Monday, February 14, 2005

Note from Natasha shortly after Dec. 26th....

I wanted to share something with you that I think you'd appreciate - it's pasted below. It's an excerpt from insanely talented independent musician Ember Swift. Ever listen to her?

Hope all is well, not much to share with ya - am just back in the swing of school and work - lots going on. I have five classes this term - one of them being Lesbians portrayal in the media and TV - very cool class, gotta love UofT LOL.
Take Care, talk soon
It’s 2005 and I have spent the last month off the road and burrowing next to my woodstove in this country home, safe and guarded. All the while, the world has experienced one of the largest natural disasters and human tragedies in history and I feel so far and removed. My collective consciousness gasped on Dec26th. I had this feeling that there had been a leak in the ocean of souls, a sudden vacuous hole in the seal that keeps us locked together on another plane of reality. I felt full of a sadness that had the same odd-fitting feeling of helplessness. I am safe and guarded in North America. Safe and guarded in my comparative wealth. Safe and guarded in my white skin. Safe and guarded in my swirling privilege with a purring cat kneading my lap as I type these words.

It has made me feel very reflective about life and our work here as a global people. The tsunami hit on December26th, which was just after I had spent a week in Toronto and had been swept upstream with the tide of people in the underground shopping malls during the big consume-a-thon of pre-Christmas shopping. Collectively learned rhythms of complacency could be heard everywhere. They were jiggling like Christmas bells. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to have been struck by the huge divide that lay between Boxing Day sales and cries for Tsunami relief funds. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one to want to re-enter that consumer tide and dam the flow for just a moment screaming, “Wait! This sale is not that important! We cannot just shop this tragedy away!” Of course, I would have been removed by well-muscled security guards and been quickly identified as a “whack-job.” Forgotten. Easily erased. Dismissed.

Why is it that we can so easily dismiss each other, forget and move forward? Have we been caught in this powerful capitalist tide for so long that we’ve allowed our hope to be washed away, our humanity to be diluted until it is nearly indiscernible?

I heard today on CBC radio that there will be a huge need for support in Southeast Asia after the tragedy has left the news and it is no longer “sexy” to assist efforts, contribute aid, reach out. That tipped me off once again as to the true identity of the purveyor of awareness in our culture: the media.

It’s true that the outpouring of support has been amazing. It’s true that many have extended their money, their time, their love and their hearts toward those in need – in all parts of the world, not just Southeast Asia. I see and respect these gestures. But, if donating $20 to a relief fund helped to make us or anyone we know feel “less guilty” and “off the hook,” then I really think we need our entire global worldview to be realigned. It is not about guilt. It’s not about obligation.

To me, these tragedies are just loud reminders that we, as a western culture, need to stop, reassess and change. I think it’s about making change happen in our own worlds. It’s about living differently. It’s about opening to greater possibilities. It’s about believing in new stories about who and what we are as people and how we impact and contribute to the lives of others. It’s about extending far beyond the so-called borders that are really just constructed lines to keep us in. It’s about telling the truth. It’s about finding the shore.

Now, more than ever, we have to safeguard our collective hope.
Our hope for a better world, a safer world, a cleaner world, a happier & healthier human existence. Dream it up. Life is just far off dreams lived up close. We can build our world to be the world we dream it to be. After all, if we don’t, some corporation is going to build it for us, all the while trying to convince us that we dreamed it up ourselves and that it's worth "buying." Resistance is hope. They are one in the same. We cannot divide one from the other. We cannot allow the pelting propaganda or the flapping media mouths to quiet our dreams. I dare you to reject the indoctrination of impossibility.

I will leave you with this:

“You get what you pay for. Pay a lot and you get an expensive life. Take what’s free, and you get freedom…. off the map and beyond the borders of fear, there are other formulas… Soon it’s obvious that what you thought was flat actually has an underside, an edge, a core. That the mirrors you grew up with are as warped as the ones in the funhouse, and there’s no going back to them. There’s either giving up, or going on. One way cynicism, the other, dreams.”
Letter to Natasha/Michelle, Feb 14, 2005:

Hey Michelle,

Whew! I finally get a few minutes to write you a blurb. Parts of this note have been sitting in my drafts folder for weeks now. Work has been retarded since the beginning of January; I'm making a concerted effort to slack off today. So, like what's new? I have some new things to report, I guess, even though I feel like I've been a shut-in since Christmas.

Where to start? Between work, training (gym 3x/wk with seven other teammates; running ~50km/wk), volunteering on my two bike clubs (Sec/Treas for racing team, Synergy and webmaster for CBTL, umbrella organization that maintains and organizes race schedule at Glenmore Velodrome -- I'm building a registration system for them right now in an attempt to get people to register online this spring, so my work window is getting smaller and smaller!, and trying to have the appearance of a sociable human being, I've been finding the days pass pretty quickly!

