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Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Mrs. Elders

My eyes wander as my elbows meet my knees.  My bouncing feet shake my body, swaying me side to side.  My shoulders drop and my head swivels side to side as I reach down to drink my coffee.  As if a boxer dodging a punch.  My eyebrows raise at random times, as the skin on my forehead crunches together.  Thoughts pinch my brain, as I slide both hands up my face and down the back of my head, only reaching for my coffee all in the same fluid motion.  Smooth I move, patient I am not.  Someone just walked into the gym... My head turned fast as if I have been up for three nights.  Paranoid by sounds and people.  Uncomfortable and completely vulnerable.  A little head nod to the person who just walked in to train, duffle bag and all.  My quick glance of hello is followed by a glance at his gym bag, as my eyes move a million little clicks around the man as he walks to his resting bench. Old but sturdy, tired but alive. A lonely weightlifter with a lonely bag, make for a perfect couple.  A smile from memory, followed by an all to familiar pinch from my head that now turns my stomach as I lean further over my knees, making my elbows sting from the pressure of myself and a thousand skeletons I carry around with me scream with pain.  The best fix for the weight you carry, is the weight you lift.  I roar from my seat as a coach should, passion and fire spill out of my mouth, as my blood pumps through my body like the door opening to Maximus once he reunites with his family.  Love for the game, and love for my team keeps my feet bouncing up and down with a certain rhythm that no one could repeat.  Every athlete moves differently, every athlete must paint their own masterpiece. Every athlete must move to move, lift to make, and slam to succeed.  A simple whisper in your ear from your past demons can make you lift weight you never thought could be possible.  All this... I have been thinking while sitting in my small black chair in the middle of the gym.

A single sweat drop enters my eye ball.  I never blink.  Even though the pain is masterful, I keep looking forward at the rows of platforms that meet this wide open ocean.  Dust replaced with sand scurries over the wood creating a small clicking sound and a loud whistle from the wind meeting the wide open beach.  I still sit, now motionless from thought, and paralyzed from my surroundings.  The smell of ocean you can probably smell just reading this blog.  The cool air passing your body is refreshing but sad, as it passes you without any care in the world.  It's true, you can read without reading, just like the wind can pass without stopping.  You can lift without thinking just like the bar moves without trying.  The beauty of sport is so beautiful.

Two old teammates living in separate rooms in an a warehouse off highway 65 that lays between an old dead wood tree and Mrs. Elders home by the old church.  A small quiet town that unfortunately runs into an abandoned steel mill that has been shut down for a decade.  Jobs lost and hard time followed, now home to myself and my teammate who breath cold floors and bathe in showers of unanswered questions.  Bouncy balls thrown over and over against the walls of our rooms mix perfectly with the sound of rats that scurry behind the brown walls that we call shelter.  We leave during the day, unnoticed and blending in.  Lunch pail in hand, as the sound of beeping from the cash register finds a certain soothing feel to me and my friend as we ring people up before going about their lovely day.  Mrs. Elders came into the store with her Saturday blue dress and her white gloves.  Always a limp that seemed to come with a smile.  She shuffled along the isles as we both kept an eye to see if she needed any help.  I don't know why I did this, because she never did, I guess just keeping an eye on her was a natural instinct in some ways.  I was once heaving 400 plus pounds over my head, and now I have found myself looking after an old lady shopping for bread and blueberries.  Not such a bad thing since the next day she should be bringing my old teammate and myself some of the best blueberry short cake in the whole wide world.  My over sized fore arm hit my friends inflamed elbow as we cracked a smile before hanging our white aprons on the hook by where the shopping carts filled into line, and then started our walk up the grassy meadows, down the rocky bank that use to be where they lit the steel on fire.  I knew this because of all the black rock that cracked under our feet as we seemed to march not walk, to a song with nothing playing.  It was almost like we were re playing all of our old training songs in our heads at all times of the day.  And if one of us smiled it was definitely a missed lift followed with a little kid hissy fit.  Grown men throwing fits is always the best.  We approached the warehouse were we lived.  The front door already open, almost as if the old shut down world was awaiting our arrival.  Our eyes met...

