Stuff from the Attic (June 2009 Edition)

In the wake of the recent (and, let it be said, extremely fun) Claire De Lunacy blogoversary, I’ve found myself struggling to come up with something blog-worthy to fill this site. I’ve had several false starts, but they seemed too facile or insubstantial to sustain an entire post (and if something on THIS site is too ephemeral to support a post, you know we’re in trouble). So, just to keep the blood pumping, I present to you the following list of topics currently banging around in my noggin’.

1) Henchmen of shared nationality and language who, despite being utterly alone unless fighting the hero of the pic or book, speak English with each other. We’ve all seen this a thousand times. James Bond is scampering about, chopping necks and turning his shoe into a shaped charge against the wall of the evil mastermind’s lair, and miles away, Sergei and Boris are walking the perimeter, conversing in a language they no doubt had to learn for solely professional reasons.  “But,” I hear you asking, “what if they’re under orders to speak English, so that the dastardly associates of their employer can speak with them directly? What if, in the underworld of crime and perfidity, English functions much as it does in the world of legitimate business, a sort of koine that assures everyone is at a mutual disadvantage during negotiations?”

To which I reply, “Oh, piffle.”

Seriously, if you’re in another country (even for work) and you’re back at the hostel, waiting for dinner or to be abducted and sold into white slavery until rescued by Liam Neeson, are you chatting with your mates in Castillian about the latest episode of 30 Rock? Of course you aren’t.

[NOTE: Obviously, this rule doesn’t apply if you’ve brought a potential love interest back to the apartment, in which case you behave as though you were steeped in the same cultural and linguistic influences they were, so that they see you are a person of substance, and also so that they will let you touch their naughty bits.]

But Sergei and Boris aren’t interested in gettin’ it on, they’re (presumably) trying to pop a cap in the gent from MI-6. Plus, in accordance with the Convenient Plot Furtherance Act of 1982, they are inevitably childhood friends who dreamt of one day working as the muscle for one of many human embodiments of evil, and are therefore no longer trying to impress one another.

Bottom line, henchpeople who are nowhere near people who do not speak their mother tongue should converse in it without feeling obligated to help the audience along.

[This goes double for Klingons.]

2) And speaking of James Bond, why can’t we have a movie about Q-Branch? James Bond is 007. That means there are at least six other 00’s out there (unless they start with 000, in which case there are seven), and I’m betting that they give Q-Branch as much trouble as James does. Are we meant to believe that wacky hijinks ensue only when The Man Who Really Should Only Be Played By Sean Connery or Pierce Brosnan comes around? I think not.

I’m picturing a series of films starring John Cleese. Music by Danny Elfman, with special guest Eric Idle as “Zed,” the lowest-ranking member of Q-Branch whose zany antics create problems for R at first, but ultimately provide the solution to the crisis facing the team.

Gold, I’m telling you. GOLD.

3) Cable Internet should not just fail for no discernible reason. I pay top dollar each month for Road Runner Turbo. When it works, it is a heavenly connection to the global information stream. When it fails (which it does with alarming regularity ever since Time Warner sent me an “improved” replacement modem to exchange for the old one that worked PERFECTLY WELL WITHOUT ANY TROUBLE, EVER), my wrath becomes a molten volcano of  earth-scorching magma, eager to strip the flesh and sinew from those who have denied me the chance to show Dramatic Prairie Dog to the one friend who hasn’t yet seen it.

Even now, THIS VERY SECOND, my Internet is out for the fourth time today. The FOURTH TIME! It often lasts for an hour or more. Requests for assistance are met with blank stares or infuriating questions (especially to an IT person) like “Have you restarted your computer?” and “Is your house properly wired for both electricity and cable?”

No, jackass, I’m living in a sod house on the banks of Plum F-ing Creek with Mary and Laura.

Bah!

[This topic may grow into a full-blown entry, depending on how my next volley of requests is handled by the TWC crew.]

4) Hormones make you fat. OK, I’ll admit that the pepper-and-olive pizza I eat a little too often is aiding and abetting the ‘mones in their evil quest to turn my ass into an earthwork, but my regular workouts don’t cut the difference anymore. When, last week, I realized I had not only stopped losing weight (even with the help of Fullbar), but was GAINING, I knew it was time to take drastic measures. So, now I work out twice a day…strength and flexibility in the morning, aerobic exercise at night (if you know what I mean, wink, wink, nudge, nudge. Oh, who am I kidding, I’m riding a freaking bike).

