Saturday, July 31, 2010

78 - Camp

Pennsic is now open! (That's the name of my medieval vacation.) Today is the first day that we can be on the campground lands, even though most of us arrived last night. Many people camp nearby in a field, but I prefer a hotel room. (Hey, it the last hurrah for modern amenities during these two weeks!)

Today is unpacking and setting up. I have a friend who came down with me to help. There's much to do—unloading the car, running to the storage unit, setting up tents and carports, organizing the kitchen, erecting the gates and walls, and so on. In past years I've done all of this myself. This year I've got help.

That's all for now. Gotta get back to work!

Friday, July 30, 2010

77 - Road

I'll be leaving in just a few minutes for a six-hour road trip to Pennsylvania and my medieval vacation. There'll probably be some more radio silence, but I'll try to catch everyone up on what's been happening. Later!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

76 - Packing

Sorry for the long radio silence, but I knew this was going to happen at this point in the program. Tomorrow I start my annual two-week SCA medieval vacation. It'll be a great time, there's just so much to do to prepare for it!

Needless to say, the KFB has taken a huge backseat to my last minute scramble to finish projects this week. I managed to do my j-ropes, abs, and some stretching in the mornings as well as a half-hour walk at lunch, but my evenings have been filled solid with those pesky projects. Thankfully, I completed the last one tonight. Now I've got to start packing.

It's gonna be another late night.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

72 - Wild

Into The Wild is the biographical story of Christopher McCandless, a young man who decided to eschew the materialism of the world, he donated all of his money to a charity and disappeared from the societal map, spending two years traveling across the United States until he eventually reached his dream destination of Alaska, where he decided to be a pioneer and live off the land.

As portrayed in the movie, game was scarce and he was getting very hungry. Finally, when the starvation was becoming unbearable, desperation force him to revert to the only food option he had—plants and berries. Working feverishly, he quickly tried to identify the edible species so he could have something to eat. Unfortunately, with his mind so unfocused because of his urgency to find food, he misidentified an edible plant with one that was poisonous. On day 94, his journal indicated that he was starting to feel the adverse effects, and sometime after day 113 he passed away.

Because of Chris' dire situation, he lost the mindfullness that he had exhibited all the prior months. It was that desperation that allowed him to misidentify a plant he needed to survive, bring his life to a tragic end. If he had managed to keep his wits about him, even in such horrible straits, it is quite possible that we would be reading his story first-hand as it topped the bestseller list.

Although our lives are not that harsh in the civilized world we live in, we can still run into situations that bring us to that moment of desperation where we lose focus and the control that we have so carefully crafted and honed.

Case in point:

In preparation for my upcoming trip at the end of this week, I knew today was going to be hectic busy. I made sure to do all of my KFB exercises first thing in the morning so that was done and out of the way. I followed that with my KFB approved breakfast, then I was out the door and traveling about town to hit all of the stores I needed to visit before heading to a friend's house for the evening where a group of us were going to gather to start assembling, fixing, sewing, and whatnot for camping trip.

My friend, being the gracious hostess that she is, made munchies available to everyone, which included bags of chips, cookies, sodas, and pretty much every unhealthy thing that you can think of. Like everyone else, I began to partake of the offerings—eating and eating like the food was going out style. Although somewhere in the back of my mind I knew that this stuff was bad for me, the warnings didn't seem to affect me enough to stop as I continued to grab handfuls of chips. On and on the feeding continued until all that was left were the salty crumbs shifting around the bottom of the bag. It was shortly after then that my body paused enough so the voice from my brain to come through, allowing me to ponder upon what had just occurred.

I had been very busy all day, running here and there. In all of the time that I was out and about, I never considered that I was missing my lunch and snack times. I was being active, which allowed me to suppress the signals that were coming from my body letting me know that it wanted some food. By the time I had stopped the activity, my body took full advantage to replenish it's energy supply with the nearest available edible option—in this case, all those chips and stuff my friend put out.

Like Chris McCandless, had I not lost the focus and been mindful of my situation, I would have had the cognizance by which to avoid the food that was not good for my body.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

71 - Heaven

On an extremely hot and humid day like this, there is nothing better than having a small piece of really good chocolate, that has been sitting in the freezer for a number of days, sitting on your tongue and just letting it slowly melt. This is the gate to heaven.

Friday, July 23, 2010

70 - Cartris

Seven days left in order to get everything prepared for my next traveling adventure. This one will be more intensive than the last two expeditions I did this month. The staging area is all set. Time to start loading it up with stuff which eventually will be packed in my car one week from today. I have no worries about being able to fit it all in the vehicle—I am a pro at three-dimensional Tetris! (Although, we prefer to call it Cartris.)

