Friday, August 29, 2008

Bad hair...

Sit! Stay! For god's sake, play dead!

This is the problem with my hair. It has reached that point where it's too long to be short but to short to be cool. So, it hates me. It hates me and it's trying to kill me.

Through embarrassment!

Fucking hair.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Stepping into my father’s shoes…

Blanche took Keith and I aside shortly before I left Arizona to give us a couple of things he wanted us to have. Keith got my dad’s bible. They both share the same name so it’s the perfect gift to leave. Many years ago, bible’s held entire family histories within their bindings and, in a metaphoric sense, the same thing was happening here. All I wanted were some cds I’d given him. The one thing we shared was a sense of humor and it seemed fitting, somehow, that we should share the same jokes that he enjoyed while he was alive.

Blanche asked if there was anything else we’d like of his.

She asked if we wanted his shoes.

Now, at the time, that innocent offer felt pretty damned ghoulish. It felt like stripping shoes off his body, eminently disrespectful. Only this morning – only moments ago – did the irony catch up to me. It didn’t sneak up, either. It crashed into the back of my head with the velocity of a small truck.

Walking in my father’s shoes.

You saw that, didn’t you?

I was wondering how I could tell you about the developments on the new book. How can I, I wondered, describe this journey I am only beginning to take? The answer came: Step into your father’s shoes.

Of course. You see, I wanted to interview my dad. I wanted to hear his whole life’s story. But I was too late and he died and I barely got a few words out of him. And then, I went home to this idea for a new book, and idea about free will and if it really existed and my theories and how they amount to little more than behavioralism on steroids. I wondered what’s the good of free will, if it really did exist. Surely, it’s not to make us more money or to get us more fame. Indeed, it seems more and more that it’s not for us at all. If anything, free will is a support system for future generations.

And that brought me to Avalokiteśvara, the Buddhist ideal of the bodhisattva, the individual with such compassion for the world that he rejects nirvana if it means just one person remains unsaved. It might sound analogous to Jesus Christ but it’s more than that. Some Buddhists see Avalokiteśvara as really existing but I know idealized versions of anything are no more likely to exist than absolute evil – so I can blaspheme in any number of religious traditions and call Avalokiteśvara more a goal than a thing, a goal of what we can be, each of us. Bodhisattvas are people and, so, Avalokiteśvara can be the ideal of all peoples. (This is a primary difference between eastern and western thought. In the west, Christians try to live a Christ-like existence – some, at least – but not to be Christ. In the east, the goal of Buddhists is to become Buddha, to waken to your Buddha nature.)

Evolution. That’s what I’m talking about.

If Climbing Maya told how to be successful in your life, this book would tell how all of humanity can fulfill its potential. It’s the obvious next step.

Now, you might think I sound pretty smart but that’s only one part of the story. Because after I returned home, I started thinking about how I could portray my father in a book like this. He could have been an archeologist, I thought, and I could be the son who carries on his work! … um, no. My dad was no archeologist. He was just a guy. Okay… I imagined he could have been a university professor and I would be the son who found all of his notes! … no, no, no. The problem was, how could I start a story that led to Avalokiteśvara unless I had a father who sent me down that road?

I couldn’t. Because my father would never send me there. My father was no archaeologist, no college professor. He didn’t truck with eastern religion. He didn’t contemplate free will. My father’s last words to me were words of regret, about how much he wished he could have done for his children. And when he asked for forgiveness, I gave it gladly. That’s the man I wanted to write about because he is all men. He wanted more for his children; he felt he hadn’t done enough. That’s the man who would inspire…

And that’s when the truck slammed into the back of my head.

My dad didn’t leave me any archaeological ruins or teacher’s notes. He left me a legacy of regret, of how I wished I had done better. But it doesn’t have to be that way. The beauty of my theories on free will is that change is possible; it’s just slow. Free will is the gift of one generation to the next and we can be the people we hope to be; it just takes a while.

The key to this book is honesty, just as it was with Climbing Maya. This will be marketed as fiction but that doesn’t mean I have to lie.

I just have to remember my dad and stand in his shoes.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Letting me be me…

Sometimes, I think people have trouble pinning me down. I can be very “out there’ at times, vocal about my opinions and just about anything. Other times, though, I can be reserved… downright neurotic.

I’ll give you an example.

