Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Hate

It's easy to get lost in today's world of social media, to forget who you really are. Every day there's someone, many people in fact, there to tell you you're a "bigot" if you think this or "ignorant" if you think that. People post data before fact checking, pictures they've Photoshopped and quotes attributed to the wrong person.

In a sense, we're losing our facts underneath cute memes and touched up pictures. In an even greater sense, we're (at least some of us) losing ourselves underneath the constant barrage of easy judgment.

Personally, I'm done with it. I'm ready to get back to real life- the one where people actually have a conversation without name calling even if they disagree, the one where adventures happen that involve memories so great you don't need to photoshop a picture, the one where I know the words spoken are true because I'm speaking to the person who thought them.

So no more Facebook. I'm done with its hate. Don't worry, the blog will still continue. Yes, I realize blogging is still social media, but since I write about my life, I know the facts are correct. At least for now. When I'm sixty I can't guarantee I won't be seriously stretching the truth to make myself more exciting. I'll try really hard not to Photoshop any pictures too, but again, no promises since occasionally Big E captures me in a really unattractive moment. Not that that's really stopped me from posting those pictures so far, but you never know when I might need to edit out a boob or something.

If you want to receive a notice when new blogs are up, please use the follow link to the right. I'd love to hear from all of you too so please feel free to comment or email me through here. Or you can always just stop by the pad for a real conversation and a glass of whiskey!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hookas and Underpants

Apparently I'm off to quite a start with my million yesses, because as I wrote that post, this guy was literally feeding off my blood.
Big E came home a short while later to find me sitting in the bathroom in my underwear in a full on panic because in my attempt to extract the little bastard, who was in my right arm, I accidentally crushed him with my clumsy left hand and he was refusing to back out. Thankfully, after a few tries, Big E managed to remove the blood sucking demon.

When I finally calmed down, Big E asked what I would've done if he hadn't come home soon, to which I informed him that I would've driven to the PIC's house in my underwear and asked her to pull the damn thing out.

She has 2 boys under the age of 5 so I figure she's used to people melting down while in their underpants. 

I never realized it would be such a positive thing to have friends with children.

Anyway, despite my utter loathing of anything that extracts my blood,  (Big E and I have mutually agreed that if I ever find a leech on myself I would instantly pass out) I've been doing my best to say yes to some outdoor time. Of course outdoor time near our house isn't often what you'd think it would be.

For instance, my find from last Friday's run,

which I actually thought was part of a bong until one of my clients informed me it was part of a hooka.

Either way, who the hell hikes into a trail carrying something like this? Wouldn't it be easier to carry a joint? 

All of these questions, of course, reinforce why I venture onto the "trails" by my house armed with pepper spray.

Don't judge- when you're busy saying "yes" to everything you can't always be picky.  

Hope you're getting some yesses in too. Even if there's pepper spray involved....or hookas....or underpants.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hey Dickhead, Back Off the Nice Folk

In keeping with my vow to speak my mind here on my blog, I'm going to embark on another rant. Again, as I did last time, I'll clarify that what I write here is my opinion. I don't profess to speak for anyone other than myself nor do I intend to speak about everyone in a particular group, in this case, Minnesotans. So, please, all my Minnesota friends, understand that when I speak of "Minnesotans" I don't necessarily mean all of you. Instead, what I say is a generalization meant to describe my personal encounters with many, but certainly not all, people from MN.

Clearly, based on the entire paragraph I just wrote in an attempt to make sure I don't offend anyone, I need to work on speaking my mind without worrying so damn much. So let's get on with it.

When I read this piece, I was furious.

Hey, Minnesota Transplants: Back Off the Locals, OK?

 Why was I furious, you ask?

Hmm, let me count the ways.

1. This guy writes like he's speaking for all Minnesotans. Thankfully, they're not all like him because if they were no one would ever get a parking spot anywhere. Sure, maybe a lot of Minnesotans can relate, but I can assure you, I live with a man who was born and raised here and I'm quite certain that he's never once in his life sat in the back row so he could leave without speaking to anyone. On the contrary, the man some call "Everywhere Eddie" because he knows someone everywhere he goes would be much more likely to sit in the front row so he could speak to everyone twice on the way out. That is one of the many things I love about him. He understands that human connection is infinitely more important than mowing the lawn.

