The Marble Castle – Part I

The Marble Castle – Part II: here

 

So here I am again, sitting at an old, cracking table (as ancient as my hopes) in anticipation of getting yet another drink.

“Sir, another round, please!”

“Who is going to pay for it this time, my liege?”

“I shall figure something out. In the meantime, do me a favour and keep the brew tight in your wooden glasses, old Frank! You spill half of the brew on your way to my table.”

“If you kept your promises and paid on time, I would be more careful, Sir.”

Excuses, rubbish, rattling and noise is all that I hear today. Excuses upon excuses, as prudent and massive as the fletching of the winner’s arrow. I almost forget Frank’s barbaric behaviour while surrounded by itches of thick smell and presence of the others, familiar looking and behaving barbarians. The place tends to attract crowds specifically on the days when I feel like getting a fresh brew. Only I know when it is served fresh, as sneaky Frank cannot be bothered about the quality and freshness as who else would care? No one would dare even thinking of raising their voice as everyone knows that there is no better brewery in the town to find, so they simply stick with whatever Frank would put on their table. For those guests who would collect moderate amounts of “acidic liquid”, he would purposefully spill as much of it as possible before serving. They would not even notice or care and it was always a joy to the old man to see the drunks tripping over his brew once they leave the place. Some burst out laughing to the point that the walls start trembling and echoing their laughs, while the rest trip over for so long that they start believing they are cursed and come back to get some more brew from Frank to “get back to normal and be able to stand up”. Surely, Frank would glance over his brewery stand and tell the scared guests that he had just the right “potion to lift off the curse of the old witch from them”. The guests were shocked but thankful all the same. While they would sober up from the fear and gulp their “magic potion”, Frank would clean and dry the floor, so the guests would be able leave. While those tricked by him would be sobbing at their tables, the rest, tripping over and falling, would laugh to the point where they stomachs would start hurting and they would resort to crawling outside of the brewery. That made the old man laugh every single time – not that he was an evil, twisted and crooked man. He just had to entertain himself somehow as the old brewery was the only thing that was left to him from his wife. Ironically, she slipped on his brew a long while back and never stood up again, if you know what I mean. I guess that Frank also thinks back on his wife when the other barbarians fall over his alcohol and it makes his day.

“By God, Frank, I told you that I would pay!” I almost shouted when Frank approached me and spilt half of the brew onto my shiny armour. “I’ve just had it polished today – do you know how long it takes for me to take it off?”

“May be that would serve as an incentive for you to pay next time you come by.”

Frank knows how to convince people and make them pay their debts. He has all kinds of brew at his disposal and once you step into his old, spacious, dark-lit stone cave, you better know very well what alcohol to order.

Once upon a time there was a gentleman, who Frank knew owned the silver to one of his friends. The gentleman asked Frank to give him one of his best brews – this not only offended Frank (gentleman inclining that Frank mostly serves poorly made brew, which, frankly speaking, is true) but allowed him to give the gentleman anything that Frank would deem best fitting to the situation. Frank surprised him with dozens of chugs of a “special brew for special visitors”. The man was thrilled and paid Frank back well. Little did he realise what Frank put into that potion. After a couple of blissful brews and many minutes later, a thirsty guest started seeing illusions and later on, hallucinating. The only thing that was real to him was the old man, Frank. The stranger crawled to him, asking about what he put in his drink, to which Frank, proudly, said that it was the best of the brews and that the man was so weak that he could not handle it. The man, in panic, admitted that he was weak and asked for a drink that would bring him back to reality or else he would blame Frank for witchcraft. Frank opened the door of his welcoming brewery and asked him to go ahead and deliver justice upon him. What the gentleman saw behind an open door remained a mystery but Frank could see that whatever theme caught the eyes of the man, it was truly terrifying and made the guest turn pale beyond recognition. He begged the old man to shut the door and not speak ill of him to anyone. Frank obeyed and gave him a condition of paying off to one of his friends who the gentleman owed a few dozens of silver coins. The fear and desperation grew stronger within the visitor and without hesitation he threw a heavy pouch bag onto Frank’s stable. Of course, the old man took his time to close the door and tell the visitor all about how he opened the brewery with his wife that one time ago and how famous his brewery used to be and still is outside of the kingdom. The delusions grew stronger and bigger until the man curled and started foaming from his mouth, trying to bite off his tongue and pouch his eyes out. Frank was only half way through the story, collecting the remaining drinks from the table that he made for the visitor and started cleaning his place. By the time Frank had been done, the guest lay unconscious. Frank only laughed at him and spilt the remedy onto the poor man’s face that woke him up back to his senses. This is why you need to be careful with Frank and anyone who owes him or his friends. This story never left any spectators’ mouths and even the greedy gentleman himself. Since the man asked him for “any” drink, Frank could not be blamed for poisoning him. Even if the guest had brought this to Facalites, they would either not believe his story or be afraid themselves of daring to approach Frank’s brewery.

