Mighty feeble.

Do you know the saying about how it takes fewer muscles to smile than it does to frown? Well, I’ve figured out an even easier way to smile at people: squint. Squinting your eyes looks indistinguishable from smiling from behind a mask.

Animated gif of Fry from Futurama narrowing his eyes.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing. It saves my cheeks from irritation caused by the rubbing of the mask. My entire face isn’t often visible these days, so I am not concerned about people seeing the breakouts I’ve been having, but I still have to look at myself in the mirror. “Wow, you look like an old teenager” isn’t an uplifting thought to have about yourself.

What will happen when masks finally fade away? I’ll be squinting at people instead of smiling at them out of habit. What other habits are we going to walk away with once the pandemic is mostly over? How will we handle crowds after more than a year of being in places with limited capacities?

Yesterday, I got another handwritten letter from the same Jehovah’s Witness who sent a party invitation in Filipino to my home last month. I’m not sure if I prefer this method over ignoring them and their pamphlet stand in front of Frankie’s diner on Government Street. Their original approach of knocking on doors was unquestionably my favourite. This latest attempt at freeing me of my sinful ways had them waste a page of lovely succulent stationery paper. As a lifelong heathen who has been on the hunt for cute, affordable stationery in Victoria, this hurt me.

I do have some good news: I convinced someone new to take me on another ride around Thetis Lake. I returned to the site of my (minor) accident after work on Wednesday. I fell again, although not at the same spot because I dismounted and scampered down the hill. I only take calculated risks.

Just off the Glendale Trail.

The Galloping Goose Trail (aka the Goose) passes by Thetis Lake. Before reaching Thetis, just past Chancellor Park, the paved path dips through a short tunnel. I usually remove my sunglasses or at least let them slide down my nose so that I can peer over the frames when going through this tunnel. This time I kept my sunglasses on, knowing I’d make it through okay, which I did, but not without experiencing five seconds of panicked disorientation. I’d underestimated how much my balance is affected when I don’t have a clear view of where I’m going.

I appreciate when a friend accepts that I morph into an old-looking teenager granny at dusk and offers me their arm onto which to clutch. Without this guidance, I find myself needing to focus on where I’m stepping. It’s like being drunk and trying to walk naturally.

I let my friends joke, “Are you drunk?” when I stumble. I don’t mind the jokes, but I wish it weren’t my reality. It’s not unusual for deaf people to have balance problems, but I’m an extreme case.

For years, I thought lightheadedness and dizziness were the same. I figured others were exaggerating when they’d wobble after spinning. I didn’t understand until I was an adult why my friends enjoyed the spinning rides at amusement parks: I’d always found them boring compared to the rollercoasters or any other ride with bursts of g-force. I remember bringing my bike to elementary school on Sports Day and realizing that I was the only kid in my class who still had training wheels.

Anyway, I’ve decided to learn to overcome my balance issues and propel myself down rocky trails at high speeds in pursuit of fun times. Until I get the hang of it, I’ll be walking down my bike on the dicey sections.

I fell once on this ride, but it was an even softer fall than the previous week’s. I also clipped a small tree with my shoulder. What left me sore the next day was those cautious descents by foot, which was hard on the knees.

Overall, it was a successful ride as the buddy I went riding with, Zack, said he’d ride with me again. I’m now 3 for 3 on wooing new riding buddies!

I’d have been lost had Zack ditched me here. At least I’d have had a place to sit and weep.

It may have been a mistake hopping on the trainer the following day. It was the second workout of week five and the most challenging one yet.

Screen shot of the Zwift workout listing the intervals, beginning with a ten-minute warmup followed by five four-minute intervals at 200 watts with two minutes of rest at 120 watts. The second half of the workout has five intervals of four minutes at 230 watts with two minutes at 120 watts in-between.
230w is 5% above my current FTP.

I made it through that workout! 230 watts doesn’t seem like much, but it’s the equivalent of a 79kg person pulling in 330 watts. I’m impressed with myself.

The stronger I get, the longer I’ll be able to stay on my bike, and the faster I’ll recover from real rides is a part of the appeal of Zwift. I enjoy doing those workouts when I’m fresh; however, tackling them after work and/or when I’m still sore from the previous ride is done out of commitment. Because I’m halfway through the penultimate week of the program, I couldn’t let a little fatigue stop me.

Except, I may need to stop. That night, I noticed that I had sprouted what looks like a third knee behind my right knee.

Google tells me that it’s a Baker’s cyst, which isn’t something that happens when a yeast infection gets out of control and pops out of the back of your knees. It’s something that occurs when fluid accumulates in between your knee joints, much like how blisters form.

Thankfully, as far as Google-curated medical images go, Baker’s cyst wasn’t too much to stomach. I could probably continue to wear shorts without disturbing others too much.

Not surprisingly, a tumor was one of the suggested diagnoses. In this instance, though, it doesn’t make sense, so I’m not worried about that. I worry that I’m going to have to do the opposite of riding my bike for hours every day.

Until Monday’s doctor appointment, I plan to practice the RICE method while making my own stationery paper because I can’t find anything cool. I could continue my knitting project; after all, I am an old-looking teenager granny. Or… I could bake stuff as I do have the corresponding cyst.

Eh, I’ll be bored: please send carrot photos.

One thought on “Mighty feeble.

  1. Pingback: Ew, me.

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