slubs in the city

Slub (adj): Maverick; unorthodox; independent in behavior or thought.

Natural Athlete

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Nora and I recently joined the Y to ensure that we would continue to be mobile in the winter instead of descending into the ultimate slubbiness of stretchy pants, cake, and Arrested Development re-runs (not that this won’t happen). I went to the gym after work yesterday, and being a bit overly ambitious, attempted to use the weight machines.

While using the weight machines I feel like a champion. Like I could lift an elephant above my head and run a mile. Then the next day comes. Oh the pain. The misery. Lifting a pencil is the greatest effort. And this brings me around to my current situation: My arms hurt while I am typing. What. the. heck. I remember the days when I was much more athletic. Much more in shape. And this is the story of my downfall.

It may surprise many of you that I was once a natural athlete. I was not the girl who knocked over glasses, tripped while walking, or stepped on computers (not that I would ever do that now). No, I spent most of my time outside running around, playing sports, and climbing trees. The only barbies I had were missing their heads. I wanted to grow up to be Brett Favre. I was an excellent football player.

And then the last day of 4th grade happened. Now, I went to this progressive, kind of hippy, kind of Montessori elementary school in Des Moines. We were located downtown in order to be nearer to parents and experiences. For our purposes, the most important part of this is that our school backed up onto Nollen Plaza, which had this fantastic stepped fountain and giant umbrella sculpture.

Nollen Plaza

During the summer months, this area is a fountain, but it is drained during the winter/spring months which made it the perfect place to run races. Right? WRONG. On the last day of fourth grade, I was preparing to say goodbye to all of my friends because we were moving to Lincoln, NE. Luckily, I had the whole day to celebrate outside playing in Nollen Plaza and watching movies.

The teachers decided to have us run along the steps, in teams, competing for…well, probably nothing but glory! I was the last runner for my team. As my teammate reached the other side of the  arc, I began to run. I was glorious. I was fast. I was falling.

Now, many of you who know me now would probably blame this on the fact that I am a klutz. But no. Stanley, one of my best friends, had stepped down from her row and into mine, hurtling me down, one, two, three steps.

I couldn’t breath. My arm was bleeding. My hand was swelling. No, it was really swelling. I burst into tears at the first gasp of air. I don’t remember if the fall actually hurt that much, but I do remember many of my friends thinking that Stanley had personally sabotaged me….geez…fourth graders….

I spent the rest of the day in slub-style, slumped on the floor, ice on my hand, watching a movie, and eating candy. Now, a fall, a swollen hand, a scar on my arm…this isn’t all that bad. But friends, it gets worse. So much more worse.

The next day was my brother’s birthday and we were going to the science museum (I told you my family is nerdy). Now my hand was still pretty tender, but the prospects of a giant pendulum, planetarium, and static electricity demonstration garnered my enthusiasm. During the static electricity demonstration, we all held hands in a circle while the facilitator touched a Van de Graaff machine and sent the shock through all of us. Holy hell. That hurt. I yelped and pulled my hand back. I must have made a terrible face because my mom still apologizes to this day for this moment.

After leaving the science museum, my mom whisked me to the doctor where we discovered I had broken….my pinky (metacarpal, not phalange, but really?!) Now, again, I am sure you are thinking, children get broken bones all the time, this isn’t a big deal. Especially because it is your pinky. And you would be wrong. Because it got worse. Much worse.

A cast wasn’t an option. Still okay. Instead they would splint the finger and then wrap it in a huge ace bandage. For 6-8 weeks. Goodbye swimming. But I was handling this as well as any fourth-grader who lives in unbearable humidity in the summer in the Midwest would. Then they began wrapping my hand. The pinky finger was bound to my ring finger, my middle to my first. And they kept wrapping. And wrapping. Until my hand had turned into this:


This is what competitive sports had brought me: I was moving. I had no friends. I had a giant Spock hand. I couldn’t go swimming.

Now, I was also dissuaded from athletics by a mean basketball coach in 5th grade and a soccer team that lost every game in 6th grade…

But never again did I want to be in a situation where I had to look like Spock.

And this is why I am not an athlete.

slub love,



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