A Continent Apart…

Central Ohioans are currently reveling in the unseasonably warm temperatures for January.  It is currently 3:38 in the afternoon, and the temperature is 53° F.  Susie, on the other hand, is in Costa Rica (on her “Winterim” trip with her schoolmates at The Graham School), and has probably been to the beach once or twice.  (She may be there right now, as I am typing this.)

Her “big” Christmas present this year was a digital camera, and I am hoping that she will come back with hundreds of pictures to share with her Facebook friends and others.  The only way I’ve managed to keep abreast with what she has done is through her rather terse Facebook posts.  (I let her take her Nook down, mainly so she could play Angry Birds on the flight, but did not want her taking her laptop on this journey.)  She has gone kayaking, played soccer with some kids at a school in Monteverde, enjoyed the best strawberry milkshake of her life, and gone horseback riding and zip-lining.  (She was determined to skip the zip-lining, but did it and, despite being scared to death, loved it.  I am glad I did not tell her that one of the synonyms for it is death slide.)

Susie is the first in our family to leave North America.  My “overseas” travel is 15 minutes in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico in 1987, en route back from San Francisco.  I walked from downtown El Paso, crossed the Rio Grande, bought a fifth of tequila, and came back to the U.S.  (This was in the pre-9/11 days, when crossing to Mexico or Canada required no passport, and also before Juarez became as dangerous as it is now.)  Steph lived in upstate New York until she was seven or eight, and therefore crossed back and forth in and out of Canada with her family quite often when she was a child.

Susie’s Graham School group left Port Columbus at 6:30 Monday morning.  Neither Susie nor I slept the night before.  She was too keyed up about the trip, and I knew the only way to be up at 3:30-3:45 was not to go to bed.  The mother of one of the girls going on the trip picked us up a little after 4 a.m., and we drove to the U.S. Airways terminal.  Columbus was dark and pretty quiet at that hour, and even the airport seemed to be more peaceful than I usually see it.  (My last trip out there was to buy $150 worth of colones for Susie’s journey.)  The kids (and two teachers) going on the trip were full of energy and excitement.  Nevertheless, three or four of the kids went off en masse to Cup o’ Joe to buy coffee and espresso.

Susie and Flannery after going to get caffeine.

I didn’t stay to see Susie off.  Check-in at the baggage counter began around 5 a.m., a full 90 minutes before takeoff, and the teachers assured us they could take it from there.  I marveled at how efficient Susie had been with packing.  Her suitcase was still small and light enough to go as a carry-on, which saved me a $25 booking fee.  Flannery’s mother and I left just after the attendants scanned and approved passports, and it was still dark when I fell into bed.  There was a text message from Susie on my cell phone when I awoke late Monday morning.  It was time-stamped 8:03, and it said In charlotte.  (They were changing planes in Charlotte, N.C., so I had asked her to text me once she arrived there.  I wasn’t sure about her cell phone service in Costa Rica.)

Back here in Columbus, I’ve kept myself occupied by nights at the bookstore, since the winter semester at Columbus State is in full swing.  This semester, us “old-timers” at the bookstore have been blessed with some very sharp, very hardworking, and very fun rookies.  You always come away from some customers wondering, “Just what is this person doing in college?”, but even they have seemed less than before.

So far, the most noteworthy event that has happened in Susie’s absence has been the end of my years-long quest for a Cisler brick.  I posted an eBay alert for “cisler brick” last year, and finally received an email saying one was available.  (I have written extensively about the significance of this brick in this entry, when I still used LiveJournal as a platform.  This article goes into even further detail.)  I made the payment online, and yesterday, when I came home from work, there was a Priority Mail box on my front porch.  I knew what it was, and my neighbors were a bit puzzled as to why I was so happy about getting a brick in the mail.  (One of my Facebook friends did point out–correctly–that getting it in the mail is better than getting it through the front window.)

The much coveted Cisler brick.

We are heading into a long weekend.  Both the State of Ohio and the bookstore will be closed Monday, in honor of the Martin Luther King holiday, and today is supposed to be the only day with decent weather.  Although I went to bed around 11:30-11:45 last night, I tossed and turned until nearly dawn, so I called off working at the bookstore today, which will definitely be a blow to my pocketbook once that payday happens.

