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19 June 2013 @ 08:23 pm
A few weeks ago (the 26th of May, as I recall), James and her family had a Survivor-style day of fun and games at The Swamp. A bunch of competitive games for everyone to play, it was fun. Well, one event was "how long can you hang from this beam?" They set up a beam of wood, and you see how long you can suspend your weight from it. I managed it for six minutes before I let go. Unfortunately, the way I was hanging, my left forearm was left feeling numb afterwards.

It hasn't stopped feeling numb yet.

It's way better, mind you. The numbness is contained within one small area, but I've been trying to rest the damn thing to repair what I presume to be nerve damage. There's also the fact that when I use the muscles there too much, my wrist starts hurting. NO IDEA WHY. I wasn't hanging from my wrist. My wrist is not the damaged area. NERVES, AMIRITE?

So anyway, I've been resting it. Started taking some Aleve everyday to try and reduce pain (which honestly isn't all that bad, I just worry that any pain I feel is a sign that I'm delaying the healing) and inflammation, if that's an issue. But we've got another zombie run coming up on Sunday, and I haven't run in nearly a month. It's feeling much better, so I ran today. Back down to 5.6 mph (I had put it up to 5.7 briefly, but then I took the break) for 40 minutes at a 2.5 incline, trying to jump right back into it. And I feel fine. Finished the run, sweaty but alright. But there's a problem.

When I bought the new clothes (the topic of the previous post), I also bought some new shoes. I've been wearing size 14s for years and years, but I actually measured my feet and the size checker thingy said I was a size 12. Which kinda fits, my dress shoes are size 12, and I tend to have to wear size 12 bowling shoes. So I tried on some size 12s. My feet went into them, but I didn't have much extra room for my toes. So I tried on some 13s, they felt way better. So I bought the size 13s, figured I'd try it out. Well, after today's run, my pinky toes hurt. They're being pinched a little bit. It's not terrible (yet), but it's a sign that these are the wrong size. Either a size 13 wide, or just stick with size 14.

09 June 2013 @ 12:48 pm
I went shopping yesterday to try to finally finish updating my wardrobe for my new size. This involved buying lots and lots of pants, and a belt. When I started working out, I was wearing 52-inch pants, and they were honestly starting to get to be too small. They had stretchy waistbands, and I was stretching them pretty much to their limit, so I was probably about a 54 inch waist.

The pants and belt I bought yesterday were 38 inches at the waist.

07 June 2013 @ 11:43 pm
Well it took 142 hours of play (on a game I paid 9 bucks for), but I finally unlocked the Crystal cruiser on FTL. @_@ NOW I NEED TO UNLOCK THE SECOND FLOORPLAN AND I'LL HAVE UNLOCKED THE ENTIRE GAME. YAY.
16 May 2013 @ 07:51 pm
Saw a guy on UL campus wearing an Owen 3:16 shirt from behind a couple weeks ago, while driving down St. Mary. Went something like this.
Me: :o Does that say "I Just Broke Your Neck" on the back of that guy's shirt? ::rolls down window, shouts:: Is that an Owen 3:16 shirt?
Guy: ::turns around:: :D ::thumbs up::

31 December 2012 @ 10:26 am
The surgery went fine. Went better than they thought it would, actually. Apparently, the bone below the break was stronger than they thought, so they were able to use a less-invasive implant than they thought they would have to. They'll get him started on physical therapy and they think he might be able to support his own weight within a couple of days. What a relief.
31 December 2012 @ 01:00 am
The plan had been for James, Adam and I to spend Christmas Eve at my dad's, where Sue and Walter would be. Then on Christmas we'd go to my mom's place in Baton Rouge, then James and I would come back and spent the afternoon and evening with her family, and the three of us would go back to my dad's place on the 26th, when Steve and Anita would come in to see Sue and Walter. All was going according to plan, I left James' place to go to the office to get some work done, when I got told by Adam that Walter had fallen down and was feeling sore, so getting together on the 26th was out. I went on, spent the next day teaching (Intersession, whee), when right after class, I got a call from Adam getting me caught up on what had happened.

