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Saturday, July 25, 2009

Everyday Badassing

Lately, I've been a little distraught about not having enough time to push forward in my physical quests to become a badass.  Sure, I've been climbing mountains, driving boats, having run-ins with bears and throwing incredible dinner parties, but I haven't been pushing my limits.  I haven't been mountain biking, rock climbing, paragliding.  Hell, I haven't even been keeping my bathroom clean.  Most of the time I've just been working.  While it is badass to make the moneys and take care of yourself, the simple act is not going to keep the fire fueled in my soul.  I crave adventure.  

But, I also crave a bathroom clean enough to not catch the swine flu from and a room I can walk through with out having to tango through piles of clothing.  I don't mind the tango during the day, but at night it's damn near impossible and I've nearly given myself a concussion.  A very not badass way to go out.  So, I've created a compromise with myself and am taking this day to do some everyday badassing.  I'm going to clean.  

Not badass?  I'm going to clean in my cutest heels and most fetching knickers.  I've heard stories about hikers carrying huge packs for miles and miles, days and days.  When their load seems to be too much for them to carry and they feel like they can't go on, they add a twenty pound rock to their pack and haul it for a few miles.  By the time they unload the rock, their pack seems light.  As an homage to these wild adventures, I'm going to clean in heels because sometimes you have to make something harder to make it easier.  By the time I take the heels off, my calves will be aching but my space will be clean.  It won't be easy but it will be a hell of a lot more fun.  If being able to have fun while doing something you don't want to do and seems initially painful isn't badass then I don't know why God gave us the after workout/extremeness adrenaline rush.   

Friday, July 24, 2009

definition

Who's a badass?  

Someone who tries it.
Someone who goes further than they thought they were comfortable with.

Lot's of people in Jackson want to act like being in being the ultimate (skier, climber, etc) is what makes someone a badass, and that competing for that title is the only way to achieve badassness.  I've talked about my first attempt mountain biking and been scoffed at.  Incredible hair, driving stick shift, and making an incredible sandwich have all be seen as givens, not accomplishments.  Let's take a moment to remember, if you can do it and others can't then you will look like a badass.  

This adventure is about physical challenges, extreme sports, and manning off against nature but it's also about hair that gets free drinks, being able to drive a strangers porche, and sandwiches good enough to create a life long love.  

In conclusion, to all the haters, I would like to say:  Sorry for partying.  And partying in more ways than you even knew were possible.       

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Learning to Ride a Bike: This Time For Realsy

I know how to ride a bike.   Or so I thought.  Turns out, I only kinda knew.  If you can balance and pedal, you can ride a bike, scoot about town and maybe even teach a child how to some day.  But if you're really gonna bike, on trails or paths for long distances here's some crap to know:

1)  Gears are your new best friend.
      a) the low numbers are for uphill, high numbers for downhill, and middle for flat.
      b)  save yourself some ickyness and try to change gears at a point where you are pushing the peddles and moving yourself forward.  AKA:  Only make changes while fully engaged.  May apply to other life actions.
      c) the chain loops around the spiky.  If things go all shades of horrible and the chain falls off the round spiky (possibly due to ignoring advice b), put the gears in 1st and put the chain around the littlest round spiky.  Actually, not that hard but you will get dirty.
      BONUS TIP:  Don't wear white.  Biking is surprisingly messy.
2)  Wear sunglasses*

*to be expounded on in inspirational story

That's actually pretty much it for biking.  And now for an INSPIRATIONAL STORY...

To further along my Becoming of a Badass, I've taken up biking, as in, gone on two bike rides.  This has immediate benefits because I haven't biked in the pas, so I'm adding a whole new activity to my roster, automatically giving me huge badass points.  More auto points are gained from the maneuvering of the bike out of a tiny storage space and scraping up my legs, which sucks, but does make it look like I'm into mountain biking.  I get on the bike (this is day two of biking), slouch over the handle bars, a tip from my friends who said my good posture was making me look like a wimpy cruiser.  I'm coasting down big hills, not breaking cause I ain't afraid of speed.  I'm arm signaling my turns cause I love sharing the road.  A not:  One armed biking takes some skill.  Shake off that lapse in balances, slouch over handle bars, and keep on going.  

I've gone about 1/4 a mile when I notice my chain is making bad, clinking, dragging sounds.  I pull over, only catching my toe momentarily as I dismount, and start solving problems.  Hmmm.  Chain.  Rubbing against metal.  Flashback to my youth... Wasn't the chain always around the round poky thing?  Yes!  I put it on the poky thing.  Which is easy!  Swift remount with extra toe lift and I'm off.

Cruising over an unpaved road (elk refugee in Jackson), blow past a man walking his dog and can fully appreciate the speed a bike supplies.  Shifting gears up and down hills, I'm getting cocky and having a great time.  I experiment with weaving around tiny pot holes and even imitated the nine year old I saw yesterday jerking his handle bars up to hop a curb.  Sure, I'm only jumping dents in the read but it's fun.  I'm feeling the flush of enthusiasm that's so present in youth and so much harder to find as we age.

Around mile five, she appears.  Her tiny body is all sinewy muscle and spandex.  Her gait is steady, sure, and well, really f-ing fast.  How can she be running this fast five miles in?  Surely, she came from one of the turn offs.  This has to be her three mile sprint pace over a rushed lunch break.  Maybe her child is in need of medicine at home and her car is broken.  She is headed toward the hospital.  Only those desperate mother endorphins could explain her speed.  I nearly fall off my bike as I search for her behind me, looking to see if she turns off.  She must have cause I can't spot her, and then, suddenly, I see her neon pink body streaking down the road.  She's already so far away I can barely see her.  

