Trials,Tribulations, Travels, Tastings...and Occassional Transcendence

Trials,Tribulations, Travels, Tastings...and Occassional Transcendence
Sock on the Great Wall

Wednesday, April 30, 2008


I woke up this morning at 4:30...that's right, the morning. My mind was racing partially because of all the things I have to get done by the time I get on my flight tomorrow and partially because, well, I was over-analysing.

I went mountain biking in Dryer Road last night with one of my co-workers from the shop. Even though the trails were a little damp from the rain the day previous, the conditions were still pretty good considering. Boris's tail end kept squirreling out on the steeper parts of the trail (remedied by letting some air out of the back tire) but otherwise it was an awesome ride. A little more tame than I could have ridden, but I was feeling not as strong for some reason. Regardless we had a blast - at least I know I did! And I appreciate T for slowing it down for me - as I know he would rip the shit out of those trails had it not been for me tailing him. The ride as well as the company definitely left me with a smile on my face for the rest of the night. But for some reason I woke up at 4:30 dissecting my riding among other things. I remember thinking of ways I should have positioned myself on my bike to keep it from skidding out - and then thinking that it's possible to skid out properly on the damper, more sandy turns....what is wrong with me? Why do I over-analyse things so much? Yikes!

Knowing I had such a great time, that should be enough, right? Whatever the reason, I now need to divert my over-analytical skills towards my trip. Packing usually takes me 5 minutes but now I must consider my biking gear. Helmet, gloves, clipless pedals, shoes, spare tube, pump, tire levers...well, you get the picture. This for some reason to me is more of a cumbersome task than it should be. I started to make a list and set my gear aside but tonight I am going for a road ride so some of the staples will be going along with me. It shouldn't be this hard, right? I think I need a personal assistant.

Anyway, all mind racing aside, I am super psyched to go to 'The Land Where Old People Go To Die' and spend time with my sis. I know once I get on the plane, I will zone out to my iPod (yes, I just bought one - welcome to whatever this century is), my mind will settle itself down and I will perhaps even take a (much needed) nap. Oh yeah, and I'm super psyched to see some 'gators!!!

Monday, April 28, 2008


Humorous Pictures
see more crazy cat pics

Running on Empty

Today is a non-motivational day. There could be several potential factors for this lack of zeal towards my duties today. It could be the grey, dreary weather that we awoke to this morning. The temperature has dropped into the 40's from being well into the 70's the majority of this past week. It could have something to do with the fact that I over indulged yesterday in both food and drink. Or perhaps it could have something to do with the fact that I have not slept properly over the entire weekend. Whatever the reason I simply have no desire to be productive today. Such a disconcerting feeling to have. I think the more disconcerting feeling should be the fact that I really am quite apathetic to it all...but that does not seem to be on my list of worries.

Listening to Arman Van Buuren, just kind of zoning out to his electronic, bass-loaded melodies, I find myself content yet restless all at the same time. How does that happen? I am thinking that my body is completely complacent sitting in this cubicle reading the words across my computer monitor, however my mind is not absorbing one bit of the information which my eyes have just scanned over. This is causing a most itchy feeling in my brain. As if my neurons are firing at light speed but the processing center is shut down. The thoughts are flowing but without any particular result. How frustrating this makes me - I want to form a congruent thought or at the very least have a purpose or end result for one or perhaps two of these millions of thought processes. But to my growing frustration they just keep scattering leaving me feeling as if I am aimlessly chasing an abstract prey. One that will keep eluding me no matter how fast I run after it. The impending result will be me passing out later tonight - not due to my lack of sleep but due to sheer exhaustion as if I was physically running as fast as my mind was.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Delving Into Memories

This Sunday is my Easter, well, it's Easter to most people who follow Eastern Orthodoxy. Easter was always my Grandmother's favourite holiday. As a child I remember fondly how weeks prior to the holiday the preparations would begin. In our household Easter was bigger and more important than Christmas. I suppose it all makes sense if one knows how the holidays went at my house. They didn't involve the usual gift giving type traditions, not to say we did not get a visit from Santa or the traditional Easter basket, but rather the holidays predominately centered around church and family. Which to this day I find it ironically amusing that I usually only make the semi-annual appearance at church during those two holidays.

It's been three Easters this year that she has been gone, but still each year I get a little melancholy around this holiday. Perhaps it's Sigur Ros's hypnotically haunting melodies that have sent my mind delving into it's memory banks, or perhaps it's the fact that I just plain miss her...I am finding it extremely difficult to remain the tough girl today.

