Category Archives: Fatherhood

RIDE REPORT: Seven Gates 50K Petite Brevet

A BREVET STARTS when you wake up. Ride preparation is backstory. It ended last night. This morning, in medias res, you do what randos have always done:

  • Eat
  • Dress
  • Stop singing and find your hoody
Controle 1: P.S. 314

Controle 1, P.S. 314, 08:00

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IT WAS EIGHT in the morning, but the gray chill wasn’t easing off. “You’ll warm up as we go,” I assured my companions, who were wearing their new real bike shorts, and we went R OUT OF CONTROLE ONTO BROADWAY.

n_broadway_pigeons

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THE SEVEN GATES 50K is a three-controle out-and-back. It starts and ends in Inwood, at the top of Manhattan, so the first thing we do is leave New York City.

Marble Hill used to be part of both Manhattan, the actual island, and Manhattan, the borough, which back then were the same thing. When the Harlem River was rerouted to truncate the tip of the island, Marble Hill got amputated. In all meaningful ways, it’s now fused to the Bronx; but civically, it’s still a ghost digit of Manhattan, the dotted outline of a toe up where no toe should be. It’s populated by the tormented spirits of doomed New Yorkers, stranded forever in a twilight existence where the subways vanish. But the Broadway Bridge goes there.

STRAIGHT ON over Harlem River: The whirring of drivetrains, the wailing of despondent souls

STRAIGHT ON over Harlem River: The whir of drivetrains, the wailing of despondent souls

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ON THE OTHER SIDE, my companions offhandedly mentioned they might be feeling the slightest sensation of coolness, so I berated them. “Are you randonneurs or children?” I sneered. “Are you riding? Like hardmen? Or OHHH, should we stop for COCOA at some nice little WARM PLACE?”

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Cocoa at warm place

Cocoa at warm place

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MILE 1.3: ENTER VAN CORTLANDT PARK BIKE PATH. If you don’t have a cue sheet, but you know where to jink over to the left past the bones of the abandoned train platform, where it doesn’t necessarily look like you should, you’ll be on a dirt-road-looking thing that soon narrows. If you did it accidentally, the sensation of being in the wrong place may stop you. You didn’t see any NO BIKES signs, but you might decide not to go in.

But if you know…

z_on_dirt_standing

 
The bottom mile and a half of what used to be the Old Putnam Railroad is now rideable hardpack, sometimes with a little mud—or more than a little—and always with stray roots and rocks and half-buried railroad ties. Then so sharp you can feel the surveyor’s line, the paving starts, and soon after this passage into Yonkers comes a passage both more profound and more nasal: Dad has promised to reveal to you the secret of the snot rocket.

 

Photoshopped for reduced disgustingness

Photoshopped for reduced disgustingness

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Boys!
Stay right!

THE PHRASES “NOT as steep as Henshaw, but longer” and “just downshift and you’ll be fine” trickled away almost as soon as Dad said them, weeks ago. “Two-mile climb” has remained solid in memory, and you have the nebulous sense it’s coming up. Is this it? No, this is flat. Is this it? No, this isn’t it. Is this it? Are we climbing? No. Then this isn’t it.

But now the surface has been tilted slightly up for a ways, and it’s tilting up slightly more. “Is this it?”

“This is the beginning of it…”

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“STOP!” BELLOWS THE voice falling further behind. “STOP! WAIT UP! STOP! HEY! YOU GUYS! HEY! HEY!

Like much of this route, the leg we’re on wavers more-or-less straight, with no intersecting trails or cross streets. There’s nowhere to go but forward or backwards. Instructions have been given a thrice of thrices: If we’re separated, we’ll meet up at the top of the climb, which is Gate 1.

But this rider, who on the flats enjoys passing his clubmates and wiggling his hiney at them, can be lazy on hills, a laziness that turns to indifference when he’s passed and fury when he’s dropped. His countertactic is to allow the escape group to build their lead until the gap seems too wide to bridge, and then, many heartbeats after seasoned observers will have written off his chances, to brake, plant his feet, stand in the middle of the lane, and holler.

