Sitting at my keyboard
wondering what to type
college friend emails from India
she ain't got no Skype
Once did yoga on her lawn
sun-drenched shorts of orange
light dappled her auburn hair
nothing rhymes with orange
I've no right to write poetry
just a simple bike ridin' dude
but who says I can't rhyme
and speak of verisimilitude?
Barely rode my bike this week
cuz of my damn temp job
gotta pay the man rent, man
or land on the street, a slob
Have you heard the news today?
oh boy, every day a new doozy
while the tyrant rants and sycophants blather
I'd really rather just take another snooze, see?
It's sunny out there but pitch dark inside
seconds, minutes, hours pass relentlessly
time's on no one's side but its own
never ever can shake this baby called ennui
Can't get no satisfaction, though I try sometimes
through time and space I move this body of girth
endless campaign, killer virus, stock market crash
Antarctica's melting; not to worry, people of Earth!
Don't worry, be happy, this too shall pass
worst form of government, 'cept all the rest - democracy
real Americans do retail therapy, Netflix and chill
problem is telling truth from lies, what's real from hypocrisy
Honesty is hardly ever heard, word to your muthah
zone out to your jams, take your medicine and sleep
put on a happy face, fear not, and be of good cheer
might as well jump to conclusions and take a faithful leap
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Back when the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Jr., was running for president, he gave a speech at the University of Texas at Austin. By the end, he had the crowd of 5,000 Longhorns and some townie interlopers like me all riled up. He said “Repeat after me: “I am somebody. I AM Somebody! I AM SOMEBODY!” In true call-and-response gospel fashion, we chanted in full voice back. I believe that most of the time. But other days I’m just some dude who rides a bike and stuff, edits my bike memoir, and writes this blog. Sometimes there is no one theme for a post, so only a hodgepodge will do. This is one of those days. To quote John Lennon, another American icon of peace and justice: “My momma never told me there’d be days like these.”
There’s nothing like reading a good book, getting lost in another world while sitting at home and never moving out of your chair or exchanging pants for pajamas. I used to be a voracious reader, although the advent of Netflix sure hasn’t helped. Sometimes I still am. Given my penchant for recording my activities like bicycling, doing yoga, and walking, it makes sense to record what I read, too. Goodreads is a site for just that, a digital bookshelf, and much more. If you’re a reader, you probably know about it, but if you don’t, it’s worth a gander.
Last night I attended another Writers League of Texas Third Thursday panel. I was late to the discussion, but luckily they all get uploaded as podcasts on their website, WritersLeague.org. Fortunately, I was able to get to the second half because it was the swan song of moderator and WLT former Program Director Michael Noll. Author, teacher, lover of snacks, dad, teller of dad jokes, and genuinely nice guy, he will be missed.
Issue 2 of the 2020 Bicycling magazine has on it’s cover the words “Every BODY Is a Cycling Body.” There’s a picture of a smiling woman who biked 1,000 miles across Alaska. Half of that distance included almost 28,000 feet of elevation — on gravel roads. In “I’m a Fat Cyclist — And I Don’t Need to Fix My Body,” Kailey Kornhauser explains how she is an athlete today in the body she has now — not in the future. She says “cycling culture needs to change, not her.” As something of a fathlete myself, I concur. But can you really be in good shape and be overweight? And does it really matter?
Sunday. A day associated in America with religious services, football, laundry, getting ready for the dreaded return to work on Monday, and driving. The Sunday drive is a relic of days of old, when people would drive about aimlessly while sightseeing and not paying much attention. For many cyclists, a Sunday bike ride is de rigeur. Temperatures in Austin, Texas were forecast to be in the high 70’s. For February, that’s warm. Old friend Rhodney invited me to join him for a laid back ride, and I was happy to oblige.
Thick white fog hung over the East Texas lake early that sultry, steamy summer morning. The ground clouds mirrored the layer of gauze of sleep over my still slumbering eyes. We’d been awakened at the butt crack of dawn a bit too gleefully by the Scoutmaster or one of his slightly sadistic and sycophantic Scout leaders. It was the Big Day. The one we’d been dreading, anticipating, and otherwise talking about all week. It was time for mission impossible: the Mile Swim.
Slowly our shivering selves made our way to the shore, shedding shirts, shoes, and sleepy heads. Safety spelled out in a speech, suddenly it was sink or swim and shut the hell up time. The rest is mostly a blur, but somehow I and most of my Scout siblings, suffering silently in solidarity, finished the damn thing. One thing is crystal clear though: there were some alligators in that water. I swear I shit you not… seriously!
After a couple of days off the bicycle, I began riding daily on October 11, 2019. Every day since then, I’ve mounted my trusty steel steed Sophie, the Fairdale Weekender Archer to go places. Some days just a few miles were traversed; most days it’s closer to 20 miles, and a few even more. There have been no true rest days, as I am still walking and doing yoga daily, and now I’ve added an occasional lap swimming into the mix. It’s all rather exhausting, even if a particular ride isn’t taxing. The cumulative effect seems to be taking its toll. What’s A Dude with no car and #BikeGoals to do? Take the bus? Pshaw!
Today’s post was going to be about an article in Bicycling magazine. But it turns out it’s a re-run of something from September. Then I was going to re-visit my 2019 stats. But since that post went over like a lead balloon, I shelved that for another time (maybe). Then I figured I could provide reportage on the City of Austin opening a 2-mile stretch of Shoal Creek redesigned bike lanes. But I didn’t make it to the gathering, so what to write about? How about a bike ride I did with a cycling friend on Shoal Creek later in the day? Ya sure, ya betcha!
Snow fell from the cold, dark skies on my bike ride home from the gym. The frozen precipitation is rare in Central Texas, especially in relatively mild winters like we’ve been having. So it’s a wondrous sight when it does snow. I felt lucky to have been outside riding when it came down. Light, white, wet kisses on my face melted quickly. Some accumulated on car hoods and lawn chairs, and the roommates and dogs were happy to see and feel it, too.
Of course in other places, there are no romantic notions about snow, because they’re drowning in it and shoveling it by metric ton. Another substance is also being shoveled in similar quantities, but it’s brown, smelly, and comes out of the back end of a cow. And by that of course, I can only be referring to the State of the Union, which was by some accounts a total snow job. Winter isn’t coming, Jon Snow, it’s already here. The revolution will not be televised. It’s winter in America.