And so it continues

Someone saw my tattoo Saturday night at a dinner we had in the flat. He was washing dishes to make space in the kitchen while others were preparing food, eating pica pica, drinking wine, putting stuff on the table. He asked me what it meant. I explained about my husbands race number and nickname, how they were one in the same. And then of course, why I got the tattoo.

The guy literally stopped moving, soap covered hands in the air, mouth half open. He paused in this position for 5 seconds while I finished my sentence.  I watched him search for what kind of reaction to have – I hate this part the most because of what the next statement so often is – he then said sorry for bringing it up.  It’s a strange situation to be in, watching wide eyed panic set in someones eyes as the word died comes out of my mouth. But by then I have to keep going, it is not my job to assuage their discomfort or even acknowledge it. I also won’t change the subject if it is brought up. Because as I’ve said so many times, not talking about JM is so much harder for me than just…talking about him.

I can now accurately predict who will avoid me thereafter if I mention that my husband died (this actually happens, as if I had a disease they could catch). That fact is he died racing motorcycles, and hearing this makes some people really uncomfortable. Occasionally I decide to skip saying I was ever married at all, if I don’t have the energy to deal with an uncomfortable reaction. But more and more, I just talk about him because I like my memories of him and don’t want to forget. And if that makes someone uncomfortable, tough poo. So that’s progress on my part, I guess.

But while I can now say the word widow,  I still have a hard time dealing with the life I left behind in California. I miss my friends, my family my dogs, (OMG I miss my dogs like crazy). In fact, more than that, I still cannot deal with so many things in my life. I wonder when and if this will change…

Example 1: I got a message on my US phone from my accountant reminding me that April 15 in coming up and did I want an appointment. Wait…didn’t I just complete my 2008 taxes? I did, in October. Or was it December? Whichever. I can’t remember, my brain still blocks this stuff. I ‘ll get an extension. If I remember to.

Example 2: I am selling my house in San Diego. Though it is not on the market. I am hoping I don’t have to put it on the market, that my neighbor will buy it, or someone will just make me an offer so I do not have to deal with anything. This is not the recommended way to sell a house.

Example 3: I cannot use any of my air miles because they are in JM’s name. In order to transfer these, I will have to produce a copy of my marriage certificate and a death certificate. Then some other shit has to happen that I can’t remember because I stopped listening after that point and promptly told them they can shove their air miles up their ass.

Example 4: My health. I have not had my teeth cleaned or had any type of medical check-up  since I arrived in Spain in October, 2008.  I don’t have health coverage here and as far as dental care goes, have you seen what people’s teeth look like in Spain? I did have a couple (pretty crappy) therapy visits in BCN over a year ago because I thought I was going crazy.

Example 5: I have not cut my hair since October, nor had a pedicure since December 3rd. My feet resemble hooves.

Example 7: I am provided healthcare and dental coverage in the US through my company, but I have not signed any paperwork or gotten any insurance cards. So actually, I do not know if I am covered in the US.

I’d rather lose money – on my house, in IRS interest, in air miles – than take responsibility and action to set everything in order. So  I may not be the best candidate for watching small children (OK, I am never a good candidate for watching small children) or say, planning an itinerary for your visit, or planning much of anything for that matter.

So if you maybe were wondering why I haven’t answered an email, returned a call, acknowledged an event, bought the ticket…well, it’s not because I’m traipsing back and forth between Italy and Spain, drinking wine and riding motorcycles. Though, I am doing that too. I guess that is progress as well.

An open letter to Spain

Dear Spain,

What the fuck? Would you stop with the winter already?  There is a reason I did not move to Austria or say, Finland. And you know what that is? I HATE BEING COLD. I hate it so much, that after skiing my entire life and 20 years of snowboarding, I’m now OK if I never touch snow again. Seriously.

Spain, you are not equipped for cold weather. There just isn’t the space or ventilation for it. The bars are too small and there are no smoking restrictions so when 300 people are jammed into a place with a capacity of 40, and 299 of them are smoking, it makes breathing a little difficult.

What I find especially spiteful is how you tease us with a day of sun or two, that has us sweating in the park while playing ping pong  (and ping pong isn’t exactly anaerobic), only to lure us down to la playa along with the 700 thousand other people who have been absolutely pining for Spring, and then commence in blowing arctic wind across the sand and boardwalks and blast it in our hopeful faces. I can hear you laughing, Spain. It’s not cool, not cool at all.

But what I really want to kill you for, the absolute icing on the cake, was what you did two days later after one said day of sun! Fucking snow. For the first time in what, 40 years there was snow on the ground? Seriously.

See this photo here. This here is my sun terrace. For sun. Not for collecting snow.

And this here? Is the park. The one we were sweating in two days earlier. Oh, and in the distance is the SEA. But you cannot SEE it in this photo because of all the SNOW falling.

So here’s the deal, Spain. Get your act together or I swear to god I am moving back to Hawaii where I will never have to wear pants again and the day I get there I will strip naked and frolic in the 88 degree weather in FEBRUARY (hopefully without getting arrested) and then I will eat a mango and pass out on the beach.

I’m leaving for Italy until you warm up a little, then we can discuss your decision.

Me

Valencia Moto2 test

I went to the Moto2 test in Valencia the end of January. It was cold, the first day so cold that no bikes went out. But I had a warm place to sit and work. And that’s what I did the entire first day. Which was fine with me because I was freezing.

My work computer, in the truck in front of the heater.

A few World Superbike teams including BMW and Aprilia, joined the test. Since the Moto2 bikes are all new everyone is curious about them. Xaus and Corser and a couple of BMW engineers stopped by the Kalex/Pons Moto2 garage to check out the bikes.

