Wednesday, December 24, 2008

No Microchip!

The Kitty update is that he does not have a microchip, so we are no closer to finding his original owner. Falling more and more in love with him every day...

Lister and Rimmer are still not happy about the whole situation.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Wonderland

Today I went snowshoeing in the Fells with Catherine and Rachel. It was unbelievably beautiful. All the trees were heavy with snow. It looked completely different than the week previous when we had been there with our cross bikes. In many places the path was overhung with crystalline tree branches and it made it difficult to recognize trails that should have been familiar.

We followed some cross country ski tracks off the trail into the woods, getting a little lost before finding ourselves on the mountain bike loop, and so we made our way to the reservoir. We spent a couple of moments in quiet reflection, then went on our way again.

It was a wonderful way to spend a snowy afternoon and definitely worth the effort it took driving (or in Rachel's case biking) there on the treacherous roads. We're really lucky to have a little piece of wilderness right in our backyards.

Friday, December 19, 2008

Found Kitten!

Thursday night G spotted a lost kitten wandering the streets of H20town. The poor little guy was skittish, cold, and very hungry. G asked me to come in the car with food and treats. I also brought a cat carrier, because it was too cold for the little guy to stay out overnight, especially with the storm coming.

I've never seen any creature gobble up food the way that kitten did. It was something to behold. He was thin, but not emaciated, yet it seemed as if he hadn't eaten for days. He sprinted to the treats and gobbled them up in a flash. I think I blinked and they were gone. It was amazing.

We brought him home and sequestered him in the spare bedroom. Our two cats are extremely suspicious and keep sniffing the air while giving us evil looks. They want to know what's behind that closed door.

Meanwhile, we're posting ads on the lost and found section of Craigslist and I've called and emailed the Watertown Animal Control Officer (although her voicemail says she's out of the office until January 5th, so I'm not sure how helpful that will be). G took these beauty shots and created a flyer to post in the neighborhood. Tomorrow we'll try to get him scanned for a microchip to see if we can locate his owner.

I have to say, though, he's an adorable kitten. He's unbelievably friendly and loving and I would love to keep him (but I'm sure that L&R would have something nasty to say about that development).

I guess we'll see what happens. If anyone has any other ideas on how to find the owner of a lost cat, please let me know.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


I've been to some really dark places inside myself over the last couple of weeks. I've been to the kind of soul-sucking and heart-destroying places where I never imagined I'd go. When you combine fear and paranoia with pain and despair and let them all dwell inside you together, it can shatter your will. No matter your resolve, no matter your principles. All gone in an instant when the darkness grips you and won't let go. It creeps up on you unnoticed and wraps itself around your insides as it begins to consume you. It laughs at your attempts at a normal life, friends, food, fun. It stops you in your tracks the minute you try to deny it's there and slams you to the floor, saying, "Hold on there! Did you forget? I'm still here and I'm not letting go. Did you actually think you were entitled to some fun? Oh no you don't! You're miserable, you're in pain, you're bereft and don't you go trying to forget. I'm here to keep you wallowing in despair until you become one with it, the darkness, the hollowness, the pain. I'll take you to a new place, somewhere you'd never go on your own. You might not like this new place after you've been there - you may feel regret and self-loathing, but don't think on that now! Focus instead on the pain you feel, the fear you feel, the paranoia and the deep despair... Do you feel it? Do you feel it?... Ah, good... now, come with me..."

But you know that it's wrong, you know that it's against all your principles, you know that you'll be hurting yourself if you go along with it, so you shove the darkness away, you reject it outright, and you go to the therapy, you take the yoga, you seek out your friends, and just when you think you've got it all under control, start believing that it's ok, that you've won... you relax and you let down your guard for just a second, because you're so tired of it all, and that's the instant that you hear it, the soft knocking at the door, and because you're weak, you open the door in spite of yourself, and there on the doorstep you see the darkness, with its twisted little grin, smirking at you and saying, "Hey there, remember me?"

