13 May 2010

人算不如天算 ... or, ya know, I don't really miss those 20 lbs.

Man's schemes are inferior to those made by heaven.

Kids are crazy as a rule.  They just are.  Wind just makes them crazier.  It just does.  Put a windy day anywhere in the last two or three weeks of the school year, and it's all any teacher can do to just keep a lid on things.

It's been super windy here lately.  So my job, lately, has just kinda become a crowd-control situation as I attempt to keep 28 ten-year-olds focused and on-track at the end of the school year.  It's not easy.  Even after some seventeen years on the job, it's still not easy.  Especially not at the end of the year.  Especially not on windy days.

As someone once said: "I'm tired (ain't it a fwiggin' shame)." 

Normally, this kind of thing really wouldn't bother me. But, truthfully, I think maybe this year it is because it's been an unusually humbling year, this year.  Humbling as in: I feel like I've been reminded more than a few times that I-Am-Not-In-Control-Of-My-Life-Nearly-As-Much-As-I-Like-To-Think-I-Am.  Said reminders of such inability have arrived in various ways and by various means over the course of the last calendar year, such as:
  • The tree that nearly crushed me this past summer.
  • The deer that crashed into my wife and daughter one night in October (they came out unscathed; the new car, not-so-much).
  • That whole swine-flu pandemic dust-up.
  • My bout of diverticulitis last November, which cost me some seven days of sick-leave (more than I've ever taken in one school year), garnered me two CT scans, several blood tests, 10 days on Cipro and Flagyl, a dozen or more trips to the doctor, and left me 20 pounds lighter, a couple thousand dollars poorer, and more scared than any other illness I've ever had.
  • A barrage of gloomy pronouncements in the local newspaper of the impending potential for school closures (perhaps to include mine), teacher layoffs, and deep program cuts district-wide.
  • And, heck, just for good measure, toss in a few other family-related crises that shall go unmentioned at this time...
And, well... Like I was saying: it's been an unusually humbling year, this year.  I think I'm beginning to get it: I'm Not-Really-In-Control of things. Not at all.

But, ya know... we're rolling with it.  It's okay.  I know that sounds odd, especially given my whining in the first few paragraphs.  But really, we are doing pretty well, as a family, all things considered.

In the midst of all this confusion and fear, and more commonly, bewilderment (confusion and fear all mixed up together, ya see) we've really sorta grown, somehow. We are, indeed, fortunate and well cared for, despite all the things that have happened that plainly, unequivocally sucked, or mostly sucked, or kinda sucked some but not as much as they could have sucked.  And, as we've looked back on each strange turn of events, something really interesting seems to have occurred... We've been able to identify a few positives in the midst of sometimes profound negatives... and that's something good, I think... All this makes us hopeful that the same will continue to be true for those circumstances we've yet to encounter, to say nothing of those which do not yet appear to have reached a discernible conclusion.

Take my missing 20 pounds, as a for-instance.

Before I had diverticulitis, I looked a lot like the guy on the left.

Afterward, I looked more like the guy on the right.

Even I was a bit shocked by this.  Not that I didn't want to loose a few pounds.  Who doesn't?  But trust me, diverticulitis is not a good way to loose weight.  It works, sure enough.  But it's really not worth it, if you're just trying to thin-down.

True story: One day years ago a muscle-bound regular customer came into the bike shop and, after pausing to admire his own physique in the full-length mirror, and then glancing over at a poster of Lance Armstrong for comparison (one presumes), remarked for all to over-hear, "Man, Armstrong got so lucky getting cancer.  Look how ripped he is now.  I'd take cancer if I could look like that after."

Whatever. Moron.

These days, I'm sorta somewhere in between these two guys... but still leaning a bit more to the guy on the right, still more toward gaunt than fit.  It's one thing to be thin and fit (ergo: fast), and another to look thin and sickly (ergo: not fast)... sometimes I worry I still look a little too sickly.  And I'm just vain enough to let that sort of thing bother me.  By the way, it's okay to tell me I don't.  But it kinda still hurts my feelings when folks point out that I do.

So, what do you do when you find yourself pretty much more-or-less fully recovered from a somewhat dire illness and also 20 pounds lighter for your pain?


It's been nearly 10 years since I queued up behind a start-line for a mountain bike race with a bunch of other skinny cyclists early on a Saturday morning.  I used to do it pretty regularly, a few times a year.  And I used to enjoy it.  A few times I even did sorta well.

I've got no illusions about doing well in any upcoming races.  But, for reasons I can't fully explain, I've been riding with renewed passion lately.  And, heck, I'm skinny again.  Just like the old days.  When I put on my bike clothes, if you don't look at my desperately white, hairy legs, I almost look like I might be fit enough to be a little bit fast.  But it's been ages since I had anything to prove on a race course, so I have no idea how I might compare now to my competitors... No... That's not true.  I've got a pretty good idea how I compare.  But that's not the point, is it?  The point is, I'm gonna put my new-found weight-loss to work, just like that lucky-duck Lance Armstrong, and try and win a few races... Or at least try to finish a few races... Maybe even respectably.  Who knows.

First up: The MBAA Flagstaff Finale on the 22nd of May.  It's on my home turf.  On the trails I ride all the time, like a hundred times a year. It's like fate, or something.  Might even try the downhill time-trial on Sunday, too.

Anything might happen.

I'll be the dork on the old single-speed.
I'll let ya know how it goes...


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May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. -- Ed Abbey