Idealistic

My biggest regret in life is that I didn’t nurture my idealism. I succumbed to the notion that idealism is naive, unrealistic and unachievable. But what is the point if that’s true? Might as well just die.

Maybe it is naive. Maybe you can’t have it all. But knowing what you want can guide you in your negotiations through life. If you at least try to shoot for the moon, you don’t always have to let those motherfuckers win. Those motherfuckers who want to ruin everything.

And I mean everything. I want the world to be a better place. I’m idealistic in that way. But I also, just personally, want what makes me happy. I’m idealistic in that way too.

For this, I need a simple life. I don’t want all the things that surround me to remind me only of what is now, and to block out what I may continue to forget. I want the space to discover, no to remember, to at least feel something of what I brought with me, what I was, as far back as I possibly existed, and I don’t know how long that is, but I suspect it is longer than we typically think.

It’s not that I don’t want to move on. I don’t want to get stuck in the past, it’s that I want to keep what I earned, and also to pay what I owe.

I want it all.

And I want that for everyone else too.

Is that so maladjusted?

Is so then maybe I should join the “International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.”

I know a place

I took a vacation. I even took a plane to get there.

Was it great?

Is it great to be back?

You must answer yes to both questions or it wasn’t worth it.

I’m depressed as all fuck to be back.  The vacation itself was ok, but I got out of my routine. I ate, I drank, I hiked, but I didn’t read or write or bike.

I was depressed enough before I left. Now I’m more depressed.

I hate vacations. I wouldn’t mind going someplace by myself though, especially if I can just stay as long as I want and do what I want. Because I hate my life too. I hate working. I hate spending money that I would prefer not to earn in the first place.When do I get to go home to something like I used to be or think or dream of?

Your story

Your story is the story of everyone who was alive when you were born. That’s the story you started with and that’s what you continue with. As life goes on more and more of the people that are a part of your story die off. If you’re the last one to die, you win.

And that’s the end of your story. nothing continues after that. New people were born, of course, and they continue, but you were part of their story, not the other way around. You were here already when they were born.

Finding yourself

I work for a company that is accepting of diversity. They have good policy towards LGBTQIA+ and they are taking the right stance on Black Lives Matter and other issues that affect people of color. Whether it bears out in practice, I’m not the one to say. But leadership does push the right buttons to get people on board. They recognize, rightly so, that it’s not just the right thing to do, but that we won’t be at our best unless we can bring our whole selves to work, and they encourage us to do that, because it helps the business. Makes me wish that I could feel at home here too. But what if you don’t know who you are? What if the only thing you hide from your co-workers is how lazy you can be? Should you tell them that?

And if the underlying cause of laziness is depression? Or maybe you really do hate your job, and it’s not the depression talking. What if the job is the cause of your depression?

Should you bring that whole self to work?

When people say that they want to find themselves, most think that’s an excuse to indulge a sense of entitlement. Admittedly who among us knows how to go about it efficiently?

Here’s what I think. I think that when you set out to find yourself, all you really want to know is what makes you happy. To figure that out you need to forget convention, forget what other people think. Whether something is right for them or not, has nothing to do with you.

I imagine that if I ever found myself, I would no longer be jealous of other people. That’s how I’d know. I’m jealous of anyone with a cause, women, black people, native Americans. I’m jealous of retired people, and of anyone who looks happy, or has something I think would make me happy whether it makes them happy or not. I’m even jealous of people who have lost their parents, for the freedom and independence, and who are divorced, also for the freedom and independence. That’s the desperation of someone who hasn’t acted for himself and worries too much about what other people think.

Doing Stand Up

A thought just occurred to me. What am I supposed to do about biking when winter comes?

Also, my bike is making a noise dammit. Might need to be oiled somewhere. I should have kept up the maintenance, but you can’t get in to see anyone anymore. Also thinking about ordering new tires, just in case. And new brakes. They work, but they make a noise. I think it’s normal, but I haven’t replaced them in the 13 years I’ve had the bike. Thirteen years sounds like a lot, but in use, it’s much fewer years. What is the average that a person uses a bike in a year? I’m sure I’ve been below it, especially if you exclude people who don’t use their bikes at all and therefore effectively don’t have bikes. “A person who doesn’t read, holds no advantage over one who can’t,” as Mark Twain said.

