Godmama Says…
a buncha stuff.

Jul
29

spacecat

My name is Sheena and I am a transdimensional space kitty.
I thought this was obvious, but apparently I need to explain.

A couple weeks ago,  from the perspective of my peoplepets,  I “disappeared”.

Peoplepets are silly creatures… stubborn and hard to train.    Somecats don’t even believe that peoplepets have feelings or souls at all if you can believe that,  so they don’t even try to communicate with them.   My people were special, though.  I know everycat says that, but really– my people were unusually smart and I talked to them all the time.   I even tried very hard to show them the gateways to the OtherNow…

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…but they do have those big swollen heads way up in the air that make it hard for them to see.
They can’t see in the dark for one thing,   so they certainly can’t see into the OtherNow.   Tests have shown that they can really only see 2 or 3 dimensions, which is sad and makes it unbelievable that they can find their way around at all.

One day recently I came inside and let my She-person know that it would be time for me to go soon.   I may be projecting but I’m convinced she understood me most of the time…  this was just something she didn’t want to hear.    I sulked and pouted for two days because I knew I’d have to leave her alone,   and the poor dear is very dependent on me.    She is one of those pets who doesn’t socialize well with other pets,  but she loved to be with me.    We  really were the  best of friends.

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When I originally found her she was terribly wounded on the inside and sick in the soul because she had recently lost a cub.   She would howl and shiver and I would try to clean her face of all that salty eyewater.   I kept a close eye on her to make sure she was alright and eventually she howled less and her face didn’t leak so much.   She treated me just like I was her very own cub and that made both of us feel nice.
So the day I found out that there was a badbeastie prowling around near our den,  I ran inside to let them know.    I vocalized with new words,  I pointed and hid, I did everything I could to spell out for them the universal signs for DANGER.   No one understood.  Not even She.   So the last time I went out to play,  yes– I did see the badbeastie… but it didn’t end like their sad little minds think it did.   I just slipped through one of my secret portals to the OtherNow where the badbeasties can’t go. Ever.
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Lots of peoplepets tell each other stories about how their CatMasters got “lost” for a long time before finding their way home weeks or months later.  It’s a simplistic and  arrogant mythology they create so they don’t have to acknowledge our advanced dimension hopping capabilities.   They would rather imagine that we’re actually lost somewhere in the bushes than believe that we leave the planet itself from time to time.     This misunderstanding  leaves them so sad and confused… wandering around calling out our names in the entirely wrong universe when they could easily just wiggle through the obvious gash in time which exists in the back of all their sock drawers to find the far superior OtherNow.
Their big swollen brains might not be able to take it over here, though.  Not enough chatter or little light up hand screens.   Not enough speeding thunderboxes spewing skydirt.   Just lots of quiet, and playtime, and naps… and grasshoppers.

Maybe I will make my way back one day, but probably not.    My poor She-person is probably a mess feeling like she lost another cub.
spacecatbaby

She is no doubt howling and shivering herself to sleep like she did not long ago when she lost her tinyperson.   That’s hard for her little brainheart,  she’s only human.     I’d feel bad for her but we don’t really do that over here.  There is no bad.  Lots of grasshoppers though.

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Peoplepets are oblivious barking monkeys for the most part,  but mine were truly special.   Please look out for them if you see them around.    Make sure they are getting plenty of water and playtime.   The silly creatures actually forget to do that on their own if you don’t remind them.  Remarkable that they continue to thrive without our constant supervision.

Jul
19

How can I express the explosions of gratitude in my soul right now?
Let me try by starting from the beginning. Bear with me, RainMakers.  I want to show you my heart.

This is the first page of the Uncanny Xmen “Lifedeath” series.  It’s also my very favorite piece of artwork.

lifedeath1

Here we see the most powerful of all the X-men in a state of defeat and vulnerability.  She is sporting the mohawk but she hardly seems fierce.  She is crumpled, weak, and feeling sorry for herself for losing her “super”powers.
The caption above it says, “Once upon a time, there was a woman who could fly.”

