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Luke Melia

The World Spins

It’s been a spell.

Indoor volleyball is back. Our team has a new name, “One Team, Under Dog.” Pretty catchy, eh? We won two out of three last night, including the last one 16-14. We could have taken all three if our serving was better, but overall we played well, better than most of last season, I think. My vertical’s improved a lot from beach play, which added some oomph to my hitting and blocking.

The team had dinner after, and got very silly, mimicing Rebecca’s physical therapy exercises (head movements like a chicken’s) in the restaurant. It crossed my mind that I’m now 25 and still have goofy, fun nights like the ones I had in high school and college. I mistakenly believed that those would dry up with the years, but I guess they won’t. What a pleasant surprise!

Saw an amazing film the other night: The Fast Runner: Atanarjuat. It’s a film made from an Inuit myth and shot up in the Arctic. Worth seeing for sure.

Had dinner with my mom, grandma, Mike, Jess and the little girls (not so little anymore!) on Sunday. My sister Dani is Spain, taking classes and soaking up the culture. Jessica is in New York for the summer, and my dad’s on his way to the city soon. Everyone wishes Will lived closer by. I think occasionally about living abroad again, and about living on the West Coast sometime. Having family within striking distance is pretty damn cool, though.

Enough rambling, enough writing, enough thought-pixels splattered across the screen. Tonight I leave for Fire Island, and there’s work to be done before then.

De La Guarda

A few hours after the tournament, I found myself in a Union Square-area warehouse space flying high above a crowd on a wire in the clutches of a bare-assed man wearing a crash helmet.

I’m talking of course about De La Guarda, the amazing interactive mostly aerial performance art piece originally from Argentina. If you haven’t seen it and you live in New York, you’ve got to go.

It was the most singularly surreal experience I’ve had in quite a while.

Volleyball Tourney

I woke up late today, having slept off a lot of sun and exertion yesterday. I played in a volleyball tournament in Seaside Heights, NJ.

I played with Aaron in the Men’s AA division. I was pretty nervous about it, because I’ve only played Men’s twice in a tournament and those were both division B. Aaron’s a very good player, so I knew he’d be able to carry us to a certain extent, but I definitely didn’t want to be a “black hole,” as James might say, that our opponents could score lots of points on.

It all went better than I’d feared. My serves, hits and passing were all consistent and I was able to set Aaron up for a fair amount of his monster left-handed spikes. We went undefeated in pool play, grabbing the top seed for the playoffs. We won a hard-fought game in the quarterfinals, dominated our semifinals opponent, and arrived in the finals.

Our opponents in the finals were of a variety that I’m beginning to recognize as a stereotype. Older men; extremely competitive; and looking for every legal advantage they can get, including psychological leverage by doing things like adjusting the net, insisting you put more air in a ball that’s been fine all day, etc. Well, it is a competition, you might argue, and I’d grant you that, but we’re ostensibly all on the beach to have fun. It’s a laid-back experience where you play as hard as you can and smile and compliment your competitors on good plays and good hustle and share food and drink and tips. That’s my m.o. anyway.

Long story shorter, I suspect we could have beaten them. They were strong players, but Aaron and I were in a pretty good groove and were certainly a lot faster than them. Unfortunately, Aaron’s legs cramped up bad, to the extent he couldn’t stand up after a bit, and we had to throw in the towel. He was understandably bummed and frustrated, but we both emerged uninjured and second place in that division ain’t so bad. Especially when we can come back and win another day.

7/18/02, 10:57pm

This site had it’s most page views in a day ever yesterday. 988. I’ll have to think of a suitable celebration if it breaks 1,000. The funny thing is the searches that people do to end up here. Yesterday alone, these pages served people on a quest for “trendy personal website”, “spice 8th ave”, “philosophy of the family”, “theory of happiness”, in addition to the more typical “luke melia”, “stuff to pack india”, “typhoid blood test”, “chinese gangster”, “beauty parlor names”, “bangalore movies tickets”, and “indian style toilet”.

Speaking of India, I saw a play tonight by a Gujurati playwrite at HERE, “Kingdom of Lost Songs.” My step mom’s boyfriend Ed was in it. There were some fine performances, including Ed’s, but the play is definitely a work in progress. I’ll leave it at that.

My eyes and contact lenses have been very unhappy for days after a long beach day. Not sure what’s going on, but it ain’t no fun.

Went to MacWorld this morning. Jaguar looks cool. The new iPods are slick (currently 74% of the way to mine). Emagic’s booth was cool. And I bought a learn guitar CD-ROM that I’m looking forward to working through.

Went to Spice for lunch with Melissa and Liz and Anthony walked in a few minuted later. It may just be Melissa’s imminent move to DC that’s making feel this way, but I have a sense upcoming transition. Things are going to change.

And then, I guess, they’ll change some more.

7/18/02, 12:56 am

A late night call from Dad to say hey. He’s in Atlanta tonight. Our talk wandered to the story of how he became interested in macrobiotics. I thought I hadn’t heard it before but I had. It was interesting to hear again. It’s a good story.

It’s sometime in the early seventies. My dad is nineteen years old. He’s recently dropped out of college and is living in Boston. It’s his first time living on his own, sharing a house with a few friends.