They maintain airplanes based on miles flown, so how many miles have I flown? That’s what matters. My new app will tell me, at least going forward. My total miles 43.1. My longest single day ride was 10, since measurements began in the 2020s.  And that happened yesterday.

My new stem makes a difference. I still think the crank is too big, but I am able to raise the seat a little. My knees feel a little less strained, though it still feels like that’s where the muscles are that I’m using most. And that doesn’t make sense to me.

Is this really a blog post? Interesting thoughts in it? More like a journal. I don’t want to post things that are boring. On the other hand, I’m not a good judge of that, and I don’t want to give up writing, and no one reads this anyway, so why do I care if it’s good, or how sure I am of it.

Yes, another biking post, three in a row now, that could get old. On the other hand, reasons. I could come up with dozens of reasons to give up writing. Dozens.

Weird way to measure isn’t it? I could give up for multiples of 12 reasons. Is that so many more than multiples of 10? Depends on how many multiples.

Scores of reasons. Are scores more than multiples of 10? Or Dozens? Well, if you know that a score is 20, then you might say yes, but I would argue that they are the same. Infinity plus one is still infinity. Multiples of any amount, if you don’t define the multiple can be anything, and two anythings are always equal. That could have been the thesis for my senior project if I had stayed at Bard College, and stayed in mathematics. It would have been hilarious, if not right. Maybe I would have failed and then gone on to use the story in a lucrative career doing stand up.

I Rode in the Rain

It may be the reason I have struggled with depression much of my life. Could it be that simple? That I didn’t ride my bike enough?

It might be a little bit too early to come to that conclusion, I only just recommitted myself to riding, but I’m going with it.

I hated myself early, too early to know exactly when, but I remember saying it into the mirror. “I hate myself.” Probably 4th or 5th grade. Jr High School had it’s ups and downs, the last year of it, 9th grade, was my favorite year of school. I made friends I still have (or again, thanks Facebook). I played drums. I smoked pot. High school was tough though, which I often attributed to my own choice of schools, In NYC we had some choices. I chose Music over Drama (Music and Art over Performing Arts – two schools which later merged into one. The latter was the subject of the movie Fame). I chose distance over proximity to home, so, sometimes I’ve blamed the commute, 45 minutes each way by subway. Sometimes I’ve just blamed myself, and my own insecurities.

But in the summers when I was dragged to Connecticut by my parents, someplace I didn’t want to go, my brothers and I rode our bikes all day every day. We would start with 6 miles to a park and rec program in the town, where we would play softball and soccer and other games until noon, then we would ride back, more often than not taking the “scenic” route. We explored, we discovered.  We knew our way around better than our parents, every road. We would re-appear to take a dip in the Long Island sound when we got hot, and then back on our bikes. One year we decided to ride to an annual family weekend trip to Shelter Island. The rest of the family drove, but my brothers and I rode to New London, took a ferry, crossed long island, and took another ferry to Shelter Island. On the way back we averaged 20 mph for 20 miles  to catch the ferry back to New London which left only once an hour. My older brother led the way, I was next as our younger brother disappeared from view. I tried to catch up to tell our older brother we needed to wait, but I couldn’t. So we arrived on time, and as the ferry was about to leave without us, here comes our younger brother around the curve. He rode right onto the boat, as we walked on to the applause from other passengers. I’m remembering it accurately.  We were famous. And we were in really good shape.

I’d end those summers excited to return to school, a feeling which would last a week until I fell back into my more typical funk. I sometimes attributed my happiness during those summers to pot smoking, wondering if I would have been happy if I had smoked more consistently throughout my life, but now I see it was a combination of the two, with much more credit due to the exercise than I have typically ascribed.

