Thursday, December 31, 2009
Last year my friend Chuck made a New Year's Resolution to get the best parking spot everywhere he went for the whole year. He did it too. Through nothing but the power of expectation. It is true though, I swear. I have evidence- murkily angled shots of his champagne Mazda in front of the grocery store, University buildings, the Okahumpka Service Plaza, and more bars than I care to remember. In some shots he puts his foot on the hood of the car as though his dirty Pro-Keds are some form of legal I.D.
I think he is going to follow that amazing run with a new resolution to receive nothing but great servce in restaurants. I guess that means he won't be going to Cabo's anymore, or El Jalisco.
Chuck is on my lifetime board of directors and therefore a good role model. I think I will follow his example and avoid declarations of self-improvement. Why do I need to improve myself? Who needs that kind of trip? I try. I truly do. I handle my own flagellation thank you very much. This year I'm going to let the Universe come to me. It doesn't take a brain scientist or a rocket surgeon to notice that the world could do a little shaping up of its own without expecting more from me.
I think I resolve to expect more from doing less. When you want something real bad, and you try as hard as you can, how often do you get it? Me? Not often. In 2010 I am going to give less and expect more- starting with San Felasco.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Sunday, December 20, 2009
There will be more on Manny later, for the couple of you keeping up with that new development here at the BRC. For now though, I have a bike ride to talk about so what the hell, for old time's sake!
It is too late to prepare for San Felasco in any true sense. Muscles don't grow that fast, and fat knows how to dig in and hang on for the Christmas season does it not? The only choice I have now is to simulate the horrible conditions I will likely be experiencing on that fine day in the near future.
Knowing I would ride this morning I stayed up half the night at S'quatch's Solstice party. (Solstice is hippy for Christmas -fyi) I had a glorious time singing and smoking cigars and drinking wine around the campfire.
Then I skipped breakfast.
Then I didn't wear enough clothes.
Then I didn't bring any fresh water, just the swill in the Camelbak from the last ride I took, which was in the late nineties practically.
Then we bushwhacked, got cold, wet, and miserable.
Logged in about 25 miles, a mix of road, trail, swampmarsh, and urban wasteland needle exchange sites.
I think I'm ready.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
He was standing in the corridor of the hospital hoping he didn’t smell too much like scotch when he heard his name. Mr Manny! Shocked and looking guilty he turned to the sound, his name with a Mr. attached. He saw the protruding belly button stemming from the swollen black belly of a teenage girl. Manny was confused. It’s Kiya Mr. Manny!
Manny stared into the sterile chamber in the Nicu section of the hospital. He looks kind of Puerto Rican he thought. He knew this baby’s mother from his days working at a shelter for teens. All kinds of kids showed up at that place. Most of them just passed through and were gone, leaving nothing but the funky scent of toes and corn chips. This little Puerto Rican’s mother was a different case. Her family was poor, like shit ass poor. The kind of poor that comes with that certain smell-acrid, sweet, and fearful. Not ever having been that kind of poor Manny never knew the source of that smell, but he remembered it from some boy’s house growing up, a place he used to play on Saturday mornings. The kid had nothing but broken toys and Manny would ride into town on his Schwinn Scrambler and help the kid break what was left of his Christmas haul. This baby, the little Puerto Rican, his mother wanted it all. It all wasn’t much. She would come to the shelter for a few weeks at a time and stock up on nail polish, lip gloss, socks, underwear, and maybe submit to a trip to the health clinic or the dentist before her mother would come around to collect her- sitting dead-eyed with some 22 year old white girl counselor telling her ways to improve communication with her daughter.
Manny tended to go outside when that part happened. Now, with a newborn baby sucking for air in a plastic case that looked like something used to store a comforter, he figured that Kiya's days of nail polish and lip gloss were over.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Let's take a break from Manny's story to address concerns regarding this bike ride coming up. The concerns are mostly mine. In fact, it will be a sports comeback beyond measure if I make it to lunch at the 25 mile mark.