There’s mild discussion at the front of the group, but these domestiques have been riding with him a long time. They continue to gain elevation. The occasional two-story roof shows through breaks in the treeline; the toys in those houses’ front yards look like toys. The echoing sounds of outrage become more distant.

Then an increase in volume and a decrease in echo, the words now intelligible: FINE! I’M SO MAD, I’M GONNA PASS YOU! repeated several times, and soon a red-hoodied blaze churns past on the left, past his companions, one of whom latches on and sprints. The other companion smiles silently and watches them race around the final bend—to Gate 1.

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YOU DID THE two-mile climb. What do you get on the way back?

A two-mile descent!

Stay right!

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EVERY PETITE BREVET—yearly, except I couldn’t get it together last year—I add another element. Last time it was more distance. This time it was more distance and a cue sheet.

Seven times between Manhattan and Elmsford Falls, the rail trail crosses a street or entry road. Cars could turn onto the trail if there was nothing to stop them, so there are not just bollards, but gates.

It may be conceivable that this only happens six times, and that the route designer, who’d already ordered medals with SEVEN GATES 50K engraved on the backs, had to go looking for a seventh gatelike thing on the final pre-ride, but this could not be confirmed by press time. Regardless: This cue sheet has a column called GATE, in which appear the numbers 1 through 7, for riders to whom monitoring TOTAL and LEG seems like less fun than you should have on a Saturday.

A seventh gatelike thing

A seventh gatelike thing

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Stay right!
Bike up, hold your line!

“IT FEELS A lot stronger after lunch, doesn’t it?”

“My legs feel brand new!”

Mile 15.8 is the turnaround, Elmsford Deli.

Around mile 18, a boy paying too much attention to giving his brother a very sweet pep talk and not enough to—something, we’ll never know what—went down. I heard the tone of sincere encouragement passing between them ahead, and then there was a low tangle of bike, boy, and lost shoe, and that sound of short metal tubing and forty pounds of flesh hitting pavement and sliding.

I have failed him at this moment before. When he got creamed on the flat between the two Little Red Lighthouse descents, and I carried a 16″ bike and a screaming six-year-old down to the bottom, I was angry. It was with myself, but that distinction clarifies too late to make a difference to a hurt child. And when he ate it on the playground and the first-aid pack with FAMILY BIKE on it in green marker wasn’t in my pannier, I had to borrow whatever little Band-Aid was offered from the bottom of a purse.

So first I did not run him over, and then as he shrieked so hard, still sprawled and tangled, that his voice distorted like a guitar, I leaned my head tube against a bench back and unbuckled the pannier and dug out the first-aid pack.

If this story had a different ending, my first words being Pick it up would now be slotted in behind the other things I regret in painful detail years later. But gently and firmly, opening the pack: Pick it up, you can get up, and he did. I helped him out of his frame. His brother retrieved the shoe.

The wailing had stopped. I noticed the suddenness.

His hands were okay—half-gloves—but there was road rash. Dirt was ground into abrasions up his leg and there was a good half-inch rip filled with blood, and a couple of smaller versions of it.

“It just stings,” he said. His voice was shaky. I felt my surprise change my face. “It’s fine,” he said again, still uncertain. “It just stings.”

I gave him a wipe and had him gently cleanse the wound while I got the big Band-Aid ready. How the heck had he done that? He didn’t know.

“I think you were doing a good job of encouraging your brother, and talking to him a lot, so you weren’t paying attention to the road.”

He said, “The thing about helping people is you don’t help yourself.”

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“I’M VERY IMPRESSED with you right now,” I said as I bunched up the first-aid wrappers to shove into an outer pannier pocket.

“I’m acting like Johnny Hoogerland right now,” he said.

