Tuesday, April 19, 2011


and just like that, the tears came in gasps.

i got a text from my dad while at work today. 'call me when you can. nothing urgent. just a little earth shaking...' more cryptic than the usual tweet about how he arrived safely home after a long drive, so i took time out from the youth and called him in the hallway.

while attempting to interpret the text, i came to the inevitable conclusion that someone had likely died. we have a huge family. some friends and family members are in conditions less than favorable. and in the twelve steps it took to reach the hall and dial all available numbers, i had steeled myself against some bad news. i was beyond the shock and working through the scheduling of getting time off work to go to a funeral, pricing out (exorbitant) gas costs, and trying to remember if my suit was still clean.

my dad picked up. he was driving. i said hey and what's up, braced for the worst.

he told me, in a few simple words, that he had set up an unbelievable dream for me, and i just had to make a couple phone calls and measurements to start the ball rolling. no reason. no occasion. just a casual granting of a huge selfish wish on a blustery day in april.

i'm getting a new frame.

the shock was huge. i was completely unprepared. and there was no time to absorb (i had to return to the wondering eyes of the youth). i stammered many thanks and some semblance of my awe, and hung up, almost trembling. four months from now, there will be a whole lot of steel underneath me, and i'll be flying along with tears in my eyes and a grin on my face.

the minutes of the afternoon scratched by with unholy tedium, and i finally got out to sprint my way home. i picked up the phone, and called my dad.

i have picked up the phone and called my dad countless times in my life. much of our relationship has happened on the phone, and there were years when i had it worked out that, because the guy hates talking on the phone, i had to prepare a set of questions, or at least one question, that could be used as the segue to any real conversation. the answer would be forthcoming, we would move on to other subjects, and we were back in touch. thank you, alexander bell.

some of the conversations i've had with my dad were less than pleasant. oftentimes, i needed help figuring out the hard questions in life. my heart was broken. my heart wasn't broken yet, but it was about to be and i couldn't stand the thought of the impending emotional upheaval. i didn't know what i wanted to do with my life. at what temperature is chicken roasted? et cetera. important questions and conversations, usually staging me as pupil, him as philosopher, and always much to learn. there was not so much scolding all of the time, but often the general feeling that there was much to learn and a long way to go, and i could do it, but i was not there yet. i don't like being reminded of this. actually, it's been easier as the years go by, and i'm without ego and with much hunger for learning. but i'm still not there yet.

it never feels like anyone is proud of me. it rarely feels like i've done anything above and beyond, like i'm inspiring or special or good, in that novel kind of way. no one ever tells me i'm amazing, that i'm brilliant. i'm not told about the good job i do, how much my work truly means to anyone, or that all that stuff that i do all day every day, is noticed and respected and admired. never.

being a typical north americanized filipino oldest son, i have confidence issues based in external measures, often reflected and driven by performance. straight A's. memorized shakespeare. pretty girlfriends. make good flan. one thing i've always lived up to and under is my father. the man is amazing, has made a legendary life for himself, and it was impossible not to revere him as we grew up. we were constantly reminded by the stream of admirers in his work life, family life, and everything in between: your father is an amazing man. that's a lot to live up to. especially when i can't dance, sing, or play the guitar. and i was kinda lying about making good flan... so when my dad told me today that he is truly proud of me, when he told me, in explanation of the gift that it was simply because he believes in me, the walls came down.

i told him to stop, before i started crying on the phone. typical me reaction: way overemotional and ridiculous. but i couldn't believe it. it was too much. it was too great. it was far beyond steel bike frames from montana. it was about a father believing in his son, unabashedly, and telling him so through actions that begot words that were true all this time. after i hung up the phone, i sank to the dirty kitchen floor, and sobbed. it was relief. it was surrendering all that defense that i had built up, all those reasons i had to go harder and bigger and make sure that i was being as great as possible, in spite of everyone and everything. i have a long way to go, and much to learn. and where i am right now, right here, it's pretty great. my dad believes in me.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

go west, young man.

some times, things need to be blown to bits.

it's helpful when preconceived notions, prejudices, and other habits are obliterated by small instances of challenge or change or both, and the resulting mayhem calls to question the very purpose that allowed us to accumulate such routine. today, i'm going to look at a new job in a new place and put my best foot forward and stretch beyond my wildest dreams, and probably beyond my capabilities. the fuse was lit last week, and i'm putting another barrel of bang in the pile, to see how far we can go.

as i was washing dishes and serving up another bowl of chunky oatmeal to the beasts this morning, i was trying to figure out what i want, why i want, and why i never go and get what i want. in all honesty, i think i'm afraid of what i want. i'm also afraid that i might not be able to get what i want. i think i'm more afraid that i am able. imagine being able to do and be and have whatever you want. why, then you'd have to know what you want. thankfully, i don't. getting blown to bits should help. as i sift through the rubble and reorganize within the new perspective, i'll figure some things out, forget about other obsessions, and streamline (hopefully) the new focus.

adding barrels as we speak.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

5 watts.

there is not enough time to wallow, and we're already out of epsom salts.

before i go and grab another creemore, i'll say it: it's been a tough week.

