Saturday, May 16, 2015

It Hurts!

Why is it our natural reaction to grimace when we hurt?

Wincing doesn't make it feel better. Gasping doesn't help. Saying "Ouch" is only useful if you're trying to tell someone (who cares) that what they are doing to you is painful, and that they should stop.

If you're in a situation where nothing makes it feel better, like with a pulled muscle, sprain, or deep bruise, why is it the natural reaction to tell people or make it obvious that you're hurt?

If you're in a situation where you asked to be hurt, and you can't get out of the pain until it's over, as with getting tattooed or receiving a deep-tissue massage, why is it the common reaction to tense, move, yell, complain, wince, etc?

(Image pulled from Google Stock Photos)

When working while limping, many more customers than normal become aggressive and rude, compared to how the average customer acts when I'm healthy.
To cope with the unkindness I have encountered when obviously injured, I sometimes tell myself "Nobody cares. Nobody wants to hear if you are hurt. It doesn't help people understand if they know that you're hurt. It's just another null excuse."

What is pain? Why do we experience it even when we cannot help it? When you get a nerve pinch, the nerve is misfiring. It's giving pretty false information. When you sprain a joint, you experience pain that is useful. Rest it until it doesn't hurt, or you're going to cause more damage.

While being stuck in the middle of a severe headache, I accepted it, relaxed into it, and I got a rush from how painful it was. It was like an adrenaline rush. I'm wondering if the pain that can't be helped could be shifted into another sensation.
I can not remember when I first experienced pain and decided it was unpleasant. I do remember being able to focus until I found pain interesting and sometimes even pleasant.

Could the experience of agony be shifted into a positive feeling?

Acknowledge the sensation, tell yourself it's okay to feel it.

What is agony? Why is it so distracting to the point of being debilitating and preventing us from activities?

A friend of mine pointed out that our society rewards those who keep running on a broken ankle; praise the 'heroes' who finish the battle with an arrow sticking out of their side, or worse.

We are uninterested and unimpressed by those who stop, protect their bodies, and rest an injury.

I certainly suffer from this mindset. I want to be the fighter who keeps going even though she's been stabbed and is actively bleeding.

Contrary to this, I think I'm finally giving up and licking my wounds. Every time I am shocked by pain, I am going to analyze it and see what I can create. Can I shift it to be informative, but not unpleasant?
Can I smile every time I feel that knife twist in my ankle, instead of wince?

What are we really capable of, and how good a quality of life can really be achieved?

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Broken Bones Make A Broken Heart

                                 (Not my picture, just a picture of Kelly (Left) and me (Right) fighting.

I'd rather die than be permanently injured.

I've been told that I need to take a break, let it heal, back off, take it easy.

The only time I'm okay with slowing down is when I know that it will prevent further injury and allow me to keep going.
Skepticism fills my head when people tell me to stop, as there are only a couple of people I know who push themselves as hard as I do.
I will never stop doing what makes me happy to be alive.
I've taken a break from things that are physically excruciating, (due to my broken foot, such as rock climbing) and I regret it everyday. It hurts when I think about how I've lost every bit of conditioning and special muscles I built up training to be better at my chosen skills. When I can climb again, for instance, I'll be starting at ground zero. For a third time.

"Never give up on what you can't go a day without thinking about"

Often, I feel the desire to play soccer, go running, play basketball, tennis, rugby, the list goes on, and I cry when I realize that I can't. I go to chiropractors, doctors, acupuncturists, specialists, and my heart is broken every time they end up referring me to yet another person because they cannot help me.

I am very happy, but if I cannot ride my motorcycle, play sports, fence, climb, run, do what I absolutely love, I do not know how I will find happiness again.

That is my only fear. Not a fear of death, but a fear of not being able to live..

