30 May 2013


For my 27th birthday my best friend and cousin gave me an acupuncture session. She volunteered to do it herself with toothpicks and a Yani soundtrack, but I elected to take her up on the gift certificate offer instead. She knew how much I love massages, so she figured an acupuncture session might be an appropriate variation.
So off I went to the Virginia College of Oriental Medicine for my acupuncture visit. In the waiting room I signed my signature six different times on six different magazines, and then got the health waivers which also required six different signatures. Generally my signature looks the same so I had to really exercise some creativity in making it different all those times. On the last form- my patient confidentiality report- I just drew the state of Idaho where my signature should have gone. It was surprisingly accurate and I was pleased to see that all my practice signing magazines was really paying off. While waiting I walked around handing people the signed magazines, telling them to find me on page 32. Many people were confused. Also in the waiting room there was a jar of what appeared to be human organs in formaldehyde, many, many magazines aimed at women, and coffee. Of the three, I would have to say the human organs were more current than the womanly magazines or the coffee, and that's not saying much. I picked one magazine up and read about the Oscars... of 2011. You may recall the most shocking Oscar upset that year- when Rick Baker and Dave Elsey won the "Achievement in Makeup" Oscar for 'The Wolfman.' Wow, somehow I had totally forgotten about that.
I think these may have been human organs soaking in the waiting room. It's a bad picture because I had to snap it quick while the receptionist was distracted. I didn't want to end up in a jar...
With my life signed away times six, my heart racing at the thought of ending up in a jar, and my brain flummoxed at how easily it could have forgotten Oscar trivia that I dubiously knew just two short years ago, I made my way to the insertion room with Ms. Chuang. Our interview- in English more broken than a Jewish plate at a wedding- was the most humorous occurrence of the afternoon. If I have only one regret in life, it's that no one told me you're supposed to go to acupuncture with problems. People don't just go to be stuck with needles repeatedly for fun. How was I not informed of this earlier? Oh that's right, most people just know these things.
Ms. Chuang asked me why I was there. I told her I had been given a gift certificate and that I always enjoy a good massage. To this, she replied: "Massage feel good. Acupuncture, no. Needles no feel good. Different from massage." That made me a little nervous, and I almost backed out but then decided I ought to stick things out, or stick things in, as it were. Throughout the whole interview I got the sense that Ms. Chuang already had the answers she wanted in mind, regardless of the words I spoke which she couldn't understand.
Ms. Chuang: "You hot person or cold person?"
Me: "I'm doing just fine, thank you."
MC: "But not now. Other times. You hot or cold person?"
Me: "Do you mean physically? or are you talking about my personality?"
MC: "Your body. When your friends are comfortable, you more hot or more cold?"
Me: "Well, I think when others are comfortable, I'm pretty comfortable too. I wouldn't say my body temperature is that much off from what it should be."
MC: "You must decide. Hot of cold?"
Me: "Well, I guess I've been cold on more occasions than hot, so I'll say I'm a cold person."
MC: "Okay. Good. How much you sweat?"
Me: "What do you mean? Do you want a measurement? Like in cups and ounces?"
MC: "Yes. When you exercise, do you sweat?"
Me: "Of course."
MC: "You sweat more or less than friends?"
Me: "This sounds kind of like the heat question. When I'm playing basketball with my friends, I'd say I sweat about the same amount as them. It depends on the outside temperature and how hard we are working."
MC: "So more or less than friends?"
Me: "I guess less."
MC: "But what about at night. Night sweats?"
Me: "Um, no."
MC: "You sure?"
Me: "Umm, yes?"
She was trying very hard to get me to admit a deep and profound physical impairment. We covered the five vital organs, stress, bloating, body temperature, blood circulation, and fatigue, none of which I differ from the general population by more than a few standard deviations. Ms. Chuang honestly seemed disappointed that I didn't have anything for her to fix with her little needles. I thought she was asking all these questions to make sure I was healthy enough for acupuncture, but I guess she was fishing for faults. I was satisfied that I was healthy; she was depressed and disappointed that I was young and in my 20s. But, we decided to pursue the procedure promptly.
I took my shoes and socks off, laid down on a bed, she put a heater on me (remember, I'm a cold person), and then inserted 16 needles in my body, ranging from my feet/ankles all the way up to the crown of my head. I just felt a little prick with each one. Then she put on a soft piano CD and left me. It's a good thing it was a soft CD because it was jammed into my thigh the whole time. For fifteen minutes I fell into a deep, relaxing trance. It was wonderful. I have to say though, I almost feel like the needles were secondary. I would have been just as relaxed had I been in the same circumstances without the piercings. When my lethargic, adult nap time was over Ms. Chuang came thundering back in. I got the sense that she had another client after me, and that she sensed I wouldn't be back based on my health concerns. I don't think I was her top priority, and I think she may give other patients 30 minutes. She came in, took the needles out, told me I was done, then left. No "How was it?" or anything. She left the room very quickly and I was left to my own devices to find my shoes (luckily they were just where I had left them) and see my way out.
Overall I enjoyed the experience, but more for its comedy, relaxation, and cultural experience than for its medicinal purposes. I don't think I'd go back in lieu of a massage, but there's a slim chance I would return if I was, say, an incessant sweater or extremely hot all the time.

