Wasted Youth

If memory serves I had a physical education class every year in grade school and high school. I was usually the last one picked for teams, which bothered me mostly because we all knew I’d be picked last but it still took a long time to get through all the other loser kids getting picked at the same time. It didn’t really matter, the truth was I wasn’t any good at it, didn’t matter what it was i sucked. The other kids knew it, I knew it and even the coaches knew it – yet I was still required to have that class – I couldn’t tell you what kind of grade I ever got in it, but I know it wasn’t a good grade (I know as most of my grades in school weren’t good).

Once in grade school I recall one of the leaders who tried to make use of that by making a play where i would catch the ball – I was never covered by the opposing team it would be a huge waste, no one in their right mind would be throwing a ball to me, but this one kid planned it and I halfheartedly was excited to participate – this play would have won us the game. But as these kinds of things go – I was unable to catch the ball, imagine that and therefore we lost and once again I had managed to not be of any help to my classmates. Not once in the remaining years of school was I part of a plan to win, just didn’t happen.

In high school gym became less of an annoyance as we sometimes were able to choose which activities we wanted to participate in and honestly because some times it was better to not really participate but be stoned while all the other kids did partake in sports. My friend Ted and I used to walk during “Track and Field” and smoke our cigarettes as we did, it wasn’t really something that interested us.

Some of the many activities that I was required to participate in included:

  • basketball
  • softball
  • track and field
  • curling
  • wrestling
  • flag or touch football
  • tennis
  • golf
  • gymnastics

There were times in Phys Ed that I had to climb a rope, do somersaults, or head stands and the rope thing was usually done with every other kid watching and giggling or snickering. I don’t recall many of the kids being able to climb that rope well or even doing push ups well, but that could be me not really caring too. Phys Ed was really not a class I had any fun in at all – recess was sometimes even a challenge to find something I cared about doing – usually my imagination had me doing something or pretending to be a superhero – kickball, tag, or monkey bars really didn’t do it for me.

I know these things were meant to encourage me to be more active, to see if I had interest in sports or hidden talents so the school could get more money if I was a star or something. But honestly I’ve never had a job interview where standing on my head, or climbing a rope was a pre-requisite. No one in my adult life has seriously wondered if I knew anything about curling that wasn’t talking about hair. Yes, if a zombie apocalypse happens I’ll have to avoid those creatures so they wont eat my brains, but have you seen these things move? I’m sure I can out walk em and if necessary run.

So here I am, 40, and I still don’t find any enjoyment in any of these activities (well maybe wrestling, but that’s only under certain circumstances you know). I don’t feel the urge to watch, participate or even care about these types of activities. The personal trainer I’m seeing at the gym (yes, I know how ironic that seems) keeps telling me that these things were doing are going to make me really strong – but honestly how often am I going to need to arm wrestle myself out of a situation? Is there really going to be a need for a pull up in my future?

I’ve come to the conclusion that exercise is a lot like math, one of those things that is mandatory learning but not something you’ll ever use in everyday life. I also think that the studies that say exercise makes you feel better are flawed, or perhaps the people who feel better after exercising have a different genetic makeup than the rest of us. I’ve got 5 more weeks of personal training, and it’s possible that I’ll change my mind, but I don’t think it’s likely.

What if everything changed?

The boss is talking retirement, the roommate (landlord) is talking about moving (once his Mom passes on) – well so what? Love my boss and my roommate, consider them family, but I’m ready to go too.

It would actually be a pretty cool thing if these two things happened in conjunction and it forced me to change too. It would force me to look at my life as it stands now and see what I’d like to do with the rest of it – however long that may be.

With the whole world out there and I can choose to do anything I want, that seems pretty exciting doesn’t it? Warmer climate? school? menial labor? sure I don’t care any of those would be fine


I thought it was the end of the world – I was right

Like most of America I watched the twin towers fall on TV and the internet – living and working in Washington DC I also had a rare experience of being amidst the chaos that erupted in DC and seeing a thick column of smoke billowing from the site of the attack on the Pentagon. At the time I worked on the 6th floor of Children’s National Medical Center and we had a clear view of the smoke at the Pentagon from our windows.

