Sometimes we find ourselves doing, and enjoying, things that totally oppose our sense of aesthetic congruity. For me, this happens every Tuesday at spin class. Once a week I enter a glass-enclosed studio where 20-or-so of us pedal stationary bikes, showering sweat, while our instructor Elgin, a fun, femmy, tall and lean, dreadlocked dude, pushes us to exhaustion as top 40 music—Lady Gaga, Kate Perry, Rihanna (music I fortunately hear at no other time)—blares in the background. It’s the human equivalent of a hamster wheel. Lots of exertion and movement in a completely artificial environment.
The class is broken up into several portions that include hills, sprints, breakaways and flats. Last night I felt good. I was able to exert myself harder than normal. This hamster pushed the wheel really fast. Continue reading “We Are All Going to Die!”
“Seventy percent of success in life is showing up.”
Woody Allen quotes
After opening my computer to write this morning I read emails for 10 minutes, typed a couple replies and emails for 10 minutes, searched for a vacuum cleaner for 30 minutes, searched for parking lots around LaGuardia for another 15 minutes, searched for a new pair of cycling shoes for 10 minutes, made several pitstops on Facebook for a total of about 15 minutes, read a blog post about Raghava KK for 3 minutes, watched his TED talk for 18 minutes, took a crap for 5 minutes. After nearly 2 hours of extraneous mental activity, my mind felt totally sapped of inspiration. I didn’t want to write the words you are reading.
In the summer of 1997 I rode my bicycle from Boulder, Colorado to Seattle, Washington to Portland, Maine. I started the trip physically unprepared, getting exhausted after riding a few hours. This would have been easier to endure if the weather hadn’t been so shitty or if there were any people in Wyoming, the first state I passed through. Instead, in addition to an incessantly throbbing body, I contended with temperatures in the 40’s, grey skies presaging frequent bursts of freezing rain, epic winds and desolate roads leading to few towns, whose populations seemed indifferent to my arrival. Continue reading “Have an Unispired Week!”
Yesterday I wrote a post about Peter the bore. It was essentially a diatribe about his inauthenticity, his desire (and resultant failure) to impress, his lack of interest in those around him, and so on. It was a warning to all the boring people in the world to straighten out and fly right.
I was pretty proud of myself for such lucid thinking, deconstructing the aggregates of boringness. I thought I did a real mitzvah to all the bores or potential bores of the world. They could read my post and reflect on and alter their behavior.
Last night, I headed over to my girlfriend’s where we were to have dinner with a couple friends. I printed out my post, eager to serenade her with my mellifluous excoriation of the intolerable.
In April of 1998, the two things I was most passionate about—whiskey and my motorcycle—produced an unfortunate, if predictable, collision.
I had just left a concert at the Fox Theatre in Boulder, Colorado, after a long day of partying—drinks and barbecue at my friend Todd’s before the show, several more drinks at the show. I decided a feast of Taco Bell would be the perfect ending on this long, bourbon-soaked day.
I got on my bike and rode a block up 13th Street (the main drag for Boulder’s “Hill” section). I took a left on College avenue and stopped at the light at Broadway, before taking a right onto Broadway and riding south toward Taco Bell.
I guess I only thought I came to a stop at the light, because a few seconds after turning onto Broadway, bright, unmistakable, blue-and-red lights lit up my backside.
In that moment, I saw two options:
Pay the consequences. Pull over and get a DUI. In Boulder this meant plea-bargaining down to a DWAI (driving while ability impaired) because it was my first offense, taking alcohol education classes, doing 24 hours of community service and shelling out around $1500. I knew these consequences because I was the last of my peers to get one.
Escape. Grab the clutch, downshift and get the hell away from Johnny Law. No cops, no court, no money, no classes, no community service, no consequences.
With roughly a mile of straight and clear road in front of me, a motorcycle that could hit 60 in under 4 seconds and ample whiskey coursing through my blood, the decision seemed clear.
I was hanging out at home the other afternoon when I noticed a distinctly rat-corpse-like form on my floor. When I first noticed it, I was chatting with a friend. I chose to table issue until he left. As soon as he did, my fear was realized: there was a dead rat with splayed guts on my floor.
I’m not particularly squeamish, but this freaked me out. Rats are dangerous. They carry disease. They’re fast.
I was also confused. While I’d had mice run through my place, a big rat, much less one with protruding and bloody innards, seemed anomalous. It must have gotten in via the two floors above me, which have many entry points. It’s guts must have burst open due to some disease, parasite or cannibalistic rat.
However it got there, I had to deal with it, which proved challenging as I could barely look at it, much less handle it.
I put on some full-fingered cycling gloves, got a large, stainless steel kitchen bowl, and neared the corpse. With eyes averted, I slapped the bowl on top of the rat and scurried away, pulse high, breathing short. At least I didn’t have to look at it anymore.
I worked up the courage to approach it again, getting a magazine and sliding it under the bowl to scoop the body up. Fortunately, it wasn’t sticking to the floor, nor did it seem to be moving. Part of my fear was that it was a zombie rat—half-alive, ravenous for human flesh.
It was now trapped between the bowl and the magazine, but I still had to deposit it in the garbage, which would require lifting the bowl and looking at it (I thought about doing the whole operation with eyes closed or blindfolded, but the prospect of missing the garbage and picking it up again was too much to deal with).
I also half-recognized that this might a great opportunity for growth. It didn’t matter how the rat got there, it was there, and like all of my fears, it could either be addressed or ignored; either disposed of or left to rot under a bowl. I wanted to be someone who went through life choosing the former route.
I took the trash bag near the bowl, breathed a few deep breaths, averted my eyes to view as little of the rat as possible, and lifted the bowl. Before depositing it, I quickly noticed some strange details out of the corner of my eye. First, the blood hadn’t smeared on the magazine. The guts were still red, so it should have been running. Next, there seemed like a distinct lack of detail to the rats entrails; it was more of a general mess than an exposed anatomy with intestines, kidneys and other organs.
Chris was the company clown at a mail-order bike shop I worked at. Unlike the clownery he perpetrated on other employees of the company, the clownery he directed at me was evil-clownery, like the time he put bike grease under my desk. Even though my legs glided easily under the desk, his prank ruined my pants.
He also like to insult me, calling me a baby and other names related to the fact I was the youngest salesperson there. In truth, I think Chris was duking it out with me for the title of most socially irrelevant person in the company. He wanted to make sure I won. Continue reading “Enlightened Complaining”