One of my favourite memories of Easter with Gram go back to my college years (my first round of college). I came home one Easter on break to help Gram get the house ready for the big holiday festivities. I recall setting the table with the 'good' china and silverware which we had to unearth from the back of her very full (cluttered) china cabinet. While trying to extricate the dishes I found a crystal carafe in the back just over half full of lightly tinted liquid. I pulled it out and asked Gram what it was. I remember a devilish smile coming over her face as she took it into her hands and opened it. She took a sniff and wrinkled her nose at the potent odors emanating from this mysterious container. She handed it to me explaining that it was a hand crafted liquor that her sister and brother-in-law had made. Apparently they used to make their own grain alcohol on a regular basis. Sweet! I had no idea that I had some rum-running, moonshine making rebels in my family. [At that moment I pictured my Great Aunt and Uncle in their North Philly, two-story brownstone making this concoction in their bathtub - the thought brought a huge smile to my face]. I suggested to Gram that we try it - immediately she refused saying she attributed her excellent health to the fact that she never drank a day in her life. Me, being the persuasive person (and mild alcoholic) that I am, poured some of this magical potion into two shot glasses and handed one to Gram. After a few more sniffs and adverse expressions she finally took a sip.

Next thing I remember Gram and I were singing and giggling like two rosy-cheeked school girls. The table was set, a bit sloppily I must admit, but it was set none-the-less. The rest of the family had no idea why Gram and I were so chipper and silly at dinner that night. I think I finally told my Mom that story last year.

Definitely having a hard time being a tough girl today...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Beautiful Morning

I awoke today to some pain in my legs, my butt and my head (did I hit my head?). I began thinking that maybe I should hone my focus in on road riding...mountain biking tends to humble me physically especially the next morning when I end up limping to the bathroom. Once I ease into the pain the memories of the ride bring a smile to my face. Hah - what could be better than this?!?!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

It's Only Tuesday?

You know those mornings where you wake up way before your alarm is scheduled to go off yet somehow you feel fully rested and at the same time your head is still somewhere in dream land? That's how I feel this morning.

I was partially awake and partially dreaming around 5:30am (I remember there were bikes in my dream...weird) when something fully woke me up. I think it was the cat in my face. Regardless I decided it would be a good idea to start the day then. An additional motivational factor was that I knew I was going mountain biking after work today. Something to look forward to always seems to coax my lazy self out of bed on a weekday. Funny how over the weekend I woke up with no alarm by 6:00am just because I knew I was riding those days. During the week, however, it is usually quite the different story.

So I got into work super early so I can leave a bit earlier so I can beat the crap out of myself and Boris (my mountain bike - yes, I name all of my modes of transportation). Does it get any better than this?

Monday, April 14, 2008

Monday. Can't Trust That Day.

It's Monday (insert un-adulterated explitives here). I don't have anything to say (for once). My brain is empty (as usual). I want to ride my bike (nothing new here). Not be at work (duh who does?). Below is just one more reason to ride my bike (one of the millions - besides the fact that I just, plain love to).

Friday, April 11, 2008


Taken from an encouraging email sent to me by CB...good thing we're not kayaking like I wanted to...yikes!

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mountain Biking With No Mountains

My sister and I grew up tomboys. In fact my mom would jokingly tell her friends that she had three boys, rather than one son and two daughters. We grew up biking - at first around the neighborhood then down to Durand Park, Irondequoit Bay and the Beach. Which to this day boggles my mind how we climbed the hill on Sweet Fern Road on our fixed gear banana seat bikes. A couple of times we decided it would be a good idea to ride throughout the entire city to go visit Mom at work (when she worked in the worst part of the city).

In high school we both got mountain bikes so we started riding down the single tracks in Durand - completely illegal - but no one ever patrols there. Even if they did we figured it was easier to feign ignorance and ask for forgiveness. The beauty of being young and irresponsible *blink blink* we're sorry officer, we didn't know *blink blink*.

Our trail riding always resulted in one or both of us getting totally wrecked and bloody as well as demolishing our bikes. But what fun we had! When we both went away to college our mountain biking adventures came to a screeching halt. My bike became a commuter to get me to and from school and hers got stowed away in our garage. We tried a couple of times to go for rides on our school breaks but our social lives took over and most times plans to get muddy, bloody and bruised were scratched.

Now (many, many) years later we decided to hit up some single tracks in Florida - near were my sister lives. So in the beginning of May I am going down for four days to ride and kick her a$$ on the trails! That's right, Girly - you're going down! Anyway, we have been trying to decide which parks to hit up since there are piles of them down there (go figure there are no mountains). So the following is a transcript of our text conversation from last night. It made me laugh so I had to post it.