So far, I’ve stopped gaining. However, my overall wimpiness and disturbingly taut pants suggest even more drastic measures may be necessary, e.g. not eating a bowl of cereal every night even though cereal is a gift from Ceres to show that we are worthy of deliciousness.

And if I have to eliminate cheese, there may very well be no point to living.

Also, I could probably stand to workout harder. And longer.And, God help us all, join a gym.

Me! Be a joiner! The mind boggles. Ah, well, no one said being a glamor girl was easy.

But if that fails, I am just biting the bullet and shopping around for an eating disorder like my friends. Well, I mean, an eating disorder that makes me thin rather than saurian.

5) Chaz Bono has a rough ride ahead. I feel Chaz’s pain. Here’s a person who has spent their life trapped in the wrong body, and has weight issues to boot. Chaz, buddy, I am pulling for you! I hope that, as they did for me, your weight issues start to resolve as you resolve your gender issues. Plus, the testosterone will help you build muscle, which, as the Lotte Berk method teaches us, eats fat. Sure, you’ll have to work hard, but I’ll bet that with your limitless financial resources and access to Hollywood’s beautification professionals, you’ll be running through the surf, Hasselhoff-style, in no time flat.

Just remember the words of C.S. Lewis: “You don’t have a soul. You ARE a soul. You HAVE a body.”

Also, please remember that I was so supportive and send me any extra trainers and/or plastic surgeons you have laying around.

6) Going back to school is nerve-wracking but also exciting as hell. For those of you who don’t know, I’m going back to college in the Winter quarter of 2009-2010. I made a promise to myself when I was but a sprout, and that promise was that I would become a doctor of philosophy in the science of linguistics. As of this year, that dream begins to come true. I’m writing essays, I’m gathering letters of recommendation, I’m purchasing raccoon coats and little football pennants that say things like “Rah!” (just in case I’m thrown back in time and have to wrap things up in the 1920s). I suspect that my mania regarding this process is the real reason I’ve been blog-avoidant of late; I’ve been trying to conserve my creative and intellectual juices so that I may make a favorable impression on the doyens et doyennes of academia who will determine my worthiness for further growth.

Not that they want to hear about my juices, creative or otherwise. In fact, I’m fairly certain no one does. Let’s just pretend I never said it and focus on my casual usage of French in a context designed to make me appear worldly without being a pompous ass.

There – that’s better, non?

7) My being transgendered does not give you the right to disrespect me. I didn’t want to take a whole blog post with this topic, as this particular saw has several busted teeth, but a recent incident freaked me the hell out and I had to say something.

I keep an announcement board on the window of my office, a little dry-erase deal with the names of myself and my assistant written along the left-hand side, with a magnetic dot indicating whether we are “in” or “out,” and a space to clarify as necessary (e.g., “in a pointless meeting,” “saving children from burning orphanage,” “having lunch with the Married Crush in the hope that my telepathy will finally kick in and she will find herself immersed in the golden sunbeams of my undying adoration, whereby she will realize she has been a fool to toy with me and loves me as well,” et hoc genus omne). Usually, I don’t even look at the board; I just slide the dot from “out” to “in,” unlock my office, and begin counting the minutes ’til five o’clock.

That day, however, I noticed something different.

Someone had erased “Claire” and written my OLD name. Not the name by which I was known, mind you, but my old LEGAL name.

Now, I hear some of you asking “So? What’s the big deal?” and I get that, I really do. After all, it was just a simple scribble on a white board.

That said, imagine if you will my confusion and, yes, fear. Here was a bit of information that, while hardly a state secret, was not common knowledge, even among my friends. Here was an act that said, in essence, “I am denying you exist, and I am quite literally attempting to erase you.” Was this a harmless prank, or was some whack-a-do hiding in the creepy warehouse shelves behind me, waiting for me to be distracted so they could brain me with a pipe wrench and add bits of my body to the silver skeleton in their basement?

In erasing my name and writing the old one, they were (whether they were cognizant of the fact or not) challenging my right to exist as myself. They were attacking me, in a “safe” place, with my own possessions.

I felt violated. I felt sick.