Although Frank had not tried poisoning me the same way for not being the most frequently obeying drinkers at his place, he would genuinely miss my presence at his place. There was some uncanny and special connection between the two of us. We were almost like grandson and grandfather. I also helped him out once too often that he offered me lifetime brew. However, I started having a bit too much for my own wellness and he started charging me again (hoping that I would eventually run out of bronze and stop drinking as often or may be even become a part of the brewery). The first prediction was on the verge of becoming a reality while the second is far from ever happening. I was well occupied with my sadness those days.

It was a busy night for Frank – the kingdom had celebrated its longest time of peace. It had been 25 years since the last crusade battle. Every man who wanted to celebrate and cheer Frank came to his brewery. Frank was joyful as he was finally able to empty out the old barrels of his elusive brew. He would not sell it on regular days but because every other brewery was packed to the roof, the guests had no choice. It took at least a whole keg to be able to taste the flavour of the brew but once you do, you knew that the old man was up to something and that flavour was one of a kind – you just need to be patient and prepared enough to drink that much. Once you do, you will never forget or find anything similar to that brew anywhere else in the kingdom. Frank felt very festive and cut the price per pint to half, so every kept on throwing coins at him. Literally. Frank was the happiest that I had seen him in a long time.

I, on the contrary, was far from feeling as festive as the rest of the folk. My head was occupied with nothingness and the deepest of the blues. It almost felt like I belonged to no king, no castle, no princess – nothing or anyone. It was a devastating feeling – the longer that I sat and drank brew there, the wider the hole was growing inside of me. As if I were digging my own hole and trying to get out of it at the same time. This is what it felt every time I would stop at Frank’s as I had nowhere else to go, no one to serve, no one to kneel to in my shining armour. However, the old man’s brewery was my only way to remain in touch with the world and besides all the sadness, that was touching the surface of my lonely spirit, I could feel warm and inviting atmosphere that was able to put little patches on the cracks of that lonely spirit of mine. It was one of a kind. Frank knew this and tried to cheer me up at all times. Even on my worst days, the man would always find a way to make me smile. Sometimes, I would not have a choice but to smile as he otherwise would not let me out of the brewery. That trick always worked.

The night was growing thicker and the curtains under my eyebrows were becoming heavier. The cheer within the brewery calmed down as well and I felt that it was a good time to part away from the brew and head out home. I picked my sword and looked around in search for Frank. He was chatting away to another group of newcomers and giving the good old pitch of his handcrafted brew. His introduction followed up with stories of the kingdom, the king, the crusaders, the golden age of the knights and stories of his life. It almost felt like the sun would not be willing to rise the next day just because it would rather stay down, enjoying Frank’s stories. The next day, I could tell, would be darker than any other.

Week IV – The Genesis

This chapter deserves another kind of introduction about myself – what I used to be, where I started, where I tripped over, picked myself back again and repeated the whole thing one more time and once again. Let this chapter serve as an inspiration to others to follow the suit or remain a form of entertainment (probably this whole story is both for me).

