What’s a Tardis? (Chirdonathon, pt 2)

Greetings D2Dreeps.

Here we have the second installment of the Chirdonathon.

There are but two questions on the table:

1. Why should I become a full-blooded Whovian?

2. What is your Mt. Rushmore of cinema and television from across the pond?

Given the loquacious proclivities of our quartet of semi-sophisticated drunkards, the answers, with tangents and bursts of boisterous flair, are bountiful.

Have fun with this one.

We present to you, “What’s a Tardis? (Chirdonathon, pt 2)”

tardis night

Ego Dissolution Quartet: A Posthumous Primer

While I didn’t necessarily want to explain myself in the immediately previous and upcoming triad of posts, it strikes me as important to give you just a little more than the posts alone.

After several powerful experiences which will, for now, remain ambiguous because I’m still grasping their significance and lessons, I was inspired to compose a poetic quartet from my journey of self-acceptance, awareness, and enlightenment.  The post immediately before this one is part one of my Ego Dissolution Quartet (…thus, EDQ1…), “Last Night I Scratched the Surface.”  I sincerely appreciate your readership and willingness to comment and share.

Yes, this is a poem, as will be the upcoming EDQ installments.  And I know, these represent a fairly stark departure from recent posts.  However, they still fit firmly within a quadrant of the D2D universe (i.e., my brain…exposed to you through these posts, then [hopefully] integrated into a larger human network until some day, universe willing, we all recognize the interconnectedness and interdependence of everything).

Perhaps this will speak to you.  If so, please speak back.  Perhaps it will not.  To be entirely honest, in some ways this is not for you.  But as I mentioned above, it is ultimately not only *for* you, but I believe that it *is* you, which is me, which is everything.  Not part of everything.  Everything.  We cannot change the world until we change our perspective, disconnect from ego and reconnect with Truth.

(Well, can we get just one joke, Del Duca?  A little levity here?  Perhaps a cute, child-centered anecdote?)

Sure.

I find myself at an elementary school.  In a large courtyard whoop and frolic tens of children spanning first through third grades.  On a sidewalk sit several, all of whom wear Batman gear.  (The Batman gear has nothing to do with the punchline, but I found it interesting that this group of children, a group which included a stunning diversity of cultures, textures, and hues, made its momentary tribe that of the dark knight.)  A second-grade boy I know only superficially, here wearing an entire Batman Halloween costume, calls to me, “Hey.”  I shift my gaze, lift my eyebrows in non-verbal response.  “Do you know what your blood type is?”  I look at the other Batpeople to see if anyone else finds this inquiry unusual.  They don’t.  At all.  In fact, they’re all looking up expectantly.  Mildly confused and, admittedly, embarrassed, I respond, “No, I don’t.”  Brief awkward silence.  I tag, “Do you know yours?!” And immediately, “I’m negative O.”  (‘Negative O,’ I think, ‘That’s an interesting way to say that.’) They turn back to each other, finished with me and my unidentified blood.  I retreat, silently dismissed.

And thus, here is a small bit of proof that there is something new under the sun.

Always something new under the sun.

-G

batmen_by_jsenior-d7d0cbt
We are the Batman. Type Negative O.

Last Night I Scratched the Surface (EDQ1)

Last night, I scratched the surface of the surface of Truth.

Licorice tea and
sacred,
healing,
revealing medicine…

… in relationship…

…I sat among men…

…within the universe.

An insignificant speck upon an insignificant speck within a barely noticeable system of specks all hurtling endlessly on a spiral arm of a vibrating pulse of energy in an inconceivable ocean of everything.

Insignificant yet…

…part of everything.

Last night I scratched the surface of the surface of everything.

I scratched myself.
No self.
All selves.

We delved, rejoiced, rejoined.

I dissipated

i     n       t         o

e     v      e       r        y         t          h           i            n             g.

Last night Truth scratched the surface of the surface of me.

I stared in a mirror.
A man in a mirror.
At…ME…in a mirror.
atmeinamirror.
At man in a mirror.
(Atman in a [Mirror)ing Atman]

Everything.
Nothing.
Fuck things.