And then I got angry.

I wiped the board clean, re-wrote my name clearly and firmly, and then e-mailed HR.

Now, it must be said that the HR department was exceptionally helpful and kind. They immediately contacted security to see if any tape was available for the time when the “prank” most likely occurred. They were sympathetic to my concerns, and assured me that action would be taken against the person who had done this. After talking with them, I felt reassured – clearly, someone cared and would support me.

Presently, the perpetrator remains unknown (at least to me). I’m not going to pretend this is as serious as the attacks that happen to transpeople every day, both in this country and worldwide. After all, I didn’t have to earn my lesson with blood or, worse yet, my life.  But to me, a girl who is already hyper-vigilant when in public, the loss of one of the few places I felt safe to relax my guard is a very real attack on me and my right to live my life.

I’m not going to let it change my desire to see the good in people, or to try my best to be an ambassador for transpeople to the mainstream world.

But just the same, Ice Station Zebra is a little colder these days.

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Fullbar© 2009: The Fittening

Hey, kids.

Well, it’s been a while, hasn’t it? Other than keeping up with my poetry and trying to throw in the occasional comic, I haven’t done much blogging of late.  This is because, as they say, life intrudes. I suppose that, ultimately, I’d rather have too much life to live and neglect my blog than too much blogging and neglect my life.

Besides, life is the fuel that fires the engine of the blog. Stop living, stop blogging (I’m looking at you, Perez Hilton).

But I digress. Today’s post is about an exciting new addition to my battle against The Chub. Yes, dear readers, I have become one of “those” people (well, I guess it’s more correct to say I’ve added another category to my classification as one of “those” people).

I ordered Fullbar©.

For those of you unfamiliar with the concept, Fullbar© is a nutritional supplement/weight loss aid cleverly disguised as a spongy, flexible brick of fiber. You eat one twice a day with a large glass of water, 30 minutes before your two biggest meals. The ostensible purpose of this is staving off hunger by telling your brain you’re full before you start eating – a feat easily accomplished because the Fullbar© absorbs the water like nobody’s business.

Today is day one of my Fullbar© experiment, and my initial impressions are as follows:

1) This thing is yummier than it has any right to be. Seriously, I had a cranberry-almond bar at 5:10 this morning, carefully chewing each bite to avoid having the whole bar swell up to the size of a mattress inside me and explode me like a bird eating rice. But it wasn’t too arduous a task – the bar itself was oddly like a Rice-Krispy-Treat in texture, with puffed brown rice and rice syrup taking the place of toasted white rice and marshmallow. It was slightly tacky to the touch, but not sticky. And the taste, as I said, was pretty darn good. Like an especially chewy granola bar.

2) It may prove difficult to follow-up with a mini-meal after eating one of these bastards. I’m supposed to eat six mini-meals a day, the two largest preceded by a Fullbar© as indicated. The trouble I’m running into is that not only did I not want my 5:30 meal this morning, I was still pretty full at 8:00. But, because the good doctor instructs us not to skip any meals lest our brain realize we are pulling a little legerdemain, I was a good little Fullbarite and ate my weight-control protein-infused oatmeal at 8:00. I’m kind of wondering what I’ll eat at lunchtime now…maybe some air? One Cheez-It and a piece of pepperoni?

3) The biggest surprise is that I don’t feel like I’m on a “program.” Diets and I have a checkered history. I’ve done the grapefruit diet. I’ve done the Mayo Clinic diet. I’ve even, in a moment of insanity, done Deal-a-Meal. Most everything I’ve tried has felt like a chore on day one. This being day one of Fullbar©, I fully intended to experience the sort of exasperated disillusionment that characterizes my attempts to defeat The Chub. To my very pleasant surprise, I have not. I think the primary difference stems from:

A) It’s not so much a diet as it is a complete restructuring of my eating habits

and

B) I’m at a point in my life where food is no longer a necessary crutch to deal with my inner demons (that’s what Grey Goose is for!)

Kidding! I’m kidding. Everyone knows I prefer Bombay Sapphire.

In addition to faithfully noshing a responsible meal-ette every three hours, I’ve also been instructed to drink at least 60 oz of water a day, work out three times a week, and stay positive.

That’s it.

