An iPhone experiment gave my happy doodle a slightly angry, decidedly dark-n-mysterious mood. There’s a toothy monster lurking just beyond the shadows.
(Why do I love to start posts with the word ‘so’? I’m on the verge of annoying myself. I’ll bet ‘real’ writers and professors and other smart people gather on their verandas to sip expensive wines and laugh heartily at dimwitted bloggers who aren’t capable of expressing themselves without using dull, ineloquent transitions. And I’m sure they badmouth the cretins who carelessly use apostrophes where there should be quotes. And start sentences with the word ‘and.’)
(Hrrrmpff. Damn wine-sippin’ fuckers.)
(Yeah, so there’s another unfortunate habit. Shut up, I don’t care what you think.)
I’m going to start a little creative project. Verrrrry frequently — my fear of commitment and general laziness won’t quite allow me to say ‘every day’ — I’m going to post a peek into my world. Maybe it’s a fleeting thought. Maybe it’s dialogue with a lunch bud. Perhaps a photo of a sparkly dogwood tree, a shockingly inappropriate drawing, or a page out of my non-virtual, actualrealworld journal. Let’s see what happens.
Kickin’ it off is something you will see stuck to my refrigerator should you be invited to visit my monkeylair. It lists five promises I made to myself around seven years ago. Five promises born of angst within situations and an environment that just wasn’t compatible with ME. I’d allowed myself to become too influenced by what other people wanted of me, and I was fed up. I crafted these promises based on my own inner voice as well as inspired writings by Joseph Campbell and Bucky Fuller. I hung copies everywhere, and did the best I could to live by them.
Within months, my life had hung some exciting and promising curves, just like my roadhugging Mini on those fun mountain roads. In the process of shifting my stuff around, these simple black-and-white promises ended up packed in a box…. where they languished until late last year.
(I’m pausing while you stare in amazement at the implication of that last sentence. Yes, I hear your brain working on the math. Go ahead. Let the notion carry you to its logical conclusion. It is true. Last year…..I was cleaning.)
I display those personal promises again, this time on that special place o’honor in homes across America. Nowadays it serves as a warm reminder that I do have power to affect change, and — more importantly — as a guide to stay the motherdamnfuck on course.
Geesh. I’ve started this post over at least five times now. Apparently my drunken pixie-muse has passed out again, abandoning me. He’s visited quite a bit in the last few weeks, but he never stays long, and he comes at inopportune times — like when I’m driving to work or spending a non-laptop weekend with family or being pleasure-serviced by my naked houseboyman Miguel. OK that last one was just a dream but I certainly didn’t want to leave it to type on a damn computer.
So I’m just going to string together a series of potentially unrelated paragraphs, mmkay?
The OCD chatterdevils in my head want me to write some sort of transition post. They tell me that, since I only posted six times in 2009 and an uberpathetic *one* time in 2010, I probably need to address the “WTF?” questions bouncing in your heads. I keep arguing with them that they are being waaaay too presumptuous to assume these questions — not to mention readers — actually exist. But you know how OCD chatterdevils are.
Oh. You don’t?
Anyway, they tell me I should write some sort of summary of the time that’s passed, and, of course, it is essential that I put a positive spin on it (please imagine these words spoken in a sarcastic, snobbish, old-Southern-money drawl). Like a list of reasons why 2010 didn’t suck stinkyass butt. Or a description of things for which I am grateful. Or a list of new and exciting perversions I’ve nurtured. The post should be a perfect balance of pensive reflection, humor, optimism, and OF COURSE irreverence.
Let’s see if that happens.
Winter and spring rockalong pretty well
2010 started out FABulously. I was training with old runbud friends, out there in my VERY favorite running weather. There’s nothing like a healthy, pumpin’ heart 10 minutes into a 35-degree joggytrot. Lovelovelove freakinlove it. The group experienced some unfortunate interpersonal strife, but we came together on race day and completed Greenville’s Reedy River 10K in early March. Invigorating!
Something else cool was that I dug deeper into my social media obsession. You know I’m not happy unless obsessed, right? Luckily, my interest coincided with some initiatives at work, so I raised my hand high and became able to integrate the fun into my workdays. Have been feeling the buzz ever since. And buzzing the feel. Which is way more satisfying than copping a feel, at least when comparing longterm benefits.
Nursed a small tinge in my foot for awhile, but I kept in shape enough to continue regular running with friends, and went on a hardcore hike or three. Nature really sets me ‘right.’ Some people sit in church. I take deep breaths of fresh air. Ran another 5K race in May, and right after that started training for a half marathon. I didn’t really think I’d do well with that longer distance, but I gave myself permission to walk as much of the 13+ miles as necessary. About this time I also started an intensive strength training regimen, and in mid May, I bought a bike! Soooo excited to have a new type of challenge.
Whap, whap, whap, whap
Whap #1. Here’s where the year started to s u u u c k. Only a few weeks after getting my new bike, I crashed it twice on the same day during a 26-mile ride up the Swamp Rabbit Trail & back. I’m considering changing my story to a 26-mile trail ride at Paris Mountain, though…that is soooo much more impressive than accidents on a flat paved trail, don’t you think?
I thought I just had a deep bruise or two in my left upper arm and shoulder, but as the weeks and weeks went by and the pain didn’t get better, I made an appointment with my superfave orthopaedist for late July.
Whap #2. Overlapping all the other midyear whaps was an ongoing bunch o’family stuff that I won’t discuss in great detail now. Maybe later. The “stuff” was basically two-fold — my mom’s move from a two-bedroom apartment to a one-bedroom apartment in an independent living facility… and my sister’s declining health. Planning, busywork, moving, and medical research and education blanketed nearly all of our free time during the summer.
Sadly, these were the last times the five of us would spend together.
Whap #3. Another ongoing annoyance was some weirdness in my own health. These topics are beyond dull — just a few getting-older issues which, while temporarily draining me of time and energy, I’ve since gotten under control. Mostly. I will warn you right now, though, that the constant ringing in my ears will — I repeat, WILL — drive me to insanity one day. Hoping to plan ahead so that I snap in some sort of interesting or entertaining way. I’m open to any ideas.
Whap #4. So. The evening before my scheduled orthopaedist appointment in July, my ankle mysteriously gave way during a run in the park. Something twisted and crunched and I went down, grinding my knees hard against asphalt and into lots of gravelly debris. Ouch. I limped pathetically to a nearby stump and sat there, blood streaming down my calves, while runbud-angel K rushed to get her car. Several bikers and runners stopped to check on me while I was waiting….I imagine I made a pretty distressing sight. :)
Diagnoses, healing, and settling in
The next day at the doctor’s office I made lots of jokes about old rickety women pretending they are still 25. They poked, prodded, and x-rayed all sorts of body parts and properly dressed my knee wounds. I left that day in a boot cast and with instructions to cease and desist physical activity until further notice. Within a couple weeks, I’d had an MRI, been diagnosed with a hard-to-heal tear in my shoulder, declined a recommendation to see a surgeon, and started what would turn out to be six months of physical therapy.
The sprained ankle healed relatively quickly, and the knees got OK eventually, but the shoulder….UGH. I honestly didn’t think I would ever be able to do some common movements again, much less any serious upper body work. But I had an awesome therapist, and I refused to quit, bygollydammit. I started getting optimistic early-Octoberish, and nowadays I’m noticing gains in strength and flexibility almost every week. I’ve kept it up even since “graduating” from my therapist’s care last month.
