Two-Stepping is Hard

•January 15, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Starting Again

With the effort to resume my adventures in limiting the craziness of life, I have again started to prepare the body for the undertaking ahead.  Next to me on my Sunday morning sojourns along the coastline is  Fifty-Two Bottles adventurer Jason.  In between his weekly beer, he and I do as we have done off and on for almost a year: a morning run.  While the goals are different for these workouts, the mutual support remains.

As my body becomes a bit more appropriated for my goals, these particular posts about training will be short.  That is, until, I am able to use my body as transportation without risking injury.  In a few weeks time I will be prepped for the first of these tests.  More on that later when it is closer at hand.

The Land of Flagstaff – Majestic and Magical

In doing my sibling duty, I was tapped to drive my sister back up to her college home of Flagstaff, Arizona.  A small town rich with culture, history, and creatures.

For the duration of her stay at home, my sister never went a day without mentioning the joy she would take in seeing me at her new favorite establishment.  The Museum Club.

Now to make things quite clear, let’s go over a few facts.  I am not a country fan.  The sight of me dancing is rare.  Counting is not my strong talent, especially when my degrees in English are factored in.  Two-Stepping was my demise.

Oh, and the idea that we were “Closing the place down!” – I go to bed at 11pm when I’ve had a ‘rager’ of a night.

Stumbling out of her truck into a balmy temperature of 18 degrees, the sound of country music served as my doomsday soundtrak whilst my shoes grinded the rocks into pockets of dirt in  the parking lot.

My sister was skipping in a fit of glee.

Climbing up the steps and into the log cabin establishment I broke a sweat.  I did notice that it was a historical landmark complete with a ledger to sign in at.  However, glancing over the ledger and seeing profanity laced tirades of drunken idiocy, I realized that a signature here was no different than the prestige one can have by making out with someone of questionable moral fiber.  It doesn’t count.  NO POINTS.

Like a beacon to all the randoms in the town and those cruising down Route 66 in the starry night, this is what the entrance looked like.

The wooden dance floor featured a tree in the middle of it; a debate continues as to the if the tree is truly real.  Surrounding the logged walls were what you would expect of a former taxidermy shop: antlers, mounted heads, full stuffed animals staged in attack mode, a mountain lion with a holiday Santa hat.  Then my eyes adjusted to the individuals insight this establishment.

Wranglers and plaid everywhere.  Boots echoed as they hit the ground and buckles glinting in the sparse lighting.  Apparently I chose a good night.  It was Dime Beer night.  Yep, a beer for 10 cents.  The choices: Pabst or Coors Light.  My sole redeeming factor was purchasing a proper Crown Royal/Ginger Ale for $2.

“Is thaat  Crown Royal Whiskey?”

“Um . . . Yeah.”

“Have ya ever mixed it with Red Bulll?”

“Nope.”

“Yur missin’ out pawhtna. Give me two of them Crowns and Red Bulll!”

This exchange with another patron at the bar lead me to promptly run back to my sliced tree trunk table.  In time I grew more aware of the surroundings.

The bathroom urinal was similar to a bathtub.  The DJ was in his 40s, with a pony tail, away from Mom’s basement for the night, and playing rap song sets in between rounds of Cotton Eyed Joe and other country hits.  Both modern and classic.

I met a guy who looked like a ninja turtle and halted myself several times from calling him Leonardo.  I attempted this two-step and kept losing count.  I saw creepers leering at girls dancing alone on the wooden square.  Girls flipping and nearly kicking their partner in the face.  When Thriller came on, the place erupted as if Bon Jovi had just stepped on stage in New Jersey.  Leonardo danced with a women no younger than 50; her daughters snapping photos of the escapades.  A girl hurling the contents of her stomach all over the floor as she was 10 seconds too late of reaching the bathroom safely.  All of this to the tunes of Carrie Underwood’s Before He Cheats and Crazy Bitch by Buckcherry.

The DJ sang them all while watching his first generation MacBook cycle through his playlist.

