Posted by: Miriam | 28/10/2011

A Blast From the Past

So I was looking through my Google Documents the other day and I came upon this. I dont know what it was for, or why I wrote it. The date isnt much help either, as there are a variety of docs with the same date, so I must have moved things over from Word/Excel all at once one day in 2009. Based on the fact that my age is 26 in this document it would have been 2005, and I wonder if I wrote it in prep to go back to school. But damn, I’m funny.

What Else About Me?

This is a difficult question to answer. It is hard to quantify a person on a sheet of paper without it turning into a list. One could, I suppose, write why they are special; but everyone’s mom thinks they are special. I could write why I’m different, but when there is five billion people on the earth, is anyone really different?

The Things I’ve Learned:

At twenty-six I feel I have learned a few very useful things. I know I have more to learn, but here is what I know now.

  1. I love learning. When I was taking time off school, I was bored and constantly searching for something else. That something else was mental stimulation. I was bored and complacent when I wasn’t pushing my mind to think in different ways and to look critically at the world around me. When I finally realized this, I knew I was ready to go back to school and finish my degree. If I hadn’t realized this, I wouldn’t be in school today.
  1. That I thought I didn’t like Thai food. This sounds odd, yes, I know. I had never really had good Thai food. Then a couple of years ago a good friend called me up and asked if I wanted to go to Thailand. It was about a month before she was to leave. This sounded fantastic, but what would I eat? I figured I would rather go to Thailand and suffer the food for three and a half weeks than to sit at home. I bought a ticket, found a cat sitter, and took time off of work. Suddenly, I was landing in Bangkok. I had a fantastic time and now thoroughly enjoy Thai food. I eat it about 2-3 times a week. Now if only I could figure out what to do about my dislike of Indian food…
  1. I have also learned that, to be truly independent as a person, you must own furniture. But you also must be able to move your own furniture. No matter how many friends you have or great people in your life, the only person you can always count on is yourself. If you need to rearrange your living space, or move across country, you are going to have to know how to move your own book, sofa, mattress, bookshelves, and dresser. If I can’t move it (or the pieces of it) by myself, I won’t buy it, because I never know what opportunities will appear in the next year, who knows, maybe I’ll have a chance to move to Bora Bora. I must be able to rely on myself before I can rely on others.
  1. Lastly, my mother was right. She was right about pretty much about everything, but especially about picking up after myself. I hate it. It isn’t fun, and can frequently spoil fun. My housemates and I recently had a dinner party. Everybody enjoyed the food, but nobody cleaned up the cooking mess. It was miserable to wake up in the morning to a messy kitchen that needed to be cleaned before I could access the coffee maker and get ready for school. I try to clean up after myself, because it helps keep me more organized in the long run. This, Mom totally had down.
Posted by: Miriam | 29/08/2011

The Times, They Are A Changin’

Once and a while you realize that no matter what, life marches on. Progress they say. Here I am, a Town Planner, and so I’m supposed to be all for updating and planning for the future. But when it comes to things from our childhood, nostalgia, we have a hard time accepting those changes, even when it probably is for the betterment of the community in general.

That being said, an icon from the TEENY WEENY town I grew up in is now obliterated. The local corner store, where I spent most if not all of my allowance on candy (‘Oh, a piece of candy!’ could have been my tag line as a kid), where we rented VHS tapes (yea, I’m that old). Where we would hang out on the porch because we literally had nothing else to do. So my home town is smaller than most. According to the 2010 Census, we had 171 people in Weeville. Two of them being my parents. When I grew up, we had (I’m not condensing this list, this is THE list):

  • K-8 School, 5 class rooms. The entirety of my middle school career was spent in 2 classrooms with 2 teachers.
  • An all volunteer fire station. The siren is on top the building, it goes off when there is an emergency, much like a tornado siren.
  • A bar. A bar where the only murder in this town has taken place. My brothers and I still have to go get drunk, but they are always closed around Xmas.
  • The above mentioned, corner store. You could get most everything there besides maybe bullets (but then why were you not stocked up?).
  • A church. Because every community over 12 people has some sort of Christian denomination place of worship.
  • Couple handfuls of houses.
  • Town Park (this was the edge of town, literally).
So probably 5 or so (maybe more) years ago the store shut down. The only real meeting place in town disappeared. It just wasnt viable to keep it open and stocked. And who rents VHS’ anymore anyways?  But today, they tore it down. Flat to the ground so a house can go in. Its sad. But more than that, its weird. The iconicness of it is gone. A few years ago they took the old growth trees in my parent’s yard, now this structure is no more.  It’s weird to think my hometown no longer looks like my hometown.
PS thanks to Levon for the photo of the demolished store.
Posted by: Miriam | 29/08/2011

Found: Missing Blogger

Crikey (add own Australian accent)! Its been oh, what 7 months since I’ve blogged. I’m horrible, terrible, busy, and enjoying life. But, like, what  have I been doing for 7 long long months to no update my blog? You know, riding my bike and stuff.

