“If that’s your best, your best won’t do.” ~ Twisted Sister

My parents cursed me.  They didn’t curse AT me (very often).  But, they DID place a curse on me – like a hex. Or voodoo.

I don’t remember The Day of the ceremony or when they cast the spell.  I don’t know if there was a kettle steaming on an open fire and whether they chanted incantations.  I don’t remember any of that. It was likely done when I was too young to remember it – or the hex included a forget spell.  (I don’t know how these things work. I’m not the one who’s a witch).

Spell Casting

My earliest memory of it goes back to my childhood and how I was doing at school.  I was never the sharpest tack in the box and I had trouble with math going all the way back to 2nd or 3rd grade.  My parents sat with me at the kitchen table, clearly very frustrated with my lack of progress in understanding something so simple, when one of them recited the curse.  I don’t remember if it was my mom or my dad who said, “[j]ust do your best. So long as you do your best, we’ll be happy.”

What?  Just do your best?  What does that even mean?  What does it look like when you do your best?  How does it feel?  Do you KNOW deep in your soul that you’ve done your best and you could have done no more?  Is there some sort of objective test that I don’t know about that you guys use to measure whether any particular effort was your BEST effort?  Or, is it a subjective test where you get to decide for yourself whether you did your best? IF that’s the case, I’ve decided that everything I do from now into infinity is the VERY BEST I can do.  Period.  No need for discussion or reflection.  I’m AWESOME.  Shut up and get out of my way, loser.  It’s decided.

CAN I BE THE ONLY ONE WHO DOESN’T KNOW WHAT THIS MEANS?

unnamed

YEAH! What she said!

I only know two things for sure and both prove the insidious nature of trying your best.

Thing One:  My parents weren’t offering me parental advice or trying to raise me “right.”  THEY CURSED ME!  That’s why they said it so much.  It was like a renewal incantation that they were obligated to recite to keep the curse fresh.  “Just do your best.”  “Try your best.”  “All we ask is that you do your best.”  “We’re satisfied with your effort if you do your best.”  “Remember though, no matter how good you are, somewhere there is someone who is better.”  (What????  I need a therapist!)

Thing Two:  I can’t put my finger on even ONE instance in which I’ve done my best.  Even in my most successful efforts I can say, “I could’ve done better.  I should have done x instead of y.”   By definition, if I could have done better, I haven’t done my best.  It’s that simple.

I’ve been CURSED to always do my best AND I’m always incapable of actually doing my best.  Nice.  Thanks Mom and Dad.  That’s just perfect.  I should sue for the cost of the lifetime of therapy needed to deal with that paradox.

“So,” you ask, “Pathetic Runner, what does this post have to do with running or anything else, for that matter?”

I’ve been to the gym. I’m taking “classes.”  I spin and I cross train (until I get some level of fitness to get back out on the road).

My “teacher” is constantly harping on me to do better and to suck less.  She said she would get off my back if only I would try my best.

Gym_Teacher

No. That’s not at all what you look like . . .

 

Until next time,

PR

“Life does not start and stop at your convenience, you miserable piece of shit!” ~ Walter Sobchak

You must know two things about me if this post is to make any sense.

First, I work at a research lab.

Second, I’m not a scientist. (Despite my fascination with quantum mechanics, particle theory and anything beginning with “Astro”, including George Jetson’s best friend). I’m simply not smart enough.

George Jetson

Got it? OK! Let’s begin.

My employer owns and operates a small gym on its site. It’s nothing, really – especially compared to gyms I regularly encountered in my prior life .  It’s nice enough, I guess. There are weight machines and free weights; there’s cardio equipment and a small torture chamber that contains about a dozen spinning cycles (more on this later). And, there’s a basketball court.

It probably won’t surprise you as much as it did me to discover that the gym is predominantly populated by scientists. We’re talking about Ph.D. engineers mainly, with a few theoretical guys thrown in here and there. In the main, these folks are NOT athletes – in fact, I might be the closest thing to an athlete they’ve ever seen.  You don’t believe me? Witness the video I secretly took of their pick-up basketball game.