But I did not regret it.  I awoke early in the afternoon, and when I saw that it was in the low 50s, I brought the trike out of drydock (i.e., my dining room), since next week the temperature is not supposed to exceed the mid 20s.  I rode around Olde North and the Ohio State campus area, and ate lunch at Five Guys.  My infirm Dell laptop is not up to my typing speed, so I have made a pit stop at the OSU Library to type this blog entry.

Susie will be back late Wednesday night.  Her plane lands around 11:45 at night, and I will be at the U.S. Airways gate ready to meet her.

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Blogging From a Position of Power

Except for the scatter of strewn limbs still visible in almost every neighborhood, Columbus seems to be back to normal.  To me, the official milestone ending the blackout and all the insanity it caused came tonight: I ate dinner at the Blue Danube Restaurant.  It sat locked and dark beginning late Friday afternoon (along with many other businesses on that part of N. High St.).  I am not friends personally with any of the owners or wait staff, but I felt for the people who didn’t collect a paycheck all week, and I shudder at the thought of how much food they had to throw out.

The other simultaneous crisis in Columbus was the COTA bus strike.  It began at 3 a.m. on Monday, July 2. I was all ready for it.  I set my alarm considerably earlier than I usually do.  When it went off, I jumped out of bed like a shot, and damn near strangled myself on the hose of my CPAP machine.  Usually I ride in total oblivion of the time, so I wasn’t sure how much time to allow myself for the ride downtown.  I can walk from downtown to Baja Clintonville in about 90 minutes, so I allocated two hours for the bike ride.

My work day starts at 8 a.m., and it was a little after 6 when I left the house.  According to the U.S. Naval Observatory‘s Website, the sun rose at 6:08 on Monday morning.  I didn’t think to glance at my watch before my departure, but I do know it was light enough to see things without the aid of street lights.  (After Friday night, the street lights being off weren’t a good enough indication.)  I dodged and weaved around debris and fallen branches (and fallen trees!) as I headed south on Indianola.  That morning, I saw a huge tree still blocked E. Norwich Ave.  (Two young women who lived near the Indianola Church of Christ–which is at the corner of Indianola and Norwich–had written TREE BLOCKING STREET!! with chalk in big letters in the intersection, but I’m not sure whether anyone could see it.)  At Lane, I turned west and then went down High St. the rest of the way.  There was no way to tell who was affected by the lack of power and who wasn’t, although I remember seeing no delivery trucks anywhere on the route, and if you’re on High St. early on a weekday morning, there are usually trucks making deliveries to the restaurants, convenience stores, and bars.)

Once I arrived at the William Green Building, I saw that I had been overly cautious.  It took me only 38 minutes to get from Olde North to downtown, which meant I had an hour before work officially began.  Fortunately, I was able to find a berth for the trike in the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation garage, in a storeroom with a bike rack.  I ate a leisurely breakfast in the Nationwide cafeteria, and read until 7:55, and then headed into work.

After some false hopes that management and labor had settled the strike, I learned that there would be no bus service on Tuesday.  This time, I allowed myself the luxury of sleeping a little later, and leaving a little after 7.  I would still arrive early, but not as ridiculously early as I had on Monday.  And it was the ride home that I was dreading.

The worst part of COTA’s strike was that there would be no bus service for Red, White, and Boom.  I had no plans to attend it.  (I am the same way about patriotic holidays, especially the Fourth of July, that Ebeneezer Scrooge was about Christmas.)  My first thought was this would mean fewer people downtown for the fireworks, and thus less of a madhouse of an exodus once the festivities ended.  But I also worried that many people would come down anyway, and count on their skills to navigate their way home drunk.

On the Fourth itself, I rode around, occasionally stopping in fast food restaurants to use their Wi-Fi service.  Several times since Friday night, I had tried in vain to get online, or turn on the TV.  I didn’t realize how ridiculous the Wi-Fi situation was until I realized I had to call Steph in Florida, ask her to get on Channel 10’s  Website, and find out whether COTA was still on strike.  (She left me a voice mail message later that evening, telling me they had settled, and the buses would be rolling come morning.)

This news brought about mixed emotions in me.  I was glad to be riding the bus again, especially if it was air conditioned, but the two trips to and from downtown by bike had been fun.  A sign that you’re getting older is that sloth becomes your favorite of the Seven Deadly Sins.  Sloth won out: If I took the bus, that meant I could sleep an additional hour.  So, on Thursday the fifth, I was at the bus stop looking up Summit St. waiting for the bus to come.

