23 July 2011

As the Hippo Wallows

There comes a time in everyone's life when mortality slaps you in the face. Either you face a health crisis yourself or a family member does, or you have a milestone birthday. Perhaps it is the death of a parent or an older friend. In any case, you start thinking about how you would prefer to die.

No, I'm not ill and no one in my immediate family is ill, either. But I've been fat for too long and I'm now rolling down the hill from fifty-three. I don't want to be decrepit when I'm seventy--the way things are going, I might get to retire about then and I want to travel. And you can't go walkabout in the Outback if you can't make it up a flight of stairs.

So I have started Crossfit workouts. This morning was the end of my first full week. The first day was an introduction to see what I can and can't do. Oh. Mah. Gawd. I am a slug. The trainer, Jenna, is encouraging and understanding and firm. I am so grateful she doesn't bark at me like a drill sergeant. I've been to gyms like that and you know what? I'm too old for that crap. You yell in my face and I'm taking my fat-ass money back home, buddy. 

Anyway, Intro Day involved these things Jenna calls 'burpees." I call them "Knee Surgeon Cash Cows." You crouch down, lay out, do a push up, crouch your feet under you, then jump up into a jumping jack. Piece of cake...no no no.  I promise to never, ever, ever eat any kind of cake again if you eliminate burpees from my workouts as long as my lungs draw breath. My anterior quadriceps-- the muscles down the front center of the thighs--screamed for three days and my surgically enhanced left knee kicked my butt. It wasn't Jenna's fault--pride goeth before a fat girl's knee giveth out. I could barely walk the next morning.

But I still showed up for class the day after. I'm going to get thinner and fitter if it kills me. At least I'll look better when they go to cremate me. Saturday wasn't too bad. Lots of squats and weights. And instead of burpees I did pull ups. Yeah, I can handle that.

Tuesday and Thursday I'm thinking, yeah, getting better. I can do this!

Then this morning I arrived to see a couple of real crossfit enthusiasts in the class. Oh crap. And first thing announced is we're going to run to start warm ups.

Running and I have never been friends. I've always had large mammary glands and when you get fat and old, they get fat and keep your stomach warm. When you run, they blacken your eyes and bruise your knees. And that's if you have a really supportive running bra, which of course I don't.

I trotted out behind everyone and race-walked. Pride? Pah! Down the toilet. I arrived back about five minutes later than the group and jumped right into the rest of the warm up. At least now I can do the thirty sit-ups without rolling off to one side and the lunge walks are cool.

The Workout of the Day was a progressive shoulder/chest/core muscle usage consisting of pull-ups and Handstand Push-ups. Yes, handstand push ups. You bend over and put your big fat butt in the air, prop your feet up the wall, touch your head to the floor, and push up.

"HA HA HA HA HA," the old fat woman (that would be me) laughed nervously.

"No problem," Jenna offers, "we're going to modify these for you." Luckily there was another beginner in the class today, so she and I tried doing these things with our feet on the jump-up boxes, which are about thirty inches tall. What's sad is that's waist high for me...


oh hell no, I did not look like this.
Anyway, I'm game. I'm going to get fit! The workout is to do 21 of each exercise, then 18, then 15, then 12, then 9, then 6, then 3 and try to finish within twenty minutes. I did it. I grunted and sweated and shook but by gum, I finished the whole workout in eighteen minutes and some seconds. Had to resort to regular bent knee pushups instead of the handstand ones for the last three sets, and when I got off that box I looked like a hippo rolling off a muddy log, but I did 'em.

My shoulders feel like jelly. But hey my quads don't hurt!

I'm doing this for a month. If I survive and decide I like it, I'll do another month. Just don't make me do those damn burpees...

11 July 2011

Slogging

Have you ever felt like you're slogging though quicksand as you write? Every word is extracted from your brain like an impacted wisdom tooth, grinding, tugging, yanking, and jerking its way onto the page. That's when I think that perhaps now is time for a break, be it a hike or a trip to the dollar store or even a mindless foray into TV Land.

Then the guilt slithers in on greasy ooze. "You procrastinator! Sleezeball! You need to get this manuscript finished! How dare you allow yourself to be distracted by John Barrowman and Torchwood!" 

So I return to slog through another four or five pages of uninspired wordage, hoping that when I finish and go back over it, new insight will spark and revise it into masterful prose.

Garbage. I seem to be spewing garbage onto the page. But I know that eventually, I'll run out of crap and something decent will emerge. But the discipline to keep plodding on is elusive. I think I'll just go to bed and hope sleep will recharge the batteries for my muse.

Or do I simply need to repeatedly sing Oscar's theme song, "I Love Trash?"

02 July 2011

Within The Mists about to be released!

My new e-short story set during the Napoleonic Wars, Within The Mists, will be released on July 4th! It is the tale of Lt. Edward Putney, an arrogant officer in Nelson's Navy, and the lovely selchie who rescues him when he is blown overboard during a ferocious storm:

An excerpt

He muttered to himself when she had gone. “Nonsense. None of this is real.”

“That’s what you humans always say.” The faerie perched on the window sill. “You’d rather believe a fancy and call it a faerie story.”

“How did you get here?”

“Window’s open.” She leapt down and sat cross-legged on the end of the bed. “Now let’s give you a simple first lesson, shall we? My name is Mab. Queen of the Faeries. The person who saved your disbelieving hide is Sioned—say, ‘Shaw-ned.’ This is her cottage. She’s a selchie.”

He frowned. “She’s a what?”

She squinted at him. “You are more ignorant than the average seaman, aren’t you?”

“I beg your pardon! I’ve had an extensive education—”

“In all that counts for nothing!” She pointed a sharp finger at his nose. “Now be quiet and listen. A selchie is a human on land and a seal in the sea. Some say they can see the future. Females are especially good at reading hearts and intentions. The males may wreak havoc and summon storms.” Mab smoothed her tunic around her knees. “All sorts of magic folk live on this island to stay safe from humans. Your kind destroyed our homes in the woodlands and desecrated the stone circles, so this is the only place we have left. It is a world of its own hidden in fog. Twice in our year, the mists part and a door opens to the human world—on the equinox at spring and autumn. You arrived here on the spring equinox.”

He stared at her.  She gestured with an open palm. “Come, come. Arrived on the spring equinox, so—?”

His heart flipped in his chest. “I can’t return to the human world until the autumn equinox?”

Mab clapped her hands and flew to the window sill. “Very good! You should get a treat for being so quick! I’ll have to remember to bring you one later.”

She flew away.

Edward sat very still, thinking. Then he carefully got to his feet to search for his clothes.

Within The Mists will be available from Champagne Books on July 4, 2011!