Last night I scratched the surface of the surface of a realization.

Enlightenment.

(…and…)

The bulb shattered.

sacred
(source)

85% (a gentle update)

I just reread this post, and I grieve a little bit for my former self.  Not that I want him back, (…yikes, no!…) but if I could go back one year and offer anything to Gregorythen…Gregorynow would give him a fully present hug, then communicate that I totally understand the place from where all the frustration comes, that he is totally justified in his exasperation, and then I would remind him that this kind of soap-box-standing, final-judgement-proclaiming, I’m-just-right-and-my-fingers-are-in-my-ears-so-fuck-off attitude gets nobody anywhere.  Actually, it’s worse than that…it pushes all of us backward.  I would tell Gregorythen,  “First and foremost, the anxiety and anger are shaving minutes off of your life…our life.  So really, take a fucking breath, man.  Second, you are alienating everyone except for whatever tiny little passionate choir is rocking ecstatically in the aisles.  You’ve become the very person you hate the most, the person who sees nothing but what he sees and then travels about like a drum major for personal dogma.  You’re better than that.”  Now, I’m not going to mess with what’s written below.  Why?  Because Gregorythen was a real person, with real emotions, and his thoughts deserve to be here.  Gregorynow has no regrets.  A wise person once told me, the universe makes no mistakes, but there are oversights.

Take care.

-G

I attended an award ceremony at my step-daughter’s middle-school today. I attended a similar gathering last year. It was the big “transition to middle-school” celebration. The principal invited a surprise guest speaker, an evangelical Christian minister who delivered to the audience of fifth grade public school students and their families, including this agnostic blowhard, his stock motivational speech. He had a wireless headset, Madonna-from-the-80’s style, wrapping around from his ear with a visible microphone hovering just inches before his stunningly coiffed nest and cosmetically enhanced face. There was stage make up for sure. I wouldn’t be surprised if botox was involved. He wore a suit with a black mock turtleneck instead of a traditional oxford-and-tie, perhaps to communicate what he perceived to be a perfect amount of casualness to the pre-teen set. That he felt this would endear him to a group of antsy and disinterested 11 year olds and a full auditorium that smelled like stale smoke, uncleansed nether regions, and a peculiar foundation of mold (…were people allowing their clothes to “dry” in the washing machine?…) was laughable. His presentation could have easily been directed at an evangelical bible-study convention. It probably had been. There were certain anecdotes, akin to that mock turtleneck, that were intended to capture and amuse the middle-school audience. These generally fell flat. (Full disclosure, I was fucking steaming. My wife needed to talk me off the ledge, keep me in my seat, and punch my leg frequently to shut me up. So, perhaps the pastor and his unequivocally evangelical message within the context of a public school award ceremony actually played well to many of the community members around me.) He certainly got laughter from pockets of the crowd, a few “Amen” responses (…in a fucking public school…), and healthy applause after he finished his, I kid you not, almost 30 minute bible thump. The entire experience was likely more indicative that I didn’t belong there rather than the Joel Osteen doppelganger. Add to that my Bermuda triangle of human social foible, which included my frustrated wife frequently tagging my thigh with her clenched knuckles, an exceptionally boisterous public figure behind me constantly plugging his head next to mine and often elbowing me (…without any recognition or apology…) to speak with the person to my right, another public figure who was unenthused by the speaker as well, but clearly out of catty jealousy. I’m no medical professional, but I believe both of these public figures had chronic halitosis. Shit breath. Literally. Breath that smelled like sewage. I swear, my gym’s locker room smells better (…at least it’s a consistent and predictable odor…) than these packed auditoriums. Fun times.

Please forgive my massive digression.

So…ahem…

I attended an award ceremony at my step-daughter’s middle-school today.

188 of 225 middle school students received academic awards.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

188 of 225. That’s almost 85% of the entire sixth grade with an awardable academic achievement. And the administrator at the microphone actually lauded the class for such exceptional work. Furthermore, he bemoaned the 37 children who did not receive awards, most of which were sitting in the audience. I think. Unless they were trapped in a study-hall somewhere sucking in fresh, deodorized air and not listening to 188 phonetically butchered names in a fog of human funk.

