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Going Nowhere Fast

Once again I’m changing jobs but the constant in my life is cycling. This latest offer may mean less riding than I’ve grown accustomed too but that it will make cycling all the more precious to me. It seems that anything is possible.
My road bike is in the shop because my fulcrum rear tire is being rebuilt with a steel free hub instead of the aluminum. Apparently my wheel was previously built with errors but I didn’t ask so many questions. I love the wheels and I’m patient.
For now I ride the commuter to work and everywhere else and things seem to be going fine. Facing this moment of uncertainty there is not much else I can do. Changing jobs can be tough but lately I’ve been feeling upbeat. After working at one school for 7 years and leaving, it was a major break, then I got a new job and

politically it was more than I bargained for and so I move forward as always on two wheels. Anxiously I wait for my road bike to be repaired so that I can take it out but it seems to be taking so much time but so has everything else in my life.

Like a lot of people, I came to cycling late in life but once it grabbed me I embraced it and I’ve never felt better in my life. I’ve never felt more confident. I’m glad that it happened and I’ll never be the same again. I can wonder why I didn’t do this type of cycling before but that would only create more problems in my mind and I already over analyze things too much. I love cycling and it has helped me out so much. I only wish teaching gave me as much pleasure sometimes but it could always be worse and it could definitely always be better. At the end of the day or the beginning the only things there is to do is ride. It is where you find out so much about yourself.

State of confusion

I cant ride my bike. Influenza Type B has morphed into a cold from hell. It is nice to have a break from my job but work is piling up.
It’s cold outside, rainy and looking out the window it is snowing again.
I’ve reached this state of uncertainty. It seems or feels that success has eluded me. I’m fortunate to have two great kids and a nice place to live and a skeptical wife.
Here in Japan I have become Ellison’s invisible man and my runny, stuffy nose would make Gogol happy.
Despair has met me this winter. Hope has returned in the motivation to write, sitting here in the attic of my house. Words beckon me. What is my purpose in this life? The answer always turns again to writing. When will the masterpiece appear to free me from this storm?
Winter, earlier was fun, back home on holiday, but back here in Japan I feel some dread. No matter, I have to keep writing. In the end only my words may remain.
I miss the open road. I miss peddaling through the streets. It was freedom but it may not return again as I once knew it. Only a great opportunity could keep me here.
My marriage has turned into the Grand Canyon. We are so distant. Now I feel I could walk away and not feel sadness. Holding it in for so long like I was playing a song over and over. Words.
Some how our conversation turns into such a confusing mess, why did we even try to communicate?
Maybe it’s better this way. I’m not sure it just feels like it.
Is this some cruel joke she is playing, it feels like the end new user spam flooding my inbox from my WordPress blog. When will they leave me alone? When will she love me again?

Blizzard 2018

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A snow storm hit last week.
Going to work was fine but on the way back the snow started pouring down. Luckily I didn’t have to go to my second job. I took my usual route down the river and things were going fine until I ran into some dog that was a little to genki – happy to see me. The owner called it back but didn’t lease it and then it came at me again and after pointing at the dog in frustration to the owner the husband I presume came and collared him but that was not after their son or daughter was crying. I checked my bike and kept on trucking towards home. Why didn’t they do it the first time and well I survived being attacked by Sasquatch/fluffy and I felt relieved.
Near home it was useless to try and ride my bike. I had to carry it through the snow to my house. Now the snow has subsided but the roads have black ice and there are no city snowplows here so snow is piled up on the sides of the roads. It’s treacherous. Just ventured out a few days ago to go to the bike shop and I found out that my right shifter was broken. Good thing I did because it would have been a long ride home.
Last year during the fall, I was in a hurry and I ran into some old man on the river levee. I tried to avoid him but it was too late. I think he realized that too and he braced for the impact by putting his shoulder into me like a linebacker and I flew off my bike, again lucky to land on grass and when I came too I turned around and he was standing in the middle of the road. I picked up my bike looked at him wondering if it was going to be a samurai showdown but he just smiled at me and said thank you in Japanese and turned around and walked away. He was listing to his iPhone and maybe the music was just too good and I was going just a little too fast. I was a little pissed but I didn’t have time to dwell on the moment too long and so I headed towards work. It was dark, I ride fast. I felt it later but that’s the life of a commuter in Japan besides almost getting hit by drivers making left hand turns.
I can’t wait for the bike Jedi to fix my bike, he’s my bicycle mechanic. I miss the summer when I could fly down the streets like a maniac and race people on the street but I’ll just have to take it slow for now and just worry about getting to work on time. I went home for a months in the summer and I didn’t ride. When I came back I was so out of shape. Then I realized how much cycling had become a part of my life, thanks to living in Japan and not being able to get a drivers license. Maybe that was a good thing. There is always more. For now I have to survive the winter commuting or being on the trains which are good but I don’t like and dreaming of spring when I can put the pedal to the metal on the streets.
I may have to move back home. I’m sort of dreading it. I like it here in Japan and I would hate to separate from my family. My job sucks again and after confronting some corruption, I got canned. I have my own business but it just supplements my income. Maybe I could do more. I have to reach deep inside of myself, especially now. I know there is a school that will appreciate what I have to offer, where I can be myself and give back like I always do but that may take some time or maybe I’ll have to just make my own way and put myself on. Usually that is the case. No matter what happens, I’ll never stop riding my bike and I’ll alway be myself. A bright side to it all is that I finished a novel and I finally submitted it to a publisher that will review it and hopefully publish it. I hope so because it would be vindication for all the crap I’ve been through. It’s a long process but I’m patient and I’m grateful for all that I have. Like having met a lot of cool people here in Japan, a great family, a lot of support, the cycling community at my local bicycle shop and the Jedi who make my bike a reality.
Actually, I’m not doing too bad but I could use a decent job preferably writing but it’s hard here in Japan because I don’t speak the language and I didn’t come here for my career I came her to save my marriage but after eight years things have changed. My kids are older, they’re riding bikes and my health is better but maybe it is time to go home. Who knows? I just have to keep peddling forward like I always have and hope for the best and prepare for the worst on the road.
No matter what keep cycling.

