Posts Tagged ‘trapeze’

Bashed Up Beauty

on November 5, 2010 in Misc 6 Comments »

I have a couple of stitches on the edge of my upper lip.

Just two of ‘em, but they’re black and ugly and one thread in the knot hangs down far enough that can I feel it with my tongue when I’m eating.  Gross.  When people ask me what happened I tell them I cut myself shaving (har har).

If Layla ever has stitches it’s because she gets into a dust-up with some bad guy.  Or maybe she fell while climbing around some place in the dark.  Whatever the reason, it would be glamorous.

Me?  I get sewn up because the dermatologist wanted to cut out some “thickening tissue” and do a biopsy on it.

A few months ago I saw her because a red, flaky patch on the right edge of my upper lip wouldn’t go away.  Turns out it was actinin keratosis, which is pre-cancerous so she advised freezing it off.  Have you ever had a ten-second blast of nitrogen aerosol on the edge of your lip?  HOLY SHIT IT HURTS!  And my lip really didn’t look so good afterwards.  At work I sent an email to co-workers explaining that, contrary to my appearance, I did not have an STD.

When the small red thickening wouldn’t completely vanish, I went back to the doc.  Sure enough, I soon find myself trying not to SCREAM as a nurse injects a numbing drug into my lip edge, after which the doc does her cutting and sewing.  At the worst, she figures I have squamous cell skin cancer, which ain’t nothing to worry about.  But for the next week, I’ve got black stitches on my lip.  Don’t I look lovely.

What is it with my face?  Why does it keep getting bashed up in the most unglamorous ways?

The only other time I’ve had stitches was (of course!) in my face.  I was still flying trapeze at the time and goofing around with fellow flyers on a trampoline when I slammed my knee off my forehead.  Seven stitches above my left eyebrow.  When I was younger I had maxillofacial (jaw) surgery.  For a couple months afterwards I looked like I’d been hit by a truck.  After my cataract surgery I had bruised eyes that made me look like I’d been in a nasty fight.  In high school and college I had surgery on the (non-working) air passages in my nose.  I looked like hell afterwards.

I swear fate just plain picks on my poor face.

Why can’t it be my ass or thighs that get injured?  They’re big and tough.  They can take some punishment.  But no, it’s my face that gets bashed up with sad regularity.

Anyway, thanks for listening to me vent.  From now on, I’m toughening up and so is my face.

Now back to being Action Woman.

Failing to Hang the Cat

on August 22, 2009 in Misc Comments Off on Failing to Hang the Cat


Today in parkour I jumped over and over again off a six foot platform onto a six inch mat.  That may not sound like any big whup, even when I jumped backwards. But bear in mind that when I first got up on the big wooden box that served as the platform and looked down my brain said “No, don’t think so.”  Still I kept jumping off, and to me that’s progress.

Funny how I used to fly trapeze but when it comes to jumping over things or off anything high (and not onto a net below) a part of me cringes.  I used to jump around all the time as a kid, but with the passing years it seems that a kind of subconscious carapace has formed around me and now weighs me down.  From what I can tell it’s composed of caution and the restricted movements grown-ups adopt as they move through the world, along with a self-conscious fear of making a fool of myself.  Well, it’s time I shed the burdensome thing.  If I want to have Layla’s physical prowess, I have to combine an adult’s strength and coordination with a child’s gleeful daring.

Anyway, I did pretty well in the jump-offs, and I only wish I could say the same about the cat jump and cat hang.   They’re basic moves in parkour and an efficient technique for scaling walls and climbing down from them.  Certainly they’re just the sort of moves Layla would sometimes use when getting into some off-limit places.


With the cat jump, I was supposed to jump forward at the plywood platform wall with my feet up in a crouching position, and they should hit the wall before my hands grasp the edge of the platform above me, or at least my hands and feet should get there simultaneously.  But time and again my hands got there first and my feet landed a second later, making both my grip and position insecure.

For the cat hang, I needed to slip the lower part of my body over the platform’s edge, dig the toes and balls of my feet into the wall, then slide my upper body over the edge while maintaining a firm grip on that edge.  (For the first part just go as far as your nipples, Jake said, clearly accustomed to an all-male class.  I decided that my entire breasts should be above the edge.)  That should have left me with my feet planted against the wall in a crouching position while my butt hung parallel with them and my arms were stretched out above me.  But my feet never got a grip and kept slipping and making me drop off the platform.

“You should work on that,” Jake said after my multiple failures.

No kidding.

We ended class with the kind of workout that makes me wonder yet again if I’m nuts for studying parkour.  Although we’d already had an hour and forty minutes of intense exercises, we now had to do three rounds of five chin-ups, three rounds of ten push-ups on the box vaults, fifteen sprints, fifteen jump ups into squats then dropping into a push-up, and finally fifteen broad jumps interspersed with fifteen more push-ups.

