Readers-

Just over two years ago I was finalizing my decision to join a gym. I was approaching the big three-nine and I wasn’t getting any healthier. I scheduled my appointment with the national gym chain and everything. Then, March 12 hit and a certain someone (who’s still on the lam, as far as I can tell) rear-ended me and my trusty Subaru in a drunken pique.

The injuries I sustained from that car accident were unlike anything I had ever experienced. Sure, the mountain bike crash in southern Colorado was painful and my ability to walk without pain shooting through my hips only subsided after an intense three months in physical therapy, but being rear-ended by Drunky the Clown causes a whole new level of hurt.

To wit: I was back on the bike, full throttle (going after it at Silver City’s famed Enduro Burro) , a mere four months after the bike accident. But it took me seven months to get (gingerly) back in the saddle after the drunk driver hit me.

What’s a tomboy to do during recovery? A different sport, if she wants to remain somewhat healthy.

So I swam. I joined the Denver Recreation Center, and I swam. The crawl and the breaststroke were too difficult at first, and made the acute pain acuter, especially the part where buttocks meet lower back–ilial sacrum or something. That part had folded around the seat belt in a cruel twist of accident.

So I went with the side and backstroke and battled with some elders on who could swim the slowest pace. Some days I won. But I liked swimming so much (even though I’ve not got the breathing thing down, never mind wallkicks) that I swam outdoors all summer.

Problem is, so did the rest of NW Denver. From 12-1 everyday, my favorite outdoor pool provides lap swim for adults. This is an excellent time to soak up the sun, get some exercise in, and be glad once again I live in Colorado.

The problem is pool etiquette. I know how to share a lane with another person, although I can’t say I like it. I’m always worried about kicking a wall or a person. But three people in a lane? Someone help me with this.

Last week I was swimming at another one of the pools in northwest Denver just before the workday. There are only four lanes, and the yuppie entitlement factor at this particular site is very high.

I arrived at the pool around 7AM, and sharing a lane was inevitable. No problem. I waited until the young lady swam to my end of the pool, asked the necessary “Do you mind if we share?” and went at it. She left not five minutes later. My body screamed “freedom!” at the thought of having my own lane.

Alas, a young man appeared at the far end of the pool and splashed in. He did not have to ask my permission to share a lane, but I find it courteous and in good taste to wait for the other person to appear at your end of the pool and make the necessary gestures of sharing with some nodding and finger pointing.

Now, I’d put money on me to survive adrift in the ocean for a few days, but I’m not a pretty swimmer nor a fast one. No finesse, no swimming lessons. I just learned as I went on the shores of southern New England and at the YMCA. But this guy splashed around like a drowning victim.

Then guy number two shows up and inquires, ya know, if we can swim in circles, all three of us in a lane. I’ve done this a few times before and I know what’s coming. These two are going to out-testosterone one another to see who’s fastest and they’re both going to be passing me. A lot. I anxiously replied, “sure” and let him go ahead of me, warning him of my tortoise-inspired speed.

And then it happened. I got passed. Again. Again. And again. And then guy number one, the drowning victim, scratches me with his toenail in his spastic attempt to fluff his peacock feathers. On the next pass he kicks me. Now, I understand accidents (see above), but this guy is a colossal asshole. When you kick someone or scratch someone accidentally, you apologize. Every kindergartener knows that.

Not this guy. He is entitled to exactly the kind of workout he believes he deserves, and he’s going to kick that slow, stocky lady if she’s in his way.

So I fought back. Not with kicks and scratches (that’s sooooo elementary school), but with my wits. When approaching guy number two with guy number one right behind me, I would speed up so passing me without hitting oncoming traffic was impossible. Then, when the passing lane had disappeared, I would swim as slowly as I could.

Now I’ve got stamina. I can mountain bike, hike, or snowboard for hours and I can even run for a few minutes. I entered that pool just after 7AM and I was going to swim until that lifeguard lady kicked me out at 8AM. I was going to outlast both guys numbers one and two, even if I felt I was being both psychologically and physically edged out by the stronger sex.

And I did. So blah.

But I’m curious:

What is the etiquette for entering a pool lane with someone already in it?

What is proper etiquette for sharing a lane with two other people? Does the slowest swimmer have an obligation to move elsewhere?

Does the first person in the lane have any poolsteading rights?

Advertisements

Gertrude Stein – love her or hate her – there is no in between. She wrote the weird Tender Buttons and the popular Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas. One of my favorites of hers is Three Lives. Very Anglo-Saxon. The language, not the themes.

Well, you know how famous and talented folks tend to hang out with one another? The Bloomsbury Circle had Keynes and Woolf. Gertrude Stein had Hemingway, Anderson, Matisse, and Picasso.

And just as much as Stein influenced the painters, they influenced her right back. Stein was famous (or was it notorious?) for her experiments in language. One of my favorite experiments of hers is when she wrote portraits of the Cubists, in the Cubist fashion.


