The BRODOWN

I’ve changed my plans and decided to move to Tucson in two weeks. I don’t have a job there yet, or a place to live. But that’s part of the fun. Another part of the fun is that it’s 90 degrees there today.

Last Sunday morning, I met the team at the shop for a ride. About 10 minutes into the ride, my rear deraileur broke apart and got sucked up into my wheel. So I got a ride back to the shop and went mountain biking with Gilad, Justin, John, and Robby. AKA: The BROdown. It’s kind of like a throwdown with your bros, except not. Extra points are awarded when you substitute the word BRO into places it ordinarily wouldn’t be found, except in the BROdown.

Our destination was the Ulla trail.  We drove east past lake Dexter and parked at the base of an 8 mile gravel climb. The wimpy mountain bikers sucked for air as I effortlessly soft pedaled up the hill, but my moment of glory came to an end two hours later when the gravel BROoad ended and we reached the descent. It was the steepest trail I have ever done, and I was riding a $450 hardtail (Tony’s bike). We all lowered our seats and put on our protective clothing. I had just come from the failed road ride, so all I had to put on for BROtection was my knee warmers. I took another look down the slope and put on my knee warmers. I let the other guys go ahead, but was surprised to find out that I wasn’t the slowest and was able to keep up fairly well with John. Justin and Gilad were way up ahead and would BROccasionally stop to take pictures on the steepest sections, fingers crossed in anticipation of a good crash photo op. They missed all three of my crashes, which weren’t bad at all. Nothing was BROken. My first crash was on a super steep part with rocks pocking through the dirt. I went over the handlebars and slid on my chest for a few meters, then came to a stop.

One of my difficulties was clipping in after taking my shoes out of the pedals. I was wearing my road shoes and had my road pedals on Tony’s bike, which kept getting clogged with mud. Two of the times I crashed was due to hitting tree roots and flipping over the handlebars while looking down, trying to clip in.

I had a great time, flying around the switch backs while my rear wheel wildly slid out all over the place. It felt like the scene from Star Wars when they’re on those flying things in the redwoods, darting around the trees at insane speeds. It all came to an end way too soon, and we were back at the truck. The BROdown over, and the rest of the day just an ordinary Sunday.

Random

One of my songs on itunes is way way way out of order. It goes ACDC, ACDC, ACDC, ACDC, Aerosmith, ACDC, ACDC, ACDC….How did that Aerosmith song get there? I tried changing the name of the band and re-writing the name of the song, but nothing seems to work. It just don’t make no sense. It’s out of order. It doesn’t belong. Like the flightless penguin lined up with a sparrow, swan, duck, great blue heron, and sea gull. That damn sparrow can’t swim!

The days are getting shorter and the heat of the day is growing fainter. I don’t like it. I like the summer. This sun is great, but I can feel the biting chill of the air closing in on me like a mummy sleeping bag with a stuck zipper when you wake up in the middle of the night and you’re too hot and just HAVE to get out as quickly as possible or else you’ll suffocate. I want out. Soon. Arizona is looming in my mind. The sun, the heat, and the long training hours. Training has obsessed me once again. I can’t get enough. Over the past three weeks I’ve been weight lifting three times a week, riding 10-15 hours a week, and doing the plyo/core workouts three times a week. All this adds up to way too much this early in the season. Last week I did 24 hours of training. I should be sitting at around 15 hours total. Which would be less than 10 hours of riding a week! Because of my over-zealous antics, I’m being shunned from exercise in the coming weeks. My time on the bike is going to get cut back, as well as the plyos. I just have to tell myself to be patient; those 24+ hour weeks will come in three or four weeks. I hope?

Speaking of a couple weeks, I’m coming up on two weeks without being employed. I’m no longer working at Life Cycle, although I do spend a fair amount of time wasting space over there—the main reason being so that I have an excuse to talk to the girl who works at the clothing store next door.

I’ve dropped off applications at three Starbucks, as well as Dutch Bros., Market of Choice, Qdoba, and Café Yumm!! So far my favorite application was Café Yumm!!’s. They were the only establishment that took into consideration my favorite foods and what three words best described my personality. Beans, rice, and salsa served for both answers, which just so happens to be the only thing that Café Yumm!! serves. The only other job that I was possibly born for even more than Café Yum!! happens to be the job that I have an interview for on Monday: Qdoba. I’m not sure if this is the correct spelling. Maybe it’s Qudoba. Anyways, Qdoba is a burrito bar rip-off of Chipotle, only difference is that they’re lacking the pro cycling team. That’s where I come in. If Qdoba hires me, they’ll be sponsoring a cyclist by supporting him with free burritos. They don’t actually give their employees free food. Just half off. But let’s be cerial here. I’m making delicious, mouth-watering burritos for 8 hours in a row. I’m hungry from riding a whopping 7 and a half hours a week. All that fresh salsa and savory free range beef is wafting up in my nostrils for hours on end. There’s no way I’m not greedily sneaking one or eleven burritos a day down my gullet as the security camera passes to the far side of the restaurant. These may not be Muchas Gracias quality burritos. Qdoba is a “health” food type Mexican restaurant. Meaning they don’t taste as good as the grease-saturated carnitas burritos of Muchas Gracias. But still. I’m not one to complain about a burrito. Or even food for that matter.

