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Forrest
02 April 2014 @ 03:31 pm
When I was 16 I thought that maybe I'd get lucky and meet someone in the last two years of high school. We'd go to college together, get married (and not have sex until then), get jobs, travel a little, get a house, have kids, and live happily ever after. Typical American Dream.

Life doesn't happen that way.

I met a girl in high school. She was a year older. She had already experienced sex, and then suddenly I had too. She went off to college, cheated on me, and then broke up with me. We got back together, I went to college, cheated on her, she cheated on me, she broke up with me. I left college.

So things didn't go how I had hoped.

I went to Europe, I started drinking, I met more girls. I broke some hearts, and I had the pieces of mine broken again. I fell into a deep depression. I questioned my life. I questioned what direction I was headed in.

I met another girl. I got my pilot's license. I didn't move to Baltimore. I didn't move to Austin. I played in the Adirondacks. We broke up. I graduated college.

I fell in love. I moved to Jacksonville. I became a professional pilot. I moved to Somerville. I worked 80 hours a week and commuted another 12 hours. I was still dirt poor. We grew apart. My heart broke. I nearly proposed, she said she couldn't be sure. I moved on.

I met someone else. She cooked, I got fat. I didn't move in. I got hired by my first airline. She left me, but I rediscovered the bicycle. Then her awesome dad died.

Whirlwind romance on two wheels, I moved to Maryland. First time living with a girlfriend. Easy life, good times, a couple big fights. We biked across Spain. She got into school in Toronto. We moved out. I moved back in with my parents in my late 20's. I got hired with a bigger airline for less pay. She said she didn't love me anymore.

I had great friends. I lived the single life, while living with my parents and surviving on airplane peanuts. I traveled a little. I met amazing people. The teacher who works with kids living with autism. The French speaking yoga instructor. The wonder drug manufacturer. The social worker. The district attorney. I broke hearts, I had mine broken. We set off fireworks and burned a hole in the back porch. I went to the Grand Canyon and Washington DC for dates. I had my first one night stand. I rekindled an old flame only to extinguish it quickly.

Then I meet her. She's married. Separated. Doesn't care that I live with my parents. Smart. Funny. Beautiful. Educated. Active. Her marriage is none of my business I say, but it still doesn't sit quite right. We take it slow. We run half marathons. I get a new job. She gets divorced. My cat, my best friend dies. She gets into a residency program in Vermont. We move in together. I'm gone too much for work, which is a three hour commute and eight days on the road. She gets a really great job, still in Vermont.

What happens next? I don't know.

I know that I can't plan it, it won't be perfect, and it won't be what I hoped. It will be better, and it will be worse. It hasn't been easy up to this point, and I don't expect it to be easy in the future, but I'm looking forward to the stories I'll be able to tell.
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Forrest
02 April 2014 @ 12:38 pm
I feel compelled to write this, as the rest of the internet does not seem to get the point. Life is not perfect, it does not go according to plan, and the ending is never how you expect it to be. Jobs get in the way, relationships fail, you fall in and out of love, and people die. You have to keep hoping things will get better, though, and you have to be grateful for what you have, and what you've had.

The sitcom "How I Met Your Mother" was a story about the storytelling of life. Yes, it was fantastical and outrageous, but that's what happens when you tell stories, especially from 25 years ago. How big was that fish you caught? How crazy was that party? What was that girl's name? Did your friend REALLY sleep with that many people? You invent caricatures over time, even of people you still know. You highlight their good traits, their fun traits, the things that made them unique.

When you look back on your own life and begin to tell the story, though, you recall who you once were. You recall your aspirations and dreams, and those are so starkly contrasted with what your reality has become. Nobody achieves everything they ever wanted to, especially in the timeframe they had hoped for. Even if you marry your high school sweetheart and get the job of your dreams, you come to realize that life can't be rainbows and roses. There are setbacks. There are hardships. Poverty. Miscarriages. Divorce. Layoffs. Death. How I Met Your Mother got that. It dealt with real relationship issues, struggles with careers and conscience, marriage, divorce, and death. Lilly moved to the west coast to pursue her dreams, but it wasn't what she thought it would be. Marshall lived through depression, as did nearly every other character. Ted was left at the altar. Barney abruptly lost his innocence. Robin dealt with infertility and working her way up her career path slowly and painfully.

The whole series portrayed life as it actually is, or how we remember it. The final episode did nothing less. Some say that the final season was all about Robin and Barney's wedding, and also getting to know Tracy, the Mother. It wasn't. It was about slowing down time in your memory when the biggest event of your life happens. It was about remembering all the little moments that came before that led up to it. Did you notice that the show didn't do a silly, clichéd montage of flashbacks a la Seinfeld? Instead they brought back everybody and every inside joke that had appeared in the past, but incorporated them into new scenes so you could remember them in your own memory and say goodbye to them. The entire final season was about that. And it was about love, coming together, and growing apart. I think those who only watched casually might have missed it.

How I Met Your Mother is the most emotionally relatable show that has been on television for this generation. It wasn't perfect nor inevitable. It wasn't a fairy tale. It was life's tale.
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Forrest
22 January 2014 @ 12:31 pm
2013  
I lost my best friend this year. That's really the whole story.

There were other details, though.