Smile for me, Baby

 I've taken to calling bullshit on both street harassers and miscellaneous douche bags alike. When going out in public, I will get harassed if I'm alone about 90% of the time. Tonight, I was running Favors on my motorcycle, which is one of my jobs, and I not only watched other women get cat calls, but I'd get men hanging out of their cars and yelling nonsense like "Puuuussssyy!!", making kissing noises, etc. Whenever possible, I've turned to them and said "Darlin', that doesn't even make any sense". And it works. They back peddle. It's bizarre.
Tonight, I walked up to a stranger and asked him if he knew of a coffee shop nearby that was still open. He proceeded to say "Baby, you lookin' to drink some coffee? I know exactly where you should go", asked if he could get coffee with me, said yes he knew of a place, and then was not really able to tell me where it was, or the name, or anything actually useful. Eventually, I walked away from him saying "I guess you can't help me. Thank you though. " He then proceeded to ask me for a dollar. When I shook my head, he started to say "I hope you crash on your motorcycle" "I hope you die" "I hope you get hurt." I turned around, and said "That doesn't even make any sense. First, you hit on me, ask me out for coffee, and now you wish me bad luck? What the hell are you talking about?" He then went on to shout random compliments at me, saying " I hope God blesses you", "I hope the angels smile upon you.", "I love you", etc, etc. When he started to walk up to me and reach towards me, I ended up doing something that I thought was the best idea at the time: I pulled out my phone, and said "I'm going to have to call the police on you darling if you come any closer to me." He stopped, turned around, and walked away. Everything was over! It actually worked! Every time I've told these guys that they are simply ridiculous, they have actually fucked off.
Perhaps speaking up will help you too. Feel free to share your experiences with harassment in the comments below.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Perfect Pressure

Perfect, glorious bar pressure. Lean angle. Push with the legs. Squeeze the tank.

Riding a motorcycle is a dream come true. I'd wished for years to have a bike, always thinking it was out of reach. I put aside money for years, thinking 'One day. Someday..." And then, when checking out a used car dealership to replace my wrecked four wheel automobile, I stumbled upon a Harley Davidson dealership next door. 

Bikes made my heart melt, and these hogs were no different. I shuffled on over.
 The guys welcomed me, and told me to go ahead and sit on a few bikes. That made me nervous; what if I scratch it? What if I knock a bike over? I'm rather clumsy, and had never, ever, been on a MotorCycle before. So, I asked them a few questions about styles, weight, power, being blown about in the wind, etc, trying to get an idea of where I should start. 
They put me on a smaller Chopper, and started it up. It was awful. I hated nearly every bit of it. I liked the sound, but the way you kick your feet forward, sit up, the seat shape, the vibrations, all of it sucked. I sat on a couple of other bikes, and left feeling discouraged.
After that, I started thinking that I'd never get a bike. Every time I drove over a bump in the road, I'd think "Fuck! I couldn't have dealt with that if I was on a motorcycle." Or, so I thought. I was still saving up a percentage of my income towards a bike, but I figured I'd use it for power tools, or fixing my car, or an emergency down the road.

This went on for (thankfully only) five months, until I started working at Atomic Tattoo in Austin TX. One of the guys there, Olaf, had a big ol' Honda Blackbird sport bike. Olaf was always talking about upgrades he had just done, track days, group rides, wipe outs, Texas Sportbike Riders, etc, etc.

Eventually, the conversation shifted over to my interest in mechanics, and my (at the time, dead) interest in motorcycles. Still, every time I saw a bike, I got all wibbly kneed, so when Olaf offered to take me out on the Blackbird I couldn't say no.
He gave me a list of things that I needed to bring: a leather jacket, close toed boots that covered my ankles, sunglasses, and thick pants. He already had a helmet and gloves for me to borrow.

We set up a date, I drove to his house, and we got suited up. He went over how to mount the bike; I needed to wait for him to get on, get settled, then I'd step up onto the closest foot peg and swing my other leg over. He told me to be careful not to wiggle, stay loose and move with him instead. If he's leaning to the left for a left hand turn, I should gently look towards the turn and lean with him. Same for the right. Hold onto him, or the seat. Whichever is most comfortable.
And we were off! 

