Monday, September 28, 2009

there is something about riding on a crisp fall day, on an oak lined street, with the wind...

showering acorns down like rain, at the rate of 5-10 pelts to the helmet a pedal stroke, of course we were headed up hill too. The ride was a really nice one. Justin and I just got out to enjoy what was left of the day before heading to the Bronx to brake fast. We pass this stream every time we ride this route and each time I think I should stop to take a picture as it is the one place that reminds me of when I was a young child, living in Golden, Colorado. It reminds me of the creek we used to play in. Kenny and I visited that place a few years ago, it was quite interesting to feel the very COLD water I used to splash in rush over my feet. I often wonder if that is why swimming in the ocean in northern Maine never bothered me. In any case, looking at the stream, I found myself wanting to be in the Rockies at this moment today. I think it was because I lost my father 27 years ago today. One of favorite memories of him was when we lived out west. To this day Colorado is etched deeply in my soul.

I spent my morning writing about my current work as an artist. I never get used to writing about work that I have poured my heart and soul into. Its as if I am trying to translate some great story into another language. I have command of the language, but still cannot find the words that are needed. This show is about conflicts and features a series of work that was difficult to contemplate much less sculpt. Details about the exhibition are coming soon.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

the mixed up adventures of the flea flicker

Oh wait a minute, I was the one flicked of the train but man did it take a while! I am so happy. We were cruising along at a good clip, I was hanging on and not for dear life either. I was flicked off because I lost my focus and didn't have it in me to jump back on for good.

My day was a whirlwind, I was running late this morning. I had a load in the kiln I thought would be done in time for me to unload so that I could glaze tonight, only to have it still be in a firing cycle, and me in a bit of a panic. I had lesson plans and materials to prepare for tomorrow. I also had plans to ride at 2:15. Oh, and I had to pick up Chris at 4 in Somers a 45 minute drive away.

So the kiln did not finish, the ride never happened and I decided it was high time I head back to New Paltz. It was, after-all Tuesday night. I met up with Jon and Dave for an evening of intervals and pace-line work. We started out by spinning up to Rosendale each of us taking a turn at pulling. For the first time this season I was hanging with the big boys and not dying, at least not immediately. It took being distracted by a car and simultaneously hitting a rise in the road to fall off for good. No worries, we were back in formation and trying to decide our plan in no time (meaning I may have fallen off but I never really lost contact). To think that I almost bagged this effort too as it took me over an hour to get home from work and I was running 10 minutes late to get to NP and knew I still needed gas. I am so glad I didn't miss that.

We eventually got down to business, we did sets of 2 minute intervals. The first set I did, I was without water (accidentally left it in the car) and my HR basically stayed at 173 for each effort, I was stunned that it recovered fully in time for the next effort (equal rest). The second set my HR stayed at 165 and recovered even faster. The efforts felt the same, though the second set felt more comfortable and I was able to stay closer to John and Dave (you guessed it it was a "throw mama from the train" experience).

So I learned that my fitness level has come up a great deal. This was a well timed lesson. Tomorrow, I am off to Elmira for my Uncle John's funeral. It will be a well accepted rest day!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

against instinct

My weekend plans were monkey-wrenched on Thursday afternoon. I was plunged into "what are we doing", "when are we going", "can I still go upstate?" The scenario played out with a waiting game for arrangements, which was fine, when all is said and done, I needed this weekend to sure up some obligations seeing that I will be out of town twice. Yesterday I spent 12 hours or so in my studio. I got a whole bunch of work done and after writing this, before I leave for Shelton, I will pack up my pots and get them ready to haul to the kiln.

Today the weather was gorgeous. I got myself back into that training groove by heading out on my bike, and despite not really wanting to be away from the MUD in my studio, I forced myself to get into it. Funny, I was grumbling about everything, route, length of time, my shorts, you name it, I had a problem with it. About 2 miles out I came to a intersection full of commotion. I was about to enter a race, the Westchester Toughman. This was so strange, as I didn't want to interfere yet I was determined to ride the route I had finally settled on. I picked up my cadence and held myself in the group. It was weird to have someone yell at me to hydrate and try to hand me gatorade as if I should be grateful for their presence. I just wanted to ride, not be accosted by a woman with an electrolyte fix. So I took evasive action and blew her off and hammered up the mile climb in front of me. I passed 6 guys on $10K+ bikes with the fashion to match and was passed by two twiggy girls who were only just behind me to begin with. I suck at climbing so this was thrilling! Over the top and down the other side, blowing by the two women and a few more guys I was wishing that I had actually done this race, even if it had been as a relay. I saw no other ATHENA classed women- though I am sure they were out there. I ambled along with them for about an hour and was really happy to nail 21 miles in that time and my HR was not even maxed out.