The whole area from Adams Ave. to High St. was still blacked out on Thursday evening, but this was an evening for paradoxes and contradiction.  As I was walking home, I saw a procession of seven or eight AEP trucks going north on Indianola.  Then, I walked past the Maynard Ave. United Methodist Church, and the sign on its door puzzled me:

Paradoxically, the next evening, with most of Columbus’ lights restored, the church was completely without power.

The sign reminded me of a neighbor in Marietta who said that he had once seen pouring rain on one side of a house, and sunshine on the other.  I thought this was a tall tale about how massive the house was, but I have seen rain on one side of a street and not the other, so I now believe he was telling the truth.

I live only a block or so from Maynard Ave. UMC, so I wondered whether I’d still have lights.  I was pleasantly surprised to see my porch light burning, and I was further surprised when I came in and saw that the green light on my cable box was no longer blinking, as it had been since the derecho first happened.  I grabbed the remote control and clicked it, and sure enough there was sound and a picture, rather than the black screen that I was used to seeing.  I clicked on the laptop and, while it was a little balky, soon enough I had access.

On Thursday, I came back from the Independence Day holiday and found that my workload was on the “famine” end, so I left at 11:30, and went to the OSU Library.  This was where I had one of those “face-palm” revelations.  (When I learned this, I almost reenacted the old “Wow!  I coulda had a V8!” ads from the 1980s.)  For years, I had debated whether or not to become a Friend of the Ohio State University Libraries, mainly so I could borrow.  As it turns out, as an employee of the State of Ohio, and the proud holder of a library card from the State Library of Ohio, I have been able–since 2004!–to borrow from the OSU Library!

I spent Friday evening with my Marietta High School classmate Robin, her husband Doug, and their son, as they were visiting Robin’s mother in Columbus.  We all ate dinner downtown, and then went to a double feature at the Ohio Theater, part of the CAPA Summer Series.  It was the first time in the last year or two I’d gone to the Summer Series–the last had been when I took Susie and her friend Sydney to “Cartoon Capers.”  (I first went to the Ohio Theater in the spring of 1980, when I took a young woman to see Vincent Price narrate King David.)

Even if I had been alone, there is no way I would have missed last night at the Ohio Theater.  Fritz the Nite Owl was hosting a double feature–two movies for $4, not bad!–of Dracula’s Daughter (1936) and Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man (1943).  I missed the sarcastic comments and movie trivia that sandwiched the commercial breaks (there were no commercial breaks, unlike his shows at Studio 35 and The Grandview), but I enjoyed both pictures.  I had never seen Frankenstein Meets the Wolf Man, and had not seen Dracula’s Daughter since I was 12 or 13.

So, life seems to have returned to normal.  Olympic Swim Club was open, which was a godsend as the day got hotter.  I biked up there in the early evening.  I can’t swim a stroke, but I luxuriated in the water, immersed myself several times, and tried all the while not to think of Altered States (1980).

I got dried off and dressed, and then headed to the Blue Danube.  It was good to see lights on and people sitting at the booths and bar.  I said to my waitress, “This is good to see!”  She felt the same way, undoubtedly because she lost wages during the time there was no electricity.

Timing Was Everything

Since I last posted in here, I am the proud owner of a new Schwinn Meridian, identical to the stolen cherry red one–except that it’s blue.  A friend in Beechwold put it together Saturday, and I christened it with a ride back to Olde North/Baja Clintonville on Sunday afternoon.  So, I can say I’m back in business and back on three wheels.

The Beach Boys say that “good good timing (ah ah) you need good timing.”  This is true, especially in the matter of the stolen bike.  If it had to happen, this was the best time.  The bike vanished Thursday night-Friday morning, and I faced a busy week, beginning with Pride Weekend.  I would also be working at the Columbus State bookstore from Saturday morning until the following Saturday.  Had it happened any other weekend, I think I would have plunged into a rather deep depression, which would have affected my ability to do any type of work, take care of myself, or do anything proactive as far as trying to retrieve the bike or put the word out to friends and bike stores.

“Work is the best antidote to sorrow,” Sherlock Holmes said to Dr. Watson in “The Adventure of the Empty House.”  Between Pride and the bookstore job, I was able to keep myself busy and not have time to ruminate on the loss of the trike.