I dreampt, back then, of biking across Europe or the US. I wanted to bike everywhere. I didn’t think that through, never made a plan, how I would climb the Rockies, or carry supplies, like a tent, a change of clothes, for example. But I believed. In those days I believed in possibilities.

So now I’m back, easing into a daily routine. I biked 10 miles today, not like the old days, but hell, that’s ok. I am also content to get through one Spanish lesson on duolingo and one on Mango each day and it’s doable. It will take me 2 years to get through them all, but what’s two years when I’ve spent decades in failure?

Even just that feels great. And I’m beginning to lose weight. Well, muscle weighs more than fat, but my stomach is shrinking. I even feel overmedicated for my thyroid, so I cut my dose. Regular exercise of one hour per day significantly improves thyroid function according to a study in India.

Was this all I needed to do to be my best self? All this time? Crazy right?

I don’t want to obsess about lost opportunities. Yes, it might have been nice to be happy for most of my life, but whatever. What else would have been different that I don’t want to be changed at this point? More importantly, it’s not too late. Does this mean I can actually be happy? Have I finally figured it all out?

I knew it would seem simple once it came to me.

So I checked the weather last night and it didn’t look like rain but you can’t believe weather people. I check every night, but I sometimes feel that when I start into a good routine, God throws obstacles in my way. It’s as if I’m not supposed to be happy, or maybe I’m supposed to learn to persevere, I don’t know. But I keep waking up, stretching, getting my water bottle ready, dressing up in my t shirt and shorts (I don’t wear “the uniform”) and socks and sneakers. I tie my shoes (I’m just trying to make this sound like a lot). And then I step outside to discover it’s raining. Today was one of those days. Once before I ran instead of biking, because I was scared to bike in the rain, but I hate running. I need to bike.

So, I did some internet research. Turns, out, you can ride in the rain. The skinny tires of road bikes actually don’t hydroplane. You just have to a little careful to brake slowly and not take turns too fast. So I went anyway!

It’s a little bit of an exaggeration to say it was raining. When I first stepped outside it was drizzling. Once I hit the road, it was wet, but it didn’t rain anymore. When I rode beneath trees, they dropped a little bit of rain they had been saving just for me, to reward me for my efforts (thank you, that was sweet), but other than that it’s not raining on me anymore.

Ride My Bike

Hello, I’m back.

Here’s what’s been going on in my life since the pandemic started.  I’m working from home, and loving it. Well, to be honest, I don’t love work, I’d prefer not to work, as you probably know about me,. But if I have to work, I like doing it from home.

I have also been put on a reduced schedule, accompanied by reduced pay. I accept this cause I know my company is suffering, and anyway I am saving some money by not traveling, by not commuting, by not eating out as much and because the colleges my kids go to have refunded some room and board since they aren’t using it anymore.

And while the “reduced schedule” is a little bit disingenuous for a salaried worker like me who is paid to get the job done, it has allowed me a little flexibility for goofing off without feeling guilty. So why has it taken so long to start blogging again, you might ask? Low energy. Depression? Why depressed if you like working from home so much? It’s like this. After a couple of months I realized I’m getting even less exercise than ever, and feeling worse than ever. It used to be I’d get some steps in just to go to the bathroom. The more water I drank the more exercise I got (for most people it’s the other way around). But now the bathroom is only steps from my desk, and I don’t even have to walk to my car of from my car to the office building. My efforts to feel good by eating less? Exposed as misguided. It’s not my eating that is to blame for feeling bad, it’s the lack of exercise. It always was.

What a wonderful realization. You know why? Because it means that if I start working out, maybe I don’t have to watch what I eat either, and can even enjoy eating again. That’s why most people I know work out, so that they can eat donuts without feeling guilty. It took me this long to realize it, cause I’m stupid. Don’t hate. I admit it.

I remember now that when I was young, when exercise was a game not a chore, I declared to myself that as an adult, I would never go to the gym just to stay in shape, but would continue to do things that were fun to stay in shape. And then I got a desk job. Maybe that’s why I hated working.

