Tuesday, December 30, 2008
In 2008, I didn't quit smoking (that was 2007) but I did celebrate a year as a non-smoker. In 2009, I'm going to keep working on being a healthy person.
In 2008, I took up cycling. Loved it. And I can't wait until the 2009 thaw, if you will, so I can get even more cycling in. My last ride was 65 miles and I totally intend to pass that by.
In 2008, I dropped my weight down below 250. In 2009, I'm going to at least drop it below 240... dammit...
In 2008, I wrote two plays and another novel... or two... I lost count... In 2009, I'm going to write my first dramatic play - that's right, not a comedy - and I'm going to write my first kid's book, and continue to grow as an artist.
In 2008, Vicky was treated for endometriosis, which may be news to some of you. I kept waiting for Vicky to say anything, but seriously, when does she ever write here? In 2009... baby? Maybe!
In 2008, I played lots and lots in WoW. In 2009... um...
In 2008, I rejoined OCPA. In 2009, I think it's time I got something back up on stage, even if it's something I wrote and not my big, fat ass.
In 2008, Vicky and I celebrated our fourth (correction third) anniversary. In 2009, we'll be married for five (correction four) years, something I'm already very happy about. (edits provided by Vicky...Ken apparently can't add)
In 2008, we got a new puppy, Shipoopi. In 2009, we won't, will we Vic? (Anybody want a cat?)
In 2008, as I mentioned, my father died. In 2009, let's not have any more of that death nonesense, okay?
In 2008, Vicky got sliced and diced a dozen ways to Sunday. In 2009, she won't have anything wrong with her... at all... seriously...
In 2008, Sean remarried this sweet lady named Mona. In 2009, he'll stop reminding me that he's having way more sex than me. It's just not natural...
In 2008, I missed Clostio. In 2009, I'll keep missing him... cause he's a prick...
In 2008, I missed Tim and Autumn. In 2009, they'll find their fucking phone and maybe I'll find their fucking phone number... stranger things have happened...
Finally, in 2008, I was a little easier on myself and made myself feel a little less like shit than in the years before. In 2009, I'm going to tell anyone who makes me feel shitty about myself to fuck off... cause they still won't be half as good at it as I am... (but I'm getting better!!!)
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Back when Rosa and I were together, I was a farmer. Granted, I wasn’t much of one, but I grew peppers and tomatoes and berries. I grew tons of tomatoes. I’d eat them right off the vine like fruit.
And when I’ve told Vicky about this, there’s always a moment of recoil. There’s a look in her eye that asks, “Did I take that away from you?” It’s like she forgets that Rosa took that away from me and the death of my farmer self came as part of the price of losing Rosa.
Jump to today. And there I was, sitting back on my sofa, my head filled with head cold cotton and aches and pains. Times like that give you an opportunity to think, and I was thinking about food.
Vicky and I do so many things I am proud of us for: we recycle, we use reusable bags when we shop, she buy organic meats and (sometimes) vegetables. Yes, I am often filled with a sense of our own righteousness. The only problem with that, though, is that it keeps you from doing more. And there’s always more to be done.
Where we are in history, with our climate in crisis, with economic peril, with all of the problems that can be solved with smart decisions about what we eat, this is absolutely the best time to start making better decisions in that regard. After all, the food you get at the store gobbles up fossil fuels in production, shipment, etc. And what better way to help out our family’s economy than through wise food choices?
So, I had a sit-down with myself… and come to some decisions. And it might be a little early for this but what the heck. After all, I quit smoking a few days before New Years and that took. So...
Resolved: In 2009, I’m going to find a local farmer’s market to shop at every other week, at least. This one won’t be too difficult. There are farmers markets all over Orange County. In fact, there may be one in your area as well, if you’re so inclined.
Food from the farmer’s market is usually healthier as a result of being removed from corporate agribusiness. It grown closer, using fewer fossil fuels. And it’s often tastier, since it’s not grown for shipment.
This will be my way of not only helping Vicky and I eat healthier but supporting the local economy and helping the environment.
But there’s something else I can do – and so I will.
Resolved: In 2009, I’m going to start farming again. That’s right. There’s no reason why I can’t get a few tomato plants going, maybe some peas, too. We don’t have a lot of space but there is some. It’ll make our patio look nicer and provide us with plenty of cheap, healthy foods.
I left a lot of things behind a decade or so ago and some of them were for all the right reasons. But it’s also healthy for me to remember the good that I had and how it can help me here and now.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
In one of the most recent WoW patches, a new tool was provided to highlight any of those lower level quests you might have missed.
And I missed a lot.
So, here I am with a level 71 Pallidan, tromping the halls of Uldaman and Gnomeregan, picking up those last, stray quests I missed, pumping up my Rep. I mean, after all, the shores of Northrend are teaming with LAG! I figure I'll give it some time before I go there with my slow, wireless connection...
But there's more to it than that.
I just finished the semester and I have a few weeks off. I want to rest. Relax. Go brain dead for a while. After film class, the last thing I want to do is watch a movie! So, I sit and drool for a while in front of my PC. And screw anything that might present a real challenge.
Hell, the nice thing about picking up low level quests is exactly the lack of challenge they present. "Go kill ten little rabbits, ten defenseless little... slow rabbits - Go and whomp on shit that can't hit back." Yeah, that's my idea of a good time after a shitload of work and just before a shitload more - pointlessness.
Gotta love it.
Tuesday, December 16, 2008
My prediction: one A and one B.
My film history class was a lot of fun. Even when it grew tiresome and old, I got to see so many great movies and even crappy movies I really liked. Standouts included: The Bicycle Thiefs (rocked my world), Bliss (wish it was on DVD!!), and Run Lola Run (stupid flick, great soundtrack!). Out instructor was so intense and obsessive, but it was because he was so passionate about film. You could see that and that made it more interesting, for me. I hit solid B's on each test and on the paper, and I think I got a B on the final, which is why I figure I pulled a B out of that class.
Philosophy: Rationalism & Empiricism... wow. Let me tell you about how Spinoza and Hume shook my universe. Oh wait! I can't! It would take too long. But this I can tell you: the more I study, the more I get the sense of philosophy as being this great machine and every class, every new philosopher, every new system, is a piece. Mind you, it's not a perfect machine but it is awe inspiring and I'm beginning to see how the pieces fit. More importantly, I'm finding where I can make repairs to make the machine work. Will I? Of this, I grow less certain every day. Hell, I could write a hundred books like Climbing Maya but they're nothing if nobody reads them. But that's okay, too. I can be a good man without being a great man... with a little work... I pulled A's on both papers and on our mid-term and, after last night's final, I'm sure I got an A in the class.
I've got a month with nothing to do!... I wish! No, I've got plenty to do - plenty!
1) Rewrites on one book.
2) Work on another
3) Starting a new, short play about sex and other fuck-ups
4) A children's book.
Monday, December 15, 2008
Looks like I'm hanging up my bike for the winter. I hate to do it. I was just getting to a point where half a century was like nothing and a century was getting closer to a reality. But the other reality is that it's getting harder and harder to find ideal riding conditions.
Chalk it up to weather. I mean, it's cold and wet - no fun for riding. I'm waiting until nearly noon to get out there and, by that time, it's just too late for me. I know, people in Seattle still ride! People in Chicago still ride! And they have actual weather! Sure, but look at them! Out there in the freezing rain, freezing. They're fucking crazy! Hey, I'm not going to do anything that turns me into a popsicle, you know?
So, that's it for a few months, until February at least. Until then, I'll be hitting the gym. It's either that or start smoking again!
I can't wait for the return of spring and sunshine. I didn't start riding seriously until about June this year. In 2009, I'll start in February or March, and get an additional 3-4 months of riding in.
Until then, try not to call me a wimp.
Friday, December 12, 2008
Then, I discovered wine. I started with Cabs but swiftly moved to Pinot Noirs. I still love me a good Central Coast, preferably Paso Robles, Pinot and you can't beat a Burgundian. It displays sophistication that allows for sensitivity... and makes me drunk...
That's all well and good. But, lately, things have been changing in the region of my alcohol palate. I thought I'd run this by you - my new list of things I'm liking to drink:
1) White wine - hold the Chard! I love me a nice white, from a Sauvignon Blanc to a Riesling, but keep those Chardonnays far away. My tummy no likey. A nice white wine is refreshing, yes, but it's also something you can drink pretty damned fast and get a nice buzz on... okay, maybe that's not all of it. Sadly, I think my wine pallet is just taking a vacation and heading to the white wine region, like it or not.
2) Baileys... and that's it. Yep. I'm loving me some Bailey's Irish Cream. On the rocks? Sure. Out of the bottle? No problemo! Vicky and I bought a bottle and I'd finished it before she had a chance to ask, "How do you like the...?"
3) Parrot Bay Coconut Rum. You can't get much closer to Satan's Sweet Sweet Booze than Parrot Bay. Why? Because it's candy booze! I swear! You can drink it with soda, with kool-aide, with a fucking straw if you want. No kidding. If you just want a quick, evening, "I hate my fucking job" buzz, you can't get one any easier.
So, what does this say about me? Have I gone from being a pretentious drinker to just a living room drunk? Or was I always just a living room drunk... who once had taste, at least.
I don't know.
But I'm sure as hell going to think about it... over a bottle of Baileys...
