Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta stress. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta stress. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, 17 de diciembre de 2016

Friends & Secrets

   It was very problematic for Sean to admit that his life had improved dramatically since he had joined the gym. He didn’t want to tell anyone about it and only went there once a day, six days a week. Of course, sometime people would ask him where he was and what he was doing, but he had created the illusion that he was attending cooking lessons at a school that happened to be in the neighboring building of the gym. The smell of warm and fresh croissants was almost constant and made almost impossible to focus on one's obliques.

 Sean had never been the kind of guy that went to the gym and cared about his body. Earlier in his life he openly mocked those who took too much care of their bodies and looks. To be fair, he still mocked only that he refrained himself from saying anything out loud because he would really look like a hypocrite if he said something. The difference was the he didn’t exercise because he wanted to look better but because he wanted to feel better, which were too different things. Most of the people there were just show offs that already had a great body.

 Since he was a little boy, he had loved eating candy. His favorites were salted caramel and chocolate. His life wasn’t complete when he was at school if he didn’t have a piece of chocolate with his lunch. It was kind of a ritual, a weird tradition that he had with himself. He kept that for years, until very recently. Actually, some of his friends had begun wondering what had happened to the chocolates he always ate and also about the ones that he kept all over the house in case he wanted something sweet to enhance his day.

 All of those chocolates had disappeared and no one really understood why. Some were not idiots and had realized Sean had lost some weight and, weirdly enough, he looked as if he had grown taller and bigger but not in a bad way. They asked him about it and he only answered he didn’t really knew why and that he partially blamed work and the classes because of the tension he went through every single day. Stress could be a powerful force and could certainly be blamed for many things, so it was a nice save that not everyone bought.

 One of those who hadn’t bought into the story was Billy. He had noticed something really strange one day they were at Sean’s apartment watching a movie. At one point, they were having popcorn and Sean asked if they wanted more. Of course, everyone said yes. To be funny, Sean raised his hands in the air and exaggerated a positive response. It was then when Billy saw it: Sean’s shirt had been raised and instead of a normal belly, he saw a body in the process of getting really ripped. He knew his friend had never been like that.

 Many times before they had taken trips all together. Billy knew his friends bodies, not because he had an obsession with them or anything but because he had seen them in their trunks and bikinis. He knew what they look like. So the new appearance of Sean’s body was a very big surprise for him. Now that he was thinking about it, he remembered that Sean had not attended their last trip to the beach. He had told them that he didn’t feel quite right but when they came back he looked exactly the same, like a normal healthy person.

 Billy decided to follow Sean one day. He worked for his father so he asked him for a day off from the office in order to attend some personal business. His father never asked many questions and agreed almost immediately. They following day, he woke up really early and decided to follow Sean by bike. He decided not to take the car as he suspected Sean would know it was him if he saw it. The first time he saw Sean that day was at seven o’clock, time he left at for work. He stayed in his office until midday, when he came out to lunch.

 It was then when he saw the first red flag: Sean had never been the type to eat big pieces of meat or a large portion of anything. He knew how to choose what his body was capable of consuming. However, he had never been the type to refrain himself from eating something delicious, even if hat something was not especially good for you. Billy remembered fondly the time the two of them had eaten a big plate full of spicy hot wings by themselves, no beverages or carrot sticks with ranch sauce. That had been a fun day.

 But now, he noticed that Sean had bought a salad for lunch, a salad that didn’t even had a piece of chicken or bacon or anything. And the worst part of it all was that he really seemed to be enjoying himself while eating it. Sean stopped looked from a distance and thought that maybe he was been too judgmental and a tad exaggerated. Maybe it wasn’t such a bad idea after all if Sean was taking care of himself. He was trying to feel better or maybe it was that he wanted to look hotter or even that he was dating and he wanted to look great for that person.

 That all went to the mental garbage when Billy saw Sean pulling a bottle of water from his backpack and drinking from it. That was just ridiculous. One thing was to take care of his body and all of that but drinking plain water with a lunch that consisted mostly on a bunch of leaves only a turtle would eat, was just insane. Billy thought that there was something really wrong with his friend because he had never seen him like this. Something had to be wrong, that was clear. But what could it be or why could it be?