I finally decided to leave the comfort of blowing through intersections and having people cheer me on to get my workout done within the proper objectives. I doubled back towards the trail, and made my way up to Carmel from the crossing near 100 and 118. Let me tell you, racing was more comfortable than the obstacle course I had just gotten myself into. It was a crisp, clear, fall day in the 70's after 2 days of rain. You can only imagine what that next 15 miles looked like. I dodged kids, old men stopping in the middle of the trail, dogs of every kind, women swinging their arms, a group of 3 really overweight women on inlines. I don't want to sound derogatory here, I am very happy that they are out there giving it there all and having a blast exercising, and would love to see them join us on the ice, but when you are cruising along a a good clip and they are taking up the WHOLE trail and are very out of control and very off balance by the apparently heavy backpacks they were carrying, well, then you understand that the remark is just meant to be a descriptive one. I arrive in Yorktown and cross Hanover to my sister-in-law turning onto the trail for her run. I was perplexed in a way, I wanted to stay and chat, to turn around and head to her place to see my niece and nephew, to hang out. We talked for what seemed to a good amount of time and then parted ways. I reached Carmel in no time.

I turned right onto Fair Street and headed out towards the farms. I was headed down this hill in a pretty good amount of traffic not realizing how rough the road was until I hit a pothole with enough force to have my left hand have to grab onto my handlebars a lot tighter to stay balanced. I suddenly realized just how people manage to dump themselves end over end. I had inadvertently grabbed the front brake too and felt the rear wheel start to make it's climb up towards my hips. I am not sure what possessed me to go against my instincts here and let go of the break instead of grabbing ahold even tighter. I just learned a major lesson and knew it. There were not light-bulbs but fireworks going off in my head. Disaster averted, I decided at that point to slow things down and cruise home at a recovery pace. I had already put in about 40 miles so what was an easy 6 or so? Now, off to some quality ice time as a skater instead of a coach.

Rough schedule this week. Hope I can pull off a decent training week.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Running Late

I hate being late! I have always hated it. Being late causes PTS symptoms for me as I had to sit, sometimes for hours, waiting for my mother to come pick us up. It causes me a ton of stress now when getting 6 people out the door in time for anything almost never happens. I was reading my friend Matt's blog and felt I needed to respond to his question "Where were you when?"

That morning, I took Kenny's car to school. I was running late, the whole family was running late. Kenny put Chris on the bus and walked to the train. Chris's bus was late too and Kenny missed his usual train. This was one of those mornings that I hated dealing with. Everyone needed things at the last minute, homework signed, notes for things, lunch money, help finding shoes, and some random item that needed to be purchased from an obscure store but was volunteered and promised in good faith to a teacher but not disclosed until 5 minutes before departure. As I was driving to school I remember thinking that I should call Kenny and ask him if he wants to take his car into the city. I was late already so what would another 5 minutes be to turn around and switch cars, but I didn't.

I arrived at school and settled into a color theory lesson with sixth graders. It was somewhere in the middle of that lesson that I was interrupted by the principal who decided it was necessary to announce with a very monotone voice that there had been a plane crash into the towers. I remember thinking how surreal that announcement was. Surely she was talking about a small plane? I tried to call Kenny to see what was going on. No answer. The principal announced again that a second AIRLINER had crashed into the other tower...and I lost my composure. I needed to know that Kenny was not beneath the towers getting off the train. I called again, no answer.

At some point I was ushered into a small TV studio, I watched in horror as the towers collapsed. I distinctly remember just before this happened Katie Couric saying that people didn't seem to concerned on the ground, that traffic was still moving, people were still walking...I remember being nauseated, lightheaded, and needing to leave school. I called Kenny, no answer.

I left school and learned of the whole scope of the morning on the radio. I was scared. I thought we were going to be plunged into a war on our soil. I wanted my kids, and I wanted my husband, and I wanted to be together in one place.

I arrived home to the phone ringing, it was Andrea, an engineer at Kenny's firm. She wanted to tell me that she had managed to get a hold of Kenny and that he was OK. He never made it out of Grand Central. He had missed the last train downtown by minutes. He was trying to get home.

I called the HS that Justin was a Freshman at and let them know that his father was OK. They would happily relay that message. He had been watching this unfold too in his Social Studies class, sitting next to his best friend who found out that his father died by watching a TV broadcast in school. Justin was traumatized.

