Monday, April 27, 2015

Pride Goeth Before ...

Go ahead, folks, say it with me: THE FALL!

Yes, it's true--I routinely feel the need to prove gravity. (Though Arizona likes to remind me that  gravity can't actually be proven. I'm just providing more evidence that argues in favor of its existence. Geek.) So you might wince when you hear (as did several friends when I mentioned the plan) that this weekend was my first time back on my mountain bike in roughly a year. But with good weather and a grandma lined up to walk Wallaby on the pedestrian trail while Arizona and I took the bikes up onto the gnarly stuff, I was raring to go!

Some couples (okay, most of 'em) probably use that first official babysitting opportunity for a nice dinner out where they can both sit down at the same time, use two hands to eat, and spend more than five minutes on the process of shoveling ye olde food into ye olde mouth. Which (at least at chez Doc Jess) is a rarity these days. But Arizona and I don't really do fancy restaurants as romance--he proposed to me on the side of a bike trail overlooking a local reservoir and I told him he was going to be a daddy at the gun range. 'Nuff said. 

So it was this past Sunday that my mom headed off with the jogging stroller and the baby, while Arizona and I wheeled off on our bikes. And I refused to admit, even to myself, that I was nervous. Not of falling so much as being different on the bike. Feeling different about something that had been a central part of our time together pre-baby. 

A few years ago, I took a chunk of time away from my bike to rehab a dislocated elbow (see above re: proving gravity), and it wasn't easy to get back into the swing of things after--I was slow and tentative, and that's not a recipe for success on a downhill bike. And that was before I had things in my head like "I'm a mom" and "I don't have time to be hurt right now" … The latter of which I knew from my days competing horses in the jumper ring was guaranteed to invoke the law (theory?) of gravity. 

So, yeah. Mild butterflies--not just because falling hurts, but because after all the happy changes Arizona and I have been through recently, I wanted this one thing to stay more or less the same.

As we started out I wobbled a little, feeling the adjustments we had made to my bike in the early weeks of pregnancy. A few quick changes--lose the gel seat cover, lower the seat, let a little air out of the rear shock--and we were back on the go, turning onto the trail leading to the first climb.

And, suddenly, I got why "just like riding a bike" is a cliche. As we powered up the hill and then gravity (hello again!) sent us boinging down the rocky backside, my body remembered where everything was--how to shift, how to balance, when to tap the brakes and when to power through. Even better, suddenly the idea of staying back in the saddle made more sense than it ever had before--why lean forward and rush to an obstacle when I can sit back, lighten the front end, and let the tires carry me up and over?

Which is a little like my developing take on motherhood, come to think--take it slow, one thing at a time, and don't rush the fun stuff. And while there are going to be bumps and low points, there will be peaks and smooth spots, too. All of which we found on our ride together. 

So where does the pride part come in, you might ask? Well, after the first ten minutes or so, I realized I was getting sassy--showboating in the corners and taking tougher lines and bigger drops than I probably should be after a year out of the saddle. And I know from experience that for me, the "woo-hoo, look at me!" is usually closely followed by: CRASH! So I backed off. I slowed down a little and took a breath. And I didn't rush the fun stuff.

Nope, despite the title (and my history) I didn't fall--except back in love with biking, and always in love with Arizona. And later, as we pedaled for home and talked about the biking being an important two-of-us thing in a suddenly three-of-us world, he said, "Absolutely. But it's also awesome to know that Wallaby's waiting for us in the parking lot."

And, oh, it is.

Am I going to fall and hurt myself one of these days? Undoubtedly. But, like always, I'll get back up, assess my injuries, and go from there. And a few days later, Arizona will get a package in the mail and present me with a pad to protect whatever part of me I banged that time, wanting to keep me safe. And that, for me, is romance.

Monday, April 20, 2015

Bigger Than A …

You've probably seen the list of "I've lost a …" that floats around the interwebz and appears during about half the weight-loss discussions I've ever been part of. If not, check it out--it's good reading. Back when I was working on my weight, it amused me to say "I've lost 20 dozen large eggs." And when I was furiously gestating, it was daunting (yet still amusing) to say, "I've gained a mid-sized microwave and two guinea pigs, thankyouverymuch." 

I've come to realize, though, that different people have different lists. When I'm fleshing out a character in a book, one of my favorite things to do is figure out what's important to them, and how that's going to color their take on the world. An artist might see colors and patterns, a chef might see ingredients, and a cowboy might compare a woman's hair to his favorite horse's tail and consider it a compliment. It's all a matter of perspective.

Thus, while I might consider that Wallaby was equivalent to a chihuahua and three dozen Krispy Kreme donuts at birth and currently weighs slightly more than a sperm whale's brain, the other day Arizona was bouncing him around rather vigorously (as Daddies apparently do), and said, "You weigh about the same as a good road bike!" Which he does, though it'll be a while before he approaches the weight of my mountain bike, at 36 lbs.

In mountain biking parlance, Arizona is a "weight weenie"--meaning that he'll go to great expense to swap out this component or that, in order to shave a few ounces off the total weight of his bike. So his weight vocabulary is often in terms of hubs, rims and tires. Then there was the other day when, upon finding that Wallaby is over 26" long now, he channeled his inner fisherman and said, "Wow, you're almost legal!" (In CT waters, a striped sea bass has to be 28" to be a keeper.)

Which gets me thinking as I sit down to write today … my hero is a contractor who loves his high tech and my heroine runs the vintage clothing store near Mustang Ridge. How are their perspectives going to color their worlds and the comparisons they make? Is his phone named Hal, or maybe Jarvis? Does she compare the color of a customer's shirt to the Fiestaware serving dish she has upstairs? We'll have to see!

Monday, April 13, 2015

Boil Bottles, Not Bunnies

So the other day, it went like this:

Me (puttering around the kitchen, singing to Wallaby--to the tune of Row Your Boat): Boil, boil, boil your bottles; gently in the steam! Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily; life is but a dream … (back to talking voice) Remember, Wallaby, boil bottles, not bunnies, okay? Boiling bunnies is not recommended.

Arizona (coming into the kitchen to flip the bacon): Why?

Me: Why boil the bottles?

Arizona: No, why warn him against boiling bunnies in particular? Why not bleach or aerosol cans or something?

Me: You know. Boiling bunnies … from Fatal Attraction. (Getting a blank look.) With Michael Douglas? Did you see it?

Arizona: Yeah, but I don't remember the bunny boiling scene.

Me: Which goes to show that your exes have been generally sane. 

Back in the day, I remember reading a science fiction short story about a society in which certain things were given; they were called an 'everyone-knows thing' and treated as fact in the absence of evidence. Then along comes our main character, who manipulates a situation by saying that something is an everyone-knows thing when it isn't. The others around him, who can't conceive of a falsehood, assume they have forgotten this everyone-knows thing and accept it into their world view. And thus lying is born. 

(Google didn't provide much help in a search of 'everyone knows thing science fiction', although I found a few places where folks have used the term, so am pretty sure I'm not making up the story. It might have been in the Asimov or Analog magazines, or a short-story collection? Mad points to anyone who comes up with the title and author.)

Anyway, in my association with Arizona, I have come to find that certain things that I always took as everyone-knows things are more like 'things everyone in New England knows' or 'things me and my friends know' rather than absolutes. Like bowling with the little balls with no finger holes (candlepin, which is all I've ever known as 'bowling' and which Arizona finds entirely weird) or ordering jimmies on my ice cream.

What are some of your everyone-knows things that turned out to be 'things I know that I assume everyone else does'? For me, I'll add bunny boiling to the list, while Wallaby (in rock star mode with his hair and shades) laughs at us both.