My mom got somewhat settled into her new place, absolutely fawning over the staff and facilities. We got everything out of the old apartment, unpacked into her new apartment, and began to help her get organized and truly settled in. We decided to take a bit of a break, though, so that my mom and sister could get some extended rest. Finally, my sister began to take steps toward managing her own health, seeing various sorts of specialists for advice and minor procedures. She, her son, and husband went on a nearly 4-week vacation to Florida. She returned in early October, happy to have had the time away, but utterly exhausted.
Should I mention here a brief li’l relationship o’my own? I don’t really want to, but those damn chatterdevils won’t leave me alone. I guess it’s significant because for a couple months or so it created some blissful moments during a time when I really needed some respite. It also catalyzed an epiphany or two — which is always, always, always a good thing.
An email to family, October 21
“Hi there, I hope everyone’s doing well. I have some news about my sister — please forward so everyone can keep her in their prayers.
“Dianna’s husband Ray woke up about 3am Tuesday morning to find her unable to breathe well. She’d had chest pains (mild) on Mon evening and had been out of breath a lot for several days. They called EMS, who took her to Laurens County Hospital who very quickly sent her to Self Regional (Greenwood) for congestive heart failure. They slated her to go to the heart cath lab Wed morning for angioplasty at 7am, but on the way there she had a seizure. They gave her medicine to alleviate that, but then she threw up a significant amount of what they called “coffee grounds,” i.e., dried blood. At that point they abandoned treating her heart condition temporarily to investigate the other stuff.
“It has been a roller coaster since then. Today she’s had a constantly upset stomach, pain, dizziness, and three seizures since the first one this morning. The doc has ordered an EEG and a CT scan to try and determine the cause of the seizures. They are adjusting meds and doing everything they can to stabilize her enough to even get her downstairs to do the CT. Friday they hope to do another diagnostic stomach scope.
“The heart attack appears to be the result of one partial blockage in the left side of her heart. I am still a little unsure about the details of this. At first Ray was told that the heart muscle damage was only 2 percent, but this afternoon the doc had another chat with him (I was in town running an errand…just my luck) and implied more damage to the left side of her heart than had been originally communicated.
“Today Dianna has mostly been asleep, but has woken up now and then. Not feeling good at ALL. At one point she asked me ‘What’s going on? I feel like I’m dying.’ It occurred to me that maybe people had been talking around her rather than to her and she might be really scared. I reassured her, and hoped she understood. She fell asleep very quickly before I could tell her any details. She is sleeping an extraordinary amount even though they aren’t giving her anything to specifically make her sleep. Her nurse seems perplexed at that, but did say she’d received a lot of the seizure-relieving medicine. They are watching her very closely and I’ve been impressed with the staff’s diligence.
“Mom is of course antsy, worried, and frustrated that she can’t be at the hospital. But she is receiving a lot of support from the staff and residents at her new independent-living home. I’m going to do my best to visit with her this week and weekend, but she keeps telling me she’d rather me be with Dianna.
“Ray and Johnny are tough troupers, although the worry and stress really got to them both this afternoon. We all know Dianna is a rock of strength and stubborness, but it is very hard to see her like this…..sigh…..
“Dianna is in the CICU (Cardiac Intensive Care Unit). They are not currently putting calls through to her room, though, and won’t until she is feeling well enough to receive them herself. I’m sure she’ll be there at least through the weekend….probably into next week. They haven’t even begun to treat the original heart problem yet.
“Thanks so much for forwarding to others in the family….as you know, Dianna believes in the power of prayer and I am sure she’ll feel everyone’s thoughts and well wishes around her.”
The next day
My sister died. We all knew she was very sick, but I’m at a loss to describe how completely shocked we were. I watched the doctor’s face closely as he told us, waiting for some sort of punch line or reassurance that “…she’ll have a tough recovery, but with time she’ll be herself again.” I couldn’t tear my gaze from his tired, sympathetic eyes as he did not speak these words. I wanted to urge him to go back in her hospital room and double check. I wanted to explain that he just doesn’t know how tenacious she is. It couldn’t be true.
I’m afraid I’ve dumped a whompin’ huge load o’bummer bricks on my naughty little monkeyblog, so I’m going to abandon the story there. For now, anyway. I considered not posting this self-centered chronology at all, but in the end I thought it might provide a better frame of reference for you devoted mm readers. (Ahhh, the presumptuous ego of my little chatterdevils surfaces again!)
You see, I’m not exactly the same person I was eight months ago. And I’m pretty eager to meet the person I’ll be eight months from now. 2011 is decidedly promising, full of good friends, family healing, healthy pursuits, and interesting insights.
Plus I have a brandnew, deep-redvelvet piece o’potential depravity in my fireplace room. Stay tuned.
Should I revive my li’l monkeyfriend? If so, should I bring him (or should she really be a ‘her’…) out of the closet? I attempted to do mm on Twitter, but I hated the feeling of separateness from, well, ME. My consternation? All my other social media identities have a connection with my job.
Hmmm. Thoughts, my magical followers? Are you even still there?
Whilst pondering, I am playing with design. I’m not in love with the design tweaks I made this morning, but I like the bordello-inspired flavor. What do you think?
….to see an ‘inactive’ message attached to magicalmonkey. Is it really over? Will this post make me active again?
I found this e-mail chain while cleaning out my inbox this week. You might chuckle.
P: How do you feel today? It is only 11am, and I feel like I have been here all day!
Me: I feel like I am a basketweaver in a very small club of basketweavers who, as part of a grand sociological experiment conducted by the military, have been asked to produce ten thousand effective baskets per week while following the advice of electricians, ditch diggers, and dolphins. And the air that we breathe daily has been laced with sodium somethingorother, which causes us to forget that we are all inmates in a facility for bipedal arthropods. We are not arthropods, I know, but with the overflow….hey, what can you do except go where they send you? At least we live with other earthlings. My cats are actually in middle management, and have been placed in my house undercover. They are currently conducting side experiments on the effects of sleeplessness on basketweavers.
L1: And I thought I was losing it…
G1: I smell what you’re steppin in.
P: Actually….you know what I feel like? I feel like I am on a carousel going very fast and all the images before me are just a blur – lost in the day-to-day, not being able to see how, where or when I should get off. I stay on because that is what I am supposed to do.
L2: I feel alive! That’s good enough for me!
K: I just want to make everyone a nice sandwich and take a warm bath. Alone.
G2: I feel like a giant in a land of little people. There are other giants walking the area with me but the little people do not see the fact that we are indeed giants. The everyday struggle to prevent stepping on the little people is very tiring. Sometimes we giants step on the little people and then it takes a great amount of effort to scrape them off our feet and make things right again. Every day I rise early and teach and lead the little people, trying to gain some sort of normalcy in my life. The struggle is great and yet I carry on.
L2: Mmmmmm…..little people…
He rolled over to feel something warm and wet against his cheek. It felt good, inviting, and smelled….hmmmm, like sunshine. Slightly fruity. Malevolent.
Resentfully squinting through bleary eyes, he sensed rather than saw….what? Greenness? Yes. Greenness. A little sunlight played in the highlights, but what was that in the shadows? Focus. Concentrate. He wasn’t used to the mental effort, and didn’t like it at all. Where was the sweet easythink and cool inebriation? Clearheadedness was slowly coming to him, and it was uncomfortable and entirely too warm.
Blinking, he opened his eyes all the way. And what did he see?
How could this be happening again? Right next to him — in fact, he was touching the reprehensibly vile thing — was a bleeding lump of a giant dead fairy. He jerked violently when he realized his cheek was dripping with the creature’s nectarine death-juices. UGH. A swift windglide transported him to the gardenpatch birdbath, and he submerged, furiously swimming laps to cleanse himself of whatever substances clung to his body.
