Would You Take A Dollar Now, or Get Ten Dollars in a Year From Now?

How does a baby learn to latch at the sight of a nipple? Why do New York commuters tirelessly gaze to the left, when standing at the subway tracks? Why, upon reading these words, do you expect this sentence to end as a question?

It is in human nature to anticipate.

In a lifelong endeavor of identifying patterns, we draft mental connections between such linked phenomena. To every effect, we search for a cause. Did I sleep poorly because I drank too much coffee? We act, to cause an effect. I will avoid it today, so I can sleep better tonight. It can easily be said that our ability to form a predictable chronological order is the basis for learning.

It can even be argued that experts, in any specialty or field, have become experts precisely by mastering the art of pattern recognition. It goes beyond Wall street, beyond science. Just as the best taco man in the West Coast has discovered which beef to lettuce ratio draws in the most customers, it is implied that the best soil yields the best crop.

And like these experts, we use our ability to predict the near and far future to determine the next best choice of action. Why? Because it is in the best interest of any individual to operate in an economy of effort in relation to time: two of our most valuable and priceless resources. Surely, some things in life cost more self-investment than others.

Everything we do, every person we choose, and each seemingly insignificant decision whittles down to intrinsic calculations — Will this produce a profit? Do I have to apologize to my boss?  Should I microwave the hot pocket with the paper cover on? Does this person push me to be better? Do I stay in this relationship? Should I sleep in another hour? Why am I here? Is this worth it?

As a long term planner, you debate the disparity between what you anticipate and what may actually happen. You are more likely to sacrifice the present for the future. You are, to put it simply, an investor. However, as a short term planner, you act upon instinct. You recognize the far future but appreciate the present much more. You are a gambler of action: a doer. You are passion over logic, thrill over safety. Most of us fall somewhere along this spectrum.

 

 

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I’m not the kind of person that has a near death experience and decides to, from then on, “live for the moment.” No, I’m not going to quit my jobs, get a cliché tatted on my arm, and dedicate my life to an unfulfilled bucket list. It all comes down to finding a balance.

Ambition is a great trait to have, but sometimes, I get so caught up on doing things for others and my future self, that I neglect what I want right now. I think this happens to many of us, especially those who have goals to reach within certain time constraints. I’m not here to self pity, or to create a diet plan of what I can or can’t do. Rather, I’m allowing my desires to guide me, even if it leads me beyond reason or comfort. You know the little guy in the back of your head that tells you when it’s a bad idea? I’m putting him on mute, because in moderation, new is good. New is becoming.

The take home point is: if you are an investor, become a doer. If you are a doer, become an investor. Do not remain a static point on a dynamic spectrum of planning. Your mind is three dimensional.

Which brings us back to the million dollar question: Would You Take A Dollar Now, or Get Ten Dollars in a Year From Now?

One choice over another may bring you greater success, but you’d benefit more by supplementing your repertoire with a new way of thinking, of anticipating & doing. Fuck what you’re used to. Choose the other. Two roads diverged in a yellow wood; why not take both?

 

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Left for Language, Left for Dead

Raking through my hair, the wind flutters against my neck, exposing my shoulders in brief, flapping increments to a warm glaze of sunshine. I cruise with confidence, easing my grip around the handlebars, having just dodged the nightmare of a bike lane or whatever you’d call that mess on 8th avenue. In stark contrast, Central Park West is expanse: with freshly painted, clearly delineated, white traffic lines, and law abiding, Lululemon yoga-pant citizens. Worry does not live here. 

Upon spotting a red light ahead, I stop pedaling and let my wheels roll. There are rows of pedestrians to my right, cars to my left, but we do not hurry. Life is casual, like a porch on a Sunday afternoon, a coffee shop with hours yet to close, like particles of dust that occasionally catch the light as they sift across the room…

 

I hear a vehicle draw closely behind me, and as I turn my head to look, I am struck.

