An entire weekend where you stretch your body to it’s extremes (in a good way) and wake up feeling refreshed, well-rested, and positive about life is a rarity for many in the age bracket that I’m a part of. For many of us, we spend the weekend raging/partying to balance out the relative boredom/routine nature of the workweek. Wake up, go to work, go to the gym, watch some pirated premium cable, write an incredibly awesome blog post, go to bed (interject some feeding in there and maybe the occasional trip out to dinner/for an adult beverage), and you basically have what a whole barrage of 20-somethings experience on a daily basis from Sunday through Thursday.
Personally, I happen to enjoy the relative ease of living simply/pretty low key during the week, but, as my Dad has stated to me countless times by pointing out that the amount of alcohol that I’ve drank in any single year since turning 20 or so is more than he’s consumed in his entire life, I do have a tendency to indulge on the weekends. This is not to say that I’m a degenerate sailor who finds himself greeted by the harsh light of mornings-after accompanied by a sewer drain, six-hour old/half-eaten burrito, or completely random member of the fairer sex, but just like many others who are fresh out of college (within two years), employed, and enjoy spending their hard-earned money (somewhat) responsibly on the weekends, I don’t always engage in the most healthy behavior once that clock strikes five-ish on Friday afternoon.
However, this past weekend something miraculous occurred, many things in fact: I stayed in Saturday night to watch a great movie, I read an entire book, and I did something that five years ago I NEVER EVER imagined I would accomplish. Yes friends, I had an incredibly productive and satisfactory weekend without (really) going out on the town (minus the OU alumni event Matt and I attended to watch the heartbreaking loss of our beloved Bobcats (I attended zero football or basketball games while at OU (woo team spirit)) at the hands of Uncle Roy’s highly vulnerable UNC Tar heels) and I felt better and more positive on Monday morning than I had in months. Before we go into dissecting why this is, let’s recap.
Afternoon: After work, I went for a five-mile run in preparation for what would lay before us come Sunday morning.
Evening: Matt & I watched the Bobcats come freakishly close to one of the greatest upsets in NCAA history, only to let it slip away because of a lack of defensive hustle, poor shot selection, and missing a CLUTCH free throw. Oh and we both ate salads (your welcome Moms).
Night: After stopping at a birthday party, Matt dropped me off at one of the most truly definitive Austin institutions, Peter Pan Mini Golf (it’s BYOB and open ‘till Midnight. Yep, that exists), where I became a beer caddy and score keeper for a lovely group of girls dressed as if they were ready for a night out on the town, attracting worthy suitors, rather than putt-putting around abnormally dazed turtles and two-story tall T-Rexes.
I woke up, exchanged life updates with Matt, and then spent the subsequent five hours reading The Hunger Games from cover to cover. Have you ever read an entire book in a day? I hadn’t before The Hunger Games, but my lord is it satisfying. Obviously I’m very late hopping onto the THG bandwagon, but since I enjoy seeing any epic movie that’s almost more of an event than simply a film-viewing, I knew I was going to see the movie and I felt the need to read the original text before seeing it. Unfortunately, I already knew who played many of the main rolls, which gave me a distorted view of the characters and prevented me from constructing my own personal depictions of Katniss, Peeta, Gale, Haymitch, Cissa, and the like. However, I was able to imagine the entire series of events that occurs within the games themselves, not to mention the intriguing intersection of love and strategy that occurs amongst certain characters later on in the book.
I plan on seeing the movie later this week and I’m sure I’ll have more to report then, but for now what I can definitely say is that the writing was FAR better than I anticipated and, while the love triangle/brutal violence seems to always be at the forefront of any THG conversation, what I find truly fascinating about the story is the survival aspect. Throughout the book, author Suzanne Collins is able to educate readers about hunting, trapping, and all sorts of techniques that we’re heard Bear Grylls yawp about for years, but at the heart of the book is one central question which all other actions plays off of and is echoed by Katniss’ mentor/trainer/resident drunken hero Haymitch (played by Woody Harrelson in the film version), “what would you do to survive?” That’s really what the book is all about and it’s that very thought that drives all of the tragedy, gore, and triumph that fills every page of Collins’ freakishly fast-paced trilogy opener (reading in at 386 pages). I was a doubter, I assumed the reading level of THG was going to rival that of Stephanie Meyer’s wer-vamp sex dreck, but to my surprise, it was fast paced, entertaining, and enthralling.
After polishing off The Hunger Games, Matt and I partook in some serious Friday Night Lights action (he was very adamant about watching the “silly football soap opera” upon his arrival to Texas, but is now hella hooked and can be found quoting Riggins and/or Coach Taylor on the reg (f#%k I’m proud)), which then turned into a trip to Home Slice, and sitting down with our good friend Mad-Cleo to watch a movie I never thought I’d find the urge to see: Hugo. Yes, I know it’s Martin Scorsese and Ben Kingsley is a beast and the kids are great in it and blah blah blah, but it just always looked sorta, I don’t know, bleh (please imagine that in the most valley girl-esque tone you can). However, after a STRONG recommendation from my mom (who is pretty much never wrong about movies and/or books (side note – getting to give her the dish on a best seller (THG) was, how should I say, f@&ing sweet. It’s never happened and I might never get to again and, who knows, maybe she’ll give it a go (and read it approximately 56.3x faster than I did (hour tops))) and watching the entire crew rake up little golden naked men at this year’s Oscars, we decided to give it a go.