It's been a very busy last few months. I feel like I'm never around, and I don't have enough time to do the things I want to or see the people I love, let alone write my annual yearly summary. I'm really starting to not like the questions much, but I'll keep them for consistency's sake.
















































1. What did you do in 2013 that you'd never done before?
Moved to Vermont. Flew a Pilatus. Quit a jet job. Run a 1:37 half marathon.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don’t think I make resolutions, but I occasionally set goals for myself. Not usually based on the turning of the calendar, though. I lost a bunch of weight over the summer. I did a number of races, including a few cyclocross races.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
I feel like the answer to this question is yes. But I probably never see them anymore, in part due to the baby (and in part due to me being gone all the time). People definitely got pregnant.


4. Did anyone close to you die?
My best friend in the whole world, my cat, Tidbit. He died on May 1st of this year. I was so lucky that I was able to be there with him during his last days. That was one of the hardest times of my life, honestly.


5. What countries did you visit?
I don’t think I even visited another country, besides Canada for work. How sad is that?


6. What would you like to have in 2014 that you lacked in 2013?
Permanence. Wealth. More days at home with the people I love. More traveling for fun. More winter hobbies.


7. What date from 2013 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
May 1, for the passing of Tidbit and the day we planted a tree in his place.


8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Running a 1:37 half marathon. Getting a new job. Overcoming inner ear problems and motion sickness to finally pass my checkride. Moving in with Katera.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I had planned on running a marathon this year, and maybe qualifying for Boston. All that changed.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yeah, I was sick a few times. Got some bumps and bruises. Nothing too major, I don’t believe.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Well, this year I finally gave in and joined the late 20th century/early 21st century and got a TV and a microwave. But the best purchase was probably my Ritchey Breakaway Cross bike. Even though it’s a size too big for me, I still love it. It breaks apart so I can travel with it (if I ever had the time or space), I can use it to run errands around town, I can mountain bike a little with it, I can ride on the road with it, and best of all, I can race cyclocross with it.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
All of those finishing the Boston Marathon, and all of those rushing to help after the tragic events. Also, the Bruins had an admirable season, but the Red Sox won the World Series for the third time in my life. I really can’t believe I just wrote that. Katie Compton in Louisville. Fabian Cancellara in the spring classics. More personally, all those around me who bought houses, had babies, got pregnant, got new jobs, or anything like that deserve celebration.


13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The brothers who lived down the street from Katera in Cambridge who decided to hurt a lot of people on the most joyous day in Boston.
And this doesn’t even really compare, but congress, and especially the conservative portion of it, was entirely unreasonable this year.


14. Where did most of your money go?
I can quantify this with Mint.com!
Rent, food & dining, health & fitness, loan repayment, car ownership. In that order. They were all pretty close, though.


15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Vermont! And cyclocross.

16. What song will always remind you of 2013?
Oh, there must have been a song. Arcade Fire’s Reflektor? Blurred Lines! Wrecking Ball? Something by Josh Ritter?

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Probably happier.
ii. thinner or fatter? Thinner and balder
iii. richer or poorer? Looks like I earned less this year than last. So poorer, but it doesn’t entirely feel that way.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Biking, traveling, staying at home and cuddling, sleeping, hiking, seeing friends, drinking beer, snowshoeing, and spending all the time I could with Tidbit.


19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Working. Traveling for work. Driving to work. Staying in hotels.


20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I spent Christmas with Katera’s family. It was nice, but hectic. I also got to spend time with my family and friends that week, and I wasn’t working, so that was pretty great.


21. Where did 21 go?

22. Did you fall in love in 2013?
Several times, all with Katera. And I fell in love with Vermont. And the beach on the 4th of July. And ice cream on the Vineyard.


23. How many one-night stands?
None!


24. What was your favorite TV program?
Archer, I think. Californication was fantastic. Don’t Trust the B in Apt. 23. Orange is the New Black. House of Cards. Louis. I guess I watched more TV this year than I thought…


25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No, and I think my bitterness is fading some.


26. What was the best book you read?
Ham on Rye by Bukowski was fine.


27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Discovery? Probably CHVRCHES. Everyone else I had heard of before.

28. What did you want and get?
Well I won that ebay auction for the CX bike…


30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I honestly think I watched maybe two movies this year. Flight was one of them. It was ok.


31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I think I was working on my actual birthday. Oh! No, I somehow ended up with that day off. Home standby I think. So technically I was working, but really I went for two great mountain bike rides with two great friends, Jim and Mike. I crashed pretty hard on the second one. I definitely felt 31 after that.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Being able to spend every night at home with Katera. Being able to have back every day that I missed out on seeing Tidbit.


33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2013?
Comfortable. I bought my first pair of sweatpants.


34. What kept you sane?
Bicycling, as usual. Katera, more than anything.


35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Still have a guy crush on Fabian Cancellara. I have also been really excited about the women of cyclocross this year, too. Elle Anderson, Maghalie Rochette, Crystal Anthony, Mo Bruno Roy, etc.


36. What political issue stirred you the most?
I’m backing away from politics. The conservatives play the political system like it’s a game to win, not a way of helping people. Luckily, Vermont is a bit more utopian.


37. Who did you miss?
Tidbit.


38. Who was the best new person you met?
Oh, man, who did I meet this year? Win & Lauren are really cool. Some of the people I work with are fun.