Satisfied finally with his hygiene, he almost regretted the cleansing dip when he realized it had made him considerably more sober. Shit, and doubleshit. Slowly he climbed out of the water, dripping as he perched on the structure’s concrete lip. His slight frame couldn’t withstand much sun, even on a pleasant spring morning, but he would dry quickly, and then he’d retreat to a breezy shade.
Looking down, he couldn’t remember whether he’d killed the damn creature himself, but he certainly hoped so. Its repulsive, skeletal wings were crushed, and its large otherworldly eyes, staring and startled, were milky. Its sentience was finished.
No matter how many freshly slain fairies he encountered, he repeatedly was amazed at how sweet their lifelessness smelled. Yeah. And tasted. But that was a longago incident which never really happened — the characters in his lucid dreams told him so.
The dead thing below him right now appeared to be female and…. HOLY yankerhell, what was that noise? Jerking his tiny pixie head toward the faraway rustle, he listened intently to discern any additional movement. He heard nothing, but couldn’t risk being spotted.
Soundlessly, he was gone.
Hi guys! Yep, it’s been a sparse 2009 in magicalmonkey land. I hope inspiration will kick in again, but for now I’ve needed to let some things go in my life to make room for other things.
No more, y’all! It was a great series and really spurred me to tackle new things in my life, but eventually my neverdones — or, rather, writing about my neverdones — became just another pressure. And trust me, additional pressure is something I don’t need. :)
Yesterday I ran the GHS Swamp Rabbit 5K, my first race since November 2008 in which I busted the 30-minute barrier. An injury in January and flareups of a couple biomechanical issues have hampered my training this year…..which was reflected in this weekend’s disappointing 34:19 time. I had to walk three times! Auuuuugh!! I must get hardcore on my own ass again.
MUST get work under control. NEED to spend more time with family. WANT to hang with friends more often. WILL kick up my workouts a notch. Those are the goals that are at the top of the list now — yay, focus! :) I’ve finally signed up for and have learned to appreciate Facebook, so hop over there and look for me. The short-and-sweet blips are much more conducive to my schedule than blogging.
Later, ppl! Check back now and then in case I’ve had the time or inspiration to post.
(Yeah, I know….those of you who hop over to mm regularly know that I’m posting this in the new year rather than the 31st. The OCD part of me just wouldn’t allow my 12th neverdone of 2008 to be filed, wrongly and in perpetuity, with 2009. Forgive me, please.)
As close as I live to the famous historical landmark, I’ve never visited Biltmore Estates in Asheville. I always wanted to go, not so much because I thought I’d have a blast, but just to be able to say I’d been there. I sort of viewed it as something that senior women’s church groups did to really blow out a load of fun. The most appealing thing to me was the wine tasting, and even that I viewed with a take-it-or-leave-it flavor.
Well, good buddy A recently said, “Let’s go!!” So, on a fine fall day right before Christmas, I took a day off work to hightail it up the mountain with her.
The curvy drive to the big house was beautiful, with a well-manicured woodsy wildness characteristic, I remembered from my college architectural history classes, of the picturesque movement in architecture and landscape design. I always liked the naturalness of that particular theory and practice as compared with other schools of thought, but there still seemed to be something “off” about it. Untouched but pruned. Genuine but contained. Pure but processed.
We parked and took the shuttle to the house. Rounding a curve and entering a small gate, I caught my first glimpse of the structure….and was surprised that it was so small.
Jumping out of the warm, comfy van, I meandered my way along the facade, photographing the gargoyles and stone carvings. That sort of stuff just fascinates me. I found one little stone group of bad-attitude creatures just perfect for magicalmonkey — the head-honcho gremlin in the center is naked and looks like he has an erect little wallywanger. Ha!
I could’ve stayed out there for two or three hours, but the main attraction was supposed to be the interior part, so we sauntered on in. I can’t decide if the no-photography rule was frustrating or freeing. It certainly helped speed our visit along! Inside, most interesting to me were the architecture and architectural details. I enjoyed the period furniture, holiday decorations, and everyday-life items, but they didn’t hold my attention for long.
As usual when I visit very old buildings pregnant with history, I found myself imagining the people from long ago who walked the halls of the place when it was just a big ol’ summer party home. Did a young female servant ever squeeze in the little window cubbyhole across from her bedroom, wistfully watching wealthy guests arrive in carriages? What went through the Vanderbilts’ minds as they hung out beside the massive window in their bedroom-suite family room, surveying the miles-long rolling hills of their backyard? Down the hall, were eccentric guests playing naked, perverted games in their own private suites, tossing clothes, bedcovers, and linens willy-nilly about the room?
Moving out to the gardens and greenhouses, I wielded my camera once again and went to that happy-creative place in my head. Statues and trees and plants, oh my! My very patient bud A had an awesome amount of tolerance — anyone who indulges my Nikon and me for that long deserves a huge whompin’ “Fabulous Friend” award. I’ll post the better shots later, after I’ve had time to cull the 250 or so images.
Then on to the winery, where we greeted nightfall. During the free belly-standing-up-to-the-bar wine tasting, I discovered a couple yummy white wines. Now if I can just remember their names for future reference….
By the time we left, I’d scored a little holiday shopping as well as a brand spankin’ new awesome-deal season pass.
Yep, I’m sold and I’m going back! Who’s in?
[12.25.08] Progress — bad. I don’t think I was ready for boy pushups. Will need another plan in the new year.
[12.5.08] Boy pushups are grim, man….they are MILES harder than girl pushups. If they were a color, they’d be a bleak, monotonous, dull gunmetal grey. Yuk. I hate them. I can’t do them correctly, either — my floor bud tells me I need to go down another two inches. Grrrrrrrmph. I’m still at it, though. If for no other reason than to say I’m still at it. But here’s something positive: While Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays are dreaded pushup days, Tuesdays and Thursdays are now sunshine-happiness plank days. Yeah!
[11.26.08] I’m in the middle of Week 1, Level 2. My 12 pushups in the initial test actually earned my entrance to Level 3, but….yikes, that looks too hard! This morning I did the workout at home because of the Thanksgiving holiday, and for some reason it felt extra-hard — in fact, I couldn’t finish a couple of the sets. I’m wondering if the boy-pushup decision was a wise one. For about a year now, I’ve noticed an occasional, disconcerting “catch” in my right shoulder when doing some types of strength training moves. While this hasn’t happened yet with the boy pushups, I get an odd, on-the-verge feeling…..
[11.17.08] OK, here I go. After three months of following the program outlined at hundredpushups.com — and working up to 30+ girly-on-my-knees pushups — I’ve decided to start over. This time, though, I’m going to do them boy-military-style. I mean, what’s the point of ultimately being able to do 50 or 100 of the damn things if I have to include a disclaimer that I’m doing the EASY version? Nope. I’m going hard-core, baby. I only have one floor buddy left at work, but we’ve promised to keep each other on top of our goals. Today we did the initial test, and I made it to 12. I feel a little guilty that my form is not totally on point — I just can’t seem to make it ALL the way down to the floor — but I’m hoping the proper form will come in time.
Look what I missed. Damn.
This is where I first learned of the…um, special celebration. (What, there’s something wrong with surfing the internet on Christmas morning?)
Actually, my damn-I-missed-it reaction was premature. Follow the “this” link in the previous paragraph to read….
