we should really just stop apologizing.
Wednesday, December 1, 2010
we should really just stop apologizing.
Saturday, November 27, 2010
medial collateral ligament. or at least, that's what medical professionals would call it.
Thursday, November 25, 2010
it's really not a big deal.
Sunday, October 31, 2010
last night was a perfect makeout night.
Wednesday, October 20, 2010
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
children break my heart.
Sunday, August 15, 2010
orwell wrote with profundity regarding the characters he could suppose based on the details of those he encountered. he sounds unafraid in his encounters, seeming to approach it all with an intellectual questioning, and a willingness to figure it all out. i have the questioning; it’s the willingness that often escapes me. i could be a detail-oriented person, writing essential lists of necessities for trips, or recounting in vivid splendor the sensory delights of my first kiss in a snowbank, or outlining the ideal attributes of the perfect cup of espresso. in reality, however, the one so eloquently and blatantly recounted by a down and out orwell, i am fastidious and neurotic, oriented only towards the mundane details like the end times of ebay auctions, the thread counts of some tire casing, the days since i last made love. this is ridiculous. in attempting to outline the details, the tiniest things that would put a reader into my soaking wet italian synthetic-leather road shoes on the side of a muddy, grassy bluff that juts out of one of the great lakes facing ontario’s wine region, i tend to forget the exact details that are important, and end up getting lost on the things i remember best. i used to photograph beautiful women without their clothes, preferably in industrial surroundings of decay and grainy spite, but the conceptual contrast was lost as soon as i got to frame. i spent the grainy real estate on the figure before me, and the background came in out of focus, unrecognizable, and ultimately benign. skin versus concrete doesn’t really present when skin is all one can see. i never did mind though...
to write within the details and come to some kind of inkling as to the identity of someone, maybe even the Self, one has to remember. unfortunately, a combination of sleep deprivation, obsession over the right place to deposit a two-year-old’s excrement at the right time, and the loose planning of the next meal has taken over my detail-detecting cognitive capacities. much of what i remember is out of focus and the texture of bisque.
through a glass darkly, however, is one of the best ways to remember, and recount, a story.
thankfully, i have only the attention spans for short stories, and tonight, only the attention span for snippets of character sketches, scene postulations, and what ifs. what if, after riding one’s bike for 70 miles in the vague direction of st. catharines, ontario, the bridge is out on the only road that allows bicycles and is going in a southerly direction? the sky opened, the protagonist laughed while donning a yellowing, clear PVC rain jacket, more duct tape than jacket, and the waves made the beach less than rideable. knowing he had been in trouble since he refused to turn around at a manageable halfway point, speculating that he would be home in many more hours and after much more self-imposed suffering, and at once aware and critical of the wetness of his carefully-planned matching blue and white kit, the protagonist furrowed his brow and made for the beach, hoping against hope that it would lead past the broken bridge.
next time, there will be grandiose descriptions of the grease patterns in my fingerprints, the 90’s-era pearl izumi teal (yes, teal) fingerless riding gloves i wore through everything, the rending crunch of gravel in my fancy italian riding shoes, the hopelessness of traction while carrying a road bike up a mud-grass bluff in said italian road shoes, the triumph of a snickers bar and gatorade for the exact amount of cash in my seatpack, the quirky disappointment of not pedaling all the way to a friend’s front door, the endlessness of the QEW monotony, the awkward return, long after dinner, in another man’s clothes, commando, and with a serious case of burning ass. next time.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
mr. miyagi always knew what to do with daniel when the kid had a problem: work.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
much can be learned by breaking things.
Sunday, May 30, 2010
today was a gorgeous day to ride.
Saturday, May 15, 2010
i read something once about a man asked of his recent result in a bike race. his reply (something like): 'i think i did pretty well. i came in first in my category. my category being: the successful [insert job here], wood-working, happily-married father-of-two 49-year-old category.'
Sunday, May 9, 2010
i am tired.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
bicycles are magical.
Saturday, April 17, 2010
racing is tough.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
so, i'm racing tomorrow.
Friday, March 12, 2010
After a recent meeting, and with the prospect of some springtime optimism, I’m revisiting. There may be some dignity after all.
I realize, in my own space, that I have a tendency to justify/lay blame as much as possible, on circumstance or persons other than myself. I will work hard to rectify it all. I will not voice my accusations, but I think them nevertheless. This is not fair. This is not just. This is completely immature.
There is a lack of identifiable dignity in the youth of today. And I refuse to let it be.
Once upon a time, I was wearing mittens in November. They were fleece mittens, polartec 300, navy blue, size large. Warm. Breathable. Basic. Necessary. We were out roaming the countryside, backpacks full of sustenance and legs full of energy. I stepped over a creek, braced with my hand on a rock, and soaked my mitten.