Jon! my heart jumped out of my chest as Shankle shook my right shoulder.  I was back in the middle of the gym, same place I started.  My cheeks were drenched wet from my eyes never closing.  A nightmare...?  Or a great dream....?  I couldn't figure out which one it was.  I could still smell the ocean breeze, and I could still hear the beeping of the cash register.  My actions and odd behavior didn't seem to faze Shankle at all.  I couldn't figure out why.  You would think he would have asked me what was wrong, if I was alright, or what i was doing sitting in the middle of the gym staring at God knows what.  But nope... Nothing.  His mouth was moving, but I could hear nothing.  I was too busy analyzing the situation. Shankle has been to the same place I have been.  Shankle has been on the beach, in the store, and in the warehouse.  This was just a guess, but his understanding of the odd situation was too familiar.  Too at ease.  He then walked away. And I was once again left alone.

My breathing became heavy.  My eyes finally shut.  The sweat on my face dried as the wind from outside picked up.  The sound of the fan by the door made my wrists move in circles.  My body leaned back over the chair like a waterfall, as my back cracked at least six times. The crunches in my forehead smoothed like the dust on the platform.  The windmill began to move gracefully, as my arms cut through the air in fast circles like a jet flying over a baseball game.  My chin moved front to back, side to side, like the catch of the snatch, like the beauty of an athlete.  The black oil ran down my face and into my joints, passing over my skin and into my bones.  Oil to move, and muscle to improve.  Strength to build and speed to gain.  My Adidas shoes feel tight against my feet.  My eyes soon change from focused to fierce.  My body language turns from passive to aggressive.  Confident to cocky.  My blood, to Shankle blood. My skeletons behind me as I write ARNOLD down my arm.  My hook grip becomes tight like suffocation.  I am an athlete.  I must move to live.  Lift to love.  I am a prisoner of my own self.  My skeletons, lets lace our shoes and grab our belts.  Stand up from this chair.  My skeletons... Lets fight.

"My ears hear what others cannot hear. Small far away things people cannot see are visible to me.  The senses are fruits of a long time of longing.  Longing to be rescued, to be completed. I am not formed by myself alone.  I wear my fathers belt tight around my mothers blouse, and shoes which are from my uncle.  This is me.  A flower does not choose its color.  We are not responsible in what we have become to be.  Only once you have realized this is when you have become free". - Unknown.

I truly tried......but could not part.  You will see intensity like never before.  I am back.

Love for the sport 2016

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gym Bag

Inspired By Mark Haz's Cal Rugby Bag

The other day, I went through my old gym bag looking for some old tape and a baseball for my athletes to use before training.  I was fascinated by all the gadgets I came across while digging deeper and deeper into the land of memories and assortments.  The horrible smell, the chalky straps, a graveyard of past champions that now lay quietly on the dark while the new generation of gym bags walk around prideful and tall.  I am putting together a little museum.... I guess you could call it, of not only my medals, but everything from shoes, shirts, straps, belts, and all the things that have sentimental value to me from over the years.  All things that have helped me along my way.  Of course this museum of some sort is only for my eyes and viewership, for this "stuff" to others is pure trash and rubbish.  

I then started to dash quickly around the room like a kid on Christmas, lining and organizing all my treasures. I was reminded of an old blog I once wrote, a blog that has seemed to be forgotten, by myself and others, a blog that was once my favorite, that needs to come back to life. So..... to anyone who has a smelly gym bag..... this one's for you. 

