Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Just a friendly reminder that Cranksgiving is THIS weekend.

Last year it snowed sideways. I still managed to meet a bunch of amazing people, laugh myself silly, kick Keely's arse in the bestest sunglasses competition AND show up at Mars Cafe with a tall boy in my rack, a smile on my face, and food falling out of my messenger bag all over the road.

As always, there will be some great schwag giveaways from Chrome, Yankee Doodle Tattoo and there are free t-shirts for (most) all participants. Oh yeah, and a bike.

Even if you don't want to ride, stop by, have a beer, say hello.

Annnnd....if you have something you'd like to me.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My Baby Kills Big Bird

My brother and brother-in-law took T and his (boy) cousins hunting yesterday.

From what I understand, it took my kid approximately 2.5 seconds to fall into a creek. Okay, that might be stretching it a bit, but he did, at some point, fall into a creek. He also watched my brother 'murder' a bird that didn't quite die the first time, and "got a little blood on my hands but it didn't quite matter because I already had a lot of dirt on them, momma."

He loved every minute of the man time, watching the dogs work, and I think, is finally ready to acquiesce; add some proper Carharts and hiking boots to his wardrobe. His swanky Nike Airs are a special shade of brown, smell of manure, and the sweatpants and hoodie he wore are largely retired. For hunting purposes at least.

My favorite of the 57 stories I've heard thus far is about how he "held the heart of a pheasant right in the palm of my hand." T described in intricate detail the size, chambers, and such. I was impressed with my brother that he took the time to give a biology lesson during the gutting process.

T also told me about the pheasant's balls, which could have been easily confused with his liver, but they couldn't be sure which part was which. They're teeny tiny little bird balls, he said.

Apparently they are also very difficult to differentiate from a liver.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Veteran's Day Prayer

I spend disproportionate amount of my time thinking about war.

I've researched my grandfathers' service and the wars they took part in. I read my Grandpa's log from the Navy. I lived in Germany, walked through Hitler's hideaways, visited concentration camps. I wept at the bags of hair, fillings, shoes and glasses at Dachau and the stench of death at Auchwitz/Birkenau.

In the wake of 9.11 I spent endless days reading everything I could get my hands on to understand the conflicts that plagued the areas in those places where we went to war. As they waged on, and the articles became books, I read those too.

It occurs to me daily, that my son does not recall a single minute of his life when our country was not at war. I know that somehow, this affects his reality, or more appropriately is his reality, but longer term, I wonder how it will play out in his world view. Because his daily existence is largely safe and protected, will he grow up crass and with a disproportionate view of what this word, war, means?


And now, as my son reaches that pivotal age where he will begin to formulate a plan for his future, eventually make his own choices about how that will play out, I ponder what I'd do, as his mother if he chose to serve our country, fight our war.

For now, I know my first cousins choosing so is quite enough.

One: off to basic training and back to school.
Another: off to basic training and now in Korea.
Both: futures uncertain.

I watch their updates and pictures flash across Facebook and to me, they are still babies: the kids I chased around my Grandparents' farm, tied up with their own socks, tickled until they peed and threw effortlessly over my shoulder in a game of hide and seek.

They still are, in a lot of ways those babies, and yet they are among the thousands we send out in masses with this message of supporting and fighting to protect our freedoms: speech, movement, trade, our every means of existence really.

My cousins are in a lot of ways, much like my son; ignorant to how bad things could be, ignorant also to how lucky we as Americans are, and yet, they signed up to serve our country for reasons each their own: to live out a family legacy, to find a path, an assured future. It is admirable and admittedly for me, difficult to wrap my mind around, at times.

15 years ago when I was close to their ages, I chose to spend the better part of two years traveling Europe with reckless abandon, and later much of the United States, mostly alone and yet wholly ignorant to the idea that something quite awful could go very, very wrong at any given moment. Yet despite my hindsight view of multiple moments where things could have gone very, very wrong, they never did.

I always attributed that orb of safety that seemed to surround me to my great judgement at the time but years later I know that to be far from truth. In all my innocent, naive thought processes: it never even occurred to me that something could go wrong and likely therefore it never did.

My prayer for my cousins, and every one who serves on this Veteran's Day is this:

That they do not lose all of their sweet innocence as they leave boys, and come back largely men.

That their experiences enlighten them, such that they may enlighten others, about the wisdom that comes from living outside the United States.

That they can pass along their learning first hand just how blessed and lucky we surely are, as Americans.

And most importantly I pray this:

That against all odds they can maintain a piece of that blissful ignorance, the frame of mind that nothing could possibly go nothing will in fact go wrong.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gratitude and Explanation

This blog was supposed to be all about biking. I started it to keep my proverbial pen moving in the face of a job change that no longer required much writing. Its purpose was two-pronged: a way to keep track of my two wheeled adventures, training, and workouts while educating me on a new (to me) social tool.

Originally, the blog was locked down and only I had access. That lasted a few months, until I realized that another alisondoyle dominated the search engines and there was really no reason for the thing to "hide."