23 May 2013

Cicadas 2013

Last weekend I went camping with my roommate and some other guys. It was an annual campout that my Church does in Lorton, VA. The idea is for the fathers in the Church to take their sons for some quality bonding time out in the woods. This year they decided to invite us single men even though we lack the most important aspect of a Fathers-and-sons-campout: sons. It sounded like a good time, so I made the decision to go. I was considering the idea of doing the campout or resoling my basketball sneakers with bamboo inserts, but eventually it just made more sense to strengthen my soul than my sole. I'd rather be in the woods than on the woods.
The trip was short- lasting about 15 hours, seven of which I was sleeping. But even with a little over-nighter there were a lot of experiences to be had. I knew it was going to be an entertaining trip when my chauffeur roommate told me we were stopping for snacks on the way. I reminded him that the campsite was only 20 minutes away, that all our meals were already being provided, and that at any given time on our trip we would be 10 minutes away from a grocery store. But he was pretty pumped for our roadtrip so we made a pit stop for beef jerky, sunflower seeds, sour patch kids, lemonade, and gummy rings. I had to go to the bathroom by that point of our lengthy journey so I was glad for the respite. One stoplight later we made a left turn and went from suburbia to the great outdoors.
Our campsite, A-1, reminded me of steaksauce. My friend who camped with us- Flank- reminded me of a cut of meat. Flank's brother Broccoli was also with us, but his name really brought nothing to my mind. Immediately upon arriving we put up our tents. Flank and I both had 2 person tents, so we decided to just put one up at first to save us the trouble. After five minutes of fetal position cuddling (I refuse to call it spooning when it's two dudes) we elected to put up the other tent. But then we got lonely and decided to put the doors next to each other so we could have some quality pillow talk before officially retiring. Only problem was I was really the only one who wanted the pillow talk, so Flank zipped his tent up and then put his feet by the door. This forced me to have pillow talk with his soles (as opposed to his soul) which were behind a closed door. I really got the sense that he didn't want to talk to me, but I'm not the kind of guy who gives up easily. I told his tent door all about the time my first dog died (August 2001), about the last time I sobbed (the night before), and what I hope to accomplish in life (carve a trash receptacle out of a tree stump with only a grapefruit spoon). After what I estimated to be 4 hours of a mostly one-way conversation (though he definitely contributed with some "Please, please, please, please be quiet David) he told me that I was not welcome to ride home with him in the morning. I was a little hurt at that, and had to revise my story about the last time I cried. When I did finally fall asleep it was to the circadian rhythms of cicadas (unrelated words, both probably used incorrectly). Cicadas are nasty bugs that live in the earth for 17 years before emerging en masse to harass your _____. Sorry if that was a little inappropriate. I will try not to let it happen again. Cicadas come out for a swarmageddon for two weeks a year, and I chose one of their special weekends to camp. When I arose in the morning I had 7 large, living bugs on my tent, 7 hollow cicada shells clinging for dead life, and a balloon tied to the exterior zipper of my abode. I have no explanation for the balloon, though I suspect the cicadas because it said "Welcome Home" in block letters on it.
In the morning I was feeling a little left out that I didn't have a son to play catch with. I was willing to toss a football, frisbee, baseball, or even a pinecone if I just had a little tyke to throw it back. Can men get baby hungry? I'd never heard of it before this weekend.
All in all the trip was a very relaxing time. There were no hikes to go on, no bodies of water to swim in, no kids that wanted to hang out with me, and not much to do besides eat and play Liar's Dice. So that's just what we did and it was pretty enjoyable. And a little awkward having five dudes hanging out together longingly looking at cheery fathers and sons playing catch. Oh well.

