Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Shake It Off

I hated being a gymnast in almost every single way -- the constant dieting, the demanding practices, my wicked coach who hated her husband and took it out on us, rips on my hands, bleeding all the time. I wasn't very good at it -- everything was effort, no natural talent. The gym, hotter than five billy hells in the summer, cold in the winter, shitty equipment, tedious practices. The water in the fountain that tasted like copper. Nothing if not a masochist, I stuck with it a long time, not because my parents wanted me to (they couldn't really afford it and didn't see the point of it), not because my friends were in it (all of them were way too smart to spend their time in such agonies), and not because I thought I would win anything. My biggest victory was a second place ribbon at the state meet -- hardly a victory given that I had done the mandatory exercise about a thousand times and would have had to have been damn near crippled not to win something eventually given all the effort I exerted.

Suck it up and shake it off were my coaches favorite sayings. Don't be a fucking crybaby also figured a lot in her speech. It was old school -- not the pansy sports training I see now, telling kids how great they are every single time they manage not to fall on their asses. My old coach is a relic now of bygone days when nobody was afraid of getting sued for telling the truth. By the time I stopped competing, I had internalized a lot of what she had said. You take a fall; you shake it off. If the rips in your hands open up, they'll heal. The skin will be tougher than before, so much so that you won't feel anything eventually.

Michelle's Spell of the Day
"Sometimes people call me a success for all the reasons that make me think I'm a failure." William Hurt

Cocktail Hour
Drinking short story collection suggestion: Faithless Joyce Carol Oates

Benedictions and Maledictions
Happy Tuesday!


AliEnaRTe said...


Pythia3 said...

Oh yeah! I know the suffering in the name of suffering so well, Michelle. Maybe we thought we'd get first prize ribbons for masochism? For pain endurance. For proving we could do it regardless of the impossible odds. I was all about suffering in the name of some sort of redemption that I never understood. And by which I was never redeemed.
I remember when I was young and my Nana told me what a good Catholic JFK was and that it was said he secretly wore a mohair vest under his clothing to pick at him and remind him of Christ's suffering on the cross. In that moment I knew I had not suffered enough.
Well, I have learned a lot since then. But that need to suffer, to feel pain in order to feel life, still creeps in and infects my decisions.
When things are going too easily, effortlessly and smoothly, I still cautiously look behind my shoulder for the demon that must be following and laughing and dangling the shoe by its tattered lace.

Knute Rockne, All-American said...

You represented your university and the state of Michigan very well, coach Lloyd Carr. I wish you well.

Emperor Ropi said...

I hate the gym as well. I work out with Hamburgers and laying.

Oscar Winner said...

William Hurt is superb in an outstanding cast that includes David Ogden Stiers, Kathleen Turner and Geena Davis in a film from 1988, the Oscar-winning "The Accidental Tourist."

Brian in Mpls said...

I just started singing a Mariah Carey song.

Mariah Carey said...

I will love again.

Sheila said...

I always wanted to be a gymnist. However that would have taken too much time from my social life and if anyone tried to put me on a diet I'd probably have to kill them. haha I guess it's a good thing I wasn't one huh? Have a great Thanksgiving!

paul said...


Charles Gramlich said...

Definetely a little pansification going on in kid's school PE these days.

the walking man said...

"so much so that you won't feel anything eventually."

Getting there


Cardinal Spellman said...

On behalf of all the Detroit clergy,Michelle, have a blessed Thanksgiving. Your blog is a blessing to us all. God bless you and, as they say, ;O).

Cheri said...

JCO just keeps pumping out those books, too. She's old school like your instructor was.

Have a good Thanksgiving and I'm working on my newest post now!