Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Run!!!

“Run!!!” – Jillian.

Do you watch “The Biggest Loser?”

Because you should. Everyone reading this should watch this show. It’s not just about fat people, it’s about health and eating well and mostly willpower. I’m a big fan of willpower. I like to believe I have a lot of it. It depresses me when I don’t have a lot of willpower and feel like I’m a normal human. In fact, I hate that. Like everyone else, I am a special and unique flower.

I like to go running in extremes. I have run at minus forty degrees below zero. (I’m not kidding.) I have run in the middle of a thunderstorm which caused my mom to come out on her porch and shout at me “ARE YOU CRAZY!?!”

Yes. Yes I am.

Which is why I run.

I haven’t been getting enough exercise lately. So, yesterday, I decided to go for a run. The loop Wendy and I make is a little over a 5K. Which, honestly, is not a lot, but it’s enough. But I haven’t run it in weeks. I started out walking and thought “I’ll run, then walk, then run, then walk. It’s been weeks since I ran, we’ll make this the best that I can do.”

So I started running about twenty steps past my house. I felt pretty good. So, I kept going.

A half mile into it, I need to stop and Jillian starts screaming at me. “Don’t tell me you can’t! I hate that! Never tell me you can’t!!!”
If a three hundred pound person can keep going after never exercising in their life, I can keep going.

So I do.

I see people quit on “Losing it with Jillian” (her other show) and I think “You are weak. I would never quit on national TV and not in front of my wife and/or kids. You are weak. That is sad. I would never quit.”

Easy to say, harder to prove. So prove it.

So, I keep going.

The first 3/4 of a mile of this run is all uphill. You complete that, it’s downhill for a mile. I am sucking in deep breaths of air. I am thinking “I just need to make it to the top then it’s downhill and I can rest all the way down.”

The men in my family all have a disorder. It is the belief we can do anything. Anything. I have a hiatal hernia because of this belief. See, I believe that with enough willpower, I can lift anything. Think about that for a second. I can lift anything. Anything. All it takes is more willpower. Big rock? Sure. Huge log. No problem. Couch with a bed? I can do that. Mountain? Give me a minute to gather my will and I’ll carry that wherever you want.

When I was in college, I hated carrying kegs downstairs between my legs because it was awkward. So, I would throw them up to my shoulder, carry them down a flight of steps, and fifty yards to the bar and hook them up. I’m still very proud of that fact. Do you know how heavy a keg of beer is?

Too heavy.

Believing this has caused me to have acid reflux for the rest of my life because I have damaged my stomach with my hernia. And yet, I still cannot stop.
The downhill part is easy. Then I reach the flat part and I think “I really need to rest.”

How will you write this blog entry if you quit?

Well, I could lie, or I could admit that I quit.

“Don’t tell me you can’t! I hate that! NEVER tell me you can’t!!!” - Jillian

It is almost August in Vermont. No lie, it is ninety degrees while I am running and it is so humid it feels like I am breathing water. But, I am a Wakefield, so I can do anything. I keep going.

I get to the top of the hill and I am on route seven. I am pretty sure I am going to throw up.

“I would like to see you legitimately throw up” – Jillian.

Well… I can’t, so I guess I keep going. Twice in my life I have had unique running experiences. Once I achieved a runner’s high where so many endorphins were released I felt like I had touched God and could run forever. The other was when I ran so hard I threw up behind a tree three times. That was not a runner’s high and did not feel like I had touched God. In fact, it felt like I had been violated.

Since I’m not throwing up, I keep going.

The sun is hammering me. The air feels like water. Focus on the fat people. Focus on the fact that you see the show and you think “I would never quit.” Now prove it.
I round the corner and start the uphill climb home. Wendy and I usually walk this part.

I’m almost there, I just need to make it to Mary’s. My breath is coming in deep sucking breaths. My heart is hammering in my chest. I make it to the sidewalk which means there is only a half mile to go.

“Run!!!” – Jillian

Are you insane, woman? I can barely walk. What do you mean “Run!”

Well, the faster you run, the sooner this will be over.

I start to sprint.

“Run!!!” – Jillian

I sprint to the end. I am pretty sure I am going to die, but know that I won’t. I’ve seen how far you can push someone and they won’t die. I walk up to just across from my house and collapse on the church lawn. I lay on my back sucking wind. Then I roll over onto my side since vomit is a lot less disgusting on a lawn then on my shirt and face. Clearly I have not pushed myself hard enough since vomit never happens. I roll over onto my knees and rest for a bit, then make my way into the house.

