Who is Sue and what is Suelandia?

Monday, October 31, 2011

The walking dead

Hey people.  Yesterday was the big Halloween race at the trail.  I didn't race this year-- just helped-out and rode around for fun.  The day before we took leaf blowers out on the trail and completely cleared it, all except this one patch of crimson leaves that fell from one maple tree.  They were just too pretty to remove.

It was awfully good of that tree to lay a red carpet for Fabulosa.  Even the trees know she deserves special treatment.

I had a lot of fun riding around being obnoxious calling people "commoners" and telling them how my bike was made out of Diamonds etc.  I love Halloween.  I'll be making a video of all the pumpkin smashing mayhem too.  It is always a fun party and this year was no exception.

Dan was a zombie.  Zombies are all the rage now.  What is sort of funny about that to me, is that although none of us look like we're decaying, we all do have an expiration date, and the clock is ticking.  We're all marching closer and closer to our mortality, it's just a matter of if you look at it as being busy dying, or busy living.

About a week ago I noticed my hands are getting numb quite often.  I have problems with them when I work a lot.  They'll cramp up when I ride, for example, and there is a tremor condition that runs in my family so sometimes they shake.  The numb thing is sort of new though.  Of course the idea popped into my head-- "What if I have some horrible disease like ALS?!" and I went through this whole scenario of what I would do if that were the case before actually googling the symptoms and finding them to be nothing like what I am experiencing.  (Whew on that.)

Still it was a good little scare-- a good exercise.  We should all step back and look at how we're really spending our time once in a while.  If you got a devastating diagnosis--- "You have a disease that will begin inexorably wearing away your physical self in a year, and you WILL BE DEAD in 3 to 5 years"-- What would you do?

Here's what I came up with:

I would for sure spend a lot of time with my friends.  This is something I already do, but I'd make more of a point of it, instead of trying to *fit it in* around work etc.  I'd want them to have a good time with me though, not be all bummed I was dying.  At first I thought I'd not tell them, but then there would be this vibe of disingenuousness in the air, and that would taint those relationships.   

Instead I decided I would tell  people, but tell them I was undergoing some very hopefull  experimental treatment (and if there was one out there I would actually try to get in on that of course).  This way people would have some time to process it-- my time might be more limited than theirs, but they could go to the hopeful place that the miracle treatment might work.

I'd want to have adventures, but I enjoy that kind of thing now, so I guess I'd just be more appreciative of them, and purposeful about arranging them.

I'd do a lot of outsidey stuff, like what I enjoy now, but I guess just being more aware of the ticking clock would make me not put off anything I felt like doing.  Permission to skip.

There were a number of things I'd continue doing that sort of surprised me--- for sure artwork, but I'd concentrate  more on making some significant pieces, not bother with anything that didn't really resonate.  Also-- I'd forge ahead with new idea.  That kind of surprised me, but I would finish up my classes and delve into that new art form and still try to get that business up and running.

I'd keep working at the trail.  It might seem dumb to spend what limited time I'd have left blowing leaves off a mountain bike trail and shoveling dirt, especially since nothing we do over there is a permanent fix, but I would.  I enjoy it, and feel helping that park is important to me.

I for some reason thought of getting a dog, because then Dan would have a pal around after I checked-out (which I'd arrange btw-- I wouldn't let things get to the nursing home/ventilator stage), but then I thought better of it.  The best thing I could leave him would be the opportunity for a fresh start.  He wouldn't need any reminders of what we'd had.  It would be part of his DNA.

I'd work on the most frustrating relationship of my life, and try to get that sorted out so that person could get some closure if nothing else.

So now I have some guideposts-- or more accurately have been reminded of them.  I feel lucky to be able to just do something like this as a little refocusing excersize, without having do actually deal with such a horrible disease.

So what about you guys?  What would you change or keep the same?

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The importance of being earnest

And Sue.  Gotta be Sue.  Hey people.  First things first-- it's me and Dan's 18th Anniversary of being married today (28 of being together-- We lived together for 10 years first, just to, you know, make sure.)  Here's my gift.  We don't usually *do* gifts, but when I was lusting after a necklace recently he suggested I just go get a bunch of goodies and make an even better one for myself.  I sort of made it my gift to justify the extravagance. 

