“May I take your order?”

steering wheel.jpg

He looked damn good to her from a few car lengths away. Definite eye candy. 

“I should get his number. I might be 38 years old, but I still got it,” Brandy kidded herself. 

The restaurant clerk was surely checking her out, so she flashed her cutest smile, then blew a cascade of smoke out the open car window, ashed her cigarette, and inspected her rear-view mirror’s reflection. 

Upon reaching the window to pay, she couldn’t believe who greeted her. “Hi, Mrs. Jackson,” said her oldest son’s childhood friend. “It’ll be $5.95. I’ll be right back with your order.” 

100-word challenge prompt:  candy 

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image: Pajero by CarTestr

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Time for a career move

tree

With the little one-hitter tucked easily inside his back pocket, he hoped it looked more like a tire gauge than a pipe if someone suspected anything. Rick toked up from the front seat inconspicuously parked just behind the office building, or so he thought. The blacked-out windows negated any need for shade but being tucked under the trees helped him feel a little more incognito. 

He grabbed some Visine from the console, aimed some toward the blood shot, and let loose a stream of Axe spray before returning to his disastrous call center cube. The weekend couldn’t come soon enough. 

100-word challenge:  disaster

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Tour de Bass

My “getting off the couch and moving” effort began back in April when I decide to bike for MS. Joedie, a friend and former co-worker, bravely face her Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis, so I dedicated my ride to her. I want to live in gratitude that I’m healthy and mobile and beg the universe I can stay that way as long as possible. The aging process brings about such obvious yet scary realities. 

ride signThis final bike marathon for the year played out in the form of an intended 28-mile route on a dreary morning I embarked on before the October sunrise last Sunday. 

Lesson one:  download the GPS ahead of time 

Lesson two:  download the planned 28-mile route 

These two important strategies for success are especially important when cycling without a partner. My lack of technological preparation led me to three misdirections resulting in seven and a half extra miles traversed along the way. The first mis-step occurred at the half-way point when I continued the path that was actually the 50-mile route. Imagine my shame at having a septuagenarian recommend the GPS app. 

ride selfieMy second mistake came from following what I thought were road markings through a random neighborhood. The automated “ding” warned of my being off-route, but I thought I knew better. Thank goodness I saw two other stragglers who also turned around at the rest stop in an effort to bypass impending rain. They soon lost me in their proverbial dust, and I then failed to notice the street marking recommended by the aforementioned GPS voice. 

Lesson three:  Follow the GPS route

Much to my chagrin, the rain descended just before I heard someone bellow from behind about my missing that turn. I loathe feeling helpless. I can’t stand to ask a man for directions. And both happened. A self-reliant life spent being stubbornly independent brought me to this moment.

I now call what happened “being swept,” as the guy who found me off-course said he was running “sweep” for people who’d lost their way … like me. Being humble means relenting my control, learning my error (or in this case, errors), and realizing I need help sometimes. Which I absolutely HATE! 

ride store The future will tell if I have any more bike races in me. I say that because 52 feels very old on the saddle when it’s raining. My left quad muscles exclaims that sentiment to me vehemently while I’m at it. My own inner monologue is the toughest thing to beat, but playing music on a wi-fi speaker in my water bottle holder helps draw me out of my head. 

Lesson four:  Keep spinning

I call it “embracing the suck,” meaning no matter if your Hello Kitty socks are sopping wet and you’re riding into or somehow against the wind’s direction, you keep going because the end is inevitable. You might feel like shit on the side of the road, but the wheels must keep moving. You’ll get there one way or another, so you may as well go laughing (even at yourself) and singing your favorite song.

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Kilroy was here …

door

Living there had been poisonous since Dad’s previous springtime affair. The man proclaimed, “You’re on your own now, buddy. Don’t want ya here no more.” Sam was kicked out precisely one day after high school graduation. 

The escape planned before taking the old wagon with his name down the side in pilfered spray paint, Sam drove by blaring the horn long enough for them to embark on the porch to spy his handiwork. 

