Gosh, look how time flies. You look up and all of a sudden three weeks have passed, summer has turned to fall, it’s October, and all your great intentions to write stuff last month have fallen to dust. Let’s catch up, shall we?
I spent most of last month withdrawing from drugs. I had an antidepressant medication change, which has led (happily!) to the removal of Lexapro from my daily regimen. Have any of you done that? Well, I can tell you that it is un-fucking-pleasant. Lots of lightheadedness, irritability, and—my favorite—face tingling. Urgh. I’m in the lucky segment whose symptoms have lasted for multiple weeks. It’s super great.
Now that you know that I’ve been off balance for the past month-plus, it seems like a good time to tell you that I bought a bike. You probably don’t need to feel stable for that, right?
I decided that it was time for me to add some sort of cross training to my workout schedule, partly because my physical therapist told me it would be good for me and partly because I saw the words “cross training” on my marathon training calendar and I was all, “Huh, maybe I should find a way to actually do this.” Also, I was worried about my hip injury and thinking that I should come up with another way to exercise if I could never run again.
Unfortunately, I had no idea how to buy a bike. I had vivid images of me entering a bike shop, walking in confused circles for a few minutes, bursting into tears, and leaving—maybe after having fallen in an unbalanced heap onto the floor. Fortunately, my friend Sherry was passing through town and she had a few hours to spend with me. Seeing as how she is the person in the world who knows more about cycling than anyone I know (and probably anyone you know), I made her take me to a bike shop to help pick out a bike. For most people that might have been the most obnoxious thing to do to an out-of-town guest, but Sherry said that it seemed like the most fun thing to do and as it behooved me, I chose to believe her.
We spent a solid two hours at my local bike shop where I learned about everything from making sure your bike helmet has a hole for your ponytail to the difference in width of pelvic bones in men and women and how that relates to bike seats. Then we test rode a bunch of expensive bikes around the parking lot of a homeless shelter, which felt a little troubling, but that was the parking lot at hand.
They didn’t have the bike in stock that I ended up deciding on, so I left clutching a business card on which Sherry had written the specifications of the bike I wanted. I ordered it a couple of weeks later and kind of wish I still had Sherry with me because the questions the clerk heaved at me were hard: Do you want red or black? What kind of lock do you want? You should probably buy all these accessories; which accessories do you want? This little bell is really loud, but this one is shaped like a coffee cup; which do you choose?
(Red. The one the guy recommended. Just a water bottle cage. I don’t drink coffee, so the loud one.)
I was concerned when the guy asked me if I wanted matte red or black because I thought a red bike would be like a rolling invitation to steal. In fact, Sherry had schooled me on how to make a new, expensive bike look old and crappy so no one would take it. But red seemed sooooo much more fun than black. So I chose the red.
OMG YOU GUYS IT IS THE FLASHIEST, MOST FLAMBOYANT BIKE I COULD EVER HAVE CHOSEN. I can never lock this thing up out of my sight because it shines like the sun. I’ve been watching bike racks and there are NO bikes the color of mine locked up on them. Probably because they’ve already been jacked.
It doesn’t look quite so shocking from this far away, but trust me, it is BRIGHT.
Although I am now a certified bike owner, I should admit that I am terrified of riding bikes. I haven’t regularly ridden a bike since I was a teenager—and even then I didn’t ride them all that much. Fortunately, there is someone in my family who is similarly nervous and new at cycling, so Quinn and I headed out to a parking lot near our house last weekend and rode in circles.
I didn’t fall once! Neither did Quinn!
Tomorrow (on my marathon training cross training day) I plan to do a two-mile loop that passes the market where I can buy a soft serve ice cream cone. (A suitable reward for taking my life into my hands, I’d say.) I’m going to have to go down a hill—with speedbumps. *nervous face* Then I’m going to have to push the bike back up the hill. *out-of-shape face*
Also, bike helmets are the WORST, but I like my brain, so I’ll wear one. Sherry always looks super cute in hers. I don’t know why I look like a blue ladybug.
