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Sunday, June 19, 2016

Jason, Are You there? (Sweat Bank Pt. 2)

Jason, are you there? Yes, I can hear you. Good, because I am back.  How long have I been alone? Little over 3 years Jason. I am sorry for the long wait Jason. Life has taken me through many mazes, obstacles and adventures that needed to be taken, some hard, some hurtful, but some so powerful and moving that nothing would change the turn in the tide.  I have carried on to carry you forward Jason. I can't seem to write like I used to, due to my comfort. I am no longer angry, but at peace. Maybe the peace will reflect through in my writing.  Maybe your destiny will change due to my ever growing maturity and self reflection in my life, for now our life is connected, and your life being in my mind can funnel emotions that were once not there back so long ago; for now we both have changed and we must both continue to grow.  As promised, I arranged for you to train with Shankle before your first meet.  He says he is looking forward to your first comp, so am I Jason. For the first is the foundation that holds steady as the road cracks and moss grows between your toes.  Your chalky hands will later turn rustic red, for blood cells break like old Cal Strength bars now left alone.  Creating champions is what this blog inspires to do. You and this blog starve for my creativity, wanting more like weight on the bar. I type tonight with you in mind, for only my closest of fans will understand who you are and what this blog truly means. This is not just bringing you back Jason, this is not just ending your story, this is reflecting on what created you, I, and the reader... this blog. These tears to this music. This coffee to sun sets behind green jungle windows.  As the Blockbuster sign glows blue in the night sky, its reflection off my Starbucks windows turns my face down back to the key board that gave me life, created you, and therefore who I am today.

I am typing as fast as I can, trying to capture the moment before it slips. If I even look up for a second it could vanish, leaving you alone once again and the Jon North of old dead and buried, stripped and forgotten, as new acts to circuses, in one day, out the other.  I have changed Jason, but I am proud of my changes. I do miss the old me, I think my fans do as well, but the old me is in the dirt where the old me was once born and new. I introduced myself to the world from dirt, and now I lay at rest amongst its cold weight that pushes down on my chest, heavy and unforgiving.  My sun is my son, and my breath is now his Jason.  I live for another human, not for myself. That changes a person. My chip gone because my chip has been healed and patched my the hands of an Angel. The kiss from lips that make my heart bleed. The eyes that turn my bar slams soft and easy. The weight going up doesn't go up as much, for much of my day is spent lifting him, my son, a better version of me. I am weakened in the knees, not from squats, but from my son. I body build because I can. I don't compete in Weightlifting anymore because I can't.  I hope you understand Jason, but enough about me, let's get back to you. Turn off the baseball game, put some clothes on, and let's meet Shankle down at your local CrossFit gym.

Shankle put out his hand long and steady as his eyes never looked at Jason, but at his hand to see and visualize Jason's hand shake that was about to take place. Once the shake was in motion, Donny then looked up for a brief second, making contact. The eyes of Shankle are a fascinating thing. They are deep, with hidden emotion that no one will ever understand nor know, maybe not even Donny.  The eyes that have seen, felt, been through, and experienced much of life and everything it can offer, good and bad.  This is why I respect Donny so much, his eyes.  My eyes run watery when I write, Shankle has a glassy layer that I have noticed since day one.  His eyes don't lie. Jason nodded his head in a fast manner, and then thanked Shankle for meeting him to train. Shankle then replied, "It's good to see young men getting into the sport of Weightlifting. I would like to see you push the single and see what we got today". Jason, this is pretty cool, right? Fuck ya, it is Jon, thank you for coming back for me and making me live again. I want to live Jon. I hope you never leave me again. Jason, I am glad I'm back as well, but I must end this blog at some point. I can't write your life 100% of the time. I would never live my life Jason, only yours. Yes I know Jon, but could you every once in a while visit me so I can slowly live out my life. Yes, Jason. I promise I will be back, but what happens if I die? Then you die. But wait, Jason, what if when I die, someone takes my place and continues to write your life. That would mean the world to me Jon, thank you. That means Jason, that you will never die.

