Monday, February 28, 2011

Shall I compare thee to a Summer's Day?

Well I can't. Know why?!?! KNOW WHY!??! Because it's still frak-a-zee-ing Winter and I've had it.

Listen, I don't mind snow generally. I don't mind snow in December or January specifically. I don't mind a crisp in the air if it carries the scent of leaves, baked goods, nutmeg, ciders, and pink pumpkin scented wall plug-ins. I enjoy some comfort food smothered in gravys and various soups the warm your immortal soul and being inside toasty warm as the wind whistles outside. At least, I don't mind all of that until about mid-January. Then I'm DONE! And basically, all those really good things about cold weather are done about that time as well. After Christmas, we all just face a veritable frosty hell. Honestly, I don't know why people think hell is all fire and brimstone. That sounds pretty nice right about now. I think Hell is a frozen glacial desolation where Christmas never comes. Kind of like Narnia before Aslan; always Winter, never Christmas. Shudder. Eh? Eh...

I'd also like to point out that February is generally crap. Mostly the last part of February into mid-March is basically crap. There are no good movies, Christmas is long gone, you've just suffered through yet another Single Awareness Day, and all the comfort food is beginning to look exceptionally squishy around your belly and butt with swimsuit season looming around the corner (bittersweet, no?). You're generally sick of sweaters and leggings and gloves and dry white flaky crappy skin and chapped lips and nose colds and bracing yourself for the biting chill right before you cross the threshold to the outside world. It's exhausting. And I for one, would like Summer to come right along if you please. I'd like it to come right along RIGHT NOW!

In this lament of cold crappy weather, I'd like to bring some sunshine into both of our souls (mine and my one reader - hello reader!) by creating a list. Things just got a bit brighter already, right? Who doesn't love themselves a good list?! I can't think of anyone... and if there is someone they're probably messy, disorganized, and actually like the winter. Loser.

A List of Things I Love About Summer and Why I Wish It Were Here RIGHT NOW!!
1. Sunshine, Sweet glorious Sunshine - a given
2. Outdoor sports - particularly the Frisbee and being able to run outside. How I long to not run on a boring old treadmill anymore. And grass! I like grass.
3. Scooter Rides - I got into the habit of taking an hour Scooter ride on Ms. Holly every Sunday around the Aves. It really made my day and I miss the warm breeze, sniffing the smells of Aves residents cooking up suppers of Vegan pasta salads and Tofu burgers, and guys checking out the cool chick on the wicked awesome turquoise scoot. Don't worry boys - I'll be back.
4. Concerts in the Park - nothing like standing shoulder to shoulder with sweaty drunks listening to the smooth sounds of hipster music in the Park. Nuthin.
5. Farmer's Market - oh oh oh how I LOVE the Downtown Farmer's Market. The fresh produce, the wheat pancakes, that delicious corn Salsa, the hummus, and jams. And the people watching! Oh the people watching. No where else will you see so many dogs that look like their humans... or humans that look like their dogs. Whatever.
6. Camping - I love camping. Lets go do some CAMPIN!
7. Hiking - I love hiking. Oh. And then after a really rigorous hike cleaning up and attending a... ... ...
8. BBQ!! Oh man I want to go to a BBQ every single weekend this summer. I want to go to a BBQ right now! Too bad it would totally suck right now. Psh.
9. Dresses and Skirts - I'm not as much a shorts person as I'm all about the dresses and skirts. I feel more feminine in the summer and heaven knows, this world needs a little more femininity. Right? Or at least shavin legs.
10. Freckles - I sprout them in abundance during the summer and generally feel I look much cuter a little more freckled. Freckles speak to my girlish innocence and fun-loving spirit.

Siiiiiigh.

Dear Internet, I could go on. Alas, I will stop here and bask in the warm glow that is my fluorescent computer screen while trying to gather heat from my under-desk space heater - imagining it is the sunshine and warmth I so long for. I can't even recall the taste of strawberries, the touch of grass, the sound of water... oh wait (Movie Allusion! E-high five to whomever can guess!). What are your greatest long lost memories of Summer? Does it still exist in your mind? Tell me about it. Tell me of your Summers that once WERE!! Let us take this journey together... and perhaps at the end... we will find hope. Hope of another Summer like the ones of long ago. Summer's lease hath all too short a date...

