Saturday, June 30, 2007

Rub Me Tender?

Anyone who has read my blog for the past four months knows that I'm a retard. That is to say, my hand is retarded, which is to say, it's not capable of learning at an appropriate level in comparison to other hands in similar situations. Point being: It's not working. It's still not working.

I have tried acupuncture, with no results. I have never found acupuncture to be painful, until needles were stuck into my face, deep into my traps, and painstakingly into my hands. I have been poked, prodded, mangled, and violated. Which would be awesome if my hand worked. It doesn't. I still can't move a few of my fingers laterally.

Last week, I went to the SD Fair, and while there and chomping upon deep-fried avocado and a BBQ turkey leg, I came upon a masseuse. For ten bucks or so, I was able to get a 12-minute massage. From a man. My first massage ever from a man. I sat in this inclined massaged chair, my face shoved into this hole for me to breathe through, and I was rubbed down by an Asian man with big, strong (and working) hands.

It felt good.

I decided the next day to get a real massage in hopes that this would help my hand to work again. I also decided to have a man do it. This was ultimately a mistake.

The second I saw David, the masseuse, he looked unkempt, but heterosexual. He is about 6'2", and weighs about 130 lbs. His rail-thin physique was adorned with tattered, "hippy-ish" clothing, and his beard was smooshed and disarrayed like a recently stepped on cockroach. He came to meet me in the waiting room to tell me he would be a few minutes late with our "session." We shook hands; he smiled. He had a very strong grip.

Eventually, David took me back into his massage parlor (uh-oh), and asked me a few personal (yet only medical) questions. I could tell, instantly, that although he was setting it up that he would change he massaging technique based on my answers, that he was the type of person that gave the same massage every day, all day, without exception. I know teachers like him. I wasn't easily fooled...but I continued to answer his questions so we both could pretend like he wasn't a jackass. It was harder for me than him.

After he finished his inquisition, the first thing that David said to me was I "should get undressed to a level that made me comfortable." Well, for me, that would have meant NOT getting undressed, but I played along, and only left my shorts and underwear on. I placed myself on the table and waited for David to re-enter his den of inequities.

Upon his return, he pulled the sheet completely over me and I felt a sense of relief. He started massaging me through the sheet and he wasn't actually going to touch me skin-on-skin. This was a weird thing to desire of a masseuse, but it made me more comfortable, and I literally hoped that this would continue and I wouldn't want to retch at any point within the next 60 minutes. My hopes were crushed by David.

He decided he would use a technique called Tui Na. It literally involved a lot of him rolling and shaking me. Not very relaxing. He rolled, and rolled, and rolled his hands and forearms around my entire body. And even though I would flinch at his touching of my ass and hamstrings, he continued to roll his way into disgusting the hell out of me.

This rolling of my lower extremities, even though I was there for my hand, continued for about 45 minutes. I remember thinking the experience wasn't all that bad at that point. I might even come back and see him again if I had any ass pain. He loved massaging my ass...and I guess on some level, I don't blame him. Ha!

With about 3/4 of our session done, he said his magical phrase, and things went downhill fast.

"Alright, Mark. When you're comfortable, I want you to roll over."

I instantly felt uneasy. He started massaging my chest, my head, and my neck...this time, without the sheet and with lots of massage oil. I kept praying to god not to get some random erection and make this guy think I liked what he was doing. Thankfully, nausea makes it almost impossible for me to get aroused.

He really started massaging my neck and shoulders, his pelvis placed firmly against the back of my head. I kept squirming. And I know I looked like a kid who just took cough syrup. But he kept going. And he started a mantra, of sorts:

"Give your neck to me, Mark."

That's what he said. Every time I squirmed away from his slimy, overpowering grip, he would sigh, deeply, and say:

"Give your neck to me, Mark."

Well, if that isn't rape, I don't know what is. "I aint giving shit to you," I thought. I felt tense, and my body was becoming more tightened than when I entered. When he was done having his way with me, he told me he would meet me outside while I got dressed. Like a typical male, he lied. He wasn't there. He had no "goodbyes" for me. No "thank yous." He used me. He got what he wanted, and he was gone.

I moped off into the distance. Hand still not working. I gave David my money, but not my neck. And I waited for another bright idea to pop into my head...

It was to try Yoga.