The Road Along the River

 

 

I wasn’t looking for Kurtz but just trying to commute to work along the river. On the road along the river you know never know what to expect. Things could change at any minute.
One week I found a turtle. I stopped, picked up and tossed it into the Arakawa River. It surfaced after a while and looked at me and went under and disappeared. Last week, which was the last week of school  I saw  a dead body in some grass underneath an underpass. There were cops all around. It’s a spot just before the public golf course. It seemed like he was dead because I thought by that time they would have been trying to help him up and he’d be put into an ambulance or something like that. He wasn’t moving and more police and people were coming. At that moment I had the urge to take a picture but I was late for work. To make time I kept going but it maybe think about my life and how important time is. I should have taken a picture. Stay on the road and keep going.

I see a lot of things along the river. People practicing Tai Chi underneath bridges with Chinese Swords, old men with golf clubs too cheap to pay for time at the public course, people shadow boxing, homeless men screaming at some imaginary person, joggers, fathers practicing baseball or soccer with their sons, power walkers, junior or high school students practicing dance routines, dog walkers and other cyclists. Sometimes I race other cyclists and sometimes they never come back. I had to stay focused. Sometimes people or dogs or kids or something get in the way. Maybe I’ll have a flat but I have to get back on the road and keep going. I don’t know what is ahead or in the tall grass along the edges of the road but I just had to keep pedaling. It was hard, sometimes you want to stop or give up.

I wasn’t expecting to see a dead body just like I don’t expect to see some old man peeing on the side of the road along the river but it’s the river. It’s where people go to get away or get to imaginary place or space. It’s how I get to work. It’s where we all expect to be free from the city, our jobs, friends or problems. I’m glad I can ride my bicycle to work. I hate the train and I can’t get a Japanese drivers license. I tried three times and the situation transformed me into a cyclist. Now I’m at the Dura Ace level. I never thought I would make it but it feels good just like it feel good to be alive and cycling along the river.
Its best to stay on the road.

Blood Clot

I’m was obsessed with sounds on my bike.
I usually ride listening to music but occasionally I turn off my sounds and listen. Recently a sound was driving me nuts, even my bicycle mechanic. It took a while to finally learn that it was coming from my pedals but that was after my mechanic tore my bike apart trying to understand what the hell was wrong with me. I don’t think I’m the only one like this but whoever you are and what ever you like to do with your life you probably have something you really enjoy and you always want it to be perfect.
While all of this was going on my tooth that has been slightly cracked not to long ago, finally exploded into a super nova of pain but not after being repaired by new dentist. Now I have a brand new silver cap on one of my bottom teeth and happily the sound that was driving me mad is gone and my tooth ache.
Better yet is the fact that I have a new job and for the first time in a long time I’m enjoying what I’m doing and look forward to going to work like some crazy idiot but I wonder if I’m really losing it now. Things do and can get better but to get to that state of mind sometimes you have to take big risks and stick to your guns even though everyone around you things you’re a giant crack rock.

Time

Maybe I should have listened to what my teachers and professors and coaches and mentors were saying. I liked graduate school but now I’m teaching English in Japan and riding around on bicycles like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds listening to Pink Floyd – Dark Side Of The Moon and Earth Wind And Fire – Gratitude. My sons hugged me before I left home. I always kiss my kids, it’s some sort of Creole thing. I hit the road hard. Sometimes the adrenaline kicks in late, so I I’m on eight speeds but I’m passing road bikes. I was late to one class today. Dang! I’m terrible with time. I still write all my thoughts down and I have pounds of it stuff away in a satchel next to Yamaha speaker. A student went on the attack because of my punctuality, it was like last nights debate but he also forgot his textbook. My supervisor was worried but also last week they didn’t tell me two of my classes were cancelled. At the end of the day I’m back on my bike killing kilometers like ants underfoot. I’m eccentric and vicious with words but I care about people but we all lie.
A few weeks ago I opened the shutter to my second job and my business and a bird floated down like a seed on the wind at my feet. A gift from God. It fluttered away and landed on the pedal of my bicycle. I took it as a sign but what was its true meaning? So much of my time is spent in silence here. I don’t speak much Japanese but I’m watching things carefully. Sometimes it all comes down too two wheels. The streets are perilous but I always know in the back of my mind when I feel the pain, this could be it. This could be the day. I’m daddy.

