Friday, December 5, 2014

All Things Maggie

Conversations with Maggie because I find her to be terribly refreshing and adorable.

Relaying to me a story that happened in music yesterday.

"Mr D. was playing music from different time periods and he started playing a song and suddenly I heard that deep voice and I thought to myself, oh I know that voice, so when he asked if anyone knew who it was I raised my hand. And he called on me because my hand was raised and he said, Maggie who is that singing and I said, oh that's Mr. Johnny Cash. And Jacob gave me a high five and was impressed and then Mr. D. said YES MAGGIE! You're right! He was really impressed with me. And then he asked, do you know what that song is called? And I said oh yes, that's called I Walk the Line and Mr. D. said YES! And then Jacob gave me another high five and everyone was impressed with me and said I was really good at this game."

Me - You like when people are impressed with you?

Maggie - YES!

By the way, when your best friend is an eighty year old from West Virginia you know Johnny Cash when you hear him.

In the car after listening to Kate lament the fact that she accidentally befriended a rather irritating person and was now deeply regretting being nice in the first place Maggie's response was -

"Oh Kate, you know what I do? I just listen to what people say and then I agree with everything they say because that's polite."

Kate tried to persuade her this was a very bad idea and not likely to lead anyplace good and would only mean Maggie would end up with people in her life that she really didn't want to be around, to which Maggie said -

"Are you kidding me? I love everyone!"

Please stay young, please stay young, please stay young.

Maggie came home from school on Monday talking about Elf on the Shelf. She spent a fair amount of time making her own elf and then gave up. I was busy cleaning and cooking and not completely paying attention to her chatter about Elf on the Shelf. We've never partaken in this tradition and I wasn't even sure what exactly it was or what it entailed. She came home Tuesday and started talking about Elf on the Shelf again and so I asked her why she was talking about this so much. She said everyone at school had one and they were all talking about theirs and so she just told everyone she had an imaginary elf. So I did what I typically never do and immediately got in the car to go buy her an Elf on the Shelf. Kate came to the store with me and spent the whole ride there telling me I was literally doing something just because everyone else was doing it and is this really the kind of parent I wanted to be now, to which I could honestly respond, yes, absolutely. I bought an Elf on the Shelf and came home and we put it out and Maggie was thrilled to wake in the morning to find it in the freezer. When she came home from school I asked her if she told everyone she now had an Elf on the Shelf and she said no, that she forgot to, so that was definitely worth the trip to the store. Of course it did give Kate a chance to remind me how pointless it is to try and be just like everyone else.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Tour De Cure - Beast Mode ( as my teens like to say)

My century ride happened over a month ago and I thought I would update sooner than this but, you know, life and all. I don't seem to have time to write anymore and I don't think I enjoy it half as much as I used to, so mixing those two things together makes coming on here kind of hard.

I do have some thoughts on my ride and I want to get them out before I lose all memory of that day.
The entire ride can be summed up with the word windy, but of course you know I like using many words to talk about things so here, let me bore you for a little while.

I woke around 5 am the day of the ride and ate some sushi for breakfast. My nerves prevented me from eating much else and sushi gives me lots of energy, so it worked out well. I got to the ride with about twenty minutes to spare and promptly made my way to the very, very, very back of the line. It's always good to know your place and get there. This is a general life application, not just a riding thing. We took off at the starting line at 7:30 am. The sun was still rising and everything looked beautiful and hopeful and exciting. I'm not one for pictures so just use your imagination. Imagine several hundred smiling, happy riders completely ignorant of the horrendous winds they were about to face for the next several hours.

For the first part of the ride I managed to stay close enough to many groups of riders, but at mile fifty things thinned out quite a bit because most people were not riding the entire century. By mile sixty I found myself completely alone. I ride something called a "fitness bike" ( don't let the name fool you - I bought the bike under the assumption it would magically melt away my cellulite, yet here I sit on my cottage cheese behind) . A fitness bike is a cross between a mountain bike and a hybrid, meaning you ride in an upright position and with thicker tires than a road bike. Bored yet? My point is, unless you are in phenomenal shape, keeping up with people on road bikes when you are riding a fitness bike is nearly impossible. Every other person riding this century used a road bike. My sister, who's ridden several centuries, kindly decided not to tell me I would most likely be the only person not riding a road bike. She knows my biggest fear in life involves doing anything that will draw attention to my person, so she kept quiet and I am eternally grateful because I already spend too much time worrying over nonsense and I didn't need that added to the list.