Water had broken his hip. He was in the hospital. He had been combative and disoriented, tried to fight people off of him, so they had put him in padded gloves so he didn't hurt himself. The injury was such that they couldn't pin his leg back together. They were going to have to do a hip replacement. It's a straightforward operation, but because of his age, there's no way to know whether or not he'll survive it. They needed to wait a few days for some of his medicine to clear itself from his bloodstream, and then they'll operate.

The operation is tomorrow at 7:30 AM. He's spent the last few days completely confused and disoriented. He'll try to get up, and we'll explain to him that his leg is broken, he has to lie down. Then he'll try to get the gloves off, and fail, so he'll ask us to get them off for him. We tell him we can't. He looks vaguely disappointed for a few seconds, then asks us to help him get up. We tell him we can't, he has to lie down until they can operate on his leg and fix him. Then he asks us to take the gloves off again, and the entire cycle repeats. He can barely talk, he doesn't know who anyone is. It's terrible. I sat with him for an hour today. I love that guy. I think he's great. I am so, so lucky to have had him as a grandfather. And all I can think about is how I'm the oldest. I'm the one he should have seen succeed. I should be the one he's got the most reason to be proud of. And all three of his other grandkids have left me in the fucking dust. He'll never see me standing on my own two feet. I just feel like I failed him.

And I KNOW I failed him, in that I never got on him to write his memoirs, back when that was still an option. I tried once, StoryCorps came to town, but they were all booked up by the time I found out about it. And now all these amazing stories about running from the cops in New Orleans, about sailing with the Merchant Marines, about decades of being the radio commentator for LSU Football games in Baton Rouge, and a lifetime of living in the utter craziness that is Louisiana are all going to be gone soon. I saw how amazing it all was, I saw what needed to be done, and I never did what it took to make it happen.

I just failed.

From what I know, there's no reason to assume he won't survive the surgery. But even if he does, the last few months have shown how little of him there really is still left. I miss him terribly. He gave me a hug today, though. He goes in and out of knowing who people are. He was routinely calling my dad (his son) a cocksucker while they were getting him checked into the hospital. And I don't think he knew who I was. But he reached up to me, put his hands behind my head, and pulled me into his chest. I was just so stunned I didn't know what do to. So I just hugged him the best I could. Told him I loved him. Told him he was great. And now I'm crying. Which is okay. There's nothing wrong with that. But it fucking hurts, nonetheless.

Tomorrow is New Year's Eve. And I don't know if my grandfather is going to see the New Year. I was trying to keep him calm today. Keep him relaxed. And he'd thank me, sometimes. It was surprising to see him that cogent. It would just come out of nowhere. He'd look right at me and thank me. I did my best in there. Treated him like an adult. Treated him with respect. Told him I loved him. The previous time I was in there, I told him I was glad to see him.

There is no such thing as having enough time with the people you love. I know I have been lucky to have Sue and Walter for so long. And I am INCREDIBLY glad they were still around after I got out of my "I am 17 years old and don't have time for anything that isn't immediately entertaining to me" phase that lasted a few years longer than it should have. I really did have the time to know them as adults. I do not take that for granted. I know how lucky I am. But there is no such thing as having enough time with the people you love. And I am being made aware of this fact.

I need to go to bed. The surgery is at 7:30, as I said. I'll be getting up a couple hours before that. I needed to get this all written down now, before the surgery, before anything is settled.

That's been my last few weeks. Well, last night Adam and I had a great time at a UL basketball game. The girls won in double overtime, and men won in regulation. Adam had me in stitches multiple times. I'd forgotten how amazing a person he is to hang out with. I'm a lucky guy in that way, too. I know he's better than me. He's a better man, and he'll live a better life. But that's fine. Big brothers are meant to look out for little brothers. That's what we're for. So if he surpasses me, well, at least the better man came out ahead. I keep telling James she's dating the wrong one of us, but she insists she likes the one she's got. Shows what she knows.

But yeah. That's where I'm at right now. I need some rest. So I guess I'll go get it, now.

