Posted in Motorcycle

On Physics and Fear

Our next door neighbor is learning to play guitar. I know this because his open screen door wasn’t far from our open bedroom window at nine o’clock last night. As he worked his way through the opening chords of “Smoke on the Water” (over and over and over and over and over) I consoled myself with the fact that it couldn’t go on indefinitely, because he IS still learning. Meaning he probably doesn’t have the finger calluses yet, and he’d have to quit after a bit.

I can sympathize, because my “motorcycle muscles” are also feeling the effects of unaccustomed use. Well, let me be more accurate. My learning-the-motorcycle-muscles are feeling it. I recognize that on some level I was still trying to “muscle” the bike into staying upright, even though the bike can do just fine on its own, thank you very much. I may behave at some moments as if I’m holding up the bike with my arms, but of course that’s not what’s happening.

The bike will stay upright pretty much on its own when it’s in motion—basic physics takes care of that. And the faster you’re going, the easier that is. (It’s counter-intuitive, I know—but if you think about balancing a bicycle at next-to-nothing speed, you know how much harder that is than staying balanced when you’re pedaling down the street. Same principle.) Given that I haven’t yet graduated out of first gear on the motorcycle, I’m learning to control the bike at its most difficult speed.

My own “newbie” lack-of-confidence was my worst enemy before yesterday. I’ve been rather too aware that there’s a (literal) tipping-point, and if the bike’s center of gravity crosses it, I don’t have the muscle to hold it up. Yet I also know the rest of the physics involved, and the fact that the bike is designed to stay upright when you ride it! Truly, all I need to do is trust the bike (trust the physics) and not indulge in any herky-jerky reactions to my own fears. And therein lies the challenge. Some moments I’d been letting my fear drive—and Fear is not a skilled driver.

Trust is the antithesis of Fear. By the end of yesterday evening’s session I wasn’t tensing for every corner anymore, and that’s huge improvement. I was not just “managing to turn” the bike—I was turning it more tightly, and pretty precisely on the path I set for myself. More improvement.

Strange as it might seem, I actually think that those improvements happened because one of my fears got realized, early in the riding session. (Bless his heart, Jon would go to the grave without telling this to anyone… But I find it useful to stay REAL here, so I’ll tell on myself.) Continue reading “On Physics and Fear”

Posted in Motorcycle, prayer, Recovery

Taking Off the Training Wheels (in Prayer)

motorcycle training wheelsWhen we were motorcycle-shopping, Jon jokingly threatened to buy me a bike with training wheels—though he then reassured me that he wouldn’t humiliate me like that. I think the issue goes deeper than avoiding humiliation, though—what I need most is to build the gut-level confidence that the bike will, indeed, stay upright even without Jon on the front. And that confidence wouldn’t start growing with training wheels in place.

In a sense, passenger-ing behind Jon has been my “training-wheels” course in motorcycling… I’m SO comfortable when he’s in front of me, and I have absolute confidence in his control of the bike. When I’m his passenger, I’m utterly at ease on a motorcycle.

In my solo parking-lot ventures, it’s that confidence that was wholly lacking the first time I got on the bike by myself. It’s that confidence that I’m building. I’m overcoming my illogical expectation that the bike is somehow going to suddenly fling herself to the ground!

boot on motorcycle peg
feet UP!

Last week I was pretty much walking her around the parking lot in first gear, working on getting comfortable with the friction-point on the clutch, and with the balance and weight of her being mine to handle. Last night I graduated to wide, slow circles around the parking lot, with my feet mostly picked up—so that’s some serious progress in my comfort-level. (Jon jogged alongside calling encouragement to me, just like my grandpa did when I was learning to ride bicycle.) Continue reading “Taking Off the Training Wheels (in Prayer)”

Posted in Motorcycle

First Solo on the Bike

I had my first riding lesson today. Well, okay—“riding” would be overstating the case. But I was moving, and I was alone on the bike!

Jon finds it crazy that I’d never even ridden dirt bikes as a kid (he’s been riding since he was seven!)—and that means everything about biking (except for passenger-ing) is new to me.