I called the other schools, all of which agreed to pass on the information if they needed to, they were much more guarded with the news. Dan and Mary came up and got me. We waited at they're house until Kenny made it home. Kenny finally made it home at 4 or so. Thank God we were running late that morning!

For the next 6 months, we dealt with Kenny being gone days at a time to help with the logistics of the clean-up and my brother and brother-in-law dealing with the 12-12 schedule and being on site to oversee the Con-Ed crews at Ground Zero. Not much was is still painful to talk about.

The health problems have not surfaced, though to tell you the truth, they are always on the back burner. Kenny came down with pneumonia 2x in the 2 months following 9/11his doctor thought that he might have cancer. Thank God that it was just the exhaustion and stress that caused him to be run down and get sick. His health has been tracked.

If you really want to know how I feel about the experience, read Art Spiegelman's "In the Shadow of No Towers" (Pantheon,2004) you will capture some of it. I remember last year getting into a conversation with my friend Arnie about the day, and hearing his story of having a 3rd grader in a lower Manhattan School, picking her up and walking home with the heat and the rumble of the collapse noticably at his back, the whole time trying to prevent his daughter from looking back. It still hurts.

So Kenny, I really do hope you enjoy that cigar today, I love you and would be lost without you!

Thursday, September 10, 2009


The word thread can refer to so many things, my head is swimming with this thought. I work hard at teaching, at my craft, at parenting, at being a spouse, at working out, at writing and of course at personal relationships. My thoughts wondered a bit regarding all those things today. I am drawn to three thoughts that have stayed fresh in my mind: 1. I kept trying to remind myself that I need to call Roseanne to see if she needed anything, 2. I had talked to my students about my friend Lovey, and how she felt I needed to have a gift of a book about the Tukilitt stone sculptures of the Arctic, and 3. my fascination with death.

Now I know what you are thinking about that last thought, but I found myself on two separate occasions today thinking in circles about death. After school, I left school for a ride, it was overcast and the wind was picking up, blowing off the water. The only reason I knew it was coming off the water was that I could smell the salt and the tide, one of those things I find extremely comforting. I kept wondering if I was going to be rained on, but it held out. I really didn't want to ride today. It took every stitch of my being to be anywhere away from my studio. I rode knowing that I didn't want to be bored. My bike took me in new directions in New Canaan and Darien this afternoon. I did not particularly care where I ended up, I was just trying to find new and interesting things to look at. I came across two old cemeteries and found myself wondering why I have found them so intriguing this summer. This was more than a ponder. It was really bothering me. Every single OLD cemetery I rode by this summer I found myself wondering about who the people were that were buried there. What was their life like? Today was not any different other than I had this thought that they were laughing at me, working so hard at something so trivial as if it were so important. I found that I was getting annoyed with that thought, as I knew I was doing this to help keep myself out of that pine box.

Later, as I was reflecting about the conversation about the Tukiliit, I started to think about other Art Historical references I have used in my work that were similar to these sculptures. I found myself thinking about some research I had done on pilgrim flasks. I thought long and hard about their possible uses, which were mostly funerary from what I learned in grad school. This thought had me thinking about the Mid-East and the saturation of religion, wars, and death.

So why am I writing all this, because just as I was thinking that last thought Kenny called me to tell me that my Uncle John had passed away. This man meant so much to me growing up. He was the one brother that my father had that made the perfect mediator between a drunk and an adolescent. He understood that my father's drinking problem had so many facets to it, and that it affected so much more than his health. It affected his family. I loved all my father's siblings for many different reasons, but this was the one special reason I had for loving him. He understood that my brother and I were hurting.

I remember one time when I was about fourteen, he took me fishing. We stopped on the way to get corn, potatoes and the fixings for salad. He was so sure we would catch something but there was a package of hot dogs just in case. We did catch something, and he made such a big deal about it. We decided to spare the fish its life and made hot dogs instead.

When I got married, the whole family embraced my husband, but he was the only one who treated Kenny like he had been part of the family forever. To him, Kenny wasn't Jewish, he wasn't a kid that had kids, he was his was the love of his niece's life so therefore he was as important as she was. Kenny was so sad today when Jimmy called. When I told him that I feel like my dad died all over again, he acknowledged with "I know what you mean".