This past weekend, I met lots of my father’s family but I didn’t network with them. It’s not just that I had other things on my mind; I didn’t feel comfortable. Well, there was one person who made me comfortable. My aunt Pam… probably because she was a nice person and, therefore, completely unlike any blood relative. (Okay, that’s harsh… completely unlike 99% of my blood relatives.) I took down her contact information.

… and then came the point where I began to wonder what to do with it.

I could send her the link to our photo site.

I could send her an email.

I could send her a link to One Path… oh, wait… no, I couldn’t. Because she’d tell Blanche or Dwight or, god forbid, my mother. I wouldn’t want my mother reading my blog because… um… why, again? I forgot.

Here’s the thing: I haven’t provided any of my family with links to my blogs because, deep down… further… further… under that… move that aside… down there… further… take the stairs… down the – there you go… further… right, down there… deep down, I want to be liked. And One Path and My Side – okay, especially My Side – can sometimes be ever so slightly offensive.

But that’s me, right? And if I never share my blogs with my family, I’m hiding away a part of myself.

And that’s not good.

But I worry.

Perhaps my fucking cussing will turn them away… cunt.

Maybe my atheism and mocking of idiotic, religious afterlife insurance will make them angry.

Possibly my expression of my political views and my beliefs that Democrats and Republicans can both tend to be morons could just keep them from liking me.

But, if they stop liking me because of that… well, I guess they never did like me, did they? So, I guess this is the time to finally come out of the closet.


It’s time to open up the blinds, pull back the shades, draw the curtains and let the real Ken come through – the one nobody likes!

… wait…

Monday, August 25, 2008

Memorial Day…

My mom and I hit the road shortly after 1pm on Friday. It was a long drive through early traffic that made you think everyone in the world had decided to hit Arizona through the SoCal route but it was actually just southern California being its own, obnoxious, damned self.

Driving my mom to my father’s memorial seemed like a stupid idea at first. Then, it started to look like the dumbest idea I’d ever had. She started talking about bringing our own water and packing trail mix and, sure enough, she brought the water and the trail mix – but I quickly talked her out of any idea of actually living off the stuff. (In truth, the trail mix went home with her, unopened.) It was important to me that I pay for this trip. My mom’s on a fixed income and it’s important to me that I help where I can. Talking her into that wasn’t easy; I kind of had to get in her face about it.

After a while, I even began to enjoy the drive a bit. We talked a lot about my father and my family history. I told my mom about things going on with Vicky and me. I told her about the new play. We avoided dangerous topics like politics or religion but without having to skirt the issue; we just had plenty of other things to talk about. We made very good time and arrived at our hotel before it was even dark.

By that time, my mom seemed to have accepted that I’d be paying for everything. So, she acquiesced when I checked in for us both, putting down my credit card. But then, I learned that my mom’s traveling experience is far less accomplished than my own. I don’t really consider myself a world traveler or anything but I found myself having to explain little things – things that are little to me, at least – to help her manage in her room, the first time in her life she’d ever had a hotel room alone.

As soon as I get into my room and began unpacking my stuff, after which my mom and I planned to go have dinner and stop at a liquor store for some zinc tablets (I was coming down with a cold), I realized what the one thing was I forgot. On every trip, there’s one essential thing I forget. I doesn’t matter how often I double-check, if I make a list, if I tie things down, there’s always one thing. So, I’ve learned to accept it as part of traveling. This time, it was my belt. I forgot my belt. I had my slacks and shirt cleaned and pressed, my tie, my shoes, socks, etc. But… no belt. Shit.

When I told Vicky about this, who was watching our sweet little mouth of teeth – I mean, puppy - back home, she told me in her most pragmatic way, “Why don’t you just buy a new one?”… which sounded a lot like, “How many times did your mom drop you on your head as a child?”

So, off my mom and I went to the Target we were directed to by the front desk clerk. Now, it might not look like it but I am very particular about my clothes. They have to be just right. Buying a belt at Target – or anything at Target – is, for me, like getting a haircut with NAIR. (Blame the Ex.) But we had to do it. Still, when my mom said, “Here are plenty of belts,” and I said, “No. No. No. No…” things didn’t look good. But we found one and got the zinc and went to Marie Callendars’ for dinner. Our waitress there, Holly, was nice, sweet, attentive… and wouldn’t leave us the hell alone! We couldn’t get our food in, she kept us talking! I have never in my life had a server so damned attentive… so I guess the next one who ignores me… I have it coming…

Nighttime. My mom and I went to our rooms. I fiddled with the SleepNumber (Uncomfortable at any setting) bed and passed out… for two hours. Son of a bitch. I woke up at 2am but, by 3am, Biden had been announced as Obama’s running mate. (A good choice, I think.) So, I had plenty of television to watch by the time 7am came around and my mom called me to see if I was awake.

