It’s Independence Day!
I had a great sleep, despite concussions going on all night and starting back up at six o’clock sharp, and also the car alarm that went off about five times, same car. We’re all in tents on the grass at this elementary school rented to be the Incident Command Center, in rural Utah, and I think someone had their keys in their pocket and was rolling around on them, throughout the night. I’m a great sleeper so I was only vaguely aware of it, but Nick said, “Where are we, Detroit?,” this morning, puffy faced. The fireworks were odd — just kind of banging away most of the night, and starting early again. I don’t really know what to make of that. And like I said, really concussive, less fizz-bang than most fireworks.
What I’m used to is no fireworks, because I’m from Arizona and it’s too likely to burn down, so they’re illegal aside from a few controlled public shows. When I was a kid, in the Oklahoma years etc., we’d go to roadside stands and buy fireworks with my dad, and set them off in the yard or at his best friends’ house, who’d married and had two kids the same age as us. I loved the pretty packaging of the fireworks — like fancy makeup from the Lancome counter at the mall or something, not that I would have known what that looked like back then — and then I was less excited about the loud bangs, but I did enjoy the pretty lights and flashes. Honestly, even as a, whatever, six or eight year old, I was like “this seems pretty dangerous” lol.
Buffy is an old hand at tuning out. She can tune out anything. Which is odd, because I can tune out anything, and I’m always shocked at how deeply our similarities run. Milo is scared of the fireworks. He sat on Nick’s chest like a Sphinx this morning, with the sleeping bag pulled over his head like the Virgin Mary, panting and startling with each concussion, scanning and scanning and scanning. Just a whole lot of teepee tent to see, but he couldn’t help it. We are wondering if this is his first 4th of July? Out of the basement, anyway? If he could hear the fireworks, no one would have been with him. He might not have been able to hear them. So probably a first all around.
Anyway, at the height of the 6am explosives display (really, Utah?), Buffy did exit her fluffy doughnut bed and sidle up between us, but it seemed almost more intended to comfort us, or Milo, than herself. She’s able to be quite philosophical about quite a lot.
We did a great clean/snatch barbell workout yesterday evening, as the celebratory concussions in the sky were just getting going, and Nick was playing some AFI through the bluetooth speaker. He’s quite a gifted singer, even under his breath, and was replacing all the prog-rock lyrics with variations of “little dogggggggggggs”. We mutually envisioned a stage show frantic with hi-fi, metal af images of Buffy turning her circles and Milo’s ‘gator mouth projected behind the singer. How epic would that be?
My cleans have been lagging behind my other lifts, in terms of form, so I did some shoring up last night that I’m happy with. I’ve maybe explained before, but essentially the whole deal with barbell is that you’re adding weight to basic human movements — stuff you’d do all day long in any case, like pushing something up over your head or squatting down — and so zero percent of it is about isolation. I really like it, but it does make your whole body feel creaky and stiff, once you get into a good program. We do six days a week, fire camp and travel interruptions notwithstanding, and here’s our basic program:
Monday: heavy bench 3×3, volume overhead press
Tuesday: heavy deadlift 3×3
Wednesday: volume squat 5×5, then maybe higher volume 3x8or10
Thursday: heavy overhead press 3×3, volume bench
Friday: cleans for me, heavy snatches for Nick, maybe volume barbell rows
Saturday: heavy squat 3×3, then maybe volume squat
So as you can see, it’s a push/pull/squat, push/pull/squat idea. Anyway, back to the point, my working weight on everything has fluctuated more than I’d like (rather than only trending incrementally upward) because of all the other variables — I don’t always eat enough, we’re often traveling, sometimes our days are just too darn long even without the workout, etc. In fact, we were both quite disappointed in our deadlift working weight at our last fire camp, and then turns out we were pulling from about a one-inch deficit, without knowing. Nick had set up this dug-out flat spot and tarped it over, and when he removed the tarp there were inch deep gouges. Which was actually really good news, for the gains I mean. I missed deadlift day this week, at this fire camp, because x y z, so we’ll see what I can pull on level ground Tuesday, if we’re still here. I’m up to almost 1.5x my own body weight, which is really cool.
