Saturday, June 30, 2012

Pale People Problems

It was 104 degrees yesterday in D.C.

I think we can officially say the Pool Time portion of my year has arrived.

This is good news, my apartment complex actually has two pools. So I'm lucky, I get to take my shallow girly magazines homework outside and read it while feeling like I'm on vacation somewhere. I always feel blessed to have that opportunity. But I always feel a little stressed out too. Because with summer, comes the insatiable urge -- to tan.

Now my lovely Native American ancestors did bless me with some color - enough to make people ask me what my heritage is all the time. Randomly. Like in the middle of meetings. So weird....Anyway, even so, I'm still your typical American "mut" with various bits of European blood mixed in there too. In other words, I could still use some more color. And I tan pretty easily and get really dark.... when I'm patient enough (never happens) to lay out long enough. Evenly.

This requires work people. You can't just lay and read. Because things cast shadows and tan you unevenly. And besides that, you have to turn like a human pancake with some regularity. And that is not even enough because unlike pancakes, humans are not flat. We have dimension. Even if you turn, you are only getting surface area -- your front, and your back. Which leaves all the sides unexposed; the inside and outside of your legs, your arms, your actual sides. I always get to about the middle of summer and feel like I have to contort myself in unreasonable positions to get it all done evenly. I'm tempted to strike a pose that would simultaneously hit different angles and all I can come up with is the "Look Over There!" like so:

And then of course after about 30 minutes, you'd need to reverse it:

Oh HEY, what's over there now?.....

And you really can't hold these positions, well, for any time at all before the other pool goers call security.

Then there are: The SPF Levels.

  • My legs are last to tan, so they get nothing.SPF0.

  • My arms get quite a bit of sun from running, so they might get SPF15. Except in the bend in my elbow, which doesn't get sun while I'm running, unless I start running like this:

         so in order to even it out, the elbow bend gets nothing. SPF0.
  • My stomach has never in my life been flat enough for me to ever desire to show it off so it doesn't matter if it's tan or not. SPF30.

  • I can't reach my back, so, nothing. SPF0. Coupled with an attempt not to lay on my stomach much.

  • At any given time, I likely have cuts healing that I don't want the sun to scar (or stitches ON MY BUTTOCKS like I have right now which we aren't even going to go into...) so those get a swipe of something. SPF30.

  • I'm paranoid of wrinkles on my face so the sun MAY NEVER TOUCH IT AGAIN. SPF45. or, like 110 or whatever they sell these days.

So tanning is stressful.

And on top of all that, I have to fight: My conscience.

Sun damage: Wrinkles, more freckles (seriously if I get any more on my shoulders they will all just connect and I'll have a permanent tan anyway at this point), and the threat of skin cancer --always looms on my conscience. I feel like I fight a war in my mind every weekend.

I should use my pool.
But  I should protect my skin.
But I look better with a tan.
But it'll make me look older later.
But who cares about later - I'll be old anyway!
Therefore - I should tan now.
I should use my pool.

So when I'm not stressing myself out over homework, boyfriends, or the fact that my cat continually pees on my rugs to prove points, I'm stressing myself out over....tanning (first world problems? yes, I'm very aware).

Welcome to the inner workings of me. Aren't you glad you are you? :)

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Drivin' While Getting Shot At

...or chased, or side swiped.....

After the morning of shooting things (including people...woopsie!) our team moved onto the "Extreme Driving" portion of our day.

We went through different stations, jumping into various forms of barely still-running cars that had been beaten to within inches of their lives. Our first station involved us driving basically around a square, on a narrow path in between barracades. We did this until another car at the other end of our winding "street" took off after us in a game of chicken, angrily honking its horn at us while we fumble to get our car in reverse and back out around all the corners and spin around at the end and get away from the other car.

First of all, that other car looked gnarly:

which added to the drama. But I'm happy to report I successfully backed out of the barracades.

I can not say that for several others doing this course. People got hit by the other car, people accidentally got turned sideways in between the barricades, and one guy freaked out and somehow backed up onto the barricade.

So I was feeling pretty good as we moved on to: J Turns.

J turns are super fun but a little startling at first. Especially when it's just me and Angie alone in the car trying to hear our instructor on the radio tell us what to do. Which is basically: Floor it in reverse, slam your steering wheel to the left, sling your car in a 180 while putting it in Drive, then step on the gas again to keep going forward.

So we had some mishaps, like forgetting the whole "put it in Drive" part or accidentally killing our engine mid-sling-around, but overall we did well. And much more giggling ensued, which I'm sure our hardened former military instructors just loved....

After J Turns, we travel to the next station where we jump in even worse shape cars and proceed to spin each other out.

We got in my car -- and the brakes had stopped working. We used it anyway.

As I'm driving, the instructor is asking me what my favorite cartoon is, trying to keep me distracted while another car - also driven by someone who had no idea what they were doing - comes up, cuts into my rear fender, and spins us out.

It was actually pretty fun. Especially when it was my turn to hit the other car.