As we rode out, he murmured, “I didn’t know I was like that.” He said it again, maybe twice more, only partly to me.

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MILE 20.1: X SAWMILL PKWY, R INTO CONTROLE. Controle is unstaffed, so timestamped receipts take the place of a signature.

Starbucks Cake Pops: Not as good as expected

Starbucks Cake Pops: Not as good as expected

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RANDONNEURING, LIKE MOST things, is mostly about the basics.

  • Eat again.
  • While you are doing your shoulder check, do not run off the road.
  • If your penis hurts, put Lantiseptic on it.
  • The Lantiseptic will warm up.

Is this the two-mile descent?

No.

Is this the two-mile descent?

No.

Is this the two-mile descent?

Are we descending?

No.

Then this isn’t it.

Heads up!
Stay right!

z_n_downhill_zoom
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“THEY SMELL THE BARN,” says Laurent, the man I followed around for my first year randonneuring, to explain why bicycles speed up at the end of a brevet.

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MILE 29.6: SOUTHBOUND BROADWAY SIDEWALK. CAUTION: PEDESTRIANS, DRIVEWAYS.

We’re moving in 2014, and not sure where yet, so the randonneuring element I’ll add a year from now may reveal itself when we get there. If not, time limits to the controles are the obvious addition. For what is a brevet without a faint, constant trickle of fear?

But months before the Who Knows Where We’ll Land 75K, there will be the 40-mile (64-kilometer) Five-Boro Bike Tour, a fitting goodbye lap of the city where you were born, and with it maybe a little more understanding that even compared to grownups, a little dude like you can sling some respectable skills.

Or it may just be a bunch of whining—you never know what’s coming, this far out.

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n_medal_results

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Johnny Hoogerland was hit by a car and thrown through the air into a barbed-wire fence within minutes of our sitting down to watch our first Tour de France together. Parts of him were torn to ribbons. He finished the stage.

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Every rider has a rider he dreams about.
I dreamed of one day being as good as Barthélemy.

 
—The Rider
Tim Krabbé

 

seven-gates

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Seeds

LAST NIGHT WALKING BACK from a special-treat dinner at a pharmacy counter, my eight-year-old scientist asked if rum, whiskey, wine, beer, alcohol, and scotch were all the same kind of alcohol. So I told him about it, and since he recently learned about percentages, I explained what a liquor’s proof number means. He sees me with a glass sometimes, but never drunk, for which his only references are Captain Haddock in TINTIN and the sentries Toshiro Mifune gets soused on sake before he kills them in SANJURO.

That led to a conversation about the stages of drunkenness, which led to revelation of the existence of alcohol poisoning, and how it works, which led to the contexts in which it’s most likely to happen, which led to teenagers, young adults, and parties.

Which led to silence as I tried to decide what to tell them, what would scare them, and what they’d misinterpret.

So I asked what would happen if they drank, and the scientist said he’d want to run around and act silly, and I said what if you drank more and kept drinking? And he guessed he’d want to punch people for no reason, and I said, you’d pass out. Then I had to clarify what “pass out” means and this whole time, I’m wondering how much he even gets anything I’m saying. So if you pass out, I asked, what can happen to you?

You could fall down. People can laugh at you.

Take your money, I said. Punch you in the face. Draw on you with permanent marker. So here’s what you need to know. And I thought, am I going all the way with this tonight? Are they ready for this? Can I make it general enough that it doesn’t freak them out? So here’s what you need to know. What if you’re with someone who passes out? Then people can do those things to them. So if you’re with someone who passes out, you should probably watch out for them, and make sure those things don’t happen. Especially if it’s a girl.

Well that’s okay, he said, because girls don’t like to drink alcohol.

Sure they do, I said. Some do, some don’t. Some of your ideas about boys and girls are—they can do all the same things.

OK, he said.

But if it’s a girl who passes out…if you’re ever at a party and a girl passes out, sometimes there can be boys who will want to do bad things to her and hurt her.

