Why I’m Climbing Kilimanjaro (Part 2)

Today I got the unbelievable wonderful magical news that my Kilimanjaro trip is a go. It’s truly happening and it’s happening in February 2021, folks! 75 DAYS. With that glorious Monday info – here’s Part 2 (of 3) on why I’m doing this dang adventure. Check out Part 1 here!

There have been a few movies I’ve seen as an adult that so wholly resonate with me that they make me break down. Not the 3 Scariest Kids Movies Ever, which is a different list, but the emotions. The FEELS.

As the credits for “Ladybird” started to roll I stood, tight-voiced said ‘Ijustneedtopeesobad,” power walked like someone with food poisoning into the beautifully tiled bathrooms at The Davis Theater, put my whole pre-COVID unclean jacket sleeve in my mouth and flushed the toilet to cover a hard, 10-second sob that wracked my body. I peed zero times and flushed the toilet 8 times.

On a hot, lethargic July weekend day in 2019, I sat in front of my wheezy window AC unit, scrolling aimlessly through several video apps and saw ‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ on Amazon Prime Video. I rolled the idea around in my mind: ‘ugh a feel good movie isn’t there a die hard sequel somewhere instead’ countering ‘ Well, I do love Jillian Bell,’ and after watching the trailer, decided ‘I’ll start it and of course, run back to Season 3 of Orphan Black if I don’t like it.’

But I did like it. And I kept watching.

‘Brittany Runs a Marathon’ is based on a true story – there is a Brittany who did indeed run a marathon – and that true story does indeed range from her first faltering steps outside to triumphantly completing the New York City Marathon. But a story without life breathed into it is just a grocery list of facts, so here’s why the movie made me lose a full pint of tears.

Here’s the description from Wikipedia (with some of my thoughts):

“Brittany Forgler is a 28-year-old living in New York City with her roommate Gretchen, a teacher’s assistant dreaming of social media fame. Visiting a new doctor to score a prescription, she receives unwelcome news; she must get healthy and lose weight. Every doctor’s visit. My entire life. Even when I was a Krav Maga instructor at my lowest weight. Even dentist visits in Korea. I have always been told I was overweight. That losing weight would help the issue du jour – be it mental or physical or emotional.

She visits a nearby gym only to find even the cheapest fee is out of her reach. I cannot tell you how many gyms, how many personal trainers, how many smoothies and supplements and diets. How many times I’ve tried to learn ‘fit lingo,’ bought the clothes, the gear – and how many times I felt like a failure at this goal of fitness. A fraud, waiting to be found out, throwing dollars at my belly.

Despite her fear, she tries running for the first time, successfully running one block. She is invited to run in a group with her neighbor Catherine, whom Brittany detests for her seemingly perfect life. OK well running is the devil’s exercise and no one can convince me otherwise. And real talk: I fully admit struggling with other women based on my idea of their ‘perfect’ bodies, with must of course = perfect life, right? That’s social math (I have a comm arts major so the math is LITERALLY wrong on that).

Brittany gets within five pounds of her goal of losing 45 pounds. Brittany’s pride, and continued reluctance to let Catherine into her life, force her to turn down an offer of support, and she withdraws. She regains weight, forcing her to run even harder, until one of her shins becomes too painful to walk on. Five weeks from the marathon, her doctor informs her she has a stress fracture and will be unable to run for six to eight weeks. In May 2019 I got a new job, I started trying Crossfit, I quit teaching at the Krav gym. In September, I quit the CrossFit due to wallet bleed (WOW that sparse box is pricey), rejoined the LSAC gym, got a trainer, started training. In October I tried Keto for 30 days, in November I added weightlifting classes and by Thanksgiving last year I was in so much pain I didn’t even want to workout. Getting (and staying) fit has a monetary, physical, emotional and mental cost. Not everyone will have your back (or know how to support you) past the ‘YEW GO GURL’ vibes.

She ignores calls and texts from Catherine, Seth, and Jern, saddened to see Seth and Catherine with their marathon medals. That same day, she disrupts her brother-in-law’s birthday party by making cruel comments about an overweight female guest. It’s hard to celebrate with (and for) your friends when jealous little sandworms burrow inside your heart. Your soft heart tightens into glass and you know it’s breakable, so you swing your spiky sandworm tail at anyone close to disrupting your glass heart and seeing through it to your shame of failure (Yes, I recently watched Beetlejuice for the first time and I love sandworms now).

