Wednesday, August 18, 2010

How Things Change

When G woke me up at 5:30 this morning (it was my turn to get up, so naturally he chose to wake up two hours before his usual time) the sky was overcast and the fog so thick you couldn’t see the houses across the street and I just knew the day was going to go badly. But then G snuggled in, and we watched some Diego. There is nothing, nothing in the entire world, as satisfying as your child snuggling up with you on the couch, especially when he still smells fresh from his bath last night (just a hint of watermelon bubble bath remaining) and he puts his little arms around your arm to make sure you hold him just right.

G and I followed that with a breakfast of home made bread (OK, OK, it was made by the new bread maker, but I still poured in the ingredients damnit) toasted with jam, while Bug (who had sleepily stumbled out an hour later and immediately came and gave me a hug, telling me that he loved me) had his usual “square cheese and a wiener please dad”... yeah, he’s kinda that odd. Then off to work.

The ride to work this morning was breathtaking. The fog had burned off (or so I thought... cue the foreshadowing) and the wind was light. The speedometer on my bike (yes, I am a geek) hit a new high speed going down the big hill - 56.1 kms/hour! Passing cars on that stretch is always awesome. But then, as I rounded a corner, the most amazing thing greeted me. Someone, presumably someone with magical powers beyond my own “Very Minor Superpowers” had put up a perfectly vertical and, to my naked eyes, perfectly straight wall of fog across the road. The fog was so thick that the cars moving into it were completely veiled within inches of entering it. I hit the brakes hard and thought about walking the bike down this part - its sketchy even at full visibility. But something in me rebelled at this choice, something didn’t want to play it safe. This tiny little voice said “Fuck it! Let’s roll!”

Now usually the voices in my head give me much saner and far more sensible advice than this. Usually they are sober and pretty reliable. Yeah, they repeatedly tell me things about myself that I don’t want to hear, and they almost always make me worry about things that I don’t want to worry about. I make a habit of listening to them - even if I don’t always follow through. While what they were saying was crazy, for some reason it resonated with me. And so, the brakes were released, the pedals were pressed, and I hit the fog at a solid fourty clicks an hour.

It was almost physical, the cold and damp slapped me in the face like a thrown blanket. Visibility was restricted to about a meter, and even the sound of the cars inching along beside me, and the steps of the very surprised pedestrian (sorry about that if you chance to read this!) were muted.

The sheer exhilaration of flying down the hill, with no way of seeing what was ahead, relying on my memory and the feel of the road, was incredible. Stupid? You bet. But it reminded me that sometimes, you just have to say the hell with it, and let go. Let go of inhibitions, let go of fears and insecurities. Let go of the things that tell you “You Can’t!” and let go of yourself. Sure, sometimes you crash and burn. But every once in a while, you fly.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Finding "Extra" Time

I need to be exposed to gamma radiation, bit by a radioactive spider or go on an archaeological dig to a newly discovered ancient tomb that is surrounded by warding signs in a language that no one living speaks, and may well be extra-terrestrial in origin.

Those mediums are apparently the most reliable methods of acquiring super powers. Which I have determined, after lengthy study, I need.

Superpower A: Time Stopping.
This power will be used to have more time with the boys and my lovely partner.  "But they'll be frozen in time SRD!" you cry.  Indeed they would be.  So some creativity will be required.  But I think I can iron this out.

Power will also be used to get more work done, both at work and at home.  No time to finish that report?  Frozen time!  Drywalling still not done after three weeks?  Frozen!  Dishes are piling up again?  Flash frozen clock!

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, sleeping.  Nothing says "ultimate power in the universe" like a well rested SRD.  The rest of the world can remain frozen in time while I catch just a few more hours of sleep.

Superpower B:  Splitting Yourself Into Many Copies
Too much work?  Not any more.  There is very little that twenty of me can't accomplish.  Hold down six full time jobs, take care of the kids, finish my writing projects, take a nap, go out to dinner with my lovely wife, see four movies, finish the basement and have time to just relax with a good book, a cup of coffee, a glass of wine with cheese, some beer with nachos, alone and with a hundred friends - all before dinner.

Superpower C:  Controlling Reality
For everything else.

Now, the harsh reality is that I don't have these superpowers - yet.  In the meantime, I will have to be content with my very minor superpowers.