Once, by the meat of the car, and twice, by pavement.  

 

Maybe, as a bullshit artist, I half-anticipated there to be beauty in destruction, like my body would somehow twist with grace and poise around the pristine curves of the Cadillac. I thought it’d be like shattering glass in a silent room, slow motion in the movies, and though gruesome, it’d be a spectacle to watch how fragile man is to metal.

But the crash itself is not brilliant. It is not slow, or forgiving, and it is far, far from beautiful. The SUV hammers my skull, shoulder, hip, and knee. It slams me into the pavement so quickly I devour my breath and lose it mid-swallow.

Lights out before I finish hitting the ground.

 

When I wake, there are voices: high frequency. My eyes are open, I think, but the faces are blurry and the sky is patched with static. There is metal in my mouth… maybe it is blood. It tastes like I’m late for a meeting and this isn’t how I die. It smells like mourning and stale bread and heather grey. Nothing makes much sense.

The straps on my backpack have hiked the lifeless weight of my body like the strings on a puppet imitating life. I don’t realize my shoulders are forcibly shrugged until I try to move, and can’t. I must get going — but nothing listens.

I blink and stay calm…. Too calm? I am not breathing. I am afraid that if I breathe, I will break.

 

I catch a glitchy screenshot of a face to my left, and I scare. I see two eyes, one nose, and a mouth, and it scares me because I cannot make sense of what it is. I cannot comprehend the arrangement and why sound comes out from the lips and how the eyes blink with fear. The face says things like: “Don’t move,” and “We saw the car drive into you,” and “Call the ambulance.” There is another woman pacing behind this one, with a cell phone in her hand. I begin going into shock. My left arm tingles with a million needles. Guttural whispers escape my throat.

To my right, there is panic. A frantic mouth speaks “you biked into the car,” and it confuses me. I was ahead of all the cars. I was in the bike lane. I was at a red light. I do not understand. I am late. I have to go. Please don’t tell my parents. Am I going to die? I can’t feel my body. You’re okay. You’re okay. You’re okay. Just breathe.

The mouth to my left is much nicer. She reminds me when to breathe. She reminds me to stay awake, though a nap sounds fantastic. She reminds me help is coming. What kind of help? I imagine she is holding my hand. That’s what they do in the movies.

 

I’m not sure if I lose consciousness again, or my memory skips, but the next thing I know, there are men in dark clothing; they look like paramedics. I am trembling, gasping for air. Stay calm, I think. Focus on the clouds. They are beautiful today. I ask, “Was it my fault? Is it OK?” I am referring to the car. 

I am either tearing up, or my vision is blurry — I cannot tell which.

I hear the man ask out loud: who was in the vehicle? The mouth to my right, the frantic mouth, raises her hand. The mouth has a hand. Immediately, it makes sense… but soon it doesn’t.

I am surrounded by curious bystanders and cell phones. I hear the jingle of keys and leashes. I have a final tomorrow. They tell me I am bleeding from my head. I have an organization to run; we have an event this Saturday. They strap a brace around my neck. I have leases to print and checks to deposit. They lift me onto a gurney. I think my hair is a mess. If I’m going to die, can somebody fix my fucking hair.

And will anyone please just tell me, is the car OK?

 

In retrospect, I want to tell my stupid brain — yes, you idiot, the five thousand pound SUV is okay. Are you?

The men prop my feet up, head down. I am going to vomit. My eyeballs are pulsing. This is what dying feels like, I think. I beg them to prop me back up, but they don’t. A nice man tapes a nasal cannula on me and instructs me to breathe through my nose. I don’t understand. He tells me to hold my breath for 3 seconds after the inhale. I feel blood trickling from my face. I stare at a loose thread on his shirt. I fall in and out of consciousness. He tracks my breaths and keeps talking to me. His voice is low, calm, and steady.  I focus real hard on it, as if I can will my heart to be as low, calm, and steady.

