We Have Come to the Painful, Unmoving, Beaverless End

My Beloved Unwashed Public,

I’m writing to you from my probable death bed. This past weekend, I made the decision to try cross country skiing despite the fact that it was rumored to be the only activity more vigorous than running.

The day started off reasonably well; I questioned the girl renting Natalie* and myself the skis about her experiences.

The Great Unwashed “Has anyone ever laid down in front of your desk and perished from exhaustion after cross country skiing?”

Underpaid Youth Renting Me Equipment “Umm no?”

Strapping on our skis Natalie and I began the trail. We were quickly passed by a gentleman four decades our senior. We had only just begun the trail and already a part of me (my ego) was sore.

Then a little later on I saw this.DSC01372

“Look!” I cried “A beaver!

I paused and added more quietly “Was here.”

This led to a full minute of Natalie turning this way and that shouting “Where?! Where’s the beaver? I don’t see it.”

After that Natalie suggested that we rest for a moment. Although I no longer run marathons there’s a part of me which thinks “I can still move so I should”. When we stopped, I realized how sore my muscles were becoming and how badly I had needed the break. So I was really happy we had listened to Natalie rather than my marathon running voice. Multiple times along the trail Natalie suggested we stop for a breather. These breaks are likely the reason why I’m still with you and able to pen my last words at this moment.

After resting for a handful of minutes that first time, we soldiered on. It was around then when I noticed that even my knees were sweating. Uphill, then uphill again, perplexingly we continued uphill with no downhill in sight for many miles. Possibly eighteen. Two of my layers were soaked through with perspiration and a wet patch was becoming visible on the back of my jacket. Then we went downhill but only briefly.

At last, the end of the trail and the chalet came into view. Though Natalie and I were both exhausted beyond comprehension, we raced towards it. At the end of the trail, without speaking to one another, both of us removed our equipment and lay down face up in the snow. I felt my pulse in my face while my heart thudded almost violently in my chest, as I waited for the oft spoken of bright light to flood my vision. Once I realized I wasn’t imminently going to expire, I sat up, keenly aware of the squishing sounds that my wet clothing was making and my desire for water.

Then the horrible endurance athlete part of me spoke “Shall we do the trail again?” I asked Natalie. “I don’t want to at this moment” she replied. “Never under estimate the restorative powers of lunch” the marathon running, work horse voice in me added. Having decided that she too was not going to move towards the white light, Natalie sat up “Let’s go have lunch”.

The light reflecting off the snow filled our vision to begin with. Really it would have been only a short hop to blinding white light.

The light reflecting off the snow filled our vision to begin with. Really it would have been only a short hop to blinding white light.

For whatever reason, the evil marathon running voice that which had repeated “You aren’t dead yet – Keep moving!” all morning prevailed and Natalie and I skied the trail once more after lunch.

We spent the car ride home taking turns shaking each other out of unconsciousness. That evening I managed to stay up to the late hour of six o’clock, at which point I collapsed face down on the dining room carpet while en route to brush my teeth. Upon opening my eyes the next morning I thought “I don’t know if I can walk to the library” after sitting up I thought “I don’t know if I’m going to the library.”

Gradually over the course of the day my muscles have tightened and it’s becoming clear that this is the end. As you all are my faithful followers, I thought it best to leave you a note. My dear Unwashed public, let my demise be a lesson to you; when faced with the societal pressure to combat obesity and try a new activity, stay right where you are. Don’t move a muscle or you may end up like me, slowly stiffening into nothingness.

I leave you all my love but only half my dirt and grime (I’m taking the rest with me)

Sincerely,

The Great Unwashed

*Names have been changed even though the unnamed are likely near the end as well.

Lighting Fires In Public Places -The Student Ghetto Chronicles Part III

So another perk of living in the student ghetto along with the cast of Shakespearean inspired characters that grace our presence during the wee hours is the area around our home.

Needle and Junky Park boasts riverside picnicking, summer music festivals and countless people some with permanent residences and some without. It also has a needle drop box. The needles don’t always make it in.

This lush spot is one of my favourite places to run. It’s also the meth heads’ favourite place to run after me. As of yet I haven’t been caught.

So there I am running through the park, almost to the playground which marks the end of Needle and Junky Park and the beginning of Soccer Mompreneur Park when I spied a man carrying a GIANT branch. He also had with him a soiled grocery bag packed to the brim. Rather than being weary of him I concluded that he was an artist, hellbent on creating the perfect scene with just the right branch. However he was quite heavy and as a rule most starving artists are just that- starving and very skinny. With all of these factors indicating something else I clung to my hopeful idea; he was an artist there to create incredible and heartfelt images with nature.

And then he gave me crazy eyes as I passed him. So I picked up my pace a little bit and decided he was a crazy artist. I continued on my run for a while then turned around. I didn’t think of the man again until I saw the thick cloud of smoke next to the river on my way back. Next I saw the fire, and watched Crazy Eyes pick up more branches to add to it.

Now in school they educate people on things like “Don’t eat poison.” “Don’t talk to strangers.” “Don’t play in traffic.”

They never covered what to do if you see a man start and tend a fire in the middle of a public place. What made the whole situation worse was that no one else batted an eye.

I came up with two conclusions;

  1. Building fires in public parks is a normal and acceptable practice, my life has been incomplete up to this moment and I am probably a little unpatriotic for never having done this myself.

    Fire in Dumpster

    Fires; not just an ingredient for a romantic evening under the mantle.  (Photo credit: benwatts)

     

  2.  He made crazy eyes at the people around me and they were equally terrified and refused to pull out their cell phones to call the police in front of him.

Walking until there was a fair amount of space between me and the crazy eyed arsonist I phoned 911. Then immediately felt guilty because I had been taught never to call 911 unless it was an emergency and I still wasn’t sure this was an emergency.

“Hello, Emergency 911. Do you need police, fire or ambulance?” asked the operator.

I hadn’t thought I would need to make a decision that if it was an actual emergency the operator would be comforting me because I would be going into shock.

“Uhhhhhh police?” I said, thinking that the only thing needed was for a stern man in uniform to walk down to the park and say “Hey! Stop that!” At which point Crazy Eyes would cease tending the fire and dig through his soiled grocery bag for a bucket to gather river water in. Or possibly a fire extinguisher, for all I knew Crazy Eyes could have been an organized man who plans ahead.

“A man has built a fire in Needle and Junky Park.” I said into my phone as inconspicuously as I could.

“I’m transferring you to the fire department” said the 911 operator humorlessly.

What made the whole situation worse was that the fire department operator didn’t seem at all fazed by my story. “Is the fire out of control?” She asked.

“No” I said now thoroughly convinced that this was not in fact an emergency and may very well not even be illegal.

“Thanks ma’am we will try and send someone to check it out.”

The try in the last sentence before she hung up now has me questioning whether making campfires in public is something that people do.

I guess the only way to find out is to go get my own giant branch and light it aflame in the middle of the park.

 

 

 

This post is a part of the Student Ghetto Chronicles series. To read more about living in a place where items like pants are unnecessary click below.

Bongs, Dirty Laundry and Elmo

Midnight Thespians; profanity, moaning and sprinklers