Tuesday, December 11, 2007

A Birthday Letter to My Little Sister Johnna

Dear Little Juana:

I don't think I've ever told you this, but you really pissed me off the day you were born. You came poking out of our mom on a Sunday morning. It was the Sunday morning that we were supposed to be making Christmas ornaments in Sunday school. So that morning, when Dad came rushing into our room in his tighty-whities, I thought he too was really stoked about going to church to make ornaments. Then he started saying some crap about having to go to the hospital and some water breaking. I didn't get it. Then Lynette told me I didn't have to put on my church clothes because "the baby is coming." Then I got it. Then I realized that there would be no Sunday School that morning. More importantly, I realized that there would be no ornament making. They had told us about the ornament making the week before and I had spent all week thinking about how killer my ornament was going to be. So yeah, I was pissed.

I admit, my anger toward the little sister I didn't even know yet was briefly subdued when the nurses treated Lynette and me like rock stars. They gave us cookies and pudding and soda and entertained us while we waited for you to do your thing (which took forever, by the way). I'll also admit that I forgot about the ornaments in the days following your premier appearance. You could even go as far as to say that I was excited about having you around ... until the following Sunday.

Since I had forgotten about the ornaments, I arrived at Sunday School expecting the usual: some coloring, some singing, some games, and hopefully some tasty snacks. Imagine my dismay when I walked in and saw all the really sweet ornaments my classmates had made. I felt even worse when my friends described to me how exactly they made these fabulous works of art. They had mixed up some glue stuff in some bowls. Then they added some glitter to the glue stuff. Each kid got to pick what color glitter he or she wanted! They could even mix colors! After that they blew up small balloons. They dipped this weird yarn into the glitter-laced glue stuff and then wrapped that around the small balloons. This yarn part was repeated several times. They let the sparkling glue-soaked yarn dry for awhile. All week, to be exact. That's right. They weren't even done with the ornaments when I got there that Sunday. That's how awesome these ornaments were going to be. They took a week to make! So I got to WATCH everyone else gleefully complete the final steps. They used pins to pop the little balloons. Then they pulled the deflated balloons out of the rigid yarn-webbed structures. Imagine this with me, Juana: cute little Ross with big brown eyes on the verge of overflowing with sorrowful tears watching the happy laughing kids pop balloons. Imagine how I felt when all the kids started saying "Look at mine!" with pride and wonder in their voices. Can you see why I was so mad at you? Clearly my disgust with you was justified.

I've decided that 19 years is long enough for time to heal my wounds. So, for your birthday, I'm giving you my forgiveness. I know, it's really noble of me, but this is your day, so let's focus on you. Even though you were too concerned with crying, pooping, and sucking Mom's boobs to realize how you robbed me of a little glittery part of my childhood that day, I forgive you. I know you wanted an iPod for your birthday, but you can always just ask Dad for one of those. I'm not saying Dad couldn't buy you my forgiveness, but it would be pretty expensive and I don't think Dad loves you that much. You don't have to worry about that though, because I forgive you. Happy Birthday!



PS. Just kidding! I did get you an iPod! I mailed it to Mom and Dad's house.

PPS. Oh, and just kidding about Dad. He probably loves you a lot.

PPSS. I love you, Juana, and I am very proud of you.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Don't Look Down.

Last week I found myself yearning for a good long ride on some smooth flowy singletrack. I'd had several conversations with various people in the few weeks prior about the Womble, so I decided it was well-past time to hit up the central Arkansas epic. I can always rely on Little Newt to be up for a good time, so I gave him a ring and pretty soon we'd formulated a plan.

6:00 Saturday morning came not so bright, but early nonetheless. I woke up discouraged at how cold and wet it was outside. I started to doubt the weather channel's prediction for a warm dry day, but then I remembered that we were going three hours to the south, which can mean a huge difference as far as the weather goes. I drove the boring and uneventful two hours down to Russellville to pick up Newt, and then we headed down another hour to Mt. Ida. The whole drive down we worried about the foggy, wet, cold sky that didn't seem to want to cheer up. Finally, when we were within about ten minutes of the trailhead, the fog lifted and the temperature started to climb.

