Tuesday, March 31, 2009

On the road again

I didn't start walking until I was 14 months old. That's within the "normal" range but in our culture of recording every drop of milk taken in, ounce of poop excreted and developmental milestone ticked off the chart(hopefully before all the baby books and mom websites say it should happen), it's a bit on the late side. There was nothing wrong with me. My mom says I just didn't seem to have any interest in getting anywhere. She could put me on the living room floor with a couple of toys around me and go into the kitchen to make lunch and when she returned, I would be in the same spot. I had no need to be pulling on her apron strings nor to check out what was past the length of my arm. I think that I still exhibit a general contentment with my life and acceptance of the way things are.

Once I got on my feet, I developed like most everyone else - I enjoyed scooting myself on the trike bike, pedaling myself on a regular bike, and, eventually, driving myself in a car. The feeling of freedom that permeated my soul when I got my driver's license was indescribable. I didn't own a car but had rather generous use of my parents' cars. For years, I loved driving. I felt free, unencumbered, full of opportunity, and independent.

These days, driving a car feels like the opposite of what it once did. It doesn't make me independent - it makes me dependent on the car, which is built with computer chips and circuits that I'll never understand and could never fix if I needed to. It makes me dependent on the roads - where they go and don't go and whether they're jammed with traffic. It makes me dependent on maintenance personnel - to diagnose and fix chips and circuits and get to those darn spark plugs that car manufacturers now make unreachable with normal tools - who hopefully don't take all the money from my wallet in the process.

When I want to feel true freedom of motion now, I get on a bike. Bikes are still simple machines even as they incorporate new technologies. All parts are fixable with a little bit of training and a small set of tools. I depend on no one but myself when I ride a bike.

When I move my legs, I move the bike. I feel my muscle fibers contract and work together, my heart rate increases and my lungs suck in more air. I cover ground. I put space between where I was and where I am. My legs are the pistons and the calories I've eaten are the fuel. I feel the wind in my face. I feel the sweat down my back. I hear the vehicle engines around me and see people stuck in their climate-controlled boxes. I hear the birds calling. I smell the fields, each one surprisingly different. I tuck on the downhills. I stretch on the flats. I sing songs in my head on the uphills and push, push, push. I smile and laugh when I make it to the top.

My body gives up a lot of energy to ride a bike. My soul gains a lot of energy to ride a bike.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

When good fortune is a mixed blessing

I have a great job. I work part-time in a professional field which provides a rather large paycheck. I have the flexibility to say on any given day that I can't work because my son is sick or there's a snow day or whatever. I don't have to find a substitute to do my work for me that day, I can use vacation time or sick time or make up the time - whichever is easiest for me. I get to play ultimate frisbee during lunch. I can do my work from home when I want or need to. I can get full benefits (health insurance, life insurance, vacation and sick time) even working part-time. And did I mention that I get paid a lot and can move my hours around however I need to without much stress?

Let's say that I had this incredible job as described above but didn't like the work itself. And let's say that it wasn't just that the work wasn't enjoyable but that I was so disinterested in the work that it was nearly impossible to do my best at the job, to give it my all, to become better at it each day.

It seems pretty easy to say, "Suck it up and enjoy what you get from the job that benefits your family." It also seems pretty easy to say, "If you don't like it, don't do it. Find something else. The details will work out and you and your family will deal with whatever changes you have to face."

The problem is that acting on either response is not easy. Can you imagine trying to find a job that doesn't require a college degree in its field and that I would enjoy that would pay what I make now? Or that I'd be able to work part-time? Or that I'd be able to get up in the morning, hear that school is canceled for snow, sleet or hailstorm and just email in to say I won't be able to work that day and the company is totally fine with that?

Sounds impossible. And yet, I believe that people should try to follow their passion even if it means that material things don't come as easily. And that people should accept chances to stretch their faith and personality. So it sounds just as impossible to follow the "suck it up" response.

If I wasn't so fortunate to have an incredible job, moving away from it - hypothetically - wouldn't be so hard.

Monday, March 09, 2009


Scene: Kevin and me lying in his bed at bedtime

Kevin: Mommy, *giggle* what if someone passed gas in someone else's face? *giggle*
Me: That would be very rude.
Kevin: Ok. But what if there was a small person and a tall person and they were standing in line together?
Me: *blink*
Kevin: And then the tall person passed gas and it was in the small person's face just because that's where they were standing?

Saturday, March 07, 2009

My maturing sense of smell

I hung some laundry on the line today. I don't have enough line space to hang much at a time so I usually leave the clothes for the dryer because it doesn't matter so much when they smell delicious and they're kind of uncomfortable when they feel like a board when we've grown used to them being soft.

As soon as the weather is nice enough to hang laundry outside (even if it's a warmer/breezier day in the winter) I immediately throw the blankets and sheets through the washer. When I bring them in off the line, I bury my face in them for 5 minutes to inhale their goodness. Then I make everyone else in the house stick their noses in, too. Then I spend a half hour walking on air with a ditzy smile on my face because I'm high on the smell of fresh.

When I was a kid, we hung miles of laundry on the line. And by "we" I do mean I had a big hand in that chore. For some reason, I forget how much I hated that now that I'm an adult and am making the choice for myself - plus there's not so much line to fill at any one time.

I sucked my thumb (and index finger) until I was 9 years old. My blankie was my lifeline. It smelled delicious in a different sort of way. My mom says it smelled like grunge but I prefer to think that it smelled of love. Love doesn't always smell of fresh air, though, and I HATED the smell of my blanket after my mom washed it. I tried desperately to not let her wash it and especially not hang it on the line.

I think that if I smelled that blanket now, as an adult, I'd think that it smelled good because my brain would remember. But I can't, for the life of me, imagine why anything could smell better than a blanket dried on the line.

Monday, March 02, 2009

I won't be wearing that today


I left my sandals on the front porch after kayaking two weeks ago.
Posted by Picasa