I'd often think to myself, in a lazy sort of way, "Two-hundred pounds. Yeah, that's not a bad weight for me. It's beefy, sure, but it's not awful." Never a scale watcher, I'd occasionally step on such a beast when I was curious. It's hard to recall what the numbers were from my teens, but certain moments stick in my mind where I recall a specific number and that'd magically be my weight for the next year or so whenever I'd have to fill out any sort of personal information or renew my driver's license.
For a long time my license said "200 pounds" even though it wasn't really true. It was just a good round number, so to speak. I figured that's about as bad as it gets, as long as I keep an eye on my pants size, I'd be fine. But the pant size was not a good litmus test.
Back in 1995 I could fit into 36" pants (which seemed just fine to me). At that time I was working part-time at a trendy underground record store. One day, I spied a scale in the back storage room.
"We should weigh ourselves!" said a co-worker. And so we did. It read 209 for me.
209? Seriously? I couldn't afford to buy a weeks worth of groceries without breaking the bank and I'm hitting 209? That was with clothes on, but still. Two-hundred was not only a confirmed reality but now we were way beyond that.
The local library held a few books on healthy eating and suggestions on easy exercises to get me in the swing of things. I couldn't afford to eat better. Five dollars a week for groceries means you're eating a lot of carbs. I saved some cash and bought some running shoes. The rental house I shared with two buddies linked up nicely to a park and I'd take a jog every other night after getting off work from the gas station. Eventually I worked myself up to being able to jog for the entire first side of my AstroCreep 2000 cassette and somewhat into the second side. I was probably on my way down the scale by the time I got a better job at Lowes, doing more manual labor than before.
But, that was the 1990's. Nearing the turn of the century, I would find myself hearing numbers like 212 and even 225 when I went to the doctor. Still, I told myself, they were weighing me with my clothes on. It can't be that bad.
Oh yes it was. As I landed the job that paid me three times what I was making as a contractor, and my wallet grew, so did the clothing sizes. I'd always gravitated to XL shirts, going for the big baggy comfort of early '90s fashion. But 36" jeans gave way to 38. And eventually 38s weren't cutting it.
I would stutter and stop with exercise. Jabs were made at eating better and cooking for myself instead of eating out all the time. I did the gym, sorta. Despite sincere encouragement and guidance from loved ones, nothing would really stick. I maintained my weight for a bit, but eventually I was back to looking at "relaxed fit" jeans and XXL shirts for more comfort. The scale crept up to 230 pounds... Until something completely unrelated happened.
All I wanted to do was go faster.
The house I bought back in 2005 sits right next to the local shared bicycle trail. I'd used it plenty of times to cycle in to work. My machine of choice was a black mountain bike, because, well - it looked cool. I'd ride in to work and get passed constantly by skinny guys on road bikes. I'd started to track my time and realized that it took me roughly forty minutes to ride seven miles. That's pretty pathetic for cycling.
So I said "fuck it." In 2010, I bought a new bike. It was lighter and looked zippier, with more gears, skinnier tires and a lighter frame. It still wasn't a super duper road bike, but it was steps above the heavy beast I'd been grinding gears on for the past year or so. It was responsive, fast, and it got me out of my car and onto the trail. In 2011, I decided to see if I could ride my bike to work as much as I could, just so I could feel smug and look cool in cycling gear.
And it worked. I felt very smug! Flying down the trail was a great release after a long work day and a the view was much better than rush hour traffic. Starting in March of 2011, I would try to ride my bike in to work at least two or three times a week, no matter what the weather was like. My coldest ride to date is a chilly 19 degrees Fahrenheit.
Something else happened though. A few months later, those 40" relaxed fit jeans - they would kinda just slide off me without the belt even being unbuckled! I was stunned. I hadn't changed a darn thing about my lifestyle, except for riding about 42 miles a week on my bike. I decided to weigh myself and found that I had dropped five pounds since March.
Holy crap. Five pounds. And I did it by doing something I enjoyed! My diet was the same. My lazy computer using habits were the same. But still, I was able to drop some weight just by doing something for an entirely different reason.
