Give Me the Mudd, Save Me the Tough

This Saturday I will be in the beautiful Pocono Mountains. Oh yes, refreshing nature at its finest and far away (well, 3.5 hours) from the crispy, well-manicured lawns of the snotty McMansions I pass every day in my cookie-cutter suburban community.

Photo courtesy of realtown.com

The Poconos is a popular retreat destination for families and singles, friends and couples all across the nation who are ski and snow lovers. Come summer, there is still plenty to do. The budding of trees and arrival of spring weather is inviting to those who want to hike, fish, camp, or simply kick back in a quaint bed and breakfast on a lake.

That is not why I am going. Well, sure the nature aspect will be great, but I am going to be so high on nerves that the only nature I will most likely get to see is the pretty green grass should I pass out or give up my breakfast.

I am participating in Tough Mudder. Dubbing itself, “Probably the toughest event on the planet,” this 11 mile obstacle course and run is three full days away. I have got my running gear, (Under Armour, gloves, old sneakers and a pink bandanna) and I am ready to rock.

Not quite. See, I am a food lover, a beer lover, a… try everything once lover. So when Tough Mudder was suggested to me by my good friend Zoë over at SexyTofu.com, I had to say yes. At the same time, I knew giving up the foods and beers I indulge in quite often would be no easy task.

If you want a good reason to laugh at me and my appropriately named team, “Team Boozehounds,” click right here to see a virtual map of our day’s obstacle course. Ha ha ha, electroshocks.

Here is how I have been working out. Try not to feel sorry for me, I know it will be hard.

Lots of running! I have shed 10 pounds in the past two months by running at least two miles a day. There are days when I hit five miles, but that takes a lot out of me. I figure with 600 people starting at the same moment, there will be down time. Am I kidding myself? We shall see.

I have been doing lots of crunches with a medicine ball. I went to Walmart and scooped up this $10 weight ball-thingy (that is what I like to call it) and YouTube’d pretty girls with small waists doing the ball-thingy the right way. Motivating!

Oh, but Mondays come and I get thirsty. Weird that the first work day of the week is my bar night. There is usually some sports game on (Go Yankees!) and I can sit on my butt and enjoy 20 cent wings and $3 dollar drafts and not have to worry about waking up for classes the next day until 10 a.m. Problem: wings and beer.

Case solved. I bought a jump rope. Oh no no, it is not just some ordinary rope for jumping happily in the school yard. Focus your attention on the jump rope’s evil twin, the speed rope!  

The difference? I have no idea. I bought it because the guy on the package was sweating with a sensual grin on his face, abs in check and  calves like Iron Man. Good job, marketing execs!

What am I in for? Ice baths, monkey bars, 15 foot rope climbs and death marches up the ski slopes. Hopefully all the speed rope training I have been partaking in helps in some way. If anything, at least I can regain some confidence by showing up at some school’s reccess and beating the crap out of those weirdos who use… jump ropes.

Think of me on Saturday. Think of Team Boozehounds and think about my incessant fear of enclosed spaces, and at that time I will most likely be at the Boa Constrictor obstacle, in which I will have to crawl in small tubes- people in front and in back of me- while trying my best to keep my head above icy cold water so I can, you guessed it, breathe!

Until then, I am going to make myself a sandwich. Not on rye, not on wheat, but on white. I am going to include a pickle and an iced tea and I am going to cry. At the end of the day, and granted that day includes a living Sarah, I will be able to say I did something so great for myself. I can knock another accomplishment off the list of never-ending sought after accomplishments.

Break Time, Cheers!