End part 4.
31 December 2012 @ 12:29 am
Of course, Run For Your Lives was not the goal. There was only one real goal: be under 200 pounds by Christmas. I had started working out last Christmas, and I weighed 291.5 pounds. Getting under 200 would mean I had lost 90 pounds in one year. 30.87% of my body mass. Gone. Under 200 for the first time since I was about 14 years old. But the problem was that it was during Thanksgiving and Christmas season that I had to lose the last of it, when losing weight is hardest. I had pushed up my treadmill difficulty in an attempt to burn more and to get ready for the cross-country stuff in Run For Your Lives, but it was going to be close. I had created Plan Omega for just such a situation, however: eat nothing for the last two weeks before Christmas but two Subway sandwiches a day. It would ensure I was eating balanced meals, it would be enough food to kinda fill me up, and it would absolutely burn the weight, seeing as how I would only be eating 1600 calories a day. I had started seeding a few days like that before the make or break point, and it's a damn good thing, because I utterly failed to enact it. Between going out with James and a couple who are friends (who she managed to accidentally hook up, and instantly because our first "friend couple" to do couple stuff with, yay) for a great night at Acadian Village with Christmas lights everywhere followed by going to a steakhouse, and taking James out to lunch sometimes, and all kinds of other stuff, I was utterly failing to enact Plan Omega (so called because it was the absolutely last damn thing I wanted to have to do, but it would work).

I eventually went grocery shopping a couple days before Christmas, which I knew would also torpedo the plan, but I sure as hell wasn't going to be able to go to Subway ON CHRISTMAS, so I needed to be able to feed myself. It was at this point, on December 21st, that I realized there was one plan left. A plan so dire that my brain had hidden it from me until that very moment. I had been telling people I would be under 200 pounds. They could take it to the bank. I had done that to increase the pressure on myself, and I wasn't going back on my word now. That was the only reason I would even consider such a plan. Beyond Omega, there was only one thing left: Plan Null Set, or Plan Empty Set, if you prefer. It was appropriately named, because it would require me to intentionally induce something I thought I would spend the entire rest of my life trying to prevent a recurrence of.

I could re-enact the Apricot Incident.

The Apricot Incident was the time I absent-mindedly ate an entire pound of dried apricots in one sitting and then spent the rest of the evening pooping out the entire contents of my intestines. God, that was awful. And like I said, I knew it was a terrible idea. Like, eating disorder-level bad idea. But I had made a promise to the world, and to myself, and so I loaded up on apricots, thinking that it was terrible how I had finally gotten back into eating them, years later, and now I might be about to ruin them for myself again.




Oh man, I was riding so high.

For about 24 hours.

End part 3.
31 December 2012 @ 12:08 am
With the semester over, my focus shifted to Run For Your Lives, the 5k Obstacle Course Zombie Run that James and I had been preparing for, and one of the major factors in my attempts to get in shape this year. Unfortunately, James hadn't been able to train as much lately as she would have liked to in the weeks leading up to it (she has a bum ankle and two bum knees, and it had been horrendously cold in the mornings, which is the only free time she has to work out), so she was really worried about whether she'd be able to finish. And on the day we were set to go, she had a panic attack. That, um, lasted for 4 hours, basically. We finally got her packed and in the car, and she just crashed out after about 45 minutes. Drove for another hour, then pulled over at the Texas State Line (the run was about an hour outside of Austin) to try and wake myself up. She woke up and was doing much better. The sleep just reset her some, and she stayed awake the entire rest of the drive (which is good, because I was starting to get REALLY tired, because we had gone to the midnight premiere of The Hobbit the night before (because we're morons (nested parentheses, whee! :D ))), so that was good. We got to the hotel and zonked out.

Next morning as we were walking around the hotel, we started seeing lots of people in running shorts, so we were fairly sure we'd found a good hotel. After a brief breakfast (which seems to have gotten me hooked on eating cereal again, as I was just JONESING for some Raisin Bran, and Raisin Bran'd it up, and now I have three boxes of cereal in the cupboard), off we went. The weather was essentially perfect. 68 degrees, light wind, totally overcast but not raining at all. Couldn't ask for better.

