Fiction


My son cares about fitness and strives to create a space where any and all can create their best lives. It isn’t just diet and exercise he promotes, but an overall improvement in one’s life inside and outside his box. He cares. And not just about his star athletes, although he does have some. He cares about all of his people.

He wrote an article at Breaking Muscle recently and took a lot of flak from some fragile ego people. I read the article. 5 Tips for Coaching the 40 and Over Crowd listed everything I wanted done for me. I’m over 40. Way over.

Part of the problem with CrossFit Masters designation is that it begins too early for the always athletic people. My son is turning 40 soon. He has been lifting weights since he was 15. I am old enough to be his mother. I have been lifting weights since I was 59. We do have different needs. However, even my son can no longer perform to his peak level of five to ten years ago.

He owns a gym and is there every day and yet, his time is still constrained by all the things that happen to adults. He is a business owner, has a family – nuclear and extended, has obligations and duties that suck up an inordinate amount of time. His focus has shifted as his responsibilities changed. That’s normal and it happens.

Some of the comments on his piece were more of a defense against age than anything else. Old people in a nation that reveres youth, feel abandoned or marginalized. And if these people think they have to defend themselves at the age of forty, all I can say is wait until you are my age because there is nothing more marginalized in this country than an old woman.

Yesterday I worked out with three 16 year olds. They are all competitive swimmers. Their goal for the day and their long term goals are both far different from mine. There was also an adult working out. I don’t know if Gabe is a “mature” adult or not. What I do know is I was shocked that he wasn’t the first one to return from a mile run. Even he couldn’t successfully compete against a 16 year old competitive swimmer.

What I have needed as an old fart CrossFitter has been far different than any of the younger people who have joined CrossFit Summerville. First of all, I needed more time for everything. There is some adage out there about taking 30 days to see results. Hell, in thirty days, I was still struggling to get through a warm-up and the WODs were still so far over my head, I was drowning. If a coach had treated me like the tender, fragile old fart I am, instead of pushing me like I was still 25, I would have cried less often.

The old fart designation starts too young, as I mentioned. But maybe I’m just one of the true outliers and there aren’t enough really old farts joining CrossFit to make a higher number logical. If new people older than 50 make up such a small percentage, then giving us a special category may be unnecessary. I know at my box there are lots of 20s, 30s, and 40s. Then it drops off and there are a few 50s. And then there is me.

CrossFit has changed my life. There is no doubt about that. I never in my wildest dreams pictured myself throwing 58 pounds over my head let alone being a bit disappointed when I couldn’t get the next higher weight bar up. Three times. But that’s minor. That’s just four hours a week. CrossFit has changed my life all day long, every single day.

I’m less fearful. I’m more daring. I take chances I wouldn’t have taken before. I have balls. Of brass. One of my goals for CrossFit was to get the lids off jars myself. It was a statement of power. It was a wish to be independent and to be capable of living the life I wanted. All in a simple statement. I wanted to have the power and strength of decades ago. I do.

I’ve needed special treatment every time I showed up. I am not the same as the teenagers. I’m not the same as someone who has worked with some athletic pursuit his or her entire life. I was an old and out of shape person who had basically done nothing but sit around for nearly 20 years getting fat and sloppy.

After participating in the Masters Garage Games, I had an epiphany. I was crying again one day and I asked Kim if it was even worth my coming. I could still do absolutely nothing. She assured me that I was a real person who had come a long way and my improvement in the two years I had been coming was vast and impressive. I wasn’t a teenager; I was an awesome and awe-inspiring old fart. I got shit done. I was doing fine.

And it hit me. I’m old. I’m not a teenager or a young adult. I’m old. I’m not anywhere near the kids I workout with in age or experience. I’m old. But I still kick ass four times a week, still do what others only dream of. I still amaze my friends who can’t believe I do this crap and enjoy it. Hell, I even amaze myself sometimes.