 After waiting for several hours in a café across the street, Billy followed Sean again and the next destination, to no surprise, was the gym. Granted, it was not the type of gym that had many windows and looked more like a giant fish tank than like a human building, but nevertheless it was a strange thing. Billy decided to go in, as he would see nothing from outside. Of course, he had to pretend he was interesting in joining because otherwise he wouldn’t have been allowed entrance. A trainer showed him round but he didn’t really listened.

 He only saw Sean many minutes later, working out on a huge machine that seemed to be used to help exercise the abdominal area. He had no trainer besides him and seemed to be focusing a lot on what he was doing. For Billy, the sight was really strange but not because it was his friend but because he had never seen someone so focused to do something like that. For a moment, he even thought it was quite admirable that Sean had decided to take on such a challenge, but moments later he felt betrayed again, as a friend.

 He decided to confront Sean. He ditched the trainer telling him he would join after walking around alone and then walked, almost ran, straight to where Sean was. As expected, Sean was quite taken aback when he saw his friend standing there. But then he decided to finish his exercise and then finally stand up, sweating more than he would have wanted to in that moment. The two friends looked at each other and didn’t say a word, not until someone dropped a weight somewhere, slamming his foot. They both laughed, which eased the tension.

 Sean explained to his friend that he had always had self-esteem problems, going back to his high school days. He had always felt fat and ugly and he recently had realized he could actually do something about it. He had begun exercising over a year ago but the change in food had been done very recently. He didn’t call it a diet because he ate as always on weekends and he couldn’t say he was going vegan or vegetarian because his favorite meals consisted of pork chops in a pineapple sauce. Anyway, he was trying something to help him achieve his goal.


 He told Billy he was sorry for lying but Billy interrupted him saying he was a bad friend for never having really talk about their past in a much more open way. If they had, he would have known his buddy’s struggles and could even have helped him. He told Sean he was sorry and then hugged him, which was a first for the two as they had always been the kind of buds that only shake hands. It was a new beginning to their friendship, a much needed one.

jueves, 3 de noviembre de 2016

He was a friend

   The problem with having people over was that Tom’s place was always a mess. He tried to keep it clean; to make it look like someone responsible lived there, but it was impossible for him to keep that façade up. He had to confront the fact that he was not the most organized person in the world and that he shouldn’t have said “Yes” when asked if he could have his friends over for their weekly gathering. They had that tradition since they started having their own places. It was an excuse for seeing each other more often because if it weren’t for that dinner, they wouldn’t know anything.

 Marina had almost always hosted the dinner. She had the most beautiful apartment of the group and her husband was very relaxed about them meeting up so often. Sometimes they only met every two weeks because she had something else to do or her husband needed his space so they just didn’t get together. If it wasn’t her house, they sometimes used Greg’s place but the problem with his house was the fact that it was too far away from anyone else’s and that he had a baby so they had to keep it silent and very short.

 So Tom had a lot to do before his friends came over. By his request, the dinner was changed fro mthe usual Friday to Saturday. He knew that if he needed time to plan the whole thing and it was going to be an important meeting because the New Year holidays had just ended and it hadn’t seen each other in weeks. They would normally call for a pizza or something like that but he really wanted to impress them as he had always been the loser of the group, the one that never did anything too impressive, the one that was still single and working a menial job.

 Yes, Tom wanted them to see another side of him, a side that he would hopefully actually have. As he started planning, he realized he was really as dull and simple as anyone would think. His job was really not interesting so they never spoke about that but he always got so tired from it that he had almost no time to actually read or hear about other things in the world. He didn’t have any real knowledge about the interesting things of life. He only knew about the boring corner he occupied in the world and that was it. So he really had to make an effort.

 The first thing was actually planning the dinner. Even in the New Year’s Eve dinner with his family, he had his old timey notepad and a pencil with which he would write ideas for things to eat. His brother insisted he should just order a pizza and garlic bread but they always did that and he wanted to impress them with something they couldn’t see coming. The garlic bread was a nice idea, so he wrote it down and his mother told him a good salad is always welcome so he wrote that down too. The idea was to have many simple things around.