So after a huge traffic jam on the way, we get there on time. We got the camera we rented (strap to your head, give it back to the guys who are renting them out, and they'll edit the footage together with songs of your choice and mail it to you. radical), and started running at 11:30, I believe it was. We each had three flag football flags on a belt around our waists. If you have a flag left at the end, you survived. If not, you're infected. Either way, they let you finish the race. And man, it was nuts. We would approach a group of zombies, wait for a few people to gather together, and then charge at them to give them too many targets to attack. James lost one flag in the first group. Ha, actually, even before that, very first obstacle was a muddy water pit. And James tumbled right the fuck into it. x_x It was amazing. But yeah, we crawled under barbed wire, hurdled our way over chest high walls, ran up natural hills (one of which was probably about 25 feet tall and was at a very steep incline. crawled up on hands and knees, grabbing for tree roots, occasionally putting a hand on my girlfriend's butt to push her up, that sort of thing), it was a trek. We'd walk for some parts, then run past zombies, then get to an obstacle, get past it, jog a bit, walk a bit....fucking crazy. After the first mile, James had two flags, I had all three. Naturally, by the end of the second mile, she still had both of hers and I had lost all of mine. x_x Damn it.

Not that she didn't earn it. She ran like a crazy person. To avoid one group of zombies, she just charged through the underbrush where there was no path. Not only was there no path, there was a fucking cactus. This prompted the zombies to ask her if she was okay. She just kept running and screaming. It was pretty hilarious, but man, she had scratches all over her legs after we were done. There was also one point where a zombie we had gotten past started chasing after us. I started shouting "Go go go go go go go go!" It was two or three "go's" before she realized I was talking to her, and she hauled ass out of there. There was one part where we had to go into a house through the windows. I saw some warnings outside saying the obstacle emitted an EM field, that it might interfere with pacemakers. Wondered what that was all about. Then we went in and I didn't see anything until James shouted, and I saw she'd run into something dangling from the ceiling...a bunch of fucking electrodes. Everywhere. She had reached up to brush one aside, not realizing they were electrified, and had gotten zapped right in the funny bone. Ouch. Came out to a balance beam over a shallow pit of water. I got about a third of the way across before falling. James scooted across on her butt, it was hilarious. Then we got to the mud field. Had to be 100 yards of mud, with hills and zombies between them. And I got close to the end, and a single mud hill I just COULD NOT get over. James was laying off to the side, resting and kinda laughing at me failing repeatedly, until I just dug my fucking fingers into the mud and yanked myself over the top. It was rough. I lost my runner number at some point during the race, pretty sure it was there. There was also a maze at one point. A maze with zombies in it. Fucking harrowing. I spotted one ("We've got Zack in the maze!" (World War Z ruled, shut up)), and I'm moving around, catch up to James, and she turns a corner, and fucking SHRIEKS and takes off like a shot. There was a zombie around the corner, and she basically obliterated him with a sonic attack, is how I tell the story. The zombie dude just stood there stunned for a few seconds, looked at me and said "Wow, she is loud." To which I responded, "I have to live with that." It was hilarious. All the zombies were good sports.

After going a bit further, we got to a safe zone, and James just had to stop. She has asthma attacks sometimes, so when she tells me we need to stop, I have no problem with that. There were a couple of zombies in the area, so we were all chatting, one of them got her a bottle of water they give to the zombies, that was nice. One of the zombie girls was in a schoolgirl outfit, she had the pigtails, plaid skirt, plunging neckline on the shirt, whole deal. She said she'd been hit on more that day than ever before, and I'm just thinking 'well, yeah.' One guy without flags ran past, and she said she'd give him a flag back in exchange for one of the free drink vouchers they hand out at the beginning of the race. He said no and ran on. I told her I'd take her up on that, but she said she was just joking. Then when James was feeling better and we got going, she just up and gave me a flag anyway. And that's the story of "how I survived the zombie apocalypse by flirting with a zombie." After that, we came to the first obstacle where my fear of heights kicked in. Had to climb over a fence that was probably eight feet high, which meant my head was about 14 feet above the ground, and I kinda panicked at the top. Took me about 20-30 seconds to cross from one side to the other. My brain just could not figure out how to swing my legs over.

