when the car battery dies

This morning when we arrived at school I found our household’s spare scooter waiting for me in the courtyard. Yesterday I’d raced to school on it when I was late getting home from my violin lesson in the Mission and had only five minutes till I was due for Eitan pickup. My violin lesson had run over because I’d arrived late, sprinting across the city on my bike, after hauling groceries home on the bus. All this because on Mondays I always use the car, but this week the car was unexpectedly in the shop having its battery replaced. Mondays are technically my free day but that doesn’t translate to leisure time. I grocery shop, take Cuban music lessons and bring Eitan to swim class. The irony of the entire situation was on Sunday night when a friend asked me about my planned Monday workout I’d shrugged and said that on Monday mornings I don’t have time for anything extra. I’d unwittingly found a solution to my day without a workout – transport myself (and groceries, a violin, two kids, two scooters and three bags) all over the city using my own energy.

I turned the day without driving into a personal challenge, choosing to make the most out of the beautiful weather, accessibility of public transport and my knee being healthy enough to ride! I cheated once and took a Lyft. Sometimes the buses don’t come in a timely fashion and when you spend a fortune on a four year old’s half hour swim lesson you don’t want to miss a minute. I also rode two different scooters, my bike, two city buses, a government Presidio bus and walked. My biggest challenge of the day was after swim class when Eitan was tired but we need to scoot the length of Crissy Field to get back into the Presidio to take the bus out of the Presidio to meet Aviv’s school bus. When Eitan sets his mind to something (be it a complicated task or refusing to move because he’s tired) he holds firm on his position. Everyone who’s seen me in action knows that I’m not overly coordinated. My only solution was pulling him on his scooter while balancing myself and bag on my single-front-wheel scooter, and it took every ounce of strength and balance. Generally in this type of situation I’d dump bags all over the sidewalk, knock over my kid and end up with a bruised shin. Yesterday we arrived at the bus completely unscathed and made it to Aviv’s school bus drop-off with a few minutes to spare. Whew!

By the time I’d hauled the boys and their belongings to the Toyota dealership and driven home I was thoroughly exhausted and could do nothing but sprawl on my bed faced down for several minutes. I think I’ll go back to my regular workouts today!

The workout: Do a day without a car! Walk to the bus, borrow your kid’s scooter (you’ll only feel a little silly), bike somewhere instead of driving (parking is free and easy to find!)

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to Dad

Twenty years ago you took your last breath on earth and passed on to whatever is next. I think you were at peace with letting go of your body, which was no longer working as it always had. The rest of us tried to be at peace also. I don’t think of you every day but certain things bring you to mind.

Though memories and impressions of a child are not always reality, I choose to believe you were happiest in the mountains because high up in the blue sky with clear thin air, I feel closest to you.

Away from the mountains in my daily life I try to conjure up images of you and they come mostly through my boys. Though they never met you, they know about Grandpa Chuck and Aviv knows he’s named after you. Bits of your personality and humor shine in them. They occasionally ask questions and I do my best to answer. Twenty years is a long time to know a person only in memories.

I remember going running with you very occasionally. Somehow you ran with me, even though I was small and your long legs on that 6’5″ frame must have been barely moving. I remember visiting the local YMCA and doing weights with you. I remember sledding on snow days and your long legs getting tangled with dogs during cross country ski “adventures”.

I spent my high school years arriving late for Spanish class because you didn’t teach first hour and I could never get you out the door on time. I remember how every vocal jazz class began with a shoulder massage circle (that would certainly never fly today!) but everyone wanted to be next to you because you gave the best massages. There was one choir festival our class traveled to and there was a swimming pool involved. I remember being horribly embarrassed about you wearing a speedo. Mom never could get you to quit wearing that thing!

You were in charge of shuffling us around to after school activities and I remember being left at the dance studio when you’d drop Julie off and forget to pick me up at the same time (or vice versa).

