Wednesday, June 17, 2009

It’s like riding a bike, only slower

I like getting back into shape much more than being in shape. Once you’re in shape, the gains are minimal. You’re building over months or years at a time. When you’re out of shape, particularly if you have been in shape before, the overnight improvement is amazing. I’ve been out 3 times this year. 17 days ago, last Sunday, and last night. The first ride did not feel bad, per se. I could not press down on the pedals, but I could spin pretty comfortably for a while. About 20 miles into a 25 mile ride, my legs were fatigued. Last Sunday was an easy spin for a while. Even though I had not ridden for 2 weeks, it was better than the first ride. The best way to describe last night’s ride is after about 10 miles or so, my legs “woke up”. I could suddenly push down hard on the pedals without that weird shaky pain feeling.

After they woke up, my legs immediately hit the snooze to rest for another 9 minutes. Then, they did it again. Wow. This is fun.

Then the best thing ever happened. I looked behind me and saw another "Keystone Hammer" about a quarter mile away. Hmm. I didn’t pass that guy. I’m in no kind of shape, but I’ll give it a go. I’ll see if I can hold him off until I turn off the trail at Aksarben.

Well almost. He finally caught me at College of Saint Mary’s where He told me he’d been chasing me for a few miles and I told him that I knew and I was glad we could motivate each other on today’s ride. Then we gave each other the secret Hammershake, and parted ways.

Good times.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

The Time I thought I saw God

It was roughly 40 years ago. I didn’t have any idea what God looked like back then. All I knew was that people go to church to see god. I had always been instructed to recite a clever little poem to God each night before I went to bed:

“Now I lay me down to sleep. I pray the lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake. I pray the lord, vengeance on my murderers to take”

or some such nonsense. Anyways … I don’t know if I ever went to church before I was about 3 or 4 years old because I don’t remember. My dad and mom were not churchgoers. My Grandpa (dad’s dad) and Grandma (Grandpa’s wife) were. They would like to take me to church with them on the major god related holidays (Christmas, Easter, Super Sunday).

Mom: Freddie, you’re going to go to church with grandma and grandpa, tonight.
Me: What’s church?
Mom: A big place where old people go before they die.
Me: Why?
Mom: Because that’s where God lives.
Me: Really!!
Mom: Yep.
Me: Sign me up, boy! I want to meet this God I’ve been talking to.
Mom (to herself): heh heh heh. I told him God lives there.

So I’m pretty sure it was Christmas time because I remember being quite disappointed by the church’s idea of treats. I had recently learned about treats from Halloween and was eager to see what The Almighty had in store in the treat department. I mean, if the weird old guy across the street can give out tootsie rolls, God’s treats will be really swell! But no. They gave all the good little boys and girls brown paper bags filled with apples and oranges. Uh.

I remember taking out one apple and one orange. I then tried in vain to get some sort of meaningful comparison of the 2. You can’t do it, I tell you.

One thing I also noticed at church. People sway back and forth when they stand. I thought they were doing it on purpose. But no. It’s like a constant catching of balance. I was looking up at my grandma and my aunt. They were standing there listening to some prayer or something. Moving slightly forward, than catching themselves and jerking slightly back. Only to move forward again. I think I had never noticed it because I had never been so bored in all my life (3 or 4 years). Also, I didn’t realize it was involuntary. I thought that’s what you were supposed to do in church. So I started doing it. But I’m pretty sure it was not as subtle as grandma and Aunt Debbie, because Grandpa gently squeezed my clavicle (I found out years later what it was called) to encourage me to stop it.

The next thing I remember about church was the singing. Not all of it. Just one song in particular. And only one part of the song in particular. It was “Silent Night”. And the part of the song I’m talking about sent me into uncontrollable giggling. “Sleep in heavenly pe-EACE!” It was so loud and so high pitched, that if anyone had been sleeping in heaven or earth, they were surely awake by now. That was fun! I gotta get in on this! Oh yeah! They’re singing it again! I’m definitely joining in this time! I’m going to contribute to the loudest thing I’ve ever heard! Here goes!
Congregation and me: Sleep in heavenly …
Congregation: (nearly whispering): peace
Me: (Ted Nugent would be proud): PE-EACE!!!!

Woah, they kind of changed that up on me. Bunch of swaying apple pushers! Now they’re laughing at the cute little boy who fucked up. Screw you guys. I’m going to go tell God if I can find him. He’s gotta be around here somewhere. Mom says he lives here.

That’s when I saw him. He’s tall. Well groomed. Dark hair. Good looking. About 30. Wearing a navy blue suit. Coming out of the basement of the church. I actually remember what that man looked like to this day because – well – I really did think it was god. I also thought that he was coming up the stairs because he had just come back from hell to tell the Devil he was in big trouble or something. It was very exciting. Although some of this post is fictional, most of it is true. And the truest part is that I was so excited to be seeing God that I could feel my heart pounding.

But I asked my grandpa if the man was God, He said no so quickly that I wondered how he knew. I mean he barely looked at the guy. It was at that moment I figured that the only way he could know without looking was that God wasn’t there. Grandpa explained that God was there. God was everywhere, he told me – but you can’t actually see him. What a jip. I kept the next question about “why’d we have to come down here, then” to myself.

So that was it. Not only is God invisible and everywhere. If you go down to the church, you’ll get a bag of fruit that you are required to be thankful for, even though it’s going to rot in the paper bag and be tossed in the trash before Super Sunday. Which nobody cared much about back then. It was like “Oh I guess the Packers won again” or something.

One final note. The Church is not there anymore. It was a little Lutheran Church down on about 20th and Cuming. The land is now used for Creighton Parking. I’m not saying it had anything to do with the apples and oranges, but I’m not saying it didn’t either.
Note: I was just doing the math and realized that when this happened, my grandpa was younger than I am now. Since My dad was 19 when I was born, and my grandpa was 18 when dad was born, and I was like 4 or 5, he would have been about 42 or 43 at the most.