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Monthly Archives: October 2012

A Bad Case of the Runs – Part II

IMG_3853Recently I finished my very first marathon. It was a huge accomplishment for me, considering I retired from competitive running several years ago.

But rather than bore you with a bunch of details about how many miles I ran during my training (392) or with some philosophical treatise on the metaphorical journey of the marathon, I thought instead I’d bore you with some of the thoughts I was having that day.

For those of you who have never run a marathon before, this is as close as you can get to actually lacing up your running shoes.

You’ve been warned…

Inside the Brain of a Marathoner

[45 minutes before the start of the marathon]

Holy cow it’s cold out here! Maybe I should’ve worn underwear…

[20 minutes before]

Hey, Mr. Rock ‘n’ Roll Cover-Band Singer…We’re not all from Columbus. Enough with the Buckeye crap.

[5 minutes before]

‘THUNDERSTRUCK!’…Yes! Mental note: Gotta listen to more AC/DC.

[One minute before]

I can’t believe it’s finally here! I think I’m gonna cry. What an incredible mome…
Uh, oh…I wonder if I have time to hit the port-o-john?

[Marathon begins!]

YEAH! HERE WE GO!

[Actually crossing the starting line 3 mins. 45 sec. later]

YEAH! HERE WE GO!

[100 yards in]

This feels great! I can definitely do 26.2. No problem.

[200 yards in]

Oh, great…I have to pee already.

[Mile 1]

Should I stop to pee or…oh, I’ll just wait.

[Mile 3]

All right…I really have to pee now. Where the heck are the port-o-johns!?

[Mile 6]

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh! Much better.

[Mile 10]

I wonder how far ahead the Kenyans are by now?

[Mile 13]

Yeah! Half way there! This is going to be a piece of cake! 

[Mile 15]

Hmmph…Columbus is definitely hillier than I imagined. 

[Mile 17]

OK, starting to get a little tired now…stay focused…

[Mile 18]

Hey…was that Harold Ramis?!?

[Mile 20]

Heading into uncharted territory…stay focused…hope I don’t hit the wall…

[Mile 21]

Ugh…this must be the wall…

[Mile 22]

Oh, God…please don’t let me quit now…just four more miles…

[Mile 23]

Feeling better now…maybe that wasn’t the wall after all…stay strong…you got this…

[Mile 23.5]

Am I wearing cement shoes?…Whose legs are these?

[Mile 24]

Just walk for a little bit…It’s OK…you deserve it…go ahead…everyone’s doing it…take a little break…NO! SHUT UP! DON’T LISTEN TO THE VOICE! DON’T LISTEN TO THE VOICE!

[Mile 25]

Not gonna make it…not gonna make it…

[Mile 26]

Need water…Who am I?…Where am I?…Don’t fall down…don’t fall down…need water…

[0.2 miles to go…]

YES!…I’m gonna make it!…I’m gonna make it!

[0.1 miles to go…]

WHERE THE HELL IS THE FINISH LINE!?
0.2 miles, my ass!

[FINISH LINE!]

I DID IT! I DID IT! Thank you, God! I can’t believe I just ran a mara…
Y
ep…gonna fall down now…Where’s the medic?…No, wait, I’m OK…I’m OK…
Nope…passing out now…

 
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Posted by on October 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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An Open Letter to Future Me

Dear Future Me,

Future Me

Today Me

I hope all is well with you.

Things are just dandy here. But, of course, you already knew that.

I know you’re busy with book-signing tours, television interviews, and counting your piles of money, so I won’t take up too much of your time. But I wanted to talk to you about something…

Now that the kids are all grown up and the nest is empty, so to speak, you may be thinking wistfully of the past. You’ve probably even been longing for the days when the kids were much younger. After all, like you keep telling yourself, those were the best days of your life.

Heck, I bet you’ve even turned into one of those people who go around telling parents of young children how “It all goes so fast!” and to “Enjoy this time because, before you know it they’ll be all grown up.”

Since your then is my now, and since your memory has been clouded by years of drinking too much cheap Cabernet, let me clarify something about the past: It wasn’t as great as you remember.

Oh, don’t get me wrong, I love my (your) kids more than anything in the world, as we both know, and I think that they are so incredibly cute and fun at this age. Get this: They actually enjoy being around me, and they still think I know everything. Ha! Remember those days? Probably not. Again, the Cabernet.

But over the years your aging brain has played a trick on you. It has allowed you to forget just how mentally and physically exhausted you were during this time of your life. Believe me—you’re pooped.

Oh, com’on, you say, I wasn’t that tired.

Yes, Future Me. Yes you were.

Unless I’m at the office or asleep or asleep at the office, every second of my (your) life revolves around those little buggers. I’m constantly dressing them, undressing them, bathing them, feeding them, begging them to eat something—anything, putting them in Timeout every five seconds; picking toys off the floor in the living room, the dining room, the bathroom, the kitchen, the laundry room, the bedroom, the front yard, the back yard, the neighbor’s yard; packing a bag of toys to keep them busy at the restaurant, picking toys up off of the floor at the restaurant, cleaning up the mess on the floor at the restaurant, telling him not to eat that piece of food on the floor at the restaurant, buckling them into their car seats, taking them out of their car seats, telling her to stop teasing him, telling him to stop hitting her, brushing her hair, brushing his teeth, wiping their noses, wiping their…well, you know, reading them a book, reading them another book, putting them to bed, taking them out of bed to go to the potty, putting them back in bed, coming back upstairs to get them a drink of water…and so many other things that I can’t think of right now because, frankly, I’m just too tired.