Joe and I have been going through some rough times again as of late -- I've been torn between getting out for both of our sakes, or continuing to try and work, adjust, change as the relationship matures. I have issues with anger and frustration management that always seem to be vented on Joe - I'm tired of hurting him in this cyclical pattern that I seem to be in. I've recommended couples counselling for us -- if he's not on board, I probably won't stick around because we'll just be falling back into the same old patterns -- *sigh*. Why is loving someone so much work? Actually part of the reason I want to give us another chance is because I have found being with Joe to take very little effort most of the time. We're both very laid back and accommodating, so it hasn't been all that bad in retrospect. But I feel our paths are further diverging, and as we mature and grow, I've found that things I didn't deem important in the early days of our relationship are becoming more important, and things I thought important in the past not so much so anymore. I know that I'm waiting around in the hope that Joe evolves into something I want him to be at some future point in time, and that's not fair to either of us. People change -- I'm a firm believer that true, infinite, enduring love is only a pipe dream conjured up by Hallmark and DeBeers. In reality I'm starting to learn that as people in a relationship change, they find being with each other easy sometimes and difficult at other times, but they're in it for the long haul, so suck it up!!! Some people are meant to have several special people in their lives as they change and grow and mature.

I also realize that Joe is my FIRST long-term relationship EVER and I've been on a steep learning curve over the past four years. I sometimes feel I have the naivety of a teenager since I'm so inexperienced in these relationship thingies, and I'm starting to think that I should allow myself the chance to see what else is out there, now that I finally have a benchmark to compare future relationships to. Whether what I have with Joe is fortunate, standard, or unfortunate is left to be seen, however I'll never know unless I take the risk and gamble. I may win, I may lose, however I don't offer myself the opportunity if I don't get into the game.

So, I go through these desertion phases every six months or so, acting like an asshole to Joe, and screaming to get out, and then I realize that, firstly, there's no huge hurry, and secondly, my life is pretty good where it is right now. Shit, life is complicated. I feel like I'm so wishy-washy by not acting on my feelings, but it's obvious that something's got to change.

Anyhoo, on to more fun topics. I'm heading back south at the beginning of April for another bike camp/training week with seven other people to Tucson, Arizona. The trip was so incredible last year that four of the five that went last year are going again this year (and the fifth's not going simply because of work obligations). This year we're staying at one of the guy's parents' timeshare condo south of the city somewhere (apparently a very nice golf resort --- we'll have a pool and everything!), so accommodations will be a little nicer than the apartment hotel we stayed in last year and hopefully a little cheaper with 7 people sharing the expenses. I'm heading down April 1-10, and I'm so anxious to go -- it feels like forever since I've had a relaxing holiday! Technically my last 'vacation' was last summer when Joe and I to Toronto for a booze-soaked week of partying and Madonna-watching in July. The fall was full of Grandma-death, and Christmas was just a flurry of partying mixed in with work days. For other vacation time this year, I'm hoping to take some days to get to Road Nationals in Kamloops to compete in some of the events the last week of June, and taking a week for the World Master's Games in Edmonton the last week in July. Joe and I are planning a trip to the East Coast in September or October (hopefully with a layover in Montreal for the Black & Blue weekend!), but I'm not sure where that's heading with the state of affairs right now.

So, what about all that racing, you're asking? Well, I've gone a little mental over the past month. I've ordered a new road bike (first pic) and a new aero/disc wheelset through a bikeshop in town and also a new track bike (frame in second pic) through a shop in Cochrane. I've gotten pretty good deals on everything, and hopefully that's the end of the purchasing barrage for a few years (if I don't get hit by a car again in the near future). So, the road bike and wheelset are getting mostly covered from my insurance claim settlement, and I'm hoping to buy the track bike with our annual performance bonus coming at the end of February, plus some money I've been saving up since last summer (intended originally for laser eye surgery, but maybe we'll try for that again next year???). The entire process is probably going to be costing in the area of $8500. I get sick thinking about the cost, however I'll be getting a bike hard-on as soon as they arrive and I forget about the money aspect!!!! ;-) I figure, hey, some people easily spend that much in a year on their f****ing cars, so I can waste the money I didn't waste on a car on a couple of bikes!!! Twisted logic, I know, but it gets me through the day.

Did I tell you at Xmas that I'm going to be an uncle? Owen and Chloe told the family over the holidays. They are expecting in early July, so that's added a lot of excitement to the family dynamic! Mom is ecstatic -- her first grandkid! I'm pretty psyched to be a spoiling uncle too!

Joe and I also got a new cat in September. His name is Bandit, and him and Gizmo have grown quite fond of each other. He's super cute and WAY more extroverted than Gizmo -- we think he's a dog trapped in the body of a cat. They're sort of ying and yang in many ways, like Joe and I....I have tons of pics - I should send you a couple.

Mom and Dad are down in Texas with Uncle Irwin & Auntie Mary and Raymond and Laura McQuarrie for the rest of the month...I've only heard from them once so far. They're sure busy and have already done a ton of things. Owen and Chloe came through Calgary yesterday en route from a weekend getaway in Canmore. We were supposed to go out for dinner after my meetings, however the weather was so bad they decided to hightail it back to Red Deer before things got worse.

Anyhoo, that's about all from here. I'll be in touch soon.
Love Reid