 The days before the meeting, he decided to buy most of the things he needed for his dinner in order to do them first and see if he could do it all by himself or if it really was a better idea to just ask for a pizza. He used the oven and borrowed a bunch of kitchen equipment from his mother, as he didn’t have anything to do proper things at his place. He didn’t even have a blender, just a couple of pans, a cooking pot and the microwave. Tom had to borrow his father’s car too to be able to take all of that back to his place. They thought he was going crazy.

 The first thing he decided to do was the salad, which he thought was the simplest of the dishes he had wrote down. He decided to do one mixing vegetables and fruits. It was supposed to be something refreshing and filled with flavors. He did everything the recipe called for but at the end, he doubted the result was the same as in the recipe. Apparently, the fruits and veggies he had chosen weren’t in their best moment. Some of them were too “green” and others were too ripe. It wasn’t to be surprised, as he had never picked up so many things from the supermarket.

 He put the salad on the side and decided it would be nice if he kept it on the refrigerator. Then, Tom decided to make the garlic bread. It was a rather simple thing to do. His trial test was going to be with cheap bread he had found in the supermarket. Again, he had made the wrong choice, as the bread was much too hard, like a rock. It was almost impossible to cut it. But once he did, he smeared some garlic paste on it and put it in the oven. The thing was he forgot about it when doing another recipe, so the bread got burned and his second attempt another disaster.

 What he was doing in the meantime was mixing the ingredients to make nice thick waffles. He had found a website that advised against the mix they sold in a box and encouraged people to do the mix themselves. The whole kitchen got covered in flour and a couple of eggshells ended up in the mix. He let it harden a bit when he got the garlic bread out of the oven so when he mixed it again, it had a very rough texture, not very similar to the one in the pictures of the website. When he tried it in the pan, it just got stuck there and burned like the bread.

 And all of that happened in a single day, the Monday previous to his gathering with friends. He wasn’t ready at all and he was even more of a disaster than he had thought. Tom had never cooked anything for himself and had no idea about entertaining people. He was a shy person, the kind that would always be asked last about a subject, if asked at all. He knew they had put that burden on him because no one else could do it and that thought made him realized he didn’t want to be that person.

 So early Tuesday, he grabbed the phone and called every single was one of his so-called friends and told them that he had decided against organizing their little event. He didn’t explain why or anything like that. He thought it was best not to say anything that they could use against him, although he knew they were going to talk anyway. After making all the appropriate calls, he decided to go to bed and rest because he hadn’t been able to sleep properly just because of that stupid meeting being in his brain for weeks and weeks.

 A surprise came in Wednesday, after having been able to sleep for ten straight hours. A girl from college called Alicia had come to his door to visit, out of the blue. When he buzzed her in, he didn’t really realize what he had done. But then he did and he started picking up the trash from the floor but then stopped and realized that didn’t make any sense. If Alicia was there, it was because the others had told her about the cancelled reunion. She wanted to know more and he shouldn’t just fake that everything was perfect when it wasn’t.

At the end of the day, that mess in his house was what made him Tom. He was that mess and it was the most original version of his own self. Nothing more could be as perfect to describe him as that pile of things all around, ranging from papers and notebooks to all the ingredients that he hadn’t used and wasn’t going to use for anything, never again. He even had some clothes on the floor, mainly the ones he would pick up and put in bag to take to washing machines in the basement of the building. It was one of those places.

 When Alicia arrived, he greeted her on the door and didn’t ask her to come in. He just wanted to know what she was doing there. She said that a bunch of people, including her, were worried about him because he had cancelled out of the blue. She reminded him that he was always so worried about arriving on time to their other meetings and often gave money for more pizza, so it was weird that he would just cancel the gathering that he was in charge of. So Alicia was just there to receive an explanation and she really got one.