Road Bros

People think I’m crazy for cycling. Honestly I can’t drive in Japan because the test is a total scam, so I gave up after three tries. I just threw my papers in the air and walked off of the course. Anyway, I’ve been hit twice and crashed twice. Drivers are more scary. Some cyclists are jerks but I think most good cyclist just want respect on the road. In Japan people use non verbal communication. Like staring at you. I’ve been touched and grabbed by people a lot. So I had to explain that it’s not good to touch people inappropriately. Then there are people just physically moving without taking into consideration who is left, right, front or center, until there is a collision or almost collision and then you’re acknowledged.
People here in Japan walk around with cell phones and cigarettes without looking up at you, also holding umbrellas all while riding bicycles too. Still, it’s safer Cycling in Japan, than the U.S.
Well the Trump-surfer-bro in this video is an asshole. I love cycling.

New Wheels!

It’s a dream I’ve had for along time but it finally came true. Cycling gets obsessive at times. You get a bike and then you realize it’s not enough. I dug deep and with the help of my local bike shop mechanics and a dream came true. It’s not over yet!

Bicycle

All I can do at the end of the day is ride my bike home. I’m trying to build a new titanium bicycle. I still can’t get over Prince being dead. He was our generations Jimmy Hendrix. Will I ever get home? This is going to be a long process. In the mean time life moves forward. My son has a big soccer game tomorrow. Hopefully victory awaits us. Nerves of steel. He started younger than me. De ja vu. It’s spelled incorrectly but sums up this moment. At this stage in life your heroes start dying and people you know start to look old. Japan is a difficult place to live in sometimes but I won’t get shot by the police. I can feel the air siphoned away. That’s why what ever you are becomes focused like a laser. Can’t waste time spying on people with Facebook, will move forward word by word.

Lost

I recently had an accident on my bike. I was cut off by someone making a left turn and I slammed on my breaks, flew over my handle bars, bounced off the car and landed on my left knee and my head. Sounds crazy but I survived. I was pissed and punched the side rear window of the car twice. The driver was an old man and the passenger was his wife. They woman came out to check on me and asked if I was ok and I told her to, “look,” in Japanese. Then she casually walked away, got into the car an it sped off. I copied down the license number just in case.
My knee is still healing. I was bummed because I had just had my bike painted, returned from America and I was on my way home with my new foreigner identification card. I was in pain for weeks and I’m just now starting to feel better but it was a reality check. I wasn’t riding that fast but maybe I still had jet lag and I wasn’t all there. My bike was fine but I wasn’t. It was scary and painful. One more reminder that I was mortal. IMG_0939
Now I’m here, Silver Week, enjoying one of the few limited Japanese holidays. Living near Tokyo, everything moves at a dizzying pace and so to have slow-down is great. I have a family, so I’m busy, I also have a small business and I work part-time teaching English. I get burnt out often, sometimes , frustrated. I know some people who have been here over ten years, I know some people who don’t want to go home or can’t go home. I have choices they don’t have but I’m giving myself another five years if not sooner.
Last night I had some dream that I was in some temple but it was flooding from the bottom floors and I was racing to get to another level before the water reached me. It was so weird. At some point I was watching it from a far. What did all of this mean? I don’t know. Everyday here is a challenge, similar to understanding some strange dream you had the night before. I’m glad that I came and I’ve grown a lot but it’s not home. I have a lot here in Japan than some people who have been here longer than me. I’m comfortable but there is always more. I guess I’m never satisfied.
Being home this past summer was great. I went to a local university near my mothers house and talked to an archivist who had built a display about the Watts Riots of 1965. It was fascinating learning about the process of presenting history. A few floors above was an archive filled with historical documents and books about African-American history. I felt like I was in heaven until it was all interrupted by a phone call. It was then that I realised that I had found what I really wanted to do. That I wanted to study more, to learn more about history. That I’m not really doing what I want.
I’m not alone so, I can’t just think about myself anymore. I have children to raise and I’m married. Some people can do it all at the same time. I feel I can too.
For now I’m back in Japan, healing and wondering what my next move is going to be. I had a good vacation but I feel a little bit lost. I’m not satisfied with my work or living her in Japan. I’m anxious to go home and to travel more. I want to do something else. This is not it for me. I was diving for silver dollars at Redondo beach this summer and I remember that feeling I felt of being in the ocean and feeling totally free, and away from the crowds in the cities and on the beach. At them moment though I feel a little lost.