Thursday, July 22, 2010

69 - Overachiever

Call me an overachiever! I think my body was making up for the total lack of energy yesterday by having a surplus of it today. Not only did I complete today's workout sheet, but I also did yesterdays, and took an hour walk right after! (Okay, there was a purpose for the walk—I needed milk, eggs, and more fruit—but it was a walk nonetheless.)

Thankfully the temperature has cooled down to something more reasonable. I'm wondering if that has anything to do with my incredible energy boost. I'm sure it does, 'cause I don't feel like I'm dying in the heat!.

Dinner was a nice stir-fry of vegetables that were nearing their expiration date. There was cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers (all colors), and beets with mung bean noodles and a light peanut butter and hoisin sauce mix. The most interesting thing was the beets turned the cauliflower and noodles into an pretty shade of pink. Just one more color for the dish!

Now I think I'm going to overachieve some meditation tonight before bed. Later dudes!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

68 - Stress

This week is quickly becoming super-stressing. So far:

  • I have had major bouts of insomnia the past two nights.
  • I returned to work only to discover that this week my department is running extremely short staffed (meaning there will be times when I'm the only person there). And that's because:
  • One co-worker needs support because her dog was killed in front of her by a speeding motorist and another just had a close family member pass away, meanwhile two others are on vacation.
  • I haven't been able to take a proper shower over the past three days because the tub needed re-caulking, which led to:
  • Having the screws break while trying to reattach the faucet knob to the shower this morning, meaning no shower for day four. (I just got back from the hardware store and fixed it.)
  • I still have many things I need to do in order to get ready for my two-week vacation, which starts Friday next week, which includes:
  • Setting up and running a meeting for everyone who is camping with my group so they all know the rules and have everything that they need.
  • Plus, I still need to make dinner for my partner because he needs to go somewhere tonight.

Which means that I am thoroughly bone-tired and exhausted. I knew something was up yesterday when I was having major trouble keeping good form with the exercises. Well, KFB is mostly taking a backseat tonight. I think I'm just going to do some low-energy stuff like stretching and meditation followed by an early bedtime. My batteries are needing a drastic recharge in order to finish this week.

The weekend cannot come soon enough.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

67 - Movie

I just watched the documentary Food, Inc.. (Yes, I'm a little late to that party.) It's just scary what big corporations are able to get away with. Totally reinforced my decision to go vegetarian as well as supporting local farmers.

I did find it interesting that throughout the film, they kept saying the corporations were only in the business "to make food", and all I kept hearing in my head was Patrick saying, "That's not food. That's chemicals with additives and preservatives." I couldn't agree with him more.

Monday, July 19, 2010

66 - Soaked

I am definitely missing Portland today! The temperature was so great while I was out there. The first couple of days were between 65 and 70 degrees, the last three between 75 to 80. Then I came back home to the sweltering 85 to 90 degrees that's going into it's third week now. And the humidity isn't helping any! I can understand jump-roping in this weather can cause a person to sweat, but it gets ridiculous when buckets come pouring off me while sitting and meditating!

It gets scary when you start out fully clothed at the beginning of the routine, and end up wearing very little by the end because everything is totally soaked. It's totally nuts!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

65 - Comics

Sometimes the universe gently nudges you in directions that you need to go. If you are observant, you will be able to decipher the message.

Back a few days ago I was feeling a little low. The warm weather was bringing out the buff shirtless guys, and unfortunately the eye candy had the side effect of me feeling not so fit. It felt like no matter how hard I worked, just the appearance of someone with six-pack abs ruined the whole day.

The following day, after my seminar was finished, I went on a tour of the Lan Su Chinese Garden in Portland. It was beautiful and peaceful and I dearly wish I had more time to spend there, but unfortunately the earliest I could get there was 5:30pm and they close at 6, so it was a little rushed.

Of course I had to visit the little souvenir shop to pick up a little something. That's when my attention was directed at this little book called:

"Basic Buddhism Through Comics" by Mitsutoshi Furuya

Anyone who knows me knows that I am a huge comic book fan. And anyone who further knows me knows that it was a comic book called Zen Speaks by Tsai Chih Chung was the book that started me down the zen path. Needless to say, I had to buy Basic Buddhism Through Comics.

That night, as per my habit, I began to read the book before bedtime. That's when the message from the universe came through, pointing out that I was causing my own suffering by trying to compare myself to the people I was seeing and pointing out that I was coming up short without really considering all of the conditions and time that helped create the physical shape those buff guys were showing off.