A close friend sat next to me when it was explained that 188 of 225 students received awards. “That can’t be right,” is what popped out of her mouth. “That isn’t right,” is what popped into my brain. I’m not sure where to go with this, actually. So either…85% of the sixth grade are doing exceptionally well academically, in reality. Or…that shit is watered down like a well drink during happy hour. And if we’re inflating grades, what is the particular problem of the 37 children who did not get a certificate? I imagine these are the “problem kids,” the students who are both academically and emotionally at risk but who don’t have any additional supports. I’m not sure that those certificates mean a goddamn thing, but I believe we’re for-sure failing those 37 children who did not get even a pat on the back for showing up.

So what’s wrong?

Leadership. Wonky-ass politicized religion-driven leadership. It’s perhaps the problem. THE problem. Private sector executives attempting to run schools like corporations, elected school board members staking socio-economic, racial, and/or neighborhood territory without a macro view of what’s best for all taxpayers, constituents, educators, staff, and children. Mostly children. Evangelical principals who are being guided by God more than anything learned in actual experience, research, training, and professional development. And these fucking tests. (You can refer back to my previous post, #PSSA2015 for more on that.)

In Pennsylvania, the common core (…profit-driven standardized testing written by who-the-fuck-knows but certainly not educators or developmental specialists…) has changed. Here’s an example of what an essay question for first graders used to look like:

Write about your favorite part of the book, Welcome to the Rainforest. Did you like this story? Why?

And here’s what it’s going to look like now:

Using the book, Welcome to the Rainforest, write an opinion piece explaining what the most important gift the rain forest plants offer us. State your opinion and support it by using evidence from the text. Reread your writing and check for capitals and periods. Does your writing make sense?

A first grader could be anywhere between 6 and 8 years old. Go ahead, read that fucking new question again. Receptively process it. Perhaps you even want to give it a shot expressively. Who wrote that? (It’s grammatically incorrect, that first sentence.) Is there any conceivable way that a typically developing, even a fucking gifted 6 year old could process that? Read it, understand it, formulate a response, write that response, and then read back over the response to ensure the response does, “make sense” as the shit-for-brains asking the question requires? Now imagine this…you’re a teacher, or a principal, and your budget, your salary, your job depends upon a group of 6 year olds responding to this question in such a way as to achieve a score determined by some for-profit curriculum or standardized test corporation. You have a choice, try to teach to this test and become a frustrated, angry, burned-out, skeptical, underpaid, under-represented, shell of the person you were when you entered your training program…or what? Fucking quit? Commit suicide? I don’t know, because if you’re job actually matters to your well-being then you really don’t have a choice, do you?

Let’s try another.

Here’s a question from a second grader’s math homework in Pittsburgh Public Schools:

Stretch Your Thinking: Brian has some boxes of paper clips. Some boxes hold 10 clips and some boxes hold 100. He has some paper clips left over. He has three more boxes with 100 paper clips than he has boxes with 10 paper clips. He has two fewer paper clips left over than he has numbers of boxes with 100 paper clips. What number of paper clips could he have?

That, my friends is an algebra-laden logic problem and even I needed just a little time to organize before solving. I’m 40 and I got nearly a perfect score on the logic section of my G.R.E. exam. Again, try to conceive of ANY 7 or 8 year old child processing this, then figuring out what needs to happen to even arrive at the potential solution. Nay, solutions.

I feel entirely lost.

I’m teaching young educators at a local University, and after reading their reflections and listening to their pre- and post-class discussions and engaging in dialogue with them…I really don’t know why anybody enters educational or service related fields. Don’t know. Students are coming out of universities with six figures of debt and the potential to make nowhere near enough to live, pay off said loans, and engage in preparation and professional development to ensure cutting edge best practices. What percentage of school-based professionals work one or two additional jobs just to kind-of make it? A recent study expressed in U.S. News and World Reports indicated that between 10% and upwards of 30% in several states. (Link here.) If you don’t think this is entirely and unacceptably fucked up, then you’re either not paying attention, don’t give a shit, or you’re rolling through life with your fingers in your ears, blinders on your eyes, going, “blahhhhhhhhhhhh,” to keep out all uncomfortable information and any counter-“But this is what I think because they told me to think it and I can’t possible listen to anyone else or do a little research or soul searching or self critique because if they’re wrong then I’m wrong and holy shit that means I need to reassess everything and I just can’t deal with that right now”-narrative.

