Thursday, August 30, 2007

Laugh At The One You're With

One of my readers (ok only reader) Mr. Smythe has a story about his lovely wife going on a rough ride.
His story made me think about my own bike story and my wife's reaction.
You see, Tommy loves his wife, and so his reaction was one of shock and fear. However, my wife, though she loves me, instead chooses to laugh when I experience pain.
Maybe it's because she thinks I'm a clown (shut up, Joe Pesci...your career is over).
Back in 2001, my wife and I went to St. Lucia for our honeymoon. Beyond the fact that everyone thought we were nuts for flying (post 9/11 and all), most said, "St. Lucia? Where the hell is that?" One of the activities we could do at the resort we stayed at was called, "Jungle Biking."
The name is exactly what it sounds like: you bike through a rainforest. Very cool, but it has its issues. Namely, those of us who are used to city or street biking are not very good at biking off road. My lovely wife, who grew up in the countryside of Missouri, was used to biking through the forest, so she and the guide were shooting way ahead of me. I could not remember the last time I was on a bike that had two independent brake systems (front and back), so I was struggling.
At one point the trail curved down and around a large rock and culminated with a cross over a small bridge with no rails on either side.
The guide said, "This is easy. Just use your rear brakes to get around the curve and make sure you drop enough speed to stay on the bridge."
My wife had no issues. I was not as lucky.
I shot down the hill and hit the rear brake, but I did it late, so I ended up on the outside edge of the bridge. My rear wheel shot out from behind, and it was then that I realized: the bike was going off the bridge. I kicked down with the pedal and launched myself up in the air. I had no choice. The bike literally went over me...with me still in the seat.
It was a fantastic crash. As my wife would later describe it, they (she and the guide) looked back to see where I was, and they saw a blur of bike and man shoot end over end from one edge of the jungle to the other. I rolled three times and finally stopped when I hit a palm tree.
In the distance, I heard...laughter. My wife was laughing at me. She had no idea if I was hurt or even dead, but her defense mechanism is to laugh at a situation where someone she cares about my have been hurt. The guide turned and stared at her. I know because from my vantage point of the ground I could still see them. His face betrayed his feelings: this woman is nuts to laugh at this.
He jumped off his bike and ran back to check on me.
Miraculously, I was fine. My pride was hurt, I had a bruise forming on my arm (which had hit the tree), and my helmet was full of jungle, but I was ok. Even the bike was ok. It was just scratched up.
When we finished and returned to the shack where the bikes were held, there was a doctor who wanted to check me.
"Are you ok?" he asked.
"Yup." I replied.
"You're damn lucky," he said, "You should thank your angel for protecting you."
"Ok then," I said.
Years later, I can still hear my wife laughing. When my son gets hurt (he's learning to perfect his walking, which means he's been falling on hard things a little bit), she is concerned. No laughter. I fell down the steps the other night, and she was rolling on the floor.
I don't know if it's because she is sure I'm ok, or if because she doesn't know how to react, but it can be disconcerting to hear that laughter.
I'm glad that Tom's wife is ok, and I hope that she avoids all gravel at all costs.
Then again what do I know? I don't always laugh when someone gets hit in the groin. I could be wrong.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

We Hold These Truths....

This is for a former student of mine. WG became an RA this year (and I'm proud of her, I might add). So here is some advice (a la Sunscreen) and my own life.
Advice on Life:
(This advice can apply to everyone, in most situations.)

Everybody lies. Some bigger than others, but everybody lies.

That being said, honesty is the best policy, but deliver the truth gently, not with a jackhammer.

Love and lust are different. One is emotion, while the other is a physical desire. You are not in love if all you want is physical.

Gut feelings are usually correct. Follow your instincts.

Life isn't always fair. Get over it. If the rock rolls down the hill when you push it, Sisyphus, design a better system.

Don't compare yourself to others. That always leads to disappointment.

The old adage is true: Measure twice, cut once. Now apply it to opinions: Think twice, speak once. Think about what the person said, think about what you really want to say, then speak.

You cannot change people. You can change opinions, and you can maybe change outlooks, but you cannot change a person's core.

Sleep. Everything looks and feels better after you sleep.

Friendships are like blossoms of trees or flowers. Some stay through sunshine and rain, while others fall away. Don't weep for the lost blossoms, but treasure the ones still there.

Having a few regrets isn't something to be ashamed of. Regrets, painful as they can be, are the best teaching tools for life experience.

Own up to your mistakes and apologize. Never shirk responsibility.

You don't have to grow up, but you must get older. However, not everyone wants to be around the guy or girl who's 40 and acts 20.

You don't have to know what your exact future is. My mother is 67, and she still doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up.