I’m completely at home on the back of the bike, doesn’t matter how sharply he maneuvers (man’s got skills!) or how far the bike leans—I’m confident in his skills, and in my perch.

Not surprisingly, it’s a whole different ballgame with the grips in my hands. Shifting with your foot? That’s weird to me.

I’m glad that I’m at least well versed in bicycling (balance and hand brakes—though there’s also a foot-brake involved here), and that I’ve driven a stick-shift car before (so the theory of shifting isn’t new, just the application on a motorcycle). But the rest of this is like learning a new language, with my body!

We went to our church’s private parking lot (since I’m still waiting on the license before I can get the permit before I can take the class before I can get the endorsement—a lovely domino-chain, isn’t it?)… And I spent some time getting the feel for balance—being comfy on the back is different from being responsible for keeping the bike up!

motorcyclist shadowAnd some practice at shifting, getting accustomed to the friction point on the clutch, and easing her forward in first gear… Mostly with my feet walking alongside instead of up on the pegs, just to make sure I was ready to correct if needed.

So those are literally my first baby-steps toward riding…

Last night we took her out on the freeway to stretch her legs!

 

Posted in Motorcycle

The Catch-22 of SR-22

Well, I’m a day closer to getting my driver’s license back. I’m also a day past when I thought I was getting it.

Do you ever wonder who made up “the rules,” and what they were thinking?

motorcycle license
SHE’S ready to roll… Just not me yet

I knew I’d have to get SR-22 proof-of-insurance as soon as I got my license back (it’s one of the reasons why I didn’t rush right out and reinstate the license when I become eligible a couple months ago), but I assumed I should get the license first. After all, nobody wants to insure you to drive when you have a suspended license!

Turns out, I need the SR-22 to get the license. How backward is that? Talk about a catch-22. I spent a good chunk of yesterday online with insurance agents, and I now have insurance. In “ten to fourteen days” I’ll have the SR-22 mailed to the state. And then I get to go get my license.

My good news is that, thanks to my DMV trip, my new bike is now legal! New title, registration, plates in place—she’s ready to roll! Just not with me at the front just yet…

imageIn the meantime, I’m blessed to have friends and neighbors who are amiable and willing to ferry me to my new job at Home Depot. I’m enjoying my orange-apron experience, being out of the house, wielding the scanner and interacting with people! The Home Depot and RV-park jobs are fitting around each other easily enough, though I’m not sure I’ll manage to keep up the freelance writing…  I was writing about Bitcoin IRAs till two in the morning the other day, and that’s not going to keep happening! I need time for some other things… like sitting on my parked bike making “vroom vroom” sounds!

 

Posted in Language, Motorcycle

Love Languages & Chocolate Sprinkles

imageThere’s a new key on my ring that I can’t use just yet, but I’m carrying it anyway because I’m excited about this unexpected gift from my husband. I’m still sort of in a state of disbelief about it, to be honest. I can’t quite believe I really have this key, let alone what it goes to… But I’ll leave you in suspense for a moment and come back to that.

Here’s what I find kind of funny today. Jon and I have been reading The Five Love Languages, and we have determined that “receiving gifts” is not my love-language. As a writer, maybe it’s not surprising that “words of affirmation” are what speak most eloquently to my heart—and those are closely followed by the language of “physical touch.”

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Jon likes to leave me love-notes in cards… No “occasion” needed!

I feel absolutely adored when Jon leaves me a sweet card with a hand-written love note. Or when he calls me by a pet name, tells me I look cute or sexy, says he loves me. I even thrill when he calls me “Mrs. Smith,” because it’s an emphasis on the married-in-love “Mrs.”… We spend a few hours of every day on the phone, he with his Bluetooth in his ear while his head is under hoods of cars—we talk to each other while we go about our days, and I never tire of the sound of his voice. Words do it for me, no question! I’m also a hand-holder, a snuggler, a butt-grabber, and a happy recipient of reciprocal touches. When he puts his arm around me in church and holds my hand in the grocery store, I feel Capital-L-Loved.