Ooooh fuckity fuck fuck fuck … Are they actually going to ruin orgasms? … I’m sorry, but there is no way I’m donating an O to world peace framed in this shit. I’m giving my orgasms to the terrorists and the war-machine just out of spite now. … And let me also warn you, don’t cruise the site unless you want the sexy stolen from your life for a good while. I’m starting to wonder if the dude sauce can be some sort of antidote, like an anti-snakebite kit.
Well. Alrighty then.
For days and days afterward, I stayed all warm and fuzzy from this neverdone. Aglow with good tidings, I was! It also gave me an excuse — no, wait, a directive — to eat Twinkies and be lazy. How can you beat that?
Oh, and then there was that opportunity to be on TV. I turned it down for myself, but was thoroughly pleased to shove my neverdone-bud into the limelight instead. :)
I donated blood….yep, for the first time ever.
As I walked into Greenville’s Blood Connection, I wasn’t really nervous about the needles or the fact that someone was about to drain buckets of blood from my veins.
(Hey, before you complain about my choice of words, I didn’t mean *gallon* buckets, for heaven’s sake. I meant those tiny little decorative buckets you find at Michael’s or Garden Ridge. They’re small buckets, but they’re still buckets.)
I think my neverdone partner — let’s call her P — was a little nervous, though, because she hates, hates, hates needles. But she seemed calm as we completed the required paperwork, and pretty quickly I was called to begin my adventure.
A blonde, blue-eyed, cordial-but-quite-serious lab tech with a ponytail and perky gazoongas took me into a tiny little closet of a room with a desk and two chairs. It was one of four or five similar rooms all lined up in a row, I assume for the sake of privacy. But I could hear every word that was spoken in the room next to mine, so I think they should reassess the effectiveness of these little isolation areas.
She asked me question after question after question after question until she began to sound like a rapidfire auctioneer…..which made me laugh. And the questions got more and more ridiculous as she went on and on and on…..which also made me laugh. I wanted to explain to her why I was laughing, but she wouldn’t stop with the questions. Finally, she had to take a breath and I said, “Wow, some of these questions are giving me the giggles…do you think I could get a copy of them? Some of them are funny.”
She did smile at me briefly, but declined my request. “They won’t let us make copies,” she explained. “I’m not sure why.”
Well, darn. I was hoping to share them with you. The best I can do is recite — to the best of my recollection — the question that sent me over the edge: “Have you ever been to Africa and acquired the oogaboogadoodoo virus?”
(Yeah, yeah, I *know* that wasn’t its actual name. But it did have a singsongy sort of silly flavor to it, and she pronounced it soooo precisely.)
The nice little serious blonde chick guided me from the room to one of the dentist-chair blood-sucking stations and asked me to drink a carbonated beverage. I asked her if I had to, and she said yes. It was while I was sipping the diet cola — yuk! — that I started to pay attention to the young newscaster-dude and his video camera-toting buddy.
The behind-the-camera guy was filming the on-camera guy as he went through the donating process — he, too, was doing it for the first time. I think it was first-timer day at the place….Besides P, me, and the on-camera guy, I’d heard a couple other donors confess that they were virginous.
(Can you believe “virginous” is not a word? It should be. I like it much better than “virginal.”)
The behind-the-camera guy caught my eye, smiled a big I’m-about-to-ask-a-favor smile, and asked, “Would you mind if we interviewed you?”
I shook my head and smiled my bummer-but-there’s-not-a-chance-in-hell smile. “Nope, sorry,” I answered. “But I’ll bet my friend would love to!” I pointed toward P, who was just being escorted out of her little closet-room.
He wasn’t giving up. “Would you mind if I just got some footage of you?”
“Nahhh, I don’t think so. Thanks, anyway.”
I looked to my right, and the nice little serious blonde chick was poking me. “You’ve got great veins,” she said, smiling warmly. Not many things in this girl’s work world made her smile, but great veins was one of them.
So I sat there as my blood drained into a clear bag. I’d drank a ton of water that day because I’d been told I would bleed faster. Apparently it worked. After only about 5 minutes, the bag was engorged with my deep red life-fluid. I blew it a mental kiss goodbye, and hoped that it would help someone. The blonde chick told me to sit there a few minutes, finish my beverage, and move over to the snack table when I felt like it.
Looking around, P was in front of me talking to the camera. I couldn’t hear what she was saying, though. To her right was a straggly-looking, blankfaced fella who either was coming down off of some sort of unpleasant high or was dead-to-the-whole-world tired. I wondered if he was here to donate blood for a friend or family member….he looked as if he’d been to hell and back. Or perhaps to the ER and back.
I heard a round of chuckles, and noticed that the newscaster dude, in the station to my left, was sitting up, looking around at everyone’s faces. “What?” he asked. “Do I look really pale? I feel OK.”
Yep, he looked pale, poor guy. I felt nothing. Just normal. So I decided to sit up, too, and made my way to the highly anticipated snack table. Once there, I looked for something healthy…..to no avail. Why would they not provide apples? Geesh, all they had were Little Debbie sugary crap-things. I considered the Twinkies, but, not being a huge chocolate fan, I opted for a cakelike square covered in vanilla icing. Yuuuuuuum! Crap-things can be so good.
I continued to feel fine the rest of the day, except for once — I felt a nanosecond of dizziness after getting up too fast from my chair at work. I probably could’ve gone to the gym that evening, but I’d been told not to exert myself so soon after donating, so I had an excellent excuse to be lazy!
I loved this experience because it might have helped someone hang onto life a little better….. :) It makes my other neverdones seem trivial and self-absorbed. Egotistic.
Hey, y’all….wanna hear about my latest butt-kickin’, life-affirming, invigorating geocaching adventure? Did the title of this post pique your interest? Maybe you’ve guessed it already.
I rappelled! Wooooooo!
I think I’ll start my tale waaaaaay back when I first heard about a cache called Bradley’s Bottom. It was a little over 2 years ago, I think, and some people in the upstate geo-club were discussing it in the forums. They got a wintertime group together, adventur-ized, and came back positively euphoric. I’d really wanted to go, too, but…..well, I was a different person then. Fear — a hundred different forms of it, it seems now — paralyzed me quite a bit back then.
What scared me? Welllllll….you had to hike a steep mountain, cross a river by navigating rocks and fallen trees, and jump off a freakin’ enormous rock with just a skinny li’l rope for support. I was doubtful that I’d be able to handle the physical challenges. Plus I’d have to talk to a stranger or two. Or eight or fifteen.
This year, I’m ready
Fast forward to late 2008, though, and I’m a different me. No fear! OK, maybe some slight trepidation. But no fear!!
Happily, an adventure-bud — for no reason in particular, let’s call her A — decided at the last minute to join me (“Screw it — I don’t care how much I have to get done at home today. I want to go, so I’m going!”). So we got out of bed early on a brisk Sunday to haul ourselves, Mini-style, up to the NC mountains.
When we got to the agreed-upon meeting point, 8 or so geocachers — many of them familiar from neverdones #1 and #7 as well as other geo-fun-times — were out of their cars, chatting in the cold. By the time we were ready to set out on the hike, there were well over 20 of us.
Here’s a fun fact to set the stage for you — a notebook was passed around, and each person was asked to share the name and phone number of an emergency contact. A “next of kin.” Ha! I accused them of just trying to scare us, but apparently they were serious. “You never know,” we were told.
The hike in was easy, at first, and very pretty. We’d chosen the perfect day to come! Yeah, it was a little chilly, but soon I was grateful that the nip in the air helped keep me decidedly un-sweaty. And the fall colors were gorgeous! Of course I had my Nikon with me, as well as my GPS receiver and — tucked inside the generous pockets of my handy-dandy cargo pants — extra batteries, a Sharpie, a Power Bar, and a small stack of tissues just in case my bladder decided to go Benedict Arnold on me (it didn’t — yay!).