14 May 2013

A Big Weekend in the Holla Atchya! House

This past weekend, May 10-12, was really a big one for me. My baseball season ended, I ran my first ever Half-Marathon, and I spoke in Church on Sunday. Bam, bam, bam. 
The conclusion of the baseball season included a blowout 12-2 win. We finished the season with 16 wins and 2 losses. I'm pleased with that, but not as pleased as I am with my race the following morning.
Back in January I was cold and not in good shape. I wasn't in bad shape per se (perhaps I was emotionally, though not physically) but I wasn't exercising any. I decided to make a goal of running a half-marathon before the year was out. I found the Harper's Ferry Half in Harper's Ferry, WV and then found a nice 10 week training schedule. I began running on Monday, March 4, in very wet conditions. It was cold and rainy that afternoon, I remember clearly, but I just knew if I didn't start on the appointed day I never would start. So run I did. In my ten weeks of training 4 times a week I never missed a run. Some of them were in the drizzly rain at 6:00am, some of them were in the fearful dark of 9:30pm, and one of them was in a blizzard big enough to cancel school. Seriously, school was cancelled for snow but it was on a running day so I still went out with my hat, gloves, and sweats. I trained on hills, in the sun, bundled up in the cold, hungry, full, and with different shoes. I just really wanted to be prepared. And then it all came to a head on Saturday as I completed my goal. I ran the race with some great friends and my brother-in-law. Saturday was a drizzly, humid morning with temperatures in the 60's, which I was fully prepared for. What I was not fully prepared for were the hills. I ran hills in training but they were nothing compared with the Harper's Half. In their own words:
Local runners have crafted one of the most challenging and beautiful half marathons in the country.
The half marathon course is almost completely enclosed in Harpers Ferry National Historical Park and the preserved Civil War era towns of Bolivar and Harpers Ferry. The route includes close to 1000 feet of total elevation gain and 2000 feet of total elevation change. You will experience a mix of trail, road, and crushed gravel paths. You will view the confluence of the Two Rivers- the Shenandoah and the Potomac. The steep uphill portions will test each runner’s strength and will. The fun and challenging downhills will be a wild ride you’ve rarely experienced in a run. Breathtaking views of the rivers, historic buildings, mountains, scenery will stimulate the senses and inspire you to reach the finish line.
The biggest hill of them all was at mile 11, when you were already dog tired from the other hills you'd conquered. It was a heart break hill. I was oh so tempted to walk up but I knew I hadn't spent 10 weeks of training so that I could walk my Half. Instead I put my head down and powered through. It all paid off in the end. I got a personal best (obviously) time of 1:40:33. That's an average of a 7:41 pace for 13.1 miles straight. Out of 213 runners who finished (and several that never did) I came in 11th. Not too bad for a first timer. I came in fourth place in my division, Mens 20-29. The time difference between me and the guy who got third was 2 minutes, and the time between me and the guy who got 5th place was 9 minutes, so I was right with the front pack. My two sisters and their families came out to support me, which was wonderful. There was free pizza for the runners, which was also wonderful. And then there was the fact that I wasn't sore the next day. Totally awesome. It was a testament to my training. I would do it again for sure. I'm so grateful for goals.
Then Sunday rolled around. I spoke in Church on how my Mother has strengthened my testimony of Jesus Christ. It was delightful. Probably not my greatest public speaking moment, but the topic couldn't be beat. My mother has absolutely strengthened my faith in Jesus Christ and taught me how to be more like Him. The ways I specifically mentioned where her love of the Scriptures and her love for our family. I hope to marry a woman who loves the Scriptures and our family one day. Things are getting sticky around here. Must be all that sap.

