Crawling into Bed

Ugh! Today was my first time in a long while doing sprints. Just two, all out up a hill, and apparently my heart rate monitor doesn’t read as well when my body is pouring perspiration all over it, but there it is. I’ve been cleaning since I got back and right now I’m also dragging an amazing amount of ass. OMG get the Led out, cause this is epic fatigue.

Okay, yeah I know why I’m doing this. Desensitization to pain, improved aerobic ceiling, and hormonal and metabolic response to name but a few reasons. But it’s difficult to remember that, anything actually, when you’re a couple deep breaths away from an involuntary nap.

Tonight, my friends, I shall crawl into bed with the all the dignity due to an extremely tired person.

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#OldManRunning

If you follow my Instagram, Strava, or Twitter feed you’ve seen that I’ve been getting out again. The change came after a conversation with my cousin Chad who basically pointed out to me that I’ve been lazy curr for a good long while now. He’s totally correct, I have let myself go. And yeah, sure I’ve got a long list of excuses, but I know that’s just what they are. I’m not doing what I need to in order to provide for my own health, sanity, and happiness.

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Elements of a Whole Matt

I’ve always been a runner and a hiker, just never very fast. I’m also well beyond the time in my life where I might find success racing. Since 2012 I’ve struggled to stay active and to find the motivation to get out onto the trails and this has, in turn, created complications for me. Weight (~190 lbs [87 kg]), body image, energy levels, flexibility, and mood: all these things use to be pretty good for me, right now not so much. I’m about 25 lbs overweight (~190 lbs [87 kg]), don’t particularly like to acknowledge my self in the mirror, often feel sluggish, sore and stiff, and lose motivation to do even necessary things from time to time.

Back when none of that was a worry, I was a happy-go-lucky dude that just smiled as he went through life. I was effective, capable and ready for anything. My favorite year, in fact, was 2009 when I spent stupid amounts of time on the trail. Stupid and necessary amounts of time.

Matt, it seems, is best when he’s dusty with trail dirt.

The Goals

Okay, it’s a short list, but that’s because I’m trying to keep it simple. Unquestionably, it’s easier to reach for simple.

  • Lose about 25 lbs
  • Be able to run long distance again
  • Improve my body’s autoimmune response
  • Sleep like a rockstar
  • Travel for some running and hiking
  • Serve my wife, family and friends more effectively

We’ve been over the reasons why more times than I’d like to recount (because each time I stop running I’ve eventually got to go back to my core motivation and reexamine what the hell I’m up to). I can easily track inputs and outputs around some of this, others are less tangible. For instance, I can keep records of what I eat, how long I sleep, how much I weigh, and how much I’m exercising, but I can only track if and when I’m getting sick, not how many sicknesses I’ve been exposed to and successfully fought off. But the bottom line for all of this is an improvement in my quality of life.

Also, notice, nowhere in there does it say race. I write this as a reminder to myself, “Hey dumbass, you’re no longer racing.”

Why No Racing?

“I’m too old,” is actually a craptastic answer. There a plenty of older men and women who line up below the inflatable arch every weekend. I think a lot of this decision comes down to two elements.

Valuetanium: a heavy metal found only in the human soul which gains weight in response to the thoughts and time we put next it. Basically, for the energy and time I have to run and trek, I need to invest it in the experience and moments that time on the trail can generate. Running is a meditation, an exercise in mindfulness, and running for a race tends to devalue that experience.

Robustonium: an element found in the bone that determines a person’s grit and longevity in response to a hostile world. As my recent visits to the ER have reminded me, my time in this life is limited. My experience tells me that training to race means I’m burning my robustonium not gathering more to me. This has got to be a lifestyle change that makes me stronger.

A Call for Help

Add to the above that my best friend just asked me for some help. He’s got some of his own challenges and goals, but there’s plenty of synchronicity. So yeah, I want to be there for him as much as making these changes for myself. It’s just a kind of kismet that we’re looking to make similar improvements at about the same time.

The Plan

I’m already back on the Primal Endurance program. My diet is pretty much grain-free already, but I’ll have to work at eliminating brown rice from the mix. Add to this that I’ve been running at a low-intensity rate on a five to six-day routine while using work in my garden to add explosive core strength “workouts” into the mix. All of this is governed by my heart rate as I pursue efficient Aerobic base building over an eight week period. My Garmin VivoSmart HR+ sits on my wrist and vibrates whenever I’m overdoing it, and I’m responding and slowing down when it does. Sleep remains a challenge, but I’ve made some profound changes in my sleep hygiene habits and with the exertion of exercise I’ve actually been doing pretty well.

