The Red Menace

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My legs are pumping hard and my wheels fly down the pavement. The good news comes over the ear buds, interrupting the scream of the industrial music setting today’s pace, in its halting, faux feminine voice to let me know that, after fifteen minutes of riding, I am still coming in under five minutes per mile. This didn’t start off being about speed, it’s supposed to be simply about getting to work, but now I am chasing that endorphin high and the elation I know I’ll feel when the app tells me I achieved a new personal record.

I push faster at the new motivation and make a sharp corner. Pounding the pedals I spot the enemy and, glancing over my shoulder I drift into the turn lane. A quick burst of speed as I cut through the parking lot of the thrift store and come back out on the cross street. This isn’t the first time today I’ve had to get creative to keep up the momentum. The enemy seems to be plauging me at every turn today pushing forward through the side streets of the neighborhoods I make my way back to my appointed course, dropping back out onto a major traffic artery. I round another corner, slip into the bike lane and immediately have to start squeezing the brakes. “Crap.” I think to myself as I come to a halt. The enemy has me, I managed to avoid it the whole ride but now I have no choice. I am stuck at a traffic light.

I sit there idle, inhaling the exhaust from the surrounding cars, mentally hearing the timer of my tracking app tick away the seconds. My foot rocks the pedal back and forth anxiously as I wait. The cross traffic finishes and now I have to wait an eternity for the left turn signal to cycle through. It’s agonizing to watch that light as I feel my averages slipping through my grasp.

Finally, the turn signal changes to amber and I crank the right pedal backwards placing it in the top of it’s arc. The light shines green,I push down hard on my right foot and kick off the pavement with my left. My left foot finds it seat on the cranks and I am moving again, free of the grip of the traffic signal. I slide over on the road and shoot left down an alley into the backstreets of midtown away from anymore lights. I snake my way around the old neighborhood to finish my commute.

I arrive at the alley behind my job and click off the timer. The now familiar, almost comfortingly awkward machine voice announces, “Aver, age, pace, four, minutes, fifty, two, seconds, per, mile.” Satisfied, I dismount and grab my canteen. A new record and more than a full minute under my goal.

I am definitely verging on obsession.

Image cropped from Red Bike by John Bell CC-BY-2.0

Happy Halloween

It is a bit absurd to ponder what kind of virtual treats or tricks would be given out to those visiting our blogs on Halloween. Although one could imagine our space here as our front porches and WordPress the neighborhood we all live in. Either way I have never been the staying at home to hand out treats type of guy. I would much rather be out there with my kid looking at all the ghouls and goblins on the street tonight. I even dressed up for the first time in years it should be fun. I’d recommend that everyone is should to come along with us.1417529_709351625761334_362256970_oBut then, who would hand out the candy?

This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt.

When I held her

This was the moment that I been waiting so long for. We had arrived at five o’clock in the morning and for hours I had waited nervously. I was so anxious I got asked to leave and go for a walk at one point. Why was I so nervous? I had the easy part in this, all I had to do was wait. I just couldn’t help it though I was too excited. Finally, after all the waiting, and hours of being witness to my wife’s pain and discomfort it was time for me to hold my little girl for the very first time.

She was the most beautiful, fragile thing I had ever held in my hands. The feeling of her in my arms was wonderful and nerve wracking. Never before had I felt so complete and happy. I felt so much love for my wife for bringing this wonderful thing into my life. I was shaking all over, afraid that I was going to lose my grip and drop her, but I never wanted to put her down. In the midst of all the joy I was experiencing feelings of my own inadequacy crept in and filled my soul.

How was I going to do this. Me and under educated line cook, barely able to scrape out a living for my wife and I. How could I have been so stupid as to think it was a good idea to bring this wonderful, innocent, gorgeous tiny life into this mess I made for myself. How was I going to raise her when I barely took the time to be an adult myself. I was going to fail her I knew it. I was never going to be the dad that she deserved. She was too good for me.

But, here she was. She was mine and in my arms, and I was all the dad she had. We’d make it work her and I.

This post was inspired by a Daily Prompt

Please, not her too.

My daughter is starting to show interest in cooking. She likes helping in the kitchen and recently she has begun watching the cooking shows that our PBS station airs on Sunday mornings. At first I really like the idea of this.  She helps mix the pancake batter for breakfast with her mom and later we sit on the couch sometimes talking about what the different chefs were making, It’s great that, at this early age she seems to share a common interest in food with me. It is starting to make me worry though. I also got interested in food at a young age and I suppose it was a near inevitability that I would end up employed in the field. It is, from my observations, a truly shitty field for a woman to go into.

The cooking world is tough for those just entering the field. Even today, cooking is highly dominated by a boys club type of mentality. The back bone of most kitchens are made up of a few lifers that define that kitchen’s practices. These jackasses generally feel that it is their sworn and solemn duty to dish out a healthy dose of abuse towards the slightest misstep in procedure, etiquette, or speech. Women entering into the culinary world are going to be facing a tough time getting employed in some kitchens and when they are hired they seem to get it a little harsher than the guys in the name of not getting any special treatment. Episodes of routine bullying and overt sexual harassment are too often the norm. Just as in a other fields of they typically are passed over for promotion and paid less than their male counterparts. However the pay is usually shite to begin with so, if someone made only seventy percent of what I currently receive my job would not at all be a viable means of supporting a family. Kitchen culture is rife with big, strong and extremely insecure men who are quite fond of exploiting perceived weaknesses, some of whom still count being a woman as a weakness.

Women who do brave and eventually thrive in the business often wind up being “tough broads” that tend to act like one of the guys. They have largely and unfortunately grown to accept the misogynistic behavior of their coworkers as just another part of the job. This includes participating in the demeaning of other women, often in the name of inuring the new chick to the slings and arrows that come as part of the territory.

The worst part, I feel as I glance at my daughter, is that I have been and in some ways am still part of that culture. I know that I make inappropriate, rude and more often than not insensitive statements. I try not to make my snarky comments have anything to do with someones gender or race but, I know I’ve done it. I know it’s wrong, I know I should hold myself to a higher standard but, there you go. I am part of the problem and I am working on that. Having a wife that keeps me in check, and a beautiful daughter who’s future I worry about is a big help.

I know that I am not raising a delicate little flower and we are teaching our daughter to stand up for herself and to be kind to other people. I also know that it will be several years before my darling and innocent little girl enters the work force and even longer before she settles on a career. Right now she is torn between the options of becoming a teacher, or a fire fighter, or a dancer, so I am most likely worrying over nothing, maybe that’s just being a parent.