Wow. That sentence, and the essay, got away from me, didn’t it?!

Folks really, how can we fix this thing? How can we make sure our education systems, from preschool through post-graduate studies, work? And what is your definition of “work” as it relates to what an education system should do? Shit, let’s get to the foundation. Do you care about children and families outside of yours? Outside of your street? Your community? City? State? Country? The question gets very big very quickly, but I think it’s important. I get bogged down in the macro and long view all the time. It totally overwhelms me, but I think it’s so important that I have to fight the justifiable human urge to do exactly what I chided at the end of the large paragraph just above. (“I’m not listening…I’m not listening…I’m not listening.”) So I fight, and I struggle, and I work myself up into an anxious jumble-brain, and I think so deeply and emotionally that I have these two amazing furrows between my eyes that cause people to constantly ask me, “Are you okay?”

I’m interested in this dialogue and being a piece of the solution.

Help.

-G

06b-Wall-Scream2-2633

(All in all, you’re just another brick in the wall.)

By the way, “The Wall” was released on November 30th, 1979.
36 years later, and these lyrics still ring hauntingly true.

Shaler Rollin’ (Chirdonathon, pt 1)

Hey there, D2Dreeps.  Are you ready for a marathon of Chirdon…a…Chirdonathon?

Sure you are.  I promise.

Here we (…Greg, Heather, Chris, Jeff, […Ralph, Johnnie too…]…) sample a variety of Wigle spirits.

Here Greg guides a tasting.  A tad inebriated, but still a sturdy guide.  (Likely if you read that immediately previous phrase too quickly, you processed, “study guide,” but that’s not what it says.  Look again.  Yep.  Sturdy.) Guide.

Here we learn about the origins of this quartet.  Like the Beatles, but without all the fame and musical talent, though Jeffrey can fart the Star Spangled Banner if you give him enough cheap Canadian bacon.

Here we talk about the Atari 2600 game, “E.T. The Extraterrestrial,” (…redundant much, Spielberg…) and Steve, the bird who sounds like perhaps your chair is squeaking.  (Don’t worry, your chair isn’t squeaking.  That’s Steve. [Actually, what the hell do I know?  Your chair may very well be squeaking.  Annoying, innit?  But so is Steve.  Not annoying…squeaking.  And that might annoy you.  It shouldn’t though…really he’s kinda cute.  Oh hell, Steve will be, particularly near the beginning of the podcast, at least one thing squeaking in your ear.  That I know.  End of paragraph.])

Here we discuss the things that made and make us…and, if we’re being entirely honest, will continue to make us…drink.

Here we end the podcast with no closing music given time constraints and the fact that the Greg typing this post is currently too damn drunk to figure shit out.  (So why is he trying to post this right now?)  Good question, ask that drunk asshole.  (Which is me.)  So ask me.  (But I won’t answer, so don’t ask.)

K?

K

We present to you, “Shaler Rollin’ (Chirdonathon, pt 1).”

Shaler
ShAT. Shaler Area Titans. Yeah. The acronym is ShAT.

 

I Have Questions.

As most of you know, I’m a pediatric speech therapist.  (I’ve dropped the “pathologist” title for personal reasons. Truly, I’m done pathologizing everyone, everything, and every behavior.  Also, as I’ve communicated in the past, I don’t view any person as broken or needing to be fixed.  I’m neither passing judgment on other clinicians nor subversively claiming superiority over anyone.  I’m finding me.)

