Long Slow Surf: Swimming
October 3, 2012

One month into a one month course on swimming this much I know, I am a three stroke, same side breather. Awesome. I also know I am taking another month of lessons but we’ll get to that in a minute.

When I started writing about this adventure I mentioned my physical therapist’s ‘suggestion’ that I get a kick board to use during laps. He didn’t elaborate on the value of using a kick board and I didn’t ask what they might be. Rather, I dismissed the whole idea as boring (read: not the ‘suggestion’ I wanted to hear) and promptly forgot about it. Then the lessons started. Night one of my first round of swimming lessons began with, you guessed it, an introduction to the kick board and it’s uses in swimming practice. Perfect.

Turns out, that amongst other things the kick board when used during laps is a great way to work on ‘the core’ muscle groups. My core is awful. Always has been, actually, to be fair it is much improved thanks to my Muay Thai workouts but still…weak. So, she (my swim instructor), had me at core. Ever used a kick board during laps? It is a lot of work and not a lot of movement. In fact, if you’re not conscious of your kicks you will likely be moving backward. Awesome. In the days after lessons started and practicing began in earnest it was not lost on me how much further along my core and thus my swimming would be if I had taken the DIRECTION of starting with a kick board back in July. Whoops.

Got my first board!!!! Kick board, anyway. My ‘lazy’ swimming practices have been replaced in the last month with some measure of discipline. I bought my very own kick board, worked out my personal comfort regarding side breathing and learned my stroke count. These basic understandings of swimming and swimming practices have altered my time spent in the pool, dramatically. Laps are switched off between kick boarding and free style. Hell, lap lengths have gone from swimming the width of the pool to swimming the length. All that in four weeks.

The last month spent in lessons not only served to re-instill fundamental swimming practices for me but also brought to the forefront a few elements of this ‘surfing adventure’ that will need to be engaged sooner rather than later. I say surfing because that is the ‘end game’ but I am fully aware that the specific elements that I am engaging today are about swimming, what’s at hand are equipment, suits, weather and still more training.

Equipment

Not only did this one month of swim lessons warrant the purchasing of a kick board but also in short order my first set of goggles. These buys may seem innocuous enough but as it happens equipment purchases get pretty complicated pretty quickly. Goggles: The pair I have are Swedish style and ideal for the pool. They’re not going to cut it in open water. Just google ‘open water swimming goggles’ the 4 billion blogs, lists, rankings and reviews that comes up is staggering. And, that’s just goggles! My next purchase will likely not be goggle related at all as I already know that I need a swim cap. A swim cap! (<–Ew.) Google that shit, too. Geez-a-loo.

The point above is this, I will be negotiating a myriad of equipment purchases from open water goggles to wet suits to bigger boards in fairly short order and the task is daunting.

Suits

Swimming suits should probably come under equipment but they don’t, not really. Not yet. For now, it’s like this, there is nothing particularly functional about any of the fashionable suits I own while doing laps. NOT EVEN the one piece. As a result, sport suits have just hit my radar  and present their own path to be negotiated. Swim suits lead directly to water wear in general, it’s not all about ‘suits,’ people. These all lead to wet suits…

Weather

Wet suits lead to weather. It is October. October begs the question, are you really going to start open water swimming in the winter?????? It is possible here in the South lands but is it a good idea? I’m thinking not. I’m thinking open water swimming is on delay until the spring. Maybe by then I will have figured out which goggles and which wet suit to wear! Between now and then, I think (<–at this moment) I’m staying in the pool.

The Next Right Step

October brings with it another month of lessons. This months lessons are not meant to focus on swimming basics, well…not swimming pool basics. I have figured out through a ton of reading that there are a couple of open water basic skills that I will need to work on in a pool. First among them, dolphin diving. Second, sighting. To that end, I have signed up for another month with directions. After that, I have located a local pool that offers several hours of lane use day or night through out the week, year round. I will be getting a pass there to continue working on swimming skills during the late Fall and Winter.

Not to worry though, the ocean and boards are in my immediate future. I have resolved to spend more time paddle boarding in the coming months. If you have not paddle boarded, do. For me there is a tranquility in paddle boarding that I find in fairly short order upon paddling out. So much so that it begs the question, why do I wait so long between paddling days? Why?

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Tis that Time, Again.
December 31, 2011

If you’re in need of some amusement, feel free to review the FIVE whole blogs I managed to log this year. Five. The gaping holes in my written year lend themselves rather succinctly to outlining the kind of year I actually had. In the interest of a year-end comparative I went back to the end of 2010 to see what I had written, I wrote nothing. So there is a change! This year actually ends.