What we have isn't about special occasions though, or gifts, it's about how when I feel like nothing, he hugs me and tells me to him I am something, and how we laugh together almost every day, and I never feel completely alone.  We know how lucky we are, and that makes us enjoy it all even more.

earnest 1 |ˈərnist|
resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction

This is what it says in the dictionary.  This week I wrestled with the ~intense~ part a bit.  I've been trying to not talk much about this stuff, but screw it-- it's been a big part of my recent life and I guess sharing some of my inner workings with you guys is part of my ~earnestness~. 

Almost 2 weeks ago me and ~cooltrailbossRich~ had a meeting with a bunch of guys over the recent devastation at the trail.  Bottom line-- the power company contracted a tree company, partially owned (at least partially) by another power company (it seems to me the whole network of various power companies and the tree contractors they all use is kind of incestuously entangled) to ~clear~ brush and trees from their easement which runs through the park where my trail is.  It was over-cut, exceeding the easement in many spots.   That is a fact-- anyone can check and see that this is so.

 *In my opinion*, some of the over-cutting looks as if it was profit motivated.  I drew this conclusion by examining which trees were removed, where they were taken from, and the fact that in places attempts were made to conceal that they had been removed--- trees from quite far in the woods, WAY outside the easement, were removed, and the stumps and traces of activity were then covered with brush.  Call me crazy, but who takes pains to conceal what they have done usually?--- People doing something wrong, right?

All of this-- the damage, and the fact that it just seemed wrong to me--- like someone was trying to get away with something--- pissed me off.  Not just me-- tons of people are upset, but I, being earnest (described by some involved who'd just as soon this all just *go away* as ~eyeroll~ "passionate")
have been a bit like a dog with a bone about this and pushed it pretty far, with the approval and help of cooltrailbossRich of course.

Apparently though, at our meeting, the one where I felt like a dog on a leash because I so wanted to more aggressively question the tree company men, (who I guess I can't PROVE were lying, but did come up with about 3 or 4 implausible conflicting stories before lapsing into total silence) I guess my emotional level was a bit high for the men's comfort.  I was super frustrated, and thought for sure those guys were lying right to our faces, and I guess I displayed that.  That makes men think you are less credible.  Even the men who should have been on our side-- from Parks & Rec.

Here's me after a recent day of trailwork.  This is by far not the worst I've looked after working at the trail.  Me and the others on the crew have done incredible amounts of work for this place.  I've been at sessions where we actually became delirious from our personal tanks running so low, and being so overheated.  We've worked past the point of exhaustion many many times. 
I've never been involved with a group of volunteers before, so maybe this is just normal, but to see so many people pouring their sweat and energy into this place purely because they love it and want to support it has really opened my eyes.  

This ~passionate~ thing really threw me for a loop last week, because I've always known guys don't respond well to high emotion, or volumes of words.  I myself have always been uncomfortable by people, usually women, who display a lot of emotion.  I have looked down my nose at that, and always thought of myself as pretty contained.  It was hard for me to accept how the others perceived me, but fuck it.  Yes-- I was and am really pissed about this on a number of levels.

Awareness is a good thing.  I'll know more about myself now.  I guess as long as my intentions are good, and I'm fighting for what I really believe is right, and am listening to what other people I respect think, I'll have to just accept that emotion is part of the package for me, part of my intensity, which can be used for good.  I'm trying to not judge that as a negative trait, just see it as a fact.

I rode with Dan yesterday.  My rides and this trail always become metaphorical for me.  I did much better than I have in a long time yesterday, making tons of climbs for the first time in months.

My lessons have been not to accept that anything is impossible, but recognize which things are not worth it to me to attempt right now--- a few descents have been taken off my list.  They freak me out too much in their present state, scare me, and that erodes the fun for me. 

One of the things that has proven most useful for me, is learning how to stand still-- balancing on the bike without any forward progress for a few seconds, so I can regroup and power up some nasty climbs without having to bail-out and put a foot down.

Also-- recognizing which scary things it is better for me to force myself to overcome.  Sometimes I DO have to push myself outside my comfort zone, for my own personal growth:

Riding the trail is all about that balance between climbing and descending, strategizing it all-- learning all the different skills, mental and physical.  Challenges, joy, acceptance, fear, failure, determination, and success.  It's all there to learn from and about.

