Something New

So, you may recall that I committed to trying something new each month – something I’ve never tried before (or at least something you “think” I haven’t tried before, because I’m all about fudging if it gets down to the wire. Hey! There’s still 10 months to go, and I honestly only have one idea that needs to be spun into nine more ideas that I then convince you are completely unrelated and “new” activities. Heck yeah, I’m gonna cheat. Cheating like a champ holding a partially deflated football. (Is that reference still relevant? Look, it’s the best I can do sans caffeine.)).

My Report for February

Last night I went to “middle-aged lady daycare” (as my dear, sassy, youthful, won’t-survive-to-be-26-friend, Indiana Johnny, refers to it (side note: he may have been encouraged, but this isn’t about me, or my part in the description, this is about “blame” and “youthful sass” even if it made me laugh)).

For this adventure, I reached out to a good friend whom I hadn’t seen in awhile, and through a clever and well-crafted campaign, I lured her out for an adventure of self-discovery and personal expression. You know, I sent her a text that read, “Hey, do you want to hang out and do stuff?” Who could resist that siren’s call? Odysseus himself would forego being tied to that mast and resign himself to the temptations of, in this case, a painting class. Had Homer lived a bit longer, the tales of Odysseus and his murals would have surpassed his story of a decade-long quest to reach home. “Ok funny story, Pen, but this cyclops was totally going to eat me and the guys, y’see. Then there was Circe, some Sirens, Bob, you remember Bob, right? So, ol’ Bob got turned into a pig. Squealing, oinking, truffle foraging. It was UNREAL! I mean, and totally real. I wouldn’t make this up just to hang out with some loose singers on an island. Pshah. And OMG for the realsies, Pen, Poseidon was so pissed, anyway… Was totes going to be home on time. Hey, love what you did with the bed frame. Is that our tree? Also, I think I’m a painter.” (See, sarcasm and literary references in one place. You’re welcome!)

It’s one of those classes where you’re encouraged to bring friends (check), wine (check), and plenty of snacks (and check). (Quick aside: Thank you, Lance for the delicious Pedernales birthday wine! It paired well with painting, and had no subtle notes of regret.)

We had a terrific time – lots of laughter, for reasons which will likely become obvious, and I actually learned something about myself, which I will now share with you: I’m a super duper fantastic painter. I mean seriously, who knew this kind of raw talent remained hidden for so long? Step aside Dali, and WOW! Just take a moment to marvel at the skilled execution of this “art” piece.

It’s truly haunting – like seriously, a nightmare’s dreamscape, but hey, did I mention the wine?

When you step back and view it, it’s as if you’re really there in Paris, head tilted a bit too far as you teeter down the Champs de Mars, your friends no longer able to keep you upright. You’re just mere moments away from passing out, and throwing up on the lovely green space (or in this case, the pink and black space), or perhaps it’s more like you really should have said “no” when those sketchy guys asked, “want some ‘shrooms, brah?” In other words, like you’re there under a full moon marveling at the sight of the Eiffel Tower.

And I know what you’re thinking, because I’m thinking it, too. I clearly need to get out to Michael’s and pick up a canvas, some brushes and paint. Maybe instead of a year’s worth of new activities, this becomes 10 months of some self-expression and some epic painting for you all to enjoy. You’re welcome!

You think about it, ok?

Maybe next month I temporarily set aside the paints and bring to you an acoustic guitar/ukulele duo. You’re in, right Anna?

The Big Blue Mess – Celebrating the Arts in 2019!!

A Year Ago: A Cruise Story

On March 4th, 2017, sometime after noon, I completely ruptured my anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), and my medial collateral ligament (MCL) after slipping in some mud on the Warrior Dash. For my efforts, I was rewarded with an annoying physical therapist who called me “Miss Beth” constantly, a metal cane, and a disabled parking permit. I got to chant things like “heaven up, hell down” to remember which leg to use when approaching a step, and I got to wince and practice not crying out whenever my leg bent beyond 90 degrees. I also got to practice not crying out over the injustices of the world, or crying out when a relative decided to tear into me, because I was clearly too stupid to have figured out I shouldn’t have been at the Warrior Dash to begin with. Super helpful! Great conversation!