Corser couldn’t help himself, he had to climb aboard.

And then pretend to ride it. The only thing he didn’t do was make vroom vroom noises, (though I bet he did in his head).

That's Alex, the German engineer and co-designer of the Kalex bike observing Corser on his creation.

Speaking of the BMW Superbike. The swingarm is glued together. I don’t know about you but this wouldn’t inspire riding confidence in me. Evidently this is now common, shows you how much I know.

Second day bikes went out on the track. I took a scooter and observed from inside the track.

And from the hillside opposite the garages.

And then from pit lane.

Checa down the front straight.

The Moto2 bikes are … different. They sound great. Some are squirrely exiting the corners. The 250 riders are still learning how to ride them. But their times are all pretty close. By the way, the published times you may have seen for the Valencia test? 80% of them are false.  This is because they were recorded by someone walking into the boxes and asking for the best time of each rider. How hard is it for a mechanic be not to shave off a second or two? Very.

We went to one of the worst restaurants I have ever been to in my life. But it was convenient, being attached to the hotel. I ordered chicken and received a reconstituted, breaded, frozen and refried, patty of some sort. Now, I’ve been known to eat and even enjoy things that taste similar to cardboard. I’m not too terribly picky as long as whatever I’m eating isn’t greasy. But this place, I seriously would have been better off slathering a piece of cardboard with ketchup and digging in. And we went not just 0nce, but twice. Because you can never have enough chilled red wine.

This was the first test I have been to as a guest of a team- no messages to deliver, no people to meet, no agenda for me, and frankly, I felt a little awkward being there without anything to do. In fact, you could say I pretty much suck as a spectator.  I’m sure some people would be more than content to ride around on a scooter, drink espresso and wander around looking at bikes. While I am generally lazy, when it comes to motorcycles, and especially racing, I want to be involved.

Unless I have something to do, I’m skipping the rest of the tests before the season begins.

Moving around

Dudes, I have to move again.  No, I’m not moving to Italy again, I’m just moving house.

I am leaving a great place, right next to the Parc de la Cuitadella, 5 minutes walk to the beach and 5 minutes on a bicycle to the center. It also has the best views in Barcelona (as I mention in an earlier post), being on the top floor (or Sobre Atico, which means like top penthouse). I share it with three other people but have my own bathroom – very rare – and very appreciated since two flatmates are boys.

This room was sublet to me, and now my friend who owns the lease on the flat has moved back to Spain. It was his room I rented, so I have to go – that was the deal. (Though we never thought he would be back this soon).  He is now staying in the living room, waiting for me to leave. I kind of want to make him live in the living room for as long as possible – months even – for kicking me out. But his crap is all over the place and I have to walk through it to get to the kitchen (which, while working, is often) or leave the house (sadly, not as often work is very busy and intense lately and I must feed my brain plenty of sugar, coffee, tea, crackers and yogurts to keep it happy).

Here are the grand views I have had for 5 months:

Sunset from my terrace

My terrace

View around the rterrace corner

View from my bedroom

My flatmates have an even more amazing view from their terrace:

Parc de la Cuitadella

You cannot appreciate views like this until you have seen (and especially if you’ve lived in) one of the dark, sometimes windowless (or interior windowed, meaning your windows open into the staircase, elevator shaft or onto a dark airshaft) flats of which there are many. It’s too bad- I only had this place for the fall and winter, and it’s a VERY cold room in the winter. There is no central heating in any of these old buildings, no insulation, no seals on the windows…so you buy an electric heater and sit in front of it to stay warm. Having a shower is a pretty cold affair, especially since sometimes the hot water only lasts for 4 minutes. (I have been showering at the gym all winter, where it is warm).

But I am not complaining at all, this was a great place to live and with great flatmates for the most part. Oh there is always the trash and dishes that pile up and the usual annoyances that come with living with other people. And the occasional”who used the last of my milk?!”  But mostly it has been fun and interesting.

So out I go. I have a new place lined up and I will take ya’ll on a tour when I move in April 1.

More motard

Dudes, I have such a long way to go if I’m going to race. I seem to be learning to ride a motorcycle again. But let me start from the beginning.

I got the Honda that I am purportedly supposed to race all season. My BF (yes – by BF I do mean boyfriend) conveniently has a dyno room in his workshop. So he dyno’ed it for the owner and did other electronical testing and voodoo to it (I actually do know about mechanics and can change the top end of a two stroke cylinder and basic things like that but I won’t go into uninteresting things like that, especially now that I already have…but I digress.)

So anyway, we had the bike.

And did some stuff to it.

And then I rode it.

And then I crashed it. (By the way those are an old pair of Randy De Puniet’s Gaerne boots on my feet. They fit me perfectly and are now in my possession.)

And then I got back on the Yamaha which is slower, has no slipper clutch, doesn’t slide nearly as easily, but the geometry is better and so I am faster on it. Hey, I never was a dirt bike rider and I don’t know how to muscle a bike. Maybe I will need to learn to do this soon?

Oh yeah, then the next day I crashed the Yamaha.

Did I mention how I am doing with the MX part of supermoto? No I didn’t and that’s because there has been none. It has been too muddy on the MX part of the tracks to practice and by practice, I mean learn, since I’ve never taken a supermoto in the dirt before. I think this team made a wise choice with me, don’t you???

So, on to more bike stuff. The Italians take pocket bike racing very seriously. Here is a local mini bike track we stopped by on a weekday. Note the work stands, astro turf pit surface (their own) and sponsor stickers.

Some dude was modifying his old scooter he brought in the trunk of his car by sawing off the back fender. You know, less weight = more HP.  I think some new tires would help too.

And that’s all the moto news I have for now.