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Icy Cross Riding, Nostalgia, & Remorse

I went for a cross ride in the Fells today with the hardcore regulars from the Tuesday rides. It was surprisingly icy, but so much fun! Clara & Patrick had studded ice tires and were frequently encouraged to ride through the ice so that the rest of us could hear the crunching sound. :-)

Unfortunately, my brakes weren't working very well and after we started hitting some of the singletrack, my hands were hurting to the point where I just couldn't pull the levers anymore. I guess I never really realized how much easier it is to brake on a mountain bike than a cross bike. Unfortunately I had to walk some stuff I would have much rather ridden, but since I really didn't want to end up with stitches or in a cast, it was probably the right choice. Going down steep rocky downhills in your drops (because it's the only way you can brake) is actually pretty scary!

We stopped at a clearing on a hill where there was a 3-4 story tower with a spiral staircase. We all walked up to the top to look at the view. You could see the city skyline from up there. It was beautiful. Here are some photos of our little group at the top of the tower.

After that, I started to recognize some of the trails from when G & I first started riding mountain bikes way, way, back in 1995 or something. It was an interesting experience. I remembered the trails from when I was first experimenting with riding off road. I also remember spending most of the time pushing my bike instead of riding it.

It's nice to see how far I've come. On a cross bike I was able to ride many of the trails that I used to have to walk on a mountain bike. I sort of see it as a metaphor for personal growth. I've come a long way since that time in my life. I've grown in a lot of ways, but I've also made a lot of mistakes. Being back in the Fells on those familiar trails made me feel sad for the good times that have passed. I was getting very misty with feelings of nostalgia during the ride, which pulled me away from my friends and into introspective reflection.

I cherish the memories of the life I used to lead. Those memories are all a part of what makes me who I am today. Making mistakes, learning from them, and moving forward while embracing that knowledge is what defines us as human beings.

People make mistakes all the time. They hurt people they love and betray their trust. I think it is vital for people to take responsibility for their actions. Nothing just "happens" by accident. People's actions or inactions cause things to happen. It's easy enough to apologize and say you're sorry. But it takes more than that to earn back trust. Oftentimes it needs explanations and answers, and at all times it requires the truth.

It also requires the ability to say that you will never make those mistakes again and that you will stop doing the thing/things that is/are hurting someone else. But beyond saying those things, it requires doing those things. Feelings of remorse only hurt yourself unless you can turn them into a positive change for someone else.

These are lessons I take to heart, because I need to learn from them as much as anyone else does. I can't expect anything of other people that I don't embody myself. I strive to be the person I aspire to, and I hope that each step that I take is getting me to that goal.

Friday, December 12, 2008

On the other hand...

I've always believed that change is a good thing. I never wanted to be in a job longer than two years. What a joke! I've been at the same company for over 10 years now. I've rationalized it by saying that 1) I've had at least 4 different job descriptions during this time and 2) it's actually been 3 different companies due to all the mergers and acquisitions... BUT... it's really still working at the same company, working with the same people, working in the same field with tiny reincarnations of my role that really don't amount to much in the scheme of things.

I was thinking a little more about the "You will move into a wonderful new home within a year" fortune. In some ways it wouldn't be such a bad thing to move to a new house in Boston. Moving away from Boston right now would be like running away from my problems to reinvent myself in a new town where no one knows me. That's incredibly appealing because it would be so easy to sweep all my troubles under the carpet, run like hell, and never look back.

It's infinitely more difficult to stand up to my problems, look them in the eye and fight them head on. There's nothing wrong with a change of scenery to inject some new possibilities into the mix, to put a different spin on things, and to get a breath of fresh air, but it doesn't have to come at the expense of losing the people I love and all the friends that I've made over the last 20 odd years of living in Boston.

I don't want my life to be turned upside down and inside out, but small points of change that aren't catastrophic could be a welcome impetus for personal growth. Getting stuck in a rut is a terrible thing. You don't realize you're in it until you're so deep that you can't see anything but the path trudging forward. You aren't aware that there could be some stairs off to the side of the rut (if you just bothered to look in that direction) that would lead you to being a better person. The kind of person that takes more notice of the people around them and gives assistance before it's asked, the sort of person that makes other people happy and listens with an open mind and an open heart. A person who leaves old resentments behind and works to forge new pathways to understanding those who are in pain and need to be tended. A person that actually does change when they want to change and who asks for help when they need it.