In so many ways, it’s an image of exactly where I was about 2 and a half years ago:  at the beginning of a difficult and dark journey from pain to power.  It’s the journey that led me here to you:

In December of 2011 I was 6 months pregnant with my first child.  He was stillborn… just in time for Christmas.  His name was Orion Xavier Jamil.   To say that I was devastated would be the greatest understatement of all time.  Refer back to the drawing:  that was me for at least 5 months solid.  It was a time when I wanted to be with my son, and he was dead.  I had to “chin up” publicly and go back to work and “move on”… but I didn’t want to move at all.  I had no idea how I would survive the pain I was in and secretly I wouldn’t have minded if one day I just didn’t wake up at all.
But I was also really angry.  People kept telling me to try therapy,  but I didn’t want to talk- I wanted to run and punch and kick shit. So at the end of June 2012 I signed myself up for seriously intense martial arts training.   Completely out of shape both physically and mentally and with no idea what I was doing, I still loved it there.  It was an escape,  it was release,  and over time through sweat and dedication it became my path to rebirth and strength.   I still hurt for my son,  but I was getting strong enough to deal with it and start rebuilding my massively damaged spirit.

I went through a transformation.  I still had my sadness and rage over what happened.   I guess I always will.  I carry it around inside me like… well, like a storm.   But I developed the strength to change that stormy energy from something that consumed me into something that powered me.   That is the story I have been dying to share in one way or another,   and I kept going back to the Lifedeath image for inspiration.

The image of a woman who seems to have lost hope may not seem very inspiring at first glance,  but at the moment of my life when I rediscovered that image I recognized myself.   Recognizing yourself in the image of a superhero when you’re at your lowest point- even if it’s a picture of HER lowest point- can be quite an empowering thing.
We have all fallen.  We have all been in the dark,  and I think the most difficult and most heroic battle of all is the one we have to fight against our own demons and darkness.
I came to love that first page of Lifedeath so dearly.  It was a beautifully drawn reminder that even the mightiest can fall, but more importantly even the most fallen can rise and fly again.

A little over a year ago I started to write a story of transformation and rebirth with that drawing as the inspiration.   That story eventually became RAIN.  I wanted to bring that fallen heroine to life.   And with your help, I have:

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**The story in the film is NOT the Lifedeath story, it is an original… but I wanted to recreate this image- the catalyst and muse for the project- and pay tribute to my favorite piece of art, my favorite superhero, and all of you.

My original vision of this project was much smaller,  but the waves of support and excitement  swelled up around it like thunder clouds and lifted RAIN up to a much higher place.

Because of you, a dream is coming true. Not just mine, but a shared dream that so many of you have chosen to invest and believe in along with me.
Because of you, we are going to be able to give new life to a force of nature who so many love and hunger to see repowered for so many different reasons.
Because of you,  a different voice will be heard.  Maybe only for a moment, but because of you that moment will shine so much brighter and the voice will ring with so much more power than I could ever have given it on my own.

It may seem like a simple gesture but when you choose to give your money and energy and excitement to something NEW, something independently made from the heart, something that NEEDS your support, you are planting seeds of life and light in a place where they are desperately needed.   Whether it’s eating at the locally owned diner instead of the chain restaurant,  buying handmade jewelry from an artist at a street fair instead of at the mall, or supporting an indie film on kickstarter- you absolutely rock for making that choice.   You give power to things with your attention and your cash.  And so many of you have decided to give that power to this humble little project.
Because of you the fallen warrior will rise and fly again.

Be proud to be part of this creation.  This film is going to be powerfully awesome,  that is a guarantee.

Everyone involved from the directors Zane and Jeff to our producer Matt to the stuntguys and actors and composers… EVERYONE involved is a skilled and dedicated pro, and more importantly everyone involved is doing this from the heart.   We are all so excited to get to work and deliver the magic to you.   We will NOT let you down,  we will blow you away.

Know that this film IS my baby,  and it is too important to me to let it be anything but perfect.   We are going to work our asses off in the next couple months to create a work of surprising beauty and power that we can all be proud of.

We are still going to be tight budgeted considering how wildly ambitious the story and production design have become,  so your continued support is appreciated in these last few days of the Kickstarter.  The more we raise the more resources we have access to, the more time we can spend to get things right, and the higher the production value will be.
Thank you from my entire heart for getting us this far.

I owe you my soul.
With the coming of RAIN, I will deliver it.

Love & Lightning and endless gratitude,
Maya G.

thanku

Jun
13

Last night there was a severe storm here in Austin.
The alert on my phone said “EXTREME THREAT. SEEK SHELTER NOW.”  
I didn’t see that warning til hours later though, because I was outside in it.

I sat on a log in my backyard staring up at the light show awestruck with tears running down my face.  
The dome of the  night sky above me was flashing wildly with different shapes and patterns and blasts of brightness in and around the clouds.  Dark greys and endless black would flash suddenly with patches of silver, blue,  purple, and stark white.   My eyes couldn’t get wide enough as they searched the dark sky wondering where the next series of flashes would appear.  The lightbursts played in patterns that seemed to be communicating something…. like watching loud music that had no sound,  as if some kind of massive alien spacecraft was powering up just behind the veil. 

