Shaking Off the Dust

I have a few friends I would love to cut off. They’re kind of assholes. They overstayed their welcome, sucked dry my self-esteem and get in the way of doing important stuff. Like, updating this blog.

One of them has been around too long. Procrastination. This charming lazy prick has a way of making everything fun, except what really needs to be done. We’ve been friends since puberty, avoiding responsibility, making sure that panic reaches its absolute maximum before lighting a fire under my ass to meet deadlines. Sure, if suddenly cleaning becomes far more entertaining than say, writing, or working, that should be a clear sign that Procrastination should not be around any longer. But, like any good procrastinator, I postponed ending my relationship with Procrastination. I guess there were too many episodes of Breaking Bad to get through before doing that. Procrastination and I have been together too long for me remember why we hooked up in the first place. It’s more of a force of habit than a real commitment. Even so, it doesn’t seem to want to get going and that interrupts the fluidity of my life, chopping it up and inserting too many moments of:

1)    Googling “Jessica Biel’s workout routine”
2)    Singing Les Miserables full soundtrack until I am certain I can audition for the part of Eponine
3)    Youtube. So much Youtube
4)   Writing down To-do lists I never complete
5)    Feeling bad for never completing the To-do lists
6)    Contemplating why I’ll never be as cool as Freddie Mercury
7)    You get it.

The other good-for-nothing obnoxious motherfucker is Fear. It’s not that he is around every now and then to serve as a motivation to do better, to really challenge myself. It’s that he is the loudest, jittery, repetitive dude I’ve ever met. He is also a master at the what ifs

Are you sure you want to do that? Once you choose, you can’t go back, you know? What if you fail? What if you embarrass yourself? What if you really don’t know what you are doing? What if you can’t take it back? What if you never become what you want to become?

Over, and over and over again. And it doesn’t get old for him. He loves it when I make the safe choices, the ones that won’t hurt me but won’t be memorable either. Fear’s kind of a drag.
The cousin of Fear is Insecurity. It follows it around like a puppy, a puppy that whimpers all the time and you’d seriously consider kicking. Not only does it echo Fear’s incessant questions, but it makes me feel like I walk around giants, giants that at any moment can flatten me with a single move. Insecurity makes you live inside a box you find uncomfortable at first but then you can’t imagine being able to stretch your arms and legs like you used to. You just don’t have that flexibility anymore. Insecurity is more than a downer. It makes me forget I used to be great and makes me believe I was always small.

Nobody wants these three fuckers around. But once you let them spend a few minutes, it’s hard to get them to leave. They feign friendship by pretending to keep you safe and away from all bad choices. But they also keep you away from any choice, any movement. Breaking up with them is hard and whenever I manage to, we always end up getting back together, like a couple that doesn’t want to accept its end because it doesn’t know anything else. It’s sad. 

The truth is this is just my lame way of shaking off the dust. Fear yells every time I get the fire to write here again, saying these things have an expiration date and my blog is way past the sour milk stage. It’s cheese.

I don’t want to be cheese. I want it to be fresh and funny again (if it ever was). That was Insecurity again. I don’t want to open up a million tabs in my browser to avoid the one thing I want to do. Write. I don’t want to be afraid of my past failures of not following through or becoming a giant excuse maker (I’m too good at that now).

I want for my words to be louder than Fear, Procrastination and Insecurity, and if they’re not, I want to shut them up by singing very loudly “Don’t Stop me Now” or “Get Off of my Cloud”. Freddie and Mick won’t be proud of my singing, but I’m sure it will do the trick.

Maybe this is just repetitive now and it has lost its truthfulness, like a boyfriend that keeps promising to change or another cell phone company promising you the best service out there.
The truth is I’m going to give this one more shot. Who can it hurt, except my pride, dreams and basically the last smidgen of optimism that I possess? Fuck it. Let’s just do this.

The three “friends” probably will never go away completely. But I changed the locks and they won’t come in for a while.
My metaphors are a little rusty. It will get better.

Fear of Centipedes

I’m not the bravest person, I’ll admit. I can’t sit through a horror movie without covering my eyes and ears. Anything related to ghosts and demons scares the bejesus out of me. But my lack of bravery can be hidden by just not seeing Paranormal Activity or telling ghosts to piss off… respectfully.