As the time hit closing I left bewildered.  Other moments that had my mandible hanging during the night have since been suppressed by my mind.  Most certainly for my own safety.

I woke up the next morning hoping that it was a dream.  Or that I had passed out due to altitude sickness.  Nope.  The wounds are still healing.

Armageddon Just Got Interesting

•January 3, 2011 • 1 Comment

I’m hoping someone has heard of the latest, yet incredible, idea Ashton Kutcher has conjured up.  If you haven’t, then I will retell it for you.

He is working out in order to survive Armageddon.

Did it sink in yet?  Allow me to rephrase . . . Ashton (Michael Kelso) Kutcher is training himself to make it through the Apocalypse.

In this month’s issue of Men’s Fitness, the Kutch has a nice little interview about how his training regime is centered around the concept of preparing for the end of days.  Now, I advocate for any reason to train but this is just about the most absurd thing I have ever heard.  Equally disturbing is what he envisions while he works out.  Shelly Smith, the interviewer stifling her laughter long enough to listen and type the article, remarks how Ashton “pretends he is being chased by wild boars or aliens.”  Yeah, and you thought Hyde was the only crazy one in the Forman’s basement.  The marriage to the caged Amazon named Demi has officially wrecked him.

But this is not all.  Kelso Kutcher defends all of this canyon running, Bikram yoga, and Krav Maga training saying that “if the shit hits the fan . . . you can get out of the shit.”  Or a possible adulterous relationship and connection to a lascivious tape.  Who am I to judge?

How did this all strike?  When did he reach the epiphany that the destruction of the modern world was something he had to be prepared for with more than just money and fame? Last Christmas while ‘camping’ at his mountain cabin (complete with private runaway I’m sure) after the area lost power for 14 hours.

“It was 20 below zero . . . I got my guns out . . . We made a fire.  We went to the grocery store, and the doors were open because they’re all electronic.  People were rolling in and out, clearing out the shelves.”

I cannot mentally comprehend this guy, strolling down aisles in a grocery store wired with the walking fascination that this is what the destruction of the world would be like, thinking to himself ‘I have to train so that I can protect my family.’ Apparently, the Continuum Transfunctioner could not even ward off this evil.

“it won’t take very much I’m telling you . . . It will not take much for people to hit the panic button.  The amount of convenience that people rely on based on electricity alone.  You start taking out electricity and satellites, and people are going to lose their noodle . . . And people are going to go, ‘That land’s not yours, prove that it’s yours,’ and the only thing you have to prove it’s yours is on an electronic file.  Then it’s like, ‘What’s the value of currency and whose food is whose?’  People’s alarm systems at their homes will no longer worked.  Neighbor will our heating, our garbage disposal, hot-water heaters that run on gas but depend on electricity (for those of us who have these things) – what happens when all our modern conveniences fail?  I’m going to be ready to take myself and my family to a safe place where they don’t have to worry.”

Butterfly Effect extremism aside, he sounds batshit crazy.  The guy who, while shirtless, fought Seann William Scott, also shirtless, and later made out with him, is claiming that he will be the iron hand of domestic defense for his family.  Can we see the Saving the World scoreboard?

Ashton Kutcher: 1 (We’re gonna count Dude Where’s My Car, barely)

Bruce Willis: 6 (Conservatively, he shot himself in the last Die Hard to save the country.  Come on.)

Way to choose up Demi . . . G.I. Jane was a while ago.  Can’t rely on CERE Training anymore.

In either case, the guy who walked around shouting out “Burn!” and now takes twitpics of his older wife is going to save his family.  Not yours.  If, however, his training is looked at in the this terms of saving his family and himself when things “hit the fan” (his words) then this is the most primitive reason to train: self preservation.  Warriors and hunters trained in order to feed their families and protect their communities.  I hate to say it, but Ashton has something here; this is the simplest reason to craft a sculpted body. It is an innate self-drive.

With this, I induct Ashton Kutcher, on this day, the first member of the SIMPLE ATHLETES SOCIETY.

