Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

What the Fuck is ALS?

Posted: August 20, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’ve seen a lot of people put that on social media lately.  I ask the same question a lot.

Is it when your son barges in your door smiling ear to ear ready to show you the video from your daughter’s wedding that you were too frail to attend the day before and finds your rotting corpse frozen in a deathly scream; eyes agape, clutching your oxygen mask in one hand while the soundtrack of his plunge into adulthood is a shitty mix of breathing machines, air conditioners and tour de france reruns? He talks to your body for a minute, ignoring the smell of death and believing that if he keeps talking you will wake up. Wake up dad. I brought the tape. Dad…

It probably goes back beyond that moment. That’s probably actually the friendliest part of the disease. The release. Your kid thinks that your rotting corpse smells terrible, but he more fondly remembers lying on the floor in your apartment watching Mel Brooks movies and eating sesame chicken. He remembers the only time you ever yelled at him, because he was bouncing on your water bed and fell off onto a dresser and that you used to tiptoe over him every morning as he pretended to sleep, all the while wondering what would compel someone to go run without being chased by the police. He’d start running years later, because there was no ice bucket challenge. There was just this disease that nobody knew about until it killed a loved one. A disease and a fundraising 5k race. On Father’s Day. Before all that though…

Is ALS when you look at your son and hang your head, embarrassed to ask him to leave for 4 hours so you can take a shit in the little plastic bowl in the middle of the living room? Is it sitting on this little fucking toilet, alone, staring at the wall, thinking hard enough to use what little muscle you have left to try utilizing the single most basic human function? ALS, then, perhaps could be described as having to use Professor X level brain power to squeeze a turd out. It doesn’t get much better when he comes back and finds you collapsed on the floor with your underwear around your ankles because you couldn’t make it six feet back to your bed? Then you have to shake your head in shame while nodding yes after he asks if you need him to clean up after you and looks in the bowl to see that in four hours all you could squeeze out was a bloody marble and a couple drops of piss that looked like mulled cider.

It goes back further than that actually. Dad died nine years ago today and I’m just now wrapping my head around it all.

ALS started by robbing him of the ability to do the one thing that he loved.

Fitting, to be on a run, training for a race, and do a face plant because your leg gives out. More fitting to be told for six months that you have a pinched nerve in your leg. Then you look down at your leg one day and it looks smaller. Feels tingly. Numb. Then you blink and your leg is gone. So the neurologist shows up and tells you that you are dying. The disease might be first described by driving for three hours planning what to say to the sons that grew up knowing you were invincible. They’re 23 now and you’re about to teach them their first lesson in parental death. You show up and the words aren’t what they were in the truck because the muscles in your throat have begun to atrophy, so on top of struggling to move your vocal cords, you can’t swallow either, which sucks a ton of ass because the tears that you’ve been desperately holding back so the kids don’t see how fucking scared you are, just pooled in your throat and you can’t even get the words out if you DO remember what they were. So you mutter, “It’s a disease. Lou Gehrig’s.” And then you respond that ultimately you’ll be paralyzed, but you fail to admit that you are going to suffer a torturous death over the next year or so. And then you say you love them, hug them, tell them not to worry, and you leave. They know you won’t die because they still think you’re Superman. Superman doesn’t die. He puts his underwear on the outside of his tights and fucks shit up all day before going home and bedding Lois Lane while thinking up articles for the local paper that are just satisfactory enough to be human.

You spend the next several months on the phone with them. They hear your voice failing and the coughing fits turn into death matches with mucous because your throat is even worse now. Forming words requires the same amount of focus as brain surgery and clearing your throat is like climbing mount doom on bath salts. You are dying at light speed and you’re trying to fake survival. The kids are noticeably scared and hiding their sadness. Then the kids are coming to save you. After hours and hours on webmd doing what scared kids do when a loved one is dying; developing ground breaking cures for horrible illnesses, they have thrown their hands in the air and refuse to let you hide your decay any longer.

Your youngest son has a hard time with it. He starts visiting every chance he gets. He sits and writes things to you rather than talking so that you don’t have to deal with the frustration of spending fifteen minutes to spit out a three word sentence while having a million things you wish you could say racing through your head. You want to explain life to him, and death. But all you can do is stare through your sagging eyes and be proud of the floundering imbecile that he has become. He lets tears escape sometimes when you choke for long periods of time and he knows that you only sleep for about 15 minutes a night because he curls up awake on the floor next to the bed and prays to a god that he doesn’t believe in to make this go away. He wants to wake up now. He wants his dad back so that he can fix all the shitty things he did as a son. He wants his dad back so you can fix all the shitty things you did as a dad. ALS is staring. Its helplessly watching your body disintegrate and hoping that people don’t feel bad for you while trying desperately not to feel sorry for yourself. You crack a joke one day to show him that you’re not scared. “I finally lost all that weight and didn’t even have to run,” you say, smiling through skeleton lips over the course of five minutes, stopping to think carefully and talk your vocal cords into the complex muscular action required to make sound… and hoping that it was funny enough for him. Joking about your own death is funny, right?