Don't worry about tomorrow. Realize that worrying about tomorrow is as effective as trying to stop a car with a diaper.

There is only one person in the world you can really trust: yourself.

Think long and hard before you decide on having a child. However, if you do welcome one into your life, learn to parent well and love no matter what. There's a reason the term "my favorite mistake" was created.

Almost all cultures have a form of the golden rule. That should be a hint.

Realize that life will always get better. There's nothing sadder than the people who believe that high school or college was the best time of their lives. That means they have stopped trying to experience life.

Duct tape is great, but education and experience are better at fixing things. Make sure you have all three.

Fashions will change. Ideas will go in and out of style. People will always say that life was better when they were kids. Just nod and know you will do this too.

Always use the bathroom before you leave to go anywhere. Inevitably it's when you think you can make it that you don't.

Sleep in late occasionally, but never miss an appointment because of it.

Visit your home at least once a year. If you forget where you came from, you lose the things that made you who you are. Your past is large part of your future.

Go to a park and pick up a fallen leaf sometime during the Fall. It is a reminder of how insignificant we can be.

When consoling someone, it is ok to say "I'm sorry," but make sure that you follow up by not allowing that person to mope or quit.

Work isn't always the answer. Neither is sex, money, or winning.

Make a list of 100 things to do before you die. If you achieve one, you've succeeded.

Everyone, no matter what they say, wants to feel needed and loved. If you can make a person feel that way, they will march through Hell with you.

Four words: I love you too. Always respond. Never answer, "I know," or "Thank you." If you don't love that person, don't lie.

Read the cooking instructions only once. After that, make it your own dish. Personalize it. Cooking is a great deal like love. If you follow what you're told instead of what you feel, the dish (and the relationship) will end.

Accept the damn compliment. Say, "Thanks," and then shut up. You may not see it like the person complimenting you, but he or she believes it, so be nice.

People can be horrible at times. If we didn't act badly, we wouldn't know kindness. Instead of attacking back, contemplate why they act that way.

Don't be hard on yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. If you didn't, how would you learn?

Travel or live somewhere outside your comfort zone. You just might find a new home.

Stay in touch with your family. Respect your parents. They've been through more than you can imagine and have a wealth of knowledge. If you have siblings, stay in touch with them. They are probably your go to person or people when you're in trouble. Tell your parents, siblings, and loved ones that you love them. They could be gone at any moment.

If you end up going to Disneyland, do not engage in fisticuffs with the Disney characters. Trust me.

You can disagree with other views, cultures, or opinions, but respect them. Never tell people that their thoughts are worthless. What makes your feelings better than theirs?

Sex is wonderful, but people can get tired. Make sure you can have a conversation or you may not be able to practice your, "best skill," as you may call it.

Not everyone is going to like or respect you. So what? Understand why those people feel that way and move along. Don't antagonize. In the end, as long as you respect yourself, life will be fine.

Get a massage. Your back is important, and you should take care of it.

Help those who need it, but be wary of those who would take advantage of it.

The arts are important. Mankind has put alot of its best work into visual, oral, and aural arts. Listen to music, see a film and a play, and attend a museum. You should also practice some yourself.

Good manners, good cooking, and good conversation skills will take your very far in life. Remember that.

Keep your different masks, but make sure the real you makes appearances now and then. Bare your soul at least once without frightening the world.

Be awed by the universe, be thankful for the time you've been given, and be present in the now instead of stuck in the past or imagining the future.

And always remember: the situation is hopeless, but not serious. Understand that, and you will love life.


Monday, August 27, 2007

You're Fat!

Oh Minnesota, what will be do?

It seems all that state fair cuisine is going right to our hips...and ass...and stomach.

Studies show that Minnesota is the leading state when it comes to exercise. 85% of the state is out there getting the blood flowing (and not in the shooty, stabby way). This is great, and something about which to feel good (you can start clapping now).

Unfortunately (uh oh) the state ranked a paltry 28 out of 50 when it comes to the percentage of adults who are obese (and now your clapping becomes awkward silence).

Yup, fat. Last year analysts were concerned about Minnesotans gaining weight too quickly (132 percent in 16 years), but do Minnesotans listen? Hell no! To truly be passive aggressive, one must eat away (or drink away) the pain.

A buddy of mine announced today that he started losing weight when he stopped drinking. "All the vegetables and fruit," he said, "mean nothing when you down three beers a day."

So remember Minnesota. Exercise is only part of is also important.

Then again, what do I know? I'm a New Yorker. We die young...ish. I could be wrong.


Sunday, August 26, 2007


I've been turned into a member of Springfield.

It's actually really close.

I'm not sure I'd wear a black suit to work, but I still like it.