I inhale, I exhale, I stay cool and collected. I make jokes, and they laugh, and for one short, bumpy ride, I try to pretend my limbs are working. I imagine we’re going on a road trip, and that I’m not strapped in the back of a speeding ambulance.

Imagination can only take you so far. Turns out it can only take you several avenues.

 

The calendar says it’s been 18 days, but I have not slept 17 nights, so it’s hard to tell. It is as if I am living in a TV show; when I wake, I am reminded of yesterday like the recap of an episode. I am told through scribbles and post-its on what to do, where to be, who I am. I’ve shed the bandages and braces since, but thoughts are wading and attention is absent. My brain is screaming with pleas that will not be answered or understood.

I am struggling to place names and faces that seem familiar, but then again don’t, and when I look at photos of past relationships, I can’t remember why, and how, love used to feel. I have no shame with emotions that I once used to hide. I am impulsive and recognizant of the fact. What used to come so easy, like school and people, appear foreign and novel. The night terrors and sleep apnea keep me awake for days on end. My migraines are unrelenting; senses, hypersensitive and overwhelming. My thoughts are disconnected. It is like following a rhythm off beat with an uncertain promise of the verse meeting a chorus. But it never does.

Perspective, however, is the root of understanding.

When I went for a walk yesterday, I noticed an irrelevant speck of wings in the distance foraging for food. It was captivating. Instead of ear plugs to drown out all sounds, I played a soft song instead, and honed in on the intricate strumming of a cymbal in the background. In the past weeks, I spent time or spoke on the phone with people I love, and came to realization of who I don’t care for. I  have a newfound level of respect for my brother, my roommates, my friends. I started writing again. The left side of the brain predominantly oversees language. It is with excruciating time and effort I am able to edit out dyslexic errors, but for the most part, I am writing and speaking sentences, and it makes sense. I am breathing. I am living. I am learning to forgive the man who did not check on me as I laid at the grill of his car. I am learning how to receive from others and not feel bad about it. 

When you focus on your losses, you lose sight on what you have. So, I focus on what I have to gain, and consequently, forget my losses.

(I forget everything, anyway).

In all seriousness, I have this life. How can I complain?

To the dismay of poetic thinking, destruction itself is not beautiful. It is the creation that follows the dust and ash, that is.

 

I thank Gabe, Noa, Joluis, Amelia, Esther, Tasha, Sam, Karlie, Alissa, Leah, Cristina, Farhad, Cody, Rachel, Tiffany, the rest of my Columbia family, Esther, and my brother’s friends for visiting me, feeding me, or helping me with school.

I thank Ryan, Leah, Cuyler, Yvonne, Max, Leanna, and Faye for moving my entire apartment, and Ran, Martin, Cody for disassembling my bed.

I thank Jason, Leah, Sally, Yvonne, Leanna, Kayla, Martin, Justin, and Anna for helping me sort my thoughts and deal with my crazy emotions.

I thank my Lion KEEN team, particularly Victoria, for stepping up in my place.

I thank the countless medical providers, EMTs (Dave, Mauricio), and police officers (Officer Chris, Officer Pascua) who saved me. And Eddie Spaghetti for making me laugh.

I thank my physical therapist, David, as well as Zach and his amazing team at MSMPT for keeping me on track. 

I thank my professors and my boss for showing me patience at a time when I need it most. 

I thank Leanna, Kayla, and my brother Jae for being my rock.

Fool’s Paradise

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Back when my classmates were playing with blocks, I was stacking cartons. The glove compartment, as far as I know, might as well have been called the smokes compartment, because that’s all we kept in ours. I can visualize the plastic sealed, blanched white bodies, stacked in rows; I can still smell the unmistakeable insult of the ash that used to cling, like velcro on the lace of my shoes. He was going through two, three packs a day, habitually pounding cigarette after cigarette as if each puff was giving him life… when in fact, it was doing the opposite.