So now that you all know I’m alive. I’ll be trying to post more consistently. I’ll also update with more of the fun stuff I did over the summer. You know, who doesn’t want to hear what-did-you-do-on-summer-vacation stories, anyways?

Posted by: Miriam | 28/02/2011

Junkie

I have a problem (the first step is admittance, right?).

Lets start over, I’ve always been an information/news  junkie. I love info, I love staying up to date with current news stories. I am socio-politically active because I pay attention (some might say too much even). So when I started training with some data, it was more glorious information.

So for the last 2 months I have been finally riding with a heart rate monitor. I’ve always had some speed sensor, just recently a cadence sensor. But the heart rate monitors I’ve used before were the hard plastic strap kind. Having a insanely small ribcage (we’re talking sub 30″) so those things just wrapped all the way around and were highly uncomfortable. So I chucked my old Timex to the curb and just rode my bike. A. Lot. Thousands of miles, a lot. I even ignored training plans and just enjoyed riding. I did some intervals here and there because after the first crit without any training you’re sad little legs will notify you that you were an idiot. I went to nationals. I won state championships. I upgraded on the road and upgraded in mountain. And I paid no attention to any formalized training. Then I moved to Durango.

Ah, Durango. I have never felt so slow on my bike. Well no, how about my first track race after I got back from a 3 week vacation (with no riding) and a nice case of bronchitis. Yea, that’s about how I feel out here. SLOW. So bring on the data. I need to get faster. I need to have some formalized training. Now that I’m a recovering broken person I am a blank slate. I still have muscle memory, sure. But when I started riding in December, it was hard again. Riding my bike hasn’t been hard in years. So, out came the new (to me) heart rate monitor. On it goes, fitting slightly better thanks to the soft strap from Polar. I am such a dweeb that I wore it upside down for like a month – why wouldn’t it just automatically snap on the right side, I AM right handed…oops. Maybe some faulty data aside, and the occasional slippage I am hooked. I wear it at the gym. I wear it at Pilates. Ive thought about wearing it at work just to see how many calories I really do use staring at my computer.

So now I have data. Now I know my ‘zones’. Now I can stare at a tiny little screen whenever I ride. Sometimes its fun to see how high it goes (high – 200s). It is fun to compare it to all the other girls I ride with. I have by far, the highest  heart rate of the FLC Women’s Cycling Team, and I’m 10 years older than most of these girls. I also realized I carry no less than 3 computers on me at any one time when I ride: smart phone, speed, HRM. Most of the time it is 4: iPod.

So yes, I am an information junkie. And now I have more to obsess over. Next, how to afford a power tap…

Oh and ladies, is it me, or do boobs and heart rate monitors not play well together?

Posted by: Miriam | 06/02/2011

Valentines Day: A New Meaning

So if you have read ANY of the last 4 months of blogging, you surely noticed I broke my ankle this fall. But now what, now that I am unbroken?

Physical Therapy. And boat loads of it. Twice a week. I think I have been averaging 3 hours a week, if not a little bit more. One day is hard. The other easier. I am pushed to where my ankle/foot start to fail, and it pisses me off. So I push myself harder. Luckily, I am competitive and now I’ve found an outlet these last few months. If my knee collapses one day, it sure as hell wont the next. Right now the biggest limiter is my foot. Single legged exercises tire my foot out. So guess what, I do A LOT of them. Standing, squatting, skipping, calf raises, balance with and without resistance. Lots of wall sits, lots of standing on trampolines to simulate uneven surfaces. I sweat. I get my HR up. When I hurt my shoulder years and years ago, I never had PT that made me work this hard. But this hard work has paid off. I’m almost symmetrical. My right side fatigues faster than the left, but it is coming back and quickly. I have definition in my right quad and calf, just looking at me, the only thing you might notice is that my ankle is a different size, assuming you look at ankles.