But why? Why would anyone do that?

Because they’re not good people.

But why?

Because they’re not good people. So if you’re ever at a party, and there’s a girl who passes out, you be the one who looks out for her and keeps her safe. Right? So—what would you do?

I would punch them in the face!

Well, uh—no, you don’t have to punch anybody in the face, just make sure she’s safe, and tell the other people to knock it off.

Tell them to knock it off! That’s like how a grownup talks.

Yeah. But you be the good guys. Right? You be the ones who don’t let her get hurt. Got it?

Got it.

And then over to the silent boy who’s been holding my other hand: You interested in this?

Not really.

But he’s the one who listens when you don’t think he’s listening, and who nurtures and protects every child on the playground, and who a father once swore he wanted to marry his little daughter after he championed her safety during some swingset contretemps, and who thinks he’s a superhero, and whose safety my heart clutches for the most when he gets his chance to stand the good stand against villains he doesn’t realize use actual fists and boots, and it’s Dad who told him to do it.

seeds

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The traditional Rosh Hashanah blog

A couple of times a year, any uncertainty about what is a Jew dissipates, and I become a true member of a singular tribe, the American Jews of the diaspora, when I perform, with sincere and profound humility, our only major tradition: Googling to see when the holiday begins, what we’re supposed to already have started cooking, and what the greeting is.

1. Tonight; 2. brisket and sweet stuff; 3. L’Shana tovah.

The brisket is in; the jumble of blocky tzimmes precursor is heating around it. The boys have been guided by paternal threat and prattle through the evening pouring of the cheap red wine over meat, the morning grocery shopping with their own carts, the splendor of beef turned purple by grapes so it looks like a giant tongue, with sound effects, and onion-chopping best practices with The Good Knife. They will be recalled from the Wii for kugel insertion and the basting ceremony. I don’t know that basting is necessary when observing loose tinfoil protocol, but also can’t see a down side to it. Teach your male children to baste.

Tonight’s challah is round instead of braided because so is the cycle of creation; this is, after all, a new year’s celebration. It’s sweetened because so may your year be sweet.

This has always bothered me as a metaphor, ever since I was a child, because it’s just too facile to be recognizable. Years aren’t sweet or bitter; life is sweet and bitter. Even horrible years have the stray golden raisin in there, and good years harbor the roots of bad ones to come—much as savory tzimmes contains root vegetables (see, it’s genetic; that took no effort).

What I wish for you, and for myself, is that what has taken root in the past, no matter what kind of manure or burnt field it first sprouted in, bears good fruit in the future. I also wish you an easing of droughts and destructions, so that orchards can once again be maintained by one standard orchard’s worth of toil.

May your troubles convert to gelatin in the heat of your efforts, as melts brisket collagen at temperatures over 180°F.

May you question and break free of the traps of your childhood, just as we all, at some point, ask, “Why am I drinking Manischewitz?” And may you pass your mistakes on to the next generation, just as in the same breath, we pour Manischewitz for our own children, so that they in turn may taste the fuller flavor of rejecting the overly sweet nonsense of their parents.

L’shana tovah. May you be signed in the…sealed in…crap, I don’t know. I googled it twice already. Here:

Eat up.

rosh_hashanah_blog

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The yellow bike is sold

“This is my yellow bike,” he said, in a tone I didn’t notice at the time. I didn’t notice his face, either. I was walking ahead, holding the camera facing back at the end of a nonchalant arm. It was the day I gave him the bike. He was four. Nothing in his entire life had ever been remotely like this day. He didn’t know it was a universe where a boy could have his own bike.

I heard the tone and saw the face that night, offloading the pictures and video onto my computer. I could have missed them. I didn’t watch everything as it transferred. Instead, I learned my heart had another little door in it that could open. I learned also that his was so full that a bike could brim it over.