So, I’d draw family caricatures and bold, arching, colorful print that read something along the lines of “Please Stop Smoking DAD” and variations of. I’d sneak letters into his travel bag, and on the occasion I’d get to see him, I would beg him to quit. For us. For a healthier life. For, at only six years old, I was already afraid that the next time I’d see a plastic sealed, blanched white body, it’d be his.

What I had yet to learn was that the success of behavior change is determined by adherence, which can only be cultivated intrinsically. My father continued to smoke for many, many years, and despite positive behavior changes that renovated different aspects of his life, he could never fulfill the intricate web of physical, emotional, spiritual, intellectual, environmental, and social health. Because wellness is a cumulative interaction between these six dimensions of health, behavior change that hinders the maintenance of this balance may –in consequence– be fleeting, inefficient, and even detrimental.

The film, “Fat Chance,” portrays the journey of behavior change intended for weight loss that is later redirected to self acceptance. Rick Zakowich is first introduced, thirty pounds lighter but not much happier since the start of his plan to lose weight. Feeling pressured by cultural standards of beauty and acceptance, he uses appearance-based motivation to take on behavior change involving diet and exercise. It is no surprise, considering how heavily our society weighs the significance of body image, to hear a even medical professional deviate from motivational interviewing. The physician advises, “Best way to make yourself feel better about yourself… is to lose weight so that your blood pressure improves, so that you look better.” Inherent in modern American thinking is that looking better equates to happiness.

As Rick finds support from those who are content with their obesity, he adapts to a new perspective that directly antagonizes fat shaming culture; he ends the documentary by saying, “The way you are is fine. Walk through this world in that way.” On a superficial perspective, one could argue that Rick achieves a step towards wellness by coming to self acceptance, increasing his self confidence, and joining an empowered community. However, despite it being a step in the right direction, Rick fails to recognize the danger of extremes. By orienting behavior change strictly towards emotional and social health, he completely neglects the other essential components, such as physical health. There is no doubt that self love, in the right context, is deserving of praise, but the fact that he is happier does not eliminate the risks of being overweight. By the summer of 2008, my father ended up in the ICU. If he, then, had settled on self acceptance and placed another cigarette between his lips, would you have applauded him, too?

Fat shaming and fat acceptance fall on opposite ends of the spectrum, and through understanding the crucial interplay of the six components of wellness, we unveil the importance of moderation. Had the medical professional taken a different approach, like educating the benefits of exercise, rather than implying blame or demonizing Rick’s body image, perhaps Rick would not have fallen victim to an illusory state of happiness that is likely evanescent. Increasing studies now indicate that cardiorespiratory fitness and physical activity can improve multiple aspects of wellness and reduce the comorbidities tied to obesity, with or without weight loss (Dallow). This outlook on exercise may be a better approach towards positive behavior change, than one that is based on appearance. Furthermore, it would be of a greater benefit to implement behavior change that caters to both fitness, confidence, community, and other aspects of wellness. With Dr. Lerner’s medical knowledge and morale amongst Rick’s new connections, the support group could potentially be the perfect medium for a wellness program. With less emphasis on weight loss, they could tackle multiple obstacles at once and find a more permanent solution. In contrast of what they have been told by others –they can have their cake and eat it too.

To ensure safety, longevity, and efficacy of such program, professional advisement to promote adherence is crucial. Though the responsibility of wellness falls on the shoulders of each individual, it is equally important to have health care providers take the lead on public education. Patients are more likely to adhere to behavior change if they understand risk and the gravity of their conditions, so medical professionals can play a key role here (Stonerock). Proper motivational interviewing along with professional, objective, and evidence-based opinions is essential to assist others, particularly in the transition from earlier to later stages of the Transtheoretical Model. In “Fat Chance,” Dr. Moe Lerner highlights that obesity is caused by metabolism and dieting. Not once does he mention the importance of physical health. Despite his sensible attitude, his perspective holds a very narrow, almost defensive, focus to justify obesity. By relying on rationalizations and believing his physical state is not a problem, he, along with Rick and the others in the support group, regress and sink deeper into the precontemplative stage (Dallow).

