Monday, June 27, 2011

Sparlke, Sparkle Showcase: Tim

I'm sure by this time you all were thinking, "Is Sparlke, Sparkle gone forever?? Where is the joy in life???" Well, have no fear, ladies and gents. I have not disappeared completely. Although that is slightly deceiving because today's post is actually by guest author, Tim. Here's a quick bio. Tim is a friend of Devin's, ergo, a friend of mine. He likes bike riding to and fro, using maps as decorative elements, formulating intricate plans to win the love of Katy Perry, and pondering the moon. So without further ado, a sparkly bit of prose from the one and only Tim.

a yarn of a pool

Today, I wanted to share a story with you about the pool party that never was meant to be. To give a fair warning: it’s a story of heartbreak. But stick with me because when the dust settles you just might learn something about yourself on this short journey we’re about to take.

Back in late January, I went with my friend Dan to the ARC to run on an early Sunday afternoon. I had made the stereotypical New Years resolution of getting into shape, and I knew that it would only last until mid-February, so I had to act while there was still time. We ran at the indoor track-- not anything too extensive, just enough for us to realize how much running sucks again. Afterward we decided to lounge in the pool.

The purpose of going to the pool was just to chill out after the run, it wasn’t meant to be any sort of intense exercise. After a while we learned it was a lot of fun just splashing around and jumping off the diving board. I reminded myself that I cannot jump off a springy diving board, and came to the realization that I may never learn how to properly do it, and will have to go through the rest of my life not being able to.

But anyway, between the splashing and jumping off the diving board in an incorrect manner, an idea hit me. Now, ideas flow through my mind on a daily basis like the Deepwater Horizon pumps oil into the Gulf of Mexico (is this joke too soon, or too late? Maybe a little bit of both). But this was different, and I knew it right from the onset. My idea was a simple one: sometime in the spring we should all get together and have a pool party at the outdoor pool here at the ARC. You know, there will be sunshine, warm weather, beach balls, dance music, everything.

But what day to choose? That, my friend, is simple. The very first day the outdoor pool opens. Why? Why not? But what day was that? I had no idea, so I decided to ask the lifeguard there, “Could you tell me when the outdoor pool opens?”. “Well, I think it’s late April, early May, I’m not exactly sure.”

This, of course, was absolutely no good. I’m a man of dates, of specifics, of marking things on a calendar. I can’t pencil in vagueness into my calendar.

So, I got to work. On Monday I called the ARC and started my investigation. They told me that the ARC outdoor pool was set to open on Saturday, April 30th. I searched weather records, finding average highs, average lows in Champaign, IL for April 30th. The data was overwhelming. Numbers, graphs, charts, old video weather reports dating back to 1982. Finally, I arrived at a conclusion: the average high was 61 degrees. Is this doable? Yes. Well, wait. Actually 61 is quite cool for swimming weather, isn’t it? Well, it’s not that big of a deal, and 61 degrees would never stop me from going into the pool. Ever.

Turns out, that’s exactly what happened. (This is the rising action part of the story).

It was decided and the date was set. A simple Facebook event was created, and invites were sent out. People were excited. I was going to buy a beach ball. What could go wrong?

Actually, several things. The first major clue came in mid-February. At approximately 3:30 a.m. I decided to run the Champaign-Urbana Half-Marathon, which, coincidentally, was April 30th. The same exact day as the pool party. Well, I decided I would do both. The race was in the morning so it left plenty of time for pool fun in the afternoon.

What followed was 2 and a half months of patiently waiting. The buzz was building up. Rumors were flying around about guest celebrities that were set to make an appearance. The week before the pool party was relatively quiet, and again, this should have been a clue that something was amiss, but alas the curtain of naivety was placed before me and my conscious coaxed me into thinking that everything was all right.

Then, during the week before the party all of a sudden I get news from my friend, Sarah. She told me that the website of the ARC has the pool opening on Sunday, May 1st. May 1st!? No! This can’t be.

Needless to say, my world was completely flipped upside down. We were mere days away from the big day and just like that the date had been pushed back. I immediately got on the phone with the ARC. They said that the pool always opens on May 1st, and it was never set to open April 30th. I knew I was defeated. Frustrated, I said, “You have no idea how this impacts the lives of so many people,” and hung up.

Well, I calmed down. The date would just have to be moved to the next day. Luckily, many people still had their schedules free on that Sunday so it was not much of a hardship.

Race day arrived. It was a perfect day to run, and likewise would have been great for a pool party. The original forecast was for rain the entire weekend, but Saturday slipped by as being a nice spring day.

The next day, Sunday, May 1st, is when it all went down. In the morning, it was very nice out-- sunny, warm in the mid 60s. You could tell it was going to be a bit chilly to be jumpin in any pools, but it was definitely doable. Then, around 1pm in the afternoon the temperature dropped. It got cloudy and cool very fast. Now we were in the 50s with just a couple of hours until the party at 3pm.