There's no question: Juancho is up against it worse than ever before. Never have I been so unprepared, so unfocused on the goal, so uninterested in an event- and yet- I will stubbornly attend, and who knows what might happen.
Glory can still be mine.
Friday, December 11, 2009
Manny thought frequently of writing a book, and like many aspiring writers this means he spent significant hours reading. Sometimes, when enough drinks lofted him to a place of inspiration he scribbled on a yellow legal pad until exhausted- he fizzled out somewhere above the 13” mark. This slow and sporadic progress never discouraged Manny. For Manny, every page was a monument and every word a rare coin.
Coming back to this town for personal reasons was something new for Manny. The reason was his old English teacher Mr. Howard had died, dead of a heart attack at 63. The memorial was to be held Saturday and he was only 100 miles away. Closer than the 300 comfortable miles he normally maintained from the Central Florida orange grove town where he grew up.
Manny was hung-over badly. His shoulders and neck felt like they were filled with gravel and fiberglass dust and every move was surely scraping away his insides. He pictured his blood running from tears and cuts in his neck and pooling in his stomach, which then explained the churning and boiling going on down there.
He had no choice. When he first learned of the service three weeks before he was so shocked and moved at the loss of his early friend and mentor that he passionately decreed that he, Manny Fiesta, would make the noble effort. Someone must be told that Mr. Howard’s time spent in this culturally anemic community of newlyweds and nearly-deads was not for nothing, assuming Manny amounted to something.
He looked at his phone and calculated his arrival time at home if he got back in the van right this very minute and hit the road. Contemplating this complete abnegation of his avowed principles Manny covered the furrowed ground of his past capitulations.
He knew he was capable of walking away and leaving Mr. Howard’s history to be written without him- then he heard a woman say she was Mr. Howard’s sister. Taller than Manny, and elegant in her grief, her chocolate brown shawl floated as she turned to an approaching Manny.
“Your brother was my teacher 20 years ago. He was the only one I liked. He told me to study English-which I did. I’m sorry he’s gone. I just wanted to tell someone he was a great teacher. Mr. Howard was the best. Mr. Howard was a real class act.” He hoped one of those comments had done the trick. He had not intended to use them all. In his mind he had pictured himself saying just the right thing, nothing more, and then leaving. Now this woman was crying and she wrapped her arms around Manny Fiesta’s gravelly neck and shoulders. He laid his head against the chocolate brown shawl, soft and scented of roses.
Manny hugged her back, reassured that he had made a good decision. For Manny Fiesta, one good decision was considered a roll.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Alas, not yet to the shitting of the pants story.
With the grounds in the jezvah, or as he had come to consider it- the Begojavic, the water would come singing to a boil in the kettle. Dousing the grounds into boiling slurry he wafted the jezvah over the stovetop flame, ceasing his monologue for a moment to allow his female companion to appreciate the toasted bean aroma that faithfully steamed from the little copper pot.
A trickle of boiling water to bring the foamy meniscus to the top, then Manny would turn the foam with the tiny spoon, clarifying the gritty residue from the caramel, spongy layer the size of a British pound coin (Manny would call it a quid) a doling of foam, a pouring of scalding coffee-always surprisingly smooth and nutty to the lady’s delight. They always assumed it would be burnt-tasting like espresso. Dipping sugar cubes in bosanski style (as opposed to brewing the sugar in the grounds which was serpski style) Manny would evoke in character a grizzled old man (or woman) reflecting on the lack of sugar in the war, and how they would dip stones from the Neretva river into tannic water experiencing ghost pains for the pleasure of a hot coffee and a cigarette with friends.