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Masochistic Tendencies and Jumping Muscle Demon Spawn

Since the Greeks first started chucking spears, lobbing heavy metal balls, and trying to jump further and higher than that other guy, the world has admired great athletes. Athleticism is the ultimate form of self-mastery. The ultimate example of mind over matter. For centuries humans have conditioned, toned, bled, and pushed their bodies to accomplish feats of extraordinary measure - in some cases - almost reaching into the superhuman. From yoga, biking, and snowboarding to team sports like volleyball, football, and the occasional round of cricket (by jove!), humans have chosen to truly put these magnificent bodies we've been bestowed with to the ultimate test - the ultimate endurance - the ultimate measure of mind over matter - through any imaginable form of athleticism that can be squished into a two story building and laden with crude machines bearing weights of mass-destruction! We've all taken it upon ourselves at some point to push our bodies further than even our bodies say we can go. Mind over matter. The ends justify the means.

 How else could anyone VOLUNTARILY run 26.3 miles in a handful of hours? How ELSE could anyone cultivate a desire to climb the highest peaks in the world or play a game of basketball in the park so hard you're soaked through as if you've just gone swimming or pushed yourself so far you've vomited all over the gym treadmill again because you just wanted to push it a tiiiiny bit further. How else, I ask you!! Athleticism starts in the mind, young padawan. That's where the true endurance lies.The force is strong with you.

 Likewise, now that I'm thinking about it, lets talk about how America, who produces some of the worlds most talented athletes, ALSO is one of the (if not THE) most obese nations in the world. Very strange bedfellows indeed, right?

But I'm not here to talk about how America is a cease-pool of gluttony and fast-food addictions (even though we are!). And I'm not here to tell you that childhood obesity has nearly QUADRUPLED in the last 10 years (which it has!). And I'm also not here to tell you that this generation of youngsters (under age 12) are predicted to be the first generation to NOT outlive their parents because they suck on a butter-stick for a pre-afternoon snack (even thought it's TRUE!). Naw, I'm here to talk about another sort of masochism. As positive sort of masochism. The masochism that is:

Boxing Is For Girls.

Listen. I've played sports my entire life. From running around like a tow-headed orphan child in the streets of Smalltown, Utah to dance teams, basketball teams (short-lived... pun NOT intended thanks), volleyball, softball, ultimate frisbee, flag-football, mountain biking, hiking, swimming (ish), kick-boxing, snow-shoeing, running, running, running, and most recently, yoga, you could say I'm familiar with the sort of pain that comes with the satisfaction of participating in physical activity. And my mamma didn't raise no wuss puss neither. I can handle pain. I believe participating in sports allows athletes to not only respect their bodies by utilizing them, but to strengthen the psychological threshold of pain, sweat, and tears that comes with playing any sports if you're playing them well. I've had sprained ankles, bruises the size of cantaloupes (softball... that one hurt), cracked bones, stitches, bump and scraps, scabs, eaten dirt, bloodied lips, and the occasional volleyball to the face. The first time I went snowboarding - Lord love a duck - did I want to DIE the next day. I tell you, I've not felt intense muscle pain like that ever! So what I'm saying is, I can take it. I can take it real good. Well, that is until last week.

Last Tuesday, a couple of friends and I went to Boxing is for Girls located in Sugarhouse (1100 East 1983 South). I'd done some kickboxing before (just for cardio - not for arse-whoppin) and boxing itself has always intrigued me. To me, boxing was the ultimate full body tough-guy (erp... girl) sport, and I wanted to DO IT! So, I did it. And it was intense. Incredibly intense. Now I've given you my repertoire of sports ability and proven that I can hack it. I'm clearly a sports participator and I've pushed myself pretty hard at times to the point of nearly vomiting all over the field/floor/carpet etc. A healthy sense of competition will do that to ya. I've played hard enough that the next day I walk like a stiff-legged Zombie including the groan and glazed eyes. But this, this I've never felt before. The ensuing two days AFTER my first BIFG experience, I succumbed to something I had never succumbed to before in my athletic life - I took some Tylenol for the pain. Like Randy in a Christmas Story, I couldn't put my arms down... or up... or sideways... or any other ways arms should rightly move. After a day of staggering around work, I got home and examined the most tender areas and found that the underneath/rib areas of my arms was nice and swollen. All puffed out and tender. Swollen! I've never had such a physical manifestation of intense muscle break down ever. Ever.

So naturally...