What else is up with the Eugene bum life? I guess I’m going to have to find a real place to live pretty soon. Geoff is getting back on Monday and his house, which I’ve been house-sitting in, is being rented away at the start of November. There’s a couple large overpasses I’ve got my eye on. If that doesn’t work out, I may end up renting a room for a month from one of my friends who’s out of town. Now I fee like I’m rambling and writing boring material. So I’m briefly going to write the first thing that comes to my mind. Pterodactyls are very cool dinosaurs. Word Spell just corrected that word for me. I spelled it like this at first: teridactal. Why is there a P in there? I don’t know. No one knows. It doesn’t make much sense to me. I could sure go for some more bacon right about now funk so brother. I’ve had bacon the past four mornings in a row, plus tonight at the cycling dinner. Bacon has become my favorite food just recently. I used to prefer sausage to bacon as my premier breakfast meat, but bacon has taken reign for some reason this month. Ok, that’s enough random thoughts for now. I need to get to sleep soon for the ride tomorrow, which is the first team ride of the year for the Life Cycle elite team, which includes myself, Chris Swan, Quinn Keogh, and Zach Winter. It will be an interesting year riding and racing together. Quinn’s taking off to Europe for the winter and spring, while I’ll be training in Arizona and Chris and Zach remain here to brave out the cold rain. It should be a strong squad. With any luck we’ll beat up on the local races and pull off a few wins in the NRC stuff. I have high hopes. If you aim high from a distance, you’ll be right on target because of gravity. Yeah, I’m deep like that at times.

The Fight

Please read my last story if you haven’t read it yet. I usually wait longer in between posts so that you have time to read all of them, but this just happened last night and I want to get it out there.

Ok, now I have some real material to write about.

After the Wednesday night plyometrics, Will and I went over to Tony’s place to eat some duck and rice. Tony went hunting last weekend and shot a couple of delicious ducks, which he chopped up and put in a tasty curry sauce (the main ingredient was sour cream). Anyways, I left at about 10PM and began riding back to Springfield on the bike path.

I looked up ahead and saw a group of bikers heading towards me on the wrong side of the road, trying to play chicken. They looked like the typical teenage street hooligans. I stayed on my side of the path and yelled “get the fuck out of the way,” as I approached them. One of them barely swerved out of the way as we passed each other, missing a collision by inches.

I shook my head in disgust as I continued on my way, but the bike gang had other plans. I heard them yell and I turned and saw them coming at me. This is where I should have just sprinted off and the whole ordeal would have been over with. But I was pissed and I have a bit of a temper at times. So I got off my bike to have a word.

The teenagers were my size, but I could tell they were freaked out that I actually stopped and was now walking right up to them, yelling. They began backing off after dismounting their urban mountain bikes. I can’t remember exactly what I said or what they said, but one of them picked up his bike and tried to hit me with it. I grabbed it out of his hands and chucked it over the path railing into a black berry bramble. He and his posse got furious when I did this. They told me to go and get it. I laughed and told them to fuck off. They came at me with fists and bikes flying. I ducked as a bike was thrown at me. I pushed one of them over. At this point I was hoping that I wouldn’t have to really fight, seeing now that it was four on one and I didn’t know if they had weapons. It was dark on the bike path and there wouldn’t have been any way to know if one of them might slip out a knife from his pocket.

I told them to leave and we could just forget the whole thing, or else someone was going to get hurt. Three of them began backing off and it looked like the confrontation was over, but the original one who swerved his bike at me came at me swinging. I was still talking to the other three guys when this happened, and for some reason continued to argue with them while the angry guy swung at me. I held my hands up and ducked my head a bit as I kept eye contact with the other guys. I continued to argue with them as their friend swung wildly at me. The angry guy kept throwing punches, so I hit him in the face, jabbed my thumb in his eye, and grabbed him by the back of his shirt and drug him onto the ground, keeping him between myself and his friends. He tucked into a ball and kind of rolled away as his friends came at me. I hit one right in the nose and knocked him over onto his back. Now it was just the two others. I grabbed one by his earplug (the kind that expands your earlob) and yanked. His earplug came out in my hand and I chucked it into the bushes.

I continued to yell at them for a bit and we argued for a minute. Then one of them stomped on my helmet, which I had taken off. It was a $200 Specialized helmet that David K had given me as a replacement to my old crappy one. It wasn’t new, and had some cracks in it, but it was still a nice helmet. So I came at them again and a couple of them started running away. I looked down and saw an ipod on the ground. I picked it up and started walking back to my bike and my backpack, which had my laptop, wallet, cell phone, and my ipod in it. This whole time I was attempting to keep them away from my stuff, which meant I never actually chased them.