By the time we got out of the car, the temperature had made it all the way up to 64 degrees. In Arkansas. In December. Go figure. So we took off with high hopes, short sleeves, and lots of water. The first two miles sucked. It was mostly climbing. Fat kids hate climbing. Then we got to the river bluff section, which I didn't remember being so treacherous. There were a few sections of trail no more than a foot wide with a mountain on one side and an intimidating abrupt drop off on the other.

That's when I had to remind myself of some solid advice I hear often: don't look down. It really is good advice and has served me well in many a tough situation. I just wanted to give everyone a little reminder, whether you need it or not. So, whether you're riding along a tall bluff, standing on the edge of a major change in life, or reluctantly relieving yourself in a Port-a-Potty, just remember those three words: Don't. Look. Down.

We rode for awhile on some fast soul-warming singletrack before we finally decided that it was going to be a long ride back. So we stopped, ate some crackers, and rode back. After over four hours of pedaling, we made it back to the car. According to my dashboard, it was 70 degrees out. 70! Then, after not more than 15 minutes, the temperature dropped to 65 and continued dropping with each northbound mile. The fog came back and the rain started to fall here and there. We got back to Russellville and filled up on some stellar Mexican food before I had to head back home (and back to a wintry reality).

Now I'm back in Fayetteville where it's 32 degrees out and we're under a winter storm watch. Bummer.

Newt ... livin' on the edge.

I was unhappy after a weird crash that left me thinking, "I did not know my legs could move in that direction." My groin still hurts a little.

Where I'd rather be.

Monday, December 03, 2007

Good Times in the Rock.

So my plan for not getting fatter has only been going "okay." I keep eating out too much and drinking too much beer. Stupid beer.

Speaking of beer, this past weekend was my last working weekend of the year! It was a fine way to end the season too. I left my house Friday morning in good spirits. Everything was great until about 50 miles down the road. Then I had a massive blowout on the trailer, so that kinda sucked. That's the 5th time this year I've had to change a tire on the trailer. LAME. Oh well.

So then I got back on the road and rolled into Russellville to see my little friend Newt, otherwise known as Nathan. He used to hate that I called him Newt, but I think now he's grown to love it. Newt was done with school for the day, so we made it out for a ride. I've been rather fascinated by the delay timer on my camera, so I insisted we use it:

Rather than hang around and party with some college kids, I decided to head on over to Little Rock. I checked into my hotel (Hampton Inn, of course) and then made plans to meet up with my old roommate Jason. I have a bad habit of forgetting what room number I'm in, so I usually tear the room number off the little envelope and put that in my pocket, just in case. I know this sounds like an awful trivial detail, but keep reading. So Jason and his girlfriend Amy and I went out for beers and food. Our waiter was a friendly guy, so we chatted with him quite a bit. Then the bill came. I put my credit card in the little book and off he went with it. No big deal. But then he brought it back. With a grin on his face. At first I thought, what a weirdo. Then I opened the little book and inside I found the bill, my credit card, and that little piece of paper with my room number on it. Mind you, this little piece of paper was CLEARLY from the Hampton Inn. Crap! Now this guy thinks I want to jump his bones! I left there dearly hoping this guy wouldn't show up at my door with lofty expectations.

He didn't.

Work the next day was pretty fun. I won't go into details, but this picture is pretty representative of the entire day:

It was unseasonably warm in Little Rock, so we all decided to take advantage of the nice day and go ride. I had no idea Little Rock was such a pretty place. I've gone all this time thinking it was just a big crap hole.

Then of course, we all went out for pizza and beer after the ride. Hilarious times were had by all. It rained yesterday, so we called it an early day, which was okay with me because then I got home way earlier than expected.

Now I'm home for awhile. Although I'm trying to plan another vacation just because I can. And because I'll go nuts if I stay home doing nothing for a month.