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.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

7 Essential Skills You Need for a DIY Remodel

1. A champagne budget, and beer tastes.
If you have loads of money and you're good at making inexpensive materials look like a million bucks, then you will go far in your home remodel. If, like me, you can make a $4000 granite countertop look like it was installed by blind one-armed monkeys, you probably should just rent.
2. An eye for thrift store stuff that can be repainted/covered/re-engineered to look like something far more expensive.
I bought an old folding screen and intended to cover it with Marimekko fabric and place it in the living room. After moldering on the carport for three years, that folding screen went out with the trash.
3. The ability to negotiate for a better deal.
I have the reverse of this, where you pay far more than something is worth just because you're too embarrassed to haggle and look like a cheapskate.
4. Basic carpentry, painting and power tool skills.
I once cut myself with a hammer. If something needs to be plugged in, I will either trip over the cord or stick a finger in the socket. But I can paint like a mother.
5. Patience.
As if. 
6. A willingness to go with the flow and take setbacks in stride.
I painted our new steel doors a couple of weeks ago. Problem is, I painted them high gloss to match the trim. Never do this. In fact, I knew not to do this but it's like my brain had taken a nap for the three hours while this was going on. So there I was, just mechanically painting and thinking about old Seinfeld episodes and musing over which character I liked best when really they're all equally unlikable, then suddenly I realized what I was doing and my brain screamed, "What the hell with the high gloss paint, you idiot?" Then I started crying and pretty much just did that for the next hour. Then I spent two days scraping the paint off the doors and repainting them with oil primer and flat paint in the wall color. The doors look fab, but I have developed a twitch whenever I look at them.
7. The ability to know when enough is enough, and just call the damn contractor already.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

What a difference 8 years of marriage makes

It's 2002. Royal and I are at a luncheon with my co-workers celebrating our engagement:
Royal: (Pokes at salad on plate tentatively.) "Hey, these are dogwood leaves!
Me: (Gazing at him adoringly.) "Oh my God,  you're so adorable. My baby has never had arugula! It's so charming!"
Co-workers: Squeal with adoration in unison.

Eight years later, at the dinner table:
Royal: (Pokes at salad on plate tentatively.) "What is--"
Me: (Snarling) "Just eat the damn salad."

37 Songs

Today starts my birthday week (not that I'm celebrating for an entire week -- in fact, can I just say that I'm not celebrating at all? I still haven't really wrapped my head around being 37 yet) and because I was inspired by Laurel's road trip post, and because I'm a lazy blogger, here are 37 songs I have loved over the years that I will still love at 87, provided I live that long:

1. Bizarre Love Triangle, New Order
2. We Got the Beat, The Go-Gos
3. Come Dancing, The Kinks
4. Rock Lobster, B-52s
5. A Letter to Elise, The Cure
6. Ziggy Stardust, David Bowie
7. Space Oddity, David Bowie
8. Ashes to Ashes, David Bowie (I couldn't pick just one Bowie song)
9. Hold Me, Fleetwood Mac (I always loved this cheesy video, but why were they in the desert?)
10. The Weight, Aretha Franklin
11. Heartless, Heart
12. Electric Church Red House, Jimi Hendrix
13. Once I Had a Woman, Jimi Hendrix
14. Voodoo Chile, Jimi Hendrix (I couldn't pick just one Hendrix song)
15. Texas Flood, Stevie Ray Vaughan
16. In the Evening, Led Zeppelin
17. Misty Mountain Hop, Led Zeppelin
18. Immigrant Song, Led Zeppelin
19. Ramble On, Led Zeppelin (with the old Hobbit cartoon!)
20. Thank You, Led Zeppelin (Oh God, Led Zep was the soundtrack to my teenage years)
21. Why, Annie Lennox
22. Do I Move You, Nina Simone
23. Nobody Knows You When You're Down and Out, Bessie Smith
24. Non Je Ne Regrette Nien, Edith Piaf
25. Wish You Were Here, Pink Floyd
26. Mother, Pink Floyd (and the entirety of "The Wall," the best album of all time)
27. The W.A.N.D., The Flaming Lips
28. Maps, Yeah Yeah Yeahs
29. Violet, Hole
30. Seether, Veruca Salt
31. Train in Vain, The Clash
32. Where is My Mind, Pixies
33. Une Very Stylish Fille, Dimitri from Paris
34. Shake Your Rump, The Beastie Boys (I used to have a huge crush on Ad Rock - he's still pretty cute)
35. Killer Queen, Queen
36. Let's Groove, Earth Wind and Fire (My all-time fave song to roller skate to)
37. Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin), Sly & the Family Stone

Happy early birthday to me!