It almost happened today

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I was really worried for a sec because I wasn’t prepared.  When the police car behind me started its siren I didn’t know what to do. Should I pull over or let him pass or what was I supposed to do? A moment later I realized that I didn’t have the goods with me. Damn it! Stupid, stupid, stupid… I was kicking myself.

I’ve been fantasizing about this moment for several months… well, since I saw Gabriel Iglesias’ video “Making Cops Laugh”.

That dark night, pulling over and looking into the mirror, watching the policeman approach. Then scrolling down the window and hearing the classic words “Do you know why I pulled you over?”  With a huge smile I’d say “Yes of course, officer. It’s because you can smell the donuts!!!” and I’d hand him the box of donuts I’ve been keeping in my car for just this occasion. 😀 I bet this trick would get me out of a ticket!

donuts

Sadly none of that happened because the police car passed me and went to save a frightened kitten from a tree. First thing tomorrow, I’m going to buy some donuts and keep them in an air-tight container somewhere in my car. I need to be prepared. Hmm… I wonder how long will the donuts stay edible?

I think Australia is getting the best of me… I’m backwards – I actually want to be pulled over. 

Better luck next time,

Ivar

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The big one

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Some of you might not know why I’m running this much. It’s because I plan to run the Australian Outback Marathon around Ayres Rock (that big rock in the center of Australia).

Ayers Rock

It’s a rather expensive race. In fact it’s the most expensive stunt I’ve done in my life. I’ve booked my flights and accommodation and it cost me a bit more than $2000. Totally worth it! Hey, you can’t run a marathon in the desert every day. I’m looking forward to the experience. I’ve got 8 more weeks to train (and recover) for it.

You know what I like about the marathon? I like that it’s such a big commitment. All the other stuff I’ve done is just something I can do in exchange for money. Take skydiving for example – all you need to do is pay for the thing and you can do it the very next day.

The marathon is a completely different beast. You can’t pay your way to the finish line. It takes a lot of work: about 1400 km of running, stretching, lots of yoga and eating. The last part is surprisingly difficult because I keep losing weight even though I’ve never eaten this much in my life as I do right now. It’s also tough to sit on your butt all day when you’re injured. The mental side of running is the hardest – the Lizard can be a real bitch sometimes.

Something tells me it’s going to be the best feeling ever to cross that finish line. That’s what motivates me. That’s what keeps me going.

Ivar

Hurt

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The day after my jump was pretty good. I went for a 32km run and was quite happy to finish it in less than 3 hours. This was my longest non-stop run ever and I ran a total of 75 km that week – two personal bests. I was in a good mood all day long. Life was good again.

Two days later things changed. I went for a 16 km run but noticed that my shins started to hurt when running. Every. Step. Was. Painful. I only ran 5 km.

Shin splints I guess. I’m no doctor but that’s probably what it is. I took three days off and went for a 10K. My legs felt slightly better but I reckon I need more rest. I cancelled today’s long run and spent the day on my couch feeling sorry for myself. I’ve never skipped my long run. This week I only did 15 km, it’s probably 15 km more than you did my dearest reader. This is just sad. It really sucks to be hurt.

You know what makes things even worse? I’ve got a half marathon race next Sunday. A sub 90 minute finish was my goal when I signed up but now it feels I’m lucky to finish in less than 2 hours. “What have I become, my sweetest friend?… I will let you down. I will make you hurt…”

Friday was also my last work day, I’m starting a new similar job next week. I’m going to miss some of the idiots from work. 😀 and flipping rubber bands, attaching binder clips to shirts, suspending batches so that somebody else would process the difficult ones…  Not exactly excited about the change because the new job is mostly boring data entry and only for 4 weeks. I wish I could do something with a bit more meaning for work. So I started to apply for “real” jobs again. Hmm…  maybe I should become a math teacher?

Dancing though is going pretty well and I do lots of it – about 10-12 hours a week. Clearly I’m enjoying it. I like that I’m not a beginner in some of my courses anymore. For example I’m taking Tango and Bachata intermediate lessons. Feels good to level up! There’s so much to learn. I also started hip hop for beginners. It was very different from Latin dancing but I’ll stick with it until they teach me to moonwalk.

Ivar

Naked Jumper

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Princess picked me up at 7:30 AM. Her ride is way better than mine. Our destination was Ripcord Skydivers near Gatton, just an hour’s drive west from Brisbane. We reached it around 9 AM, maybe a bit later.

I was very calm in the car and the days before the jump. It’s because I remembered my tandem jump and how good it was, so I wasn’t scared. I knew I’d enjoy it.

After several wrong U-turns we finally arrived at the DropZone, I blame the female driver for our logistical difficulties. We had to fill in some papers to make sure that we understood the risks involved with skydiving. After that training commenced.

Neither of us had done a solo jump before, this was going to be the first one. Our instructor Sara taught us how to put the parachute on, how to turn right, left and how to brake, how to land, what to do with line twists. Later she talked about how to open the emergency parachute. We practiced doing that for a good 30 minutes. She covered all kinds of malfunctions and what to do in each case.