39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2013:
We need a bigger kitchen.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
It seems so important now
But you will get over
It seems so important now
But you will get over
And when you get over
When you get older
Then you will remember
Why it was so important then

Seems like a big deal now
But you will get over
Seems like a big deal now
But you will get over
When you get over
And when you get older
Then you will discover
That it's never over

-Arcade Fire
 
 
Forrest
08 January 2014 @ 01:25 pm
Most of my "training" recently has consisted of doing 12 or 16oz beverage curls. In fact, I did a 750ml "curl" last night, so my writing skills don't feel too sharp today. I've been mostly off the bike and away from Vermont for three weeks with two work trips and one very busy holiday week with my girlfriend's family. When I finally did get back to VT, it was -11˚F outside with blowing snow. By Sunday it warmed up to almost 28 degrees, though, so I figured it would probably be ok to do a bike race. The Frozen Onion is a mountain bike race in Montpelier that has been on my radar for the last couple of years. It's in Hubbard Park, which is an awesome place but it closed to cyclists year-round. Except for this one magical day where a couple handfuls of idiots go out in the cold and race bikes.

image
"Training plan"

I almost didn't make it. It had been a long weekend of "running errands" and other adult tasks. All I wanted to do was sleep in a little bit longer. Except this time I'd pre-registered, so I didn't want to be out twenty bucks. My girlfriend and I crawled out of bed and ate some frosted mini-wheats, then hopped in the car and drove down I-89 to Montpelier. For once it looked like I might not be late to a race!

As we neared the starting line, the road conditions got considerably worse. The slushy roads gave way to slippery snow, and then the road turned upward. There was no way my Honda Accord was going to make it to the starting line. I turned the car around and frantically tried to find a parking spot close by. The closest place to park was downtown. The race started at 11. It was now 10:48. It wouldn't be a bike race for me if I wasn't racing jus to get to the start. I quickly got my bike off the roof, donned my hat, helmet, gloves, and shoes, and rode up the snowy hill.

At the staging area, things were a bit more relaxed. I don't think anyone even had a clock. The race just kinda started when everyone felt like getting to the line. I ducked into the tent, signed my waiver, and received my number.



Great. Now I'm the ass with the #1 race bib with no results or skills to back that up. Oh well. They must have done these alphabetically.

Whatever. I figured my number would give me a good excuse to line up towards the front so I could get a good start. I tucked in with all the skinny guys on fat bikes. Oh, did I mention the course conditions? Well, a couple of weeks ago there was a big ice storm, so there was a layer of ice covering the ground. On top of that, there were a couple of layers of snow. The trail itself had been mostly packed down, so it was ridable. Slippery, but ridable. Perfect fat biking conditions, actually. However, since I'm broke and my big purchase last year was a cyclocross bike, I don't have a fat bike. I was on my trusty Tomac, a 26" hard tail mountain bike. I locked out the suspension since I figured the snow was soft enough. And, man, am I ever glad it was soft. (Foreshadowing)



We finally started racing. Four laps. Easy and short. Or something. Downhill, curve to the right, slight uphill, flat, sharp right into a big uphill/biggest runup I've ever seen, around a tower, fast downhill, false flat, short singletrack, small wooden bridges, turn around, flat to the finish. Cool.

So my awesome starting position was quickly negated by my not so awesome pedaling ability. I mostly stayed with the bunch, though, until the first hill/runup. Hubbard Park is based around a hill with an old lookout tower at the top. The trail to the lookout tower is winding and steep. And icy. There were several crashes at the front at the base of that hill, and everyone ended up walking most of it. I tried getting back on the bike a couple of times, and was successful the third time I tried.


Not a great start. I'm the guy in the red going backwards.


I look like I'm having a good time, right?

And that's how the race went for me. Little by little I fell back from the leaders. I didn't pass anyone until the third lap when I finally got by the guy on the single speed, and then passed a guy with no front tire on the runup. Let me say that again. HE HAD NO FRONT TIRE. "Dude, that's badass," I said as I rode by. "No it's not!" he yelled back. And he ended up passing me again and beat me.



I got beat by a guy with NO FRONT TIRE.

By the fourth lap I was getting tired of having my heart rate pegged, and I was making a few mistakes. Plus, the course had gotten more slippery as it got more and more packed down. I was almost done, though. I mean, sure, I did get lapped by the dudes on the fat bikes, but whatever. All I had to do was cross another bridge and make the turn towards the finish. My bike had other ideas, though.

As soon as I hit the wooden bridge, my bike disappeared. I mean one instant it was there, and in the next I was flying through the air at 16 miles an hour. I stretched my arms out like Superman and enjoyed the quick flight before BAM, I was sliding face first on the soft, soft snow. I looked back and my bike had fallen into the creek below the bridge. Now is not the time for a swim! Luckily, Vermont's winter saved me. The snow broke my fall, and the river was iced over so bike didn't get wet. I climbed down to get it, got back on the trail, put my chain back on, and off I went to the finish. I ended up just outside the top 20, and easily could have been better than that if not for the crash.




At least someone was there to witness my flight. I'm just glad it wasn't the FAA.

The people at Onion River Sports put on a really fun event, even if there were no handups of any kind. Also, most of these photos are from their facebook page. I stole them. Sorry. But I gave credit!
 
