I am Internationally Honored

PTKToday I received this officious looking postcard in the mail. At first I thought it was another Defensive Driving class offer (have had a few of those) but no, it was actually recognition of my brilliance as a scholar.

PTK1Even though the reverse looks more like a court summons, with address and court appearance time (only had one of those) it is in fact an invitation to the Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society.

For Austin Community College.

In my mind I always knew this day would come. But I envisaged it as a scroll, with a wax seal and tied with a ribbon and my name in calligraphy. This misunderstanding may come from the fact that I’ve never graduated from anything. Except childhood, and only barely at that.

Trying to keep an open mind about the prestige of an ACC Honors Society, I had a look at the website to see what great benefits this might offer.

“There are many reasons to join Phi Theta Kappa including access to scholarships at leading universities, as well as at Austin Community College. One of the greatest reasons to join is summed up in one word: opportunity.”

Opportunity? That’s it? What a bunch of wank. We live in Austin. We go to ACC. We’re studying things that lead to proper jobs. Opportunity is for UT students and the inner cities. I want actual stuff.

“Students have opportunities to become scholar driven servant leaders who make a difference to those around them.”

Ok this really irked me. What the hell is a scholar driven servant leader? You’re inviting me to be an International Honor Society student and this is the kind of guff that you write? I haven’t looked at the acceptance criteria for the PTKs but suspect that turning up for classes and getting at least some assignments done on time pretty much covers it.

Maybe a scholar driven servant leader is actually just a case of missing punctuation, due to community college budget cuts. With a bit of hyphenation, these opportunities make a lot more sense. I would be a driven-servant as this would suggest that I had been freed from hideous servitude and would now be driven around everywhere by a chauffeur in a sort of reverse Driving Miss Daisy sort of fashion. Or maybe I would choose to be a servant-leader in the style of Planet of the Apes* and will lead the revolt against lazy PR-puff writing and sloppy grammar.

Turns out this whole thing is a bloody scam anyway, as you are required to pay some spurious $80 ‘membership fee’ in return for being able to wear tassels at your graduation. Thanks but no thanks Mary Kohls.
(the strain of not making a cheap joke about your name is killing me).

Earlier this morning, as Erik the dog and I were coming home from our walk (a comma would have been so useful in that sentence, I am punctuationally obsessed), a van was hovering around our driveway looking suspicious. Rather than make an attempt to park anywhere close to the curb, the driver apparently just turned the engine off and called it done. Sort of like coming home shit-faced and collapsing across the bed instead of trying to find the pillow.

According to the sign on the side of the van, this is Crazy Aaron, owner of Crazy Aaron’s Lawn-Landscape-Irrigation services. Why does any business owner choose to call themselves crazy? Unless it’s relevant to the service provided, like counseling – Krazy Kounseling would be good – or Crazy Mazes English Stately Home maze design, which is a niche category at best, it doesn’t serve much of a purpose. It only gets you to two-thirds of the way through the C’s if you’re listed alphabetically, in which case you’d be far better going with an A, like Asinine Aaron. Or, here’s a crazy idea, just Aaron. Either way, I would not want your erratic hands on my lawn, landscaping or irrigation.

Speaking of crazy, tomorrow I am running the 3M Half Marathon. Like many of my ideas, this was great about 4 months ago. The 3M is a popular race because it’s a ‘fast’ course. This is important to the kind of people that already run fast. For the rest of us, it’s all about the goody bag, which has all kinds of 3M products. Happily, this year’s bounty includes electrical tape, sandpaper, ball gag and safety glasses so we’ll be making a night of it.

I was about to end here by humorously speculating that the knee brace that came in my bag was actually only given to old people and that everyone else would get a lovely innovative young person thing like 3M sex wrist wraps. I just found out that this is in fact true. No-one under 40 in my running group appears to have got a knee brace. Profiling bastards.

Visualizing 3M sex wrist wraps.

* Perfunctory-at-best understanding of this movie.
Note: Ball gag may not have been intended purpose of product.




Game Face

The moment I realize all my dreams have died

On Friday evening I competed in my gym’s SWOD, aka Strength Workout of the Day aka lifting heavy objects and being fast ‘n nasty about it. Here is a photo of me looking neither fast or nasty. Just sad. And yes, that’s my coach and gym owner in the background looking unfairly care-free and thirty-something.

This was an open male and female competition to see who had the biggest balls/vag when it comes to throwing your weight around. You could choose the RX Division (weight as prescribed) or Scaled Division. Sadly, my vag had to be scaled. Been brewing too much tea in it. Haha, I am funny.