Never having done it before, but having memorized the various ‘insulates when wet’ claims of the miracle that was polartec, I took the mitten off and wrung it out. About a third of a cup of water dripped onto the ground. I put the mitten back on. It was practically dry, and very warm. I walked on.
This year is the third season of heavy road riding on my OEM campagnolo cables and housing. My bar tape needs replacing, as I’ve worn through the surface in all those perforation spots. I just replaced the saddle, and probably lost a pound off the bike. I toy often with the prospect of an entire makeover for the serotta.
And every time, I realize that I like better, I enjoy more, the things that I’ve fixed with my own two hands, re-vamped, re-worked, re-invigorated through ingenuity, research, and not a little bit of hard work. The old things that I’ve fixed mean more than the new things I’ve purchased. I guess it’s kinda like love versus sex.
So the youth need some re-vamping. They’re actually, probably, likely, the same youth that have always been around. Chemically imbalanced, caught between childhood and adulthood, and thoroughly confused and overwhelmed by all of it. And it’s okay. This is probably the way it should be, the way it has always been, and the only way that something great can come about. Oxygen used to be poison. Evolution is billions of chance combinations of trial and error. Flowers have to come from dirt. So there’s opportunity here. Time to strip the paint, grease the threads, start over again. Make it roll, make it glide, make it beautiful. We are all individuals.
Wednesday, March 10, 2010
This is not a diatribe or dissertation, and it is certainly not a disrespect. It’s noting and then wondering, how has it all come to this?
As I type, I am aware that what I am attempting to do is not even registered in the consciousness of anyone younger than my own generation. Few individuals younger than I, even by a few years, possess the attention span or conceptualization to even read something longer than a ‘tweet’. This is going to take a while, so the majority of people out there have already given up, because I’m still in the intro and there are top-40 songs shorter than this. I want to take a moment to recognize something that is at the core of so many problems, in education and beyond, with the youth and beyond, with pop culture and self-respect: reverence.
My dad moved to Canada before the rest of us so that he could establish employment for himself, get the enormous Immigration ball rolling, and start scouting out the living scene before his partner and four children arrived. Being young then and old now, my recollections are not trustworthy in the details, but the overall remembrances have stayed with me.
My dad, being far away from us long before the internet and MSN and iChat video, reestablished the most ancient of cultural development media, the oral tradition. He wrote us letters, instead of sitting around a fire and telling us where we came from, but his letters, at least the parts that my mom read to us, were entirely composed of stories. Like any good oral tradition, the stories were most true, muchly exaggerated, and entirely engrossing. Best of all, they were inclusive and expressive, and we felt involved in hearing about where he was and where we would soon be and who was doing what. I haven’t heard these letters then, but I remember them.
The letters were well-written. The stories were cohesive, entertaining, enlightening, and simply great. Importantly, the stories were about the people with whom my dad was working, and they became characters beyond ordinary men and women. They were true, they were real, and through words and paper and stamps back when they were cheap, they became awesome. I eventually met many of these people from my dad’s letters. They were no less important. They weren’t disappointing. Reality didn’t reveal an undesirable truth. They were people from stories I revered.
My dad wasn’t the only one who told me stories. The letters weren’t the only stories I remember. My uncle chip used to tell us stories long into the night, not for any reason other than his stories were great, and we adored them and him. My dad taught me about the beauty of bikes and horses and nature and landscapes and good people. I revered my dad. If he admired or respected someone else, mentioned why s/he was ‘classy’ or ‘a good man’ or ‘an amazing _______’, then I did too. I would nod, file the thought for later, and remember what made someone great. Greg Lemond. Omar the mechanic. Willard the potato farmer. Tony the logger. Mike the paddler. Paul Mason and his son. I revered my family elders. They were like superheroes with specific strengths and powers. People weren’t just people; they were amazing and could do certain things really well. They took time. There was respect.
As I grew up, I wanted to do things well. I wanted to go out with the most athletic, intelligent, beautiful girl I could, and even better if she was older than I. (Later I figured out that it was more about the girl than the external qualities that could be listed to approving nods by my grandmother, and it became about challenge and heartbreak and the more challenging and heartbreaking, the better.) I wanted to ride my bike well, or at least maintain it well and buy the best one I could after a summer of sweating buckets digging holes on ozone red-alert days in Virginia. I wanted to jump high, get big muscles, write poetry worth reading (still working on that one), get good grades, make good dinners, be a good brother. Doing these things wouldn’t pay me or get me something else I wanted or keep me from going somewhere I didn’t want to go. Doing these things was necessary; they were done for the sake of doing, and doing the best I could.
Of the adults I knew, I probably couldn’t think of one that didn’t do at least one thing to the best of his/her ability. Plowing snow or plowing fields or cutting wood or teaching physics or running a mile or running a school or running an engine, these adults did things, and did them well, maybe beyond what their best was once upon a time. They tried. They succeeded. They built on success. They failed. They built on failure.