So I kept going and the weight kept coming off. Granted, it was not dramatic - maybe a pound or two a month. But it was enough to make me take cycling more seriously. It was enough to make me take a closer look at my eating habits. It was enough to get me out of size 40" jeans and into sizes that I haven't worn in fifteen years. I'm back to wearing 36" jeans and all of my old concert t-shirts fit again.
Here I am, coming to the end of a second season of regularly commuting to work on my bike, at least three days a week, and I've been sitting at about 200 pounds for the past month. I've lost thirty pounds since that resolution in March of 2011. Two-hundred. There's that magical number that was my "I guess that'd be ok" sort of weight for when I had resigned myself to always being a heavier dude. And I know it's just going to get better.
Despite an irregular schedule this fall, with lots of birthdays being celebrated, weddings to attend and general food festivals going on in the city, I've been able to keep things in check. I was shocked when I hit the scale after two weeks of poor eating and not as much time on the bike and the numbers were holding steady. I was prepared for worse! But there it was. Two-hundred.
I'll probably end up hitting around 197 before I have to hook the bike up to the trainer for winter. I imagine I might gain back about five pounds in general holiday fat before getting back out on the trail in February, but hopefully not. Dropping thirty pounds over two years is pretty good. I'd rather not wait two more to do the next thirty. Here's hopin' for the best.
Also, my legs pretty damn rock solid and I seem to have actual muscle definition in them. I kinda like that.
Three weeks ago, after a not so happy meeting in my manager's office, where I tried to explain to him why a sincerely fucked up project a few of us peons had been thrust upon was fucked (and having him still not "get it"), I gave notice. I shut the door to his office and I suggested that my manager get ready for more bad news. "You're leaving?" he asked. "Yup" I said. "I figured this would happen sometime soon".
There was no moment of "why," "do you want to talk about it," or "what can we do to keep you". Instead there was simple resignation and slow planning for my eventual departure from my post of thirteen years. Even his manager merely said "Oh - sorry to see you go!"
Sure, maybe there's nothing that can really be said or done when someone gives notice after having accepted an offer from another company, but I would have liked some crocodile tears at the very least. But no - my manager of thirteen years, whom I had been bugging for a raise, a review, a something for about a year (and his old boss previously for an additional two years) just said "I figured this would happen."
I hadn't just asked him. I hadn't just asked his manager. I had asked him, his manager and the manager before him. I asked all of them because the only times I had been given a raise was when HR magically realized that I was no longer being paid an amount equal to the lowest market average for someone with my job title (There's a bell curve - I fell on the lower left slope. Hell - I turned down an offer for an entry level position making almost as much as I was making as a "senior UI designer! But that's a different story).
Last fall, when discussing how I might get bumped up a notch or two, my manager said that it'd be up to my manager and his boss to review and approve the request. "Isn't that manager you?" I asked. "Yeah - I guess it is," he said.
Motherfuckin', GEE, motherfucker.
It eventually came down to slowly surmounting frustration with management and the projects to which I was arbitrarily assigned. After knocking myself out for the past two years to cover for everyone's design asses on Big Monster Project With A Catchy Name, our design services were dropped in favor of more contracted developers who didn't give a single shit about quality. Follow that up with getting the run around from New And ImprovedTM management, who couldn't organize a distributed team around a simple process without completely undermining any trust that the grunts may have had... I was just ready for a way out. Things weren't going to change. I'd seen this pattern way too many times.
And it sucks. It sucks that it came to this after thirteen years. It sucks that I had to just shrug my shoulders and say "Oh well. I tried." In the end the slowly churning gears of the mediocrity machine that had no idea how to work with designers, or people for that matter, won.
...when the in-law side of the family decides to spoil the holy living fuck out of your nieces and all you can see in the future is teen-age years filled with selfish, entitled, materialistic, down-right gimme-gimme bitchiness?