My focus has to be away from the unhelpful comparisons with other people and directed toward how I look today in contrast to how I looked a year ago, using that to push me further on to my ultimate goal of developing a healthier and fitter body. Six-pack abs would be nice and someday I'll get there—it's just going to take me longer than other people because of how out of shape I was when I started these programs. I just need to push on to the final goal.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

64 - Time

I think I may have some sort of freakish time sense. So far I have yet to experience any jet lag in the few time zones I've crossed. Granted, this past trip to Portland has been the furthest I've ever gone in my life (which is only three time zones away) so it's probably not the best measurement of my abilities, but it's pretty impressive to me. After a week on Pacific Coast time, I had no issue coming back to East Coast time. Regardless of the coast, I got tired and went to bed when it was dark, and woke up to start my day when it was light.

I am always amazed when I contemplate the thought that there are so many things going on every moment all over the world. For most people, it's easier just thinking that the everyone everywhere follows the same time schedule they do. Sure, they "know" that people in different time zones are going about their daily routines, but they don't really think about it.

In the number of chats that I've had with Patrick, it just seemed weird when we sign off he's going to bed as I'm just starting my day, or vice versa. While I was in Portland, the experience was just the same when I was reading my friend's Facebook posts and they're all mentioning that it's almost bed time for them and the sun is still shining brightly where I am as I'm just going out to dinner.

The whole concept is so huge, and I'm probably not doing any justice in my feeble attempt to craft an explanation about it. I find it wonderfully amazing when I just sit and contemplate the immensity of that idea. Of course, then I have to dial it back again to just my time zone where everyone who's around me is encountering life within the same time frame I am. And soon we will all be getting together this evening for a birthday party. I better start getting ready for that.

Until next time!

Friday, July 16, 2010

63 - Flight

It has been a real loooooong day! I've been awake since 4am in order to be at the airport by 5am to catch my flight at 7am. Then I've crossed three time zones, losing hours one-by-one the closer I got to home. Touched down in Chicago for a three-hour layover. Took off again for a one-hour flight to Buffalo. Once we landed, we headed for the car and a three-hour trip home (with a brief stop to visit my brother's family). Made it home, dumped all of the luggage in the livingroom, making a quick post before crawling into bed.

Food for today—Breakfast (at the Portland airport): 1 Wendy's egg & cheese english muffin, 1 pint of skim milk, 1 cup of mixed fruit, a bottle of V8 fruit juie twisters. Morning Snack (on the plane): a package of crackers & cheese and a package of "100 calorie" cookies, a small glass of ginger-ale. Dinner (at the Chicago airport): half a salad, half a small Ben & Jerry's Cookies and Cream, bottle of water. Afternoon Snack (on the plane): a package of peanuts, a package of crackers & cheese, 4 gingersnap cookies, a small glass of ginger-ale.

Exercises: absolutely, positively none.

Now off to bed.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

62 - Last

This is it. My last night here in Portland, Oregon. It's been an interesting week trying to do the KFB exercises and diet all the while attending a seminar. Whether or not I was very successful will be determined once I get home late Friday night. I think I did well—well, I hope I did well.

Breakfast was a repeat of the previous day—fruit, granola, muffin, milk, yogurt. For lunch the hotel served this wonderful grilled vegetable medley (I had to get seconds of that!), salad, and large stuffed shells. (Only had two of those.) For my last dinner in this city, I went to Kells Irish Pub & Restaurant and had the most divine grilled vegetable sandwich (grilled eggplant and zucchini) on toasted bread and sweet potato fries. (I think they were actually baked, because they weren't at all greasy like normal fries.) And for a treat, I shared a Bailey's Irish Cream Cheesecake with my partner. It was very, very dense so just a few spoonfuls satisfied me. My partner, on the other hand, ate most of it, which was fine by me.

I only manged to do the j-ropes, strength exercises, and 8-minute abs today. Although the intention was to do the rest of the workout after class (like I had done the previous days), there were still more things I wanted to do in the city so I ditch exercising in favor of touring.

Now it's time to go to bed. My travel patch is on and I'm starting to get sleepy. Tomorrow is the flight back home. (We leave Portland about as early as when we left Buffalo.)

Who knows. Maybe you'll here from me before my triumphant return home, or not. All depends on the wi-fi connections I get elsewhere. Later, dudes!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

61 - Low

This is my second day of splitting up he exercise routine. I did the j-ropes and strength workout first thing before heading off to my seminar. Breakfast was another round of fruit, granola, and milk. (I am so missing my eggs!)

