When you look up the mountain…

I should be doing more homework right now, but I got it all done last week end, which you will see why that is impressive and I should not be worried now.  Ive gotten a good bit done tonight and now I want to sit down and do a couple of entries that I think have been a long time coming.  First lets hit the journal and then the rest will follow.


9-23-2015

We did it.  Keith and I joined the Spartan TriFecta tribe by completing the spartan beast at Killington, Vermont.  This is the birthplace of the beast and the medal says as much.  The first photo on the previous page is of Keith and I right before the race.

 Before this I had done spartan races already (two of them anyhow), and then I met Keith at the Natick Church of Christ.  I decided that this year I was going to get my trifecta so that I could get most of it done while school was out for the summer and before critter (child 2) gets here.  I invited some guys to come with me and Keith took me up on the offer.  He also said if he started this he was going to finish it.  He just wanted to go ahead and get the trifecta as well.  This is the kind of guy you need by your side in these kinds of messes.

 Three races later and the trifecta is in the bag.  Let us just be frank, for a guy who calls himself Hrolf the Ganger (Hrolf the big walker), the day on that mountain was one of the longest days of my life, and for a soldier that is saying something in my opinion.  Estimated 15-16 miles of mountainous hell, designed by Norm Koch (I now understand the patches that say effnorm).  I will not bother to hash out all the details about the water, and all the other stuff that made this race into a Stalingrad dumpster fire, if you were there then you know.

 What I will say is that I have never wanted to quit something so badly in my life.  At some points going up that mountain it got down to hiking for one minute and stopping for 3 or 4 to rub the cramps out of my legs.  Another fun thing is when you get to the top of a (loose) cargo net and suddenly your core decides to turn into one big cramp.  It was so tight, that may have been the best abs I’ve ever had…you know pain aside and it being a ball of contracted muscle.  I may have gotten my first successful spear throw here (yes on the little one.  still counts.  no burpees.)  None of this changes the fact that my marathon runner of a partner could have gone on faster without me.  He bested the herculean lift and sled pull this time which really nixes the parts of the race where I am a beneficial team member.  No matter how many times I told him to go on, go finish, he wouldn’t do it, even when we were facing cut offs, even when I was on the last big hill dry heaving with thirty minutes left and a mile to go he would not just go.  He is the best friend you could want on the mountain.

 I was able to chug on.  He and I kept to our normal pattern of helping people when we could.  There was a guy named Mike having a panic attack.  He had gotten really dehydrated and decided there was no way out of the woods and they that continued up hill forever as some kind of bizarre purgatory.   Medical wouldn’t get there in time to calm him down, so we got him sipping water and led him off the mountain literally by the hand.  When we got to the bottom, thankfully it was a water point, we had to give him the bad news that he was done.  We had to tell him he couldn’t go back out, he was dehydrated and the moment he saw another up hill in the woods it would all happen again (there was one not 500 feet after that water point) and there was still 3 miles of race to go.

 
To the point, Killington was filled with soul crushing.  I had accepted six hours before we finished that we were not going to make cut offs.  I was quite confident that given all the time we needed we could make the end of the course, but there wasn’t time.  However training kicked in, which really means imagine that you just can’t stop and go stupid for a while and keep moving.  Having a good buddy doesn’t hurt either.  Somehow we kept passing the cutoffs, sometimes within minutes.  In the end suddenly the fire jump was in sight and we crossed that finish line with twelve minutes left.  twelve minutes.  We were out there for twelve hours fourteen minutes.  There were 100 more after us.  We did it.  We left some things that needed to die out there on that mountain.  Katie was at the finish line, towel draped over her shoulders cheering us on.  She was a real trooper having to hang out and wait all day.  The mountain was ours.  I think I rediscovered some parts of myself that had lain dormant for a while.

 Moving on, while I was recovering I still needed to take some friends for exercise.  I took them Geocaching as that was about all I was up for.  This also gave me a chance to get a picture of Liam at the grave yard for the journal, he is at the graves of the Rice family, at Robin Hill cemetery.

