Friday, January 16, 2004


Don't think there hasn't been any weeping. (Sorry to the mens out there, I should have warned you to avert your eyes. But stay with me, I'm gonna need you later to defend me on the misogyny charge). My wife has been very good about weeping with me. Twice now I guess. I am glad the kids haven't seen it, because it would scare them. Anyone with ideological advice about how sorrow is a healthy part of the human range of emotions that children need to see acknowledged can stick it right here: * ). My son has seen my crying (so there!), big time, about 8 months ago, after I dropped the baby by accident onto the floor. (Yes, left arm). I cried, and I was glad he saw me cry. But he would not understand why Dad comes home from the gym and starts weeping. Fortunately he was napping.

The scene of the crime for both the theft and misogyny charges was the weight room at the gym. To put this all in context, before I jogged to the gym, I was reading on the web about the progression of ALS, and I get the impression that it can be very rapid. Like, one day you can do something, and the next day you cannot. That's why I want to get some video of me "playing chase" with my son. That's where we chase each other around the house. Today my wife got some video of me swinging my baby daughter in my arms. She may need to see that in later years if I am rubbed out like a frigging mayfly before she even forms permanent memories of me. (I said, "if"). Yes, my attitude is positive, but sometimes you gotta freak out. So on the positive side, let's start with the good news. I jogged to the gym, left knee kinda low-steppin', and immediately curled the 15 pound weight on the left arm 10 times. No problem. Great. I moved around all the weight machines and generally used the same weight setting as whichever woman was on the machine before. I also purposely did some reps where the left arm or leg had to do all the work, because I notice ol' lefty is letting righty pick up the load.

I also did some free weights which reminded me of when I was 20 and lifting weights in the dorm. I honestly don't remember how much weight I had in each hand when I used to do a free-weight lift lying on my back. Maybe it was 30 pounds? 35? Maybe I am retroactively inflating the amount. [8-30-04: I found today a note I wrote about my lifting in 1992. At that point, at the age of 29, I did 36 lateral presses with 25 pounds in each hand.] And yes, I know that we can't stay 20 forever. We all age and get weaker, I accept that. But, dang, as I was lying on that bench, doing the same exercise with little 10-pound weights, and having a hard time doing it I was amazed at how weak I had become ... without knowing it! I got nothing against people being weak, or myself either. But the sudden transition, that sickening, scary, atrophied feeling, made me feel like a theft had taken place. A sudden theft. In the course of, who knows? Maybe a year. I noticed myself starting to get a little self-pity coming on (and guess what? That's an OK thing too). But I got that under control.

Now we enter in to the dangerous misogyny territory. It arises because I saw this young woman about maybe 30, lifting 15-pound weights on each arm in what looked like a good exercise. Kind of a rowing motion when you are bent over. That seemed good to me, so I took some 7.5 pounds weights and tried it. You can say all you want about how she probably started at 7.5 pounds too, and she probably does it every day and you are new to it, yah-dee ya-da, neener neener, I am not listening ... because, and ladies may not understand this, though I think those of you who know me know that I am not a macho guy, and I am quite comfortable with the fact that many ladies are stronger than me ... because, I could barely lift half of what this woman was lifting. And she was no gym tigress! She was no buff gal! She was no weight lifter! Just an ordinary, yoga and popcorn kind of lady person. A small lady person. And there I was struggling to lift half of what she could lift. It was not what I expected. I picked the weights that were half of hers because I was humble and assumed she was stronger and more used to it. I still could barely do it.

Picture a beach as the wave is just rushing back to the ocean. Now, you try to restore the shore to its former position using a squirt from your sports bottle. That's what I felt like, that's what I feared I was doing, sitting there lifting weights at the YMCA. I left quickly before I started weeping. I sat down in a doorway when I couldn't see in front of me. I jogged pretty much under control till I got home. I collapsed in this room and my wife came to comfort me.

My sister, my big sister who used to be able to protect me from anything, is out in the other room. And she can't fix me.
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