2. This guy implies those of us who crave a little human connection aren't productive. Personally, I think that's bullshit. Somehow, every week Big E and I manage to mow the lawn, clean the house, wash the dishes, do the laundry and finish numerous other "productive" tasks and guess what- we manage to do so without being antisocial pricks. Apparently the author hasn't yet quite figured out how to do this.

3. This guy also implies that the reason Minnesotans aren't "coming out of their shells" around those of us who aren't from here is because we aren't doing something interesting or productive. Oh really? Is he under the impression that those of us who move here do so and then just sit around on our asses waiting for someone to invite us over? When I moved here, I went to a bike or running race nearly every weekend. The first three months I was here, the closest thing I had to being invited to do anything was a guy who, upon seeing my vehicle after a race said, "I was going to ask you out but then I saw that you drive a minivan." That's right, three months of getting out there doing something "interesting" and that's the best anyone here could do. Did I bitch and moan about how unfriendly people here were? Of course, but thankfully, I persisted with my quest to be interesting enough and the awesome Rebecca Sauber finally noticed me and introduced me to Big E. Good thing, because if she hadn't I'd probably still be busting my ass trying to be interesting and productive enough to be worthy of someone's attention.

4. The author seems to think those of us who think Minnesotans aren't the friendliest people in the world aren't trying hard enough. According to him, we move here, take advantage of all there is to offer and give nothing back. Wow. Way to piss off anyone who had ever moved here and volunteered for anything. Harsh words coming from a man who professes in his article to parking as close to the door as possible so he can get home and do "productive" things like snow blow his own driveway. Way to give back, buddy.

I can't speak for anyone else who are the "outsiders" this guy seems to dislike so much, but personally, his article pretty much said this me, "Fuck you for saying I'm not nice. Really I am nice, but only once you've earned my approval by being "productive" and "interesting" to my liking. Once you have, I might smile at you and mean it, but even then I'll want to rush off home because, well,  you're still not as interesting as my snowblower."

So to this douchebag I have one thing to say:

I hope like hell you get your name on a parking space someday, because without a little human interaction, you're gonna need something to make you happy as you grow older.

And to those Minnesotan (and other, of course) friends who actually are nice:

Thank you for not being like this guy. The door to my office, my home and my heart are always open (and I'll gladly give you my parking spot any time you need it).

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Life of a Million Yesses

I'll admit it- I'm a dork. I name my bikes. Sometimes the name comes right away. Sometimes it takes years. My first road bike, for instance, didn't really get a name until it was replaced with something flashier. It stayed as the trusty commuter bike and picked up the name Old Blue.

I wasn't expecting to name my newest bike right away because, quite frankly, I wasn't even expecting to get a new bike. To be even more frank, I wasn't expecting to get a new bike because I had no money to buy one. However, when Big E, who is definitely the more rational and less likely to jump into a decision of the two of us, told me he thought I should buy his buddy's frame, I listened. (Write this down Big E- I just admitted to the whole world that actually I listen to you sometimes.) Two weeks later, thanks to the generosity of Big E, his buddy, and Ramsey Bicycles, I had sold my trusty Mini Muk, Gracie:

and the new frame had been built into this beauty:
Finally a fat bike that doesn't weigh 1/3 of me!
Thankfully, after I finally bit the bullet to buy it, I picked up some extra work so hopefully I won't be paying it off for too many years! 

Today, I took my first ride. Less than an hour in, I was coming around a sharp corner and realized how easy it was. Cornering has always been my weakness, but suddenly I was where I wanted to be and I thought, "This moment is like a little slice of heaven." I have no idea why I thought that because, as far as I know, it's not a phrase I use often. All I know is that after a couple rough months that involved a lot of tears and frustration, I was finally having a moment when all I wanted to be was right there, right then. I wasn't worried or overthinking things or sad or frustrated. I was just living. 

The next thing I knew, the new bike had a new name. 