Then we came to the end. Every run is different, but they always end with a huge slide that goes into a pool of water, then climbing under a fence to get into the Safe Zone. We could see the slide. This was it. Last group of zombies, James and I each have one flag. I realized, during my flagless period, that the problem was that I had been relying too much on linear speed. I was faster than I used to be (I assume), but I'm still not all that fast. I should have been trying to dodge and weave some more. With that knowledge in might, I ran the field, juking from side to side. Came to the end. There's a pair of female zombies a few feet ahead of me, a male zombie a few feet behind them. Only one chance, go right between the girls, then dodge the guy. I run at the one on the left, they converge on me, then I spin out towards the one on the right. Neither of them saw it coming, they had no chance, I go right past both of them. One guy left.

One guy who just saw the only damn move I have in my arsenal.

I did it again, ran right at him, spun out right, but he spun with me and grabbed the flag. I should have spun the other way, but I didn't think about it. Last zombie took my last flag. Fucking hell. We got out of the group, and James still had hers. Go Team Ow!

On we went...getting to the slide. I climbed up okay, that wasn't hard. Then all of a sudden I was twenty feet in the air, with nowhere to go but down. And again, I completely froze up. James went down, waited in the water for me like a champ. Took me about a minute, but I managed to make myself go down. At least we weren't covered in mud anymore. Which meant it was time to crawl through the mud to get under the fence to the safe zone. Fuckers. There were signs on it, saying WARNING, ELECTRIC FENCE. But I figured they were just to set the tone. There was all kind of stuff written all over the course, supposedly written by survivors (turn back, help me, that sort of thing). So I grabbed the bar with both hands, figuring to sling myself right under, and promptly shocked the shit out of myself. So now I have to crawl under this fence, through the mud, making sure to not touch it (it was a couple feet off the ground, but it extended probably five feet out) lest I get shocked down to the ground. It wasn't a very big shock, obviously, but I sure didn't enjoy it. Eventually we got through, and after taking a few minutes to grab people's hands and pull them through, we went on to finish up. We each got medals and turned in the camera and had an amazing fucking time, it was so great.

After hanging out a bit to rest and relax and listen to the bands play, we went back to the hotel and showered. Then we went and explored Bastrop, Texas. Had some very good food at a local place, walked around, went into a used bookstore. Went back to the hotel room for a couple hours, then James got bored. Luckily, we had grabbed a visitor's guide when we went looking for food. It mentioned something about a River of Lights (this was a couple weeks before Christmas), so we went to ask the guy at the front desk about it, and off we headed to the City Park. They had all kinds of decorations and lights out, and so we just strolled around in the dark and looked at Christmas lights. It was totally great. And it was a great "us" thing to do, because it would never have occurred to me to do anything other than sit around and watch TV, but James didn't really have the energy to figure out what to do or go do it without me dragging her along. So it was a great ending to a great day.


And yes, we drove ten hours to run for an hour and a half. Shut up. Totally worth it. Five stars, would flee from ravening hordes of the undead again.

End part two.
30 December 2012 @ 11:09 pm
Need to break down the last month and a half. A lot of stuff has happened. Gonna talk about it in multiple parts.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year. It's about nothing but getting together with people you like, eating good food, and telling funny stories. At least, that's how it's always been in my family. I like Christmas, but there's so much extra stuff attached (putting up a tree, buying presents, opening presents), and it's nice to just have a holiday that's about just getting together. I'll probably feel differently about it when I finally have to actually start helping getting the food made, but hey, that hasn't happened yet.

So anyway, James and I went to my dad's place for Christmas. Sue and Walter were there, as was Brenda, and we were having a good time. Walter's having trouble remembering people at this point, but still, everything was going great. Until he had some sort of seizure at the dinner table. It was pretty scary. He was saying "I can't" over and over (I think he meant he didn't have the energy to move the fork anymore), and his eyes rolled back and he was unresponsive. We called 911. Then, a minute later, he was fine. Didn't remember it, was moving and talking again, no problem. When the ambulance came, though, we had them take him to the hospital anyway, to get him checked out. He felt so bad about it, he was apologizing, I could tell he was scared and embarrassed, and he didn't want to ruin Thanksgiving for everyone. I held his hand while they were strapping him to the gurney, and he tightened his grip (he still has a hell of a grip, even at his age), and he thanked me. Sue and dad went to the hospital, he told the rest of us to stay (by that point, he seemed fine again, after all), so James, Brenda and I stayed and ate. We were fairly muted, as one might imagine. But the doctors didn't find anything. It hadn't been a stroke, which is what dad thought it had been.