We crossed a small stream, some of us by skipping across ottoman-sized rocks, others by wading through a shallow area containing smaller foot-sized rocks. I’d actually been much more nervous about water crossings than the impending rappel — people had fallen in during previous trips, and, considering my phobia about deep water and my usually sucky balance, I figured my chances of joining the ranks of “the fallen” were higher than normal. But, taking a deep breath and just doing it before having a chance to think too much, I crossed MUCH more easily than I’d imagined. Whew!
(Much later in the day, as A and I made our way back to the car, we joked about our mild apprehension when first traversing this area. With REAL rock-hopping under our belts, these tiny little skips were now child’s play. Ha!)
Remember the people who made us record our emergency contacts… “just in case”? Well, as we trekked closer to the cache coordinates, we began to notice prominent signs supporting the organizers’ caution. Check out the photo! Yikes! (Click it if your eyeballs go all fuzzy when trying to read smallness….)
Next came the steep downhill leg of our journey. I loved it!! My legs and glutes felt alive, and the cool air in my lungs was the mutha-freakin’ best. Yeah, baby!!
Before we knew it, we’d arrived at the drop location.
I peered over the edge, and it didn’t seem that far down. Someone had said 30 feet, I think. The vertical rock was craggy and seemed like a good-grip place to “walk,” and surrounding foliage and trees looked like they might provide a sense of visual security. At the bottom, I saw dirt — soft dirt, I told myself. It’s not like I’d be dangling off an overhanging precipice with dangerous, pointy, stairsteppy boulders below, eagerly waiting to bludgeon and pierce my falling body if I slipped.
As the skilled rappellers worked to prep the gear, members of the group sat down along the steep mountainous trail. Two of the strong, experienced types did the drop first in order to position themselves vigilantly below. Soon we were ready to get rolling! Camera in hand, I settled in a spot near the friendly, credentialed, guru-rappel dude who stayed at the top to be teacher, cheerleader, and gear assistant to whomever needed it.
One by one, each person harnessed up, got hooked to a rope, received a mini-quick lesson, and walked backward over the edge as people all around them snapped photos. Some people went slow, some people went fast, some people were scared, some people were fearless. Everyone reveled in others’ excitement. It was cool!
About two thirds of the people had gone down when it was my turn. Even though I’d watched everyone else, I hadn’t been paying close enough attention to be able to apply the knowledge to my own downward trek. So Mr. Guru-Rappel showed me how to strap on the harness, and then took me to the drop point to rope me up.
“What’s the difference?”
“Two ropes slow you down,” he said.
Since it was my first time, I decided that safer was the better option, so I asked for two ropes. He looped ’em through some sort of figure-eight-ish thing as I stood with my back to the drop, and said, “There you go! Now just trust the rope.”
I leaned back, it held and felt very secure. I walked back and down a step or two, and I was comfortable on the rock.
“Now, with your left hand, hold the part of the rope that’s supporting you,” he said, ” and with your right hand hold the part of the rope that drops beneath you. To slow down, move your right hand behind you….and to go faster, move your right hand out to the side. It’s all about creating tension on the rope.”
Cool, it seemed very simple and straightforward. With my right hand behind me, I stepped down a little further, then moved my right hand outward. Nothing. I moved it out a little farther. Still, I didn’t move. My hand all the way out to the side and slacking off on the tension significantly, I still didn’t move. I laughed.
“Why won’t I GO?” I implored.
I heard someone above me — I’m pretty sure it was a frequent mm reader — yell, “You don’t weigh enough!”
I jumped against the rock a little, and that seemed to help. I began to move backward again……slowwwwwlyyyy…. then it sped up little. Woooooooo-hoo! What a rush! As I neared the bottom, though, I found myself wishing I’d requested only one rope. AND I was ready to go do a longer, more adrenaline-boosting big-boy rappel!
Even though the drop was my neverdone of the day, it was only one of the highlights. After making the jump and continuing down steep terrain, we came to Big Bradley Falls.
While parts of the falls can be viewed from above, we now had access to the most beautiful vantage point. Wow! If only I’d strapped my tripod to my back! A timed exposure — along with a little more patience to find the perfect angle — would have given a photo an ethereal quality which I would’ve loved to capture. As it was, my drunken-pixie muse was AWOL, and I satisfied myself with a couple snapshots of the waterfall while continuing to amass people shots.
Continuing the journey
You’d think all that would be enough of a journey to find a cache, huh? Nope. The person who hid this particular ammo can has a bit of a sadistic streak, so from there we had to traverse the river by hopping, climbing, and crawling over fallen trees, rocks, and boulders the size of vehicles. Now, THAT, buddy, was a physical challenge. I loved, loved, loved it!
The only part that bothered me, really, was walking across a fallen tree. It had a large trunk — which helped — but there was nothing to hold onto, and nothing beneath you except the river…..and it looked deep. I purposefully did not look at the water closely, so it might not have been deep, but…..
Aaaugh! I just held my breath and moved over and beyond it, fast. It felt good to do it, though!
Just as when I tackled Athena’s Curse — I was struck by the “why” of all my sweat in the gym and on the running trails. Why do it? Why pursue the relentless cycle? Sometimes I get discouraged and bored by the repetitiveness of it all — not exactly enjoying the actual pursuit of sweat, only reveling in the brief after-euphoria. I know that it’s good for me, but it sure sucks a lot of time, discipline, and dedication. Occasionally I’m tempted to set it aside to devote more of me to other types of lifestuff.
Then I bag a challenging neverdone, and I remember. I work the fitness grind so I can get out in the world and engage. Fearlessly.
Anyway. Back to the story. Someone ahead of me found the cache, and the gang converged at the container. I signed the log, but this was one geocaching trip in which the cache was incidental. The journey was definitely the thing, man.
Do we have to go back?
Yep, when you hike, drop, and hop out to the middle of nowhere, eventually you have to turn around and go back to the car. The first thing that gave me a bit of a pause was going back up the rock. I don’t know why, but I’d spent so much time being excited about the rappel that it never occurred to me we’d have to follow the rope back up. See the black knotted rope in the going-down picture above? You simply grab that puppy and just walk back up to the top. Turned out to be way easier than I imagined.
It would’ve been great to hang for a long while and do a late lunch with the geo-gang, but A and I needed to get back home….we’d been in the mountainous woods for nearly 5 hours. So we headed back toward the parking area, the steep hike now traversing upward. Again, my body surprised me, and I handled it quite well. In fact, it wasn’t as strenuous as my spinning or super-circuit classes. At one point I did feel a familiar running-injury twinge in my hamstring, but with a quick rest and a stretch, I was fine.
An invigorating, deliciously good, deep-sleep-inducing day!
I am currently interviewing muses. If you know any good candidates, please send them my way. This is a new position created because current drunken-pixie muse, dedicated to the visual-arts parts of my imagination, claims to be overworked. New muse will be responsible solely for blogging inspiration. Mythical creature with a clinically diagnosed insanity disorder and curmudgeonly disposition preferred. Bawdy, inappropriate sense of humor required. Must not emit foul odors, at least not on a regular basis. Compensation negotiable.