I am not sure how much of a correlation there is between my bipolar disorder and the problems I am having with sleep.  My psychiatrist/sleep doctor increased my lithium intake to 950 mg per day.  (He had wanted to increase it even more, but I was worried about the dyskinesia coming back.)  The first night with the CPAP was so bad that I was not physically or mentally up to working at the bookstore on Saturday morning, and I slept without it.  (This was not a smart thing to do, since my sleep doctor has told me that I’m running the risk of having a stroke in my sleep if I continue to sleep without the CPAP.)  I didn’t get to bed until nearly dawn, but I was up by 2 in the afternoon and spent the rest of the afternoon and early evening at Goodale Park and the Pride Festival.

FedEx Ground delivered my new trike in the middle of the week.  I had them send it to a friend’s house, because if my thief happens to live in this neighborhood, I didn’t want to put him in what the Catholics call “an occasion of sin” if he were to see the box on my front porch.  Between bookstore work and ComFest, I did not expect to be riding the bike for several days.  Again, there were pleasant distractions to keep me from dwelling on the fact that I still did not have three wheels beneath me.

I hate to speak ill of the departed, but the blue trike (Trike 2.0 is its temporary name) handles a bit better than the red one.  I noticed this when I took it on its maiden voyage from Beechwold back home (just under four miles).  I noticed that it was much easier to go up inclines than on the red one.  Hills still aren’t fun, they just aren’t as much of a chore.  I still would add gears or a motor to this trike were I to ride it in Cincinnati or San Francisco.  I have had Trike 2.0 for less than a week, but now I realize that the red one handled like a tank.  I have already established a familiarity with it.  There was an episode of Star Trek: The Original Series when Scotty stopped what he was doing and had a very strange look on his face.  He told Spock, “Mr. Spock, the ship feels wrong.”  Spock totally does not understand this.  Scotty says, “All instrumentation reads correctly, but the feel is wrong.”  Mr. Scott, of course, is proven right.

When I came home from Beechwold Sunday afternoon, I just had to buzz my neighbors down the block and show off the new cycle.  One of my neighbors, who had hosted the backyard movie the night of the harvest moon, said, “Just look at that smile!”  Despite being kept busy by the bookstore and the State job, I had been badly depressed by the loss of the red trike, so I think it was a relief for my neighbors to see that I had perked up and was plugging myself back into life again.  I am sure I was not very pleasant company during the trike-less week.

I have not abandoned the search for the red trike–if/when it turns up, I’m giving it to Susie.  One person I know will make a conscientious search for it.  He’s a young guy (early 20s) who also rides a trike.  He doesn’t ride a Schwinn Meridian, but a model which he converted to five speeds.  (I was at a downtown bus stop one night earlier this month, and he was riding by.  He and I talked about trikes and compared notes about them.)  Since he’s a trike rider, he will have a sixth sense for them.  It’s like if you own a Karmann Ghia or a Mustang.  It doesn’t take long before you’re instantly able to spot every model like it that’s on the road.  And Schwinn Meridian trikes aren’t exactly in demand.

My major ComFest purchase this year was a new (old) manual typewriter, a Royal Skylark.  I bought it from One Man’s Treasure, a business in Millersport.  The owner always has a booth at ComFest, and I’ve jealously eyed his wares every ComFest.  This year, I plunked down $35 and bought this portable typewriter on Saturday.  On Friday night, he had a Remington Travel Riter for sale, and I almost bought that, except for the fact that the ribbon was just about shot.  I proudly took the Skylark home on the bus, put it in my study, and then headed back to ComFest, where I stayed until it closed for the night at 10 p.m.

The Royal Skylark in its new moorings.  One way to solve the erratic Wi-Fi availability in my study.

Steph and Susie are in New York this weekend.  They took Amtrak from Florida to Newark, and will be there until early next week.  Susie was determined to go to BronyCon, a convention for devotees of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.  It’s taking place in Secaucus, N.J., but New York is still quite accessible by commuter train.  Steph is chaperoning her and spending the weekend with all these apprentice furries.  I publicly declare here that she has atoned a thousandfold for any sins of omission or commission, by what she has done and things left undone.

There is nothing on my “to do” list this weekend except for Nite Owl Theater at Studio 35 on Saturday night.  As a way of christening the typewriter, I have been mentally composing (and making a few stray notes here and there in pen and paper) a poem about apnea.  It’s partially inspired by James Dickey’s poem “Diabetes,” which appears in his collection Drowning with Others.  Diabetic friends of mine say it describes the condition and the symptoms very accurately.  This is fascinating, especially since I learned later on that James Dickey never had diabetes.