 
Forrest
18 December 2013 @ 01:26 pm
Ugh. That's my winter word. I'm currently sitting in Tupelo, MS, birthplace of Elvis. Did you know he survived a tornado when he was a kid? Well I survived Ice Weasels Cometh. Yeah, that's right.

I've been meaning to get into this whole "cyclocross thing" for several years now, but didn't have the right bike/chickened out. But now I have a rad bike. In fact, when I was pulling over to the side of the course after getting lapped, one rider yelled out, "You have the coolest bike here!" True story.



So now I have the right bike. Singular. Not bikes. We'll get to that in a minute.

When I found out that Ice Weasels was changing venues and coming to my hometown I thought, "awesome!" Until I saw the date and I thought, "Damn." I was scheduled to work that day. But the night before the race I got the good news: home standby. That means I didn't have to fly unless they called me in, in which case I'd have two hours to get to work. I could race and shower and get to the airport in two hours, right? Sure.

As usual, I was running late. I hadn't pre-registered or anything, so I got to the large field in the part of Rowley that I had never been to before and signed up. A few minutes after pinning on my number I was at the start line. Callups were by bib number. "What's my number?" "Uhhh, 431, what's mine?" That was the scene at the start of the beginners race. I was at the back of a pretty big field, which included at least one fat guy on a fat bike, one skinny guy on a fat bike, and several mountain bikes. It turns out, I think those guys were the smart ones. The course was absolutely frozen and about 90% off camber.

Colin told us to go and to not crash into each other on the first turn. We followed those instructions, and despite our newness to the sport, we were successful. The first lap was a familiarization lap for me. Crushed clam shell road, fire pit, frozen grass, abandoned vehicles, log hops, crazy off camber washboard downhill, five yards of straight singletrack, short stepups which were totally ridable, and one huge frozen runup covered in dead leaves and snow. Cool. I can do this.

Except when I couldn't.

By the end of the first lap my fingers were entirely frozen. I had doubled up on the gloves, even using a neoprene outer glove to keep all the heat I could. My fingers wouldn't move. Part way through the second lap they started to thaw out--painfully. Very painfully. Did you ever shovel snow as a kid and have your fingers go white, so you tried to warm them up under hot water? It's like the opposite of an ice cream headache. But similar. In your fingers. Anyway, I did about a lap of waving to spectators, other racers, and ghosts in the trees while I tried to get the use of my hands back.

I could feel and hear my rim bouncing off of each frozen bump on the course. I'm not cool enough to ride tubulars, so I run an improvised tubeless setup. I'd never had a flat before. (Foreshadowing) All the other riders seemed to be a little better at this pedaling thing than I was, but I could beat anyone up that damn runup, albeit with a pegged heart rate at the top. Still, people were getting away from me. I had to do something. On the frozen grassy section I gunned it, trying to catch that dude on a 29er who passed me a little while back. Just as I started to make a turn through a little chicane, my front wheel decided that it was a good time for me to lay down and take a nap. My bike went right out from under me and I was on the ground before you could say "ouch!" There was a dude cooking something on a grill, watching the whole thing. Obviously I didn't want to look bad, so I got right up and hopped back on the bike. He gave me words of encouragement, but not a hamburger handup.



So I think that's where my tire went flat. I tried riding in a bit, but it was useless on the slanted frozen ground. I shouldered the bike (good thing I had practiced that a little the day before) and ran with it for a while. That sucked. So I put it down and tried riding again. That sucked too. I didn't have a bike in the pit to swap onto. So I saw my car, rode straight to that, got in, and went home.

But that's not the end of my race. Well, it was the end of that one, but I signed up for two races. It was about 10:30 and the next one started at 11:30. Once I got home I furiously tried to reseat the tire on the rim. With a lot of soap and water and a lot of spilled Stan's, it finally popped into place. Then I went about getting my old Giant mountain bike prepped as a pit bike. Ditched the bottle cages, put some air in the tires, and dusted it off. It was only 11:05. Perfect. I raced back to the... race.

My two bikes and I arrived with about five minutes to spare. My fingers were cooling off but still kinda clammy, so that was good. I put my Giant in the pit and got lined up to race. That's when Colin announced that this Killer B (intermediate? Cat 3?) men's race field would also include one lady: Crystal Anthony. Welp, there went my chances of not getting lapped.

Off we went. At the barriers next to the heated beer/cupcake/cookie/registration tent is where most of the spectators and thus, most of the handups were. There were donuts on the first lap, which I missed, and beer on the rest of the laps. I would have LOVED a beer, but like I said, I was on standby for work. By the third lap I was all alone off the back and the handup givers became more aggressive. "This will help you finish!" they implored. "I have to fly a plane later!" I shouted back as I ran over the barriers.

It was cold. And now it was snowing. Fluffy snow on an iced over and frozen course. I slowed down. I figured I was probably in last place, so what was the harm? Surprisingly, Crystal wasn't the first one to lap me. Some other dude did. But she was hot on his heels. I tried to limit my snot rocket shooting until after the fast people passed me. Oh, by the way, my rockets on the right side were kinda brownish-red. Bloody snot rockets. I'd like to think that they were an indicator of how haaahd I was pushing it.