In a society that strongly antagonizes fat and with a disproportionately increasing prevalence of obesity, there is a strong need for leadership towards fitness in all populations, especially obese individuals. The fact that Dr. Lerner’s personal stake in the issue does not take a backseat to his obligation to the public, and that another medical provider advises Rick “just do it” as a plan for losing weight reveal how the medical care system has ample room for improvement. Physical therapists, and all medical providers, can and should “provide key elements of effective behavioral change interventions” so that the general public can adhere to wholesome decisions about wellness (Rhodes). Even the most effective interventions whittle down to scraps, in the absence of patient adherence.

It is easy to believe a person is well when one aspect of wellness has been satisfied. One might say being fat and happy is better than being skinny and unhappy; one might argue the opposite. During an interview, supermodel Kate Moss was quoted saying, “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.” When we fall victim to such paradigms that cater to one aspect of wellness, such as emotional health, we neglect all else. The temporary contentment that follows blinds us from seeing the short-lived nature of it, and the resulting imbalance may put an us in a worse position than we started from. Fooling ourselves about our well-being is like sipping on a pina colada, floating comfortably above a circle of sharks. In shallow waters, it becomes more clear that a fool’s paradise –though paradise– thrives only in the minds of fools.

 

References

Bezner JR. Promoting health and wellness: implications for physical therapist practice. Phys Ther. 2015;95:1433-1444.

Dallow CB, Anderson J. Using self-efficacy and a transtheoretical model to develop a physical activity intervention for obese women. American Journal of Health Promotion, 2003;17(6):373-381.

Fat Chance. Dir. Jeff McKay. Perf. Rick Zakowich. YouTube. NFB, 17 May 2015. Web. 19 Apr. 2017.

Rhodes RE, Fiala B. Building motivation and sustainability into the prescription and recommendations for physical activity and exercise therapy: the evidence. Physiother Theory Pract. 2009;25:424- 441.

Stonerock GL., Blumenthal JA. Role of Counseling to Promote Adherence in Healthy Lifestyle Medicine: Strategies to Improve Exercise Adherence and Enhance Physical Activity. Prog Cardiovasc Dis (2016), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.pcad.2016.09.003

Don’t Need A Wish Today 

It’s been many, many years since I decided to include in my daily ritual: a question of reflection. A means of checks and balances that is commonly absent, without the extra effort. With so much going on around us, it can be difficult to… pause… and think about WHY it is you do the things you do.

My question for the day has always been: “What are you grateful for today?”

Some days, it’s easy to come up with an answer. Some days, it’s not. And often times, I have to inquire if, by repeating the same answers, I am dulling the top coat from its shine. Like the twenty thousandth time you’ve told your significant other “I love you” you realize the words, though true, have lost true sentiment behind it — how impressively quickly novel turns to casual.

Upon waking this morning, I stared at the post-it stuck on my bathroom wall and came to the same conclusion that I am frequently led to. But no matter how many times I respond with this same answer, it still find it –to put it eloquently– really freaking shiny.

Today, I am grateful that all things I want, I already have. It is unmistakably empowering to feel satisfied. I am so lucky for this unpredictable life and the ability to comprehend how and why I’m here.

The Text Message Break Up

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“I’m never going to talk to you again. See you never,” the message read.

Following a delay just long enough to process what he had sent her, in attempts to subdue the passive aggressive anger railroading through the text –because God forbid he actually let her have the satisfaction in knowing she got under his skin– he quickly typed and sent another: “Lol.”

Because Lol says Hey, I don’t care.

Lol means You don’t phase me, though she really really does. Without even trying. Damn it.