Maybe it was the lack of desperation in my life that allowed me to do things for the sake of doing them. I didn’t have to work to get fed so I worked to buy the best bike I could, even though I wasn’t the best rider. I didn’t have to milk cows when I got home so I jumped my snowboard over the driveway instead, then studied or did art homework or talked on the phone. Life was easy. I never thought about the roof over my head beyond an abstract consciousness of the fact that I was lucky to have one.
This could go on and on and it already has and shouldn’t anymore. The youth have no dignity today. (yes, this is a generalization.) Because they have no dignity, they have no sense of purpose or pride, and therefore cannot conceptualize respect. They don’t respect themselves; they cannot respect others. They go through the days, insulated from consequences, eating and sleeping and mostly sleeping some more. Nothing has happened to them. There is nothing that will happen to them. The best rhetorical question for the youth: ‘So what?’
Without dignity and purpose, shame has no meaning. Shame can be a crippling tool of oppression, but avoiding it can also translate into motivation. It used to be shameful to ‘fail’ a grade. Now it’s okay to be 18 in grade nine and that’s only if you can manage to actually fail. That was also back when there was failure, when there wasn’t a trophy for everyone, when friendship wasn’t the winner, when something was someone’s own damn fault. Now, without shame, it’s everyone else’s fault, and it’s okay to be a failure anyway because hobos can make almost as much as garbage collectors who make twice as much as teachers who make less than half as much as doctors who are distant second citizens to professional hockey players. At least we have our societal priorities…
What happens now? Johnny grows old, leaves school because he can finally sign himself out of grade nine at age 18, lives in his parents’ house. That’s it. There is no resolution, none required, and the story ends. No one is ashamed because we don’t have shame or pride anymore, as dignity will die with my generation. Everybody wins. Friendship is the winner. We’re all individuals. There is no bell curve.
to be continued.
Monday, February 8, 2010
there are a lot of things that can happen on a bike.
Need. A short story.
"then it's going to get warmer", she said.
his smile said, "i hope so" in a half-believing way and his posture bent itself forward in an awkward, "have a nice day."
he walked a crooked line across the snow, dodging nothing on the ground and everything in his head.
upon reaching the street, he turned south for no apparent reason. he passed the man selling mangoes, nodded at the girl from his painting class two years ago, and narrowly avoided collision with a shoulder-full of tommy hilfiger pomp. collision...
it was friday afternoon, just before four o'clock. the wind in his face, he was pedaling hard, determined to make it to work on time. passed the car. approached the box vans unloading another load of rice and fish for a diet he knew well. pedaled harder. he began to ring his bell as he passed the first truck. the ringing gave sound to the otherwise white noise of an everyday commute. it's wind in the ears and an occasional horn. he passed the second truck still ringing his bell. what a beautiful red blur he must have been.
"it's not your fault, and i just wanted to make sure that you knew that."
"yes sir." that's what his mouth said, empty of saliva and belief and emotion.
"so i hope you can still enjoy your holidays..." was followed by a longer stream of apologetic and unknowing fare-thee-wells from a stranger who didn't know how to help a man who'd lost his...his...
what's the word?
fresh and green, that traffic light was waiting just for him. he accelerated past the back of the third truck, wondering futilely how much one of those crates of rice must
no more than a second in the air. the man was still breathing, but he was bleeding from his head and his mouth and his hand and why didn't anyone speak english or call an ambulance or do anything other than cluck and chatter and watch the boy struggle?
"SIR! SIR! SIR, ARE YOU AWAKE? SIR! CAN YOU HEAR ME? SOMEONE CALL AN AMBULANCE! SOMEONE CALL AN AMBULANCE!"
he apologized for being late to work, explaining that he had had to walk there after being involved in an accident. yes, he was fine. no, he didn't need to go home. the bike? oh, the bike was still up there, locked to a post just north of dundas, the front wheel too bent to ride and the heart too...
he went away for the holidays and that night, in his parents' home in the country, the phone rang from across innocence and any semblance of belief.
some officer is on the phone. some man just died. some man just became...what? those questions, those emotions, those things to be written in a journal shared with the therapist, they never came. four words came, though, hot in concept and branded on unfeeling skin:
i killed a man.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
there is a felt-burlap banner at the top of my parents' stairs, and it displays a fading excerpt from the bible.
Wednesday, February 3, 2010
Sunday, January 31, 2010
(i just started reading david byrne's bicycle diaries and i must say: it is excellent.)
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
the best way to get around toronto is by bicycle.
Friday, January 22, 2010
there is something so perfect about the slow slip of reisling out of its glass, the slippery slide of the sunset behind buildings of steel, and the gentle and subtle satisfaction of friday. it holds much promise, much potential, and absolutely no more momentum.