Vacation (Finally!)

Leave a comment

Provincetown isn’t for everybody. It’s a great place, and I spent my summers growing up up there. There are lots of things to do, lots to see, and lots of ways to relax. But it isn’t for everybody.

It can be challenging if you’re at all uncomfortable around the LGBT(add letters as appropriate) community. If you’re homophobic to any degree, you will most likely be miserable. I say this, not to extoll the virtues of tolerance, but because it is difficult to discuss Provincetown without the topic coming up. I will not even attempt to avoid it. In fact, one of the more amusing things we encountered requires a certain knowledge of the gay community.

Bear Flag

It was the first day of Bear Week. My girlfriend and I were waiting at the Aquarium Food Court for our name to be called, indicating our order was ready for pickup. The deck was crowded, and we’d found an empty table in the courtyard just before the deck. We’d just sat down when one of the vendors called out “Bear!” Apparently someone had given “Bear” as their name.

On that day, calling out “Bear!” was somewhat akin to calling out “Dad!” in a crowded playground. For a week, bears from all over come to Ptown to enjoy the freedom of being openly bears. Some explanation of the term may be required for those unfamiliar with it: A bear is a slang term used to refer to describe gay men who are hairy, heavyset and/or muscular, and who project an image of rugged masculinity.

What does this anecdote have to do with our vacation? Plenty, though it’s not all encompassing. Provincetown is a place where self expression is widespread. As such, the level of tolerance is generally very high. There is often an atmosphere of genuine joy and lightheartedness that is not only refreshing, but revitalizing. People watching there is fascinating. It is even more so if you’re familiar with the various subcultures you see up there. If you understand the signals, keys, and symbols displayed, the depth of understanding what you’re seeing is greatly increased.

Yes, it’s crowded, which can be irritating at times…especially if you’re hungry and have a long wait at one of the many restaurants. But if you don’t take yourself too seriously, you can usually find something entertaining in just about every situation.

So what does the anecdote not encompass? The individual activities: from watching fireworks to watching whales, from exploring the National Seashore Visitor Center to some of the most–interesting–shops around, from fine dining to eating at a food court, and above all, the people watching. We did a lot over the course of the week. There were still plenty of things left to do when we left.

One thing, though, sticks out in my mind. I got a chance to visit with my martial arts instructor and his wife. It’s been many years since I had any kind of meaningful interaction with them. I’m really glad I got to speak with them. They’ve played an important, if usually distant, part in my life.

Returning to Provincetown revitalized me in ways I hadn’t expected. My coworkers noticed the changes immediately. I’m not going to try to describe them, except to say that I’m more grounded than I have been in a long time.

Relationship Representation

Leave a comment

With all my girlfriend and I have been through, it is amusing, appropriate, and somehow very representative of our relationship that our first culinary disagreement was over how to cook a hot dog. Those who know us are probably now laughing themselves silly.

As mentioned in earlier posts, my personality is more of a protector and teacher than caretaker. Despite my profession as a personal trainer and extensive background in martial arts, the protection I tend to provide is more emotional than physical. I try to provide a space where fear is acknowledged but pushed past, where anxiety is welcomed and soothed. When it comes to teaching, I try to teach by example. When I try to teach through words, I tend to revert to an academic style of “imparting knowledge”, which usually comes off as more than a little pedantic. So, teach by example and protect by providing emotional shelter. Though both can have lighthearted elements, they do have a certain gravitas that can come across as dominating, intimidating, or creepy.

My girlfriend, however, is a Brat. It is a title she embraces and thoroughly enjoys. She can be endearing or aggravating, impish or pestiferous. She’ll wiggle like an excited teenager, or pout like a preteen. True, she can be bull-headed, and will jump to conclusions based on emotion and insufficient evidence; but, she is also very intelligent and can present her side of an issue with much more cogency than I can. More importantly, she is very caring. She seeks to make her friends’ lives happier and/or easier. Sometimes it’s through making or hosting a dinner, sometimes it’s volunteering at an event they’re setting up, sometimes it’s as simple as making sure there’s a cold glass of water waiting for those she knows will like it.

Despite the differences in our natures, we are very well matched in the areas that tend to matter the most: ideas, values, and desires. We make a very good team. When aggression, argument, or detail is needed, she usually takes the lead. When diplomacy, multiple viewpoints, or calm certainty is called for, I tend to lead. Not that she can’t be diplomatic, or I can’t be aggressive, at need; but, those modes aren’t our primary modes of thought and action.