Upon receipt of the message (she had briefly glanced at the text from the sudden glow of her screen), her long, slender, unmanicured fingers clicked the power button on top of her iPhone to hide the message from view.

Seriously? she thought, eyes rolling north to a blanket of lids. Must you be so dramatic. 

The coarse brush of annoyance was enough for her to immediately decide: this kind of demeanor is not worth a response. She thought, can’t we resolve our issues like grown fucking adults… In person? Using words? 

How many times —she reflected on previous encounters that all too similarly left the same sour taste in her mouth– am I going to get dumped by a friend through a text message. 

She could not determine whether it was her that had become too insensitive, or if the modern digital culture forced others to grow soft, to wrongfully take 100-something character texts, in the absence of context and any sense of real human connection, to heart.

When you live in a world where lives, though consciously filtered, are put on display, it is incredibly easy to jump to conclusions that reside far from the truth. So, could she blame him? No. But the disappointment came from the fact that there exist people who breed a hatred from a subjective assumption and go the extent of cutting ties, void a conversation. Just a bitter, premature See-You-Never.

Never? Good grief. Never is hasty, you silly child — an impulse quite often regretted. 

To leave the opportunity of a text reply as the ONLY venue of communication… How does one reason with an irrational mind, in words that must again suffer the path of interpretation?

You don’t. 

You can’t, she just knew. This is why an argument on the internet has no end. This is why you cannot put sense into the head of religion. THIS IS WHY YOU DON’T ARGUE OVER TEXTS.

Was she lacking empathy or were they lacking maturity? She could not say it was either, because the former wasn’t true (or so she truly believed) and because there wasn’t enough juice in her superiority complex to sway her to the latter.

Good luck with your life, he added soon after. A miserable touch. It was surely meant to provoke, or to prod a response. But such petty behavior warrants dismissal.

I know you want me to, but I will not plead, she mentally noted. Why in the world would I chase after something that allows no explanation. Effort, in all scenarios, deserves reciprocation. Don’t you think? Of course you don’t. Your head is steaming, and elsewhere.

Over the years, she had learned about the brevity of relationships with the emotionally rash, but more importantly, the undeniable insignificance of such. They come, they go, like uprooted flowers in the wind –mere visitors caught in a passing storm, leaving the slightest trace of their beauty and a lasting impression of their hideous rage.

If You Jump, No One Will Catch You

“JANE, WHAT ARE YOU DOING?” he asked.

With a worried note to his call, his voice meekly carried over from a hundred paces away. “ARE YOU CRAZY?”

I had to assume it was not a question for me to answer.

Nick, along with two equally horrified passerby hikers, held their breaths as they watched me lower my body through a damaged gap in the tracks. We all stood on the burnt boards of an abandoned bridge that once supported the weight of a railroad train but has since deteriorated into a local attraction for daredevil hikers and photographers.

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Fires, from repeated horseplay, and heavy Washington downpours have led this second largest railroad bridge to closure, but that has done little to deter travelers from walking across it anyway. While he and the two others from Florida cautiously crawled across the wooden planks, I skipped ahead recklessly, joyously, and a bit foolishly, one might say.

When I got to a gap big enough to fit my body, I stopped hopping. Many planks were gradually degrading; as my weight pressed down, pieces of wood would chip away like the cheap acrylic from a Chinatown nail salon. Keeping the bulk of my weight on my arms, I dipped one foot down at a time onto a small sheet of metal beneath where the tracks used to be. It feels sturdy enough, I thought to myself.

So, I did what all normal, sane, and practical people would do in that situation.

I let go.

Flirting with the devil at nearly 400ft above ground, I tried balancing one foot at a time.  For some odd reason– my blood did not race in the slightest bit. My Fitbit confirmed: resting rate of 42, the usual pace at which my heart conducts its business (yes, I know, it’s weirdly slow. It’s always been that way).