Goodness, y’all. Where is my blogging muse? Is my writing inspired by an impish little fairy creature who’s decided to vacation in Florida for the winter? Or is it the same drunken pixie who sparks my creativity when my Nikon is at my side? Whatever the case, I seem to be totally tapped out when it comes to choosing words with which to form sentences. And making them entertaining on top of that?? Geesh, it just seems overwhelming and….well, hard. Too hard. I don’t wanna.
That’s quite unfortunate, because I REALLY want to tell you about a neverdone I scored last weekend. It was a blast of a geocaching adventure!! This time, the cache itself was pretty incidental. Yeah, I signed the log, but the journey was the thing, man. Yup. I am officially addicted to physical challenges. It’s probably a good thing that this mood hit me later in life rather than during a young-and-stupid phase. I’d probably be dead now.
In the meantime, I thought I’d share something with you. I was unaware of it myself until a couple co-workers pointed it out a couple weeks ago. I’ve included a picture of it. Can you see it? Look closely. Right there in the center. Click on the image if you want to make it bigger. Do you see it now?
The backseat of my happy, sweet li’l Mini….has a, um….ahem. Vagina. People keep poking things in it.
Have you been keeping half an eye on the narrow column to your left? I’ve been sharing my progress while attempting the challenge outlined at hundredpushups.com. A few fellow masochists and I were doing them at work.
Wellllll…..my floor buddies and I faded for awhile. This week, though, a couple of us started back up again, and I decided to change the rules a bit for me:
1. No more girly maneuvers. From now on, it’s the boy-on-my-toes military style, baby.
2. Fuck 100. I’m shooting for 50.
Soooo….this seems like the perfect time to archive my phase one notes in a regular ol’ blog post. It was fun!
[11.16.08] Sigh…our momentum at work has fizzled. In the beginning, we MADE time to do our pushups, but lately we’ve found excuse after excuse not to do them. On top of that, one of our core group has had to quit, per doctor’s order. I do have one happy note, though: last week in my Super Circuit class at the gym, we had to do pushups — I started out with the boy on-my-toes variety, and did 9 of them!
[11.7.08] Still busy. Still did no pushups. Grrr.
[11.1.08] It was freakishly busy at work last week…I ended up doing NO pushups at all. Zilch. Nothing. Nada, baby.
[10.19.08] Got to 28 in my fourth “official” girly-on-my-knees exhaustion test. Bet I could’ve eeked out another one or two, but I was feeling a little lazy this evening. Sunday IS a day of rest, after all…right?
[10.10.08] Today one of my cohorts challenged me to get off my knees and do boy pushups instead. I was a little curious to see how many I could do, so we both decided to do exhaustion tests — me on my toes and he with his feet elevated on a chair. I made it to 6, and he did 25.
[9.27.08] Performed a third exhaustion test just for giggles and grins, and got to 23 this time. Almost 1/4 of the way to 100! Before you become too impressed, though, let me remind you I’m doing the girly knee pushups. Oh — want to hear something funny? One day a couple weeks ago, an occasional pushup bud showed up in the middle of one of our sessions. “Hey, why didn’t you come get me?” she asked. She knew we were doing the workout because she’d heard me grunting. From ALL the way across the larrrrge office area. God only knows what other people thought when they heard it….ha!
[9.19.08] I’ve decided that this “six-week program” is impossible. Each week is divided into three levels, and I’d assumed you’d stay at the same level as you advance to each week. But no. I’ll be advancing only to the next level each week, not the next week. Six times three is 18 weeks. And that’s IF you don’t have to repeat or skip any weeks, like I’ve had to do. Ahhhhhh well…..I am still pluggin’ away with my pushup-buddy co-workers…. Not giving up!
[9.7.08] I won’t bore you with the tedium of my ridiculously bad luck since late August. I had to set aside the pushup program for a week, but am planning to get back on track tomorrow! I hope my floor buddies have kept it up — one of them has been on a tropical cruise, but was determined to get in her three workouts anyway.
[8.31.08] Made it to 15 in my second exhaustion test. This is going to get complicated, because, even though I’m embarking on my 3rd week of pushups tomorrow, I’ll still be in Week 2 of the program — 15 reps did earn my entrance to a more advanced level of Week 2, though. Hey, that’s progress! :)
[8.29.08] I don’t want to sound like I have a bad attitude. But seriously — there’s no way in hell I’m going to be able to do 100 consecutive pushups with only a 6-week plan. Maybe 6 months. Maybe. Please don’t think I’m bitter. I’m OK with being a puny girl-weakling….really, I am. I have other good qualities, right? I can still be a good person even if I suck at pushups, right? Well. I’m done with Week 2. The next step is to do another exhaustion test in a couple of days.
[8.22.08] We’re done with Week 1! Looks like we are going to have three peeps in the core group, and others are trying to join us as schedules allow. My floor buddies are doing very well, but I’m disappointed in my own performance. We do five sets of varying reps with rests in between, and on the last set you have a minimum but are supposed to do as many as you can. On Wednesday, it was ALL I could do to eek out the minimum….and today I had total muscle failure before completing the minimum. Grrrrr.
[8.18.08] Our end of the office was so a-buzz with pushup anticipation that two additional people joined us today. That made five of us down on the floor in front of our color copier, doing Day 1, Week 1. Cool, huh?
[8.15.08] Bahh! In my initial test, I couldn’t even do one standard good-form boy pushup. I had to do the knee version that is usually reserved for babies and brittle, elderly women. I made it to 10. Yay me.
I ran another 5K yesterday morning. :)
“Yaaaawwwwwwn,” you say?
Yeah, I’m sorry. I know. Really. I empathize. You came to magicalmonkey hoping to find another one of my dirty little posts, and instead it’s more drivel about running. A consolation: if you didn’t log on last night or earlier today, you can scroll down (or click here) for yesterday’s mini post. It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but does use the phrase ‘old man’s penis.’
At the start of THIS event, my little Shuffle was clipped to my shirt, happy to be in its proper race place. I was determined to break 32 minutes, and my plan was to use music to pace me through the race. Originally I’d selected 10 or 11 songs which would take me through an easy start, a gradual acceleration to a couple of fast songs near my pace limit, and then a gradual deceleration. But, after testing the mix during a short run last week, I’d decided it was too slow. So I nixed the easy start, reformulated the gradual acceleration so that it lasted longer and was not so gradual, built myself a slower-paced break, then sped it up again to the finish line.
I was ready, baby!
Some members of the running group had arranged to meet beforehand, so we lollygagged, chatted, warmed up, and pep-talked as we waited for the start time to arrive. I felt a warm-fuzzy for their supportiveness. A group really does help your motivation, even for a fairly dedicated loner-type like me. We moved toward the starting line.
As usual, I could barely contain my energy while waiting. I’d paired up with one of the faster members of our group, and we nudged a bit closer toward the front than was advised. I’d never started near the front, but she’d done it during our 5K two weeks ago.
“When the race starts, whatever you do….don’t look back,” she advised. “You’ll see nothing but a mob at your back.”
The horn sounded! Yay, let’s go!!
I didn’t turn the music on right away because in the beginning your pace is controlled by the crowd. After a minute or so, though, I cranked it up. A fun, fast little retro tune by Booker T and the MG’s started the party in my ears, and I sped up a bit. The next song was faster. The next song was faster than that. You get the picture.
I was actually OK through these acceleration songs, keeping a perkiness in my step. I liked that it was making me go faster than I normally would — come hell or high water, baby, I was NOT going to break stride!
Happily, my running buddy and I mostly stayed abreast. It was cool to run with someone — I’d never done that before in a race.