Many of the families with whom I work have sought alternative education/school options for their children, primarily because of the resource challenges faced by public school systems, but also because of cultural and value considerations.  These families seek stability and safety for their children as well as acceptance, inclusion, and a spirit of collaboration and innovation.  These are not unreasonable pursuits.  Furthermore, as tax payers and civic-minded citizens, many of these families support and attempt to remain with public education facilities.

I have questions.

How do schools measure student to teacher ratio and class size?  Is it straightforward and transparent?

What is the ideal student to teacher ratio for maximum student learning across diverse, inclusive, classroom populations?

What is the ideal class size for student relationships, feelings of safety and success, and classroom cohesion?

Does it matter if a class cohort remains relatively stable?  And how many years is stable enough to promote classroom cultural cohesion?  Prekindergarten through 12th grade?  Or less?

Furthermore, is one teacher per class ideal?

Should we practice full inclusion?  If so, how does that impact the answers to the above questions?  If not, why?  And how does that impact the answers to the above questions?

Should public school funding be tagged exclusively to property values surrounding said schools?

If not, how might we better ensure equitably “free and appropriate public education” in “least restrictive environments” for all schools?

If so, should we then try to tackle the resource problems facings schools in neighborhoods with high percentages of rental and/or subsidized properties as well as relatively low values?

What does, “free and appropriate education” mean?

What does, “least restrictive environment” mean?

What does, “inclusion” mean?

Honestly, people, I cannot find decent, replicated, peer-reviewed research regarding any of this.

Almost all of these questions have been answered, however.  By politicians.  By school boards…which are so often de facto political action committees in which sub-factions strive for specific, self-serving ends.  By media pundits.  Likely by you.  Certainly by me.

Think about that.  Instead of being a research-driven endeavor with an ultimate goal of producing well-educated, well-rounded, self-sufficient, motivated and energized citizens…it is a political shell game premised on socio-economic, religious, cultural, and racial dogma.

Go visit a university-based laboratory school, or any research-driven/supported educational environment.  Most of the politicized, unsubstantiated, and fear-based myths of inclusion, integration, gender equity, transdisciplinary collaboration, and progressive approaches are proven flat-out wrong.

Yet, I still need to ask these questions, and I’m hoping that some of you might have answers, or resources through which I can seek and perhaps even answer these questions.

There must be a better way through what has become an impenetrable jungle, and perhaps we need to clear it.

Remember this?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same.

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no steps had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I-
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

At times I feel like perhaps we need to step further than Robert Frost’s sentient sentiment.  At times I’m sure that another, a third path (…and likely a fourth and fifth and sixth ad infinitum…), one that is certainly NOT worn about the same, calls to us.  We seek not it, though it finds us…particularly if we’ve opened our senses and our hearts to the calling.  And we must wear the path, clamber through the thorns and prickles, bleeding and sweating and crying.  Together.

Two roads diverged in a wood, and we –
We made a third because we see,
That it will make all the difference.

-G

Forest

No, That’s Not Jim Lampley. (Mark, pt 5)

We begin with my Mt. Rushmore of sports-entertainment wrestling. Keep in mind, this is mine and I claim no more than that. I entered the world of wrestling in the vicinity of 1984 with all of the passion of a pudgy, awkward ten-year old after I moved to Connecticut, and I exited that world, and Connecticut, in 1989 with equal abruptness and all the passion of a skinny, still awkward, and now pubescent fourteen-year-old who just had his mind cracked open by GnR’s, “Appetite for Destruction” and a VHS porn I found in the recesses of some forbidden drawer.

(Yeah, I know.  It’s a lot to process.  Just let it go and move on.  I did.)

So…here goes.

1. Hulk Hogan (…because…Hulk Hogan.)
2. Dwayne Johnson (…because…he’s like Hulk Hogan times Hollywood minus all of the Hogan BS.)
3. Rocky Johnson (…that’s the Rock’s dad.  He was a straight up, no gimmick bad ass…as was his tag team partner Tony Atlas.  Actually, his only gimmick involved his pecs, several tattoes on said pecs, and the movement of said tattos on said pecs.  Check out this video of the Soul Patrol.)
4. Bob Backlund (…the first match I ever watched, on a console television, involved Bob Backlund.  Backlund ushered in the Hogan era via the Iron Sheik. Also, I just love a crazy ginger.)