A person that someone else would want to love.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Fortune Cookie

I went to lunch with ML today and we got fortune cookies afterward. I really like fortune cookies and usually the fortune is sort of generic and could apply to anyone, like "Good things will come your way" or "Something you lost will soon turn up."

The one I got today was rather specific. It said,
"You will move to a wonderful new home within the year."

I found it a bit ominous, actually...

Although... who wouldn't love to move into a "wonderful new home"? Isn't that the American Dream? A "new" home every 5 years? Or less?

I've lived in my townhouse for 10 years. It's the longest that I've ever lived in one home. When I was a kid, I lived in the same house from half of 5th through the end of 12th grade. I think that's only 6.5 years. Then early in my time of living and working in Boston I lived in an apartment in Malden for 7 years. That was about 5 years too long to live in Malden, but that's a different story.

This townhouse, though, hmm... I hadn't really realized how long it had been until recently. 10 years is quite some time, especially for someone with chronically itchy feet. I had lived in two different countries and went to three different schools by the age of 11. When I moved to Boston to go to university, I never dreamed I'd still be living here so many years later. Sometimes I wonder if moving back to Boston after living in London was a mistake. I wonder where I could have ended up if I had chosen a different path. Colorado? Oregon? Germany? Australia? Scotland?

It's hard to say, because it's not possible to turn back the clock and do it all over again.

And as much as I would love the opportunity to pick up my feet and head to a new life in a new place, I do still love my townhouse and my life here in Boston with all the friends I have made over the years here and all the people who I love... and I really don't want to be living in a "wonderful new home within the year."

It's a scary thought and I don't want to go there right now.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Cold Weather Riding

I went out for a 2 hour ride today. It was my first real road ride after the cross season and also the first time I'd been out on the road with temperatures in the low 30s. I initially wasn't very enthusiastic about leaving the comfort of my nice warm home (and especially the soft couch I had sunken into after breakfast), but I put on a bunch of layers, stuffed toe warmers into my shoes, and off I went.

I was actually a little warmer than I had expected, which came as a pleasant surprise, but next time I should probably shed the sleeveless base layer. My training for the day was 1.5 - 2 hours of riding, including 2 x 5 minutes of LT, followed by 10 minutes of Tempo, and then repeating 2 x 5 minutes of LT. This was the first time I used the Power Tap for a workout on the road (I've only used it on the trainer up to now), and it was really tough to keep the numbers steady. In fact, I'd say that it was darn near impossible to keep the numbers steady. Every little fluctuation in the grade of the road resulted in either wildly high or ridiculously low wattage. I really struggled to keep it even and completely failed. I didn't fare very well keeping my cadence steady either, so I guess I have a lot to learn.

It's kind of fun to get home, download the data, and stare at the graphs for a while. I keep hoping that I will magically understand it all (osmosis would be nice), but I should really make an effort to learn about how it all works. I was happy to find that for my first two LT and my one Tempo intervals, I had actually nailed my average power and cadence to my targets! I had absolutely no idea that I was doing it right when I was out on the road. Unfortunately, my last two LT intervals ended up looking like Tempo - I guess I was tired. Two weeks off the bike, then a cross ride, then a couple of days off recovering from knee pain... well... I tried and came pretty close to getting it right.

But more importantly, I really enjoyed my ride! It's been a long time since I had a solo ride and it was really nice. I just sort of made up my route as I went along, and came back a different way. It was nice to just wing it without any real plan and to ride on some different roads for a change. I think I will have to do a little re-exploring of roads on the southern side of Route 2. It's too easy to fall into the pattern of Lexington, Concord, and Carlisle, on roads that, while extremely nice, are also entirely too familiar.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Back on the Bike!

Tonight I went out for a night-time cross ride with the girls. It was so much fun to be back on the bike after two weeks off! I have to say, before the break I was a bit ambivalent about cycling, but last weekend I actually felt like I was in full withdrawal. I wanted to ride my bike so much, I could hardly stand it. I was very, very jealous of all the lucky souls I saw out there on the roads (or on their way to the woods). So tonight I finally got back out there - in the dark, in the cold, and in the mud. It was fantastic!

Yippee! I'm looking forward to the next ride... and the one after that... and the one after that... :-)