I’m encouraging my friend to take similar steps in this direction too. Just knowing that there’s someone else out there suffering through the first month of metabolic fat-adaptation or sweating up a hill seems to help me mentally.

Finally, I just ordered some more parts for my van. A pair of *new* transmission mounts, the old ones are all cracked and need to be replaced before I kill the transmission. That travel bullet needs some attention too. Yes, there are a lot of things that I need to take care of on my van and I’m going to address these systematically so that as my abilities return to me I can reach the high country trails.

 

Weight

I’m sitting at my desk right now covered in a glossy glaze of my own perspiration. It’s been quite a long time since I’ve felt this way. Hungry, bordering on ravenous. Tired, a fatigue has set into my legs and arms. My chest still feels the burn of a prolonged struggle for air. And happy, a curious sensation that manages to exceed mere contentment. I just went for a “run.”

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My activity feed on Strava shows me that the last time I went and did this, with purpose, was early July of last year. In the intervening near-year, I’ve been seen at the ER a handful of times. Made near constant pilgrimage to a variety of doctors, including neurological specialists. Had my head scanned. My abdomen probed. My fat ass weighed. And from this, I’ve received a singular meaningful diagnosis. One that I could have probably figured out on my own had I just hit the trail.

“You don’t work well,” is a pretty good if somewhat broad summary of FND. Context being the missing component of that review. I don’t believe that I’m a particularly misanthropic person. In fact, I like most of you and even love a few of you. That said, when I’m around you all for too long there is this sensation of weight that sort of builds up on the back of my neck. I can’t shake it. Eventually, you’ll see me at the coffee shop and wanting to hang out with that nice guy you met once you’ll great me. I’ll trip all over myself, saturated in self-consciousness that makes my throat tighten and turns my words into an aphasic mess. Often, it feels like it gets worse as we chat. Eventually, I’ll slink off to my castle on this island where I can be alone.

Last night I got a call from my Cousin Chad who suggested that I just go for a walk. Chad, I did. And while I’m not cured I can feel some small fraction of the weight I’ve taken on lifting.

Hey There Spring and News

It has been a wet, wet, moisty wet first season so far, but today the sun is out, and there is a seasonably light breeze blowing over the island. I’ve spent so much time focusing on my house, my yard, and my head that my writing has necessarily taken a back burner.

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For a health status updates, you should know that I now, after years of searching, have a diagnosis that isn’t one of exclusion. Functional Neurological Disorder which is, in equal parts, both a blessing to know and an epic gut-punch to know about. I guess my dreams of becoming an internationally renowned opera singer are on pause, unless or until stuttering with a growl and facial tics ever comes back in vogue.

For somewhat obvious reasons I’ve yet again missed an opportunity to submit to Clarion West, but I will remain sanguine about it and hold onto all the work I did for submission until next year. C’est la vie n’est pas? At least I didn’t have a stroke.

What I’m working on:

Currently, I’m two chapters into a short-ish story about engineered genetic specialization as a sort of currency set in the caldera of Mount Olympus. The title eludes me at the moment, but I’m having lots of fun with it. I’ve also forged on with a couple of novel-length outlines which include “Friend of Bees,” “Winter City Above the Clouds,” and re-writes to “Distance.”  I’ll pick all of these up when I’ve got the short done or when I’m stuck on the short story.

What I’m reading:

It’s been a while since I’ve done anything review-y, but I should probably pick that back up again.

I’ve just finished the complete audio set of Bernard Cornwell’s Sharpe’s Series. Unfortunately, I couldn’t locate a copy of Sharpe’s Skirmish, but I have and have listened to all the other stories in that extensive series. Add to this, I’ve been entertained. It’s always a bit of a soap opera, but I guess I like that and Cornwell‘s action scenes are a study in the best way to write those sequences.

Also, I received a recommendation for “The Sparrow” by Mary Doria Russell as a colonization space opera that’s going to make me think. I’m about 2/3rds of the way through the audible version of the story, and there have been a handful of reflective moments, but I’m not giving this work the whole can of beans.

Finally, after reading Tobias Buckell’s multi-nominated work “Zen and the Art of Starship Maintenance” I decided to dust off my cover of “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig. Both of these are worthy reads, but for different reasons. Although, it is my opinion that they’re improved in juxtaposition.

What’s next:

Bees, garage door, more painting and work on the van to name a few big projects. I’ll be headed over to Puget Sound Overland and Coffee at Mule Expedition Outfitters on the 28th of this month with my van to talk about overlanding and maybe find a full-length gear shelf for my roof. Also, I’m going to try to get to the coffee shop at least once a week for some writing time. Likely Wednesdays, but it will vary.