We spent the next few minutes arguing about the ipod and my helmet. I wanted $200 for the helmet and then I would give the ipod back. I got the ipod guy’s name, and told him to meet me at the bike shop tomorrow with the money and then I would give him the ipod. He and his pals wouldn’t have it, and we spent about five more minutes arguing. One of them tried to hit me with his bike again but I grabbed it out of his hands and chucked it way off the path again. I threatened to call the cops and they got freaked out and said they would rather just work things out. Another minute or two of arguing and I called 911 to get them to leave. The ipod guy, during some of the arguing, had went off to fetch a large cobblestone. I was in the process of calling the cops, when he said, “You’re not leaving with that ipod,” and chucked the rock at me from about six feet away. I ducked and it went right over my back; I felt it brush my shirt. They all took off after this but I grabbed one of them before he could get away. I was about to pummel him, thought better of it, and let him go. I went back to my phone and called the cops as the sprinted off on their bikes.

I grabbed my stuff and rode back up to Franklin St. in case they came back with another rock or a knife. From there, I told the 911 operator everything that had happened and she sent a car over to meet me. I chatted with a guy working at a Dutch Bros. while I waited for the cops to come. My thumb had been cut open from one of the bikes, so he gave me a towel to wrap it in. I told him my story and he said that he had just been in his first fight too. Some drunk guy at a bar had called him a nig and had shoved him. He said he hit the guy three times and he had gone down pretty easy.
“Yeah, it’s a bit different when there’s four on one,” I said.
“Haha. You’re right. You made it out fine, though,” he replied.
I agreed, and realized that it could have been much worse. The number one mistake I made was stopping. I could have easily just sprinted away. The second mistake I made was not being decisive enough. I was way too calm. I kept trying to avoid making it a real fight, but it was. I should have just gone all out and finished them when they were on the ground. Then there wouldn’t have been the threat of getting hit by that rock. That would have made sense in the real world, but legally I would have been screwed. And as it was, I could have been charged with a crime.

When the policeman came, I told him the story. He said that the only thing that they could be charged with was harassing me. Since I wasn’t injured (although my wrist is sore from blocking those damn bikes and my thumb is cut), they couldn’t be charged with assault. I asked about the rock that was thrown at me, and the policeman said that because it didn’t hit me, it meant nothing. NOTHING?? Unbelievable. If it had hit me, I would have been messed up. And to top it all off, he said that I could be charged with “stealing” the ipod. I began to laugh when he said this.
“You probably wouldn’t be charged with assault, though, because it was in self defense,” he said.
“So if I hadn’t ducked from that boulder, I would be able to press charges? And they’re innocent because I beat them up?” I said.
“Sorry.”
I wasn’t mad, just confused and bewildered to the point of laughter.
“Pretty messed up justice system,” I said.
He agreed and said that he believed my story, especially when I pointed out that a guilty person usually isn’t the one who dials 911. But he said there wasn’t anything he or anyone could do about it even if they were caught. In a court of law, it isn’t about who’s morally right and wrong. It’s about who follows what the law says is “right.” This is bullshit of course, and gives me even more reason to be pissed off at “the man.”

There are messed up people in the world because they were brought up in poor conditions. That’s the only way I can explain this fight and the bike thief who stole Justin’s mountain bike last month. Obviously our justice system, which has one in 10 black males and over 2 million inmates behind bars, is seriously flawed. When some poor idiot with a few ounces of pot gets caught dealing, he’s thrown in jail. But when this punk tries to put a rock through my head, I’m at fault for stealing his ipod. What goes on in someone’s brain when they think about hitting someone in the head with a cobble like that? Over an ipod? It’s pretty messed up. But no more messed up than the smell of Tony’s gas after a week of pasta and tuna. In fact, I’d take a rock to the head any time if the alternative is spending a night in the same cramped room with Tony again. I’m beginning to wonder if Belgium did indeed have a sewage leak problem, or whether it was just the smell of Tony upwind.

Anyways, if nothing else, I hope I knocked those damn cowards down a notch. Maybe next time they’ll think twice about taking someone on who’s riding the Zing Supreme.

Oh, and just in case you’re reading this. Thanks for the ipod. But, dude. Your music sucks. There’s better stuff out there than Slim Shady. Seriously, I wasn’t aware that he made a full ipod worth of crap. Try listening to something a little less agro for a change. A little Bob Marley and Presidents of the USA might help your attitude problem.

All Aboard the Booze Trike

If anyone has an idea what magazine I could submit this to, let me know. I tried Bicycling but I haven’t heard back yet.

All Aboard the Booze Trike
Kennett Peterson

Three quarters of a full moon lit up the cold night sky as I raced my single speed through the streets of Eugene to the first day at my new job. I had just lead a strength and conditioning workout for the University of Oregon cycling team and my legs were somewhat fatigued from running and jumping over the past hour and a half, not to mention the weight training earlier that morning. I had my doubts about this new job, and the idea of pedaling drunks around in the dark for the next seven hours didn’t seem very appealing considering how tired I already was.

The job consisted of driving a taxi. Except this taxi was pedal-powered. These trikes, called pedicabs, are large and cumbersome vehicles with a large pleather seat in the back big enough for two or three closely packed passengers. The one I drove had a covered top, only one gear, and balloons and shiny pieces of glittery plastic decorating its steel frame. When I first heard about the job, I was drawn to the idea because of the driver’s resemblance to a workhorse. As everyone knows, cyclists admire horses more than any other animal for their speed, strength, and majesticness. Let’s not forget, a racehorse has a Vo2 of 190.