I get done knocking the other car off the road and my instructor starts to say "ok, just turn Right here and..."

but I've already turned Left. And we have no brakes.

So he stammers "...or a series of left turns..." as I giggle apologetically.

We finally rolled to a stop and I get in the backseat so my teammate can drive, and I proceed to enjoy being flung around while we get spun out again.

Then I realize I had forgotten to put my seatbelt on. Awesome. We are forced to wear helmets, our car has no brakes, and I don't even think to buckle my seatbelt.

When I get back to the side lines, Angie admits that her helmet flew off during their run. Clearly she and I are just made for this stuff.....

We move on to the final station which is: learning how to ram through another car and keep going.

I now want this station in my backyard to play with after every single one of my work days. Best stress reliever EVER.
You get in a car - with your partner in the passenger side - and a guy comes up to your partner's window and pulls a gun and you are supposed to floor it, drive through the car in front of you, and get to safety.

So I'm sitting there ready. And the guy pulls the gun on Angie.

Angie: "AAAAAAAHH! GO GO GO!" I floor it.

...and the car sits there, revving the engine.

I look at Angie, look at the guy with the gun, and now me and Angie are both yelling.


And I can see that I do actually have it in drive- but yet it just sits there.

Finally the guy "holding us up" has to break character and get the decrepit car to realize what gear its in, and I barrel through the other car, stop, and begin to open the door to get out -

and the inside of the door falls off.

Sweet! I may have had a slow start, but I ruined part of a car! Yes!

We watch the rest of the group go, enjoying each time they barrel through the dummy car. And everyone is choosing to ram the back of the dummy car. Everyone until Grandma.

So I haven't mentioned that there's a grandmother doing this course with us who has more testosterone than the boys on our team. She kept referencing the different ways she'd like to physcially abuse her exes to the point where Angie and I just tried to stay away from her.

Well Grandma gets in the car and hits the FRONT of the dummy car, which we all applaud cuz none of us chose that route -- and we all quickly realize why we didn't choose that route.

By driving at the angle it takes to hit the front of the car, you inevitably head towards a line of other cars just off to the side of the course, minding their own business.

So now Granny drives through the first car, and ricochets off the line of cars - and just keeps going. Doesn't even let off the gas.

Granny just totally schooled us.

Even so, we all feel pretty cool now knowing how to do these different manuevers. So at the end of the day, Angie and I confidently jump back in my Mustang and start to head home.

And we promptly get lost.

Still within the training grounds.

And we end up accidentally driving right up onto one of shooting ranges.

Yeah. So...maybe we won't quit our jobs just yet to become Navy Seals.

But what a fun experience.....

There's a video that someone else did that shows some of the experience here:

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Drivin' and Shootin'

I think I mentioned a while back that me and Angie - my Morocco travel partner here - signed up for an Extreme Driving/Weapons Training course at G4S International Training, Inc. Because why wouldn't we if given the option?

It. Was. Awesome.

I'm now even more convinced that I'm meant for something more dangerous than getting powerful men hairbrushes (see: here).

Well, maybe not meant for it as in I'm good at it, but meant for it in that -


Who cares that I accidentally shot the hostage I was supposed to be saving?


Maybe we should start from the beginning...

Angie and I arrive at the training facility after a three hour drive. Actually, we arrive at Cracker Barrel first because I was so afraid of being late for WEAPONS! TRAINING! (I can't stop saying it...) that we got down there way too early and had time to kill. And the best way I know how to kill time is to eat biscuits.

I am southern. Don't judge me.

We start to get out of the car at Cracker Barrel and I realize my shoes (light pink Converse sneakers- because what else would one wear to weapons training?) are ridiculously dirty. Angie notices too and I have to admit to her that the last time I wore them ...was in a mosh pit at a punk rock show.

I am in my 30's.....

Angie mumbles something about not being able to "take me anywhere..." and I can see she is second guessing our upcoming travel to Africa together; not to mention the fact that we are about to shoot guns together at a Special Ops training facility somewhere in Virginia....

Anyway, we eat and get to the facility and find out how the day will go. We break into teams and spend the morning shooting things, and the afternoon driving things.

Yes. It was that awesome.

We start by shooting various guns with live amo at targets like so:

Then we moved onto:

The shooting house.

The shooting house is set up so that teams can move in to "diffuse a hostage situation" and engage in "force on force" action with pellet guns.

Me and Angie looking somewhat tough...mostly because the masks hide that we are giggling.

I feel pretty good about our team immediately when we are all standing around waiting to "storm" the building and a giant bumblebee flies over -

and one of the guys on my team shoots it.

Yes! We might actually do well in this part!

Our instructors tell us stories about how intense the house can get and how they've seen teams freak out and start shooting each other once inside.

Dear goodness, it is untelling what Angie and I are going to do in there....

Then the instructor goes over general guidance. About how we should enter the rooms, and what our objective is. And how we shouldn't shoot the hostage. Then he says "everyone must enter each room, no matter what. Don't just stop and stand in the doorway."

