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Quickie Post: My Current Top 5 Workout Songs

As one might expect, learning how to walk again after losing a foot and months of bedrest requires serious dedication to one’s physical therapy and workout regime. I’m not gonna post my routine here; suffice it to say it’s long, it’s intense, and when I gave my physical therapist the entire list, he decided he was gonna have to get more on top of his own routine.

But the necessity of fitness to truly manage my ability to walk and function properly aside, it’s not always easy to motivate. I’ve been struggling with some brutal depression, incredible amounts of stress from external, unavoidable issues, and the fact that I’ve only had months to even begin to get used to this new body of mine (for those of you not keeping track, my foot was amputated at the end of January this year).

The songs I use for my workout help me a great deal, and I’m gonna share my top 5—the ones that can get me through ANY workout, and why. I’d love to know yours, too.

1. Stronger, Kanye West

I’ve always thrown shade at the idea that what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger—sometimes it just scars the shit out of you. But I’ve had to hold onto the idea pretty hard to help me get through this experience. It’s also a good reminder when I am 45 seconds into a weighted plank.

 
 
2. Killing in the Name Of, Rage Against the Machine

I’m already filled with rage about race in this country, and this song really gets me going when I need the adrenaline to push harder. ALSO? Fuck you, I won’t do what you tell me.

 
 
3. Fighter, Christina Aguilera

This one is partially directed at the universe in general, and at a former friend who managed to betray my trust and friendship so awfully and so thoroughly in the months immediately following my injury and amputation that I’m still blown away by it. Anger makes for a fantastic workout, but so does the knowledge that nothing can stop you, not even unbelievably false friends.

 
 
4. More Human Than Human, White Zombie

“I have a fucking robot leg,” I tell myself as the sweat gets in my eyes and I begin to flag. “I can fucking do this.” This song is unrelenting and there are times I just have it on repeat if I am doing something I don’t think I can get through otherwise.

 
 
5. Lose Yourself, Eminem

“Success is my only muthafuckin’ option, failure’s not.”

On Being Switzerland

“I’m staying neutral.”

This phrase, or some version of it, gets used all the time when adults within a community or friend circle have drama, fight, or have some sort of awful friend breakup. It needs to end.

First of all, people use it to mean any number of the following things:

  1. I have too much on my plate to think clearly about what is happening.
  2. I just don’t want to deal with it.
  3. I don’t care, figure it out.
  4. I’m a complete fucking coward who doesn’t want to do the work it would take to help all parties get the help and validation they need.

This is valid when one of your friends is not causing harm to another. Be adults. Figure your shit out and don’t track it in my home. Same with utter lack of spoons—if you can’t deal, and others can? That’s just how it goes.

neutral

However, I see this constantly when somebody has harmed or is in some way doing something really fucked up to somebody else. And when poor treatment, abuse, cruelty, resentment, shit-talking, lying, and other behaviors are involved, and people stay “neutral” I kinda want to vomit all over their shoes.

Because the thing is, you don’t have to stay neutral to remain friends with the person causing harm. It is okay to recognize that your friend is being an asshole and still be friends with them. But when you do decide that neutrality is your best option, here are some things that can happen:

For the person being wronged:

  1. They are likely not getting the level of emotional support and validation from you that they deserve, if you are calling them your friend. You might even be gaslighting them a little, making them doubt their own experience.
  2. It’s likely you aren’t actually talking to them about what’s going on, and thus any assumptions you make about what’s happening is coming second- or third-hand and is likely not terribly accurate. This can cause extra harm.
  3. They get to see you continue your friendship with the person hurting them through all of this. Although nobody has the right to tell anybody who they can be friends with, that can also be traumatic, and talking to them about it is useful.

For the person who is doing the harm:

  1. They often don’t get the real help they need because mutual friends are too busy being Switzerland to address the issues at hand and try to get through to them.
  2. Again, not talking + assumptions = bad.
  3. They get constant reassurance and validation from your continued friendship-without-challenges and you never really help them learn how fucked up they are being and therefore never help them grow. We become better humans when we can learn from our shitty behavior, not when people help us sweep it under the rug.

