Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Privilege of Riding the Bus

If I were like most members of my socioeconomic class, I would exclude utilizing the bus from my transportation plans. After all, I do not have to take the bus. I own a vehicle (more than one, in fact), so I can easily drive to and from work. And although gas prices are high, happily that is not the deciding factor in how I get to work. The truth is I like to take the bus. And this makes me a very fortunate person.

As an Albuquerque native, I grew up viewing the bus system with a measure of disdain. Buses, after all, are for people who don’t have a choice. As an adult, I now have the experience of having lived in other cities, cities where public transportation is a choice, not a socioeconomic hardship. And making the drive from the Westside to Uptown each day as the lone occupant in a vehicle got me thinking about things like hydrocarbons and carbon monoxide. So instead of shunning the bus, as a lot of Albuquerque residents do, I have embraced it.

I’ve been taking the bus to and from work for more than two years. All types of people ride the bus with me; people who are often not like me. Sure there are people with questionable personal cleanliness, people who are noisy, even people that must be, in my unprofessional opinion, crazy. But riding the bus is a reaffirmation of the marvel of the human experience. Riding the bus is a continual lesson in ditching stereotypes. Riding the bus has taught me that goodness has little to do with where you work or live or how you dress.

If I didn’t ride the bus, I’d miss seeing the scary-looking teenage skateboarder jumping up from his seat to assist a young mother and her child wrangle a stroller through the aisle. I’d miss the high school students on their way to another day of learning, joking and laughing with each other, hopeful for the future and the world, and giving me hope at the same time. I’d miss chatting with the man who took the bus so his daughter could drive the family car to take her best friend to lunch on her birthday. I’d miss the child snuggled in her father’s arms, eyes full of wonder, riding home from a visit to the doctor. And I’d have never met the new friends that I have made.

Yes, riding the bus saves me about $2,500 a year in car expenses. Yes, I cause less air pollution. Yes, I don’t have to deal with traffic on a daily basis. But most importantly, riding the bus lets me experience the benevolence of strangers first hand. It lets me view life. And for that reason, it’s a privilege.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Fly, baby, fly! Dynoing...

dynamic movement n /dI-'na-mik-'muv-m&nt/ a move that requires the use of momentum : v to perform a such a move : DYNO

Sometimes a hold is just too far away. So, what do you do? Is it possible to fly and land those crucial inches higher up? Yes. It's called a dyno.

So what's this dyno-thing? In simple terms, it's jumping from one hold to another when you just can't reach. Dynoing is leaving the rock completely, propelling oneself - using arm and leg strength - to the next hold. Every dyno is, to a certain extent, unique in terms of holds, angles, length, etc., but there is one aspect in which all dynos are the same: you have to let go...

It's cool. And it's a rush.

Blah blah blah, right? Here's a video - taken with a camera phone so I apologize for the crappy quality - of me dynoing. You'll get the idea.

10 Wonderful Years

Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit impediments, love is not love
Which alters when it alteration finds,
Or bends with the remover to remove.

-- William Shakespeare

This month, on the 29th, my wife and I will have been married 10 years. I know! 10 years! (Happy anniversary, kulta!)

And after 10 years I still love my wife.

Let me clarify that statement. When I say that I love my wife, I don't mean I'm "in love" with her, I mean that I really do love her. I see a distinct difference between loving someone and being "in love" with someone. The ephemeral versus the eternal. The ubiquitous versus the extraordinary. Romantic versus rational.

But I digress.

Eveliina and I have known each other for 16 years and been a couple for 13 or so. But the "I do's" were bespoken 10 years ago in a quaint, wooden church built in 1763-1764 alongside a lake in Petajavesi, Finland.

I really do love this woman. And I love being married to her. (And in a culture which is openly hostile to marriage as a lifelong commitment that is an increasingly unusual thing.) I'm not asserting it is easy being married - there are no comprehensive set of rules, no manual to cover every situation, no way for both my wife and me to be happy with each other all the time - but it is a blessing and a gift which has made my life so rich and fulfilling that it is worth the effort, worth the sweat and tears, worth the commitment.

Our relationship started out like most do. I still remember the first time I met my wife. When I first saw her I thought to myself, "Wow!" And from then on I went out of my way to pay attention to her, and actively sought to meet her needs. I'm not saying my stunning good looks and modesty didn't have something to do with her attraction to me, but I expressed an interest in her, and she noticed that.

Years later, the very method I employed to get her to choose me over all the men in the world - and there were lots of them vying for her attention - is the tactic I use to keep her choosing me. (Shhh! Dont tell her!) Back then I showered her with attention, I let her know I adored her, and I showed her in many different ways that she is important; I try and do the same today. It seems to work.

Together forever is a wonderful dream. And although passion is not like crazy glue and the marriage ceremony doesn't guarantee anything, a healthy, happy marriage is worth the work. I hit the jackpot.

Thank you, Eveliina, for 10 wonderful years. Here's to 100 more!

Rakastan sua. Te amo. Te quiero. Te adoro. Te deseo. Me antojs...



"Theres something like a line of gold thread running through a mans words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself."
--John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery, 1994

I've been pontificating upon my wonderful family. Expecially my daughter. And on myself. On the kind of father I am and the kind of father I wish to be. I've been exploring what it means to be a great father to her.

The natural place to start, of course, is a reflection on my own father when I was a child. I've made a list of all the things I most loved about my dad, recalling what I respected and what I enjoyed, the times that I miss, the best memories we had together, moments that touch me deeply when I think of him.

Much more difficult, but I think as equally important, I made a list of the things about my dad that I wish were different. The things that irritated me, things that he said or didn't say, things that he did or didn't do, negative memories from childhood, experiences with my dad that are sad memories.

Armed with this information, it became easier to reminisce, and to explore the foundational relationship of fatherhood. It gave me a new perspective on what a fantasy father would be like. Another list appeared, a list of the what this fantasy dad would do, what he would teach, the places he would he go, and the things he would not do.

An almost startling insight came to me. The essence of being a great father is not merely a one time insight, but a steady process of being with my daughter. As much as I would like it to come down to a list of ten things to make me a perfect father, it is more intanglible than that.

Do not misunderstand me, the lists were (and are) invaluable. They forced me to think and emote.

And I now hold three very clear facets of being a father in my mind and heart.

The first is that I wish my dad had been around more. I loved the time that dad was with me, whether it was cleaning, playing, working, studying...anything. I loved when my dad was with me in my activities. I always felt that my dad didn't have enough time for me - even though my dad was around a lot more than most of my friend's dads. So I will be around for my daughter. I will increase the quality and quantity of time I spend with her every single day.

The second is that, in the best way that I can, I will emulate the way my father listened to me, really listened. And beleived in me. Much of my courage and self-assurance as an adult comes from the times I talked with my father and he listened and treated me as a valuable, thinking human being.

And the third is that I will talk to my daughter, as my father talked to me. But I will try to better it. I will not only talk to her, I will open up to her. I want her to know what is going on inside of me. I will take that almost unimagable risk of being vulnerable with my child. She is deserving. And it is an incalculable gift.

Because I love my daghter with all of my heart, I will work very hard to become an even better father to her than I am today. Tomorrow. And the day after. And each day for the rest of my life.