I have the kind of mom who will never stop being a mom. To all of you with crack-whore mothers… appreciate it.

We hit the road before 9am, hit the church before 9am, hit the pre-memorial breakfast before 9am. You know, it’s hard to be fashionably late to something you want to get through with as quickly as possible.

I felt horrible entering that church. First of all, as an atheist, I thought about how much religious crap I’d need to listen to from other people and how much I was going to have to bite my tongue simply to keep the peace. Christians don’t appreciate how often we Atheists clam up to save their fragile feelings. (You want to become an Atheist? Just find one thing wrong in each major religion. Should take you... five minutes...) But, more importantly, I just didn’t want to be there. The last place in the world I wanted to be was another reminder that my father was dead.

But I was fortunate to see Mitch and Sherryl out there, waving me in. They are both wonderful people and Mitch always makes me feel like things are all right. You want some irony? Mitch used to be a priest. Hey, I don’t think all religious people are hypocrites. I just really appreciate the ones who aren’t.

My mom and I walked into the church and a woman standing in the foyer looked at me. She was in late-middle-age to my middle-middle-age. She had a kind, welcoming face. The face of a church employee. Oh god. “You must be Ken,” she said.

Uh oh, I thought. “Yes, I am.”

“Well, I am your father’s sister by your grandfather’s second marriage,” she said, and everything felt better. Her name is Pam and it’s nice to know I am related to a nice person on my dad’s side of the family. I always thought of that as the “prick side.” Turns out I was wrong.

But stepping away from her after we’d spoken a little, I felt my nerves dancing frantically across my skin. Everything about this was wrong – I mean, how are you supposed to remain in denial? But Keith moved happily through the crowd, who told him he looked and sounded just like dad. Dwight and Monica were showing off their baby. Blanche was miraculously holding it together. We all awaited Richard and Teri, having not yet arrived from an insane drive from Kirkland, Washington.

After a while, I realized I’d had five cups of coffee and no food. I took my jittering body to a familiar face. Keith was getting ready to film the memorial and when I said, “I feel terrible,” he said, “I know. I’ve got two cameras to man and I don’t think I’ll be able to handle it myself.”

“… no, Keith. I feel terrible because it’s dad’s memorial.”

“Oh. Right. That too.”

My legs buckled. I hadn’t really been sleeping for a few days, either. “I should get something to eat,” I said.

“I should, too,” Keith answered. “I just… can’t.” And I realized that the sorrow I felt, Keith had been trying to mediate through keeping busy. He’d used his denial to turn my father’s memorial into a project. I’d just used mine to somehow convince myself that my father’s death wouldn’t affect me.

So, I put my arm around my brother and we both walked to the food… and ate little.

Then, Richard and Teri appeared and I felt a little better. Richard is my youngest brother and he had faced down so much adversity with so much courage and tenacity that seeing him always lifts me up a little bit. I mean, I’ve been lucky, end of story. Dwight planned for everything. Keith barely catches a break sometimes. None of us are fighters like him. I’m very proud of him.

But that meant the service was starting… dammit. We took our seats. Blanche, Dwight, and Richard took the first row. I sat in the second row with my mom and Keith’s wife, Julie. The minister spoke. There was prayer and singing and more speaking. I let it wash over me like creationism classes at a public school, just hoping they’d see the light one day. (Do I think Atheists are superior? No. Just right.)

Then, the time came for the kids to speak and Dwight was first. So much for chronological order. Keith’s the eldest… oh well. Dwight had something prepared, like me, and when he choked up Richard was there with some water for him. I was next. I don’t know why. I can’t really tell you how I did but I can tell you that halfway through – I lost control of my throat. It began to clench up and words escaped me. Thankfully, I’d written a script! When tears came, I pushed them aside and moved ahead. But this made me weak and I began to shake – I was just glad when it was over. Next up was Richard. Richard leaned against the podium like he was born to it and spoke unprepared. When I later told him how cool he looked, Teri responded, “That’s because he hasn’t slept.” Last came Keith. Keith isn’t a public speaker or a performer, like me. Crowds make him uncomfortable. But he walked up and he spoke with humor and a little eloquence – though his “Dad is here with us” made me want to smack him.