After I exited that race, I went straight to the food truck for a hot burger. It might have been the best one of my life. It was at least in the top three of this year, and if you know how many burgers I eat, you know that this means something. Since I still couldn't drink beer, I went and fed my other weakness. I bought two cookies and a cupcake from the people trying to raise money to go race in Europe during Christmas week.

The women's race had just started, so I went out and watched that for a bit. They were rad. A lot of them dressed up in costume. The party was really just getting going, but then so was the feeling in my toes. The snow started falling harder, so I figured I'd go take a hot shower before my Honda got stuck in a snow bank somewhere. Sounds like I missed a really good raucous affair, though.



She stayed warm by pounding lots of beer handups. There may have been other handups later that were not appropriate for young audiences. #didldohandupsarenotacrime I wasn't there to see this, though. I was nursing my road rash and taking a very long, very hot shower.
 
 
 
Forrest
08 January 2013 @ 01:23 pm
2012  
2012 was a much better year than 2011. I learned to embrace the single life. I realized that my dreams couldn't come true, and I accepted that. I turned 30, and I was ok with that. I've struggled with giving up early adulthood and being forced into the next phase of life when I'm just not ready. Even though I can't get my 20's back, there's still so much more I want to fill my life with before I "settle down." I can feel youth slipping away, and it aches. I know all this turmoil doesn't sound peaceful, but I feel much more at ease than I have in past years. It's about accepting myself no matter what. Single or not. Whatever job I have. Nothing defines me but me. I've always known that, and I've always known who I am but I think I've also defined myself by my wants, my dreams. I think I was more in the moment in 2012, rather than wishing for a storybook future.

-------------------------------------------------


1. What did you do in 2012 that you'd never done before?
I went on a third date to the Grand Canyon. I had a one night stand. I turned 30! I ran two half marathons in one year, doubling my total and beating my personal records each time. I raced my Tomac twice.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I don't remember if I made any resolutions, but it doesn't sound like me. I just want to be happy and make those around me happy. Goals? Sure. Ride across the country. Get a new job. Live somewhere. Run more. Bike more. Smile more.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
It seems like everyone gave birth this year. Kevin and Amber did. Jackie and Matt did. There were babies all over facebook.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Not this year.

5. What countries did you visit?
Canada, as usual. Almost entirely for work. I might have visited Dan once.

6. What would you like to have in 2013 that you lacked in 2012?
Less spite and bitterness. More love. Also, more money! And a better job. And everything on my birthday list, including an airplane and a cyclocross bike.

7. What date from 2012 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
Dates are fuzzy. June 3rd or 4th is when I did a bike race in the morning then met Katera. That whole first week of June was a doozy, really. Obama was reelected in November, maybe the 7th. I turned 30 on the 24th, but it was the following weekend that was memorable.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Two PRs in the half marathon. Getting to another level on the bike. Meeting Katera and turning this into a real relationship.

9. What was your biggest failure?
I'm not sure I'd consider anything I did in 2012 a failure. I didn't quit my job, and I probably should have. I think I broke a heart or two, and for that I'm sorry.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yeah, I was sick with a cold or flu a couple of times. I went to the emergency room after a bad mountain bike crash where I tore a gash in my arm. No stitches or broken bones, though.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
I bought a lot of great things this year.
•Macbook Air
•iPhone 5
•Apple TV
•Fox 32 F120 Fork
•The Sufferfest videos with TrainerRoad & Wahoo speed and cadence sensors
•Kitchen Aid stand mixer for Katera
•Black t-shirts

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Behavior? How about actions or results. The Olympians, including Georgia Gould for winning bronze. Emily Batty for racing even though she broke her collar bone. Kristin Armstrong for being amazing and going out on top. Bradley Wiggins. Ryder Hesjadal. Alberto Contador. Jeremy Powers for nationals. Obama for winning the election, and Elizabeth Warren for the same. All the other women who won. Of the people I know personally? Aaron got a new job. Mike and Nikki lost a lot of weight and got into mountain biking. That was great. Mike and Allison got married!

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Republicans. They keep finding new ways to appall me. I can't believe some of them are filled with so much ignorance and hate. Why wouldn't you embrace another human being? Why do you have to control and belittle women? I don't understand. Lance Armstrong's pattern of behavior became much more clear as the year went on, culminating with the USADA report. As great an athlete and advocate as he is, he truly sounded like a bully in a lot of stories I heard about him. I always presumed he was innocent of the doping charges... until the USADA report proved him guilty. Unlike other athletes he did not fess up immediately, simply acting immature and dragging his sport through much more mud.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Food, probably. A lot of money went directly back into working. Getting to work, parking, getting between airports, eating at airports... it was all just too much.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
I got very excited about the Olympics! I couldn't stop watching them, and was so excited for all the athletes who saw their dreams come true or get shattered there.

16. What song will always remind you of 2012?
Carly Rae Jepsen - Call Me Maybe
Psy - Gagnam Style

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Happier
ii. thinner or fatter? Probably fatter
iii. richer or poorer? Maybe about the same, but I feel richer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Spending time with friends, going to the beach, climbing mountains, traveling, running, biking, and smiling.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Eating, I suppose. Working.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I woke up at my grandmother's house in Maine and drove back to Katera's empty place so I could sit close to the airport while I was on reserve.