I rode through some beautiful country towns with rolling hills dotted with orange groves and towns with names like Intercession, where the wind made riding at speeds over ten miles an hour impossible. I thought perhaps God was trying to send me a message, making me ride through a town called Intercession and all, so I decided to start begging every saint in heaven for prayers. I don't really think my success or failure at finishing the ride hit the list of top ten things people were praying about that day, but I really didn't want to quit riding so I prayed all about me for just a bit.

I rode through some horrendously busy areas like Rt 17 and 92. As I was going down that busy highway with cars whipping past me at fast rates, I got lonely and scared and lost. I called the ride support team and asked them for directions and they told me to head south or north or something, and I told them, no, I am lost and hungry and tired and going on minimal brain function, please just tell me, do I go left or right and they said left, just go left. So I did. And I kept seeing no other riders and cars kept whizzing past me and I thought, oh this really wouldn't be a good day to get hit, why am I doing this? And then I prayed some more, but not for me, I prayed for other people who really needed praying for. I don't like talking about this stuff because I find talking about praying and God not something entirely in my comfort zone,  but I tell you this for your possible benefit. If you find yourself in a desperate situation, pray for other people. It's amazing what you can accomplish when you stop thinking about your own self imposed misery and focus your mind on others. Most people know this already but I'm a slow learner.

At the mile sixty six water break I pulled over, grabbed something to eat and drink and texted my sister, my husband and my friend, Terri. I told my husband not to worry, I felt fine and hydrated and happy and I would text an update at the eighty mile rest stop. Somewhere around mile seventy five I bumped into a group of riders and I wanted to cry happy tears, as the loneliness at that point hit an unbearable level. It was a group of rag tag stragglers, maybe seven or eight people who probably told their original groups to go ahead without them. I rode in the back and just kept pedaling. My body felt surprisingly strong, but my mind started wandering into hopeless territory. Keeping your mind on track is nearly as important as keeping your body there and I started doubting myself and let worry set in.  But then we hit International Drive and I cruised  by the Copa Loca, the hotel my sister stays at when she comes here, and I made myself laugh thinking about her visits and the time she came all the way to Florida just to see Anthony get his First Holy Communion. She got lost on the way up to Mount Dora and missed the entire ceremony and ended up walking into Mass as the priest was walking down the aisle and exiting the church. For as long as I live I will never forget the look on her face that day as she walked through the church doors.  Little did she know that hilarious memory would come back to me several years later, just when I needed it most.

When I pulled into the mile eighty rest stop I heard people calling my name and I looked over and saw Kate and Maggie and Greg waving and smiling and it may have been the sweetest thing my husband ever did for me, surprising me and showing up like that. We chatted for a bit, until Maggie started asking me pesky questions about whether there was a McDonalds anywhere around because I guess she hadn't eaten in over an hour and starvation had set in and also, this whole thing was boring her so when could she go home and play, and why was I so sweaty and stinky. Guess what parents; you can run,(or ride) but you can never, ever hide from your children, not even on a hundred mile bike ride. Suddenly riding seemed like an absolute treat and I hopped back on my bike and set off for the final twenty miles. Alone again, with nothing but the sound of  hollowing gusts of winds to keep me company, I sank back into a state of not quite hopelessness but certainly something close.

At about mile ninety I spotted two guys who I recognized from the earlier rag tag crew and I pedaled quickly to catch them. They were sweet and told me nice things about how impressed they were with me riding a mountain bike for an entire century. I heard this same thing at least twenty times over the course of the ride that day and had grown quite impressed with myself by the time the rag taggers mentioned it. My burst of arrogance at my mad riding skills boosted my mood for at least a quarter of a mile, but those winds, they got me down again. I kept wanting to look down at my odometer, but I knew if I did I would be overcome with frustration so I kept going until I saw the ninety six mile rest stop. Oh, only four more miles to go, I thought. I can do it!

