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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.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Unspoken Crusaders

New gym, different day.  New faces, same understanding.  Broken bodies, with bloody smiles. Hands of torn with eyes of focus.  Shoulders click as PVC pipes turn.  Coffee flows as the music gets turned the fuck up, creating our adrenaline to boost, rise and spike.  Spite, anger, hate, love, and happiness are some tools we will use to conquer the day.  Along with technique, we will use each other as fuel - misses next to makes equal makes from misses, as each miss makes each athlete want to make each life even more, not just for them, but the fallen lifter laying on the floor.  "Pick him up! Help her out!" One yells from across the gym.  We must keep going, or the gym will win! The doubters will be victors and the haters will rise once again!  Each athlete said nothing, just grabbed the bar and started lifting EVERYTHING! Gym rats unite! Tonight we fight!

Once lost, now found. Once turned off, now physically loud, mentally at peace, and one hundred percent found.  Hate runs through our blood, but now controlled with our new found community.  A raging storm over our heads, simply calmed from the fog that calmly lays around our beds.  Dreaming of better times and forgotten times, goals reached and more obstacles to climb.  As the final goal will never be reached, for this goal is far from the gym and applied only on the "outside".  Once confused, now understood.  Gym rat junkies ready for another fucken round.  A shot of C4 splashes into our coffee, as we Mary our blood and infect others with our passion.  An unspoken relationship of hard work and self pride, is the unspoken relationship of this bar and I.

CrossFit fan spins loud and hard in front of the sliding warehouse door, picking up chalk and flying it around each lifter, like ash from a fire, like a gladiator the night before.  Wrists get wrapped, shoes tied tight, each lifter with a certain number in sight, an hour in and still a fucken fight.  Bounty on weights, while knee wraps wrap tight.  Virus tights like battle armor, as shirtless athletes mentally stay in the fight, while everything else in life slips away and calmly lets go.  Quiet nights are haunted by nightmares from a long time ago, now acting as fuel as each athlete is up for the task, each entering closets of dark only to be met by skeletons from our pasts.  A simple song of understanding, acceptance, and well-being is what an athlete needs to become one strong human being.

You walk up to the PR bar, grab it, and then..........

Crusaders 2016

Sunday, November 1, 2015

A New Experience

First time I have written to no music.  First time I have written on a plane.  First time I have actually opened a window to write, usually clicking black keys in the darkest of the morning night. I guess what I am trying to say is there is a first for everything in life, this is why I pressure all my athletes and fans to compete, compete, and to compete some more.  Beginner or advanced, doesn't matter. Every meet is a different experience, every meet is a first.  New openers, new jumps, followed with new goals and the possibility to achieve new medals and better placements.  New Teams in new location.  New crowds cheering much louder than before, the next one might be dead silent, the next might be an elevated platform.  New adrenaline, more pressure, as you think to yourself, "I've done this before why am I so nervous and wanting to run for the door?" Reason being is you want it so damn bad, if you didn't your stomach wouldn't turn and your vomit wouldn't rise, your annoying yawn would go away and small little twitches and self chat mumbles would disappear like a dash of smokey magic. Wizam! But no... you want it so fucken bad it's even worse than the first.  Every meet gets so much more exciting and nerve racking that the feeling alone is worth months of training, blood, sweat and tears.  Sitting in the warm up room trying not to make eye contact with coaches, athletes nor peers. Focused and steady, your eyes stay down, ready and time-willing, your body is in full gear.  It's like a gambler sitting at the table, that's the true rush, poker comes next to such a feeling of intimacy and lust.  Just as a weightlifter getting ready for his or her opener, they are more alive before they even step on stage. Now it's time to react, nothing more.

New again after years of competing, this is why it's so important to keep competing, rising, and knocking off rankings.  Each new experience might camouflage itself in the world of Weightlifting, but it's the new feeling that you receive that makes Weightlifting so addicting. Not the weight but the anticipation, as I would chug monsters and yell, "Arnold" keeping my mind from thinking.  I would go to a different place when I trained that only brought in feelings, no thoughts, nothing.  This was always my secret in taking top spots.  I would let each meet take full control, moving with the rhythm of the meet like I was the meet director's soul.  Understanding each meet as an individual made me openly take in sights and sounds, allowing all feelings to bubble over and spill onto a platform surrounded by cheering crowds. I was not thinking about my lifting. I was not thinking at all. I was honestly just reacting to what had been happening all along.

"Why is he slamming bars and yelling Shankle on the stage?" They would whisper and ask, as I walked off stage more jacked than even before.  More alive than the meet before, and ready to lift bigger weight than ever before.  I sailed to the back room with yells and tears, so emotional and hyped all before my second attempt was even near. 5 out, no time for sitting, just pacing and breathing, feeling and never thinking.  I did what I had to do to keep fear away, that's my response to those that whisper from far away. When doubt and fear gets in the mind of a Weightlifter... missed lifts appear.  Faces of - "what if's" - and uncertainty cast upon your face. I would then need to pee and I would no longer pace. I would no longer yell, that's when you know it's bad, calm Jon North was a scared Jon North, leaving me with memories of bad.  