I stopped writing scaled after my scores. I began writing masters. No woman who comes to the box and does a lower weight ever writes scaled. Each and every WOD is written scaled because there is both a man’s and woman’s version. Any woman doing Fran with 65# is doing a scaled WOD. It is written at 95# but every woman would whimper, “That’s the men’s weight” if asked to use that bar. Well, I can no more help being old than I can help being a woman. Writing masters after my scores helps me remember this day after day.

I wanted to respond to some of the snarky comments written by fragile ego folks who were “just as good as” when they were younger. Good for you. I’m glad you think so. But if a coach sees someone like me walk into their gym, they better have a plan on what to do with an old fart non-athlete. Because, if treated with care, that person can become an old fart athlete. And be awesome.

10153807_10152459186513581_5116386876589529720_n

I don’t remember how long ago this was written. At least a few years. I don’t even know if I have ever posted it here before. But regardless, I’m posting this short story now. 

Luminescent Light wept. Yet again, another killed in Its name. LL was given many names by creatures across the universe, each believing devoutly they were preferred. And each overpowering and forcing their will on weaker beings, all in Its name.

LL was given many names: Zeus, Thor, God, Yahweh, Allah, Mother Nature, Science, and so many more. And that was just on one small insignificant planet out in a spiral arm of one of the smaller galaxies. Focus shifted from the small blue ball and It sighed.

LL gazed around the universe It had brought into being. This was supposed to be different. There was supposed to be an expansion of Love and a creation of Beauty. LL wanted so much more from the armies of galaxies ever expanding. But all was for naught. Entropy would eventually overtake even the selfish, greedy creatures and finally, finally the killing would stop.

LL was powerful, but not quite all-powerful. LL was knowing, but not omniscient. LL had a flaw, like all heroes. LL was an optimist. LL believed with every last subatomic particle, that life would tend towards the good. Pshaw.

“When did I ever tell any one set of creatures I was theirs and theirs alone? When did I ever say there was only one way to My house? Did I not make my creatures with enough wit and wisdom? Where did I go wrong?” LL lamented, crying out to an unfeeling Universe.

From the distance an answering voice replied, “You are a fool, Lum. You gave your creatures free will and their will is to please the self. Freedom from want means restraint for all, but greed overpowers the simpletons. Even love means a choosing of one over another. You built them poorly.”

“I am alone in the vastness of eternity! Who are you? Have I finally gone insane?” cried out the Maker.

“I am Deepest Dark, the antithesis of your light. The Yin to your Yang. The opposite of who you think yourself to be.”

“Why are you speaking to me?”

“You asked a question. I thought you were talking to Me. Who did you expect to answer?” sneered DD.

“I expected no answer. I cried out in my anguish. My Universe is not what I had hoped it to be.”

There came an echoing laughter, bitter and dry. The sound of broken glass and crushed leaves, arid and devoid of mirth. “You think you have it bad? In My universe, I did not give them free will. There is nothing but birth, short and mean life, and then death.”

“That’s how it is in My universe, as well,” sobbed LL.

DD’s voice took on a savage tone, sharpened by a knife’s edge of hate, bitterness, jealousy, and longing. “You have art. Your pitiful creatures made art. Pleasures to fill all the senses. Throughout your galaxies, in myriad worlds, there is art.”

DD’s sobbing wracked both universes.

LL was silent. Eons passed, entropy continued. LL sighed and looked once again across the universe.

“Art?” LL whispered. “What is the price of art?”

I walk in the quiet of the morning. The stillness is peaceful and gives me a chance to work out how I want to spend my day. I plan ahead while I walk. I also gaze at the scenery, Southeastern US foliage. The spring greens are beautiful.

I’m lucky that while I walk, I am surrounded by green space, luxurious plants, and sometimes wild life.

While it is possible to see the occasional alligator, I’m usually lucky enough to miss that type of encounter. I can see deer, wild turkey, geese, ducks, bunnies, and amazingly enough I believe I saw a unicorn.

I was walking where I didn’t belong – the golf course. But it was early morning before the first tee time. The verdant landscape was broken only by the cart path and the sand traps. There in the distance, over by a green, was a beautiful silver beast.

As I walked closer, she (I really don’t know if it was a boy or girl, but I’m going with the premise of a she) looked at me and I looked back.