The temperature today made it to 101 degrees F.  At the moment, it’s 10:42 p.m., and the temperature stands at 94 degrees.  (I almost wish I had one of those old blue Mail Pouch thermometers.)  The house has central heating, but no central air.  Currently, I’m sitting on the front porch with the laptop on my porch rail, my shirt unbuttoned, typing away.

I am tempted to sleep out here tonight, but I don’t feel like going out to Giant Eagle to buy the OFF! or citronella oil necessary to keep the many insects from having a banquet.

Double Feature Friday: INSOMNIA and THE BICYCLE THIEF

As of Monday, Susie will have been gone to Florida for two weeks.  I am already eagerly anticipating her return to Columbus in August, especially since it’ll mean my first trip to Florida, when I go down to bring her back.

The rest of my “bachelor summer” just has to be better than my Thursday night-Friday morning has been.  On Thursday, I spent the night at Central Ohio Sleep Medicine.  My psychiatrist is also a sleep specialist, and at my last appointment, he and I decided it was best if we re-evaluated my sleep situation from the ground up.  (He is a nationally recognized expert on sleep, and here is his Website.)

The sleep technician woke me up at 6 a.m. yesterday with the news that my sleep apnea is quite severe.  It is so bad that I stopped breathing completely at least 50 times during the night.  She gave me a C-PAP, nose pillows, and a ton of documentation about how to operate it.  (The model is quite compact.  Were it not for the hose, you would think it was a clock radio.)

I am not wild about the prospect of sleeping while hooked up to a machine every night, including having to wear a chin strap so my jaw stays closed.  I anticipate a nightly bedtime procedure cum ritual that resembles a pilot’s pre-flight checklist.  Not a good thing, since I tend to stay up until I’m about ready to drop over from exhaustion.

I haven’t slept a full night with the machine yet.  I left a call on the medical equipment provider’s voice mail because I had some issues with the machine last night, which meant I finally went to sleep around dawn sans the machine.  (Much as I hated to do it, I called the bookstore and told them I’d be unable to come in.  That’s about $64 in pay to which I bade farewell.)

But enough about my sleep, and the night at the clinic in Gehenna Gahanna.  (I love telling people the sleep clinic is in the Valley of Hinnom.)  The worst was yet to come.

I arrived back home around 9:30.  The first thing I saw was that my trike was gone.  I went around to the side of the house, and sure enough, my cable lock was still there, but someone had snipped it evenly in half.  The ends were not frayed.  I don’t know what the thief used, but it cut through a Master cable lock as easily as if it was Kleenex.

I took Susie to see this at Studio 35 about a year and a half ago.  Oh, the irony!

I logged a police report online, because using the Columbus Police Department’s Website would take less time and be less frustrating than wading through the voice mail hell you experience when you dial (614) 645-4545.  I then went to several places in the neighborhood that sell used bikes, described the bike, and asked them to be on the lookout.  I did the same thing online to the Third-Hand Bicycle Co-Op and the Facebook page for the World Naked Bike Ride.

I am guardedly optimistic I will see the bike again.  Several people pointed out to me that an adult tricycle would be very conspicuous in Columbus, so now I have many pairs of eyes looking out for it.  If anyone tries to sell it, bike stores will notify the police.  This was Pride Weekend, and although I missed the Pride Parade downtown, I went to the post-parade festivities in Goodale Park and scrutinized every bike in the bike corral.  I came up with a goose egg.

I have not always been in the position of being able to do this, but later on Friday afternoon, I went to Walmart’s Website and ordered a new trike.  Like the cherry red one, it’s a 26″ Schwinn Meridian.  The only difference (that I could tell from the Website) is that it is blue, rather than red.  I may be overreacting, and succumbing a little to paranoia, but I asked Walmart to ship the bike to me care of a friend, so, if the thief decides to pay a return visit, he/she won’t be tempted by the box on my porch when FedEx Ground delivers.

So, another session of Build-a-Bike looms in the near future.  It may have been rash to immediately whip out the debit card and order a new trike, but riding it has been therapeutic for me, and it improves my mood better than the 900 mg of lithium I take every day.  Even when I go out to run a simple errand, I take the long way around and try to explore unfamiliar streets.  (As a gesture of faith, I am using the present tense.  I hope to be on three wheels again by this weekend.  I want to take my new trike to Comfest.)

This time around, the trike will remain in my dining room when I have it at home.  I will also buy a thick U-lock for it, a lock that a thief will really have to work at to break.

