25 April 2010

Box jumps, you have made me your bitch.

I have always been scared of box jumps, worried I wouldn't be able to clear the box and slip and land on my shins. I've seen what happens when Gravity takes a cheap shot at a strong, able-bodied athlete during this ridiculous exercise, and it aint perty. Normally, I appreciate colorful bruises and scars, cause showing them off and telling the story about The Battle is the reward, even if the clear winner was the opponent. The fact that someone threw themselves at something so fast and hard as to cause an injury (that even common folk, not them trained up White Coats, can recognize), in the name of Victory, is pretty dang sexy.

However, yesterday, that fear was finally realized.* And it didn't feel sexy. At all.

The low blow happened when I was trying to show (off to) Nisha what my combo with the water bottle looked like, cause she said she didn't understand it. So I was all, "oh here, this is the step I used as my box jumps, like this." And I jumped. And I slipped. And I smacked my tibiae against the corner of the tile ledge. It was painful, but not "oh look, my leg is torn open, that's not surprising cause this hurts so bad." I figured I'd have bad bruises, but then I looked down and noticed a little blood. I rolled up my jeans to inspect the damage, and it was ugly. Hideous, in fact. This time, more than my ego was damaged, and in a few weeks, I'm gonna have the scars to prove it. The Game (I can't even call it a battle, cause it was so nonchalant and unplanned. Previous and future Battles always included and always will include a pre-session psych-up, sometimes with shadow-boxing, and always a mosey, or compass, or both, just to get the blood flowin to the right places.) ripped a huge gash in my left leg, requiring a trip to the ER, x-rays, 5 x 1-L bottles of sterile water for cleaning, local anesthetic, 9 stitches in the left shin and 4 stitches in the right shin, antibiotics and pain meds for the next five days.

I'll spare the gory details, unless yall want them, in which case I will describe every last gnarly, flesh-tearing image I can possibly conjure. For real, this shit is all rotten.com style. There are pictures, but only on my very old camera, so I can't put them onto my computer til I make a photo cd.

Gravity, I grudgingly accept your "victory" this time, but you only get .57, because you were playin' dirty. In fact, you shouldn't even be awarded any fractions of points, but you'll get whats comin...tomorrow night for squats.

*I may never attempt another box jump in my life.

18 April 2010

Stranger in a Strange Land

April 3, 2010
Traveled to Ulsan for a hat tournament via KTX, the high-speed train (304kph/188 mph!). Apparently, talking above a whisper on trains here is against the rules, as I had to be shushed TWICE. By the same conductor. Then some angry dude in the seat in front of us turned around a few minutes after the second shushing and loudly yelled something in Korean, presumably expletives. Oops. It was kind of embarrassing. I was just talking in my normal voice, but I guess my Normal Voice Volume does tend to get a little up there sometimes, especially when I'm talking to someone nice about something interesting. After being cussed out, I put in my earbuds and sang to myself instead.

March 1, 2010 - present
Koreans LOVE to comment on my height. I have been stopped in the streets, in subway stations, and, most recently, getting a new cell phone, by Koreans gesturing wildly that they have never in their lives encountered a female of my stature. I should have known, when I landed here and met my school's director for the first time, and his first words to me were, "You are very tall," that it would be a common occurrence for people to stare in wonderment. He gave no formalities, such as "Welcome to Korea! We're so happy you're joining our school's family! How was your flight?" No no, none of that. He cut straight to the chase.

Early on, as I was wandering the neighborhood in search of dinner, I walked past a Chinese food restaurant as a Korean woman was walking into it. She stopped, mid-step, came back into the street, made the Vertical Measurement gesture with her hands while staring at me, bug-eyed, and attempted conversation: "Betty tall-uh!" Was she calling me a Betty? Cause in Encino Man-speak, and Clueless-dialect, that's definitely a compliment. Mama brought me up good and right and I knows how to take a compliment (uh, usually), so I bowed a little, smiled, and said "Thank you!" She was too dumbfounded to reply, and continued on her way inside, looking over her shoulder the whole time.

My height, for a woman, is freakish, I suppose, even by Western standards. As you may or may not know, the women here, in general, are very petite, fragile, pretty, little Korean dollies that you keep safe behind the glass. I once saw a very tall Korean woman. She was probably 5'8" and I instantly felt bad for her. She was a freak. A tall(ish) beautiful Korean freak. She walked with head down and shoulders hunched, and didn't look at anyone. Perhaps that is why I felt bad for her, cause she was visibly uncomfortable with her appearance, or uncomfortable with something. Or, it is entirely plausible that I was projecting. I should be accustomed to my Freak Show Status by now, especially due to my penchant for living in places where I stand out like a sore thumb. But if you think our culture is vain, boy, come check the vibes of THIS place. THEN maybe you'll understand why I felt bad for this tall freak girl.