The powerful build of the horse was noticeable, but what stuck out, literally and figuratively, was the horn. The swirled horn was at least a foot long. It was multicolored, too. The silver of the unicorn’s pelt, mane, and tail were in such stark contrast to the vibrant colors of the horn.

The horn itself started at the base as a deep violet and then went through the rainbow and the very tip was a soft pearly red. The colors spiraled up and blurred one into the next so I was unable to see where one color stopped and the next began.

I stood there awestruck, unable to move. Then the unicorn made a soft sound, not exactly like a horse’s whinny, less strident and lower in tone. She tossed her head and her mane rippled in the slight breeze. She made the sound again, looked at the tree line, looked back at me, and then slowly walked into the shadows of the trees.

I stood there looking at the now empty space and only at that moment did I remember that my phone was in my pocket. I missed the perfect picture. I’m not sure she would have allowed me to get off a shot. I’ve heard that unicorns are very secretive. She may have fled if I had gotten the phone out and started the process of taking a picture.

Instead, I got to share a moment with this magnificent beast and create a memory to carry with me for the rest of my life.

That was my adventure today, as I mused and walked, and began my day.

Basket of Pretty is part of the Opalmine Publishing network and a place I have befriended on Facebook. They post something pretty often. Perhaps it is each weekday or just as the mood strikes. I don’t know for sure.

I went to their site and found my prompt for today’s post. I was having difficulty coming up with something to write about that didn’t have me spewing invective. I wanted something light and not the swirling masses of darkness I had percolating. So I thought of this space and opted to go with this as a beginning point.

Beautiful pink roses

Samantha sat in front of the window looking out over the hills falling away from the farmhouse she called home. She held a steaming cup of coffee cradled in both hands. Her eyes peered into the distance, hoping to see a trail of dust coming up the long drive.

A delivery truck had snaked its way to her door earlier in the afternoon. Some chipper young man, probably not more than a teenager really, stomped up to her front door and pounded too loudly. It irritated Samantha. The loud noise and the intrusion. She was busy pouting and didn’t want to be disturbed.

But she was too curious to not answer the door. Besides, the kid was pounding for the second time creating even more noise and further irritation. She went to the door and tried to plaster at least a fake smile on her face. It wasn’t working well.

She opened the door and there was a tall, gangly teenager holding a vase full of beautiful pink roses. His clumsy, large hands were partially crushing the pink ribbon tied at the narrow portion of the vase. His smile was real and his eyes were dancing.

“Somebody sure thinks a lot of you,” he said as he handed over the vase.

Samantha blinked rapidly and nearly dropped the heavy glass. Her smile turned real and she buried her face among the dozen blooms and inhaled. “They smell wonderful,” she said so low the kid was straining forward to hear her words.

“Well,” he said as he turned, “have a great day and enjoy your flowers.” He walked quickly back to his still running truck and hopped in. He slammed the door as he popped the gears into reverse and quickly drove out of Samantha’s life.

She stood in the door transfixed. She smelled the flowers again, breathing deeply and sighing out loud. She watched the retreated cloud of dust as the truck disappeared into the wide world out there. Quiet once again descended.

Samantha took the flowers into the house and gently shut the door. She looked around her tiny living room for a spot to set them down. The end table next to Dan’s easy chair was also just to the left of the window. She placed them there.

After setting them down, she took the card from the little plastic holder. She opened it and found written in a feminine hand. “Love always. Happy anniversary. Dan.”

She thought back the fifty-two years and remembered the strong, tall, young man Dan had been. He had been her one true love. The person she could always depend on. The man of her dreams. They had raised three sons and a daughter together. They had nine grandchildren and one great-granddaughter. They had run this farm and been successful for over fifty years.

She looked out of the window again and searched for the cloud of dust. She waited patiently for her daughter, Darcy, to drive back to the farm. She saw the fine trail of dust coming and set her coffee cup down.

Samantha didn’t know how the flowers were paid for. She didn’t understand how for the first time in fifty-two years she was getting flowers. Now, when everything was so bleak. She plucked one beautiful long-stemmed pink rose from the vase and went to the door.

