Mar 31, 2009

spring cleaning

i bought a new mop yesterday.

it had been a long time since i bought a new one – mostly because i thought i didn’t need a new one in that, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it sorta way. but it was clearly long overdue. mostly because i was beginning to wonder; after mopping, why everything still looked like shit. and why my house suddenly started to take on the odor of a wet sponge or a small dead animal in the walls.

i blamed it on the old house and old floors that my husband partially blames me for ruining – something to do with the fact that dragging furniture all over the hardwood floors every time i want to rearrange the house - which is freakishly often, is not good for them.


but i had resigned myself to thinking that - through no fault of my own of course; our floors were beyond saving and that was just the way our floors look: like crap.

i finally figured out who the smelly culprits were and put the offending mop and bucket outside where they are currently stinking up the outside of my house. and i went out and bought a new mop and a new bucket.

evidently, this makes a big difference. clean things. to clean things.

and after i had mopped the entire first floor and gazed at the awesomeness that was really, really clean floors for the first time in like, forever – and lulu announced that our house didn’t smell like stinky cheese anymore, i remembered another mop(s) -

we had just moved to louisville and it was just my husband and i and our two year old, henry. we lived in a little apartment with wall to wall carpeting and a tiny kitchen with linoleum flooring.

having a two year just meant cereal, rice, noodles and all kinds of stuff was being hurled all over the floor of that little kitchen, all the time.

i needed to mop that tiny floor. a lot.

so i did.

and one day the mop broke. i can’t remember exactly what happened, but it was mid-mop and i have a weensy temper and so i got mad. and i may have let out a few choice expletives.

so i took my 2 year old to the market to buy a new mop.

and the following week, while using the new mop for maybe the 3rd time since its’ purchase, it broke. can’t recall the specifics again, maybe the scrubby thing on the end fell off, or the sponge would disintegrate cause i’d leave it in the bucket, or the squeegy thing lost its squeegy handle which rendered it useless.

i took my 2 year old to the market and bought another mop. a different brand this time.

and the following week, while using that new mop for maybe the 3rd time since it’s purchase, it broke. and so began a pattern of broken mops and a crazed expletive yelling stay home mom with a two year old that went on for, believe it or not, about 5 or 6 mops. each time i’d be in the kitchen screaming and yelling – fucking mop this, and fucking mop that. my husband would come home from work and i’d rant on and on about the fucking mops.

he’d say maybe i am getting what i am paying for. maybe i need to buy a better mop. spend a tiny bit more money.

so, after the next mop inevitably broke, as all my mops were wont to do; i packed my two year old up and brought him to the market, yet again, to buy another mop.

muttering the whole way about the fucking mops.

i stood in the aisle, surveying all the mops, trying desperately to see if there was a brand i had not yet purchased and i picked a mop out of the rack – the biggest, baddest mother of the most expensive mop in the bunch. it looked indestructible. it was a thing of moply beauty.

and i said to the two year old sitting in my cart:

henry, what do you think of this mop?

he replied simply-

that’s a big fucking mop, mom.

Mar 22, 2009

planets aligning

the planets aligned yesterday, my mojo was rockin’, my head was screwed on right and it all made for what will henceforth be known as:

and this distinction will stand until the day i have an even better race – which i now know is actually possible and will indeed come; cause i have finally figured out that it is not my lot in life to be that girl.

that girl meaning the one who is always off the back and time trialing to catch the group.

yeah, that girl. nu-huh. i don’t have to be her anymore. i know i’ll still have those days where i am that girl. when the planets don’t align. cause that’s bike racing. but yesterday? well -

the planets did align and road racy lightbulbs went off all over the place and i was the girl who stayed in the pack the entire race. i even led the pack now and then. i even worked with teammates and lent a wheel when they were tired. i rode smart and stayed protected. i even, get this – felt so good i wondered what would happen if i just took a flyer and did an attack. shut.up. i did that. i got in a break, and i closed gaps when i let them open up – and it wasn’t often - in a turn. i sometimes wondered who i was and what i was doing. and it felt good.

sure i felt a tiny bit of bile rise up in my throat on the start line. but it disappeared as soon as it arrived. and sure, i threw up a little bit in my mouth at one point. and yeah, i fell off a weensy bit in a turn, but i caught on real fast. that break i was in? we got caught. that flyer i took? some cat 2 girl chased me down. but mostly, the usual mojo-messing fear was totally m.i.a. even when i couldn’t clip in right off the line, and it took me forever. i didn’t get all jacked up and worried. i just kept pedaling. i wasn’t intimidated, by anyone or anything. and when i watched all the squirrely wheels and figured a crash was imminent?

no problem.

cause the mojo was rockin’. cells were firing. i was focused and relaxed. i never even knew what lap we were on, and i am usually acutely aware of what lap we are on - until yesterday. i was too focused. i couldn’t hear a single word that anyone on my team was yelling as we passed by.

