Lions and Tigers and Thighs, Oh My

Ever since I got back from Hawaii, my legs and I have seen the light. These burritos ‘o mine are now wearing running shorts. It’s somewhat liberating to make visible something I had intentionally kept invisible in the past. To let myself be seen. As is.

When I had it – at least I thought I had it at some point – I should have flaunted it. I took my young, firm skin for granted. But I was much more shy back then. Now? Yes, I’m still an introvert at heart, but I don’t look too bad for my age, so part of me wants to flaunt whatever it is I have left while gravity is still my friend. I have ab muscles. I don’t know where they came from, and they might look a little like a wrinkly four-pack of King’s Hawaiian rolls during the rising process, but they’re there. I believe that they’re a product of my intense overthinking. After all, something good should come of overworking my brain in circles. Problem is, I might look good for 48 – we Asians hold together well – but not so good for 38. Get my drift?

[I can’t believe I just outed my real age. Oh, what the hell. I will display my age proudly. I just won’t display photos of it here on my blog. I may be crazy, but I’m not insane. Yet.]

See, I live in a small, coastal town. It doesn’t get warm enough to wear shorts very often, so people don’t see a lot of skin around here. Hawaii? No problem. Young skin, aging skin – what does it matter? Everyone looks like bronzed demi-gods over there. But here? People pull on their t-shirts, light wash jeans, sneakers, and their Patagonia jackets to go out on the town. They might even wear that outfit to the beach.

The sun is out and it is unusually warm. I am tempted to go for a run wearing less clothing than I ever have before. I want to feel free to do this. If I didn’t have to wear my glasses, I would absolutely wear sunglasses. That way, I could feel anonymous. I might mistake a fire hydrant for a dog, but if it makes me more brave, I will trade clear vision for shades. I’m sure I’ll be able to determine whether or not that object coming towards me is a car, right? Maybe I need a sacrificial running buddy.

Suddenly, I’m not so concerned about my thighs anymore.

Blogging on a Runner’s High

Victory!!

Today was the first day I actually felt good while running.  I mean really good.  My body didn’t argue with me, the weather was beautiful, my mind strong.  And I felt happy.

Not every day is or will be like this, but I realized that it’s important to know this feeling, to know what it is that makes you feel good so that you can more easily recognize what feels off or wrong.

On a different note, today I learned that I can look at visitor stats for my blog.  Granted, not many people go to my blog, but I was shocked to see that a few people outside of the U.S. have visited.  So I have to give a shout out to:

United Kingdom
Australia
Canada
Belgium
Poland
Kenya

Of course, this doesn’t mean anyone actually read anything I wrote.  They could have accidentally gone to a post, thought “What the #!%*?” and immediately clicked their heels and disappeared.  But that’s okay.  I mean, someone in Kenya looked at my blog.  For real?  Thank you, Kenya!!  I love you!!  In fact, I love all of you!!

I think I’m still on my runner’s high…

The Properties of Alchemy (and Meat)

**Disclaimer:  This is not a serious overview of alchemy, or meat for that matter.  If you’re a serious sort, I urge you to find other, more weighty info on Wikipedia (which will kindly lead you to scholarly sources) or look up Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.  You won’t find anything intellectual here.  Okay, I feel better now.

From what I understand, alchemy is the mystical process of turning common metals into gold.  There are a whole bunch of philosophical, scientific and psychological ideas regarding this process, but for me, it’s like this:

Running and the other types of exercise I’ve been doing are causing some sort of alchemical process to take place in my body.  My calves, which I had hoped beyond all reason would get smaller, are changing into chicken drumsticks.  My badonkadonk is like shawarma, originally stacked, but now portions are being shaved off.  And my thighs?  They are meat-filled burritos, flexing their power, when before, they were flabby and quietly respectful.  They kind of have an attitude now.

[I’m sorry if I ruined anyone’s appetite.  And, uh, I hope there aren’t any cannibals reading this.  Just to be clear, I’m speaking figuratively.  Please don’t picture me in your head right now.]