Thursday, December 11, 2008
And I always reach this point just before finals, which commence in two days by the way, where I mentally throw up my hands and shout "If it be your will, oh Lord, take this cup away from my lips!"... mentally...
Because you just get sick of studying. There's no way all of this knowledge will fit. It's exhausting and there's WoW to be played... I mean...
After this semester, I'll have seven courses remaining. Lucky seven.
If I take two courses each semester, I'll still have four semesters to go... two years...
Wednesday, December 10, 2008
The thing is, I've been feeling very fragmented lately. I feel more like a beehive than a person, a collection of conflicting interests and agendas and needs, and I can't seem to make my way back to just one Ken, one guy. You know?
I'll give you an example. With finals coming, my day is split into my morning work hours, philosophy final prep at lunch, afternoon work hours, film class final prep in the evening... and then there's the book I'd like to work on if I had the time, OCPA now that I've rejoined that, submissions I'd like to get out, Vicky has a cold, there's WoW to play, I need to straighten the garage, I'd like to open a bottle of wine and relax, I need to go to the gym more, I'd like to take a ride on my bike, the PS3 is neglected, I haven't done Wii Fit in a while (which is Vicky's fault because she still hasn't told me where we keep the batteries for the balance board but she's sick and I need to take care of her and make sure she's okay and...)... um... where was I?
Fortunately, the semester will soon be over. I'll have only seven courses to go before... then if I take two more in the Spring, that brings me down to five... which will be three if i can manage two more in the fall... and, hopefully, I can do a show in the summer - I'd like to act again, act again, I was an actor once, act again, I rejoined OCPA gotta work on getting one of my new shows up on stage it would be nice to see that, see that, but I also have submissions and school and Vicky's sick and then there's Christmas, Christmas, did I mention Christmas, we have cards to send out and shopping to do and ornaments to hang, which wasn't such a problem when we had Bobmas - of course, that wasn't so much a Vicky thing, in fact she'll probably ask me in that incredulous tone, "Bobmas? Seriously?" and I'll have to explain what that's all about and how I used to make compilation CDs and foist them off onto people as gifts back when I was a poor bachelor and an actor once, an actor once...
Stress. I think it's stress.
I should open a bottle of wine and relax... right after I finish my finals... then I'll only have seven courses to go...
Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Let's start with how much I hate my job. I'm working for a company so horribly mismanaged it's beyond funny - but beyond that, the culture is one where nobody takes responsibility but everyone casts blame. The loser in this game is someone who is responsible... because he doesn't engage in the game. That's me.
Last Friday, my employer laid off about 15-20% of its US workforce. I was out that day, taking care of Vicky. On Sunday, when things returned a bit more to normal for us and we decided to do some shopping, Vicky checked out bank balance and... found out that my check hadn't been deposited. After a little digging, I learned of the layoffs and Vicky said, "You know, they don't direct deposit your check when they lay you off... They cut you a live check." My position - in fact, my whole team of three employees - is responsible for walking papers to people. I'm not kidding. I take paperwork from one group of people and walk it to another group of people. Basically, it's the least necessary position at the company. If anyone was going to be laid off... well, you get the picture.
Immediately, I was afraid. Terrified. In this economy, the last thing you want to be is out of work. And I'd only been at the company for six months. It had only taken a few days to learn what a hell-hole it was, to be told that there were no raises, no promotions, no bonuses, no incentives... that everyone did only what they needed to do to keep their job and, when they didn't do that, blamed the other guy. But I couldn't lose my job! I needed the money! I didn't quite panic, but I did get close. I worried quite a bit...
... and then, Monday morning, I realized: Wait. I hate my job! I'll get unemployment benefits and find another - or I'll do consulting work, or contract jobs. I'll find something better, something meaningful and fulfilling and worthwhile!
Then, I found out I hadn't been laid off. I still had my crappy ass job.
Monday, December 01, 2008
It started at 7:30am. Friday morning had started pretty cold, so I decided to leave a little later than normal. A couple days of rain had left everything nice and wet and I figured there'd be some mud along the way, but I could handle it. I packed up some beef jerky, a power bar, a double helping of energy beans (my Jelly Bellies!), and two bottles of water because I knew I was in for a long, long ride, and headed out.
Up Lincoln and over to Katella and I was back in my old neighborhood before very long. Traffic was moderately light so that didn't bother me. What bothered me was the sight of the hills coming up. I'd told Vicky all about the ride - we'd even driven it to see what I had to look forward to - and it was these big hills that had me worried. And rightly so, I was riding into the backside of Orange County and knew I could expect one hill after another. I'd need all the stamina I could dredge up.
So, how sad was it that I pooped out on the first one? My speed dropped from 10 to 8 to 6 and, before I knew it, I was dying out. The thought occurred to me that I still had quite a distance to travel; what would I do if I couldn't ride? Exactly what I did do. I got off my bike and walked it. Up the hill we went. Once my breathing was back under control and I wasn't feeling like I was about to have a heart attack, I got back up on the bike. I might not be in the best shape, but I wasn't going to let that stop me.
When I reached the top, down by Santiago Canyon College, at Chapman and Jamboree, I decided to take my first break. I needed it, too. Just travelling this far - only about 10 miles - and I was already winded. The idea had started simple: If I was ever going to ride a century, I'd have to include some hills. This ride would give me a crash course, hopefully without too much crashing, in hills, and I was going to stick it out no matter what.
Back up, I headed south-east on Chapman and it turned into Santiago Canyon Road. This was it. The cycling equivalent of the Monster. If I could do this... I was crazy. But beside that, if I could do it, I could certainly make a century on flat ground. The thing is, Santiago Canyon starts out by going up. It keeps going up, too. Long after my poor little legs had given up and I was walking, it kept going up. This is when other cyclists started passing me, too. There are dozens of them out there! Each one was very courteous, too. "You okay?" they'd ask. "Need anything?" But all I heard was, "Loser!" and "Wimp!" Oh well. I just got back on my bike and kept going... and walked... and got back on my bike again. As I said, it starts out with a huge hill. But then, you're going down. Down down down - I hit 28 miles an hour and was certain I'd also hit a bump, followed by a tree and a boulder and a ditch. But then, it curves and the ride really begins.
It's basically one hill right after another and here's what no one tells you. One hill is a conquest. You take it and you think, "Yeah, I'm tough." But this ride, with one hill followed by another and then another, basically just breaks you down and turns you into lump of pudding... if you didn't start out as one. Because you finish the first hill and think, "Boy, I'm glad that's over!" And then, you have to take the second - and you're not ready - and if that doesn't kill you, the third one will, and then the fourth, and the fifth. But I kept riding. I wasn't giving up - especially with all these other cyclists passing me! Anyway, the scenery was wonderful and the air was cool. It was beautiful, if deadly.
I knew I'd have problems on the final hill, which is mockingly just as big as the first, but was shocked by the speed in which my legs gave up. I had just started when my legs said, "Oh no. No way. We're not falling for this again!" And then, I was off my bike, walking. Halfway up, a guy rode by on his bike, slowed down a little, looked back at me, and asked, "You okay, buddy?" I took my bike and swung it at his head, tearing off his face is a greasy, bloody mess... by which I mean, I said, "Yeah, just fine." Okay, I thought, so I'm a wuss. Inspired by my lameness, I got back up and finished the rest of the hill... barely...
And then, it was time to go DOWN! Faster faster faster - and then I was going up again... damn. One more hill. I remembered telling Vicky about how my momentum was bound to carry me back up the next, and final (really) hill, even as I pedaled angrily to get over it. But then, I was going down again - 27mph - 29mph - 33mph - 35mph... I began to think I should probably slow down. There's a light down at the bottom, I recalled. Not a nice way to die. It also didn't help that my brain was playing a slide show of every possible accident I might have along the way. Believe me, 35 on a bicycle is FAST!
I stopped just after Cook's Corner, at the beginning of Aliso Creek Trail. This, I figured, would take me through all the coastal cities in a nice, scenic manner. I'd avoid all of the traffic and hit PCH down in Laguna. But I was shocked to find that, after all that riding, I'd only hit 20 miles.
Aliso Creek Trail is absolutely lovely - STAY THE FUCK AWAY FROM IT! IT'S MINE!
(cough) Oh, excuse me.
The rain had left some muddy patches but it was, overall, in good repair and very pretty. The nicest thing about it, though, was that the first half of it runs at a slight angle, just enough so you can move along at a nice speed - I was doing 15mph - without hardly every pedaling. Very much appreciated after Santiago Canyon! But then, due to mud and confusion and my own idiocy... I lost it. I lost the trail. I ended up on a street, Paseo De Valencia, wondering where it went and where I should go. Thankfully, I had my phone on me, so I called Vicky and asked her to check a map. Oh thank heaven for online maps! She gave me great instructions... which I promptly ignored, because I thought I saw the trail, after all! Sure enough, there it was! It had briefly taken to the streets, something I had not expected, but then, I was in a park and riding through a wildlife preserve and moving toward the coast. It was all very lovely - if long. I was getting tired. I figured I'd take a long rest at PCH, eat lunch, and then ride up to the Santa Ana River Trail for the last leg home. But then, six miles short of the coast, I got some news that changed everything.