Darcy hurried up to the door to help her mother to the car. She saw the pink rose and asked, “Where did you get that?”

“Your father sent it to me. I want to show him how beautiful they are.” Mother and daughter walked slowly to the car and Darcy drove to the cemetery so her bereft mother could visit her dad on this special day.

 

Floating skyward, the balloon caught in a breeze and hurried away. All was well until the greedy fingers of a tall pine tree snagged at the bright red. The balloon did not break, but the trailing string tangled in the branches, caught in the clutches of this unseen foe.

Cassie watched all this from the park bench. She looked over to the small child now crying and his, possibly her, mother trying to comfort the tot. Mommy would get another balloon. It was going to be okay. She heard bits of pieces of admonition as well. Mommy was trying to teach the child about holding on tight.

Holding on tight. Yep. That’s what she should have done. Hold on tight. Cassie looked back at the balloon swaying in the breeze high up in the tree, caught by the far reaching branches, the long needles, the might and power of the tree. Holding on tight.

She knew the good times didn’t last forever. At least not for her. She was a floater, a drifter, through other people’s lives. She wasn’t the master of her own fate, but buffeted by the prevailing winds, taken where the moment led her, until the winds changed and her life took another direction.

“Dear God,” she mumbled to herself, “I’ve become totally maudlin.”

“Pardon me?” The voice came from slightly behind her and to her left. She turned to see a young woman dressed for success.

Cassie said, “I was just talking to myself.”

“I do that a lot, too. Doesn’t seem too many people are interested in what I say, either.” The woman smiled, self-deprecating but not feeling sorry for herself.

Cassie was feeling sorry for herself. “I know the feeling.”

The woman sat down on the other end of the park bench, putting her extra-large-almost-a-suitcase purse between them. “Hi, my name is Sonya.”

Cassie held her hand out over the luggage and said, “I’m Cassie.” They shook hands.

Sonya peered into her purse and pulled out her lunch. A medium sized plastic container held a salad while a small plastic container held the salad dressing. She mixed the dressing into the salad and began to eat using a plastic fork also retrieved from the capacious bag.

Cassie watched for a moment, noting the woman had not yet made a mess. Cassie would have made a mess by now. She always made a mess. She was a mess. “Maudlin,” said in what she thought was a soto voco voice.

“What’s wrong?” asked Sonya.

“Wrong?”

“Yes, you keep saying ‘maudlin’ over and over. Can I help in some way?”

“No, it’s just … I mean, there isn’t really anything … I’m sorry. I am being maudlin and it is disgusting.”

“What are you being maudlin about?”

“I don’t seem to be in control of my life. I don’t seem to be the master of my fate. I seem to be living my life in the ‘red balloon’ style of drifting. Christ. See? Maudlin.”

“There are days when none of us are in control of our lives,” Sonya said. Cassie looked over at her eating salad with a plastic fork. A beautiful salad with lots of interesting stuff in amongst the greens. And just the right amount of dressing. And nothing dripped down the front of her blouse or dropped on her lap.

“I suppose so. I just think I’m hogging the drifting stuff and it might be someone else’s turn for a while. I want to be a take charge person.”

“So, take charge.”

“I can’t. I’m not the boss. I can’t make other people do my bidding. I am the person who is told what to do, not the one giving instructions, making demands, getting what I want.”

Sonya was quiet and continued to meticulously consume salad. Still not a drop on her clothes. With a plastic fork, no less.

“Are you always in charge?” asked Cassie.

“Almost never,” said Sonya. Cassie watched some more salad disappear.

“Really? You look like a ‘person in charge’ and you seem so collected.”

“Ah, smoke and mirrors. I heard somewhere that if you act like this or that, you eventually don’t have to act anymore, you actually become the this or that. I’m trying. I’m hoping. You really think I look collected? You really think I’m in charge?”

“Aren’t you?”

“Nope.” Sonya ate the last of her salad. She packed away the plastic containers in the depths of her gigantic purse. She stood, hoisted the bag onto her left shoulder, reached out her hand to once again shake with Cassie. “It was nice meeting you.”

