Monday, July 30, 2007

My First Wake Up Call - I Was Not Home/Chap Two



The rest of the summer went about as expected. I finished summer school Algebra, was arrested while pulling guard duty on 40 cases of beer at some party spot on the Potomac, Found and kept my first job that demanded a Social Security number, and I smoked my first joint. I was successfully burying any thought of my impending incarceration come September.

The good times never last. Right after Labor day, I was informed by my mother we were going shopping. Great. Always a treat to go shopping with you Mom. I was just not sure what we were after. I had my custom tailored uniform that fit like a tent. I had my overseas cap. I had all my brass buckles still shiny and new. And two pairs of highly polished black Florshiems were patiently waiting for my feet to give them character.

Apparently Charlotte Hall had rules regarding just about anything one might need while enjoying their hospitality. My mom pulls out the official list and hands it to me. I could tell it was official. It had "the seal" as it's header.

Underwear. socks and what type. Gym clothes and what color. Foot locker - olive green only. Toiletries, towels and wash cloths. Blankets, sheets and by the way, no fitted sheets, thank you very nuch. I read through this list and observed that nowhere did it mention regular clothing or for that matter anything that was not either white or a derivative of olive green. An asterick at the bottom did say civilian clothing was frowned upon. A knot began to form in the pit of my stomach.

With a sour look on her face, my mother realized I had been a slacker. "Did you read the regulations book they gave you?" My silence was all she needed for an answer. "Go get it and bring it with you."

So we shopped. Rather she shopped and I read. With each page turned that knot grew to finally feel as if I had swallowed a basketball. They had codes, rules, and regs for every conceivable situation. I closed the book. It was now a book, not a pamphlet as it sat heavy in my lap. What the Hell did I do to myself?

A week later I passed through those white pillars for the second time. I was sure my life was over.

End - Chapter Two

Sunday, July 29, 2007

My First Wake Up Call - I Was Not Home/Chap One


I was just another disconnected teenager with a larger chip on my shoulder than was considered acceptable back in White middle class 1967. Informed I was no longer welcome in a publicly funded school in Montgomery County, Maryland, my parents quickly tore me a new asshole and then scrambled to find a school that would corral that wild streak I had obviously nutured just to make their lives more complicated than they already were.

They found two schools that would have me.

Georgetown Prep begrudgingly accepted my application. The minor scrapes with the law caused them some alarm. But I was certainly bright enough, their tests told them. My father's high standing as a former Air Force officer locked it in as they put it, and I paraphrase from a diluted memory, "Having the son of such a distinquished officer of the US military attend our school would be a privilege." In other words, his credit report came back with a big thumb's up.

The"Ball" at Charlotte Hall Military Academy in Charlotte Hall, Maryland looked like he couldn't wait to get his hands on me. The man was the Headmaster and a very scary human being. About 6' 2'' and 240 pounds on the hoof. He had a blond flattop and stuck in the 1950's coke bottle glasses covering up bland pig like eyes that looked around you, not at you. He squinted in my direction."Boy, you need some discipline. That's all you need. You test in the 90th percentile. You are a smart boy. We're going to take that intelligence and channel in the right way. When you leave here you will know responsibility, duty and good Christian ethic."

So these were my choices. For my parents gave me the honor of the final cut. I could day hop to a school nearby and deal with the alcoholic madness at home every night with adults I thought I hated at the time. Or I could go to a boarding school bent on turning me into a gung ho pillar of society.

At that parent hating and punk mentality phase of my life, I would have gone to jail just to get away from my previous situation. I chose Charlotte Hall. I could almost see my mom breathe a sigh of relief. Maybe they wanted me out as bad as I wanted out. Without me in the middle, they could revel in their mutual acrimony without me spoiling all their fun.

End - Chapter One

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Cheats





After the Tyler Hamilton fiasco, I vowed to never watch another Tour. One of my cycling heroes had proven their humanity. Tyler had failed to live up to the image built by the media and in my own mind.