Emotions are not thought and they are extremely far from forced.  Emotions are driven from want and desire, long ago heartache and a chip on the shoulder. Emotion stem from the possibility of succeeding... believing in what you're doing and reacting on overwhelming feelings of self love, self happiness, and self worth. The hype to go out on stage is a life changing force, that forces your nervous body to lift weight that makes you feel sick, tired and down, only to stand up to spike all doubt to the ground.  Now calm palms chatter chalk crumbs from your hand, leaving the air cloudy and out of focused like an early morning flight in the AM.  This type of spark sets fire to others around you, a selfish thought now inspires others to clap chalk and slam bars, yell loud while shooting for the stars.  

Chasing dream in night time gyms, lonely and forgotten in the corner of the CrossFit Gym.  Classes move fast and high energy continues to dance, the lifter in the corner has to wait another two months until he or she gets another chance.  A weightlifter looks for feeling from a tired numb body in the deepest bottom of a chalk bowl, as if a kid looking for the magic plastic spoon in a cereal box, opened eyes and bushy tailed, sometimes, "Bingo!" sometimes nothing.  No feeling, only from your legs spiking pain up into your hips, achy and un-oiled your knees make sounds of "clicks".  Hands rough like a race horse's hooves, sharpening the ski and getting rid of the dead skin to new. Icy hot gets warm then cold like the last 5 meets you have competed in.  Asking a woman out on a date was better odds than this weightlifting thing.  Oh well, back to bloody chins and smelly shirts, gym bags that could tell a story of all sorts.  Knee wraps wrap tight and steady, taking you back to the meet when your emotions were brave, high and alive.  The knee wraps as your armor and the bar to survive.  Yep... in the corner of this gym, you are a weightlifter, one day alive, most other days disguised. Patiently waiting for the experience of your life. 

Your first meet or your last is a first.  Experience is knowledge, and knowledge is a choice. Take in your feelings and understand your past.  Embrace, react and most importantly, be you.  

#TeamDO 2016 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

White Walls

White walls, silver trimming. This super store has everything. White shelves, bright lights, this super store is electrifying. Cream tiles under your feet reflect images from frozen food doors opening and shutting, shopping carts in motion turning and wheeling, as the constant flickering from the almost dead light bulbs above brings me a slight panic and uneasy feeling.  Why am I here shopping alone this late at night? Why does the old man of a manager keep talking over the speaker phone about great prices, half offs, and coupons for deli combos and party accessories?

Bathroom walls light grey with a rough finish.  One mirror looking back at your flush face in a bathroom much too big for such little space needed.  The toilet sits alone like a sail boat out to sea, empty and small, navigation is a must to find the door back to what is considered reality. Long hallway with bare skin, nothing but white paint and a much too low water fountain guide me back to the store, one with a name I have still never heard before.  Road trips can lead you to cracks of life you never knew existed, and the crazy part is once I leave this place it will continue existing, like nothing ever happened, like I never got lost and needed to use the restroom.

Sneakers squeak from a newly mopped floor from the janitor the night before.  Adventures on every isle, as the carts turn and people smile.  No talk, just a shoppers denial, as we buy more junk, plastic straws and buy one, get one frees... quiet calm music from high above the heavens keep us at ease.  I am surprised the store lets you leave at all, as the clerks watch with moving eyes, peaking and keeping an eye on when we decide to awkwardly say, "goodbye" followed by a fake smile, half wave, and an awkward sigh.  I wonder if a piece of them leaves with me, as they watch me exit, or maybe they like it... beats me.  In circles we shop, rats in a maze, deals make us buy as there are no windows to see the outside.  The night sky darker than the eye in the sky, following you around the store as if it has never seen a human being before tonight.  The dark from the two front skinny doors make the ice coolers by the red lottery ticket machines glow like snow, as if they were a portal to another super store, all connected like a damn worm hole. The longer you shop, the further you go, the brighter the lights, the less you know.  Brain washed by pictures of farms with cows, chickens on hills, and smiling kids drinking Koolaid while mom sleeps well overdosed on Nyquil.

"Do you want your receipt?" No thanks. "Okay, have a great night!"