After that, there were a few weeks left in the semester, which is always chaotic, made all the more so by a student who suddenly got very aggressive about her grade. She had literally not passed anything all semester (not any test, not the homework grade, nothing), she'd never come to my office hours, she hadn't come to class for, like, the last three weeks, and then started arguing with me about her grades. Saying things like "I don't know if I should show this to other people in the math department" and just challenging the grades I was giving her. I explained why I took off everything I did, and I gave her extensions on some homework, but she just kept it up. No, I'm not giving extra credit, no I'm not going to count your final exam as your final grade (that is why we have tests at all), feel free to talk to my boss, I'll tell you where her office is, she'll tell you the same stuff. Bleh. She actually said (of getting a D) "this cannot happen." And I'm just thinking 'well, it's gonna.' Finally the semester ended and I presume I won't have to deal with her again. Which is a good thing. I mean, I feel bad for her. I don't want students to not pass. But she consistently showed, over the entire semester, that she was not capable of doing the math with the precision required. This was not a surprise. What the hell did she think was going to happen? And it's not like I'm a crazy person who was screwing her over, the first test wasn't even graded by me (I took over the class after a month), and she didn't pass that one, either. So, uh, no, you don't pass.

It was also the first time I had a class where taking the final was optional, if you wanted to take the grade you had going in. I had one girl take the D she had (a D is passing for some majors, since this is a terminal math class), and I could tell she was incredibly conflicted about it. One of those who always gets an A or a B, with maybe one C hidden away somewhere. But her major only requires a D, and I told her if that's how it was, just take the D and run, and don't look back, and she did. So good. I like seeing people move on. I like thinking people learned something from me.

Oh, speaking of, I won a teaching award this semester! Each year, two grad students are given an award for teaching based on the previous year's student evaluations, and I won one. THE DAY I ANNOUNCED TO MY 105 CLASS I WAS GOING TO HAVE TO CUT THE FOURTH TEST BECAUSE I HAD GONE TOO SLOWLY. So yeah, THAT was hilarious. But hey, just do better next time. And it felt good to win. Feels like maybe I'm not totally failing my students. I want to make it more likely they pass, not less.

End part one.
12 September 2012 @ 05:49 pm
Gave my second seminar talk today. I wonder if I could get out of giving any others if I moved to another state and changed my name, or if I really would have to jump off of a bridge to get out of it.

It's so endlessly frustrating. The first time I look over this material, it might as well be in Martian for all of my ability to understand it. So the first job is "figure out what it is you need to understand." And I do that. Some of the things I can kinda figure out, some of them I can't. So I ask for help on those things, iron them out. Then I collate all my information together to prepare for the talk, and in so doing, find a few more things I need to understand. Some of them I can figure out, some I can't, so I get help on them. Then I figure those out, put all my info together, feel like I have a decent understanding of the flow of how things go. Then I give the talk and everyone asks about all sorts of things I never even realized I needed to understand in the first place. I was wrong FROM STEP ONE. And I have no idea how to answer any of their questions. And so then a different professor answers (or, indeed, the one who asked it answers, because he was asking to test me), and I just stand there for a minute while someone else answers (and sometimes writes on the board) all this shit I should have been figuring out on my own.

There is nothing worse than dying on stage. NOTHING. Failing for all the world to see. Showcasing that failure, in fact. Giving it the spotlight. I have a hard time with people watching me while I succeed! This is so, so much worse. But the show has to go on, so after you've been thoroughly humiliated, all you can do it just pretend it never happened, keep giving the talk, just waiting for the next time it's going to happen. I have not dreaded anything like this in so long. I am being made utterly miserable by this, and I would love to say "well, understand it better and I won't be in this mess," but there is so much of it I really did get, I thought I did have a better grasp on it this week. I was wrong.

I just feel utterly without hope right now. :/ It's unpleasant.