Jason hit pr's across the board, as Shankle at times slowly sat up from his chair pulling up his jeans with no belt. Shankle would coach, and Jason would do. You're starting to see why it's fun to write characters. It's exactly what you want from an athlete, do, not think. I think now as a coach and business man, but when I was an athlete I did, and did it harder than anyone. So Jason, you do, and never stop being you, but then again you are me and I might just be living through you. Let's together win this first meet.

I must go now Jason, like I said in the first blog, I will be back, and so I will.  I write to you to write to myself for I am you, that even though things have changed and life is of a new world, your story through this blog will live forever.  Next time Jason... we compete, so get your sleep.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Barnes & Noble

Sitting in the Cafe at Barnes & Noble writing to you and drinking you know who. A cafe I've never heard of before sits in the middle of adventures and bios, bibles and sorrows, magazines and endless dramas.  Detectives try to solve the mystery of why and how a place can smell so good. As if I was working on my computer in the middle of Home Depot to the smell of wood and glue, paint and the smell of new.   The odor hit me right in the face the minute I walked through the giant silver swinging doors to Barnes & Noble. Like Oz, it opened, and like a kid I scurried through holding onto the lion's tail and singing songs with the whole crew.  The maze book shelves rang high and long, empty and alone, faces and titles that beg me stop, as they whisper in panic to, "Slide my book out and read my story, enter my world and get lost in its glory".  The authors were let down as I finally found the cafe.  Their eyes would fall short as their pages would fray. I felt as if I found water in the desert, or a cactus in the bay. The cafe is light green with yellow stripes down the walls, almost like I was in the Mary Poppin's movie when they jumped in the picture and watched the horse race. All I needed now was a hat and a cane, my dancing shoes and some talking penguins.  I scurried to find my work place, and my cold iced brewed coffee, yes a little bit of cream to make my stomach not turn. Then, I opened up my computer to write this to you.

The Barnes & Noble is connected to the mall, and a giant one at that.  I sit here typing on my second coffee wearing my Mary Poppin's hat.  I watch the empty mall so quiet and alone, as shops are open, but no one is home.  I wonder what it would be like to work in the mall, waking up early to open and close.  Listening to the chatter of others throughout the echoing breezeway and the footsteps of clatter, up and down like shoots and ladders.  Three stories of shops some might see, but I look at this mall as three stories of employees.  Are they happy? What brought them here?  Do they ever come down stairs to the Barnes & Noble where I sit and stare, like a creepo I look, with a dead empty stare?  Reminiscing the days when my wife Jessica worked here, Victoria's Secret in Sacramento, CA. Great job, but mean as hell they were to her.  Only if her bosses would see her now, the looks on their faces would make me so proud. This is when I was a janitor and driving the now famously told Dodge Neon.  McDonald's all day, and change that lasted a week.  We called it pocket diving, ever tried it? The things you will find when digging through old pockets and jackets, under car seats and backpacks.  One of the greatest moments in life was when I told my wife to quit her job, "We are moving to the bay to train at Cal Strength, for a new life, a new job."   Not saying working at the mall is bad, it was just a time when we were down and out, lost and sad. Until a lion killer gave out his callused palm, and the Don cut a check and gave us a pad, roof and a chance to become Weightlifting champions, to conquer our past and to live happy and strong.  From panties to bars, from sweeping to the stars, who knew these two lost broke lovers would be one day living on mars. 

In conclusion, and yes, I said in conclusion.  My English teacher would be happy, proper grammar and spelling, proper way of organizing and story telling.  But what is "proper" in a world filled with mazes and stories, books filled with pages that tell unexplained mysteries and unsolved crimes, unspeakable sorrow, mixed with the happiest of times.  Life is like this book store, so many stories to be told, but most importantly so many stories to be written. By you, by me, by us.  Life is full of surprises, adventures and opportunity.  You once might have worked in the mall, then find yourself writing at the mall.  You might read in book stores, then be published in the same stores.  I write this morning to tell a story to you.  One about me, my wife and the adventure we have been on.  What's your story? What's your adventure? Where do you sit today?  Where does the next page take you? Where does the next chapter lead you? How do you want your book to end?  I don't know where mine will end or what's next either.  I just know I'm drinking coffee while typing to you. The people walk by me as if I'm a ghost typing away amongst my coffee of hope.  Who knows... maybe one day my book, The Dark Orchestra, will sit on a shelf in this store. 


Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Office

A soft light blue filter covers the office room, making the floors beneath your feet thin, and the newly painted four walls run for miles.  Overcast outside covers the morning sun, as rain drops beg to be let inside the third story office window that looks over the parking lot of swooshing tires splicing through puddles, while beeping cars lock and clicking of heels walk.  Closer and closer to the meeting they gather, as you sit hiding the chalk stains from earlier.  Black suits and grey suits busy as can be, paperwork shuffles as empty styrofoam cups make their way to the coffee maker, as if butter to bread, or an alien ship to a forgotten about forest.  You smile without smiling, as everyone lines up like kittens in a milking for their coffee.  Small talk about golf and cars, finances and new pools, some about their kids, mostly about business dinners and more about backyard pools. You have been up since four, while your fourth cup of coffee sits calmly on the long oak wood table staring back at you, as if the lightly gold trimmed styrofoam cup is pressuring you into standing up and throwing your briefcase against the rain drop window while walking out softly yelling, "fuck this". But you take another sip of the coffee to gulp down these emotions before acting upon such ambitions.  The chalk under your fingernails fidgets with the now chalk stained cup, clicking back and forth like a baby drinking milk while watching cartoons in the morning.  Your eyes bounce around the room as if someone just violently drew the black pillowcase from over your head and asked, "Where is the fucken money!?" You lean down to grab your files out from your briefcase that your father got you many years ago while in school, why you still use it in the professional field, you don't know. Maybe it has to do with comfort and where you started, a fatherly reminder of hard work and simple commitment to your family of four, one wife, two kids, and I guess if you count the four dogs that is... well, one big family to support.

You realize while leaned over your right knee under the table, while the others above still laugh and chat over spilled coffee and shuffling paper, that you were still wearing your Weightlifting socks from this morning.  You smile at the blood that once drew from your shin that is now splattered on your socks, as if you were nailed to the table covered in paper cups, folders, and pins. Picking your head back up above land, everything seems slightly brighter like the sun slowly rising when training in your garage.  No sunlight of course that early when all are asleep, and matts the weights land on make for the whole family staying asleep, mostly just a light blue filter from the once black night now makes for your Rogue weight set feel warmer and you continue to fight. Up and down you lift the weight, while all are asleep, sound and safe.  You are getting stronger for once your family awakes, you can protect and provide day in and day out.  You lift to lift others, and you pull to pull from others.  A community of thousands undercover.  Under garage roofs and behind office windows, behind teacher's desks and Police shields.  In and out of office meetings, we are traveling beings,  calculating accountants, fire fighting machines.  Football coaches, child watch day care providers, to waitresses, to train conductors connected from coast to coast we are out there, you can't see us, but we are.  If you look closely you can see the chalk from our buckets, and the blood from our bar.  You can see the callused hands we lift with and the motivations and drive that we are.  We are made out of iron and act upon this 9 to 5 life, with high bars and early mornings that separate us from the "normal life".  We are gym rats in disguise, hidden amongst the cracks of life.

The meeting got started, and the bullshit began.  Whose boat is bigger than whose, the golf trips and pools.  Laughs filled the room as the month reports get passed around too soon.  Another week gearing up for another month, the same political standards tied in with the same drinks, and ass kissing disasters.  A lifestyle this is, lonely hotel rooms and empty cubical spaces, filled aloud with ringing phones and long lunch breaks and plastic surgery faces.  Only left with a check at the end of the day, one that provides you and your family to live happy and free. Your eyes glaze over as your head turns around, leaving your chest facing forward, while your feet stay planted to the ground.  The slow turn making your leather seat creek and scream, while folders still get tossed around while pins begin to thud against note pads and clicks and clacks light up computer screens.  You look outside the sad rain drops who only wish to be inside, while you only wish to be out.  Your chin drops, and your eyes watch as your hands glide down your midnight blue tie.  A midnight thought has entered this early mid morning.  "What if I could achieve the same financial structure while doing what I love?" You say in a whisper so loud, that even your business partner next to you gave you an elbow shove to quiet down.  You stand up, look around the room as if the teacher randomly called upon you.  Your coffee in your hand, and your father's briefcase tucked up in front of you....