I collapse on the floor and Wendy comes down to see how I am doing. “Are you okay?”

“I ran the whole way.”

“OMG, you haven’t been running in weeks and it's 90 degrees out!”

“Jillian kept screaming at me.”

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Sunday

It is a beautiful cool Sunday that keeps threatening rain then showers us with more sunshine.

I cannot tell you how much this day has meant to me. (And it is only 1:00.)

In the six weeks that we have been home,I feel like we have been two hamsters on a wheel.

Today, we walked over to the store and bought the NYT Sunday edition. We sat on our nice porch, in our new patio furniture with our feet up and read. Unlike reading on the computer, I had no desire to click away to another site or story. I just sat and read entire articles. My feet are up on our new table, which, I might add, is the perfect height.

I read the NYT's book review section and it gave me some great ideas. Inspiration. Someday, I will be in there.

Then I read a 28 page long fiction story that I wrote almost a decade ago and wondered - why am I not working on this? This is great! I wrote the damn thing and still, I'm thinking "I want to read more of this! What an interesting cast! What happens next?"

I know what happens next and I can't wait to tell you. I can't wait to finish it and have you read it.

Someday, I will be a famous author. I don't say that because I want to be famous, because I don't. I couldn't care less about that. I just want to make people cry with happiness. To bring them joy. To inspire them to be good people and do good deeds.To bring them good experiences like so many fine authors have done for me. As corny as that sounds, yes, that actually is my goal.

I will keep trying.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Thank you Raja

Craig forwarded me your letter.

You made my week.

Thank You.

Jamie

P.S. I know people will ask so here it is a portion of what I am talking about. While the SCG forums are aflame with negativity about my articles, decks and playstayle,my editor forwarded me a very complimentary email. This is a small section that really made my day.

"I sincerely hope that you continue to encourage Mr. Chapin and Mr. Wakefield to write articles for your site that actively address issues beyond The Red Zone. They make your site stand out from the competitors in a very, very positive way. And I can say without any reservation that even if you got rid of every other writer besides Chapin and Wakefield and published a mere two articles a week, theirs alone would be worth renewing my Premium membership."

Again, Thank you Raja.

Jamie

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Bear and Cub

Wendy and I are sitting on the porch, sipping wine and people watching at the end of another long and busy day. Five Harley’s go by, each mounted by ginormous, tattooed, unshaven people. Some of them women.

Wendy watches them round the bend and roar off. “Man, someone decided to put ugly on parade, attach some wheels to it and add a flag on the back.”

So funny that girl.

This weekend there was a Maine PTQ that I wanted to attend and our plan for these PTQ’s is to make them into a business and pleasure trip. The business side would be my articles on Star City Games about trying to qualify again, and the pleasure side would be whole belly clams, a nice B&B, some beach time and maybe some lobster. We are reserving late so everything in Kennebunkport is massively expensive, everything in Old Orchard Beach is sold out, and everything in Portland that isn’t sold out isn’t on the water.

I start researching towns that are between the PTQ and various spots we want to visit on the Maine coast. I find a nice B&B that has five stars and looks amazing. I book online and get a confirmation letter that says I have reserved the NEXT DAY and Sunday, which I do not want. I need Friday and Saturday. I call them to explain the situation.

“Uh… yeah, that room might not be available. Hang on, let me check.”

If he’s trying to muffle the sound or put me on hold, he has forgotten.

He asks his wife “Can the Dakota be made up tonight?”

Wife starts screaming in the background about how much work she has to do cleaning other rooms and he’s not going to be there to help and what time do they want to check in?

“We think we’re going to arrive around four.”

To his wife - “They want to check in at four.”

“I can’t have it done by four. And I have to pick up Charlie at 5:30 so you have to be home by 5:30 to check them in, IF I can finish it by then.”

“Yeah, I don’t think that room is going to be available tonight.”

“No! I can do it! Just be back by 5:30 to check them in!”

Holy awkward Batman.

“We can check in at 5:30 if that’s easier for you…”

“Yeah… I’m going out of town, I don’t know when I’m going to be back… I don’t think we can rent that room tonight…”

“Look, we can check in anytime you want. The room doesn’t need to be done at that time, we can take a key and come back later.”