One year later, Brittany runs in the marathon. At this point I’m openly weeping wedged into some half-baked moldy croissant body shape on a red chair that I bought used for $50 when I moved to Arkansas. The iPad is bouncing on my knees as I drag and push air hand-over-hand in and out of my compressed diaphragm. Somewhere inside of me I know it’s a movie, I know it’s a story, but they cut the audio/music bed so you only hear her breathing and I’m right there. I’m with her. The cottony rasp of her tying her shoe laces. Pulling on her good sports bra, you know, the one for bounce. Not the WFH $5 Gap bralette. Clothing herself in the armor she knows is dependable on the battlefield – to challenge the chafing, the high school knee injury, the sturdy Scunci hair tie that will hold 26.2 miles of ponytail bounce. The quality headphones you spent too much on but that hold your sanity playlist, pumping energy through the right and left tracks.

At the 22-mile mark, she develops a cramp and has to pause. She rejects medical assistance, but accepts an assistant’s offer to help her up. While considering quitting, she finds Seth, his husband and sons, and Catherine in the crowd cheering her on. She also encounters Jern, who says he loves her. She then keeps going, finishing the marathon. I’ve paused the movie, scraping my hand over my eyes to hide the shame of whole body sobs from who? the iPad? Jillian Bell? One of the other technological masterpieces in my single-person apartment that probably has an always-on microphone translating my sobs into therapy $s? I regain control of my body and press the space bar to finish the last few happy, joyous moments of the film. I squeeze my shaky, dopamine smile muscles up as the credits roll, showing the real Brittany and photos from her real marathon run.

And I immediately wanted to find…something. Something bonkers – not running – that would be *shudder* horrifying. But an outlandish goal. Something I really wasn’t sure I could do but maybe, maybe I could.

And I’m not sure what led me to this. But it’s the same date. I messaged the only person I personally knew who had climbed Kili (and had also very recently summited the Everest). I don’t know where my brass lil stones came from – but I sent it – and the dream siren did a double take, whispering “soon?” and I whispered back “…maybe.”

…to be continued…

The Finite Realest Top 3 Scariest Kid’s Movies Ever, According to Me (but not Garp).

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I keep seeing all these “Scariest Kid’s Movies,” “Top 5 Creepiest Movies for Kids!” lists and let me tell you, they are all crap. PURE GARBAGE. Sure, a lot of you shouldn’t have seen “Labryinth” when we were 12 or younger (I saw it after college, mah babes [what babe?] with the powers [what power?]). But for all the Roger Rabbits (yes, creepy) and Gremlins (still haven’t seen all of it) and Princess Bride (seriously? this is scary??), nothing can match these 3 (which are never on the lists!) that, no joke, I still TO THIS DAY refuse to watch.

1.All Dogs Go To Heaven

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“In this animated feature, canine casino owner Charlie is killed by gambler Carface, but returns to Earth from heaven thanks to the powers of a magical, rewindable watch. Charlie sets out to take his revenge on Carface by means of an elaborate plan that involves an orphan girl, Anne-Marie. But as the plan progresses, Charlie discovers that Anne-Marie is being exploited by Carface. Charlie must decide whether to change his mission from one of revenge to one of rescue.”