Another thing that has happened in September is that school started. Sam is in high school now and seems to be doing all right. He’s doing stuff like learning to speak Chinese and doing math that is far beyond my abilities. Jack and Quinn are also doing math that is far beyond my abilities. (I’m not very good at math. My skills lie elsewhere.)
Jack and Quinn are in the same schools they were in last year, so there has been no major upheaval for either of them, which is great, because next year both of them will be upheaved and in two entirely new schools, both to them and to me.
Speaking of which, I swear to God, being a parent and having to learn a new school is awful. Really, really awful. I kind of took the last couple of years off from being super involved in my kids’ schools, but I decided that high school is the time to get back into it. One music boosters meeting at Sam’s school and I remember why I’m not really a “joiner.”
I’m sticking it out though. I am going to Be Involved if it kills me. (It might.)
I also have a new Homework Check-in System™ for my kids. It’s an upgrade from me asking them when they get home if they have homework and them lying to my face and saying no only to freak out at bedtime or the next morning before school when they remember that they lied to me and they have to do ALL THEIR HOMEWORK RIGHT NOW OMIGOD!
This being the beginning of the school year, I am all motivated and determined that this? This is the year we’re going to do it right! Seriously though, we’re maybe five weeks into the school year and Homework Check-in is officially the worst.
I’m chugging away at it though. Every stupid night I sit at the table and make my kids bring me their binders and we check their grades and email and Google Classroom and I help them study and I sit there while they do their homework and my hope is that eventually this will become habit and what they are used to doing all the time and thus Homework Check-in will have taught them to be effective and productive students.
I had a similar program I instituted at the end of last year that I called Executive Function Friday (also ™) that I started after hearing a story on NPR about executive function coaches who helped students organize and prioritize their homework and after having an immediate reaction of I SHOULD SPEND THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS ON A COACH FOR MY KIDS, I realized that this is something I could do sorta easily myself and for free.
I know you all are like, “Oh, you are now reminding your kids to do their homework and making sure they do it and you somehow think this is revolutionary?”
Yes. Yes, I do.
Two of my subjects diligently trying to convince me their homework is complete. They are lying.
I can’t even tell you the executive functioning skills required for this. My kids have 27 classes amongst them. Twenty-seven.* It is awful. I have been coloring to keep myself busy without doing something that takes too much of my attention like reading or crushing candy while they work. I mean, that candy isn’t going to crush itself, but that’s what I do instead of blogging now, so it will still get done. Promise.
I think we’re largely caught up on September now. Oh, except for now that I have a high schooler, I have to go to things like the teen drinking town hall I attended last night. It was terrifying. I walked out of there having learned three things: (1) It is a miracle I survived college mostly unscathed what with my unhealthy drinking habits, (2) All the teenagers are in extremely imminent danger, and (3) I have to buy locks for all my liquor storage areas immediately! Like yesterday.
I was in a golden period of parenting for a while where all my kids were old enough to dress themselves and buckle their own seatbelts, but they were still under my control and/or supervision at all times. That’s starting to change what with Sam off riding the public transportation system with his friends and going to movies with them and going places where I am not. And—if the professionals from this town hall meeting are to be believed—evidently buying and using cocaine and Red Bull. It’s scary. There is a lot to shepherd kids through during their teenage years. There is so much they have to deal with. And it’s a lot of hard work. I mean, it’s worth it and all because my kids are the best and all, but geez.
So that’s it. I am off to crush some candy now while I let the computer and television parent my children. That isn’t counterintuitive to everything I’ve just said at all, is it? I have some posts percolating in my head, so hopefully it won’t be another month before I show up again. ‘Til then, Happy October!
* I was proofreading this post and I had to get out a piece of paper and scribble some figures on it and count on my fingers and then pull out a calculator, but I discovered that three kids times seven classes each equals twenty-one. So my problems are nowhere near as bad as I thought they were. Except I turn out to be perilously unqualified to perform even the most basic of calculations.