Then suddenly streams of lightning would arc across the whole sky like a electric rainbows and then disappear faster than I could express my startled amazement.   Why the streets weren’t packed with other teary-eyed sky watchers was far beyond me.  Look UP, people.  Look UP!

It was like being inside a nebula, watching the creation of a star.   Like being able to float into deep space or sneak a peek back in time and witness the creation of our own world.
I always imagined that something like flashing nebulous stormclouds are what an infant can see when it is kicking to life about to be born.   Electric impulses at the inception of life,  rumbling power surges behind the sealed eyelids of the unborn or the dying.   (Thus another gift I get from a storm is that I can watch the flashing clouds and feel like I’m sharing a secret with my son.    Look UP, Mama… See what I saw.)

Blinding light, then blinding darkness, then blinding light again- flashing signals in erratic patterns.   Electric fire in the air while water falls to the earth.   Clouds, light, dark, light, power, nothing,  blast, nothing,  light, light, FLASH,  power… and cracks in the sky giving away the blinding simplicity of of the entire universe.  
Light and dark, All and Nothing clashing and dancing together like ones and zeroes,  breaking down the math and revealing everything.

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May
26


Today, people pause to remember fallen heroes.
I remember mine every single day of my life.

Summer is coming and Orion is hidden from the night skies for a while,   and yet I see  the hunter warrior of the heavens everywhere and feel his presence all the time.

No one other than me ever knew my kid, but he remains the unforgettable love of my life.   I knew through dreams what his beautiful face would look like,  I knew he was clever and silly,  I knew he’d have boundless energy like his father,  and I knew that his laugh was like a shock of birdsongs.    But  a hero?   Mythology teaches us that a hero needs a journey,  and how could a boy who died before he was born have passed any of life’s tests?

He was healthy when he died, but in the cruelest of ironies he was strangled by the very cord meant to sustain him and feed him life. “Just bad luck,” said the doctor as I wept inconsolably and  tried to scream the entire universe away.   Surely such a ridiculous injustice would drive a soul to become a fighter and seek the recompense of a chance at a  fiercely lived life?   If there is such a thing as a soul… perhaps.

I don’t know what I believe anymore as far as souls go.   I understand how the faithful find solace in their beliefs, knowing that their departed loved ones are “waiting”  for them somewhere.   I was told so many times that my precious boy was taken by divine hands to a better place,   but as a mother all I could  hear is that my child was taken,   which is more infuriating than comforting.   And as for a “better place” I know for an endlessly painful fact that there is no better place for an infant than in his mother’s arms.
Fuck working in mysterious ways–  if I believed that anyone or anything took my child away from me to any place, then I would tear the skies apart to find this thief and burn that place to the fucking ground.

So no,   I can’t believe in heaven the way that many want me to,   even though his name is written across the night sky… but I do know that a child exists forever  in their mother not just emotionally or metaphorically~ but literally;  biochemically;  cellularly.    Really.

You are a different being once you have created a new life, and your body itself remains the heaven where that echo of another life exists for as long as you do.

After my son died, for a long time I didn’t want to live at all.  I wanted to go with him to whatever this “place” was where people said he was alive and well.   My body-mind-soul-broken-heart screamed out “where is my baby?”  and the words kept coming: “he’s in a better place“.  I wanted to be in that place too.

But then there was a dramatic shift in who I am and just how brightly I wanted my fire to burn.
I am the better place.
It was as if some back up power source kicked in and pushed me onto the path of a warrior.
Was this force my own?  Probably.
I choose to give that force a name-  the name he would have carried with him throughout his own hero’s journey:
Orion Xavier Jamil Glick.

And I will love him with all the might of my burning stormy heart forever and ever.

Cheers, my dear.  This life’s for you.

nebula

Mar
05

While pre-production on RAIN brews in the background,  I’d like to start introducing the amazingly talented crew that’s coming together to make this production unforgettably awesome.

First up,  some of you know that my previous experience as a performer is as a musician.  Even though it’s been a shameful number of years since I’ve been in a band,  music remains massively important to me and I am insanely picky about what sounds I will associate myself with.  Sometimes I think of the film as a multidimensional painting, and one of the most important “colors” of that painting will be the soundtrack.

