Nature’s little air conditioner
I had a great conversation yesterday – no, check that – great conversations (as in, plural) yesterday about a topic that doesn’t see the light of day enough: sweat. Sweat, the perfectly natural reaction the human body creates to stabilize temperature during workouts, highly stressful situations, and apparently standing completely still in a crowded subway train, is all too often demonized in our culture, looked down upon as some sort of societal ill. Is this attitude towards “nature’s little air conditioner” a modern concoction of leftist elites in Hollywood, or does this misplaced hate have deeper historical roots? All of this would have been great fodder for a blog entry, but alas, the trail of information has hit a dead end. After trying multiple times to discuss the issue of how ancient cultures handled sweat with representatives from the Field Museum, it seems as if historians have ignored this miracle of the human body in favor of studying sexuality in the 17th and 18th centuries (yep, totally one of my profs in college).
Regardless of the blind eye so-called historians have turned to sweat, several friends and acquaintances and I have taken up the cause of creating dialogue and openness to this perfectly natural bodily function. I think it all started when comedian and TV funnyman Kevin James, hero to plus-sized men everywhere, created one of the modern classics, Kevin James:Sweat the Small Stuff. Overnight, it became acceptable for sweat to be openly mentioned in public. Those of us standing in the shadows with stained white t-shirts and Birkenstocks that have brought people to tears could rejoin society in every season and climate. Kevin James is the Rosa Parks of copious sweaters everywhere.
This short history came to a small climax yesterday afternoon where sweat seemed to be on the tip of all of our tongues. No one could escape as the heat cascaded upon us like a tsunami, equalizing us all in a pool of goo. Oh we tried to escape the inevitable with steady hydration and oscillating fans, but in the end I think the water just kept the reservoir our skin draws from full, and the fans only seemed to antagonize our bodies, strengthening the will of our 2.6 million sweat glands. Making matters worse, this fateful day was picked to move a member of our close knit group, allowing each of those 2.6 million sweat glands to be productive in record levels. Sheepishly, we each tried to hide it at first, glancing nervously about each time we had to raise our arms or brush up against someone, but that shame quickly wore off as we all realized that we were not alone in our experience. In fact, the bodily function soon became a rallying cry, allowing us to celebrate the miracle that keeps our bodies from overheating like an Xbox 360 sitting on a laptop with a broken CPU fan. Take THAT, technology!
Dreaming of tomorrow
This has definitely been an interesting week. I spent the weekend back in the land of Conn’s potato chips catching up with great friends and of course getting all dressed up for the Joel and Jen wedding extravaganza. I’ve been out to the farm several times, but this time was definitely a unique trip. Jen’s family has been working for months to prepare this beautiful spot in the woods for the wedding, and their hours of sweat definitely paid off. Even the rain couldn’t damper the event (even though it did ruin our early morning ultimate frisbee game!).
I knew that this trip home was going to be an emotional one, but thankfully I had some amazing friends to keep me company. I found out that it wasn’t my dad that was with Maggie when she was put to sleep; it was my brother – the little guy definitely stepped up. I kept waking up expecting to find her passed out in the living room, but my sister’s ugly cats provided a little bit of entertainment to keep my mind off of things. Seriously – these cats are ugly.
I kept thinking all weekend that if it wasn’t for a series of events that were completely in my control a couple of years ago, I wouldn’t have been home and the wedding wouldn’t be happening. Three lives were completely changed because of decisions I made, and there was a lot of hurt and distrust that could still be felt in the awkward moments this past weekend. Thankfully, God is bigger than me. Joel and Jen are currently enjoying the beauty of the Dominican Republic (and all things involved with a honeymoon and starting life together) and I couldn’t be happier for them. I feel like the people that matter in this whole situation have all moved on, and we’ve all grown and learned from the situation. I’m really looking forward to the day where our friendships have completely healed and reconciled and I have no doubt that this is in all our futures.
Seeing Becky, Corey, Geoff, and Becca was, of course, more joyful than I can put into words. I wanted to wrap them all up and stuff them in my carry-on lugage and haul them back to Chicago with me. I would have tried to bring Jen and Joel, but things would have been tight in my pack and they have better things to be doing right now. Joel – do you hear that? If you are reading my blog right now, you have BETTER THINGS TO DO.
