Monday, May 25, 2009

A Loathsome Device (#3)

I practiced on Saturday.

I practice every day now. Whether I want to or not is completely irrelevant. Nobody cares, including me. I just go practice.

On Saturday, I went to the Basketball Court Fence Of Despair and started working. In short order, I realized that I'd forgotten my wrist gloves. I'd parked quite a ways away from the court, because there was an AAU track meet at the high school, and I just decided to go without gloves.

It's not like I'm going to fall and break my wrist, right?

As I rode and frequently grabbed the chain link fence, I felt my hand getting jabbed every so often. I still didn't go get my gloves, but resolved to touch the fence less, although "resolve" is no substitute for "actual skill."

I'd totally forgotten that chain link fences have little metal burrs every so often, and the burrs are sharp.

[in lieu of car crash scene, temporarily switch to active tense for dramatic effect]

It's hellishly hot, I'm sweating profusely, it sucks, and then I look at my hands. They're bloody. I've got cuts all over my hands from where I grabbed the fence. At that moment, I realize that I'm only two thousand extras away from making a Mel Gibson skateboarding movie.

I went back on Sunday, with my hands still hurting like hell. I rode twenty-one feet three times. I rode that far once on Friday, which was the first time I'd ever gone that far. In another two weeks or so of daily practice, this will be over, and I'll be riding fifty feet with no problem.

I'm just not looking forward to the next two weeks.


Today, I went to the high school and it was stinking hot. There were kids on the basketball court, so I couldn't use the fence. The tennis courts were locked up. The only place I could take off from was a little section of fence right next to this giant bag of garbage. It had split open, it stunk, and it was five feet away from me.


I was mad about all that, at first, and then I was riding horribly and I got madder. I was tired of practicing. I thought up an abusive name for the unicycle. I was dropping f-bombs about every twenty seconds.

Finally, I got so mad that "mad" was no longer an appropriate word. It was a mutation of mad into a whole new kind of anger.

This was a good thing.

Seriously, it was. Do you know how there are certain points in certain games that just make you want to scream? It's either unfair or so precise that it's almost impossible to get past, and after failing dozens of times, you either quit the game in disgust or decide that it's on.

Many times, you'll quit. Sometimes, though, it's on. And when it's on, your whole approach changes. You don't care how long it takes. You don't care if it's unfair. All you care about is getting past the level. And your anger is like fuel that keeps you going.

Well, at that moment when being mad mutated into something else, I realized it was on. Actually, it wasn't on--it was F---ING ON.

So I hit half an hour (which is a long time on a unicycle) and kept going. I hit an hour and kept going. The kids left the basketball court and I kept going. I rode and rode and rode.

It felt good to feel that moment again, that moment when your will goes from flexible to fixed. And yes, I'm entirely aware of the irony of rediscovering my will on a device that is used by clowns in the circus.

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