These days you can get bad news --or good news for that matter [but it usually isn't]-- in the blink of an eye. Could be the phone [but not often], could be via email but mostly it's through the pipeline of either Facebook or Twitter. It's all speed-of-sound that feeds the glutinous appetite of a world that, Knew about it Yesterday .
In the thick Army-issue wool blanket of endless updates ranging from the mundane to the, well, mundane hardly anything can snap you out of the stupor of short-attention-span theatre brought to you by the So-The-Fuck-What? attitude that is social networking. But just every so often something does. And it did for me the other day.
Hurl is closing shop. And Hurl is the proprietor of Cars R Coffins. And Cars R Coffins, besides living a half life as a t-shirt, sticker or patch on the ass, toptube or messenger bag of some Fixie ne'er-do-well, was a coffee shop.
But to marginalize or reduce something that shone so bright to me as mere coffee shop is akin to a headstone of a loved one reading, They was Loved. It's not enough. It's not enough because CRC was a Hang [yep, uppercase that H] and a Scene luxe.
Coffee shops serve coffee and the patrons have to make it into something more, something significant, something that is by proxy jive, boring and elitist not to mention uninviting as a convention by Secret Handshake Only. And while CRC's regulars did not do that, and in fact made it a hub for friendship bordering on pure family, I would strongly opine that it still wouldn't have amounted to much more than --a little different-- if it had not been for its founder.
CRC was, is and always will be a big deal to me and my family.
Outside of Bob Brown, the only person we knew at the time of our relocation from the NYC area to the Twin Cities, the first person I actually pressed palms with was Hurl, and it took place within the confines of Cars R Coffins itself.
A move that was exhausting in all ways. Half our shit stuffed into a spur-of-the-moment, holy-shit-we-almost-flipped-the-truck [because the idiot guys we hired to load it overloaded it] rental garage in the middle of Nowhere Pennsylvania [our car included too] that left us reeling when we first arrived in the Land of 10 Bijillion Lakes.
Bob takes me into CRC to, Meet this guy... and so I can get two coffees, one for me and one for my still sleeping wife back in Bob's house in Saint Paul, and a juice for -also sleeping- Chloe.
A guy stands behind the counter and says hi to Bob and then Bob looks at him, me, and back to him.
Hey Hurl. This is the Large Fella, Scott Cutshall.
Hand out, my hand out too. Hi nice to meet you, I've read your blog I think. He's looking nearly as splonked as me.
And that was that.
A few days later...
Our first bike ride, the day after we moved into our first place in St. Paul [before we found a better located place in Minneapolis], was to CRC for coffee for Amy and me, and another fruit juice for Chloe. And we never stopped going. Nearly everyday in fact.
Chloe got her first, Big Girl, bike there [a Schwinn Corvette]. And even though she basically couldn't straddle it, It came from Hurl I can handle it, she would say time and time again after falling over nearly each time she had to stop at an intersection.
These days she rides a Surly Long Haul Trucker [which Hurl helped procure for her] and after having topped out at 4,912 for mileage in 2010 still says she owes it all to, Hurl.
Riding through the long and deep winter that year I worked out a doable loop from our house in the Seward neighborhood. The halfway point was always CRC. Bike in rack, inside for a coffee and some words, swap chemical warmers, and go.
My interview for the Star Tribune newspaper [which first outed my story to the press and people, and for occasionally better but mostly worse] took place at Hurl's coffee and sticker haven.
Eventually Amy and me wanted to have some folks by. Once we felt like we had the house set up enough to not put forth the notion we were slobbing vagabonds who posed as decent humans we planned a Pizza Night where I would scratch make a dozen or so pizzas and entertain some of our new & closest friends. Looking back, it's interesting to note that besides Bob Brown every person there was from having first met them at CRC... including both Hurl and his sig other, Kelly.
Hurl and me have much in common it seems. He'd rightfully disagree but I would argue that what we share is a fairly astute brain in a world of people who we have to, said nicely, suffer with a smirk on our faces. So much in fact I wanted him to be a subject for a long-planned but short-lived series of interviews I intended to conduct called, People I Find Interesting [or PIFI for short]... he participated, Hurl & The CRC PIFI Interview.