A long stare at his old blue gym bag as it sat lop-sided beside him on the subway bench, waiting for the 7 o'clock train. There were no words being spoken from his long chin and stubble covered face, just a stone cold look and a thought of how this gym bag hasn't been replaced by now.  How has the bag with so many stains, broken straps, and holes gone this long without being put to rest. A small crinkle in his forehead asked the bag if the old blue warrior was growing, and getting bigger over time.  It looked as if the bag had grown at least a foot since the night before. He would know because the bag and him have been training partners since college back at Cal, and it was only last night that he stocked it with plastic bags full of supplements of all different colors and textures.  He regretted not cleaning his two shaker cups better the night before while preparing for this trip, as he could smell them both seeping from the inside of the bag to his nose.  Still no emotion, as his eyes glazed upon the bag with straps that were hanging on by a single thread from all the abuse they have seen.  How they haven't broke by now will always be a mystery.  Some say that trying to figure out weightlifting can lead to madness, for the sport never, and will never make sense.  His head titled slightly down, and the crinkles in his forehead smoothed back out.  His eyes hadn't blinked since he sat down, and the thought of becoming mad haunted him.  How do you know when you have lost your mind?  He asked the bag while looking back up.  This time words came out from his mouth, while the person sitting across from him grabbed her two kids and scurried them away to the waiting bench three vending machines down. The bag did not reply. The bag just stared back at him while slightly molding itself deeper into the bench, as if to say he was done, and could not carry on from here.  The yellow Cal label on the front of the bag facing him was turned brown from the years.  He was saddened by the fact he just now noticed how worn the bag really was.  His body still hadn't moved, but his eyes started to frantically flicker back and forth as if he couldn't figure out what to look at.  Memories of slamming the gym bag against the wall out of anger.   Dropping the bag down on the dusty gym floor while walking over it to get from resting bench to platform.  Laughing weightlifters in the car after a long day of training, while his best friend and biggest supporter of so many years laid defeated in the trunk under boxes and old books.  Memories and reminiscing of how well he used to treat his new bright blue bag when he first got into weightlifting, or back then just weight training / body building / wide feet power looking snatches and pose offs with his friends.  A gym rat that had no plans or ideas of what he was doing, or wanted to do.  All he knew back then was he loved the weight room, and the lifestyle the weight room produced.  The blue bag was just as important as the weights.  Just as food and bed are to recovery.  Belts and coffee, chalk and music, all a family that you grow to know and love throughout this lonely sport of weightlifting.

A small smile crept across his face as the noise from a train passing by broke his long stare, waking him up to a darker than usual subway full of old newspapers and a cold gust of air coming from the stair case that led outside.  He rubbed his hands together to get warm, while thinking about all the different ways he was going to treat his bag better from here on out.  He opened his mouth wide while rubbing his cheeks with his hands to try to snap out of his trance and wake before the day passed him by.  A weightlifter must learn how focus on both weightlifting and everyday life, sometimes at the same time.  When these two completely different worlds meet they can cause doubt, confusion, and the worst of all....excuses.  Learning how to be a weightlifter is the hardest part in learning how to be a weightlifter.  The bag made a small noise from something inside moving out of place.  He patted the bag with a broken smile and whispered as if he was talking to a puppy, "You know what I'm saying, right boy?". The bag looked back with a glow of appreciation and relief.  The bag was just as much a weightlifter as the man, and the man knew he was just as much part of that bag as the bag itself.  The man felt lighter from their talk.  A sigh of understanding and respect.  He was at first blind sided and taken back from how old the bag truly was, but was now proud of himself and the bag for keeping an honest relationship, and continually staying the best of friends.

The man pulled his hands away to straighten out his clothes in anticipation for his train the he could hear down the tunnel moving his way.  The light from the train opened the subway up with a new perspective.  The newspapers were not scattered around the floor nor were they dirty.  The floor was clean and the vending machines where glowing bright.  There were more people than he thought there was hustling and bustling around as if an army was forming to attack the day.  The man opened his wide eyes and quickly turned to his bag, hoping that his bright blue Cal bag was young and strong as he always knew it to be.  The bag laid half dead as its shadow crept down the bench towards the man.  The man's eyes followed the dark shadow running into his hand that was structurally there supporting his excited lean towards the bag.  The man noticed his hands.  He picked both of them up and turned them side to side in front of his face.  They were torn, bruised and old.  They were stained yellow from the cigarettes he once smoked.  Old chalk lived deep under his nails, and the blood paintings that webbed across his hands from broken blood blisters made sure that he was just as broken and used as the bag sitting beside him.  The man has aged with his bag.  The man then realized sitting on that subway bench, that he had become his own gym bag.

Metal Empire Productions Presents the newest Team AN video.  Metal Empire will be documenting our young teams path to Gold, with behind the scene antics, interviews, recaps and more. Welcome to the family Metal Empire. lets take over the world. 