Mark then goes WWE/F “inside baseball” and leans quite Lampley as he describes his Mt. Rushmore of wrestling music and gimmickry. His decision, without much thought and yet with five cocktails coursing through his blood:

1. Hulk Hogan, “Real American.” (But seriously, this is a horrible song.  Lyically, musically, vocally…it’s a triple-decker heaping pile of poo on a platter.  And the video.  It highlights all that was actually wrong with the 80’s.  This is my opinion only.  Not Mark’s. Not yours.  But hey, it’s my blog.)
2. Dwayne Johnson, “If you smell what the Rock is cookin‘.”
3. Randy Savage, “Pomp and Circumstance.
4. C.M. Punk, “Cult of Personality.”

(Later, Mark would mention the Undertaker’s gimmick, and how it should likely be on this list.  So, there it is parenthetically. And here it is on Fallon.)

Things kind of spiral from here, but the ride was fun…and as the cars return to the point from which they began, we close out this quintet of quirk and anti-quotidian chaos with one of the hardest, most-head-bangingest songs of the late 80’s, “Cult of Personality,” by Living Color.

Oh, and I should mention, we begin this final leg of our marktastic journey with one of the chillest, funkiest, hippy-dippiest tunes from the same year (1988), “What I Am,” by Edie Brickell & New Bohemians.

We present to you, “No, That’s Not Jim Lampley.  (Mark, pt 5).”

Lampley
THAT…is Jim Lampley.

Is That Jim Lampley? (Mark, pt 4)

We start with a fairly loaded and deep question, which is always an adventure four cocktails in.

Has the ubiquity of social media culture and a 24 hour news cycle dominated by said social media created the precise opposite of what it might ideally? Which is, a world community both massively misinformed and ironically more xenophobic, exclusive, and isolated because of our tendency to seek only the information that confirms our most rigid, biased, and colloquial of beliefs and sensibilities? As with all tools, social media is both a curse and a blessing…depending on the hands that wield it and the brains that interpret it. The world has shrunk to the size of an iPhone. In terms of information and human contact, the world has quite literally shrunk to the size of the device on which you’re reading this right now. That’s fucking amazing. Such technology should, ideally (I think), create a more interconnected, inclusive, and well-informed humanity. Maybe it mostly is. Maybe it’s just that those seeking only the “data” that allows them to rest easily at night knowing that all that they believed to be true and right is, in “fact,” true and right are the loudest, most prominent and, in many ways, most influential voices poking through the overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips.

Jesus, that got away from me. Sorry. Anyway, we ask and answer that question. Kind of. But drunk. Absolutely.

We talk Bill Simmons, in many ways our ideal journalistic voice and unquestionable babyface; Barry Melrose, the hockey commentary equivalent of a carny “heel” and ESPN company man; and Mark Madden, an actual wrestling heel turned local (Pittsburgh) sports journalist and firebrand.

We close out this penultimate Luczcast with Mark’s WWE “Mt. Rushmore.” Spoiler: It’s Ric Flair, Shawn Michels, Dwayne Johnson, and Vince McMahon.

The Music? “Billy Jean” and “Workin’ Day and Night” by MJ.

We present to you, “Is That Jim Lampley? (Mark, pt 4).”

 

HulkHogan
Yo dawg, I heard you like Hulk Hogan…so we put Hulk Hogan’s face on Hulk Hogan’s face so Hulkamania runs wild on you, brother, while Hulkamania runs wild on you, brother.

Geriatric Gymtimidation

Throughout my adult life, I’ve belonged to various gyms.  I began at non-franchised, individually-owned and operated facilities.  I shifted to slightly larger establishments with several locations, still owned by people whose hands I could shake and with small enough membership that I found ease of social interaction.  Then I made the leap to the franchised, “Anytime Fitness.”  Notably, it still maintained the feel of community.  Each ATF felt a bit different and reflected the personalities of the owners, trainers, employees, and communities in which they existed.

And then came Planet Fitness, which I sometimes affectionately and sometimes divisively deem my, “McGym,” or “Sweatbucks.”

