Tuesday, March 27, 2012

So, come here often?

A few days ago, I was out for a run with my dog, Grendel (so named for his monstrous seven-toed feet). I've lived in my neighborhood for nearly six years and in that time, I've run my three-mile path hundreds of times. I feel good on this path. I recognize the other joggers and walkers, I know which dogs Grendel does and doesn't like and cross the street if needed - it's my path. But on this day, something totally unexpected happened.

Not zombies, though I understand why it would be your first, rational guess.

It was later in the afternoon, so the main street was busy. I passed a man who was walking in the opposite direction, but I stopped just a few feet away because I'd reached the point at which I always cross the road. But there was traffic and as I waited I heard, "Hey, what kind of dog is that? That's a good looking dog."

I turned to see that this man had stopped and was walking back toward me. He was not looking at my dog.

Three things I should have said?
  1. DEADLY.
  2. Oh, he's just a pit bull/rottweiler/german shepherd mix, but his mama was a dire wolf.
  3. This, right here? Best argument for earbuds I've ever heard.
But instead, I said, "Just a mix."

I thought that was it because I was clearly exercising and ready to cross the road, but he had a follow-up question. Get ready to marvel at how smooth he was...

With a vague gesture, "Hey, I just moved in over there. What's your address?"

Three things I should have said?
  1. How about directions? Second star to the right and straight on til morning.
  2. I think you'll have better luck with the lottery.
  3. 555...
But instead, I said, "Oh...somewhere..." 

I know. Marvel at my smoothness. This terribly clever remark was combined with vague hand twirling in the air above my head, which I'm sure was intimidating in some way. BUT this was also about the time I was sizing him up and deciding I could out run him if it came to that. I may have also started to imagine he was in the early stages of zombie-infection...

Traffic, thankfully, paused just enough that I could dart across the street and put several tons of fast moving steel between us.

Oh, but that wasn't enough of a deterrent for the bold street stalker! As I began to jog away, he yelled, "What was that? What was that?"

Three things I should have said?
  1. All the answer you're gonna get!
  2. Evasive maneuvers. I'm sure you've seen them before.
But instead, my wit failed me, yet again. I shouted, "See ya!" And ran away.

Of course, this whole time, Grendel was standing idly by, pondering clouds and bugs alike. At least he's cute.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

How Zombies Will Save the World

You may be aware of the fact that I find zombies to be utterly, engrossingly terrifying. It's fair to say that I think about them at least once a day. Not only because Socrates stands guard on my desk, but because my imagination simply will not let fantastical creatures be. To the piece of my brain that processes fear, zombies are something I should fear approximately 17 times a day. 

There's a reason I can't run outdoors with music on, and it isn't because I'm afraid of being hit by a car or that I've watched way too many episodes of Criminal Minds or even that I've watched those episodes 5 or 6 times a piece (don't judge). It's because I need to be able to hear the zombies when they come up behind me. This isn't true for treadmill running. Because if a zombie sneaks up on me on my treadmill, then they deserve my brain. 

What I'm getting at is that my brain is powerful. For the sake of argument, let's just say there's no rational reason I should be afraid of zombies. Let's just pretend for a moment that I wasn't actually in danger of having to outrun the horde anytime soon. In the absence of Real Danger, my mind has done a fantastic job of believing in something that doesn't exist. So well, that probably 80% of my physical fitness is a direct result of that fear. 

You think I kid? 

There's only one other thing that could possibly motivate me to hang from my pull-up bar or hold plank pose for longer than the 5 seconds it takes for me to remember how HARD those things are, and that's cookie dough (or possibly Damon's eyebrows).

(I deny your accusation of gratuitous Salvator Brows).

I used to think I was alone in this strange reality of Zombie! Terror! But it turns out, I'm not. 

There's a professor at Michigan State University teaching a course called, "Surviving the Coming Zombie Apocalypse - Catastrophes and Human Behavior." The full story is behind that link (sent to me by my little brother), but basically, this prof is using zombies to make social science immediately intriguing to students. It's a perfect blending of imagination and scholarly pursuit! 

Another recent exercise of Zombie! Terror! as motivation is the Zombies, Run! game, which is basically like a real life video game. I suspect that the majority of people playing the game won't actually experience the sort of terror I do even without the aid of an app, but that doesn't negate the power this has to change someone's reality. 

Both of these are tapping into the idea of the Zombie to change the world in a positive way. I find that to be pretty amazing. So. Imagination is powerful stuff. It can make the mundane exciting and turn every single day into an adventure, which is pretty much what I've been trying to do my entire life.

When does your adventure start?

The second you imagine it.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

What happens at retreat...

...ends up in one of Jackson's videos. This is something of a cautionary tale.

As you may have deduced, this was the retreat at which I learned I love to chop firewood, some houses really are like little countries, and nothing delights like Carrie Ryan story time.