Damn, I’m tired!

I’m so tired that I’m finally acknowledging the ugly little fact that I dread going to parkour class every Saturday.  I dread the exhaustion and dripping sweat and heart-pounding exertion and the constant need to summon what frayed threads of strength I have left to do a stunt one more time.

I’m so tired I’ve been counting the classes I have left to finish this ten-class course (either three or four, since I’m not sure if the National Parkour Jam counted as a class).

And now on top of being so very tired I’m also very, very frustrated.  That’s because — damn it! — I’ve come to realize how absurdly optimistic my assumption was that the ten-week course would be enough for me to fulfill this particular portion of my Becoming Layla plan.


That’s right.  I foolishly thought that ten two-hour classes would be enough to teach me how to climb up and down buildings, both exteriors and interiors, along with giving me the techniques to evade a pursuer across a treacherous landscape or urbanscape.  Strictly speaking, I certainly could mentally attain all this knowledge in much less time because my brain works fast.  It’s my body that’s the slow learner.

Say you challenged me to get into some old archives in a converted mansion in a European town and retrieve a medieval manuscript that’s locked away.  Layla could do it.  I, in turn, am now able to tell you HOW I would do it, but that’s light years away from actually, physically being able to perform the job  And to be like Layla means just that — I must be prepared for such assignments (however fictional they may be) not only by having a solid knowledge base but by being in top physical shape.   My body’s instincts and abilities must be every bit as up to snuff as my mind’s.

You know what that means, don’t you?  It means I have to continue training in parkour for months to come.

Damn it.

That said, I still doubt that I’ll take the ten-class intermediate course right off the bat; instead I should have some individual workouts in the gym on the equipment and probably repeat a few of the fundamental classes.  Then when I can finally do the vault box jumps and the hanging cat and a few chin-ups and other stuff, I’ll feel right about moving on to the intermediate classes.

And won’t they be just loads of fun.

New York Trapeze

on August 21, 2009 in Misc Comments Off on New York Trapeze

A quickie explanation for this post:  I only just realized that I refer in an earlier post to trapeze, and in fact I wrote something about the subject back in July.  Trouble is, I wrote it in Word, left it on my hard drive in my computer, and forgot to switch it to this blog the next day.  Oops.

Here’s what I wrote.

July 19

The New York Times is running an article with photos of a trapeze school in Manhattan that’s open to the paying public.  The piece is well written and I empathize with the novices and especially the little kids who get scared up there on the platform.  I also admire the athletes who work the rig.  But after viewing the online photos part of my reaction was…


Let me explain.

Back in the late eighties/early nineties I flew trapeze for a few years.  (That’s something Layla has never done in my imagination, so as with fencing I’m one up on her.)  There was a rig in the YMCA here in Denver and a motley gang of us flew on it Wednesday and Friday nights; one or two members had even flown trapeze professionally.  And we referred to it as flying and called ourselves flyers.  Never, ever did we say that we trapezed or that our sport was trapezing, as the NY Times reports it.

The article also has a reference to Carrie Bradshaw on the trapeze in Sex and the City.  Well, I saw that episode and it bugged the hell out of me.  In an early scene Carrie is too afraid to jump off the platform.  Very understandable.  My first time up on a big rig in Indiana (as opposed to the smaller Denver one) I definitely got the heebie-jeebies.  But in the final scene Carrie goes back to the trapeze and jumps off and swings while in a voiceover she babbles about letting go and friends being safety nets and taking the leap or some such inspirational drivel.  My reaction?


For Christ’s sakes, she was wearing a harness!  She couldn’t have fallen if she wanted to!  Don’t preach to me about letting go and courage when you’ve got a fucking fail-safe back-up system right there around your waist!

And that’s what the photos in the NY Times also showed: amateur flyers wearing a harness, or, as the article explained, a thick leather belt with a safety line secured to it.  Now with little kids I can understand the precaution; if that were my child up there I’d be sticking him or her in a harness myself.  But the adults?  Please.  Except for visiting kids, on the very rare occasions any of us Denver Flyers used the harness was when we were attempting a dicey new trick, one that would bash us up if we screwed it up.  Otherwise we did REAL flying and all our tricks without any harness.  Whether we successfully executed a trick or missed connecting with the catcher, we still had a net to land in. So do the people on the New York rig. 

Trapeze isn’t rock climbing after all; in that sport and some others a harness can be essential.  Yes there are free climbers who work sans harness, sans ropes, and even sans any equipment, and while I highly respect their skills and freakish strength, I also think they’re batshit crazy.

Anyway, the moral of my story is:  When you’ve removed all the risks from a sport then you’re not really performing that sport.  You’re just faking it.

Layla would not approve.