As I hit mile ninety seven, then ninety eight, then ninety nine, I wondered why I couldn't see the finish line. And then I hit mile one hundred and I wasn't even back at Lake Nona and I thought maybe I was lost again, but my two rag tag companions kept assuring me it was almost over, we were almost there, but we weren't really because the ride ended being not one hundred miles, but one hundred and four. And four miles on top of one hundred miles is less than fun, especially when you've spent the past eight hours telling yourself that at mile one hundred it would all be over. I told my two new friends to go on ahead without me, I didn't want to drag them down. And for four long miles I did nothing but look down at the ground. That was it. I didn't look down at the ground and try and tell myself uplifting things or  pray or think happy thoughts. I just looked down. Every ounce of energy left went into pedaling into what I later learned were twenty five mile an hour winds.

When I finally did look up I saw nothing around me but some cows and a few houses and a strange looking person up ahead in the distance, flaying and jumping; someone tall and lanky and acting crazy and waving his arms everywhere. As I kept getting closer, I saw it was my son ringing a cow bell and screaming and running to meet me so that he could cross the finish line with me. Anthony told me at least a hundred times that no matter how long of a wait, he would be there screaming for me at the finish and he didn't disappoint. I did the ride for him and he made sure to let me know how much he appreciated it. It was all very sweet and I'm sure if I wasn't completely exhausted I would have managed to cry a little, but I couldn't muster tears by then. Greg and Jane and Kate and Maggie were also there waiting for me. I have never been so happy to see all of them and hug them.

So there, the story of my century ride. It's over and if you ask me if I'm ever going to do another I will say say, yes, but it will be on my own terms, in my own little neck of the woods here in Lake County. After the century I thought about how dangerous some of the roads were that I traveled on. I was the only person who rode alone, without a team, mostly because I don't know anyone else who wants to ride a hundred miles and I wasn't about to join a team of people I didn't already know. So much of the ride was lonely and scary and if you know me at all, it takes takes quite a bit for me to be nervous on my bike. It's the place I'm happiest and most at peace, but there were huge chunks of the ride where I wanted to call my husband and beg him to come ride alongside me in his car. Me and my bike belong in Lake County. Of course if you're reading this and thinking you want to join me in next year's Tour De Cure, I can probably be talked into getting out of Lake County again. And my lovely husband even went out and bought me a new to me road bike a week after the century was over, so I may even be able to finish in less than eight hours next year.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Per my sister's request

Oh wow, I took quite the unintended blog break. This could be the reason I have so few readers. Well, that and the sub-par writing.

On Tuesday my sister leaves for a week in Ireland and so I am writing this post with her in mind. In the comment section of my last post she asked me to pretend I was giving a commencement speech to college graduates, specifically Williams College graduates. Not only am I not qualified to give a speech to anyone about anything, I am certainly not qualified to speak to Williams students. They are an intelligent bunch and I am less than intelligent. Speaking of which, here's something kind of cute and amusing.  My mother used to try and convince me I wasn't as stupid as I believed I was. Sometimes she would tell me I was just lazy with school and that's why my grades were kind of eh. It's entirely true that I was quite lazy, but that's because things  were kind of difficult for me, but only in grades kindergarten through college, and when things are hard it's always preferable to fall into a state of laziness rather than try too much. By the way, in the category of other ridiculous things my mom tried to convince me - telling me I didn't look like a boy, even though certain people in my elementary school relentlessly referred to me as Christopher ( my brother's name). Yes, I am scarred for life; go ahead and feel sorry for me, I've been doing it for years and  would love some company. 

Between having spent part of my early years looking like a boy and my entire life not being very smart I've barely managed to stay alive, so what could I possibly have to offer the brilliant minds at Williams College? Not much. Of course, just as I was about to quit this post before I even got started,  I realized something interesting and important about myself which maybe does qualify me to share my thoughts with the young ones and that is this; I'm very much living the life I always wanted to live. Please keep in mind that I have super low standards and also, the list of things I wanted to accomplish shrunk every year until I made sure the list contained only the most do-able things. So the first thing I would say is aim low and if things get hard, aim even lower. You will get where you want to go with this attitude.