WARNING! SPOILER ALERT. IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN THE MOVIE AND YOU INTEND TO, DO NOT READ ON.

A couple of weeks ago a friend lent me the book, and I read it in a single evening. The book is like a diet–there are some excellent guidelines to be followed, but a strict regimen according to the gospel of authors Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo will do nothing but make you crazy.

The underlying message of the book and the movie is a good one: if a guy is into you he will show it, usually by calling. If a guy never calls you, he’s just not that into you, regardless of how much fun you have together or how great the emails are. Even if he’s not a phone person, he will call. There’s good advice in them thar hills.

The movie starts out with a young girl on the playground wanting to know why a boy is mistreating her. A young mother assures her daughter: “It’s because he likes you.” And that my friends, is where the confusion originates: we are conditioned, as women, to view mistreatment at a very young age as a sign of interest. This premise works for anyone under twelve but does anyone really believe such behavior spills over into adulthood?

Then the movie scans the world, showing that women in all cultures, of all ages, are busy making excuses for why their men aren’t showing them more affection: he’s busy, he forgot what hut I live in, yada yada yada. Any female who has been on the dating scene more than a minute has done this because the truth–that he may just not like you–hurts.

The movie, for the most part, follows the travails of a cute but somewhat pathetic Ginnifer Goodwin, who plays a convincing phone watcher and stalker. After a so-so date, Goodwin obsesses about the guy who doesn’t call her for a second date. She tells herself all kinds of lies to convince herself that he is going to call. When he doesn’t, she shows up at his favorite watering hole.

I have done this, although not recently. I have obsessed over a guy, checked my non-existent phone messages, analyzed the situation to death with my girlfriends, and done the ever-popular drive-by just to see if, ya know, he’s like, there. Goodwin does a great job demonstrating that erratic, insane behavior can emanate from a perfectly sane person. In fact, she sure makes the rest of us feel good.

The movie gets hilarious as Goodwin overassumes the interest level of different guys. The movie also, at times, feels like a horror flick: I found myself putting my hands over my face and shaking my head at Goodwin’s pathetic fumblings around the dating world.

Justin Long plays the mouthpiece of author Greg Behrendt. He befriends Goodwin early on in the movie and dispenses the cold hard truth about whether or not the guys she meets are into her. Best part of the movie.

The problem is that Long is a player, and gives us a bird’s eye view of how players think and act. The movie (more than the book) assumes that all guys are self-assured go-getters who know exactly what they want and will act accordingly. Rubbish. Men can be just as insecure as women.

And alas, Hollywood just couldn’t stop the cliche train. Long the player falls for Goodwin the good girl; the guy who said he never wanted to get married proposes; and the single girl goes off to India to find herself.

The last ten minutes of the movie nullify the first two hours. Tis a shame.

My number one problem with an otherwise good, thought-provoking movie, is that there are no happy single people in it. Everyone who is single is out looking for love in all the wrong places. No one is content, just living his or her life. Sex and the City suffered from this same character flaw.

Maybe content single people don’t make for good stories. I’d like to think otherwise.


I’ve got such a thing for hyphens.

Top post and picks, look under News.  Yours truly has the second-most viewed post for mtobikes and garnered a couple of other top tens.  Look for more from Carl and company in the coming year.

SheSpoke


Readers-

Can you stand another top ten list?  Here’s my top ten, in no particular order:

1. Learning how to salsa dance

2. Discovering dark chocolate

3. Spending a month with my family this past summer

4. Starting my first novel

5. Surfing in Sayulita, Mexico

6. Attending my high school reunion

7. Voting for Barack Obama

8. Attending SoundSession in Providence

9. Having my speech and debate kids make finals at state

10. Getting my first paid writing gig

 

A week on the life in Sayulita

A week in the life in Sayulita


I woke up the Sunday after Thanksgiving feeling exhausted and refreshed.  Hard to explain, but imagine your whole body feeling worked but relaxed.  And imagine waking up among miles and miles of sand but never feeling cleaner.  These are the reasons for my pilgrimages to the Moab area time and time again–soul refreshment.

Sunday morning was beautiful–sunny with blue skies, few clouds, low winds, and a nibble of cold in the air.  Still, I always seem to know when it’s time to leave the desert before I do something stupid like get hurt or lost.  It was time to go.  I said goodbye to my friend the crow/raven (grr, why don’t I know the difference?),

 

Farewell, desert-friend

Farewell, desert-friend

who just happened to be picking over last night’s grilled salmon

 

Mmmm, crusty, desert-dried fish for breakfast

Mmmm, crusty, desert-dried fish for breakfast

and headed to Fruita.  Fruita has become, along with Salida, Moab, Winter Park, Sedona, and other places I’ve never heard of, a mountain biking mecca.  Dirt lovers descend upon Fruita in droves, drawn to it by its pristine singletrack.  This would be my third visit to Fruita, albeit my first (and hopefully last) alone.  Since the biking accident last summer, I have become incredibly cautious about riding alone.  Some would say I’ve finally smartened up.  Nope.  Fear and fear of pain are running my biking decisions these days, and I’m not exactly thrilled about it.