This has been something I have been fielding a little bit lately, but it’s also something that has come up repeatedly in stories friends have told about people allowing others to treat their friends atrociously under the guise of being “neutral”. Come the fuck on, y’all. This shouldn’t be how we operate, not as true friends to each other. It’s just another path to the missing stair (which, while specifically used to describe the issue of sexual harassment, can be broadened significantly).

PeteFallsDownVulture

To the various individuals who regularly name themselves “Switzerland”, instead of telling people you are “neutral” try thinking about what you really mean by it, deep down. And say that out loud instead. Because “neutral” is nowhere near the entirety of what you mean by it.

The fact is, being “neutral” helps nobody but yourself. And that’s cool. We have to indulge in self-care. But let’s call it what it is.

Rage

So here’s the deal. I am angry. Furious. Enraged. Livid. The fact that it is 2015 and it is still possible for me or any of my black friends to have our lives destroyed by supposed servants of the people simply because we are black makes me truly, deeply, painfully angry. The fact that these careless murderers, these state-backed assassins rarely get punished for murdering black people makes me want to flip tables. All of the tables. I’m right there with the rioters in Baltimore, is what I am trying to say. I want to break the windows of cop cars. I want to set shit on fire. I want to flip tables, throw rocks, pound concrete, rage against this system that has perpetuated itself BECAUSE REMAINING QUIET ONLY FUELS THE ENGINE THAT MAKES OPPRESSION POSSIBLE.

Metropolis - Moloch Machine

So when you tell me that racism is shitty, but you’d really prefer if people could go back to reasoned arguments on Facebook instead of destroying property, all I hear is: “I have the privilege of waiting for you to receive justice, and your life means less to me than glass and concrete.” When you tell me that you don’t condone the actions of corrupt racist police forces across the country, but follow that up with, “but we need to find intelligent ways to fight,” all I hear is: “I’m avoiding using the word ‘thug’ because I’ve read somewhere that it is racist.” When you tell me, “I feel angry too, but you don’t see me smashing in small business windows,” I hear, “I will never have to worry about my children being shot by the police simply for the color of their skin, so I can afford to show my anger by sharing articles on social media.”

If you are white, and puzzled by the rage and pain of your black friends, family, lovers, partners, and children, then you are part of the problem. If you decry the destruction of cars with the same energy that you decry the destruction of lives and families, then you are part of the problem. If you think just talking about these issues is getting anybody but white people anywhere, then you are part of the problem. If you are wishing for the days when we could pretend to be color blind and the goal was to become a Bill Cosby-approved house negro, your time has passed. Evolve, or you are part of the problem.

If you are not already angry, now is the time to get angry. If you have not already found your rage about this situation—and I don’t mean self-righteous indignation, here, I mean that deep acid burn in the center of your being that threatens to overcome your very existence every time you hear of a new murder, every time you watch a cop walk free, every time George Zimmerman appears on the news, every time one of your fedora-wearing, libertarian-voting, ‪#‎notallwhatever‬ white friends brings up black on black crime or absentee fathers, then I simply do not understand. If, when another name floats to the surface of your awareness and becomes yet another hashtag (and they do every 28 hours—black men are being murdered by police practically daily and that number does not include women of color or trans people of color), you do not feel like buying a ticket to Baltimore to smash cars with your black brothers and sisters, then I do not understand. I. Don’t. Understand.

Jack-Nicholson

But you go ahead and keep telling me there are better ways for people to fight state-sponsored murder, that waiting quietly and voting the right people into office is going to work for us eventually. That white people will eventually just give up that upper hand and stop being racist. After all, we have a black president, right? More importantly, keep telling yourself all of that. In this instance, the lie you believe is far more powerful and damaging than the one I believe. And you can afford to believe it. 