ALS might even be summed up by describing the pure hatred you feel just before your death, lying imprisoned in your bed and watching the people paid to care for you rob you blind. They take everything that you had just the other day written to your youngest son to take after your death. The things that meant most to you. You can’t open your mouth and say, “please don’t do that. Mike wants that. He likes stuff like that and once he was a little kid that I held in my arms and promised the world to. I failed then and I kind of wanted to at least give him these things.” You can’t beg them to not abuse you, because you can no longer use your arm to pull your body up the way that you had for the last couple weeks of life, let alone defend yourself against multiple people that are so jaded by their line of work that they’ve lost all compassion.

ALS is going from 220 lbs to 90 lbs over the course of a few months and knowing that not even your own kids can recognize you anymore. You smell like shit because you are too frail to shower but you’re so damn awake that you don’t want anyone dragging your naked ass into the tub and scrubbing you down so you crawl there and try to do it yourself every day but suck at it because you’re too weak to squeeze the damn soap out of the bottle. You can’t eat because you can’t swallow and every bite feels like a suicide attempt. You can’t sleep because you can’t breathe or stop thinking about death and wishing that it would come sooner than later because things are getting a bit lonely, grim, cold, boring, sad, lonely, lonely, lonely. But you don’t want to die because that fucking kid keeps looking at you and pretending to be a man while shitting his fucking pants because he doesn’t know how to give up on saving you. He watches you suffer and tries desperately to cope with the reality that death is the only comfort you might find right now.

ALS is the son becoming the father while the father becomes the son. He asks you if there is anything that you might want before you die and you point to the truck in the driveway and gesture a steering wheel motion. He carries you out to the car and smashes your fucking head on the door while trying to get you into the seat. You remember doing the same thing to him when he was younger. You point the turns out and in the corner of your eye you see him watching you carefully as your tears dry on your sunken cheeks every time you pass a farm and remember 50 years ago when you were young and had the whole world at your feet. You get back home and he puts you back in your bed and says he loves you for what is going to end up being the last time. You know it. He probably knows it but refuses to admit it. He tells you that he’ll be over after the wedding so that he can show you the tape of your daughter as a beautiful bride, the way that you probably always pictured her growing up. You take the last of your energy and you type into the little talking box thing that you previously used only to write short swear words and try making the kid laugh that, “I do not fear the end. Is near.” He hugs you and kisses you on the forehead and turns the TV down a little bit. The Godfather is on and the kid just left after an awkward part about being a father to your son. You wonder what everything means and you accept that you will never see him again.

The next five days are spent doing these exact things. Nothing more. Nothing less. Choke, Stare at the ceiling, choke, oxygen mask, ceiling, swallow, choke, ceiling, tour de france, choke, ceiling, drink Boost, think of Mary, think of Mary, don’t fuck up the wedding by dying. Think of Mike and Mark and wish them the best. Die knowing regretfully that your kid is the next person coming into the house.

That’s ALS. And for that reason, I am grateful for all of this ice bucket challenge stuff. The recognition of the illness has been profoundly heartwarming and the money truly gives me hope that someday someone will get diagnosed with this thing and their story won’t have to unfold this way for anyone else. There are a lot of fucked up diseases in the world. A lot of them torment and kill their sufferers. We all find our various fears and sensitivities based on the things that we witness happening to our loved ones or ourselves. It’s all shitty and people’s willingness to acknowledge a terminal illness is perhaps a bright spot in what is otherwise a pretty harsh existence.

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Cayuga Trails 50

Posted: June 3, 2014 in Uncategorized

I always think of clever shit to say while I’m racing.  I forget it all by the end. Then I sit to write one of these reports again and come up with words that mean nothing.

The website said something about ten thousand feet of climbing and descending.  I don’t know a whole lot about these numbers and really don’t care what they mean or how accurate they are.  My quads and calfs care more about them than I do, and I am fairly crippled as of 36 hours after the race.  One of the memories I’ll hold onto the longest is hobbling around after finishing and marveling at the elites as they prance around like they’ve been relaxing poolside all day.  I have much work to do.

I set an American record for bowel movements in the first five or so miles of a race.  I believe it was 6.  It’s hard to count when you are listening to the footsteps pass you by and thinking about how much work its going to take to catch those people that didn’t get shitfaced in the name of love at their best friends wedding yesterday.