I’m cautiosly optimistic about this whole mess, and trying to keep my expectations realistic. Yes, in trials, folks following the Fullbar© method lost 40% of their excess body weight in three months. That’s very encouraging, but I also know that the REAL success with this (or any other method of weight loss) will begin and end with my ability to stay true to my goals.

We’ll see how I do.

Thankful.

*Author’s Note: I’m off to Columbus for Turkey Day proper, so I’m writing this post today.*

While I’m not known for being serious, I do occasionally have a serious thought that passes through my head. These thoughts step warily into the clearings that dot the chaotic forest of my subconscious, eyes scanning the skies for signs of the sharp talons of Distraction and Frivolity, the two ravens that circle constantly in an attempt to prevent me from getting anything done, ever. If the sky’s clear, the thought usually twitches its nose and makes a run for it, hoping it’ll make it to my conscious mind before it’s snatched up and messily devoured.

One such thought came to me recently as I sat in my office, sipping tea and regretting my lunchtime choice of Huevos Rancheros. The thought was, “What am I truly thankful for this year?” With the juggernaut of Conspicuous Christmas Consumption firing up its titanic engines of greed earlier and earlier every year, Thanksgiving tends to get overlooked as the long weekend between Give Me Candy and Give Me Presents. However (and I am SO aware that this is NOT an original observation), it would probably do us all a world of good to sit down and think about what we’re thankful for this year (and not just because I need to write a blog post).

So, without further ado, I present:

Things For Which I, La Barceloneta, Am Thankful This Year

1) The Election is over! Regardless of which candidate you backed, I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that the mudslinging’s over. Now we can get on with the important stuff (well, we can try).

2) The Little Emperor is learning Spanish. Neither of my sisters inherited our mother’s Spanish-Mexican looks (whereas I appear to be a blurry photocopy made after someone inadvertently hit “200%” on the copier), but they DID inherit her disinterest in preserving Spanish as a familial language. As a result, I have long been the only daughter able to converse with our aunts and cousins in Spanish, and as I have, as the Bible might put it, no fruit o’ the loins (not to be confused with Fruit of the Looms, which I do possess), my fear that Spanish in our family might die with my generation has been wedged in my heart of hearts like a dirty icepick for just as long. However, my nephew (he of the enormous brain and Children of the Corn physiology) has been learning Spanish from both me and PBS for three of his four years, and his recent, spontaneous conversational uses of Spanish leave me confident that at least one of my sister’s children will be able to talk to Crazy Aunt Claire when they come visit me at the Raisin Ranch in my twilight years.

3) My transition is moving forward. I started hormones this year. Electrolysis continues, albeit slowly and expensively (but with a practitioner who is more caring, professional and understanding than I could’ve ever dreamed possible). My parents are, against their will, coming to realize that this is real and not an elaborate prank I’ve set up with the help of Ashton Kutcher. I managed to get my name changed just about everywhere (although not without some effort). And, of course, I get to be me, and not a construct. So, you know, yay, me!

4) Nobody I love is currently in a war zone, but people loved by others are there fighting the good fight. God bless our United States Armed Services. All this freedom we enjoy is bought with their sweat and blood, and if you know a vet, or meet a vet, or hear about a vet three streets over, make sure you thank them. I’m thankful that we have a military full of people willing to lay down their LIVES for people they’ve never met and most likely never will. I may not agree with the decisions to go to (or stay in) our current theaters of war, but I will never – NEVER – have an unkind word to say about the men and women who put country, home and freedom above their own self-interest in the name of the greater good. Thank you, vets and current service members.

5) John Hodgman wrote another book. Oh, sure, to some of you he’s just the PC in those, ahem, “funny” Mac versus PC commercials. But to me, John Hodgman will always be the guy whose surreal NPR story from a remote secret location (which is now on fire) made me spit eggnog all over myself last year. Which means he owes me a new “I see you’ve already met the twins” t-shirt.

Jerk.

In addition, he is profoundly hilarious and should be read by everyone, ever.

6) I can do ab rolls and reverse push-ups without crying. Well, without crying A LOT. And it’s all thanks to Lotte Berk. My campaign to become stretchy is only a few weeks old, but if I can just stick with this and the Tour de Farce, someday soon innocent bystanders might not yell “GODZILLA!” and flee when my shadow falls across them.

But I will still stomp and say “RAWR!”, because everyone at Kroger’s come to expect it and they might think I’m ill if I just come in and buy groceries.

