I’m 35 today.

It’s a weird feeling, arriving at an age that suggests established adulthood when my life resembles a never-ending vortex of chaos mixed with a good measure of underachievement. 35 suggests an age when people generally have grown into themselves and their decisions; when life stabilizes, at least temporarily. When you feel good about most things that you’ve done; when you make enough to afford small luxuries and most things fit into place. Or, at least that’s how I imagined it.

Instead, I am 35 today and having only been behind the wheel of a car once, I feel like I’m in a F-1 race, drunk to the point where decisions are confusing and laborious, trying to figure out how to drive. I’m technically, miraculously, still in the race, but I’m not sure what lap I’m on, when we’re supposed to stop, or what we’re all racing away from. Given the circumstances, however, I suppose I could be doing a lot worse.

I say that without allowing myself the luxury of being grateful for things that my friends tell me I should take into consideration; that I’m not, for example, a homeless convicted sex offender or a crack addict turning tricks to support her habit. I am aware that my life could be much worse, but I also wonder what it says about my friends’ perceptions of me that they revert to such extreme examples. Couldn’t they choose less desperate hypotheticals?

That’s not to say that they’re wrong. Despite the fact that the bottom fell out of my life recently – or perhaps because of it – my current life can only be described, for better or for worse, as unexpected. It’s not cycling or lifting, but CrossFit, that has become that thing I do to keep my mind off of everything else. And because I need to keep it a daily practice to keep those black dogs at bay, the workouts and WODs have led, to, of all things, preparing batches of broccoli and chicken breast twice a week.

Cleans gone wrong.

Cleans gone wrong.

The birthday menu.

The birthday menu.

I had always seen meal prepping as too rigid and restricting given my desire to be perceived as easy-going and flexible. Who wants to be around someone who is so Type A and neurotic about their food, I thought. Who wants to eat the same thing every day for lunch and dinner? Who is humorless enough to choke down chicken breast twice a day? And then I became one of those people.

meal prep

Let’s be clear; that’s not to say I actually eat well. I follow up that chicken and broccoli with ice cream and potato chips on a daily basis, which means that I am only trying to make up for my otherwise shitty diet at meal times. I call it balance.

Yet, my best efforts at self-sabotage via a half-assed diet have ironically resulted in arriving at 35 looking better than I ever have. Like a cheaper form of liposuction, CrossFit erased the cellulite I couldn’t get rid of unless I was at least 3 kg lighter than my current weight. Everything got tighter. I grew lats and my back got brawny. I actually look like I lift things with my arms and not just my legs. It feels pretty good.

coffee and a cookie
My furriest bestie.

My furriest bestie.

But the best part is that I have people to lean on when times get tough, who will listen and nod and give me a hard time. The same friends that tell me that while I might feel like the emotional version of nuclear winter, “at least you don’t look that way.” The ones that get coffee with me, and sometimes McDonald’s, and who will stay on the phone whether I’m sobbing or laughing. Whatever my underachievements or my failings at constructing an age-appropriate life, those friends remain a sign that I might not be doing it all wrong.

I’m 35 today. Still drunk behind the wheel of that F-1 race car. Still confused, still figuring it out. But things could be worse.

Here’s to another lap, another year of keeping the rubber side down.

peanut butter pro

I promised myself I wouldn't mention it.
But you know how it goes. Promises made to yourself are the hardest ones to keep.
And this, well, this is something to write about.
Because I turned 26 a few days ago. Usually that's not something worth celebrating. Mostly because I'm not 13 anymore, and because birthdays - even my own - tend to be a huge hassle. Even the promise of presents can't really get me excited about turning a year older. I'm more inclined to let the event slide by, unnoticed and undetected by even my closest friends.
But this year was different. Not because I didn't vehemently insist that anyone who happened to remember it forget about it immediately [because that's exactly what I did], or because I didn't treat it like any other day [because I did], but because of a small package wrapped in brown paper, tied with a string.


One of two presents I got this year, I sighed in exasperation when I heard about it. Then complained loudly that my birthday was not - under any circumstances - to be celebrated. But two days after I crested [and passed] the milestone that is 25, I felt almost, just almost, like a real cyclist.
Because underneath the paper wrapping was the iconic Campy 15mm peanut butter wrench. A simple, one-sided affair, made of smooth, sleek metal, it's understated shape and size are definitive of its coveted status. Well, at least amongst the bike nerds. And as I pulled that wrench free of its paper cocoon, I gaped. Then stared at it for a little while before, half-smiling, I managed to stammer out:


I love it - who wouldn't? - but it also signifies a lot more responsibility and a gentle push into a direction that is intimidatingly more pro. True, it's a gift from the kind of friend who will listen to my schizophrenic desires to own a road bike while remaining fearful of hating anything with gears. The kind of friend that won't judge if I never race [geared or otherwise]. The kind of friend who doesn't just see me as a pair of ginormous thighs on a single-speed tank that weighs more than both of his road bikes combined.