Joking aside, when I was a kid here is what I really truly wanted in life. I wanted to grow up and get married to a nice man and have kids and stay home with them. Oh I know it's so gross and 1950s and not at all what people at Williams College probably want but the fact is, it's what I wanted and I have managed to do it. I wanted to live in a cute little town with houses that looked like they could be in a Norman Rockwell painting and I wanted for me and my future family to be able to walk everywhere and go get ice cream cones with sprinkles whenever we wanted. I also thought it would be lovely to sit down together every night for dinner and have lively conversations while someone accidentally spilled a glass of water over someone else's full plate of food just about every single night and where I would never quite get the hang of handling this well, but afterward everyone would laugh over my silly overreaction. Of course this all sounds so simple and basic and easily attainable, but it really did take some effort and planning on my part. My point here is, if you really see yourself living a certain kind of life, no matter what other people think of it, try and live that kind of life and if you are blessed enough to wake up one day and realize you got exactly what you wanted, appreciate it. 

What other words of wisdom do I have to offer? Be flexible and don't get too hung up on things not working out as exactly as you hoped. I knew this guy once whose brother really wanted to go to medical school, but he kept getting rejected. The number of rejection letters became so staggering that this guy started posting them on his dorm room wall for all to see, in an attempt to make light of it. After realizing that maybe the life he envisioned living wasn't going to work out, he thankfully moved onto to another dream. I don't know what became of him, but let's hope it was nothing too grand as I wasn't actually fond of him or his brother.

At one point in my life I wanted eight kids. I thought it would be fun and exciting, but look, I had to let that dream die when I realized my sanity was at stake. Here I sit with a mere four children, but I'm quite happy with that number. Some people would tell me I could have had more kids and handled it just fine, but remember, the most important thing is to be brutally honest with yourself about the kind of person you are and what you are capable of doing. Other people are not living your life and have no idea what they are talking about.

And this leads me to my next point which is this; don't compare yourself to other people. Don't look at facebook and blogs and twitter and instagram and think people are giving you a clear and honest version of their lives. No one wants to listen to people complain all day and so in an attempt to make it look as though things are going swimmingly, people tend to exaggerate the good and leave out the bad. It's fine, everyone does it, but it's a waste of time to look at the facade of other people's lives and then look at the hard truth of yours and compare.You will never find happiness this way.

I know it's shocking, but I will offer you even more wisdom. Find a hobby and fit it into your schedule as much as possible. There is nothing wrong with doing something just for the sake of doing it and with no lofty goal in mind. As a matter of fact, oftentimes the thing you enjoy most loses all appeal when you try and add a purpose to it. I ride my bike for hours a week. Yes, it does provide some health benefits, but mostly I just enjoy the mindless pedaling, the smell of fresh air, getting to see all the lovely parts of the area I live in. This winter I decided to sign up for a charity century ride and so I've  had to do a lot of training for it and guess what has happened? I've lost some of my love for the bike. The century happens in two weeks and I can't wait for it to be over so I can go back to my aimless, pointless, happy pedaling.

And one last thing. Loneliness can suck every bit of joy out of your life, so find a group of like minded people and stick with them. I've found this in church - mostly; I admit that yesterday I spent much of Fr Robert's homily planning my after Mass escape route so as to avoid all chit chat and small talk and schmoozing. Church isn't for everyone, I know, but it's a very bad idea to not look for a group of people who share common interests, goals and purpose. Don't quit until you find your group.  Life is hard and you need your people.

That's it. That's all I have to offer. And in the words of The Avett Brothers it really all boils down to this simple thing - decide what to be and go be it.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Five favorites

Tiffany asked what my five favorite books and movies are.

Books first, in no particular order, and of course because I can't stop myself from blathering on and on, I can't just give you the titles, I must go into details about why I like them. If the book portion of this drags on I may show some mercy and come back tomorrow with the movies. I do realize you all have lives to live.

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen - I've read this book several times and I never get sick of it. I love anything by Austen but this one is my favorite. It's romantic, but not sickeningly so, and amusing and completely engaging. Anytime I read the book I keep hoping and hoping that Darcy and Lizzie will just end up together and I get a little nervous that it's  not going to happen and then when it does I'm completely relieved. A good book will keep you guessing no matter how many times you've read it.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee - The first time I read this I was in sixth grade. I loved it then and I've loved it each time I've gone back to read it. When I read it I felt like I really was friends with Scout and Dill and I imagined myself being with them and doing everything they were doing. I could feel the hot sticky weather and smell the southern air and strangely enough, even though it does not depict a pleasant side of the south, I would daydream about moving there when I was reading this book. I think a good book will always do that though - make you want to go places you never really even thought about before. When Jane and Kate were younger I read it aloud to them and they also fell in love with it. ( I need to stop using the word love. It's becoming redundant.) Kate returned to school this year and it was the first book they read in class and the teacher had to request that Kate stop answering all the questions about it.