21. Where did 21 go?

22. Did you fall in love in 2012?
Yes.

23. How many one-night stands?
1

24. What was your favorite TV program?
Californication, definitely.


25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
No, thankfully.

26. What was the best book you read?
Bukowski - Post Office. It had this sense of morality that... well, nothing was right, nothing was wrong. We are all just living life. Make the most of it before you get too old.
I also read a really good history of the Erie Canal.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Top albums of 2012:
1. Japandroids - Celebration Rock
2. The Menzingers - On the Impossible Past
3. Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend!
4. Mumford & Sons - Babel
5. El-P - Cancer 4 Cure
6. Amanda Palmer & The Grand Theft Orchestra - Theatre is Evil
Amanda Palmer was my favorite discovery, though.

28. What did you want and get?
All those things that I bought. Dates. A girlfriend. Socks.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
I think that I went to the theater once this year. Very early in the year. And I rented maybe two movies. I'm not the best source to ask about movies.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 30. I woke up in Toronto in a hotel, flew to New York, then got a ride to Boston where I hung out with Katera. We didn't do too much. That weekend, though, we went to East Burke, VT and rented a house. A lot of my friends came, which was a surprise to me. Most of us went mountain biking together, which was fantastic. Jim made a huge airplane cake for me. I have great friends.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
A new job where the company pays better and treats its employees better.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2012?
Jeans, black t-shirt.

34. What kept you sane?
I left sanity behind for part of the year, which was ok. It was fun. I biked a little, but not enough. I relied on cookies again. Katera was very, very helpful in keeping me sane the rest of the year.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Georgia Gould. I was so proud of her. I really wanted Fabian Cancellara to do well this year. I had a crush on Emily Batty.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Well, there was that election thing. Gun control was very important late in the year. Women's rights, gay rights, labor issues, bicycle advocacy, and transportation in general were all very important to me.

37. Who did you miss?
My cats. Memories.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I met a lot of new people this year. Katera stands out, obviously. Florina. Angela. Kristin. Several others.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2012:
Life doesn't judge you. People will, but life won't. Your life is yours to live how you please.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Hey I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my number, so call me maybe.
 
 
Forrest
29 January 2012 @ 01:43 pm
2011  
Well, 2011 was the worst year of my adult life. I made a couple of bad decisions, I changed jobs, and I had my heart broken twice. My new company went into bankruptcy protection. I spent the entire year living in my parents' basement, in hotels, and in a crowded crashpad in Queens. I turned 29. I've been disappointed more times than I can remember. I didn't get to see the people I love enough. I've been so broke that I envy the wages of the people who work at Dunkin Donuts. I've taken on more debt and I've been unable to pay off what I already owed. Honestly, there were many times throughout the year that I wished the ancients had predicted the end of the world would come in 2011 instead of 2012, because one more year was just too long to wait.

Also, I've visibly aged more this year than any other year in my adult life. I have more lines in my face, more roundness in my belly, and less hair on my head. I look several years older than I really am.

I think the worst thing that happened to me in 2011 was that I lost my sense of optimism. Maybe I didn't lose all hope for a better future, but I lost most of it. I lost my happiness and my lust for life.

-----------------------

1. What did you do in 2011 that you'd never done before?
I got a job with American Eagle. I was on reserve and lived in a crashpad. I flew regional jets for (very little) money. I spent two months in Texas. I rode 102 miles in one day on my road bike, purely out of spite.


2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I still don't make resolutions. Goals, though? Sure.
I want to run a half-marathon and beat my PR. I want to bike 3,000+ miles this year. Hell, I'm turning 30 this year, so there are a lot of things I'd really like to accomplish before then, but I don't know if I can. I'd like to move out of my parents' basement. I'd like to finally meet someone good and settle down. I'd like to qualify for the Boston Marathon. I'd like to get a much better job.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Nope.

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No.

5. What countries did you visit?
Canada. Again and again and again. Just Toronto. Mostly for work. A couple of times to visit Anne-Marie early in the year, and then a couple of times to visit Dan.

6. What would you like to have in 2012 that you lacked in 2011?
Happiness. A place to call my own. More time to travel. More time with friends. More determination. A serious and lasting romantic relationship. A way to avoid eating so many cookies. A better job. Maybe not a flying job.

7. What date from 2011 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
March 28. It's the day I started my job at American Eagle, and it's the day everything started going downhill. I left a good company for a bad one. I took a huge pay cut which forced me to live at home. My girlfriend who I biked across Spain with left me. I became undatable because I was just so poor and gone more than 50% of the time. Everything after March 28th was terrible.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Hard to say. Being there for Nicole's birthday was important. Biking 100 miles just to say I did it first was nice. Just making it through initial training at Eagle, despite having the flu, my girlfriend breaking up with me, and not having a sim partner or regular instructor was an accomplishment. There really isn't too much about 2011 that I'm proud of, though.

