Welcoming the old demons

I am single again, and have been plunged back into all the insecurities of being rejected now that I am dating. My relationship was comfortable and felt safe, for many reasons. Suffice it to say that my abandonment issues were never strummed in my last relationship.

I had not felt those old familiar feelings of abandonment for a long time, and since I began dating/meeting others online, there have been many moments of perceived rejection. All those old insecurities are getting triggered once more, either for legitimate reasons or not so legitimate reasons.

But the interesting thing is, while I dread them and they are uncomfortable, I found myself welcoming them. It was as if I had missed them, because they are so familiar to me. They were gone for 6 years and now suddenly they are back and I feel like myself again. It’s a strange sensation, but I realized that I like them on some level.

That’s a new realization for me. I understand more fully why we hang onto addictions and destructive behavior. Logically I understood that yes, we recreate our past traumas to try to solve them (which doesn’t work, in case you were wondering) and that we seek what is similar to what was imprinted onto our psyches as children, no matter how destructive or violent. We seek it because there is comfort with what we know. But this was the first time in my life I have really consciously felt it from all sides, the bad and the good and the missing it and everything.

Here’s to our old familiar demons.

 

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Too Close for Comfort

I live in a very dense urban environment. My windowed balcony doors look across the narrow street into the neighbors same doors. I don’t need much imagination to see how my neighbors live. The street is so narrow between the buildings that  I can step out onto my balcony and have a conversation with people living on the other side of the street.

I probably should check  if I am decent when I walk out into my living room in the morning, but I rarely do. I don’t really care what the gay couple, whose vantage point looks across and down into my flat, sees me doing. I’m sure they are less than thrilled to watch me make coffee and slouch over a computer in my underwear. It’s possible they are entertained when I struggle through my front door, sweating and swearing after hauling a mountain bike up three flights of extremely narrow stairs. Or perhaps it interests them how often I do dishes, or compulsively clean the wood floors that are constantly dusty from the crumbling brick wall that comprises the entire eastern wall of my place. I in turn can see them trimming each others hair, dining, or relaxing on a luxurious looking sofa in their beautifully furnished and much larger flat.

The place just below the gay couple is more exposed from my vantage point. I can see their messy dining table all covered in papers, computers, an iron, phones, snacks… I see what they eat for lunch and dinner at that table. I can watch them sitting on their couch in the living room, reading in the chair, petting the cat who’s litter box is on the balcony and is so close I can sometimes smell it. I see all this, just as they see all my activities, though of course we attempt to appear not to notice. This is how you live in such close proximity. Pretend not to be looking, unless both of you are on the balcony. Then you can make eye contact and visit.

Occasionally a neighbor will have a dinner party, and I’ll get to hear all their chatter and music until the wee hours. Or the old guy a few floors up and across from me will enthusiastically watch a football match, running out onto his tiny balcony in his underwear, jumping and hooting, sometimes singing. All of this is fine, I can tune it out, even be entertained by it, even with my balcony doors open. But recently, a new family has moved in, and my relaxed attitude toward urban living and it’s various and sundry music has changed.

This is a Pakistani family with at least five children, two of whom are very young twin boys. Maybe 3 years old. I think they have a special language that twins sometimes develop, you know the one I’m talking about? Yeah, that, except their particular special language is made entirely of screams, angry whining and crying. Lots and lots of crying. Seriously, I don’t know what is wrong with them, I don’t even think they talk, but they constantly squeal and  scream while standing on their balcony, or from just inside the doors of their balcony which are alway open, echoing the noise through these narrow streets and bouncing off the stone walls directly through my now constantly closed doors and into my living room. At all hours of every day. For example, it is presently 1:17am and I hear those little fuckers squealing and crying right now.

Three or four times a day I open my doors and command them to be quiet, sometime pointing a finger at them to get back inside their house. If their older sister sees me, she will pull them inside and shut the doors. Any of their brothers will ignore me. Mom will occassionally smile up at me and sheepishly laugh, as if to say “Oh kids these days. What are you going to do?” The neighbors, when one of them throws a particularly piercing temper tantrum is thrown in the middle of the night, are not so nice with their language. They’ll shout “Shut up, Muslims!” using the word Muslim as an insult, or offer a charming “Hey, Pakistanis, shut the fuck up!” (Which, for what it’s worth, generally works.)

I think from where I am situated, I get the worst of the reverberating screaming, or maybe the neighbors are more accustomed to living with noise. Either way, I won’t be able to keep my doors shut much longer. Summer is coming and it will be far too hot not to have them open. So unless the squealers shut up (unlikely), I’ll be moving again (likely). I told the owner here that I would stay until September, but I don’t think I can last that long. I hate to say it but those brats have won.

I guess it’s time to get out of my neighbors’ living rooms anyway.

Moving On, Part IV: A Wrench in the Gears

I had planned to make Part IV of this thrilling saga you’ve been reading to be about purchasing a new place. I spent a lot of time looking right before I left California, in between furiously packing, selling and giving away everything I owned. I figured if I could find a place before I left, I would be ready to move right in when I returned to California for the winter. I even made two offers on places, though I didn’t follow through with either of them. One because I came to my senses that it was actually more than I could afford, and the other I determined was just too small. Which, as it tuns out, was a good thing.