7) Morning Express purchased some kind of light specifically made to enhance Robin’s looks. I swear, I’m not making this up. To me, enhancing Robin’s looks is a bit like sprinkling gold on a pile of diamonds, but I say it’s money well spent.

There are, naturally, many other things for which I’m thankful this year (Isis King making history on America’s Next Top Model, Dad’s decision to sync up his haircuts with The Little Emperor so they look like age progression/regression pictures, my unasked-for-but-certainly-appreciated-in-a-weird-way out-of the blue subscription to Maxim en Español (Those guys are kidding, right? I mean, nobody’s really THAT sexist, are they? Are they?!?!?), et hoc genus omne) but I will not attempt to list them all here.

I invite you, dear friends, to take a moment – wherever you are – and reflect on the blessings in your life. Sure, life can be crappy and full of Things That Should Not Be (I’m looking at you, Turducken), but I’m a glass-half-full, silver lining kind of girl…and I hope you will be, too.

Well, except for the guys.

Unless they’re really girls who happen to be guys.

Which is TOTALLY fine. We all walk our own path.

I’m not sure where the guys who are actually girls fall.

I guess optimism and gratitude are universal, is what I’m saying.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Which Our Heroine Attempts to Get Ripa-fied

I am double-jointed.

While this might sound to like the first line of a really sleazy personal ad, it is nevertheless true. As a child, the ritual of dressing in seventy-five layers so I could go outside (a la A Christmas Story) usually involved at least one exchange like this:

MA: OK, sweetie, I think that’s it. Now we just need to put on your mittens and OH MY GOD!

YOURS TRULY: What’s wrong, Mommy?

MA (Hastily freeing my thumb from its position back near the elbow of my many sleeves with a sound similar to a doorstop being kicked – SPROOOOING!): Nothing, honey! We’ll go outside as soon as Mommy takes her nerve pill.

Later in my life, I was taking out the trash (an odious chore made worse by the freezing drizzle that had been falling for four days at that point) when I slipped in the alley behind our house, performing a series of acrobatic and gracile maneuvers not seen since…well, ever. I did the splits, slammed into the wall of the neighbor’s house, and popped my left leg free of its socket. This left me running around in little circles on the ground, making an assortment of noises we shall not attempt to render via onomatopoeia. Luckily, my father heard my cries and, assuming a wandering moose had somehow become caught in the gears of a combine, came running out to see what happened. Sizing up the situation, my father (never a man to clutter his mind with inconsequentialities like medical training, panic or possible disfigurment) said “hold still, I need to look at your leg,” then grabbed my thigh and jammed my leg home like I owed him money. There was a loud TWANG!, followed by a sensation not unlike someone JAMMING YOUR LEG BACK INTO ITS SOCKET. However, moments later, when I’d unclamped my hands from the now-crushed trashcan, I discovered that not only could I walk, but I was pain-free (at least physically). Dad muttered something along the lines of “just like that time I fell off the radar tower” and went back inside to his paper, while I did a little jig and went inside to write bad adolescent poetry about the preciousness of life.

I could go on, but I sense your eyelids fluttering. My point here is, I’m bendy. Not Gumby bendy, but pretty freaking bendy. Which is why, as I grew tired of the Tour De Farce and sought ways to supplement my flagging dedication to daily exercise by adding some toning, I turned to my Fit Friend Laura. Fit Friend Laura, who has achieved a level of health and fitness I assumed unattainable by mortals, is constantly playing in soccer leagues and running 5Ks and scaling Kilimanjaro and things like that. Since she is the E.F. Hutton of fitness, when she recommended the Lotte Berk series of workout DVDs, I listened.

For those of you unfamiliar with Lotte Berk and (let us assume) her method, she is the German dancer who, over thirty years ago, created a method of torturing enemy combatants until they wept for their mamas toning, stretching and sculpting designed to improve flexibility, cardiovascular fitness, and strength all at the same time. It seems that her protoge, one Ms. Lydia Bach, saw how well this method worked on the dancers and decided to share it with the world (at a price, naturally).