To paraphrase Don Vito Corleone, they made an offer I couldn’t refuse and provided a brand-new, super clean, well-organized and phenomenally stocked facility.  I joined.

Planet Fitness claims to despise “lunks” and promises an intimidation-free atmosphere.  “No gymtimidation.”  I love a good word-play, and that fits the bill.

In theory, I absolutely support this.  There is no reason to activity intimidate people.  Also, there are men and women who grunt and scream and moan to an extent that is disturbing to say the least and quite aggressively intimidating to say the most.  (Keep in mind, when one is engaged in a focused, rigorous workout, be it aerobic, anaerobic, core, body-weight, or Olympic…one is going to sweat, breath hard, moan and grunt a bit.  It’s natural.)  My fear, at PF, was that there would be absolutely no recognition of this reality and that some douchebag would be hitting the lunk alarm every time I breathed out hard.  This has not been the case, and although they don’t have free weights over 80 pounds, there is certainly enough at the gym to get ANY workout short of that of an aspiring weight-lifter, professional boxer, or higher-level athlete.

Alright then.  No intimidation.  No lunks.

And the assumptions?  That lunks are young, muscular, gallon-jug-toting dudes.  Also, apparently certain free weights and equipment are, simply by their existence, anthropomorphically intimidating.  I have yet to fully figure this one out, but who am I to complain when I’m paying $10/month?

I’m somebody, dammit…so here’s my $10 worth of complaining!

Who in corporate decided that anything above a 75lb dumbbell is intimidating, but 75lb and below is not?  And that a 30lb kettle bell is great, but 40lb would strike fear and discomfort into the hearts of the sweating masses?  Battle ropes?  Fine.  A trampoline into which one can toss heavy medicine balls to then catch the flying projectiles?  Fine.  But a heavier bell?  Bring that shit to a Trump rally.  Not in our uber-inclusive, but kind-of not, gym.

And…what happens when the gymtimidation comes from a cantankerous old woman?

I shit you not.

I’d hit a routine of entering the 30-minute circuit room in the vicinity of 8:00 a.m., Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays.  I did my thing.  Headphones on.  Wiping everything down.  Being super aware of the people around me, if there were any, and accommodating my workout to ensure that I got in nobody’s way, without intimidation.

One week, a sturdy, white-haired lady began entering the fray.

And she wasn’t doing the circuit correctly…but I didn’t say anything.  See, the room is set up like a horseshoe…10 machines on the outside and 10 handled steps on the inside.  Signage all around indicates that people should move around the room in the following fashion: cardio on a step, muscles on a machine.  It’s not necessary to go 1,2,3,4, etc.  But wherever one chooses to begin, say step 13, one should then continue in order through 20, then to 1 and up through 12.

Well, this lady decided to kind of skip around.  It was never clear where she’d start, where she’d move, nor how long she’d stay at a station.

The room has a very simple red light/green light system.  The green light remains lit for 1 minute, and it means: work.  Then it flashes, and a red light comes on for 30 seconds.  That means: rest/reset & wipe-down machine.  Flash, then green.  Work.  Flash, then red.  Rest.

I had the system down, and suddenly a wild card entered.  And not just one.  Others made up their own rules, but they remained aware, kind, and mindful.

But not this lady.

If I happened to be at or near a machine or step which she decided, often mid-green-light, was the most important place to be then and there, she would stop dramatically, roll her eyes, and shoot me a murderous glance.  If looks could kill, she would have decapitated me and any unsuspecting truck driver out back of the facility making a delivery.  Her face twisted into a contemptuous murderer’s mask for a second.

This happened once.  Twice.  Thrice.  It became a pattern.  At first it kind of frightened me, but I eventually came to despise her and her dumb face.

I changed my workout routine to avoid her…but then she’d apparently decided to change her workout routine…perhaps also to avoid but ultimately in alignment with me!

Could I travel to the front desk and make a report?  A fit, sweating, intense 41-year old reporting a kindly old lady?