Sheldon BB1

What’s that spherical orb and why are you throwing it at me?

Sheldon BB2

Newton’s Third Law of Motion Demonstrated

Maybe  you haven’t hung around many scientists. I wouldn’t expect you to know much about their cute little eccentricities.  I can tell you, they’re a lot of things, but ‘one of the guys’, they are NOT.

I really don’t like stereotypes because they disrespect people as individuals. Those of you who know me, I hope, will attest that I’m nothing if not an individualist. I try to keep the weird in everywhere I go and everything I do – It’s who am.  Seriously, I’m one strange cowpoke.  I own that.  Individualism is my “thing.”

Still, many stereotypes exist because somewhere, deep down in the center of it, there exists an embryo of truth. One of those truths is: Ph.D. engineers are generally a little wanting in the “regular guy” category of life.

Be honest. They’re not your first choice of people to go have a beer with at the local sports bar while you watch the Bruins game and complain about your partners.  They won’t help you move out of your apartment next weekend, so don’t ask. And you definitely don’t want to go to their house for a Super Bowl party (aka Kitten Bowl party).

All of this is a preface to this: I went to the gym at work for a spin class yesterday (the subject of a future post, perhaps). As a result, I have to amend my Top Ten List in last week’s post by making it The Top Eleven Reasons I Hate Going to the Gym.

11. Pudgy, sweaty scientists stand in the locker room with their naked posterior cheeks pressed against your locker while discussing their favorite wavelength (or some such shit) with an equally dorky colleague while you stand there waiting to get into your now-gross, disgusting locker without contracting some weird fungus-thing that rubbed off of his ass and is waiting to infect you causing skin boils and spontaneous bodily eruptions before it brings about your slow, painful demise.

Ummm - You're Welcome?

Dude! The towel! Sit on the towel!

PR

P.S. I apologize to my female readership. I had to pick a gender to make this work like I wanted. There are PLENTY of dorky, socially awkward female Ph.D. engineers and scientists. NONE of them had their naked butts pressed against my locker this week. I’m not a sexist. Just so you know.  That just would have been a different post  . . .

Best Of Series – Alien Reconnaissance Deer (ARD)

As promised, here is an email to bring my new reader up to speed about my supposed fixation with deer.  When I first discovered that an alien civilization had disguised reconnaissance drones as deer, I began alerting anyone who would listen that they were here, mixing in with our indigenous deer population, spying on us, likely in preparation for some sort of “War of the Worlds” invasion.  The email below is my first mention of the conspiracy.

At first, they are secretive.

At first, they are secretive.

ARD 2

In time, they grew bolder!

_________________________________________________________________________________________

August 30, 2012

—–Original Message—–
From: [Pathetic Runner] Sent: Thursday, August 30, 2012 9:45
Subject: THURSDAY – ? ?

“The more powerful and original a mind, the more it will incline towards the religion of solitude.” ~ Aldous Huxley

Colleagues,

I ran five miles yesterday afternoon while the members were deliberating on findings. Sadly, I ran alone. Not even Frodo – Ole Faithful, Frodo – joined me. I had posited the theory that running with me was akin to a child waking up on Christmas Day. The alternate theory was that Frodo has left the path of wisdom in his willingness to suffer pain and injury to run with me. It now appears that neither theory is correct. Not to worry, though. I have replaced those theories with one equally, if not more, plausible. The new working theory is that I have a powerful and original mind that subconsciously causes me to schedule runs at times when you can’t go so that I can enjoy the solitude of my thoughts. I guess we’ll go with that.

It was a terrific run, though. When I was running by the cemetery I ran past four mystifying creatures. They appeared to be two doe and two fawn of the standard White Tailed Deer variety. I know they couldn’t be deer, though. Deer are afraid of humans and run at the slightest provocation. I ran easily within 3 YARDS of these . . . things, and they barely raised their heads to look at me. Most likely they were some other type of creature disguised as deer but lacking in any knowledge of how actual deer behave . . . I’m guessing aliens from distant galaxy on a reconnaissance mission of our base. I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking, “No. That’s very unlikely. The tyranny of space/time is such that these aliens would have had to travel distances we can’t even conceive. More likely they were aliens from within our own Milky Way galaxy.” You could be right, I suppose. I won’t argue the point.