Then, for a long time (in the online sense), the blog had open access. I still did nothing to optimize the writing, used few if any labels and wrote about whatever struck me. I also purposely never hooked up any analytics, so as to gift myself this daily idea that I should and could write whatever I felt.

I recognize that some of my readers could care less about riding bikes, others could care less about my reading lists, others could care less about my kid and still others, would rather jump off a very high cliff than read about my floundering love life, or my trials as a single mother.

And yet, bless each and every one of you that have, you've kept coming back here.

Thank you from the bottom of my ten times larger than my head heart.

I live and intimately understand messaging strategy, optimization strategies, and target audiences and yet, I do not want to fall to some preconceived notion that I somehow "need" or "owe it to my community" to write about a specific topic of relevance to one group. Admittedly, this is also a front for my saying that for a very long time, my scattered posts, relevance and lack of optimization was me hiding, vulnerable and afraid.

I was also too scared to find out who was (or wasn't reading) this thing.

Eventually, I recognized that my imagination is typically far worse than any reality, so very recently with the help of a friend, I started monitoring the blog's traffic. It was a HUGE step for me and it has been humbling beyond measure.

It is for that reason that I feel compelled to share with you that it is of up most importance to me to keep writing, at any cost, and I am determined to not allow outside influences drive what spills from my heart onto my keyboard.

That said, I cannot tell you enough, those of you who do come out from lurk-dom from time to time to email, comment, even call...what it means to me. Each and every one of them; they are better than a thousand dark chocolate peanut butter cups and more powerful than my dog's farts.

So, as this thing continues, I can promise you loosely this: when I am feeling raw and vacant I might review books. When my kid says something funny, I will use space as a means for recording that. When an asshole motorist tries to run me off the road, I will verbally lash out against him. And when my heart breaks as it surely will again, this space will become a cleansing agent more powerful than my Swiffer and Clorox Handi Wipes combined.

Here's the shocking part: during all this obsessing and scattered writing people actually began reading the thing. I'd mention to a friend that I'd written about a topic on my blog. My sister convinced me I should perhaps list the thing on my Facebook page. Eventually, I also listed it on my Twitter. My courage grew and thus, my audience grew.

One heartfelt email from you turned into another and then another, each with their own story; some inspired, some sharing their own adventures, demons. Others thanked me for helping them with a new (to them) author, and some simply mentioned that they hoped I'd keep writing. In each an every one of these letters, comments, I found myself lamenting at the courage of the person who stuck themselves out on a line to say whatever they've said, whatever they'd shared.

And so, taking from your lead(s), I resolved to do better at commenting on other peoples' blogs. More emails, comments followed.

I was overjoyed. I was also scared shitless. I am still overjoyed. I am STILL scared shitless.

Initially, "What if's" suddenly became a part of my daily existence: What if my kid's dad read the thing? What if he used it to make me look bad? What if my parents read? What if I pissed someone off? What if my ex- boyfriend read? What if I didn't give someone enough space and another person too much? What if I was perceived differently than I see myself because of the topics I choose on any given day?

Each of these things have become reality.

And yet, sometimes, while I have been silenced for weeks at a time, and I am ever careful about my filter, I continue to find solace here.

This is merely a slice of me, and yet it it is wholly my space, my lamentations, my observations.

Yes, I am careful. There is much that I would love to write about here, in particular about my son, about being a single mom to him for ten plus years, about my journey from there to here, but I feel at this time, for various reasons, that I cannot. I am aware that my writing is slanted because of that, and contains a selfish bend. While this is something I presume could be judged, I hope that people know that it is from necessity, not narcissism.

In the past couple weeks two fellow single mom bloggers who I have follow religiously have been ambushed by members of their own family for the reasons I mention above. In both cases they share about their dating, children, and ex- struggles in a far more open dialog than I do here. I have watched their comments over time as they are cheered, and then as they are chastised by men, women, for their choices, what they share.

Through them, and also through my own readers, I have gained perspective and a great deal of respect for the power of this space. I have also learned that with sharing comes responsibility, vulnerability and a sense for others that they can more readily attack.

I vow, with these other mothers to not succumb to this fear, and keep writing. I also vow to keep sharing, laughing, lamenting, and loving; to remain respectful to those people who touch my family, because the world is small and flat and time is liquid. To never, knowingly, write from a place of fear.

My challenge to each of you who pop on to this site to read, zone out, or whatever you do here, is to please, please continue to pass along the sweet goodness that your comments and positive support brings: on my blog, others blogs, twitter and anywhere you see fit.

The more we ALL are encouraged to share what lies in the cobbled spaces of our hearts, our silly minds, the better off we ALL will be.

They say it is the squeaky wheel that gets the grease, but I can assure you, each and every one of you who have spoken bravely, quietly, and positively as a result of this space: you have touched me in a way for which there simply are no words.

It is only because by your sweet words that I am encouraged to further share mine.