Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Cool Stuff

So, this afternoon, there was a break in the crummy weather, Devildog rode the motorcycle up to McDonald's to get some sweet tea, and enjoy a ride. I decided to pluck the chicken feathers off my wings and stuff the rest of them into a jacket and get on the bike while he had it out of the garage. Initially, we just rode around the neighborhood together. The lesson? Get a bigger seat, or a sissy bar to keep my tush from sliding off the back. When we got back, I took it all back to the baby steps from class. I have some adjusting to do to get accustomed to this bike. I did actually ride with my feet off the ground, and even got up to 2nd gear. All told it was only about 45 minutes but every bit of progress is progress forward. I am so glad I finally got on the bike. I was afraid I'd lose my nerve if I didn't get on a motorcycle soon.

But the really cool part of the day? A couple weeks ago, Staci over at VeryPink.com posted yet another awesome video tutorial. This one is a Log Cabin Scrap Blanket. I was watching it and Clone was next to me. She was really excited and enthralled with Staci's video, and started drawing a picture of it. I mentioned it in the comments and Staci asked me to send it to her. So I finally got around to doing that this morning, and Staci posted it on her blog. The comments and feedback have been awesome. My baby girl has artwork on the internet. This makes a mama's heart swell with pride.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Two weeks and still no go

It's been two weeks since I got my motorcycle endorsement. I haven't been riding since then either. There has been an array of delays in that arena. I was saddle sore from the crummy seats on the bikes at school. Then I lacked the strength to get Devildog's bike off the kickstand, and have been practicing that skill while I wait out exhaustion, busy work schedules, crummy weather, and the bike being in the shop on 2 of the most beautiful riding days. I'm afraid of losing my nerve if I don't get on a bike again soon. This week is a short work week, but it's starting off rainy. While we need the rain to keep the summer wildfires at bay, this is seriously cutting into my skill-building here.

When I told my dad that I learned to ride a motorcycle, his exact, and immediate response was "aw shit, you gonna buy a bike too?" No, but I'll probably get Devildog's and he's looking to upgrade (just as everyone predicted). His is a pretty red color that suits me anyway. And I have ideas of how to personalize the bike when it becomes mine. I want to learn how to do my own stuff like oil changes and things. Eventually we will figure that stuff out ourselves too.

Friday evening, I took Devildog to get the bike from the mechanic who did the maintenance for us, and the bike wouldn't start again. Devildog suspected the 8 year old battery was the culprit, but the shop doesn't stock batteries. So, we drove down the street to the dealer to get a battery to expedite this task. You can't go to the dealer and not look at the shiny toys in the showroom. I love messing with people in sales situations, especially when I know for a fact they're going to take me for the "little lady". In case you haven't learned already, I absolutely HATE being treated like a dink. Anything that I deal with that involves mechanical, construction, or vehicular stuff brings out the Inner Betty Badass. It's really fun to watch men squirm when they make the mistake of figuring me for a dingy broad.
So, I was just standing there watching Devildog sit on the bikes to get a feel for them, and the sales guy comes over and asks "So, you gonna trade in your sportster for something else?" Inner Betty jumped on the opportunity and popped off with "So, then what am I gonna ride??" Dude's face was utterly priceless with a barely audible "sorry" as he quickly maneuvered around me to get geographically closer to my husband. I'm sure this made my husband smile, and I'm pretty sure he told the mechanic the next morning about this exchange. I say that because when we went back to get the battery installed, Frank rode the bike around front, walked inside and handed ME the key. I asked why he was handing it to me. His very smart response: "Well, I dunno, I thought maybe you were riding today." I had to tell him nope, I didn't have my gear with me. I really love when a guy who doesn't know me from squat treats me like I have a clue. I love that my husband gave Frank the opportunity to make my Saturday morning too.

Monday, February 13, 2012

I have been ASSIMILATED!

I am so proud of myself! I completed and passed the motorcycle endorsement class! I can now legally ride a motorcycle! And I think I'm pretty much the only one out of my friends who even wanted to ride (well, aside from Bakerella, but she was already a rider when I met her). And already, Bakerella has added me to two Crackbook groups for female motorcycle riders. There is only so much assimilation a girl can handle at once.

I am saddle sore from riding the bike for like 10 hours this past weekend. But now all I think about is getting on Devildog's bike as soon as I can, to put the training to practice before I lose my nerve, confidence and skill. Except this week is crazy busy and I'm feeling overwhelmed thinking about my schedule right now. So, after this crazy week, I'm probably going to want to go ride so I can unwind a bit. Then come home and knit a little bit to unwind some more. And then have a drink. The drink has to come after the first two, because drinking with either one of those ends badly. At least with the knitting, you can get a do-over.