Nearing the end of our stay in Minneapolis, after having set into motion the plan to leave for a rainy, damp, gray life in Portland, Oregon, the last place, on our final night in Minneapolis, all three of us stopped before we left town was, yep, CRC. In a darkened parking lot behind the building that had become our home away from home we hugged, laughed, and tried our best to not let Hurl & Co. see what was welling up in our eyes and down our faces.
I visited this past summer. A trip to see Bob and everyone and to attend the FreeRide... and I went to CRC twice during that short trip. And it was good...
...and felt like home,
but here's the crux and juice of it all for me:
I'll miss knowing that if and when we ever return to Minneapolis CRC will not be there as destination/hang/haven or clique for me -and us- on our rides. And that's a gray thing. It's gray because only ever so seldom does your world collide so perfectly with someone or something elses and you can't take that kind of thing for granted. I know I don't, didn't and never have.
No, Minneapolis will never be three numbers for us...
It's January 1st, it's a new year, it's 2011... so what.
It's just a day.
It's, if one checks the calendar, a Saturday.
It's, if one does the math on varying amounts of Daylight Savings Time over the years [since Man, himself, enacted such things], technically not even January 1st, not 2011, nor even a Saturday [that's a guess though... and I am too tired to spend the time figuring out how to figure that one out & double check my suspicion--I asked Amy about this, she looked at me sort of cross-eyed and said, "Jesus, Scott, I have no idea... don't ask me questions like that after I worked 13 hours of Call at the hospital"... so, again, I am not so sure].
Sure, I can dig why folks look to days like today for new beginnings and the like, but truthfully, they never work... and I assume they never work because this day, today, would happen regardless of my, your or any ones involvement in it. Today, like all other days, doesn't really give a shit what you do with it... it's going to start [and end] whether you change or not. Days are like this. January 1st -also- does not care what you impose on it because it's just a man-made date like all the rest of the days of the year. **Note: what the fuck is a year anyway?**
Now, how about January 1st as a new & clean slate from which to work?
That one is better to my mind.
Wiping off the proverbial chalkboard is a nice idea: start fresh, reconnoiter the confusing equation[s], take a new/better look at how to get shit right. That seems sound & rational.
But! ...the rub is always the same: these things always begin with a thought, and while thoughts are good, thoughts are usually the easiest part of change.
Put another way: change is work, work is earned, whereas a day is not.
Years ago I read somewhere that humans can change almost anything... for 3 days to 3 weeks, after that though it's "99% fail or bail" [okay, I am full of shit--it's my theory]. And it's true, change is easy [I've found] when one of two similar things go down...
1. Nothing pushes back against that Change [thus challenging it/you/the momentum of it]
2. It's new & fresh [those first 48 hours... or, once the crest has been summited: past 3 weeks].
Said another way: How easy is getting up early when one doesn't need to [for work -money- versus for changing -improving- Self]?, or How easy is it to not drink booze when alone versus at a party where all are imbibing?, or riding ones bike everyday regardless of weather, with no friends, and with no actual destination [work/errands]?, or working on their anger when not being challenged into a situation of anger?... it's like I tell Chloe often, "To change is hard, but to take stock of the progress of your change, well you've got to throw yourself into the worse case scenario of what it is you're trying to affect that change within & upon"... and a great but endless, wonderful but hard-ass, road to change it is. Add age/years to what it is you're trying to change, and man oh man, it's like climbing K2 naked in a total whiteout without any sherpas nearby.
Obviously, we can elect to change at any hour of any day within any month... but tradition typically elects that day to begin on the first day of the new year. And as a sidebar to the nebulous idea of Change & Resolutions: another I tell myself often [so much so, I don't really ever say it to myself per se, having made it more into a part of me that's just there, inside me, as fact], and from time to time, my daughter: 'I don't really care about what anyone intends to do as much as I care about what they are doing'. Said differently, speaking of ones resolution disempowers it greatly. If it's important, and change is always important, then it really stays strong, pure & crystalline when it's kept inside versus Twittering or FaceBooking it out to 15 thousand people.