The hotel was a bit better with lunch today. It wasn't a repeat of the meat-fest from yesterday. There was salad, coleslaw, pasta salad, barbecue pork tenderloin, and veggie burgers (alongside regular burgers) with tomatoes, lettuce, pickles, onions, and cheese for topping. I had one plate, no seconds, with portion sizes that one of the people at my table remarked as being "not even a sampling of this delicious food."

Sometimes the evening meals are hard when you're not at home and needing to go out to eat with a person who is totally "sick and tired of your diet". Yup, that's my partner. He did this same thing when I was on PCP. For some reason he can't make his own meals, but won't wait for me to make him something when I'm done exercising. It's just constant complaining about how I'm making him starve, so I'm ending up trying to get him what he wants without ruining my KFB as much as possible.

Anyway, tonight we went to Old Town Pizza, which has a claim to fame of being Portland's only haunted pizzeria. Well, we didn't encounter any ghost, but there was mighty fine pizza. I got a small pizza with artichoke hearts, black olives, mushrooms, and dried tomatoes. The nice thing was that this pizza was most definitely "small" compared to most US pizza places. The second nice thing was that they cut it into eight tiny slices. I only had two of those slices while my partner wolfed down four. (The other two slices came back to the hotel room for tomorrow's lunch for him.) I finished the evening off by doing the flexibility and agility exercises for today.

I will say that right at the moment I'm feeling a bit down. Although I'm in much better shape than I was a year ago, I'm not anywhere near where I think I should be—at least compared to other people. I've lost a little bit of weight, gained a little flexibility, but every time I read everyone else's blogs or see the diet plan there's a little piece of me that is just feeling like I'm not doing as well as everyone else. I look in the mirror and I still see a stomach that bulges out even though I can feel the tight abs underneath. Yeah, it goes away a little when I suck it in, but unfortunately I can't keep it sucked in all day long.

I can fit into medium shirts, size 30-31 pants, almost under 160 lbs, with very toned legs and arms, and yet just the sight of that stomach of mine seems to ruin my day. Usually I'm pretty good at ignoring that feeling most of the time and concentrating on the other positives that I listed, but right now those positives aren't able to do much to redirect my attention from the failing. And because it's summertime and has been real warm, I've been seeing a lot of guys with flat stomachs and abs and I'm just feeling fat next to them. It sucks.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

60 - Thirty

I can't believe we're already two-thirds of the way through this thing. Only thirty more to go! The days seemed to pass so slowly on PCP, but are just flying by on KFB. It's probably because I have been so freakin' busy and on the go these days—something I wasn't last year during my PCP run. Just amazing!

The meal selection today for the seminar was odd to say in the least. My breakfast consisted of about 1 cup of granola cereal with 1 small glass of milk, a little blueberry yogurt, mixed fruit (cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, strawberries), and a multi-grain muffin. I avoided the plethora of danishes, bagels, scones, croissants, and biscuits with sausage gravy they offered.

There was no mid-morning snack, and lunch was both disappointing and completely helpful simultaneously. For our noontime meal, the hotel laid out an impressive spread—that is it was impressive if you weren't vegetarian. There was spinach salad with mushrooms... and ham; seafood salad; basmati rice... with sausage; chicken gumbo; salmon fillets; chicken breast; and braised greens... with beef. I think they managed to have every animal represented at the meal. The remaining items that I could eat were asparagus, Indian couscous, and a little spinach salad sans meat. Dessert was bread pudding with creme anglais. Yeah, it was very disappointing that there wasn't more that I could eat, on the other hand it was very helpful because the temptation wasn't there to overeat!

The afternoon snack was a chocolate chip cookie. It wasn't the small kind that you find in a package, nor was it those gigundo things that come out of a bakery. It was about the size mom use to make from scratch. Once again, the nice thing was that everyone was limited to one cookie.

I had dinner at a Persian restaurant just up the street from the hotel. I had a very tasty offering of eggplant and grilled onions in a pomegranate sauce, lentil soup, and half of a Mediterranean salad (of which the other half is sitting in the fridge in the hotel room). And finally, the evening snack was half a homemade marionberry tart.

Today was the first day since this program began that I split up the exercise routine. I did the j-ropes, strength exercises, and 8-Minute Abs this morning when I go up with the Agility and Flexibility sections completed this afternoon after the seminar.

