Tuesday, October 25, 2011


Last week, in mid sentence with my boss, the earth a-grumbled and shook. Less a terrifying tremor and more a gentle nudge, but a genuine, 100% Californian Earthquake. Especially ironic is that it happened the same day as the Great California ShakeOut earthquake drill, in which everyone who signs up is supposed to all jump under their desks, pop themselves in a doorway, duct-tape themselves to the floor, or whatever it is one does during an earthquake. I of course, in my vast earthquake experience, knew exactly what to do: I kept talking and felt the building shake but didn't mentally register it until my boss said "that was an earthquake." I think it's a defensive mechanism, like the time in the middle of the night that I had a rat run between my feet, felt the fur, and told myself it was the cat. But we didn't have a cat. I'm comforted that, in a state of emergency, my mind will clearly and forcefully evade reality and I'll enter danger in a state of complete blissful unawareness. It may limit my survival chances, but at least I'll be happy.

Speaking of survival, I started biking to work last week. Now, I've commuted for some time and consider myself relatively hardcore. But let me tell you: Rather than feeling (and looking) like this on the road I more felt and looked like this (complete with that abject look of terror at seeing the next five blocks of hill) whilst struggling up on my lowest gear. Most of my bike-based encounters with San Francisco have gone something like this:
Me (to myself): "Oh, this hill doesn't look so bad"
five minutes later
Me: "Okay! Made it up the first two."
five seconds later, upon seeing the next hill
Me: "holy mother of blessed #&@*@)!"
approximately 15 minutes later, while cars, people walking, dogs, squirrels, and old folk with walkers, all of whom race by me while I go slower than the speed of retreating glaciers impacted by climate change.
Me: "ouchouchouchouchouchouch!" Then there's usually some self-pity, almost crying, almost throwing up, and utter despair. But when I do make it, oy, what views! I'll get pictures up eventually but the vistas are simply spectacular.

While it is difficult, it's not as bad as it seems. I bought an incredible bike map with great, more flat routes on it, and the left wing commie pinkos in the city have made it surprisingly bike-friendly. So much so that the cab drivers, rather than deliberately cutting you off (as they do in Ontario), actually give you plenty of space, as do the other drivers. No one honks at each other (for the most part) and people are really patient. I think there are two reasons for this: 1) everyone is stoned, as per west coast tradition and 2) everyone is incredulous that people bike here, and hold respect for those making it up the hills by bike. Or maybe they just think cyclists have completely lost their marbles and so give them plenty of space to avoid any psychotic incidents from people happily torturing themselves on two wheels.

But I'll continue to grind along, anticipating breathtaking climbs and even more breathtaking vistas, and appreciating the strength in my body that allows me to push so hard. And also, once in a while, taking the bus.

Next time...a new abode, a new adventure.

1 comment:

  1. Whoa... way to tackle those hills! You are going to rock the ones in Gatineau when you return. Enjoy! xo