These are the types of adventures you miss when you don’t run with me. Just so you know.

I’m thinking that MAYBE I might be persuaded to run this afternoon. I don’t know – if anyone thinks that they might want to go for run, let me know and I will go. Otherwise, I’m planning for a run tomorrow.

R/CO

P.S. It’s unlikely that many of you will join me tomorrow since I’ve decided to grant 96-hour liberty to military personnel in honor of Labor Day. Our civilians are encouraged to take leave if you want to, otherwise please take 59 minutes tomorrow. Whatever you do this weekend, please be safe and make intelligent choices so that you are able to get back next Tuesday and be ready to go.

P.P.S. It should go without saying that I don’t have the authority to grant liberty to our brethren from the NLSO who are on this email. Nice try.

P.P.P.S. I wonder how many of you had the courage and endurance to make this far into this frivolous monologue. I think I’ll come in tomorrow and count how many people come in. Then I’ll know who actually reads my emails.

“I think there probably should be a rule that if you’re talking about how many loaves of bread a bullet will go through, it’s understood that you mean lengthwise loaves. Otherwise, it makes no sense.” ~ Jack Handey

I don’t want to get into the habit of providing you guys with more than about one post per week.

I know you love my musings like that fat kid loves cake (I am the original fat kid, by the way). I can’t be responsible for feeding your addiction to my intelligent and witty prose. I have a life to live . . . as far as you know.

Still, I think I owe you an explanation about why my renewed dedication to my exercise program has been somewhat less than stellar. We’ve already seen that the temperature outside has been hovering around 0° F.

“So, why haven’t you been to the gym?” you ask, “you mentioned something about a spin class? . . .”

The Top Ten Reasons I Hate Going to the Gym (Not Letterman Style):

10. The gym is a confusing place. (Interstellar space travel is simpler than figuring out some of that equipment – I know, I’ve spoken to an extraterrestrial, aka Alien Reconnaissance Deer or ARD’s for those of us in the know.)(I’ll post a “best of” soon to explain this to the one reader who’s joined the gang since I moved from email to this blog-thingy).

 

It's like the International Space Station in there

It’s like the International Space Station in there

Equipment_3

Work those hammies, girlfriend!

What the Hell?

What the Hell?

 

9. Riding a bicycle sucks. Spinning class blows (and sucks)(and is probably illegal under several international torture conventions).

Nope.  Not in this lifetime!

Nope. Not in this lifetime!

Spin Class-1

A meeting of cultists? Maybe a rally?

Spin Class-2

It’s frightening.

 

8. The gym is full of muscle heads, weirdos, perverts and creeps.

Can I work in?

Can I work in?

Dude . . .

Dude . . .

Exercise Class

Um . . . yeah. That’s totally normal.

 

7. The “equipment” is designed for muscle heads, weirdos, perverts and creeps.

Hmmmm

Hmmmm

6. If I go, I have to go there alone (as evidenced by my “sick” colleague who still hasn’t shown me where the gym is at work).

No one wants to work out with me.

No one wants to work out with me.

5. I don’t own any stylish gym attire.

Is that outfit available at Walmart?

Is that outfit available at Wal-Mart?

4. Cardio classes . . .

Wake me up before you go-go. Don't leave me hangin on like a yo-yo . . .(check out the jazz hands).

Wake me up before you go-go. Don’t leave me hangin on like a yo-yo . . .(check out the jazz hands).

3. The gym is dangerous

Ouch!

And . . . wait for it . . . she’s gone!

Equipment_2

I’m speechless . . . no words . . .

 

And possibly even fatal

Yeah . . . I'm probably just gonna leave . . . after I finish my run.  What?

