Thursday, June 26, 2008

Heart, Lungs, Legs

Flipping through the internet news the other day, I saw that a famous singer in her mid-20s, Amy Winehouse, has emphysema. Emphysema is, to paraphrase my Nana, something you wouldn't wish on a dead dog you didn't like. It's sad to think of.

I rode out County C this morning. County C has a hill that's about a mile long (yes, I've checked it on my bike computer), not very steep, but a good workout for me. In Tour de France category terms, it's somewhere along the lines of "bunny slope," but I'm not riding the TdF, and it's a good hill for me. Getting back into riding since coming home, I haven't ridden many hills yet, and I wasn't sure I could make it. But I inched my way up; it's a good thing the hill is right at the beginning of where County C leaves town.

County C, I figure, makes sure that my heart, lungs, and legs are all doing their job. They were, such as it is. I figure I lost at least a mile/hour of speed when I started back this June compared to last summer, but I'm picking it up slowly.

I wonder at the luck that's kept me out of having some problems. Let's face it, no one with half a brain offers a Shakespeare person crack coke to smoke thinking they're going to make millions on future sales; it's not like I could afford the habit, you know? Nor does anyone want to "get close" to my fame and fortune. So it's not necessarily good judgment or wisdom that's kept me from that particular hell. Trust me; I haven't always been a paragon of good clean living. But I've been lucky with the things I've done or not in a lot of ways.

When I was in the Peace Corps, my roommate (who was interested in local shamanism) somehow acquired some ayahuasca, a plant used by local folks in spiritual contexts to run with the jaguars. I remember us looking at it, and deciding not to try it because we didn't know what the heck we were doing. So we didn't. We put the root in a cupboard, and there it sat until I left. (Nowadays, we could look up a recipe on the internet! Too late!)

I did know a volunteer who ran with the jaguars, though, and had a good experience; he had a shaman guide, his father-in-law to be.

But I didn't. I was too afraid to try something I didn't "know" at least somewhat culturally. (Yeah, so if I were the last human alive on earth, I probably wouldn't find the magic herb to solve all problems.)

Fear can be a good thing, I guess. On the other hand, I hit 35+ mph going down that hill today, and it didn't kick in, so I better not count on it too much. (For comparison sake, the TdF guys hit 70+ going down hills, I've read. 35 is probably what they do on uphills.)

I went 25 miles today, and I'm nice and tired.


  1. I hear you on the whole "not going to test something weird in my body" viewpoint. I'd rather bike with the kid than run with Winehouse OR the jaguars.

    That said, congratulations on such a good run with your bike. 25 miles? That's awesome! Yesterday's measly 4k seems pretty pale by comparison (but not so bad for my first bike ride in 28 years?).

  2. The most brilliant people I knew are heavy drug users. Though they swear by Rabelais, not Shakespeare. Perhaps that's why...

  3. Janice, Oh, I'd have loved to run with the jaguars, but it's a very gendered thing, too... and I wasn't going to do it alone.

    Great on you for getting back on your bike :)

    Liz, I know some drug users of various sorts who think they're brilliant, but their brilliance is inversely proportional to my intoxication level, alas. The most brilliant folks I've known (maybe two? three?) are too busy doing their thing(s) to do a lot of drugs, so far as I could see.

    Of course, there's the romantic notion of the individual tortured genius, but the most brilliant folks I've known weren't tortured; they seemed too into things to be tortured.