I always knew that I had to make friends with my body as part of the whole process of accepting myself.  I used to take the easy route, wearing baggy overalls that covered – well, covered everything in an extremely generous way.  But one day I saw a photo of myself in said overalls, and I cringed.  I was shapeless.  I might as well have worn a cape three sizes too big.  The poodle perm didn’t help, either.

Now?  No more perm.  No more hiding in my clothes.  Now I just need mental alchemy to help me see gold in the common form that is me.

Where do you need alchemy?

Arguing With Oneself: A Runner’s Companion

Have you seen the film “All of Me”?  With Steve Martin and Lily Tomlin?  I haven’t, but I believe Lily Tomlin’s soul (?) somehow enters Steve Martin’s body and she is able to control the right (or is it left?) side of his body.

That’s how I feel when I’m running.

My upper half is pumped up, ready to run.  Feeling strong.  But as soon as I start running, my lower half seems to have a mind of its own – which is strange, since my mind is contained in my head, which, from what I learned in school is located in the upper half of my body.

My legs drag, almost tripping, moving without any kind of coordination.  If they had a personality, they would be Jerry Lewis’s original persona in “The Nutty Professor”.  A more contemporary example would be…oh poop, I’m not very contemporary…let’s just say anyone clumsy and inept.

So my upper mind starts lecturing the lower one:

Upper Half (UH): Focus!  What are you doing?  Are your shoes even on the right feet!?
Lower Half (LH): Dum de dum de dum…look at the ocean!  Is that a sea lion?
UH: Seriously?  You don’t even have eyes!
LH: I don’t need eyes to see.
UH: So now you’re a Jedi warrior?
LH: Maybe.  Dum de dum…You’re too serious.
UH: I am?
LH: I just want to be strong enough so that I can carry you when you get old.  Uh, older.  You’re too worried about how you look when you run.
UH: Oh.  You’re right.  Sorry I yelled at you.
LH: That’s okay.  I wasn’t really listening anyways.
UH:  You’re smarter than I thought you were.
LH: I know.

The conversation always starts off the same way, and about a mile or so in, they come to some understanding and I begin to run in peace.  I hope that someday the arguing will cease and that peace will be the first feeling that starts off every run.

The Slacker Gets Schooled

The scene of Slacker's disappearance

The scene of Slacker’s disappearance

I had been possessed by the Slacker for weeks, only exercising three times during that period.  After my move from Los Angeles, I felt it continue to circle around me, tempting me to take it easy…it’s the holidays, after all!

I was channel surfing one morning and stopped on “Sweet Home Alabama”.  As Slacker was momentarily distracted, I quickly changed into my running clothes.  Unfortunately, it recognized my motivations pretty quickly and immediately started to try and turn me:

Do you realize it’s 20 below out there?

Running doesn’t make your face look very good.  

Watch the movie with me!  Reese Witherspoon plays a fashion designer and both Patrick Dempsey and Josh Lucas are in love with her…this can be your life if you just –

I started to stretch when I realized how evil its arguments were, except for PD and JL falling in love with me.  It could happen in a parallel universe.

I blared music through my earphones to drown out any further comments and started walking over to my old high school.  I headed towards the newly built football field and as I started jogging, I saw him.

Dad, meet Slacker.  Slacker, Dad.

My dad had already left the house an hour before I did, and there he was, walking backwards along the outer edge of the track.  I don’t think it’s the safest thing an 89 year-old should be doing, but he says it’s good for his muscles.  He walks frontwards and backwards for about two miles, five times a week.

Slacker slinked away pretty quickly when it was faced with a person with no slack at all.  I was appropriately humbled and waved at my dad as I ran by him.  I thought about all the things my dad has been through in his 89 years:  growing up in a poor farming family, unable to start college when individuals of Japanese ancestry were incarcerated in camps during WWII, weathering the death of a daughter, starting and running his own business for thirty years, surviving a stroke…

There is simply no excuse for me not to try.  I have no good reason not to be the best (and healthiest) person I can be for myself and others.

I thought about all of this, put my head down, and ran harder.

I’ve run three times this week.  Thanks, Dad.  And Slacker?  With all the farewells I’ve been a part of this month, I have to make sure this one lasts a long, long time.