Half Year Review

With the New Year now underway and my one-year Becoming Layla plan almost at the halfway point, I figure it’s time for a cursory review of my progress.  I’ve already talked about the mental and emotional changes the plan has made in me.  Now here are the physical and general skills.

First up:  Parkour

My nine classes last July/August/September got me into shape more quickly and painfully than any other activity I’ve ever attempted in my life, and the boot camp atmosphere taught me that I could push my endurance much farther than I thought possible.  The stunts – from jumps to cat hangs to swinging by my hands along high bars – revealed niggling fears lurking within me which I was unaware of and had to overcome.  I also discovered I’ve got almost zilch upper body strength.  Since the classes ended I’ve kept doing the same kind of sit-ups, push-up and squats we did in class.  On the downside…

I have not maintained the same high standard for strength and endurance.  Yes, I’m generally in better shape, but out of a combination of laziness and crappy weather (this is Denver’s coldest winter in years) I haven’t been running in the park two blocks away nor have I been practicing chin-ups on its kids’ Jungle Jim.  Over the Christmas holiday my brother helped me by showing what muscles I have to develop if I ever want to do chin-ups.  He also laughed when I referred to my shoulder muscles.  “You don’t have any shoulder muscles!” he crowed.

One interesting side-effect of the parkour training:  I’ve developed the odd habit of sizing up the exteriors and interiors of buildings around me to figure out how I could climb them should the need arise.  Once my upper body is stronger, I’ll start climbing the wall at REI before moving onto buildings.


My pool/billiards skills have languished because I haven’t practiced them outside the two classes I took.  Being gone over the holidays and again the bitter cold weather haven’t helped.  But I’ll be taking another class in a few weeks from The Viper, and I resolve to head to the Wynkoop for practice sessions.  I mean, how hard can that be?  Buy myself a beer and practice for an hour or so.  Maybe I’ve kind of blown off billiards because it’s entertaining and not arduous.  Yet one of the most important aspects of my Layla plan is to have FUN.  Which brings me to….

Paragliding and Skydiving

The weather is still too damned cold.  I’m hoping that maybe in March or at least April there’ll be a warm enough day to make paragliding possible.  As for skydiving – a bunch of friends have decided they want to try it with me, and since they’ll be gathering from a couple of different states, we’re all aiming for one week in June.  But I think I’ll go ahead and learn to jump on my own first.  Then I’ll really have fun when I go with them.  I am afraid, however, that I might fall in love with skydiving, and it is not a cheap sport.


Damn.  I mean – double damn.  I’ve really been lazy.  I have not been regularly studying French or Arabic, which means I’ll have to set a firm schedule for myself and stick to it.  When I have a structure like classes I’m good at sticking to something.  I’ll just have to formally structure language studying into my evenings/weekends.

Lock picking

See summation of my language studying.  Resolve here and now to be super diligent at learning how to pick locks.

And now for some good news.

I can FINALLY get back into fencing and get to REI and take an upcoming four-part session of aerial dance (a la Lara Croft’s bungee dancing scene in Tomb Raider) and other Layla stuff because I’m about to become the proud owner of a hot little used red Chevy Aveo.  No, it ain’t no fancy sports car, but it beats my old Nerdmobile, especially because it doesn’t smoke like oil on fire when I drive it.

In summation…

Will I meet my one-year goal to become like Layla?  I believe so, but only because I now realize that when I first set out on my plan I really didn’t set the bar as high as I could have or should have.  Does that mean there’ll be a Layla Level II and maybe III?  And if so, what will they entail?

Stay tuned for further developments.

One Response to “Half Year Review”

  1. V. Slatt says:

    I read the post about Katherine Graczyk and am interested in contacting the family about related documents I have found–can you make a connection?

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