I arrived ten minutes late to the garage where these “bikeshaws” (as I like to call them) were kept. Still sporting my spandex from the workout, I took a quick look around before dropping my tights and changing into warmer clothes. Note to the reader: the secret to changing clothes in public locations is speed. Even in a crowded park or restaurant, if you drop trow quickly enough, very few people (if any) notice. Try it at your next group ride or race and you’ll be surprised at how few stares you receive.

My boss, Brian, was nowhere to be found, and I began to shiver as I waited for him in the unlit parking lot in front of the bike garage. He showed up twenty minutes later. “The nerve of this guy,” I hypocritically thought. “Him showing up late on my first day sure isn’t giving me a very good impression about him.” I wondered if my being late to interviews had anything to do with my many failed attempts at finding a job. Probably not.

Brian opened up the garage, revealing the resting steeds. I hopped on one and rode off into the night after he gave me some advice on where things would be “happening” this Wednesday evening. Turns out, not much was happening.

I cruised over to the bars, the number one moneymaker for bike cabs, but had no luck coaxing money-paying passengers into my cab. I had plenty of luck finding free-loaders though. The first ride I gave was to a stumbling drunk street kid from out of town, totting around a big backpack and guitar. As I rode by, he asked me where the nearest “beer purchasing location” was. I gave him some easy directions to follow and we parted ways. I looked back as I rode off and saw him walking the opposite direction I had pointed him in, and decided to just drive him there myself. He excitedly jumped in the back and I dropped him off at a convenient store to help him kill off his few remaining brain cells.

After dropping him off, I started heading back to the bar strip, but on my way, ran into some Obama voter registers. I offered them a ride. They had no money so instead promised to pay me in campaign stickers. My hopes of making any money began to fade as they hassled everyone we drove by to register or die. I dropped them off and I grabbed a large handful of stickers.

A train whistle blasted a mile away. I raced off to the train station at a blistering speed of nine miles an hour to meet my first paying customer. He was from the Netherlands and was heading for a hostel. I ended up getting lost and barely got him to him there in time before it closed, but he gave me $8. I quickly calculated this into the number of Muchas Gracias carnitas burritos it would buy. It would buy precisely two and a half burritos. I had been out riding for three hours. This meant my wages came to 0.83 burritos an hour. Not bad, but I decided against spending my hard earned cash on Mexican fast food, even though the deliciousness of Muchas Gracias has been known to make grown men cry.

I was very hungry, though. So I pulled onto the sidewalk and put the cab in park to enjoy the bucket of pasta I had packed under the passenger seat. This one was a good combo: whole grain penne pasta, tuna fish, cayenne pepper, tomato sauce, peanut butter, curry powder, olive oil, and some old beans I found in the fridge. The best pasta sauce is hunger, but it doesn’t hurt to have a finely tuned culinary pallet like mine.

After filling my stomach with pasta, I took a few swigs of water from my moldy water bottle and headed back out on the road. It was around 11PM at this point in the night, and I decided that this job was not practical considering the high volume of training I do. I could feel my legs tiring and my knees were aching from turning a cadence of 75, so I rode over to a friend’s house to warm up and watch a movie.

But my time there came to an end when the clock struck 12:30, and I was booted out onto the road again. I returned to the bar scene, but left when no one would willingly get in my cab. The UofO campus was no better, so I began riding in circles in a deserted parking lot, getting the trike up on two wheels. I was on two wheels, ringing the handlebar bell pretending I was in the circus, when I saw a very lost-looking, attractive brunette. I drove over to her, and offered a ride.
“But I don’t have any money,” she drunkenly slurred. Her breath smelled of strong booze.
“That’s alright, I’m bored and I don’t have anything better to do,” I replied.
She got in and tried to explain the directions to her sorority.
“Yeah, I’m pretty sure that’s the wrong direction,” I said.
“Well, maybe it’s that way,” she pointed.
I sighed, and headed off in the wrong direction. A minute later she started screaming in excitement when she saw one of her friends walking the opposite direction, so I pulled over to the sidewalk and her friend got in. They began arguing about what street their sorority was on as I pedaled their drunken carcasses around in circles, trying to get a wheel off the ground.

They finally agreed on the location of their house, and I began pedaling. A minute later, both were on their cell phones. I don’t think they were talking to each other, but who knows.
“I’m like in this bike thing with a tent over it,” the brunette screamed into her phone to some friend. “And this guy is driving us home. No, I’m not in a car. I’m in, like, a bike thing.”
“It’s called a pedicab,” I said.
“Yeah, a bike thing,” she said. “We’re making a turn right now. It can go around turns REALLY good! It’s sooo cool, and we’re going, like, real fast. I was so lost, and this guy in this bike thing came and–She did what? That bitch.”
I tuned out the rest of the drunken conversation as I avoided getting us run over by a car without its lights on.

We rolled up to their house fifteen minutes later and the brunette started to cry.
“Why are you like my best friend right now?” she sobbed. “You’re so nice. I wish we could give you some money but I don’t have any cash. How can we ever repay you?”
I thought of a few ways, but kept them to myself.
“Don’t worry about it. Just pass on the good deed,” I said as I began riding off.
“Oh like the movie Pay it Forward,” she said. “Except I hope you don’t die.”