Tam: 'Morris Bridge Park is the other bike park I found in Tampa. It sounds good because it's right by the Hillsborough River where the f-ing gators are. Yikes bitches! Ah sheeit!'

Me: 'Awesome! I love gators! Yeah!'

Tam: 'That's f-ed up! We get eaten it's ur damn fault'

Me: 'It won't matter then will it? :-P'

So if after May 6th there are no more blog entries for this site...well...assume there's an alligator out there with some rad Ari-skinned-shoes.

Sock and the Dominican

Sock Monkey was spotted early this morning leaving JFK International Airport for the Dominican Republic. No he is not skirting the law for some lewd act...well, not that we know of. He is actually going to Sosua to assist on a Habitat for Humanity build. More photos to come (most likely from the bar at the Voodoo Lounge).

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

End of the World

"The Simpsons has been dropped from morning TV in Venezuela after being deemed unsuitable for children - and has been replaced by Baywatch. "


This was part of an email from CB (a trusted and candid male friend of mine) as a response to one of my recent postings. Reading through, he is completely spot on (so sad but true). At least I can laugh about it, right? Thanks again for the male wisdom, CB!

(*some names/titles have been changed to protect the innocent and my job)

"I think the list of guys in your dating age break down into these categories:

Never married - probably shy guys, typical doormats. Most women would have snagged them up if they half decent. They don't know how to talk to a women, so come off sounding awkward or even the guy at the [company] Xmas dinner from [a local industrial firm] who wanted a piece of your action! You sure would have made his Christmas! ...and New Years! And maybe even shown up on Youtube somewhere!

The Players - (Trans AMs and naked lady mudflaps!), just out looking to wet their wick, hump them and dump them. I think there is a few good grapes in the bunch, but the pickings are getting slim. I never understood the attraction women had to these 'badboys'. Maybe they think they can save them/change them. Most badboys will have to mellow out and settle down for any long term relationships - even then you'll have to learn to endure the trail of tears from women coming up and slapping him in front of everyone (and your children) in Wegmans. YOU - "What was that about?" HIM "oh...I don't even know who she is..." yeah right. (psst...get him tested for social diseases before you commit!)

Married - The forbidden fruit. They have already been screened by women and accepted into women's life - so you feel comfortable that they do meet the minimum requirements. As long as they are not abusers, dopers, or 'all I want to do is watch TV' sportsfans they are a safe bet. Hey, its worked for Joey Buttafuoco and Amy Fisher! Heck, married and single guys even look in this group! You have heard of MILFs right? Of course...then there are the married guys who cruise the school yards, or do the house keeper/nanny/foreign exchange students too...which brings us to:

Married and divorced - Again, already screened by women so they *MAY* meet the minimum requirements. Hmm...but why the divorce? Well, I figure 50% of divorces stem from crazy b*tches that drove their man nuts. The other 50% of divorces are from pr*ck husbands who are abusive, drinkers, lazy, or just as wacko as their crazy @ss b*tches. Or someone cheated. In any case - damaged goods to someone, but maybe a deal in there someplace. Make sure you look it over good...kick the tires a bit. Maybe take him to your trusted mechanics. These folks should come with a disclaimer from the previous owner, since the new owners will have to re-live the same horrors that befell the previous owner. Don't get lured into the basement early in the relationship...can you say 'wood chipper'?"

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Ancient Diet Secrets

Did you ever find old family photos and notice how thin everyone was back then? Remember watching reruns of shows from the early years of TV and realising how great everyone looked? People didn't diet back then, they didn't exercise, there was no South Beach or Atkins either. In fact each morning breakfast consisted of bacon (mmmmm bacon), eggs, toast with real butter (yummy, fatty butter) and pancakes fried in Crisco. Lunch was usually a cheeseburger, fries and a milkshake. Dinner was a fried pork chop (mmmmm pork chop), mashed potatoes with butter, maybe corn or beans with dollops of butter on top and some chocolaty dessert that Mom stayed home and slaved over all day. How did they all do it? How did they eat so much yet stay so thin? I discovered the secret of the Eat-Whatever-The-Hell-You-Want-And-Never-Get-Fat diet. Here it is:

Monday, April 7, 2008

Is This It? Really?

Why is it that fun, attractive, smart, driven, a-typical women attract weak and/or strange men? There seems to be a recurring theme in these realisations that has yet to be resolved. I guess meeting and chatting with my girlfriends lately has my mind pre-occupied with such thoughts.