I went again on Saturday! Cause I'm a crazy person!! And because I'd bought a 20 session pass (not cheap). That's right! Though this time, I'd learned my lesson and learned it good. I warmed up, stretched and stretched, worked out hard, and then proceeded to stretch and stretch, drink protein, water, water, water, and Gatorade the rest of the day. I thought I nipped most of the soreness I expected to manifest itself the next day in the BUD.

Well turns out.

Bud not entirely nipped. You can tell very quickly where you've stretched good enough and where you have NOT. Today, though my arms are actually feeling pretty good and my abs just have the normal slight soreness that comes with intense workouts, my quads are killing me. No really. I almost fell face first down my apartment steps because I was walking like Frankenstein's Bride... groans and all. Every time I had to think of rising out of a chair or church bench (Sunday) I braced myself for the creaking and burning that would be my thighs. And oh it burned. Burned like the fiery furnace of hell burns. Little demon spawns were having "jump like a demon spawn day" in my muscles. Little beasts.

So that said, it hurt, it still hurts, and because I have incredible mental powers and a desire to look all sorts of Baywatch in my swimsuit this year (there's the true mind over matter motivation - all comes back to stereotypical body image propaganda - durg), I will of COURSE be going back on Tuesday. And THIS time, I will be even better equipped to push my body through another fantastic work out. Only athletes (and crazies, and masochists) would suffer such pain and go back for more. Go back for more because as athletes, you're not going to let your body beat you. No pain, no gain, right? So I'm going back. I'm carrying on the tradition of the ancient Greeks and giving my physical body the respect it deserves, but also demanding it to push further than its telling me it can. And boy is it screaming loud and clear today; but it will pass and Tuesday will come and my body and I will do it again. Boo. Ya.

Watch a little something something here from Boxing is for Girls. You think Jillian Michaels is badass? You've not met Eliza.

(sidenote - I googled "boxing girls" so I could supplement this post with a kick-arse boxing girl... yeah... don't do that... my innocence was lost. Turns out "boxing girls" is just another way to say boobs... or porn... or boobs and porn)

Monday, February 7, 2011

E-surprise

For a class assignment, a classmate and I had to interview an undergraduate about her "college experience." It was an interesting opportunity to reflect - now being old and graduated from all things "undergrad" and having to compare and contrast the similarities and differences between my life, schooling, and outlooks now to what they were "then". There were such dreams! Such hopes! I was so young once! Full of life! Now I'm just an old bag dwindling away at a career and graduate school trying to fill my life with meaningless drivel until I DIE!

Just kidding.

It's not meaningless and only sometimes drivel. I'm also not an old bag - but a "seasoned" 20 something on the up and up! Look out world! Soon, you will refer to me as Master Cox!

But this post isn't about life or goals or futures or even cats. Naw... this post is about discovering little hidden gems that were once tucked away and forgotten until a school assignment or  perhaps a desire to wear that army green jacket you keep forgetting about strikes you and what ho? you find a tube of Beeswax Chapstick in your pocket! It's times like these when you remember that karma works the other way too! The good way. Or on the other hand, causes you to  reflect on the fact that finding chapstick in your pocket being the highlight of your day is perhaps an indicator to shake things up a bit. I'm always losing chapstick though so finding a random usable tube (i.e. non-melted, non-washing machined) is cause for celebration in my world.

Anyway...

I recorded the above referred to interview on my IPod. Yes, my Ipod does that. Fancy pants. Then, while trying to extricate said video from my Ipod, I found this long forgotten video covered in e-dust just awaitin e-discovery. I present to you a walk down memory lane.

Lets watch:


video

That's the streets of Vietnam! I'd like it noted that after this happy bicycle ride to find an ATM, we were merely an HOUR away from what would become the most torturously long and soul sucking 6 hours of our lives. Shudder. From the happiness on our faces and joy in our voices you'd never know we were about to experience such mind-numbing horror. I know there's a metaphor in there somewhere about "just when you think you've got it made, you're stuffed into the backseat of an overcrowded van in Vietnam with a puking woman in front of you, porn playing on the screen above your head, a stinky European armpit in your face, and 6 hours of bumping, winding, hellish roads to try and muscle through all the while WILLING your Ipod to maintain battery life as your only tool of maintaining your sanity; "Please Lord let it play... please let it play." A very common life metaphor I'd say - and one we all must learn. I also recall getting fiendishly sick a day after that. I blame the puking woman, the porn, the van, and a large Banana smoothie consumed at the shadiest Cambodian restaurant ever constructed, the day before. So listen up. If you've got a hankering for a Banana smoothie in Cambodia, RESIST! Avoiding water apparently means avoiding ice. Turns out they use ice in smoothies. Ice and kamakazi intestinal parasites. Gives it a little kick.

