On skateboarding, softball, and sillyness

It was one of those things where you think to yourself, “I have to do this. I must do this. I will do this!” And now, in hindsight, I should not have done this.

It all started on a warm Wednesday afternoon. The day before, on a warm Tuesday afternoon, I mowed the front yard, so naturally on the next day, I’d mow the back. It takes about 40 minutes behind a push mower I bought from my neighbor years ago. It’s a trusty little mower. I secretly planned to mow half the yard Wednesday, and finish it up on Thursday. Such a secret, I didn’t even tell my dogs! Because we’ve all seen how that can go.


Mowing only half of the backyard was partly due to conserving energy for 2 softball games I had that night, one at 615 and the next at 720. I know softball isn’t exactly physically demanding, but I still like to be energized for running, etc. Anyway, I ended up mowing the entire backyard, which wasn’t the worst decision I made that day.

While I was mowing, I thought to myself, “Hey, I should ride my skateboard to the games tonight.” Now we’re getting really, really close to the worst decision I made that day. Plus, how is riding a skateboard 2.5 miles in any way going to help me conserve energy? I’m so silly. I’m also stubborn, so now that the challenge was out there… there wasn’t really a chance I’d say no.

A couple of hours later I gathered my gear and went through everything mentally. I’d need a backpack, flashlights, water, phone. Check. I left the house and here’s what I realized by the time I arrived at the field 30 minutes later: It was mostly walking! The original plan was to walk the uphills, then ride the downhills and flat spots. Well, there were about 2 flat areas and the hills were steep and horribly positioned. They all seemed to end at an intersection. C’mon man! So I ended up walking up and down the hills.

I only had 2 close calls on the way to the fields: one where I did ride down a hill and needed to make a right, almost sliding into a car because I could barely maintain the turn with the speed I was going. The second was when I fell backwards, landing on my hands and rump. I’m sure someone saw this (I was in a neighborhood) but I didn’t hear any laughter. They were probably just being kind till I was out of ear shot.

I played the two softball games, and was pretty much dreading the ride back home, another 2.5 miles and this trip in the dark. I had a headlamp on the entire time, and flashed a Maglite flashlight when cars were near. So. Much. Walking. But I was determined to ride, so I sometimes pushed the board going uphill. I made it in about 32 minutes but my legs were toast!

Good news: I didn’t fall or have any near collisions this return trip.

Bad news: As I’m typing this post, pretty much every part of my lower body is sore. What a leg workout that was, and for future reference, you will not see me riding the skateboard on Wednesday nights from here on out! I’ll take advantage of the luxury of having a car to ride in, thankyouverymuch!

-Out of the Wilderness

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I think I’ve embarrassed myself in almost every sport

Yesterday I was thinking about the MOST EMBARRASSING sports fail in my entire 39-year life. It was so bad… the kind of thing you’d see in a movie or in a YouTube video, like this.


Thankfully no one was recording me, so I’ll just have to tell you how it went down…

I was playing soccer, a sport I love to play. But I was playing a position I wasn’t cut out for: goalie. Yikes! So that already made me uncomfortable, plus I only knew one person on the team so I felt like I had a lot to live up to with all the teammates who probably expected me to help them win. Help them win, meaning stop the ball when someone kicks it towards the goal. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, just hold your horses right there!

One time someone kicked the ball from about mid-field. Not a hard kick, but it had some leg behind it. I was all alone since both teams were still mostly on the other end of the field. As the ball rolled towards me, I had zero pressure to do anything athletic. And “not do anything athletic” is exactly what I did! I remember thinking, “Oh man, I’m going to knock this ball so far.” I was so proud of myself for what I was about to do, the team would love me for it. They would carry me off the field on their shoulders. High fives all around. Tell their grandchildren about what their goalie did that day.

Well, they probably WILL still their family what happened… I moved towards the ball and engaged my kick approach. Head down. A few steps, then boom with the left foot…

In my defense, the field was really rough, so the ball was bouncy. So bouncy that when I made a swift kick, I came into contact with nothing. Nothing at all. Air. The stupid bouncing ball had bounced OVER my stupid foot! Embarrassing, right? Well, not as embarrassing as the ball bouncing over my foot AND rolling into the goal. Yep. That’s exactly what happened on the worst day of my sporting career.

