Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Sober October, The New Year's Resolution for Slackers

Its Halloween.  Sure, my daughters were excited.  Avery, my eldest, was practical as always trading out her Wednesday Adams costume for something much warmer considering the 20O  temperatures here in Colorado.  Macy, par for her particular course, dressed as a girl Pennywise from “It” despite the fact that she would undoubtedly freeze her clown shoes off.  Darby, being Darby, wound up being the same Grim Reaper that Macy was last year.  She thinks her older sisters are very cool and can’t wait to mimic anything they do, even twelve months after the fact.

As scary as their costumes were, this post is about something much more frightening.  Its about a little thing called Sober October.  A little backstory.  I live in Fort Collins, Colorado.  We have more micro-breweries, per capita, than anyplace else in the country.  We are blessed in that capacity.  Along with delicious inebriants, I am not someone who people would describe as svelte.  Both the amazing beers and ‘Tubby Chris’ are key points for this blog post.

I was listening to a blog post featuring a few of my favorite comedians and they commit themselves to something called #SoberOctober.  What they are doing is committing to being sober for 31 days and pairing that with some physical challenge for the month.  One year they had a weight loss challenge, another was a heart rate challenge. 

I’m about to go on a tangent, but it’ll make sense before too long.  I recently attended a class at the gym.  For those in the know its called “Body Pump”.  The guy offering the class was in waaaaaay worse shape than I was.  He was a six-foot-tall red headed guy that had fifty pounds on me despite the fact that he wore shorts one size smaller than what I wear.  Some people may have been put off, but I was excited.  It was freeing for me to see someone standing in front of a physically fit group and commanding their attention and action.  He gives hope to those of us that more closely resemble an arctic seal than a Navy one. 

All of that being said, the podcast I was watching featured four comedians, two of which would be considered “plus sized”.  It got me thinking. If they can handle it, surely, I could. 

So, I decided to not only do the “sober” part of October but also commit to a rigorous workout plan.  My intention was to work out, in some capacity, all thirty-one days of October.  Sober and sore was my intention.

Sober and sore is what I became.

I am proud to say that I was able to do a really extreme workout regimen all while not consuming a single sip of alcohol.  It may not seem altogether impressive, but I was continually sore and I was able to maintain my beer-free self through a wedding with an open bar and the 50th birthday party of a very dear friend. 

Here’s the catch.  I worked out, I watched everything I put in my body and at the end of the day I lost two pounds.  Two.  Two little insignificant pounds.  A small enough amount of weight that it could be that I was just a little dehydrated when I weighed myself.  Pfffft, two pounds.

There is actually a lesson here, girls, and it isn’t to shelve things that seem difficult.  I suppose its about follow through.  I suspected for weeks that the weight loss benefit of this Autumn experiment was not going as hoped.  It would have been easy to step on a scale on October 15th and then bail on the whole thing when the results were less than awesome. 

Easy, sure, but it wouldn’t have been the right thing to do.  Setting a goal, even a difficult one, can really move you in a positive direction.  Yeah, maybe I didn’t get the rewards I wanted, I still get the satisfaction of knowing I set a difficult goal (difficult for me anyway) and exceeded my own expectations in terms of effort.

Long story short, give yourself goals, tough ones, and do your best to achieve them.  I’d rather you set tough goals and fail than set no goals and succeed. That seems obvious, but trust me, as you get older, it becomes pretty easy to set a low bar for yourself and then congratulate yourself for hitting it.  So, Avery, its time to start training for that half marathon.  Macy, maybe skateboard lessons would do you some good, and Darby, my dear, you’ve tackled a lot this year, but there have been a few things that have eluded you. Let’s get to work on those. 

Now, get busy little ladies, daddy is taking a nap.

Wednesday, October 2, 2019

Free Golf and Expensive Beverages at Torrey Pines

A few months ago, I posted about a trip my wife won to Torrey Pines Golf Course in San Diego.  Last weekend we went on said trip.  It was an all-expense paid vacation that included a couple of rounds of golf and a stay at a hotel that was so far above my pay grade that I considered being a caddy to help me look like I belonged anywhere near it.

It had slippers and bathrobes and bell hops and valets and shoe cleaning and concierges and little mints branded to the hotel. 

I’m used to locking my door at hotels for safety sake, I locked them here because I couldn’t afford to replace the hotel bathrobes if they were to get stolen. 

That being said, it was lovely, my wife loved it, the down mattress, the pampering, all of it.  White collar living has always been an ill-fitting suit for me, but I made myself appreciate it as much as possible.

There were moments where appreciating it was impossible.  There was a fella who threw his bag of donuts on the ground because his room wasn’t ready.  There was a woman who berated a poor busboy because the coffee station was out of coffee and she was “going to need coffee if I’m going to be dealing with my kids this morning”. 

The golf course was a different thing altogether.  While privileged and crawling with caddies and $10 beers, it played like every other golf course I’d ever played.  It was picturesque and featured holes I had seen on T.V. but they were all made out of grass and dirt and had a hole with a flag in it.  I watched dozens of people hit their first tee shot looking like a dog pooping razor blades, I didn’t have the same nerves.  I don’t know why.  I literally have been playing crappy golf for the last six months but fixed it all on a world-renowned golf course. 