We also practiced landing outside by jumping from stairs onto a mat and later the mat was removed to give us an idea what it really felt like. One student was a bit overweight and it was funny to listen to the instructor’s comments because he kept landing the wrong way. First it was: “OK, you just broke your ankles”, a bit later “yep, you just broke your right leg”… It was hilarious because he “broke” every bone possible. Later on he got better… I think (he continued practicing with the instructor as everybody else went on a break). After the break we practiced getting out of the plane. The idea is to stay low, otherwise you risk pulling the safety pins on your emergency parachute and in worst case scenario killing everybody on the plane.

I think the training ended around 2 or 3 PM. Sadly we were not able to jump immediately after it because of the strong wind. We had to wait for the weather to calm down.

As we waited, I noticed a guitar in one of the rooms and was able to kill some time playing a song or two. Since we were clearly bored one of the jump team members decided to show us a video compilation of last year’s jumps. She also added her commentary. It was really funny to see what you can do in the air.

For example there’s a thing called skyrape. It’s when one jumper mounts the other one from above and starts dry humping him/her and there’s nothing the other person can do about it. It’s one of the dumbest and funniest things I’ve seen. 😀

The videos had other cool stuff like eating M&M’s during a freefall, lots of funny faces and circling around each other. And then there was a clip of a naked guy getting out of the plane. The jump instructor said that guy got exactly the same training as we did and later asked whether he could do the jump nude. The instructors were OK with that and so he did.

Several other cool clips followed. Until Sara showed us a video of one guy who didn’t stay low as he got out of the plane, he pulled his emergency parachute’s pins out. Both of his parachutes opened after the jump but he was still able to land unharmed. After that the jump team started to talk about all kinds of accidents and about what bones some people broke and how they did it. It was funny to watch how much enthusiasm they had when they spoke about injuries. It was all great stuff to know about before my first solo jump.

I started thinking about that guy who jumped naked and thought for a second that I could do that. You know, you only live once. If you do something, you should do it with some gusto. I couldn’t get that idea out of my head and decided that I would do a nude jump as well. The jump team didn’t have a problem with that. Well, sort of. Sara didn’t agree to be the one to help me … uhm… fasten the parachute around my … uhm… down under. “Luckily” another guy agreed to do that.

I was asked whether I was excited. “I can’t get excited… if you know what I mean”, I replied. 😛

The initial plan was for Princess to jump on the flight before me. Later the jump team decided to put us on the same flight. So, Princess got suited up and had her parachute fastened to her back and a bit later it was time for me to Birthday Suit Up. The jump team had a lot of fun as they took pics of the other guy “helping” me with the chute. 😛 I will look back fondly to those fun and embarrassing moments for years to come…

OK, now it was time to get my bare ass on the plane. I wasn’t completely naked – I had to wear shoes and a helmet. The helmet had a radio in it which the instructors used to guide me through my jump and landing. Several practice routines on the ground to make sure that we remembered what to do and take off.

About 5-10 minutes later we were at 3500 feet and they opened the plane’s door. It stayed open for a good minute or two. They gave me the signal – three taps on my shoulder. I immediately forgot everything I learned during the training but somehow got out of the plane, stayed low and moments later was hanging on to the diagonal which connects the wing to the plane’s body. There was nothing below my feet and then all I had to do was let go.

Just 5-6 seconds later the parachute opened on its own. I looked up and saw a line twist, I got out of it, released the brakes, and followed the instructions given to me via the radio. I turned left, I turned right and practiced landing. Everything seemed OK with the chute. “Woooohooooooooooooo! Yeah! This is it! I did it! Woooooohoooooooooooo”, I screamed. 😀 I was super happy as I felt the breeze down under.

The idea was that a solo student jumped and after he/she landed the next one got out of the plane. John gave me instructions on when to turn right or left and guided me down to the landing spot. I got a bit confused because at one point he started to give instructions to Princess as well (it was the same radio frequency) and I turned when I wasn’t supposed to. I know, I know, excuses excuses. Anywho I overshot the big X but landed nicely on my feet (ok that’s a lie too, I crashed and burned). I daisy-chained the parachute, packed it all together and walked back to the jump team as Princess made her landing. Her landing was much better than mine. Overachiever.

I’m glad Princess joined me, she made the day very entertaining. I loved her company, especially her laughter and good mood.

Thank you Ripcord Skydivers! You rock!

A breeze “down under” has never felt this GREAT!

Ivar the Naked Jumper

chest strap

Popping the question

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A lot happened in the car. Not only did I manage to get an electric guitar I also found out that Princess is quite adventurous. We all were – everybody in the car had done a tandem skydive. The corners of my mouth turned upwards and I knew this was it. This was the moment I’ve been waiting for. I popped THE QUESTION. Without hesitation and with a HUGE smile she said YES!!! 😀 Princess agreed to do a solo skydive with me.

