Zen and the Art of Speedskating

November 30, 2010

Building

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 11:34 pm

Days pile up, hours, tasks, blocks that fit or don’t fit and the whole ediface is wonderful, teetering.

my amazing child is doing what kids do at two years old.

It’s a stunning, jaw dropping thing to watch a brain connect & see all the lights go on, one by one, day by day.

The dazzling little soul RZ has always been since her first breath, coming more and more into focus & clarity each day.

RZ’s first 3 word sentence was “daddy messy hair”, then “daddy race bikes”. Vocabulary like legos. Click.

So many things happening.. mostly good things. Job & family.. this blog is still left behind. A blog requires quiet, and moments to write.

It’s 11:23pm right now. I’m so tired… Skating again, the fittest I’ve been since RZ was born. It’s nice to focus on the dumb pain of skating fast in a circle after overusing my sodden brain all day.

But there is no time to press all the legos together properly. Things are pretty, fulfilling, but built in haste. I’m going to race masters sprint worlds this year again. Berlin.. Germany..

Might actally be fast if I can hold the lego tower together.

October 12, 2010

clothespins

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 6:58 am

She usually pulls out hair elastics & barrettes, but somehow on this day, clothespins were the coolest thing ever.

She is giving me that look that says “I know I’m making daddy laugh, I’m your smart & craftly kid, you are wrapped around my little finger!”

So much happening, so much to see, to notice. It overwhelmed an adult, but a kid sucks in all in, learns, and becomes-

Becomes something amazing, something wholly apart from the parents. A picture more and more in focus each day. I am a fairly secular guy, but know of no word other than “miracle” to capture this.

June 8, 2010

Greening

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 12:33 pm

A little over a year ago, I was out mountain biking with my friend Zane, and we rode some trails where wildfires had charred the mountainside.

Groves of skeletal trees, ash stains imprinted on the ground, wildflowers beginning to push into view among the devastation.

That day, I was sleep deprived by my 6 month old, riding poorly, feeling weak & fat, and through exhaustion & trying to keep up with a ‘ragin Zane, those charred trees felt like they were speaking:


“this was your life, you are nothing more than crumbling ashes, but look at all these blooming flowers, this is new life”.

I wrote about this then, but never published it, I was too “new-parent-overwhelmed-syndrome” on that day, and too depressed to blog what I was feeling.

But this past Sunday, I went back to those same trails with another friend, local mountain biking cat 1/semi-pro Kevin Wilde.

Wow can he ever big-ring steep dirt climbs. Amazing.

Kevin also has a little baby at home, and we talked in depth about our experiences as our mountain bikes zipped & danced through the singletrack.

We agreed it’s pretty much impossible to systematically train when you have a little kid.

Impossible for me, as a speedskater, to consistently train all the complex “pieces” of the skate-training puzzle. Impossible for Kevin to regularly complete 3.5-4 hour epic training rides, so he can big-ring climbs at the end of 3 hour mountain bike races.

But we still love getting out, as much as ever, even though we are slower than we once were.

Our wives understand this about us, & actually kick us out of the house every now and then, precisely because we are committed fathers.

And on this day, keeping up with Kevin, my former life is truly crumbled and gone, I almost don’t see those blackened tree trunks anymore, ashy groundstains swallowed into the landscape of dim memory.

But what do I see? Something so much more beautiful. Flowering. So alive.

My little girl… There are far more ways for a man to measure himself than the fruits of being hyper-competitive. I get that now.

RZ you are always my teacher, thank you.

April 1, 2010

Colors

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 10:54 pm

We have names for the colors we can see; Reds, greens, blues, bent through cornea, lens flare and pixels.

But our cornucopia of names trails off when color arcs into ultraviolet and infrared, X-ray and gamma, even though those powerful wavelengths flow through us.

So it is with love. Such a simple word, but I am out of the arc I can describe. It cuts through me and leaves the bones of things glimmering & clear.

Wife, kid, a simple walk on a beautiful spring day.

Why has it taken me almost 40 years of life, to arrive here?

January 3, 2010

2010

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 10:25 pm

You lead me places I could never have imagined going, and are my teacher as much as I am yours.

Although I am not as strong on my skates as I once was, I am stronger in every other part of my being, because of what you ask of me.

Half pronounced words are tumbling constantly from your lips. I can’t wait to learn them, as badly as you want to say them clearly.

I broke a piece of hardended brown sugar in two, and gave you half. I ate mine in example; you very deliberately crumbled yours over the dog’s head. May our 2010 be filled with as much mutual laughter as that moment.

love,

Daddy.

December 8, 2009

Pomegranate!

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 5:49 am

RZ might look quite a bit like me, but she has her mothers eyes, and love for annoying detail-centric foods like Pomegranates.

This was so awesome, There was a 3 foot radius of Pomegranate seed & juice destruction surrounding ground zero. Click on the image for another view.

Maybe I should only eat things that are annoyingly slow to gnosh, and never really fill you up. I am so sick and tired of complaining about feeling big (206lbs recently) that I am on a fairly serious diet. Ignore the chocolate soy thing, it’s good for recovery.

June 8, 2009

Ferris & flowers

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 1:18 pm

Walking in the park, pushing RZ in the stroller, with my “brother-by-another-mother” Evan, his 7 year old Ben & 6 year old Ellie in tow, and I see Josh Wood & 2 other inliners zip by at warp speed, double-push firing on all cylinders. Their wheels a hiss of speed.

They were upright at this split second of photography, trying not to run over a walker, but trust me, these guys were hauling.

