, April 03, 2007



Last week, a special friend turned me on to Tracy K. Smith's poetry. Duende, Smith's latest collection is fiery, substantive, passionate and personal. " Her topics are marriage, war and survival. "Letter to a Photojournalist Going-in" begins:
You go to the pain. City after city. Borders
Where they peer into your eyes as if to erase you.

You go by bus or truck, days at a time, just taking it
When they throw you into a room or kick at your gut,

Taking it when a strong fist hammers person after person
A little deeper into the ground. Your camera blinks...
The narrator later confides, "Your voice fits my ear like a secret. I want to keep it there." And in the final stanza, her stance is adamant and more urgent:
I want my heart to beat like yours: from the outside in,
A locket stuffed with faces that refuse to be named. For time

To land at my feet like a grenade.
This morning, the coach's workout was equally distinct; we ended in flight.
6 x (50, 75, 100)
Repeat the following twice:
On the first round, focus on 50 fast, 75 and 100 pace.
On the second round, focus on 50 pace, followed by 75 fast and 100 pace.
On the third round, focus on 50 and 75 pace, followed by 100 fast.

4 x 75 (BK/BR/FR)
4 x 25 FL

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?