One of the nice things about Portland is that the downtown area is so walker friendly! I've managed to get some more exercise in by walking all over the place looking at the shops and restaurants.

Well, that's it for now. I'll check in again tomorrow.

Monday, July 12, 2010

59 - Seminar

Who has ever heard of a gym not having any sort of bar so a person can do their pull-ups? It seems this hotel doesn't! They have an "athletic club" here in their Executive Tower, but the only things it contains are treadmills, step-climbers, bicycles, a tiny pool, a couple benches and some weights. I've been able to do most of my exercises in the room, except the pull-up and the Kung-Fu sit-ups due to the lack of said bar. I ended up trying an incline pull-up with a bench (which really wasn't high enough) and in place of the sit-ups I did a bunch of ab workouts.

A bit later (after dinner) I did the Wide-Angle stretch for 20 minutes while reading my book. I think the stretches are starting to work. Today was the first time I was able to touch my toes with both hands during the Chin-to-Knee stretch.

Food today was okayish based upon the time that I had available. I got a strange look at breakfast time when I ordered two eggs, a glass of skim milk, a couple pieces of toast, and a house salad. (It was the only vegetables they had that could be ordered ala carte.)

Breakfast was a little later than my usual time (due to sleeping a bit to help with the time zone change exhaustion). On the way back from the restaurant, I came across the most amazing little farmer's market. Some vegetable, some fruit, lots of baked goods (pies, muffins, scones, etc.), and a few lunch carts. Not being able to store much stuff (unfortunately) in the hotel room, I picked up some cherries (as that was the major fruit they had there, with raspberries a close second) for my morning and evening snacks. Then I had to head off to my seminar.

Since today was only a half-day of seminars, they did not serve us lunch, nor an afternoon break, so I missed out on both meals. After the classes, they did have a little meet-n-greet and offered some appetizers for that. Well, three appetizers specifically, of which I could only eat one (a mushroom and caramelized onion tart) as the other two were meat (coconut shrimp and chicken on a stick).

For a late-ish dinner, I went to this Thai place call Typhoon and had a Thai Sweet Pea soup with coconut milk and a Buddha's Feast, which was just all vegetables (hold the rice as dinner is not suppose to have any carbs).

Tomorrow will begin a full day of seminars. If it's like the ones I've attended in the past, breakfast is going to contain lots of muffins and danishes, some fruit and cereal, orange and possibly apple juice, maybe cereal and milk, coffee and tea. During the morning break, they'll offer all you can drink soda. Lunch is totally up in the air, and afternoon snack is going to be whatever sweet and fattening thing they can find. Basically it will be akin to trying to navigate a mine field.

Well, that's about it for today. Time to get some rest. Later dudes!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

58 - Portland

It has been a loooooong day. Had to be at the airport by 5am for a flight that leaves at 7am. That was followed by a short stop in Chicago (less than an hour layover) before continuing to Portland. That leg of the flight may have only been 3 1/2 to 4 hours, but it felt much longer. The patch did it's wonder-work again and I made the journey without heaving.

I approve of any city that has great public transportation. I loved Denver because the hotel was on the 16th Street Mall an only the free trams were allowed to run up and down the route—no cars to worry about. Portland has an extensive light rail, street car, and bus service. The light rail runs from the airport all the way to the hotel. The downside was that I expected the hotel to be "on the mall" like Denver, but although it looked on the map that there was one, when I got there in reality, it wasn't. But so far, between the light rail and walking, I've been able to get around this city.

Currently I'm waiting for my medicine to wear off and for my body to adjust it's internal clock. (I've crossed four time zones, so everything is still a little wonky.) We'll see how bad I am tomorrow at the seminar.

Food today hasn't been the greatest, but I was pretty limited to what I could gather in the venues available. Breakfast was half of 6" egg, cheese, and veggie breakfast sandwich with a half pint of milk. I had a small glass of ginger-ale and a small package of peanuts. Couldn't get anything at the Chicago airport 'cause there wasn't the time, so on the flight to Portland I had another small glass of ginger-ale, a small glass of water, and two packages of those cracker and cheese sandwiches. Oh, and half a bag of ginger snap cookies.

For supper in the city of Portland, I had a house salad and a veggie platter fondue. (The veggies were cooking in a coq au van broth.) And dessert was a Voodoo Doll donut.

Tomorrow starts the actual seminar, so for the most part my breakfast and lunch have been decided by the trainers. I only have to fend for myself at dinner. This is where it gets interesting—how to eat KFB in a non-KFB environment. We shall see how creative I can be.