And lest you forget, Future Me, your only real free time was after they finally went to bed. By that time you were so beat that it was a struggle just to stay up past 9 o’clock. And “free” is a misnomer, because you were actually trapped in the house until you left for work the next morning, when it all started over again.

But I bet you don’t remember any of that, do you? You only remember the really good parts, like playing tents or hide-and-seek in the living room, secretly listening to her play school with her stuffed animals, watching him play with your old Matchbox cars, giving them horsey rides around the living room, pushing him on the swing at the park, pretending to eat the pretend cake she made you in the sandbox, hearing them say “DADDY!” as they raced to hug you when you got home from work, holding hands with her as you skipped down the sidewalk, pushing him in his stroller as he pointed out the squirrels, hearing them laugh as you tickled them in their car seats, listening to them sing along to the radio in the back of the car, bouncing him on your shoulders as you walked up-street for ice cream, reading them bedtime stories as they clutched their blankies, holding him close before placing him in his crib for the night, kissing her goodnight as you tucked her in to bed…

You know what, Future Me? Maybe you’re right after all. This really is a wonderful time. Maybe the best.

Forget all that stuff I said about how hard things were. (Oh, that’s right…you already did.)

I’ll check back in when they’re teenagers. Hopefully we made it through alive.

Take care,

Past You

PS: College wasn’t that great either. (Yeah it was.)

 
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Posted by on October 17, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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Discovering My Voice

This one’s an oldie but a goodie…

Siamese Val

My Name is Val Brkich, and I Am A Circus Freak
(first published in 2004)

Well…I had my first speech therapy session this week, and I have some startling findings to share with you:

Apparently my fake voice – the low one that I use when I’m in a loud room or when I’m trying to sound manly – is actually my real voice. The voice I thought was my real voice is actually some fake voice that has been hi-jacking my vocal chords since right around puberty. What this means is that, from now on, I will have to speak in my real voice, which used to be my fake voice.

Confused?

According to my therapist, my high, scratchy, downright disturbing voice has actually been damaging my vocal chords, not to mention scaring away scores of attractive females during my high-school and college years. And if I don’t stop using my fake voice (which I thought was my real voice) at once, I will someday require surgery. How nice.

She also seemed strangely excited during my initial session, and added that she’s only read about cases like mine in text books.This revelation not only surprised me, it also made me feel like a freak in a circus sideshow. However, unlike the Bearded Lady or Jo-Jo the Dog-Faced Boy, my peculiarity has little or no marketing value.

For those of you who only know me from my writing, I have always had a scratchy voice. Actually, “scratchy” doesn’t really give it justice. It’s a weak, high-pitched, irritating, sounds-like-I’m-running-my-vocal-chords-on-a-cheese-grader voice. As long as I can remember, I’ve been greeted by people with the same five words: “What’s wrong with your voice?” Even my closest friends and relatives frequently ask me if I’m sick or if I’ve lost my voice. My voice is so high that when I call for pizza they always say: “And what would you like on that, ma’am?”

As hilarious as this may sound to you, it’s actually quite annoying to me. So annoying, in fact, that I decided to have my throat professionally examined.

First I visited an ear, nose, and throat specialist named Dr. Matt, who, after I explained my problem, informed me that the best way to examine my throat would be through a special type of camera that he would insert into my nose. After picking me up off the floor and reviving me, Dr. Matt tried to calm me by saying that the nose camera “actually sounds worse than it is.”

This was a lie.

After numbing my nose with some kind of nasal Novacaine, Dr. Matt then inserted a long, skinny tube into my left nostril and carefully navigated his way into my throat. I then made a series of disturbing noises and tried not to vomit while he examined my vocal chords.

After a few seconds, Dr. Matt removed the nose camera thingy and told me that “everything looked fine”. I was frustrated that I still didn’t have an answer, but I was also relieved to hear that the scratchiness of my voice wasn’t due to some tumor or, even worse, a small slimy amphibian.

As Dr. Matt wrote up my prescription, I began to notice that the nasal Novacaine was moving down through the roof of my mouth and into my upper lip and front teeth, rendering them completely numb. The good doctor informed me that the numbness was natural and “would wear off in 10 to 15 minutes”, which apparently in medical terms equates to 6 or 7 hours. After slurping my dinner through a straw that evening, I finally regained feeling in my front teeth around bedtime.

And this is how I found myself in speech therapy.

The good news is that, after a while, my voice should actually become clearer and stronger. The bad news is that, for the next several months, I will be freaking out my friends, relatives, and co-workers with my new masculine voice. This will be a challenge for my friends, many of whom have made lucrative careers out of ridiculing my scratchy effeminate voice.

It’s kind of sad really. Painful and humiliating as it may be, I think I’ll miss my ridiculously high, scratchy voice. It’s been a part of me for so long, and it will be difficult to let it go. No more singing along with Celine Dion in the shower; no more Axl Rose impersonations at karaoke night; no more hearing “What’s wrong with your voice?” on a daily basis.

(Oh, wait…that’s a good thing.)

So this is it, loyal readers: the last time you’ll read an article written by Valentine Brkich—the writer with the freakishly high, scratchy voice, who sounds like a woman. From now on, you’ll be reading articles written by the new and improved Valentine Brkich —the writer with the much lower, more masculine voice, who used to sound like a woman.

See you on the other side.

(PS: You probably didn’t notice, but I’m actually writing in my lower voice right now. Impressive, huh?)

 
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Posted by on October 9, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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