I remember younger years in your Dalcroze Eurhythmics classes at Suzuki workshops. So many smiles, rhythms, fun. You were always wearing those (extremely short) cut-off jean shorts and acting goofy. Everyone loved you. Family fun nights at those same Suzuki workshops were a blast. You dressed as a bee and buzzed your way through the crowd while Julie played Flight of the Bumblebee.

You were unapologetically your own person. You had your own style (wearing stripes and plaid the day you met Mom!) and dressed in what made you feel good. You loved living and playing and dancing (the first time I saw you dance it was so ridiculous I thought you were joking, but you weren’t).

There’s no workout in this blog post, just a simple reminder to myself about living an active, generous life and appreciating what I have. Thanks for showing me the way.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life. For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun? And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tide, that it may rises and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing. And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb. And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

The Prophet by Kahil Gibran

quick and easy

In theory, riding a Jump bike with an electric assist should have been my fastest route downtown yesterday morning. In theory, an hour and a half should have been plenty of time for me to walk to my reserved bike, ride around the top of the city to the Ferry Building in order to purchase my overpriced (but fantastic-smelling) deodorant, then arrive at the Contemporary Jewish Museum in time for a noon event. Theories don’t always hold true.

What actually happened yesterday was this. I practiced longer than planned (the Act II finale of Mozart’s Marriage of Figaro is 20 minutes long, after all) then I changed my outfit twice (I need something appropriate for both biking and museum). I left the house with barely over an hour to spare then walked several blocks to the nearest bike. The electric assist wasn’t working and neither were the gears but I hopped on and decided to give it my best shot. By the time I’d pushed my 70 lb bike up the Arguello hill I’d decided that I needed a replacement. I flew down the Arguello hill (fun fact: broken assist means there’s no downhill speed regulation) and found a slew of bikes at the bottom. I attempted to terminate my ride but the app wasn’t working, which meant I also couldn’t pick another bike, which meant my time for shopping was dwindling. I finally reached someone on the phone for assistance and after taking all of my information short of social security number she asked “and you’re in New York City, right?”

Eventually I managed to return one bike and find another that was fully functioning but by this point I was out of extra time and just hoped to make it to the museum by noon.

As I zipped by the marina green and saw the parents and babies out for SoccerTots, I remembered how my kids loved soccer. Aviv spent classes picking flowers and singing into the orange cones. Eitan was perfectly coordinated and did everything the teacher asked, if and when he felt like it.

Further on, as I climbed the hill above Fort Mason I thought of the time Mom and I rented a tandem bike at Fisherman’s wharf with the intention of riding across the bridge and taking the ferry back. Between the steep incline, the seat heights being slightly too tall for both of us and the challenge of coordinating the bike mount while simultaneously beginning to pedal, the hill nearly beat us. In the end, we accomplished our goal but agreed that next time we’d ride our own bikes.

I passed Aquatic Park, where three crazy people were swimming in the bay without wetsuits. I thought fondly back to my Team in Training days and one of my first groggy early morning Wildflower training swims with the crew. I’d intended to wet my hair down pre-swim so my cap would go on easier but instead of water, I doused myself with sticky sports drink. After that I was fully awake.

The Ferry Building appeared on my left with the beautiful Bay Bridge panorama beside it. As I pedaled the final blocks down Howard I texted Ariel my location while holding a bike glove in my teeth and navigating between cars. I parked in front of the CJM as the Tuesday noon emergency sirens sounded.

My ride home was less eventful but more challenging because I was stuffed full of Wise Son’s kale and pastrami caesar, carrying my new gorgeous Sababa cookbook, and riding into the headwind. I did manage to stock up on deodorant first and my bike was noisy but delivered me to Eitan’s school right on time.

While I prefer using my own muscles to power a bike (my knee is finally healthy enough to ride!), I love the speed of an electric assist and the peace of mind knowing my bike won’t get stolen off a rack downtown. I don’t plan on using Jump very often but it beats the bus on any sunny day.

the workout: 16 mile ride, 1,194 ft climbing, pushing 70 lb bike up steep hill