Having spent the bulk of my creative life in  the heart of New York City’s colorful rock scene, I am fortunate to be good friends with some wildly talented people.  One of those people is Luqman Brown.   As soon as I knew that RAIN would be a “real” film,  I knew in a heartbeat that I had to have him on board to create the score (along with some vocal magic from internationally adored indie rock genius Honeychild Coleman).  The words and images tell the story;  the music will give it a soul.    Better yet:   the images of a storm are the lightning;   the music of a storm is the thunder.    Luqman Brown is going to rock that thunder,  and I am honored and thrilled that my chosen brother – who also happens to be one of my all time  favorite musicians- agreed to be the music supervisor for RAIN.

Luqman Brown, music supervisor for RAIN

Luqman Brown, music supervisor for RAIN

So, Luqman,  tell us a little about yourself and your creative background:

I’m from Harlem NYC and I’ve been a professional musician for 25 years.

I grew up in the loving arms of some insane artists.   My father,  Carlyle Brown,  is a well known playwright and my mother is a teacher and poet. Their artistic influence fuels a lot of the work I do today.  The first concert my father took me to was Funkadelic at the Apollo Theater.    I was 7 years old.   Once I had seen what I thought were superheros funkin’ out,  I was instantly hooked.

How long have you known Maya?

Wow… a long time!   I think ten years.   [he's off by about a decade-- we've known each other since '94]   We’re brother and sister from another momma and mista.   But we graduated from University of Hard Rock Cafe where we all worked for too many years.

Have you ever worked together creatively before?

Yes,  I have supported Maya creatively for years.   My band  (Funkface)  has backed her many times during the late 90’s early 2000’s

You seem to keep yourself very busy.   Other than RAIN, what other projects are you working on currently?

Well I’ve just finished producing, engineering, mixing and mastering a band called REBELLUM:  a pop off-shoot splinter unit from the insane avant garde jazz band BURNT SUGAR [at the studio /label he owns and operates, Buddhabug Records].
About to celebrate the 25th anniversary of my long time punk-funk band FUNKFACE this year with two new albums and some special shows.
And lastly I’ve just gotten the lead in Stew Stewart’s new play Family Album. Stew Stewart is the guy who wrote and starred in a the Broadway play called “Passing Strange”. Spike Lee made a movie about it.

Where are you drawing your inspiration from for the tone of the music for RAIN?

I’m an insane comic book fan.   I am quite intimate with all the exploits of Ororo Munroe.   I’ve been just re-reading X-men comics from right when she joined.  But most of my inspiration is coming from Maya.   I’ve seen this powerful person become even more powerful over the years.   I think about Maya’s struggles and triumphs and overcoming things we all need to overcome.   And I trust I know what that sounds like.

Are you excited about this film?  What kind of impact  do you think it will have?

I’m very excited to see it once the parts all come together.   As far as what kind of impact it has,  you never know.  That’s why we do art:   to see what happens next.     And I hope it hits folks like a right cross by Tyson himself and it breaks your imagination’s jaw!

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Luqman Brown, music supervisor for RAIN

Feb
20

I am not a huge fan of the Fantastic Four and can’t tell you much about them.
I am a big fan of superhero movies, but the reason I don’t know much about the Fantastic Four is because the movie released in 2005 (which was my introduction to them) sucked rotten gym shoes.  It was bland vanilla fratboy fluff….the kind of film that made me wonder why I wasn’t writing movies myself (yet).  Fantastic Four wasn’t made for me so it wouldn’t have held my interest even if it wasn’t horribly acted and badly written.
So much of what makes it to the screen proves again and again that somewhere in Hollywood, some very important (and totally clueless) people believe that the only viable audience for sci-fi, comic books, or fantasy stories is white and male.

But every great once in a while, someone takes what is still unfortunately considered a “risk” and updates a cast of characters created in the 50’s to be ever so slightly more reflective of a modern audience… and then one half of that modern audience loses its collective shit.
Case in point?  Another Fantastic Four film is being released and this time Johnny Storm, aka the Human Torch, is being portrayed by Michael B. Jordan….a black actor.   This character can fly, control fire, and set himself fully ablaze with nothing but the force of his own will… powers which came to him when a spaceship he was on was hit with some wild cosmic rays which also turned his sister invisible and turned one of his friends into some rocks.  All of that is totally believable and acceptable,   but having the guy portrayed by a black dude somehow defiles decades of comic book tradition?
This is what I’m hearing.

I understand that people freak out over change, and I get that comic book geeks love to shake their fists in the name of “purism”.  But the world of comics and superheroes is an art form that has survived by allowing its characters to morph and transform over time into different bodies, alternate universes,  and parallel realities…(“The X-Men are all vampires this month… in outer space! Because fuck it!”) Through the magic of movies we are able to see these characters brought to life over and over (and over) again with wildly different actors and directors telling the stories of the same characters from different angles.  (Seriously:  Michael “Mr. Mom” Keaton was cast as The Dark Knight, but can you imagine the shitstorm if Denzel Washington ever was?)