I, being I, find that things that most like, what I call The Popular, repulse me... so therefore I would never, personally as a point of being profoundly "Scott", never go the easiest, typical, predictable route: i.e. I'd never change a damn thing on New Year's. No, it's too base, not worth my time and frankly if I've got something big to undo and redo, I ain't having it tagged in with a zillion other people trying to change up their shit too. No way, Jose. Change is big, it's epic, it needs protecting... it cannot be exposed, similar to an infant, until it is strong, reliably mobile, and able to withstand the punishments of the outside world. Anything less than that is unfair to the act of Change... really, anything less is bullshit, jive & just more words to fill up a world already overfilled with hollow words.
For me, I picked Thanksgiving Day for change... and not for the reasons most might think either [I won't go into why other than to leave it with... personal metaphor].
I'll shutup after this:
The other reason people falter is this, Tradition & Traditions [at least I know I did for years because of it].
If the one day that many out their voice on what it is they are about to embark on to change, and it's also a tradition to say it that particular day, and that day is also widely accepted as the day to do such, well, 2+2... [it's the same -as above- with booze/parties, food/holidays & for the angry person: quelling that anger when not in an angered situation, etc... there is no real test for the testing of it, it gets canceled out].
So, what are my resolutions for '011?
I have none, and even if I did...
I wouldn't tell.
But I don't have any [at least on this day, for chrissake].
After packing away BBC#1 this past summer [reason, photos, etc... all Here] and building up a Rivendell Bleriot [documented Here] and realizing that it might be a little big'gish [or that its geometry isn't a perfect fit... without getting too technical: I might be favoring higher BB's these days -but that's a boring thing to talk about so... ] for me, I just kept riding what came into my life back in Jan. of this year:
...a Surly Pugsley.
I bought the bike from a fella here in Portland, right after I had finally Man-Up'd and had one of the final remnants of my Big-Days erased: my umbilical hernia repaired, in early January. He had bought and built it up during the Fall of 2009 with the hopes for grand adventures & such only to realize that thinking a thought is different from doing a thought.
I began riding it to Amy's abject horror while I still had a nice line of sutures in my abdomen. She feared the bike's size would be my -and the surgeons- undoing. I survived, sort of...
...I rode a bit too hard [and landed in the ER for not so much ripping the sutures open as stretching them back-n-forth and bleeding out from my abdomen].
The Pug, to my mind, is pretty near a perfect vehicle. Sure, it's a self-limiting kind of deal that says to its rider: "So, your legs feel pretty great today huh?" as you approach hills with nimble legs & thoughts of speed while climbing... but the Pug's answer is always the same when you climb, "Fuck You: not today, not ever" and that's fine. It's fine because a bike, any bike, that makes its built-in bookends so clearly defined, well you have to laugh to yourself while respecting those bookends vastly. I like that in bikes, I like that in people: What you see is precisely what you get, period.
So why do I ride it? ...and where?
2nd part 1st, 1st part 2nd...
It does anything any other bike does, and mostly it does it way better than any other bike. Maybe, it does one thing worse than any other bike [but I don't really think so]... climbs. Hey, I've had full groceries + Chloe on the Big Dummy, and that pup is S L O W, and while that's reasonable, it -also- feels really S L O W...
The Pug, on the other hand, with full groceries [and minus the child, of course... no real way to get her on-board with me + these days Chloe doesn't really want towed anywhere any longer] is S L O W but feels monstrous in what it's capable of... sort of like driving an Abrams tank through a K-Mart parking lot: It isn't doing its intended thing, but damn, I could inflict a world of hurt on all these cookie-cutter mini vans if I desired, and it still gets me around to boot.
I've ridden it into Malls [funny, people loved it, security didn't]; I've ridden it in snow [duh]; I've ridden it into one entrance of a supermarket -straight through the supermarket- and out the other side [felt wonderful, plush, comfy... sure it scared the living shit out of a few folks but I would guess it gave them something to talk about later that evening once home]; I've ridden up & down stairs; I've ridden it up & down steep hills [again, it tells you how to ride it with no further discussion options available]; and I've ridden along, and then into, the Willamette River [didn't float, wasn't overly great on the drive train, but the Pug -and- me, we both survived].