The service closed with a photo montage of my father, moving chronologically through his life. A 15-20 year break made me realize: that’s when he was with my mom and before he remarried. So you didn’t see me or Keith or Audrey, my sister. But I did pop up later, with a picture taken from a Thanksgiving back when I was alone, pre-Vicky. My beard looked scruffy and my waist was thinner… dammit. I was ready for that. I knew they had that shot. But then, they put up a shot from my wedding. There, Vicky and I stood with my mom and Joe on one side and my dad and Blanche on the other. And I felt a punch in my gut and I just wanted to bawl my eyes out.

I still do. I just haven’t had the time.

The weekend kind of ended there. From that point on, it was all about getting home, finding some place familiar, trying to breath through the pain of having someone taken from me as if carved out of my gut with a rusty soup spoon.

I wish I could tell you more. Maybe later.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Oh me of little faith…

My father’s memorial held a lot of special moments…

It also held some crap. Here’s some of that.

Being an atheist, people think I don’t know my religions. They forget I’ve studied. So, when Christians spoke of my dad being in heaven, they weren’t technically accurate but I let them have it as being close. But, when one of my brothers walked around, saying, “Dad is here with us.” I pretty much just wanted to puke!

Get your religious beliefs straight, people! If you’re going to go in for ancestor-worship, fine, but don’t do it under the guise of Christianity because that’s not what the Bible teaches! (Not that this has ever bothered anyone else – cough – stem cells – cough – gay marriage – cough – pro-war radicals – cough!)

I kept waiting for someone to tell me that my father was in a better place. I was ready to say, “Well, considering he was cremated, I’d say it’s doubtful.”

The best part of the day, however, came when my brother, Richard, and his wife, Teri, asked me if Vicky and I would consider being godparents to their son, Hayden. These two love their child so much, this was clearly an honor and I accepted it without hesitation, of course.

But then, Teri said, haltingly, “I know how you feel about… you know… God

It prompted a joke on my part, of course, but the truth is, she was very confused. I have no feelings about God at all. You can’t have feelings for something that doesn’t not exist, that is just a mental construct, a figment of your ancestor’s imaginations you were convinced had to be true.

… and, if my other brother is correct, they’re all here to make sure it sticks…

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Dying to go to a funeral…

It’s going to be 108 degrees.

My father’s memorial service is in Chandler, Arizona on Saturday and it’s going to be 108 degrees… hotter than the surface of the sun!!!

It’s a good thing he’s dead…

Avalokiteśvara and this thing called free will…

The process is strange even to me. I tell people I write books but I’m lying. I’m just damned lying. They sit me down, plug me in, and make my fingers type. I don’t write books; books write through me.

When I wrote Climbing Maya, it was like this. I was on the 91 freeway, stuck in traffic, when it hit me so hard between the eyes I thought I was going to scream. The connection between Kundalini Yoga and Maslow came so powerfully, as I drove up the 5 freeway (seriously, they could just hit me while I lounge on the sofa… I wouldn’t mind…) that I called Vicky immediately and had her take notes.

And it’s happening again.

I got the idea to write a book on free will after a droning in my head bugged me for days, until I realized that it was a voice talking to me. Free will is a construct much like behavioralism but it’s… well… after a few months of batting that around in my head, I realized that isn’t news. So what? It’s no big deal. There’s no book there.

Then, yesterday, something hit me here at work. It was like pushing an ice block through a keyhole. (I was going to write pee hole…) In physical pain, I heard it growing louder and louder, pushing me to read, research, move, act – until I found it.


The paradigm of bodhisattvas.

Tibetan Buddhists believe in his divinity, much like Christians believe in Christ – but there’s much more there. Because it turns out you can follow a direct line from free will to Avalokiteśvara. Your free will… you…

And so, it turns out I have my next book. If Climbing Maya was about how you as an individual can find success, the new book will be about how the human race can use free will, with an explanation of how it exists, to become… It’s pretty broad in scope, I guess.

I’m going to write it as fiction because I learned my lesson. Climbing Maya hasn’t been turned down because it was a bad book. It’s been turned down 90% of the time because I don’t have celebrity backing – and if that doesn’t make you want to spit, I don’t know what will.

… good thing I finished the play…

Oh! And I finished the play!