 Tom said he was tired of being the last person they always thought of, except when they needed money or some idiot to do shit for them. He told Alicia to told every other person in their so-called “friend group” that he wasn’t going to be the same idiot that he had been since college. Maybe he wasn’t brilliant or successful or anything, but he still deserved some respect. He closed the door on her face and decided it was a nice time to order a pizza, all for himself.

martes, 26 de abril de 2016

Swimming

   The water felt really nice, wrapping his body in a very warm and soft cocoon as he went from one side to the other of the pool. Jim had always put aside a couple of hours of his schedule to swim because he enjoyed it a it relaxed him. He didn’t like to have massages or go to the sauna or things like that. Only the water was good enough for him. If he was visiting a place by the sea, the first thing he did was checking out the beach and swimming a bit. He preferred swimming pools, because of the lack of sand; he didn’t mind seawater from time to time. He found it to be a little more challenging but fun too.

 Jim had learned to swim from a very young age and had developed a very healthy relationship with water. Whereas many kids his age were scared of water, he had always loved it. He never forgot to ask if a party in some friend’s house involved a swimming pool and he made sure his mom always double-checked. Only once he went to a party with a pool and had to sit b the side and se everyone have fun and not him. So from then on he was always prepared.

 As a man who worked in the stock exchange, many people thought he would always go to the gym or do more intense exercising. But he only loved swimming and that’s how he maintained a nice body and a healthy lifestyle. He ate well. No diets or anything but just very balanced and swam every single day without fail.

 One day, his daily routine was stopped by a car crash. He always drove the same route to get to the gym to swim and it made him insane that the traffic was so heavy that he didn’t move art all for thirty minutes. Eventually, he arrived late to the gym but used the two hours anyway, without really thinking about how that changed his whole schedule. As he did his exercise at night, right after work, it meant that he would have dinner two hours later and that he would check his emails later too and sleep less than normal.

 But he didn’t care or maybe he didn’t noticed. He got to the gym and used the pool and when he was out, he was surprised to see the place was deserted. Only a couple of cars were left with his in the parking lot and when he got home it was almost midnight. He had some salad that he always bought premade, with lots of vegetables and stuff. It was a bad call because the aching muscles because of he swimming got combined with an aching stomach that found hard to digest some veggies at that time of day, with no energy left.

 He checked his emails like at two in the morning and there were many. He only got to reading about ten and answering even less than that. He was tired and he fell asleep in his couch.

 The next day, he was very late for work. He showered for only a couple of minutes; instead of the ten minutes he normally took for that. He also put on clothes that didn’t really look that good, which was strange because he had always been the kind of guy to pay attention to detail. But he was so tired he could barely see what he was putting on his body. The worst part was when he remembered, once at work, that it was a day filled with meetings with many people from different companies. The good thing was that the meeting took place at work but he wasn’t prepared at all for them.

 His coworker Julia had to step in quite often to correct number he was saying or to clarify things that were confusing because of the yawning. Every single group of every company could see that Jim was not in his best shape and moment. He hadn’t really shaved and he had quite a shadow, which made him look careless. His clothing, including two socks of different color and a pair of shoes that didn’t match anything, did not help his case either.

 Yet, he attended to the meetings all morning until lunchtime. Normally, he used to go to a very nice vegetarian restaurant that was close by. They had a really great variety of food for people that didn’t ate red meat or any kind of meat. But Jim was so tired that, when he went to his office to grab his jacket, he fell asleep on the desk and was only woken up by Julia, two hours later, telling him she had to attend to the first meeting of the afternoon.

 The rest of the day was even worse for him. He couldn’t really get the numbers and the names rights, he confused one company with the other and yawned almost with everything he said. He eyes looked terrible and so id his hair and everyone could see it. The thing was, most of the people in the meetings knew him, because they did exactly that once a month and had always being so prepared and charming and on point. Now, he was just a very horrible train wreck.

 When time came to go, Julia advised him he shouldn’t take the car back home, advising him to better grab a taxi or something like that. But he just nodded and ignored that comment because he had to go a swim, like he always did. So he went to his car, put on some loud music to really wake him up and drove all the way to the gym closing his eyes in every red traffic light and singing quite loudly when he felt he was about to go to sleep.

 Because of that reckless idea, he hit another car in the back and had to give all his insurance information and was late for the gym, again. He had lost time and money again and he was just exhausted. But he kept pushing himself for some reason.