The Documentary 2016 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The Morning Coffee Review

Attitude Nation Weightlifting Seminar Review

Posted: September 2, 2013 in Uncategorized

Being relatively new to the sport of weightlifting, I am always looking to learn more about technique and the different styles of successful lifters.  This normally means watching endless hours of YouTube videos of my favorite lifters and studying how they move.  One of my favorite YouTube channels for this is The Attitude Nation, which used to chronicle the training of 2011 National Champion Jon North (AKA “The Champ”) and now tracks the progress of his own weightlifting team.  Upon hearing that CrossFit Hail Fire in Orwigsburg, PA would be hosting an Attitude Nation Weightlifting Seminar, I jumped at the opportunity.
A little more about Jon North. He and his wife Jess own The Attitude Nation which was born out of Jon’s incredible passion and excitement for weightlifting.  As he says on his podcast, the AN is for those who “do what they want” and those that raise a middle finger (or two) to society when they try to tell you how to live your life.  Jon is a former national champion in the 94 kg weight class and has represented the US in many international competitions.  He brings an excitement to the sport that is, in my opinion, unmatched.  Coach Dan got me into weightlifting but watching old Cal Strength and MDUSA videos of Jon and Donny Shankle made me want to compete.  Recently, Jon retired from the sport and now coaches a team of weightlifters full time at his gym in NC.  Am I a Jon North fan? Yes. But I will write this review objectively so you know exactly what to expect if you were to take this seminar.  I feel that’s only fair.
To start the day, Jon began by telling his story.  Fueled by an iced black coffee (AKA “Miss Brown Eyes”) he energetically told the group about how he got into weightlifting and why it means so much to him as well as what we were going to learn during the seminar.  Most importantly, Jon stressed that there is no wrong way to lift weights within the rules.  What he would be teaching us is his way; a technique he has developed over the years by pulling from many different coaching influences.  We could then use the “AN Catapult” exclusively or use pieces of it like he has to create our own style of lifting.  This to me was a very important point because all too often, I come across athletes who think there is only one right way to lift.  I personally have tried three different styles of snatching in the past 8 months and have finally settled on one I feel comfortable with.  Everyone is different and Jon understands this.
While speaking, the one thing I noticed from the get-go is Jon’s passion for all things weightlifting.  His excitement for the seminar was genuine and I could tell he wanted this to be a worthwhile experience for all of us.  Along with Jon was his wife, Jessica North who is also a nationally-ranked weightlifter.  Throughout the day, Jon would be describing the movements and the physics behind them while Jess got the enviable duty of demonstrating.  Unbeknownst to her, she also provided some particularly funny moments with her reactions to Jon’s self-described ADD tangents. Especially when Jon said that anyone who took his Level 2 seminar could stay at his house.
With the intro complete we moved on to the snatch portion of the seminar.  Since the snatch is such a technical lift, Jon and Jess broke it down into many small pieces.  I won’t detail each step here because that is what you take the seminar for.  After each technical instruction and subsequent demonstration, the group grabbed a bar and drilled the movement.  The entire time, Jon and Jess walked the room and made sure that every athlete was doing it correctly before moving on to the next step.
On occasion, Jon would tell everyone to rest except one person that he saw was having some trouble with a particular drill.  He would then have that person repeat the skill until it was correct, the whole time giving the athlete different cues to help it click in his or her head.  It really was a neat moment because two things were happening.  The athlete was perfecting the movement and those of us who are coaches or aspire to coach one day were learning several effective ways of teaching the lift.  With Jon and Jess’s help each athlete would quickly demonstrate proficiency of the movement, often to the supportive applause from the rest of us.
AN Class
A group shot of us working on the catch
Once we learned and drilled the AN Catapult technique for the snatch it was time to max out.  Up to this point, all work was with done with an empty bar so this was a welcome change.  Weights were quickly loaded and the blissful sounds of bars crashing to the ground filled the room.  Jon and Jess again walked around the room to watch lifts and offer form critiques.  Some PRed and some did not but that is to be expected when we just learned a new style.  20 minutes later the session wrapped and we were off to lunch.
Next the group learned how to apply the AN Catapult technique to the clean.  Not surprisingly, all the drilling we did earlier in the day made this transition pretty seamless.  In no time at all, we were all completing the entire clean movement with light weight.
Before we all maxed out again, Jon and Jess gave us some instruction on the jerk.  With the jerk being the least technical of the movements there wasn’t nearly as much info as the other two portions.  That being said, Jon and Jess did a provide valuable information in the form of an effective drill we could all do in our own gyms as well as some trade secrets they have learned over the 14 combined years in the sport.  Admittedly, I watch almost every YouTube training vid out there and had not seen or heard any of these tips so I thought that was really cool.
Time to max out again.  I had a question about my clean grip so I pulled Jon aside.  He quickly helped me adjust my feet at the set up which made an immediate difference in my second pull. I could feel a distinct difference in the “pop” off of my thighs with the AN Catapult technique compared to the technique I had been using.  Weights I used to struggle to get under seemed to float, giving me plenty of time to catch with a straight back and high elbows.  I was no longer chasing the bar and catching it with the weight on my toes.  This had been a struggle of mine for some time so it was nice to see some progress.  I personally did not PR due to some nagging injuries but plenty of people did as evidenced by the copious amount of yelling, encouraging and celebratory screams.  Outside of the person setting a PR, no one was more excited than Jon and Jess.  They truly love this sport.
The seminar was supposed to go from 9-5 but we ended up finishing close to 6, not because anything was dragged out but because there was so much information to review and practice.  Never did I feel bored and Jon and Jess kept the whole thing pretty fast-paced.  The only thing I would change about the day is the lunch hour.  Lunch wasn’t until 3PM and took place after we maxed our snatches.  I would have preferred it to be either before we maxed our snatches or right around 12-1PM.  That being said, there were plenty of shorts breaks along the way so people who had snacks could have refueled but some did not bring any food with them and I imagine they would have been quite hungry.
So who would I recommend this seminar to? This seminar would be very beneficial to weightlifters and CrossFitters of all skill levels.  Even for those who have been competing for a long time.  I think the AN Catapult style will appeal especially to CrossFitters because of how efficiently the technique allows you to lift heavier weights.  This would obviously translate to less energy used and faster WOD times.
I would also say this seminar is for those athletes looking to be inspired.  Jon’s story is one that would fit perfectly in an E:60 segment.   The guy has overcome some real adversity and has used those low points in his life to fuel his fire for success.  His weightlifting journey is essentially an analog for life itself; how you have the ability to rise above a bad situation by changing your attitude.  If you want something bad enough, stop making excuses and go get it.  Like a bar-slamming Phoenix rising from the ashes of despair, Jon has left his checked past behind and is now a great role model for those looking to do the same.
At lunch, one participant told me how she listened to “Weightlifting Talk” (Jon’s podcast) the whole way from New Jersey.  She even told me that she had tears in her eyes listening to Jon’s intro speech.  It occurred to me then that the AN seminar is more than just about weightlifting for some people.  It is a chance to connect to a person who has beaten the odds; possibly the same odds you yourself are facing.  Those who have been “shunned by society” have a champion in Jon North.  For some, that can be worth more than weightlifting ever will be.
“Love Your Life or Change It”.  That has become the slogan for the Attitude Nation and was emblazoned across the back of Jon’s t-shirt.  He has certainly changed his own life.  Through this seminar, I have the feeling he will change many more.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Sweat Bank