You then.......

Thursday, April 14, 2016

The White Dome

I find new blood lifting big ass weight with every turn of my head.  Beast mode athletes with reds on the bar and speed from Mars.  It seems they are being grown under a giant white dome in the mid west.  Something the X-Files would do a show on.  The freak Weightlifting kids that are escaping from the bunker filled with bars and weights, plates and steaks, are being spotted from state to state. Scully would flip out her notepad while the white paper dome covering the giant field of platforms would flap in the wind, making the scene much more intense and suitable for the situation.  "Freak athletes are lifting bigger weights than ever," Scully whispered to herself, as if someone was potentially listening in.   "How is this so?"  Molder asked with dark frames covering his eyes while his hair danced in the wind.  "How are these weights being lifted?"  He asked Scully again, this time putting his hand on her shoulder as if she was possibly losing her balance.  Scully lifted her head like one of the monsters from the fields of brown where the corn fields sway and the dirt roads never end, she replied... "We will find out Molder, we will get to the bottom of this." " Well we better," Molder said while scanning the property with his slowly turning head, looking for any sign of green slime, pills, electricity cables, lab coats, rats in cages, or any mixing tubs of sort.  Molder then squinted his eyes, only knowing this from his eyebrows suddenly turning down as if the eye doctor asked him to read the bottom line from the projector.  Scully asked what was wrong, as she then started to follow Molder deeper into the white paper thin dome, still violently flapping in the wind, still more mysterious than ever.

Weights rustic and heavily used laid at rest, quiet and calm, patient and strong, as if they were waiting their turn for their attempts on stage. Resting benches restless, next to squat racks rack-less.  Dirt surrounded the platforms like pyramids on sand.  Molder walked over two platforms smoothly and without hiccup, almost as if he was gliding over them as his long black New York coat would sway out behind him like a super hero of sort.  Molder kneeled down slowly while at the same time taking off his shades and revealing his open eyes to an empty monster energy can.  Crippled and cracked, used and abused, dirty but shinny, the green monster can was evidence that these new Weightlifters were truly monsters.  Monsters that needed to be stopped from the destruction of commercial gyms, mediocre goals, half ass trainers, elitist articles, excuses, unhappy people walking down society's road while people pleasing others, and so much more.  For a low bar is the heaviest bar to be lifted.

Scully leaned over the right side of Molder balancing her weight on his left shoulder while picking up the dream chasing evidence, and carefully with the tips of two weightlifting clips, dropped the empty monster can into the evidence bag that proved evidence that Weightlifters in American work fucken hard, know about hard work, and use hard work to achieve bigger and bigger weight each day, month and year.  Dusty equipment in a unknown dome, drinking warm sugary energy drinks is all we need. Other countries can live and train upon their standards, we will live within ours.  I truly believe that America is the greatest Weightlifting team, and has the greatest of athletes, coaches and the best of community.  

Molder and Scully then proceeded to walk out from your garage.  

'Merica 2016 

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Ten Toes Down

I have noticed that the clocks in the gym don't work. Absent like time in Casinos.  Empty like the shops late night at the airports.  Gone like my do overs.  Silent like the morning air.   Ten years and counting. Ten years of learning, lifting, seeing, feeling, falling, standing, conquering and failing. Ten tears of joy. Ten tears of sadness.  My ten toes have left the ground many times in my career, looking back while this timeless time stands still.  A new head on my shoulders, like new weightlifting shoes in the mail, giving me a new outlook on life, weightlifting and family.  As my ten toes dig deep into the cool soil below, the humble and thankful ground balances me like snow after summer, like coffee and water.  Soft but planted, connected and stable, eyes now open like Church Sunday.  Landed and found, for my roots of my past keep me at ground, as the future keeps me sound.  Time is the key to your symphony.  Time is the healer of hearts.  Time is what makes or breaks a person's success.  No matter how close or far, time is the one program that will make you better if you constantly self reflect throughout pursuing your goals.  If you fail continue to succeed. If you succeed you must prepare to fail.  In ten years when the clock stops and your left with thoughts, you will be proud for how hard you have fought.