There was a section of stairs in this race that we went up and down several times.  I was half expecting a 900 year old Chinese man to be sitting there waiting to give me Kung-Fu lessons when I got to the top. Going up, I thought I might die.  Not like, ‘oh man, I’m gonna die,’ but rather, ‘oh man, I wish I had my phone so I could call mom and tell her that she’s done a satisfactory job and that I like her more than all the other people I’ve met along the way.’  Going down the stairs I simply thought of the American way and a lawsuit that read something like “The People of America v These Fucking Stairs”

I had a long panic attack from mile thirty until I arrived at the Trailsroc aid station and saw my people.  This was brought on by a number of things that I’ve decided to not write about because I am still trying to make sense of what happened.  The heat and severe dehydration likely had a lot to do with it.  What is far more important is the value of the community that I am so fortunate to be a part of. Susan, Mort, Eric, Ron, Heather, Sean, Danielle, Stacy, Jon, Josh, Jacki, Sheila, Elyse, Amy, Ryan and all of the Trailsroc people were instrumental in keeping me moving forward.  This was new to me, as I have grown accustomed to internalizing all of this shit and not looking for external motivation.  After leaving Buttermilk the last time, I found myself depending on encouragement from Mike Bray, Josh Rossi and Dan Lopata as I crossed paths with them. Then I was on my own, so I thought of people back home and how they would want me to finish strong so to just stop being slow and to get after it.  Greg, Amber, Jamie, Matt Bertrand.  I didn’t have my phone all day, but I imagined them checking in on me through the website and probably asking about me.  This was surprisingly motivational.  I thought of Daven Oskvig and Kermit Welden for a while and how I would’ve very much liked to have either one of them at my side for a few miles. I thought of Medved and remembered the first time I went in and bought a pair of shoes in which to run my first 5k. I reminded myself that I work there now and should do a good job representing the reputation of the store by not being named in the obituaries of the D&C. After losing my ability to think for myself, I latched on to a couple of guys for the last 8 or 9 miles.  They finished right around the time I did and I can’t recall their names, but I probably owe most of my going sub 10 to these guys.  Finishing 50th in a time that would have been good for 35th last year felt as good as finishing first in any other race.  Perhaps this is what it will be like as I age into slowness.  As far as the race goes, there isn’t anything I can say that someone else isn’t going to say ten times better in a blog that actually matters, so I’ll stop there and just highlight some lessons that I learned throughout the day.

-I am a better runner than I was before.  I’m not as fast, but I am much smarter.

-Ian is an outstanding race director.  Mature, calm, collected.

-Krissy Moehl and Dave James are 2 of the friendliest mid-race elites I’ve come across since Tim Olson.  This sort of thing is very important to the sport.

-Consider spare hydration options before race day.  My handheld was irreparably leaking for the last 25 miles of the race and completely emptying about a mile out of each aid station.  This was likely responsible for my hallucinations and panic attack.

-Swimming during races is a good way to cool off and keep your body from shutting down.  Swim when you find water.

-Don’t be discouraged by GI issues early in a race.  I firmly believe that my inability to run a sub 10 mile without shitting my pants for the first hour of the race prevented me from going out too fast and jeopardizing the entire day.  50 miles is a long distance.  Be patient with your body and with your mind.  And with your butt.

-Weddings are the best possible carb-load events. 20 beers is an acceptable number for the day before a race if you drink water in between each one and stop by 6 pm.  (results may vary for people that don’t have a problem)

-I bloat during longer races and am not quite as fabulous as I might be on other days.  Electrolyte capsules make for fat fingers and cheeks.   Evidence of this has been viewed way too many times at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/heerkens/.  Ron’s pictures are wonderful and should be enjoyed by all.

-Using a 50 mile trail race to tune up for a 3 mile road race may have been a bad idea.  See you on Fathers Day.

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I haven’t had anything to write about.  So I spent the last week pretending I was Gilbert for a few seconds at the end of each day.  This has nothing to do with running, animal welfare, comic books, music or anything else that I normally give a shit about in life.  Blame the cat.

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Dear Diary.  By Gilbert.

2/25

I looked into my food dish this morning, the clanky aluminum giver of life, and noticed that in the center, through the mountain of grain-free kibble, I could see a speck of silver.  I was at once thrust into a downward spiral of emotions that ended with the terrifying realization that this would in fact be the last food I would ever be served.   So I slouched for a moment, looked over at the food guy, as he lay half awake staring through a beam of sunlight with a single half open eye, and I yelled as loud as I could.  I noticed the unopened bag of catfood sitting several feet away, but concluded with swiftness that it was not for me nor my brother or sister.  I looked in the large covered container next to my barren aluminum dish and noticed that it too was so full that it almost could not be closed.  This food was surely for someone else.  I yelled for another minute or so, at the food guy.  His slumber was disrupted and he arose to feed me.  He didn’t feed me.  I’m starting a diary in which to write my thoughts.   Welcome to the famine.