A couple of guys were helping their kids get ready for a ride, getting them in their helmets. One of them had tried riding to the coast himself and told me about what lay in the last two miles: a private golf course. The trail ends and private property begins, private property the owner of the course won't let anyone pass through. In other words, CHANGE IN PLANS! I thanked the guy, after all he'd saved me six miles, and contemplated what to do next. My first thought was: Call Vicky! After all, she'd come with the car and we could do lunch and... no, I wasn't going to do that. I couldn't call her whenever there was a problem. I had to get back on my own! But how? Since the trail was all I knew, I decided to head back up. I remembered seeing a map at a park so I figured I would ride back to it and use that to find my way.
So, back I rode, dejected, tired, far from home, and with no earthly idea where I was - it was fun! Then, as I reached the park, I noticed that the street it was on was Moulton Parkway. I had lunch at the park and confirmed with Vicky that Moulton turns into Irvine Center Drive, which then turns into Edinger Avenue, which crosses the Santa Ana River. I had my way home! But it wouldn't be easy. I was hoping to avoid traffic and here I was getting back into it. For the longest time, I didn't recognize a thing. I just kept riding, sucking down car exhaust. But then, landmarks grew more familiar: I passed Allied, the 5 freeway, the Irvine Spectrum, the old Reserve base, the 55 freeway, and as I entered Tustin and Santa Ana, I began to think of ways of wussing out. Basically, I needed a break and started thinking of ways to take one - but I was also getting closer to home and the nearness created its own kind of gravity, pulling me faster and faster on my way. The end result was extreme disappointment every time I passed a place where I could rest and building excitement at the prospect of getting home.
Seeing the Santa Ana River was like doing the impossible. Really? I'd come all this way? And I still had a long way to go!
So, when I reached the park where Vicky's last ride had taken her, seven miles from home, I finally decided to give myself a break. My hands were so sore, I could barely grip the handlebars and my crotch, quite frankly, was not my friend. I pulled out the last of my snacks and drank the last of my water and called Vicky and told her how far away and how near I was. When she asked if I'd like her to pick me up, I thought, "Not after going this far."
The last seven miles were a little slice of hell. The trail had become covered in tourists - not cyclists - who didn't know the rules of the road, who seemed to delight in slowing me down. I moved between them, silently and intently, a man on a mission, and reached Lincoln around 2:30pm. Seven hours. I thought of Spalding Gray's words: I've never done anything for seven hours in my life, except sleep. Seven hours of hills and thrills and bad directions, all of them mine. But if one thing was clear, after 65 miles and unknown elevation gain, I knew I could do a century.
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
But when I left home Sunday, I had no idea that day would be filled with more stupid than anything else.
I get to my first stop light and, once it turns gree, I set off... and my chain falls off...
Crap. I'd done this before and I knew how it ended. I wouldn't be able to do the ride so I went back home. Thankfully, my bike took me back.
I decided to take the bike into the shop that morning but, before I did, I checked the tire pressure and gave the front tire a little air.
I get the bike in and the guy, Al, puts it up to have a look. "It seems to be fine," he said, shifting through gears the way some people shuffle cards.
"Really? Because it definitely fell off."
"No. It's fine."
I started to get a bit uncomfortable... like I'd just farted. "Well," I said, "last time this happened, something had broke so I figured it was a good idea to bring it in."
"Nope. Nothing's broke." He looked at me like the pathetic kind of can't-do-shit-for-himself kind of guy I am and added, "But it's good you brought it in." He was about to take it down, when he looked at the front tire. "You notice anything about your front tire?"
"Yeah," I said, trying to sound knowledgeable. "It's losing a little air."
"It's completely flat," he told me. "Think you need a new tube?"
An image of me putting air in the tire flashed through my head. "Um, you might want to check the valve. I think I might have left it open."
He checked. "Yes, you did." His words betrayed what we were both thinking... a suspicion that I might be too stupid to get on a bike in the first place. He didn't say it and neither did I... thankfully...
Friday, November 21, 2008
Get rid of your old phone books (recycling is nice) and get on this list to stop receiving these wasteful, old dinosaurs!
No voucher required.
Thursday, November 20, 2008
No... I'm not referring to the play (though I appreciate you catching that), I'm just wondering...
I mean, somewhere along the line, things got fucked up.
Right now, I'm working on my paper for philosophy class. I'm writing out a working theory for free will based on Newtonian physics. Impressive, don'tcha think? Yeah, well, I tell people and their response falls somewhere between "Oh, okay. You have fun with that." and "Do I know you?" Free will! Newtonian physics! Hello?! I mean, it's still not entirely proven that free will exists and I'm going to prove it using 400 year old science!!!! That's like flying to the moon with a running jump!
... but nobody really cares.
It brings to mind Climbing Maya, my book on success. First person to define success - that's me. Not that anyone bought the book, mind you.
This is how my life is going and it has me a bit depressed.
Did you see the recent episode of South Park, where the guys finally catch on to the whole High School Musical phenomena just as it dies. I'm feeling a great deal of empathy, believe me.
Tuesday, November 18, 2008
Seriously, the fires down here have been pretty bad the past few days but Vicky and I have been, fortunately, far from harm. If the worst thing we can complain about is soot or ash or smoke or a little inconvenience, then we're doing pretty well.
Tuesday, November 11, 2008
I was going to call this "My Dad Came In The Mail Last Night"... but that's just sick, right?
One way or another, I received a box from Blanche yesterday and, opening it, I found a tasteful, silver urn inside. And I realized... this is my Dad.
And I thought, How fortunate I was careful opening it. Or I'd end up with my Dad all over the place!
Granted, it's not all of my Dad. Blanche had his ashes split up into an urn for each of his kids, and herself I would suspect.
And, of course, that has me wondering... what part of Dad do I have? The urn is no larger than a miniature soda can - what's in there? His hand? His liver? His penis? I don't think I very much like the idea of having Dad's Penis Ashes in my house. For that matter, any ashes aren't that Keeeeeuuuuwwweellllll...
Perhaps next summer, on the anniversary of his death, I'll take him down to the ocean and set him to sea. My father loved the ocean. He also liked Disneyland... maybe a little should go to Disneyland... And Big Bear. He was a fan of Big Bear. Shit, by summer, I'll have a whole fucking list of where my Dad should go. (Stop yourself before you make the obvious joke. I'm an atheist; the only hell I believe in is where I spend my days until I find a new job.)
I watched my Dad's urn this morning as I readied myself for work and came to realize there is something to this, though. I tried to tell Blanche but it came out wrong, I think. The thing is, I keep feeling like he's not really gone. He was absent from my life for so long, his death doesn't feel tangible. With those ashes sitting in that urn, placed in the front of our living room, I can meditate on the reality of the situation and come to terms with what it really means for him to be gone. And accept that.
You're probably wondering how adding just four miles to my ride turned me into a whiny little bit... more of a whiny little bitch than I was before. Well, let me tell you, it wasn't easy.
It wasn't easy.
First, okay, my bad, I probably could have checked the weather forecast. Had I checked, I would have learned that the day was going to be cold and windy... right...
But just the day before, on Saturday, Vicky and I had taken a 14 mile ride that left her a spongy mass of jelly... yes, spongy jelly - she was hurting! But it had been a nice, little ride through a warn, sunny day. We'd taken the Santa Ana River southwards on some newly paved stretches, all the way down to the golf course, nearly into Santa Ana. I was proud of her, as I always am. I can't wait until she's ready for some longer rides! On the way out, she was making some great time, too! With a bit more motivation, I'm sure she'd enjoy longer rides... just not yet.
So, on Sunday, it was my turn to complain. I awoke at 6am, ready for some serious riding and stepped out into some serious cold. It had rained a bit and I was happy to go back inside and wait to see what 7am would bring.
An hour later, it wasn't much warmer but it was an hour later. I knew I couldn't keep waiting and figured it would get warmer, by and by. So, eschewing my cold weather gear, I went out in my cycling shorts, a thin, short-sleeved shirt, and fingerless gloves... Smart, huh? The Santa Ana River Trail has recently benefited from some repaving so that passed under my tires very quickly and, before I knew it, I turned off onto Chapman. I'm not a big fan of riding on surface streets - I've been hit by enough cars - but that's why I do out early, so I can avoid traffic. Sadly, though, I didn't avoid traffic lights! Every one I came to turned red, and it was laborious to be starting and stopping and starting and stopping. My back started to hurt, too, and I wondered what that could have been about.
To explain that, I'll need to back up to the previous night. Vicky had brought me to Burke Williams for a kind of late birthday gift. It started with a birthday bath. Now, I'm not fan of baths and I'm even less a fan of public baths. Vicky painted me a picture of a private room with attendants (hopefully hot and blonde and female) feeding grapes... um, no. The room was semi-private at best - no attendants - no grapes. Just this guy who asked me, when preparing the bath, "Do you want anything in it? We got, uh, milk and, uh, seaweed..." I really hoped it was his first day. But once I was in the bath, my mind was changed. I realized the last time I had a bath was when I was a kid! (All through my adult life, bathtubs have just represented another way to get women naked.) I'd never really enjoyed a bath as an adult, but here I was with hot water and jets and suds, with my head back on a rolled-up towel... it was pretty damned good. Next up came a 50 minute Swedish massage with Rosanne. I have to say this. If you go to Burke Williams at The Block, go to Rosanne. I can afford to say this without worrying about her being too busy for me to get in and see her because nobody reads this blog - she is the best. She has the perfect touch. And the best thing about her, as strange as this might sound, is that she will massage my shattered arm. Most people are so put off by the scars, they won't touch it. But having her touch my scars and massage my broken limb... I don't know if I should propose or offer her a few hundred for carnal services!