There was an overwhelming sense of fear and uncertainty, a feeling that this was the beginning of something that would change, if not end, the world. In my minds eye I could see the US retaliating against whomever it was and it leading to global destruction. I thought for sure the end of the world was right around the corner, and it turns out I was right.

After the attacks on the US our country was encompassed in fear. We were afraid to laugh, afraid to hope, afraid to dream. It was quite a few months before we were confident enough to fly again and even then fear was encouraged by security at airports that grabbed the elderly and toddlers searching them for terrorist devices. Politicians, churches, and pundits of many fields all fueled speculation of worst case scenarios that would lead to the total destruction of our way of life.

I know that Freedom isn’t free (I know because I’ve read the military families bumper stickers) but it certainly shouldn’t be driven by fear and that’s what I think we have now – people so afraid of the unknown they want to go back in time to a US that was less free, a US that was full of distrust and discrimination, a US that we’ve outgrown.

Freedom is not a natural byproduct of fear.

Since 9/11 there have been few moments when the world came together and believed in a better tommorow – the first time was right after the attacks when the whole world mourned with us and the second was when the whole world cheered when Barack Obama was elected as President of the United States. As a nation we’ve squandered away the better parts of these moments of hope, we’ve allowed war to encompass our plans for the future, we’ve allowed McCarthy like politicians stop progress, we’ve allowed FEAR to guide us.

Is there still a chance that we can live again on the dream of a better tomorrow? Yes, but that means today we have to stand up and face the fears. No longer can we sit idly by and watch the politicians cater to the rich, no longer can we allow our own infrastructure to collapse while re-building other nations, no longer is it “somebody elses problem”.

Want the loss of life from September 11 to mean something? Want to believe again in a land of the free and a home of the brave? Face the fear, don’t believe the lies, learn a little about the politicians and talk show hosts you so blindly follow. Be the change – such a cliche but one that needs to be said today, tomorrow and forever more.

We lost a lot ten years ago maybe it’s time we took it back.

I can feel them downstairs…

I can feel them downstairs.

I know they are rifling through the papers on the end table, planting listening devices in the phone and drugging the milk. They are there every night and every night its the same, I pretend I can’t feel them and hear them whispering. The whispers are the worst I can almost make out what their saying and it makes my skin crawl when I get so close to interpreting the words but then realize it’s gobbledygook.

I think the cat knows they’re there too, sometimes she’ll glance sharply over at the stair case, eyes wide sparkling her dangerous green. I wonder if they’ve been here long enough for her to be used to them, perhaps they’ve even pet her when I’m asleep – I know they do other things, but can the cat tolerate them – whatever they are? I hope she’ll be like an early warning system for me, if she jumps off the bed and heads to a hole I may have a chance to defend myself, I might even have a chance to run – if they let me.

Sometimes I awaken from a deep sleep and know one of them is standing over me. I lay perfectly still  – if they know I know they are there they would be more likely to hurt me or something – its the something that is the most frightening, trying to figure out what they want with me. After a while when I can hear their heartbeat, almost feel their breath on my face I cannot stand it anymore, sometimes I moan or yawn and very slowly roll over on my side  and as much as I want to I don’t breathe a heavy sigh of relief, I just freeze like that. One of two things usually happens, if I’m lucky I just pass out from exhaustion if I’m not I can lie there all night wondering when they’ll leave me alone or if this is the night they take me.

I somehow know they want to take me, I can feel it in my soul a deep need for them to take me with them wherever it is that they go and I know that would be a bad thing for me, the worst thing I’m fairly certain.

I can feel one behind me as I write this. I can’t see his reflection in the screen but I can feel him standing in the doorway and I know he can read all of this. That frightens part of me and relieves the other part – perhaps the fear can end it’s the anticipation and not knowing that are the worst for me. Not knowing what they’re looking for, when they will take me and especially how much it will hurt.

Tonight when I turn off the light and pull the sheet over me I know I’ll hear them again downstairs – a scritch scratch of papers moving here and there, a creak in the floor board and like I heard the other night a foot step or two on the stair.

I can feel them downstairs…