They throw a party at their house. My dad is tripping on LSD.

He walks into the kitchen, where a friend is smoking a cigarette. My dad tells the friend that cigarettes are really bad for him, a friendly stoned-out piece of useful advice. As they talk, my dad opens the fridge and takes a swig of grape-flavored Hi-C, right from the can. The smoker laughs, gently chastising my dad for talking about cigarettes while drinking Hi-C. My father reads the ingredients.

Never in the many years of drinking the liquid from the purple can that mom would bring home had he read the ingredients. Lots of chemicals in there. Unpronounceable stuff.

He thinks about what he puts into his body and how it affects him. Drugs have an obvious effect, he thinks, but what if other things we consume affect us in more subtle ways?

The next day, at a store, he puts a copy of Zen Macrobiotics under his jacket and takes it home. (Stealing was morally acceptable in the hippie code of the time, apparently.) The book resonated with him, and one thing led to another.

Later, my parents studied with Michio Kushi, opened up a natural foods store, taught cooking classes, and raised me and my siblings on a mostly macrobiotic diet, instilling experiences, beliefs and habits that we’ll likely pass on to our children.

Funny how one thing leads to another…

7/15/02, 12:30 am

I’m exhausted so this has got to be quick.

Spent the weekend on the beach. Today, Matt & Celinda, and Jeanhee & I played co-ed doubles volleyball in a tournament on the Jersey Shore. Jeanhee and I played really well together, mixing up our offense and serves enough to win all of our pool games but one game where we were down 8-1 and came back to lose 10-12. We made quick work of our fatigued semifinal opponents and went on to win the finals of the B division. Nothing like first place!

Our prize was advancement to a BB ranking, a whole lot of satisfaction and fifty dollars each in merchandise from the JSVBA stand. I got myself a shirt like Anthony’s and a pair of shorts.

Another prize was a deeper understanding of why I love playing this sport. There’s not a whole lot of opportunity in life to throw everything you have into something. Mind, body, creativity, soul, courage, determination, compassion, sensitivity, intuition. Love is one of those things. I think that beach volleyball’s another.

Here are some pics from the day (some are of iffy quality…).

7/12/02, 1:23 am

Everyone I meet is talking about the NY Times Magazine article about fat from this weekend. It’s a shocker that medical “experts” may have been so wrong about the roles and effects of fat and carbohydrates in our diet… But then, doctors have been wrong (generally with indignant authority) throughout the history of medicine. The four humors, levels of bile as the be-all and end-all, bleeding with leeches, formula instead of breast milk for babies, circumcision, masturbation of women to treat hysteria…

I haven’t heard too many profound discoveries about diet, though, that contradict common sense and a naturalistic perspective. It makes sense that the healthiest foods are the least processed, the vegetables grown organically and locally. And it makes sense that anything can make you a fat slob if you eat a lot of it and don’t exercise. If you exercise a lot, it makes sense that you can eat with more reckless abandon. It makes sense the dairy causes congestion, that whole grains have more to offer the body than processed grains, and those are far better than refined simple sugars. It’s not rocket science that too much of anything isn’t good for you. No discovery thing is going to make a McDonald’s hamburger healthy.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t have a problem with us researching this and being interested in it. I have a problem with being crazed by it. With dieting being a multi-billion dollar industry. With being hit over the head with “fat free” labels while products marketed as healthy are loaded with high-fructose corn syrup.

All that frenetic energy in our culture around diet could be much better focused at, say, playing sports… which would solve the fat problem.

Anyway, while I’m ranting, I may as well mention that Eli Lilly’s recent campaign in Florida is atrocious. They’re mailing free samples of Prozac to people, unrequested. The recent phenomenon of prescription drug advertising has pissed me off for a while, and this is absolutely despicable. For more background, and to send your thoughts on the matter to the CEO of Eli Lilly, check out ActForChange’s action item.

Today, more fun working with the search engine at work. Sand volleyball at the gym after, practicing for the tournaments this weekend. The hot tub was good post-play therapy. Later, a tasty veggie burger and beer (also tasty: Brooklyn Pilsner) at Cafeteria with Jeanhee. Now some laundry to fold before I collapse.

Oh, one more note. Tonight I hit 70% on my iPod Workout Program. By my rough math, that means I’ve averaged one workout every two days since I started this quest.

7/12/02, 1:17 am

This is a post about volleyball in New York City, mostly Manhattan. I wrote it as an email in response to a friend of a friend who was looking for info and figured it would be good to share so people can find it via the search engines…

The two big leagues in the city are NY Urban and Big City Volleyball. Urban is bigger, older, less organized, and less expensive than Big City. I’ve played in both and overall prefer Big City. Both leagues have scrimmages at the beginning of each season where individuals can come out and be placed on a team. Games for both these leagues are at high school and college gyms mostly on the upper west and upper east side.

Urban has an open play every Friday night at Brandeis High School (84th between Amsterdam & Columbus) at 7pm. Get there early to sign up. They have beginner, intermediate and advanced courts there.

Big City does a similar thing at Dalton on the upper east side on Friday nights.

