introspective periscope : peeking inside since Y2K


like a sea-mammal needs a bicycle

on the late night - 30 may 2017

"you know they call them "killer" whales / but you seem surprised when it pinned you down to the bottom of the tank where you can't turn around / it took half your leg"~neko case

this afternoon, when the sun finally peeked out for keeps, buster and i drove up to the old house to bring the bikes down from the garage. i've got a little storage space just inside the main door at our new digs which will save having to drag his little rickshaw and my bike down the stairs every time we'll head out and then up again when we return home. just a quick pop out to the street and back again when we're done. there are a lot of things to love about our bird's nest. it has been awhile since we've taken the bikes out, though...over a month. not since that day we went riding with amber.

i've been biking for a lot of years now and i know that i'm not the fastest (i wore out a bright yellow messenger bag one year that proudly stated that i prefer the slow bicycle movement and that's mostly still true. i'm nosy and generally curious--i like looking around when i'm out for a ride. i enjoy the landscapes we ride through...i like feeling the city from the perspective of my bike--not at all similar to the gridlock of a car ride. i can zip from one end of the city to the other in about 15 or 20 minutes and that's not saying anything because i know most folks can probably do it faster. the real mileage comes when you ride away from the city. things get interesting no matter which way you go. head out the monongahela river and you pass the bald eagle nests, the sandcastle waterpark which seems most interesting on the rare winter ride, the waterfront area and you can keep going and going. head out along the ohio river and there's the bicycle museum, Bicycle Heaven. the creepy old jail is out there, too. if you ride along the allegheny river, you could potentially pass through the strip district or along the north shore, lawrenceville for a little pinball, washington's landing out on the old cannery island for a picnic, to millvale for a beer. there are myriads of trails that i've heard of and not yet taken...because i keep doing the same familiar sections the last few summers, still hesitant to go out too far alone with a little kid lest we catch a nasty flat and have to limp back for miles. the point is, we ride. for a lot of miles if you consider i'm hauling my(curvyplussizesexyaf)self and my 35 pound toddler and all the crap that one needs to bring for said toddler--think drinks, snacks, a change of clothes because you're potty training him thunderdome-style and you know he's gonna pee all over everything right around mile 9 or 10 because that is just your luck if it can go wrong it will you've learned to live with that luck and you are a fucking girl scout who is prepared for anything plus a book or two and maybe a toy plus his sunglasses and sunblock and get the idea yet? it's not just a bike ride now. and listen, i'm not complaining about all the crap i have to drag along to go enjoy a good ride on the trails...i'm just stating objectively that it's a lot of weight to pull around and considering that, yes, of course our rides are slow but they're slowly getting longer. or they were, anyway. then i just stopped. at first i just told myself it was the weather or that we could wait and maybe invite some company along too later in the week....nah, listen. it was that dude.

amber and i were riding through downtown, along the boulevard of the allies, cutting through market square to get over to the north side trails to ride out along the ohio river. we'd just turned a corner and were coming up on a red light. i heard him before i saw him.

'i didn't know shamu could ride a bike!'

my eyes darted to the sidewalk to a man wearing a dirty sweatshirt and dirty khaki shorts, possibly drunk. as i assessed the situation, i thought, no, i couldn't possibly have heard that right...but then he said it again, this time with more gusto and boldness. he wanted to make sure i heard him and that the folks in their cars at the red light all heard him so everyone could share a great laugh at my expense about something that...isn't really funny, right?

'I DIDN'T KNOW SHAMU COULD RIDE A BIKE!' and he laughed at himself as he kept walking.

i coasted to a stop and mumbled something like 'yeah, okay, thanks, man. haven't heard that before.' i tried to ignore it. i mean, lately, what's the point in even engaging a person like that? then from behind me

"What'd you say, man?"
"Amber, it's not even worth it..." i trailed off. it's no use trying to stop a good well-meaning friend who is sticking up for you even if it means i'm cringing because why drag it out? caught off guard, i occasionally still revert to the version of me that just wants to be swallowed whole and disappear to make things like this just stop. it never works out that way.