and now i need to figure out exactly how to get the planets to align again. so i can recreate that whole i am so rockin’ it right now and i feel insanely good and strong feeling.

i’m wondering if it was the two margaritas two nights before the race, the ones that went down so easy they were like my old friend candy. was it the way i packed for the race? flasks full of bourbon first, then kit, helmet, shoes, bike? was it the enormously shitty and not easy ‘openers’ spin the night before? was it left shoe first? was it fatboy slim and ‘ya mama’ on the trainer as last song before hitting the line?

or. is it possible that it’s a new training schedule, a new coach and a new attitude about all of it? is it a year of road racing and training under my belt and learning a thing or two about a thing or two? or is it just going into a race with a clear head? is it realizing what i am capable of when i stop being scared?

i don’t know, but making the margarita’s a regular gig and packing the flasks first can’t hurt. i might just go with it.

and not being that girl for once?

but instead being the one who can actually race and rock it? and not be intimidated? well.

it’s a nice feeling.


photo by: Shari Parker

Mar 15, 2009

yo mama

my twelve year old came home from school the other day and told me that some girl came up to him in the hallway and said

my mom can kick your mom’s butt in a bike race.

and i laughed, thinking hell yeah – there’s a whole bunch of people who can kick my butt in a bike race. and then i was all woah. who’s got her kid laying down the gauntlet?

and i actually race with a woman who teaches at my son’s school, so out of curiosity i say, was the girls’ last name such and such?

he says no.

and then i see mom such & such at the race this weekend and tell her the story & we both get a big laugh out of it. she hopes it wasn’t her daughter talking smack & laying down the gauntlet and i assure her, that unless her daughter had a different last name, it wasn’t.

but after we laugh about it, we wonder who it is. it’s a small town and there aren’t a whole lot of us 40 year old mom bike racers. i mean, everyone knows everyone on the pre-reg lists and every knows everyone on the start line unless some mysterious collegiate chicks drive from super far away to kick everyone's collective butts.

so i just double check and ask my son again what her name was and he tells me and it is not the daughter of the other mom and teacher at my son’s school that i race with and he adds:

mom, i have seen her mom and she does NOT look like a bike racer. she has that really high hair, you know – the higher the hair, the closer to god? i’m telling you - her mom is very close to god.

Mar 11, 2009

let it fly

i’ve heard this phrase a few times in my life. the first time was when i was student piloting a little cessna 150: 704EL

seven zero four echo lima

those were the call letters to the plane i used to fly. you read that right, i used to fly planes. sometimes i forget that i was once fearless. but there are always little moments in which i remember, and can almost feel like i am flying again.

i took flying lessons at a little airport about 45 minutes north of my college, which was in boston. it all started with a friendship, and then over coffee with my grandfather.

i worked at a comedy club in harvard square all through college. met all sorts of comedians, some totally famous, some boston or new england locals who would one day become fairly famous. funny enough (no pun intended), cocktail waitressing at that club was one of my most favorite jobs and provided some of my best college memories. anyhow, i became good friends with one of the comedians and we stayed in touch when his comedy stint was up. we both discovered that we had each always wanted to learn to fly, he went back home and when he called me to tell me about his first flight lesson, i was all, “shit. he beat me to it.”

not long after he beat me to the skies, i went to florida to visit my grandparents and while lingering over a coffee at their favorite diner one morning, i told my grandfather, a WWII fighter pilot, that i was planning on taking flying lessons when i graduated and moved to los angeles (i already had a teaching position there – thanks to that snazzy diploma from fine upstanding, expensive school).

he said, “why wait? there’s a flight school 20 minutes from here. your first lesson is on me”. and off we went.

one flight was all i needed to get hooked and turn into a total junkie. i went back the next day and paid for my own lesson.

vacation over, i returned to college, hell bent on finding a flight school. before i even unpacked from the trip, i got a legal pad, a pen, the yellow pages and the phone with the really long cord that stretched to every roommates’ room in the first floor apartment that we rented, and i sat on the toilet (i like to multitask) and started calling flight schools.

i called every one within an hour of my college, asked all the right questions about planes, instructors and yadda yadda. but the only answer i really cared about was the one to: how much is flight time? i didn’t care if the planes were held together with duct tape (and in fact, i wound up flying one that did indeed have some duct tape holding bits together) – i just wanted to be able to afford it with my cocktail waitressing tips.

so i’m on the toilet, on the phone talking to a guy on the other end who’s answering all my questions when the answer to how much is flight time? decides more than i had anticipated. it was the cheapest school i had called. sweet. sign me up. when can i get my first lesson? he scheduled me with an instructor for later that week and i hung up the phone. oblivious to the fact that i had just spoken with the guy i would wind up marrying.

i pulled into the parking lot for my lesson a few days later, and as the story goes, that guy i was on the phone with saw me get out of the car and head towards the building – he knew i was the one he had spoken to on the phone and he knew he was going to marry me.