2/26

There was food in my dish again this morning.  Things don’t seem so bad sometimes.  I’ve decided to be positive.  People do this all the time.  Bipolar shit.  Woe is me- three minutes later- KICKING TODAYS ASS!!!!  I’m not gonna be like that, but when I grow up, I’ve decided that I’m going to have a dream.  Or a goal.  I don’t really know much of what it will be at this point.  But ambition is essential for things.  Going back to sleep.  Write more tomorrow

2/27

Why does the door only open for tall people?  Why does it only open one way?   It’s fucking cold out.  Can’t a cat go outside to piss in the neighbor’s bush without being stranded in fucking Siberia for six hours?  And where does the food guy always go?  I know he doesn’t have a job.  Perhaps if he gained a little weight and ate a little more and slept for 23 hours a day he would know why I get so irritated about being stuck outside.

2/28

I had to leave the bedroom today.   Tony ate all the food in my dish.  I hate him sometimes.  By the time I got downstairs, I found Olivia, at the food dish by the sink, stuffing her fat face.  What does she even do around here?  All I ever see is her jumping down from her fridge-top penthouse, eating and jumping back up to her fridge-top penthouse.  From time to time she plays piano for a second, or smashes something important.  But seriously.  I went up there once too.  Biggest mistake of my life.  Look at this shit.  You ever drop 25 lbs of muscle off a building before?
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3/1:

The guy with the food has been cleaning all morning.  Some people from back home are coming here.  He keeps turning that vile beast on.  The vacuum.  I hate it.  We all hate it.  Even Manny was getting pissed off about it today and pounced it.  The counters smell like shit.  Like lemony fresh shit.  And he burnt one of those scented burning sticks that smells fucking terrible.  He’s sabotaging our hard work in the litter box.  It’s like he doesn’t get the hint.  If I wanted my shit buried, I would bury my shit.  I hope these people don’t try to sleep near me.  Fatty’s gotta stretch out n shit.  Going back to sleep.  Life is pain.

3/2

Tony is a piece of shit.

3/3

When the food guy came back today he was hobbled.  I think he hurt his leg again.  That’s what he gets for trying to do stuff.  I tell him sometimes, “why the hell do you wanna be fast?  That shit takes work.”  He doesn’t listen to me though.  Sometimes I feel like he doesn’t hear me.  He just stares at me and says “Gil, why are you always staring at me with your mouth hanging open? You look like a creep.”  Jokes on him.  Have fun in expanding, you skinny little bastard.

3/4

My beard looks good today.  I wish the mirror was still next to the bed though.  Walking across the room to check myself out is a drag.  Energy expenditure 1, Gibert 0.  I think tomorrow I will go outside for a bit and see if any of the strays will talk to me yet.  Their lack of domestication is confusing.  The grey one won’t even look at me.  Who does that?  Is it because I’m too fat?  Because I come from money?  Zzzzzz

3/5

I miss my mom.  So does the guy with the food.  At night he tells me that we’ll all be together again soon.  And it will last forever this time.  He goes on about me having a stoop to sit on and drink.  And do hoodrat things.  It’s in some place called Sweeden.

3/6

What the fuck is a Ukraine?  All it seems like to me is a bunch of people that forgot to sleep for 23 hours a day.  The food guy is looking at all these pictures of people throwing rocks at people with shields.  It looks like fucking 300 over there but without the abs.  I like this Putin guy though.  He seems like the kind of guy I’d share a bowl of food with.  Powerful chest.  Rides a horse. Everyone’s all like ‘Putin made Obama his bitch by invading Ukraine.’  and I’m just sitting here like what is this Rocky IV? sup vlad, lets get swole, gas some hippies and take a nap til April or May.

3/7

Finally went back outside.  It’s fucking hot out.  I can’t win in this hell.  Tried to go back under the porch to kill things and the ground was soft.  I’m not entirely sure what I did to deserve this, but something has to change.  It’s just not right.  Did I mention the brown shit in my fur?  Wet dirt?  What the hell.  I determined that comic books are not comfortable to sleep on.  They dispense no warmth.   Sleeping on a laptop is better in every way.  Sometimes,  don’t tell anyone this cuz it seems weird,  but sometimes I like to just sit on it and let it warm my butt.  The food guy looks at me weird because for some reason he doesn’t appreciate buttholes the way that things with four legs do, but he’s not about to find me giving any fucks.  Not today.

This contains completely meaningless amounts of profanity.  If this bothers you, I am not sorry.  But I’m also not above mentioning it beforehand, because I love my mother, and she hates my french.

Before reading this, please note that it isn’t the pure contempt for the outpouring of compassion that it appears to be.  My heart is warmed by peoples awareness of these things.  It’s more of a plea for people to expand that awareness.  Apologies for what I’m now seeing as an abrasive piece of writing.  And again, I don’t judge people negatively for eating meat and I think it’s very possible to do so while maintaining adoration for animals. Whatever though.  Here.