Never been a huge fan of year-ends, less concerned with new years than I am with new birthdays but I regard both with general disdain. The demarcation of time passed has always served as an opportunity to beat myself senseless over failures, rather than any kind of celebration of growth or success. In the last few days I’ve vacillated between my usual ‘look, look at what you have not done’ thought processes and the conviction that articulating any of those thoughts would be a disservice to my friends. That’s new.

If I said only one thing about 2011 and what I’ve come to understand from it, it would be this: I get by with a little (or, a fuck-ton of) help from my friends. 

This whole positive spin thing is new so in keeping with the #1 thing I learned this year, I’m gonna borrow a friend’s model. Mostly.  This post will cover 11 successes, celebrations or understandings I’ve experienced in 2011.

1.) I get by with the help of my friends. In more instances than I can count I have been carried through this year by friends in my life. I’ve shared this before but it is worth repeating, some of my closest friends can be counted among my family and it is my friends that constitute my family. Got it?

2.) I’m still standing. See, #1. In February of this year 2010 came to a crushing close. Sounds dramatic, I know. The fact remains, though. My father died in the first week of November 2010. It took weeks following his death to end his life. Arranging the funeral, sorting and filing paperwork. It seemed to me at the time that there was roughly 6842 questions that had to be answered. I can take charge of anything, just ask my friends, and I did. Then I returned home and sorted out my own life which had fallen into it’s own state of disarray. At the point that everything, everywhere was back to rights the reality of his death caught up with me. In the second week of February, I got up one morning walked the three(?) steps to the end of my bed and dropped to my knees. I hit a wall. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t get up. In the hours, then the days, weeks and months that followed that morning friends in my immediate circle saved my life, carried my weight, sorted my head and kept me going until I could stand and move on my own again.

3.) I managed to put together two years. See, #1 & #2. Thank the Great Pumpkin.

4.) This year has afforded me the opportunity to see a number of unfuckingbelievable concerts! Slash in Oregon featuring TK!!! They think they were featuring Myles and I’m glad he was there BUT that show features Todd (are you kidding me) Kerns.  Merle Haggard & Kris Kristofferson under the stars at the Greek. Foo Fighters x 3, the Forum shows were fantastic but seeing the Foos on Record Store Day at Fingerprints in Long Beach goes down as one of the most incredible shows that I have ever been to.The Golden God Revolver Awards featuring LOADED with some appearances by others like…the OG Alice Cooper band! Oh, and did I mention Loaded? Loaded at the Viper Room in April, can you say happy birthday to me?! And,to take the live music year out! BOB SEGER!!!!!!!!!!!!! Have not seen Bob since 1996 and listening to him and Alto Reed in a sold out Staples Center was staggering. All of the Bullets were fantastic but Alto, shit.

5.) Orange belt. I got my orange belt in Muay Thai this year. I didn’t start at orange, of course, that’s just where I got to. In Muay Thai, generally there isn’t a belt system but the Master at my dojo was done ‘coaching’ parents on the progress of the younger students. Turns out the belt system works for me, too. It has been a measurable system of growth. Besides the pretty color scheme (Ha.) the thing about Kick boxing in general that works for me is it helps me to focus on nothing but the next step in front of me. When I don’t, it hurts. Real straight forward means of getting centered. Being focused and getting centered amounts, for me, to getting right. I never feel more together than I do leaving the dojo a sweaty, stinky, bruised disaster. I love it. 

6.) Travel. There is pretty much nowhere on this planet that I don’t want to see. I grew up in a family, in a town where most never leave. For various reasons, see #3, I believed for a huge portion of my life that I would die in that same town without ever leaving it. For that very reason, trying to out run that belief I began taking road trips at ages most kids wouldn’t. I had to. That need to travel has never left me, for some time including this last year, I’ve been in a position to direct that travel impulse. 2011 saw trips to two of my favorite places, Salem, Oregon in February and Seattle this past October. Oregon was a show jaunt with my Loaded family. Seattle a trip to see a once in a life time event featuring a life long hero. June afforded me my first travel to Europe. I got to head over to England to witness (and participate!) in my friends’ wedding! In the process got to see London and any number of sites and places that I have only ever dreamed of. This holiday season took me to the Bay Area on a couple of occasions and to the Sacramento area which I’ve not seen in quite some time.

7.) Guitar. This year saw the return of the guitar to my life in earnest. This one is still all mine for now.