So get your Nikon ready for the photo and start choosing up on who is going to assist you when everything gets turned upside-down.

My choice: Jason Statham.  Hands down.  Sorry Kutch.

Movement

•January 1, 2011 • Leave a Comment

Welcome to Simple Strides, a blog documenting various routes I will be taking to make my life a little less complicated.

The idea is easy enough.  Everything now, it seems, has been complicated by an indeterminable amount of things.  I’m attempting to remove some of them to see what life was like without those dependencies.  For instance, instead of driving my car to work (a short 4.5 miles) I will ride my bike or run.  Maybe even making my own food and not eating out or heating up pre-cut or cooked food.  The way things used to be.

As for why, I long for nostalgia and the way things were.  When people would walk to stores and school because it was close instead of driving the mile.  To cooking as a means of entertainment and show of talent, not going out to eat because learning culinary arts was too time consuming.

This blog will be the platform for my ideas, my actions, and my theories on why our society has been coerced into a need-it-now mentality.   (For an idea of what I’m talking about, Today’s Monsterous, is a short digression on it).   Also will be my athletic endeavors but worry not, there will be fun.

My good friend has embarked on a journey that I have decided to join him on.  Fifty-Two Bottles of Beer on the Wall, a year’s journey through beer.  I will be making cameo appearances on this endeavor of his.

So check often, and catch up on the older posts to see the trajectory of this project, as I strive to improve the quality of life and making the world around me a little less complex.

Currently relacing . . . Check back soon

•December 31, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Dusk Clarity

•November 16, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Running this afternoon through the dirt and gravel trails that line the wetlands outside of Sunset Beach, the grandeur of a setting sun threw off little light on the passing tree limbs submerged in the tranquil ponds as a handful of ducks remained motionless facing the coastline.  Their little flippers did little to disturb the scenery, only breaking the calm with flapping wings as they took flight.

Not so pleasant was the cold wind that blew in my face for 2 miles on my return but that is not the point.  Or is it . . . Well, I guess it could be likened to . . . Forget it.  Officially not the point.

The solitude of Flagstaff was replicated, in some small way, but the scenery that I passed by.  An altitude of just over 7,000 feet above sea level was not missed.  Running a decent pace and still being able to breath is excellent.

For those 30 minutes I was able to reflect on the week that passed from my trip to a city that operates as a town on a busy day.  And forget about the absurdity that is freshmen students at high school.  Mind boggling. 

In the past week I have come to realize the importance of the people around me and the fact that the happenings of each day are not ones to be repeated.  Neither can muffled laughs, feigned enthusiasm, and restrained smiles.  That concept of living in the moment might as well serve as the guiding principle of each day.  I found myself a couple times this week telling myself that the next few hours of the day are ones I will never get back.  However, it was a jumble of moments that took me to realize this.

Watching my sister cry for the first time in five years easily, enjoying a drink with her for the first time since she became 21, being kicked by a homeless guy while sleeping for only a couple hours while on a 9 hour train ride, a burger in San Diego and night out in Huntington, a friend home for a funeral, and another suffering their own ordeal after a misguided choice that will affect them in ways imagination cannot paint.

These ducks, those trees, that gritty sound of gravel, all played background to the view of deep golden rays exposing holes in the approaching clouds from the ocean.  Small patches of the coastal sand still shown in a soft yellow.

It was a moment when I saw myself running past but stopped to see the last shreds of sunshine be patched up by the newspaper gray of amorphous, floating cotton balls.  I realized days like this will not happen again, this view will be the only time I see it.  Of course, without a camera to take a photo of it.

Better yet I was still breathing as I finished, watching the sky become enveloped by a increasingly dark sky behind the soft red glow of a Jack in the Box sign.  Thoughts collected, tired, legs seizing up some, I remembered the base level of what really makes for life’s Simple Strides . . .

Escape

•November 4, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Waking in the early hours of this morning, I set out to rest the mind some and get back to solidarity.

“Final destination today is Flagstaff?”

“Yes it is.”