Back to cleans, though — they’ve just been so hit or miss. They’re an explosive Olympic lift, at whatever weight, and I was pulling more at our gym before the pandemic than I am now, which is frustrating. They’re a weird one because you don’t have time to think — it’s just do or do not. And I’ve been doing a lot of do not; ie, explosively standing up with the bar and then just getting a funny look on my face. Nick’s lost some weight on his snatch, too, which he’s unusually philosophical about, probably because he doesn’t consider it an all the way real exercise.
Anyway, after having quite a few false starts with my clean in the last several months, I decided to just go low weight high reps last night and my god, what a burnout! I think next time I’m tempted to sprint or jog, I’ll just do some low weight cleans. I couldn’t even help Nick change weights between our sets, I was just draped in a lawn chair. Anyway, the hope was I’ll lock in some type of muscle memory there. With all the other lifts, you have some time to think. I think I’ll keep pushing heavy on everything else and high reps on cleans, until they’re out of the woods.
It’s kind of cool to have done enough of this that I can make my own programming tweaks now! I just remember a time, almost a year ago, where I had just gotten done hitting myself in the chin with the bar like three times in a row, overhead pressing, and Nick was standing there telling me something, and I was just staring at him but not hearing. Just feeling the bar hitting my chin, mentally, and being angry about it, starting my period and not wanting to try anymore. I’ve come a long way.
Anyway, it’s just so fun to work on this eternal barbell project in all these different places, and always with the little dogs leashed up to one of our 35 lb. dumbbells. Nick was dramatically snatching with the extra big heavy bumper plates on there, last night, and people from all the way across the parking lot at the catering trucks were sort of cheering and vicariously flexing, and Buffy was semi-collapsed into her own ‘full diaper,’ as we say (“toddling with her full diaper” is an apt descriptor for the way Buffy ambulates, like she eternally just learned how to walk — her hind legs may have been broken, as a puppy), just blinking at the air, and Milo was smiling at life itself. Until the fireworks started.
So yeah, it’s Independence Day, which is still valuable I think because — well, the British were dicks, so rising up against them represented one of our country’s few truly justified military engagements. It’s sad to imagine how much better it could have been from a standpoint of having initially (or at any point) committed to remotely ethical conduct here, on the part of the Europeans, but also unrealistic. I mean, the whole thing was originally funded in order to be an overt smash-n-grab, so it’s kind of like a thug breaking into a jewelry store and then deciding he’d rather stay.
I heard Ben Shapiro read some of the perspectives of the 1619 project lady — Hannah Wilkes Boothe or whatever her name is; wait, I looked it up, it’s Nikole Hannah-Jones — about the continuous lying rape, pillage, and murder of the indigenous populations at the hands of the colonizers, and I was like, “Oh yeah, that’s the deal.” I mean, I grew up on a reservation — anyone who thinks it wasn’t like that is smoking red white and blue crack. There’s a great book called “Blood and Thunder: An Epic of the American West” by Hampton Sides that I’d recommend for anyone interested in an actual history of European expansion in the North American continent, not the Kit Carson valorizing text book version. I mean, when I was in school we did learn about the idea of “manifest destiny” with an emphasis sort of like “it wasn’t good, mmm’kay,” like the skinny bespectacled teacher in South Park would say it. Just Lies Lies Lies, to quote one of my favorite albums from when I was in junior high.
It’s especially sad that some tribes were leveraged to fight other tribes, with assurances of protection if they did, and then they were fucked over along with everyone else. And meanwhile their women and children put on, for instance, steamboats for safe transport wherever, and a number of the steam boats sank, killing everyone aboard, and so we have for instance the Creeks conscripted to helping to subdue the Seminoles, with whom they had no real qualm, in order to protect women and children who they didn’t realize were already dead. I mean, it’s just so ugly.
Brilliant military strategists always emerge from these situations, fascinatingly, and one of the most brilliant was Crazy Horse, a Lakota. It’s nearly impossible to imagine the paralyzing fear these folks would have faced — it wasn’t just a homeland invasion, with an eye to conquer, like so many of Europe’s endless skirmishes, but truly an eradication campaign. Nevertheless, Crazy Horse said, “Upon suffering beyond suffering: the Red Nation shall rise again and it shall be a blessing for a sick world. A world filled with broken promises, selfishness and separations. A world longing for light again. I see a time of Seven Generations when all the colors of mankind will gather under the Sacred Tree of Life and the whole Earth will become one circle again.”