Time 2020

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Carpal Tunnel

The Doctor asked me what was wrong.  I replied with a slight sigh, "I don't know, maybe weightlifting?"  The thin crisp paper I was sitting on created a crackle and swoosh from my body leaning to the side as my hand now supported my weight as if I just sat up out of bed tired and foggy from the morning dew and sandman eyes.  The doctor asked about my sleep.  I replied, "Not a lot", for my legs are alive at night as they twitch like the morning sprinkler slices through the sheets as I lay half asleep, both eye lids closed, while both eyes wide open.  Tired legs have a pattern of moving at night when training gets hard, as if the cool breeze from my half cracked window sways them from the simple force and power of mother nature. "Carpal tunnel in your wrists is why your arms and hands are constantly falling asleep," the blond curly haired Doctor said while pushing her thumbs into the back of my wrists to pin point the location where the problem has manifested.  What she didn't know is how good the pressure felt against my wrists. My callused hands laid turned over upright, as if a cowboy in the western days was shot in the chest and fell backwards over a saloon balcony.

Wrist splints is what she gave me.  I put them on and felt like the character slowly turning into an alien from District 9.  "Wear them day and night except when you go to the gym," the Doc told me with an upbeat voice as if everything was going to be okay, or better yet, feel better.   I should be wearing them now as I write this blog, but I am not, due to the fact I couldn't catch a certain rhythm in my typing in order to keep up with the movie reel in my head.  She asked if there was anything else. Oh boy... only if she knew the can of worms she could have opened if my body wanted to speak, and my mouth allowed so. I paused, dropped my head and grabbed the back of my neck with my chalk stained palm, slowly brushed my hair while my eyes found my wife holding my baby boy in the chair across from me, I replied... "No".

3 weeks back in the sport, and I'm welcomed accordingly, like I should, and like it has to be.  Skeletons of my past seem to reappear in my mind, making my stomach turn and my emotions run high but not away.  Old injuries and wounds seem to deepen day by day, as me knees hurt and my back screams.  I almost took for granted how hard this sport truly was as the ride home rings calm and quiet as my baby boy sleeps in the back.  My wife smiles at me and guides my hand into her lap, not knowing how bad my shoulder hurt when rotated a certain way.  I of course smiled, and continued driving.  Being away from Weightlifting takes you away from the pain a weightlifter must endure to become Champion.  One will forget this when the comfort of life takes over, making it easy for those to comment on YouTube or write mean tweets.  Only if they knew what the weathered mind and the achy body must live with on a daily basis in order to create a base for strength to build upon.  Easy is only a word that the weak understand, for the strong only know hard, and hard is the only way to success.  For success is the true measure of power, power from temptation and power amongst the weak minded we are surrounded with from sunrise to sun fall.  Power not only in body, but in mind. One must learn to shut off normalcy to turn on personal pursuit of happiness. Happiness lies within strength, because to be happy in the hardest most demanding program known to mankind.  It takes hard work and time, constant pursuit and self reflection.  Reluctant goals some might call crazy or out of this world, are well within reach to some, but you must first reach, and reach high.

The car ride home is slow, but the trees pass my window fast.  Blurry but more clear than ever.  Yes older, but more mature than before.  Outrageous on the outside, but calm inside.  Rap music blended with upbeat house music blasts through the speakers in training, but the deep bellied low notes and painful high pitches of opera music seem to fill my head throughout the most wildest of training sessions. Why this? Why such beauty in a sport so ruthless and extreme? Why does poetry in words resonate with myself and you the reader, when technique articles and program discussions rain king in our field?  My guess...? It's the romantic passion laying side by side with something so simple but so hard, something so addicting but demanding, something so loving but so heart breaking... the constant pursuit in lifting big fucken weight.