05 May 2013

Some Elite Possibilites

Sometimes I think to myself, "I can't update my blog, I have nothing to write about!" but then I remember that my blog isn't really about anything, and hardly has any themes besides getting a haircut and poor jokes. I feel comforted with this thought because it sets the standard really low. With this thought as fresh in my mind as a hot towel on your neck, allow me to indulge in a short post about elitism.
I've thought a lot about being elite at something over the course of my half-marathon training. As I push myself to go harder, faster, and strong each week, I keep thinking that I'm going to become an elite runner. I get pleased with my progress and weeks of training. And then I read about the Boston Marathoners and realize that those runners are going at a pace over 1.5 minutes/mile faster than me at my best, and they're going twice as far. It's just astounding. I'm now at the point where I want to be fast, but I've given up the idea of being an elite runner. But I do feel I want to be elite at something.
Since running has been crossed off my list, I've spent my time coming up with different things I could be elite doing. Here's what I've come up with so far:

  • An elite music listener. I want to listen to music so well people will just associate me with listening to music like they associate Stop Signs with Octagons. They'll be like, "Did you just see David in his car? He was listening to the radio like a BOSS!"
  • An elite blind opener. I want to be so good at opening blinds that whenever people need their blinds opened, they won't even think of doing it themselves anymore. There is so much that can go wrong with opening a blind; dust gets everywhere, the stick twist falls off, or the shade gets out of sync with the string, just to name a few. I want to master the craft so that I can open and close a blind perfectly on the first try. That way I can be elite at something that actually matters. Through my years of practice (literally, I've been opening and closing blinds for almost 20 years now) I've met countless people who don't even know that pulling the string to the side is a different function than pulling the string directly out. Ugghhh, the ignorance.
  • An elite belt-hole-recommender. This one I'll admit is a bit out there, but I think it's got a strong potential. If you're anything like me, you've often purchased a fine belt only to become horrified at learning that your waist size is exactly between two belt holes. If you choose one the belt function is obsolete because your trousers fall to the floor like a banana peel in a monkey cage, but if you choose the other hole your pants are so tight people assume you've got a custom-ordered hip corset underneath your jeans. Someone asked me that once at a bus station. He was homeless. My goal is to be the best of the best at recommending which belt hole any person should use for a given event. It's sort of like a personal stylist, but only in the way that a dogwalker could be 'sort of' like an Olympic sprinter. I would be way more elite than a fashion stylist because I would focus on one aspect and one aspect only.
  • An elite button pusher. Frankly I'm surprised button pushers aren't more famous as it is. Consider for a minute all the buttons you pressed today: Your alarm button, multiple buttons on your microwave, the radio buttons in your car, the on/off button on your computer, and the single button on your phone. Do you realize how many of these you press a day? And then do you realize how inconvenient it is? Sometimes your hands smell like BBQ and you don't want to touch anything, other times your fingers are slippery and slide off of any and everything, and sometimes (like in the case of the alarm clock) you just have no motivation to slap that sucker. Wouldn't you like some assistance for these acts performed hundreds of times a day? Would you trust just anybody to open your microwave, or would you want someone that you know you can trust to open it effectively with clean hands the first time? In walks the elite button pusher, aka Mr. Button Pusher, aka Mr. Holla Atchya!, aka At Your Service. I could be the elite button pusher for the region. It'd be so sweet.

If you have other ideas about what you want to be elite doing, or suggestions for me, please let me know in the comments.
But seriously now, there are a ton of things we can seek to be elite at. Do you know which one I'd like to achieve? An elite father. An elite husband. An elite friend. Those are the responsibilities that get no recognition but that are by far the most important. If I die having never run a 2:10:53 marathon or without being recognized as the best peanut shell opener in the world, I do want to die being thought of as the best husband, father, and friend there ever was. I have a lot of time to practice this craft, especially since I'm single with no kids, but through persistence I believe I can accomplish it.