I think the only downside to the weekend was the lack of time with the family. They made it home on Friday night but I was out of the house and didn’t really see them until I was packing up to leave on Sunday. I think I’m going to have to make another trip home soon. Leaving them in the airport was tougher than it has been in a while, and I think it was because of the lack of time together. Jimmy Carter wrote this amazing book of short stories called Sharing Good Times, and he spent most of it relishing the importance of spending time with your family. My Aunt Mosey gave it to me as a Christmas gift a couple of years ago and I think she knew exactly what she was doing when she picked it out. There are so few opportunities for what I am trying to do in SE Ohio, but it is tough being so far from the people most important to me. I think at least my mom and grandma will be visiting before the end of summer – maybe I’ll get lucky and the whole fam will make it up.
Other than that, I haven’t really reconnected with a lot of people since making it back on Sunday. My roommate and I have seen each other for maybe a half hour total, and everyone else is caught up in trying to stay cool. I did get to see Nate who gave me his old bike! YAHTZEE!
I also managed to sign up for myspace and buy an Xbox 360 at some point. I’ve made a promise to myself to commit the same amount of time to the bike as I do to the 360. We’ll see how long that lasts…
Find me another girl who gets so excited to see me, she tinkles a little…
The summer after my freshman year in high school, a week before I left for my first summer of CYF Camp, the family loaded into the van and drove to the Stalters’ to look at a litter of puppies we had been told about.Â The Stalter family owned a purebred cocker spaniel that had managed to get knocked up, and they were looking for families to unload some of the illegitimate mutts on.Â There was no way to tell what kind of dog the father was due to the wide range of puppies we found, but we eventually decided on a black and brown puppy that looked like it could have been part beagle.Â We weren’t able to take her home yet, but the sadness of leaving my first summer of CYF Camp was quickly soothed by the fact that I would finally get to see our new addition to the family.
We finally agreed that Maggie would be a good name for our new puppy, and we all fell in love.Â For the most part, she was kept in the laundry room, which would help with the potty training due to the laminate floor.Â As she became house trained, she was allowed a little more freedom, even spending the night in my bedroom.Â Maggie and I grew pretty attached, and she spent most of my high school years snuggling up against me every night.Â When I went away to college, my mom would often tell me about how she would spend a lot of nights cuddling up with Maggie and crying.Â When I would come home, I always knew that I would be greeted by Maggie and most likely the excitement would be too much for her.Â My family quickly realized that they would have to let her out of the house to prevent stains on the carpet when I came home.
Even in the past couple of years as old age and arthritis began to set in, Maggie would still be there to greet me when I came home.Â I almost feel like she was putting up a front for me, trying to keep her pain hidden.Â At some point, she developed a growth on her neck that the vet claimed was just a harmless fatty tumor.Â Just looking at her and listening to her breathe, you could tell her body was failing her.Â The last time I was home, she snuggled herself up against me and I knew that it was going to be one of the last moments I spent with her.
Maggie became a very protective dog, barking like crazy whenever people would visit; I think it was the cocker spaniel in her.Â My friend Glen would come over and bark back, something that eventually won Maggie over as well.Â Her protectiveness soared to new heights the times I had a girl visit, with very few winning Maggie’s friendship.Â The friendship could be bought at a cheap cost though, as long as you were willing to give up your pizza crust or a few Fruit Loops.Â I know you’re not supposed to give dogs table scraps, but how could you resist those big brown eyes?
There was the time that we decided that we would take her out to my grandparents’ farm to see if she really did have enough beagle in her to go rabbit hunting.Â She disapeared after the first shot and the rest of the morning was spent hunting for Maggie.Â We thought she was gone, until my dad found her huddled in a thick stack of thorns.Â Anytime hunters fired a gun in the woods behind our house, Maggie would find some place to hide, usually under the bed in my room.Â A couple of years ago she was outside when a couple of hunters spooked her.Â She disappeared for almost a week, showing up at the front door covered in dirt one morning, which gave my mom a chance to call me and wake me up with some great news.