But Valentine’s Day will be the 5th month anniversary of the break. I cant believe its been that long/that short at the same time. It has been a hard road at times. But now it is getting easier. Easier by the day, literally. With the mental stress lessening, I can concentrate on other parts of my life. And in some cases get my life back. Like work. And riding.

I have a stress test on Friday to evaluate where I am with my recovery and to find out what I need still. The report goes to the doctor and I have an appointment with the orthopedist the following Monday for his evaluation of my recovery. I may be finally cleared to mtn bike. Maybe I’ll be able to run again some day soonish. Maybe I’ll be done with PT.

So what should I do to celebrate on Valentine’s Day (though not in the traditional sense, I don’t care about a Hallmarkesque day where I am supposed to demand candy/flowers/gifts and to be shown affection – no, I would rather have affection the other 364 days)? Go out with the BF for a congrats you’re officially unbroken dinner? It’s a little short notice to get tattoo around one of the scars (I’ve been toying with the idea of doing something to the half-moon scar on the inside of my ankle).  But what else…if I could mtn bike I think that might be the winner, but it is a Monday and I have to work.

It is nice to have my life back. To slowly not always be thinking about my ankle. Sometimes those pauses in life are handy – to make you reevaluate. To strip down those walls and parts we don’t need, the parts we build up around us. I was able to get back to the simple me…what I needed and wanted. I had a focus, a very singular focus, which helped get me towards my goal(s). Now I’m here. At the end(ish) of this chapter. Part of me is a little lamenting, I had such a drive and focus, but now with the conclusion looming, where am I going to  find that same drive – the yearning; no, hell, the fight and fire that burned so strongly. I feel it creeping into other parts of my life a little here, a little there. Now to find my next goal…

Though these cold winter days make it ache (of course, the 2lbs of metal in it would do that). But now I am human barometer, so that is handy bonus.

Posted by: Miriam | 02/02/2011

To N, D, and C. With Love.

My best friend’s father passed away from a second bout of prostate cancer. He was a wonderful father, husband, and a great lover of spicy food. N, her father and I shared many a dish of as-hot-as-you-can-make-it dishes. I have seen few men who were still so in love with their wives that he literally sparkled when he told me about the day they met. He was one of the last few true craftsmen left, building homes with old techniques.

Shockingly enough I am at a loss for meaningful words. This is the 3rd time I’ve written this post and I cannot seem to get them sorted out or organized in such a way that they are readable to anybody else. So I’m going to post a small poem and let the world know how wonderful R was and how much he is and will always be missed.

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glint on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.

When you wake in the morning hush,
I am the swift, uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.

Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there, I do not sleep.
Do not stand at my grave and cry.
I am not there, I did not die!

-Mary Frye (1932)

N, D, and C I will always love you and if you need ANYTHING I’ll be there at the drop of a hat.

 

I had planned to write a bit more, but since I’m about to drown my keyboard in tears, I think we’ll save it for another night. Its funny, I’m not saddened for my loss, or even for the family’s loss, but for the pain they have and the hole in their life. It hurts to know theirs is a sadness much deeper and painful than mine. It is so hard to think about losing one of my parents, especially prematurely.

Please tell the ones you love, how much you love them. Not tomorrow, not the next day, but now, right-goddamned-now.

 

Posted by: Miriam | 08/12/2010

Riding again. And again.

Great success! As Borat might say. I got das boot off, upgraded to a smaller lighter, much more aero lace up brace. I was cleared to ride, short flat easy rides. And to down hill ski, “probably a half day or so”. Well, if I can ski, I can definitely ride. Knowing myself (and as they say, know thy self), I am much less likely to hurt myself riding than skiing. For example, I am probably the only person on the face of the planet who can twist an ankle IN ski boots (of course there was a tree, ice, zombies, and a rabid chipmunk involved).

I kind of ignored Dr. Lawton’s “advice” (aka orders) and decided to go for a ride. I really wanted to ride with Cody (who will now hence forth be known as Smac Diablo – he might be nerdier than me!) but his schedule for finals has pretty much kept him under lock and key. So I had to do this on my own. And I was scared. Fucking terrified. Dear gods, the last time I rode, I ended up in the hospital and had to be surgically repaired. So I was scared of all those connotations with bikes and breaking important body parts (pinkies and similar appendages = meh, ankles and joints = important). No, I wasnt on my mountain bike (I’m not that cavalier with doctor’s orders), but I had to get over the mental hurdle. So I did. I got my superhero suit on, shoved my ankle brace in my shoe. And then I stood there. Tears streaming down my cheeks. I felt stupid, I couldn’t really rationalize why I was crying, but I could not get it to stop either. Tears still flowing, I walked to the garage, pumped up my tires, lubed my chain, and told Fondy that everything will be ok. Mostly to reassure myself.