I wasn’t 100% sure whether she really meant it but two days later I saw her at another social dancing night and found out she meant business. Several minutes of planning, checking our calendars, synchronizing our watches and a booking was made on May 18th – only a week later. I can’t wait!

Sometimes I watch the above video of my tandem jump and it gets me back into that euphoric state of mind where anything is possible. I look so happy in the air, I felt alive. I want to experience it all again: the adrenalin pumping in my veins and that hollow sensation inside – a mix of fear, excitement and breathlessness. It’s going to be awesome!

The best things in life

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Sometimes I can be a little slow. It’s true what they say. We, men, don’t understand hints. We don’t understand BIG hints, nor do we understand small hints. We absolutely don’t get obvious hints.

Here’s what happened. During my Latin dancing lesson a girl told me she was really hungry. I immediately thought about the watermelon I had in my car just sitting on the passenger seat. I said nothing because for some reason associating black people and watermelons is racist. But that was really the case. I bought it before class and generally eat watermelon quite often to get my daily vitamin A and C.

So I just kept practicing my steps and was glad when I heard “Change partners”. Those two words ended the awkward silence. Once I was driving home it hit me. She was flirting (well, seriously, who can resist my charm? :D) and wanted to go grab a bite somewhere… Oh well, you live and you learn. Funny how my mind works…

 

A couple days later

I agreed to go to Cloudlands – a fancy club in Fortitude Valley. Goldilocks (her hair isn’t really golden :)) talked me into it, more or less. I thought that one late night in a work week won’t be the end of me.

Our group had six people. We all sort of knew each other from our Latin dancing courses but didn’t really socialize outside the class. That needed to change and a social dancing event at Cloudlands presented a good opportunity.

We also decided to carpool. Princess picked me up and I actually got to know her and others a little bit during the ride. Everybody seemed so interesting, I felt out of place.

First there was a Cuban Salsa workshop at the club. It was intense! Very fast, but lots of fun! We learned some new interesting moves. Well, at least I did. I liked the clapping and jumping parts!

After the workshop everybody danced salsa and bachata. I thought that after almost 3 months of dancing lessons I knew what I was doing until Goldilocks danced with this other guy. He was very good on his feet and made her look fantastic even though she’s just as much of a beginner as me. It’s amazing how much better the dancing looks when someone knows how to lead. I was jealous. Still am. I need to up my game.

Even though my world was shattered in front of my eyes, I managed to have a really good night – it’s always fun to dance with Goldilocks, Princess and Blondie. The best part was the end of night.

As we drove home I quite randomly asked whether anybody had an electric guitar with and amp to lend me. To everybody’s surprise Blondie did 😀 Sweet!

Oh I was excited, I was about to get a guitar! I’ve been wanting to learn to play Canon Rock by Pachebel and Free Bird by Lynyrd Skynyrd for years. The only problem was that I needed an electric guitar for that. I didn’t want to buy any more stuff since I’m very likely to leave Australia in December (I’m going to New Zealand, I got my working holiday visa). I was in the right place at the right time. Now I can practice the songs properly, playing on the acoustic isn’t quite the same. Thank you Blondie!

It’s true – the best things in life are free!

Best Things In Life Are Free

Social dancing

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One of the instructors said something which I couldn’t get out of my head. It took her three months until her first social dancing night and that in retrospect she regretted not going any sooner. The words “first” and “regret” just kept repeating in my mind. I like to do “firsts” and exploring new things. I also thought that I’m not going to repeat my teacher’s mistakes and decided that this weekend I have to go to the social dancing thing. No more excuses.

There was a workshop first. We had a guest instructor – Becky Lee. She’s Bruce Lee’s hot sister who just happens to be a professional dancer and of course a Kung-Fu master. The workshop was in Cha Cha Cha – something I vaguely remembered from high-school. It turned out to be an intermediate/advanced workshop, so I was a bit out of my league, but just only a tiny little bit.

The only part I enjoyed was saying “Cha-Cha-Cha” out loud when dancing stumbling about. I was good at that. 😀

Later we grabbed a partner and rotated the girls. I kept apologizing to everyone because of the lack of motor functions in my feet. Luckily I caught a break when I had to dance with a girl from my current class. Boy, I’ve never been so happy to see her! It was good to suck at the same time with a partner (although she was better than me).

Here’s what Becky taught us (somehow watching the video the steps don’t seem so advanced):

The workshop ended and it was time for some social dancing. Most of the night I danced with the same girl and I had lots of fun. It’s funny that you forget EVERYTHING once you’re on the dance floor on your own. But slowly we started to remember the moves and steps. And of course we invented many new shines and styles that night too.

I also had to seize the day and danced with Becky. After all she’s a professional and could dramatically improve my technique. I liked that she gave me many pointers and was very helpful. If I continue my current learning curve then one day very soon in the future I’ll be the one who gives pointers to wannabe professionals.

By the way I’ve been having so much fun in my Latin dancing classes that I’ve singed up for 9 lessons a week (starting in 2 weeks, currently I “only” do 5 classes a week). I thought that if you really enjoy something you should spend more time doing it.

Ivar