I glanced at the time, and saw that I had another two hours until I was done. 3AM was not coming soon enough. Back to the bars. I loitered around a hot dog vendor, hoping he would throw me a freebie, but I had no such luck. I finished off the rest of my pasta and a packet of Jelly Belly sports beans. I had grabbed a handful from a demo table at the gym a few days ago. The only time I ever see these things is when they’re handing them out for free. They taste good, but seriously, Jelly Belly, you’re not fooling anybody. “Sports” beans? Come on. We all know you just throw in some vitamins and salt in your regular jellybean mix and charge triple the price.

My next non-paying customer was a Vietnam veteran who was missing his right leg. He was also drunk. In fact, everyone I gave a ride to was drunk except the guy from the Netherlands. And it looked like he was going to be my only paying customer until I stumbled upon some seriously plastered prey. They were standing in a circle outside an empty bar at around 2:15AM. I rolled up real stealthy, like a lion creeping up in the grass on an unsuspecting Gazelle in the Serengeti. I heard them talking about food.

“Muchas Gracias is open 24 hours a day,” I chimed in from a few feet away.
A few minutes later, I was victoriously towing one of the heavier ones off to Mexican food, with a promised $5 reward. He spent the whole time arguing on his phone with his girlfriend, only pausing to complain about the bumpy road.

“Yep, roads have bumps sometimes,” I replied in a voice in which you would talk to a baby. He was not pleased.
He stumbled out of the cab and into the Mexican joint, pleading with his girlfriend to “calm the f–k down.”
“Just chill out for a second and let me say something. Can I say something? Can I say something. Can I say someth–.” The door closed and I was thankfully shut off from his pointless conversation. I contemplated leaving him there so I didn’t have to listen to him complain about the potholes and hear his nagging voice bitch to his girlfriend during his never-ending phone call. But that $5 sounded mighty good, so I waited.

He brought out about fifty bucks of Mexican food and stacked it up next to him on the seat. I began pedaling him and his horde of tacos back to his hotel as he continued to argue with his girlfriend.

“There’s no way I’m driving this thing again,” I thought. “This is humiliating. I’m one of the fastest racers in the state and I’m driving drunks around all night in an oversized tricycle? No way am I coming back tomorrow night. My knees hurt, I’m freezing, and I have serious training to do. I can’t be doing daily doubles plus this. It’s a waste of time, and if any of my cycling friends saw me pedaling this stupid hunk of crap around, I’ll never be able to live it down.”

We arrived at his destination and the delicious aroma of his Mexican food was momentarily overpowered by the scent of the two crisp 20-dollar bills he placed in my hand.
“Damn, maybe one more night of this wouldn’t hurt,” I thought. “Forty bucks is a lot of burritos.”

Ode To Burritos

Aroma
The steamy smell of meat, beans, rice, and salsa
My nose warns my taste buds and they begin screaming
Saliva forms and my eyes cross
The burrito is approached
Sight
All are different
Some come camouflaged with a bland brown tortilla
Some with melted cheese and chile verde melting like a volcano
Texture
Hold able
Foldable
Warm and soft or
Crispy exterior with salsa going everywhere
Taste
Hot
Too hot
Shit I burned my mouth
I don’t care, I continue
Torture to the roof of my mouth
Skin burning, pealing away, bubbling off in heaps down my throat
I take another bite because I have a burrito in my hands and I’m hungry
The pain subsides as the burning turns to more burning
Peppers, acid
I put on more and more
They burn the sore burnt spot on my mouth
I continue because I have a burrito in my hands and I am hungry
The pain subsides
I devour the magical morsel of the gods
Sour cream, chicken, steak, black beans, refried beans, silantro I don’t care
Just feed me burritos until I can’t walk up the stair
Muchas Gracis carnitas burrito
Ixtapa chili verde I wish I could pay
I dream of thee all day
Give $3.70 and I’d be happy
Just as a fish given to a seal named Slappy
I eat one now as I type
Even though its age is quite ripe
Any ingredients will do for this king of the foods
Bell peppers, mushrooms, spinach, eggs, quinoa, or honey
Just as long as it’s wrapped in a tortilla and goes straight to my tummy.

The Runner

He re-strung his worn Aasic after tying a knot in the ripped lace. Both laces had many of these repair knots tied in them. The shoe itself was brown from months spent running on the muddy trails near his home.

Heavy fog poured from his mouth and nose as his warm breath hit the frigid, early-morning air. He was sitting up in his sleeping bag in a tent out in his friend’s backyard. Money was short, so the old, cramped tent was what he called home. Even in the dead of winter.

After pulling on tights and a hooded sweatshirt, the runner squirmed out of his damp sleeping bag, happy to be up and moving after a cold, wet night spent on a worn-out sleeping mat. He put on his shoes. His knees creaked as his gaunt frame crouched and ducked under the short tent door. He emerged on the other side, feet planted in the muddy grass. The night storm had passed. The runner now looked up into a patchy clear sky dotted with faint stars.

The brown earth squished under his brown shoes as he walked to his still-sleeping friend’s back deck. The hot tub’s motor was on, heating up in case his friend decided he needed a wake-up dip before driving to work.