Well, that's it for now. I'm crashing and hard! Time for some overdue sleep. Talk to you later.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

57 - Fear

Tomorrow I take the next step in my traveling adventures this summer. Tomorrow I fly out to Portland, Oregon for a business seminar. Tomorrow I once again face my greatest fear.

There are people out there who have aerophobia, which is the fear of flying. Although this could be a distinct phobia in and upon itself, it could also be part of any number of other phobias that could relate to flying. For example, claustrophobia—the fear of enclosed spaces; or acrophobia—the fear of heights; even possibly the fear of crashing or the fear of not being in control.

I don't have any of those. The closest I can find to my fear is emetophobia—the fear of being nauseated, which is typically associated with motion-sickness. Although I find many things can trigger my motion-sickness (boats, sitting in the backseats of cars, merry-go-rounds), they never really bother me as much as getting motion-sick on a plane.

In order for me to step onto a airplane, I first have to visit my doctor to get a precription for scopolomine. The brand my pharmacy carries is called Transderm Scop. It's a little patch that gets placed behind one of your ears and it does wonders preventing motion-sickness.

I always have to start this process days ahead of my flight out. That's because I get nervous the pharmacy won't have it in stock, that they'll have to order it, that it won't come in until it's too late to fill the prescription, and that I'll have to fly without it. (I don't have nightmares as such, but when I get close to my fly-out date, I will have dreams about this scenario happening.)

Once I've got the patch in my possesion, I'm usually fine right up until the actually day I fly out. Then I get a bit nervous again for fear that the patch won't work or that it will fall off and I'll end up vomitting and feeling like shit for the entire flight. (Trust me. It's not a pretty sight when it happens. Many times I will scare flight attendants and medical professionals just by the way I look when I'm in that condition.)

So, I have all my usual "comforts" (beyond the patch) with me for the flight. I have a bag of ginger snap cookies (ginger is good to combat nausea); I'll get my usual ginger-ale when the drink cart comes around (yeah, it's not very KFB diet-friendly, but I think being comfortable on the flight takes precedence); I have my iPod full of my favorite tunes and podcasts (so I'll be listening to Patrick and Gwen on their Zen Is Stupid and The Mindfulist programs—it'll be a good time to catch-up!); I've got some movies loaded on my iPhone; and I think this will also be the perfect time to do some deep meditation.

I've got my KFB kit all packed and ready to go, so this'll be it for now. The next time you hear from me I'll be in Portland!

Later dudes!

Friday, July 9, 2010

56 - Thoughts

"Thoughts naturally arise. The point of meditation is not to banish thoughts but to make peace with them by realizing their lack of substance."
—Dan Millman

Thursday, July 8, 2010

55 - Egg

All-sky picture of the infant universe by NASA/WMAP Science Team

The Egg
by Andy Weir

You were on your way home when you died.

It was a car accident. Nothing particularly remarkable, but fatal nonetheless. You left behind a wife and two children. It was a painless death. The EMTs tried their best to save you, but to no avail. Your body was so utterly shattered you were better off, trust me.

And that's when you met me.

"What... what happened?" you asked. "Where am I?"

"You died," I said, matter-of-factly. No point in mincing words.

"There was a... a truck and it was skidding...."

"Yup," I said.

"I... I died?"

"Yup. But don't feel bad about it. Everyone dies," I said.

You look around. There was nothingness. Just you and me. "What is this place?" you asked. "Is this the afterlife?"

"More or less," I said.

"Are you God?" you asked.

"Yup," I replied. "I"m God."

"My kids... my wife," you said.

"What about them?"

"Will they be all right?"

"That's what I like to see," I said. "You just died and your main concern is for your family. That's good stuff right there."

You look at me with fascination. To you, I didn't look like God. I just looked like some man. Or possibly a woman. Some vague authority figure, maybe. More of a grammar school teacher than the Almighty.

"Don't worry," I said. "They'll be fine. Your kids will remember you as perfect in every way. They didn't have time to grow contempt for you. Your wife will cry on the outside, but will be secretly relieved. To be fair, your marriage was falling apart. If it's any consolation, she'll feel very guilty for feeling relieved."

"Oh," you said. "So what happens now? Do I go to heaven or hell or something?"

"Neither," I said. "You'll be reincarnated."

"Ah," you said. "So the Hindus were right."

"All religions are right in their own way," I said. "Walk with me."

You followed along as we strode through the void. "Where are we going?"

"Nowhere in particular," I said. "It's just nice to walk while we talk."

"So what's the point, then?" you asked. "When I get reborn, I'll just be a blank slate, right? A baby. So all my experiences and everything I did in this life won't matter."