***to be continued***

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Picture Caption Contest




Who can come up with the funniest caption for this photo? That is some stingray expert, a stingray, then me, then Tauni (yes, in that order).

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Calling All Blogging Nerds

Can anyone tell me how to fix my "side bar information" on the right of this screen so that my profile pic, archives, and links remain at the top of the page, instead of falling to the bottom of this page?

Monday, June 18, 2007

3/10/05

To round out this century saga, I thought I would post (eek) a short story I wrote over TWO years ago now. It has some biking BS in it (probably the worst part of the story). I remember the day I took this ride, and I thought about it from time-to-time when I was on my rides for TNT. I also thought about my dad a lot on my rides, when I wasn't thinking about how fun/hard the entire process was.

Father's Day was yesterday; a day I don't give much thought to. But maybe this story was about my dad. Maybe he was the friend of the friend. I don't really know. I know my dad was wise. I know he knew more than I do.

With that said, here's the story. Some of my closer friends have seen it before. I haven't changed anything, so you don't need to read it again. It's called Mountain Biking To Vegas.

Here it is:

I was having lunch with an amazingly insightful person this afternoon, and she presented me some of that passing knowledge that amazing people pass on. She did it in the fashion that amazing people bestow life lessons: briefly, with a smile, telling her story not as an “I told you so,” but more as an “I know and so should you.”

I have this friend she said whose grandmother called him one day. Don’t amazing people always happen to have these “friends?” They have friends that do these amazingly simple things, when all my friends do is drink beer. And this friend went out and didn’t mention to anyone he would be gone for the day. So the grandmother called, the first time at 10:00 AM., not knowing that her grandson was not home and having ZERO idea where he was: “William, it’s your grandmother. I must have missed you. Give me a call when you get in.” Well, some time passed, and grandmothers not having much to do, she called again about noon.

She called again? I asked. Being drawn into the story. Believing it to be true. I was waiting for my soup, what else was I to do but be drawn in?

Just listen. Smile broadening but stern.

Fuck. I thought. I get a little antsy when I’m hungry.

So the grandmother called again at noon. And left another message: “William, it’s your grandmother again…give me a call honey.” And throughout the day, she called again and again and again. Obsessing, almost, to get through. Not realizing…just acting.

Uh-huh was all I could manage. I knew there was a point, but I was missing it. I didn’t want to appear stupid, so I fumbled around with my napkin and pretended like I saw something important on it.

Eventually, William returned home.

Whew I thought. Maybe I hadn’t missed it, after all.

He listened to his messages, at first with amusement then with concern then with amusement again, until he got to the last message, the tenth message.

Ten messages?

Yes, ten.


I see. Thinking now that maybe this was an analogy and not a real story. I could never tell with her. I guess it didn’t matter. I just nodded my head and furrowed my brow…the “I am with you” look.

The tenth message was the most interesting to him, and why he even bothered telling me this story. In the tenth message, the grandmother had obviously given up and “realized” why her grandson was not calling her back: “William honey, it’s your grandmother again. I guess you went to Vegas for the weekend. When you get home, can you give me a call?”

And then she stopped. And she looked more toward instead of at me. She gave me the “I’m done” look that she gives, leaving me alone with my thoughts, and I hated her when she did that. My soup had been sitting in front of me for a few minutes now. She smirked and said Why don’t you eat, your soup is getting cold. I loved her when she allowed me to retreat from flailing. It was one of her best qualities.

I dipped my spoon in my soup and stopped, looking up at her. I felt her staring at me now, more than toward. I quipped, Las Vegas. Shook my head, pretending like I got it.

Las Vegas.

*****

I went biking today, and I had a thought. I’m sure this thought has been thought before. Often times, I am certain that every one of my thoughts has been handed down to me. I try to have unique thoughts. I do. But I am smarter than that. How in the Hell do I do that anyway?

But sometimes, I have a thought that is new to me, personally. And it is these kinds of thoughts that make me stick my chest out because I’m trying. I’m trying.

I was going up this one particularly large hill. I was pumping away at the wheels, standing up and racing to get to the top. I hit the top, and got to the best part of any bike ride, so I thought. The part where you glide down the down hill, wind in your face, feeling accomplished and free.