Now don’t get me wrong, regarding gifts. It’s not that I don’t enjoy or appreciate them, they’re just not the currency that “proves love” in my emotional world. When he does give me something, I find myself floored by it, maybe because it seems like such an “extra.”   Continue reading “Love Languages & Chocolate Sprinkles”

Posted in People

An Empowered Shade of Orange

Newsroom_Culture_of_the_Apron_01.07.15.3
“culture of the Orange Apron”

So… I’m going to be back in orange again. And this time it’s not going to be picking up trash along the freeway as penance—I just landed a job as a Home Depot cashier. There’s a tiny part of me that wonders if I shouldn’t sigh and shake my head at myself, past forty with a Master’s degree and excited about cashiering… But I’m pretty sure that’s the part of me I don’t like very much. The rest of me is tickled. I get to be part of the “culture of the Orange Apron.” I get to spend my day with people.

One thing that has been a constant across all my jobs is the fact that I get “charged” by interacting with people. It’s like the human version of putting a cell phone on a charger—I charge my batteries with friendly interactions. It’s the part I loved about the restaurant I had with my late husband—it was literally a “mom and pop” shop, with him cooking and me serving, and people streaming through and smiling with me all day long. I felt like I got a percentage of every smile that happened at my place during the day, and I could come home absolutely exhausted, but still grinning.

It’s what I like about my job at the RV park, and it’s what I’ve been missing on the other days of the week when I’ve been home alone with the laptop, working on freelance articles for a client in India. Somehow the WhatsApp conversations with India don’t have the same charge-me-up potential as in-person interactions.

Home DepotWhen we were running the restaurant, we had a favorite joke. Whenever someone had a special request or an off-menu idea, Keoni would say, “I’ll have to check with Corporate“…  and then he’d turn to me and ask, “What do you say, Babe?” That was the best thing about “being Corporate” at Kana Girl’s Hawaiian BBQ—the fact that I could always make the judgment call to please the customer. So imagine how pleased I was to find out this week that Home Depot associates are actually given a budget to use at their discretion to accommodate customers who might otherwise be having a negative experience. I certainly used that same sort of “power” to good effect in our restaurant, knowing that an occasional meal on the house (when an order took too long, say) would be more than made up for when that customer kept returning. I don’t think many big companies think that way, but at Home Depot even a cashier is empowered to make that kind of call. Continue reading “An Empowered Shade of Orange”

Posted in RVing

Views From the Roof

the fair from our roof
the fair from our roof

On the list of things-I-didn’t-think-about before living in an RV: we have a great balcony with a great view. OK, it’s our RV roof, but the “great view” part is true.

Our park is situated right next to a semi-pro baseball park (Boise Hawks, a farm team for the Colorado Rockies) so we have front-row seats to the fireworks displays after games. (OK, I’ll admit that would be more fun if I weren’t married to a combat vet. Apparently some of those fireworks sound just like incoming mortar rounds…) We’re also next to the state fairgrounds, so we got to know the carnival workers (“not carnies,” we were told, working at the park office) while they stayed at the park, and had a fun view of the fair itself from our roof.

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winter from our roof

The last few months it was a very different view! Same neighbors (many of them, anyway), different landscape. With a record-breaking series of snowstorms, we have now officially had the most snow Boise has seen since someone started measuring in 1875. Did we pick a great year to start RVing, or what? But hey, this way we know we can do it!

As I was just writing to another blogging RV-er, I’m glad now that we chose a “toy-hauler” rig, meaning we have a garage section at the back. I initially thought that was just so we could take the motorcycle with us, but it turns out to be so much more useful than that. We can keep dive gear back there (it was Scuba-and-RVing that sparked the discussion), camping gear (we still like to head further into the mountains than we’d want to pull the fifth wheel), rapelling gear, my mechanic-husband’s tools, snow pants and snow boots and sleds while we were buried in snow this winter, even a Total Gym set up… In other words, all the things I wouldn’t want cluttering my living room!

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last month’s view of Home

Of course, using that back space as “garage” means that we have less living-space… but we have enough. And although we got rid of tons of stuff (literally) when we moved into the RV, neither of us was willing to offload the gear. We’re in this for Experience–and (as my fellow blogging-RVer and I agreed) that’s what that kind of gear is for! Continue reading “Views From the Roof”