White Walls 2016

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Gym Rats on Mars

The gym shook mid clean pull, a sudden un-hook from your hookgrip as the gym itself un-hooked from the earth below.  Shankle posters and Dimas art fell from the walls like a whiteboard getting wiped down after a workout has been complete, only for a new plan of attack to be drawn upon next. Medals and trophies on shelves once stacked high now fall low and broken on mats of black that no longer line up perfectly as if horses were actually going to use them anyway.  A gym of strength now uprooted from a tornado of power, for a million powerlifters couldn't stop this horror of confusion.  The gym starts to spin faster than an Eleiko bar, turning and swooshing and making your one focal point now blurry and off setting.  Visions of giant coffee drops fly wildly around your line of sight....or a lack of.  No time to try to drink them with your tongue opened and out like you did as a kid when it rained, only time to hold on to the squat rack behind you that your coach would always tell you to move due to the scare of missing the weight behind and hurting yourself from alack of room for a saved lift and a missed disaster. I think it's safe to say that this situation at hand is much worse than a bar rolling back onto your heels... wouldn't you say?  Your whole world literally begins to move upward and beyond, higher than your vertical jump and higher than your bar on a perfectly timed and locked out jerk.  High and proud, this time not so proud but confused and misled, for this situation was not on today's program. Weightlifting belts turned to safety belts and athletes of all kinds were locking themselves tightly on the pull up rig that now acted as a cockpit.  Here we fucken go! Hold on tight! You yelled louder than the roar from your PR. You thought nothing was louder and deeper than a PR yell, but boy you were wrong... this yell was deeper than deep and louder than loud, as you were now moving to Mars faster than all hell! 

The landing was violent by smooth, just like your feet on the catch, completely in control and stern with your decision.  Your coach would usually yell great words of excitement on such a great catch, but on this landing, "Shit!", seems to be the only words out of his vast vocabulary.  Skinny but strong arms stretch out from underneath the gym now acting as a space ship, arms like weightlifters misleading and hidden from public. The public eye would never know how strong you are, for your arms hang like theirs, not knowing your arms lift big fucken things high in the air. Their arms lift grocery bags and pins, working a desk job 'til their eyes pop out from their head. You live free in a warehouse of bars, open garage doors and weightlifting scars.  Coffee tastes so much better when sweat meets caffeine, caffeine running through a body of free is the true secrete of being the best you can be.  Your weightlifting shoes now act as space shoes meeting red rock. Virus tights and singlets act as suits in space, for now you are on Mars in a gym that now has an address above the stars.  The air is somehow breathable, cool, crisp and foggy.  Forget everything you know about science, people can't breath on Mars this is a fact, but nothing has ever been said about gym rats. Gym rats breath just fine, walk just fine and talk just fine. Gym rat weightlifters can adapt to anything with time. Red rock mater and sand storms are nothing to you, lifting on a slanted platform with legs of broke is normal to you. Haven't felt your legs in years! This makes for great training when legs cry painful tears! No pain can make a weightlifter hit numbers all day, insane training causes for a lack of feeling and a mind of numb, just like on Mars where the atmosphere is dire and grim.  You all explore the red sea of rock, like you did when entering a gym for the first time. Eyes open and hands out, feeling the heat like Maximus going home. Taking in the sights and smells. Heads low as if stocking your prey, moving calmly like staking out a house. You accept this new world like your step dad on your mom's wedding day, unsure but ready for the task.  Just as you accept the dark that weightlifting brings, knowing all too well that good things come after the darkest of times. Gym rats now huddle and talk about plans, as if we were making a flier and advertisements on expanding the gym and getting new members. A meeting on Mars, a meeting from afar, makes for a meeting that will bring light, water and food for gym rats to feed upon. 

You trained, and hard. The cool windy air was filled with sand that struck your skin like the bar in your throat. Shins bleed from dragging bars as ankles hurt from unstable rocks below. Even with laying the horse mats out, lifting on slops of black, make for many missed lifts in front. No excuses, they trained, with coffee as your only liquid, and chalk as your only food.  Eating chalk wasn't so bad, let's face it... the amount of chalk that gets on your body always ends up finding a home inside your stomach. Weightlifters never wash their hands, and face it... you don't either. A few PR lifts later and some Shankle yells followed, echoed through the valleys on red, sandy air and darkness beyond.  The weightlifters and their gym on Mars noticed that the more weight they lifted, the more water began to snake through the rock like protein powder slowly falling down unshaken ice water.  Green grass started to break through the rocks like a weightlifter's mental block finally being broke, that's the worst when your mind plays tricks on you. But without tricks there are no tries, for clowns of despair leave for more attempts and tries. Sometimes making it hard makes for harder training, in return making for bigger gains to come.  "All in good time," a coach once said to me as he reached for his glasses and rocket book of programs.  The weightlifters and you rubbed your gym rat tails in a stew of pride, for luck was finally on your side. 

A single gym of athletes hitting heavy singles, made for a world to live in that was completely their own. You don't need society and they don't need you. Create your own, on Mars or at your home. Find a gym and walk on Mars, grab a bar and reach for the stars. 