... sorry, where was I? Anyway, she told me later that I shouldn't do "anything crazy" the next day. I thought she meant jumping off of skyscrapers, thinking I was Spiderman. While she might have meant that, it turned out that probably included long bike rides, too.
Somewhere around Beach Boulevard or Knoff, I was getting pretty damned tired of all the stop lights. Little did I know that would be the last of them. From that point on, I got nothing but greens! Down Chapman, up Valley View, down Katella - all the way to the 605 freeway and the San Gabriel Valley River... non-stop. When it rains, it pours.
I'd forgotten how shitty the San Gabriel Valley River Trail is... it's pretty shitty. But far worse was the wind that had been beating against me the whole way there. All the way from Valley View and Chapman, the wind just wouldn't let up. It wasn't just difficult to navigate in; it was COLD! And the river trail, raised up as it is got more wind that I could ever care for! It blew my bike over, over, over, until I was riding at a tilt. Stranger still, though, was how riders around me were stopping, one by one, congesting the trail even more to watch the river fill with birds. The birds were taking to the land, far smarter than I, keeping out of the wind. Dicks.
By the time I hit PCH, I was beat. I took a short break to stretch and try and warm up but the wind just wouldn't allow any comfort. I kept going, this time it was south on PCH, through Seal Beach. After Seal Beach, there's a break between the cities for a wildlife refuge and Naval Weapons Center - I kid you not! As strangely justaposed as that may see, the wind had cleared out a wonderful view all the way up to the moutains. Heading down a bridge at 23-24mph, the experience was sublime. Dangerous, beautiful, everything I cycle for.
But the ride wasn't over. At Warner, I left the road and took to the beach's byways. The speed limit the whole way down to the Santa Ana River is 10mph for cycles and I found that I could keep that speed without hardly peddling. All around me, though, the wind was whipping everything into a frenzy, beating the few beachgoers I could see. After a while, it dawned on me: I was being pushed! The wind was helping me out - at least, for that stretch - but then, I passed the Santa Ana River, continued down PCH, and hit Superior.
Vicky had suggested I go a little farther on this trip by heading down to Superior. This would also be an opportunity to take a hill, something I haven't been able to do too much of thanks to my incredibly poor choices of hill. But ahead of me, Superior loomed and I thought, "Vicky sucks." Still, there I was. The light turned green and I started up, dropping down through my gears and pumping the pedals for all I was worth. Up, up, up, I climbed, until I realized... I was doing it! I was going up that hill at 7mph. That might sound slow but, believe me, I've done far worse! I got to the top, approached the light at the top, and it turned red. "Fuck you," I panted. I didn't stop. I coasted, hoping the light would turn green for me, and it did. On Placentia, I turned into the wind and, when I finally returned to the Santa Ana River, I knew the wind would be beating against me the rest of the way home.
By the time I reached my exit, I decided to go a bit further still. I traveled up one exit after the one I normally take and looped back around, thinking that I'd really added to my total. I pulled up, cold, winded, and beaten, in front of my house at 11:30... and I'd only done 54 miles - four miles more! The joke was on me.
But every little bit helps, right? Next stop: 60!
Thursday, November 06, 2008
5:05am. "Come on, Vic. Time to get up." I wake up Vicky because she said she'd go to the gym with me. I know it's a bad idea but... she did say she'd go.
5:10am. "Come on, hon. We need to get going." I'm already dressed and ready as she slowly rolls over in the bed.
5:15am. Vicky has gotten out of bed and it taking Shipoopi out to pee... while I wait impatiently. Normally, I'd be gone by now. But I try not to say anything because she's already pissed and her brother owns a gun.
5:20am. Vicky's driving quietly and I'm in the passenger seat. "So, I had this dream where I'm in some city - Hong Kong or - no, wait, that would be the wrong part of the world - maybe somewhere in Europe, maybe Miami. Yeah, it could have been Miami. So, I'm swimming just outside of Miami when this great white shark gets spotted. Actually, the water's only up to my shoulders so I can just stand so I just stand there and watch as it takes out some kid next to me. Then, I decide to walk back to shore. But I can't walk back to shore because Godzilla is fighting some other monster and tearing up the city..." Having me as her passenger seems to be the closest possible thing to hell Vicky can imagine this early in the morning. Maybe if I had less energy. Maybe if I had a caved-in skull...
5:30am. We arrive at the gym and she trudges up to the door while I jog around her. She says, "Shut up," and means it.
5:45am. Vicky has disappeared and I'm jogging on the treadmill. For 15 minutes, I do 5.5 mph, which is enough to wake me up, remind me how fucking fat I am, and make me wish I'd stayed in bed all at the same time. Yes, until that point I wasn't totally awake. I just naturally have far, far, far, far, far, far more energy than Vicky... ever...
6:00am. Vicky is on the bike next to me, reading, trying to shut me out. I sit down on the bike next to her and set it on level 15 for 20 minutes, doing a constant speed over 80rpms. This might sound like nothing to some of you. Some of you suck.
6:20am. Vicky walks out with me and I'm pretty sure it's the last time ever, ever, ever. She gives me a look that says, "I'd be much happier if I could just legally kill you... with a spoon..."
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
I cheered. I kissed my wife. I hugged Jeff, who'd actually only come over for pizza and election results. I was very relieved.
I was also a little drunk. I'd been celebrating with Shiraz.
What does Obama's election mean to me? It means that, perhaps, people have decided to stop listening to lies if just for a little while. It means that a message of hope still has power over deceit. It means that we really have moved on to a new chapter in American history.
It doesn't mean we can rest easy. It doesn't mean that the forces of ignorance and hate have given up.
That was proven this morning, when California Proposition 8 won. Odds are, it'll be overturned in court. I can think of few things less constitutional than reserving civil rights for only one group of people. But think of what this says about Californians. Easily fooled by the forces of hate? Yes. Ignorant? You bet. And just possibly the start of a movement against hope, a movement promoting hatred.
Let's hope not - but, as a Californian, I am ashamed about that.
The fight goes on.
Tuesday, November 04, 2008
As Vicky can tell you, I follow politics the way some people follow football. This is not to say I feel it is or should be a spectator sport. No, I'm talking about my level of passion.
After I left the Democratic Party and joined the Greens, I would attend their monthly meetings with great interest. The problem with the Greens, however, which I'll freely express, is that for all of their good ideas, they fall easily into the arrogance of being right. They are right - but they act as though that should be enough. So, they gather together, talk about how right they are, and wonder why nobody elects them into office. After the turn of the century, when the Republicans were expressing their contempt for the American people with such vitriol, I felt it was the perfect time for someone to express the ideas of the Green Party - but nobody was doing it. They had no pundits, no spokespersons, so I wrote to the guy who runs the Green Party website in Orange County and offered to write some regular content for them. I was promptly turned down, though, because being right they had no need to express why they were right - people were just supposed to get it!
My disillusionment with the Green Party is not the same as disagreement but it has left me uninspired, let's say.
Then, Vicky started talking about Barack Obama. I listened with a detached interest. Then, as I have said, he ran a campaign based on truth and decency, which proved to me he'd make a far better president that anything we'd seen this century.
How anyone could have sat out this election is beyond me. How could someone get excited about football or baseball - pick your poison - and not see the importance of what's happening in politics? You'd have to be deaf, dumb, and blind! The results in the political arena affect the lives of people everywhere. Sports affects only a very few. Politics can be a force for incredible good as well as imponderable evil. Even if you look at it with the most cynical eye, knowing what's happening gives you insight into how to affect change outside the political arena, in your community, in your home. The alternative to political change is social change but neither exists in a vacuum. Being informed about the world is far from boring; nothing is more interesting. It's a window into the future, into the deepest questions, into the souls of mankind.
So, I look forward to tonight's results with great anticipation, but I don't see it ending tonight. No matter the outcome, enormous change is at our doorstep and, be it good or ill, we must face it.
Friday, October 31, 2008
It took me a while to write but every time I thought about writing, I thought about how I wanted to write about broken people, because I know. I know what it's like to be broken and I know there are a lot of us out there.
I never did write it. Granted, everything from then to now featured plenty of broken people, from my books to my plays, but they were always window dressing, always in the back. I never took my broken pieces, my broken qualities, laid them out on the ground and wrote a book about them, about being broken. You would think that death is the worst thing but being broken takes all the pain of death without the payoff - you have to keep going. Being broken drove me to some awful limits. Being broken drove me to the Grand Canyon. You think you heal but you never really do. Once you're broken, that's it. You're broken. You can try to mend the pieces but they remain broken, you remain broken.
I'm not talking about a broken heart, either. A broken heart is nothing. You know this if you've been broken. When you've been broken, it feels like someone's taken a bat to you, run you over with a truck, ripped out your guts, and laughed the whole time. A broken heart is passing but being broken just fucks you up.
Some readers at this point will already be thinking, maybe saying, "Yeah, but you have to keep going. You have to go on with your life." You're right. That's true. And that's what's so insidious about being broken: it doesn't matter. If someone broke your legs, you'd at least get a day off work. But when you're broken, nobody cares, nobody gives a shit.