The couple retrieved his father’s trailer later that night from a county line gully, with all four tires flat but glowing letters illuminating it in the dark.

100-word Challenge:  poison

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Averting a Mid-life Crisis

black-eyed susans

All along I’d told myself not to measure the effort only by mileage. Yet that last 17 miles was perhaps the toughest thing I’ve ever physically done. It came after, as I later reflected with astonishment, I heard myself say, “There’s only 17 miles left?” I finished day one of the Bike MS Ozarks, so that’s what I consider a half-marathon completed at my own power on a bicycle on a very humid 90+ degree day up and down some hellacious Ozark hills. 

Mentally floundering after that treacherous incline just before rest stop #5 where my husband and son were working, the most fun one with shaved ice, bubble machines, donuts I couldn’t stomach by then, and loud music — which my team sponsored and posted wonderfully signs to that point — I was ready to quit. Stop. Finito. Done. I’ve never been so grateful for calories in my life. Peanut butter and cherry Kool-Aid, go figure. 

I met an amazing 62-year old woman along the way who’d taken this journey 20 times previously. She, honestly, is what got me through that last 17 miles. I’d listened to my music, gotten emotional a few times, doubted myself, gotten mad, swore profusely several times. You know, much like I do life itself. My new acquaintance talked me off the proverbial cliff to make me finish, though. 

Emmy asked me if I was okay right before the last quarter-mile, to which I replied, “I think I’m gonna throw up.” A bright orange balloon arch loomed in the distance, and she asked me, “You see that? That’s the end. You throw up at the finish line.” 

complaining

Laughter is what it took to get me to that end. I thought I lost her after crossing it, that maybe she’d traversed my imagination as an apparition, but she showed up a bit later, showered and still supportive. This existence is funny. I’m still in awe of how we meet the right people at the right time to help us cope and conquer.  

biking reality

How did Kezia talk me into this thing?

Alas, I finished the first day and clocked 79 miles all told. Just day one, but that doesn’t matter. My personal goal was attained. I’ve kept mentally repeating that I’m getting stronger, physically and mentally, throughout. Now it’s time to maintain that momentum. 

The next leg of that metaphysical journey happens this weekend in another, much shorter, bike ride. Oddly enough, I’ve even looked up a local spin class option for the late autumn and winter months. My hope is to keep these endorphins flowing. 

difference

Possibilities, possibilities. 

 

Back where it all began:

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/09/04/full-of-something-maybe-metaphors/

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/08/26/too-close-for-comfort-aka-dos-and-donts/

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/08/04/practicing-gratitude/

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/07/23/flat-straightaways-easy/

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/07/11/back-in-the-saddle/

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/07/04/lets-get-fired-up/

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/06/22/what-else-can-we-do/

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/06/14/ebony-irony/

https://katybrandes.blog/2019/06/03/farm-road-wisdom/

 

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Making Danica Patrick Proud

bus.jpg

Usually light-hearted and felicitous, Fannie appeared befuddled. The quaff normally perched atop her head in platinum perfection, instead shot out in all directions, and her frippery lay uncharacteristically in disarray. Fannie didn’t feel her normal self. 

The children fluttered about her like mob of meerkats, just as frantic as she, before loading into their Mercedes sedan. The nanny usually drove them to school, so everyone’s anxiety ran high. Mother’s driving expertise equated amateur level. 

A previous trip ended in such embarrassment. Last time she delivered them to school, arrival was marked with sirens sounding and lights in the rear-view mirror.

 

100-word challenge:  amateur 

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Photo: Markus Kneibes via Flickr

 

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Raising Cain

Apple pie with pecan nuts

Grandma made them all aprons as a gift, like they’d one day become domesticated. It just wasn’t in the cards, though, much to their father’s surprise. The troika instead grew into independent non-cooks and bakers who didn’t fastidiously keep house. With better things to do, nary a homemade muffin would emerge from their ovens. 

“If that shit’s going to get done, hubs can do it himself. Make his own damn sammich,” the youngest protested. “He’s got two hands.”