8.) Books. Reading is a huge part of my life and this year there were a number of books that left their mark upon me. Duff McKagan’s autobiography, It’s So Easy and Other Lies deserves a post unto itself frankly. To say the very least it is a staggering tale of fortitude and perseverance. Susan Casey’s, The Wave: In the pursuit of the Rogues, Freaks and Giants of the Ocean was sent to me by a friend and has left me convinced that the next hobby I shall undertake is big wave surfing! Rick Riordan’s, The Son of Neptune, Book Two in the Heroes of Olympus series came out in October! Bless Riordan! His adventure series’ are some of the funnest books I’ve read. And, last though not least, everything written by Edward Bear has been read, reread, quoted and carried around with me over the course of this year.

9.) Dream Job. By the grace of a friend, I had the opportunity to see how an industry I’ve dreamed of being a part of operates. I learned more than I wanted to and less than I needed to, if that makes any sense. And, even if it doesn’t, I know that I got an opportunity to see from an inside perspective how a project evolves and that is not a place I could have garnered on my own.

10.) I’m a grown up. You might think that that one would have occurred to me sooner but you would be wrong. I figured this out, wait for it…by virtue of my friends. On multiple occasions, in recent days I have found myself dumbfounded by the unsolicited characterizations friends have made of me. To the degree that I recently declared somewhere that I hope to be the person that my friends believe I am. That’s the benchmark, right there and at some point I must have met it otherwise they would not have had reason to mention the virtues they think I posses. So, at the risk of repeating myself, I hope to be the person my friends believe me to be.

11.) New year, new birthday. This one just amuses me. I mentioned at the outset of this post my disdain for new years and new birthdays. As fate would have it I head into this new year knowing that on my next birthday Guns n’ Roses, the band that brought me to music in the first place will be inducted into the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame. A few friends and I will be on hand to witness the induction and I could not be more excited about it. Nor, would I be there at all if it wasn’t for the kindest gesture from a dear friend. Bring on the New Years.

Thank you, thank you, thank you does not begin to cover the scope of my gratitude for the friends that have brought me through this year.

Love you lots. Happy New Year!

ThisILove, Pt. II
January 5, 2011

This post is the follow-up or conclusion to this post: This I Love, Pt. I. Yeah, it’s only taken 5 plus months to get it off my draft clip board. Eeesh. Having owned that these are 6-10 on the short list of works of art that have shaped my identity.

Six

 

James Galvin’s, The Meadow is easily one of the most beautifully written books that I have encountered. I understood upon completion of this reading that I would very much like to be James Galvin when I grow up. Or, barring that I would like to be able to string a sentence together half as well.

Seven

 

It was in my first visit to the Museum of Modern Art, Queens (Manhattan was being remodeled) that I encountered Umberto Boccioni’s, Dynamism of A Soccer Player. I was rendered mute. The colors and the motion of the work suggested that the painting itself was ACTUALLY in motion. I can not even begin to guess how long I stood there agape.

Eight

I have been in love with guitars for as long as I can remember. As a 4 or 5-year-old I saw my first guitar up close in the hands of my Great Uncle. I can recall sitting on my knees with my face inches away from the guitar watching him play for hours. There is not another object in my life that I can meet and simply upon sight be rendered giddy, awed, eased, turned on and comforted to my core.

Nine 

Alexandre Hogue’s dust bowl era paintings and sketches are inspiring to me on a couple of levels. First, as a history nerd with a particular investment in the Dust Bowl (my paternal grandparents met in a migrant camp in Arizona), the fact that Hogue’s work invokes not just a fascination with painting on my part but also gives rise to my love of history makes him a favorite of mine. Second, Hogue’s critique of ‘environmental policy’ lends itself nicely to my own politics on the matter. His dust bowl pieces are critical and heartbreaking as they should be.

 

Ten 

Last though certainly not least, Wrigley Field! Or, is it just the Cubs. Or, Cubbie culture. Wrigley Field embodies every aspect of baseball mythology-it is legend AND it is real. The Cubs, losers though they may be have HEART. That I respect. And as for Cubbie culture, I’m not sure there is a club, sect, base or label in my life that I am prouder to be a part of.

365
October 22, 2010

That’s one.

 

 

 

 

 

ThisILove, Pt. 1
July 28, 2010

In the interest of staying busy I have picked up a couple of writing prompt books, the scope of the prompts ranges from simple 3 minute free-write exercises to multi-part complex pieces. This particular post is the result of a prompt that in anyone else’s hands would probably fall under a “simple” exercise. The deal was list 10 works of art that you enjoy. Just 10. The list (of 10) that follows has taken weeks to narrow down, spans a huge portion of my life and requires being posted in two parts. The net result however was worth the work, I think. The following are 10 ‘pieces’ of art that have shaped the very core of my being, not to put to fine a point on it. In sharing them I make only the slightest effort at conveying what each piece means to me.