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Dimly through a haze of smoke…

This is going to sound odd, but there’s a part of me that regrets quitting smoking.

I know. I know. I said it would sound odd.

But for all the benefits I feel, from the way my voice is that much clearer (sure, like you don’t sing in your car) to the long rides I could never take if I still inhaled (literally) Camels, there are those occasions when the negatives come by to remind me.

This morning, the stretch of the 5 freeway just south of Camp Pendleton, just where it’s caught between country and city, overlapped like a slide over my vision. There was no getting around it, so I went with it. I was sitting at my desk, after all. No harm done. I could see what it was trying to convey; it was the drive to Clostio’s house. It didn’t matter which one or where he was, this Viewmaster in my head was saying, “Don’t you miss him? Huh? Don’t you?”

Of course, I do. He and I haven’t spoke, best of friends and everything, in two years. Recently, Vicky found out he’s in a 12-step program. Maybe he’s straightening himself out. I don’t know. But the thing that has been most in my mind is: What then? What if he does straighten himself out? Clostio and I used to sit around and smoke together. We won’t do that now. Without smoking or drinking, will we still be able to be friends? Was our friendship that shallow? (Maybe it was, for him to sequester himself from me that easily…)

I’ve also been thinking about my dad’s memorial. I know where the people I’ll want to hang out with will be: outside! Smoking! But not me… I don’t smoke… dammit… I’ve thought about just standing out there (in the 106 degree desert) with them and not smoking but that would put me very much out of place. I wouldn’t belong.

Then, there’s Tim and Autumn. They smoke.

There’s Jeff. There’s Rich.

Shit, man. This non-smoking shit is tough.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

My father was a very nice guy... really...

Less than a week after my father's death, everything began to change.

My dad, you see, wasn't a particularly nice guy in life. He'd done some rotten shit in his life and everybody knew it. Most people who knew him long enough didn't like him a whole lot. Vicky liked him... but she never had to spend more than four hours with him...

So, it's stunning to see how quickly everyone's opinion of him changed now that he's dead. Like stepping out of a blizzard into a cabin warmed by a toasty fire, everyone is warming to my dad. Even one of my brothers, who insisted my dad had been "faking" his illness, is now spouting all kinds of diabetic nonesense about how much he had loved his dad and how close they were.

And I am appalled.

Shortly after my father died, I began writing a eulogy for his memorial. The way I figured it, I was the writer in the family, the only one really comfortable speaking in front of people, so I would be the likely candidate to speak at my father's funeral. I wrote a eulogy that I felt was honest, somber, even a little poetic. I had asked how long I'd have to speak and was told, "As much time as you'd like."

You can imagine my surprise, then, when I was told that the eulogy was too long. I'd only have five minutes to speak because all four sons were now going to be asked to speak. My experience, my talent, the fact that I had asked didn't amount to a hill of shit. Worse, though, was how I started seeing my brother, the guy who said dad had been "faking", write the most syrupy nonesense, painting my father as a cross between Albert Schwietzer and Gandi. But nicer. And far more understanding.

My eulogy was sent back to me in an edited version that tried to retain its meaning but - well, when you condense a 15 minute speech into a five minute speech, what you end up with is a generic imitation, at best. Clearly, a rewrite was required. Summing up my feelings in five minutes would be tough, especially while my brother told the most incredible lies in some posthumous attempt to score points with our dead dad. The two other brothers would probably tell some version of the truth but I didn't feel I could count on them to counteract the idiot's nauseating posturing.

That's when I realized what I would have to do. If I was going to be able to face myself, I would need to explain who my father really was, injecting a little honesty into the whole thing. So, I wrote. I found a theme that I felt was appropriate if not complimentary. Vicky was sure I'd be cast out of the family completely, which is ironic given a family history where people have been routinely cast out, but once she heard it she agreed that it provided a little honesty to the whole thing. She also said that part of it sounded like "Is It a Sin to Lick a Burrito", my long lost though not forgotten monologue.

My dad wasn't a monster. He was a human being. I prefer to remember him that way, as the man he was and not the man he wished he'd been.

Friday, August 15, 2008

How fast is toooooo fast?…

Work. This morning. The commute.

I rode my bike this morning, for the first time in a few weeks. I’ve been keeping up my biking pretty regularly with 16 miles rides most mornings and longer rides (39 miles last time bitches!) on the weekends. I’ve been training myself to keep my bike in the highest gear possible. (Except when I take hills – I’m not a moron.) This was a major bitch at first but it is really paying off.

