Friday, April 17, 2015

Music Dump: The Underdogs, New Kids, Outlaws, Kubrick's Edition

Man, I haven't done a music dump post for a while.  I think because my playlists over the last 6 months have been pretty uninspiring, a mix of many old and few new.  But my most recent?  Not so, my friends, not so.  I like this collection of all new songs so much that I drive around listening to my iPod instead of the radio.  I listened to it twice through on the bus/subway trip from LaGuardia to my hotel last weekend - and didn't do anything drastic when the trip took 2.5 hours.

As usual, it's a random hodge podge, but all the songs seem to follow one of two themes: rhythmic rock (read: X Ambassadors and Florence and the Machine) or acoustic ballads (read: Sia, Amber Run, Ane Brun).  Well, plus David Guetta, Calvin Harris, Beyoncé, and an MJ cover by The Weeknd.

Dirty, Dirty, Dirty Diana, indeed.

Renegades, by X Ambassadors

All hail the underdogs
All hail the new kids
All hail the outlaws
Spielberg's and Kubrick's

The Whisperer, by David Guetta (feat. Sia)

Oh, liberation, comes in whatever form to save me
I am burdened, and then the whisper comes

The drop at 1:32 is as powerful as anything Skrillex ever wrote.

What Kind of Man, by Florence and the Machine
** from their forthcoming album.  SO excited.

To let me dangle at a cruel angle
Where my feet don't touch the floor
Sometimes you're half in and then you're half out
But you never close the door

Waiting Game, by Banks

What if I never even see you because we're both on a stage
Don't tell me listen to your song cuz it isn't the same
I don't want to say your love is a waiting game

When singers like Ellie Goulding and Taylor Swift are asked why they listen to, they say Banks.

Also try Beggin for Thread, by Banks.

Silhouettes, by Of Monsters and Men

There's nothing that I'd take back
But it's hard to say there's nothing I regret

All My Tears, by Ane Brun

It don't matter where you bury me
I'll be home and I'll be free
It don't matter anywhere I lay
All my tears be washed away

She sounds so much like Dolly Parton here - and she's Norwegian.

Also try Do You Remember, by Ane Brun.

I Found, by Amber Run

I'll use you as a warning sign
That if you talk enough sense then you'll lose your mind
I'll use you as a focus point
So I don't lose sight of what I want

Dirty Diana, covered by The Weeknd (original by Michael Jackson)

At that I ran to the phone
Saying Baby I'm alright
I said but unlock the door
Because I forgot the key
She said he's not coming back
Because he's sleeping with me

Crazy in Love (50 Shades Remix), by Beyoncé

The only good thing to come to out of 50 Shades of Abuse.

Watch here (slightly NSFW; typical Beyonce-like music video).

Bang My Head, by David Guetta (feat. Sia)

Bang your head against the wall
You may feel light headed, but you won't crawl, no, you won't fall
You will rise above it all
You'll find what you're searching for
And you may feel light headed 
You think you're gonna hit the floor
Instead you'll rise above it all

Overload, by Life of Dillon

Goodbye, by Who is Fancy

Once we were a fire burn in'
Now you're just a lesson I'm learnin'
Please believe me
This isn't easy
I just need to say goodbye

Who is Fancy is a true modern marvel: no one knows who wrote the song, sings the song, or performs the music.  Take that Daft Punk.

Rise, by David Guetta (feat. Skylar Grey)

You can take a swing at my ego
You can make a run for my crown
Even with an army of people
You ain't gonna take us down

 Best video is blocked for inset, so watch here (SFW).