We do lots of things together, from grocery shopping to parallel play. With my background in personal training and hers in massage therapy, we occasionally geek out with anatomy and physiology, both the straight up as well as with suggestion and innuendo. When both people understand that the “sodium gradient” can be a reference to cellular respiration AND a reference to a sweaty body, much fun can be had. It is especially gratifying that we can discuss loudly and publicly about the strength and endurance of my pollicis longus, and snicker at the horrified looks we receive. (This post is PG. The full name is abductor pollicis longus, and is one of the muscles that pull the thumb away from the index finger.)

It is no wonder, then, that an argument about cooking hot dogs is weirdly representative of our relationship. If you take the tension between the literal and innuendo, mix it with our mutual desire to make the “best product” possible, garnish it with the acknowledged absurdity of the topic, and serve it with love, you end up with a pretty decent description of our relationship.

Bierce’s Trainer: more definitions

Leave a comment

I really enjoyed creating the last list of odd, unusual, hopefully humorous definitions for common words used in the fitness industry. I thought I’d do a few more.

Joint — a place where two bones meet, do something fun, and hopefully develop a strong relationship

Jumping Jacks — an exercise designed to get your heart-rate up and cause cramping in the unprepared calf

Transverse — the plane of motion where being twisted is a good thing

Muscle — If beauty is only skin deep, too much of this is grotesque

Sweat — natural pheromone-laden perfume

Injury — “Do it!” they said. “It’ll make you stronger!” they said. “It’ll make you faster!” they said. Now my body has to repair itself…and it doesn’t have the technology, only biology.

Back — A place often ignored in favor of the gilded front

Pushup — pushing the ground away while you keep your body rigid

Row — Make like you’re in a pretend boat on a pretend ocean in order to create real back-ward results

Jump — A function of weight and power to temporarily fly

Blood — a river in which oxygen, carbon dioxide, and other such friends go tubing

Stability — the characteristic of moving only when you want to, despite anything gravity and physics have to say

Aerobic — repeated rhythmic movements intended to invite oxygen to a fat-burning party

Personal Training — The field where physics and biology play

Lactate — Byproduct of exertion often derided as trash, but is actually treasured by the body (see Cori Cycle)

Cori Cycle — The process by which lactate becomes the platter for carrying food to muscles

I’m Back! (Kind of)

Leave a comment

It’s been a little more than three years since I last posted. I’m not going to become maudlin and vow to keep it up forever. I will, however, say that I will be posting more often than once every three years.

Why the three year hiatus? I’ve been trying my best to grow my client list for personal training. I am a good trainer, though far from “the best”. I often get assigned new clients deemed “difficult” for some reason.

Sometimes it’s prehab for “embarrassing” surgery in 3 months. Lots of personal trainers get clients who are preparing for knee surgery, or shoulder surgery, or even ankle and foot surgery. So far I’ve gotten prehab clients for hysterectomies, mastectomies, and lung cancer.

Occasionally it’s post-surgery, post-physical therapy. More and more, though, my niche seems to be coming down to a couple of notable demographics: those who are more than merely nervous about coming to a gym (whether from self consciousness, recent injury, bad previous experiences, etc.) and hidden or fringe sub-cultures (transgender, kink/BDSM, Leather, etc.).

I enjoy working with people in these niches. Coaching and watching a client become confident in the gym or gain at least partial mastery of their own body is a joy. The challenges of creating programs for those with uncommon needs feeds my hunger for continuing education, analytical thinking, and creative application of otherwise common knowledge.

The downside of working with people in these niches is finding them. I’m awful at marketing and sales to begin with. I’ve always respected “no”. Trying to convince someone to purchase sessions with me beyond the initial resistance feels a lot like the sales and marketing version of date rape. It just doesn’t sit well with me. Marketing to these niches who tend to take active steps to remain hidden is even harder. I still don’t have a full schedule.

After three years of trying to build my books, I’ve decided to get back to writing. This blog satisfies my need for unfocused pursuit of random thoughts. Another of my blogs I’m starting up again is more of a repository of a portion of my fantasy writings. I’m also getting back to writing larger pieces. I’ve picked up two books I’d put on hold. One is a sequel to one already written, the other is in a related genre, but tends to read as mainstream unless you read between the lines. I also have a list of short story ideas I’d like to start working my way through. There is also one larger piece that technically falls in the “book” category, but is non-fiction (a very new area for me).