The trip is two-fold in its purpose.  One of which being the primary reason, that being to see my sister at school and watch her team play in the conference playoffs.  The other being a literal removal of self from the crush of life back home.  It is as much of a mental vacation as it is a physical one.

Looking out the window of the prop plane as it begins to descend into the Flagstaff Airport, the terrain is lined with pine trees and upon walking out of the single gate airport to the empty drop-off zone I remember just how far away from reality this city is.  Almost as if the higher elevation has encapsulated this small mountain town, secluding it away from the rest of the state.  The only connections that remain, reminding me that it is not a floating island, are the few freeway signs directing small amounts of traffic to their eventual destination.  Inevitably the same pressures follow, those of the unforgiving job search and other issues that hold my hand when back home.  Here, however, amongst the small knit community I am hidden.  At least I feel that way.  I have been wondering all day if the lingering headache is due to mild dehydration or the lack of pressure that usually compresses it.

Certainly I cannot remain here forever, even Tom Hank’s character left the island.

Dude, you bail on me again, and I’m gonna be pissed.  Seriously.

By Monday morning I will return back to what I know and back to the compacted freeways and dense cities that only separate themselves from each other by a simple sign correlating to a line drawn, but never seen.  But the time I spend here always leaves me questioning the idea of remaining in Southern California and whether or not I should strike out for a new territory to call my own.  However, that decision is guided by the individual or group that will employ me in this sort of flat lining economy.  Something that has taken a large amount of patience on my behalf that taxes a body more than I could possibly imagine.

Perhaps the clean air at 7,000 feet and light smell of dirt as the sky darkens before 6pm, sending a cool breeze through the few lighted streets, will do me some good.  As will the time spent with my sister.  Simply driving around with her and watching her at her game may hold its own therapeutic qualities.

As would a simple run or two while I’m up here through the trails the cross through the wooded area behind the campus.  Simple success may be in Flagstaff following some soothing Simple Strides . . .

Monday Monday . . .

•November 1, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Halloween closed the curtains on the weekend and October yesterday, as the sun lifted the curtains to announce the arrival of November.

The Run to Work project will commence this week as I am schedule to step into the shoes of an instructor for a day.  Mind you the pack is still ready to go from last week.  I have also been toying with the idea of incorporating the bike into this way but I am still sorting the details.

Often here you will read about myself looking to further my surrounding community through simple means that will only stand to benefit the lives of others in rather dynamic, physical ways.  However, attention often needs to be directed to the mind of an individual if progress is to be developed.  Such was the case this weekend with myself and a good friend of mine that I consider family.

Having a tough week myself it was only made tougher when I phone call from my good friend/brother revealed he had come onto some hard times while training for an ultra-exclusive spot in the Navy.  He informed me he would be catching a late train out of San Diego up north and curious if I would be able to pick him up.  Without question is my usual answer to such requests from him.

Seeing him it became apparent that his spirit was absent, as was mine.  A lengthy cathartic conversation followed to ease his woes.  Similar actions followed the next night as well, each ending in the early morning hours with us laughing.

The goodbye was a depressing one.

Energetic and laughing as if the previous week never existed only a few minutes before driving to the train station, those emotions were swabbed for melancholy with the thump of closed car door.  As we parted ways I had a moment where I felt exactly as he did.  We both had the emotional understanding of each other with the sudden jolt that reality often delivers that this time of mental vacation was over.  He walked, head down, to a bench seat that lined the southbound track as I kept my eyes down on my feet as they carried me back to my car.

This is not to say the weekend was for nothing with nothing positive to glean from it.  Obviously there is.  But the emotional weight remained.

There is always talk of keeping the mind on the positive and believing in self as a means for finding solace from the abrasive winds of negativity.  Often the mind takes a while to reboot itself, adjusting the controls to normal, and instructing the body to be filled with energy once more.

It is indeed not the body that controls the mind, but quite the opposite as endorphins contribute to one’s well being.  Perhaps some time for self, as a means of assessment and recovery, that really are the best and longest Simple Strides . . .