Strange thing happened on the way to the forum, I went through old bike-related bookmarks and realized a few different realizations...
1. Many people who once blogged are no longer.
2. Some people -however- are still blogging (are still blogging) about the same stuff (as in, Same Tired Shit, kinda stuff).
3. A few of those same people who are still blogging aren't blogging about the STS (refer to above) because they have moved away from bikes and on into something else.
4. Nearly every blogger -who is still blogging about the STS (refer to above above)- has removed this here blog from their blog links.
5. I don't know why #4 occurred but I do know that I ebb & flow with regard to 'Talking' about bicycles. I love to think and ride them, talk--not so much. One exception being--I'll talk for years to the uninitiated about Bicycles (because that seems sorta important to my brain).
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].
As a dad, as a husband, as a friend, as a person, as a human: I try to impart the best of me toward understanding of many differing things. I think it's one of those things that we, as folks, can do that for the most part differs us from other cell-based lifeforms.
For years I have been telling my daughter, Chloe [and from time to time, my wife, Amy] about the metaphors I have come to learn through a lot of bicycling.
Things like, "Action/Reaction... how that glorious tailwind will turn tail on you and make you pay on the way back home" or "Dividends... how that one big nasty hill that you so despise, really becomes a 'friend' when you encounter an even bigger, nastier, hill in another location on another day" or "Facing Down... how when on those many times you think you cannot do it, or would rather being doing anything but this, you come to realize that amazing sense of self-reliance & just plain old Self that comes from persevering through whatever it is that feels un-doable"... and the actual list is much, much, longer truthfully.
"A thing, or tool, or Bike, or body that isn't needing much in the way of maintenance is -after years of thinking on such things- something not really in that great of shape after all, but instead something that hasn't enjoyed Purpose & Usefulness" [I tell Chloe that one often]... or just the plain & simple: "If you use it, love it, grind on it, it will need care & attention... and if you aren't attentive to its needs, it won't be there for you when you desire it" [as basic as bike care, as complex as Love].
Just a few months back I had the chance to see a great old friend/mentor. This guy is a legend in Jazz. He has played, toured, recorded with names known the world over... these days he is still out there, on the road-in the studios getting it done. Back when I was a musician, I played/recorded/gigged with him... but that was many moons past for me. 100 moons past.
Getting to see him here in Portland was a sort of amazing and odd homecoming for me. You see, when I had last seen him it was also the time I last played with him, and it was the last & final time I played music at all, period. 2 weeks after that gig [in NYC at the Knitting Factory] Chloe was born and I quit music [and to a degree, life]. So seeing him this part October was a big deal to me... a huge deal.
Beyond the weird opening where he didn't know who I was [but once I said his name, he recognized my voice thus recognizing me] it was fantastic in all ways.
After catching up for a bit, and then he getting reacquainted with Amy and getting to meet Chloe for the first time since he had last seen her [as a large bump in Amy's belly at that final gig in September of 1999 in NYC, and then Chloe was born 8 days later], he asked me an amazingly honest & blunt question, "Bro, gotta ask... how do you do it? You know, the music? The creation of it? The creativity... don't you miss The Creativity?"
Caught completely off-guard by the question, I responded without thought or ponderance, "Lieb, yeah... well, when I ride there's much to think about, reconstruct differently, perfectly, in one's mind. Plus, there are the little things on a base technical level."
He continued with, "How so?"
I ended with the only thought I could, "Well, it's not the same of course. How could it be? But, truthfully, there are parallels... things like the way you can work on cadence, or pedal stroke, you know the woodshed stuff. And toward that beautiful, sweeping, wave you get when all cylinders click as one on the bandstand or in the studio with your brothers, well that's very much like not thinking at all during a ride where you & the bike meld into a single entity and you just flow."
He didn't buy it for a second, but he listened and considered it.
Looking back at him and his expression, I am not sure I did either.
Of course it is very different: riding a bike and creating music on the fly... but there are similarities, if you look deep enough.
If you have to look because it's what you've been given without choice or option.
A lot of bad out there, but there's a lot of good too.
Tons of loneliness & pain, also though... there's much hope intertwined together.
People are trying, and some aren't.
Big plans never get off the ground while small ideas sprout into huge trees of change.
I tell folks, but mainly Chloe [because she's young enough, not jaded, not peeved, not willing to give into the ways of most adults], "You keep going & pushing, you stay honest and straight on your path in your heart & brain, you keep seeing all the good while taking in the bad in a way that lets you recall it for change & hope... and you'll make your place in this world."
I, sometimes, forget my own words though so it's good to have a smart, young, honest, fearless daughter: they remind you of what you once said. It's good.
Life gets lonely... I have friends who have lost people, I have lost people, but mostly they, me, probably You... well, we try our best to carry on through the darkness.
On this, the Eve of Christmas 2010 [all of ours, our last one, we will never get another for 2010, maybe try and remember that], I am reminded of many memories: my childhood, the little thoughts [like sleeplessness, that kind of excitement that exceeds word or sense, that need to Know and Experience something huge]... and the call for yearning, for doing better. Always, Better.
I miss too much to list, I will miss much from today & tomorrow by next year, I am already & set to begin missing next year & the year after that too... it's our nature: re-call is only so big [be it both: thankfully, & sadly to our detriment].
I don't look forward to bought-gifts any longer... it's different for me at 47 years old these days. No, I look forward to watching those I love, those I know, those I don't know yet, smile. I look forward to experiences and then, someday, the dusty-but always amazing, memories.
I am shooting for something here, right now, within these words I am typing, and as usual I am missing my mark, but I am trying... maybe it will resonate, maybe not.
Maybe it's The Gift? The Gift is maybe just that: The Memories, The Experiences, The Love & Smiles?
I didn't nail it, I tried, sorry.
Here's one though:
I am always trying for something better, and I hope all of you are too. If we all do, together, something great is going to happen and then... we all have it, the experience-together: as One.
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;