The end of the story hasn't been written yet about the trees and the trail and the over-cutting.  We are waiting for the power company & the city to come up with some kind of restitution agreement which we're told will take about 2 weeks more.  Meanwhile I'm trying to get over my anger at the whole situation-- the damage, the unfairness of being dismissed as ~eyeroll~ "passionate", and the idea that there will always be people around who will try to get away with whatever they can.

If nothing else, a lot of people have been put on notice that this little patch of woods has a lot of eyes on it, and a lot of people who are pretty damned ~earnest~ about protecting it. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Riddle you this

Hey people.  I haven't posted for ages because I've been up to my neck in work and waging a battle that isn't over yet.  I can't even say too much about it because of this, but those who know me, know when I choose to get involved in something I'm basically like a duck on a June bug-- obsessed!  This thing has taken up so much time, energy, and brain that it's practically blotted out everything else.

So here's what will be a necessarily cryptic account, until I can tell you the real deal and how it all went down, once it's actually resolved.  This will be, what one pal calls ~riddle-y~.

Let's just say, if you mess with her, or her house, I'm not going to be happy.

Some may say, "Yeah?  So?", but those people have never actually been in big trouble with me.  Let's just say I can be a very good person to have on your side.  If I decide to go to battle against you though, I can spend hours and hours just thinking of all the angles and possible ways to mess you up.

I know how the world works, that everything isn't always going to go your way.  Everything isn't---

But every once in a while, there are injustices so egregious or situations so unbearable that you just have to act.  Sometimes when the adversity seems especially impossible, this perverse part of me wakes up that sort of enjoys the challenge of this. 

There is another aspect to challenges like this.  I'm always kind of, okay-- not kind of--- completely surprised that everyone else isn't as outraged as me.  This situation had tons of people really really pissed off, but nothing much was really actually happening.  This is often the case, and I think it's something people who do bad shit sort of count on--- that people will just be too lame to interfere and they'll just get away with it.   Guess again assholes.

What good is working from home, on your own schedule, and being one of the world's most tenacious shit-stirrers if you're not going to, occasionally, you know, stir some shit?  So I dove into researching.  If you're going to go to war over something, rule #1 is-- know what you're talking about.  By the time I figured stuff out connected to this particular battle, (as is always the case), I knew more than I ever imagined I would about a topic I'd never given much thought to before.  
Time to begin making my case.

 This is where I have to make an admission.  I claim, at times, to be all about good vibes and positivity, and for the most part that is true.  But there is another side of me that rather enjoys a good fight I guess, especially one I can win.  And I only fight for stuff I really believe in.  That seems to fuel my passion and make me fight very hard.  See?  You want me on your side.
If your opponent is very formidable the challenge is greater, but so is the victory.

There is this very useful tool now, that evens the playing field considerably.  When you're doing research though, you still need to do actual leg-work too--- go to physical locations and talk to people in person.   It's worth it though, and really good for the overall battle, because it gives you time to process everything and think of all the angles.

So while there has been quite a bit of this----

There has also been a lot of collecting information from useful experts, strategizing with a partner in crime, and thinking about how to turn a really rotten deal by people determined to profit from it and cover it up, into an eventual positive outcome.

There have been times I've felt very angry about the situation that has sparked all this, and frustrated by others incompetence or lack of interest, and one day in particular that I felt like a mad dog snapping at the end of my leash.  Luckily, ~partner in crime~ played it cool and I was ~mostly~ able to keep a lid on it.  But I totally wanted to back the guys blatantly lying to our faces into the woods with chest pokes.

Now the hard part-- waiting.  We presented our case, and have given the people involved the chance to be cool about this and step up and fix it properly.  Either that will happen, or the war will go on to phase 2, which our opponents will enjoy even less than phase 1.

Stay tuned.

Sunday, October 2, 2011


Hey people.  We are used to thinking of the time we spend broken up into memorable chunks.  So much so, that sometimes we think of our memories as the fabric of our lives.  But what if that changed?  What if something happened in your brain that made storing new memories tougher-- so that sometimes certain chunks just got randomly deleted?  It would definitely mess with you, and those around you a bit.  You, and they, may be forced into being more ~in the moment~ when together, detached from whether a memory was being created or not.  The time spent together, once up, may simply *expire*, and everybody would just have to accept that.