Taking Clone to school this morning, I asked her what she thought of me learning to ride a motorcycle. She very excitedly said "I think it's AWESOME! Hardly any moms ride motorcycles, so I think it's really cool." I doubt she'll still think I'm as cool in 5 years because we'll be in the throes of adolescence and probably peri-menopause too, but that's ok. I'll deal with it by getting on a bike and going for a ride. I've heard it called "wind therapy". I look forward to being able to go pick her up from the bus stop on the bike though. THAT indeed will be cool, because not many kids get picked up from the bus stop on a motorcycle either.

And yes, I do realize that I am creating additional monsters here. Me riding means I'm going to eventually get my own bike, or get Devildog's when he upgrades. My girls are likely going to be raised around motorcycles, and may end up learning to ride as well. I am not sure about the boys, but I suspect at least one of them may be interested. And a family of riders is cool too. But as a mom, I find it important to visibly demonstrate to my kids that you can indeed step out of your comfort zone and learn something new and accomplish out of the ordinary things. They've seen me learn to crochet, then learn to knit. They're watching Devildog go through college courses, with the goal of getting a nursing degree. They're watching me learn to ride a motorcycle. Yes, we like to do slightly atypical things around here. It's why I bugged Devildog for years to get me my own set of tools. I am just not normal.

And those kinds of things make life more interesting and fun. I look forward to watching my kids navigate their own adventures in the coming years. I guess I better start working on decluttering the garage a lot more ;)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Pulmonary Revolt

My oldest, the Evil Genius, brought home some germ infestation recently. It struck strong and swiftly. Blessed is the husband who understands the value of his wife's health. Devildog sent me to the bedroom Monday evening, with my nest of stuff I'd need, so I could bed-surf and recuperate. I tried avoiding carbs and sugar all day with fair success till the evening. As I'm told, it slows your recovery when you consume those things. I then spent Tuesday and Wednesday bedsurfing as well. I would have still been there except things like signing up for a motorcycle endorsement class and a job yanked me out of the bed.
As with every variety of cold that comes my way, it becomes bronchitis. YAY! ASTHMA!
The coughing could be potentially tolerated if #1 it wasn't wearing me out, #2 it wasn't non-productive, #3 it didn't make me feel oxygen-deprived.

You know what happens when a mother's brain becomes oxygen-deprived, right?
It's never pretty.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

I knew there was a reason I liked Margaret Cho

This is what prompted my previous blog post. It was late, and I had to empty my brain. Reading that page strummed an emotional chord with me, and I wouldn't have slept if I hadn't gotten all that out of my head.

I sometimes struggle with balancing the sweet and the sour sides of me. On occasion I think I should be more docile and kinder in general. And while I should, the long-standing anger and resentment that I keep shoving back to its dark hole still reaches an arm up and grabs my ankle, trying to pull me down there with it. But in all honesty, I like who I am now, and I don't want to change things. I do want to corral the mean side of me, but that's always going to be a work in progress. I don't want to become so docile that I fail to LIVE. (Insert Auntie Mame-to-Miss Gooch quote about living here)

I used to be shy. Yes, me, shy - it's sometimes hard for me to believe too. Teachers would call on me because they knew I was smart enough to answer the question, but I was barely audible to even the kid sitting next to me. An hour later, the teacher could hear me talking over the rest of the class. There were lots of things that shoved me into that dark hole. Constantly being stymied and squashed by my parents for whatever reasons they held, being teased by my peers, having a raging case of ADD and no skills to work around it, having a big lack of social skills, being molested several times over the course of a few years by someone related to me, and a general case of "nobody gets me" for years will do a number on a person. I knew I could do so much more than I was actually accomplishing, and that failing of myself cuts too. A sheer lack of electives that interested me at the junior high is what sent me to band. I needed 2 performing arts credits to graduate, so naturally I opted for band again when I moved to the high school for 10th grade. That single set of decisions is what I credit for changing my life entirely. Band geeks get it, and each other, and they don't judge (much) for the quirks. Score one for my dig out of the hole. A girl in band with me moved to my school because her dad was in the Lutheran seminary and that was his year to serve at the church down the street from school. She was in Upward Bound. I got into the program here because I knew her, even though my school wasn't a feeder for that program. That program has a summer component where you live on the college campus, in the dorms, go to classes to get you a leg up for the school year, and you continue through the year on Saturdays. That program is where I met Devildog.