I came to another hill, even bigger than before and my heart sank as I am out of shape and didn’t want to go up another one….but I did, and at the top of this hill, was a flat piece of land that stretched on for miles. I am new to this area, and exploring it was simultaneously frightening and eye opening.

While on this flat stretch, I had my thought that I know has been had before. But I didn’t care. I was looking at some houses and smelling some flowers in the air, reminding myself of my last time in Hawaii. The sense of smell, they say, is the number one invoker of memory.

I thought to myself that life is a lot like mountain biking. I thought to myself that when riding up hill, all people do is concentrate on getting up that one hill. They don’t see the houses. They don’t see the trees. They may catch glimpses, but hell, when legs are burning, what do these glimpses matter? Don’t we just want the pain to stop? And for Pete’s sake, there are just going to be more hills, tougher hills. And no matter how many I conquer, those same hills are going to be there. Maybe I became better…maybe if I biked every day for a month. But there is always going to be someone who goes up the hill faster, better; someone that has mastered another hill, a more important hill to them…maybe even (shudder) a more important hill to me.

So the down hills. We must crave the down hills, right? So easy, wind blowing. But I realized today, and this was my thought, the important one, that the down hills are just like the up hills. The houses rushed by me. I couldn’t see the trees, nor could I really smell the flowers. The down hills are too easy and are accessible to everyone. No one works when going down hill.

It is the flat roads, you know, that are life, or at least, how people handle them is. We all struggle. We all have ease. During these times, limited, finite lessons are learned. Life shouldn’t be about constant ease or constant struggle, should it? Shouldn’t it be about how we handle the everyday? Shouldn’t life be about the flats?

So I was having my thought, sticking my chest out and looking at each house as I road by. I tried to smell every smell and see every see. To me, this day, life was about how people ride when there are no struggles, when there is no ease. But people certainly can ride a flat like it is a hill, can’t they? Don’t you know these people? Looking for the next challenge, staring straight ahead. Maybe they take the flats like a down hill. Sitting back, gliding, letting the road do the work. Of course the bike won’t go forever….but they just ride it out….doing as little work as possible.

I enjoyed my ride today, and I will never have this ride again. I may think these thoughts, or maybe someone else will, but I realized that the flats of my ride were up to me and me alone. No matter what the challenge, no matter what the goal, I had one desire. And I think this holds true for anyone, but I could be wrong. At the end of the ride, at the end of every hill, at the end of every glide, at the end of every single glance, smell, touch, and feel, I wanted one single solitary thing:

Home. I wanted to go home. I wanted to eventually be home.

*****

I have been lying to people for weeks now. They ask me what I’m doing, and I tell them: Nothing. I am doing nothing. I tell them I went to the gym. Maybe I tell them I thought about writing. I tell them what I think they want to hear.

I, on the other hand, never try to assume what people really mean or what the connections are, even when they are staring me right in the eye. I never hear exactly what people say, nor do I see exactly what they want me to see. All I know is that today, this day, the one I lived today, I didn’t mountain bike to Vegas…and no one even knew.

Saturday, June 09, 2007

...and they all lived happily ever after.

In my How to Teach Reading and Writing class the other night, is was final project time. The soon-to-be-teachers (or even current teachers) had to perform a fifteen minute snippet of a lesson plan they created.

One student did a lesson plan on fairy tales...and had small group discussion questions for the rest of us:

Do you like fairy tales? was one of the questions to be discussed.

I was in a group of three people, another male, a female, and THIS GUY. The other guy and I came to the conclusion that we don't like fairy tales.

After this group work, the soon-to-be teacher dutifully had us discuss the questions as a class. When it came to the Do you like fairy tales question, the novice teacher called on me.

Teacher in training: Mark, what do you think about number 4? Do you like fairy tales?

Me: No, I don't...it's always the same story with different characters.

Another student, a cute blonde, upon hearing this shocking revelation, innocently blurted out across the class:

What's the matter, Mark? Don't you like happy endings?

All I could do was put my head down, bite me lip, and pretend like I didn't hear her. Stupid teacher ethics.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Century Ride Update #9: I'm Number 1, Literally.

Yes, I'm alive. No, I'm not sore. Yes, I finished. No, I didn't walk up any hills. Yes, I enjoyed it. No, it really wasn't that far. No, I don't know if I will do it again.