I lost my job in November.  I was fired after explaining the reasoning behind my refusal to lower myself to practicing a level of speciesism that would’ve condemned animals of one functioning level to die so that animals of another functioning level could eat food that they don’t need to eat.  And before anyone starts crying about the language that I use, let me make something clear; I am an animal.  So are you.  Deal with it.  The ability to write or read this does not exempt either of us from being animals.  I don’t particularly give even a fraction of a shit if anyone thinks that they are above or below an animal in terms of what level of treatment they deserve, but my personal moral and ethical belief system entails that ALL LIVING ANIMALS are entitled to the most compassionate and humane treatment possible.  Until I see the women that fired me for suggesting I dehumanized those that I tirelessly served for so many years, jump off a dock and catch a frisbee in their mouths, then I’ll stand by my argument that we all function at various levels in our daily activities and that functional standards don’t exist so that we can look down on anybody or anything.  They exist so you don’t ask your chinchilla to drive you to work in the morning.  Or so you don’t get frustrated with a three year old for having subpar trigonometry skills before they’re capable of adding and subtracting cheerios on their lunch tray.  Life is beautiful. ALL OF IT.  If something can look at me, perceive me, and make a conscious reaction or decision based on my existence, then I believe that I have no right to inconvenience it to satisfy an unnecessary WANT of mine. Does this mean that I hate lions for eating zebras?  NO.  It means I believe that as humans we have developed to a high enough level of existence where animals no longer need to be exploited for fashion, comfort food, junk food or more importantly entertainment.  I am not about to begin discussing and arguing with anyone that thinks that their ancestors fought their way to the top of a food chain so that we could eat meat instead of what meat eats.  Our ancestors would fucking eat us if they saw how badly we fucked up.  Not out of hunger, but out of furious disappointment.  They also worked hard for their food and earned it.  They were part of an actual food chain.  We are not.  We created an assembly line food chain so that we wouldn’t have to exist frailly within the food chain that the rest of the world exists in.  Most of the junkfood obsessed people I see making this argument would become lunch within three minutes of wandering back into natures food chain.  So I won’t be dignifying those arguments any longer.  And quite frankly, the fire has gone out and I don’t give a shit what people eat anymore.  I only ask that they consider what they are buying into and if they would subject the animal that they are eating to the life it lived and the death it died en route to their toilet.  Most of them will say. “whatever man, that shit tastes good…lol.”  But what they would do if left in a room with an animal and an instrument with which to kill it is completely different.  They may kill it, but there will be no LOL’ing involved.  Or else you’re a fucking sociopath and not a hungry animal.  But this is all way off the point.  We’re here to talk about that poor fucking giraffe that everyone is bent out of shape about.  If you lost your shit when you read the articles about it, then first I will ask the same things I ask to the people posting the anti-Michael Vick memes or any other momentary act of animal caring propaganda and then driving to taco bell to eat beef that came out of a caulk gun.

First, are you a vegan? If you are not, AND you do not know where your dairy or meat or eggs come from, or your clothes, then please refrain from admonishing anyone that kills an animal.  The giraffe is no more deserving of your compassion than the pig, cow, chicken, lamb, duck, dog or cat you had for dinner.  Oh yeah, don’t rip Asians for including cats and dogs in their diet.  In terms of environmental soundness, eating our own domestic animals is far more reasonable than eating farm animals that fall out of their moms vagina into a prison cell before being pumped full of shit for a short life, shipped across the country, and commonly fucking tortured to death so that you can get your protein that someone once told you you will die without.  Again, I’ll reiterate, I’ve grown out of giving a shit if you think this is okay.  To each his own.  Please refrain from these frightening levels of hypocrisy though.  Many of you know that, though I think hunting and killing animals is a massive bummer, if you are going to eat meat, I am a huge advocate for you going out and taking care of it yourself.  Be respectful to what you take from the land.  Don’t go through the drive through and pay 89 cents for part of 13 different cows from 13 different states, none of which had names, but all of which had the desire to be the animal they were born to be. Stop saying the chicken or fish are okay to eat because they are dumb.  You don’t know shit about how smart or dumb these animals are.  And the only fucking certainty is that they are a smarter chicken or fish than you will ever be.  You may be a smart human, but in the coop, you are the dumbass.  In the water, you don’t know shit.  In a kennel full of dogs, you are the dumbest creature in the room.  Stop applying human educational standards to your moral justification for paying someone to kill something for you. And say fucking grace before you eat. Not to god, because there probably isn’t one, but rather to the animal that died so that your taste buds could experience some momentary satisfaction before returning to the completely tolerable state of not having experienced that satisfaction.

On to this fucking giraffe now.