The world of sci-fi and comics has also survived for so long by championing freaks, underdogs, and outcasts.   Mutants who are the hated, feared and rejected minority (ahem) end up saving the day and still end up just being called criminals.
Who can relate to that?  Who needs to see themselves represented in a world of heroic outcasts and misfits?  Who relates to being needlessly feared and shunned?  Is it really ONLY white guys?  Incredibly wealthy white guys?  Hmmm…  so if that’s the case you’ve still got Spiderman, Batman, Superman, Captain America, Ironman, Thor, the Hulk, Wolverine, Green Arrow, Professor X, Aquaman, Flash, Daredevil,  Harry Potter, all the damn Hobbits as well as the other 3 of the Fantastic Four to name a few.
But what the everloving fuck about the rest of us?  

I don’t normally give a shit about “arguments” like this, or the outrage of some butt-hurt comic book ‘purists’ who don’t think a man who sets himself on fire might have a bit of a tan… but all this hateful anger over the casting of a supporting character in a B-List superhero movie is happening at the same time that I’m trying to shield my heart from more bullshit news out of Florida about another teenage boy who was shot to death for sitting in his car being black.
In this world, right now,  don’t you think there’s another segment of America who needs fantasy hero escapism other than blonde fratboys and wealthy Bruce Waynes?

So Johnny Storm, one out of like 500 sci-fi stars, is a black guy this year.   Catwoman wasn’t originally “drawn” as black either, but aren’t we all glad that some TV producer 50 years ago was progressive enough to take the “risk” with Eartha Kitt and give that character a chance to be a thousand times more awesome than she ever was before or has been since?  FIFTY YEARS ago, people.  You guys are gonna be okay.

This also gets to the heart of that other Storm raging in my soul demanding to be born.    There may be more important ways to affect change, but I’m a performer and a storyteller and this is what I know how to do.   Music and art and film and stories and yes even comic book superheroes have an important place in the psyche and the soul.   Adding color and dimension and gender to that world and empowering so many more different kinds of young imaginations is important.  Representation is important.
And I cannot wait to shed a bit of light(ning) on the situation myself.

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Jan
31

Did some green screen test filming yesterday.
No other cast members were present,  no props to play with,  no set yet… just me alone with the green screen under the lights and the microscope.

I’ve been so busy fussing over details of getting this ship off the ground that I almost forgot something:
It’s been a solid 8 years since I have been onstage- and that was in my comfort zone.
When I had a band I could perform in front of 2000 people without being the slightest bit uncomfortable.  I felt alive onstage and thrived on the energy that flowed between the music and the audience.  I could transform and transcend through that energy.  In those moments onstage I had no fear of anything except the end of the show.
Strip it down to a small crowd however and another truth would come out:  I am surprisingly shy.  People who have known me for more than a day think it’s hilarious when I say that but it’s true.
I share myself to the point of being an exhibitionist and I have rarely felt more alive than the times I’ve bared my soul in front of hundreds of strangers…  but If you asked me to play my guitar unplugged without a band and sing directly to one person,  I’d come up with a way to distract you and then quickly hide under a rock.

Consequently, I have a fast new respect for my professional actor friends.  I’ve done some theater stuff before but it’s been a long time.   I’ve been on camera before but always documentary stuff where all I have to be is my goofy self.
Acting in front of cameras, solo, felt a lot like having to sing without a band for an intimate crowd.
It is entirely thrilling to be performing again,  I’m hardly sleeping because of how psyched I am about all of this.  I am more excited about this project and watching it come to life than I have ever been about anything else I have created (except for that one thing… and this is for him).   But when the costume was on and all those big lights were in my face and the cameras were rolling  and I heard the words “Whenever you’re ready” (the gentle way to call “Action“),  I felt exposed in a whole new way.
Green in front of the green screen.  Fitting.

The butterflies in my tummy were struck by lightning and caught on fire for a little while.
I got over it, of course, and I’m fully in love with the idea of having this fresh new challenge that I’m a little but scared of.

I’m in excellent hands,  so there’s really nothing to fear but my own oncoming emotional catharsis.
I’ve got two great directors who are wildly out of my league but generously and genuinely interested in the film and excited with me about creating it.  In the hands of director R. Zane Rutledge and his partner Jeff Stolhand,  my little passion play is being lifted up to the next level and beyond.   So far there are the two directors;  a spectacularly talented DP named Drew Barrera; FX make-up artist and mohawk tamer,   Sayward Anderson;  and our awesome goldenhearted producer,  Matt Joyce. These people are creative magicians and I am star struck in the presence of their talent.  I am in awe of the fact that I somehow ended up with such an incredible crew, and I will honor their hard work with my own.