"Not so!" I said. "You have within you all the knowledge and experiences of all your past lives. You just don't remember them right now."

I stopped walking and took you by the shoulders. "Your soul is more magnificent, beautiful, and gigantic than you can possibly imagine. A human mind can only contain a tiny fraction of what you are. It's like sticking your finger in a glass of water to see if it's hot or cold. You put a tiny part of yourself into the vessel, and when you bring it back out, you've gained all the experiences it had.

"You've been a human for the last 48 years, so you haven't stretched out yet and felt the rest of your immense consciousness. If we hung out here for long enough, you'd start remembering everything. But there's no point to doing that between each life."

"How many times have I been reincarnated, then?"

"Oh lots. Lots and lots. And in lots of different lives," I said. "This time around, you'll be a Chinese peasant girl in 540 AD."

"Wait, what?" you stammered. "You're sending me back in time?"

"Well, I guess technically. Time, as you know it, only exists in your universe. Things are different where I come from."

"Where you come from?" you said.

"Oh sure," I explained. "I come from somewhere. Somewhere else. And there are others like me. I know you'll want to know what it's like there, but honestly you wouldn't understand."

"Oh," you said, a little let down. "But wait. If I get reincarnated to other places in time, I could have interacted with myself at some point."

"Sure. Happens all the time. And with both lives only aware of their own lifespan you don't even know it's happening."

"So what's the point of it all?"

"Seriously?" I asked. "Seriously? You're asking me for the meaning of life? Isn't that a little stereotypical?"

"Well it's a reasonable question," you persist.

I look you in the eye. "The meaning of life, the reason I made this whole universe, is for you to mature."

"You mean mankind? You want us to mature?"

"No, just you. I made this whole universe for you. With each new life you grow and mature and become a larger and greater intellect."

"Just me? What about everyone else?"

"There is no one else," I said. "In this universe, there's just you and me."

You stare blankly at me. "But all the people on earth...."

"All you. Different incarnations of you."

"Wait. I'm everyone!>"

"Now you're getting it," I said, with a congratulatory slap on the back.

"I'm every human being who ever lived?"

"Or who will ever live, yes."

"I'm Abraham Lincoln?"

"And you're John Wilkes Booth, too," I added.

"I'm Hitler?" you said, appalled.

"And you're the millions he killed."

"I'm Jesus?"

"And you're everyone who followed him."

You fell silent.

"Every time you victimized someone," I said, "you were victimizing yourself. Every act of kindness you've done, you've done to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human was, or will be, experienced by you."

You thought for a long time.

"Why?" you asked me. "Why do all this?"

"Because someday, you will become like me. Because that's what you are. You're one of my kind. You're my child."

"Whoa," you said, incredulous. "You mean I'm a god?"

"No. Not yet. You're a fetus. You're still growing. Once you've lived every human life throughout all time, you will have grown enough to be born."

"So the whole universe," you said, "it's just...."

"An egg." I answered. "Now it's time for you to move on to your next life."

And I send you on your way.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

54 - Birthday

Man, I am so sucking at doing any sort of exercise this past few days!

The temperature has been out of this world. Yesterday we broke the high temperature record and it looks like we managed to do it again today. The humidity has been just as nuts, and they've been making "air quality" warnings all day. It's been a day to just stay inside with the air-conditioning. No such luck, though.

I got up late this morning, due to a sleepless night. My doctor put me on a new allergy medicine that it totally making me zone out. I don't like it. Unfortunately, there went my morning exercises.

My lunchtime walk was totally nixed due to the heat index and air quality thing. And my usual evening KFB workout went away because today is my partner's birthday, so we had to go over to his parent's house right after work. Then we went out to dinner, followed by another trip to the parent's house again for cake.

Then we had to run to the grocery store so I could pick up a few more supplies to tide us over for the next few days and to make a dish to pass for the potluck at work tomorrow. That's done and it's past my 10pm bedtime. Where are the days flying too?!?

Now it's time for bedtime. I can feel the new allergy medicine kicking in. Hopefully I'll be able to really sleep tonight without some all of the groggy tossing and turning.

Later dudes!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

53 - Details

This has been another bad exercise day for me. Work was absolutely nuts after the three-day holiday weekend. Then I had to run to my doctor's office so they could write me a prescription for a patch that helps prevent motion-sickness. (I'll be flying out to Portland, Oregon in just a few days and I have extreme motion-sensitivity.) Afterwards I had to run to the pharmacy to get the prescription filled.

