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Worldwide Ace » Shaming Myself Through Others

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Shaming Myself Through Others

31 March, 2009 (15:48) | Social Commentary

running-feet

The beeping of my alarm is loud enough to be heard in the living room. If my grandfather is awake, as he usually is, he knows what that means.

My computer screen flickers on as soon as I’m able to roll out of bed. It’s not to check email or read the latest news on Slashdot or Shacknews or Daily Source. It’s to check the weather. The weather is the first factor in whether or not I jog.

SIDE NOTE: What I hate about the weather is how localized the readings are. Weather.com usually shows Littleton as being 10 degrees colder than the thermometer outside the house. It also often says it’s snowing or raining when it’s not. Maybe they have their reading device sitting under a sprinkler or faucet. To get weather in Boulder, it gives me readings from Broomfield. That’s not even in the Boulder Valley! At least they could take data from NOAA, since that’s actually in Boulder.

If the weather’s ok, I’ll just wear shorts and T-shirt. I toss a hoodie on if it’s chilly. If it’s outright cold, I slide on long underwear beneath my shorts, slap a pair of gloves on, and pull up the hood on my hoodie.

“I’m going for a run,” I tell my grandfather as I pause to put on my shoes in the entryway. “I’ll be back.”

“Ok,” he says, turning back to his newspaper.

A few moments of stretching on the front porch, acclimating to the weather, and then I’m off, almost invariably too fast to pace myself. By the time I reach the school, I’m breathing hard and telling myself to keep going so it’ll be over sooner. At the top of the little hill, I pause to walk for the first time, catching my breath. If there are people in the park, I keep jogging until I’m out of sight.

The street on the other side is always empty save for the occasional passing car. I pick it up and run when I reach the giant tree or when a car comes, whichever is first. If there are kids at the bus stop, my pace speeds up, which is never a good thing. I slow down and walk after crossing the driveway cut across.

Back on the greenbelt, I watch for the graffiti on the path. When it appears, it’s time to sprint the last section. By 50 yards or so, I know I’m slowing down despite pushing myself. I’m still out of breath by the time I come back in the door.

My grandfather is still in his chair, newspaper in hand. He doesn’t greet me unless I say hello. Either way, I head straight to my room and either do push ups while checking all the sites I skipped before jogging or hop straight in the shower. It’s my morning routine.

I despise jogging. Anytime I can make an excuse of the weather not to go, I do. If it’s colder than freezing, there’s a 50/50 chance I’ll blow it off and just do indoor exercises. If it feels colder than 15 degrees, there’s a 95 percent chance I won’t be jogging. Rain, snow, heavy winds; all reasons not to go jogging.

It’s not like I jog that far. Maybe a mile and half to two miles tops. It’s enough to get my heart rate going and wake me up. When I’m up in Boulder, though, I jog a lot less often if at all and I know why.

I simply don’t have the desire or impetus.

He may not care, but trying to please my grandfather is one of the reasons I jog. It makes me feel more productive. It makes me seem more productive. I search for jobs. I read. I write. But these aren’t things that can be measured by others as productive. They have no visual component until they’re done. I’m sure he’s judging me every day even if he doesn’t come out and say it.

Most of the time, I hate exercising in view of others. If it’s not a sport I feel like I’m flailing about and looking like a fool without purpose. I tense up when people can see me; I get self-conscious and nervous. It’s the same thing with dancing. I’m not an elegant gazelle. I’m not graceful or pretty when I move. I’m large and lumbering. Passing other joggers or people walking their dog makes me very aware of every giblet of fat wriggling as my feet pound pavement.

The two opposing situations are strange for me. Both are reactions to being judged, whether or not it’s actually happening. But each one leads in the opposite direction.

Living with Ironman was occasionally grating. The man was incessant with his critiques of my life and name calling. I never took offense because none was ever intended. Instead, I used his words as motivation to keep working and to stay on top of the things that needed to get done.

Sometimes it was as simple as cleaning the kitchen or making sure I worked on a paper. Other times his critiques would get me to hop on my bike and head to a friends for some social time. Every once in a while, he’d actually drag me outside for softball or Frisbee or basketball. It was something I didn’t really appreciate until I was gone.

Ironman didn’t always get through to me. I definitely blew him off more than once. I guess that was the downside to how vocal he was. His judgments were so regular, they never held the same weight my grandfather’s silence does.

On Thursday, I’ll complete my move out of my grandfather’s house and back to Boulder. There, I’ll have two new roommates able to watch my every move. I can only hope their presence will offer the same encouragement that my grandfather has.

In this discouraging state, I need all the silent, pyschological pressure I can get.

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