Yeah . . . I’m probably just gonna leave . . . after I finish my run. What?

And almost always embarrassing

Gym Distractions

Focus, dude! Run or yoga – make a decision! (She’s out of your league, bro).

Hey!  Who was taking my picture during my cross-fit class?

Hey! Who was taking my picture during my cross-fit class?

 

2. I’m married

Discretion requires I avoid a witty caption here.

Discretion requires I avoid a witty caption here.

And, finally . . . (I’m so  sorry. I have to do this. I don’t really have a meaningful choice in the matter . . . I owe it to you to express my art honestly without self-censoring.  Anything else would be a disservice to us both).

1. The gym is a nasty, dirty, smelly, disgusting place.

That's just wrong.  I'm sorry.

That’s just wrong. I’m sorry.

OK, I got that post out of my system.  I’ll soon be returning to my typically highbrow, sophisticated soliloquies.

PR

P.S.  For the few of you who DEMAND that the tie between my quote and the theme of the post be OBVIOUS.  Sorry.  Make your own connections.

“The first thing was, I learned to forgive myself. Then, I told myself, ‘Go ahead and do whatever you want, it’s okay by me.’” ~ Jack Handey

Here’s my report from last week:

false start GIF

My intent was pure.  My plan was flawless.  My execution was poor.  (Or, to be more accurate, nonexistent.)  You may say that I fell flat on my ass.  I prefer to think of it as an accidental false start.

I was going to begin by going to a lunch time spin class with a colleague.  I thought it would be a fairly efficient way to start building my cardio fitness back to a point where I could start running again.  She got sick.   She couldn’t go.  It’s not my fault that she got sick.  It wouldn’t be safe for me to go to my first spin class without the help of a seasoned veteran.  Besides, I don’t really know where the gym is located at work.

Truthfully, I’m not much for the gym.  I’m always a little self-conscious there.   I’ve never been to a gym where the walls weren’t covered with mirrors. What’s that about?  Based on what I see whenever I’m at the gym, I’m supposed to look at myself in one of those mirrors and flex.

Gym Gif Yeah, that’s not gonna happen . . .

“So,” you say to me, “why didn’t you just go for a run instead?”

TempAny other questions about that?

“OK,” you respond, “but you have an elliptical machine in your basement, don’t you?  Why not use that?”

Whoa!  Hold up!  I didn’t expect a sort of Spanish Inquisition!

Spanish Inquistion

And, what the hell have you been doing in my basement?  This is the United States of Fucking America!  People far better than you died for my right to protect my God-Given right to keep no account pieces of shit like YOU out of my basement!  What’s next?  Are you rifling through my underwear drawer?  Maybe you should check out my browser history too.  Use my toothbrush.  Whatever.  You DISGUST ME!  You know what?  I’M DONE!  FUCK YOU AND THE STUPID FUCKING HORSE YOU RODE IN ON!  I’M NOT GOING TO SIT AROUND HERE WHILE YOU BLATANTLY ABUSE MY RIGHT TO BE SECURE IN MY OWN HOME!  GET THE FUCK OUT OF MY HOUSE AND STAY OUT OF MY OVARIES WHILE YOU’RE AT IT YOU STUPID FUCKING COMMUNIST BASTARD!

(The plan is to push back the execution of the plan to this week – Hopefully I’ll have something to report next week).

PR

P.S.  I warned you.  My “natural” state of mind is vulgar and profane.   Being profane properly is a skill and I’ve honed my skill over the period of many years.  I’m good at it and, if I’m being totally honest, I enjoy it.   Some of you simply won’t believe the truth of that statement, but it is a fact.  Sorry if it disappoints you humanoids.

“Inside me there’s a thin person struggling to get out, but I can usually sedate him with four or five cupcakes.” ~ Bob Thaves

It’s traditional, I suppose, for real bloggers to do a sort of Year in Review retrospective at this point in the season. I’ve already read several others’ – impressive accomplishments, you guys!