I plan to continue posting on this blog, but it won’t be as frequent as it was while I was in school. I guarantee, however, that the topics will be just as random. I’m back (kind of) and hope to see all of you soon.

Substitute Topics

Leave a comment

This may be my last post for a while…at least until I get a working computer at home. Before I can do that, though I need to find a part time job. Why part time? The rest of the time this summer is going to be taken up by my internship.

You’d think that I’d have a really awesome topic ready for this post, since it may be the last one I get to post for a while. Unfortunately, while several ideas came to me between waking up this morning and arriving at the school computer lab, none of them seem to have stuck around. I’m left with a brief roster check. If you’re looking for a substantive post, this may not be it. On the other hand, you never know when substance will come out of chaos.

School. This is finals week. I had the first half of one of my finals last week (and it took the class an average of 2 hours 15 minutes to finish it). The second half of that final is on Thursday. I also have three other finals and three practicals to survive. Grueling, yes. Difficult? Could be harder, not that I’m complaining. If I approach it just as I approach other challenges, it could even be kind of fun.

I just received an email from one of my instructors concerning the internship. I need to have CPR/First Aid certification cards. My cards were in the car that got totaled. I need to have them within two weeks. Quickest way to get the new cards is to just take the course again. Fortunately it’s not that much more expensive to just get recertified. Did I mention I got certified in February? Oh well.

Social. A week after school ends, a bunch of us are going to see The Rocky Horror Picture Show at one of the theaters here in town. Why? Because we need to have fun as a group outside of school. I’m really looking forward to it. They’ll get to see a side of me most of them never dreamed existed. I hope I don’t shock some of my class mates TOO badly. (Though a little shock will be a good thing.)

Other than that, I’m not looking forward to the last class day of social dance. There are a few people there I’d like to keep up with, but I doubt it’ll happen. Why? Because I have very little to connect with them over. We might see each other in dance halls or something, but I doubt for anything substantive beyond that.

I find it ironic that it took until last week (i.e. the penultimate class) in my conditioning class for one of the other participants to come out of her shell. We actually seem to have much in common, at least in terms of interests. I guess we’ll have to meet outside of class. (Oh, darn.) I anticipate friendship, possibly a very close friendship, but little else. Her plans include an advanced degree in international law and becoming a negotiator. Although I enjoy traveling, my own career requires me to stay put (unless I end up as personal trainer to an ambassador or something). I’d probably feel like I was holding her back. So. Friends it is.

Work. As I mentioned earlier, I need to find a part time job. Are there part-time jobs available? Yes. Unfortunately, most of them seem to be flipping burgers. Ideally I’d like to be in the fitness industry (No. GNC doesn’t count.), but my options are dwindling rapidly. I tried at a few places last week, but they’d just finished a hiring cycle. Oh well. The search goes on.

Dreams. Believe what you want about dreams: random firings of the brain, “someone” trying to tell you “something”, or your mind working things out, I’ve had a couple dreams recently that make it difficult not to draw connections. The first could easily have been a nightmare. It involved a series of tidal waves, or possibly an invading army. Most of the people around me were running around screaming. The difference between this dream and nightmare was instead of fear being the dominant emotion, I was excited. I spent most of the dream dragging a group of four or five people around, trying to convince them this could be fun. The other one involved some random woman at a theater snuggling up to me for no apparent reason. (Yes, guys, that’s as far as it went.)

I hope to be able to continue blogging regularly, but I’m not sure if I’ll have the access necessary to do it on a schedule. I may take to putting my blogs in a notebook, then transcribing them as I have the opportunity. Goodness knows I keep a notebook handy for my stories (short or otherwise). Maybe I’ll grab one of those multi-subject notebooks and reserve one section for blogs. In any case, if you don’t hear from me for a while, never fear, I haven’t forgotten and will get back at some point. Until then, be safe, be well, and enjoy life as much as you can.

Reductio ad Absurdum: A Stress Relief Tool

Leave a comment

Two weeks left, a brief respite, then my internship begins. I’m looking forward to it. Unfortunately, it is not a paid internship, so I have to also find a part time job. I’d like to find one in my industry, but I’m not sure that’s a viable alternative at this point. I’ll have to do some searching…in between classes, labs, studying, car issues, etc. First, though, I need to find my way through four tests and three practicals. Here’s the rundown:

Physiology: Test on kidneys (including acid/base homeostasis), digestion, endocrine, and reproductive. Cumulative lab exam on everything from membrane physiology through reproductive systems.