You’re the problem. You.

don't tell me what to do

Collision

Hello, Gentle Reader. Been a while since I blogged, and odds are you know why, but I’m gonna tell the story like you don’t, so you will just have to sit and listen with the rest of the kids.

On January 19th (that’s the day after my birthday, for those of you playing the Whiskeypants! Home Game™), I decided that I wanted a sandwich from Berkeley Bowl, where the sandwiches are sufficiently delicious that I was willing to brave one of the mid-level circles of Hell to get one. I picked up a few other things, hopped back on Clyde, my beloved motorcycle, and moseyed back home. I was enjoying the sunshine and the clear roads, taking it slowly because I hadn’t been out in a bit and wanted to enjoy it.

If you have never ridden a motorcycle, you might not realize how hyperaware bikers tend to be of their surroundings. That’s not to say we can’t be taken by surprise, but we are also intensely aware that death or severe bodily injury could come from any direction, and the best way to avoid it is to know what’s going on around us at all times. What we absolutely cannot be prepared for is the sheer cluelessness of the motorists around us.

So, when I noted a car coming from the opposite direction that was signaling a left turn, I could not know that: 1. When the driver slowed as I approached the intersection it was not because she saw me; 2. She wasn’t slowing to give me my right of way; 3. She was slowing for some other reason related to her turn.

Thinking she understood that there was oncoming traffic and that I did have the right of way, I entered the intersection. I was wrong; she also entered the intersection. Having corrected her initial turn, she sped right along into her left, and into me.

crashmap

The map is not included for accuracy, but just to give you an idea of what happened. She hit me dead on. I couldn’t possibly recreate that angle accurately, but as you can see, the turn requires a funky angle to begin with. Her fender definitely connected with my left leg, however, and both my bike and I were flung quite a ways. The green pentagon represents where Clyde landed, more or less, and the yellow represents where I landed.

I went down screaming, body and head hitting the ground hard (were it not for my beloved Shoei helmet I might not be here to write this blog post, actually). I will spare you the details of how it felt. I will tell you that in the time spent waiting for the paramedics, I screamed, I wept, I begged for help, I asked how my motorcycle was [PRIORITIES], and I knew there was something horribly wrong with my leg. They finally got me out of the street and into Highland Hospital in Oakland, where treatment began.

I was several days in the hospital and one operation in before a decision was finally made (a decision I was and am 100% behind) to amputate my left leg below the knee. Basically, January 19 and one very careless driver managed to change my life forever. But I ain’t mad.

I got lucky. That accident could easily have killed me or left me with much more severe injuries and disabilities. In the past two weeks I have discovered that I have a veritable army of friends and family who are willing to step up in ways small and huge. I’m gonna have a badass prosthesis. And perhaps most importantly to my happiness, I can still ride motorcycles. In the mean time, I am learning how to function minus a left leg. I am learning just how annoying a phantom limb can be. I am learning how much my friends love and care for me. And, while it will in no way be easy, and it will take a lot to get me back to the point where I can really enjoy my life again, things are gonna be all right.

Insurance is not going to cover all of my medical expenses, nor all of the costs of the changes I will have to make in terms of lifestyle, living and transportation accommodations, and of course there will be myriad other expenses that will crop up as a matter of course. My friends have set up a fundraiser to help me and if you wouldn’t mind either donating or sharing (or both, if you are feeling wacky like that), I would appreciate it greatly. However, no obligation, Gentle Reader: I love you regardless. 

In the mean time, as I heal, my stump is gonna make faces at you.

IMG_8654

Lost Stories

For me, books are basically the best thing ever, immediately followed by pibble puppies and whiskey. I read and re-read them, I discuss them, I occasionally greet them when I walk into a room. They rescued me from a miserable childhood, helped me navigate a difficult young adulthood, and have provided me, in their own way, with the most stability I have ever experienced in my life. If somebody told me I had to choose between books and food for a week, I’d need at least a day to consider.

lost sotries 1 This wouldn’t be a difficult choice for you?