I started to work on it, but surrendered to the truth in about 5 seconds. Thanks to the miracle of technology, I know that I ran 25.52 miles in 2014. Since I’m committed to being brutally honest with you – one of those runs included mileage in the car because I forgot to turn off my watch after the run.  Plus, I’m not a real blogger so people aren’t exactly clamoring for this post . . . or any post really.  Ultimately though, there is no year capable of being reviewed.

If you don’t believe me – look for yourself!

IMG_4353 IMG_4352

IMG_4351The accompanying prose in my hypothetical annual recap would look something like this:

January – nearly froze to death at the airport looking for my car in long-term parking at midnight (no exaggeration – I thought I was a goner).

February – general malaise

March – sloth and degradation

April – more of the same

May – Weird pain in my left bicep and shoulder blade – wonder what the hell that is?

June – My dog gets cancer and dies

July – Medical test after Medical test

August – Medical tests and coping with psychological reaction to advancing age by consuming more calories in a day than a Kenyan marathoner consumes in a month

September – Open Heart Surgery – drug induced confusion; general malaise

October – I love my couch! Daytime TV is pretty awesome! Did you guys know that Bob Barker isn’t on The Price is Right anymore?

November – Back to work. What’s the point?

December – I’m a walrus. How’d that happen? I guess I’ll lay around and ponder it.

Walruspile

This is where my inner dialogue becomes really quite . . . vibrant.

(Within the confines of my head, I swear like a Sailor who’d make a  ‘Po City prostitute blush. But, I’m supposed to set a good example for the humanoids I sired and all of that bullshit so I installed highly sophisticated editing software that removes nearly ALL of the colorful language in my brain before it has a chance to be verbalized. This is, however, one of the rare occasions upon which my technologically enhanced ability to prevent myself from expressing my raw, unedited thoughts has simply failed, resulting in the single-sentence paragraph below).

The truth is I’m so far beyond being merely pathetic that it’s humiliating. . . I’m a fucking DISGRACE.

(Whew! Got it out of my system . . . [Young humanoids shouldn’t use that word because it makes you seem ugly and common – – – like me – – –and you’re supposed to be better than me.  Wait – that’s not much of a goal.  Make it better than the Pope] And, by the way, I think this is the longest parenthetical I’ve ever written if it is merged with the one above and includes the bracketed sentence within this section of the parenthetical, and also includes the parenthetical within a parenthetical and the parenthetical within that parenthetical that immediately follows this WORD (Nice! An impressive use of parenthesis, if I must say so myself (and, as my only reader, if it is going to be said, I have to say so myself) even considering my abnormal-bordering-on-pathological, fondness for parentheticals.) It makes me feel like David Foster Wallace, only I use parentheses rather than footnotes. I’ll claim that as a WIN).

Anyway . . . seriously, I’m fat. (Oddly, I also have a thing for ellipses.). I think I’ve gained 25 pounds SINCE SURGERY! I look like how Larry the Cable Guy USED to look! My latest runs have been embarrassing, even by my pathetically low standards. I am now “that guy” about whom I used to say, “well, I’m a pathetic runner, but at least I’m not “that guy,” as I quietly snickered to myself and feeling so superior.

I am also as stupid as I am fat. If I were even a little smarter I’d see the situation for what it is – hopeless – and gorge myself with every available pleasure while stumbling into old age (hopefully) and eventually, the grave (less hopefully). I’d become a poster boy for hedonism.

Unfortunately, I’m not that smart. It’s not quite that easy for me to do the smart thing and quit. I don’t do resolutions, but will say this: 2015 IS THE YEAR THAT I WILL END THIS SENSELESS DECLINE AND FIGHT MY WAY BACK TO BEING PATHETIC (an inspiring proclamation that leaves you with goose bumps, doesn’t it?). If I can’t or don’t accomplish my goal to climb back into the world of the pathetical, then it’s over. I quit.

This is the most likely ending if left on my own!

 

I will let you know how it’s going. Help me. Don’t let it end like this.

Tomorrow I begin by taking a spin class at work. God help me.

PR