There is one particular fear however- nay, phobia- that I can’t brush off.  My cause for hysteria… CENTIPEDES.

If you are thinking this is a girlish fear of bugs –like spiders or cockroaches- you are severely mistaken. Centipedes are creatures from the underworld that have crawled out of the earth in order to stab us with poison and kill us. This is a completely rational fear. It’s self preservation. 

In case you think centipedes look like Mr. Centipede from James and the Giant Peach because you live in away from the tropics, let me demonstrate what actually crawls into my house.

I told you.

I abhor centipedes. They are pure evil wrapped in primitive wriggly carcasses. I can’t look at them, I can’t even think of them without feeling like they’re crawling up my leg. I don’t know if I had a traumatic incident as a child or if someone told me they are deadly poisonous in order to stay away from them. I don’t care!

Basically, if a centipede is in my peripheral vision, I break down into a fit of tears and shrieks while assuming the fetal position in the tallest chair and shouting “Kill it, kill it kill it kill it please!” because I am incapable of going within ten feet of it. All of this while shutting my eyes to spare myself from its horrific appearance.

My basic instinct of survival demands their brutal death so I can go back to walking barefoot in my house and sleeping soundly without my imagination conjuring up how they will crawl through the small gap in my window and land safely on my bed, creeping up towards my fragile exposed neck.

But my fear is stunted when it encounters my humanitarian side that believes all creatures have a right to live. And so the collision between my blood thirst and my hippie beliefs occurred one gruesome night at my house.

            It was quiet except for the sound of the TV and the purring of my cat. I was ready to go to bed when my pets informed me they needed to go to the backyard by standing in front of the door and barking (I also have a dog).

The night was cool and rainy so I decided to sit out in the terrace and enjoy the breeze while my cat and dog terrorized the frogs stepping into their territory. A few minutes later, my cat did something so out of character and heart melting that it got in the way of whatever cautionary instincts were being used at that moment. He rubbed his body against my leg and purred loudly. 

Affection. From my cat. It was a stepping stone in our relationship.

I still blame him for this traumatizing experience. If he hadn’t chosen this moment to demonstrate his mediocre liking for me, I wouldn’t have been absent minded and I would have realized there was a reason to be very, very afraid. The creature of death was nearby.

But I was too filled with appreciation to notice. 

Before I realized, I wasn’t only within ten feet from the menacing arthropod. I was three inches away from it. 

The next few seconds are a blur. All I remember is that in one swift move I had managed to make it to the opposite side of the terrace. My cat, sensing that something was wrong but choosing to be defiant, stood in the same spot while giving me the “You are so pathetic” eyes. Now I was forced to physically remove him from the death zone, breaking once again my ten feet rule.

The centipede must have felt alarmed because when I went in to grab my cat he thrashed violently, his actions resulting only in me holding my cat inadequately, his back legs dangling and moving jerkily from side to side. For some reason I redirected my disgust for the centipede towards the cat and I subconsciously held him out arm stretched, only provoking more side to side movement to his fat body.  Halfway through, he decided he wasn’t having this shit treatment.

So he ran away.

For a millisecond, I was relieved I no longer had to worry about my cat’s safety. But that was quickly overshadowed as I glanced in the direction of my worst nightmare. 

He was horrendously terrifying, menacing, an assassin. 

And also quite small. I only detected this meaningless fact in a brief moment of objectivity.

But when fear is the attention seeking whore factor in the equation, things appear more monstrous than they really are.

What appears to be like this …

…Will immediately be registered in my brain like this.

I was forced to listen to two completely different voices in my head. The voice that analyzed the level of danger and concluded it was level zero. I could easily go back into the house and let it roam free into the wild. And the voice that wanted to fight for my survival, even if it meant killing to stay alive.

The latter was louder and more convincing. 

When I encounter myself in a situation of life and death against this crawling monster, I run faster than a gazelle towards someone I consider bigger, tougher and much more cold blooded than I’ll every be.

But it was midnight and everyone was asleep. I am the only night owl in my family.

I had no choice but to kill it myself.

“It’s only a baby!” my humanitarian side would say. “Maybe it’s just lost and it’s looking for its mama.”

Evil side: Its mama? There’s more than one centipede around? Oh hell no! It’s got to go!