Last time I rode the 13 miles into work, it took me nearly an hour… by which I mean 59 minutes. But today, I flew, cutting my time down to 50 minutes, averaging 15 miles per hour. (According to Bicycle Magazine, 16+ is considered racing speed!)(Slow racing speed but racing speed all the same...)

Every day I do a little better at this, I remind myself that it wouldn’t be possible if I were smoking, and I keep in mind that it’s going to help me drop another pound.

And I like being the guy who passes people, for a change…

Thursday, August 14, 2008

The Father of Rewinding died today.

No, this isn't a joke. Keep reading.

Honestly. The guy who invented "rewinding" died today. I never thought that such a common feature, something we don't even use anymore, would have an "inventor". I'm sure many people would feel the same. But there you go.

And, of course, this got me thinking about my father.

I'm sure you see where this is going.

My dad's contributions to my family's lives, however small or large, annoying or funny, traumatizing or comforting, may not be seen by the world around us. They might not even be noticed by those close to us. But they are there. Having him in our lives changed us and helped us be the people we are today. We should use that for all the good we can, even when we might think that our contributions may end up like the Inventor of Rewinding.

We are all of us lost in the threads of time sooner or later but right now we are all necessary and our actions can change the world. And so it was with my dad.

Thank you for humoring me while I wax rhapsodic.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

No news is no news...

I know things have been pretty quiet here for the past few days. My father's death has left me with few words and fewer jokes, so bear with me.

In the meantime, check out our new puppy, Shipoopi. She's a little sweetie and hardly ever doesn't poop on everything in sight...

Saturday, August 09, 2008

One in – One out…

Vicky just said, “What are you writing? ‘My Dad died and I bought a puppy?’”

She’s good.

So, anyway, my dad died and I bought a puppy.

My father’s death came almost as a relief. He’d been in pain for months. He was put on hospice care back on Wednesday and it took three days just to get the pain meds right. He deserved a rest. I’ll miss his terribly but I’m relieved that his suffering has ended. There’s that, at least.

Earlier, Vicky and I were at a pet store. Now, I am very much against buying pets at stores when there are so many who can be adopted. This is why I dragged Vicky to the pound – actually, she went there willingly; she’s nice like that. We checked and a couple of other sites. The thing is, the puppy we fell in love with, the puppy we wanted, was at the pet store. Her name is Shipoopi and she’s adorable. Don’t worry. You’re bound to see pictures of her somewhere near this space.

My dad would have liked the name and the dog. I can’t begin to tell you how much I’ll miss him, so…

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

For want of an accessorie...

Strange thing to call this, I know. But it's easier than the truth.

My father would put on hospice care yesterday. This means he was taken off his meds and put on morphine to help with the pain, to keep him comfortable, so he can die.

I don't quite know what to say. Obviously, perhaps, things are pretty shaky emotionally. (Don't you hate how I use qualifiers? I'm sad as fuck.)

And the only thing I can think of is, "Where am I going to get a black arm band? When he does, where do I get a black arm band? I don't even know what they're called!"

I'm outside of this thing. My father and I weren't exactly close. I'm watching it unfold but taking no part - an outsider... as usual.

There's a lot I'd like to say right now, about death and about life, but huge paragraphs come out as short lines and I can't bring myself to say more. This isn't a process where you find words easily.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Flashing through my mind like poundcake...

... which is to say... not very "flash-ing-ly"...

You see, I keep meaning to write these things down but old age, senility, and that... oh, what was it now?... I forgot... um...

It was one of those mornings when... you know... one of THOSE mornings... I woke up on time but just couldn't seem to get out of the house. I forgot my phone. My water bottle was empty. My front tire was low. By the time I'd hit the road on my morning 16 miles, I was already running five minutes late. Trust me, when it comes to biking, five minutes count for a lot. I knew that even if I pushed myself as hard as I could... it wouldn't really count for squat.

But I did anyway.

Just after Imperial Highway, I passed through a cloud of gnats. These don't mean much when you're walking; you just brush them aside and keep your mouth closed. But when you're biking, in the dark... it's like speeding through a cloud of raisins. Spat! Spat! Spat! In those instances, you're extra careful not to open your mouth!!