It's taken me eight years. I gave up on writing about it a while ago.
Then, on Tuesday, I decided to just write whatever my fingers wanted to say, just to let my body say what it wanted to say. I had no agenda. I had no plot. I had no idea what was going to come out. And the story that was told was about a sad, beaten figure of a man who comes out of the Arizona desert, enters the train station in Kingman, and doesn't move. Across the terminal, a woman with a broken spirit and a body bought for her watches. She's sick of being a commodity. She's ready to take herself out of the world. And when the man falls to the ground, she's enraged that anyone can be more pathetic than she and she gets up to beat him but her foot's asleep - so she falls, too. Two ludicrous figures beneath the world's attention...
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Anyway, they had Fox News up on the screen - the biggest reason NOT to go to 24 Hour Fitness if you can help it. I already have a membership, which is so cheap I basically just have to suck it up. Still, I hate watching Fox News.
That said, it's nice to know they are still running as far from truth and honesty as before - which leads to my political comment for the day.
The Republican Party and their ilk have been going so amazingly out of control, I'm surprised no one speaks out. George Will, where are you? First, they claimed that Obama was the most liberal member of Congress, which put the joke on Kucinich. Then, they claimed he was a Socialist, which is laughable when you see how centrist his politics are. But then, they made the jump to the "most liberal politician ever" (a quote yesterday from McCain) and claims that Obama is a Marxist.
Marxist? As in "Proletariat Revolution"? Nyet, Komrad! Say it ain't so, Joe! Seriously, has anyone asked the Communist Party how they feel about this? Most likely, they see Obama's politics as positively oppressive! Anyone who claims Obama's a Marxist just learned the word and obviously does not know a thing about Marxism.
But this goes even deeper, I think. That they believe they have to make their claims against Obama more and more extreme, taking headers into claims that he is on par with terrorists, shows a basic distrust of their party's message. Think about it. The Republican attack against Kerry was that he couldn't make up his mind. Against Gore, it was that he was too liberal and tied to Clinton. Against Clinton, it was that he was too liberal (it's a popular refrain). Against Dukakis, it was that he made hasty decisions. But go back as far as you want and you won't find such absurd claims made by a major party's candidate. You won't see one candidate saying of another that he "pals with terrorist" or that he "is a terrorist". You won't see a candidate embracing race baiting to create fear of the other candidate. It's not enough for them to say "We're the party of small government" because it's obviously not true. They can't say "We're against special interests"; look at their energy policy.
The Republican Party has become the party of war, of tax cuts for the rich, of squandered opportunity, of economic turmoil, of lies and deceit, of creationistic denial of science on a scale not seen since the flat earthers, of hypocrisy on a grand scale, of Orwellian NewSpeak, of intolerance and hate. And I am left to wonder how anyone could call themselves Republican. How could anyone who believes in the right to life because of religious faith call themselves Republican when the Republican Party is responsible for a war against a nation that never did anything to harm us? How could anyone who believes in fiscal conservatism call themselves Republican when the Republican Party squandered the surplus, giving it away to the wealthiest one percent? How could anyone who works for a living call themselves a Republican when the Republican Party platform provides tax breaks to the rich and increases taxes on the middle class? How could anyone with a conscious vote Republican?
You probably expect me to end this with an endorsement for Barack Obama. Okay. I won't let you down. But let me begin by stating that I am not a Democrat. I'm a member of the Green Party, having left the Democratic Party when they sided too many times with the Republicans, when they allowed themselves to acquiesce to those ethically lesser and drive our nation into a far darker place. So, with that said, why am I supporting Obama? Necessity. I told Vicky when the primaries began that I would vote based on a simple criteria: truth. During this election, only one candidate remained true. Only one refrained from telling the most outrageous lies to win a vote. Only one stayed true to the American people. Only one stuck by his principles of decency and refused to make truth the first victim. McCain and his Hockey Mom have found themselves caught in one lie after another. They laugh them off with contempt for truth and for the American people. But Barack Obama passed my criteria: he told the truth.
Those of you who know me know that I am passionate about politics and I know what I'm talking about. I take it very seriously and would never endorse someone I did not believe was the best person for the job. It's never an issue of "who has the best chance to win" because that is the fastest route to pandering. It's also not a matter of "who is the most popular", though Obama is; I won't deny that. Vicky believed in Obama long before me, believing in him the way some people find religion. But I stayed back, watching as lie after lie was cast upon him and as he brushed them off and refused to let them tarnish him.
Will he make mistakes? Undoubtedly. All people do. But I believe he will face every challenge with an honesty and decency that his Republican opponents couldn't find with both hands, a map, a sherpa, and a GPS. He'll face them true to the American people, something his opponents have shown they are not capable of. Finally, he'll face them with a spirit of honesty that has him prepared for the worst without sinking to the worst. That's what matters most. That's why he has my vote.
That is why I am asking you to join me in supporting Barack Obama and Joe Biden. Thanks for reading.
Monday, October 27, 2008
I shouldn't let Saturday go without passing. Saturday was my World Cinema mid-term and, as I got out of my car to head to class, I realized almost too late the I'd pack a USED scan-tron for the test! The scan-tron from my last test, by the way. So, while that looked up at me with a score of 89 - look at how well you did! - I was faced with the horror of having no scan-tron for the test! So, I ran across campus, which is all kinds of ankle-icious fun in my Chacos, and got to the store with four minutes to spare. The scan-tron was a quarter, which was a quarter more than I had - seriously one of those days - so I frantically looked for something I could buy to make it enough to put on my debit card. (There's a limit.) But the girl behind the register - I don't know who she is but I feel eternally indebted to her, like I should send her flowers or a pint of blood or something - said, "I've got a quarter. Don't worry about it."
So, I ran to class and got in just as the instructor was finishing handing out the test. I sat down, sweating (cause I'm a fat fuck) and trying to collect myself, when I looked down at the test... and, wow, it was a really easy test! I will be surprised if I don't get an A, which is good because I'll be surprised if I do better than a C in my philosophy mid-term. (Here's an update: I got an A on my philosophy mid-term!)
Anyway... Saturday... mid-terms are over. Whew!
Sunday morning, I woke up - and woke up - and woke up - and finally Vicky was all, "Are you going for a ride today or what?"
"Fine! Fine, woman! Let me lift my distended gut from the bed and pack it in some obscenely tight clothing!"
I got on the bike and began to head up the trail. I started the morning with the same headache I had for a few days, so I wasn't expecting to break any records... or anything, for that matter. Then, as I pass Imperial Highway, I saw a big CLOSED sign on the trail. It seems someone is doing more work on it - you'd think they'd work on the San Gabriel River Trail... that needs it! Badly! Oh well, So, I turned around and decided to proceed up Imperial Highway into Anaheim Hills - and I mean UP! But I need to do some hill work. It's good exercise. And I'm a sick fuck.
I pull out onto the street, lean my foot down into the pedal - and slam my foot down as the chain pops off the gears!
... ouch. Nearly lost my balls.
I came so close to crashing - or looked like such a lame-ass - that a guy on a recumbent bike actually stopped back at the trail to see if I was okay. He wouldn't have been able to hear me through the distance and traffic so I just upended my bike and fixed the chain, just like when I was a kid. Then, I turned the bike over again and waved at the guy. He waved and me - and I kept going.
But something was wrong with the chain. I could feel it; it wasn't coasting right. It was pulling. It felt wrong. But I kept going. Up, up, up, I rode into the hills. I went less than half a mile when I reached Nohl Ranch Road. I won't kid you. I had to stop and pant and wheeze for several minutes. I felt like, if I didn't, I was going to throw up. Now, Nohl Ranch turns into Lincoln, heading back towards my neighborhood; I knew I could just take that back. And the way the chain was pulling, I figured that might be best. So, I started pedaling again, building up speed, ready to take the first hill, when... the gear shifted by itself - very disconcerting - and then the chain popped off, all in about five seconds or so.
And, there I was, in the cool morning air... I could keep trying to ride the dead horse, or... I pulled out my phone and called Vicky. I'd always warned her it might come to this. She was okay with it. She told me she'd be there soon... and so... I waited...
And the cool morning air began to grow pretty dang warm. This is Southern California, after all. I stripped off my cold gear and backpack and began to wait.
An asian couple walked by, the gentleman saying, "You taking break now?!" Scratch that - a couple of stereotypes walked by...
On Saturday, I'd seen some people protesting in favor of Proposition 8 with signs that read, "Prop 8 = Free Speech" and "Prop 8 = Parent's Rights". Funny. I thought Proposition 8 restricts human rights. How little I know. Well, as I stood there, waiting, I saw an SUV with a huge placard drive by that read, "Prop 8 = Religious Freedom". You bet. Freedom to be just as hateful and intolerant as you wanna be!
I was surprised, though - pleasantly so - by a jogger who came by. This guy jogged right up to me and asked, as he approached, "You okay?" "Yeah, I'm fine," I said. "Bike problems?" "Yeah, it died. I'm waiting for a ride." "You sure everything's okay?" he asked. "Yeah, but thanks."
I guess the world is filled with intolerant assholes but there are also plenty of nice people ready to help you out.