My friend Julie is smart, beautiful, hysterically funny and just an awesome person. Yet the guy she is dating does not see it in her. It drives me crazy to hear her tell me how he calls her lazy or doesn't compliment her on milestones in her career (because she should 'know' that she did a great job regardless) or make an effort to call her just to say hi because he is too wrapped up in his own life. It makes me insane, yet she defiantly insists that he is this great guy. Even more so I think it's because he is the first 'normal' guy to show interest in her in quite sometime. Julie's previous suitors (stalkers) were less than savory character's. One actually followed her around a Target then out into the parking lot before approaching her to ask her if she was a dancer (not a ballerina) - creepy!

I have another friend J.B. who is going for her PhD (obviously super-smart there) she is attractive, crazy athletic, outdoorsy, funny and will do anything for her friends. Yet the men that she attracts are either one of two things: 1) Users - they see her for her money making potential when she completes her degree. Or they keep their rich, trustafarian girlfriends and go after her in the background. These guys don't see the real J.B. or really care about her. I consider them to be narcissists or egotists - regardless they are all about themselves and not at all about her. 2) Clingers (stages 1 through 5) - they see her for her amazing self yet just latch onto her like a starving leech. These kinds of guys drain her of her incredible energy because they have none of their own. These guys have the slight potential to be half decent if they learned to give her some space to breathe and grew a spine. J.B. is a strong woman; in order to compliment her a man should have the same strength - these guys do not even come close.

Me? Well I suppose the above are a large part of the reason why I have decided to be single for a while. I have in the recent past, it seems, only attracted the users or the weaklings. The latest was a creepy customer over the weekend who couldn't even put a kickstand on his bike and had me do it for him all the while trying to delve into my personal life. First of all if you require a kickstand on your bike - you're out. I know it sounds snobby or superficial, but really? A kickstand? What are you five? Second - don't try to ask me questions about my life just because you overheard me talking to a co-worker. And no I most certainly am not telling you where I live. The fact that I carry a bike tool should not be reason to have you mention repeatedly how impressed you are at my resourcefulness - I work in a bike shop you weirdo!

Thankfully we were busy enough that I had to go help other customers - thankfully!

So it remains a mystery, or perhaps not. Perhaps the answer is right there but we just don't see it...perhaps what we search for is not even an answer at all. Regardless, I suppose it all comes down to what one can and can not tolerate. Personally I have just stopped thinking too much about it, but when we girls get together the conversation usually turns down that steep, curved slope it becomes all but too apparent. The fact that there are creepy men out there doesn't help the situation much either. Oh well, this is why my next boyfriend is going to be of the two-wheeled variety.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Heimlich Please!

I was eating my lunch at my desk (as usual) and decided to divert from work and be un-productive for a moment. So I clicked on this and nearly died from choking on my baby carrots. I tried to stifle my laughter so as not to disrupt the surrounding cubicle-gophers but I couldn't help it. I laughed out loud as tears streamed in my eyes and bits of masticated carrots lodged in my throat. Ah, good times - enjoy!

Cure Found

I've figured it out! I realised why I was so tired. The cure to my 'illness' was only a bike ride away.

I left work yesterday with a desperate desire to go home and take a nap. Such a thought was quickly dashed as I stepped outside to an almost 60F, sunny day. Residing to take my road bike out when I got home, I started to feel more life entering my body. On the drive home I was sorting out all I needed to get together for the ride. I find during any commute I like to day dream whether it be how I want to landscape my yard, to which project I want to tackle in my house, to how I want to train during my rides. I love this time to get lost in my own head and I love it even more when the end result is exactly how I imagined.

With each organisational thought I felt more energised, so much so that by the time I reached the driveway it was as if I had downed a cup of espresso. I ran into the house put the dogs in the yard and proceeded to change into my Pearl tights (which after a winter of almost no riding are not very forgiving on my derier), threw on my jersey, gathered my tools/tire levers/spare tube/pump/water bottle/shot bloks (can't forget that), etc.

I think it took me maybe 10 minutes to gather it all together and by 15 minutes after I had gotten home I had the dogs back in and I was out the door again...

I can't tell if it was the weather or the actual ride, most likely a combination of both, but I felt incredible. Even today I am not tired at all, in fact I feel great! I was out for about 1 1/2 hours and tried to keep up a consistent pace in the big ring. I kept it up for most of the ride with the exception of a couple of big hills that I decided would be a good idea to tackle (my legs did not agree). On a trainer you can sprint, you can adjust slight elevations with blocks but you can't simulate hills. So, I figured I really needed to get some in while out on my ride. Yikes, it's sad to realise how much you lose during the winter if you don't have the ability to ride 'in the real world' versus the comforts of your living room while watching some B-rated movie.