It felt like nothing! No fear, no bumps, no problem. I worried about sliding backwards. I worried about leaning wrong. But none of that happened. Every bit of The Ride was amazing.
We rode to Magnolia Cafe, talked about bikes, I asked endless questions while we ate, and when we finished up we took off again. On the highway, I assumed we were going rather slow, until I realized we were whizzing by car after car.
I loved it completely. Eventually, we rode together down Lime Creek Rd in West Austin TX, where I got to actually experience curves and speed. 

With me on the bike, we only went up to about 120mph on a straight. 
After that, I was hooked.
None of my prior worries, complaints, or concerns were actually applicable. I was addicted. I knew that I loved driving fast, but riding fast was even better. I dreamt about riding. I thought about it constantly. While we were on Lime Creek, I looked up, realized where I was and what was really going on, and I was thankful. It was what I'd always wanted.

Eventually, I got my own bike and started going on rides with Olaf, then small group rides with our close friends, then expanded out into the Texas Sportbike Riders group rides of 20+ people. My first ride was magic. Part one of the ride brought us out to Marble Falls, where most people headed out and just a handful of us stayed out. Before, I was landed in the back of the back, right in front of the sweep since I was the newest rider there. On the way back, I accidentally landed myself second to the front, with riders I didn't know. It was fantastic. I reveled in the joy of being in a pack of complete strangers on our individual pieces of Fine Machinery, zipping down country roads at quite illegal speeds. They knew what they were doing. I could push myself to mimic them; push myself just enough without it being too dangerous. I didn't have to worry about them slowing way down before a turn, nor did they wander through the lanes. It was just looking deep into the turn, focusing, pushing, leaning, opening the throttle. It was a dream come true. 

I couldn't help but relate the beautiful way bikes handle to riding a well trained horse. Persistent Pressure in the Proper Position is fundamental for both. When you come to a curve, you want your RPM to be a little higher than normal cruising, lots of throttle response, and the bike is gently guided by you. You can push the bike with your legs, inner knee goes out, outer knee pushes in, look, press, lean. Drive the inner-turn hip in, back, and down. It feels like asking a horse to collect, round it's back, arch it's neck, change it's gait, change leads, move through dressage moves, delicately come into a turn and extend out of it. It's true art. Perfection. I often told myself to "smile with all four cheeks" which is a reminder to relax and smile with both your face and your butt that my sister used to tell new horseback riders. Head up. Smile. Breath. Your horse feels your tension, and so does your bike.

My favorite curve we hit was a slight bank labeled 45mph, that we took going 100mph. I rode for about 5 hours that day, and didn't want to get off of my bike. Ever.

Usually when I ride, I focus on riding. I clear my mind. Occasionally, I pop out of that and realize how incredibly happy I am. How perfect this is. How good life is. 

For life, motorcycles, and twisted roads, I am thankful.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Hug Cycle

When I was little, I always thought that the way to fix things was through hugs. I was torn apart when I upset a friend of mine and I had no tools in my mental toolbox to comfort her. All I knew to do was hug her, and it was not what she wanted/needed. I was at an complete loss and felt atrociously guilty for causing the problem, and then making it worse by trying to fix it. Thus started a 'Hug Cycle'. I'd feel like I upset my friend, and want to apologize, so I'd hug her, she'd get more upset and push me away. I'd see that she was more upset, so I'd hug her...And so on and so forth.

My hypothesis is this: My love language is touch. Touch, such as hugging, brings me happiness and comfort, and when I was a kid I thought everyone received love in this way. Of course, that isn't true, people express and receive love in many different ways, and for some people hugging them can be offensive. Such is life.
Unfortunately, hugging to apologize has now turned into profuse expressions of "I'm sorry" over and over and over again until, no matter how sincere I am, the words hold no meaning. I admittedly do the same when I say "Thank you". I mean it every single time I say it, but when said too many times, people seem to no longer feel the gratitude. 
Currently, I'm working on different coping mechanisms to find a happy medium of expressing my gratitude, or my apology, without cheapening the expression and leaving it at that.

Feel free in the comments below to express your ways of showing gratitude and/or apology.