As I’m currently in a low point in life and avoiding negativity as much as possible, I didn’t thoroughly read any of the articles.  From what I gathered in trying to avoid the insane comments of people that suddenly gave a shit about another species, was that the giraffe was shot, skinned and fed to the lions in front of Zoo-goers. I’ll exempt myself from verifying that, as I agree with doing it as much as I agree with the alternative to doing it.  At any rate, let’s break that down.  First,  WHAT THE FUCK DID YOU THINK THE LIONS AT THE ZOO ATE?  CORN?  No, they eat animals.  Again, animals that aren’t any more deserving of your compassion that this damn Giraffe.  You think because it had a name and was deemed playful that it was different?  Go name the animals in captivity that are killed, skinned and fed to YOU every day.  Let them show you how fucking playful they can be.  Then complain about Marius the giraffe being killed.  Have you ever seen the factory process by which the average American’s dinner was slaughtered? Or even worse, the conditions under which it wasn’t slaughtered yet?  Wake up.  Or, go back to a dignified state of ignoring the reality of the situation because life is simply easier if you don’t think of your bacon as having had a name, or an adorable tail, or a unique personality and desire to lay down next to one of its cell mates, or hold a grudge against another.  Life’s easier if you don’t know that the guy that killed that sleeve of bacon had a fight with his girlfriend before work that day and showed up to work aggravated and without thinking about it shoved an electric rod up the pigs ass while it screamed in agony, and then slowly shaved its fucking snout off while it stared and squirmed and squealed and cried.  Because bacon is fucking delicious.

Maybe you should also be pissed off about the fact that there are animals in zoo’s that don’t need to be there in the first place.  If I were imprisoned so some shitass kids could come point at me an laugh while their parents spouted off bullshit about how I loved it there, then I would probably beg to be shot and fed to the lions.  Zoo’s can serve a wonderful purpose.  Let’s not pretend that they always do though.  Beneath the justification of being educational institutions for conservation purposes, its important not to forget that conserving a species shouldn’t mean charging the public to come watch them sit behind a gate all day and suffer.  And, no, the animal behind the gate is not content, regardless of how you spin it.  It’s important to admit here that I have gone to zoos and probably will again.  I find animals fascinating and where there is an opportunity to look a rare animal in the eye, I will do so.  I don’t feel good when I see a wolf trying to figure out how to be a wolf while some little shit screams in make believe terror over that thing from all their fairy tales.  I equate my zoo visits to going to the local animal shelter. It leaves me sad.  But it leaves me aware. Though Zoo’s are an entirely more reasonable level of pulling animals out of the wild than things like SeaWorld or the Circus,  I am at still at odds. And even writing this am thrust into a crisis of consciousness suddenly, as I find it important to critique myself. Fuck!  And I am off the point again.

Stop giving a shit about one thing and not another.  Or, a far better idea, START GIVING A SHIT ABOUT EVERYTHING.  Don’t give a fuck about Marius the giraffe unless you have earned  the right to be pissed off by giving equal amounts of fucks about the nameless millions of equally awesome animals that didn’t get 18 months of zoo life before being shot and used in what is, at the end of the day a very meaningful way.  Open your eyes and be better people when you decide where to get your meat.  Acknowledge that your sadness over the giraffe exists for a reason and then apply that reasoning to every decision you make as a consumer and as a decent human being.  Or please go back to being silent, happy consumers.  It’s easier to stomach the torture of all the non-giraffes that way.Image

253910_782138945365_2026081_n I recall the string of comments that followed when I first posted this picture.  They were very typical.  “Eat a cheeseburger.  You look Somalian.”  “Put on some weight, you look unhealthy.”  “Jesus, you’re too skinny.”  Naturally, one can assume that each of these comments came from someone that has spent their entire life being overweight.  I brushed them off for that reason.  I felt it was only fair that people that have likely had their share of jokes thrown their way should be able to take a shot on people that don’t deal with such shit.  It never really occurred to me that being joked with for being skinny is just as offensive as being joked with for being overweight.  If you are offended by things of that nature, that is.  I tend not to be as life is short and being offended is a waste of time.  That lasts until someone posts a meme saying something to the effect of ,