I wasn’t sure how I was going to overcome my phobia long enough to get close and kill it but I quickly got creative.

First attempt was throwing a rug over it, trapping it underneath its heaviness and possibly suffocating it. No, this wouldn’t be enough. I decided to step on the rug, repeatedly, like some sort of retarded tap dancing. I knew the rug was providing certain protection and cushion so I stepped more vigorously.

Upon seeing this, Cat thought I was playing some kind of awesome game and decided to join.

Shushing a cat while trying to kill something is very difficult. 

Once I was convinced I –and the cat’s efforts- had made some kind of damage, I jumped  back towards a safe corner. He has to be dead, I thought. That was some serious bad ass stomping.

But I needed to be sure. I needed to see the squished motionless mess I had created. From afar.

Perched from a chair while prodding with a broomstick, I attempted to remove the rug and see the remains. The cat was seriously into this whole poking and discovering, completely indifferent to the danger he was toying with.

I poked and moved the rug slowly, begging please be dead please be dead-

Chaos broke again. Did this cat have a dead wish?! After pushing the cat away with the broom and convincing myself it was for his own good, I proceeded to search for the most damage inducing, blunt weapon I could find. A hammer.

It was in the aftermath of my horror that I realized this weapon of choice probably wasn’t going to be the most effective one. It seemed kind of excessive not to mention counterproductive since the short handle required close proximity and accurate aim –which I was born without-, but the monster was scurrying away and this was the only thing nearby I knew  would cause a great deal of pain if you ever encountered it at full speed.

For a moment, I was overwhelmed with the prospect of hammering down a centipede while standing far enough from the gory mess it was going to produce. Nothing rational came to mine so I opted for throwing the heavy tool in its direction and running the opposite way, hoping it would miraculously hit the target. It was not one of my most intelligent moments.


Evil Side: It’s getting away!

Good Side: Just leave him alone!

Evil Side: He will come back and kill you and everything you hold dear!

Good Side: He is incapable of vengeful emotions let alone a plan of attack!

Enough! If I wanted to get this over with, I’d have to steal my nerves and grow a pair. I picked up the hammer with steady hands and glared murderously at my enemy. This… ends…now.

I charged in a swift ninja move, hammer held high. Eyes closed.

I heard an echoing ting! as the hammer met the floor, sparks flying everywhere, my adrenaline going through me like electricity. I hammered away without looking, like some crazy bloodthirsty war machine. My humanitarian side must have been fighting back with full force because as I hammered, I kept yelling I’m sorry! I’m sorry! Oh God, I’m so sorry!!!

After hammering down enough times to have hit it at least once, I slowly opened my teary eyes to glance at the massacre. Turns out, my aim was worse than I thought because I only managed to get it once. Now I was obligated to see him thrash in pain, begging for survival. 

I felt like the worst human being that had ever lived. I had wanted to get rid of him but not for him to suffer.

I moved from side to side aimlessly chattering incoherent phrases, unable to figure out how to end the suffering I had caused. Once again I ran to the kitchen in search of my answer.

I rushed back to the scene of the crime, half jittery with self hatred, half relieved because the gore would soon be over.

I shook the can and sprayed away like there was no tomorrow, once again averting my eyes. I sprayed until a glossy puddle had formed on the tiles. Only when the toxic fumes had me on the edge of respiratory failure did I dare look again. 

There he was… motionless, dead. The relief and euphoria I had expected to feel from my triumph and survival of this primitive monster was not there. Instead, I felt guilty and miserable. The killer of all that lives, the torturer of smaller creatures. 

Still shaken from the discovery of my murderous nature, I felt the need to dispose of the body. With my head down and mentally self flagellating, I grabbed the broom and dragged it over the puddle of bug poison and mutilated insect, spreading the mess even further.

I swept and swept, absentminded from all that was happening, struggling for solace somewhere deep in my head away from the trauma.

Convinced that all evidence of the event-that-must-be-forgotten had been destroyed, I went to bed recognizing nothing had been resolved. I had slain the dragon and yet I was still deadly afraid of it. I was now a ruthless disrupter of nature and life and despite the slaying, I still dream of centipedes attacking. I suppose revenge on their side is in order.

And ... Insomnia…

EDIT: I must admit I lied. No sparks flew when I hammered the floor. That was just special effects writing.