I was proud of myself in this: I recognized some of the more famous holes and didn’t hit the panic button when I stood over the ball on them.  There was a long downhill par three that was 180 yards into a stiff offshore wind.  It was gorgeous and a hole I’ve seen a lot of pros miss completely.  I watched the two golfers before me spray the ball, one into a cavern, the other into the ocean.  It wasn’t a settling feeling but where the voices would normally be poking me in the ol’ cranium they were quiet all day long.  I hit the green and parred the hole.

I could go on about fancy hotels and unexpectedly good golf games, but that isn’t really the point.  I was able to spend a long weekend with my wife and a couple of dear friends.  It was a weekend without social media and soccer games.  It was a weekend of setting aside my workout program and eating delicious food regardless of calorie count (also, here’s a tip.  If you find yourself in the greater San Diego area find Hodads and get a burger immediately).  It was about getting away a bit.

The lesson here little ones?  Well it isn’t about playing good golf and staying in way to expensive places.  Its about mommy and daddy recharging our batteries.  Macy, you asked me if you could go on the trip.  I gave you an unapologetic ‘no’.  It may have sounded abrupt (probably too abrupt) but the answer would have been ‘no’ regardless of tone.  Mommy and daddy need away time.  We love traveling with you girls, seeing a bit of the world with you, but we need us time as well.  It isn’t any kind of shot at you but every once in a while mommy and daddy recognize that we’ve only seen each other at soccer games and carpool handoffs. 

Getting to see your mother do things that aren’t on the mother schedule is great.  Seeing her have a beer at noon or whack a golf ball into the ocean is good for me and her being able to sleep in a way-too-soft bed and lose her cell phone for a few hours is good for her.   Trust me, the mommy and daddy you’ll see now will be a much more relaxed pair than the one who left you a few days ago!  

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

I Get it, Tradition Traditionally Sucks

I’m not at all one for tradition.  That’s not exactly correct.  I cannot stand tradition.  It comes from somewhere deep in me.  From my childhood.  What I remember from the times where this Chris was much smaller and less hairy is that tradition makes you do things you don’t really want to do.  It makes you do it annually.

Let me flesh that out a touch with an example.  When I was a wee person, we spent Christmas day at my mother’s best friend’s house.  It was a whole lot of grown-ups and my sister and yours truly.  There would be a series of small gifts exchanged.  I’m ashamed to admit that I always loved my $5 McDonalds gift card.  They gave me a sense of power, but that’s a different story.  After gifts we would turn to Christmas dinner.

This is where tradition became a nuisance.  My sister and I were sat at the kids table.  But we were the only kids.  So, the kids table would also be home to the impossibly old.  I’m sad to say that watching nonagenarians try to gnaw down prime rib led me to be nervous around seniors for years.  My older self can sympathize, seven year old me could not.

It was tradition, but it was the worst kind. 

Which brings me to the point of this.  This past weekend we brought the girls to Glenwood Springs.  I’ve written about this trip before. When I was a kid it was an annual trip for my family.  In my youngest days of the trip it was fantastic, but as I got older, perhaps my early teens, it seemed a burdensome tradition.  I failed to recognize a ton of key truths about the annual jaunt up the mountains that I see much more clearly as the parent that was dragging his own kids up the mountains. 

There’re the minimal things that go into it: the organizing the trip, the cost, the long drive.  All of them have their issues but in reality, none of it is too much trouble.  The real thing is realizing that the trip isn’t just for the kids.  It’s a chance for the adults to relax, to play with their children and to spend time with them that isn’t driving to soccer practice or cleaning the house.  When I was thirteen, I’m sure I didn’t recognize this part of it.  I remember the four-hour drive seeming like twelve hours.  I remember the rooms without air conditioning.  I remember the long lines and the lukewarm tuna-sandwiches. 

What I failed to remember was the things my mother did to make it happen.  Like the car breaking down over Vail pass and the cost of getting it fixed and the hotel while we waited for the repairs.  I didn’t remember the canyon was always under construction and it would have been easier for Mom to skip the trip altogether as opposed to listening to the griping kids in the back seat.  I forgot that, while the hotel had no A/C, it was connected to the pool and, while more expensive, it made for many more hours of fun for the kids.  I couldn’t possibly have remembered that the lines to the rides were rides that cost a lot of money and our complaining about it was a slap in the face to the poor woman who purchased them and the tuna fish sammies were a means of controlling costs as to not take a family of four out to eat for every meal that we ate. 

I suppose the biggest thing I failed to recognize is that some years the trip wasn’t affordable, or time was too thin, or we complained too much, but Mom still made it happen every year. 

The lesson here little ladies?  I suppose its about tradition and my loathing thereof.  I guess, from my point of view, its okay to dislike some tradition but its important to look at the reasons for the tradition in the first place.  When I look back at those Christmas dinners, I have always looked at it through my own eyes.  A little change of perspective may offer a little insight into why we did it for all of those years.  Maybe it was that my mother simply wanted to spend time with her best friend, or maybe she assumed that we loved it.  But I think, if I looked at it honestly, it was that a single mother that wanted a little company on Christmas.  Her kids were occupied with toys and simply sitting and drinking coffee with friends was preferable to sitting at home. 

I think you girls had a nice time this weekend, but as the years roll on, maybe there will be a time when it won’t be as fun.  Maybe you could do your old man a solid and put a smile on anyway because he wants to spend a weekend having fun with you.  In exchange, I’ll promise to try not to embarrass you with my killer cannon balls and jack knifes.  Deal?