The runner entered through a French doorway. Smudge marks on the glass near the handle marked the runner’s repeated entries over the past months. Warm air blasted from a heater vent by the runner’s feet. He closed the door quietly behind him and took off his muddy shoes before walking into the kitchen. The runner had his own cabinet, with his own food in it. He opened his cabinet and took out an almost empty jar of oats. Rationing the remaining grains, the runner poured a small bowl-full and popped it in the microwave.

The steaming oats went down his throat into his empty stomach in a few spoonfuls. He washed the meager meal down with a few gulps from the sink faucet, and crept back to the back porch door. He tied his shoes. A hole in the side of his shoe revealed another hole in his wool sock where his toe was poking through. This was the third day in a row that he had forgotten to take care of the sock. Too late now. He opened the glass door and stepped back out into the dark.
It always hurt in the beginning. The first ten minutes pounding on the cement jolted his knees. His cold hamstrings were tight, stiff as frozen taffy. But after a mile or two, he began feeling more comfortable. Strides grew more fluid and his pace quickened as he ran downhill toward the riverside.

The street lamps were still on, lighting a dim path before him. A few cars passed, spitting cold, dirty spray to the shoulder of the road and onto the runner’s dirty shoes. He didn’t mind, he continued on.
Six miles later, he reached the river trail. By now a glow from the eastern horizon lit up the muddy trail just enough for the runner to avoid the biggest roots. He jumped over trees, fallen from the storm. He flew around the bends of the single-track trail, up and down small rises and dips as easy as the river flowed silently beside him. The path escorted him farther into the depths of the evergreen forest.

The trail began to fade as he went farther. It turned away from the riverbank and began climbing uphill. A few minutes later, the trail ended, but the runner continued. He followed his footsteps from the morning before. Wet pine needles flew out behind him, spit out from his shoes as he turned the pace up another notch. The hill continued to grow steeper. The mud grew slicker and the underbrush thicker. Brambles grabbed at his legs while he ducked under tree branches.
The runner began gasping for air and his legs filled with lactic acid as the gradient shot up and up. His feet slipped out from under him and he landed on all fours. He was nearing the top of the hill. On hands and feet, he scrambled up the wet, muddy slope. The road was a hundred meters farther up the hill. Cars cruised on the pavement with ease while the runner’s lungs wheezed as he climbed to the top.

Back on the pavement, the runner did not stop or slow. He got back up to speed and his breathing returned to its normal rhythmic pulse. Mud covered his entire body. It squished between his toes let in through his shoe’s many holes.

The street lamps turned off as the morning came, but thick clouds had been forming over the past hour. The sky remained dim. The runner did not take notice, he continued to run.
Faint drops of cold water fell on his shoulders. They soon turned big and heavy. The runner’s shoes slapped on the wet pavement. His steamy breath shot out like a hot kettle’s. The rain came pouring now. No wind meant it came straight down in curtains of liquid. It was thick and cold, but the runner persisted without distraction. He turned off the road onto a small trail to his right. He splashed through deep puddles. His arms swung smoothly and his legs glided over the trail like a gazelle’s. The rain beat on the forested canopy above him. His shoulders brushed wet leaves as the trail narrowed and the vegetation closed in on him.

The trail ended and he burst through the dark hole of the forest and back to the civilization of pavement. He crossed over to the left side of the road. The rain persisted. It began washing the mud from his shoes and tights. His legs were burning and a cramp in his side told him to slow. He did not. He was a mile from home now and he turned the pace up as he ran along the dark country road. His mouth hung open, his vision began to blur just slightly as he dug into the last of his will power.

A sleeping driver’s head nodded behind the wheel. The car crossed the double yellow lines. It hit him at 40 miles per hour and sent him flying from the road. The driver woke with a start, realizing what had happened, and melted rubber on pavement while fleeing the scene.
The runner lay in a ditch off the side of the road, face up. His back was broken and his ribs were protruding into his lungs. Blood came from his mouth. No houses were nearby. Raindrops, released thousands of feet up in the sky, bolted down to earth, stinging his face and plopping loudly in the brown puddle he lay in. He couldn’t move or make a sound other than a faint gurgling as his blood bubbled from his mouth. He died in silent agony, in the mud. Just remember, if McCain wins: shit happens.