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Refactor

This morning has been productive. I did some work with the bees (corrected an issue with the installation I created … sorry girls), took Aral to school, spent some time at the coffee shop talking with friends, even made a decision regarding the usefulness of yet-another-EEG.

I think the most important takeaway from this morning are some rules I wrote for myself for my writing. Since last year’s river of rejection left me feeling all my attempts to write were worthless I’ve had a very hard time doing the necessary. Still, I’ve got ideas, whole worlds that are banging on the inside of my skull demanding to get out. But I haven’t done what I need to write any of this down and that’s a problem. I need to start writing again as a practice, but the rules I follow regarding this craft also necessarily must change. I can’t write and write only to feel like what I’ve written is a piss poor result for all that time.

New rules are written. They’re simple and the mean that my practice becomes a much more self-contained experience.

Rules to Live By:

  1. Stop seeking criticism from people with no skin IN YOUR GAME. The rule is to write what you want, what you know, and what you’ve planned as fast or slow as you can.
  2. Build the world for “Distance,” “Winter City,” and “Friend of Bees” and other stories methodically and from scratch. Share and talk about ideas only with people you trust.
  3. Begin each story by outlining its plot and understand how it fits into the timeline.
  4. Take your time, spend as much time reading/editing what you’ve written as you spend writing.
  5. Get good at editing your own work.
  6. Remember that publication is only a milestone along any story’s trajectory. It’s not a goal, nor is making money. Keep this in mind when it feels like you’re wasting your time. You’ve written books, and not a lot of people can say that.
  7. Love your stories.
  8. Stop caring so much about a world that doesn’t give two shits about you.

Why so quiet?

Heyya friends,

This is a broad and potentially ranging post, but it should cover all our bases. At the end of last month, I experienced some sort of neurological event. I’ve been in and out of the ER now, probably more than met the annual deductible for our family, and, wow, still have no diagnosis.

Add to that heaping pile, I’m experiencing a problem with my speech. Aphasia, I can read, write and understand pretty much everything, but my mouth is having a difficult time making the words.

Yes, there are precursors of this issue in my writing. I’ve never been able to spell, and sometimes my mind sort of goes blank in the composition of a sentence or word and what comes out is a jumble of jibberish. Anyone who’s ever taken the time to edit for me knows this all too well. Thank the gods above for editors.

And yes, I’m way behind on my writing goals for the year. Go figure.

 

Ginnungagap

This morning over tea my wife and I clicked through a new life insurance policy questionnaire. She has meant to increase her level of coverage because what her job offers wouldn’t be a flash in the pan if she left us. I’ve been avoiding the conversation for all the usual reasons.

I’m loathed to consider my own demise. I’m even more frightened at the thought of the death of people I love. I’m afraid enough that I’ve never really bothered to name these fears.

And so here we are. What this blog seems to be to me is a crossroads, a place of decisions.

“Fear not death for the hour of your doom is set and none may escape it.”

― Volunga Saga

I’ve been reading (with my ears) the Saxon Chronicles by Bernard Cornwell. I’ve admired his protagonist Uhtred of Bebbanburg because of his unshakable belief in fate. Right now I’m on the second to the last book in the series, and even though Uhtred is an “old” man, by the standards of the time, he still feels the weavers’ hands on his thread. His faith in the Norns frees him to focus on whatever is before him. He is undistracted, always sharp, relentlessly moving through his own life with singular purpose.

“Destiny is all, Ravn liked to tell me, destiny is everything. He would even say it in English, “Wyrd biõ ful ãræd.”
― Bernard CornwellThe Last Kingdom

I find myself wanting for that surety.

I also marvel at the Cornwell’s voice. How he deftly transports his reader into his Uhtred’s vision of the world. Past the moral ambiguity of his actions and into the faith that the Fates weave his future. Yes, I love his action scenes. Sure enough, I feel my heart pound and my fires are stoked when Uhtred stands in the shield wall or when he faces Ubba beyond the hazel bows I feel his singular focus and the accomplishment of his victory. Cornwell is a master of character. Even when Uhtred is beset by ambiguity, self-doubt, or worse remorse Cornwell finds the way back to certainty. “I touched Thor’s Hammer,” and suddenly we know that Ginnungagap will consume all, the only thing that matters is what lies before us. The enemy beyond the iron clad edge of an ash shield.

“I touched Thor’s hammer, then Serpent-Breath’s hilt, for death was stalking us. God help me, I thought, touching the hammer again, Thor help us all, for I did not think we could win.”
― Bernard CornwellThe Pale Horseman

My fears? They are nothing other than the usual. Helplessness, loss, grief, oblivion; add to this I lack faith, there is no eternal Hall waiting for me when I die. Despite this I know there is the Ginnungagap and so I narrow my gaze and touch the hilt of my sword.