All of which led to one Kelly Ripa (she of the teeny-tiny body and washboard abs, perched chirpily next to Regis) incorporating the LB method into her workout, which in turn led to her amazing new look (helped along, of course, by her trainer, personal chef and a metabolism identical to that of a chipmunk).  Like a lot of women, I heard Kelly talk about it and thought to myself, “Jeez, if Kelly Ripa can do it, so can I!”

And I can. Just barely.

There are four DVDs in the series: Basic Essentials, Muscle Eats Fat, Hip-Hugger Abs, and the somewhat disturbingly punnish High Round Assets. Now, I know this will come as a shock, but I decided to start with Basic Essentials and work my way up the pain ladder.

I take it back – I’m not bendy. Or at least not Lotte Berk bendy. After three workouts (you do the workout every other day), I am no longer grimacing when I reach above my head, but my abdomen, long a region accustomed to my profound but otherwise benign neglect, has been complaining strenuously. Thanks to something called the Lotte Berk Tuck, I have achieved a sort of semi-startled posture, in which I am constantly reminded that I could (and should) be sitting up straighter – shoulders back, chin down, “seat” tucked in, abs tight. It’s the physical equivalent of having Ma yell at me for slouching.

With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can easily see myself having stronger self-control, based solely on the fear of having to do my workout with too much dinner in me (I keep picturing turkey and mashed potatoes shooting out of my belly button like Thanksgiving plasma, destroying all in its path).

Lotte Berk promises that “in 10 days, you’ll feel a difference, and in 20, you’ll see a difference.”

Well, it’s been six days, and I’ve already noticed a difference. My computer monitors had to be adjusted because they were too low for new, non-slouchy Claire. Someone asked me if I had lost more weight when I walked into work today. My married crush said “I’m leaving Bonehead and running away with you, you latina goddess of exceeding bendyness.”

OK, not that last one.

Damn it.

But I digress. I will say that I feel better, and while I’m sure that most of that is psychosomatic, I can easily see myself sticking with this, especially since it gives me something to alternate with the Tour De Farce. As I move further into my transition, I find myself more and more willing to make improvements to a body I ignored for far too long.

After all, the LB method worked for Lotte Berk and Lydia Bach…why shouldn’t it work for La Barceloneta?

Tour De Farce™ Week Seven: That Ain’t Wright

Epic, isn't it?

It’s been a long week once again, kids. Between my PC blowing up and a power failure due to The Wind Storm of Doom™, I have had precious little time for this blog or computers in general. However, as one of my less-charming attributes is my occasional lack of follow-through with regard to my plentiful ill-conceived schemes, I have carved out this chunk of time before work on a dark and somewhat chilly Monday morning in order to complete my Tour de Farce™ entry!

To wit:

MILES BIKED THIS WEEK: 45 (9.0 miles/day, Monday-Friday)

TOTAL MILES BIKED SO FAR: 284

WHERE I WOULD BE IF THIS BIKE HAD WHEELS: Altamont, IL

Altamont has a lot going for it, especially if you love church, church-related activities, or activities that are not necessarily religious in nature but are held, by necessity, in one of several thousand area churches. Seriously, the entire take-away chicken industry doesn’t have this many churches!

And speaking of church matters, there are, sadly, no Hell’s Angels in Altamont, IL. Well, at least no formal Hell’s Angels club. My guess is they had a hard time finding a church in which to meet. Perhaps unsurprisingly, there is little to be found in the way of Rolling Stones memorabilia either. My plan is to open a Speedway franchise here and advertise it as “The Altamont Speedway – fast, fresh and, frequently, full of felons.”

One other thing that Altamont has, however, is the Wright house. When I first read about the Wright house, I was excited because I half-expected some sort of tenuous-but-ultimately-satisfying link between the Altamont Wrights and the Dayton Wrights. Much to my consternation, there was no link to be found. Instead of bicycles and man-powered flight, the Altamont Wrights were in the business of medicine, law and ridiculous haircuts. The primary appeal of the Wright mansion, it would seem, lies in the fact that all the stuff they’ve accumulated since it went up in the late 1800’s is still lying around in there, waiting to be ooh’d and aah’d over by tourists. I will say, however, that if laughter is the best medicine, then the mere appearance of Charles Wright I was surely the best curative to be had in those days.

Patient: “Beulah, call for Dr. Wright…my rheumatiz is botherin’ me something fierce!”