Taking a nap after a ride

Taking a nap after a ride

Lying here on the couch with a stomach full of pancakes and chocolate milk.
The window next to me lets in the gloomy sight of an overcast sky, pissing intermittently onto a canopy of shingles and dangling orange and yellow leaves.
My legs are heavy and sore from the first week of jumping, lifting, and riding.
A gray cat, unaware of me watching behind the glass wall, creeps up into the lawn and takes a dump on the grass—still brown from a summer of heat.
I listen to the crackling of the fire and the sound of Pumpkins Smashing as I lie on the couch from decades past.
The candidates are arguing, the Iraqis are dying, and the hot dog vendors are seeing their breath for the first time in months.
Sheryl Crow is constantly telling me to soak up the sun but no rays can be found.
I’m homeless and my minimum wage paycheck is weeks late.
The stolen bike is sitting in a meth lab, restless like an un-ridden horse.
The fire continues to pop and the songs change.
My cell phone rings but I don’t pick it up because my stiff legs are happy to sleep.
They lay motionless on the gray cushions, blood pulsing down to the damaged muscle.
Throbbing and comfortable as my heart rate beats slower and slower.
Eyelids are gaining weight and gravity begins to pull.
The small room is warm.
The rain thickens outside.
A blue jay sits on the telephone wire holding a nut for the long winter ahead.
The jay swoops down to the ground to break open his lunch.
The journalist hopes for disaster, but the gray cat is gone.
Blue and purple flowers wilt and fade.
The gray cat walks past on the sidewalk, a dead rodent in mouth.
I can see eight parked cars, two mobile homes, and thousands of pounds of cement laid out on the ground from where I lay.
I am in a suburb.
I don’t see any people.
I don’t care because.
My steed lies against the wall, mud drying and water dripping in puddles from his brilliant orange coat.
My wet cycling gear is lying in front of the fire.
The room smells of peanut butter and spices.
My head sinks further into the pillow.
The battlefield is finally at peace.
There is much to be rebuilt.
Amino acids and HGH rush in to save the day.
The cat carelessly leaves the dead mouse under a car.
A new pig sets up his office.
The Iraqis continue to burn alive, their charred skin blistering and popping in the flames of petroleum terrorism.
The coals cool in the solemn stove.
My eyes close.
Mind clearing.
I sleep and rebuild.

Procrastination/being a slob like me.

The Art of Procrastination: How to avoid the worst four chores

The trash needs to be taken out, the dishes need to be cleaned and put away, you’re in dire need of some new t-shirts, and your friends are beginning to comment on the odor of your favorite pair of jeans.  Sounds like you’

ve got a lot of chores to do, right?  Wrong.  Wrong because there is a much simpler, hassle-free, and time-efficient solution to your problems than you think.  Procrastination.  You already do it, and it always seems to get the job done.  So why not embrace it?  Follow these simple guidelines to put off the four most tedious things that have to be done, but not really.

Taking Out The Trash. 

Taking out the trash may seem like an easy chore.  All you have to do is drag it to the dumpster or to the street a couple times a week.  By description it sounds easy, but of course we all know that it most certainly is not, especially during “build-up”episodes.

On occasion, the trash may slowly and steadily build up to a monumental mess.  Be it from constant forgetfulness of which day the garbage truck comes or pure and simple laziness, it is an inevitable event.  When the trash stacks up like this, it will require making more than one trip, which is definitely leading into the zone of work.  And this type of work deserves to be put off.  For a long, long time.

The first step to living in a house full of trash is to find a place to store it.  You don’t have to go out and buy a bunch of new trash containers, because that would require way too much effort.  Instead, start saving up grocery bags and spare cardboard boxes.  These can be strategically placed throughout your abode in various corners and hallways, on top of chairs and counters, or hanging from drawer handles and coat racks.

The second step is easy.  Buy a spray bottle of air freshener.  That pretty much sums it up.  Anything else would be too much work.  You are now free to take out the trash once every other month or so.

Doing The Dishes. 

When your house is full of trash, the incentive to keep the counters and sink clean and clear of dishes goes completely out the window–which should be left open as much as possible.  Not taking out the trash had two steps to it and because of that it can cause some confusion.  But not to worry, not doing the dishes is foolproof.  Fill the sink part way full of soapy water and pile the plates and cups in high.  This is called “letting the bowls soak,” and it works quite well–the term that is, not the actually method of cleaning the dishes.   You will soon run out of clean dishes, which leads to two outcomes: you will eat more food directly out of the fridge and pantry, cooked or uncooked, and you will begin to use the less dirty dishes over and over again.  This may sound slightly unsanitary, but it’s a price you should be willing to pay for not ever having to do the dishes.  EVER.

Shopping For Clothes. 

Very few men enjoy taking the trip to the mall to pick out new clothes.  We all like the idea of getting a new coat or pair of jeans.  But it’s the process that most of us could go without.  It is boring, noting fits right, they don’t sell your favorite kind of socks anymore, and everything is overpriced.  The only good thing about going shopping for clothes is the moment of relief when you exit the store. 

There are two great ways to avoid making that death march to Macy’s.  The first is hitting up your siblings and friends.  They won’t notice the odd missing shirt or pair of underwear.  Next time you’re over at their house, meander your way past their dresser or laundry pile and snag an item.  But don’t steal their favorite hat or pair of jeans.  Only take something that you know they won’t miss too much.  Also, don’t make the mistake of kicking it with your friend Chad while wearing one of his t-shirts.

The second tip to putting off clothes shopping is to keep a bag of your old clothes stored away in a closet somewhere–yes, I know this takes foresight and planning, but it’s better than wasting your Saturday listening to elevator music in a fitting room.  Once or twice a year, take out that bag of old clothes and reunite them with your dresser.  Then, from your dresser, take out an equal amount of clothes you currently use and put them in the bag.  Place the bag back in the closet for another six months.  Repeat when needed.  You’ll save money and people will think you’re cool for wearing such “vintage” clothing.

Doing Laundry.

The average guy can go for about a week and wear clean clothes each day.  After that, he will need to start re-wearing dirty clothes.  This is not a problem, because usually clothes don’t start showing signs of dirtiness after the first use.  But by the end of the third week, things can start to get smelly and stained.

