I don’t know about you, but lockdown has really made me wish I’d done more with my life. And I’m not talking about writing (it goes without saying – I ALWAYS wish I’d done more there), but dumb little things that have always bugged me. Things that I should have learned when I was a kid, but never got around to doing. Or, more likely, was too self-conscious back then to really stick at it and learn.
It started back in June, when a couple of my friends decided to set health related goals for the month. We pored over running medal sites and signed up to challenges, stuck Yoga with Adriene on three times a week, and happily accepted the 25 press-ups for 25 day Facebook challenges. Then July hit and I chose something a little different…
The Keepie-uppie challenge
I’ve always been jealous of people who can churn out endless keepie-uppies (a quick explanation, in case you need it – keepie-ups is juggling a football with your feet). I was a tom-boy as a kid, but my crippling social embarrassment prevented me from ever learning anything remotely tricky and physical. I always had the mindset that if I couldn’t do it within three tries, I was embarrassing and useless and should forget the whole thing. So, I decided that my July challenge was going to be learn how to keepie-up, finishing the month with masterful round-the-worlds and catching the ball on the back of my neck. Simple, right?
Oh holy fuck, I was so, so wrong. Out of everything I’ve done in the last couple of months – scratch that – my entire life, keepie-uppies are without doubt the hardest; not to mention my August challenge was to learn to skateboard to ollie (more on that later…). I got off to a rough start with the football, I have to say. I ordered a training strap and a ball (allegedly) from Amazon at the start of July. Only, I didn’t read the fine print and all that came was the strap. Pretty useless without a ball, my friends. Then, I had to wait three weeks for the ball to be delivered. And when it arrived it was flat, of course. Guess who didn’t have a pump?! So, as you can see, the universe did not want me to learn how to juggle a football in July 2020. But that didn’t matter, did it? Surely I only needed a week of practice to get a stupid ball to pop from one foot to the other? My God. Long story short, it’s the end of August, so I’ve been practising hard for about five weeks now. This week I managed to juggle three in a row, and have managed to go from foot to foot a handful of times. It took me two weeks to manage to get my foot in the right position so the ball didn’t just trickle away. In my defence, I only have size 3 feet, so I’m sure that doesn’t help, right? Anyway, when it came time to announce August goals I was feeling pretty disheartened. But, in the spirit of overcoming childhood insecurities and learning the things I’d always wanted to pick up as a kid, I set my challenge and bought my gear…
Skate to ollie
Okay, so this was ambitious. But, I’ve always loved skateboarding. I’ve played hours of the Tony Hawk games, watched endless X-Games and Tampa Pro clips, and daydreamed about skating down the boardwalk at Venice Beach. I should have picked up a board as a kid and just gone for it, but again my stupid brain decided falling was too embarrassing and so I never stuck with it. August came and I ordered my pads and helmet. Got a nifty little TH Pro board and some new DC skate shoes. I was ready.
You know what, it’s been going pretty well! I managed to get the basic skate down quicker than I expected, and moved on to kickturns. That ended pretty messily when I didn’t realise my elbow pad had ridden up, as you can see in the pic, but hey – it’s all part of the skate process. Last week we went out and learned ollies in the grass and a slow-mo video proved that I managed to lift all four wheels up on my last few ollies. Haven’t taken it to the pavement yet, and I’m not exactly hurtling into the SLS 9 club, but I’ve got the steps down at least. So yeah, for me, skateboarding is easier than juggling a frickin’ football. Slightly more bloody and painful, but hey, it goes with the territory.
A qualification in…monsters?!
That’s right, my friends. I now have a Cryptozoology Diploma. I have loved all things monster since I was a kid. I’ve trekked to Loch Ness (a twelve-hour round trip on a raging hangover), I’ve got Bob Gimlin’s autograph, I have a wall of sea monster maps and monster pics, and shelves full of books on the subject. And now, bringing my level of nerd to soaring heights, I have my diploma.
It’s not that I believe that all monsters are real. I get the science, and I know the chances are pretty slim. I think the reason I love the idea of real monsters so much is that it gives me that rush that I had as a kid, thinking about Santa coming. I remember staring out of my bedroom window, watching the rooftops for reindeer and wishing harder than I’ve ever wished for anything that I could see him. Sadly, I didn’t get that feeling for long – I found out about Santa on Christmas day when I was six years old. (Full disclosure, I snuck a look at the presents my mum was keeping in her wardrobe and when I opened the one I’d looked at on Christmas morning, it was labelled “From Santa”. Talk about instant karma). I think I’ve been chasing the high ever since then. But that is certainly another dumb thing I’ve done in lockdown. It makes me laugh just looking at it. But, it’s mine and I stand by it.
Other than that, my goals have been writing related, so they can’t really fall into the ‘dumb’ category. I’ve finished the first draft of The Suffering, and started first edit (bring alcohol). I recorded a reading of one of my stories for the Horrorgasm Convention, so I’m hoping that will get accepted and go live in October. Now that The Suffering first draft is finished as of last week I’ve started sending shorts out again and have already sold to The Dread Machine, so that’s a really nice boost after so long without submitting.
Long story short, I recommend a bit of goal-setting, particularly if it involves learning something you always wanted to know, but never got around to for whatever reason. I guess with learning footy and skate, I’m sticking a big two fingers up at my old insecurities, and proving to myself that I can do it. It’s never too late. It’s almost time to set our September goals. I guess I always wanted to learn a really cool magic trick…what do you think?!