Yes, kindly.  I saw her face change often.  When it wasn’t me, she looked like somebody’s Nana.  Happy.  Like she’d give you a dollar, a banana, and a kiss on the cheek…the smell of lilac and denture wash lingering in the immediate atmosphere.  Her resting face was absolutely neutral and pleasant.  But for me?  It was more like, “Throw Nana from the Train.”

About 2 weeks into this, I had my water bottle sitting on a step to which I planned to go next and which was many stations away from Nana.  She turned, looked at my water bottle, and did the eye roll, sigh, Necronomicon face.  I paused my music.  “I’m so sorry if I’m in your way.  Please just let me know where you’ll be going and I’ll be sure to be entirely out of your way.”  I was calm…outside, and mostly calm inside.  I needed to confront her.  And her response?  A flippant, “No, it’s fine.  There’s plenty of room.”  What.  The.  Fuck?  Perhaps she had no idea what she was doing?  Perhaps she just didn’t want to deal with honest, direct confrontation and resolution?  I don’t know.  But I collected my shit and went somewhere else.  Steamy as a sauna with a broken thermometer.

Here’s the thing, though.  From that point forward, I’ve received only neighborly waves and smiles from her.  We’re not gym-friends.  We don’t chat.  But we positively acknowledge each other.

I still avoid the room when she’s in it, and we seem to have settled-in to opposing routines.

But Planet Fitness.

Is it possible that you might more generally, inclusively define “intimidation” and “lunk.”  Lunk is a state of being, not a specific body-type or gender.  Intimidation can occur between any demographic.  Also, the only thing that makes an object intimidating is my inability to move it combined with insecurity, mild narcissism, and an unrealistic desire to have the object moved.  What sucks in this particular case is that I fall near enough the stereotypical circles of both lunk and intimidator (A Sven diagram…here to pump, you, up!)  that I’m left with nothing but this venue.  I can’t get a straight answer from anyone up the administrative chain at Planet Fitness.  But then, I’m only paying $10 per month for a new, clean, 24-hour facility.  So really, I should STFU…which I’ll do right now.

-G

ADDENDUM

Nana.  We’re like besties now.  We continued as acquaintances at the gym.  I noticed she came with a small group of other Nanas.  Four total.  The golden girls.  Last week, I was moving through the core/ab circuit room and I noticed one of the golden girls, not throw Nana from the train, waving me over.  I pulled out my headphones and said, “Hi!”  (Actually, more like, “Hi?…”) “How do you use this?”  It was an abdominal machine that allowed for traditional crunches, reverse crunches, or both simultaneously.  I put on my trainer/teacher hat and I helped the ladies learn the machine.  They were super positive.  I gave them a quick tutorial and moved about my business, and we’ve all been copacetic since.

The moral of the story?  Be nice.

-G

Meathead
Meathead

Special Annahncement

To all the yinzers I’ve loved before.  Who’ve trampled dirt all dahn my floors.  Yinz know dem floors need warshed.  I cannawt eat your borscht. (Gawt GERD n’at.)  To all the yinzers I’ve loved…before.

Uhh…oh yeah, special announcement:

The computer on which I store much of the Driven2Drink writing and all of the podcasting shit the bed. It’s currently unclear how completely shat upon is said bed, but for now…this is the post.

Yep, that’s it.

A wonderful friend of the endeavor…in fact, the very friend whose appearance on the D2D podcast is currently being released in segments…is helping me figure out if we need a new computer, a new bed, or just a sheet change.  (I know, the analogy has been worn thin.)

(passage of time)

(further passage of time)

And…he fixed it.  Glory be to the gods of information technology…and Mark.

So…I’ll be posting the regular Wednesday post either tomorrow or Friday and we should be back to regular for the next duo of podcasts on Saturday.

I love yinz.  Yinz love me.  We’re a drunken fa-mi-ly.  With a great big hug and kiss from me to yinz.  I sure hope daah Penguin wins.

(That is grammatically incorrect not only for the rhyme but also for the French Canadian to English awkwardness. Sore-ee.)

-G

huntz
Ain’t yinz guys gawt Heinz, n’at?! Jagawfs!