Monday, November 24, 2008

Emotive Twenty-Somethings ...

This morning, while looking through old files on a long-forgotten flash drive, I found a poem I wrote during my senior year of college. Thinking back, it seems like I used to write a lot of silly things like this. Up 'til now I've rarely shared them with anyone ... but this one was too good to pass up. I mean, what was I thinking? How bored must I have been to even start, much less finish, something so inane? Oh, well. Nothing can keep an emotive twenty-three year old down ;)

Still, given my last entry and the upcoming fun & food-filled holiday season, this poem* may even be slightly apropo. Cheers to ya'll, and good luck keeping those upcoming New Year's Resolutions.


“Weighed Again, Come January”

Mid-January, I stood in the shower and realized
I couldn’t see my feet without moving my head forward
(more than I care to admit).
Only with effort could I make out what lay beyond
the titan mound of all too solid flesh.

I stood stark naked as water trickled down a drain
(to be reused by others in a perverse, yet telling,
cycle of modernity), and thought how easy corpulence would
melt away
in the sweat of a rubber-padded weight room.

And so I came to the meat auction
where scores of ruddy-faced men and women
whored themselves in public spectacle. (The world of weights
revolves around breasts and biceps).
But I was not so degenerate.
Or rather, I was (am) but didn’t (don’t) have the right figure.
So, I wore baggy sweats.

An acrid smell drifted across the checkered floor
and I nearly left because I couldn’t stand to breathe in the mix of five-year old sweat and hairspray.
But looking down I saw nothing
but my Dionysian stomach and so ...

Weight machines stood in a row like a collection of
sculpted scrap metal that once may have composed the guts of a Chevy or a washing machine. The machines were foreign,
their magic made more potent by mystery
and the Alchemic ability to transform fat into figure.

I stepped to a machine as music blared inanely across the room.
“Dirty deeds done dirt cheap ... ”
And I remembered why the progression of time
is such a good idea. (Good one, God).

Others in the room moved like large, shapely specters,
seemingly unaware of the rest of the room, but secretly staring
and lusting. “Dude, throw thirty more on,”
the blue-shirted shape said;
perhaps meant to entice the girl with the butterfly tattoo.

The hour passed and gravity took its toll. I straggled home,
legs tense and arms quivering.
Even in this frozen wasteland, my body found a way to sweat. (Thanks again, God).

In the apartment, I stripped down and stepped into the shower, consumed by Promethean pain.
And as the water spilled out, I looked down and smiled weakly.

I still couldn’t see my feet.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Will Run for Food ...

Those dark moments of life (death, divorce, destruction, disease, decomposition, etc.) often create just the right batch of ingredients for a rebirth. It's a bit like that whole Phoenix thing. We can't be reborn until we've been burnt to a charcoal-covered crisp.

See, midway through second semester of my first year of law school (a time of life universally recognized as a trip through physical and mental hell ... even if you enjoyed yourself most of the time) I looked down one day to discover that I had slowly devolved into a 285 pound mass of jelly-filled humanity. This was bad ... high cholesterol & blood pressure just added to what I now refer to as the MOST ABYSMAL PHYSICAL CONDITION OF MY LIFE.

After commiserating with some of my fellow chubbed-out first years, I decided to begin an activity that would significantly change my life: Running. Throughout my high school and undergrad years, I had avoided this most polarizing of activities like it was the smelly guy in science class. See, I related with the Morgan High Cross-Country club motto: "What most call hell, we call home." I was firmly on the "hell" side of that dichotomy.

Nevertheless, I disregarded my prior bias and began on a program aimed to get me from couch potato to half-Kenyan marathoner in sixteen weeks. Those first several weeks of running, I felt (and probably looked) like this:

But despite the back aches, the leg aches, the head aches, and the generally feeling that if I went one more step I would probably keel over along the side of the road, I kept going. And things got better. My lung capacity deepened and my legs, back, and stomach began to support my considerable girth. The highlight of that time of my running life came three months later when I set out on an idle Friday night and ran for an entire hour without stopping. I felt invincible; I felt like superman; I felt like this guy:

Even though I FELT good, however, I didn't actually look much different. Sure, I lost a few pounds (down to 250 at first and later down to 240 when I started training for a half-marathon), but my body still looked like an M&M - a lot of good stuff covered in a thick candy shell. It was only then that I began to realize the other half of my problem: Food.

Most of the seven deadly sins are relatively under control for me. Anger? Not since I beat up that kid in fourth grade (topically enough, for calling me fat) or punched a whole through our living room window screen have I let that emotion really take control. Envy? Well, I do live with Eric Vogeler, so ... yeah. And Lust? Well, I think Henry Higgins put it best when he asked "Have you ever met a man of good moral character where women are concerned?" (OK, after reading what I just wrote, I realize I might need to work on those as well). But the worst of all the game, by far, has always been Gluttony. We're a nation whose main passtime is overeating ... and I've always been proud to be an American.

But the problem with my greedy need for food is that it counteracts the majority of good that can come from a solid and consistent running program. I could run 25 miles a week and, thanks to my habit of mercilessly choking down Twinkies, end up two pounds heavier than I was the week before (this has happened ... how sad is that?).

So I'm going to cut down. Seriously ... this time it's going to happen. This life is all about learning to control our finicky, fickle bodies, no? Let that be my goal. My heart is healthy, my legs are strong and, while a flat and chiseled belly may be too much to ask for, hopefully cutting out the junk will help me move closer to that optimum 220.

Monday, November 10, 2008

A Lot Like Love ...

"We are all a little weird and life's a little weird, and when we find someone whose weirdness is compatible with ours, we join up with them and fall in mutual weirdness and call it love."

I found that statement while looking through quotes some of my friends have up on Facebook (the most socially acceptable way to stalk ...). The quote reminds me a bit of a comic strip by Bill Watterson (a genius of the highest order, comic or otherwise). In one segment written several years ago, Calvin is walking along a path with Hobbes while the pair, as they are want to do, have a VERY illuminating conversation:

Calvin: What's it like to fall in love?
Hobbes: Well... say the object of your affection walks by...
Calvin: Yeah?
Hobbes: First, your heart falls into your stomach and splashes your innards. All the moisture makes you sweat profusely. This condensation shorts the circuits to your brain and you get all woozy. When your brain burns out altogether, your mouth disengages and you babble like a cretin until she leaves.
Calvin: THAT'S LOVE?!?
Hobbes: Medically speaking.
Calvin: Heck, that happened to me once, but I figured it was cooties!

It may not be Valentine's Day or Christmas or really any day that might spark the heart or quicken the pulse ... but it is raining outside. And, on a rainy day, a little love can go a long way.

Cheers to ya'll ... and much love.