Very Minor Superpower I:  Turning Into a Horse / Wolf / The Hulk
Thanks largely to Bug's imagination, I have the ability to mimic the sounds and general demeanours of a wide variety of opponents in his battles, friends in his adventures and allies in his stories.  The sheer number of persona that I have unlocked is staggering, and grows by the day.  Of course, this ability appears to be infecting the boys as well.  G has discovered his inner "Zombie Monster Baby!" and Bug is, of late, Sheriff Marshall Ship Captain Bug.  White hat, laser gun and cool sword included.

Very Minor Superpower II:  Making Frozen Things Hot
Thanks to the miracle of the oven, and at the urging of my sons, I have the ability to take a frozen lump, completely inedible in its current state, and in a mere 22 - 24 minutes, turn it into a tasty Pepperoni pizza, with extra cheese!  SHAZAM!  Of course, the inevitable clean up of pizza sauce from G's face makes for some interesting times, as well as some dramatic and deeply personal performance art.

Very Minor Superpower III:  Causing Laughter
Whether through falling down while playing "chase" or tickling sensitive bellies, I have unlocked the power of laughter, and a mighty weapon it is indeed.  There is no sound in the world as full of sheer joy and as satisfying, as the sound of my boys both laughing with me.  Now if only I could capture that sound for all time!

So until that spider comes along, or that bolt of lightning strikes, I guess I'll just have to be happy with my meager abilities.  And a big thanks to the universe for that.

Friday, August 06, 2010

The Tao of Cycling...

I ride my bike to and from work. That's pretty much the extent of my cycling, as I never seem to find the time to take that long ride out to Sambro that I have been promising myself, nor do I get a chance to hit the highway out to Peggy's Cove for a day trip. I keep saying I am going to do it, but somehow, life always gets in the way.

So I commute on my bike. Its a short ride, maybe 5 kms each way. A lot of hills to work with, but hey, that's Halifax for you. Its a decent work out, generates a good sweat and gets the heart rate up there - both of which I am reliably informed are "good for me." Not sure about that some times going up Herring Cove Road, but I'll believe those wacky doctors for just a little while longer.

My daily ride is supposed to be a source of calm for me. Time alone, just me and my bike. My muscles doing all the work. Knowing that I and I alone am responsible for my journey. Free in the moral high ground of non-pollution, lowering my eco-footprint and getting exercise all at the same time. Yup, its a win-win. Or at least it is supposed to be. You see, there is this one tinsy tiny, niggling little thing that gets in the way of all of that. Other people.

Cars belong on the road. So do cycles. We can share that road very handily. There is enough space on nearly every street that I ride on where I can ride close to the sidewalk (always within one meter of the edge of the street) and cars can pass me, at their normal speed while staying within their lanes. I signal my turns and stops. I obey all traffic rules and regulations, and almost never ride on the sidewalk (save for one short portion of my commute that has no shoulder at all). Is it too much to expect that the vehicles I am carefully sharing the road with do the same??

Sure, I haven't yet seen a car driving on the sidewalk. But what about just obeying the basic traffic rules? I have been clipped five times since I started riding my bike out here, twice quite seriously. Once I actually ended up almost on the roof of a vehicle that decided to make an illegal turn directly in front of me - illegal in that they were turning the wrong way onto a clearly marked one way street, and cut me off to do so.

The bus driver that stomped on the gas to surge ahead of me, just enough so that he could swerve back in front of me and nail the brakes at the stop, causing me to actually impact the back of the bus - well that one I reported.

Then this morning, I get yelled at by a driver behind me. Took me a couple moments to realize that his honking and yelling was directed at me. We were both in the regular flow of traffic, stopped at a powerless (normally) lighted intersection. The drivers had mostly forgotten to treat it as a four way stop, and there was some significant congestion as a result. The three cars ahead of me were just sitting and waiting. My loud friend behind me yelled at me to go between the lanes (the left turning lane and the straight lane). When I tried to explain that was a) dangerous and b) illegal, he became distraught and accused me of making him late for work. Apparently the ten seconds it would take for me to go through the intersection when it was my turn was enough to get him fired...

But the human tendency for ignorance continued when I arrived at work. While standing, waiting for the elevator, I huffed a sigh, still out of breath from my ride. The woman waiting with me smiled and said "You ran to work today?"

As I stood there, pannier in one hand, water bottle in the other, and BIKE HELMET ON MY HEAD, I wasn't quite sure how to respond to that. Finally I decided that discretion was required, and just smiled.

It was a rough start to a Friday morning.