Bringing Him To Life Once Again Next Week.  

His sweat has turned from warm to cold as the cool air turned his skin into a leopard like coat of goose bumps that shot up his spine and down his arms.  The drastic change in weather from inside the gym to out has made the once river of sweat die in its tracks and stick to his body like a hook grip to a bar.  The wind left him breathless as he began to walk to his humble apartment that rested just a few blocks from the gym that he has been training at for the last year.  His walk brought him an awkward silence, but a well needed time to himself he valued deeply.  Echoes of yelling, cheering, and bar slamming played over and over in his head every step he took.  The echoes and recent memories began to drown turning into vapor as the mist of the cold day and car horns took over a new reality, a peaceful one that every athlete must have at least once a day.  Boston was his home, and Boston would always be his home.  He knew the back streets like a champ, cutting at least 10 minutes off his walk home, where only a native of this empty, but huge town would know.  The bottom half of his long black coat rested over his gym bag as it occasionally hit his right knee, causing him to switch hands from time to time.  The collar on his coat was popped up past his ears while his chin stayed tucked downward.  A place where deep thoughts are born and then thought about.  Church bells rang aloud off in the distance, and a light rain met him half way home.  The cars' break lights started to stand out more, as they became not only brighter but more blurry.  The sounds of the street only intrigued him, just like the sounds of the gym. "Ears and eyes always open," his dad would preach to him before being tucked into bed. "See, hear, understand, and then create," his dad would say before turning off the lights and cracking the door just slightly so the monsters wouldn't come out to play. The Boston native never forgot, one memory that stuck with him, and so many other memories he wished he could forget.  The walking signal flashed go, and before he knew it, he was stopped by the first step leading up to his apartment.  He was home after a long day of training.