There are so many more memories, all of which are just a little too much to handle right now.Â It’s completely amazing to me how close we can attach ourselves to our pets.Â I’m flying back to Ohio on Thursday for a wedding, and I know that when I walk through the door, there won’t be a panting, peeing dog to greet me.Â I won’t hear her bark when I pull in the front drive, and I won’t get a chance to rub her belly when I leave on Sunday.Â If I decide to chip golf balls in the field, I know I won’t have a lazy dog following me around.Â My dad told me that a different vet said it was the growth on her neck that did eventually lead to the decision to have her put to sleep.Â I keep thinking of her laying on the vet’s table, with my dad there, helping to keep her calm and see her off, and that’s when my eyes start to well up.Â I know I’m being selfish, but if she could have waited just one more week, I could have been there too.Â She was in so much pain, I keep telling myself, it’s better that they did the procedure when they did, but I need to stop thinking about it right now.
Anyway, she may not have been the most beautiful dog in the world, but we loved her.
Milk was a bad choice…
Somehow I’ve managed to live through the past couple of days, seriously surprising myself and the medical community. I thought surely I would melt away at some point during the night, only waking up to the sound of my alarm and noticing that my limbs were still fully functioning. Walking to the bus stop this morning reminded me very quickly why I like the fall. I really dislike showing up at work looking like I just ran a marathon in record time. Today it was even worse than usual, with most people walking through downtown Chicago looking like we all just walked off of the bridge in front of Snake River Falls at Cedar Point.
Thankfully, President Reagan had the guts to stand up to the world and claim the month of July as National Ice Cream Month. In what could probably be seen as the single most important decision a sitting POTUS has made since Jimmy Carter declared the “double popped collar” the official uniform of wannabes everywhere, Reagan faced down the growing Communist movement by celebrating that cool, creamy treat that would later be perfected by a couple of guys in Vermont who had the crazy idea to use all-natural ingredients and hormone-free cows. They also had this crazy idea that chocolate chips and cookie dough might go well with ice cream. These visionaries should probably be placed in the most important positions we have in our society (Federal Reserve chair, Speaker of the House, office supplies orderer, etc.).
And the good and faithful public servant, former actor, and Gorbachev taunter, Mr. Reagan, took it one more step when he declared the third Sunday of every July to be National Ice Cream Day. I dare you to try to find another proclamation as important as this! I celebrated by having an espresso milkshake at the Earwax Cafe with Erin, EB, and Chucky, and I believe I will continue the celebration tonight with a couple of bites from the pint of B&J Oatmeal Cookie Chunk that is currently waiting patiently in my freezer. It will of course be a challenge to get more than 2 bites in before the heat causes the ice cream to completely melt and possibly begin to boil.
boring ol’ updates
So first and foremost… Sufjan is coming to Chicago in September… nothing else really matters.
But, in other news, I did officially move into my new place with Allan.Â Living with that crazy South African will be a trip, but with our powers combined, we may eventually create serious change.Â We’re still tossing around major world issues we may take on, but right now it’s a close race between extreme hunger and crappy landlords who make verbal commitments and then don’t follow through.Â That’s right, Howard… we’re coming for you.
Everything else has been crazy busy because of the moving process.Â A little tip for all of you out there who may possibly move in the future… don’t ever try to double or triple up on a truck and move with 2 or 3 other people in one night.Â It doesn’t work, and then they blame you for the next two weeks for their own lack of packing skills.Â Freaking women.
The new neighborhood is interesting.Â Evangeline lives across the street and has already demonstrated her worth by making me a sandwich on homemade bread.Â I think I can get used to a Suzy Homemaker living across the street.Â Now to get her working on my laundry…
We just had cable installed, but our living room is just awkward in its setup, so nobody can really enjoy it right now.Â Plus, BBC is apparently not part of the cable package.Â What the crap is that?Â Someone needs to call Comcast and let them know that this type of aggression will not stand, and I think I know just the person to make that call.
A couple of things I love about Chicago – Ravinia outdoor concerts with picnics; watching fireworks on a boat on Lake Michigan (suckas!); nice bus drivers who wait when they see me running to catch them at 8:30 in the morning; the fact that even though my jeep is down and out I can still get wherever I need to go; and Pizza Metro.
Something I don’t like – having my computer chair right in front of the freaking air conditioner.Â That needs to change quick.