Vicky did come by and we packed the bike into her car - Vicky moaning painfully the entire time - she hates when we put the bike in her car. Later, I brought it to the bike shop and they fixed it, no charge. Zak, one of the guys at Orange Cycle - the official bike shop of One Path - thanked me for having a sense of humor about it. These guys are always so appreciative I wondered, not for the first time, what kind of assholes they get in there. Seriously, how can you blame something like that on someone. I just figured it was part of the "break-in" period... I just didn't think something would actually break!
Well, I ended up with more free time than I expected, so I offered to cook dinner. I shredded some leftover chicken and chopped up some andouille sausage. Then, Vicky and I hit the store for some bell pepper, onion, and rice. Coming back home, I bitched and moaned about the kitchen being a mess - but cleaned it anyway. Then, I browned the pepper and onion with some celery, let it caramelize, and tossed in the sausage and chicken. That all cooked for a couple of hours, all told. Then, I dropped in more than three cups of rice, WAY too much rice! I mean WAAAAY too much! But... oh well. I covered that all up with six or so cups of water and let it boil, boil, boil. Oh, and I hit it with a shitload of spice. These things you don't need to measure after you've done it a few times but I keep my recipe out just to remind myself. I found out I was out of bay leaves, so the recipe suffered a little but, all in all, it was good and hot and spicy and hot... okay, I put in a little too much chili peppers...
We'll have leftovers for several days now. Yikes!
Monday, October 20, 2008
Saturday morning, Vicky got her gumption up and agreed to go on a ride with me. So, we took the mountain bikes out and hit the trail. Vicky still needs some new tires; she's riding on these stubby, mountain tires that look (and probably feel) really weird on the trail. (Now that we have to pay for tables and tubs and tickets, though, I have no idea when we'll do that!)
I let Vicky lead and she took us up the Santa Ana River all the way to Yorba Regional Park, to what I call the "Rest Stop", because it looks like a rest stop on the side of the trail. This was the farthest Vicky's gone and she was feeling it. So, we relaxed, ate some beans, and enjoyed the shade before heading back. All told, she rode about 16 miles, which is really good for her. Heck, that's how long it is to the beach from our place - I don't know if she realizes that! I think if she enjoys cycling enough and gets herself motivated, I might actually have a riding partner one day. Well, I hope so, at least.
As for myself, I took the Giant out Sunday morning for it's first "long ride". The idea is to take this one out for a Century one of these days and I figured it was time to begin building to that. So, I hit the Santa Ana River Trail again, this time heading south. I left at 7:10am. I was going to leave earlier but the sun just wouldn't come up! So it wasn't too bright out or warm out when I left. I exited on Chapman Avenue and rode that west for a while. Riding with traffic is something I'm just going to have to get used to if I ever want to do a Century and I think I managed it pretty well. At Valley View, I headed north to Katella, where I turned west again and rode into LA County. The plan was to take that to the San Gabriel River Trail and when I hit it, just past the 605... I was a bit surprised. The San Gabriel River Trail is like the Santa Ana River Trail but not nearly as swank or well kept... which ain't saying much, believe me!! But this was the route I'd mapped out, so I took it despite the worn and broken pavement, despite the lanes as narrow as the bikes themselves, with daredevils passing in between. It wasn't that far before I hit PCH and exited onto a wide, well-paved bike lane.
Fortunately, I hooked up with a group of cyclists almost immediately and rode in a pack all the way to Warner. I felt like a real cyclist; it was a lot of fun. If I ever join a cycling club, I'm sure that's what it's like - except that I lucked out and these guys were in no rush. But we made some pretty good speed. We were doing nearly 20mph for a while there. Then, the strangest thing happened. Listen, I used to roller blade (check out my arm sometime) but I never clocked myself so I don't know what kind of speed I hit. So, I was shocked when, as I was doing 20mph, the guy on roller blades just zipped past me! He was crazy - wore no safety gear - he was in his 60's easy and just sped along like he was born to it. Then, just as quickly, he cut to the right in a blur and was gone down a side street. Amazing!
Well, shortly after that, I left the street and rode along the beach. I took a break at the same spot I'd stopped the last time I did 50 miles. I had thought my route would take me 60 or 70 but it looked like I was doing another 50 mile ride... dammit. It was about 9:30 and the weather was icy cold! (Maybe my sweaty clothes weren't helping, either.) Surfers were coming in from the water and showering, stripping off their wetsuits like it was nothing - and I was shivering! Enough of that, I got back on my bike and headed south towards the Santa Ana River. The speed limit for bikes is 10mph but I was passed by (and soon fell in line behind) a blonde girl on a beach cruiser doing 13mph. I let her clear a path and used her as an excuse to speed. (So, no, I didn't learn my lesson when I got my ticket!) Soon, I hit the Santa Ana River Trail. The Giant took me up pretty fast and I was shouting "coming up on your left" pretty regularly.
One major difference with this bike as opposed to my old one is the way it works my arms. The handle bars aren't in that mountain bike style and, even though I had the handle bars adjusted to I could ride with my hands on the brakes, I found myself lifting up my tired arms as I rode back up the trail. Did I saying "lifting up"? I guess I should say "trying to lift up" because my arms were so weary I could barely hang on. The bike is easier on my legs but I'm definitely going to have to strengthen up my arms - something you just don't expect from a bike. That's not a bad thing, though. I'll get used to this. I won't hit 100 miles next week but you'll see the number ascend and before too long, maybe you'll see Vicky and I doing 50 miles together and me taking the Giant out on Centuries.
I just gave Vicky a heart attack. LOL!
Where to start?
It's been a pretty fucked up weekend.
I won't tell you how are kitchen table collapsed - but it did. Crash. Goodbye kitchen table.
And then, driving home from school on Saturday, just as I get on the freeway, this cop pulls up right behind me - tailgates me all the way until the exit, where he pulls me over. (Listen, I understand he doesn't want me to get away but - damn - this ain't Al Capone!) He yells about how I passed him when he was doing 80 and won't even let me tell him I had just got on the freeway. In fact, he won't let me talk at all. "I don't want to hear it," he keeps saying. Then, he tells me he's letting me off easy by only giving me a ticket for doing 75. Hold on. If I really did do over 80 (dick said I was doing over 90 easy), why not cut me a ticket for that? Why not use your dash cam to show me blasting past him in court? Why write a ticket for 75? I'm a little lost and a little fucked, cause there's a reason Vicky and I both drive like old people: we're poor and we can't afford tickets. God-dammit.
Vicky asked her brother, who is also a CHiPie, why this guy was such a dick. He said, "A lot of them are." At least, he's honest.
Fortunately, I got home just in time for a rejection notice. I'd written After You Fall after a theater had requested I submit something for the new season - in a way, I wish they hadn't because they ended up rejecting it. But, at least, it means I can submit it to other theaters... I guess.
Then, Sunday, after I took a long ride (more on that later), I came home to find Vicky washing Shipoopi in the tub. Downstairs, I found something on the floor - I thought Shipoopi had Shipeepeed. After I cleaned it up, though, I found more on the floor. It was water. Lots of water! Leaking from the ceiling!! It was our tub! Leaking through the floor!
... great weekend. Lots of fun.
Let's hope it's not a lead-in to tonight's mid-term...
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
After a while, you learn just how wrong it tastes and it's not so hard to avoid.
For those still indulging, however, take a look at this:
Laboratory tests conducted for EWG at one of the countryʼs leading waterquality laboratories found 38 contaminants in ten brands of bottled water purchased from grocery stores and other retailers in nine states and the District of Columbia. The pollutants identified include common urban wastewater pollutants like caffeine and pharmaceuticals, an array of cancer-causing byproducts from municipal tap water chlorination, heavy metals and minerals including arsenic and radioactive isotopes, fertilizer residue and a broad range of industrial chemicals. Four brands were also contaminated with bacteria.
Monday, October 13, 2008
But it's a bitch if you're into biking. Those gusts would blow me on my ass faster than I could say "Hey, it's really windy out here, don't you think? It sure is windier than in any time recently and, in fact, I believe it's very windy, which is saying something if your whole point is to show that a hefty gust of wind might knock you down from atop your bicycle."
(It was funny to me!)
Saturday, I took the Giant, the new bike, out to my mom's house for a ride. I brought her the DVD copy of my dad's memorial service because, really, it's like those pictures they give you after the roller coaster - actually, I don't know why we would ever want to see that again. All I knew was that I had my mom's copy and I needed to drop it off. I hadn't done a ride, yet, that day, and Vicky was looking for a way to get rid of me. "Drive? Why drive when you can get there so much slower on your bike? Heck, while you're at it you might as well take in Maine. I hear the leaves are just beautiful this time of year. Would you like to work your way to Murmansk? I hear that's fun!"
On Saturday, the wind was coming from the coast and with a healthy gust. Actually, I don't mean healthy for me. I was panting and huffing and puffing, trying to pedal against the wind. I kept my speed over 13mph, not too bad considering, but there were a couple of times when my bike literally got out of the wind's way. It's so light (that's the bike - not me!) that it just hopped over a few inches, leaving me to worry... a lot. And that taught me to just steer clear of these Santa Anas.
By the way, I made it the 22 miles to my mom's and back in less than 90 minutes, didn't take in Maine, didn't go to Murmansk. Vicky was a bit disappointed.
Friday, October 10, 2008
Mother's Cookies has gone out of business!!!
No more circus animals! No more yummy-tummy circus animals!!!!
Why must the universe hate us fat people so???