Like an addict who cannot help himself, I came back and was sucked in once again. I watched hours of mind numbing bicycle racing and I loved it. I watched as Lance Armstrong crushed his rivals and retired a champion. Even though rumors and innuendoes swirled around his victories, no one could or would bring charges that stuck. Under a cloud, Lance rode off into the sunset.

2006 offered a brand new era for the pro circuit. Everyone was waiting for the next cycling hero. As one of the most exciting Tours I have seen unfolded, another American seemed destined to once again bring the Yellow Jersey home to the USA. Floyd Landis appeared to dig deeper than his talent and through guts and determination found victory in Paris.

But no. Suddenly it came out that a lab in France had found too much testosterone in one of Floyd's urine samples. His victory was now on hold and he would have to prove his innocence after being found quilty by what turned out to be an "any standard they wanted" measurement. So whether he was guilty or not, he was guilty based on some lab's idea of guilt.

Maybe it was the fact that these two were homeboys that I hold onto the hope that they were given a raw deal. It had to be Euro trash envy of the American dominance the last 8 years.

I still hold onto that hope, but in light of the stupidity I have seen in this tour, I am having second thoughts. Vino! Moreni! And now Rasmussen! WTF!

I tend to bury the fact that professional "sports" is a business first and a sport second. Huge dollars are riding on how a team ends their season, their race, their games. And this industry is like any other. They will use whatever is available to pull ahead of the competition. I should not be shocked at what is going down and who is going down at the Tour this year. But I am.

There is always next year. Hope springs eternal.

Monday, July 23, 2007

5 Things Tag - This is Harder Than it Looked at First


I woke up the other AM expecting to enjoy that first cup of coffee in front of the puter mindlessly checking my CP in a forum I visit for hits on any threads I posted in. As soon as I open the CP, my computer barks at me and a little pop up disrupts my half awake routine. I had forgotten the volume had been left up to wow and that bark made me jump.

"Damn', I thought, "I ain't even awake yet and someone wants to talk." This is so like those god awful instant messages, I almost did not open the message. I hate instant messages. And this was close enough to them to get me pissy first thing in the morning.

Gotta love this internet thing though. My initial irritation faded as the coffee began the process of jump starting all the synapses that would be available today. Someone actually was contacting me through the PM feature. One of the 85,000 members of that forum has chosen me to share a "Private Message". My day was already looking up and I had not been awake 5 minutes.

So I open the message and it isn't someone who has juicy gossip to share. It is not someone who thinks my wisdom trandscends all that has come before. It's Noah. And he's assigning me homework.

I have been tagged his message reads. I must now relay 5 facts about myself and then tag 5 other poor slobs when I am done. Oh, and I should be honored to be tagged because the Blogosphere is a "ginormous" place.

The last line held my attention. Honored? Yeah I guess I am. I spent the first 2 years blogging unnoticed and whined about it on a regular basis. Now I have few people dropping by. Some even leave me comments. I am starting to feel like I fit in.


My 5 Things about myself

1. I have met two presidents.
I met John Kennedy the summer before he was killed. He came up to Maine to hang with some rich buds. My brother was hired by one of them to keep some silver spooned brats busy for the summer. My mom and I went to visit. And Kennedy stopped by. I was impressed by how small he really was.

I met former President Bush in Kennebunkport, Maine. I was part of the construction crew renovating the ocean front house next to his. On one of his walks, he stopped in to check out our progress. I gave him the tour. When we were upstairs he noticed a window that looked directly over to his compound. He walked over to it. Looked out and said, "I guess I'll have to tell Barb to put on some clothes when she's outside from now on".


2. I am deathly afraid of Horses - A horse put me in the hospital when I was 8 years old. I have never forgotten the vision of a shoed hoof coming straight at my head. I can think of no other animal I am afraid of.