The hot water burned his skin like squats to his legs.  Long days call for an extra long shower, and the harder the training, the more the small arrow leans to the H on the shower knob. Every workout has to go somewhere, right?  He thought to himself while watching the water by his feet swirl in circles down the drain.  His shoulders hurt from missing too many snatches in front, so he turned the shower head to a more powerful setting, giving his shoulders a light massage.  He has been training for three months straight, preparing for his first local meet in weightlifting.  His coach has been proud of him as he has been making great gains.  His boss on the other hand, has a different take in his awesome job, his marketing boss that pays him a very nice salary every month wants him at the office more rather than taking time to rep curls at 24 Hour Fitness.  Little did his boss know what he was really doing, or little did he care.  The Boston native was baited and hooked to weightlifting, and the disease was too late and deep to try and leave this great sport he stumbled across on YouTube months ago.  His shower door was cracked open, maybe from child hood stability, or just because the baseball game was playing in the background, and a few peeks out the shower door was part of his cleaning process.  The confusing thought of when he would get all of his training back plus more for a reward, grabbed his attention from the ball game, and swirled his head back under the hot water.  A Weightlifter's Bank is what he needed and wished he could walk into it.  A Sweat Bank that allowed an athlete to deposit and withdraw every drop of sweat he or she worked for.  A place where an athlete can see how much sweat he or she has put into any sport.  His forehead started to wrinkle, as his eyebrows drew down like window drapes. If our bodies lie to us and play tricks on us as athletes.....then how do we really know how much better we are getting.  Where does all the sweat go?  He thought to himself while now brushing his teeth dramatically like he was playing the violin as the hot water now came punching down upon his back.  He then froze in complete stillness.  The water from the shower head became motionless while the baseball game was put on pause mid pitch.  All of Boston stopped.

Let me, as the writer, stop the story for just a sec and talk to you, the reader, about the Sweat Bank before we pick back up on the story about the man from Boston.  Don't worry he will be fine.  He is not dead or alive right now.  The world he knows has just stopped for a brief while, while we chat about his interesting idea and theory.  Let's face it, I can stop his world anytime I want, because I am the one making the world he is living in real.  I am the writer, the creator.  Without me he wouldn't exist.  He wouldn't be in the shower nor a weightlifter.  He only knows Boston because I placed him there.  His whole life has been created with a single cup of coffee.  A Sweat Bank does exist!  When you wash your cloths in the washing machine, all of the sweat accumulated in your clothes drains down deep into a factory run and managed by your Ego.  There is an entrance to this factory in every one's home.  You just have to look for it.  You have to believe in your sweat one hundred percent.  Your ego lives under your feet while taking a hot shower.  The sweat living on your body from a hard day's work runs down your body hitting the shower floor and finding its way in the drain only to be met by your ego wearing a bright see through poker hat while smoking a cigar.  Your ego is tall and lanky, slimy and multi-colored.  Three arms, two for your ego, and one for your ego's ego.  An ego has many egos in itself which make the factory of your hard work sweat run efficient and fast.  So many workers working hard on your hard work makes this land down under your feet confident and prideful.  Your ego is not always confident, it takes much support and encouragement from hundreds of your egos egos egos and so forth to stay secure.  Your ego is insecure, that's why it is an ego in the first place.  Giving off the impression of confidence when not being confident at all.  The more sweat the ego contains from your hard work in the life above, the better your ego feels down under.  Down under in the dark the egos work.  A small light reflecting green from their see through visors swing back and forth from your movement above.  But your ego stays hard at work preparing for the day you want to cash out.  Or what they call, sweat out.  You don't know your ego at all, you know it's there, you know how it acts, but you and I and this character that we created all have no idea who it is or what it is.  All we know is that its presence is known.  But what we didn't know, is that our ego is our sweat's undertaker, our sweat's master.  Character from Boston......come back alive my friend.

