Mash-Ups

Robinson beach in last weekend’s snowfall.

One of my favorite stations to listen to on my way to a swim is a Canadian rock station called The Q. Like a lot of things, Canadians do radio right, whether it’s neutral news reporting, funny commercials, or listener games. 

100.3 The Q does a game called Polka Monster, where someone calls in and tries to name the popular rock song being played live by the DJ, on an accordion, in 3/4 time. 

No joke. (It’s really hard!)

Ed Bain on The Q morning show.

Sometimes the Catholic radio station in Edmonds will cut into The Q’s airwaves while I’m listening. A lot of static can be heard when this hostile takeover happens, but every once in awhile, I get a clear mash-up of rock and religion. Ozzy Osborne’s Crazy Train popping in and out of their program called Father Knows Best. A Tragically Hip song mixed with advice from the Bible about depression.

I cannot make this stuff up. I’m not that funny. But it’s worth suffering through the static for these woven moments of unintentional comedic gold.

Laughter is a sacrament. So is water. The two together often get me through these cold cold frickin cold days of swimming. (Did I mention it’s cold?)

Whidbey got snow last weekend, and it stuck around long enough for me to post a swim at Robinson beach. A good six inches fell, and naturally everyone wanted to swim. It was something different from the gray rainy days we’ve been pulling ourselves through the last four months.

Running out of the water after the swim (I call it my “get the hell to the towel” move), I looked down long enough to see my bare feet in snow. I couldn’t feel them, so it didn’t feel strange.

But it looked strange, a weird mash-up. Bare feet mean summer sunshine, “toes in the sand”, everything associated with beaches and feet. Now here was snow, rather out of place with my icy, incredibly red, feet. 

Swimming and snowfall is also a weird mash-up. But there’s a buzz about it, a few extra endorphins maybe, a thrill knowing not too many others would want to do this. 

But then, not too many people listen through static for a chance to hear a priest’s benediction blessing through Rush’s Prime Mover.

Anything can happen. Go in peace.

–TJ Wiley Forsyth

Feeling It All

Driving to one of many many (so many!) swims this summer, a song came on my Spotify that stopped me mid-thought. Isn’t it great when that happens? You hear a certain lyric out of the blue and it’s like getting hit between the eyes. 

The song was People Get Old by Lori McKenna. Not the most clever title, invoking an initial “no duh!” response from me when I first heard it. But then this verse:

Time is a thief / Pain is a gift / The past is the past / It is what it is.

The last line is cliche, so we can skip that. But time is a thief? Absolutely. Pain is a gift? Truth. Eight words that sum up my summer.

I realize I’ve been remiss on the blog posts. Thanks to the folks that asked and prodded me to get back at it. I love you all.

But I make no apologies for the last three months. I swam my ass off, farther and stronger and better than ever before. Just like I promised myself I would while recovering from my mastectomy in April. 

It feels good to keep a promise to yourself.

And when I had to choose to write or swim? You know what I did.

I’m out of the water again, six weeks this time, following my DIEP flap breast rebuild surgery. (Wow did that suck. But  I’m back to wading!) Plastic surgery is crazy magic. Who knew all that Brie and beer built up on my gut over the years would come in handy? 

So relieved this final step on my stupid cancer “journey” (eye roll) is complete. I feel like a cat out of the bath. 

Pain is a gift.

This afternoon I’m turning the tables, albeit briefly, and stealing from time instead of the other way around. The sun’s out, the new puppy is asleep, and I’m wearing real pants as I write this. (Trust me, after that surgery, it’s a big deal.)

Feeling so much gratitude for it all.

–TJ Wiley Forsyth