December 26th, 2009 - Happy Holidays
“Are you on your honeymoon?” someone asked. While honeymoon doesn’t quite describe my situation, it’s honest to say that I have been a lazy writer. The transition from a free roaming lion to a domesticated cat is perhaps not the case here but not far from reality either. It’s like day and night comparing my careless life to what is becoming a more meaningful and sophisticated journey of its own.
I have gone from meet-the-parents to the emotional rollercoaster of dealing with the last minute syndromes. I have learned things that I never knew existed. To this day I had no idea that there were such things as blackheads and whiteheads and that women hold the only permanent cure to these abominations. I have been startled with a contraption that looked like a needle-threader to innocent eyes but turned to be a secret society torturing tool to pave the uneven skin by removing the undesirable colored heads.
I have felt the tension building up as the departure date is getting closer and nothing seems to go smoothly until the last second. It has been hard for both of us to cope with the uncertainty of the upcoming years or the tendency to pick fights for the smallest things that would not matter under any other circumstance. All that aside, we plow through with conviction and determination, no matter what the next obstacle will be.
Cynthia has been working hard to meet these unsaid expectations and I am astounded at her fortitude every day. She is becoming an undeniable part of my life which scares me even more than the torture tool, but there is no measurement for the joy and happiness she brings to my life. She will fill you in on the latest news… Merry Christmas everyone.
Early mornings are not my thing. But this past weekend found me up before daylight two mornings in a row in pursuit of a lifelong dream. Thanks to the generous sponsorship of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, I attended the Basic Rider Course in Hesperia, CA under the excellent tutelage of Andy, Casey and Tom, the course instructors. I say excellent because I am not the quickest learner (understatement) and my renowned klutziness makes Bambi on ice look Kristi Yamaguchi. But somehow these amazing men managed to remain chipper despite the early cold mornings and having me as a pupil! They had boundless patience, explained the directions in clear terms, and were never at a loss for a smile or a word of encouragement.
Chris was very kind to accompany me to Hesperia so that I wouldn’t have to make the trip alone and to provide moral support, as well as to take some pictures and video of the class. We ended up finding a last-minute couch-surfing place to crash in Hesperia with a college history professor named Jim Comer. We enjoyed visiting with this intelligent, kind and modern-day Renaissance man who served us pine-twig tea and a dessert from an ancient Carthaginian recipe.
Day one started with classroom instruction from Tom. After reviewing the entire handbook in the classroom and a delicious breakfast which was Tom’s treat to the class, the morning ended with a written test. I was struggling to remember some of the details and while I knew about 40 of the answers, I wasn’t exactly sure about the remaining 10. Biting my nails, I handed my test in to be reviewed and went to the restroom. When I returned, Chris shook his head and told me that I didn’t pass and that I was the only one who didn’t pass. My heart sank. He had told me that it wasn’t an option to fail. I sat dejected, kicking myself internally for failing, when finally he told me that I did pass. The poor guy apparently just wanted to mess with me and joke around but at that moment, I didn’t find the humor in his joke.
The afternoon of day one started with a basic overview of the bike. There were 11 students taking the course. The only other girl in the class, Jamie, told me that her husband told her that when he took the class, the 3 girls in the class failed. We were both quite nervous about passing to say the least. We bonded over Gatorade and set out to master the basics. The hours flew by as we went from one exercise to another. By the end of the day I was sore and mentally exhausted but thrilled to be learning how to ride.
Chris and I went to Starbucks after the class to meet up with Jesus Granados, a new friend from the Hooligan Crusiers motorcycle forum who kindly rode in from about an hour away to meet with us and give us some information about traveling in Mexico. He also sent us numerous emails with valuable links and resources for our travels. We really appreciate his time and willingness to connect and help us out. Hopefully we can find a chance to go on a ride together before we leave the States.
The next day started with another beautiful sunrise, something that the high desert seems to have no lack of. After warming up the bikes we started going through more drills and exercises to teach us how to stop, swerve, go around curves, go over obstacles, stop in curves and change lanes. My nemesis was the “box,” a drill which involved doing a modified figure eight within the confines of a rectangle shape. I felt like I was riding a bull backwards for as much as I was able to get the bike to do what I wanted it to within that box. Thankfully, throughout the whole morning, Casey and Andy kept giving me helpful feedback and direction. Without fail, they were patient, kind, and good-humored. Chris saved the day by bringing me breakfast so that I could get some sustenance during the breaks. Before I knew it the drill/practice time was up and we had to take our tests. One by one the entire class went through each exercise while Casey and Andy took notes on their clipboards. We gathered together for the moment of truth and cheered to discover that the entire class passed. So it’s official. I can ride a motorcycle. Well, not really. I still have to pass the written test at the DMV to get my endorsement. And I have miles to go in practice before I am fully competent as a rider. But I’m on my way!
With 5 million graduates and counting, this is another testament to the efforts of the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and its great team of people who care about and value rider safety and shine through with their knowledge, patience, and dedication to making the roads safer and more enjoyable for everyone.