And I hope to have more thoughts and accounts borne out of the rides I make on the blue Meridian.  But first it has to arrive here in Columbus, and then be assembled.  I checked my bank account–the amount has been deducted from my balance, and now I await delivery.


Rummaging Around

For me, one of the indications that warm weather will be here awhile is when the yard sale and garage sale signs begin appearing on trees, telephone poles, and yard signs around the neighborhood.  The Olde North and Clintonville neighborhoods have begun sprouting them, and, now that it’s easier for me to bring home my purchases (my trike has a large basket in the back), I’ve begun noting when and where these sales are happening, and planning my weekends (especially payday weekends) around them.

The major ones thus far have been the Righteous Rummage Sale last week and a friend’s book sale yesterday.  The first took place in The Awarehouse, the bike repair bay and party hall located in the alley behind the Sporeprint Infoshop and the Third-Hand Bicycle Co-Op on East Fifth Ave.  I have always been easy prey for any type of yard sale or rummage sale, but this rummage sale’s name was accurate.  It was a fundraiser for Jessica Walker, a bartender at Zeno’s who suffered massive injuries (third-degree burns and smoke inhalation) in an apartment fire.  She has no health insurance, and her medical bills are skyrocketing.  This story, which ran in The Other Paper on April 26, gives more details.  If you are interesting in contributing for her recovery, go to http://www.helpjessica.com.
My purchases at the Righteous Rummage Sale were both recreational and functional.  I bought a two-disk set of What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been: The Best of the Grateful Dead, a cassette of Genesis’ Invisible Touch (which I used to own on vinyl–even after I had started buying CDs almost exclusively), and a new knapsack.  (I am brutal on knapsacks.  My most recent one went to the trash because the zipper no longer worked.  When I lived in Boston, in the early 1980s, I bought a canvas knapsack at Eastern Mountain Sports that lasted well into the 1990s.)  The book selection was not that alluring.  The only one I bought was the screenplay of Easy Rider, a movie which, even though I have seen it at least a dozen times, I do not own.
I went to another yard sale, closer to where I live, and went away from it empty-handed.  However, it did make a lasting impression on me, because I think the family running it was lacking in common sense.
Like other people having yard or garage sales, they hung signs on the telephone poles and lampposts for a several-block radius around the house.  The address was a big brick house on one of the many side streets between N. High St. and the Conrail tracks.  There were odds and ends in the yard, everything from VHS tapes to baby clothes to knickknacks that probably originally appeared on the Home Shopping Network.  I was only interested in a nightstand, which I thought Susie could use, but I learned that they had already promised it to someone.
The fact that there was nothing that interested me did not bother me.  I’ve become more choosy at yard sales than I used to (gone are the days when I triumphantly bought a set of left-handed golf clubs–even though I have never played golf and I am right-handed.  But they were only five bucks!!), and the pickings were slim at this one.
What did bother me (he gets around to, at long last) was that two girls, ages maybe nine and 10, were the only ones running the yard sale.  The parents were nowhere in sight, and the girls were sitting at a little bridge table in the front yard, and they had a cigar box full of bills and coins in front of them.  Without my asking, they volunteered there was more stuff for sale inside, and one of them followed me inside while I looked at what was for sale.  They really gave me the hard sell about items for sale–the older of the two said they were moving really soon from this big house to a little apartment on Route 161, so I suspected they were facing eviction.
I am the polar opposite of a helicopter parent.  Steph and I always gave Susie plenty of personal freedom, both in and out of the house.  We did it when we were together, and this has continued (and the freedoms have increased with Susie’s age and maturity) once we split.  Steph gives her plenty of freedom when she’s in Florida; I give her plenty of latitude here in Columbus.  Part of this is due to the fact that I do not drive, so I could not be a chauffeur for Susie and shuttle her everywhere, even if that was my desire, which it is not.  If she wants to get most places, that means either her own two feet or the bus.  And no, every tree, alley, and bush does not secrete a rapist.
I write that to preface my concern that these two girls were left alone, with a box full of cash, and were inviting people they had never seen before into their house.  The front rooms I saw were cluttered, but that didn’t faze me, since they were in the midst of moving.  Even when Susie was younger, and she and her friends would set up little yard sales when we lived in Franklinton, I was never any further than the living room, within yelling or running distance should any crisis arise.
Even though I didn’t feel comfortable with the situation at the yard sale, I was still not going to be one of the alarmists who keep Job and Family Services on speed dial, ready to pillory any parent who allows a child outdoors two minutes after the streetlights come on.
The other yard sale I went to was a book sale conducted by a friend from church.  He’s a rather erudite man, and his interests vary widely.  This Saturday, Susie had an early lunch at McDonald’s and went to FedEx Office for her passport photograph (she is going to Costa Rica on a school trip next January), and once we came back home, I got on the trike and went over to the book sale.  Once I made the trip, I was very sweaty, so before looking at any of the books for sale, I downed two or three glasses of water in single gulps, and resisted (barely) the temptation to pour the glasses over my head.
All books were $1 apiece, and I came away with five.  Most of them were reference books, and one was The Good Years, by Walter Lord, a history book chronicling the years between the death of Queen Victoria in 1901 until the outbreak of World War I in 1914.  By the time I came home, I was sweaty and exhausted, and, as I was chaining the trike to the fence, I had to pull honeysuckle leaves and small branches out of the spokes of my wheels.  And I stretched out onto the love seat in my living room and dozed for two or three hours.  (This was not comfortable.  I am only 5’8¾” tall, and my legs hung over the end, but I still slept quite well.)
This blog entry has been my reward to myself for cleaning the kitchen and emptying the refrigerator, a task I delayed until well after sunset.  The house has central heating, but not central air, so I took the laptop out to the front porch, currently the coolest part of the house.  I’ve downed a bottle of Everfresh cranberry juice, and I’m currently playing Eric Clapton’s “After Midnight” (very apropos) while I type this entry.  This is my third consecutive night of late nights.  On Friday, Susie and I went to Studio 35 to see Agnes Moorehead and Vincent Price in The Bat, hosted by the inimitable Fritz the Nite Owl.  Last night, Susie went to The Other Prom, sponsored by the Kaleidoscope Youth Center.  She went with a girl she met at Girlz Rhythm and Rock Camp.  The girl came up from Athens, and they went to the prom together.  When they came back around 11:15, I was waiting with my camera to immortalize the moment.  After Susie’s friend’s mother drove her daughter home, Susie said she was too exhausted to go to Studio 35 with me, so I locked the front door and walked up to the theater to see Nightmare Castle, a 1965 picture starring Barbara Steele and Paul Muller.
I took another nap when Susie and I came home from church and lunch, which means that now, at 1:07 a.m. (per my Casio wristwatch), I am wide awake.  This is Memorial Day, so I have the day off from work, but it will not be easy or simple to get my sleep schedule back to where it should be when I have to wake up for work Tuesday morning.  Susie will be going to Florida for the summer next Monday, after her Coming of Age presentation at church, and I will be missing her very much until she returns in August.  I won’t be entirely idle, since I will be returning to the bookstore job the same day she leaves–a week of 13-hour days can keep me from ruminating too much about how much I will miss her.  At the end of the summer, I plan to make my first trip to Florida to bring her back, although the dates and the logistics are nowhere near in place yet.

