Monday, February 11, 2008

Dispatches from the front

En route –

In keeping with my motto of seizing every opportunity for a workout, I stride through the airport, arms swinging, breathing deeply and athletically. Standing in the endless security line, I jog in place. The traveling public around me seems puzzled at this kind of exertion, but I ignore them: the traveling public is not an Ironchick. After firmly elbowing people aside so that I can get past them on the peoplemover, I notice that not one single person is taking the stairs as opposed to the escalator. 4 tiers of stairs while carrying my shoulder bag – no problem for the finely honed athlete I am.

(Gasping for breath on the 3rd landing)…….okay, what genius put so many fricking stairs in a damn AIRPORT?? What do they think, we’re a bunch of Olympians or something? Sheesh……*wheezing*……..

I had contemplated taking my Thighmaster with me on the plane, so that I could work out and thus listen to my iPod, but decided against it. Had I known that my plane would be designated the Squalling Infant Airlift, I would have reconsidered that decision. To distract myself from the tedium of being squashed onto a plane for 5 hours, I look around at my fellow passengers, all of whom would be useless in a “Lost”-like situation. Hmm, I wonder….why is it that the Lost plane went down with a veritable sea of hunky guys – Sawyer, Sayid, Jack et al – yet I see only pasty dumpy guys on MY plane?

I’m also intrigued by the couple across the aisle from me, who each buy the $5 snack box on the plane, but then also pull out 12-inch subs to devour. At 9AM. I find this all a bit odd. We’re not about to embark on a 12-week trek across the Gobi desert, so packing in food to bulk up the fat reserves seems a bit…unnecessary. Not to mention, where we’re going has normal food, unlike, say, Calcutta. Albeit it’s probably a bit overly healthy, being California and all. Maybe that’s the problem.

Day 1 –

I get directions from my brother to a place where he says there’s a path that makes for a nice run. Since I’ve arrived, it’s been raining. And cold. And windy. Of course.

I get to Andrew's tranquil little path……which is going up at about an 80-degree angle. Up into the mountains. I guess his directions should have tipped me off: Tujunga Canyon Road, Foothill Drive. I start off, popping a piece of gum for sustenance. Trudge….*gasp*…….needless to say, I stop trying to actually run up the damn hills. Holy shit. I seriously hope the IMMOO run course at least is flat. Please?

I bend over to sniff a flower. Is it poisonous? Who cares! Yep, that’s me - ‘danger’ is my middle name. I try to remember what I’ve recently read about scaring away mountain lions….I think one is supposed to whistle nonchalantly and wander away from a mountain lion, compared to bears, which one is supposed to stare down. Or maybe it’s the other way around. Boy, I wish I could remember which was which.

I suddenly realize that I’m far enough into the hills that I can no longer see the highway, and am just surrounded by trees, hills, the mountains, with a haze of clouds hanging over it all. Very much like Costa Rica, which I consider one of the most beautiful places on earth. Sunlight, I decide, is highly overrated. I turn off my iPod so that I can listen to the occasional peep of the birds, the rustle of the wind, my feet hitting the ground. If I listen carefully, I think I can hear the sound of my own heart beating………no, wait, those are just the Tic-Tacs in my pocket. Never mind.

As I struggle up yet another mountainside, my poor little heart about to explode, I realize the sad truth: my brother is trying to kill me. Et tu, Andrew, et tu?

Day 2 –

I set out again on a different path – and not learning my lesson the first time around apparently, I get directions from my brother, again. Seems straightforward, follow zigzagging streets until I get to the national forest. Piece of cake. Besides, how lost can I possibly get?

(2 hours later)

Hillrose St. Sevenhills Rd. Mountair Place. Hillirise Ave. Monster Fucking Hill Way. Okay, I made that last one up – not the others though. I’m lost in maze-of-streets hell, all of which loop around endlessly, and all go uphill. Of course. I also keep winding up back at Tujunga Canyon Road, which makes me think evil forces are at work.

I turn down a street, see the maillady, and think hey, I saw her earlier! This must be the way back! Umm, sure. Because a) there’s only one mailwoman in this town, and b) they deliver the mail by standing in place or moving verrrrry slowly. Yeah. Right. Say, are those turkey vultures circling up ahead?

As I’m trudging on, I suddenly come across Buddhist prayer flags hanging from a line strung up across a driveway, and also entwined around the line is the most beautiful climbing rose vine I’ve ever seen. It goes from the line to a brick wall along the edge of the property, with branches tumbling over and cascading every which way, each one with a riotous bloom of small yellow rose-like flowers. Gorgeous. That alone makes being hopelessly lost worth it.

Of course, this illustrates my big problem (well, one of) with triathlons: I get a bit too easily distracted. There I’ll be, biking or running along – oh look, a butterfly! hey, a black squirrel! – and poof, it goes to hell in a handbasket. In the past, I’ve contemplated getting off the bike to collect seeds from especially pretty flowers. I once slowed down on the run to ask some sweet elderly couple what kind of tomatoes they were growing in their well-tended garden plot. This only seems crazy in retrospect. Well, no, it seemed nuts at the time too, yet with a certain Tasha logic. As I always say, madness takes its toll: please have exact change.

(still lost) I trudge along on feet of lead, every step kicking up choking clouds of dust, with all my worldly possessions strapped to my back. My food supply is running low: I am down to my last 2 pieces of sugarless gum. The serious rationing has begun, as I furtively glance around the barren windswept land, looking for any equally dusty travelers who might attempt to steal my meager supply. I……oh, wait, I was channeling Tom Joad there. Actually, while I do have only 2 pieces of gum left, I’m in some perfectly normal neighborhoods, even though all the streets spiral into some black sucking vortex of lostdom. Besides, if I get desperate, it’s a good thing I always take my cell phone with m…………oops. Better keep walking.

(an emergency dispatch comes in over the wire)

Stardate 2007.323

This may be my last communication. The situation is grim. I seem to be alone on the Enterprise Alcatraz, and I now fear the worst – that we have lost Ensign Kevin to the powers of The Borg. I suspected something had gone terribly wrong, when during my reconnaissance mission to the Western Galaxy, I received only limited response to my communications. I now see that Ensign Kevin has also been assimilated, and has degenerated to speaking only in transitive equations, as per the last sentence of his final posting.

I have barricaded myself in the Exercise Pod, where none of them will ever think to look for me. The boxes of Lemonheads provide a natural cover, one that The Borg will instinctively cower from. I had also had the foresight to hide many packets of Gu at the other end of the starship, as a decoy, and I am certain that will have the former members of the crew fighting like rabid dogs, thus distracting them from their search. In the meantime, I await rescue while fortifying myself with my stash of beer and brats. My last hope lies in the return of Ensigns Max and Annette. But, perhaps, resistance is futil.......

(transmission abruptly ends)

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