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
No, this morning the issue is these morons at work and the damned Air Conditioner!!!
This place is usually a sauna. The folks in charge are so cheap they never crank the AC below 90. This morning, however, something new has happened. Someone's hit the AC, and they hit it HARD!
And we're freezing. Frost is forming on our coffee cups. Roaches are ice skating in the urinals. Idiots.
I'm at my desk right now, waiting for lunch and the possibility of sitting outside in the warm afternoon sun. As I have to sit in this ice box, though, I thought I'd write about the things that are keeping me warm. You see, I'm thinking about warm things today. Here's my list:
1) No list could start without my lovely Vicky. She warms me up, even when she's cold. I'm her personal furnace and when she's cold she snuggles against me and the world can be damned because ours is perfect. All I need to do is picture Vicky beside me and I instantly feel better.
(But then I open my eyes to type this and get cold again... dammit!)
2) Suki's belly. This morning, when I came home, Suki was very lovey dovey. She gave me her belly and rolled on her back and as I rubbed it she gave me very warm kissed on my arm. I should mention, however, that my arm was salty with sweat... so...
3) Shipoopi's belly. What can I say? You can't beat puppy belly! And Shipoopi has the sweetest, little puppy belly in the world. It's soft and warm and i just want to gobble it up!
... yes, I'm a freak.
4) Alacrity. My gentleman cat is still right there by my side, ready to loyally warm me up at a moment's notice. He laid down with me on the sofa the other night and we had the first snuggle in a long while. He is pretty much the perfect cat when it comes to being loyal and loving and true.
5) Blackrock Depths.
6) The Sunwell.
... what? It's been a while since I've played WoW!!!
Monday, October 06, 2008
Yesterday, we went out looking at bikes. The intent was not to buy - but you know how that works, right? Seriously, why the hell look?
Our first stop was Jax, a southern California chain. We walked in, it was nicely laid out, not crowded or overrun... with help or service... In fact, no one even spoke to us. On top of that, they appeared to sell only one brand of bike, Trek, which I've read a few less than flattering things about. Out we walked...
After that, we went right to Orange Cycle. This place is right by the Orange Circle and although they're always busy there is a reason for that. Bottom line is they're a good shop and they know their stuff. Vicky and I have brought both of our bikes down there. My bike got a cheapo tune-up - they don't throw in stuff you don't need - and I got set up with some lights and a cycling computer. I also got my kevlars there; they just slapped them right on. Vicky's bike got a cheapo tune-up, too. They didn't charge her much; her bike was in pretty good shape. You have to wait a bit but that's because everyone brings their bike there; I'd worry if they weren't busy.
So, when we went in they were busy, as expected. Al, one of the guys, came right up to us though, and asked, "What do you need?" Now, listen, I've been reading a lot of stuff on bikes but I'm still basically a novice. I gave him our price range, told him what kind of riding I was going to be doing, what kind I've done, what I'm presently riding - and just like that, bam, he found one for me. It was over $100 below my limit but it had more features than I thought I'd be able to afford. I asked him if I could take it out for a test and he said, "Sure. Let's go." They're no-nonsense attitude works well because they're not gonna waste your time, either.
Outside, we were put in Zak's hands. He fitted the bike for me. We talked about the different kind of riding I should expect and he said, "Take it around the block and tell me what you think." Allrighty, then. Off I went. Now, the bike that has served me so well for these past seven years is a 15 year-old mountain bike. Heavy with kevlar tires that make it more heavy - so this new one took off like a sleek weasel and I was out on the road before I knew what hit me... and speaking of things hitting me, only then did I realize I was riding sans helmet. That kind of freaked me out a bit. But, too late for that, I decided just to take it in and enjoy it. The block zipped by in what felt like seconds and I was back.
"What did you think?" Zak asked. I told him about a couple of problem areas and he made a couple more adjustments - and out I went again. This time, I rode for two blocks, relishing in the very different gearing and the unbearable lightness of biking - I swear, I could have lifted the bike and myself right off the road! It felt really good.
The bike, which in case you haven't guessed already is now my new bike - my early birthday present - is a Giant TCR2. It was priced at $1250 but I got it for $899. In case you're wondering, yes, it really sells for $1250. A little web searching brought up prices exceeding that. Better still, it comes with Michelin Kevlar tires, not stock tires. I was shocked at how light they were, compared to the Armadillos on my other bike. So, better tires and a cheaper price. It was a pretty fair deal. I had them hook me up with lights for those late night and early morning rides and a cycling computer - because I'm taking this one on my first century ride: 100 miles. I don't know when but it's just the bike for the job.
This morning, I took the bike out at 5:30am. I didn't know how far I'd go but I wanted to get some time and miles on it. I didn't even make it to the river before I realized two important things: First, I went fast. Very fast. This was good. Second, I was cold. Very cold. This was bad. And sadly, they were both related, because I wouldn't have been so cold if I hadn't gone so fast. I'm going to need to adjust to this new bike in more ways that I expected.
Give me time.
Friday, October 03, 2008
Welcome to my day.
The worst part about it, though, was that I rode my bike into work. Now, if you think a crappy day can really bring you down, imagine how stripped of gumption you'd be if you had to bike home! Got that? Now, imagine how hard it would be to bike ten more miles on top of that - because that's generally the plan for tonight.
I'm writing this down so you know you're not alone. I'm on the Crappy Day Express, too... the one that's busted an axle and gone off the tracks and is waiting for Pete's sake to get moving and FUCKING END ALREADY!!!!
... and if it sticks around for the weekend, I'm really going to be pissed...
Thursday, October 02, 2008
After watching the 5th season's premiere episode last night, however, I can assure you it's just not going to happen. Vicky and I were relieved in a way, thinking it was the show's final season... um... it's not!
After last night, I'm going to hate watching this show, but I will... for Vicky, because I already avoid several other shows she enjoys. I'm going to hate watching it but it'll give Vicky and I something to hate together. I'm not going to hate it because of the actresses or their characters; Vicky and I have rooted for them all. I'm not going to hate it because of the history; we've stuck it out through thick and thin. You want to know what I hate? I hate how obviously bored the creator, Marc Cherry, has become and how he's grown to detest his characters. That's the only explanation I can come up with. Take a look at the run-down:
Susan Mayer fell in love with Mike. Then, she lost him. Then, she got him. Then, she lost him. Then, she got her hair done. Then, she did some other stuff. Then, she got him, again... and again... This season, there's not even a pretense as to why she lost him. She dumped him because... of no fault of his own... But you know that by the end of the season she'll get him again.
Lynette Scavo has parenting issues. She always has. So does her husband. Every fucking season. I'm sick of it. Now? She still has parenting issues. The family needs to be locked up.
Bree Van de Camp isn't happy unless she's made everyone in the world feel like shit on her heel. We all enjoy watching her machinations - but this season, she's basically asking for pity because... she sucks... and not even in a way that would make Olsen look slightly less pussy-whipped.
Finally, there's Gabby and Carlos. Vicky and I have loved Gabby and Carlos. We couldn't wait for them to find their way to each other. Now, they're happily together (and you know Carlos will see again by season's end) and they're the Scavo's in year 4 of parenting, lousy at it and getting worse every day.
The thing is that Cherry can't find a story unless people are unhappy, which is fine in season one but he keeps returning to that well. He's returned so often, he's digging the well deeper and deeper and digging himself deeper as well. I can't imagine the actors finding a whole of fun in playing out the same storylines and if he really enjoyed the characters he'd give them something interesting to do!! Give us something interesting to watch!!
This isn't like Jericho. Vicky and I watched Jericho BECAUSE it was bad. We enjoyed how confused they were about basic science. But these lousy spouses aren't even fun to watch. They're the pathetic neighbors people talk about in disgust but never want to have to talk to.
So, let this serve as a warning: You have better things to do. Meanwhile, I'll make this sacrifice for my marriage.
Wednesday, October 01, 2008
I passed 16 miles this morning. It hurt a great deal and I really had to push it but I did it, which will make the 13 miles to work this Friday that much easier! It'll be nice riding to work again (and getting a day off from the 22 freeway!!!).
When I got home, I jumped into the shower to wash off the bugs - ick! After, I thought I'd step on the scale and listen to it scream in agony... but it didn't. In fact...
... I went downstairs to the Wii to confirm my findings on WiiFit.
Holy crap! I've finally dropped beneath 250 pounds!!! It's a shock because I've been working on this since before May! And I've been riding pretty regularly since July, waiting for something good to happen. I've been feeling healthier (okay, except for the recent cold!) but haven't found any luck on the scale at all. Finally, I can see a change!
Mind you, I'm far from my target weight... really far... really fucking far, but it's a step in the right direction.
And about time!
Monday, September 29, 2008
Here's something they don't tell you: If you take a few days off, you're fucked. Really, we should be seriously hitting them for not telling us that.
I took a few days off from cycling - okay, about a week - and starting again was torture. Vicky tried to remind me that I wasn't completely over my cold but that didn't matter because I shouldn't have had to start off at square one all over again! Dammit!
And that's pretty much what I'm doing, struggling to carry myself just a wee bit over 10 miles, straining to take the smallest hills, killing myself just to go 14 mph! It's murder! And I hate it!
I can't wait until I can go further!