Immediately after that I dashed home to mow the yard. (Don't need the "Lawn Police" coming around to fine us for the grass being too high.) Unfortunately, the electric lawn mower broke so I had to go back to the old archaic push-mower—the kind that uses you as the motor. Thankfully my arms and legs could handle it. In fact, I noticed that while I was using the mower, I would balance on the balls of my feet in perfect kung-fu stance. (At least I managed to get something KFB exercise-wise added to my day!)

The temperature outside is insanely high with a humidity factor that is unbelievable—which means I practically died while trying to mow the yard. It was now getting past 8pm and I still hadn't made dinner for my partner. (Heck, I still hadn't had dinner!) So it was a quick meal using every green leafy thing in the house, followed by this blog post. And now I will be off to bed.

Later dudes!

Monday, July 5, 2010

52 - Home

Man, there was no time for anything today! We spent our last day at the cabin not at the cabin. It was our final chance to do some sightseeing and shopping in the little towns that dot the North Country here. There was a lot of time spent in the car! That's okay, though, because the weather started getting uncomfortable. The temperature was over 90 degrees and starting to get humid. Thankfully, the car has air-conditioning.

We finally got back from our gallivanting all over the countryside late in the afternoon. Had enough time to take a quick dip in the river before needing to pack up the car and be on the road again.

We're home now, it's late, and I'm totally bushed. There will be no exercises from me tonight. I can't seem to get myself to workout after 8pm. By the time I would finish, it would be time for me to crawl into bed, and I think I'd just be too wired to fall asleep. At least my diet was not harmed today.

Just wanted to let you know that I'm home now—but only for four and a half days. That's when my next traveling adventure begins.

Pleasant dreams!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

51 - Independence

A U.S. flag flying on our neighbor's boat dock. The land behind it is Canada.

We finally made it into a town where I was able to get a signal and downloaded all my stuff for this week. (Yay!) Unfortunately, I was having to say good-bye to my family who had to go back home today. (Boo!)

I can't believe how nice the weather has been. All sunshiney and warm without it getting too hot. I've been taking my KFB outside for the most part, except for the j-ropes. For some strange reason I cannot get into the hang of doing j-ropes on the grass after months of jumping on a hardwood floor. So I had to go indoors and do it. The ropes worked much better!

Shadow-boxing is a lot of fun outdoors. Targeted strikes had to be an indoor thing, as the only thing around me that I could tie the ping-pong ball to was the rafters inside.

After today's exercise routine I jumped right into the river for a nice cool-down swim. It has been quite a relaxing time—and I'm enjoying it while it's here. This also means that my crazy month of July is about to begin. I'll definitely need down time from this month!

For all the U.S. citizens out there—have a great Independence Day! For everyone else in the world—Happy 4th of July!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

50 - Incommunicado

I forgot that I get no cell phone service here at the cabin. No internet either. Talk about feeling disconnected from the world! On the other hand, it is quite a blessing to be so isolated, not that I'm normally addicted to the modern conveniences. However, when it's taken away, you really begin to re-analyze how much time I usually spend on the internet. (Of course, I'm hand-writing this entry so I can add it later to the blog. Cramping fingers really bring to mind how much I rely on the computer!)

The one downside to not having internet access, though, is not being able to get the next set of exercises and diet. So, I grabbed one of last weeks exercise sheets and did it today. My mom and one of my nieces decided to join in and try some of the yoga poses with me.

There as also been a lot of swimming! Our cabin is right on the waterfront, so it's very easy to jump right in. The cold water is such a blessed relief from the heat of the day (and it's only gonna get hotter from here on out!)

I'm also following last weeks diet plan too, so I'm probably eating too much. Hopefully we'll be going into one of the towns around here where I can get cell phone service and be able to download my email to my iPhone.

Last night we made some homemade ice cream—in a ball! It was a lot of fun rolling it around to churn the ingredients, and after all that effort I couldn't pass up a chance to taste the sweet reward! It's soooo much better than the store bought stuff.

That's it for now. Time to rest my cramped fingers. Later dudes!

Friday, July 2, 2010

49 - Cabin

Our cabin on the St. Lawrence River.

I'll be leaving shortly for a long holiday weekend at our cabin on the St. Lawrence. This time much of my family is joining me for this trip. I've already done my KFB exercises for the day (which was really Thursday's workout because I was such a slacker this week). All my gear is packed away (including the j-rope) as well as four days worth of KFB approved food. I'm just waiting for my family to arrive and then I'll be on my way.

Later dudes!