I called out to the others, “Come here! It’s fine!”

But they shook their heads no and continued to watch me from afar.

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I don’t blame them.

When I leaned forward, this is what I could see below my feet.

I leaned back against the broken wood resting on the small of my back and scanned the view around me. I inhaled the greens and blues with a voracious greed in my eyes, because I knew, once I returned to the City, I wouldn’t be able to consume this kind of sight.

I don’t normally advocate for gluttony, but in this case, I certainly do.

Feed me.

I’m starving.

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Nick and I crossed the entire length of the bridge, and then we decided to climb the trestles that make up the bridge. We skid down a hill and made it up a decent height before acknowledging it’d be stupid to keep going without any rope support.

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Using our hands and knees, we made a nearly vertical descent down to ground level. There were logs, embedded rocks, loose roots, and one tattered rope that helped us steer our way down. I have to admit: this part, though tame in comparison to the bridge, had me extremely nervous the entire way down.

 

It wasn’t the height. It wasn’t the close snake encounter. 

What scared me was the chance of injury. Nick and I are opposites in the sense. He can scale down these dangerous paths with no hesitation, because he knows he can survive the fall, whereas he cannot if he were to fall off Vance Creek bridge (where we started our hike). I, on the other hand, having had many close encounters with death, think nothing of dying other than “I hope my parents don’t waste money on a funeral” and “did I ever send that email reply?” but am riddled with intense anxiety when I run the risk of breaking a leg.

We develop our fears through exposure and maintain our fears through avoidance. What oddly balanced creatures we are.

At the end of our descent, Nick and I were welcomed by a stream of clear water flossing and weaving through a bed of rocks. We took off our hiking boots and long socks to dip our feet in painfully cold water. Why? Because pain becomes tolerable over time.

Just kidding. It was because we thought it’d be warmer than that.

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At the bottom, we rested, occasionally dunking our feet in the icy cold (as tolerated). We refueled our heavy breaths with lush, fresh oxygen. It was then, with a clearer mind, that we could see how far we had come, but simultaneously could calculate the equivalent distance of how far we’d have to travel to get back to where we had started from.

Some metaphorical shit, I know.

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In times of taxing, physical exertion –believe it or not– I tend to hurdle over elementary thoughts of “When’s lunch?” and “That looks amazing,” for grandiose symbolic ideas that can be applied to the phenomenons of life (or used at the conclusion of a blog article).

It’s an obnoxious habit, but a habit nonetheless.

I usually try to keep it to myself.

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photo cred: NM

We hiked back uphill through an endless pile of thorny bushes. The dry foundation of dirt and sand would crumble away from our feet when we pulled our weight upward, so as we slid back down, we’d make an illusory progress — this is how I presume it would feel to try and run from quicksand.

Aaaaand good thing I wore shorts that were three inches long, because I really wanted to end the hike looking like a lotto scratch ticket.

We then jumped back in the truck and headed home to pick up Nick’s bike.

By bike, I mean a bike.

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If you only knew the irony of America fueling Britain on Independence Day.

I’ve always wanted a motorcycle license, so spending the afternoon zooming around town was as close to perfection I could’ve gotten.

Speeding, even against still air, helps you understand the undeniable force of a bullet: so minute in relation to the rest of the world, but able to penetrate, without bias, a crisp sheet of steel that has yet to be touched. She growled, snuggling against my thighs, and it shot pulses of adrenaline through my veins in a fearsome way no man ever could.

Does this make me gay?

We pulled into Chambers Bay, which was the golf course in University Place, WA that once hosted the US Open. It housed a beautiful bridge and a small, sandy beach riddled with beachwood. I told him the hills reminded me of velvet, because they looked soft enough to touch.

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We found a hut made entirely out of gorgeous, smooth branches.

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On the bridge, there were clusters of locks with faded initials, hinting at lovers that had passed through the same grounds and wanted to leave their mark.