My Special Earth Day Celebration

Very late in the morning on Thursday I looked up at the night sky, swaying to some good tunes with a beer in my hand, friend Jonny by my side when I saw two shooting stars. The first was bright orange and fell from the dark night like an ember from a campfire; slow in both its freefall and its fading. The second was a minute or so later, yellow- almost white- streaming across the night sky as fast as possible- running away from any witnesses I would call.  It is not so often one would see a shooting star in Connecticut, the sky is polluted with industrial lights, domestic lights, and well… pollution (according to my semi-educated guess thanks to my addiction to National Geographic telelvision). I ran inside to my phone to look up if something had been going on. This weekend was the Lyrid Meteor Shower. A few days early, I called it as a prequel to the show, but it gave me an infectious itch for more of nature; nature is all I wanted from that moment on. I sat and I waited, but no more shooting stars graced me with their presence.

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I sincerely thought Earth Day 2012 was on Friday. I mass texted my small group of good friends exclaiming my impatience to plant something, to be active, to “go green” and maybe stay that way from there on out.

I wanted to buy them all

Now, I had read a decent amount of articles; newspapers, Twitter, Yahoo! News, television commercials, etc., and come to think about it, they all made it extremely clear what date Earth Day actually fell on.

So it is Friday, the sun is shining despite contrary weather forecasts and the texts are flowing. My friend Chris is the first to respond, and he was at my house within 30 minutes.

“I want to plant a tree on Earth Day. It is part of my Life List!” I kept saying over and over, upping my annoying-factor one point with every increase in vocal pitch.

I was truly excited to buy a tree. I do not really know why I had presumed Home Depot would have all the answers, but I envisioned their garden center filled with young, homeless trees just waiting for me to come and save them from home goods wholesale hell. I was hyper at the illusion of saving just one of those baby trees; Maple trees, Dogwoods, Oaks, Pine.

I wanted to really do something worthwhile on Earth Day for the first time. The need was not to fulfill another Life List challenge, but to be with my best friends- digging in the dirt on a beautiful day- to put a tree down where another tree is uprooted somewhere in the world, helpless and at the mercy of big business.

That is me, post tree-quest rampage

All cynicism aside.

There was no euphoric, Twilight-esque meadow of trees waiting to be sold to Earth Day tree huggers like myself. I saw an array of cacti, hanging house plants, carnations, impatiens, daisies and what have you for front yard decor and a vast variety of shrubbery. Like a kid in a candy store without a dime, there I stood confused and on the borderline of a tantrum.

If you are looking for shrubs, go to Home Depot

Perhaps my absence from Home Depot since the age of 5 when I was thrown in the backseat by mommy and daddy was the issue here.

Chris and I made do, we picked up three small blueberry plants (3 for $12!) and named them each, claiming our own and creating a beautiful yet equally strange attachment to the small fruity wonder.

Lilacs that we put in our new gazebo (tent)

Chris bought a gazebo (otherwise known as an overpriced backyard tent) for his patio and we left Home Depot to spend the next 2 hours trying to assemble the damned thing. Our reward? Beer. My friend Sean and boyfriend tagged along for the planting ceremony, as well as Chris’ neighbor who most likely came outside due to our incessant knack for swearing loudly and, well, the huge tent that was now apart of the shared backyard.

We maneuvered around Chris’ backyard trying to find the optimal spot for our blueberry babies. We laughed over everything, broke the 88 cent tulle and laughed some more.

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Earth Day 2012 was Sunday, April 22nd. It rained and none of my friends were around. Did it matter? Of course not. After the shame of realizing that I had most likely looked unaware on every social media site was over, I found a bit of pride and accomplishment.

This may have been my first year really doing something active on (or around) Earth Day, but it hit me then that I loved getting my hands dirty; I loved smelling the trees, soaking in real, natural sunlight, staring up at the sky, making wishes on shooting stars.

I loved nature all of my life, but I was blinded by things, material things, and the unnecessary dramas of being young that make me feel today as if I had always taken it for granted. Perhaps it is just a part of growing up and realizing what is most important, and that is where we live; where you, me and future generations will all call home. Maybe my house does not have solar panels, and my car does not run on recycled grease, but I am happy with my small contribution.

My Earth Day was Friday, and it changed me for the long run.

Happy Earth Day, every day.
 

Chris (left) and Sean getting their hands and skinny-boy pants dirty