My sister can't see it. My brother-in-law only enables it. The family that doesn't have the cash to come out to dinner for special occasions can drop $400 in grown-up tech gadgets on an 8 and 10 year-old without understanding the damage they're doing, because the maturity certainly ain't there in the kids.
Sometimes, the only thing worse than something happening, is nothing happening.
The most dangerous object on the path is a mother fucking track team. I can't count the number of times I've almost run down these idiots. I CAN count the number of times I HAVE run one of them down. Thankfully it's only once.
This morning, there were about ten of them - gangly youths clustered like a school of fish - stretching their line across the trail in the early morning gloom. They split their ranks, to the left and the right, making passing all the more glorious as they ran into on-coming traffic.
As if to make matters better.... worse... there were about 30 of them on the way home this afternoon. I'm not making it up. Thirty jogging idiots in tight formation like they were running a marathon. In addition to all of these runners, there were two kids in tow, keeping the pace with mom as she supervised the teens. Five year-old Hayden was keeping up well enough on his training wheels, but he just didn't get the idea when Mom said, in her best sing-song passive helicopter voice "Now Hunter, the man said he was coming up to pass, which means you need to move over."
Dakota just kept on pedaling his heart out. I prayed that there was no glass to the side of the trail and that my tires wouldn't pop if I hit the rise of the asphalt at speed.
Fuck joggers. Fuck them. They're the most unaware creatures on the planet. At least possums scurry away if you honk the horn loud enough. Joggers will just keep going - in whatever "zone" they're lost inside of. They'll turn on a dime, flail their arms in an exaggerated stretch and proclaim themselves golden gods.
This evening, on my bike ride home, which ended just minutes ago, I...
1. Crossed a busy street, against the light, through rush hour traffic and in front of two cops. I had mis-read the light when traffic slowed in on one side and had cleared on the other. I should've been hit. Seriously hit.
2. Almost plowed into a cyclist in the oncoming lane of the trail when I tried to pass a slower cyclist in front of me. Our rate of speeds blocked the oncoming cyclist from my view and I barely missed him.
3. Almost ran down a jogger as he and oncoming pedestrians did the "bread n butter" and I was going way too fast. I think I pissed him off by riding my brakes up until the last minute and swerving around him when the coast was clear.
4. Passed two more cops (the fuzz was out due to recent crime on the trail) who I thought might be looking for me from point number 1.
5. Had a stand off with a driver who violently waved me across an intersection despite backed-up traffic meaning that the other lane would not be able to see me, and cars were approaching.
6. Waited for traffic to my left to clear/stop before crossing another street, only to have the driver in the opposing lane, who was waiting, get tired of waiting and drive on when my wheels hit the crossing.
7. Passed a third cop on a bike coming towards me. He was slowing down. Once again I was paranoid from point number one.
It sucks when one of the things you really enjoy leaves such a bad taste in your mouth. At least I dodged all of those bullets.
It's one of those things where you just notice your neighbors. You can go days, weeks, months - maybe a year and not really pay much mind to the house across the street. But as the years go by, you see enough in the casual glances that lets you put together the story. For instance, the house diagonal from me.
About four years ago, a couple younger than me moved in. I could see them readying the house. They would be in there until late at night, pounding away at the interior. The bare windows framed the remodeling for a few weeks before the appearance of drapes signaled life from within. They would come, go, live and leave; a red Jeep Wrangler and a silver Prius. There were children and the days passed.
Eventually I noticed the silver Prius was gone. It was gone during the week but would arrive on the week-ends. Or every other week-end - whichever the court mandated. She was now a single mom. The kids still played out front and the house would always be decorated for Halloween. One year, a tombstone appeared in the lawn for Halloween, with the epitaph "Bike Theif".
She was tough and scrappy, I surmised, raising two children as a single mom in this neighborhood of booming cars and late night gunfire. She would work outside, taking care of the house while her little girls played in the front. When the weather was nice once, She had chased her daughter around the house while the girl screamed "Stay away Mom! I don't love you any more!" in the eternal struggle of youth and authority. But she wouldn't stay away. She loves her kids.