So last night we did some green screen test filming and I needed to be not just in costume of course, but in character.   Here’s how hopped up on goofballs I am over this thing:  one of the main directions I kept getting was that I needed to “smile less”.
In the past 2 years and 2 months, that has never been an issue.  But last night… in full costume for the first time, in the presence of my amazing team and all the lights and cameras…  I had a hard time getting the grin off my face even when it was required.   No worries, though- I’ll eat the nerves and absorb the challenge and rock this thing harder than I’ve ever rocked anything,  but for now it’s a nice change for smiling to be the thing I can’t stop doing for a while.

I keep saying it because it keeps being true: This little film is going to be something truly, truly special.
Meanwhile, I have got to calm down and get some sleep… the bags under my eyes are no joke in dramatic lighting.

Stay tuned, Storm watchers…

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Jan
19

The beginning phases of production have begun on the film, and the Rain clouds are beginning to form.
The crew is coming together piece by piece and major components of the production process that I don’t understand at all (namely: all of it)  have been taken over by professionals.  That is exciting, humbling, and frankly it’s freaking me right the hell out.

I am wildly honored that genuine pros have taken enough of an interest in the project that it’s growing into a bigger thing than what I could ever handle on my own, but what that means is that it is largely out of my hands at this point.

Imagine creating something very personal out of raw heart and soul and love and tears, and then handing that very delicate vulnerable newborn creation over to someone you just met.  Then that person takes it away for a while and has meetings about it and passes it around to other people you don’t know and they examine it and judge it and decide what to do with it when they have time.   Meanwhile, they are very busy and so they don’t have time to talk to you about it just yet… maybe some time next week.
I’m not saying I’m anxious or anything but I’m blog-venting at 3am on Sunday morning instead of… wait,  what’s the other thing I used to do?  Oh right:  sleeping.

I am the first one to admit I am a control freak- especially when it comes to anything creative– and so the whole “let go and have faith in the process” part of the process before I know exactly what the process is is making me kinda wanna chew off my own arm.

At this point I feel a bit like the pregnant lady from the hospital scene in Monty Python’s Meaning of Life.
“What do I do?”  she asks,  splayed out on a table with a crowd of people looking up her crotch.
“Oh nothing, dear! You’re not qualified!”

Not to sound the slightest bit ungrateful…I am not.
I have absolute faith in the director I chose who has taken the reigns on Rain.  We discussed early on that this part of the journey would be arduous, tedious at times, and not very sexy…  and I made damn sure that the person who would be taking my creation out of my hands in this way is someone I trusted 200%.

I’m  just overwhelmed and impatient and pacing at the door like a dog who’s about to piss on the carpet if somebody doesn’t let me out soon.
I should go running… again.
Excited… just excited… shhhh…. kava tea for me.

On with the show!

Dec
16

Down here in Austin, we’re generally pretty sheltered from crappy weather.  It gets cold in the winter, but not for long.  Like, not even for the whole day.  The week leading up to the Glen Rose Spartan Beast was different.  Most of Central Texas was being treated to a frosty holiday surprise, complete with things like ice pellet storms and city-wide school closings.  Austin didn’t get all that,  but 3 hours north all my friends and family in the Dallas area were frozen into their homes with streets iced over and temperatures dangerously low for at least a solid week.  But it is Texas after all, so the way it’s supposed to work is that when it’s cold and crappy one weekend it should be unseasonably gorgeous the next.  By my not-very-scientific calculations, the weather for the Spartan Race should have been perfect.

I was off by a day.  Glen Rose, Texas was perfectly gorgeous on Sunday.  My race was Saturday.
The high that day was around 41 degrees.  Not terrible…. til the cold front came around mile three.  Biting 20mph winds pushed back against us as we ran, and stole function and feeling from cold fingers.  We climbed up higher…  I didn’t realize Texas hills could offer such climbing.  I figured this race would be an actual walk in the park after the mountain in Vermont, but of course they found tricky steep hills for us to climb and sent us up and down them in the most treacherous possible ways- much of the time while carrying sandbags, dragging cement blocks, or lifting buckets filled with gravel.
It had rained all day and night the day before, so everything was a mudslide… and icy.   There was ice and snow along the trail as we slipped and slid up and down slick hills of mud and rocks and occasional snow.   It was perfectly crappy.  The weather and mud were creating extra obstacles for us like Mother Nature was in on the joke.
This shitty weather has been brought to you by Reebok!
I was layered like an onion: 3 tops, 2 pairs of pants, hat and gloves… but none of that mattered too much when we reached our first water obstacle.
Mercifully,  they decided to cut out the main swimming obstacle from the course for safety reasons.  It was THAT COLD.  But we still had to get in the water several times… we just didn’t have to swim.  There was a lot of wading in water that was so cold it somehow burned.  And then more running to heat those cold muscles back up again.

