This morning I woke a few minutes before my alarm, so I was fully alert, in that pre-caffeine way, when the radio clicked on, the NPR commentator delivering news I’d been waiting for: Yesterday Lance Armstrong announced he’s stepping down from his role as chairman of the Livestrong Foundation. “Good,” I said, not very quietly, to my still-waking husband. We’ve supported Livestrong through donations. The backpack I use to cart around my laptop is a Livestrong backpack, given to my husband for being such a good fundraiser for the cycling event he did with their organization. I’ve wanted them to remove Armstrong as chair ever since the United States Anti-Doping Agency went public with evidence that Armstrong was the ringleader of what it calls “the most sophisticated doping program in recent sports history.” Much of the USADA’s evidence comes from Armstrong’s teammates, who testified of Armstrong demanding that they dope in order to help him win.
Armstrong denies the allegations, and, not surprisingly, still has many supporters, even in the face of a 200-page report of evidence against him. He’s already lost his seven Tour de France titles, and been banned from competitive cycling for the rest of his life. Today he lost his Nike sponsorship; other companies are likely to follow suit.
As a mild cycling fan, none of this would bother me too much. Doping is rampant in many sports, I’m learning, and it’s unsurprising that a cycling star would turn out to be on The Juice.
It’s the Mom in me that’s upset about this news. Specifically, the Mom of a five-year-old boy who looks like he might be something of a sports star himself. It’s too soon to tell, of course, but he’s been turning heads at the park ever since he learned to dribble a soccer ball at the age of two, and self-reports that he always wins the running races in gym class. He’s adopted, which is not really relevant to the story, except to say that, if he did share genetic material with my husband and me, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Continue reading
Day 11 (Monday 10/15)
A very rainy Sunday evening saw Wiley and I in the living room, bent over our calendars. We were figuring out the week’s schedule: exercise, kid pickup, birthday parties and soccer games and date night. For the month of October, my Mondays look like this: put Caleb on the school bus, drop Helen at preschool, get myself to Greenwood and carpool to and from Burien to tutor, then get home with a bit of time to spare before Caleb’s school bus pulls up at the end of our block.
I’ve been doing everything but the 20 miles between Greenwood and Burien on my bike. But, even though I said I was ready for bike commuting in the rain, I’m not entirely. I don’t want to leave Helen’s bike trailer in the rain all day at preschool. And, although biking in the rain is a common activity for me, I’m used to getting soaked and then coming home to a warm shower and dry clothes at the end of the ride. Tutoring is a five-hour affair, and needs to be done with dry clothes. So, I either need to bring a change of clothes in my pack, or wear rain pants and broil on the ride up the hill. I know that this is a conundrum real bike commuters with real offices
I look up from my phone calendar at Wiley.
“I think I’ll take the bus tomorrow.”
The thick cloud cover this morning was a good ease-in to what’s on tap for later this week: the return of The Rains. I’m having a lot of conversations that make Seattleites sound like parents whose kids’ come-from-behind team is about to get eliminated from the playoffs. “We’ve had a good run of it,” we’re all saying about the long strand of sunny days. “We never thought we’d get this far into October.” It has been great to pedal from neighborhood to neighborhood with the sun in my face or at my back.
The weather, too, made it easy to have a car-free weekend (days 5 & 6). On Saturday, we biked up the street to the park for Caleb’s soccer game. Even though the park where all his games are held is only 5 blocks from our house, this is the first time we haven’t driven, I’m embarrassed to admit. I was proud for two reasons: Caleb scored his first goal (a great sliding shot right at the whistle), and I was organized enough to pack a picnic lunch so that we could hang out at the park after the game. The afternoon went by quickly, and then we traveled by foot/scooter/tricycle to our friends’ house for dinner. They live six blocks from our house in the opposite direction from the park, and we would have driven for fear that the kids would be too tired to get home on foot. But it worked out fine: Helen on Wiley’s shoulders, Caleb on the scooter, and I carried the tricycle home. Continue reading
I write this post from the courtyard next to Uwajimaya Supermarket in Seattle’s International District. A friend just wandered by my table in search of lunch; I didn’t know her office was in this neighborhood. She’s the fourth person I’ve bumped into this week, which makes me think that I must be driving past people I know without realizing it every day.