I turn around, having come to the end of the path and, now, fear is in my heart.  She's out of eye sight.  Does this mean... Is she running faster then I'm biking?  That seems physically impossible, but I've been out skied by three year olds on leashes and don't doubt anything.  

I'm pumping my hear out for two miles before I catch up to this woman.  I fly past her, not out of a sense of pride, but because I can't stand her getting a good look at how obviously overheated and sweaty I am.  Just as my confidence is about to plummet to the pathetic depths of self pity, and while my mind is repeating, How slow of a biker do you have to be to almost be out run?  Just then, God sends a mercenary angel.  Or a kamikaze angel rather in the body of a big juicy bug, that hits my forehead and splatters.  

Now, I don't know the exact mathematic equation, although I imagine it's something like:  (biker's speed) times (bug's speed) divided by (juiciness of bug), that equates to smashing a bug on your face, but gosh darn it, it's never happened to me jogging.  I must have been going pretty fast.  If I hadn't been wearing sunglasses and the thing hit my eye, I definitely would have required medical assistance.  Just one of the risks us badasses have to take.  I wiped the goo off my forehead and smugly pedaled back home.  I love being extreme.  The risk is always worth the story.  

Friday, July 10, 2009

Becoming a Badass: The Beginning

When starting something new the learning curve can pop up and boink you in the head.  The likelihood of this happening increases greatly if you give into temptation and use someone else’s learning curve.  Let’s say your gym buddy is a natural athlete, who has been competing in triathalons with her family since her daddy removed her training wheels.  This girl’s learning curve is going to batter you unrecognizable in spinning class.  You are you.  The bad news is you have to start with the knowledge, skill, and strength you have.  The incredible and invigorating news is that your potential is limitless. 

 

Lesson:  You’ve got your own learning curve.  Stand by it and be proud of your personal progress.

And now, it’s time for an Inspirational Story.

            I currently live in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the adopted homeland of extreme athletes.  Out here people don’t ask how your day was, they ask what you did today.  I’ve learned the hard way that the response, I watched three hours of Sex and the City on DVD and cleaned my bathroom is a super lame-o answer.  Being a loser will garner no friends and no party invites.  Sure, we all need chill days to ourselves but make them rare and say that your knee was acting up.  The response people are looking for, and the one that is actually way more fun to truthfully answer is something like, I biked 12 miles, grabbed some food and a beer with friends and then we all went camping.  The people I look up to say stuff like, I biked up the pass (big mountain), went for a jog through the trails up to see the wildflowers, and got back to my car just in time to grab a burrito and see if my kayak was done being repaired. 

            I moved here from LA, where I was active, as in morning jogs, occasional yoga, and vigorous barhopping.  When I got to Jackson, I learned that physically, I had a lot of catching up to do.  Luckily, that was only because there was a lot of fun I as missing out on. 

            Lots of people aren’t active because they don’t think they are coordinated or strong or flexible or in shape.  I spent years using a combination of all these excuses to avoid trying fun activities.  I’d dabble, but I would inevitably be the stupidest looking goof on the court/dance floor/field/etc.  The “I can’t because I’m not…” excuse became my mantra.  Well, me amigos, I’ve traversed the physical challenge mountain and am here to report back what I’ve learned.  You don’t need to be awesome or a natural to start learning!  You just have to keep trying and you become awesome at things!

            And with that we end the preaching.  I believe in leading by example.  So, here are some tales of one girl’s adventures as she…

Becomes a Badass

            My extremeness all started with hiking.  One summer between years at college, I was feeling particularly losery and fat.  Grumpily, sitting around my parent’s new home in Jackson, Wyoming, where I had zero friends, I was swiftly starting to have sub-zero will to live.  As another day of watching marathon America’s Next Top Model came to a close, I sighed, lolled my head back and said to myself, “what are my options?  I can either go for a walk or kill myself.”  A small spark of enthusiasm pushed me toward the walk and my inner cynical bitch agreed, figuring there would always be time after the walk to slit my wrists.  A little way into my walk, fresh oxygen fueling my thoughts, I started to get pissed.  I am not a loser.  I will not go out like this.  Especially in Wyoming!  I will persevere.  I will climb that fucking mountain!  In some towns, the mountain would be a metaphor for kicking butt and overcoming obstacles.  In Jackson, you don’t have to be that creative.  There are big mountains everywhere and paths for hiking up them.  One, in fact, is less than ½ mile from my home (Snowking for any locals) and I was conveniently staring at its grandeur. 

            The next morning, decked out in an ugly T-shirt, yoga pants, sweat bands, barely used hiking boots, and a full body layer of prayer, I headed up the mountain.  My outfit was stupid.  A 75-year-old man with a walking stick passed me.  Children passed me.  Tiny four-pound dogs that had to take 22 steps to equal one of mine passed me.  About halfway up, red faced, drenched in sweat, wheezing, I turned around.  The next day I tried it again.  I figured, hell, I’m in Wyoming.  Who cares what these people think about my salt dripping, seemingly asthmatic, chubby butt.  It might take some time, but I would climb the mountain.  And I did.  Still do.  Only now, I do it in tiny athletic shorts and a sports bra.  As I jog down, I say, “You’re almost there.  Hang in there!”  to the poor, sweaty saps who look close to flinging themselves off the side of the mountain. 

            Just remember, we all have to start at the bottom of the mountain, but we all have the potential to climb it.

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