Yeah, so my calves did not appreciate that particular back and forth on top of all the other effort, and they let me know with the most extreme charlie horse pain I have ever felt in my life… in both legs at once.
At one point, maybe about half way through the race, I went down in so much pain it looked like I was done for the day.   All I know is that I had started jogging a little faster and suddenly I was on the ground screaming bloody murder in a most undignified manner.   When I opened my eyes, five or six other runners and two staff guys with walkie-talkies were surrounding me asking what happened.
When I held my calf it was spasming so hard I could actually feel the muscle thumping against my hand like an alien was trying to bust out of there.   One of the guys was on his walkie-talkie calling for a “pick-up with medic”.

Let me rewind a bit for a minute…

One of the first obstacles anyone has to deal with when facing a major challenge of any kind is doubt.  Even when you think you  have dealt with your own there is often someone else standing by waiting to share theirs with you.   I had plenty of anxiety and nerves going into the race of course, but once I made up my mind to do it I didn’t doubt that I’d finish.   I did need some encouragement at one point, though, so I asked a friend for some uplifting words.  Instead I got a list of all the reasons I shouldn’t be doing it.  What may have come from a place of loving concern ended up being a straight up insulting bummer:

Do you really think you’re still in good enough shape for something like this?
Have you even thought about how cold the water is and how dangerous that could be?
You haven’t been training like you used to.  This is going to be a lot harder than you realize.
What if you get too cold?  What will you do if you get hurt?  What would make you quit?

That little pep rally actually made me cry.  I was already an emotional landmine this weekend as it is the anniversary of my son’s birth (and passing), which is why that race on that date was so important to me in the first place.  So while the majority of people who care about me were either cheerleading, you-go-girling, or keeping their mouths shut,  there had to be one last ‘voice of reason’ to try to burst my bubble and throw me off course.   Just another obstacle.  It was a disappointing moment, but I realized that if I couldn’t get over a few disappointing words I probably couldn’t get over a mud covered 9 foot wall, or much else.
When you start to float up too high out of the realm of what others understand, they want to pull you back down into their comfy world of can’ts and shouldn’ts.   I have never belonged in that world.

Fast forward back to the middle of the Spartan Beast.  The temperature is dropping,  my hands are numb even in my gloves,  and I’m in fetal position in the dirt while someone calls for a medic to come pick me up and wheel me away to safety and warmth and told-ya-so’s.   I remembered the words of my doubtcaster from before:  What if you get too cold?  What will you do if you get hurt?
What will I do?  Exactly what I have always done and exactly what the hell I came here to do:
OVERCOME IT, and keep moving.

I took a deep breath (or two or three… or twenty) and told the nice men with the walkie talkies that I did not need a pick-up.  I was staying, I just needed to roll around screaming and swearing for a minute.   There were two guys on a team together who were running the race in full wetsuits to guard against the elements.   Their wise wardrobe choices made them look a little like superheros…which they were.  They stayed with me and tried to get me to flex my feet the right way to calm my calves down.  When I was ready they stood me up and fed me salt tablets and added electrolytes to my hydration pack.  This was a race we were running, but these two dudes cut at least 10 minutes off their time to babysit me and make sure I was going to be alright on my own again.  They held my arms and made me walk on my heels for a while, to keep my calves stretched and happy.  I know I asked their names at some point, but I think they answered when I was still screaming and crying so I don’t remember.  One of them was Justin, I think…. (Thanks, Super-dudes!)

A few miles later I was jogging again and a guy said, “Hey!  Aren’t you the girl who went down with a leg injury back there?”  “Yeah, that was me.”  “So then how are you passing me right now?”