Last winter there was much sledding on the short slope that met the sidewalk out front. She would shovel when I would shovel. I would go across the street and shovel the walk of the older woman who lived across from me, as well as the walk of the elderly couple on the corner. I'd think about going so far as to do Her walk, but it'd already be done.
Just now as, I finished mowing my lawn She came out to take care of her home. Her girls were playing out front as usual. I heard Her on the phone, as She wrangled a ladder against the side of the house, "Just how the hell does my yard look, mother?!", followed by a "Stop pounding on the roof of my car! It has enough holes in it!" to Her kids.
I want to think She'll be ok; that She's tough enough for the years to come as her daughters grow up and into teenagers. There are times when I want to go over, finally introduce myself, and see if She needs a hand with anything. But somehow I think She has it under control. I've seen it before in another Mom I know very well - my own.
File this under "sappy".
Let's tack these onto the list...
* At band practice tonight, over the course of an hour, my effects pedals, one by one, began to quit. I now have four non-functioning pedals. And no, it's not the batteries.
* On Monday, a friend of a friend and an ex-coworker of mine died of cancer. She was 38.
Sometimes you wait for the other shoe to drop. And other times you wait for them to stop.
Aside from the weather, 2011 has sought fit to dump the following things in the first thirty-one days of the year.
It's a good thing February is only twenty-eight days long.
The last of my core group of friends from high school is moving 600 miles away today. I've known him since I was fourteen, which makes him the only friend that I've actively remained social with for such a long time. Best friend? I dunno. We got on each others nerves plenty and there were regular moments of hate. But friend nonetheless.
Earlier this year, a guy that I'd known since I was six and had parted ways with after high school popped back up only to move out of state too. It was great to reconnect and have that old familiarity. But it was all dashed away pretty quickly.
It wasn't too long ago that my good pal Rob moved to the west coast, taking with him much of what made our group "the gang". It was his wit, intelligence and compassion that kept this small circle of nerds from dissolving into desperate chaos.
Every year I continue to lose those little bits of myself in the form of people who've I shared lifes experience with. I wonder what it will be like when I'm in the twilight years and attending funerals every month.
As I walked back to the four star hotel, after eating a meal that cost much more than a Wal-Mart employee makes in a day, at the end of a week of being sheltered and fed by the corporation, I fell in behind three gangly youths. They were clad in black, studs, patches and pins; mohawks and ragged bangs. And I was embarrassed by my own complacency and luxury.
But then again, they probably all rode into the city from the suburbs in their moms Escalade.
Here's the latest bit of mind rattling what-the-fuck from around these parts. Late late one evening (September 30th to be exact), a local police officer was ending his shift when two of his buddies say "Hey, let's do some bicycle training". At least that's what they say they said.
So they gear up, put on the lights, helmets and glowing bits and set out into the night on one of the major international roads that cuts a swath through the nation. It's a nice big road, with two lanes in either direction as it travels through relatively flat and boring countryside.
One of the officers was struck and killed by a vehicle, that left the scene. Everyone loved this gentleman and much wailing and gnashing of teeth ensued.
This has been something of an epidemic in this here town - people hitting cyclists and then just running away. The last guy killed a 20 year old college freshman. The cops found his car at an auto-body shop, getting repaired. He claimed that he didn't know that he'd hit anyone.
If that doesn't hurt your brain, just hang on.
A day or so later, police confirm that they've been contacted by a suspects lawyer who wants to negotiate a surrender. And this doesn't happen the next day. Not the day after but five days after the officer was left dead in the road, the suspect turns herself in - just shy of a day before a funeral that will be attended by thousands.
So here we have Sue Anne Vanderbeck, called "a prominent member of the community" traveling home with her three kids, attempting to entertain one of her children in the car (an autistic child from all accounts) when suddenly there was "something" in her path and she swerved to avoid it. She wasn't able to and "gave it a bump".
She slammed on her brakes, looked in the rear view mirror and saw two other people attempting to assist "whatever" it was... so she thought "oh - they have help, so I can just go home, since all of my kids are now awake and screaming". A passing cop car with its lights on reassured her that help was on the way for whoever she clipped.