So when I say I tend to think of the new (or new again), super-exciting people in my life as books, I hope you realize that this is a rather extraordinary compliment. It’s a similar form of twitterpation for me—I can’t wait to pick a good book up again, hang out with it, learn more about it, read every story. I don’t know how many of you have seen what I am like with a book I can’t stop reading, but it’s like the briefest of beautiful romances, the sweetest of crushes (with a guaranteed bittersweet ending, of course). New friend crushes work the same way for me (well, mostly—endings are a little less clear). Most people seem to recognize it for what it is; a select few will always decide I have fallen in love with them out of the blue and they must cut ties. That is often startling for me, and then disappointing, although I do admire their egos.
 
But if people are books, and if the ones I truly want to…read…are also incredibly rare and impossibly valuable (and they are, they really really are), then when, for whatever reason, I lose one, I can’t help but mourn every story lost. Everything I could have learned about their world, their perspective, gone. Every story we might have written together, gone. If I have lost this friend to tragedy, I mourn on every level;  occasionally instead I lose friends to terrible miscommunication. Regardless, when it happens it feels like this new, amazing, one-of-a-kind book, which I can never find anywhere else again, has been torn from my hands mid-chapter—just when the action was really getting good.

lost stories2Hey look: a gif that says what I just said! Thanks, Internet!

This is heartbreaking. I hate to be that book nerd who harps on the library at Alexandria. But I’m an historian, a geek, a reader, a lover of detail and stories and information. I don’t bitch about Alexandria because there are so many other people still wailing about it for me. But as far as I am concerned it’s one of the most tragic losses in history and I occasionally mourn it as I might mourn an amazing relative I never got to meet. Oh, shit. I am that nerd. If you relate, just go ahead and scale it down to just one of those books, and you’ll be in the ballpark for what I’m trying to get across, here.

And while I could write a great deal about the potential friendship I lost yesterday, I would instead prefer take a moment to thank those new (and old) friends of mine who have so patiently accepted my genuine (and perhaps occasionally overwhelming) enthusiasm for their company, their friendship, and their stories. Y’all know who you are. Let’s hang out.

2014: A Retrospective

…of sorts.

As promised.

Year of the Whiskeypants

Normally around this time of year, I do a retrospective, but while a retrospective post (of sorts) is coming, right now I am looking forward.

I am so fucking tired of being asked why I am single. Why I don’t date more. Why I don’t have women just crawling all over me. 

I don’t know how I am supposed to have the fucking answer to that question. Is it my failing? Theirs? Did the stars not align that week? Who fucking knows? What I do know, is that I have played and lost at this game so often that I know all the rules, all the side quests (including the one with the firebreathing dragon), and how to navigate many of the annoying puzzles. 

At this point I have a fair idea of when I am being manipulated, managed, gaslighted, and when I should be waiting to be dumped by somebody who maybe thinks I haven’t noticed when they have suddenly disappeared from all forms of communication for a week even though I have had to chase them the fuck down. 

The question is not why I am single. The question is why I put up with this bullshit at all. And I do, way too often. 

Fuck. That.

So, 2015 is going to be the year that I stop. I am going to stop trying to chase down women who won’t be honest or communicative with me. I am going to stop trying to convince the people I date that I’m the one (or one of the people) for them. I am going to stop being the anchor for people who can’t fucking commit. I am going to stop putting up with the gaslighting and the radio silence. Fuck all of that. If people can’t recognize that I am worth chasing, wooing, caring for, and communicating clearly and honestly with, then I’m out. 

2015 is the year of the Whiskeypants. I’m brilliant, hilarious, kind, generous, and loving. I have a short pudgy body that is soft, warm, and extremely cuddly, and you’d be lucky to feel it next to you.

And if it turns out nobody is into that, fuck it. I have a cat, a Roku, and a sexy fucking motorcycle. I’m good.

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