You can’t always find 18 people for a softball game, and I never did like running, but I did love biking. When I was a kid my brothers and I would ride all over all day. And recently, that is, 13 years ago (omg why does time go by so fast), I bought myself a road bike, not unlike the “10 speed” Peugeot I enjoyed then and up into my 20s. This one is a Specialized model and has 27 speeds.  It wasn’t cheap, but it was good value, compared to what some of the other models costs. And much improved over the standard of the 1970s.

But I didn’t ride it as much as I anticipated. Maybe because I didn’t buy the outfit.

Actually, I was suckered into buying padded gloves that I don’t use, and bicycle glasses that cost more than I was ever willing to pay for sunglasses that weren’t for bicycle riding.

I don’t use the glasses much either because I have a helmet that has a built in visor now, held on by magnets. Makes me look a little like a storm trooper.

Biking, however, has been more of an effort than it was in the past, and the bike never felt as stable and comfortable as I remember of my Peugeot. There was something awkward about it. Maybe cause I’m older, I thought.

But then came the pandemic. And we all got outside more. I started walking. I realized I needed to exercise more and concluded from internet research that there is nothing wrong with riding every single day. So I resolved to do so. I’m not the only one. Good Morning America just reported that bikes are selling out. If you want to start biking two months into the pandemic, you’re late! You should have started earlier. Guys are even buying pink and purple bikes, cause that’s all that’s left.

So when I started thinking maybe this bike wasn’t the right size, I wasn’t going to have many options. I was hoping it would be the last bike I ever bought, because, quite frankly, I kept my Peugeot a long time, and if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. And if it is broke, fix it. But before I decided to sell it and buy the right size, I did some more internet research. I adjusted the saddle, and ordered a new stem to put the steering column a little further away, which hasn’t come yet, and I’m not sure that was a good move, and then I realized something else. The crank is too long for my short ass legs. Bikes are almost universally fitted with the same size crank, whether you’re six feet, or whether you’re five-six. And when I peddle, my knees bend to under 90 degrees and my knees sometimes start to hurt, and I need to get up off the saddle early in my climbs.

That’s not an adjustment you can just make. It’s an expensive thing to experiment with, cause you have to buy new cranks.  And most bike stores are either on limited hours or overwhelmed with business, or both. So, I can’t go anywhere to try things out, or get bad advice. Nor do I want them to give me Covid.

But I’m thinking of just buying a new crank and guessing about the size and putting it on myself. Maybe I’ll err on the side of too short. I don’t mind spending the money, but I don’t want to spend it twice. I don’t want to go shorter and discover I didn’t go short enough, like the opposite of women who decide to get bigger tits, and then go too big, But that’s a topic for another blog.

Low Standards

I’m setting low standards for myself these days, but so far keeping to it. I got out of bed, for instance. That’s not asking much.

“Get out of bed, A Lawrence.”

“I can do this.”

“I know you can.”

Me talking to myself.

And look at me, I’m posting…. Something…..

I did one Spanish lesson on duolingo, extending my streak to 9 days. Gotta keep that streak. 

I have started a couple more shows on netflix, and I will probably spend some time today watching. At least I am not setting any expectations to the contrary. It’s allowed.

I guess there’s nothing else that I HAVE to do. 

Because the Sky is Blue

A lot of cultural attention is focused around gender these days. It is a unique time in which people are more and more courageous to live authentically in this respect, to tell people how they feel, who they are, what gender they relate to most, to put it one way. 

But I want more than that. I don’t just want to acknowledge a dual nature in regards to gender, I want to do that, but when I yearn to live authentically, to be who I am, to be unafraid in the face of societal expectations or judgments or norms, it is about so much more than gender. It is about the freedom to be different. It is about the freedom to be crazy. To accept things that may not have any logic behind them. What do I like? what do I need? I know. If I listen to myself, I know. I’ve always known. And why I am like this, doesn’t matter. 

There may be a why.  Or a because. But you can’t wait for it. You can’t even know it until you first recognize the what. You can’t justify who you are to yourself or anyone, until you live it and feel it. And if you do that, you don’t ever have to know why. You don’t need why to be happy. 

Because. That’s why.