The culmination of those initial fast songs was the 159 beats-per-minute “Hey Ya!” by Outkast. By that point, I was beginning to get a little tired, feeling an urge to slow down….but there’s something about a driving beat which infuses a bit more life into your run. I picked it up. Shouting an apology to my running bud, I moved ahead of her.
Yep, for me, music and running go hand in hand. They feed each other.
The slower-paced break arrived, and I was grateful. I moved to the side out of the way of the faster pack, slowed slightly, and took deep breaths while managing a few quick shoulder shrugs and chest stretches. Man, I was tense! I made a conscious effort to relax my upper body and pay attention to form. When I get tired, I have a tendency to get sloppy.
After a minute or two, I decided I’d designed too much of a break with the slower songs. Not that I suddenly had a bunch of energy, mind you — I just had a mission to accomplish and needed to get in gear and damn DO it. So I forwarded through a few songs until I got to the second acceleration phase.
UGGGHHHHH. This was the part of the race that nearly killed me. I was managing to keep pace with the music, but my strides were considerably shorter and filled with more exertion. It was a freakin’ HUGE effort.
It was during this phase that my mind — my very own mind, residing inside my very own head — played quite a mean trick on me. You see, this race was being held in the same area, along many of the same trails and streets, in which we’d trained for nine weeks. Although we always varied our routes, we never failed to finish along the same path, coming to an exhausted stop at the picnic tables to chat and stretch.
Well, when the race took us along that path, and I could see the picnic tables in the distance…..I felt my body become physically relieved. “Ahhhhhhh,” my brain said to me, “just a few hundred more feet and you can stop. Look at those lovely, inviting picnic tables! You can sit down in a minute. Relax! It’s almost over.”
Pffffft. I immediately kicked my mind in its metaphorical, disloyal ass. I think the hardest moment of the race was to keep running PAST those picnic tables.
I thought for sure my running bud would’ve caught up with me by now, and I stole a backward glance or two, but never saw her. I wondered if she’d passed me already, and I just somehow missed her.
Shortly after those blasted picnic tables, I passed the one-mile-to-go marker and tried to brace myself for the last third of the race. I needed to go into a just-do-it machine mode, but all I really wanted to do was slow down and walk. I was vaguely aware that the course was doubling back on itself…..a hundred or so feet to my right, I could see the people in the race behind me running up a trail as I was running down a parallel trail. I was knocked out of my race reverie when I heard a loud “Wooooooooo, Lisaaaaa!!!” from the other side. I looked over and it was one of the guys from the running group.
Yay, a blast of an encouragement just when I needed it! I gratefully “Wooooooooo!!!”‘d him back.
My songs were still accelerating, and it wasn’t long before I reached the 160 beats-per-minute “Too Drunk to Fuck” by Nouvelle Vague. I’d timed it so that it could be my push to the finish, but I reached the song early since I’d skipped a few of the slower tunes. I tried to speed up to keep pace with the music — laughing as I did it, because that intoxicated little song never fails to give me a giggle — but it was just too fast for me at that point. I jumped backward to some of the more manageable songs in my first acceleration set.
I labored up a tiny, steep hill….turned a sharp corner….and there in the distance was the finish line!!
Ugh. But I didn’t care. I tried to conjure up the Type A, competitive Lisa, but she was taking a blissful, coma-like nap under a shade tree in the woods to my right. If it weren’t for the finish-line crowd up ahead — i.e., witnesses — I would’ve coasted to a stroll and nonchalantly crossed the finish line 15 minutes later. This always, always, always happens to me at the end of a hard run, whether it’s during a race or a training session. Everyone talks about that rush of adrenaline when they glimpse the finish line, but I’ve yet to experience it.
What DID help me, though, was catching sight of my run buddy out of the corner of my eye. She came up from behind me, shouting, “Come on!”
Now THAT, my friends, was cool. :) I increased my speed to keep pace with her. We were following a bend in the course which would spit us out very near the finish line. Almost done!!
UGH again. That blast of energy lasted all of five seconds. She left me as I slowed down again, gasping and ready to throw myself on the invitingly soft sideline grass.
Two things happened which kept me going. First, I heard our group’s head coach shout at me from among the bystanders — I couldn’t embarrass myself in front of a witness I actually know. And, second…….
I saw the clock.
I was not about to break 32 minutes.
I was about to break 30. Holy shit.
YAAAAAAAAAAAYYY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I kept my eyes on the large LED numbers as I ran, struggling, and passed under the balloon archway as the time read 29:39.
Inside my head, I was jumping up and down and hollering at the top of my lungs, but outside I was gasping so hard I was afraid I might hyperventilate. Fearing that my heart rate would drop too fast if I lay down on the wet grass, I kept moving aimlessly inside the small runners’ corral. Through belabored breathing and a haze of fatigue, I saw my running bud…and then we saw another from the group….and another….we gravitated toward a back corner where I found a pole — a strong, friendly, obliging pole — to lean against.
Thirty or so minutes later, after dragging myself through the crowds and heading back toward my car, I was fine. Ready to get out there and start my day!
The aches and pains started to creep up on me that evening, and have continued through today. It’s not too bad, though…..so far, it’s nothing that a little stretching hasn’t been able to ease.
Hmmmm….I divine an ass massage in my future…..
P: “It looks like an old man’s penis.”
Me: “Oh, great…now S isn’t going to want it anymore.”
S, poking one into his mouth: “Well….actually, I was going to disagree. I think it looks like an old man’s balls.”
P: “How is it?”
S: “Good. Try one.”
P, gingerly picking one up and munching an end off: “Hmmm, yeah. Not bad.”
S: “Lisa, aren’t you going to have one?”
Me, examining the ones that are left on the plate: “Uh-huh.”
S, peering at me impatiently: “Well?”
Me, choosing one of the plumper, less wrinkly ones and biting it in half: “Mmmmmm. You’re right. It is good.”
I’ve been holding back. Hiding information from you. Not talking about something big that’s been going on in my world for the last 9 weeks.
Remember the “couch-to-5K” running program I joined in the spring? Well, after it was done, the head coach approached me and asked if I’d like to be a volunteer coach for the next group that they were planning. This one would begin in August and culminate in the Spinx Runfest 5K on October 25th.
Good lord! I was quite flattered, but suspected that he’d been smoking some sort of hippie-grown, hallucinatory substance which made gasping, aching, out-of-shape old women appear athletic.
“Ummmmmm…..” I didn’t know what to say. Geesh, how do you tell someone you don’t know very well that he’s delusional?
“You remember me from the group, right?” I began tentatively. “I’m the one who sounds like she has emphysema when she runs. I missed a chunk of the training runs because my lower body tried to quit on me. I am just trying to figure this running thing out myself…I’m still learning. I’m not qualified to be a coach, for heaven’s sake.”
He was adamant that he was talking to the right person. “You stuck with it,” he said. “And your story will motivate others. You’ve come such a long way. Having gone through the program yourself, you can help others know what to expect. You’ll set a great example.”
I hesitated, hedged, questioned, and argued, but in the end I said yes. The biggest benefit I saw at the time was that it would keep me running….and accountable to my own workouts. I’d be one of three volunteers from the previous group to serve in a coaching role. (I’m gritting my teeth right now from the effort it’s taking to NOT put quotes around the word “coaching.”)
So — just like that, I was committed yet again to leave the house at the crack of freakin’ 7:30 every Saturday morning. I told myself I could be lazy on Sundays. There were also group runs Tuesday and Thursday evenings, and I was there for most of the Tuesday ones. I couldn’t bring myself to skip my core-strengthening Thursday evening pilates classes.