I met Max Lyon over 20 years ago when I went to work for the outdoor education program he ran at The Chadwick School. Like nearly everyone who met Max, I was inspired by him. He was the epitome of an adventurous spirit. Shortly before Christmas 1996, Max offered to drop me off at the airport when I flew home to visit my family. I drove from my place in the desert to his place near LA the night before my early flight and we headed out to see the movie, Jerry Maguire. I'm sure you all remember the movie, especially the scene where a desperate Jerry runs out and asks Dorothy to marry him. Max had seen the movie before so he knew this was coming. He was nearly bouncing out of his seat with excitement when it did. He instantly looked over at me with a gleam in his eye and asked, "What would you say?"

We both knew this wasn't just about what I'd say if someone asked me to marry him. It was about more than that, about what I'd say to life, to risky choices, to big decisions, to loving without regret, to adventures that might change me forever. 

I looked him dead in the eye, laughed and said, "Of course I'd say yes."

That night, when we got back to Max's place, as I headed to bed, Max was still wound up, inspired by the movie and our lively conversation that had followed. He poured himself a glass of whiskey and settled down to write. I have no idea what he wrote that night, but I hope it was all about saying yes. 

Max dropped me off at the airport early the next morning. I never saw him again. A few weeks later, on one of his grand adventures, he died in an avalanche. Like his many hundreds of friends, I was devastated, but grateful to have known him, grateful to have that last conversation with him, grateful to have the reminder from him to say yes to chances.

To be honest, I hadn't thought about Max in years until today, but thankfully, for whatever reason, his spirit was there for a moment to bring me out of my funk and remind me to let the worries go and embrace life. It's only fitting that a bike so perfect for adventures should be named after him.

So here's to new adventures- and a life filled with a million yesses.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Love Fests and Bobcats

Due to an ear-attacking virus, not a lot of excitement has happened on the bike or running trails lately. Of course, true to form, this does not mean our lives have been dull.

First up, we had a visit from this lovely lady.
Well, actually, we had a visit from Pop and Mama Liz, but they stayed in a hotel while Amanda, the world's most lovesick dog, bunked with us. As you can see from the photo, she was clearly thrilled about it. Basically, she refused to eat, poop or do anything without Pop. When he did stop by the house, she demonstrated a love fest, complete with crying and back flips, like one I've never seen from any creature. At least I know Pop is well-loved.

To add to the excitement of their visit, we happened to be in the midst of having the sidewalk and driveway redone. Twice. Yes, that is right. Big E now owns the world's most expensive driveway. Based on how much this thing cost, there better be some gold buried underneath it. The highlight for me was this addition to my morning coffee.

Who doesn't love a Bobcat outside the kitchen at 8am?

To add even more excitement to this whole process was the ear-attacking virus, which led to two trips to urgent care, an EKG, a CT scan, two blood tests, a does of Predisone and two B12 shots. The good news-  I can now stand up without tipping over. The double good news- At least we know there is nothing wrong with my head or heart. I have a feeling the bad news will arrive any day now in the form of a bill for all that crap. When it arrives, hopefully I can focus on the triple good news- after nearly a month off, running and biking again is a special treat. Maybe I just needed a gentle reminder to appreciate the small stuff...and big stuff... and everything in between.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trails, Trips and Tractors

Now that I've finished my rant, we can catch up on what I was really doing the last couple of months. 

After the DNF of crabbiness, I decided if I was going to complain about races and trails too hard to ride, perhaps I should take some action, so I took the IMBA trail building class. In case you're wondering, the boys stood around all day while I built the whole trail myself.
Ok, fine, that's a lie. Someone just happened to catch the one moment all day when I was working and DG wasn't. Truth be told, he built that whole section of trail himself. I spent most of the day learning how to use a shovel.

Two weeks later, I took a trip back to my favorite place on earth, this time to relax instead of race. First, I hijacked this cushy ride to have some mimosas on the beach. (Turns out you aren't supposed to bring glass bottles to the beach. Good thing the champagne was gone when we found this out.)
Then, I raided the coolest little library ever.
Finally I did at least one serious ride to prove to myself that I've picked up enough skills in the past year to ride stuff I used to walk.
 Oh how I've missed these trails....
 Our final trip of the summer took us to a friend's lake house, where Big E made himself right at home on the tractor.
 We also nearly sunk a pontoon boat, shot lots of cool guns and drank way too much whiskey. Never a dull moment.