At around 2:30 you could just tell no one was going to show up, but the captain always has to go down with his ship, and I decided that I was going to go anyway. At least I’ll be able to say I was in that pool the first day it opened.
Well, two of my buddies somehow agreed, and we decided to meet at 3pm. I got to the ARC just before then and as I entered I saw that the pool was completely deserted. When I went inside there was a sign at the desk to swipe in that said “Pool Closed.” Pool closed? I asked the attendant about it. “Well, when the temperature gets below 60 degrees the lifeguards have to close the pool because it’s too cold. It’s a safety thing.”

Talk about dreams getting crushed. And safety issue? Please! I don’t need Big Brother going around telling me when it’s too cold to jump in frigid water and when it’s not. I can get hypothermia all by myself, thank you.

That was it. My two friends and I went in the indoor pool, but it was not the same as a full fledged outdoor shindig.

Sometimes in life, you gotta roll with the punches every now and then. Sure, plans didn’t go as expected, but at each stage you have to view with what was given to you and go from there. Just because things didn’t go exactly as you had planned doesn’t mean you failed. Look at it as being nudged into changing direction. Take it from nature herself-- flexibility is key. Trees bend instead of resisting the wind. Bears just sleep for a whole winter because it’s cold out and can’t find anything else to do. Elephants got stuck with a really long nose but they use to to throw twigs and stuff at each other. I think you get the idea.

So I think we can all sparkle a little brighter if we keep our heads high, never look back, but also never forget the lessons learned from the past. My lesson? You’re really throwing the dice when you plan to swim when it averages 61 degrees outside. But you know, I would still play those odds any day of the week. Life can punch you in the stomach sometimes, but you have to get back up and kick it right back, because you just can’t take that nonsense from anybody, especially if you’re trying to plan an outrageous pool party.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Summer, Or That Time of the Year When I Don't Want To Cry When I Go Outside

I'm a warm weather girl. I don't think there's ever been a time when I've actually been excited about going out into 30-degree weather. Some people relish the crisp sting of frigidness, but if I could, I'd hibernate inside from November to March. I hate the way you have to tense your muscles just to retain any sense of warmth, rendering you perpetually sore for an entire season. I hate the way you have to wear 18 layers of clothes just to feel remotely comfortable. I hate the way my fingernails turn blue on a regular basis and my nose always feels like ice. Snow is pretty, but I don't want to be in it. Give me a white Christmas, and then pack it up by New Year's, thank you very much.

Anyhow, this ranting is not to focus on the trials of winter, but rather to show you all just how much I love summer! Summer is warm and bright. The days are long and the nights are beautiful. Sure, we midwesterners deal with humidity that does scientifically unexplainable things to a gal's hair, but it's a small price to pay for being outside without growing icicles off your eyelashes. So now that it's officially summer, here's some things I'm looking forward to in this hot and sunny season...

*Eating and drinking outside is fabulous. I can't think of anything more pleasant than sitting outisde in the evening after the worst of the heat is gone and just relaxing in the sunset. Doesn't it sound like a Norman Rockwell poster of the 21st century? I mean, really. Talk about a utopia. As long as there's no 50 mph wind (which, unfortunately, is rare in Nebraska) I would do this everyday.

*The OUTDOOR pool! Woo! Let's get excited for laying out right next to a glittering oasis of chlorine! Except that's going to have to wait here in Seward. Apparently there were some massive repair errors at the Seward Municipal Pool, and now it won't be open for another couple of weeks. Well, you say, just go to another pool in town. Ha! Do you know where I live? We're lucky to even have one. So I continue to trek to the YMCA and swim inside, which is less conducive to tanning/burning in my case.

*As kids, my brothers and I would always get dragged along to outdoor summer concerts by my parents (read: by Papa Lange) and although I don't really remember getting into the music, I do remember running around various parks, just absorbing summer at it's finest. Now that I'm older and can appreciate this, I'm going off on my own summer concert adventure. Yes, I will be channeling my inner hippie at Bonnaroo, a music festival in Tennessee. Despite my nerves about possibly not sleeping and/or showering for 4 days, I'm pumped to see talent the likes of the Black Keys, Florence + the Machine, Amos Lee, Alison Krauss (Cham-paign Cen-tral clap, clap, clap-clap-clap), Mumford & Sons, Iron & Wine and oh so many more. Not to mention, Lil Wayne will be there, so how can you go wrong?

*Summer themed cupcakes! Why stop at cake when you can take that extra leap and make summer cake?? Really, all this involves is putting some fruit or something on top, and you instantly have something that is more reminiscent of warm weather and summer vacation. I like raspberries and strawberries, personally. There's also the bonus of getting sucked into the delusion that putting fruit on cake makes it healthy. Which is totally accurate, right? Riiiight.

And there's so many other things that are wonderful about summer. Summer dresses, summer storms, summer road trips, summer sporting events, summer weddings... the list goes on and on. So soak up your summer! Get outside and do something that looks like it could be a spread in a home-living magazine! Roller blade! Bike ride! Jump rope! Hop scotch! Drink scotch! Whatever you need to do to enjoy this most wonderful time of the year, do it! Marvel at this world in its peak of alive-ness. And don't forget the sunscreen! (mostly note to self.) Happy summer!