And Yes. That is me. Purple and Green. At the top of Emerald F'in' Bay.

***


My Pee and I: A Tale of Redemption. A Tale of Desire. A Tale Of Wetness.


Ever since I got dehydrated while riding about a month ago, I made it a point to drink TONS of water before I rode. This trend continued on race week, where I decided to drink and drink and drink my way into hydration. The one major fallback to this method of madness is that what goes in must come out. And come out it did.

On the drive to Tahoe, I went and I went and I went again. A total of 14 times in 10 hours. I violated the law of perpetual motion...as water never stopped moving from my mouth to my urethra. Sorry Newton...I finally proved you wrong.

Now you must be wondering how I made it from San Diego to Lake Tahoe in 10 hours if I stopped 14 times to go to the bathroom. And if you weren't wondering how that was possible, you definitely should be. This feat was accomplished with a little slight of hand, and a medium (grande, if you will) Starbucks cup. One of the best purchases I have ever made in my life was that medium (grande) mocha I got before I left San Diego...it housed at least a gallon of nonabosorbed water throughout the day...and the cup continued to smell like COFFEE. Freakin' awesome!

The mystery of how I released the urine solved, you now must be wondering how in the world I emptied the cup. I had to at least pull over for that. Well, I would like to say I did. I would like to say I didn't continue to pour my pee out the window while driving 80 mph...but I can't. My girlfriend and I continued to flood the northeastern 395 with my "fluids" hour after hour. But man...that pee really smelled good.

My obvious reaction to this situation was to be amazed, not sickened. I'm a guy, after all! And I was proud of every single birthing. So, half way to Tahoe, I turned to Tauni and vowed that once there, I would place a bet on roulette the total number of times I peed. And this is where the weirdness began.

***

Let It Ride: The Poker Game That Makes Me Want To Puke

Once in Tahoe, and with a myriad of toilets at my disposal, I decided it was time to put my money where my pee was. I went downstairs and played...Let It Ride.

Let It Ride? Why Let it Ride? You vowed to play Roulette!

I always freakin play Let It Ride because my sister, like ten years ago now, won a bunch of money on that game. So, every time I gamble, I play Let It Ride...and I lose my ass. This time was no different. I lost, no kidding, 19 out of 20 hands...and was down about $200. To make this even better, Tauni, who had never even heard of this game before, and kept called it "Better Than Tens" kept winning and winning and winning. Don't get me wrong, I was really happy for her. But a small part of me also wanted her dead. So, instead of going to prison the night before the big race, I decided to go try my pee-soaked hands at roulette.

I sat down and won instantly: a couple 2 to 1 odds here, a couple of 1 to 1 odds there. And all of the sudden, I was hovering back to being able to pay my mortgage. I decide to play one more game...and I put two bucks on 14...because that's how many times wittle Marky peed. Yeah...I hit it...

That was weird

***

The Coincidences Continue

Saturday morning, I go to pick up my race number. Oddly, it is 1401. I translated this to 14 and I won. It made sense to me. And I thought of roulette off and on during my ride.

Could my pee be trying to tell me something???

***

Race Day and I Let it Ride

Sunday was the race...and it wasn't really that hard at all. About 50 miles in, some of my gears stopped working, and I was worried that I wouldn't be able to finish. My bike managed to hold together, and the two terrible hills of the race (Emerald Bay and Spooner Drive) were my personal bitches for the day. I finished the race up without much problem...only to learn that after I trained and trained for months, Darron, who did little-to-no training, not only beat me, but rode faster than the fastest San Diego TNT race team. He also NEVER peed during the race...while I did repeatedly. Again, 14 times. This was no longer funny (and yes, I counted).

***

Baby Hit Me One More Time

After the race, I briefly went to the victory party with Darron, Tauni, and Darron's friend JLO (not the singer...I don't think). We tiredly stumbled over to the roulette table, one last time.

We played a few games...I again hit a small bet here and there...and then I bet my pee-esque race number: putting $5 on 14, $5 on 1, and $3 on 0 and $3 00.

0 hit, and I won over $100...and I called it a night.

I didn't leave because I was freaked out. I didn't question the power of my pee nor my accomplishment of riding 100 miles. I wasn't even tired.

I called it a night because I really had to go to the bathroom...and I felt like that was a sign my luck had run out.