PS: I know. The drawings are less than impressive. But now I have carpal tunnel because of them so you should feel guilted into liking them. Please? 

The Gym Fallacy

People constantly observe and rant about all the annoying people they encounter at the gym, like the King Kong angry men and or the uncalled-for advice dude who must give you workout tips. 

Being the absent minded person that I am, it doesn’t affect me. But I’ve recently encounter myself with a new gym interaction that caught me so completely off guard, I am compelled to inform you about it so you don’t end up in the same circumstance I am currently in.

It has never been my intention to meet guys at the gym. All that glistening sweat combined with the smell of Gatorade and saturated testosterone isn’t really what I go for. Hey, if it taps into your fantasy of macho cavemen who throw you over their shoulder, I’m not going to judge.

I go to the gym to… work out. I don’t scan through the crowd or worry if my shirt is a shade darker than it was when I came in because it is now soaked in sweat. 

That being said, this doesn’t mean a friendly conversation from a guy is unwelcomed.  I wouldn’t mind if a nice guy came up to me and asked me if I like puppies or compliment me on my awesome guns (I have been working them out for a reason right?) 

Since I can’t rely on the daily equipment –makeup, heels- I use to attract the opposite sex at the gym, I opted for looking super committed with my work out session. I figured if I look like I know what I’m doing, continue pushing myself and eventually become athletic in the process, guys will totally be into that. Nothing is sexier than confidence and strength.

You’ve seen the guys at the gym. Buff, sweaty, grunt machines. Overall, muscle beasts. Well, some of them. Surely they can appreciate a female who knows her stuff and isn’t a weakling when compared to their beefiness.

Look at me! I’m running 5.5 miles per hour like you!

Look at me! I’m lifting 20 lbs for my arm weight routine!

Look at me! I’m sweaty and splotchy like you!

Okay. So I don’t always do all of that. Big deal. But whenever I’m giving it my all, in my mind, I look like this.

KaBlam! What I'll look like. Eventually

In all humble honesty, I really did think it works like this. Men find you intriguing because you’re independent and capable. That was until exhibit A came into the gym. I don’t know her name so I’ll call her Miss I-suck-on-a-lollypop-and-flat-iron-my-hair-to-come-to-the-gym. 

Ok, let’s call her Miss Lollipop.

She holds the lollipop in her bra.

We all know this girl. Miss Lollipop doesn’t wear a shirt, only a bright color sports bra. She also never wears a ponytail because she doesn’t sweat. Ever. 

Miss Lollipop also has spectacular cleavage that is barely contained by her sports bra and/or very tight pants that leave very little to the imagination, including her tiny underwear.

Miss Lollipop always walks very slowly even when she’s on the treadmill. Five miles per hour? Girl please! Two miles per hour. For about ten minutes. 

Miss Lollipop doesn’t dig weights. But she does love squats…

"I hope my breasts aren't in the way."

And this one…

Am I interrupting you by bending over?

She really cares about her thighs and triceps.

I’m not completely absentminded. I am well aware that Miss Lollipop has been part of the gym stereotypes since gyms were created. But the consequences of her mere presence have only just dawned on me.

 Miss Lollipop has enters the gym with her slow, purposeful stride like a determined lioness, not only setting back the gender six decades, but making my once endearing efforts look overtly masculine, therefore…unattractive.

Miss Lollipop is a bitch.

And yet, when she starts doing this…

My breasts are SO strong.

Men become even more testosterone driven and indulge in their cavemen behavior. Me. Man. Strong and big. You. Woman. Small and helpless. I take charge. You follow. 

"This is my pervy smile. Do you like it?"

He doesn’t want to talk to the girl who is doing pretty damn well with her workout. He wants to go to the girl who needs help with the 3 pound dumbbell and demonstrate how to a proper bicep curl. And… chemistry happens.

And me…
"Ugh. Whatever. I'd face palm but I'm thirsty."

So lesson of the day… watch out for this girl. She is easy to spot and she is everywhere. Where you see a man grunting more than he should when he is lifting weights, our girlfriend is nearby. Or maybe he is showing off for the guy who’s spotting him. You just never know.

That is one dedicated spotter.

Anyways, you’ve been warned. You’re welcome.