Well, that's all I wanted to show you. This little gem of a video I found while trying to pull a student interview from my Ipod. I'd say that's the "e" equivalent of finding $10 in your pocket! and a tube of Beeswax chapstick. Mmm... or maybe just the chapstick. Mostly the chapstick. Ahem.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Carpe Diem Wednesday and some Philosophical What-Not


I’d like to tell you of my day yesterday. I’m rather proud of it I must say. Do you ever have those days where you’ve felt so productive, where you’ve used all of your time in meaningful worthwhile pursuits of not only a professional or academic nature, but a social and emotional nature as well, you just have to look back and say.. .“Man! I carp’ed that diem!” Well my friends, yesterday, I carpe’d my diem. Carpe’d it real good.
Let’s begin with 5:50am. My little phone alarm goes off and I am up, in workout clothes and to the gym by 6:05am where I proceeded to work out for an hour. I know what you’re thinking – stop there! You’re amazing! You’re my hero! You have carpe’d your diem more than 95% of Americans ever even attempt in their lifetimes! Well, though I appreciate (and understand) your awe, there’s even more to come. This diem hasn’t even STARTED!

After showering myself (which can I tell you I’ve gotten into the habit of showering before bed so all I have to do in the morning is splash on mascara and straiten my bangs on the way out the door? Truth) and getting to work, I proceeded to work an 8 hour day. Applause! What is so special about this, you ask? Don’t most people work an 8-5 Monday-Friday work day? Well, I would say that depends on your definition of “work” for 8 hours. What with facebook, BLOGS (caught!), personal calls, lunch, the 3:00pm slump, and general tom-foolery that goes on during an 8 “hour” work day – I’d say most employees – good employees – get in about 5-6 hours of those 8. I, however, worked a very legit 8 hours yesterday and felt pretty damn good about it! I’m one of those weirdys that likes it to be busy though. A little pressure does my motivation good. That’s my work-mantra.

After this full day of work – I proceeded to class. Yep. I’ve gotten in a work out (recreational), work (professional), and now class (academic). And it was a really fantastic class. Nerd alert! Listen, in grad school you’re all nerds. You’re surrounded by people who have voluntarily elected to continue studying something because they WANT to at a much higher price (including tution and sanity costs), because it INTERESTS them. And considering my area of interest is public administration and higher education, you know all my classes are full of nerds just like me. Feels like home; warm cookies and fuzzy blankets. My classes are once a week in 3 hour blocks so there’s a risk that you may want to pluck out your eyes by the time that final 30 minutes rolls around but not this time. THIS time I felt like my mind was expanded and my dreams were realized. Well, more that my mind was expanded but it’s just one more step towards realizing my dreams. Right? Yet another mantra. This whole post is just full of mantras. Feel free to use any of them as your life so dictates.

So by the time class has ended, it’s about 7pm and you’d think it’s time to go home and be unproductive: go to the drive-through, slump on the couch, and watch some DVR. Normally Internet, this is EXACTLY what I would do after class… with the mere wisp of “I should go work out” lingering in the back of my mind as I await my order of Wendy’s Spicy (they really are… VERY spicy) chicken nuggets, small fry, and baby frosty. But this wisp did not enter my mind for two reasons. 1. I’D ALREADY WORKED OUT!! AH hahahahahahha!!! 2. I had some Bowlin to do.

Enter Final Phase of Carpe Diem Wednesday

I gathered with a group of work buddies, MPA buddies, and random buddies for 2 rounds of DOLLAR (you read that right) Bowlin at “The Ritz” located here. Turns out, they have dollar bowling starting at 9pm. It also gets really nuts when they turn the lights down low and the disco balls on. For some reason a rotating disco ball turns your average bowler into a yelling blathering cheering bowling enthusiast whose entire life has boiled down to this fantastic night of weeknight bowlin! Either that or the beer. There was a lot of beer rotating around. Perhaps the disco light beer bowlin combo? Hmmm… may warrant an investigation. World Peace brought on by beer (of the “root” kind for those of us who don’t drink the “secular” beers ;)), bowling, and the soft glow of a rotating disco ball. I feel soothed already.

Anyway 2 bowling games later, I rounded out carpe’ing my diem by driving on home, reading some of the good word, and crashing into my pillow at around 11:40pm.

