Category Archives: TMI

The obvious thing I learned this year, and my first-ever resolution

This blog has reached that weird intersection of personal and professional. This one’s personal. If you want to continue to think I’m perfect, you should skip it.

AT THE END of 2010, I posted about learning a whole bunch of things that year. Some were things I’d pay not to have learned, but a few were good, like when I figured out that decisions are much easier when you’re resolved to ignore pain.

That’s useful. Right? It helps you make better decisions.

I learned that one on my first 600K brevet, which was also one of my last real rides to date. In early 2011, after DNFing my first 200K of the year by mere minutes, I was out on a training ride in New Jersey, pedaling in an all-out biblical deluge, and I couldn’t see anything. This was partly because of the wrathful downpour, obviously, but it was also because the antiglare coating on my glasses, which I crisped in 2009 because of some extra-clever thinking that would just slow down this narrative, is the very same coating that allows water to bead.

This was in April or something, and as I slowly navigated the roaring shoulders of Route 9W by ears and experience, I understood that I wouldn’t have a 2011 brevet season. There’d been plenty of indications already piling up, but this was the definitive moment: There was no way I could afford new glasses.

Sometimes you can do the unlikely anyway—give it determination and bravado until God relents and smiles. Other times, you’re just not recovered enough from the previous war’s injuries. Having apparently learned to be a graceful loser once in a while, I let go of my brevet season.

AROUND THE SAME time, I was learning to extend my print expertise into ebooks, which are not straightforward to execute well. (Dear ebook do-it-yourself loudmouth proselytizers: Good for you. Shut up.) My first few clients were mystery writers I’ve known for a while. Unexpectedly, the ebooks brought me more print work; and more unexpectedly, socializing on Twitter—mostly about bicycles—brought me more of both.

As it turned out, I spent most of 2011 building a profitable business—and simultaneously losing all my 2010 fitness.

Like, all of it.

So here’s the obvious thing I learned this year:

Sometimes you can’t do two things.

YES, MY REPUTATION as a genius is well-deserved.

MY DAD WATCHED sports, and the whole family once went through a blessedly brief Chicken Fat phase. Unless you count my not paying attention to a short run of Little League games I was allegedly in, I don’t come from athletic people. I came to randonneuring not as someone experienced in physical pursuits and looking to step crosswise into a new one, but as someone who found himself mounting an unfamiliar staircase toward the whole general idea. My six-mile bike commute made me think the Five-Boro Bike Tour might be possible; the Five-Boro made the Harlem Valley 50 not unthinkable; the 50 meant maybe I could finish a century. Then the rest-stop food extravaganzas and arrows painted on the street got kind of old, so what else was out there?

On a recent training ride (not a long one; I’m not back up to significant mileage yet), I had the second half of what was, apparently, only a partial epiphany on that 600K. I realized that while the ability to accept pain is useful, to really get somewhere, you need to enjoy suffering outright.

Which, it turns out, you can decide to do. You don’t just have to be a natural masochist.

So “enjoy suffering” is my 2012 resolution. I’ve never made one before.

I’m still overweight from a year of sitting on a bed with a laptop and eating buckets of horrendous crap on all-nighters, but there are some little bulgy quads in the tops of these legs again, and I didn’t gasp much on Next Day Hill this weekend.

I seem to accomplish more when I go into things saying We’ll see than when I pound my chest and declaim, so: Hopefully by April, I can be doing two things.

We’ll see.

I will not discuss three at this time.



Filed under Favorite, New Year's, TMI, Whatever

36 things I learned this year

I HAD AN end-of-year blog entry scheduled to post at 12:01 a.m. on January 1. It was called Bye, 2010, and I built it up and honed it down over a couple of months. It said:

I’m not in a wheelchair and my children don’t have cancer, so let’s call it a draw.

I hope you choke on the way out.

That was the whole thing. Nothing could be added or subtracted. It was complete and perfect.

Then as a side effort, I started a “what I learned this year” list and monkeyed with it over a couple more months—thinking of new things, taking them out when I remembered I’d actually learned them in 2009; feeling confident that certain items weren’t too personal or petty, thinking later that they were; deciding that petty’s no good and some of the personal has to go, but other personal might be okay with the right sound effect—and now it seems like the thing I should post instead, even though my reflections today are different in tone and outlook—yet again—from those of a month ago.

But this took a long time to write, so let’s just count those toward 2011.

Here are:



  1. How to make a hollandaise.
  2. How to curdle a hollandaise. Continue reading


Filed under Anthropomorphization of calendar units, Favorite, New Year's, TMI

Mekka-lekka hi

“THAT’S THE MOST I’ve seen you laugh in a long time.”

The challenge here is to find a way to talk about both The Pee-Wee Herman Show and my last year without:

  1. an ill-advised degree of detail (about either); or,
  2. a defanged and meaningless result.

So bear with me.

That’s a pun. There’s a bear in the show.

IT’S BEEN A year that pulls me out of bed and dresses me and sends me riding a bike around a dark city, alone at three in the morning, because there’s no mercy in a silent room. The past is a process server. It didn’t track you down so it could invite you to Disneyland.
Continue reading


Filed under Favorite, TMI