Barbell foreplay

So the first workout of 3 was a barbell complex. A few deadlifts, a few front squats, then toss the bar above your head. Here I am prepping the barbell with some warm and encouraging words and a tender touch. Sing along: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the barbell tells me so.”

Now what?

Clearly a miracle occurred as the bar zipped above my head without hitting my chin on the way up nor crashing down on my head straight after. I did however stay in this position for quite a while as I have yet to master the art of letting go of the bar in a nice polite English sort of way.

We were supposed to repeat this 5 more times and between each round, get a kettlebell above our heads for a prescribed number of ground to overheads.

Wondering what’s for dinner

Kettlebells are vicious little bastards. Not only heavy and slippery but they also crash into your wrists giving you a nasty set of bruises that make your husband uncomfortable. I don’t care how many times I’m told that this only happens because my form is wrong. It happens because it’s a bloody big weighted metal ball with a handle that requires some pendulous momentum to get it above your head. The part where it smacks back against your wrist is called physics. Oh and it was also invented by Russians.

By the 6 minute time cap I’d barely made it through half the rounds. Good for me, I hate it when I tie with someone else for a ranking, I find it best to be very clearly and unambiguously last. Oh well, plenty of time to have another wee before the next event. Workout 2 was the horribly named burpees (squat thrusts to those of my generation).  Google ‘burpees’ and you’ll see them described as the ultimate full body workout. Which makes me wonder why coaches always add things to them. Like box jumps. Yes, do a burpee, then jump on and off a box. Why? Oh no reason.

1017649_10203270134780603_593463488_nSo after doing a lot of burpee-box-jumps we had 15 seconds to load a bar on our back with 1.5 times our own bodyweight and… well just stand there. We don’t squat? Nope. Walk? Nope. Lunge? Nope. Just stand there while we stare at you and laugh at your tears and facial expressions. And stay there for a maximum 5 minutes. This is a mental challenge (in every sense of the word) and requires a strategy. Much in the way a hostage passes the time in captivity by recreating journeys in their mind instead of schemes to kill their tormentors, I clenched what I hoped were my kegels to stop more wee from coming out.

Run Gallant like you’re the only one left out there. Oh wait…

And here we are, the third and final workout. Sandbag get-ups. Lie on the ground with a 50 pound sandbag on your shoulder. Then get up with it. Then lie down with it again. Then get up with it another 4 more times. This is called a functional training exercise because it apparently prepares the body for everyday life/work. As in performing a pointless and annoying task over and over again with little reward?

In between getting up and down, there was some sprinting. It was after the first sprint that I noticed my laces were undone. Knowing that Erik would have no sympathy with me if I broke my ankle because of untied laces – he has made this very clear – I stopped to tie them. Unfortunately, my fingers had been replaced with grapefruits (Get Ripped compliant) at this point and so it took me some time. This is of course the absolute only reason that I did not finish the sprinting within the cut-off time. As I often say to Erik, an extra 20 seconds would have made all the difference.

As I was in one of the early heats, I was lucky to be able to watch everyone else compete in their heat and finish within the cut-off time. 1607048_10203270157221164_1184545439_nHere I am congratulating one of my LIFT team-mates on her down to the wire, no shoe-lace tying, brilliantly nailbiting finish. Being an awkward Brit, I’m more of a congratulatory finger-inter-linker than a high-fiver. More precision, less slap. Always anxiety.
(Note: hand behind me is not my third arm, but proper high-fiving person)

So that was that. My contest was no contest. But it was fun, in a way that probably only the other women in my LIFT group at Travis County Strength can really appreciate. This is hands down/interlinked, the best gym, with the best trainers in Austin and the best place to work out with a bunch of incredibly strong, fast and nasty women. Scales and all.

Tea anyone?

* Pics taken by the brilliant Mari Schwanke Barreda, who promised I’d get a great new Facebook profile pic out of these. I’m going with Maggie sad face.

Day One

Today is the start of the LIFT (my gym/lifting group) 30 day ‘Get Ripped Challenge’. It is far better that we start on January 6 rather than the predictable January 1 as when everyone else is giving up and going back to fat on January 31, I will still have another week to gloat and feel superior. Continue reading “Day One”

They’re digging up Freddie again

A friend sent me this article from Rolling Stone magazine. All my usual arguments apply: Queen is not Queen, it’s Brian and Roger; We Will Rock You was so dire that I had to walk out; and please stop digging around in the Freddie archives for one more way to make money. You’ve made enough. To this I would add the suggestion that Brian may also have done enough to protect the badgers. He is at risk of that thing that happens between animals and their owners where they start to resemble each other. Continue reading “They’re digging up Freddie again”