Tach It Up, Tach It Up, Buddy Gonna Shut You Down

I realized that since posting about my birthday gift to myself–my 26″ Schwinn Meridian adult tricycle–I have not posted in this blog about it (or anything else!).  I vowed to wait until I had racked up some miles, and then report to those readers who have been waiting impatiently for news about my new vehicle.

The trike, sitting in my living room, before adding the front fender.

When last you tuned in, my neighbors D’Lyn and Luca had assembled the trike on my front porch, which was when we discovered it was minus the large bolt and washers necessary for holding on the front fender.  I sent an email to the bike company that night, and by the end of the week, there was a small padded envelope in my mailbox containing the missing hardware.

On the Saturday after my birthday, Susie was in Akron at a Unitarian Universalist youth conference, and I took advantage of the empty house for a day trip to Athens on GoBus, $21 round trip.  So, until the fender was on the front of the trike, I knew it would’t get any mileage.

Sunday morning, my co-worker Jeff came in from Reynoldsburg with an impressive tool kit, and he was at work on the fender as Susie’s ride dropped her off after returning from Akron.  (I knew my bike was in skilled hands.  Jeff’s late father owned a hardware store, and Jeff earned his allowance as a kid and teenager by assembling bikes.)

Once the fender was on, I took the trike for its maiden voyage.  I think the Wright Brothers stayed in motion longer than I did.  They managed a 12-second, 120-foot flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903, and I think my first trip on the trike was less than that.  I got on, wobbled a little bit, and almost capsized it because of my old habits from my limited bike-riding experience.  As I got to the end of the block, I tried to lean into a turn.  I haven’t been on a bicycle since high school, but I haven’t been on a tricycle for over 45 years, so I had forgotten all I had to do was turn the wheel.