Exhibit A: My co-teacher's Korean girlfriend, who is probably 5'2", and no more than 90 lbs, told me last night that she's going to start taking diet pills. Because she doesn't want to get fat. And she always wants to weigh 45 kilos. It took every last gram of my will power to resist smacking her upside the head after her announcement (I'm certain it wasn't one of these "deep breaths okay I'm brave here it comes GUESS WHAT, GUYS!? Please don't judge me on what I'm about to tell you, but...", but more of a "GUESS WHAT I'M GETTING FROM MY DOCTOR TOMORROW!"). Failing miserably to hide my disgust, I simply shook my head, and let her boyfriend do the lecturing.
The longer I'm here, the more I'll be able to grace this blog with first-hand encounters of Vanity, Korean-Style. Another quick one before I end this post: a girl I play Ultimate with told me that Korean women will never run because they're afraid their calf muscles will get big. Considering the number of times I've seen the teachers in my school take the elevator up one flight of stairs, I believe it.
Or, maybe they're all swimmers.

13 April 2010

Symptoms of the IRP (Initial Relationship Phase)

Every time I walk home after my battles with Gravity (of which I am always the instigator), blog posts form themselves in my head. The three main topics include: 1) Lifting, 2) Boys, and 3) Korea.

This borderline-obsessive thing goin on with them heavy things, I fear, might start to sound redundant to yall folk not witnessing the First Draft. Correct me if I'm wrong, but aint nobody wanna read about the thrice-weekly primary accounts of the love forming between me and the 45-lb Bar. These particular entries are not unlike the minutely detailed infatuations between two people in the Initial Relationship Phase (IRP).

Indeed, I am experiencing similar symptoms of IRP:
  • The always wanting to (and, dare I say, expecting* to) hang out during every minute of my not-at-work time**.
  • The getting childishly upset when the planned hang-out time can't happen for one (usually absurd: who sets up work meetings 40 MINUTES before they're supposed to happen!?, rarely understandable: "My [insert name of close relative or friend] just [insert plausible excuse, but it'd better be life-threatening]. Can I see you tomorrow?." ) reason or another.
  • The heightened pulse rate, slight shortness of breath, and big, goofy grin at the mere thought or mention of The Object.
  • The "There Is a Light That Never Goes Out" lyrics on repeat in my head and sometimes aloud (and, more recently, the Michael Cera & Ellen Page cover of "Anyone Else But You").
  • The letter-writing. For smothering purposes, of course. I'm fulfilling this particular IRP by writing long-ass personal emails, usually about The Object, to just about everyone on my radar who breathes... BUT only if the anticipated Eventual E-mail Response Rate (EERR) is two weeks MAXIMUM.

Perhaps when I decide that more energy is being expended on The Object than The Object is throwin back in my direction (I'm gonna need mutual reciprocation, eventually), and things between us start to get stale and crusty, I'll move along to the Other topics. Until then, I just can't get enough. And I'm gonna write about it.

*Ah, expectations. When I was barely old enough to have my own cell phone (22), a wise, powerful woman once told me that the key to Happiness is to let go of all expectations. She's probably right, but today, I wonder, where do you draw the line between Expectations and Standards? What's the difference? There is a lot to say about both of those subjects, but, as usual, it's for another post and another day. I wouldn't wanna steal The Object's thunder.

**Ah, how far I've come from my previous IRP! These days, I can fully embrace the idea of Separate Space. Before, in the IRP, I was all THERE IS ONLY SHARED SPACE. We're Together, so we should be TO-GETHER. However, it is already apparent, after just three months, that this particular relationship with The Object can and WILL only get better. The magic's real (and I'm usin it, baby!). It's also infinite. And we only spend three hours together every week. A little more (tack on an extra hour, two tops) might be slightly more oppressive, but the rewards, I imagine, would be almost immediate. I'm definitely not ready for that kind of commitment, but ask me again in a few months. Maybe then we'll know if love can move mountains.

06 April 2010

You know you're in the wrong gym when ...

  • You're surrounded by mirrors. On every surface (except the floor).
  • The bar in the squat rack is attached to the rack, moves only vertically, and has an un-optional weighted pulley system.
  • The plates are scattered throughout the entire gym.
  • The plates are in the leg press machine.
  • There is a leg press machine.
  • There are machines.
  • The 2.5-kg plates are behind the 20-kg plates, which are mixed in with the 10-kg plates.
  • Two words: metric system.
  • The bench press rack is so low that it takes 75% of a full press just to get the bar out of the rack.
  • The heaviest dumbbells are 10 kgs.
  • The ceiling is too low for anyone taller than 5'6" to jump rope (double dutch would never work).
  • It has one of these absurdly useless vibrating belt "exercise" machines that my grandma probably used in 1933 (which happens to occupied EVERY TIME I GO IN).