To deal with the stench of those mildewing and B.O. ridden shirts composting on the floor of your messy home, the solution is quite simple.  You already bought that air freshener for all the trash bags littering your house, so why not put it to another good use?  Before you know it, girls will be commenting on how good you always seem to smell.  Little do they know, your new cologne is no more than a cheap bottle of Febreze. 

As for the food, dirt, and sweat stains covering your shirts, a good direction to go is to start layering.  Investing in a cheap vest is a good start.  Also, wearing shirts inside out doubles their life.  And dark clothes don’t show dirt as much as light colored clothes, so the next time you visit Chad, make sure to grab a couple of his black t-shirts. 

Get to it.  You’ve got a lot of stuff to not do and a lot of time to not do it.


The art of the mooch

 

 

Are you tired of buying and cooking your own dinner?  Are high fuel prices wreaking havoc on your wallet?  Are rent, cable, and internet bills adding up to unbearable amounts?  Well then, I’ve got the solution to all your problems.

 

Here is all the information you need on how to become a professional moocher.  But first thing’s first, there is a difference between a moocher and being cheap.  No one likes a cheapskate.  On the other hand, everyone wants to lend a hand to the mooch.  That right there is the key.  A cheapskate has the means to buy their own stuff, and is just being cheap.  They appear snobby and stuck up.  A mooch is much different. 

 

The first step to living off the fat of your hommies is to know a lot of people.  Don’t leach off someone for too long.  If you plan things correctly, you won’t burn a single bridge in your plight for food and shelter.  People will want you to come back for another visit.  Remember, you need to be everyone’s friend.  You never know where your next meal may come from. 

 

 “Oh you’re making steaks tonight?  I’ll bring the salt.”

 

Here is the moocher’s number one favorite arena of battle: dinner.  Dinner at a friend’s house is easy.  Some may not even consider it mooching.  But if you plan things out in advance, you can go for days eating at your pals’ table. 

 

Offer to bring something.  It can be trivial to the meal, but make sure you contribute.  A side dish made of left-overs, a half eaten bag of chips, a salad with tons of spinach.  The more obscure the better.  The key is to not let these things be eaten.  Make a spicy dish or something weird tasting.  That way you can take it home and re-use the dish at someone else’s house the next night. 

 

Getting a ride somewhere.

 

This one’s easy.  If the ride is long, offer to pay for a coffee and gas and you’re golden.  Keep up good conversation during the trip and the driver will be glad to have you back.

 

Doing small favors.

This right here is the key to mooching.  Take all the opportunities to help someone out and they’ll be more than happy to return the favor.  Lend someone a hand moving their furniture.  Help them fix up their bike.  Lend a sweatshirt.  Take their girlfriend on a date.  Do small errands and the rewards will flow in like the water that rushes down the gutter in November when all the storm drains are clogged with leaves. 

 

Couch Surfing.

 

This is much more difficult than any of the other areas of mooching.  Only attempt this when you’re comfortable with the other categories of mooching first.  It usually takes years of practice before a successful bout of couch surfing comes to you. 

 

The best way to find a place to sleep is to go straight for it.  Just ask.  Don’t dodge the question or act coy.  And let your friend know that it won’t be for long.  A couch surfer is fun to have; think of it like an extended sleep over back when you were a kid.   Everything goes smoothly and both you and your buddy are having a great time at first.  And then you start to get tired of each other and eventually someone gets hurt when your wrestling on the trampoline.  Before long, all hell breaks loose and you’re both in a time out.  Everyone enjoys a couch surfer, but no one likes a couch bum.  Get in and get out.  Nothing much longer than a week.  If need be, come back and crash on their couch after an extended absence.

 

When couch surfing, make sure you have plenty of other options for places to sleep in case your #1 choice goes belly up.  Always plan out your next two or three couches weeks in advance. 

 

Other tips:  You may be sleeping at their house, but you don’t need to spend all your time there.  The more you hang out there, the bigger mess you’ll make, the more empty their fridge will get, and the more annoyed your host will be.  Be socialable and hang out, but find other places to spend the majority of your time.

 

You’re a scavenger, grab opportunities. 

 

You need to be on the look out at all times.  If you’re at someone’s house just hanging out, look around for a second.  Everything you need is right around you.  If your friend is dumb enough to leave you alone with the fridge for two or more minutes, dive in and make a bowl of cereal or chow down on an apple or their left-over Chinese food.

 

If you over-hear someone talking about a dinner party, make yourself a part of the conversation.  When you get invited and show up, be a hit and make sure those strangers become your friends.  The next time they have a get together, you’ll be on the list. 

 

At a house party.

 

Wait for your opportunity to make a dash to the kitchen.  Late in the night is the best time to hit the fridge and pantry.  By then, the hosts are too wasted to care that you’ve drunk all their grapefruit juice and are in the process of raiding their chocolate supply.  And don’t be bashful.  If you’re going to eat something, you might as well eat all of it and destroy the evidence.  Don’t leave things like bags of chips and ice cream containers half empty.

 

As a final note, don’t borrow anything you can’t replace because it might get damaged.  Or stolen.

 

If you want any more tips about mooching, give me a call and I’d be happy to talk to you about it over dinner.