I credit him with cracking my shell. I'm pretty sure that sometimes, he wishes he hadn't. He single-handedly reversed the inner voices in my head. Because of him, I believe that I really AM a beautiful, intelligent, capable and awesome woman. He refused to let me say that I was ugly, stupid, incapable, or less than stellar. He encouraged me to do things that I had been scared of doing for the lamest of reasons to be scared. While he didn't build my confidence, he did do his part to give me the means to feel confident. BIG score 2 for my dig out of the hole.
Because Devildog & I had 1.75 kids by the time we graduated high school, he opted to join the Marine Corps. As a Marine's wife, you put up with a lot of crap that civilian wives don't. You also grow a backbone bigger than a civilian wife's. You gain skills that even some males don't have. My husband brought home a book called "Roses & Thorns", which turned out to be a handy written heads-up for me. I think every military spouse should read it as soon as they're engaged or married to a service member. Then he signed me up for a Brides's Class at the Family Service Center at Camp Lejune. I freaked when he said he wasn't going. "I'm not doing that without you!" He calmly looked at me and said "Honey, I still have to go to work. And they'll pay for child care for you to go to the class". That one, he SHOVED me at, kicking and screaming and I am ever grateful he did. I learned a hell of a lot those 3 days. That prompted me to start volunteering at Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, where I learned much-needed career skills, and more about navigating military life. From there I landed a job at a hotel, where I made myself valuable. Then I moved on to the merchandising job I have now.

All along the way, I've ticked little things off my bucket list. I have grown bigger balls than I ever imagined I would have. If I'd had the skills, attitude, confidence and general persona that I have now, when I was in my 20's, I think our lives would be even better now than they are. I have taken on a personality that people aren't sure about when they first meet me. I am rough around the edges despite my outward beauty. I feel even more beautiful now than I did 10 years ago, despite my need to work out and tone up the muscles from baby#4. But inside I still feel edgy, and the inner Betty Badass keeps popping up to say hi. She's the reason I can take my van someplace and be taken seriously. I learned to use a weapon out of necessity, because one was in the house. If you have something in your life, you need to know how to operate it. The gun range is FUN, and I love going. I haven't been since before I got pregnant with the Blur. I'm overdue for some range time.
Likewise, I've wanted to learn how to ride a motorcycle since I was a kid my daughter's age. It was always something on my list, but I didn't have much drive or need to accomplish it just yet. Then, Devildog's Bronco was having some issues, and fixing it was becoming a regular thing. The neighbor jacked up his truck to excessive redneck proportions, to the point it was no longer street legal. He needed to get a truck to tow his TRUCK, so he put his motorcycle up for sale. We used a chunk of our tax refund to buy it. Even I knew it was an awesome deal, and I don't lament or regret that purchase. So, now, that means I have to learn how to ride for real. I've long staved off Devildog buying a bike, saying "I am not gonna be the broad on the back. You get a bike when I get one too." Well, necessity and a great deal on a bike has merited a change of sorts. I'm ok waiting till the kids are older for us to buy a 2nd motorcycle. However, before I even think about riding the back of someone's bike, I have to learn how to operate one. I need to know what to expect from my driver if I'm riding passenger. So that's one of the bigger things on my bucket list that I'm ticking off of it soon. I love gifts, but given the state of my house, clutter free ones are awesome. I asked for the class for my birthday, and some friends have helped make that happen.

And when I finish that course, and get the motorcycle endorsement that Florida requires to legally ride a motorcycle, you can bet, that Betty's ego will be just a little bit bigger. And that shy, beaten-down little girl who still lurks in the recesses of my life will have won another small victory over the people like my grandmother who threw her hands up cursing and saying I'd never learn how to crochet (HAH~ check me out ya witch, I can crochet AND knit!), those who called me ugly, weird, stupid, mistreated me, harmed me and the ones who asked me at 7 months pregnant with my now 18 year old son "Who would f**k you?". Yes, Dennis and Ronnie, I am still waiting to see you this many years later, because I'll gladly introduce you to the Devildog. And I look better now, than I did when we were in school. Tsk, too bad you were a prick to me, because I had a major crush on one of you in 9th grade too.

I get the best revenge because I refuse to let the shadows of my past keep me stuck there, and hiding behind dreams and what-ifs. And in a couple weeks, I can look a little more like Betty - riding a motorcycle.