"I'M NOT MAD AT YOU HONEY! I'M MAD AT YOUR FRIEND FOR LETTING HERSELF GET LIKE THAT!" he screamed back down the street. god, please make the light change. something. i just want to ride away from this. my kid is in his seat behind me taking all of this in. in all, the incident lasted seconds but it felt like that may have been the longest red light in pittsburgh.

"FUCK YOU, MAN!" amber shouted just as the light turned green and i pushed my pedals, raging inside.

for the rest of the afternoon, i was on guard, anxious. let herself get like that? LET MYSELF GET LIKE THIS? what the fuck does that even mean?! i was boiling in my guts. in my head, i was working out the probability: the warmer weather meant more people out and more people means a higher likelihood that someone is gonna say something and i just kept thinking of all the ways i could've handled it. maybe i could've explained that shamu is off in some home for old killer whales or something now and that the shamu joke was obsolete as of the late 90s right? i could've hopped off my bike and tried to engage the guy in a real conversation about how i didn't invite him to comment on my body let alone look at it and how he could fat-shame me all he likes but that he's really just projecting whatever rotten thing there is in him onto me and tried to really strive for change and maybe a meaningful conversation. maybe he wouldn't ever do that again. maybe i could have explained that i've struggled with this my whole life and it wasn't something i LET HAPPEN TO MYSELF. i could have educated him about PCOS and explained that i dieted my youth away and it was all for nothing. i could have challenged him to bike as far as i do pulling the same weight because you know, i might be slow and fat but i'm strong and committed to my bike-love. i could have done a million different things but you don't even know now what's safe to do now with these crazy people who insist on barging into your life without invitation. at the base of all of it is my strongest compass: my kid is back there and he's watching the whole thing go down. the dude was a bully, a troll. he got under my skin. what's more deeply annoying to me is that, for some dumb reason, i let him.

i rode out the rest of the day, something close to 17 miles we did that afternoon. we stopped at 5 Guys for a burger and i felt all this guilt like hey, don't eat a burger you fat fatty. but then i put that shit to bed fast because those burgers are fucking good, duh. i think the most of disappointing thing is that i still don't know what would have been the best course of action to take...i want to be a good example to my kid and i want him to be strong and stand up for people who can't stand up for themselves. i want him to be noble and good and kind. if i model kindness and strength, he will learn. that day, i chose to pick my battles but i also reverted to a sadder version of myself that i rarely see these days. it took a little bit to shake it, i guess...

so listen, don't you go thinking that dude got me down too badly. i picked myself up and moved on. i just have to get back on the bike and keep riding. and anyway, listen, this last weekend, i stole away to a cabin in the mountains. and even though it was just my best friend and i hanging out in a hot tub, i put that bikini on for a test drive last weekend and i'm in love with it. just like when i put on my short shorts for the first time last week, my little boy pointed at the back of right my knee at the web of little blue lines there.

"momma boo-boo?" he asks kindly, with real concern.

"not really," i reply. because it's not a boo-boo like he thinks. it's not one he can kiss away. there are marks on my body from carrying him inside me that i spent a lot of time hating over the last year or so...hating for the wrong reasons. i feel different again. i love the way my body feels when it moves, all ball bearings and curve. i love the way i'm dipping deeper into yoga again and feeling the injuries i've sustained in the last few months alleviate and heal. i love sitting on the floor with him and make a point to avoid the sofa most afternoons. i love the way his little hand feels in mine when we walk to the playground and back, how we move in happy tandem. in the shower, he points to the stretch marks on my skin curiously but he loves me just the same. my body is changing again when i thought i was too old for that, now. i feel my curves more deeply than i ever have but i feel them i'm finally settling in to the body of the sexy confident unafraid woman i've taken my whole life to become. it's not perfect yet....but we're getting there. and the bikes are here now. all we have to do is go out and ride.

it's gonna be a fatkini bikeride blonde hair suntan summer, guys.



ps: did you know there are still sea world orca encounter shows? i honestly thought humans stopped doing that but the wikipedia page for shamu indicates there's a new show starting this summer. crazy, right? i hope nobody's trying to get one of those whales on a bike, tho...


.what came before. - .what happened next.

606 days - 18 june 2019
a diamond at the bottom of the drain - 20 october 2017
baseball season to football season, abbreviated - 25 september 2017
the doodles - 11 july 2017
at arm's length - 4 july 2017

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