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain - Like a lot of books I read as a kid and then went back and read as an adult, I loved and appreciated this book much more the second time around . The book is hilarious and brilliant and although a lot of children read it, you really should read this when you are an adult as well, because there are things you probably definitely missed the first time around.

No Man is An Island by Thomas Merton - This is not an easy book to get through, although nothing by Merton is easy to get through. I read it a few years ago when I found it while wandering through the Catholic section of the library. I was shocked that my small town in Florida even had a Catholic section and I think I may have looked over my shoulder a few times to make sure someone wasn't playing a joke. It is the south after all and boy do some people here not enjoy The Catholics and they have no problem telling you that while you are sitting on a bench in Donnelly Park minding your own business reading this very book. I was waiting for Anthony to finish a class one day and a woman whose son was taking the same class asked what I was reading. When I told her it was a book by a Catholic Trappist monk she said, oh my husband was Catholic but I made sure to get him out, and I thought, how sad for your husband and how amusing that you kind of are implying my religion is a cult. Then I looked at the book title and thought, gee why can't men just be islands because people like this woman are...not fun to talk to. I love this book firstly because it contains so much wisdom and truth and secondly because I found it while I was going through a really exciting time in my faith journey ( just threw up up in my mouth typing that phrase) and I found this book at the exact right moment. It made me think about love and God and many other deep things in a completely different way.

And lastly, really I have to include it because it was the first book I absolutely fell in love with and became obsessed with reading. It's a children's book called Frederick by Leo Lionni. I read it over and over and over again when I was 6 or 7 or however old I was when we learned how to read back then. (I cannot believe I'm old enough to say "back then" in reference to MY childhood. That phrase should be reserved for people who are at least a hundred.) Anyway, I'm pretty sure it was much older than when kids are expected to read now. This book is about a little field mouse who lives with his field mouse family and while they are all going around gathering food for the cold winter months, seemingly lazy Frederick is sitting around not helping and finally, as the busy among us are prone to do, someone gets a little annoyed that they are doing all of the work and Frederick is doing none and so they say hey, what's the deal. Frederick says he is gathering things in his mind and all of those things will help get them through the bitter, boring winter months and sure enough, when that time hits and they are all out of food and are completely at their wits end and probably suffering from severe cabin fever they all look at him and say well, and he gets a little nervous and then recites the sweetest poem about all of the colors he sees throughout the year and each of those colors represent something and when he is done everyone is happy and has forgotten just how miserable they all are. Frederick blushes because everyone cheers him on and tells him he is a poet. As a kid I was captivated by Frederick. I never got the hang of how to write poetry, but I have always enjoyed sitting around thinking about life while other people stay busy. So what can I say, that little field mouse spoke to me even way back in the first grade. When I was in college and got pregnant and then subsequently gave the baby up for a adoption, I was told I could give the baby something and so I went up to Clifton Country Mall on a very cold, bitter winter day and found Frederick in the tiny little bookstore that no longer exists and I sent it to the baby's new parents and hoped they would give it to him. I have my copy stored away safely and maybe the baby I gave up has his, too and wouldn't it be nice if someday we both happened to be reading it at the very same moment.

The movie portion of this post must wait. I have, as promised, blathered on and on far too long.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Me, me, me! More about me!!

Jennie C asks, what is your greatest strength?

Oh dear, this was not easy for me to answer as I have so many strengths and  it was hard to narrow it down to just one. Ba da bump! But for real, it did take me some time to come up with something. Finally I settled on this - people have told me on more than one occasion that I am a good listener and I make it easy for them to open up about things that are sometimes difficult to open up about.. For many years this was a huge burden. In college, friends were constantly coming to my room due to my listening skills and when they left I would stay awake and worry about everyone and their problems. Occasionally someone would drop a real doozy on me and I would be torn about whether I should tell someone else and if I didn't tell someone else, would disaster ensue and if it did, would I be responsible. Then I grew up and got older and decided that I'm not in charge of anyone and all I can really do is listen without making obnoxious, judgemental comments and  then let it go and it's no longer a burden but a gift. Just this weekend my neighbor, who is going through something quite painful,  saw me sitting outside and she came out and asked if I could come inside and talk to her. She didn't want me to talk, she wanted to talk and when she was done she gave me a huge hug and I left and felt pretty honored that I happened to be around when she really needed someone to be around. So that's it, that's my greatest strength, or at least a strength. Also, have you ever had someone tell you that they are a great listener, that they really know how to put people at ease and all you want to do is start laughing because they are the exact opposite of that? Well while I was writing this I was a bit worried that maybe I am that person and if that is the case, well just ignore everything I wrote.

