Wednesday, May 28, 2014


There's a pool at the hotel I work at that I can access whenever I want. On weeks like this, where it's in the 90s during the day and stays around the 70s at night, being able to take a dip is a huge luxury. Since it's open 24 hours I can theoretically go swimming whenever I want, so a dip after I get off work at 11 p.m. is totally doable. I can spend part of my days off relaxing in the cold water and doing laps! How cool is that?

The only issue, though, is that I don't really know how to swim. I kind of did a long time ago, but I'm a little out of practice for a few reasons.

When I was a young kid, around four years old or so, my Uncle Bill had a pool. My cousins, siblings, and I would swim around during the summer when we visited my grandparents dairy and my uncle's house outside of Greenfield. One day one of my cousins convinced me to jump into the pool without any of the grown-ups around. I vaguely remember it being a great idea, as I was four and exceptionally stupid, and I also remember that moment of panic when I realized I had no real clue how to swim. I flailed around a bit and eventually got plucked out of the water by my granddad (thanks, Opa), but it didn't really dissuade me from getting into the water.

No, that moment came a bit later, when I was in kindergarten I think. The school had a pool, and once the weather warmed up the students had the option to swim for PE. One day it got overcast and a bit chillier than it had been, so most of the kids opted to just sticking their feet in the water. Continuing to be an exceptionally stupid child, I was the only kid to actually swim around. I thought I was really cool and gutsy until I realized I was also really scrawny and not good at retaining body heat, so by the time I got out of the pool I was blue-lipped and hypothermic which didn't please the teacher at all. After that, I had a little shakier of a relationship with the water, but it got even worse later on.

In junior high I'd gone to the big swimming complex in Minden-Gardnerville, in Nevada, with the school. Half the school would do swim lessons while the other half had free swim, and I ended up getting swim lessons from the crazy ex-Marine guy who wanted to push every one of his students to do better in the water. When he told me to get the sinking toy thing from the deep end I tried to get it-- I really did-- but I ended up needing air before swimming all the way to the bottom, so I had to surface. The only problem was that I gasped for air before getting there, so I inhaled some water, started hyperventilating once I got out of the pool, and the next thing I know I'm waking up and getting CPR, end up on a stretcher, with an oxygen mask on my face and an IV in my arm, and I get wheeled off to the emergency room not long afterward. I missed free swim time, but I didn't die, so that was cool.

From that point I decided that swimming might be my thing and I haven't gone out of my way to go to a pool since.

However, part of me wants to try getting in the water again. It's been a long time since I've actually tried to swim (I've been in pools, sure, but only standing and freaking out in the shallow end for the most part) and it's probably been long enough to get over my fear of it. Besides, it'll probably help me build up lung capacity and some endurance for running a 5K this July, so it might be a good idea for that reason alone. Maybe sometime this weekend I'll go swimming-- or drown, or at least have a panic attack. Either way, it's been hot and I have access to a pool, so I should give it a shot just because I can.

A long string of near-drownings couldn't possibly last forever, right?

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Walkin' Around (and a Horror Game)

There's a video game series I'm a pretty big fan of called Silent Hill. It takes place in the dark, foggy, abandoned town of Silent Hill, filled with nightmarish monsters representing personal flaws and fears of the main character. In order to get through the game the player has to solve puzzles and traverse maze-like streets and buildings, all while avoiding the hellspawn that dwells in the shadows that make up about eighty percent of the game world (the other twenty percent being blood and rust, it's pretty nuts). Throughout the various incarnations of the games, from the greats like Silent Hill 2 to less well-received titles like Silent Hill: Downpour (and the atrocities that were the Silent Hill films), the general concept remains the same: walk around, find stuff to help you get un-lost, and don't die while doing it.

The thing that really struck me about these games-- especially when I started playing them-- was the setting; a small, empty, stereotypical Americana tourist town. Walking around my old hometown, or even my current place of residence, in the middle of the night can give the streets a feeling of being deserted and haunted. The early 20th century architecture of homes and businesses, with chipped paint and lonely glowing neon signs in dusty windows, puts out a kind of eerie vibe. Dimly lit streets devoid of cars or people makes a person wonder who or what is waiting to strike from the bushes. After walking home through the dark so many times, and after watching so many scary movies and playing so many games in the Silent Hill series, I've had some pretty fun moments of freaking myself out.