10 years and counting....


Sunday, November 15, 2015

Clint Mansell

She found a program whistling past her feet over the blue rocks and their sharp edges.  Like leashing her dog for a walk, she bent down and grabbed the music program of the sounds of painful strings followed with beautiful sounds.  The composer's songs always moved her, but with others she never seemed to physically move. Songs from all around her from a place of no where.  Maybe a light house from the constant lights from above and beyond, as stars and lights mixed together, the reflection in her eyes told stories of surprises and past disguises, as a movie played in her soul while feet felt cold and her head fell low.  Nobody else seemed to live on the planet of doom, dark and distraught, alone, her and her regret.  A couple that makes for long nights and random hair pulls.  Eye lids gone from a condition of missing parents somehow made it all make sense.  If a screaming women screamed she would not be heard.  A tree didn't even exist in this list of things to type on this keyboard for making this world become more bliss.

Shallow blue rocks covered by a pitch black sky, this white ruffled up program written and composed by Clint Mansell looked sad and dire, as it laid slumped in her small hands curved as a cup, eyes wide shut, with visions of elephant tusks and child hood animals of stuffed.  Unforgiving and forever forgiving, she hummed softly for a conversation with her inner self, relying on herself to keep sane in this blue dusk of rock and lights, lit from afar with violins of cry and self-esteem from Clint's music notes of lust and hate.  The orchestra played through the dead air, as the hollow world sang tunes of sadness through wooded caves and high up tree forts from others of sort.  Never seeing anybody before she always thought life was living before she showed, fell through the hole, and walked through the closet door.   A single tear fell from her eye, quickly wiped off as if someone was going to see it. The blue rocks felt the salt splash from her blue eyes, lids of gone and a soul of torn, beyond abandoned and lost too long. She might as well been dead.

So much to explore, but what for? As the music played she began to hold her knees, not knowing what way was forward, or back.  Side to side was from her eyes to follow, as her mind started to slip as her twitches told stories of Fantasia.  Unexplained and unedited, twisted and unreal.  She sat and twisted her toes, as Clint Mansell produced songs for lonely foes like her and her toes. Scrunching her eye brows, while now digging lines in the sand hoping to cross them later if the song ever picked up. Why does the dark sky and blue rocks make me feel light hearted and good, only to then draw a fear, that even to her is misunderstood.  She kept talking to herself now leaving the face expressions behind, lips now moved and more and more lines were drawn around her bent over spine, skinny and hurt, hungry and deserted.  She knew she never needed acceptance from others, explicitly pity from her emotions and actions.  The tear was for something else, for herself, for a self understanding that her happiness comes from pain, heartache and sadness.  These are the emotions that get twisted by the composer's sticks, as they swish through the cold air like fly fishing in the winter air.  The lines drawn were all wrong, the emotions were all torn, misplaced and fused with each song.  Composed with her life, Clint kept playing her next step, or soon to be.  She raised form her happy pity, bunched up in a ball and now standing tall.  Clint's music made her steps feel giant, as her closet planet felt more involved.

Involved in her, as other skeletons came out from side curtains and sliding doors.  Blue rocks and wooded caves now filled with skeletons from the same. Only looks for high up forts, as trees now sway widely from winds of massive torch.  Mansell moved his sticks as skeletons met, no words spoken, just hand shakes and nods, tears of happy and skin of warm, understanding is the most powerful conversation any forgotten one skeleton can have.  The light house began to move with each string, chasing each being from one end of the orchestra to the next, onstage the wood was sticky, as the red carpet became muddy from the tracks from the past.  Her once lonely world was now filled with lonely others, lost pasts now meet up with moving forward futures, tired eyes and steady fortunes.  She, the woman of lost, now found by many still forgotten, but understood and respected by the other blue rock humans who once walked alone under the black sky.