Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Lot to Say

If you are wondering why I haven't written much lately, it's because I have been writing A LOT lately...

Apparently I am making it official by writing about it on my blog, because up until now, I have been sort of whispering about it from afar. I am writing a book.

Now, I have done this sort of thing before-- said that I was writing a book. After I got back from India I started writing a book, about eight different times. I kept thinking that it should be so easy to take those things that I had put in my blog and make it a book, but it wasn't. I scrapped it every single time and shoved it straight into my trashcan icon on my laptop.

This time is different, however. I can feel that it's different--not only in thought, but in heart, and also in form. I am sticking to it and enjoying every chapter and every word as it comes pouring out of my head and into my fingertips as they translate it into actual print that (hopefully) will be read by smiling eyes someday.

I was hoping to have this endeavor completed by the time I started back up at school in the fall, but that just might not be realistic. Writing is hard, but writing about your own life's struggles and victories is even harder. This book is going to be considered a creative non-fiction in genre, which means that it is based off of my life and I also get to be as colorful and poetic with my words that I want to be. This is a perfect combination for me here.

I am now ten solid chapters and well over 20,000 words deep into this thing and am glad that it is finally happening. This writing and storytelling is so therapeutic and cathartic for me, and I don't think this could happen at a better time for me. Within every chapter, I am uncovering things about myself that I wasn't necessarily aware of or wanted to confront. I am peeling back layers of decades and distractions. I am realizing that some of the most brief moments and encounters have made some of the most lasting effects.

I am realizing that I have a lot to say.

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Monday, July 11, 2011

Camera Shy Ry

" Ryan, is everything okay?"
"I am smiling!"
"You look like you just got hit on by the most repulsive man in the world."

Sadly, this is not the first time I've heard this. 

Last week, I had the potential pleasure of getting photographed with my new team as our first publicity shots to use in our media kits and the like. I guess I quickly forget my neuroses of picture taking, that is until that wide-eyed camera is blinking directly in my face. 

The girls were confused at first by my anxiety while I waited for my turn. I gave them the Reader's Digest version of my historical terror with smiling for photographs, but I am still quite certain that nobody really understood. That is, until it was my turn. 

When I was a kid, I used to create smiles of full-teeth and gums, as the outward attempt to show my overall, inward happiness. Isn't that what you are supposed to do? At any rate, that smile stuck and there was simply no turning back nor alterations possible to this frightening smile. 

As I grew up and photos chronicled those moments in time, I became increasingly more and more aware of this "cheesy smile" and less and less excited to show it off. So, I began doing the only thing I could think of: NOT smile. I found ways around it by making funny faces and shying away completely; which has worked for the most part, but now there was no getting out of it. 

However, in a few tortuous minutes the photographer had managed to make me laugh enough to capture those natural images rather than the ones that I had unsuccessfully prefabricated. Thank goodness for good humor and patience. 

Here's the final result:

Not too bad... but I really hope that this will hold me over for awhile...

Friday, July 1, 2011

Steamy Mayonnaisey Paralyzing Parasite

 In all my life and all my dreaming and fantasizing, I never imagined this.

I was hoping to share my experiences from the Olympic Training Center a few days ago, but I truly feel like it has taken me this long just to even process the whole thing.

Going into this training camp and meet, I knew that I had accomplished something and I knew to be proud of my efforts; however, in my typical detrimentally modest fashion I had no clue how BIG this actually was.

It first hit me when I saw tour groups snapping photos of my deer-in-headlights self while attempting to determine my strategy for entry into this pool completely not designed with me in mind. As moments ticked on, I felt glimpses of the intensity of being a member of the US Team for the ParaPan American Games. "You are now here to represent the US," kept buzzing in my ears.

The Team took "classes" on how to handle media requests, packing, and foreign competitors. We learned about the Village that was currently under construction and how Homeland Security would be our new best friends in Guadalajara. We even spent some time peeing in front of people to determine that we were as clean and sound in body as we appeared to be. The entire time, I sat stunned-- most likely resembling something of a codfish-- all the while attempting to keep a cool demeanor about it all. After all, I am the oldest member of this team, so I need to act like it. Right?

The meet was only a portion of these blurred events. Choosing to swim ten events, including the mile, was probably a bit optimistic in hindsight; however, I was glad to push myself through it (now that it's over with). I fared well in my events, although not particularly pleased with any of them. For the most part I felt as if I were swimming in a steamy whirlpool with the consistency of mayonnaise. I hate mayonnaise. My times completely reflected my dissonance with said steamy mayonnaise-- although I know I am stronger and more technically ready than ever before. I still don't know how to rationalize the meet. Stupid steamy mayonnaise.

Truly, I can only blame myself. I suppose the mayonnaise is really just a metaphor for that thing that always gets in the way: my brain.

Watching my competitors walk to the blocks, I couldn't help but wonder what I actually contribute to this team. I try as I might to keep a smile and a ferocious fight; however, once again my lack of confidence in my own capabilities prevailed.

This is starting to become a serious problem.

It feels like a virus that I can't shake. No matter the amount of rest or vitamins (which I am no longer advised to take, thanks to USADA) or protein I provide for my body, I can't seem to recover from this parasitic and paralyzing form within me.

So now it's my turn, really this time, to take care of this. My issues with confidence obviously bleed through in other aspects of my life and I am finally fed up. I don't deserve to live like this and I owe it to myself to take my live-in-paralyzing-parasite-of-a-feeling and smash it to pieces.

So, hear's to you-- steamy mayonnaisey paralyzing parasite-- may you be put to shame and rest in peace, my friend. Goodbye forever.