9. What was your biggest failure?
•I made a bad decision to change jobs. I was happy at my old job. I had a good life. I thought that changing jobs would move me along in my "career." I can't say what the future holds, but right now I'm miserable.
•Anne-Marie broke up with me. She said she just didn't love me anymore. I don't know if it's because we never saw each other because I was in training in Texas and she was in school in Toronto, or if it's simply because she just felt that I wasn't right for her. Probably the former led to an acceleration of the realization of the latter. That really stung.
•I fell in love again over the summer with Keri. It didn't work out, partly because of her insecurities, and partly because I was a mess. I spent too much time at her place on my days off because I didn't have a place of my own to return to. Things spiralled wildly out of control from there.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
I was sick for a couple of weeks in April during initial training with the new company, and then I was sick again in late September. I don't think I injured myself this year, although I did have occasional knee pain from my biking injury from a couple of years ago.
More seriously, I suffered through depression nearly all year, with several long bouts of severe depression. I struggled with binge cookie (and sometimes brownie) eating. I ate because it made me feel better for a fleeting moment. However, it inevitable led to more depression.


11. What was the best thing you bought?
Right after Anne-Marie broke up with me, I started buying things for my bike to make me feel happier. I spent all of what little money I had on this. A couple of good things came of it, though. I just about finished building my Tomac mountain bike. The lightweight, tubeless wheels were the biggest purchase, and they have been worth it so far.
The one thing I bought that I use almost daily is my iPad. I don't regret buying it for a second. I needed a new computer, but simply couldn't afford one. The iPad has been great. It's very useful for browsing the internet around the house, and it's perfect for traveling with. In fact, I'm typing on it right now.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
I'm not sure. Tour de France winner Cadel Evans? President Obama? DOT Secretary Ray LaHood? Certainly not mine.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Mine. AMR corporation. All of the Republican candidates for President. The Red Sox in September.

14. Where did most of your money go?
•Airport food. More than a quarter went to that.
•Flight school loan. Another quarter went to that.
•Suits for interviews/clothes & equipment for work
•Bike parts/clothes. About 10% went to that.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
Topsfield Fair. Cookies. Birthday bike ride with Kevin.

16. What song will always remind you of 2011?
Anything by Mumford & Sons, and the Foster the People song, "Pumped Up Kicks." I didn't like that one, though. Adele's "Someone Like You." Bon Iver's "Holocene."

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
i. happier or sadder? Much sadder.
ii. thinner or fatter? About the same.
iii. richer or poorer? Poorer.

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
Bike touring. Spending time with friends. Being happy. Traveling for fun. Living life.

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
Commuting for work. Work in general. Sleeping in the airport or at the crashpad. Stressing out.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
I woke up Christmas morning in the Holiday Inn in Minneapolis and ended the evening in a hotel in Atlanta.

21. Where did 21 go?

22. Did you fall in love in 2011?
Yep, only to have my heart broken.

23. How many one-night stands?
I guess I had one. I didn't think it was going to be just one night, but that's how it turned out.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
•How I Met Your Mother
•Parks and Recreation

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
Hate is a strong word, and I believe it's evil. There are certain people who really made my life miserable this year, though, and I'm not grateful for it. I'm on that list.

26. What was the best book you read?
Jill Homer's "Ghost Trails." Ben Franklin's autobiography. Josh Ritter's "Bright's Passage."

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Top 4 albums of 2011:
•Bon Iver - Bon Iver
•M83 - Hurry Up, We're Dreaming
•The Roots - Undun
•Drake - Take Care
Childish Gambino was my favorite discovery, though.


28. What did you want and get?
iPad. In fact, I went to several stores during the first week the iPad 2 came out. Nobody had it in stock. I even waited outside of loading docks to see when the next shipment would come in. I eventually got one a couple of months after it came out.
In the "be careful what you wish for" column, I got a job flying jets.
I also got Thanksgiving off, for once. I was very grateful for that.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
Eek. I don't know. I think I went to the theaters twice all year.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
I turned 29 and I freaked out. Ok, I didn't freak out that day. It was more of a continuing process. On my birthday I was in Vermont with Kevin, and we had a great day of mountain biking. It was beautiful out, and we took trails we had never ridden before. Then the woman who worked the motel we stayed at let us back in to shower off before we left for home. It was a great birthday. I'm planning on an even better one for 30.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
•To have found lasting love
•To have been hired by Jetblue or a charter jet company.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2011?
Sweat-wicking.

34. What kept you sane?
Very, very little.
I think if it wasn't for my friends, I wouldn't have held it together. I have great best friends in Mike, the other Mike, Jim, Nicole, Kevin, Derek, and Dan.
Being able to bike a lot this summer probably saved me from an even deeper depression.
Cookies provided many moments of sweet relief.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Eh. I wanted Andy Schleck and Fabian Cancellara to do better in the Tour. For that matter, I wanted Chris Horner and Levi Leipheimer to do well outside of the US. I think there weren't too many celebrities that I followed closely this year. Jeremy Powers, Lady Gaga, and Childish Gambino. That might be it.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
Inequality in wealth distribution. Women's rights. Gay rights.

37. Who did you miss?
Anne-Marie. My friends. My old self. My old job.

38. Who was the best new person you met?
I met a lot of great people this year. Steph is one of the best people I know, and she deserved better than me. I thought Keri was special, but c'est la vie.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2011:
What does one take from a year like this? I learned that no matter how hard you work, no matter how many advantages you are given, no matter how much of your heart is given for something, you aren't going to get it. Life is about failure and disappointment. I've learned that I'm no longer an optimistic youth, but a jaded adult. I hate being an adult.