With a knack for the impersonation here and there-- Manny usually earned a laugh for these portrayals while his conscience chastised him for playing to the image of deprivation and suffering. He justified this and other portrayals as gallows humor, asserting against his conscience that his very awareness of the inappropriateness of the remarks represented more of a meta- sense of humor than an outright crassness or piggish American sensibility. Like the cigarettes he proffered with the Turkish coffee-- the shocking, clownishly racist comments were a simple guilty pleasure, a way to separate himself from his genuine, earnest, recycling and pro-choice supporting male peers.
Not wanting to be lumped with the sandals and socks crowd, Manny pushed conversation to exciting and dangerous places, hopefully setting the stage for a further erosion of boundaries, unlike the persistently divided Balkans.
Sunday, December 06, 2009
I have no bike stories to tell you so try this, an excerpt from my novel. Only 120 pages to go!
...On the occasion that Manny was successful in bringing a lady to his home he would sometimes transition from the aw shucks vulnerability of the hapless idiot into the deeper brooding understander of war sort of, in the sense that he knew people who knew war and he contacted them on occasion, even visiting a country that had seen war recently (the roofs were all blown away! The tomatoes were white! The beer was not cold!) Manny would mutter these stories, making eye contact when he relayed the images of the bombs dropping-as described in detail, always miming with his hands- as if milking a cow- this gesture intended to represent the mortar shells falling.
As he told these stories, making a subdued yet legitimate effort to draw distinctions between his stories (the gypsies touched me in the train station, I got left at the Austrian border, I shit my pants on the bus) from the stories of his friends ( the warehouse was looted, we ran sniper alley to the market. The market got bombed. Hundreds were slaughtered. ) Manny would prepare a Turkish coffee as he learned it from his friend who knew war.
Putting the kettle on to boil, Manny would take down the jezvah and peer inside its brass bell with a scrutinizing eye. He would pour a handful of beans into the Mlin, and assemble the grinder by attaching its flimsy retractable handle onto the nut at the top. This is the part of the process where Manny would describe the old women with the calluses on their hips from a lifetime of grinding coffee for the men. Manny had never seen any calluses on any women in Bosnia, but he had been served coffee by young girls and old women, only being served by a man if it was one of his American or British friends. By telling this story and serving a woman coffee Manny was hoping the woman in question understood that this wrestling bear could also do women’s work, and perhaps stand on a ball and turn around if the night went agreeably.
Friday, December 04, 2009
I'm working on a new song for the band I drive into the ground with my management advice. The song is called, "Nobody Reads My Blog." This post will exemplify the sad plot.
The lyrics go like this...(to the tune of something like Celine Dion or Taylor Swift- you pick)
Nobody reads my blog
It's like they don't even care at all,
I rode my bike and I took a fall-
and nobody even called!
Yeah, it's numer one with a bullet... anyway.
First night in the new house, which has only been a place of pain and tears until now. The shower shoots straight out of the wall, and my Craig's list dryer doesn't plug into my antique wall socket, but whatever. What's done is done. I slept right through the night, and like I told S'quatch, "There's nothing left to do but grow old and die now."
I am even going to break my cycling fast with a tour of my old friend Sweet Dr. Munson tomorrow sometime, so WB the answer is yes. I'm not going at 8:00 in the morning though, you can forget all that.
Wednesday, December 02, 2009
When I think of all the underwhelming storms that got names over the years, it is a meteorological injustice that the low pressure system drubbing us into the ground right now is being treated like a nobody.
I can't see my neighbor's house it is raining so hard.
What's that you asked? How is the move going? I intend to fill up the dinghy and row my happy ass across town today. Perhaps I will take the electronics?
Remember when I talked about bikes all the time? Jeesh, grow up dude. Bikes, whatever.
Wait, I don't mean that. The Titus is locked in cold storage, but it can't be helped. The energy to go for a ride is a precious commodity. I'm already falling down the stairs tired, dropping bowls of spaghetti tired, go to bed at 8:30 P:M tired. Sounds like training to me. I never fell down the stairs after a bike ride, only before.
Back to my point though, what are we going to name this storm?