No wonder Mrs. Bray warned her mother at first-grade parent-teacher conferences, “I can just hear her griping at her husband one day.” 

100-word challenge prompt:  homemade

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photo:  Marco Verch via Flickr

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Out on the town

ale

Beside herself with excitement, Teresa’s group stopped at Willie’s for tacos before going to their hotel on her first trip to the state capital for work. 

“I’d like an ice cold beer,” she drawled. “Listen, y’all … this is my first rodeo. All we have for drive-through in Delmar is Windy’s and McDugal’s. Know what I mean?”

A bit chagrinned at her naivete, Teresa’s co-workers stared at their menus, embarrassed. She was all smiles, though.

“Don’t judge! My husband greased up the bars some to let me out for this little jaunt. Otherwise keeps me at home all the time.” 

100-word Challenge: listen

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photo credit: Dennis Sylvester Hurd via Flickr

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Full of something … maybe metaphors

curved road

I find myself coming somewhat full-circle, or perhaps at least semi-circle, on these training rides. Now I feel like I can actually say “training” instead of “so-called training” because doing what I’ve been doing is preparation for what lies ahead this weekend.

Monday, my 52nd birthday, I found myself laughing instead of “riding negative. I had to snicker upon hearing Mike D. rap on my playlist about letting the beat drop at the exact spot where I did that earlier this summer. I fell off my then-new road bike onto the pavement, though it’s been a minute since that happened, and howled at my own expense.

I’ve been learning along the way. First of all, there’s a process to watching what I’m doing instead of worrying so much about what’s going on around me; i.e. the trash on the road that drives me to distraction. Sometimes there’s a price for being distracted.

An overarching lesson I’ve learned is to tuck in the elbows from these T-Rex arms and coast downhill as fast as possible to gain momentum on the next one. I think of that every time I’m trying to surmount an incline and hope to ride out most of it. 

Monday gave me the simple epiphany of, “Don’t look up that hill.” I approached from a slight incline, grasping to gain that extra tiny burst of energy it’d provide, perked my ear up for any oncoming traffic, then braved a corner to slowly creep up to the top of that next mountain (actually, a hill). And I conquered that damn hill for the first time. That’s when I accepted the metaphor for the whole marathon. Just. Quit. Looking. Up. The. Hill. You’ll get there somehow.

Just like Sunday will get here somehow.

I’ve been having fun as well, even if I didn’t think I might at first. My friend and I have learned we can at least laugh at ourselves. Those hills look so much easier from behind the wheel of a car.

The marathon going to happen whether I dread it or not. But I can do it. There’s no use in being afraid of what’s to come. Much like eating an elephant, you take it one bite (hill) at a time. I’ve often used that analogy on my students and now have to own it.  

My favorite part so far has been when I’ve listened for approaching traffic, thinking I’ve heard approaching tires, and then realizing it’s the sound of my own. My own tires and my own power propelling me forward. It’s happened twice, much to my delight. 

While this hasn’t been easy, there’s no EASY button from Staples like I’d wish, it’s gotten easier. Not much in life is easy, but seemingly requires less stress-filled effort with time.

My muscles being stronger, the slow emergence of quads and calf muscles, has made those hills do-able. Monday’s ride through the park was my cool-down instead of the first leg of each short journey like it was back in May.

So in hopes I’m not full of shit, just metaphors, I stare at this weekend full of hope and a little less fear, dare I say maybe even excitement. 

Jimmy Dugan

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Timothy Schande

signage

He wanted to see Jennifer again before everything got all fakakta. Their relationship was building nicely prior to arrest. Now Timothy wasn’t so sure.

He’d see a judge soon and could then cypher what came next. Just his luck to get popped right before he met someone he could finally introduce to his bubbie. A goy, nonetheless. She’d have been surprised.

A guy in the next cell kept yelling about something being “otra bobas,” but Tim knew no Spanish. The fella was de-toxing or still off his nut from a wild misadventure the previous night. Maybe something resembling his own.

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100-word challenge:  arrest

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