The last road ride I had done outside was on January 7th, which is also Russian Christmas (I was commuting to work on my mountain bike - but mt biking in the snow doesn't count as you're only going ~5mph on average). After church my mom began cooking dinner and I decided, like the good daughter that I am, that I would just be in her way and my kitchen is small so instead I went for a ride. It was maybe 40F that day and sunny, the roads were dry and needed to be ridden on...what's a girl to do? Here I am almost exactly three months later.

I wanted to keep riding and I could have done an easy 50+ miles the way I felt but I had plans at 7:00 so I cut the ride a little shorter than I wanted to. The fulfillment is with me still today - which means that I will need to ride sometime tomorrow or I will start the steep slide into tiredness again. We can't have that now, can we?

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Sweet Dreams

My alarm went off at 6am today - later than usual, but I figured I could use the extra sleep. For one split second, as I was hitting the snooze, I thought it was Saturday and that I could sleep for a couple more hours. For that brief moment in time I felt a sense of elation, a calming, wonderful feeling that was quickly dashed with the reality that it was actually only Thursday and I did truly need to get my rear out of bed. Ugh. I don't know if it's the change in weather or that I am not eating properly or that I am just not sleeping enough, but, man, I am having a hard time this week with my tiredness.

There was a span of time last year that I was sleeping 10-11 sometimes 12 hours a day and still having trouble staying awake. I finally sought medical attention after I swerved off the express way one morning because I fell asleep at the wheel. The doc fixed me and I have been feeling great ever since. However, this week I am starting to feel that tired again. I haven't quite reached the level of driving-El Fuego-into-a-ditch-off-Route-531-tired, but I am beginning to be a bit concerned.

Perhaps I just need to change my diet around. I haven't been eating exactly the most nutritious foods lately due to my hectic schedule and my lack of motivation to go grocery shopping. The extra cups of coffee aren't helping either. Maybe I need to drink more water? But I already drink a gallon a day. The next possible cause of my lack of energy could be my (in-) activity level. I haven't really done any cardio this week. A half hour of spinning on my trainer Monday hardly qualifies as a cardiovascular workout. I tried to run for a bit yesterday, but I ended up stopping after 1 1/2 miles - because I was so tired - that's getting me a little more worried. I know I am in better shape than that despite my lack of a consistent training regiment.

So now, I think, I need to focus on diet and proper rest. If things don't improve by next week, then it's back to the doc. Yikes. I am not a fan of modern medicine. I am a devout believer in natural remedies. But if herbs and roots don't get me my hyper-active self back then I am going with the doc's prescription for 'legal speed'. Joking, she really didn't give me anything other than a prescription for high dose, crazy potent Iron/vitamin B/something/something pills (that are the size of golf balls). Good times - is it nap time yet? Or maybe another coffee run?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Ah, Beautiful Masochism

Delving two days into the work week I am realising how I am not cut out to work ~70 hours a week. With the addition of last weekend I worked all 7 days and almost 70 hours total last week. With no reprieve to speak of, I dove into this week feeling as if I was run over by a semi. I have been sleeping my usual 7-8 hours a night however I just do not feel recovered. Now it is Tuesday and I still feel like the clouds in my brain haven't cleared much.

My mom made it through her surgery just fine. What a trooper she is! It's that Russian ox-like strength (stubbornness) that shines through in moments such as these. The doc even gave her his cell number afterwards, if she 'needed anything' (like wine/dinner/movie)...I personally think the man was hitting on her ;)

This past weekend we had an open house/expo at the bike shop so everyone was scheduled to work the entire weekend. After her surgery and recovery I drove Mom to my place (I had her recover there - easier with the dogs rather than driving 30 miles to her place everyday) I put her in bed, fed, played with dogs for about two minutes and it was off to the bike shop until 10pm. Around 9ish we started drinking beer (with our customers - loving this job already). After consuming three bottles of fine brewed adult beverage I ran to Weg's for some necessities then home, play with dogs, and sleep. The next morning I got up around 6am and went to work all over again.

Most days I am awake by 6am at the latest, but on the weekends I think 7am is my sleep-in time. So to wake up that early everyday of the week was, by Sunday, proving to be a bit difficult. But the motivation came from knowing I was going to a fun place, to ride bikes, talk to cool people, and see My Future Boyfriend (*sigh*) . After Friday's 5+ hour shift in addition to two 10 hour days, however, I was exhausted!

All day yesterday I was just dragging my carcass around trying to be a productive member of my office but my brain cells felt like they were wading through mud. Today, the mud has become more like a dirty stream, definitely less viscous, yet still cloudy with sediment. Perhaps tomorrow it will be clear and flowing, but I wouldn't hold my breath as I am determined to bike to the rock gym, climb and perhaps enjoy a cerveza afterwards with the girls. To be determined...