The Gotham League is a gay and lesbian volleyball league at a high school in Chelsea. They’re straight-friendly and have open play on Wednesday nights during the summer.

URLs: http://www.nyurban.com/ | http://www.bigcityvolleyball.com | http://www.gothamvolleyball.org

Those are the leagues. Pick up…

There’s pick up doubles in the sand court in Central Park every weekend (not far from the bandshell). Level of play is extremely competitive. There’s also pick up fours and sixes on courts on pavement in the same area.

There’s a court with pick-up play weekends and after work downtown near the World Financial Center on the water.

I’ve heard that there’s a sand court at Riverside Park, but I’ve never been there.

Pier 25 on the Hudson River offers sand courts you can rent by the hour.

On the weekends, lots of people set up nets in Prospect Park in Brooklyn on the grass or dirt. We did that pretty regularly for a while, but lately we’ve been playing on beach most weekends. We’ll probably do it a few more times this summer and start up again in the fall, though. Most people in Prospect Park are pretty friendly, and if you’re on your own you can probably join people’s games if you ask nicely and they have space.

There are also beach tournaments most weekends on the Jersey Shore and on Long Island for an outside-the-city adventure. They’re pretty competitive and physically demanding. I really enjoy them. URLs: http://www.jsvba.com | http://www.eevb.net

I guess that’s about it. There’s a lot of people who love volleyball in the city, and once you start playing and meeting them, you’ll see the same people around again.

Hope that helps. Happy bumps, sets and spikes!

7/11/02 1:38 am

Don’t know where to start this one. It’s been a swirl since my last post.

First, check out emusic.com if you haven’t already. I signed up for their trial and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by the simplicity of their service. It’s what I’ve been hoping for: an easy, reasonably priced way to download mp3s. Their selection could stand to expand, but they did have three Rainer Maria albums, which scored major points in my book. (Their musical mixes are better than my metaphors, too…)

At work today, I pulled off a small success with Lucene, an open source search engine. It’s indexing database-stored content within the context of our application server. Pretty cool, a simple but flexible API and really fun. The afternoon blew by as I was enthralled in the work.

I had lunch with Melissa and Anthony and Liz at Spice. Melissa and I have made it a regular weekly occasion, which is wonderful. It’s a weekly reminder to me that she’s leaving New York, though. I’m going to miss her.

After work, I had a nice cross-town walk (NYC cooled off today) and drinks with some friends. A close friend of a close friend was recently diagnosed with a disease. It’s an unusual one. We don’t know what causes it or how to cure it. He’s young. My age.

Somewhere else in the world, another 25-year-old took his own life recently. Gene Kan had a lot going for him. I don’t understand young suicides. Seems to me that no matter how bad things get, the worst-case scenario is that that you start over with nothing in a locale of your choice. Compassion is the order of the day, though, because if I don’t understand it, I don’t understand what it was like inside his heart and mind.

A few time zones away, another friend has the love of her life break up with her out of the blue, without warning.

I ate my first marshmallow tonight.

(I don’t mean to suggest in anyway that the marshmallow is on par with the other news I’ve shared. Like I said, it’s a swirl.)

It was at the tail end of the most delicious and decadent and pricey meal I’ve had in quite a while. It was Mary’s idea, and a good one. We went to Blue Water Grill and sat outside looking out to Union Square. We drank white wine and ate sushi and Bluepoint oysters and lobster and yellowfin tuna and, later, chocolate fondue. It was almost a four-hour affair. I savored each amazing mouthful. At the end I felt high.

This blog comments thing is really interesting. It’s changing the way I think about the site. Thanks to those of you participating thus far. It’s fun to close the feedback loop online (even if I do see most of you on a regular basis).

So there. A life is an odd experience, huh?

7/9/02, 11:24 pm

The bachelor lifestyle, summer 2002 nyc… last one at work with music playing out loud in an empty open office plan. Walk past Ed Koch in the market on the way home.

Make dinner with the lights off cause it’s cooler in my apartment that way. Leftover bowties with pesto. Tofu teriyaki. Kale with honey mustard dressing. A peach Spritzer.

Both windows open. Two fans blowing. Move the laundry on the floor, in hopes I’ll be compelled to do it before work tomorrow morning.

Shirt off. Electric guitar on. Wish my strap wasn’t leather sticking to my skin. Drum machine on. A beat. More distortion. Marvel at the simple beauty, the simple groove, of two complementary chords in rhythm.

Some cold chocolate rice milk straight out of the box.

Switch to acoustic. Plug it in. More reverb. Dig up the last verse to the song from the Bolivia/Peru trip. Contemplate recording it, but that would mean restarting the computer, which is too much of a hassle.

Contemplate a shower to cool off before sleep. Towel is in the laundry pile. Damn.

Receive an essay via email from a writer friend. Similes and flowery language expressing sentimental thoughts. Personal, the way I like words.

Decide to blog. Without flowers or pastel sentimentality. With sentences that ,y grade-school teachers would scrawl all over.

Words appropriate to a young man on a hot night in a large city.

LukeMelia.com created 1999. ··· Luke Melia created 1976. ··· Live With Passion!
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