 In the pool, he was able to swim nicely for the first ten minutes or so. But then something happened and the lifesaver in there had to get him out of the pull and give him mouth to mouth. When he woke up, they had called an ambulance and the paramedics were in the locker room checking him for water in the lungs and such things. He assured him he was fine but they insisted on taking him to the hospital to run further tests. He said no once, twice, three times and then grabbed his things and went to his car

 Jim felt frustrated because he hadn’t been able to swim at all. He felt weak now and something had changed in his life and he didn’t like it at all. It was like giving up on the one thing that made him stable. So he just hopped in the car and drove as carefully as he could and thanked the day for being a Friday. He would sleep until late and would still have time to do all the things that he could normally do on a Saturday. Besides, he was arriving home early.

He made himself a cheese sandwich and just watched some TV before going to bed. He fell asleep very quickly and, the next day, was able to wake up really early and really catch up with his schedule. He did everything by the book and was happy that the day was a very good one for him. The weekends had always felt like the worst time wasters ever but now it seemed he had discovered a way to make them have a meaning.

 That was until he collapsed in a large sports store where he was checking out bathing suits and earplugs. Then everything got like darker and he just fainted. Paramedics came soon and, this time, he didn’t woke up until they were in the hospital. They explained him that he did have water in his lungs but that part wasn’t really the worst one. They also told him he suffered from a rare condition caused by stress where people eventually collapsed because of all the stress they put on their bodies.

 He argued with them, saying he didn’t really do that much exercise and that he loved his work and so on. But the head doctor told him all of that wasn’t important at all. The point was that if he kept living the way he did, he was going to kill himself from exhaustion. He had to make some radical changes to his life and he had to make those changes soon because his body was just done with his lifestyle.


 Jim spent an entire week in the hospital, as they ran some tests. He felt useless in that bed and wanted to run out of there and swim some more and then do his work. He wanted his life back. But then the words of his doctor sunk in: his body was done with who he was and now he had to change every single piece of that.

lunes, 23 de febrero de 2015

My Right Toe

  Stupidly, I had bumped my foot into a chair. By night, my big toe was a big red ball throbbing and hurting horribly. My beautiful partner helped me a bit but he was too grossed out by it so I had to take this matter into my own hands. Resisting the pain, I tried to make the blood and pus that had formed when the nail got stuck right into the flesh.

 After along time of moaning and panting, I dried my wound, cleaning it with all kind of products and then putting a bandage al around my toe to keep it free from infection. My sleep was not very good and, the next morning, I saw it still hurt a lot. Before leaving for work, Patrick told me to call Laura, a neighbor that happened to be a nurse. Mondays were her day of and she might be able to help on what to do with my toe.

 I called her on the cell and she came right away. We had helped Laura moving in after divorcing her husband and we had become great friends. Also, she left her daughter with us when she had to stay too late at work and her sister wasn’t able to babysit. The little one was adorable and we liked to have her in order to watch a lot of children movies and give her all kinds of bad and good food.

 After examination, Laura told me to call the pharmacy and ask for something to reduce the swelling of my toe that should be good if I stayed a couple of days at home. It would heal eventually but not if I worked too hard on it, and as my work consisted on walking a lot, this meant I couldn’t go anywhere.

 After Laura left, I called my office in order to tell them I wouldn’t be able to go for a couple of days because of an accident. My partner there got very worried and threatened to come home later and, before I could tell her it was all ok, she had hung up. The drugs from the pharmacy took some time to arrive and it was odd, for me, to receive the deliveryman wearing my pajamas barefoot. I didn’t really like not wearing socks or footwear but Laura had been adamant about it. The man warned me that the pills made you sleepy, which I loved instantly.

 When the man had left, I took one of the pills and swallowed it with a big gulp of water. I had never been very good at taking medicine, even the simplest ones. Maybe it was because my mother was so overprotective when I was little and she kept trying for me to take vitamins and codfish oil. She forced me so often; I think I created an utter dislike for anything that comes from a pharmacy or from a doctor.

 Patrick called shortly afterwards to check on me. I told him I couldn’t move a lot, only applying some hot water on my toe every so often. He sent me a kiss and promised to be there as soon as he could, which I knew was not very soon because he was an assistant in a sports team and those people loved to stay in one place talking and arguing for hours and hours and even if they didn’t have an incoming match, they would discuss all the games they had seen during the weekend, which could take some time.