His fraternal twin brother liked to clean his blue bike. Liked the inclinometer I installed on it. Still wants a computer. The boy with the yellow bike just liked riding it. The day the training wheels came off, I saw him do my running dismount. Until they did, he liked to sit on the stopped bike like a cowboy on a fence during a work break and eat a sandwich. He kept growing. I got a longer seatpost for it instead of a bigger bike. He got heavier and learned how to skid. There’s about 20′ of black rubber on a sidewalk on Seaman Ave. His personal best.

Today I asked him how he felt that somebody was coming to buy it. He said he felt good, because another family would be happy because of that bike. He has a 20″ red one now.

I watched it carried to the elevator as I closed the door. The back tire is new. I didn’t tell the dad that’s because of all the skids. Let his kid write some new stories with it.

Bye, yellow bike.

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wing_96W

 

 

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Night Ride

night_ride_cover_for_blog

AT THE TOP OF THE RISE he waits for the signal from the bottom, and when he hears GO! he lets off the brake and pushes the pedals. It’s not a big chainwheel he’s got, so his feet are spinning at top speed in about three seconds—but by then he’s already flying.

Last weekend he flashed past the dip at the bottom and got twenty feet up the other side before he had to stand out of the saddle. You had to stand when you climbed because it gave your legs more power.

This time he’s going to hit the uphill with great strength, pump right up it, even the steep part, and then take the curve at the top without stopping, all the way behind the trees where no one can see him.

GO GO GO GO the words whip past his ear and make him grin, sun and shadows strobing in his eyes, and then he’s ten feet up the shallow grade, twenty, thirty, the bike slowing so soon on the steep part and he’s up out of the saddle, fists clamped around the rubberized grips, King of the Mountains, polka-dot jersey. He chants:

I-must-con-cen-trate.

I-must-con-cen-trate.

I-must-con-cen-trate.

GO GO GO GO! behind him. YOU CAN DO IT YOU CAN DO IT CLIMB LITTLE MAN CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB CLIMB!

Bobby is six.

His daddy’s cheering for him. He climbs, climbs, climbs, conquers the little part where it’s steepest and you have to push your legs hard instead of just riding your bike, and then he’s out of sight where Daddy can’t see him, which is a great joke.

Walking up the paved pathway toward him is an old man.

“Hey, Bobby,” the old man says. “Remember me?”

Bobby’s still looking at him when he hears his daddy’s bike come rolling up behind him.

“Dad,” his daddy says.

“Bob-by!” says his grandpa to his daddy.

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From almost nothing

Nook on the bed

BECAUSE I BOUGHT a Nook Color a month ago, it was lying on the bed.

Because it was lying on the bed, a child picked it up and pushed some buttons.

Because he pushed some buttons, he saw a single-player chess app.

Because they didn’t get bored taking turns with the single-player chess app, I bought them a chess set and a chess book.

Because they requested it, they now get a section from the chess book and a game every night at bedtime, instead of a story.

How to Beat Your Brother at Chess

WE RIDE BIKES.

Dyckman Boys

Because we ride bikes, we get up to Isham for the Inwood greenmarket most Saturdays. It’s .6 miles. We wouldn’t walk it, and the subway or bus would cost $9.

Because the boys have a new travel chess set I got them so they could play on the bus after swim class, they brought it today and set it up where kids run around.

They explained the game to a new opponent and attracted an audience of kibitzers.

Chess audience

BECAUSE THEY’RE SO fixated on chess, and because we ride bikes to the Inwood greenmarket, and because bikes engage you with your surroundings instead of isolating you from them, they zeroed in on two men playing chess while we were riding past on Seaman.

CHESS! CHESS! CHESS! CAN WE PLAY!?

Because Inwood has an active Twitter population, I knew one of the players by reputation.

“You can’t play,” I said, “but you can watch.”

“They can play!” offered the man I’d recognized.

So we braked and walked our bikes over.