It’s such a gorgeous fall day that I can hardly do anything besides sit here and think about how gorgeous it is. It’s not just the weather – the sky so cloudless it looks like the blue has been painted on by expectant parents decorating their son’s nursery, the sun warming against the breeze which blows the dried leaves into gutters and edges of buildings. It’s the whole scene – the fountain behind me, the people lunching at nearby tables, the man on the corner playing a wooden violin that looks like the kind I saw kids playing when I lived in Nepal. It’s so wonderfully urban here in this courtyard. Maybe I’m appreciating it more because I arrived by bike instead of by car. Probably if I’d driven I would’ve waited until the last minute to leave where I was, and wouldn’t be sitting here right now, an hour before I’m where I need to be. So I’ll credit the carless commute for this lovely moment.
[Don’t worry. I haven’t taken XTC. Everyone in Seattle is talking like this these days. The weather is THAT good.]
Today I had a lunch date at the airport. My friend Di had a long layover at the airport. We made our lunchtime meet-up plan before I set my car-free goal. So I got to experience a first: riding Seattle’s light rail. I felt like a child on an amusement park ride. I’m not blessed with the ability to read in a moving vehicle, so I stared out the window at the parts of the city I don’t see very often. We glided through Rainier Beach, the neighborhood where I had my first library job. There’s something about autumn that causes surges of nostalgia within me, perhaps all those years of back-to-school welling up. So I took in the scene with an extra layer of sentimentality. Passing a large community garden I used to drive by on my way to the library, I notice something I don’t remember being there before: rows and rows of corn. I’m used to seeing all manner of produce growing in my city, but a cornfield between public housing developments is a first. The sun is angling against the tops of the stalks just they way you’d want it to if you were a painter setting up your easel in front of the scene (though where you could put an easel where you wouldn’t get hit by a car, I’m not sure.)
I was feeling pretty proud of myself on the afternoon of Day 2. I’d ridden my bike to preschool, locked up the trailer in a way that wouldn’t block the entire rack or get me in trouble with anyone, and biked downtown for my Physical Therapy appointment to treat a running injury (plantar fasciitis). In the afternoon I rode up the hill to Caleb’s school. Thus far I’d been arriving early everywhere and reveling in the fact that I didn’t have to sit in traffic or look for parking. I may have been a little braggy when one of the Moms noticed my bike helmet and I told her about my car-free plan.
Caleb and I walked to the bus stop. The Metro buses all have bike racks, and our bus had a nice driver who got off the bus to help me figure out the racking system (I’ve done it once before, but I pretended it was my first time because I’d forgotten how to do it even though it’s only a three step process and the steps are outlined on the rack itself.) He gave me pointers (“Pull OUT on the handle, not up,” and “don’t forget to tell the driver you’re getting your bike off when you exit the bus.”) Caleb ate a snack on the bus and revealed a few details about his day at school. We got off the bus and walked up a steep hill to the house where Caleb takes a music class with his best pal Brayden. Brayden is the son of our next-door neighbors and good friends Scobie and Sarah. Sarah and I each transport our boys to music class, and then she very kindly drives them home afterwards while I go to preschool to pick up Helen.
I woke up not quite Christmas-morning excited, but energized nonetheless. Nervous too. This would be my second time riding the trailer, the first time being the night before when I rode 6 blocks to a friend’s house to return some hand-me-down clothes. But the day dawned clear, Helen was excited, and before long, off we went. Wiley escorted us ¾ of the way to preschool, and a fellow rider wished me luck as he passed. Smooth sailing so far.
My plan got complicated after dropping Helen off. First stop, a bike rack across the bridge in Fremont, where I would lock the trailer up for the day. I rode around near the bike path looking for a good spot to stash the trailer. Some empty bike rack, maybe next to an office building? I spotted four small racks, all empty, outside of a gym. Perfect. Only not so much. As I was locking it up, a woman who may or may not have worked at the gym told me I (as a non-member) needed to find a different rack. “This is private property” she said. I think that’s a lie. The sidewalk outside of a business is private property? Since when? I was flustered, and pissed. I felt the way I did when I tried to take a friend’s dog for a walk on Whidbey Island and we got kicked of the beach. But I moved my bike. There was a lovely rack right around the corner from the gym. All of this took a long time, the unhitching of the trailer, the locking and unlocking and re-locking of trailer, and bike, and finding a new rack. Continue reading