Pray to God, by Calvin Harris (feat. HAIM)

When there's no getting through
I won't hold back
I will throw down anything in life, I know now
I've been lyin' on the floor
Sleeping on the ground
I will give up anything in life, I know how

HAIM is rock band of four mid-20s women, so no wonder the guitar line sounds like Lindsey Buckingham's insistently driving beat in Edge of Seventeen, by Stevie Nicks.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Myself As Guinea Pig

#SpoilerAlert: I got the shot two Mondays ago.  I went into the exam room with no idea which option I was going to choose: shot now, shot later, or no shot.  I think in the end I chose the shot now because it was something to do, it was definitive action toward a solution.  With me, that usually wins out 98% of the time.  But as much as it was a decision irrevocably made and options irrevocably lost, it also opened me up to a lot more decisions that would need to be made.

As I've been navigating those, I am reminded, again as ever, of the need for athlete-as-human sport psychology.  Of course, physical pain impacts my athletic performance and plays on my athlete-and-athletic-based-fears, but I am a human too and physical ailments play on those fears as well.  Anyone who tries to extricate the two halves of the whole is attempting conversion therapy.  And we know how that goes over.

So salient is that I am swimming not out of fear, but in fear: of pain, of losing swimming and that identity, of losing my team, of losing my shoulder health forever, of dooming my future self to pain and limitations.  This expansive undercurrent of fear is something that stereotypical sport psychologists don't touch, at least beyond the impact on immediate physical and athletic performance.  It's perceived as an even bigger myopia in revenue-generating sports; athletic departments chew up and spit out their money-makers, the next 50-60 years of their lives be damned.  Yet these athletes are humans first (and longer), athletes second.  They deserve to be treated within the context of that hierarchy.

Anyway, I am just waiting and wondering "is this the workout that makes my shoulder hurt again?"  Wondering both what I should do and what I would counsel someone else to do and how to cope, how I would treat them as a human, with human fears, as I wear through a few more superspinatus tendon fibers each day, probably, ostensibly preparing for the day that I have to turn the therapist's chair to face myself.

Another facet of injury and career termination that sport psychologists often neglect is the simultaneous loss of interpersonal relationships.  You lose your identity, your notion of self, and your friends with it.  I am self-aware enough at this point to realize that the swimming alone is worth less, far less, to me in a vacuum.  Still, the kids may mean a lot to me, but not enough, and I am dreading the day that I have to irrevocably choose myself and the long-term health of my shoulder over them.

Testing on animals should definitely be illegal.

Sunday, April 5, 2015

U + Me = Global Catastrophe

I saw this article on Slate about how California is about to break off and splash into the Pacific, or thereabouts (shrinking snowpacks and megadrought).  Not to worry, Snake Plissken is on his way.  (For the full Snake Plissken effect, start here.  The blood special effects are…truly special.)

Anyway, my real first thought was AK, of Original Iron Woman fame, because she measures snowpacks.  I shot her a quick email.

“It looks like you got into snowpack measurement at just the right time.  How prescient of you!

Does it weird you out that the first thing I think of when I hear about global warming is you?

That should be a someecard or something.  ‘My relationship with you reminds me of global catastrophe.’”

PS - The two best someecards when I went looking for that link were: “Jesus regrets dying for you” and “I hope you have a better Good Friday that Jesus did.”  I better keep my day job.

Friday, April 3, 2015

True Dat

One answer to the open-ended questions on the teaching evaluations from my basketball class last semester.  Thanks for looking out, whoever you are, but I don't really think more money will improve my teaching of basketball.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

March Madness, aka Spring Rabies

You know what I consider the most telltale sign that I am an inveterate athlete?  When I am not training regularly, I am constantly poised for when training starts again.  Like, rather than not training being a return to my routine, it is a departure from it.  Those days

For better or worse, and with absolutely no judgement of those who consider this their category: I don't think I could ever find satisfaction as an exerciser.  I tried that after I graduated from college in 2004, with a recreational soccer team and weight-lifting classes at the gym, and five years later was a professional triathlete.  So.

"The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice." - MLK, Jr.

"The arc of exercise is long, but it bends toward serious athletic training." - KEB, Sr.

