Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Get on your bikes and ride!

My in-laws got me a bike for my 38th (oh the horror, the HORROR) birthday. It's a snow white Schwinn with a bell that I like to ring as I'm entering or leaving our driveway, because it drives the neighbors' dogs -- Mckenzie and Nina -- absolutely nuts. With my helmet firmly in place and my glasses ever so slightly fogged, I am the absolutely picture of suburban uncoolness. But I don't care, I'm having a blast.

I always loved riding my bike as a kid. Well, except for when I was learning to ride. Learning to ride a bike ranks right up there with being thrown in the deep end of the pool to learn how to swim as one of the more terrifying rites of passage. I think I was 7 or 8 when I finally got brave enough to learn, when even my little sister was taking spins around the yard. My dad patiently held onto my wobbling Huffy (yellow, with white daisies) as I whined, "I can't do it!" He said I could. Then he let go. For a moment I had a rush of euphoria, this is what freedom feels like! Then I crashed headlong into the thorniest rose bush in the yard.

As my mother sighed and pulled the thorns out of my scrawny arms, my dad popped his head in the door of the bathroom to say, "You know, that bike has brakes on it." I was a bit chastened, but I remembered that rush, that feeling of independence. So of course I got back on the bike (a few days later, after all the bleeding holes had healed a bit) and proceeded to ride all over our vast country neighborhood for the next several years. Until I got a much cooler vehicle, a car.

At 38 (oh the horror, the HORROR), I had almost forgotten what it was like to ride a bike. And yes, it does come back to you like... well, you know. The pedals clicking away, the air rushing past, the neighborhood dogs in a frenzy, it is all so exhilarating. I rode just this morning, this gorgeous spring weather beckoning me outside. As I wheezed up a hill -- trying valiantly not to be passed by my elderly neighbor out walking his asthmatic pug -- I felt decrepit in body, but young in mind and spirit.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A tiny grain of sand

Oh hi, 2012. Wish you had called before coming over, I would have changed out of these pajamas and maybe brushed my teeth.
(I would beg your indulgence on this post, dear reader, if I didn't have the feeling you had all abandoned me to my neuroses. It's gonna read like a really navel-gazing journal entry. Sorry.)
How does a new year manage to sneak up on me? But it did and here it is, a bright, shiny new year that I have yet to tarnish with continued low expectations and even lower productive output. 2011 was an all around shitty year. Bad things happened to good people, calamities, catastrophes and other words beginning with c. But nothing happened to me! Nothing good or bad, that I can remember. Nothing at all, actually. And I think I've finally figured out why: because I'm sitting here waiting for stuff to happen TO me. Turns out you have to DO stuff for stuff to HAPPEN.
When I was younger and full of more vim and vigor than stale Pop-Tarts and self-loathing, I would have made a list of New Year's resolutions. They would have read like so:
1. Get my novel published!
2. Lose 10 pounds and buy a really awesome wardrobe.
3. Learn to salsa dance.
4. Say yes to all of life's opportunities!
And so on. I never accomplished anything on those lists, but the writing of them filled me with such hope and excitement. This would be my year!, I would always think to myself triumphantly (I also liked to use exclamation points back then). I would begin the new year with my chin set, shoulders and hips in alignment, all chakras illuminated or what-have-you, and I'd set out to conquer that year, Scarlett O'Hara as my witness. Even though I rarely made much headway on the resolutions, I was trying. I did set out to do stuff and even when my plans didn't work out, interesting stuff happened. I can't seem to remember anything off the top of my head but, believe me, stuff happened.
A tiny part of me -- like the grain of sand that was all that was left of Fantasia at the end of The NeverEnding Story -- wants to draw up a list of resolutions and find something exciting to work toward. But I need a goal beyond becoming a certain size or writing a certain number of words or even learning to merengue or cha cha. So I won't make a list -- instead, I'll give myself one resolution this year: stop thinking about it, and just LIVE.