What a day! So lets…

RECAP!

Day started: 5:45am
Day Ended: 11:40pm.
Inbetween: much productivity.



Truly, it’s days like this that make me realize how much one can seriously accomplish in a day. A LOT! And not even how much one can accomplish but how many MEANINGFUL things one can accomplish in a single day – including the bowling. I find leisure a meaningful activity as it helps maintain some sense of appreciation of the good things on this earth. It also makes me reflect on all the silly things that can just soak up oodles and oodles of time doing meaningless “nothings”. And by nothings I don’t mean leisure… lets be clear… I mean pointlessness. Leisure has a point – and it’s to relax and recharge. Nothings however, is ike… you know I’m going there… Facebook or video games or watching hours and hours of TV. Mind-numbing time-wasters! Con-sarn-it! There’s a place for all those things – and truly sometimes I just want to have my mind numbed by an America’s Next Top Model marathon and peruse the Facebook when I need a break from legitimate thinking. There’s a place for all these things. But truly, honestly, I don’t understand the phrase “I’m ADDICTED to Facebook” (how? What can you possibly DO on there for hours and hours?) or, wasting an entire day defeating the newest Halo just to find another mind-numbing blow’em up game to conquer the next day. Are there not better uses of time? Better ways to incorporate “leisure?” without sacrificing brain cells? There needs to be some serious limits to these time-sucks that we can so easily fall victim to. One day, we’ll look back and see the days, weeks, and even years that have passed doing meaningless things with nothing but 10 comments on my FB status or few conquered video games or mushy mind to show for it. Taking it a step further, if we have the luxury (and time is a luxury) to waste so much time in frivolity, just think what we could do with that time helping someone else. 3 hours on the Facebook (again – HOW) translates into 3 hours at the Food Bank or 3 hours at the YMCA. We lament about the busyness of our lives, the responsibilities we undertake, and that there isn’t even enough time in the day to sit down and have a proper meal or meaningfully interact with those closest to us because we’re off to the next thing and the next thing and the next thing. With the advent of the electronic age: texting, FB’ing, emails, no one interacts organically anymore and everything has increased to the speed of light. If we can’t get it NOW, then we don’t want it. If it’s not at our fingertips, it’s not worth the time. But what is the real WORTH of our time? There are good ways to spend our time, there are better ways, and then there are the best ways.
The greatest way someone can show me what’s truly important to them, given distractions (some legit and some not as much) and our egocentric, fast-paced society, is where they spend their TIME. How they use their TIME. And where they GIVE their TIME. Time is a priviledge in this day and age and it’s also one of those things we have complete control over; how we use it, who deserves it, and where it can be used best.

An example.

Mormon standard time. I hate it. And I hate that being consistently late is not only acceptable – but for some reason “cool.” I’ve ranted about this before – but I think it’s incredibly selfish to be consistently late to everything. You either 1. Need to loosen your schedule a little bit or 2. Recognize that you’re not the only one in the world who matters Mr. Me-Planet! To me, when someone is consistently incredibly late it says “my time is more important than your time… and you can wait until I’m ready to interact with you.” When I went bowling last night, I invited friends from work, school, life, etc. The great majority of them are not part of the dominant religion here and thus do not prescribe to the Mormon standard time disease. And guess what, ALL of them were early (gasp!) or ON TIME for our bowling night. All. Of. Them. Just something to think about. For a people (me included) who profess service and care for others and who declare that the pure love of Christ is charity, we sure are incredibly selfish with our time… one of the greatest “services” we can give to someone else.

Yesterday, I felt good because I felt I used my time, my luxury, meaningfully. And it was a good feeling to look back and say “That was a day well spent!” BUT, though I was SPOT-on time to my bowling outing, I couldn’t think of any other time that day when I specifically stopped and thought of or helped someone else. As a student, a single person, and a working professional, the temptation to become incredibly selfish and wrapped up in my on first world issues is a slippery slope. I really am busy. I have a lot of things that include me me me. But, my Carpe Diem Wednesday taught me to reach outside of myself and find better ways to use my time… to truly carpe my diem not just with "meaningful" activities, but with an acknowledgment of others who need a little of my time to improve their "diem" in even the smallest measure. If an entire day doing productive things mostly for "me" can make me feel good about myself - I wonder what an entire day spent doing productive and meaningful things for OTHERS would feel like. Probably pretty stinking good.