[two hours pass as Dr. Wright coifs his hair into the approximate size and shape of an enormous Valentine’s Day Hershey Kiss]

Dr. Wright: “Never fear, good sir, I have arrived with the very best apothocarial and medicinal treatments for your – “

Patient: “BWA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HA-HAAAAAA! Dear Lord above, Doc, you look like a lopsided ice-cream cone!” (sounds of heels clicking, gleeful dancing) “Who can think about the pain of rheumatiz with that hairdo in the room?”

Dr. Wright: (quiet sobbing)

And so on.

Coming up next week: Sandoval, Illinois, a village that proudly declares itself to be the “Crossroads to Everywhere.” Who knew that the very nexus of the creation lay in Southwestern Illinois?

Tour De Farce™ Week Six: Byurnt-byurnt-byurrr…byurnt-byurnt-byurrr…FOXY!

Epic, isn't it?

So here’s the thing:

I like foxes, of both the four-legged and two-legged varieties (the idiot news channel, not so much). So you can imagine my delight when, as I was charting my course for last week’s ride, I noticed that a slight detour from my route would take me to an actual State Park, and not another blink-and-you’ll-miss-it shantytown. Eager to let me non-existant tires bite into the soft earth instead of cruel pavement, I veered north from I-70 and headed on up to Fox Ridge State Park. But before you get too excited, let’s review, shall we?

MILES BIKED THIS WEEK: 45 (9.0 miles/day, Monday-Friday)

TOTAL MILES BIKED SO FAR: 239

WHERE I WOULD BE IF THIS BIKE HAD WHEELS: Fox Ridge State Park, Illinois

I’m a sucker for a good park, especially one with trails, and falls, and flora and fauna not so inured to the comings and goings of humanity that they stand beside the trail, begging for spare change and bits of Lunchable. No, although Fox Ridge has its fair share of visitors, the local Wildlife Conservation Squad seems to be on the ball, and the locals seem keen on preserving this bit of nature’s bounty rather than slapping a highway overtop it and adding a soulless strip mall anchored by a pseudo-ironic Rain Forest Cafe. As an added bonus, the entire park is centered around the rugged bluffs of the endearingly named Embarras River (pronounced in the Midwestern French way, i.e., “Ambraw,” rather than straight-up Ohio Anglicization, e.g. “Versailles” pronounced as “Ver-sails, hyuck-hyuck-hyuck!“). Should I ever make it over this way in real life, I will happily spend a day or two at the Fox Ridge State Park and Creepy Fish Experimentation Station. It’s hard not to like a place whose motto reads “take only memories, leave only footprints” – just make sure you don’t step on any butterflies.

Coming up next week: Altamont, IL…no word yet as to whether any hippies will be receiving a beatdown by angry Hell’s Angels, but I’m going to avoid playing any Rolling Stones just in case.

Tour de Farce™ Week Five: of Illness and Illinois

Epic, isn't it?

Whew-ee, what a week!

I was very excited on Monday. This is the week I moved my daily miliage to 9, and would finally leave the wide, farm-laden expanses of Indiana in my tiny rear-view mirror, exchanging them for the welcoming, um…farm-laden expanses of Illinois. A completely different state! With several different letters in the name!

Yes, I had dreams, kids – dreams I still managed to fulfill, despite the aftermath of an accidental ingestion of  pork, the other death meat.

To wit:

MILES BIKED THIS WEEK: 45 (9.0 miles/day, Monday-Friday)

TOTAL MILES BIKED SO FAR: 194

WHERE I WOULD BE IF THIS BIKE HAD WHEELS: Weaver, Illinois

Weaver, Illinois is in Illinois. That much I’m sure of. Beyond that, I was unable, in my reconnaissance efforts, to discover anything about this sleepy little burg/village/municipality/backup for Area 51.

Seriously. Look up Weaver, Illinois on the InterWeb, and you know what you will find?

THIS.

The site was experiencing “technical difficulties” when I tried to access it, and the city itself doesn’t seem to have an “official” website.

Clearly, I have stumbled upon the place the government used to film the moon landing, relocate the still-living but amnesiac JFK, and hide Megatron.

Either that, or Rod Serling had Weaver in mind back in the day.

Coming up next week: Fox Ridge State Park, Illinois, home of the most thorough and longest-lasting continuous fish studies in the United States. I know, I know…I can’t wait, either.