 The third is simply a picture of him helping me with the garbage.  Seems dull I know, but this is what we do.  We help each other.  Garbage is one of his favorite things to help with.  He is currently very excited because Halloween decorations are already going up.

  
Halloween is one of our favorite holidays.  With a kid you have to split the movie festival into two portions.  The part the kid can watch, and the part that would classify as child abuse if you let them watch.  Casper is one of our staple movies.  It being twenty years old this year makes this a great moment to reflect about this movie.  I remember going to see this movie in theaters with my Grandmother Vicki.  I remember that pizza hut had a bunch of rubber glow in the dark puppets of the ghosts (I had casper).  Every year around this time I have to fight the urge to pile all this kind of crap up off of eBay.  I remember my buddy Danny Armstrong and I at the neighborhood pool discussing the bad words that were featured in Casper.  I remember my grandmother calling for showtimes in front of the sink of the cabin she and my grandfather lived at.  Not long after it came out I got the VHS and I’ve kept this movie close ever since.

 Reflection and making things to reflect upon is the point of this.  We need anchor points that we can share and call constant.

end.

There you have it.  This one is not very adventurous, but the life of a late comer college student and family man is not always exciting.  Homework, papers, repeat.  I may have beaten the mountain but it does not look like I will be able to beat remedial math. Tomorrow is several events which I am sure you will see all about.

Hrolf the Ganger

P.S. the halloween movie count stands as such.

Kid friendly: Hocus Pocus, Casper

With Carl: Halloween,2,4,5,6,H20

Alone: Scream,2

Halloween is coming…

9-16-2015

On Monday in preparation for the start of Halloween season in our house, which was officially September 15 in our house, Liam and I decided to complete a couple of initiatives.  We marked the event and decided to go outside for a while and hit up the playground, and to go geocaching.  Geocaching is a good time and it is a great outdoor activity.

This cache did have trinkets in it, so Liam took a small purple car, and in exchange we left a keychain compass.  The super fun part which made this an easy double check day, was that the geocache was located in Robin Hill cemetery! 

 The cemetery is small, but everything about the day was perfect.  The air was chilled just right and despite being September there were actually some leaves blowing around.  We managed some time at the playground, which we try to do as often as possible…more on that later. 

 Later on in the evening, my friends Devin, Jon, and Leo came over for a tradition that has almost been completely lost to Las Vegas style debauchery…poker night.  This was our first one, we try to have a game night every so often.  The boys were good enough to let Liam hang out and play with a small set of his own cards and some chips of a very large denomination that we were not using.

If you’ve never tried to have a game night or a poker night you and your friends should give it a try.  Throw your phone in a corner for the night, invite your friends to the table, and have a conversation and some genuine game time.  You will enjoy the sound of cards on cards and chips rattling without the risk of losing you home.  Side note: yes we decided to play Casino Royale in the back ground.

  Beverages for the night?  A combination of two of the best things in the world.  Tea and Whiskey.  Tea and Whiskey.  I do not need to say it again.  It was a great combo.  We weren’t mixing we were sipping both.  It made for a good night.  If you must know the tea was Black Dragon Pearl, the whiskey was Larceny Bourbon.

  Today Carl, Katie and I were able to start the Halloween movie festival for 2015.  First movie set is always the same.  We begin with Halloween.  We finished the second one as well.  Halloween is our first major celebration usually so let the games begin.  It can’t get much better than living in New England for the season.  I mean what better place to take a kid geocaching in an old cemetery, and let him play so you can grab some photos.  He was playing with the toy car he got out of the cache on the headstones.  I told him not to do that, and he looked at me and said “Daddy…they dead.” 

 Moral of the story.  Get some friends together for an analogue game night and unplug.  Start your adventure. 

   

A new way to adventure.