I am at a distance from skating. As out of focus as this photograph. I remember how it feels & miss it. Am racing my bike a lot from sheer convenience. Still lifting big in the gym, but have yet to touch ice this year.

Why? I’m doing serious training in the lifelong sport of being a “Daddy” . It’s an endurance event in it’s own right, requiring fortitude, strength, a good heart, the capacity to suffer, and no real finish line.

Jess was at work, Evan’s wife Susan at a coffee shop with her Laptop. So Evan and I had a morning in the park. 2 dads & 3 kids. A swinging good time.

There are these moments when you feel the “wheel of life” turning. A grandparent recently told me “you think you feel that now? Just wait till your kids have kids!” I love Ferris wheels. The explicit rotation of perspective. Ben & Ellie are at the very top here.

I wondered out loud how long these little cars had been in service, the woman standing next to me said “well, I rode on them when I was a kid in the 60’s” wow… .

Compared to killing myself with training every day, is hanging out with kids as rewarding? absolutely, here is Ben feeding Ducks.

Susan remarked later, that this photo should have been titled “Daddy dressed me this morning”. I am guilty as charged

I’ve known Evan forever. We have tens of thousands of cycling training miles together. Endless races we can tell stories about for hours. It’s wild to see each other in this new phase, this new mode. We were comparing what we had to pack for our kids, the difference of his “Kid day bag” vs mine.

Ellie & Evan, at a moment of maximum cuteness. What a journey children lead you on. It’s not you leading them at all.

Ellie was picking flowers in the above photo, and stuck one of them in RZ’s foot. My daughter absolutely has my feet. Not Jessica’s E.T. toes.

RZ wanted to eat the flower. Not good, so she ended up grabbing & gnawing on my old Dimon Sports hat instead. John Dimon, where are you?

See, this IS about speedskating! No better way to improve the immune system eh? Or maybe just ensuring RZ has salt in her diet.

Ben moves so fast, I kept missing photos of him doing things like standing on top of the adult drinking fountains! Boy energy must be the raw fissionable material that powers the sun. Son=Sun. I don’t think that linguistic coincidence is happenstance.

Boys do eventually grow to be men, & there always is some of that crazy energy left in them. Jess came home from work, Susan from the coffee shop, and Evan and I headed up into the mountains on bikes.

Maybe not as fast as we once were, but still hollerin boys in our hearts, especially when Wasatch singletrack swoops & dives like a rollercoaster.

And perspective-laden Dads in others; the wildflowers are in bloom across the Wasatch. Massive fields of them lining the trails, & I kept thinking of Ellie, RZ, Ben. These little beings that mean so much to us. Our own individual flowers in a sea of kids.

A sea that can be wonderful, but also sometimes capricious & brutal.

Before RZ was born, I asked Marty Haire what being a Dad feels like, he said “Well, you suddenly understand, when you hear about something horrible happening to someone else’s kids, you understand why that matters. And it gets to you, even if you have never met the people involved”.

True. So very true.

April 19, 2009

All within 30 seconds

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 7:44 am

It’s just amazing how many facial expressions can flow across a face in a tiny amount of time. This was just an everyday breakfast of rice mash & squash, and RZ’s expressions were flowing so fast, it took a digital camera to keep up.

My favorite useless factoid right now is that on average, women can recognize facial expressions at twice the speed that men can. Hmmmm. My second favorite useless factoid is about the difference in eye structure, but that is for another post.

January 30, 2009

Reading & Missing Stories

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 12:30 pm

There are so many stories happening within the sport of speedskating, I have a massive backlog of things half done, including things that I feel are quite important, like the video of Allaround nationals.

The thing is, another story is absorbing so much of my time & emotional energy, and it’s the best story ever.

There is one personality trait I see that is ubiquitous among national caliber speedskaters; it seems that most are monomaniacal perfectionists who are pissed off when we can’t do something. Then we throw ourselves into the fires, emotionally & physically, to get better at what we want to do well.

Forgive me for occasional silences here. I have a hard time forgiving myself sometimes, even though I am at peace with the choices I have made.

I guess this is part of that emotional earthquake known as “parenthood”.

(weird detail in this photo, Jessica is wearing a t-shirt I bought at the stunningly beautiful Viking Ship Olympic rink in Norway, here is the picture I took of this Godzilla-sized Trilobite. several years ago.)

January 12, 2009

RZ update

Filed under: baby stuff — andrew @ 11:32 pm

Is a picture worth a thousand words? As someone who blends photography & writing, it’s a question I do think about.

Sometimes a picture can be the beginning of many words too:

Thanks to the Needham family for the hat. Of course joining the Red Sox nation is a choice weighted with implications, & the members of my family who are hardcore Mets fans might say something about that.

RZ also has a NY Giants Jersey, and from my awesome cousins, Cleveland Browns gear.

People keep kidding me if I have already bought her skates. Really, I don’t honestly care, as long as she is happy (is being happy incompatible with being a Red Sox fan?).

What I see in this picture is her eye color, that seems to change a little every day.

Here is another picture, on how I take RZ & Lilly for walks.

As a man, you never realize how many women avoid eye contact, how so many instinctively protect themselves. UNTIL you are walking around with a baby in your arms, or in a carrier, then suddenly you are avalanched with smiles and warmth & trust as if you were the best looking fellow on the planet.

Of course though, they aren’t really looking at you.

This is a moment of PROFOUND discovery & intense concentration.

RZ is just figuring out this very instant that she has HANDS, and that she can change & move the world with them.

Never forget that lesson, my lovely daughter. It will always be true, no matter how old you become.

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