So we finally get into the house:

And I get shot in the thigh in the very first room.


Which surprises me...so I stop in the doorway.

Dang it!

But we do well after that, clearing room after room until we finally find the hostage.

Except I don't see the hostage, I only see men inside a room. So I start blasting them like I'm Al Capone. And then slowly through the haze I see something out of place....

hmm....*bang bang bang*....that one guy doesn't even have a gun...*bang bang*....and it appears he's being held by that other guy....


At the end of the exercise, our instructer shakes his head and states how "it didn't pay to be a hostage today...."

(Apparently I wasn't the only one to shoot him. At least my team didn't shoot itself, right?)

After that, we moved on to driving....(which will have to be in the next post :)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Insight Into A Night Out In D.C.

Me and my friends try to find a not so crowded place to hang out and maybe dance a little...

Lone, very happy little guy comes off the dance floor and approaches us: "Heeeey! My name's Ronny what's yours?"
Shakes each hand in the group, whether we want him to or not.

Happy little guy , looking up at me: "I'm druuuunk! haha"

Me: "Mmm hmm"

Him: "Hey I'm Ronnie, what's your name?"

Me, not even shaking his hand this time: "Yeah, we did this, remember? I'm Dana."

Him, making a face: "Dana!? You don't look like a Dana...."

Me, slightly curious where this will go: "What do I look like then?"

Him, after a pause: "Cindy."


Him, making a face again: "Dana makes me think of....milk."



Him, asking our friend her name: "What's your name?"

Her: "Paige."

Him: "What's your name?"

Her: "Paige."

Him: "What's your name?"

Her: "Paige."

Him: "....Hey smell my cologne."

End Scene.

Yep, some real winners out there ladies....

Monday, June 11, 2012

Running on Inspiration

This past weekend, I ran my fifth Xterra 10k Trail Run in Richmond, VA. I wrote briefly about this race last year here but this year had even more excitement. I didn't find out about part of that excitement until after I finished, when I learned my race partner Sarah had taken a nasty spill, pulled a hamstring, and suffered a deep cut to her knee.

She still managed to finish before me.

Ahem. But that's ok, because *I* got to finish with these guys:

Those are guys from Team X-T.R.E.M.E., an organization that raises awareness for wounded service members through extreme feats of physical endurance. They always run the Xterra wearing gas masks and often have injured servicemen with them. This year, their pace man in front had lost part of his leg and was running on a prosthesis. So if I had any bit of whining in me about running in the heat early on a Saturday, these guys hushed that right up.

There were several of them this year and as we all lined up at the Start line, Sarah joked that if she passed them during the race, she was pinching their butts.

Turns out, I was the one who ended up running with them. (I guess my pace is what a really in-shape person would run....when their breathing is restricted. Sounds about right.)
Somehow, I got tangled up in their little formation at the beginning and as two of them passed by, breathing like Darth Vader, the third put his hand on my back and gestured for me to get in front of him on the path.

So I pinched his butt.

Ha! No I didn't. I should have, but instead I got all worried that I was in their way so I stammered an "I'm sorry!" and fell in line.

Eventually they all passed me. But I stayed not too far behind and whenever I felt tired, it was nice to look up and see them all. Strong. Consistent. Supportive.



What were we talking about?

Right -- the race. So after I fell behind, I continued along all the obstacles, through rivers, across boulders, etc. without incident until I got to the last bridge about a mile from the finish line. A guy jogged next to me and upon seeing the Team in Training shirt I was wearing, asked me if I was doing a race with them. I told him I had done a marathon with them a couple years ago and we exchanged pleasantries, wished each other luck, and he trotted away.

And I instantly felt nauseous.

Like, stopped me in my tracks, heaving over the side of the bridge nauseous.

That's only happened to me that one other time after I finished my first 1/2 marathon and never during a race. I couldn't believe it. I'd take a few a steps and bend over the railing again. The whole episode lasted so long I'm sure several other runners got to enjoy the sight. I finally felt better and started jogging again and saw the Gas Mask guys up ahead. So I'm thinking how cool it would be to come in right with them.

So I jog faster and do fall in behind them again, settling into their cadence. And it is cool to be near them because everyone along our route starts cheering wildly for what they are doing. Which is inspiring, and helps me get all the way to the finish line. And it's so great to cross the finish line basically with these guys.

So great, that is -

until they get stopped immediately after the line for photo taking and handshaking and what not.

And we are in between ropes.

And I am stuck behind them.

And I get nauseous again....

So in the end, there may be great photos of this awesome team of guys in gas masks --

and a girl behind them losing her Gatoraid.


Finally, a race attendant tells me I can go around them and I find Sarah in time to swap stories and get her knee washed out. And as we are hanging out at First Aid, we get to see Gas Mask boys start doing pullups at their testosterone tent. Because, you know, why wouldn't they have that much energy left after a race that made me vomit? Twice.

Sure made for good inspiration though....

Team member carrying a triple amputee through the tough course. Amazing.