The men welcomed them, talked to them, challenged them, and taught them the game of Pawns.

They, in turn, cracked one of the men up when I said, “Hey guys, tell him our name for en passant,” and the boys yelled in unison, WHACK ’IM WHILE HE’S RUNNING!

(“I’m running, I’m running—WHACK!” the man riffed, chuckling.)

After two games of Pawns, the boys played chess, with much better kibitzing than they’d had at the greenmarket, and I learned that Sundays, they set up multiple tables for whoever wants to play and actively help kids with the game. I also learned the man I was talking to had ditched his cigarette as the boys came up. They don’t want to teach that. Just chess.

Because it was all so cool, I forgot to take pictures.

Then because the whiny hungry crabbies had arrived, we said thank-you and rode home.

Broadway Boys

We ride bikes.

I got a Nook Color.

Therefore life has gone in a completely unforeseeable way.

Children’s chess, Sundays 10am–3pm, Seaman and 207. All are welcome.

 

wing_96W

 

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A Saturday bike video

My Father’s Day present was a gift certificate from Tread. I got a GoPro camera.

We tried it out this weekend.

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A maturing relationship with Pyrex

WE HAVE THIS lousy Pyrex saucepan.

Purple Pyrex saucepan

It has three problems. The two most obvious are the bileous mulberry hue it casts on food and its passive-aggressiveness in pouring. But those are just physical things. If I loved it, I could get past them; no pan is perfect. But there’s something more subtle, which I find much harder to deal with:

It doesn’t show its emotions.

WE ALREADY KNOW how hard it is to know what’s going on inside other people. We have slogans for it: Don’t compare your insides to other people’s outsides; You never know what someone else is going through; Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle. But it’s something we don’t always think of when we relate to cookware. For the most part I’m glad all that heat and conflict stays inside the pot—but I’ve been thinking how impossible it is for a Pyrex saucepan to understand that all anyone else can get a grip on is its handle.

Which, regardless of maelstrom or meltdown in the pan, remains at room temperature at all times.

So is the pot hot, or is it cold?

Hot, says the pot. You just don’t know.

Cold, says anybody who holds the pot. That’s right, I don’t.

ANOTHER THING ABOUT this saucepan is that—violently and with very little warning, as though it suppresses and suppresses and suppresses and saves up and saves up and just can’t anymore! and FOOM!—the seething stuff boils over, unexpectedly, while it’s over a LOW FLAME, if you can believe it, and then if you grab the burner and turn it down, or yank the pot off the stove, it just KEEPS GOING, eructations of oatmeal all over the stove and the floor, which it does not apologize for and does not volunteer to clean up.

See, says the pot? Hot. Passionate, even.

I HOVER WHEN my kids use it, waiting for the moment when it takes a shot at their confidence. You did everything right, I told one of my boys today after I grabbed it off the burner while he was whisking. It’s not you, sweetheart; it’s the lousy pot. You didn’t do anything wrong. This pot—you just shouldn’t trust it. It’s just a bad pot. You can’t tell what’s going on with it until it’s too late.

Yanking it off the burner doesn’t work. Giving it a little more care and attention doesn’t work. Lowering the heat doesn’t work. By the time it gets to the point where you can see what’s about to happen, it’s sucked up so much energy that a second later, it’s already erupting. You can’t stop it. You can’t soothe it. You just have to wait until it’s done spewing.

What did you expect? says the pot.

Well by now, I expect that.

LIFE GETS MUCH simpler when you accept your cookware for what it really is, and let go of what you wish it was. Especially when it keeps showing you. Especially when your kids are getting old enough that they’re starting to learn to judge temperature themselves, and you don’t want to confuse them.

Much simpler, that is, unless you’re the cookware.

In which case your life’s going to get harder as soon as the economy improves a little more.