I feel like a bird perched on the edge of cliff overlooking a vast body of water that stretches to the horizon.  I know that I am supposed to be out there soaring, that's where I am designed to be, but for the time being I am here, waiting to be out there and remembering what it feels like to be out there.

No surprise that the title of my training log is "becoming...never being."

I actually started this post before the events that transpired into this post.  Yet, the feeling remains.  I might just have to find a new body of water over which to launch.

Monday, March 30, 2015

A Finite Swim In An Infinity Pool

I should have saved the title from my post two Thursday's ago - The Cost Of Doing Business In This Body - for this post.  I did find several relevant ones, in addition to the one I ended up using, on the list of potential blog post titles that I maintain: Best Laid Plans Of Mice and Swimmers, Worry Never Robs Tomorrow Of Its Sorrow, Luxury vs. Necessity, or maybe Shooting Bullets At The Moon.  They would all encapsulate the story of this post, but the one up top is most descriptive of the basic gist.

When I first wrote this post last Wednesday - as I waited for my MRI results - the next paragraph was this:  My swimming career, such as it is, is over.  It turns out that the tendon of my left suprasinatus muscle had eight years of swimming in it, and I know that because those eight years are up.  The end shivved me in the kidney in the dead of night: I went from making an appointment to getting the MRI that did the deed (in the prison kitchen with the sharpened toothbrush) in less than 48 hours.  There's a hole and catching and if I don't stop swimming...that way lays madness, surgery, and six months of rehab.  And frankly, surgery isn't worth it.

I wrote that based on what my ortho thought would show up in the MRI and for the last four days I have edited and reedited this post to within an inch of losing all meaning as I received the actual results, discussed treatment options, and decided on a plan of action.

But the point is the same: I am facing and exploring the end of my ultimately finite swim in an infinity pool.  And I am finding the list of what I am willing to do about it is much smaller than what I am not.

Do you know how shocking it is to have that sentiment come out of my, fingertips?

Explanation by way of anecdote: I once ran myself through shin splits to a shin bone stress fracture, ran a marathon on the fracture, took not enough time off, and then came back and ran myself into a stress fracture in the hip on that same side.  Only then did I stop training and when I did, it was to walk with cane for three months.

Considering stopping full-stop while still being able to take a stroke demonstrates unprecedented sanity on my part.

Why that sanity?  Because I have very little left to prove athletically (and very little that I could prove in swimming) and only more to lose by pushing.  Through my many overindulgence-related injuries I have always stopped before I needed a knife to rectify the situation.  Time, maybe, and compression, but never a knife.  I have heard repeatedly that once a joint is opened for inspection and alteration, it is never the same, and while I don't need surgery right now, I don't need swimming enough, for itself or as a physical outlet, to ruin my shoulder worse than it is right now.  I am not - or more aptly, no longer - desperate enough to do anything to get back to it.  My priorities rearranged themselves when I wasn't looking.  How dare they.

It's taken me decades to get here, but it feels sensible and honest now that I am here.  It might be only the second time ever that I am not making an injury related decision out of fear of some kind. The first was this.

Right now I have a cortisone shot scheduled for this afternoon and I'm half expecting to go in there and balk.  The two biggest reasons propelling me into that exam room are not being pain-free in life and no significant improvement with rest (not just from swimming, from everything short of dressing myself and driving).  The shot will also allow me to swim again in the short-term, but if the pain comes back, I'm done.  Cortisone isn't a daily multi-vitamin.

But what if I just quit now?  What if I try swimming again for a while to see if the issue works itself out before I get the shot?

Like I said, exploring the end of an ultimately finite swim in an infinity pool.

What would be next?  Sports that don't require putting my arms above my head.  Ironically all of those sports use joints that I already know are destroyed, but as I told my parents, those joints have had their rest and now it's their turn to rotate back into action.

"How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard." 
- A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh

Monday, March 23, 2015

Welcome Your New Overlord

My new shirt expects your obeisance - and your soul while you're at it.

#winteriscoming #butsauronisalreadyhere
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