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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