Now... her account varies from the police report. She's not clear if she knew she hit a person or if it was a deer. Then seeing people behind her, she knows that she hit a person. Once she got home, she and her husband survey the damage to the vehicle and conclude "Enh - it's not bad. You must not have hurt anyone. We'll worry about it in the morning."
Then she saw the news report of the officers death. Then she got scared. Instead of calling the police, she called... her lawyer. Who called the police. Later. When he had time.
I'm not making this up. The police report indicates that police wanted to get to Sue as soon as they could, but she "didn't feel comfortable" without the lawyer present. Heh. So they had to work around the lawyer's schedule. And even still, he held up the impounding of the vehicle as evidence.
So let's run down the check-list here...
* Hit a cyclist (check)
* Leave the scene of an accident (check)
* Don't call the police or try to contact anyone even with a cell phone in your possession (not even an ambulance - check)
* Assume that help is on the way when you have no way of really knowing (check)
* Assume that you didn't hurt anyone just by looking at your car (check)
* Go home and put your kids to bed because one is autistic and is screaming and crying because they're scared out of their minds now (check)
* Lawyer up as soon as you can (check)
* Take five days to do the right thing and turn yourself in (check)
I can understand reacting poorly when you're scared but seriously? OH YEAH... the clincher... She used to be a nurse and had, as I understand it, stopped to assist at accidents in the past.
Sue Anne Vanderbeck, you're a real piece of work. I think you'll do fine in the same circle of hell as Officer David Bisard, who was drunk on duty and killed a motorcyclist while responding to a call on his radio in August.
It's dangerous on two wheels out here.
The police report:
Dealership: Base cost is $300, but if shit goes wrong, it'll be $1400.
Mom & Pop Garage: Base cost is $400, but if shit goes wrong, it'll be $1650.
Wait... what? Isn't the dealership supposed to be more expensive? Fuck.
After spending a good amount of money on things I didn't want to or felt compelled to spend the money on I think "I should be good if no emergencies come up. Like my car. Good thing my car has never given me trouble".
That's about the time the "Check Engine" light came on. And I haven't been driving it very much this summer since I've been riding my bike to work!
I don't have the time, the patience nor the inclination to want to deal with car repair. Once again, I am fucked.
Please, just be yourself.
If you're a Christian - be the best Goddamned Christian you can be. If you're a Satanist, by gum, wear that black and shave your eyebrows into wicked little points! If you're a drug-addict, reach for the highest high and the deepest bliss without apology. If you're a bigot, by all means fly that Confederate flag and raise your hand in salute on 4/20.
Do it. Do it well. Do it with all of your heart. With passion - with feeling. Raise your voice and shout to the heavens and let it be known. Don't hide! Never let anyone stop you from being who you are.
Because then it will make it easier for me to spot you.
A 60 year old man, riding his bike on the main greenway/trail in Indy was mugged by three men at about 2pm on Tuesday of this past week. This happened right in the heart of "urban yuppie-ville", where it's presumed to be safe. Actually this is maybe 10 blocks from "the hood" (my neighborhood) so I don't see how the area really makes a difference.
Ya see - about three years ago, the same thing happened. One old man plus three teens meant a hospital visit for the old man. The difference is that it happened where shit like this is expected to happen. The next thing I hear is "No - I won't ride my bike down the trail to your neck of the woods, it's not safe!"
I really don't hear that this time.
And it's weird because the 2007 incident happened about 20 blocks away from me. Not 10. It happened in an area that people don't normally ride their bikes in *anyway*. Not in the upper-middle class neighborhood of SoBro. Not in the area that I ride through every day on my bicycle commute.
Honestly, I still think fat retarded rollerbladers with their yapping dogs are way more dangerous than thugs. Or news crews. News crews on the trail looking for a story can get fucked too.
Even after I called him out for watching the World Cup during a meeting today and contributing nothing to the group discussion, my co-worker went back to the broadcast, burying his nose in his laptop. My manager said nothing.
How the fuck is this right?