Interesting thought problem.  Interesting and challenging situation.  Possibly comforting to know that the people who like you and enjoy spending time with you still will, even if they have to think of it differently as time goes on?  Just when you think you've got it mostly figured out, life always manages to throw a new curve ball.

But we generally don't like changes do we?  Ones thrust upon us, that we have no control over?  So it was last week at my beloved trail.  There was a new law passed mandating that everything within the easement area had to be razed to the ground.  Pretty sure the guys contracted to do the work were less upset about the devastation this meant to our woods than us local trail lovers though.  In fact, it seems like they were sort of giant assholes about it, and exceeded their boundaries in many spots.

This patch of trail used to be at least 10 feet inside the woods.  I'd really like to take a 50 foot rope over there and walk the easement off and paint lines where they should have cut, and have the parks maintenance director go over and look at all the places they took out huge trees that should have been left alone (if my suspicions are confirmed.)  In my opinion this project was completely lacking in supervision, with disastrous results to our forest/trail.  It's done now.  Nothing can reverse it, but I still am intensely curious about this, and feel very violated about it and want someone to be held somewhat accountable if it was the hack job I think it was.  Stay tuned.  Maybe.  Lots of people are pretty pissed off about this.

Perhaps incongruously, I have been coveting (secretly) a trail work buddy's small chainsaw I called ~the Barbie chainsaw~.  I sort of want one, and want to learn how to safely use one so I can help more when trees go down at the trail, and also for all the fallen trees on our property that I could turn into firewood.
Someone mentioned how I used to post more about my cats last night.  We went to this little bonfire party in our woods--- us, our neighbors, a few friends, and some friends of theirs who are musicians.  They played music around the fire until like 2 a.m. I guess.  We didn't last that long but it was really fun.  Anyway--- Ray's efforts to poison us with cutosterone continue.  He's decided the fuzzy pillow I got myself recently is ~his~.  He's seriously in love with it.  He sleeps on it every night.  I'm now calling it his pillow mommy.

Oh-- this was super funny--- at the gathering last night a friend asked, "Do you still have six?" referring to my cats.  I grimaced and said, "Oh God no!  And even when we did-- it's not like we did on purpose."  Soon found out everyone else thought she'd asked, "Do you still have sex?"

Here's a cool pic of Tina someone took last week at the night race at the trail.  They're done for the year now.  Some of you may remember last year I felt compelled to try racing in the dark.  Not this year.  Never say never, but am just not ~racy~ right now.  Still fun to go help out and hang out at the bonfire & watch etc.

With one exception.  At the end of the month is the annual Halloween race, and as usual, I'll be attending.  Or I should say, Fabulosa Renard will be.

Yes, that's right--- international jet setting socialite Fabulosa Renard will be racing, sort of.

She doesn't go in much for rules and such.  "Rules are for commoners," she's been overheard saying.

There may be some deviations from the official course when she wanders off in search of a waiter. Whatever happens it will undoubtedly be interesting.

 There are few things more fun than riding my bike around in a costume.  I actually have to choose, every year, from my many many awesome costume ideas.  If somehow money could be made off this I'd be golden!  If anyone in my neighborhood (~A-hem~) is up for this on actual Halloween, let me know.  We could ride all over town spreading fabulousness.

Lastly, because I know, every facet of my life IS endlessly intriguing--- I'm doing a bunch of experiments trying to figure out a way to have my hair work out so it is curly (because there is no practical way to fight this without a full time staff of professionals apparently), NOT frizzy, and doesn't take an hour.  Actually I'm trying to get time spent messing with my hair down to about 5 minutes a day.  Here's me waking up in the morning (cute I know, no make-up-- ~the horror~) trying for no effort "day 2" hair. 

It's not really any more of a rat's nest than usual, so I'm calling it a success.  If anyone with curly hair wants in on this system, we have a small emailing list discussion group for info sharing.  Let me know.  You know something has to be done when you find yourself actually being envious of Shawn White's hair, and you are a girl.