Thursday, April 17, 2014

Not quite done yet

After many years my college career is coming to an end--or at least I thought.  I have met my match with Senior Seminar and have gone from worrying about a silly piece of gold rope on my shoulder to wondering if I'll cross that stage a fraud.  Sometimes my professors just do not like me.  This is the dilemma behind the English degree--not every professor will like your work.  So I play the game.  I go to office hours.  I prove in class that I have done the reading and offer my opinions or theories on the texts.  However in this case, it is all for nothing.  I just try harder and dig a deeper hole.  It's like I'm drowning and all my paddling towards the surface is only moving me farther down into the abyss.  All this came to a spear head last week when my fears of failure became even more real with a gruesome presentation.

So today I sit in my chair, humiliated and beat down I stare at the dest.  I want to hide within the pages of my text and listen as my colleges present effortlessly five page texts while I was stuck with 130 pages.  Every word they said felt like a match lit underneath my desk burning the indignity and memory of the horrific moment into my consciousness.  I sat and looked at the rows of letters stretch across the page.  How can I survive everything I went through last year and the much-less-than-metaphoric collision with I car I lived through in January to let one professor beat me?  I looked at my leg and remembered what used to be red flesh, filled with what felt like tiny little knives digging into my every movement--and I was about to let one man take me down. 

I scribbled down my thoughts.  I dodged the professor's derailment and continued to make my point.  While I may be only capable of a high school level reading, my elementary rendition of the text just hijacked the class.  I tried not to smile as my peers mimicked my thoughts for the remaining fifteen minutes.  Apparently I am not the only one incapable of close reading.    

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

"Reflection"

We untie the knot 
we made out of our legs and arms,
and I realize I am holding a mirror.
The place you stand 
is a perch I know well.

I tell you what’s on my mind 
but the image is backwards,
and my words fall down on me
like the rain stumbling and stammering
while outside the storm is raging. 

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Three Hundred and Sixty Five

If someone told me a year ago that my whole life would be over as I knew it I would have a hard time believing them.  If someone told me that I would be such a different person that all of my priorities in life would be changed and that everything that truly mattered would improve I would have laughed.  But in the year since I found the direction of my life would change I have altered into a new person.  I found that when you stare into oblivion, cross into it and walk through darkness for a year you learn to appreciate yourself.  I love myself and respect myself.  Life before that realization is a fading shadow of the life I enjoy now.

It took three hundred and sixty five days to really understand the value of a small decision that corrects the course of your life and saves you from untold years of misery.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Why do I ride my fucking bicycle?

I realized the deepest beauty cycling gives me. It has taken me a lifetime to understand the force that compels me to turn the cranks of my bike for hours on end. I frequently ride with a large group that maintains a small group of core riders. I am not one of those core riders, but I’ve been with the group long enough to know who is. I watch them disappear or hear through the Strava grapevine that they were hit or crashed. Usually it’s pretty bad. I was never the person hit year after year. And then, on a quiet Sunday afternoon that changed and I found out I could not dodge that collision forever.

I was rolling down a country road just outside Folsom when an SUV hit me from behind. It hurt. It was scary. The police were coercive. Everyone was against me—the cyclist. I was afraid that if I sat down I would never get back up. My body was torn up and life slowed down. At first, everyone was concerned and it was like I had fifteen minutes of fame all my friends and family. After a few days, there was silence as I struggled on. The days rolled into nights. I looked at my bike and after a few weeks I tried to put my hands on the handlebars only to find I had deep bruising in the exact shape of those bars. And the waiting continued.

I read online to try stretching my leg—excruciating pain. I eventually could climb the stairs. I started walking without a limp. I climbed on my bike on a Wednesday morning and took off for school—a twenty-mile ride. Halfway there I changed my mind, but it was too late. I let my leg spin like dead weight, using my good leg to propel my bike forward and move the bad leg up and down. Crawling along I made it. Limping back I made it back home at the end of the night.