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Then I become confused.  I’m either A) not a guy, or 2) wrong about what I like.  Neither of these seem possible.  Last time I peed I stood up and as far as I know, my taste in women isn’t really a defined by my own gender.  When I look at that meme I tend to think first that I don’t find either of them particularly attractive and second that if I was a girl that was born skinny, ate 3000 calories a day and never exercised a bit, I would probably be pretty pissed off about someone implying that I was unlovable.  My fiance and I are both stricken with tragic eating disorders.  We each consume more food throughout the course of a given day than any two people of our respective genders.  Neither of us get big.  I get slow, and flabby perhaps, which leads me to complain quite often, but she never really gains an inch or a pound or a pant size.  Being the most beautiful girl in the world isn’t her fault.  Just like having exceptional abs isn’t mine.   If I am told to eat a cheeseburger or go on a particular diet because I look Somalian, I reserve the right to reply, “Go on a diet, you look American.”  If I am told that I exercise too much and that I am obsessed with my body and that I am unhealthy because somebodies doctor told them that being vegan and running was gonna make me jaundiced and fucking kill me, then I kind of reserve the right to tell people that they are fat because they are lazy and THEY are obsessed with my body, because they wish they could unzip their lard and step out of it with 6 percent body fat and a 5:20 mile.  Of course these are ridiculous assumptions.  But people still make such statements to indicate that an entire fucking population of people likes one thing and detests another.  That being said, I’m still not really offended by being told that I am too skinny, but I certainly feel sympathetic for those that are naturally skinny and have to deal with an onslaught of shaming over the fact that their ass will never look like Beyonce’s.   I also feel simultaneously sympathetic and inspired by someone born heavy that takes tremendous care of themselves even while knowing that they’ll never look like the girl on the cover of Playboy.  Being heavy or light doesn’t indicate nearly enough about someones character to be a dickhead to them.

What Matters Most…

Posted: January 25, 2014 in Uncategorized

Quotes piss me off.  I don’t even know if this is actually a quote.  I saw it on a meme and also think it is the title of a book I saw on a shelf once.   Google has the answer to this, I’m sure of it.  Also sure I’d rather just write about it than research it.

“What matters most is how well we walk through the fire.” -Charles Bukowski (or according to the reliability of the internet sometimes, Abraham Lincoln or Liam Neeson or Pink or God)

What matters most to me just moved back to Scotland for the next half a year, so that someday we might enjoy the conveniences of living out our dreams in an earthbag house in the Scandinavian countryside.  The thing that matters second most to me, is how I plan to navigate this tundra of fuckery.  This barren whiteout of half an empty bed with the pillow cases I’ll refuse to wash until the final fading fragrance of her hair becomes a thing of the past.  At that point I’ll begin using her shampoo and keep my hair draped over her half of the bed so that in the moments of waking between faltering dreams and open eyes, one fifth of my senses will know that she is there with me still.  I’ll turn to look at a picture of her.  And pet, feed, amuse and water her cats.  I’ll put her favorite Watain song on as I wipe the momentary death of night from my face, stand up, process the pain that would keep most people in bed for a week, put my shoes on and run until the fire goes out.

Or until my legs go out and I only have it in me to walk through the fire as it burns the world around me.  This is what I do better than anything else in my life.  Proceed through the dying of ambition and the decay of possibility.  In this frame of existence I no longer have any external motivator.  No more speeches to cull from or quotes to give a shit about.  External motivation seems now to be a burdensome shadow of achievement that will sit still as the sun rolls over is and kills it one day at a time.  It’s cheesy and flimsy and serves only as a God for us to look to when we need some sort of answer to something that probably isn’t even a question.  I choose to answer the questions on my own.  Can I run 20 miles after frequent lapses in running that have my annual mileage stuck in the mud at 70 or 80 and the weighted vest of fat that I wear so awkwardly after such vacations from reality?  Yes.  I can.  And I’m off to do so.

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I don’t always write. But when I do, I just want it to be over.  Running has never been that way for me.  The only thing the two have in common is that by doing each I hope to say something to people.  Or maybe I’m just saying the same thing to myself over and over again in hopes that some day I’ll wake up better.  Even on a day such as this, when your breath freezes on your lips and fractures the flesh that would smack together if you could move your jaw fluidly enough to speak, I never really want to stop.  I’m happy when I’m done, but its not the satisfaction I feel when, after quitting one of my 3 blog entries a year for the tenth time, I publish it and swear it off because I hate it so much.  It’s a satisfaction that makes getting back to the car seem like going down Mt. Doom on a Crisco coated tube after throwing an unspeakable burden into the fires within, just to know that you could do it.  The struggles in running and writing are similar in the sense that I have no training (that i paid attention to), thus no practical knowledge of what I am or am not doing right, just that occasionally something works out for me in either.

I woke up and sat on the toilet for an hour.  This is becoming tradition.  That makes it respectable.  Like having a blowout during every 5k you do, or puking regularly every time you find out what your Vo2 max really is.  Nothing really happened for me.  My stomach had been weird for a couple of days at that point and some sort of full blown respiratory illness that had set in the night prior was stabilized but taunting me still.  “If you can’t breath well while you’re trying to crap, how do you plan on taking the ski hill three times?”  I was hesitant to say anything about this, because acknowledging it would make it more real and I wasn’t sure what it meant for my race.

One of my favorite things about this event was that it started at 10 am.  Anyone familiar with racing knows this is a rare blessing.  It basically meant that waking up at 8 provided me with time to take the dogs hiking at Ellison park, assemble my wardrobe, grab the gels that I’d bought the night prior in a feeble effort to be responsible for once and lastly to drive to the race at a legal speed.  I was even sober when I woke up, so pretty much everything was going well aside from the concrete in my lungs.