Those first few pedal strokes were scary. I had no idea what to expect. Was there going to be pain? If there was going to be pain, how bad will it be? I knew I was weak, but how weak? As soon as I turned the pedals over a few times, I remembered. My muscles were being used again. Some of the fear started to slowly diminish. I still was unsure and tentative, until I hit my first decent. My wings unfurled and I flew. I soared. I cried again, but these were tears of joy and elation, gone were my fears. Damn did I miss this. So I rode and rode; down the sunny strip of sinuous asphalt, also known as hwy 250. By normal standards (and still mine) I did not ride far. However, for not having ridden in almost 3 months, this was epic and perfect and exactly what I needed. Home, after 18 miles I was one tired unit. A very happy and tired cyclist. A flat to rolling 18 miles was so much more than I was expecting, and I felt great. I stood up on the hills. I pushed it a little here and there. Only after I got off the bike, did I have any discomfort or pain. I have less endurance than I used to, I have less muscle mass, and I have less speed. But I have all that is beautiful and perfect and wonderful in the world – I have my bliss back.

 

Posted by: Miriam | 30/11/2010

Employment?!??

So since breaking myself I have been unemployed. I spent a good 3 weeks to a month not even applying for positions since I was pretty drugged up. Frankly sending out applications/cover letters/resumes while on opiates didn’t seem like such a good idea (even in my high-as-a-kite state). So for 1/2 of September and 1/2 of October there was no little to no effort to find meaningful or otherwise work.

So I went to a conference in mid October, and was told about a position in Ignacio. Where and what is Ignacio you may ask. Well, dear reader, Ignacio, of about 700, is a town about 25 miles SE of Durango (I’m assuming you know where Durango, Colorado is located). The town is located on the Southern Ute Tribe Reservation and is a tri ethnic community – White, Hispanic, and Native. One phone interview, one one-on-one interview, and then a group interview (with the whole office!). I got a phone call the week before last double checking I was willing to do this for a long haul (5 years!). I had to think about that, honestly, I figured I would head off to grad school in a year or so (of course I’ve been saying that for years now, I guess). But I love the area, it is home – my heart and soul are happy here. I have great friends, whom I consider family. I wont stay forever, but staying for several more years couldn’t be better.

Mappage: Durango-Ignacio

The position would be another AmeriCorps position, however it will be a State/National position, so it is structured by hours, and not length of time (like VISTA) – it will end up being about 10 months though. The pay is a bit different, but I still get health and dental insurance and a good chunk of change towards my student loans (or future education) . The reason for the AmeriCorps position is to create an internship in community planning, policy creation, and youth engagement (to name the key highlights). The town being so small and budgets being so tight they couldn’t pay for a regular intern, so hence the AmeriCorps route to an internship. Pretty damn creative, frankly. But what happens in 10 months then? Well assuming I still love my job, and they think I’m doing a bang up job, I would come on as staff, something like Assistant Town Planner.

How does this even make sense? Arent you a geologist? And a nerd? Well, ok. Valid questions. So I want to go into Urban Planning with an emphasis in water resource management, so having the planning and policy background will be perfect for the Masters in Urban Planning (MUP). And yes, I’ve always been interested in water and water quality issues, especially now that I live in a semi arid to arid environment. But I’ve always been a people person. And I’ve always wanted to incorporate the two sides – science  and people. I think this is the perfect interface for me. Plus I can work on transportation issues (such as bikes) as well.

All in all, this is perfect! I am so fucking ecstatic. If I could hop up and down, I would have spent a good portion of the day doing so.

Oh yes, I am a nerd. Proud and true. :)

Posted by: Miriam | 27/11/2010

What do I want to be when I grow up?

I’ve been letting this one stew for a little while. I havent been able to put my finger on exactly what I wanted to write about. My thoughts keep hopping around when I try to pin them down.