Running as a coach was different from running as a participant. I wanted each person in the group to feel special, so during the runs I’d go back and forth among the different participants to touch base and “whooo-hoo!” them. It was great! In the process, I built up my own endurance and speed since I would run back to check on the slower-paced members, then run forward to catch up with the others again. On those days that I didn’t feel like I got a good workout myself, I’d do an extra loop of intervals around the park after everyone else left.
As the weeks advanced, though, it became less about my own goals and more about the individuals in the group. It was SO cool to see their levels of fitness increase and the pride in themselves begin to soar. I remembered my own sense of empowerment when I first started to run and notice improvements, and it was heartening to see it happen in others — and to be a real part of their motivation.
This was an awesome group! About 50 people showed up for the very first run, and half of them were with us on this Thursday’s last training run (which is a great retention for this sort of thing, by the way). Their energy and enthusiasm has been contagious throughout the whole 9 weeks!
And how ELATED everyone was when they crossed the finish line this morning!!!! The fastest person in our group finished in just under 29 minutes, I think. She rocked! Most of us hung out at the finish line until everyone in our group completed the run…..and THEN we waited to cheer for our head coach as he finished the half-marathon. That’s over 13 miles! I can’t even imagine what it would be like to run that far. His race had started at 8am (our 5K started at 9am) and he finished sometime between 10:15 and 10:30, I think. Whew!
Me? The clock said 32 minutes and a few seconds or so when I crossed the finish line, which means my official chip time might be under 32. We’ll see when the results are posted online.
During the run, I kept it at a comfortable pace the entire time. I didn’t wear my iPod Shuffle — I’d heard that they would not be allowing music devices in this race. That bit of intel turned out to be false, but it was interesting to experiment with a no-music run. I got into a breathing/stride rhythm that propelled me quite nicely. I didn’t pay much attention to the scenery, but I have a vague impression that parts of it were pretty. I remember passing the Linky Stone children’s park with its fun statues and happy, kid-enticing climb-on-me things…. I remember newly paved trails painted with Swamp Rabbit Trail logos beneath my feet…. I remember looping around Mayberry Park and coming within 40 feet or so of a geocache for which I’d been FTF (first to find) a few years back.
For the most part, I didn’t pay much attention to my fellow runners, but I did watch for members of our group, being sure to emit an obnoxiously encouraging whoop when I saw someone.
There was one runner (a stranger — not one of “us”) who sounded like he was jamming on some bongos as he came up behind me. I glanced to my left as he ran beside me a few seconds, and he wasn’t playing the drums or carrying any noisemakers, but he was dressed a little strangely. Was he wearing a tie? I laughed out loud — as did several others around me — when he moved a little ahead so I could see better. He was wearing one of those long-sleeved tuxedo t-shirts and had five or six empty water bottles tied to his waist, which were noisily bumping the ground behind him. On the back of his shirt was pinned a handmade sign which read, “I’m getting married today.”
It had been my intention to push harder at some point, but I lost track of where I was on the course, and I neared the finishing point long before I thought I should have. I did speed up a bit when I saw the clock in the distance, disappointed that it read 31 something. I’d wanted to get closer to 30.
What now? More races, baby! I’m going to do one in under 30 if it damn kills me. Many people in the group — myself included — are planning to continue meeting for the weekday and weekend runs, at least for awhile. Two weeks from today, there’s another 5K which we may run together.
In January, another running program will begin, and many in the group are excited about joining it. There is a rumor that this group will train for a 10K. Yike-a-zoids! That’ll put me back in the trenches with the non-coach gang, for sure. I think I’ll do it, maybe not to run a 10K (I don’t know if my lower body will be able to withstand the abuse) but to improve my 5K time.
As I write, it’s about 5 hours since I finished the race, and I’m NOT all “tore up” like I was after the Candlelight run. Maybe that’s a good sign.
I’m going to say it is, anyway.
(Wondering what a ‘neverdone’ is? Scroll down to check out the last post, or click here.)
Wow, it’s a landslide. ALL THREE of you said in my poll that you want to see more neverdones in 2009. :) Of course I still have to get through the rest of them this year….I have to complete four more to make my 12-in-one-year goal. Hmmmmmmm. Better get busy.
For those of you who would like a refresher or who weren’t reading mm back then, a ‘neverdone’ is my happy little made-up word for something I’ve never done before. Last year I pledged to get in an average of one per month during 2008. Having changed my entire LIFE in 2007 by creating a healthier lifestyle, I wanted to make sure I didn’t lose that spirit ….or the empowerment I felt from overcoming a hurdle or trying something new.
Anyway. It’s time for another list, don’t you think? I’ve repeated the previous items (wow, I hardly did anything on last year’s list), come up with some new ones, and added some that you guys have suggested throughout the year. Does anything look fun to you? Surely something does. Do it with me! Come on, let’s go!
run an 8K race
run a 10K race
try hardcore cycling
go on a lonnnnnnnng hike
do the mud run
enter flight school
play a paintball game
camp overnight on a beach
write a story based on family history
video my mom telling stories
do a kick-ass boot camp class
go on a cruise
go to a Mac conference
stay in an ice hotel
figure out how to live clutter-free
paint a mural
plant a garden
see the northern lights
take a wine tasting class
hop in the car and go on a long roadtrip — no planning
do 100 girly-knee pushups
do 50 buff-boy pushups
be a member of a TV show audience
see a live drag queen show
visit an active volcano
fly to the edge of space in a supersonic jet
write my will
spend a whole day at a spa
attend a scifi convention
experience zero gravity
drive a race car — fast
go on a safari
make a pilgrimage
knit something naughty
volunteer during a holiday
take a fiction writing class
see the redwood trees in California
do a legal drug in Amsterdam
smoke a cigar to see what’s the big deal
build an elaborate sandcastle
create my own website (blog templates don’t count)
wax a body part
pierce an unusual body part
tattoo a body part
do something that scares me
smoke a peace pipe
enter a juried art show
design my own apparel, then make it
script & shoot a short movie
send a postcard to Postsecret
earn a masters degree
learn to make sushi rolls
give someone else’s perversion a try
throw a dart on a map and travel where it lands
write a book
visit the Grand Canyon
ride in a hot air balloon
attend a Buddhist service/seminar/retreat
ride an animal bigger than a horse
attend Burning Man
take a multi-day train trip
visit the flagship Apple store in NYC
drive the Pacific Coast Highway
Yep, it’s another email conversation, this time among P, S, and me….and G, even though she missed most of it.
A bit of backstory — one of S’s favorite phrases is that we all need to “sharpen the ax” regularly. Get out of the office…relax…kick back a little so we can come back to work refreshed, creative juices a-flowin’.
P: I am locked in my office with annual plans – GOING CRAZY – and wanted to know how everyone was doing? I have not stopped since I got here. S, the ax is dulling.
S: My blade fell off the handle. I’m chopping with just a wood stick in my hands.
P: I am right behind you.
Me: Wow. S has got wood in his hands. Chopping. Hmmmm.
P: You really do not want to chop. That could damage the wood. You could stroke the ax but that will cause blisters.
Me: AND I just noticed that P said she is right behind S! Is that appropriate for the office?
P: I can’t do much from behind.
Me: Well. That depends on your elevation in relation to the aforementioned wood.
S: Now THAT’S a lot of wood!!!
P: The more the merrier.
Me: Is more wood better wood?
P: Then you can just keep working all night.
S: Ewwwwwwww!!! Wood on wood!!!!
Me: Hmmmm, I’m getting a little excited. Might have to close my door for a bit. Again.
G: I just got back to my desk and see how much I have missed……..WOW!