Create 2016 

Monday, October 26, 2015


Rusted blood built up around my neck like dead calluses on a hand of labor and let downs, gripped tight with a heavy hook, pulling on dreams that seem too far to ever come true.  Each heave, and roar pulls the heavy rustic over-sized chain closer, elbows drive back, back holds strong, eyes steady ahead, and feet dig through, all while your body begins to doubt the long adventure ahead, and your mind whispers of white flags and other options.  Pain desperately tries to despair you from your goals, as more fish oil tuns in your stomach, leaving you with a taste of old gym bag mixed with knee wraps from yesterday's training. "Maybe another goal is more feasible" - Rest whispers with a crack in her voice and eyes drooped like a Disney character - low and always forgiving. The bar you hold is high but so low, cold metal pulling you down as hope moves you forward.  Bloody hands wash up for dinner, as Phantom of the Opera sings loudly in your ears, while others hear the quiet night play a song of silverware meeting the plate and cups sitting softly on the table. Cold nights that turn lonely, make you feel like the only one, like wearing the wrong outfit to the first day of school -therefore being shunned.  A weightlifter set a part from the "rest" -  An alien who is desperately misunderstood and hated by those who don't understand. Freak, bastard, fucken outcast. There is a place for us, it's called the gym. 

Your scars turn purple as the breath of your air surrounds your thoughts, cold nights can make your midnight smoke turn into a circus of emotions while you sit front row, sometimes good, sometimes a performance that's followed by a head down shower.  Does my sweat really build up underneath my shower? Is there really a "sweat bank"? Why the fuck I am doing this?  River of red around my neck strangles me on nights of thought as I look back a decade later on my career.  Past friends, coaches, teams, meets, medals and memories now dirt, dust, old coffee and cigarette butts.  My writing stopped, medals hang in dust, only to move once again from open doors and a gust from an open window, as they cling and clang in a cry of acceptance, once appreciated and now unheard.  Old forgotten videos lay on bed side with palms of ever loving lust. Hold my hand they whisper, with an old cracking voice of despair.  A decade later and somehow.....I am still here. 

Morning has now come, welcomed by a refill and a long stare out a canvas now almost filled.  Normal society marches on as they do, one foot in front of the next, going to their jobs of work, once told to them by people who work, that once went to school who taught them how to work, so they work. The dark of the night slipped away like the last ten years of my life. Full circle....1,000 coffee cups down, stained cigarette hands and palms of rough.  Ten years ago when I entered the Dark Orchestra I was lost, and now I am found.  Found through weightlifting that gave me an identity nothing else could.  Found through a bar that only tried to pull me down. The crazy thing is, is that if you lift the bar high you can achieve greatness.  Lift the bar over and over, faster and higher, stronger each day, and opportunity will meet you at 6 am at Starbucks aka The Green Jungle. What door to walk through?  I say walk through them all, doesn't mean you have to carry on down that one particular road. A journey only well sought upon is a journey worth taking.  Have I ventured down paths of regret, never. Have a ventured down paths too long, yes. Know when to turn, find the crossroad and back trail if needed. Not all opportunity will lead to the promise land, sometimes a promise is only met with burnt grass and a rotten grapefruit tree.  At time when all doors don't seem to lead, create your own as windy roads full of bricks and weeds can be the ones that lead to achieving many things, some on the list and some newly discovered. I write to you today, ten years later with more understanding than before, at the same time none at all.  The times have changed but the coffee tastes the same.  The barbell has been lifted with much weight, but there is always more to lift, more weight to move, walk with, and live with.  A decade later and I finally come back to the place that I feel the most at home.  A decade later and my neck still bleeds rivers of blood......cut by tyranny, and sustained by desire. 

Shankle 2016  

Monday, July 6, 2015

The Program

The program, 

A note to you, TeamDO. I write these programs for you. Nothing makes me more proud than seeing you take my image, my vision, and turn it into your masterpiece.  I write programs as if I am sculpting ice, wood, or better yet......a Weightlifter.  A weightlifter with dreams, the same dreams I once had.  Success, medals, teams.....VICTORY.  Triumph over hardship, followed with pain over pleasure.  Pleasurable pain is what I call this Team, TeamDO, the dark is you, with you, and lives inside you.  There is no such thing as dark, dark is without light, but why is it in the dark I feel the sun on my face and the breeze on my hands.  The past is a funny thing, close but far, love and pain, motivation filled with reluctant doubt mixed with mind numbing conversations between your skeleton and you, I, us.  Your skeletons might be dark, locked away and hidden, but I promise you, walking into that closet and listening to the Orchestras they play, white fingertips filled with salty eyes, bones full of hollow, and strings that cry.....listen to them play, bad or good, and I promise you......IT WILL BE THE BEST PROGRAM EVER WRITTEN. Salute. #TeamDO #Thedarkorchestra