I can’t ever show my face at the Donelson YMCA soccer fields again.

via Giphy.com

Other bad days include a critical “go on two” false start in flag football, an “I got up too quick from a slide” in softball where I got up too quick and fell backwards, another softball blooper where I slid head first into first base and was called out because I never actually reached the base, and my entire middle school basketball career was minutes long because my coach only played me a few minutes each game– entirely embarrassing! I still have room for other sports like volleyball, baseball (although I might have a story to share about that later), tennis, and maybe running.

Please don’t judge me. But I will accept any empathy from you, dear reader.

-Out of the Wilderness

My very own epic fails, part 1

I had an epic fail yesterday so as I laughed at the mistake I made, I thought about other times in my life where I’ve had major goof-ups. A few solid ones came to mind, and a few that I was hoping I’d forget about. The first I’ll share with you takes place in a Coast Guard Day softball game. My dad was in the Coast Guard and on this particular day, he let my brother and I play in the softball game. I was probably 12 or 13 at the time. I had seen this on TV so at one point when I hit a ball to the infield, I decided to slide into first base… head first. Let’s just say I ended up back in the dugout because the mud I slid in wasn’t as slippery as I thought it would be. Dove towards first, slid a little, stopped sliding before I even reached first base! Embarrassing. Then to top it all off, I cried. What a sissy.

There’s another embarrassing softball story, but this was in college. And again, I was sliding. I rounded second base and sprinted towards third. The throw came in and the third baseman tagged me, I was out. But we were arranged in such a way that when he pulled out of the tagging position, he had to toss my legs to the side. I took that as an arrogant assault so I became visibly angry. Realizing I took this the wrong way, he offered his hand to help me up, to which I rejected and popped up on my own. Unfortunately I got up too fast for my own good and ended up falling backwards. It was the most embarrassing moment of my college career, and that includes the few times I crashed my bike riding down a hill.

Another epic fail while I was in college involves my brother, yet again. This time it was his college graduation. Me, being the techy video fanatic, brought along my video camera to record the once-in-a-lifetime event. It was a great day! The battery was charged, I had a tape in the camera and things were looking up. I recorded clips throughout the ceremony and when it was his turn to walk across the stage, I was ready. Or so I thought. Checking the video afterwards, I made a giant mistake. You know how sometimes you can be recording when you don’t think you are, then not recording when you do think you are? So I recorded him walking up the ramp to the stage, then nothing, then him walking back to his seat. I completely missed him receiving his accolades as he shook hands with faculty crossing the stage. I’m such an idiot!

I owe an apology to my brother-in-law for the next epic fail. It was a beautiful day in the Gulf of Mexico. The guys in my family went out for a fishing trip in hopes of catching grouper, snapper, rock bass, whatever we could. My bro-in-law hooked something big. It took him a good while to reel it in, and whatever it was put up such a fight that we all took turns reeling. Towards the end he took the pole back and I assigned myself video duty. It was a huge nurse shark from about 90 feet down! It was amazing. I’d show you the video here but much like the disaster that was my brother’s graduation, I hit record to capture the event, only to realize when I hit the button to start recording, it was actually stopping the recording. I got about a 1-second view of that big fish. Dang it, Ben!

And to circle back around to my most recent epic fail… it was yesterday. I set out to capture the total solar eclipse in video fashion so I planned and prepped. Practiced and packed. On eclipse day I was ready. I arrived a couple hours ahead of time to get a good spot. I wanted to record 2 separate videos… 1. A 360-degree view of the park where I watched the eclipse and 2. a timelapse of the Parthenon there at the park. The 360-video went off without a hitch, but when I went to start recording the images for the time-lapse on my GoPro, the information window said “no SD card.” My attempt at a cool time-lapse was eclipsed by my own silly forgetfulness. As it turns out, I was practicing time-lapse shots in my back yard and after transferring footage from the SD card to my computer, I forgot to return the SD card to the GoPro. Soooooooo instead of a cool shot of the Parthenon, enjoy my practice time-lapse of mushrooms in my back yard. You’re welcome, America!

-Out of the Wilderness

 

 

A controversial play at the plate, you decide!