Pretty pot

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Unexpectedly is the only way it ever happens

Today, even though I really couldn’t, I said yes when asked if I could spare an hour for the boys, and when they called me out to the dining room, their bikes were ready, they had their helmets on, my bike was by the door with sandwiches in the pannier, and the hour was to be spent riding down to the Little Red Lighthouse, throwing pebbles in the Hudson River, eating our sandwiches, and riding home.

It was their idea, I was told.

The descent from next to the Henry Hudson Parkway down to the Little Red Lighthouse—same descent, if you read it, that I used in my story in RIDE—is really two descents. This is more obvious if you’re climbing them, but it’s a steep little switchback, and then a straight downhill, and then it flattens and there’s a sharp curve through a short tunnel, over a short planked bridge, and down again, which shoots you straight past the tennis courts.

Last year my smaller boy wiped out on the flat, and boy, did he wipe out. I carried him and his bike down to the bottom, with blood running down his fingers and me doing a barely acceptable job of controlling my anger while he shrieked Oh my god! Oh my god! Oh my god! This is bad! This is bad! I’d contributed to his injury by trying to micro-manage his bike handling, so the anger was really shame.

But now it was 70° and maybe a little muggy, but also green and gray and pretty. There weren’t that many other bikes, and he was chattering away as we rolled up the shallow half-mile before the bollard that marks where the switchback drops. We were discussing the complexions of the two descents. He asked if I remembered when he wiped out. I put some energy into not sounding like I was wincing and said it wasn’t the hill that made him wipe out, it was that he was going too fast and not paying attention, and then he got scared and froze up and shimmied the bike, and that’s what put it down. But don’t forget, I said. This year, you have hand brakes. So you can feather your speed, trim your speed, if it’s too fast, you can slow it down. You could do the whole hill like— (I held my hand at an angle and made it descend like a funicular for snails.)

His brother, as usual, was fifty feet ahead. Even with seven-year-olds, I’m having conversations at the back of the pack.

DON’T PASS THE BOLLARD! I yelled.

He stopped immediately and looked back at us. So often, lately, when I’m trying to give him freedom, he thinks I’m reining him in.

***

Every time we get to the switchback, I make them dismount and put their bikes off the path and walk twenty feet down with me, where I point at various things about the personality of the first descent. See this part I’m standing on, right here? This spot is the steepest part. Now look, it hooks right here, but then all the way down to there? That’s straight. See how it’s straight? You can go fast down it, but don’t still be going fast when you get to the bottom, because see it turns there? So if you’re still going fast there, you’ll wipe out on the dirt.

They both chose to walk the first 40′ or so. They remounted while there was still a good kid-strength downhill grade and picked up speed through the short tunnel and over the wooden bridge. The chatterer coasted right past his wipeout spot. I saw the top of his brother’s red helmet disappear down the second descent as we were still traversing the flat.

***

And so the shameful wipeout was erased.

***

We threw pebbles in the river for a while. There’s no sand there, just big slabs of rock that you can walk on.

***

While we were eating sandwiches another hundred yards down the greenway, where we ended up after the bathroom, I said tell you what. The day you climb the first part? From where the lighthouse is, up to the wooden bridge? (And here there was another three minutes of getting their attention and repeating myself, which I’ll spare you.) The day you climb all the way to the wooden bridge, I’ll buy you whatever ice cream you want. If you climb it, you can choose the ice cream. If you do it, you can choose the ice cream. If two boys do it? Two kinds of ice cream.

If we can’t do it, do we still get the ice cream?

Nope.

We ate our sandwiches. They explained their secret trick, their plan for climbing the hill, which was to go really fast and then they’d just be up it. I explained how that wouldn’t work on this hill. It’s too long, too steep, and I really don’t even know if you guys can do it. (And there was another fifteen minutes of dickering over what needed to be eaten, why it was impossible to eat that, and the exact terms of the trade agreement governing the distribution of GoGurt, which I’ll spare you.) Then the wrappers and napkins got packed back in my pannier, and back-of-pack boy got on his bike and pedaled for the lighthouse, and his brother marched up to me, flexed like Hulk Hogan, and shouted MUST—CLIMB—HILL! and grabbed his bike.