I always smile brightest when I recollect myself as a kid – I cannot complain about my childhood. I had everything as any kid could dream of. My parents had stable jobs, I had my Sega console and eventually computer cult of my own, completed home-works on time, hated physics and chemistry at school, feasted on big thick warm sandwiches with the freshest of sausages (my mother worked at the meat factory, you see), had a bunch of friends and yet more holidays, which I would dedicate to gaming, watching movies and simply enjoying myself as a kid with very few responsibilities. I was absolutely jolly about my childhood “set-up”. My mum did her best to feed me with more Ukrainian dishes and my dad, being my dad, would throw a few jokes here and there about me being a fatso. It was heaven and I find myself missing and cherishing it even up to now.

As the time passed by, I had to step out of my home and move away to do studies. My student’s budget imposed some restriction on the diet of my liking, so I definitely dropped a few kg during my first couple of months. I would go jogging during the first year and to the gym once in a while, so I remained somewhat in shape so my folks would still be able to recognise me. A year later, I went to the US for “Work & Travel” programme in a small town of Ocean City to be a kite flyer expert. I tried adopting to the local merits of feasting on big portions, various cuisines and cheap meals but utterly failed at that. My diet shrank to occasional slices of pizza, pasta, sweets and tea/lemonade for the whole summer. I could never eat American size foods on a daily basis, probably as any average European, and I also had to walk a lot in the town, since bus schedules were a myth. Those three months were a blessing in disguise and I lost quite a lot of weight and saw my cheekbones starting to protrude. Once I arrived home though, I hit the gym and my will always re-directed me to go to a store on my way back and buy some sweets. Expensive gym membership did not last long and neither did my will for maintaining the shape after my trip.

Half a year later, I headed to Germany to do my Erasmus. Obviously, with the amount of great food and beers that the country had to offer, I could not resist the temptation. Also, I started working for restaurants and hotels that would not offer healthy but a lot of free and fatty foods. Although, I would still go to the gym (during my last third semester) three times a week, I only managed to remain to be around the same weight when I firstly arrived to Dresden. Could be worse!

Back home, I continued working out and jogging once in a while with my Italian mates but surely and slowly I would start getting covered with layers of indifference to continue my workouts, so eventually I gave up. I simply had too much on my plate at a time – relationship, two jobs, studies… Not compatible with my will for pursuing to reach the limits of what my body was capable of. Once I had got a full-time job though, I lost all the time that I ever had with the reality and got involved in the office world and finishing my studies. Life became really busy and so did my stomach at digesting heavy and infrequent loads of whatever food would land on my table. A couple of years flew by and I became quite big and cheeky.

The lack of consistency and habits have become daunting and I wanted to establish a rock-stone foundation with the walls around it and a small door, which would lead me to a realm of freedom only once in a while. What I mean by that is that I spent too much time in that realm and because of that, my body and mind softened up, literally! As I am getting older (naturally, no surprise here), I wanted to take full advantage of what my mind and body could be capable of when contained within a routine of a healthy lifestyle. Here I am in 2018, being and feeling refreshed and polished! I feel like I have been made anew. It certainly feels great to be in a brand new shape I am in now.

Since we have approached the topic even closer, I wanted to sync you in on the detox drink that I brought up in my previous blog – I am quite glad to have completed a week of drinking it! Since I have already been on a diet for quite some time (half a year), I did not expect any major changes. It did not reflect on my workout either but it was certainly interesting to try it out. That being said, I would still recommend it to everyone else, who wants to prepare themselves to get started with a healthy diet and eventually start working out. My friends, who recommended the drink to me told me that it made a great impact on them and certainly helped clean their stomach up from all the trash food. Since I have not been heavy on trash food (especially during the time of the pact), my stomach did not have much dust inside, so to speak. The recipe is quite easy though – simply slice a cucumber (about  100-200g), a full lemon and some ginger (do not the spice though) and put them all into a bowl of about 1.5-2 litres of water and leave the bowl in the fridge for the night. Drink it throughout the day (obviously, you do not need to eat cucumbers with lemon and ginger). Although make sure not to drink it during the workout!