Tiffany, I will answer your questions tomorrow and then I suppose I will have to stop answering reader questions altogether because all of this me talk is feeling self indulgent - not that I have a problem with that of course, but I should at least pretend I have a problem with it.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

More reader questions

Because it was fun and I have no imagination and can't think of anything to write on my own -

Julie in Florida asks, what is your favorite childhood memory, what is your favorite color, who is your favorite person to meet for coffee and when are you going to write a book?  Oh these questions readers are leaving always veer off into the delusional at the end.

I'll start with the last question. I am never going to write a book. The chances of it becoming a best seller are pretty high, which means I would become famous and I've always been a little afraid I would be awful as a famous person, which is why I really never try too hard at anything. The money and fame would go to my head. I would probably start drinking all the time and may even turn into the kind of person who gets on airplanes and spouts off f bombs. It wouldn't be pretty. We're all just better off with me living my life in a pretty anonymous state

What is my favorite color? Green. I find it soothing.

Who is my favorite person to have coffee with? Whoever it is I happen to be meeting that day for coffee is my favorite person to have coffee with. If I had to choose one person to have coffee with it would be my sister. This isn't to take away from all of the other lovely people I have coffee with ( and it suddenly sounds like all I do is have coffee with people all day, everyday) but me and my sister are pretty tight.

What is my favorite childhood memory? This one was hard. When I tried to think of one favorite memory I couldn't come up with one single one. Everything melded together. Little things come to mind, many of them involving my Nana. Picking dandelion greens with her in a field near the DiSiena Furniture store. She used to cook the greens like spinach. I guess this is now considered a fancy meal. My Nana did a lot of things that are now considered fancy and impressive. Too bad facebook wasn't around back then.  The time she found an injured bird lying in the road and brought it inside and tried to nurse it back to health. I was a teen when this happened. Nothing much impressed me. This did though. I still remember being mesmerized by the fact that my Nana was doing this. She put it in an open shoe box and wrapped up its broken wing and kept checking on it. I don't even remember if the bird made it or not. Making homemade ravioli with her and having her get mad at me and my sister if we didn't seam those babies up properly. Her praying the rosary in her chair and if you happened to come in when she was in the midst of it she would put her rosary down and talk to you, which always made me feel special. Those are just some of my favorites but I have many more and if I were to sit here and keep writing there is a chance I would never get up and unload the dishwasher, which is what I really need to be doing right now. As an aside, I realize I was extremely blessed to have grown up living so close to my Nana. It does take a lot to impress me and if you want to know why you would have to understand who my Nana was. I'm not sure there is anyone who even comes close to topping her in every single way and if she was sitting here reading this she would smile and say, "you bet your ass my granddaughter."

Tuesday, January 7, 2014


This blog stays mostly empty because I never know what to write about,  but then I saw that someone left a comment on my last post and I thought oh this is so exciting, I've always wanted to a get a comment that would let me do this....

A reader in Kentucky asks - Let me ask you ( go ahead reader, ask me anything), are you the type of biker who wears spandex and helmet? I picture you riding your bike in a pair of shorts and tank top, hair up in a pony tail, headphones on, leisurely riding around. I think it's awesome you are doing a 100 mile race. The reader then becomes delusional and says that she is sure I am going to love doing this 100 mile ride and want to do them all the time. 

Well I just loved this question because there are so many facets to it and I now have something to write about! Thank you, Kirsten!