“Yeah… it’s just not going to work, I’m sorry.”

Wow.

I do some more research and find a nice place with rooms named “River,”
“Cumberland,” Bear Cave,” Cub Cove,” and “The Leather Room.”

Really? That is a little odd, but it also has fantastic reviews so I call them, reserve for tonight and tomorrow and we’re set.

We arrive around five and are met by Scott. He is clearly a large, gay, fiftyish, hairy man. Wendy loves gay men. I find them charming. He explains the rooms to us, the combination on the front door if we come back late, etc.

We are in the Leather room. It is so named (supposedly) for the leather ottoman at the front of the bed. I’m not buying it.

We meet Matt on the way out. He is thirty, also clearly gay, and a total sweetheart. He’s the guy I spoke to on the phone. We have a short conversation then head off to Old Orchard Beach, which is horribly, wonderfully, tacky. We head back to the Inn and we find out we have forgotten toothpaste. I go downstairs to ask the innkeepers, who are both sitting on the porch looking out over the river if they have any. There is a wooden bear carving/statute next to the hot tub. Huh.

Matt goes to look and I get a chance to talk with Scott and sip a beer while Matt searches. They are clearly a couple and I start to understand the names of the rooms. There is a subsection of gay culture that likes large hairy men, called “bears.” Their lovers are usually younger, usually less hairy, called cubs.

We are in the Leather room.

Toothpaste is found. I head up to bed. In the morning I go to PTQ and totally scrub out. I call Wendy to come and get me, rather than play on, because this is supposed to be a mini vacation for us. Since it is overcast, we decide to skip the beach and head to Portland to look around and get some food. We head back to the Inn to change and Wendy points something out to me. “Look at those eye-hooks in the ceiling. And then the other four holes on the opposite walls. What do you think that’s for?”

I laugh, having not noticed them before but know immediately what it is. “It’s for a sex sling.”

“Really? How do you use it?”

“Oddly and honestly, I have no idea.”

Matt and Scott give us some nice recommendations for lunch and then Matt calls us on the road to tell us “The place I told you to go isn’t open for another three hours. I recommend heading into Portland and going to Di Millo’s. I already called them and they are serving all day.”

So sweet.

We head to Di Millos and I get three of the largest shrimp I have ever seen, with cocktail sauce, as an appetizer. The things were as big as my fist. I don’t even need any more food at this point, but I have lazy man’s lobster (cooked in sherry and butter) coming which somehow I manage to choke down as well. Delicious. Di Millo’s is highly recommended.

We find the rest of Portland to be a pit. Sorry, but it’s true.

We head back to the B&B and join Scott and Matt on the porch overlooking the river.

Wendy asks “What are the hooks in the ceiling for.”

Scott says “We hang geraniums from them.”

“Okay, that’s not even a good lie. Geraniums need full sun.”

“You would be surprised how many people believe it.”

“It’s for a swing” I say.

“Like a Hammock?” Wendy asks.

“No, a sex swing” I tell her.

They nod and turn a little red. “We’ve actually had four requests to put it up.”

We find out that they have been together for eight years. Neither of them has ever worked in hospitality beyond the fact that Matt is bartender at a gay bar. But, Scott is a realtor and when this property came up he called Matt to come take a look at it and they had to have it. They do B&B right. Rather than consume them whole they have a woman come in to clean the rooms. In the confirmation letter you get online it tells the combination to the front door for that week, so you can let yourself in. On the table as you enter is an envelope with your name on it containing your key and instructions.

They might be out to lunch or drinking at nice restaurant. They might have gone for a walk or shopping. It doesn’t matter. They don’t let the business chain them down, they just set up everything to be very trusting and automatic.

We have a nice evening on the porch with them until they have to leave for a dinner date in a dry part of town. Yes, dry, as in, no alcohol is served in the restaurant. So, they are bringing their own. They have two bottles of red wine, a bottle of sherry, and a bottle of Skyy Vodka.

“Why don’t I give you guys my cel so you can call me if you need a driver…”

“Oh you’re so sweet, but we’ll be ffine.

Matt makes us eggs Benedict for breakfast and tells us he’ll miss us and had so much fun talking with us.

We feel the same.

We’ll be back.