I haven't mentioned the play in a while. You'll be surprised to hear it's nearly completed. I've been writing at lunch and it just pours out of me with little effort. The hardest part was the rhythm. The inspiration for this show - musically, if not lyrically - came from the TV series, Studio 60. I loved the rhythm the writer's kept up. I still love watching it on DVD, simply for that comic beat. So, I tried to write a show that had a good rhythm - some people may not get what I'm saying but I think the results will come across on stage. The nice thing about writing musically is that you don't have to worry about the beats. They're right there. You can see the jokes before you need to write them; it's so easy. (Yeah, I'll shut up now.)

(BROKEN NEWS: I finished the first draft of the play today at lunch! That's right. I'm a playwright again!)

I've been hoping to get some folks together for a staged reading but it's not turning out to be so easy. Most of the usual suspects (Tim, Steve, Chris) have disappeared and the few actors I still know, well, they're good! They're working! I can understand that. After all, it wouldn't make sense to admire them if they sucked, right? But scheduling a reading has been difficult, all the same. I'm tempted to pull Vicky in to read and even Jeff, as well. The important thing is to hear the words out loud. Comedy works better when spoken.

I reached the farthest point of my ride this morning with only two minutes to rest. I faced the east. I took a deep breath. I thought about my day...

... a cute jogger bobbed on by...

Shit! Two minutes are up so fast! Back on my bike, I headed home.

School starts in two weeks. Can you believe it? It's been a nice summer, with lots of time for... well, not much, but I did get a little rest, which was good. I'm taking two courses this semester and I hope to take two more in the spring. That will leave me with five courses to take. Five. Some of these must be done sequentially, so I'll probably be stuck taking one each semester. Crap. This is taking forever.

By the time I got home, my skin was glowing with heat. I generate a lot of BTUs when I'm riding - just off my skin alone. Vicky is more cold-blooded (watch it) so she is amazed at how hot my skin gets. After a long ride, I'm pretty amazed, too. I wish I could plug myself in, rather than glowing like a furnace. Oh well.

Up to the shower.

Time to wash off some bugs...

Monday, August 04, 2008

31 miles and what do you get?...

In my case, exhaustion.

I figured I'd do 25 miles, tops. The plan was to leave early in the morning and ride further up the river than ever before. I left at 6:30, when the sun was already up... and so were the bugs. So, I had to ride with my mouth closed - you know, or else! But it was a pleasant morning. It was cool and there were a whole lot more people out there than I'd expect on a Sunday.

As the river coasted along the 91, I was reaching my furthest point to date: Weir Canyon. At Weir Canyon, the trail splits, one side proceeding down by the river, the other side climbing into a hill. I would have liked to stay with the river, except the side ended shortly thereafter. I had to climb. I was too stupid to shift, also I didn't know how far I'd be going... after a while, though, I shifted, because it went pretty damn far. But that was nothing, because after it climbed and climbed - it dropped. I zipped down into a ravine at nearly 30mph but then had to ascend again... dammit. Okay, so I didn't need this to tell me I'd never make it to the Tour de France. But after I climbed up again, the trail had beaten me enough... for a while. It resumed its graceful arc along the river, fairly flat, calm, with more bikers and joggers than I could believe. Yorba Linda folks.

I went for quite a while, looking for some landmark so I can say, "I went to..." So, when I reached Gypsum Canyon Road (which to you out-of-towners is past the 241)(which to you really out-of-towners is just one more street and, sadly, only a couple of miles further up the triail), I knew I had my landmark, turned around and headed back. I had put on some sunscreen for when the sun finally came out... but it wasn't cooperating. It was actually kind of chilly! I slipped in line behind a big group of riders who were doing an even 12-14 mph and followed them on back.

Here's a tip. Be careful about what sunscreen you use... be careful bugs don't like it. By the time I got home, 24 miles later, my arms and legs - all sunscreened up - were now covered in bugs!

And, for some reason, Vicky didn't want a hug.

But after I wiped off insect detrious, Vicky pulled her bike out and we went on a ride for the two of us. Now, it was just 7 miles long but keep in mind Vicky isn't as crazy as I am. She doesn't bike in her every spare minute. Anyway, after a couple of miles, my ass had had it! It was threatening to leave! And I don't want to know what life without an ass would be like - so I asked Vicky to turn back.

All in all, though, 31 miles. Not bad. Nearly 1/3 of a century. I wonder how stupid I'll be next weekend...