No, I am not the type of biker who wears spandex. I'm what you can call plump ( go ahead, call me that, I won't punch you in the face, I promise!) so spandex would make me feel like a sausage stuffed into its casing and I would spend my whole ride uncomfortable and annoyed and my rolls of fat would keep falling out over the waistband and I would have to keep getting off my bike to tuck them back in,  and then  I would just be unhappy and riding is meant to make me happy so no, no spandex. This is the same reason I refuse to wear those awful things called spanx. I don't care how much thinner they are meant  to make you feel, they would have the opposite effect on me. I would constantly be thinking about the fact that I was so fat and flabby that  it was now necessary for me to put on special undergarments to hold my fat in and at no point would I be thinking, but I look 4 sizes smaller! What DO I wear on my ride? Usually those workout legging pants that come right below the knee, or on colder days, the ones that come to my ankle. On hot days, I wear cutoff yoga pants. Yes, it does look stupid, but I don't care.

Yes, I most definitely wear a helmet. I used to not wear one because I thought it made me look stupid, but then I realized I would look more stupid dead so I caved in and started using one and now I can't imagine riding without a helmet. 

As far  picturing me riding around in a pair of shorts and a tank top, with my hair up in a ponytail, leisurely listening to music from my headphones, I like this idea and I hope you are also picturing me weighing about 115 pounds and being about 5'8" with long tan legs and perky breasts filling the tank top. Also, a small nose and long neck. Please, please picture me like that. It's kind of how I hope my husband pictures me.  I just know I would look good like that. Not everyone could pull that look off but I'm sure it would suit me well. 

The reality, of course, is that I look like an oompa loompa when I ride. I know this because I did a charity ride a few months back and I happened to go online to look at the pictures and sure enough there was this thing in one of the photos and I thought oh, I didn't see any oompa loompas out there riding today, this is very interesting indeed. On closer inspection I realized it was yours truly and I almost became upset but then I remembered that even in my fattened state I had managed to finish the ride quite a bit before several young women who were much more fit than me and who had much nicer bikes, so I went back to feeling smug and managed to convince myself that looking like an oompa loompa isn't such a bad lot in life. 

As for how I wear my hair and whether or not I wear headphones; I can't wear a ponytail due to the helmet, but I do wear my headphones when I am riding on the bike path. It makes riding long distances more pleasant. Last week I was on a 65 mile ride and I had a moment of exhaustion and I kind of wanted to get off my bike and lie down in the grass and at that very moment, Bruce came on my ipod and starting singing The Promised Land to me and that was all I needed. I actually started singing, too, and I didn't give two poops who was around to hear me. Music helps me tremendously in every area of my life and it helps me ride better, too, so yes, if I'm on the bike path, they are in. If I'm out in the middle of nowhere on a country road, no, I don't use them. 

As for riding at a leisurely pace, if you were to pass me in your car you would probably think I was riding for leisure. I am not fast, although I do try to make every ride count. I spend many, many, many hours a week on my bike ( I can't tell you how many because then you will think I'm neglecting my kids) and I would feel guilty if I didn't make the time count for something, so I go as fast as I can go and I like to feel exhausted when I get off the bike, but the good kind, the kind that makes me want to go out again and again. 

What I lack in speed I more than make up for in my love for the bike. I LOVE riding. Riding saved me quite a few years ago when I went through an unpleasant experience in college. I got a summer job at the end of my junior year and saved every penny I made and then my good friend, Eddie, took me up to the bike shop in Clifton Park and helped me pick out a mountain bike and I rode that bike everyday of the summer, all over the place.While I was riding I thought about the kind of life I wanted to have and the kind of person I wanted to be and sometimes I just daydreamed about things I knew would never happen but were still fun to think about. I rode on country roads and I went places I probably shouldn't have gone but I always got off the bike and felt better about everything and the bike still does that for me. I never feel worse. Not even when I fall and nearly knock my teeth out.

Over the weekend I had a moment of panic and thought that my idea to do the century was completely foolish and there was no way I could it. I texted my sister and called my sister and finally after listening to me over and over she sent me a text and said, but you love riding so much and that's all that matters, that's what this ride is about, just calm down. So I did finally and who cares if Greg has to come pick me up in the dark and I don't finish the ride with everyone else. Although I don't know that I'll be doing centuries all the time, I do think Kirsten is right, I do think I will end up loving this particular ride. And Anthony would never let me back out now anyway. He already told me the only way to prove how much I love him and care about him and his diabetes is by doing this ride. Then he told me he was kidding and only trying to motivate me.

Anyway, thanks for the question, Kirsten. You provided me with a material for a post!