Sunday, February 13, 2011

Unlikely Inspiration

I rarely answer the house phone anymore. It's never for me, I don't give anyone that number, and I generally get annoyed at whoever I talk to on there.

But today, I happened to be sitting in the kitchen, my parents were out, and when it rang I thought it might be my cousin who I have to do something with tomorrow, or my aunt who I need to ask for a favor anyway. Turns out it was my other cousin, Matthew.

Matthew is two years older than me. He looks scary, with a shaved head and tattoos on his neck and hands. He has been in and out of trouble for most of his life, kicked out of the various Catholic schools of the city, and in more serious legal trouble. But his bark is WAY bigger than his bite as he's actually quite charming and adorable, with his crooked smile and Irish good looks. He's easily the most Irish of any of us and although he keeps his head shaved now, has fantastic auburn waves when he doesn't. He is the father of the most hysterical 6 year old twins ever. The girl is actually quite bossy and contrarian, but then again so is almost every female in my family. The boy twin is one of the few children I like. He is a HUGE football fan and just...he's flipping ridiculous.

Like I said, Matthew has been in and out of trouble, but recently, in the past year or so, he decided to get his act together. Figured out that he was one of those people for whom alcohol is a really bad idea, as he is an awful, mean drunk, and got really into nutrition. He's trying to get his body down to an absurd 7% body fat.

And because of this, I occasionally run into him at the gym near my house.

Oh, digression: my grandfather somehow master engineered everyone living within a relatively close radius of his house. So even though SF is, for all intents and purposes, a major freaking city, when we were growing up, all my aunts lived within 2 miles of my grandfather's house. My mom and my Aunt Jeanne are still in the same houses from back then (we've been in this house since I was 4) and are just on opposite sides of Stonestown from each other. Matthew still lives at home, I still live at home, hence us running into each other at the same gym, the closest to our houses that is open the latest.

So when I answered the phone, I had a few minute conversation with Matthew. Pleasantries exchanged, he asked me what I was up to. I said, "Studying."

I should add that I was at wits end today. I didn't want to write about it because I'm tired of complaining, I figure everyone else is tired of hearing me complain, and it's all just a giant guhhhh but, safe to say: it was NOT a good day.

Matthew then says, "Have you been going to the gym?" I say, "Nooo. I've been studying and can only work my brain or my body at any given time! I can't do both!" I'm exasperated. I'm losing it. I'm frustrated. Though trying to be pleasant on the phone. Matthew then says, "There is ALWAYS time to make yourself feel good!" I sort of half laugh and tell him he reminds me of my brother, something he said a lonng time ago that he probably doesn't even remember saying but that has always stuck with me about always making time to work out.

I actually hung up with him and was sort of annoyed, and thought to myself, in a sarcastic way, "Well YOU were more fun when you drank..."

I go through the afternoon studying and cursing and crying. It's finally 9 at night and Matthew's words are still ringing in my ears. I figure there might be some truth to them and I should go work out and see if that makes me feel any better, as I've hit a wall with studying. I tell my mom I'm going to the gym and that Matthew shamed me into it. I tell her what he said on the phone and she laughs.

But holy crap was he right! I feel so much better! It was like, "Alright, I got this. Conquering the treadmill? THAT I can handle. The rest of this? It will come." And I gave myself ridiculous internal pep talks while I did it and I listened to my favorite mix over and over again. I do an hour of cardio and stretch after. I feel refreshed now. Endorphins, man. Flipping endorphins. It's easy to forget, in the midst of all this bar stuff, how important it is to still take care of yourself and let your brain rest (and not just by watching TV). I remembered what it felt like to move my muscles and let it all go and remember that there is a future beyond this.

Thus, a shout out, to my adorable cousin for kicking my ass, reminding me of the little things, and sending my ass back to the gym. It was a solid idea.

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