as we saw from the last post, hydro has been more than brutal in its billings lately. then, monday, i get surplus status at my place of employment. follow this with some good news about other possible employment. follow this, promptly, with another case of lice (the FOURTH in a year) in the big little girl's lovely locks. follow this with an utterly disappointing lack of improvement in the individual time trial wattage test this morning. let's all sigh together now.

as we all know, i am the luckiest guy in the world and my life is not remotely hard. however, this all feels like it's been harder than usual and though i have managed to get some breaks in there (thank you GST rebate), the cumulative effects are still rather draining. i'm probably only typing write now to avoid the ever-increasing pile of dishes in the kitchen (dishes that made dinner 4 nights ago are still there.."soaking"...).

so i guess i should write today about positive reinforcement. and if that can't happen, because the results are less than positive, maybe i could write about the process. but then that makes it sound like the obsession of the mediocre, and not a valid pursuit for anyone capable of good results. (why would we sit around glorifying 'trying' if we could actually 'do'?) my legs are sore. my body is a bit drained. my kids aren't asleep yet. and there's laundry to do. glorious process.

either way, i think process is still pretty great, because it's the reality that may yield the result. it's the everyday. the mundane. the real life. the space in between notes that makes the music that much more beautiful. cuts in the tread of my tires. brake residue on my fork and rims. the familiar taste of hydration and recovery powder. the smell of sweat in leather. i'll take it. i'll run with it.

Friday, April 1, 2011

get to the point.

about what we're investing in, and whether or not it has any fucking point.

riding and 'training', but for what, when i can't even pay the goddam electricity bill...

march was a month of three pay periods. i'm used to only two, so i thought i'd take full advantage of this wonderful calendar-enhanced income phenomenon and use it to really get ahead.

yesterday, the day of pay period number three's deposit into my bank account, marked the first pay day to which i'd made it with more than twenty dollars in my account. (the goal is to some day forget that pay day is even happening, as it will be something about which i think much less concretely and regularly.) it was amazing. the pay went in. the student loans came out. i could still breathe. i even splurged a little on some thrifty online source for printer ink cartridges and a jersey that won't match any of my bibs. i transferred my household expenses' share to my lady friend's account. i paid down one of two completely ridiculous credit card balances. i smiled.

at approximately 10 minutes past the time i should have already showered and gone to bed, i made the idiot mistake of opening some mail.

the electricity bill was four hundred, thirty-eight dollars, and ninety-four cents.


i don't know where you come from, but that amount blew my mind and ruined my entire day. i should have just gone to bed. i should have opened it with a fresh mind on a sunny morning with a large cup of optimism in my hand and maybe a ride in my legs. that number is devastating.

hope is something that is often dormant, but constant, deep in my core. it resides quite comfortably next to happiness. it is not likely that i come across as blithely enjoying my minutes on the stage. my demeanor may even be closer to cynical and pessimistic. such is the way of it sometimes, but i am driven by things much bigger and heavier than superficial impressions. if i didn't hope or believe in the good of it all, i wouldn't do any of what i do.

the bill, that horrible blow to any optimism or sense of purpose i could muster, put many things into very different perspective. i thought a lot harder about my recent goal of becoming capable of even thinking about buying a house. i thought a lot less about anything i could upgrade on any of my bikes. i canceled photo shoots that i would have to pay for. i wondered about doing any races at all, with all the fees these days well beyond fifty bucks. and i despaired, maybe just a little, about ever having any financial freedom.

every thursday morning at 5:30am, i leave the house and pedal up to a spin class in east york. there, in a cool industrial warehouse room with 16 other weirdos, i subject myself to 90 minutes of physical output. i know exactly how much i output because the stationary trainers measure it all in watts. i watch my cadence. i sweat through my kit. i turn on the fan. i drink. i eat a clif bar. i pack it all in and ride home, trying not to shiver, trying not to be late for work, unshowered and thoroughly spent. it's 7:43.

after a late-night animated conversation with my dad about my financial attitude and the problem of having no house/other investment to speak of, i decided to work on buying a house. i am about a billion lightyears away from reaching this goal. my dad's justification was that if i shifted my drive, focus, obsession, and sheer determination from cycling into the realm of reaching financial goals, along with my lady friend, i'd be unstoppable. until last night when i opened the hydro bill, i just about believed him.

back to perspective. i have a tendency to zero in on things and get obsessed about them until i acquire them somehow, and then the magic moment is had and forgotten, and i have to obsess about something else. this is the personality trait that drives me to upgrade. i get it from my filipino grandfather. i also have a tendency to, depending on the thing, have absolutely no care about upgrading or using the best possible __________ that money can buy, and to just let things go and enjoy the process more than the equipment. i get this from my irish grandfather. now, i think, is the time to go irish, and focus efforts on process. i can't see a point in getting lighter wheels. i can't see a point in racing. i can't see a point in training to go faster, and paying so much money for it when i don't really need to go faster and it doesn't make me happier or faster yet anyway. i can't see a point in doing things that aren't going to feed my family or keep them warm, especially when it's so fucking expensive to do so these days.

tonight, we are warm. tomorrow we ride. i am thankful for all of it, all the time.