 I personally didn’t like sports that much but when I met Patrick he tried to make me be a little sportier. He failed tremendously although now I can watch a whole football game without the need to check my phone every five seconds or pretending to go to the bathroom. I do get bored still but I guess love can conquer all differences, if one is committed enough.

 It was funny that when I turned on the TV, a tennis match was on. Then the doorbell rang and, slowly, I walked to the door. Strangely, my foot felt heavier, more swollen even. Didn’t the anti-inflammatory work? It was Laura and her little daughter. The little one was carrying a green backpack and a doll in her arms. They both came in and then Laura started talking fast: apparently her sister had a problem with her car and she had to go and help so she wondered if I could take care of her daughter Amanda.

-       Sure.

 To be quite honest, I don’t really get children that much. I mean, I like Amanda a lot but Patrick is always around when she comes in and he’s such a good guy with kids: he knows lots of games (or maybe his improvisation is really good) and kids like him a lot because his funny and just great.
Me, however, not so much. I mean, I can be creative because it’s part of my job but being a only child and having no close relatives younger than me, I never had the experience to take care of any of them.

 My first idea was to change the channel and put on some cartoons. I had no idea what kids Amanda’s age liked to see. Actually, I realized I had no idea how old she was. So I asked. She was so interested in the cartoon that she only put one hand up, with all her fingers stretched. Then I saw one more on the other hand, that she hadn’t put up. So seven years old.

-       I haven’t had breakfast. Are you hungry?

 She nodded, not really paying attention to what I had said. I went, slowly, to the kitchen. I almost hit a counter in the kitchen with my feet and had to cover my mouth to curse. The kid, luckily, didn’t turn to look at me. Apparently cartoons were much more interesting than the limping man in the apartment.

 After a fast look, I realized we had nothing good for a child to eat. Both Patrick and me ate granola for breakfast and I was sure kids didn’t like that. But I did so I poured some on a bowl with almond milk, because I’m weird that way. I found, at the back of a cupboard, a few cookies covered in chocolate. Was she allowed to have sweets this early in the day?

-       Amanda?
-       Yeah?
-       What would you like to eat?
-       Mm…

 She took quite a long time to say she was rather thirsty. Luckily, we always had plenty of fresh orange juice so I poured some for her on a small glass, which I thought was best for a child. I put it in front of her, in the coffee table, but I didn’t know if she had seen me. Her eyes looked as if she had been hypnotized or something. Then, the doorbell rang again.

 Apparently the doorman let anyone in, as it was a man handling pamphlets for a new Chinese restaurant. I told him we only needed one menu but he forced a bunch on my hands. As I couldn’t move, that was most probably a crime, or so I thought. I closed the door but then it was the intercom ringing. My toe was throbbing more than ever when I answered: we had bought a new dining table and I had totally forgotten about it.

 So for the following thirty minutes, I had a child drinking juice and watching TV, two men trying to get everything in the tiny elevator and then out, a bunch of useless restaurant menus and a toe hurting like mad. I was already cursing my luck when an older lady, a neighbor, came to complain about the noise the guys from the furniture store were making. I tried to be nice but then the old bat put her cane right on top of my foot.

 I don’t know if it was on purpose but I pushed the lady aside and made her fall on a chair by the door. Then the man in the living room dropped the table heavily, scaring the life out of Amanda, who screamed loudly and starting crying noisily. The man dragged the chairs in, as I helped the old lady up. I then screamed at them for damaging my floor and the lady fell again and I almost fell with her but apparently faith hates my foot as one of the guy’s dropped a chair right on it.

 I cursed so loud and hard everyone stopped making a noise and just stared at me, like I was mad or something. Then, I saw Patrick’s face and he was visibly confused by everything.

-       I got the day off… What’s going on?

 Behind him was Victoria, my partner at the office. She looked worried.


 Done with the world, I just decided to fall onto the sofa and let him deal with everything. Finally, with a huge pain on my foot and the sounds of people crying and screaming and talking again, I fell asleep. The medications had kicked in.