Oh, and I've ridden it from central Oregon to the California border on mostly the beach [and a little highway-when the beach simply wasn't there anymore]...
...with Chloe & Amy meeting me, 240 miles & two days, later:
The Pug is my new favorite bike indeed.
Plus, you have to love a bike that simultaneously stimulates the curiosity and ire of Racing Snob wannabes; is a favorite among the insane & homeless: all curious about the Pug as I roll by while they go about their business residing under bridges/masturbating while sitting on park benches/etc; invites Crystal Meth heads to smile when they encounter me & the Pug out tooling along the Springwater Trail; and forces city bus drivers to launch into "Keep motorcycles out of the GAWDDAMN bus lane buddy!" on nearly every ride...
not to mention -apparently- drives every individual to ask the same two questions:
It's funny, life. It's also quite odd, life... it's, also, unbelievably perfect & beautiful too.
All the folks who told me or suggested that I -stop- blogging, now blog themselves; all the haters have come & gone... and only a few have ever come forward & introduced themselves -and of those: I forgave them/they forgave me;
the Bicycling Magazine piece has come and passed too; those closest to me have seen me come within a whisker of some sort of -bigger- fame, and then watched me -in that quintessential way I am capable of- burn those bridges down too; the Today Show came around twice... and I sent them away twice;
Jenny-O turkey came around too, they wanted to talk turkey to me, they wanted me to be their national spokesperson with a series of TV ads... and while I don't eat meat, their meat, any one's meat, it was a funny & odd thing... and then that disappeared too;
Amy and me are older, so is Chloe -now 11 years old- and we still love one another and cover each other's 6; I don't weigh myself too often these days -mostly for curiosity or a small taste of the old familiar- and then that's that; I hover around 165 pounds; we have a newer cat + the older one, and they actually sort of like each other; we raised, were loved by and fell deeply in love with, 2 Indian Runner Ducks we named Lucy & Petunia... and then, just 5.2 months into their short lives, they were taken from us, them from themselves, by raccoons, and that was heartbreaking;
and while we still don't like Portland too much, we are used to it, to it's strange, smiling, quick to chat but never to follow up in any-meaningful-way people... but we forgive them more easily these days because we understand that being ultra-conservative while trying to appear hyper-progressive must be one big cross to bear;
it still rains too often here; people still don't know how to drive their cars well here [or anywhere else for that matter]; we bought a new car [but don't drive it much]; I got a new bike which I ride a lot; Chloe got a new bike too, and will hit 7.5K this year in mileage and me -as her dad- couldn't be more proud;
Amy is still the absolute love of my life; I got brave and finally had my umbilical hernia -the final gift from my Days of Huge- repaired earlier this year, and that's been great, and I didn't die on the O.R. Table; and the Doc who repaired me has become a great friend, and we ride together;
I fly a lot these days: on planes [and get strip-searched by the TSA because I not only carry my own food but because I have deflated skin on me and that seems to worry them, the TSA, a lot... and they ruined my chance to go to InterBike in Las Vegas last month, but maybe someone will invite me next year, we'll see] and mostly on-bikes; I am writing my memoir and am signed with a literary agency in New York City... and who woulda thought that possible back when I was sunk with weight & life and things were looking more than just a little bleak?; we are planning another move soon... either Northern California [pricey], Southern California [uncertain] or Austin, Texas [possibly];
I am also thinking I need some really big challenges soon so I am considering either Paris Brest Paris or the Tour Divide or some other things;
I am wanting
to explore the line between reality|truth[?] that is: what is sharing and what is
ego; what is telling and what is just plain old drawing attention to oneself; what is noise and what is
...and after much thinking on this, I am pretty
convinced that most of 'modern-day [read: The Internet] sharing' is
nothing but drawing [or attempting to draw] attention to oneself, one's
business, one's self-created awesomeness [be it retold with an "Ahh
gee, look what I did---you really think I am great too? Gee" bent or in the intense thumping, SilverBack
style, of and on one's chest] or one's thoughts [which are masked as
'what do you think?' when it really seems to be 'agree with me or
in any case, a lot of self-absorption.