Performance Enhancement for Athletics: This is the NSCA class. We only have 1 test, and it’s cumulative. The lab exam is also cumulative, though not comprehensive. First is video and picture analysis. Then we randomly draw exercises, have about a minute to set them up before the test subject comes in. We then explain, demonstrate, cue, and correct the subject.

Program Theory and Instructional Design: This is the ACSM class. We have one more non-cumulative test. The lab practical involves doing a series of assessments on a friend we bring in.

Dance: Yes. Apparently dance has a final exam. Technically there’s also a practical, but it’s more of a review. Given this is only a 1 hour credit course, I’m not worrying about it too much.

Oh, and we have final assessments for our faculty clients this week.

Why did I list all this out? It’s one of my “get a grip” tools. By listing what I have to do, I make it easier to figure out how to go about doing it. It’s more than defining hoops to jump through. Not only do I have the hoops defined, I also have clues as to the best approach for each hoop. For instance, the physiology test is probably the most involved; however, the lowest grade I’ve made in that class thus far is in the mid-90s. I have a very significant buffer. The NSCA class, however, has had no tests thus far. Thus this one exam carries more weight than any exam in any other class. That’s my priority. I’ll review and talk with my physiology lab- and classmates, but I’ll spend most of my time getting ready for the NSCA class.

The ACSM class, though in my area of study, has had a couple of tests and several quizzes. Based on my previous history, I’ll spend a little extra time preparing for the assessments in lab, but the test probably won’t be that much trouble. Certainly the dance class won’t get much of my attention. The majority of the grade comes from participation. The test goes over time signatures, cadences, styles, terminology, etc. Given my attendance and participation, even if I make a 0 on the test, I’ll still pass the class with a 75. I’ll do a skim-through but not really worry about it after that.

I’m not saying that none of these tests will be challenging. On the contrary, I know that at least two of them will be VERY challenging. All I’m saying is that with this list and this approach outlined, I now have a reasonable hope of putting my study time in the areas that are of most use to me. Explicitly stated, the order of my efforts are: NSCA, physiology, ACSM, dance. Having determined this, my stress levels are now well within manageable limits. In fact, if I help some of my classmates, I’ll not only be making sure I’ve learned the material, but I’ll be sure I can explain it in multiple ways. When I can explain something in multiple ways, I cease to have doubts about whether I actually know the material.

Topic Shotgun!

Leave a comment

The semester is coming to an end. I know this, not because of the date, but because of all the projects that are coming due. I find myself a little melancholy at the prospect of the semester ending. With the exception of one class, which I thought was badly planned and badly executed, I’ve truly enjoyed my classes. However, it is time to think about the summer. This summer, I have an internship. There are two possible sites. I had an interview at one of them this morning. It looks like a great place, but I know I need to keep an open mind. I also need a part time job. Hmmm. Too bad I’m not allowed to combine the two.

I have four tests coming up, plus 3 lab practicals. Fortunately, the class I don’t particularly like has no final. Is it strange that I’m looking forward to the tests and practicals? Most of the other students don’t seem to share the attitude, so I try to keep it to myself.

While waiting for my interview this morning, I started a quasi-stream of consciousness piece. Depending on the quality of the final piece, I may post it here, or I may even try to send it in…somewhere. Not sure what genre it will be. So far it looks promising, but I may just be hyped up for the interview. At this point, it is first person narrative, so I’ll post a “this post is fiction” notice if I post it here.

Speaking of writing, I’ve come to the realization that my writing, specifically my fiction writing, is fairly minimalist in terms of descriptions of the environments. Obviously, since I’ve recently realized it, it’s been an unconscious decision. Now I wonder if I need to do two passes in order to come up with a first draft: one to write the story, and a second to fill in the description. Or should I make a conscious decision to leave things minimal. I think of van Gough using only three lines to draw a cat (I think it was van Gough). It’s possible that having the reader fill in details from their own memories and experiences, it’ll make them more invested in the story. “Here I am. In a hospital bed. No idea of how I got here.” Another way of doing it is description by effect on the character. “She had the kind of beauty that made me think of Kali: mother and destroyer.” Any ideas?

Older Entries