Speaking of the workout, I surely am feeling better throughout the day and during my training sessions. I am proud to be four weeks strong into the pact. I am slowly gaining muscle strength, losing weight and enjoying the routine. However, the biggest achievement within it all is the challenge of overcoming my previous bad habits and moving towards something greater than my old self.

Your Body Is Your Temple

So about half a year ago (August 2017) a friend of mine had told me about a workout called “Insanity”. The name definitely caught my attention and having ended my membership with a local gym (their chain of gyms offered the best locations in the city but charged heaps of money and you always had to notify them a month in advance that you would want to put your membership on hold and still pay a small fee for that), I was eager to start with a workout that did not require me signing up for a gym. Luckily for me, my work offered a free room dedicated to young spirits, willing to push their body to its limits and cover the floor with sweat. The motivation was in place as well so naturally, my only question to my friend was “When do we get started?”.

Insanity workout was 2 months long and was separated into two sets of workouts – first month, basically to get started with syncing into cardio, muscle raining and developing control and the second month was more intense where the workouts would be 50-55 minutes long instead of regular 35-40 minutes in the first month. The start was rough but we climbed quite swell together and pushed each other. After a couple of workouts and spreading some sweat at work’s gym, we went to Vilnius for a couple of days, anticipating Shaun T (trainer of insanity) to remain with us in spirit and pick up where we had left off in Vilnius. However, Karina’s (my friend) other friend from Poland came to Vilnius for a few days to accompany us and so did a couple of bottles of magic Polish beers. Karina could not resist them and neither could I so we reluctantly came to a conclusion that it would be a sin not to drink those beers. We agreed that when we get back to Tallinn, we could start the workout anew and keep up the spirit. By Jove I enjoyed my time in Vilnius though!

We resumed with the workout in back home and kept up the spirit. We managed to continue pushing one another to get better and do as much as possible. The workout, however, came with a price. We both had to change our diet and pay more attention about what we ate. Karina pulled out her notebook, noting down the calorie intake and I started eating at scheduled times and limited my portions. As the weather was not particularly warm and the sun seem to have forgotten to rotate over the country, I could not manage my diet without a couple of cheat meals during the week. Workout was 6 days per week, meaning that I felt righteously obliged to go to a shop on Sunday and buy literally anything that looked appetizing to me and as much as I wanted of it and literally consume it at home. I would buy a 6-pack of ice-creams, pizza, some sweets, Coke Zero (cutting on sugar right there) and just…enjoy myself. Then Monday came and I would get back on track until Saturday and Sunday the feast was ready to be commenced.

Despite all of that, I still managed to lose weight and gain decent amount of muscles. I finally started feeling better at work, my mood improved and I felt more energised during the day but goddammit did it feel hard (“that’s what she said”, I know). I could not just take a day off, buy a 6-pack of beer and fall unroll onto a couch eating crisps. I mean, I could have done it on my cheat day, yes, but my combining high intensity workouts with alcohol was and never is a good idea. My body needed a good recovery and I did not want to fall back on the training routine. I have to admit, however, then I would sometimes have a few extra cheat meals than usual (after my Friday’s workout) and a few strong drinks (obviously mixed with Coke zero!) but it was tough to get back on track. Then again I could not refuse my other friend with that, who I do not see too often. I mean you’ve got to let yourself go once in a while but I did my best at not extending this “once in a while” to more than 1-2 times per month.

Those two months put my mind and body to the test – I was very satisfied to have passed it and the gains were the biggest motivation to continue working on myself but most importantly, I learned that if one can challenge their body, then they could challenge their mind. Just like Confucius temple, I am holding on strongly to the aspirations of my mind and body and do not give up. The challenge goes on!