ONE

 

AFD, speaks for itself. Or, it ought to leastways.

Two

The Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA. Growing up, I spent as much time as I could roaming the halls of this place, in complete awe of the weirdness. Weird, I love. 

 

Three

 Chewy. I am a complete Star Wars nerd. Chewy was is and will always be the moral center of that troop of weirdos and I love him still.

Four 

 Black & white. I’m a huge fan of black & white. It seems so simple. In addition, some of the most spectacular experiences of my life have occurred in the outdoors. Last, though certainly not least, I am not much of a photographer but I do love the perspective others manage to take.

 

Five

 

Music, imagination, alternate worlds (with in worlds) what is not to love about Fraggle Rock. Jim Henson was a genius.

Spring Has Sprung
April 22, 2010

Last Wednesday I turned 35. Today, I have 6 months. Last night was my first night in my new place. This morning, whether I want to or not, everything I do is getting done different.

The Happy & The Crappy: XII
March 29, 2010

File this under CRAP.

It’s March 28. Lord, it has been a brutal month. Seriously. Ease the fuck up, now. Thanks in advance for your cooperation on this matter.

There are layers of crappy in this post, fyi. One, it’s March 28th! This is the first time I’ve been well enough or functional enough or close enough to sane to try and type sentences. They may or may not be ‘complete’ sentences.

Two, back to back sinus infections. Well, no. One week on, one week off and then down again. And by down I mean can’t breath, can’t swallow, can’t SLEEP. Has been freaking fantastic.

Three, moving.

Four, credit nightmare. See,three.

Five, identity stolen. (These items are being listed in chronological order of the complete fuckery as it unfolded.*)

I’ll leave the list at that for now (by now I mean, I am so expanding on this nightmare. Possibly for months on end! YAY!) but it is only the 28th.

File this under Happy.

No, really.

In the midst of all of the preceeding garbage some really cool shit has gone down this month. Mostly in the form of MUSIC.

On the 5th I picked up my new guitar a Dean Ace Artist Cutaway Electric Acoustic. Love it.

Uh…actually file this one under weird. On 3/12, I thought,  I got to see Kristen Ward perform w/ Gary Westlake at the Taix lounge in Los Angeles. Though, I just went to double check the date and all references to the show are gone. Maybe I didn’t see them…? But, in my mind I enjoyed myself.

File this under: I have never made out with Joan Jett but I totally would. Went and checked out The Runaways flick. The film, not great. The story, fantastic.  Can not wait to get a hold of the new Joan Jett bio!

And, last though certainly not least, got plane tix and show tix to NYC to catch PJ at Madison Square Garden. Then it’s onto Atlantic City to see SLASH! Happy birthday to Me and Meadow!!!!

*I would be remiss if I did not thank/credit Christopher Moore for the oh so timely introduction of “fuckery” into my vocabulary. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Why I am Not in Charge: Reason 826
February 18, 2010

Earlier this month, in my post 7th Inning Stretch, I wrote of my fears relative to moving forward with my steps. Specifically, I wrote:

In a very real sense (for me) the idea with respect to both steps of letting go of the self that I know (FUCKED UP as ’she’ might be!) is terrifying. Drinking in my family is a tie that binds, period. What happens when you cut that loose? Actually, I’m not interested in what happens to you. What happens to me? What happens when I’m cut loose across the board? What is left of my relationships? What is left of me?

Today, I sat reading this passage from the 12 & 12:

But suppose that instinct still cries out, as it certainly will…’If I keep turning my life and my will over to the care of Something or Somebody else, what will become of me? I’ll look like the hole in the doughnut.’ (36)

The paragraph above goes onto explain how this “certain instinct” is in fact the result of ‘logic’ and ‘reason’ “seeking to bolster egotism, and so frustrate spiritual growth.”  

It would seem that I am nowhere near the first to encounter this particular dilemma. Awesome. Step 4 it is.

Post Script
February 6, 2010

AHAHAHAHAHA. I posted my 7th Inning blog then went to my Big Book meeting. The meeting should probably have been called so, you’re on step three…

Outstanding.

The Happy & The Crappy: X
January 2, 2010

X

 

01.01.10 marks my 1st Al-Anon birthday!!!!! (*I’m also @ 70 days today.*)

Got the years first new slogan: ‘Just allow time to take time.’

 Missed the Friday night meeting but made the meeting after the meeting. To be exact,  they ‘saved me a seat’ at dinner, busted my proverbial balls upon arrival, then we ate, swapped dramas, jokes and information. Thus, the new year has begun, with friends, health, happiness and hope.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.