Within the past year or so, I’ve noticed that I’ve actually started to enjoy watching soccer.Â Growing up in an area where soccer was that sport where wimpy foreigners can’t use their hands, I never had a chance to understand the strategy.Â I knew the basics because of gym class – there were a couple of goals at opposite ends of a field and the slowest guy usually ended up playing goalie (read: me).Â We didn’t have nets in gym class, so the goal was represented by two orange cones and some imaginary cross bar that would arbitrarily move based upon how the gym teacher was feeling that day.Â Soccer was kept at about a 2-class maximum, giving very little opportunity to actually understand it, and most of the time it just turned into kickball anyway.Â Our entire class struggled with the concept of playing a sport without the use of hands, and I think it was that frustration combined with a lack of understanding and a continual defeat of US teams in international play that led to the death and mocking of soccer in rural, southeast Ohio.
My avoidance of soccer has definitely come to an end with this year’s World Cup, which has given me the opportunity to begin the education process of understanding the sport.Â I can tell you what stoppage or injury time is, and I know that 45 minutes is a long time to wait to grab a snack or take a bathroom break.Â I can also tell you that actually stepping away from the TV to grab a snack or hit the can somehow increases the possibility of a goal by about 150%.Â This is infuriating in any sport, but in soccer where there are very few goals scored, missing a goal and the crazy celebrations that follow is like pouring salt in a wound.Â I can also tell you that any sport that requires you to run non-stop for 45 minutes and could result at any second in an elbow to the face or a shattered knee from a bad slide tackle has my respect, regardless of the lack of hand use.
I think the reason the US has not embraced the sport is because we have not been told that we should.Â Look at the major sports like baseball, basketball and football – we are told continually that we should “love this game,” and all of that, but why?Â It’s pretty simple, really.Â More Americans tune in and drive up ad revenue for the leagues.Â Thanks to the time between innings and television timeouts in professional and college football and basketball, we get breaks to hear about the newest line of automobiles and infused sodas on the market.Â In soccer, a sport where there is no break for 50 minutes straight, there are very few chances to advertise a product, meaning minimal revenue for the television station.Â Unless television stations can find effective ways to advertise products during soccer matches, good luck trying to find a push to popularize the sport similar to the NFL, MLB, and NBA.Â Nike had some pretty cool commercials this year that were focused on the US team, but they were still lacking compared to the larger pushes seen in other major sports.
It will definitely be interesting to watch, though, as the surge in soccer popularity begins to reach different demographics.Â Youth soccer programs are no longer restricted to upscale communities and school districts.Â The stigma of soccer as a weaker sport is quickly being chipped away as more communities embrace it and become part of the world-wide fan base.Â I very seriously doubt that soccer will compete at any level in my hometown, but in many similar communities there are already big changes on multiple levels of athletic participation as soccer competes with football for some of the top male athletes.
My knowledge of soccer is still very limited, admittedly.Â I could not name off most of the positions, much less figure out what each of them do.Â Also, besides the World Cup, I’m not sure I could keep the teams straight.Â I know there are big professional clubs in Europe, as well as the MLS here in the States, but that is about it.Â I’ve seen the bright yellow seats at the Columbus Crew stadium, as well as the new stadium for the Chicago Fire, but I have no idea what the names are of the other teams that make up MLS.Â I will say, watching a bicycle kick connect for a goal is pretty dang cool (if that link doesn’t work, just go to the Chicago Fire’s website and click the highlight link).Â As for the US team, I think it is the competition for top athletes at younger levels that will continue to keep the US national teams weak.Â With the explosion of youth soccer programs, soccer will continue to see improvements, but there is always going to be a glass ceiling preventing the US from reaching the same level as a team like Brazil or Italy.
So there it is, that’s my soccer confessional, with a few theories on the barriers of full US support thrown in for fun.Â I will, of course, try to put up a front around my much more knowledgeable friends, especially those from across the globe who grew up watching and playing soccer.Â I’ve learned I sound much smarter when I keep my mouth shut when watching a soccer match and just nod and grunt when everyone else does.
Side note: I think everyone in my office is hacking and coughing and wheezing today.Â So help me, if this is the start of some sort of epidemic, I’m gonna be ticked.