I have written several entries detailing my extreme love of recording and reflection upon the events of my life and the lives of my family.  Now we are going to try something new.  Let us just dive right in.  The entire point of this is to show that life is an adventure, take notes along the way, and get the most out of it.

  
September 13 2015

Last night I read a quote from the Dalai Lama.  It was about making sure you remember to live.  Ill stick the picture in here that it came from.  People have asked me before why I do some of the things I do.  I normally answer that I am trying to make my obituary more interesting.  I attempt to live to the fullest, often to the point of exhaustion.

Life is, and has been an adventure.  I’ve always kept a journal, the problem is that I have been trying to keep too many since Liam came along.  One for me, one for him, etc.  Yea…that is not working.  I end up spending either no time recording, or I spend so much time trying to catch up that we lose time on actually doing things.

Now this family will have a single cohesive narrative.  Thanks to the fact that we will be putting it online you can follow along if you like.  I have a pretty good idea of how we are going to do it as well.  Now the fun part, doing it.  You are going to need some gear.  My Grandmother has always been a picture taker (a fact that despite griping we all appreciate later) and she apparently has been notorious for home video as well.  I will tell you all about the adventure of preserving her Super 8s one day.  I am a picture taker as well.  So much so with the nice digital cameras we have that I end up not doing anything with them either.

In one of my previous posts, I wrote about getting hungry again.  You can go read that if you want to know what it means.  This is where we are going.  I cannot allow the fact that Liam’s journal did not go well to make me stop.  It just means you condense, reset, and try again.

 That photo at the top? (if you are reading this you’ll need to look at the pictures posted along with this, it is typed out from the journal where the pictures actually are.)  That is Liam and Katie making dinner.  This will be common practice.  I bought a Fuji Instax for this project.  I know it seems retro and expensive, but it is one chance, no frills, no filters or corrections, pull it out and stick it in the book photography.  Something I feel I could stand to have when I have a computer with 60,000 photos in it doing nothing.

This family is going to record what we do.  Note the two photos on page two. We do things.  We read books and tell stories together.  Stories that actually involve falling down when Jack chops down the beanstalk.

It is time to go outside.  See the world.  Share with the world.  Along the way we might clean some junk out of our house, and un bury ourselves.  The world has turned into a strange place and we are going to see the beautiful places before the dark corners of the map are all colored in.

Brandon Bledsoe “Hrolf the Ganger”

  

I just wish I was a little hungry again…Part 2

The Ganger is back.  Even though he hasn’t done an extreme amount of walking a lot has been going on.  I will not do much hemming and hawing I will just get right down to it this time.  Strap in folks you may be in for a long ride.

When I started this blog my first entry was a bunch of nonsense that popped into my head one night when I took some…medication…to help with my eyes for a night.  That nonsense however had a point.  The entry was titled “I just wish I was a little hungry again.”  It was based on a quote from The Crow (the ganger is a movie person) and that quote and the blog entry speaks to satisfaction or a lack there of.  I was talking about always chasing that next addition to my collection or the next big thing.  It always leaves me a bit unsatisfied.  I spread my self so thin trying to do all of the things I think I want to do that I end up not having the time to do any of them, and then I chastise myself for not doing chores or playing with my son more (now on this account that it is a matter of perspective and that I do a great deal with my son) and I spend more time beating myself up than I do getting anything done.

There will be a lot of accusations here, and they will all be directed at myself (mostly), when I teach classes at church I follow this same format where I pick out a problem with myself, one of my own flaws or sins and I teach about that rather than accusing others.  Any resonance you find with your own life is on you and a chance to do better if you feel the need to do so.  There will also be a lot of fight club references.

