Walking

I’ve been walking a lot.

Now that winter seems well and truly behind us, and we’re getting the occasional, sunny day, I’ve tried to spend as much time as I can outside. Walking around the neighborhood, walking up the road, even getting dropped off somewhere else in town and walking around there—whenever I can, I’m trying to exercise and enjoy the outside.

When the weather’s crap, I turn into a total lump. The cushions on the couch, the seat of my chair–they slowly adopt the contours of my derriere and my body goes to hell. More aches, more pains, less sleep.

Especially in the winter.

Especially this last winter.

I don’t think I can point to any other four-month period of my life when I had so many muscle and joint problems, or had so many colds and bugs, as I did from this past November through February.

And that was pretty much the last straw.

This spring, summer, and fall, I’ve decided that I’m getting into shape or die trying. Not to run a marathon or go white-water rafting or anything like that. No. My goals are simple: sleep through the night, and not have to gasp for air while climbing a gentle hill.

Exercise has always, always helped me sleep better. And as for that whole “breathing” thing: it’d be a lot better if I quit smoking, but losing a solid 50 pounds and doing some cardio won’t hurt, either.

Besides, it gives me a great excuse to drag my camera out every day.

I’m Terrible at Fun

I should really play a video game one of these days. I’ve got, like, several dozen, but I never touch them.

Almost never, anyway. Shawn and I have a kind of sporadic, Europa Universalis IV campaign we’ve been doing for a few months, but we haven’t gotten back to it in a couple of weeks, and don’t know if we’ll be picking it up again.

Grand Theft Auto 5? Great game! Played about two hours of it a year ago.

Cities: Skylines? Played a lot of that, but the last time was months ago.

FarCry 3? Told it still holds up really well. I wouldn’t know, though, since I think I bailed ten minutes into the thing and that was that.

I tell myself that it’s my machine—that some of these games (GTAV most notably) are just a bit too clunky on my two-year-old rig, and that I’ll get back into them once I’ve replaced it.

“One day! One day, I’ll have a computer capable of running Cities: Sklines without choking to death trying to simulate a traffic system more complicated than two intersections and a bike path, and then I’ll be a gamer again!”

That’s what I tell myself. But in truth? I don’t believe it.

I think I’m just bad at having fun.

Bad at relaxing.

Bad at just chilling out and not worrying about what I have to do next. Even last week, when Alex had her vacation, and the two of us spent most of the time walking or just hanging out together—I couldn’t go more than a few hours without thinking about all the work I wanted to get done, but wasn’t.

Ultimately, I think I’m just bad at being healthy.

Some days, I feel like such shit that when I wake up I wonder how the hell I’m going to get anything done. So on the good days, when I can actually do things, I work. I get my ass in gear and take care of business, checking off tasks as fast as I can, because who knows how I’ll feel the next day.

I need to fix that.

Once in a while, I need to take a good day, and claim it as mine.

A day to just chill.

A day to play games, watch movies, or read something with a sleazy detective and a femme fatale who’ll probably wind up dead by the detective’s own hand.

A day to just be healthy.

Forty Trips Around The Sun

Yesterday was my 40th birthday, and while that’s the sort of thing which probably deserves a long, introspective write-up about the meaning of the middle of life, I’m far too focused on the tiny demon which is trying to claw its way through my intestines.

Let me back up.

I’m not exactly what you’d call “fit,” unless you’re trying to shove me into the gaping maw of a sudden tyrannosaur so you can make your escape, in which case I’d probably fit quite well. Rather, I’m sort of round, and while I’ve become less spherical over the past year or two, I still wouldn’t attempt to murder me and think you could get away with it by making it look like I’d had a heart attack while cycling.

I also have a back which routinely hurts, knees and ankles to match, and I smoke—rounding out the already-round image of a man to whom “good health” is as alien a concept as having sex with another person in the room.

That said, my health in the two weeks leading up to my birthday was legendarily awful.

It started simply enough, with a late-winter cold that took hold of my sinuses faster than I take hold of an unattended plate of pasta. Then, something between my shoulder blades decided I hadn’t had a good cry for a while and turned moving my arms, nodding my head, and sleeping into a special kind of torture.

And when you don’t generally get all that much sleep to begin with, well, I passed “tired” sometime around last Thursday, and am just wrapping up the “I hate life” phase of insomnia before settling into “motion hallucinations of clowns without pants.”

Which brings us up to yesterday, when I spent half the morning on the toilet. I began to suspect I’d maybe caught a stomach bug right about the fifth flush, and the white-hot agony I feel in my guts today seems to support that conclusion.

So, happy birthday to me!

But really, though, what could possibly be written or said about turning 40 which hasn’t been written or said before?

Do I make an over-the-hill joke? Write a self-deprecating stanza about my thinning hair, which actually started thinning a decade ago? Should I confess that the sense of creeping, existential horror I feel pales only to my apprehension of life’s end and the putrid promise of death hanging before us all?

How about none of the above?

Instead, I’ll leave you with a word of advice, the one piece of wisdom, that one bit of distilled truth which the Universe has so far seen fit to grant me in my forty-years-long, yet all-too-brief life…

Buy soft toilet paper.

 

Sciatica!

Dear god, you wanna talk about irony? As soon as I started this blog, I totally trashed my sciatic nerve doing laundry.

Laundry!

Bending down to pull the wet clothes from the washer, bending down again to toss them in dryer. Couldn’t pull it off. My mother, 70 years old, she does laundry at least three times a week, no problem. I do two loads in one day? It very nearly crippled me.

Two days I was walking around like I had scoliosis and a bad case of diaper rash. Just kinda waddling along, keeping my back as straight as I could, but something about the muscles down in my lower back–I don’t know. They just couldn’t support my upper body. I kept having to lean on things and lie down.

And if you’ve never had sciatica before–’cause you take care of yourself, unlike me–the pain, it just radiates down your leg and into your foot. Or your whole leg goes numb while your butt cheek tingles. Or it does what mine did and just cycles through all of it. Pain, numbness, tingling. It’s ridiculous.

Oh, and what did I do for the first week I had it? Did I maybe do some stretching? Did I do some light exercise and apply alternating heat and ice packs like everything says you should do? Did I maybe learn from all the other times over these last few years that I’ve had this crap flare up on me?

Nope!

No, I just laid and sat around the house, letting those muscles get good and tight! And I made sure to sit in only the worst chairs in my house, so all the pressure of my enormous girth could bear right down on the nerve.

It took me about a week to get smart–and angry–enough that I finally just said “Fine!” and actually started following the advice I should have been following right along:

Don’t sit in a chair for more than 20 minutes in any hour.

And after three weeks of avoiding chairs like they’re covered in leprosy; taking long, slow, easy walks; doing some light stretching; and generally babying this thing, I’ve actually managed to get mostly pain free.

But holy hell, does this thing suck. And I can tell, it’s not actually gone, it’s just dormant. It’s gone into hiding, like the Zodiac killer and big hair.

I need to get the weight off, man. That’s what’s gonna fix this. Lose the weight, take up yoga, and just never sit in a damned chair again for as long as I live.

Anyway, that’s why there’s been no updates. Typing on my phone stinks, and sitting in my office chair makes my sciatica scream like a eunuch stubbing his toe. Now that I’m finally mended up, or as near to it as I can get while I’ve still got this gut, I’ll try to get something new here every week.

And now? I’m gonna go do some old man stretching exercises and figure out what to do with the rest of my day.

Hope you have a great week!