I forgot my beer.  I had purchased a 6 pack of Blue Moon for after the race and to maybe start paying back all those that I’ve bummed beers from, and I forgot it.  The race fell apart.  My whole life fell apart.  Every dream I’d ever had about running vaporized before being inhaled and vanquished by the universe.  NONE OF THAT ACTUALLY HAPPENED.  I didn’t care all that much.  I joked with myself about how bad I am at the prerace end of things and that someday I’ll find myself toeing the line at Badwater without a water bottle.  Strangely enough, I found myself not even thinking about the race at all.  I was completely calm and not thinking about running or racing or winning or even finishing.  Much like at the Mendon 50k, but with less purpose.  The moments leading up to the race were spent mingling in the cabin, soaking in last minute encouragements before being called to the line.  Into the cold.

Standing and waiting, I could already feel the snot taking over my mustache without remorse. Snow was collecting in my beard and my breath lingered in front of me like smoke drawn and smudged over a Bob Ross original.  For the briefest moment I had a nostalgic pang of yearning for a cigarette.  They were always the best in the winter.  They started the race at that point and two or three steps later I realized why I don’t do that anymore.

The single track section at the beginning of the race presented me with some problems.  I was lodged in the back, as I had my standard pre race anxiety and didn’t feel comfortable being up front.  After seeing Andy Frank, Elizabeth Matthews and Phil Nesbitt surge away from the pack I began to panic and stagger dangerously along the edges of the path trying my best to alert people that I was passing while paying attention to my footing and laying down a 1:30 quarter mile.  By the time I caught the women’s leader there was enough separation between Andy, Phil and the rest of the pack for me to know that expending the extra energy to catch them would be stupid and short lived.  But then again, everything I do is pretty questionable and I was really excited to be running with those two for the first time ever.  Each of them have such graceful form, Andy in particular, and it was truly humbling to be cruising with them for the first five miles, whether they made me look like the running equivalent of Shrek, or not.

Crampons.  This was a new experience for me.  I broke the cardinal rule of racing and used a piece of equipment that I was completely unfamiliar with outside of a short, slow trail jaunt two nights earlier.  I believe that these can be a very effective tool for me, given more time to adjust, but during this race they were sliding off of my toe-box and sagging off the bottom of my shoe the entire time, collecting slush and leaves and making it fairly uncomfortable to run road crossings or craggy downhill sections.  The biggest gap that opened up between the two leaders was at the start of the second loop. I’d been staying with them through minor cramping and breathing difficulties, but wanted to see if I could adjust my traction and get back into a comfortable race.  This took far longer than expected, as my hands were numb and crampons simply aren’t easy to adjust.  I blew a completely irresponsible amount of time at the aid station before getting back into the race.  This ultimately was a good thing however, as it allowed me to settle down and run my own race.  i probably could’ve stayed in sight of 1 and 2 for another loop, but it simply wasn’t going to change the end result.  This also left me some valuable time to reflect on racing and consider many things about it.  Fairly early in the race I could tell that I wasn’t a contender, but also that nobody was coming for me.  I’m currently struggling to get back to a level of fitness that might keep me in a race less than 50 miles with two guys that move so effortlessly and quickly without fatigue.  I spent a lot of time focusing on my form and honing my hill bombing capabilities.  I should’ve ended up with a tibia sticking through my skin on a lot of these, but recklessness is a necessary evil sometimes so that we might know how far we can go when everything is on the line.

Comfortably locked in third, I ran hard and focused on how lucky I was to be running at all after the year I’ve had.  I spent a lot of time being thankful for Sean Storie and for Jamie Hobbs and Ben Murphy, each of whom I saw regularly on the course and always picked up my pace for a bit after passing. I thought about the art of volunteering and how I respect what they do so much more than what I do. I felt terrible for Susan, Eric, Ron and the photographers, freezing their asses off so that I might hear something besides snow packing under my feet periodically.  I also thought quite a bit about my friends Greg and Amber and wondered how their first trail race was shaping up for them.  And mostly I thought about where I was a year ago as a runner versus where I am now.  I was much faster and stronger back then.  I probably could have won this race if it had happened a year ago.  But the more I consider all of the circumstances that caused me to lose 1000 miles off my annual total and all of my dissipated progress and everything that I loathed about being injured, I am happy to have a group of friends that go through so much to make events like this happen.  The community has exploded into a symbol of camaraderie and enthusiasm and genuinely caring about the successes and failures of everyone within, and there truly are a small handful of people that are responsible for that.  They wear orange and they sacrifice on an inspiring level so that we might feel significant enough to believe that what we are doing is truly meaningful.  And then we do better.  Even on a day like this, when I did so much worse, I’m left feeling only as though I did better.

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photos used with permission from Alex Tong    http://www.flickr.com/photos/soupster/