By the way, here are a few things I learned about my bike over the weekend. I knew it wasn't the best bike out there... and I hate being right. It's a 1993 model mountain bike. Its steel frame and kevlar tires add a lot of weight to the equation and keep me slow. But, you know what? I'm okay with that. I mean, the primary goal is to help me lose weight and struggling with a heavier bike may actually be good for me.
It could also give me a stroke.
Which would mean I'd have to start all over again... dammit...
Saturday, September 27, 2008
Did I mention that I've been sick? Well, I have. I've been sick now for over a week... it sucks.
But I've been dying to get back on my bike, especially after my 50 mile ride. I've wanted to get off the river trail, move into some hills, take on some different scenery... but then, I got sick. Dammit.
Still, last night I gathered myself up and decided it was time to start cycling again. I even lubed up the chain - which isn't the metaphor Vicky thought I was going for when I told her, I actually lubed up the chain! I felt like a real bike mechanic dude and, anyway, I'd done so much riding the chain was squeaking quite a bit.
This morning, I went out at about 5:45 and rode. I rode and rode and returned, sweating, heaving, my nose running, at 6:20, feeling like I'd done myself proud.
... then, I saw the stats from my odometer: 5.5 miles, 11.9 mph average... crap.
Well, time to shoot for 10, I guess.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
But my personal anti-smoking marker - at nine months, it's like an anti-smoking baby! - falls serindipitously on the anniversary of another anti-smoking point in history. I'm talking about the move of physicians to stop smoking. No, not in the 1960's. We're talking a long time before then.
September 25, 1878, Dr. Charles Drysdale issued his warnings against smoking.
Well over a hundred years ago.
Thanks, doc. I'm glad I finally listened.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
I don't even have a kid.
But I think about what kind of parent I'll be when I do have one and I hope I'll be good at it.
There's an article on Slate that has me thinking this morning about just that. I often hear people give arguments for and against whopping on a kid. "My kid knows I'll hit him if he misbehaves." "Kids who don't get hit think they can get away with anything."
... not very convincing.
One point this article makes is: Opponents of corporal punishment also advance moral and legal arguments. If you hit another adult you can be arrested and sued, after all, so shouldn't our smallest, weakest citizens have a right to equal or even more-than-equal protection under the law? In this country, if you do the same thing to your dog that you do to your child, you're more likely to get in trouble for mistreating the dog.
Anyway, it's an interesting read and worth your time.
We set a date before we knew it.
After a couple of months, I was on one knee in her mother's restaurant, proposing.
Though I hadn't sworn off marriage, I never really thought I'd meet someone I'd actually want to marry - let alone rush headlong into it at the speed with which Vicky and I were wed.
Now, I'm not going to tell you Vicky is perfect. Don't misunderstand me. She's not.
But every day, when I'm at work, I look forward to seeing her face. My hand instinctively goes for hers. There's nothing better than spending a day with her.
Vicky sometimes complains that, while I'm quick to tell people I love her, I never seem to mention reasons why. And she's right. And I've done a lot of meditating on that problem... and she's right. But it's like trying to find reasons why you love air. Seriously. You take the smoggiest skies. You take the dirtiest air. Bet you wouldn't want to breathe anything else. Sure, there's cleaner air but that's still air. You can only think of one reason why, too, and that's because you'd die if you breathed anything else.
Take it from someone who knows.
Give me Vicky at her worst and there's nobody else I'd rather have by my side. Would I rather have her at her best - well, that goes without saying. Fortunately, the days she's at her worst are few and far between.
... this isn't coming across nearly as romantic as I'd hoped...
Vicky's fond of saying, usually when I'm sick, "In sickness and in health, right?" She repeats snips of our wedding vows back to me as if to say, "You'll make it up to me." I'm grateful that she gets how I can't always be at my best, either, that she allows me my humanity. That's a reason why I love her so much. There's more, of course, because in those times when I can't carry my fair share, she takes the heavier part of the load. That's why I love her so much. And while I'd probably point it out - "By the way, did you notice how I've been taking care of Shipoopi and Suki every day when I get home?" - she doesn't bother... mostly because she knows I'm so fucking neurotic I kick myself when I don't do enough. That's why I love her so much. In short, Vicky's got my back. She looks out for me. She's the best friend I have in the whole world and I probably don't deserve her and she probably deserves far better than me.
... and, yes. That's why I love her so much - but that's not quite it.
I love her because she's Vicky. That's why I love her so much.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
On the day before my third wedding anniversary, I find myself with an uncommon lack of anything to write about. In fact, I kind of wish it was Wednesday so I can write about the actual anniversary. And it's this impatience that reminds me very well of another impatience... and gives me something to write about...
The day before my wedding, for me, was a wasted day. Basically, I watched time pass and thought about the tuxedo that waited for me in Clostio's hotel room.
Clostio, my best man, was staying at a hotel in Garden Grove and Sean drove me over there in the middle of the day. He couldn't stick around long, Megan was sick, so he dropped me off and was on his way. Clostio and I didn't really have anything planned so we mulled about while I looked at my tuxedo and figured I had a full day before I'd get to wear it. Then, we walked, which is something we normally did. We hoofed it up Garden Grove Boulevard to Harbor, stopping at the Dairy Queen for fattenning foods - I was off my diet - and several smokes. I don't remember what we talked about while we were there but the memory of us talking is a good one; I haven't seen Clostio in a couple of years.
We walked and walked, just passing time as the sky turned dark.
I couldn't sleep. I walked around in the middle of the night.
The next morning crawled by as I got my hair cut, and Sean, Clostio, and I hit Denny's for breakfast... and we waited. Now, for a little context, Vicky and her friends were having a blast, whooping it up - but I wasn't having quite so much fun. The truth is I wanted more than anything to see Vicky and to marry her. There were a variety of reasons ranging from me being afraid I'd lose my nerve to just simply that I loved her. It wasn't so much that I wanted to get it over with; I just wanted to do it!
So, not surprisingly, I arrived at The Hacienda on the day of my wedding early. Easily an hour early! The guy at the door said they were still setting up. I, standing there in my tux, almost running in place, asked if the "groom group" could just hang out in the "groom's room". "No," he told me, calmly as though he was talking to a crazy person. "We're still setting up."
I replied, "Of course, you are," and got back in Jeff's car.
Back at the hotel, I was a wreck, pacing, gesticulating, and - yes - smoking.
Gail said, "Just get it out of your system. We can get the smell out." So the smoke was followed by gum, cologne, antibacterial hand wash... "It's good that you're nervous," she said. "You're supposed to be nervous. It shows you don't take this lightly."
Take it lightly? Obviously, Gail did not know with whom she was dealing.
Now, it's the day before our third anniversary. I'm barely getting over a cold and I really hope I'm over it tomorrow. I'd like to lay a big fat kiss - or ten - on my wife but I don't want to get her sick; it would be a bad way to start year four, you know? But the impatience is familiar and, when we go out tomorrow night, I'll probably be ready an hour early.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Listen, the real news, for those of you paying attention is Obama and his family's one car. Vicky always says we couldn't make it with just one car but it's going to be harder for her to maintain that argument now that we know Obama and Vicky have...
The same car!!!
That's right. I guess Vicky doesn't need an Obumbersticker cause she has the whole damn car to show her support.
(No truth to the rumor that we planned it this way.)
Friday, September 19, 2008
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
... and this afternoon, my sinuses began to cry "Headcold! Headcold!"
Damn. I've fought off so many headcolds since my last that I should be thankful but all I can think of is "Not now! My last ride of the week is tomorrow! I'm missing days this week! I don't want to be sick, too!!"
I think it's just tough luck.
So, today, I thought I'd sit here with my increasingly stuffed-up head and my sneezes and my body aches and look back at how much I've accomplished since I started cycling. Once I started, I realized, I have quite a bit to be proud of.
For instance, the day I was offered my current job I took a long bike ride: 10 miles. Now, I'm up to 50. My daily ride is up to 17 1/2 miles. It used to take me three rest stops to do that. Now, I ride it straight through. Back then, I was lucky to hit 20 mph if I really pushed myself, and could only do it for a very short time. Now, I can maintain speeds of up to 18 and 19 mph for pretty good distances. My normal speed used to be 10 mph, now its about 14.
When I first started cycling, I wore what shorts and t-shirts I had. I still do, but on long rides I wear cycling shorts and t-shirt to keep my cool and, um, padded. My bike now has headlights and taillights and a cyclocomputer on which I've logged nearly 700 miles!
Most importantly, though, is the difference I feel from one year or even five years ago. I didn't cycle five years ago. I'd try to jog now and then, blow out my knee, smoke and drink. Cycling doesn't take its toll on my knee nearly so much and, better still, I don't smoke and my drinking isn't nearly at the same level. (Though sometimes I really feel like tying one on!) Body aches aren't as bad and go away much faster. Hell, I rode 50 miles on Sunday and had recovered by Sunday night!
So, here I sit, sniffling, dreaming about what the future holds. And what is that? Well, I want to do more 50 mile rides, hopefully every Sunday. I also want to start changing up my routes, which includes leaving the security of the Santa Ana River Trail for more street riding. I think I can do that if I chose my streets wisely. That'll introduce more hills and a wider range, all of which will be good for me. Beyond that, though, I would really like to get a proper road bike. As I've mentioned here before, my bike is kind of cobbled together from one given to me by a friend. A real road bike will help me improve my performance and increase my range.
Once I get over this cold...