The results were a bit varied, but there is something magical about the movie that definitely hits you in a place where nostalgia lives on in our hearts and minds. For those of you who don’t know, Hugo is about a boy who lives in a train station and gets up to all sorts of hijinks and mischief, all of which could only happen pre-modern times safety regulations. However, it’s also about the very early days of movie making and the effect that films can have on people from the very get go. It’s about magic and curiosity and our attempts to find significance in time and space. It’s about the intersection of childhood and growing old and how to hold on to the person you are between those two points. At times the movie can stretch and lose focus, but overall, Hugo was simply delightful and I really wish that I’d seen it in theaters (it was filmed in 3-D and not the kind of super-imposed 3-D where 15 minutes of footage jumps out at you, but the kind where every single shot has depth and feel and adds that extra flair to enchant the viewers). Alas, better late than never.
To say that I don’t normally wake up before 8am on Sunday would be a brash understatement, but luckily when you spend Saturday night eating pizza, watching movies, and getting to bed at a reasonable hour, getting up a little earlier really ain’t no thing, especially when you’re jolted by the excitement of running your first ever organized race. For any of you who knew me from circa 7th grade to my freshman year of college, you know that I never felt any need to run quickly, let alone for extended periods of time and by choice. Yet, I now find myself signing up for 10Ks and looking forward to my runs along Lake Austin/Ladybird Lake/Town Lake/Whatever the balls you call the man-made extension of the Colorado River that cuts downtown Austin off from the South side of the city. What the hell happened? I started running in college to lose weight and improve my cardiovascular health because I used to be quite overweight and in over-all pretty shitty shape, however, over the years I adopted running as my sport/physical activity of choice and now it has become one of the most important parts of my life. However, even though I’ve been running for years, I’d never ran an organized race, but at the suggestion/sly convincing of some friends, I decided to run the Capitol 10K (one of the largest in the country with nearly 23,000 participants in this it’s 35thyear).
Now I’ve definitely ran 6+ miles before, but one of the things I most enjoy about running is the solidarity of it and I was a bit worried about how I’d react to running with thousands upon thousands of other people. Well, after feeling a bit overwhelmed at the starting line, I can definitely say that it was all of those other people that made the race much easier than I imagined it would be. After bobbing and weaving around hundreds of people in the first mile or two, the presence of so many other people allowed me to feed on so much energy that the relatively hilly course (at least the first half) became much less difficult than I’d made myself believe pre-race. I hauled ass, dipped by much more sleekly dressed participants, and fought through the urge to take a leak from before the race even started and ended up with a solid time of 53:19, which clocked me in at right about 8:35 per mile (imagine a charging half-gorilla/half-bear and you can get a good idea of how I roll).
I’m proud of that and although I know that I’ll probably never clock in at a sub-eight minute mile pace, once the race had ended and I’d tackled something that seemed like such a huge obstacle not so long ago, I felt a great deal of accomplishment and satisfaction (not to mention feeling healthier and higher off life than I possibly ever had)).
At the root of this weekend of productivity, healthy behavior, and bro journeying though is the question of why is this such a rare occurrence? Why do we indulge in activities that we know are detrimental to our health and cause us to sacrifice the opportunity to do something good for bodies and minds? Why do we see the weekend as a time to tell our bodies to go fuck themselves? Why did I take this opportunity to get as high up on my horse as physically possible to rant at all y’all? Well I think a lot of it has to do with something else that many, if not most, of us college grads deal with during the first year or two after leaving our centers of high learning. The adjustment from college student to productive member of society is seriously hard. If you’re lucky enough to have a job straight out of college and become financially independent from your parents/government within a short period of time then this could be a little different, but if you happen to be like the majority of us who at some point need to borrow money or live in our parents’ attic, than you know what I’m talking about. No one really wants to leave all aspects of their college life behind and for many (including myself to an extent), they take that first year after school to try to combine that college lifestyle with the constraints and responsibilities of post-grad existence – a cocktail that leads to destruction, self-doubt, and hours of frustration spent thinking, “how do I get out of this?”
BEWARE: Sentimental Bro Journey Moment Ahead!
Although it was a small step in the right direction, the fact that TBJ went from raging with the founders of Movember and inappropriately hugging one another in bars serving $2.50 shots of Jack Daniels Green Label one weekend to running a race and waking up at reasonable times the next just shows what we’re capable of and hopefully the former will become the rarity and the latter will be the norm that we can humbly be proud of and that others will associate with us. Or maybe we can at least function is society as degenerates and perform such Tim Riggins-esque tasks as fixing our beat up pick-up trucks and/or teaching the neighbor boy next door with the frisky mom how to throw a perfect spiral (sorry, did you REALLY think I’d end this pseudo-inspirational post with something pure and admirable?).
May the odds be in our favor.
Editor’s Note: The Bro Journey saw The Hunger Games last night and there will be a follow-up post coming tomorrow once Matt gets done hunting squirrels in the back yard with his new bow. Yep, that’s happening.