I digress.

For those of you who have a favorite place, a place where you go to gain peace and solitude, one of beauty that overwhelms you no matter how many times you’ve seen it, you know what I’m about to write.

As I drove the thirty miles or so to I-70, an east-west ribbon of road that cuts the northern section of Colorado from the southern, I felt sad.  I was leaving a place of contentment, never mind the rrrrr, rrrrr from the dirt bikers and the ATVers.  I was nearly brought to tears by every sunset.  I sat by the fire at night, just breathing and drinking green tea, exhausted but invigorated by the day’s adventures.  Now all that was over.  Yeah, yeah, yeah, until next time.  But it sucks that I even have to leave.

I-70 in eastern Utah is desolate.  There are instructions on what to do in a sand/wind storm alongside the road.  There’s one exit with services and many other exits with only ranches.  Fruita is about 90 minutes from Moab, depending on speed and exact point of departure.  Fruita boasts two great ridng areas, one on each side of the highway.  The northern section of trails near the Bookcliffs, which houses my favorite Chutes and Ladders trail, was too muddy, the folks at Over the Edge bikeshop informed me.  I was disappointed but understood.  Mother Nature had pounded moisture into the area over the past few days.  It’s not like water evaporates or nuthin’.

So I set off for the southern section of trails.  The temps were in the mid 50’s, but I suited up with wool, long-fingered gloves, and tights under my riding skort.  I hate to be cold.  I had 100ml of water with me, two Clementine oranges (a compact source of food and liquid), and two energy bars.  I would ride Mary’s Loop, part of the Kokopelli Trail System out by exit 11 near Loma.

 

Mary’s Loop is strictly intermediate stuff and leads into Moore Fun.  Mary’s Loop is unspectacular but safe, except for this section of trail.

 

Don't look down

Don't look down

Truth is, I’m deathly afraid of heights.  Fear of heights (which is genetic, I swear) kept me from snowboarding for ten years (couldn’t get on the lift) and induced a severe panic attack in the towers of Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia in Barcelona a few years back.  I hyperventilated the entire staircase climb up then had a nervous breakdown once back on the ground.

But that’s a post for another time.

So, I’m either incredibly brave or incredibly stupid.  Here’s a look from the other, safe side of the precipe.  Look at the right center of the photo

Should we stay or should we go?

Should we stay or should we go?

Yup.  That’s a couple on a TANDEM mountain bike.  I had passed them a few miles earlier but had paid them no heed I didn’t even notice they were two people on one bike.  Musta been all that *&^%$ climbing I was doing.  Anyway, I think they turned back.

Too bad.  They missed out on this view, which was just around the corner.

Overlooking the Colorado River from Mary's Loop in Fruita

Overlooking the Colorado River from Mary's Loop in Fruita

After this the trail gets fairly technical–lotsa skinny singletrack fraught with rocks, roots, and off-camberness.  I walked more trail than I usually do (fear and fear of pain kicked in).  But when Mary’s Loop turns into Moore Fun, things get a little less technical and much, much closer to the parking lot, which is where I ended up eating my Clementines.

On my next trip to Fruita (this spring), I’m doing Steve’s Loop and Horsethief Bench.  And I’m bringing posse with me, even if I have to drag them.

SheSpoke


Yes, pigtails.  The kind Pippi Longstocking sports and the kind oft-seen on fast food chain Wendy’s cups.  Do pigtails make otherwise mature women seem juvenile, pathetic, or otherwise ridiculous?  Perhaps.

But for the woman, age 12-60, with a metropolis of hair, hair so thick it doesn’t fit in most barrettes, braided pigtails are a godsend.

Let me explain.  I partake in many sports–mountain biking, surfing, snowboarding, nordic skiing, and any kind of running.  These sports toss, not tousle my hair about.  If I put my thick hair up in a regular old pony tail and go nordic skiing for a couple of hours, by the end of those two hours there are enough nests in my ponytail for a colony of rats.  If I pass over the ponytail and opt for unbraided pigtails, I’ve got the same amount of nests, they’ve just been neatly divided into two.

So I head to the shower, grab my most gentle comb and begin to exterminate the nests, one gentle pull at a time.  After about fifteen minutes I’ve got broken hairs in the sink and (more) split ends in my hair.

But braided pigtails cure all athletic-induced hair evils.  Braid away, strap on your helmet or pull on your wool hat, and leave the nests and knots behind.  At sport’s end, just unravel.

So next time you see a woman too old for pigtails wearing them, consider that she might just risk looking ridiculous for practical reasons.

Now tell me you’ve never done that.  I’ve seen your yellow rain slicker.

SheSpoke sports pigtails at the start of the epic Kenosha Pass ride

SheSpoke sports pigtails at the start of the epic Kenosha Pass ride