The next day I convinced myself that if it hurt I would turn back, but my bad leg felt pretty good. My bad leg could push down on the pedal. My good leg shared the work and for the first time in a month I felt hope. I felt normal. I felt freedom as the wind shifted and swirled around the riverbed as I rolled a long at a faster speed than before. However riding held a different meaning as it became linked to so much more.

Now when I ride I feel the air hit me just before a big truck passes me inches from my back and I shudder. I hold my line and force the demons out of my mind. I force the memory of the side of that ill-fated traveler instantly colliding with me. I shut out the image of the side of the road coming at me while I was upside down and in the air. I feel the next car coming upon me and I repeat the same process. So what does all this have to do with beauty?

After someone has been hit in the cycling club it is almost as if there is a ghost in their place within that group of riders. Some times that ghost turns back into a rider as they pick their bike back up again and sometimes it slowly fades into nothingness. I found the secret meaning hidden beneath spring days, sharp tan lines and splendid journeys—I am not a ghost. I felt my feet spinning revolutions and I understand I got back up again. I look down at my purple knee pumping next to my frame and I lifted myself back onto the saddle. I look into the memories of my broken marriage and I know I will stand back up again. I look at my torn childhood and I realize I will not break my daughter’s youth. I am more than my experiences. I am bigger than the small moments that try to define me and shatter my world. I feel that rush of air behind me and I hold my line because I am not afraid to fall down.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Here Come the Clouds

Ahhhhh, getting hit by an automobile.  I think I have some dark days a head of me.  I wrote an incredibly optimistic post about how nothing could be worse than 2013--yeah, so perhaps there was a little bit of ironic foreshadowing in that one.

I'm watching some of the wounds turn into scabs but its what I can't see that's scaring me.  Two days ago I could barely move my arms, now I cannot sleep because my leg hurts.  It feels like a knife is tearing through my leg.  It feels like every step makes it worse.  I hopped up after I slid to a stop following the collision, and was almost running around.  Now I tell my child I can only go up the stairs one time.

When I do sleep I dream I'm riding my bike.  Since 2009 I have never quit moving.  I stopped running because marathon training forced me to take breaks, and those weeks of inactivity were too much.  I am in so much pain that I wonder if I will pedal again.



  

Thursday, January 30, 2014

When I Shuffle off this Mortal Coil

I keep remembering the side of an SUV coming at me and the side of the road moving towards me while I was upside down and off the ground.  While I have been hobbling around campus and groaning as I sit down I realize one day I will die.  There is a strange silence in my life right now.  It's kind of like unknown to me, everything was building up to the events of last weekend and now there is just a quiet release.  

Initially I recieved a wave of support from friends and family, but now I look at my bike and wrap bandages around my arms and legs to hide the bleeding from the outside world.  I walk around with this hidden trauma and pretend nothing happened.  I looked at other people's car versus bike outcomes and feel lucky.  Only, what do I do?  I really think it's just a matter of time until the next driver is texting or drunk or just plain malicious and I find my life at the intersection of their actions again.  How do I live my life from here?  Am I afraid I'll fall down again?  Am I too scared of the outside world to get back up?

-Saved my life and you can barely tell except from some cracks and scrapes...

Monday, January 27, 2014

Almost a Ghost Bike

Yesterday I was riding down White Rock Road for a little warmup before I turned onto Scott Road.  I looked over my shoulder and saw an open road.  I looked over again and there was an SUV flying into me at 50 mph.  The SUV hit me and I remember being upside down and in the air.  I watched the side of the road coming at me thought to myself to just roll.  In some insane adrenaline I popped up and started hopping around to check for broken bones and make sure I was still alive.  The car went through a fence and far into a field.  I was hopping around I realized I had no major injuries.  My leg was really injured from being hit my the car but nothing was broken severly.  I grabbed my bike out of the road and waited for the paramedics.  The driver of the SUV never got out of the car.  

After the hospital I realized just how entirely lucky I am.  I went home and found everything on my body was shredded.  My helmet took all of the impact as I am pretty sure I remember landing on my head.  My clothes are shredded.  My arm warmers and leg warmers shredded.  Even my shoes are destroyed.  But I'm walking--a little slowly--but still walking.  

Self Portrait at the ER.