I was still a little wobbly on my first ride.  In Two Years Before the Mast, Moby-Dick, and the Horatio Hornblower novels, they always talk about getting your sea legs, and Mr. Scott on Star Trek has mentioned getting your space legs.  I had yet to get my trike legs, because on my first trip back, I very narrowly missed hitting a tree.  I was only going a few miles an hour, so I would not have been injured if I had hit the tree, but it was very close.  As Dan Rather would have said, “Look at that!  Can’t get a cigarette paper between ’em!”

A day or two later, after work, I went down to the Olentangy Trail and embarked on several trips back and forth.  I am still not ready for riding alongside heavy traffic, so my on-street riding has been mostly on the narrow one-way east-west streets in Olde North.  The trail is asphalt, with several turns and small rises.  I rode back and forth from Dodridge to Lane Ave. four or five times, turning around when I could see the curved roof of St. John Arena.  I would have gone further north than Dodridge, but the bridge over the Olentangy River is out, and my trike is too wide to get around all the sawhorses, barriers, and fences the City has erected to block the path at that point.

Until yesterday, I had to restrict myself to daytime riding.  Last night, my friend Scott called and told me he was buying me a set of lights for the trike, and giving me a helmet.  I had been riding minus a helmet, although I knew on some level that a bicycle enthusiast I knew in Marietta was right when he said he always wore a helmet “whether I’m going around the block or around the world.”  Commander William Riker said that Fate protects fools, little children, and ships named Enterprise.  I must fall in the first category.  Scott and I went to Target last night and he bought me the lights (I paid for the batteries, a 12-pack of AAAs).

Tonight I did not hit the Olentangy Trail, but went biking on the sidewalks in Olde North.  I did get some stares, but the trike handled well, and I got my second wind pretty quickly.  As a proud pedestrian, I had mounted my cyber soapbox in the past about bicyclists using the sidewalk.  I had even ended a post on Columbus Underground with “Ride your bikes in the street, assclowns!”  On paper at least, riding bicycles on the sidewalks is forbidden, but no one in the city (including bicycle cops) obeys that rule.  I would be petrified riding in traffic, so I have elected to ride on the sidewalks, at least for the foreseeable future.

Not that the sidewalks are 100% safe.  I have not had any run-ins (literally or otherwise) with pedestrians or parked cars, but the sidewalks in Olde North are often jagged, uneven, and cracked in many places, so I’ve taken some pretty hard bounces.  It is only after tonight’s ride that I’ve stopped sweating blood about whether I blew a tire.  (I had considered practicing in the alleys, but cars usually roar through those at high speeds, and they are strewn with gravel, broken glass, nails, and other hazards.)

Pedestrians have been courteous to me, and have stepped aside without any complaint, and I’ve resolved to be more respectful about riding on the sidewalks than many of the bicyclists I’ve encountered.  I think that an adult tricycle is such an anomaly that many people give me a wide berth just so they can get a better look at it.  (“Cargo bike” and “freight bike” are the other conventional phrases to describe my vehicle, although I overheard a kid on the Olentangy Trail call it a “geezer bike.”)

The accessory that I have yet to purchase is some kind of signalling device.  I have heard a lot on the merits of a bell versus a horn.  I thought about buying a standard ooga horn, although another person suggested I get a bell (for “thank you” and for greeting people) and a marine air horn, the type of signalling device that boats carry as distress signals.  (Anyone who has been to a professional hockey game has heard them.)  The air horn is very high on the decibel scale, but I am not sure that any pedestrian, with earbuds in and volume cranked, would hear anything less.

Hopefully, the sarcasm shines through in the title of this blog post.  I am hardly Marlon Brando when I am riding this trike.  (I definitely don’t look like any of the bikers in Scorpio Rising.)  It’s a single speed, which means I have to get out and push for a lot of inclines, although with time and experience, I’ll build up more strength in my legs.  When I was shopping online for a trike, I flirted with the idea of getting a trike with a magnesium frame (much lighter), but the cost was prohibitive, and I am well aware that the more aerobic the bike ride, the more it will benefit me in the long run.

More progress reports to come.  The trike is enough of a novelty that my landlord and my next-door neighbor both wanted to ride it up and down the block last Saturday when they saw me arrive on it.  Maybe I should charge for that.