From Me, as well.
I think Warhol got it wrong by 2 minutes. It isn't 15 minutes of fame, it's 17... if you have a blog and/or Twitter account [and most everyone does].
But no more.
I liked it all better when few knew, most didn't care, and it was all small potatoes. Po-Ta-Toads [as Chloe would say].
learned [still learn] a lot, made great lasting friends, great acquaintances,
ran the gamut and gauntlet, but it's time to go away... and keep
learning, listening and growing: just like before but without so much
of me attached to the Me in Me/without so much noise from all the great warbled voices of everyone vying for something, what-I don't know any longer, but some Thing.
We, as a family, are shooting for a small, teeny-tiny
life, far off and as invisible as possible from this EEEE-sized-Lectronic
World: a place and space where I work on trying to not want nor need
anything more than what's directly in front of me [baby-steps, some concrete, my wife, daughter & life].
A friend once suggested, "Close it down with some Thanks and lots of Apologies", so here goes:
Thank You, All. Thank you all very much, and profoundly so [even the dislikers & haters too]. I've learned something from all of it.
yes, I am very sorry for any & all offenses... be them truthful
[where I took well-aimed shots] or be it the ones that were built upon the dark human
foundations of wanting more of something I could ever participate in or need or call my own [wanting to connect with so many folks that
it was driving my soul mad], I am sorry. I have a hopeless side to me that wants to change people [the World] in equal proportion to changing myself [and it's called -I'm pretty certain- Ego].
And -again- I am very Thankful for all this place has done and shown me.
it... this journal stays for those seeking some solace for a process
& journey [or to laugh -or rage- at me placing my foot in my mouth
squarely, or me joking and some not getting it, or me not joking and
some getting it], warts & all.
We're off & out to new things both small and low-key.
Here's to small & low-key...
my electronic netometer is now in perma-off-mode [blog, Twitter, all of it], but please do know-
Thank You for allowing me to share all that has come to be in the last few years,
Found the following photo lurking in the dark corners of the hard drive.
...and it gave me pause. Serious. Pause.
That was taken outside Lake Placid, NY in 2003 [on my way up to bigger & worse things] but, it was a great moment. Great because it was the 3rd time I was outside that year. Chloe & Amy had begged me to go somewhere with them: a vacation, a get-away. And I had -finally- agreed.
Looking at that photo, I smile for what it shows in the immediate: a beautiful little girl in her very first swimsuit walking into water for her very first time with her dad. She was terrified of a school of baby trout swimming near our feet. Amy & me had to -repeatedly- convince her that they weren't 'Miniature Sharks'.
But, also, looking at that pic right now... The Regret. I'd like my daughter's youngest years back, with me where I am at currently/presently. I lost so much of it. Only stories & events retold for my cloistered benefit [sanity] kept me seeing what I did not see, what I did not participate in at all. I missed every walk, every errand, every trip to the park. I pushed my daughter in her stroller precisely one time... in our living room [Amy had arranged that so I could know what it felt like~and it felt gloriously like it should have felt].
I don't know what or how it is that draws me to regret, deep regret, while certainly respecting, appreciating & honoring where I'm at now, today. I appreciate a lot if not every thing in ways I cannot express overly well... but simultaneously, I am -at minimum- tipped toward the past with endless melancholy over what was -no other good way to paint it- Lost.
I've asked Chloe if she feels anger, sadness or anything bad toward me for those years, the lost years. And her answer remains, "No, you're my daddy... I love you! I just think you're more You now, than you were you Then". And that's that I suppose...
We are who we are right now.
It's the shedding of memories [the ones that hurt, haunt & drag it all down] that seem everlastingly on the biggest of big 'To-Do Lists'. If you can't erase them, what's to become of them.
I think, eventually, I'll find a proper place for all of it to reside in myself...
but for all the good and fantastic in the universe, I'd like a Do-Over.