as far as i knew and was concerned, he was the guy who worked behind the counter at the flight school, scheduled lessons and fueled my plane. literally. and all of this is another story entirely.

back to flight lessons: one of the first things my instructor said to me was that the plane inherently just wants to fly. so just let it. it doesn’t really want to fall from the sky. just let it fly.

this knowledge alleviated some fears, but still not enough to practice stalls when i was soloing. sorta like i never liked to practice sand pits when i was by myself on the ‘cross course. i trusted the knowledge that should an emergency arise, i could find a landing spot and put it down.

i still to this day, look for emergency landing spots.

i spent all spring and summer that year waiting tables at the comedy club & taking a flying lesson every chance i could get. i’d pay for my lessons one by one in singles – a big wad of them. all the flight instructors thought i was a stripper. i’d cancel lessons if i didn’t make enough tips the previous night. my instructor would always tell me it was so much cheaper to buy a big block of time for about $500, but i never had that much money at once. and so it went until the day after 16 hours of instruction, i finally soloed the plane. this day also deserves its’ own post, but after that i was free to take to the skies whenever i wanted. plus, soloing saved me the $24 per hour instructor fee.

touch and go’s were my favorite. take off, stay in the pattern and land. over and over and over again. i loved the take offs. and the landings. and actually, everything in between.

my instructor would always admonish me – he’d tell me i didn’t need to come in screaming out of the sky. i had developed a bad habit of coming in high & hot. also known as steep and fast. i was 21. and fearless.

my now husband, then fueler guy would sit outside the flight school and make bets with a friend. he’d watch me doing touch & go’s and say if she puts it on the numbers, i’m going to marry her. i put it on the numbers every time. it was a huge source of pride. to come screaming out of the sky and put that plane right on the numbers at the end of the runway every damn time. grease the landing. flaps up, power up, take off and do it all over again.

i’d leave my lessons, or solo flight time and drive back up to our summer house. getting on the highway with the airport tower just off to my right, i’d watch the odometer hit 55 and pull back a bit on the steering wheel just to see if i would take off.

that’s all it took. 55 mph. a little power on the throttle, pull back on the yoke and the plane just wants to fly.

we now live near a tiny little airport much like the one where we met and i used to take lessons. i still think, on certain days “it’s a good day to go flying”, but haven’t flown (an airplane at least) in 13 years.

i remember the training rides earlier this year and even late last year. most of my teammates knew that i’d be one of the last ones down a steep descent, white knuckle braking all the way down. a few of them were always kind enough to stay with me and coach me through the turns, what do do with my oustside leg, inside arm, where to put my weight, etc. it was just another version of flaps down, pitch down, decrease power, then level off. land. put it on the numbers.

one teammate would tell me during these white knuckle descents – let it fly suzanne, just let it fly.

but i was too afraid.

last week, i was on the rollers in my safe little cocoon of a vestibule. i wanted to try something different. i wanted to try starting with both hands on the handlebars as opposed to the death grip on the doorframe method.

both hands on the handlebars, with my right arm out a bit leaning onto the doorframe, i start to pedal. faster. faster. faster. all of a sudden, the bike uprights itself and i’m rolling. no death grip. just me and the bike rolling. a tiny little lightbulb moment that proved just letting it fly is okay.

pedal. push the throttle. pull back on the yoke. and let it fly. come in high & hot and put it on the numbers. fleeting moments of realizing i just went down a screaming hot descent and my hands didn’t go numb. or i take a turn and realize i hardly touched my brakes.

season number 2 officially starts on saturday with the first race. here’s to hoping this is the year i learn to let the bike fly.

Mar 6, 2009

me and the dane

i woke up this morning to find that my facebook friendship had been requested by a certain cyclocross racer of danish descent.

i sat with my coffee and mulled it over.
confirm? or ignore?
well. lets see. he is pretty.
and there is the matter of those distracting red shorts.
but. there was all that yelling in the sand pit.
all that “shut up!” and
all that “pedal faster” shit.
then again, he did have his hands all over my ass.
which makes up for a a sandpit screaming match.
i’m just saying.

me and the dane?
we’re tight.
facebook friends tight.

Mar 5, 2009


so, i got a little inspired at the bike show last week. and then this week, after i spent an entire day on the couch in a feverish haze of some non-descript malaise and cycling knicker dreams; i got a little manic with the sewing machine. but not before going to the local vintage shop for some snazzy men’s trousers circa 1970 - which i proceeded to fashion into my very own custom cycling knickers.


twenty eight dollars and several hours later, i have myself two pairs of knickers. one a lovely polyester hounds tooth, the other a snappy wool plaid. both complete with tab on the backside from which to hang a blinky light, velcro-fastened back pockets, an added side pocket for cell phone or flask; and, here is where i surprise even myself: articulated knees!

i’m taking the single speed and my custom knickers out for a spin.