3. I have a chronic liver condition - Call it justified payback for an ill spent youth. It will most likely affect the number of years I have left on this planet. Oh well.

4. Big breasts don't do it for me - Contrary to the male stereotype, I like a more symmetrical look. All the parts should look like they fit. Not like they were stuck on with super glue and made of hard plastic. Our private parts should not define us. Man or woman.

5. I started out my political life as a Republican. Became disillusioned with them when Ronnie won. Became a Democrat for awhile. Now I have nothing but disdain for the two of them. So I have created my own political party - The Contrarian Party. It's main effort is to disengage this country from the mindset it can legislate it's way to nirvana. Our goal is simple. For every law that is passed, two old laws must be removed from the books first.

There they are. 5 things about myself.

Now I must tag 5 other people. Originally I thought the 5 things would be the easy part and this phase the hardest. So far, I am mistaken. The 5 things were tough. 5 people could turn out to be the cakewalk part.

~ Miss Bossy Pants gets my first nod.

~ Randy (beagles and beethoven) is 2.

~ And even though he does not give me the time of day, Neil (Historian) deserves to be tagged as number 3. His efforts to use cycling as an avenue to a healthier him has been an interesting read.

~ Number 4 goes to........ uh, give me a minute. Hmm. Oh yeah, Chris. The woman who actually turned me onto blogging and then proceeded to ignore me.

~ Number 5 goes to Pablo. Just because he was one of the first blogs I read and he is still at it. A thoughtful guy who cares.

I would tag Tom and crazy lady, but I am sure they are tagged out.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Lis

This sweet young woman is proof that when I die, in some small way I did help to make the World a better place. I cannot take full credit for the wonderful person she has become. I will say that by not interfering, I did not saddle her with the baggage I have carried with me these last 55 years. Instilling all the feel good moralities that make our culture what it is is the easy part. Refraining from also depositing personal bias and bad habits is another kettle of fish altogether. Because that happens unconciously for the most part.

I do not deserve this woman as my offspring. If Life was really fair, I should have been saddled with a pain in the ass, bail me out of trouble for 10 years kinda kid. It would have been the appropriate and fair pay back for the torment I brought on my parents. But somehow, I won the kid lottery. Go figure.

Lis is not only my daughter, she is my close friend, my favorite cycling partner, and kindest critic. She has slapped me back to reality several times when I seemed out of control. Without her in my life, well, I just cannot even imagine how that would have gone down.

Lis is a grad student now. She has officially moved out I guess. The full brunt of the "empty nest" syndrome has started to take it's toll. I find myself wishing to turn back the clock to the times when I was "the man" in her life. I miss every moment spent raising her.


Thursday, July 12, 2007

What Was I Thinking


I had plans to share tales of my years living on the road jockeying big rigs around this huge land of ours. I searched through many many thumbnails for a decent picture of a big truck. I looked for a picture that reminded me of the trucks I had become friends and ultimately enemies with. Not satisfied with the many sad examples that passed my view, I came upon this icon of the hippy years. The years I came of age. The years I found wonder and trouble just about everyday.

I sat and stared at this cartoon by R Crumb and forgot for a moment the substance abuse Hell I lived through then. I dismissed the long lonely times when I lived alone in my truck, washed my clothes and showered at the closest Union 76 truck stop. I pushed back the memories of an all asphalt super slab world. The cops, the logs, and the haze I existed in. Lost in my Pollyanna memories I longed for the stink of diesel that hung on me day in day out.

I sat and stared at this picture and saw it as R Crumb probably meant it. An inspiration to the hip and the stoned. Life goes on and you just need to "keep on truckin". Keep on keepin on. I thought for a moment. He was right. And from the way things turned out, that is just what I did.

No plan. I kept waking up everyday and found my way to the next day. I am here now, sober and sane these last 30 years. And for the life of me, I have no idea why I had to hit bottom so many times in so many ways so long ago. No regrets. But I am some puzzled now about just what the Hell I was thinking.