     The things you own, end up owning you. -Tyler Durden

The main point here is stuff, possessions, materialism and what it does to our value system.  My main drug of choice is comic books.  I have had a longstanding love affair with comic book characters, and now that I am able I am collecting the ones I wanted back when, while reading new series.  All of the new series it seems.  I have long been grinding at myself for what I spend on these things and when I went to school even though I was making money from the G.I. Bill and using part of it to increase my collection, I did not have time to read them all, or any really.  What I did was pile them up until the semester was over.  At the end of the semester I found my interest diminished by the size of the pile, my wallet lighter, and a mess that I did not know what to do with, and yet the nature of mild addiction made it hard for me to cut back.  Now having a second child on the way helped to spur me into action on this one matter.  Had to start putting away more money, and making sure there was more in the account and that I freed up some of my time to focus on what is important.  It helped to reinforce all the little mantras I had come up with.  “your son can not eat comic books, he can’t wear comic books, he can’t sleep under comic books.”

    This got worse after I went to school.  I have been places that are in extreme poverty, I have seen children in Baghdad playing in garbage piles, being under fed, dying from sickness that we treat so easily.  Anthropology and World Regional Geography just gave me a number to quantify how absurdly I was living (and the word quantify.)  It taught me that the international standard for poverty is a person living on less that 2$ a day, thats the price of two comic books.  I can’t fix the worlds problems no matter how I try, but I think in some way this allowed me to convince myself that I could do as I pleased with me and mine.  My son is three and I’ve piled so much stuff, toys, on him that it borders on ridiculous and I did it, it is my fault, but I am working on it and fixing it.  There is a saying “the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago, the next best time is today.”  I can’t take back all the things I have bought, I can’t undo it, but I can make tomorrow a better day by getting back to a better standard of myself.

    Many of us do OCR, or obstacle course racing, which is in itself ironic.  We have become such an…advanced society that we have to seek out physical adventure.  For me I will again reference Iraq, I have a bug, a need to go out and do these things.  For others it is the need to for the very first time get off the friggin couch and live a little.  There are as many reasons for racing as there are racers themselves.  My race of choice is Spartan race.  Many of us call ourselves spartans and read the spartan code, and yet there is a part of it that we forget because they do not mention it.  The word Spartan has become a descriptive term.  I first read it in the book “Cain” a man was described as spartan because his home did not have a single thing that he did not need.  Thats what spartan has come to need.  In this sense I am not spartan at all.  I have a lot of stuff I and my family do not need.  I have so much stuff in here that I cannot pick it all up, so many teas I have to keep a book to know which ones I have tried, so many games that we have never played some of them, so many movies that I feel the need to make lists to remind myself to watch them. We are pushing the weight limits for our military moves.  If I would move some of this out I bet we could fit into a smaller house and save our selves some money (MA housing prices not included, you can pay a lot for very little up here.)  I describe myself as being Un-Fight Club because of this.

We work jobs we hate so we can buy things we don’t need to impress people we don’t like. -Tyler Durden

      Take note, Club is not the golden standard.  It is not the light or the way.  I try to be a better man and lead a Christian life without intruding on the rights of others.  I have my faults and I confide some of them to you.  Fight club is a BOOK and a MOVIE both of which can be first classified as fiction.  It has some nifty quotes, some of which violate its own principles.  It is a movie about getting back to basic life that we paid money to go and see, and later to own.  Having a DVD player to watch fight club is very un fight club.  It is not a realistic approach to life and I could talk about that all day.  However some of those quotes have a point.  Realistically we will never be full like our ancestors.  We do not live in their world.  I have a work out tool that simulates chopping wood and heavy melee weapons for heavens sake.  However when we do need to get realistic is when this materialism gets into our minds and poisons our value systems.  This is where I stray from my own story some.  Ill start with an opinion.  Our kids used to want to be people with talents and skills, who had made a contribution to society on some level.  They wanted to be Babe Ruth because he could hit a ball and his love of the game, now they want to make the money that athletes make.  They wanted to be singers because their music was beautiful and inspiring, now there are actually kids who want to be the Kardashians…the most untalented hacks to ever be on tv.  We now make tv about being on tv.  Heaven help us.  The most recent example I have is a story from a friend of mine.  She says that a new girl came in to work at her job.  She was not dressed for the job, she was in need of work and now that she had it she most likely would get the clothes to go with it when she could.  She should be getting support for being willing to work and face the job down in what she had.  Instead my friend was pulled aside by a coworker and the coworker mocked the girl for not being able to afford the clothes she would need on her first day of work.  My friend being the upstanding person they are went out and got the girl what she would need.  She did it on a budget, but the girl was very grateful, grateful in a way that should make a person like me hang my head with the excess I show sometimes.  The coworker did not stop, she thought that work had made the girl go change, and that this was funny.  The rest of them explained that my friend had helped her out.  This was not for my friends credit, or to the girls shame, it was to shut this unstoppable moron up.  It worked.  Now I would ask that someone get ahold of her and try to help her pick this mess up if she can be helped.