It didn't hit me then, as I carefully slipped the wrench back into its paper casing, before flipping through issues of Rouleur [and of course, seeing the infamous Rapha peanut butter ad], and watching too many episodes of "Intervention." But it's also a tiny bit terrifying that people - friends who know me well, even - believe I'm worthy of such a tool.
Or maybe it's actually the opposite - the single-sided nature of the peanut butter wrench specifically points towards riding both my single-speeds more often. Enough to flat. And maybe that's what M1 was getting at: ride more, ride harder, ride until this Campy wrench becomes battered and scarred up from use.
Point taken. Still, that wrench is going to stay wrapped up in paper while it's in my bag. Dinges and dents might be inevitable, but I'd rather them come from work on my bike, or at least from a peanut butter jar, not from all the nonsense in my bag.

not your average birthday

I'm not quite addicted to Facebook, yet. Or, not as addicted as some. I don't need to de-activate my account during finals because I'd be on it otherwise. I guess I'm just lazy; I don't update my status numerous times throughout the day, I don't stalk friends through pictures, and I don't have 2398012984722 pictures of myself up on my profile.
When I finally caved and signed up for an account last year, I was hesitant to even friend people I've never met before but went to school with. There was the pre-requisite of "I have to actually talk to you first" before I confirmed friend requests.
That's been sort of changing. Sort of. Because I've been Facebook friends with a certain Dan Pugatch, whom I didn't get to meet until last night for his birthday party at Charlie's Kitchen. That's not to say my Facebook standards have plummeted; Dan is the incredibly awesome author/blogger behind Not Your Average Bicycle Messenger, and we both read each other's respective blogs. In a way, he knew more about me than some of my Facebook friends that I've actually met.


And because I stupidly forget my SD card for my digital camera at home [total fail!], I was only able to take some crappy cell phone pictures. We finally did meet, though, last night, over a Diet Coke [for me, more on that tomorrow] and a Jameson on the rocks [for him].
It was great seeing some familiar faces, and meeting new ones. My ride partner even came with, which made sure I got home at a decent hour so I could ride, ride, ride today. Even though, as I found out later because I never drink soda, Diet Coke really kills sleep.


Still, hanging out with bike people is always fun, and always a good time. I already can't wait for next weekend; I have polo planned [for once!], hopes of more bike parts coming in, and lots and lots of rides. There's hottt-ness waiting for me at IBC too [I mean, other than the bike]. And of course, there's the new bike.
Ahhhhhh!!! Can't wait!!!!

bike[s] boy[s] birthday[s]

Facebook tells me three of my friends are turning a year older today. Oddly enough [because I wasn't into bikes at all until a little over a year ago], all of them ride bikes.
There's the OCR 2, the Schwinn [plus wrecked road bike], and a fixed conversion...I mean Mark, Dan, and Jones.
And presents/hats/cookies to be given/sent/made. I know, I'm slacking...I've only been able to give presents to two out of the three; and I've known the one that's not getting anything [yet!] the longest.
And he reads this blog! But there will be a hat coming your way, Jones, this summer, and maybe even those Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies [still bookmarked for when you, Lauren, and I are running our bike shop/vintage store/bakery/cafe...or when we hang out again...or when you guys get married (!!!), whichever happens first]. I also sent Lauren a good amount of Herrell's hot fudge, so don't let her tell you any different. I'm sure I'll hear you guys fighting over exactly who finished the last of it, too.


I'm also delivering a giant cookie to Mark - one of the smartest and nicest kids I know. He's just become the Managing Editor of the Boston College Law Review [congrats!!!], and [voluntarily] sits next to me in Con Law, despite the fact that he's probably afraid my stupid is going to rub off on him. Get that brake fixed, dude, so we can go on rides. And by "go on rides" I mean we can start off together but you'll drop me faster than Britney got rid of her kids.
Dan already got cookies. But his band's playing a show tonight at O'Brien's. You should go.
Happy Birthday, guys...and I just realized...why haven't I gone on rides with any of you yet?!

a southie adventure

southie 3

The first time I went to Southie, it was dark, I was late (to a friend's birthday party), I was carrying around an ice cream cake, and my phone was pretty much dead.

I also had no clue where I was going.

A few drinks, a slice of ice cream cake, and a visit to the Glass Slipper followed my arrival at the party and I peeled my face off of my friend's leather armchair the next morning to actually see Southie in all its Irish glory.

That's kind of what this hat is like - Boston through and through, with a taste of Guinness and a splash of Bailey's. Stripper dust optional.

southie 1

southie 2

southie 4

$20 plus shipping & handling

[This hat will comfortably fit most heads that are 22 to 23 inches. It's fully lined and comes with a cloth sweatband as well as elastic in the back for a snug fit.]