The baseball game didn't skip a beat, but something was off.  He got out of the shower butt naked and walked out into his room where the TV now showed a monster home run and the crowd going crazy.  The TV was loud, but he was quiet.  His eyes traveled the room as if someone was watching his every move.  Something wasn't right.  He threw his covers off his bed looking for his alarm clock that would show him the time.  He felt as if there was a sudden pause or black out that occurred from the point of entering the shower and getting out.  The time was correct, therefore putting his theory in doubt.  His body was freezing from the water building little dots and villages from his head to toe.  The cool air reminded him of walking back from the gym as he preformed the naked scurry back to the shower that we all do from time to time.  He started to think about the Sweat Bank again, and how cool it would be to cash out a hard week's work in sweat dollars.  He became nervous about his first meet coming up, as his mind became focused on normalcy again.  What numbers should I open with, and what kind of jumps should I take?  All these, questions that clustered his mind, steering away his odd thoughts of Sweat Banks and watching eyes.

He dried off in his room with his dark green and red towel covered in swirls and stars.  It was a present from his parents that he never liked, but one of those gifts that he ended up putting to good use.  He dried himself off the same way as always, how that ritual came about he never knew.  One of those mysteries of life he guessed.  He smiled at all the pictures in his college-like room filled with friends and family.  He took pride in one thing that the people in the pictures always said about him.  "Jason doesn't have an ego, he is such a humble man".  He loved that about himself, and how others took him for it.

"Hey, Jason!"  He looked all around the room in panic as if someone just broke in wearing a scream mask.  "My name is Jon North, and I am writing about you."  He grabbed the phone as if he was about to eat a piece of food for the first time in 10 days.  His back hunched over as the outline of his spine came pointing out his back.  "Stop, its ok my friend.  I will not write anything bad about you, you will be ok.  I just want you to know that you do have an ego, a very big ego at that.  Your ego has not come out yet, for it waits for you in the Sweat Bank under your feet and behind your washer for the day you compete. The day you do compete your ego will shoot out of your last shower before competition covering you with all your built up sweat from the past three months.  Your sweat is your ego, Jason.  Your ego will soak into your skin and help you achieve your goals in your first meet.  All of your sweat has been accounted for my very good character friend.  Your ego has not lost your hard work.  It works long hours just as you do."

"Jason, are you there?"  "Yes I am, what is happening?"  "You are a creation from my keyboard covered in coffee.  You are a mix of emotion from my past splashed with thousands of readers all from different outlooks on you.  I view you one way, but the person reading this might see you in a different way."  "So then who am I really?"  "You are a 28 year old guy from Boston that loves his family, the gym, the community you train in, and the peaceful time you spend alone.  But I must end this blog now because I myself have to go train,  for you will one day live again."  "But how?  If you stop typing this blog, then I will die!"   "No Jason, you will only be on pause, because I will come back later and write you again, picking right back up where we left off.  You won't even know what happened, or that time was paused.  Say 'hi' to the readers Jason, they have gotten to know you well over the last 10 minutes."  "Hello, readers please don't leave me, I have a meet to compete in, and I have been training for three solid months."  "I promise on everything Jason that the readers and I will be back to watch your lifting soon!  We will cheer you on and root for you all the way!  I know you won't remember any of this, but ego is in all of us.  Learn how to find it, then use it to your benefit.  Ego is a scary thing, and can't be taken lightly.  You can use it in a wrong way, just like anything in life.  Next time I write you, we will both train crazy hard getting closer to your first meet.  We will slam bars!"

"Good bye, Jason."  "Good bye, Jon."  "Oh wait, Jon! " "Yea, what's up?"  "Will you tell Shankle that I am a big fan and that I say, hi."  "Hell yea, I will.  I will write Shankle into your reality next time.  I will have him train with you before your weightlifting meet.  Salute."


Boston 2016