***

When, in the course of your parenting adventure, you arrive at a juncture that requires you to either yell your guts out, cheerleading for your kid who’s climbing a hill that grownups—fit ones—consider That point where I turn around and go back downtown, or get your phone out and take pictures? Just remember I said this and you’ll be fine: To hell with the phone. It’s not an option. Cheer for that little human like it’s the first time in his entire life he’ll have achieved anything this big.

Because for two little humans, it was.

***

“DADDY! WHY DIDN’T WE GET ICE CREAM!”

We’d just dismounted after coasting down that half-mile. There were still concrete steps and a block of sidewalk to go.

“Did you see any ice cream stores on our way down the greenway?”

***

“Can I have some more ice cream, please?”

“No, you can’t have…yeah, all right. You earned it.”

***

Tonight was shampoo night during bathtime, one of my favorite things.

I’m very tired. I just wanted to get this all down, before things that matter less pressed in more, and I didn’t.

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Filed under Bicycling, BikeNYC, Bikes, Family, Fatherhood, Favorite, Inwood, Kids, Parenting, Senseless acts of beauty, Whatever

How to find a terrific InDesign production expert within 15 miles of Inwood, NYC

I USED TO do this thing where I had a roster of freelance clients (and the feast or famine that came with them), and along with that, I’d also take a long-term, part-time graphics job that didn’t get in the way of the feast and filled in the gaps during the famine.

My company, TYPEFLOW (I’m the only one here), has been doing production of trade show directories, books, and other long documents for a long time now, and in 2011, my book and ebook business absolutely took off. I mean, like, through the roof. Like busy.

Things finally took a breather this month, and I found myself drumming my fingers, looking at the economy improving, and thinking about that old system.

I want to get that going again. I liked it. It worked.

IN EXCHANGE FOR being my perfect situation, you’ll get an intelligent and highly skilled InDesign production person a few days a week—for the same price as that guy the agency sent. You know, the one you didn’t ask back.

When I’m not being a totally terrific production expert (yet charmingly humble), I’m a writer and long-distance cyclist, both of which I take seriously. I also take my seven-year-old twins seriously—though not so much when I’m holding them upside-down and tickling them. Still, they’re why I’m not interested in weekends.

So what I’m looking for is:

  • steady, with a predictable schedule,
  • 20ish hours per week,
  • no weekends,
  • within about 15 miles of Northern Manhattan,
  • where they don’t mind me showing up on a bicycle
    and have somewhere I can put it (it’s a folding bike),
  • and they need a skilled, professional production artist.
  • Oh, and aren’t a large bank, pharmaceutical corporation, or tobacco company. Sorry. I’m sure you’re nice people.

I understand you may need me to stay a little extra sometimes; you understand I may need to switch hours around sometimes.

What are you looking for? Drop me a line: noteon at mac dot com.

THE 15-MILE THING lets me get my riding in. Here’s a map showing the approximate area. (Click for a larger version.)

Commuting area to ideal job

That might look like too wide an area for a bike commute, but for perspective: Most days, I strap my laptop to my bike and ride to various Starbucks at the far edges of that oval, where I sit and work on freelance jobs. It’s my already-existing commuting area.

Resume: Lots of years of Adobe Creative Suite; know InDesign better than most people who get paid to use it; former Quark guru, now glad it’s dead. Very experienced in print and ebooks. HTML and CSS experience, but not that interested in web design, though I do enjoy working with web designers to create assets for sites. Lots of production-efficiency tricks; fast and accurate.

Samples: Please email me and tell me what you do there, so I know what samples to send: noteon at mac dot com.

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Filed under Bicycling, Employment, Fatherhood, Favorite, InDesign, Inwood, Whatever