Monday, July 5, 2010


I think about this word and the connotations it brings forth with it. You are probably thinking I am either going to talk about the birthday of a friend/family member or the birthday of the country (given the holiday weekend). Actually, I was not going to write about either. I just wanted to put the word out there because it was a word that popped into my head while riding yesterday and with the holiday weekend at hand and everyone thinking in terms of our country and military service coupled with my emotions and experiences of the past week I had this thought about how much that word can mean, or not mean.

As you probably have guessed I have good friend's that are dealing with their baby having cancer. Hanna is 19 years old and has recently been diagnosed with colon cancer. She was completing a semester abroad in Spain when she took ill. It has been a long haul already and likened to being stuck on the uphill and downhill of the first climb of a roller coaster, repeating it numerous times in a day. Her 20th birthday is next month, a milestone, no longer considered a teenager and for all intensive purposes this seems to be the number that separates one from childhood. To me, watching this beautiful, fun-loving girl grow up making the world around her bloom like the most amazing meadow, a birthday is just a chance remind the world of how quickly time has passed.

We were out on a friends boat on Saturday watching the fireworks from the water. They are dealing with the decline of elderly parents and the suddenness of it all. When you speak of birthdays in this context we are talking late eighties and early nineties. Their birthdays are a measured in a different manner, more as a reflection of accomplishments.

Placing these two very different situations side by side I think about what each of them has experienced in their lifetime. 93 years ago we would be waiting for the results of the Tour de France to hit the newspaper a few weeks after the fact, if it even made the news. Twenty years ago, we were just starting to rely on the computer for day to day life.

My cousin also retired from military service this weekend, a similar type of right of passage. My dad's family has always been very outwardly patriotic. While I am very appreciative of everything our country has to offer, the show of RWB is something that I will admit that has never been my cup of tea. The colonel no doubt planned the retirement on this weekend because of the symbolism. I admire him for that. Symbolic gestures are something that I really relate to, as my artwork tends to be very metaphorical. The act of retiring from military service on the weekend that the country celebrates the birth of a nation is monumental. This is something I am proud of on so many levels. I wished I could have celebrated this with him, but Anna came home for the first time since May to see Hanna and I wanted to make sure I was here for her if she needed me. So we stayed home and enjoyed each others company.

I have spent the past few days on my bike, forcing myself to ride. I think about that too. Steve told me that he rides before working in the studio to leave all the crap on the road. He suggested to me that this might be a way of getting ahold of my feelings. This is not new to me. Most of my friends in high school knew that when I was upset I would either run or ride, in college they would just go check the pool and hope that they could catch me mid breath, and for the past fifteen years being on a bike or even on my skates has served a similar purpose. Lately however, I have had an issue with leaving it on the road. It has to do with being competition weary. One of the thoughts I had on the bike yesterday was that life seems to be all about competition. I was out for a nice casual ride with Kenny, 3o miles of estrogen, which must have been driving him crazy because 20 miles into the ride he made a remark about how the path slows down the progress. I chose the path because I needed to be on auto pilot and in the shade. It was, after-all 101 degrees with high humidity and it was one of the most alcohol related holidays. The path seemed like a safer choice for 1/3 of the ride. I heard it as the path is slowing this show down, the pace is too casual, we need to pick things up. I tried to use ZEN to de-stress the moment. I actually owned it by telling Kenny that I was about to get pissy about things as it was hard enough to be out there as it was, having to cow-tow to a particular pace was ruining it for me. It worked, not another word about how long we had been riding. We stopped shortly afterwards for ice coffee and a bagel then headed home. I effectively left it on the road, though Jon was a big part of that. I never realized just how encouraging my friends can be.

Justin and Haley put together a wonderful BBQ. Pulled chicken onigiri (Justin's creation), clams, blackened cod with remoulade, black bean salsa, burgers, dogs... It was an outstanding affair with outstanding guests. It was the perfect end to a nearly perfect day. The only regret is that Mikey and Chris were off doing their thing, and I really missed them.

Today, Kenny and I took the trip into the city to see Hanna. We took Chris and Kaoru out for lunch. We sat and visited. Trying to stay positive, this was probably one of the most difficult things I have ever had to do in my life. Hanna we love you and cannot wait until you come home! Fight hard sweetie, we are all here to help you! I fell asleep on the train on the way home, and awoke in Pleasantville with a massive headache. Imagine the irony of that. I am so exhausted. I can't even begin to imagine where Chris, Kaoru, Tomo and Irie are at in this regard. Know our collective prayers are with you.

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