Its become harder and harder not to ride my bike. Or to ignore all my friends when they ride and to fight the sadness I feel at races. I want to be on my bike. I’ve definitely come to realize that cycling is a huge part of what defines me. Of what I have chosen to define myself as – a cyclist. Not even as a racer, but as a person who loves bikes and all they stand for.

My next doctor’s appointment is the 2nd. I should get the big black das boot off, and get a smaller more maneuverable brace. Then the real work comes, physical therapy. The healing part has been the easy part (physically at least, probably not mentally). The PT will hurt. I already got a taste of this while at the gym. But I am looking forward to this step. Maybe not the pain, but the moving forward with the recovery process. I am the kind of person who needs (at least) a goal. Something to work towards, lately it has been a holding process while my bones healed. But this next step (gods, these puns aren’t quite intended, but yet I cant help myself!) is something I can do, I can focus on, I can do it well, and I will kick PT’s ass.

I was talking with my friend Lisa the other day. We were talking about riding and racing, I was, as per the norm, lamenting the fact that I will be weak and imbalanced and can’t even ride my bike yet. She had a great comment, that I get to be whatever kind of racer I want. I get to choose what kind of racer I want to be. Right now I am kind of a blank slate physically. What kind of racing do I want to do? Sprinting? Climbing? Road racing? Mountain biking? Cross (chances are lowest here, well aside from sprinting)? I want to try endurance mountain races. 50 milers, 100k, 12 hour races and such. I’ve never done any thing that long before, but I want to try. I have not always had speed (frequently, in fact) but I have always had endurance. So lets put my endurance to the test and see what happens.

And damn am I looking forward to walking with out this boot, riding, and finally getting my strength back.

Posted by: Miriam | 05/11/2010

For the Love of Bike

So Jed’s post got me thinking about why I ride bikes. I’ve been trying not to think about bikes, esp riding them for the last few months. When I do, it causes a pang of hurt in my soul and my heart. I miss them dearly. I love nothing better than riding on a summer evening through rolling fields with the smell of hay and a warmth in the air. Or the dappled sunlight filtering through the trees on any given afternoon on a flowy trail where I get to rail perfectly banked corners. Or the carnival ride feeling of your body pushed into your saddle when flying around the black line on the track. Or even the painstaking and cold task of washing an incredibly muddy cross bike post race.

I’ve been riding for 12 years. Crap. Twelve. Years. I’ve only been racing for almost exactly 5 though. I started commuting when I was in college because I did not have a car. I moved out the of the house and I gave the car back to my parents since I couldn’t afford it and rent. I got a bike. I rode the crap out of my bike. I upgraded to a white and baby blue Gary Fisher Tassajara GS. It fit me like it was made for me. I loved that bike, so of course it was stolen. I got a Henry Weinhards version Kona Blast (it was a gold and navy paint scheme). It was a little big for me. Then I got another Gary Fisher Tassajara GS. I rode the crap out of Ethel. I learned to mountain bike on her. She was too big, but she was fun. I only sold Ethel last year when I moved to Colorado. For my 25th birthday I wanted and got a road bike. A Trek 1200 (except for the angle of these bars is weird). A perfectly awesome entry-level road bike. I raced that bike for my first year racing even. I now have a cadre of bikes to choose from. Sweet Italian steel, ultra light weight aluminium road, my solid hard tail mtn bike, flat pedal mid 80s loaner/bar/commuter, a perfect little cross frame (who will hopefully become a long distance commuter shortly), and the favorite –  my steel Japanese track bike turned hipster-mobile. In the last 5 years I’ve owned 9 bikes, 6 of which I still have. Cycling is obviously a major part of my life.

The Trek has a special place in my heart. I first tasted freedom, wind in my face for just pleasure and not  just to get from point A to point B. I was in a bad place emotionally when I got that bike. I started to ride, and I realized what love really meant. I started to love myself over those months. I started to accept myself for who I am. I took the first steps towards becoming who I am now, on and off the bike. I know I may not always be a racer, but I will always be a rider. I want to be that blue haired old lady on my bike (or even a Trike) puttering around the neighborhood, pedaling slowly to the grocery store to pick up wine.

Now that I’m walking and recovering from the ankle upgrade, I can allow myself think about riding again. I can focus on that. I’m not going to think about racing just yet, because then I think about how much muscle mass I’ve lost and the divide between where I am now, and where I was/can be. But I want to ride again. I want to feel the wind in my hair and on my cheeks. I want that dumb grin that I just can’t wipe off.  I want my bliss back.

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