So as I sit here fighting back tears, thinking about life, I know that I am who I am today because I had someone like my uncle to see to it that my life had at least a little thread of normal whenever he saw me.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Of Sound Mind

After such a beautiful weekend off, I felt as if I was right back in the swing of things today. Yes, I took all three days, which originally was not my intention. I had wanted to put in a good 5 hours on the bike yesterday, but I was sidelined by studio work. With an exhibition coming up in a few weeks, I really couldn't argue with myself. It was time well spent.

Today our faculty cycling club headed out for our weekly hour of bliss. I usually time trial on Tuesdays, but decided that this outing was too important to miss. It was a bit overcast but the perfect temperature. We decided to head towards the sound shore, Rowaton to be exact. What could be better than a dreamy ride along CT's Gold Coast, the architecture is just as exciting as the water views. As we cruised along the stress of the day just melted away. We covered just about 17 miles in that hour. It was one of the nicest rides I have done in a while. It was also great to be out with other people.

I hit the weight room after my spin. This was an all business venture. I was sufficiently warmed up, so I immediately set up the rack and proceeded to do my sets of Olympic lifts. I am amazed at the progression of strength at times. This is the venue where I feel like I can see my hard work paying off. Each time I increase the weight and find that I can still manage good form I find myself getting almost giddy over it. I know that it will eventually transfer to both the road and the ice but those gains, while there, are much more subtle, easy to miss if you aren't looking in the right place.

I am worried about my schedule over the next few weeks. I have so much on my plate. I guess that was why I hammered all summer, so that I would be a bit concerned about loosing workout time as meetings, and after school obligations, and studio work, and skating, and playing taxi-driver all come together in that 16 waking hours of a day. I know it will come together and providing that I remain persistent I know that in February, when I really need to concentrate on volume in the form of miles I will be able to handle the load.

Tomorrow, a two hour ride (hopefully 36-40 miles) after work. I had planned on riding in, but have too much to carry. I only pray that it remains dry so that I don't have to navigate the world in a deluge after a long day of teaching.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Dancing in the Dark

At 5:30 AM it is considerably dark outside, the purples and oranges just starting to peak out from behind the ink black hills and the indigo tree leaves are dripping with a silvery sheen. My desire to crawl back in side and under the covers is outweighed by the thrill of riding into this black hole. The call of this abyss is likened to a dance that I know I cannot sit out. Its invigorating. How cool is it to see the sun rise while you are on your bike and to have to eventually stop and switch out the lenses in the glasses, to feel the heat of the day waking up with the winds and see the moon going to sleep, to see animals grazing and to see the world finally stretch and yawn? My morning ride to school ROCKED!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


For the last few weeks I have been listening to quite a bit of that VT band, and really interested in their regrouping. For the past three weeks I have not wanted to ride a time trial for various reasons, mostly just because I knew it would hurt. I gave in all three times. The time I climbed Mohonk I had "Backwards Down the Number Line" stuck in my head. I think this had to do with the lyrics and hanging out so much this summer with Pete, one of my oldest and best friends. Tonight, I was thinking as I was driving home from work at 6PM that I had put in a very LONG day (I arrived at work at 7 AM). The thought of burying myself in ten miles of pavement was not making me bounce around anything. Then Phish comes on the radio, and I think of Pete and know that I have to ride. (Happy, happy oh my friend...)

So, I am get home and change into my gear in lightening speed and out the door I go. I nearly broadside a kid on a golf cart coming out of my driveway. I wanted to get this ride over with. I had exactly 40 minutes of good light left. The way I saw it I could knock out ten miles in about 30 minutes so that would leave me 10 minutes to spin out the last mile home. I head out around the reservoir hoping that I catch the two lights, I do, and cruise the next 7 miles like I was on fire. At the 5 mile mark a guy passes me in a pick-up truck and he slows down and stays just in front of me. At first this creeped me out, until I realized what he was doing. I start to feel like Dave in Breaking Away. The guy hung his hand out the window signaling that I was cruising the back stretch of the reservoir at 23 MPH.

As I rounded the last turn before the dam a guy passes me in a Black Pilot, something told me he was going to be less than forthright so I prepared myself to abort the cruise downhill if necessary. I was right, he passed me then slammed on his brakes. I saw back window coming up really quick and responded accordingly. I was a little disappointed to have to slow down as I was trying to break my own record and I only had a few minutes left to do so. I get threw the mess and the lights (green again) and make it back to my end point in 30:38. A full 2 minutes faster than I have ever done this course.

A note about the lights on the course. I had timed the course in two manners, one with the lights and one just the loop without them, just in case I had to abort things due to a red signal. Tomorrow, weight room.