When you can’t use your legs at the gym, you’re left with doing a lot of things with your arms, but forget about how much I despise the hand bike – you’ve all heard about that. Let’s talk about the fresh humiliation that came when I fell off the weight bench  into a pile on the floor… when I couldn’t bend my knee, and I had to figure out how to roll onto my stomach and use my hands to walk towards my body so I could stand again, and try  to get back on the weight bench again. You all know the rest. I cried when I was first able to row, and then I successfully rowed my little half marathon on Christmas Eve. Basically, I got stronger, and my knee became more stable until I now where I’m up to 260 lb. on the leg press. Granted, that’s not huge, but considering where I was last year, it’s huge for me, and another small win – I can dead lift again.

I met with my orthopedic guy a few weeks prior to discuss where I was at, and what I could do. We determined I should brace my knee up whenever I was in a crowd, and on uneven ground – things I’d definitely encounter on the cruise, which meant I approached this trip with a great deal of trepidation. Only 3% of the participants on the Warrior Dash are ever injured, and I had been among the 3%. I wondered what small percent I’d manage to cover while cruising. I smiled on the outside, but I kept stuffing down the feeling that I was going to get hurt, and I was going to get hurt badly. I bought my traveler’s medical insurance, and talked myself through what would happen when they had to fly me back to the States, reminding myself it would be ok. To say I was traumatized by the ACL/MCL tear would be a huge understatement. Keep in mind the day before the cruise, I had already had a bad reaction to something – either the overwhelming Scentsy smell or the food (or both), and I saw it as an omen. (The ravens and banshees really tipped the scales. I mean, given those, who wouldn’t pause and say, “hrmm… that can’t be good, right?” Did I not mention those? Never mind. Nothing to see here.)

For all of day one, I kept my brace on, and was mindful of how I felt walking around the ship, being around people, judging how the stable the ship felt, etc. By day two, the brace was off, and it remained off while I was on the ship.

On Day 2 called “A Fun Day at Sea” I rowed 12,000 meters while watching the sun come up over the bow of the boat. (An advantage to always getting up early). Nothing centers me more, nor clears my head better than going to the gym, and there Heather took one of my favorite pictures of me on this trip. (While there are better photos of me, this makes me happy – me heading to my zone.)

Rowing the Ship to Cozumel

On Day 4 we went to a Mayan ruin called Xuantunich, 70 miles to the west of Belize City near the border of Guatemala. There I climbed the structure known as El Castillo (along with climbing a few shorter structures that don’t count for the purposes of this blog, but do count to their mother and father structures, because though they’re smaller in stature, those little guys are equally loved).

At first I was struck by how people who, at their tallest would have easily been about 7″ shorter (or more) than I, were able to scramble up the gigantic stairs.

Stairs MUCH bigger in person! The camera takes off 10″. Fact.

And then I took another moment to marvel at how, nearly a year after my injury, I was standing on this amazing structure – knee stable – looking out on the beauty that was this archaeological site, that was Belize, and how lucky I was to experience this with these people I absolutely love and adore. (Also, equally super glad to get back on the ground safely without having the helicopter evac for which I had mentally prepared.)

Xuantunich, Belize (El Castillo in Background – Where I climbed to the top, and stood between those five prongs.)

PS – This brought to you by Indiana Johnny who, by dropping today’s ball, guaranteed you’d get a gym-esque story instead of a “funny story from the cruise”. Proceed to cast blame.

Next Up: That time on the ship I got to talk to the cruise police. (Ok, I’m kidding. Oh, not about talking to the cruise police. I totally got a talking to. I’m just not sharing that story on my blog. I think someone should buy me a drink to celebrate my silence. Just sayin’.)