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How lovely. Here’s the real sitch: Charlie, a lovable rascal/lawbreaker of a dog/hero who is besties with Dom DeLuise, owns a casino, smokes a lot, and gets MURDERED by some other asshole dog who smokes cigars.
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Charlie dies HE DIES! In a kids movie! and gets awarded a watch in heaven by some pretty purple sinewy lady dog (she’s a dog, why couldn’t she have some rolls?) but he cheats and rewinds the watch and escapes heaven (there is an escape hatch?) as the purple fairy dog screams “YOU CAN NEVER COME BACK.” Charlie comes back to earth, there is a singing alligator in drag who…like imagine if a Mardi Gras float came to life, got stuffed full of cliches about gay people, SLEEPS ON A BED OF BONES and then sings a song about making music with Charlie after he tries to eat him in a cage of bones.
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Then Charlie ends up going to melty, freaky lava hell and this happens:
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Try sleeping now. There’s some other subplot about a ragamuffin girl who’s name no one remembers that Charlie then dies for but you’re too scarred to remember that part. Also: Charlie is voiced by Burt Reynolds, so good luck ever enjoying “Smokey and the Bandit” ever again.
Fears made: Mardi Gras, people who smoke cigars, drag, clock shops, purple dogs, naked Burt Reynolds
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“A magical board game unleashes a world of adventure on siblings Peter and Judy Shepherd. While exploring an old mansion, the youngsters find a curious, jungle-themed game called Jumanji in the attic. When they start playing, they free Alan Parrish, who’s been stuck in the game’s inner world for decades. If they win Jumanji, the kids can free Alan for good — but that means braving giant bugs, ill-mannered monkeys and even stampeding rhinos!”
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The truth: boy gets sucked into game. He gets trapped and can’t get out just like my brother and I did in my parents trunk once and that was a horrific, terrible, can’t breathe, could-have-died moment that I really am not a fan of reliving. Then he emerges because two dumb-dumbs play a harmless board game like good, wholesome kids instead of do drugs/sex/alcohol like bad kids and he’s a man who lost all that time and his parents are gone and his family is gone and he is ALONE except for Bonnie Hunt, who’s cool and all but NOT YOUR FAMILY and then they almost all die and almost get trapped in the game again and what a great lesson about playing outside and never never touch shit in your attic EVER. Also the whole time: terrifying drumbeats that I can still hear in my nightmares.
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I love Robin Williams, truly, for so many wonderful moments of my childhood. Like all of us, I still can’t put on a face mask without asking someone if they want “one lump or two,” and Genie and Hook and oh captain our captain but THIS movie still has me in its grip. Once, when I was a freshman in college, I tried to turn it on on TV, alone in the basement WITH THE LIGHTS STILL ON, and you know, when there’s that moment, that brief flicker before the picture comes in and you hear the audio and I heard the drums and was like NOP NOPE NOOOOOPE. I was almost 8 when this movie came out and I’m almost 28 and still NOPE and just like before, if I watched it, I would go sleep under my brother’s bed again because that’s still my safe space. Hope that’s cool with his wife. And they’re apparently making a sequel for Christmas 2016 to ruin my birthday season. Excellent.
Fears made: board games, drum beats, getting trapped and can’t escape, losing my family, zoos
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“In this animated film, Chanticleer, a barnyard rooster, has convinced the other animals that his crowing makes the sun rise. When, one day, he forgets to crow and the sun comes up anyway, the secret is out. He heads for the big city in shame. But as massive storms and dark clouds stop the sun from appearing, the farm animals get worried, so a mouse named Peepers and a kitten called Edmond lead the gang on a trip to find Chanticleer in the city.”
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Where to even begin with this mountain of PR lies?! Step 1: Edmond the little kitten is a real little boy–the movie begins with his real, non-animated family farm flooding and the evil satan huge demon massive terrible owl overlord barfs some magic to turn Edmond into a kitten SO HE CAN EAT HIM. WHAT. Here’s that touching children’s movie moment for you:
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Then Edmund and all the animals (who now talk) decide to go rescue the aforementioned Chanticleer aka Elvis, so he can come back to the farm and crow so the sun will rise and dry up all the rain and the itsy bitty spider climb–and end the movie. Edmond and his faithful bloodhound are almost drowned in oil/black water as the owl duke and his cronies try to pick them out and eat them. Just a reminder again that Edmond is a REAL BOY as a kitten, ALMOST EATEN ALIVE by the above-gif’d magic-barfing owl.
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They get to Vegas or whatever, where Elvis/Chanticleer is singing in a bar/theater and doling out such forward thinking gender equality bits like this:
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La-di-da and a bunch of creepy characters later, Chanticleer gets back to the farm and all the anthropomorphic animals are like “crow, dude” and he realized he forgot how. Then, and I quote, “The Duke taunts him and tries to drown him (Chanticleer)…” and then said Owl Satanicus “magically strangles Edmond” A KID THE KID HE STRANGLES A KID and then all the 5th-string characters all start to chant the most horrific chant that haunts me TO THIS DAY.
If you guys got through that, congrats, because I ate a popsicle before for courage and couldn’t do it. Then, ta-da, Chanticleer is like, of course I can do this and saves the day and “Edmond, now apparently dead from his injuries transforms back into his human form in front of the others who realize he was telling the truth about being a little boy.” HE WAS DEAD in a kids movie! WHAT. Then, of course, he’s fine, la-da, where is the realism in this story?! And why is this entire movie dark?! Seriously, it’s all dark blues and blacks and purples and just DARK, which is spoopy (spooky and creepy).
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Fears made: the dark, the night, flooding, owls, being turned into an animal TO BE EATEN by satan Owl Duke, asshole guys who sing well and think they own the world, DID I MENTION THE OWLS
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So there. That’s the 3 scariest kid’s movies according to me, and now you know what I’m scared of. I just realized that 2/3 are Don Bluth movies, so that explains a lot.
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I must now go and purge my hard drive and computer trash and my mind of all this filth and gifs and go watch an episode of Mindy with 2 more popsicles as a reward. If you feel like torturing yourself/tempting the Duke Owl of Magical Barf, here’s a bonus treat for your nightmares:
PS: if you send me anything from these 3 films…
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This is not a drill.