     Now we work up to a solution.  I know to much stuff sounds like a good problem to have.  I am trying to become more grateful and to live it.  To be hungry again really means to be satisfied and content and live a life I deem to be worth living and to have true value.  One of my favorite pictures I have seen says “To love your children spend twice as much time with them and half as much money.”  I love that, and I am trying to live it.  I have been taking my three year old geocaching.  Today he told his mother about it and that means something.  I have not spent a dime on it ( helps that I already had a car and smart phone), and I am not putting down all spending (see my fenway article) but that was huge that a three year old points out that I took him to the woods rather than let him watch more tv.

     Now for a workable solution.  First we implemented a budget with the envelope system.  I think it important to note that I have not created debt doing any of this, that thankfully is not one of my problems, but a budget never hurts and creating a tangible limit like the envelope system is not a bad idea.  Next comes the purge.  I got out a note pad and I numbered 1-30.  Those thirty slots were possessions I was immediately able to declare safe from the purge.  Most things were not off limits.  Tooth brush, most of my clothes, etc were off limits.  I say most because even though I consider my taste in foot wear simple its possible to pile them up.  However after that I filled those 30 slots.  I left room to state why I wanted to keep those things if need be.  IF you want to read the list you can, if not skip it and go on reading.

  1. Bible-Specifically the one my wife gave me.
  2. My nice watch.
  3. Black GR1.
  4. My pipe my son gave me.
  5. Ka-Bar-Wife gave me.
  6. My Camera
  7. Journal
  8. Skallywag Dagger
  9. Tomahawk-wife gave me
  10. Hob nail tea set
  11. mjolnir pendant
  12. large one of same above
  13. drinking horns
  14. blowing horn
  15. lock wife gave me from afghanistan
  16. pocket watch-wife gave for last anniversary
  17. record player
  18. records
  19. tournament chess set-Mother gave me for birthday
  20. nine mens morris board
  21. pocket knife
  22. red sox foam fingers-took son to game
  23. Bruins foam fingers-same reason
  24. black Louisville slugger
  25. 35 lbs kettle bell
  26. 53 lbs kettle bell
  27. military watch
  28. wedding ring
  29. Ka-Bar-OIF model my uncle bought me
  30. Bone dice cup

There you have it.  Those are the 30 no questions asked.  Now it gets interesting.  Now everyday I pick something I want to keep and I right it down, and then however I have to pay for it by getting rid of something.  I can sell it on eBay, give it away, yard sale, whatever have you, but it has to leave.  I have the will to make this work so that I will not bring in replacements.  Like I said I won’t get the money back for a lot of these mistakes, but I can fight to not repeat them.  This system forces me to decide what is important, to de clutter my life, and spend more time living.  I can’t say that it will work for you, or that you will need it, but it is helping me.  They are things, and they will not own me.  Another friend of mine once said “Shut up Bledsoe is about to tell a story, and they are always good ones.”  I want to make sure that I am always out doing the things that make those good stories not sitting in my piles of crap still being hungry because I have to much.  It is time to get hungry, time to get grateful, and get busy living.

Hrolf The Ganger

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