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
"Wrong again don't depend on any reaction again
I remember the icy walls that shot up from nowhere,
and I can see every lie you've ever told yourself."
-Boy Sets Fire - My Life in the Knife Trade

---------------------------------------------------------

Ten years out of high school and what do I have to show for it? I didn't go to the reunion, partly because I had to work and partly because I was actually better off 10 years ago. I didn't want to sit there and hear, "What are you doing these days? Where do you live now? Are you married?" The answers are: flying planes for peanuts; my parents' basement--just like when I was 18; no, I can't keep a girl interested for more than a handful of months at a time. First world white people problems? Maybe. I was given so many advantages in this world. I'm smart, I'm funny, I'm good looking, I'm a good athlete, I'm a white male rasied in a middle-class family in a nice suburban setting, I have a degree from a top-tier college, I have good health... None of it really matters because I've gone nowhere in life. It's not for lack of trying. It's just that 2011 happened.
 
 
Forrest
15 October 2011 @ 06:58 pm
Let me tell you a little about regret.

When I was 18, I made a conscious decision to never regret anything in life. I was going to live life to the fullest, leave nothing left in the tank, but not hold onto anything that I didn't do as well as I could. Yes, I'd learn from my mistakes, but I wouldn't dwell on them, and I'd move on, all the stronger because of them.

Well, that served me fine for ten years. Or at least I thought it did. Now I'm here, though, a week before my 29th birthday, and I'm looking back and realizing that I've made a lot of mistakes. Some of those mistakes, the really big ones and the ones I didn't get a chance to make, I deeply regret.

I regret not trying harder to become a professional cyclist when I was younger. I think I really had the talent. It's one thing I've always known for sure that I was good at.

I regret flashing my junk onstage during a lip-syncing contest. It was stupid, immature, and offensive. I just wanted to impress some girl.

I regret cheating on my girlfriend during the first week of my freshman year of college. That really altered the course of my life and subsequent relationships. It altered my psyche.

I regret not pulling myself out of depression in college. Maybe there was little I could do, but I had severe depression and couldn't get out of bed most days. I stopped going to class. I stopped hanging out with most friends. I wasted my time and my grandparents' money.

Speaking of my grandparents' money, they gave me a really nice graduation gift, and I spent it all on beer. I really, really regret that. That was not right.

I regret leaving my job as a flight instructor. It was really the most fun job I've ever had. I also regret leaving my job as a captain for Cape Air. That was an amazing company, and my life was never better than when I worked there.

I regret losing touch with a few people from high school. They were my best friends in the world, and now I don't even know where they live. Matt, Christine, Siobhan, and I were really close, and that all went away so quickly. Adam, too. We were so close that in junior high I broke up with his girlfriend for him because he was too afraid to do it. I'm still friends with her, but I don't know where he is.

I regret working so hard when I was flight instructing that I'd come home exhausted, and not really be able to spend quality time with Jessica. I regret that when she wanted to give it another shot, I didn't say yes. I really should have said yes. That might have been the stupidest thing I've ever done.

I regret that I've hurt people, treated people badly, taken advantage of, or neglected people. I see myself as a good guy, and I think others do too, but when I think of what I've done to people and how I've made them feel, purposefully or not, I can't help but think I'm a monster and that I deserve every bit of bad luck or karma that has come my way.

I regret not being able to look outside my little world when things started to get serious with Keri. I regret that I was childish and that I felt too self important. I regret not telling her when I opened my online dating account back up, whether or not I was just there to save our old messages. I don't really know if that was my only purpose there. Maybe it wasn't.

I regret the sunny days that I've spent inside on my computer. You only get so many days in your life, and not every day is going to be sunny. I wish I had taken advantage of every one of those days.

I regret speeding tickets. I really don't think that speeding should carry so heavy a burden, but they blemish my driving record, deplete my bank account, send me to court, raise my insurance rates, and make it hard to get pilot jobs. Speeding tickets have stunted my career growth at times and sent me into financial crises.

I regret not visiting Nicole when she was in the hospital with cancer. Yes, I worked nearly every day, but some things are more important. I regret not going to comfort Nicole when Gary broke up with her. I was only half an hour away, I could have gone. I should have gone.

I regret ever moving out of my tiny apartment in Somerville. At least while I was there I had my own place. I haven't had that in the years since. I loved the community there. Now I'm living in the same place I lived when I was 23, 18, and 12.

I regret not spending more time with my grandparents, and the rest of my family. Each day they get older, and one day they won't be here anymore. There's a lot I could learn or could have learned from them.

People say life is short, but it's just a phrase. No one stops to think about it. But you and I and everyone who will ever read this or anything else... we will all die. That is certain. We only get one chance at this. Maybe there really isn't enough time to dwell on regrets, but damn, I wish I had done these things differently. Yeah, I've learned a lot from these mistakes, but you know what? I know that there are a lot more mistakes I'm going to make, and I'll make them every day. Most I can let go of, but I'm terrified of the next one I'm going to regret.
 
 
Forrest
22 January 2010 @ 07:53 am
RvW  
Well, what a change of events this year. Tonight Anne-Marie and I are moving into an apartment in Frederick, MD together. Yes, what a change indeed.
 
 
Current Location: Frederick, MD
 
 
Forrest
29 December 2009 @ 11:52 am

Click on the picture for some of the memorable shots of 2009.

2009Collapse )