The other night, for example! I was hanging out with some friends on the far north end of town, a couple miles away from my apartment. Everyone that had been there either left or was going to bed, so I decided to walk home. Of course it was three in the morning, and of course the path of least resistance would be to walk through the desert by moonlight, so I made my goodbyes and set out into the dark. To break some of the silence in the middle of nowhere I decided to play some music on my phone. The only problem, though, is that I decided on the Silent Hill soundtrack, so every shadow and every noise in the bushes became something jump-worthy.

The moon was covered in hazy clouds. The crunch of dirt beneath my feet and the ambient music from my phone echoed through the trees along the creek I crossed while walking along the dirt road. Streetlights buzzed on the corner of the street as I made my way back into town. Walking along, hearing no noise from the highway, seeing no lights on in any of the houses along the way, I started to spook myself. I knew nothing was "out to get me" or anything, but that paranoid feeling of god knows what watching me still sent chills down my spine. By the time I got home to my dark and quiet apartment I realized I'd forgotten my keys at my friend's place, so I used my "finding keys in ass-backward places" I learned from video games to get my spare to get inside and away from the creepy crawlies that didn't actually exist.

I got a little bit out of video games (even more than just learning to accept "There was a HOLE here. It's gone now." written in blood on a wall). I can find things I need, use some things toward unintended ends, and get un-lost while making my way through the dark. I learned this skill through a lot of different video games, but Silent Hill got me to use these skills in a place like home.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


The approach of summer means the weather is warming up. Sweaters get packed away, electric blankets get unplugged and tossed in the closet, and the anticipation of sweltering temperatures and sweating to death builds up. Most people bust out the summer gear; Coronas, Ray-Bans, tank tops, flip flops, summertime sadness (if you're Lana del Rey from what I've heard), and, of course, shorts.

I rarely wear shorts. I already get charred to a crisp as it is, and exposing my pasty white legs is both asking for temporary blindness from the light reflected off them and the intolerable pink suffering from UV radiation. I've spent many, many summers sweating in blue jeans while my contemporaries sweated slightly less thanks to the draft that board shorts provide, though, so I've been slowly getting sun on my legs while I go running and hiking. By doing that, not only have I not died of heat stroke, but I've also managed to get my legs from nearly opaque to almost having some semblance of color by wearing shorts in my adventures in the boonies.

I don't think I'll be able to have tan legs, to be honest, but not having corpse-colored calves would be nice. I'd like to be able to wear shorts like a normal person when I go to the coast this summer, and I'd like to not hurt anyone with the sheen from my whiteness. If I can achieve a skin tone a couple shades darker than "European Tourist" I think I'll be satisfied rocking skinny cutoff shorts like a hipster jackass, but if I can't... I'll just fake an accent, I guess.

I usually dread the hot weather, but it might not be so bad if I show off my gams.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

My Shabby Digs

I've been thinking a lot about my apartment today, mostly because it's the third anniversary of moving in after spending close to a year living out of a hotel room. The joy that comes from not having to wash dishes in the bathtub, not living at your place of work, and being able to roam around naked through a space without roommates being offended or other hotel guests giving funny looks is a pretty great feeling, and the day I finally moved all my stuff into my little brick apartment sticks to my memory pretty dearly.

I think my place is still pretty nice, even if every piece of furniture came from yard sales, alleyways, or dumpsters, and even if the decor ranges from Ansel Adams prints to a black velvet portrait of cats playing poker. I believe I've managed to make the eclectic jumble of top-pick thrift store crap into something functional, comfortable, and aesthetically acceptable, and if nothing else I've managed to keep the stuff in my apartment cheap and easy enough to replace. Literally dozens of dollars were spent on making my place as charming as it is, and part of me is proud of that (that part, of course, is my wallet).

I have been considering going to an IKEA or some similar place to update my digs, but that'd require money.

And effort.

And forethought.

And, y'know, nah.

Though, it would be nice to get some new pictures on the wall and at least some of the furniture reupholstered. Maybe one day I'll get some "mid-century modern" crap from Etsy to add some continuity to the other old crap on the walls. Now that I've lived there for a few weeks (like, 156 of them) I feel comfortable enough to possibly get some updated stuff.

Hell, even if I don't, I can still say I've managed to pay my rent consistently, so I'm proud of myself for that.