The summer season of softball has me taking the mound for the CMT Swingers. I usually play outfield but I’ve really enjoyed pitching, and didn’t know I would like it so much. I’ve even worked on a knuckle ball. Whether the knuckle helps at all is up for debate because a few batters had solid hits off of it. But I’ve also struck out a few that surprised me. Another “trick” I like to do is pitch the ball quickly when the batter gets in the box. My philosophy as a pitcher and a batter is when you’re in the batter’s box, you’re in the game. But a lot of times the batter will stand in the box, get their feet set, look down as they wave the bat around a bit. Then the moment they look towards the mound for the first pitch, it’s falling over the plate for a strike. Boom, got ’em! I like it when I can get a strike called. So in the game I played recently, one of the batters commented to the plate umpire about the pitch coming before he was ready. I overheard the umpire say that it’s legal, but it’s dirty. His reply stuck with me the rest of the game because there are a few things I know about myself when it comes to sports: 1. I love competing. 2. I want the ball and 3. I hate cheating.

So when the umpire said the quick pitch was “dirty,” I was immediately affected. Whether it was called a strike or not, it felt like a strike against my character, and directly opposed to the aforementioned thing I hate (cheating). I didn’t do it again the rest of the game.

We lost.

I’m not saying the two are related, but looking back, I think after the umpires comment I loosened my grip and lost the mental control I had over the batters. It proved true in the last inning when we were winning 9-7 and I walked 2 of their worst batters. The next guy up to bat became the winning run.

Could the controversy for me be playing to win vs. playing so people like me?

Is it no holds barred vs. having class?

Kind vs. competition?

These things I will wrestle with for the next few days because this coming Wednesday? It’s playoffs. My spirit and body will give 110% on the field, but it’s my mind that needs to be made up by then.

Will You Accept This Prose?

If dating were only as easy as The Bachelor makes it seem! The show is more of a scientific experiment than it is a true attempt at finding love. That’s why when you include the unknown variable, the X factor called “life,” the experiment most often blows up.

Jake Pavelka

If you can prove the success rate of that show is higher than the number of Yanni discs you have in your collection, then I will be a little more optimystique (optimism + still a little confused on where they mysteriously find the contestants for The Bachelor). Until then, I will have the sincerest devotion to the old-fashioned romantic moments I hear about when my parents or grandparents tell me how their stories began.

In my time, though, dating is a little different from theirs. Only slightly different because although the form or fashion in which relationships happen has changed dramatically (with the onslaught of social sites on the internet, ability to travel great distances quickly, revolution in sound technology, and, oh yeah, the internet!), the fundamentals of solid dating relationships remain the same: communication, common interests, mutual friends, keys to imagination and similar world views. The Bachelor includes one, maybe two of these fundamentals, and therefore, is starting behind the eight ball from the very beginning. The reason the success rate’s extremely low is because the relationships are formed in a controlled environment, just like an experiment. Once the show is over and the elements are introduced into the “real world,” the variables can no longer be controlled. Variables like career goals, family, location, ethnicity, and many more. To further my argument that dating is much harder than The Bachelor reveals, I give you… exhibit A: High School Ben Wilder.

My dating life got off to a slow start and to be perfectly honest, my first real kiss was in 10th grade. If I could tell you that secret with little to no embarrassment, then I’ve made progress in the 15 years gone by since. I often refer to my high school love life as “the private years” but again, to be perfectly honest, shrouding those years in privacy makes my love life sound so much more mysterious and exciting than it actually was. Tracy the softball player*. That’s who I kissed. Out of silence my love life burst into song!

Whether we were listening to “Sukiyaki” by 4 P.M. or the best of Yanni at the time, I can’t say. I was just happy it happened. A quick encouragement to readers patiently awaiting their first kiss: Hang in there and dare to dream!

To sum up, I hope these personal reflections of passion (I wouldn’t call my example of dating passionate, actually) help to prove the point that in dating, as in real life, sometimes you got to learn the hard way, not the live-on-television way. And yes I’m talking to you, too, Jake Pavelka. Vienna? Really? Reconsider Sheila Lidner (or return to suprise Ali Fedotowsky this season) before you tell Vienna, in one of your best Yanni voices, “niki nana.” However, if you end up marrying Vienna I’ll make a toast in celebration of life… and I’ll look up and whistle while I’m walking.

*I refer to Tracy’s love life in high school as “the chameleon days,” because I later found out she is now a lesbian. Hope it wasn’t because of me!