The interesting thing about our current revisitation of this history — about which, today of all days, I’m sure social media will be auto-eroticizing to climax, all day long, and I’m scared to even look — is the position that it puts Caucasians in. Which I don’t think is any kind of position at all, necessarily, and I’ll explore that in a moment, but we’re kind of reading history into one another’s race right now, obviously, right? So black people, for instance: your ancestors probably didn’t get here on a cruise ship, in a first class stateroom. White people: the cat’s outta the skin-color bag, you’re not indigenous! So your ancestors came here and…what? That’s the big what. If you’re Irish do you get a pass? And then native folks, obviously — we can just look at your features and know how hard your ancestors got screwed over, and it’s a wonder they even survived to produce you. Mexican/Hispanic/Central American folks: I see you quietly taking over the world. Just amiably, industriously doing everything better, faster, and cheaper, which is the definition of the future. One day we’re gonna wake up say “oh shit, when did the Mexicans take over the entire western Hemisphere?!” We’ll all be standing in line and waiting for our handouts from our Mexican overlords.
Anyway, back to the position this puts Caucasians in, in the United States or elsewhere, I just don’t buy that the sins of the father are visited upon the children. I think that’s an insane black hole of an ideology that gets everyone nowhere, or no-one anywhere — your preference. And while it may seem like an excuse or dodge, coming from a Caucasian gal, let me add this caveat: I think “the sins of the children” are usually monumental enough in their own right to merit direct handling, and if those sins represent an inherited brand of short-sightedness and bigotry, then great — even more pertinent. I can use an old psychic wound as my excuse to lavish abuse upon people forever, but what’s at issue — for the rest of the world — is not the old psychic wound, it’s the current abuse. I don’t think any of us mind the others suffering in silence, as long as we can behave ourselves.
I’ve noticed that I make my most catastrophic right-now mistakes while agonizing over my past ones, which is exactly what I think we’re doing in regards to animal sentience, while we split hairs about who disregarded whose sentience most dramatically in the past. It’s relevant and it’s real, and anyone who pshaws the contestations of, for instance, the 1619 project, is fundamentally out of touch.
But here’s the crazy thing about judging individuals in the past by the standards of the present: at some point, you’ve got to realize we’re not out of the woods on that! Maybe the best way to prove that *you* would have done better, back in slave days or manifest destiny days or Japanese concentration camp days or Germany 3rd Reich days, is to prove that you can think outside the sentient mass murder box now. Can you? If not, how do you stand there and posture about the choice others made centuries ago? The same choice faces you, and about 99% of us are negotiating it incorrectly, and in the face of perhaps more profound evidence to the contrary. I mean, have you met a dog? There’s your answer. Tolstoy put it so well: “A vegetarian diet is the acid test of humanitarianism.” Never been more relevant.
There’s still time to be a hero, in exactly the way you wish those old statue guys would have been.
Also I’d like to note that the Protestant reformation was a turbulent, violent time, and one of the most shocking things about it from modern sensibilities is that, while the Roman Catholics and the new Protestants (get it? The protest-ants?) saw themselves as disagreeing so fundamentally that everything was at stake — what was really “at stake” were thousands of women, being burned at the stake, BY BOTH SIDES! As “witches”! Witches, for fuck’s sake. How insane is that? No more insane than us, right now. Black, white, reparations, white fragility — everyone gobbling animals as fast as they can. We commit our worst sins while psychologically reacting to past sins, so be careful of that.
Also, apropos of not much, I think the burning of the witches permanently changed our Western human gender trajectory in a variety of ways we don’t consider. I think it’s no coincidence that post-witch-burning medicine has evolved as a means to, primarily, cut off limbs and compartmentalize symptoms. We killed all the people who knew how to invoke our god-given birthright, the magic and medicine of the earth itself. We didn’t kill “witches”, or not only witches — we killed the parts of ourselves, collectively, that remain connected to the earth and which can glean some alternative to our own ceaselessly warlike nature. Maybe, as Crazy Horse prophesied, the Red Nation can lead us out of this after all. I, for one, would be stoked to see it.
But hey, I’m just a rando with a blog, at a fire camp, wrapping up and Independence Day blog just in time to squat 🙂 Anyway, happy 4th of July to everyone, who is I hope celebrating the idea of independence from brutal, violent, oppressive ideology in the best, brightest way possible, today of all days.