Sonya left, walking back to wherever she had come. Still perfectly dressed, hair unmussed by the gentle breeze, going back to wherever she came from.

Cassie looked down at her stained jeans and rumpled t-shirt. She looked at her muddy shoes. She looked up at the red balloon, still swaying in the treetop.

What a wasted day. Maybe she should get back to her apartment, clean up the place, send out some more résumés. Drift through another day. She wondered if she had enough stuff in her fridge to make a salad.

I write for an e-zine once a week. This is today’s article. You can subscribe by sending an e-mail to reallygoodquotes-subscribe@yahoogroups.com

There have been so many stories in the news about cops misusing their tasers. I’ve read of a small child (under the age of ten), a woman in her 80s, and a recalcitrant suicide attempt who was refusing aid all being tasered. And this was just in the last couple weeks. This seems to be an abuse of power.

I would also like to point out that police see an awful lot of things we, in the general public, do not. I’ve read the comments from “reasonable people” about what they would do in a specific situation. They often claim this reasonable status. The major problem, as I see it, is that by the time the police are called in, we are way past the reasonable point.

But another story appeared and I again was sucked into the tale. I will present it here.

A call came in concerning a “suspicious” man trying to break into a house. He was said to be “wearing a camouflage outfit” as he skulked around the home. He tried first a window, and then the garage without being able to gain access. He jumped the locked fence at the back of the house.

Officer Fred Martin is a 21-year veteran on the local police force. He approached and using caution called out, “Halt!” after seeing a male subject in the back yard. The male was indeed wearing camouflage.

There was a slight hitch. Christopher Kunder, 21, halted and spoke with Officer Martin. Kunder serves with the Army Airborne in Afghanistan. He was home, without anyone knowing it. He wanted to surprise his mother and sister. He was not only in camouflage, but wearing his red beret and his name was stitched above his pocket.

Officer Martin and the young man spoke further. Kunder wanted the police to call his mother and say there was an emergency at home and she should get there quickly. But the policeman could not do that. It would be a lie.

Instead, after getting her number from Kunder, he called and said, “This is Officer Martin of Bloomington Police. We’ve had a report of somebody trying to enter your home. It was unsuccessful but you might want to come home to make sure there’s no problem.”

Kunder’s mother, Martha Sternickle, complied although she wasn’t sure how they had managed to get her phone number. She assumed the police had their methods and she and her daughter hurried to their home.

During this time, Officer Martin put the “suspect” in the back of his police cruiser and turned the lights on. When Martha arrived, he asked her to peek in the back of the cruiser to see if, perhaps, she knew the man “because one can never tell.”

Martha looked, and thought the man looked very much like her son, until it dawned on her that it was, in fact, her son. Miraculously home from Afghanistan. Here at her house. Her son. Her precious son.

The “suspect” jumped out of the car and mother and son hugged with Mom crying like we all tend to do. Then, little sister, Josie, joined in the group hug so happy to have her big brother home.

“It was,” says Fred Martin, after 21 years of too much hardened crime, “a reunion that made my own eyes water.”

Officer Martin got into his car and retrieved his camera. He took a picture that is included in the story at pantograph.com. I’ve posted it here, as well.

A very happy family reunion

We hear about the horrible things police do, abuses of their power and sometimes egregiously out of control. But we hear about these things because they are out of the norm. Each day, policemen and women go to work and hold the evil that lurks out there at bay. They are put into untenable situations and handle themselves with grace and courage. We don’t hear those stories. They are “routine” and so don’t ever make it to press. The courage it takes to daily step between the criminals and society is seen as something not worth writing about. However, when we are faced with any dangerous situation, one of our first thoughts is to call for help from these brave people.

Do you have any stories of police being wonderful? Do you wish we could see more of these types of stories given space in the press?

Have you thanked a police officer lately? Do you really understand the danger they willingly face so the rest of us can live safely? To all our police officers here, a hearty thank you for all you do to keep us sheltered from the evil you face on a daily basis.