Seriously, even at home there's never a dull moment. I'm just sparing you the blackmail pics I'm collecting of Big E to get him back for his late night antics.....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

It's Not About the Socks

Disclaimer: I do not have any affiliation with Save Our Soles. All opinions here are mine, not theirs. In fact, at this moment I don't even have permission yet to use the pic I stole from one of their reps on Facebook. So, please don't take it out on them if you disagree. That's all on me. 
When I don't blog for awhile there is always a reason. I love it when that reason is because I'm busy living hard. Unfortunately that is not always the case.

This last blog silence has been a long one. To be honest, I wasn't even really sure why I had nothing to say at first. I like writing. I compose blog posts in my head during runs and rides. Then I come home and don't write them.


Because I'm afraid of offending people. Every day I read something new about someone, somewhere who's offended about something and I think to myself, "Wow, if they were offended by that, people are REALLY going to be offended by what I was just going to write." So I don't.

That's a problem. It's a problem for many reasons, but the main one is this- this is MY blog and I've let my fear of the haters of the world, the easily offended, the whiners, turn me into a pussy. Yes, that is right- I just called myself a pussy. I'm really disappointed in myself. I've always considered myself a strong, independent woman and in the last two months I've become someone who is afraid to speak.

Please notice how I worded that- I said, "I've become," not, "The world has turned me into." I'm owning this because if there's one thing in life I've learned, it's this- there is really only one person in this world I can change and that is me.  I can sit around and whine and blame the world for my pussiness or I can accept that I chose it and start to change it, right now.

So, that said, you have been fairly warned. I am now going to speak my mind.  What I write is my opinion. I won't hate you if you disagree. I won't propose to write anything here and speak for "all women" or "all cyclists" or "everyone" because what bugs me the most about the issue I'm about to address is that other people are doing just that- and I can assure you they don't speak for me.

Now, let's get to the hot topic so I can piss some people off.  Over the last two days a certain pair of socks that was handed out at Interbike has caused quite a stir in the cycling community.
Photo: Lauren Swigart
The sock company, Save Our Soles, is taking a lot of heat for using "sex" to sell their products. Quite frankly, I think the socks are funny.

Why? Because I also think these socks are funny:

And I actually own of pair of these. They happen to be my favorite socks:
I get it- neither of these actually shows a man's body and the Save Our Soles socks do, in fact, show women's butts. However, my point is this- not every product that alludes to sex or naked bodies is targeted at women.  Sex obviously sells, whether it's a product with humping bunnies, jokes about weiners or women's butts. It's all in good fun.

One of the main outcries over these booty socks is that they objectify women, they create an environment where we love women for their bodies and not for what they are on the inside. 

Wow- that's a lot of weight to put on a silly pair of socks.

I'm going to propose a different take on this "environment" and how we, as women, can change it instead of expecting companies to do it for us. The outcry seems to be that we want to be equal. So, if that's the case, let's start acting like it. Let's try a few of these:

Let's all learn to work on our own bike. Let's stop batting our eyelashes and hoping some dude changes our flat tire or gives us a discount. I've worked in three bike shops so yes, I've seen this happen. More times than you could possibly imagine.

Let's stop bitching about equal  prize money and show up in overwhelming numbers to the races that do offer this. I made over $900 racing my bike in June and I'm not even that fast. Want to know why? I showed up to six races that offered equal prize money to women. Guess how many times we had enough women to fill the money spots. One.

Let's stop showing up to races with our guy and riding with him the whole race.  If we're all equal, then we shouldn't need a guy to let us ride his wheel so we can win the race.

Let's quit dressing and acting in ways that objectify our own selves. If you don't want booties and boobies used for advertising, quit using yours for attention. Trust me, I've seen some of you toss yours around plenty of times at races.  Personally I'm not offended by this, but if you are, don't put it out there and then be mad because someone shows appreciation for it.

Let's treat each other with respect. Nearly every time I race, a fellow female competitor (or, I hate to admit, occasionally myself) trashes another female behind her back. The men notice this and trust me, the don't respect us for it.

So, if you still don't ever want to buy Save Our Soles socks again, that's your right. Trust me, there's a certain bike company out there that lost my business based on their reaction to the situation. However, that said, I hope you also take a good hard look at your actions and make sure they're not part of the problem, because in the end, the only one you can change is you, and you might be surprised. When you do, people just might start to notice how awesome you are. On the inside.