He said, “If your lock gets cut, it means you will break up.”

I said, “Let’s come back with lock cutters,” like the good Samaritan I am.

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Love is forever (temporarily).

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As the sun stretched towards the Pacific, we made another pit stop at his garage to exchange the bike for a kayak. In my bag, I found battery powered Christmas lights (intended for the upcoming camping trip *which I recently found out was canceled), so I tucked it across the kayak skin to keep us illuminated in the dark. I strapped a headlight across my forehead, and we set sail.

There is no beauty quite like the soft dance of yellow lights on blue waters.

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Nick pedaled for about 40 minutes to get us away from the other speed boats and cargo ships. We then let ourselves float in the pitch black, inky waters, as fireworks began painting the sky from multiple directions. We had gotten there just in time for the show.

Directly ahead were lights sparkling along Tacoma’s Commencement Bay, to the right we could see Seattle’s show from a distance, and on higher ground were small clusters of fireworks coming from rich homes in the woods and along the shorefront.

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I will post a couple video clips on Instagram, so you can see it live.

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It was a nice day.

Happy fourth, everybody. I love you all.

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You Son of a Kitchen

Elbows in, I reminded myself, watching in the mirror the course of my knees tracing the length of my body. I squatted as low as I could, tucking the 70lb dumbbell into my chest, as the metronome of J. Cole and Kendrick kept pace with my steady heart. 

I was simply putting some work in at the gym, isolated in a decent radius and minding my own (as per usual) when a neighboring beefhead got up from his bench to wave a pair of massive Russian banana hands into my field of view. I turned to him, removing a headphone from the right ear just in time to make out “–fucking space.”

“Excuse me?” I said, pulling the other plug from my left, “What was that? I couldn’t hear you.”

He tensed his eyebrows tightly together and repeated, “I SAID, you’re in my fucking space. I need my space.”

Say what?

In the past decade of lifting, the only times I have ever been interrupted mid-set were when men wanted to ask for the number of sets I had left on the bar, or for the number they’d have to call to get me TO a bar. So, you can imagine why I, without processing his message, instinctively reacted to his hostility with a “My bad, I’m sorry,” and consequently shifted my belongings further away. 

Only after he resumed pumping his weights into the air did it occur to me that I had been standing, at the very least, a good 3 feet away from his bench. I wanted to stomp about 6 large steps away, to sarcastically curtsy and say, I’m sorry, Nancy, is that enough space for you? 

But I didn’t. 

One, because I often find it difficult to be an outright dick, but mostly two, because I thought of the quip a tad too late and it would’ve been weird for me to say it after that much time had passed. Eh, you win some, you lose some. Half of wit is timing.

Every time I re-encountered a glimpse of his smug face in the wall reflection, I could feel myself growing a tiny bit angrier. I removed myself from the dumbbells to the power rack, so I could put the negative energy behind me.

I finished up, then I left the facility shortly after to hop on the green line. Little did I know, as luck would have it, he was trailing right behind me. 

I caught the subway train as the doors were about to close, wedging my body into a pocket of commuters, and when I turned to face the other way, I saw him running to fill the last bit of space by my feet.

I couldn’t help but immediately think of Elaine with no toilet paper, when her stall neighbor does her dirty by saying she doesn’t have “a square to spare.” And how, at the end of the episode, Elaine steals all the TP from the bathroom before the chick walks in so that she can taunt the infamous line back to her.

Karma isn’t a bitch; people are.

Now, what I could’ve done in that moment is step forward a couple inches, and say as the doors closed on his face: “Nope, take the next train; I need my space.” How deliciously sweet would that have been — well, I’m not all that sure, because I didn’t do it.

If an eye for an eye makes the world blind, I don’t want to forget that I have another to spare. The unnecessarily rude can take out my eye, but at least I have sight, and that’ll do more for me in the long run than petty revenge. 

Although that would have been pretty fucking fun, too.