The rest of the race remained brutal… and they added distance to it since they took out a swimming obstacle, so all told it was around 15 miles.  Oh, and if there’s a hell, I bet they’d make you carry 5 gallon buckets full of gravel up and down a steep muddy ice covered hill.  But even in hell you’d probably only be forced to do that crap once.   We did it twice.
I did lots of burpees that day. (For the uninitiated,  30 burpees is the price you pay for any obstacle you fail in the Spartan Race.)
Lots of people were doing lots of burpees due to the cold.   A lot of the obstacles like the monkey bars and the rope climbs require grip strength, or at the very least the ability to feel your fingers, which a lot of us could not.  I surprised myself by what I did accomplish as much as by what I didn’t though, so all in all it was still satisfying.   And even though my legs started seizing up again toward the end and I was fully limping by the time I jumped the fire,  I jumped that fire.
I did it.
Image

Stats-wise my time of 5hr 56min was pretty average.  I was right at about the 50% mark across the board (Overall, Gender, and Age Group finish times), but that’s pretty good for a Beast.  Pretty good for the girl they wanted to cart off the course at the half way mark.  Pretty good for a lazy winter Saturday morning. Pretty damn good.
One of the things I love about Spartan Races is that they show you very clearly what all your weaknesses are (physical and otherwise).   You can be bummed out when you see all your own weaknesses, or you can go, “Awesome!  Now I know what to work on next!”

I definitely feel stronger after every race.  Well,  alright let me be honest:   first I feel like exhausted crap-sandwiches for a couple weeks and then I feel stronger.   I’ll give my legs a little break to recover, but when I do start running again I will be faster.  It has happened every time.
And my mind and spirit get stronger too.  Big dirty obstacles on the race course make little pesky worries of day-to-day life so much smaller.  The amount of crap I am willing to take gets smaller, too.  And the list of things I think are impossible is disappearing faster all the time.

Now if you’ll excuse me, it seems I have a movie to make….

Dec
12

My 4th Spartan Race is coming up in just two days.  Hard to believe it all started this year.  2013 has been a pretty big year in Mayaland.  4 Spartan Races, awesome new job,  blue belt,  school, and suddenly the beginning of a hot new affair with film making? Sure, why not.
Every once in a while someone uses the word “inspiring” to describe my obsessive need to stay occupied in dramatic ways,  but the funny thing is that anything I do is only a reflection of how inspired I am by everyone else around me.  What’s more,  most of what I do is actually based not in any kind of unusual amount of strength, but in my need to deal with my own fear.

I am not a superhero,  I am a big crybaby scaredy cat.  Maybe (in fact: of course) that’s why I need to “play” a superhero in this film I’m making.  Fake it til you make it, right?
Even at the dojo,  Sensei once told me that he saw a lot of fear in my face when I’m sparring.   I hated hearing that– HATED it–  but I am becoming aware of what he meant.  It’s not all the time, and I do know I’m getting better about it, but I specifically have a problem dealing with head strikes.  When someone throws a punch or kick at your head,  a skilled fighter will slip that strike or otherwise avoid it and counter with their own attack.  My tendency is to flinch and turn away with my eyes closed.  *Wrong!*  “Never turn your back! Never take your eyes off your opponent!”  That is exactly when and why I get hit.  Every time.  Giving in to my own fear hands my opponent a big shining opportunity to take me down.  I’m working on it, but it’s there- more than I’ve ever cared to admit til just now.

The same is true with Spartan Races.  I am obsessed with doing them it’s true,  but here’s the thing:  I am scared shitless before every single one of them… and then I cry like a blubbering idiot after they’re done.  It is the epitome of uncool, y’all.
You’d think that the more of them I do the easier it would be to face the challenge,  but with each one a new set of doubts crops up to nag at my brain and the fear-demons in my head keep me up at night telling me all the reasons I should back out.

I almost did back out of this one  (It’s gonna be so cold!  My rib is still sore!  My cat shouldn’t be left alone all weekend!), but because of the date of the race it’s impossible to forget my reason for doing crazy crap like this in the first place.
The Glen Rose Spartan Beast is Saturday, December 14th.
December 14th of 2011 was the date that I went to the doctor to see why the little hyperactive love of my life in my belly hadn’t been kicking around as much.  They checked me into the maternity ward that afternoon, and he was stillborn the next morning.
I do all this stuff because of Orion Xavier Jamil Glick: my greatest love and the massive hole in my heart that never leaves my mind…
and because of all my stupid little fears.
We shared a body and blood and cell structure and spirit and lifeforce, that little boy and me.  So if all that’s left of him is me, then I will shine as bright as I possibly can for as long as I can and the one heart I have left will beat as strong as it can.

The fears can keep coming and picking at me like mosquitoes, and I will keep facing up to them and swatting them down.  I may still turn my head and wince at the first strike,  but I am still standing and fighting.   Even if I’m a little scared. The trick is taking fear and twisting it into something like excitement… and I’m finally getting really excited about this weekend.

-Edit:  I wrote this blog, and then immediately found this on the Spartan Race facebook page:
spartan

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