Two days after leaving California, I was in Rhode Island to visit my brother for a couple of days, en route to Barcelona. I was working  at the bar which serves as the kitchen in his house. He lives in a former bar- but before you go thinking he is a total degenerate, he owns the entire building plus a few more in Newport. He just has a high tolerance for unconventional living situations. And questionable levels of cleanliness. Which is why I ended up cleaning his bathroom the night I arrived. But my brother is a story for another time. So there I was, working away next to the empty beer taps, sweating  to get an assignment completed a little bit early, when I got the call. That “I hate to deliver the news…but we don’t have any more work for you” call. Suddenly, finishing that task early was not so important. In fact, that assignment got turned in three days late.

I probably should have seen this coming, but I didn’t, or maybe I didn’t want to. When you work on a project basis, even when you are a full time employee, this is a call you get sometimes. I was given an option to keep my employee status without pay, like I did for nearly all of 2009, which might let me pick up work here and there, and likely guarantee me time on the next project. But I chose the layoff. Yes, in this job market, I’m probably crazy. But I’m hoping that my friend JJ’s psychic email skills are accurate when she says she senses a fulfilling opportunity will present itself to me randomly and easily. Though I’m not sure what that is going to be.

For the moment, I’m OK. I don’t know where to start, but panic hasn’t set in yet. My self doubt is at a manageable level, only requiring a few handfuls of chocolate chips to maintain my calm as I write this.

Could this wrench be a fortunate thing?

Ouch.

Guys, I’ve been reduced to a blubbering mass of self pity, I can focus on nothing but the knotted muscle and crushed bone in my shoulder. See, I fractured my collarbone on a bicycle two weeks ago. But this injury was not the problem. In fact, that injury was no problem at all, except for the 438 euros the hospital charged me to stand in a hallway with 13 other people for four hours. Oh, then they took two X-rays and confirmed I did not separate the bone (which I knew already), just fractured it about 1/2 way through. I was on a bicycle the next day. I went to the gym, and 8 days later I rode 40km through mud, up and down hills, over rocks and branches without so much as an “ouch”.

No, the problem here is what I did 8 days after breaking it –  I reached for my phone and broke it again. Only this time much worse. In fact, as I was twisting and reaching for said phone, I heard a distinctive crunch. I had just enough time to think “was that…?” before pain shot through my entire shoulder and arm. It turns out I crushed the healing break and it bled, leaving a hematoma right over the break. So now any movement pulls the painful lump right over the break and, well let’s just say it does not feel fantastic.

If any of you know me well enough, you know I have a high pain tolerance and I ignore illness and injuries as much as possible. Case in point: 3 days after surgery on this very same clavicle, I was in Oregon qualifying for a 125GP race. But here it is, one week later, and mentally I am a basket case. Imagine my general outlook on life after an entire day of trying to carry your arm around like a dead weight, while a knife is slowly twisting in the shoulder blade behind it. My outlook has not been sunny.

The best was yesterday, when I finally found a heating pad for my shoulder. They are not easy to find and I went across looking for one. I finally got home after 2 hours of trudging across town while carry my arm in the opposite hand like it was a wet towel, bumping people with it on the metro, and hauling it up and down stairs. I popped the heating thingy in the microwave (it said microwave proof) and it promptly exploded one minute later, spraying blue goo everywhere. Poor GP had to witness the subsequent meltdown.

This injury has made me realize I might be more vulnerable than I care to admit. In fact, it brought on quite a bout of homesickness for a few days, where I just wanted to lie on my old couch in my house with my dogs and cat hanging around near me (or on me if I let them, the big dog included), watching recorded episodes of Project Runway. But I don’t have my dogs here, or even a television, let alone a Dish Network or Tivo.

Oh yeah, and I have cut out wine for the next 6 weeks. Self comforting has been a challenge, let me tell you. Thank goodness for cookies.

A Tip for Your Next Move

Should you find yourself moving across town, here is a helpful tip:

Try to hire a car that is NOT the smallest in the world. Say, one that fits more than a bag and a pair of sneakers in it.

This will save much driving back and forth between residences and avoid the multiple frustrations of one way streets and incomprehensible traffic signs that flow traffic in ever tighter circles around your destination, but that never lead to your destination.

It will also save 100 bicycle trips across town for the person who does not fit in the car.

Monte Carlo, Italy, etc.

My camera with most the photos of Monte Carlo seems to have gone missing. This was probably my mistake – it is likely I left it in a hotel room or the rental car. But Monte Carlo is amazingly beautiful. We stopped there for a few hours and lost a lot of money. Also had an expensive and mediocre at best meal.

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Viewing MC from the motorway.

Approaching Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo harbor

We hit the road for Italy about 5pm. At one of the motorway fuel/food stops, we made an important purchase…

It's time to rock.

It's time to rock.

From Monte Carlo straight to the East coast of Italy took us 5.5 hours. We found a hotel in Lido de Jeselo around midnight. Walked around for about an hour, had a drink with the hotel night manager and hit the sack.

A couple of days at the beach in Italy – we rode a two seater bike/car thing around, had some great meals, clothes shopped, and were accosted by Bachelor party participants. We have video of all of this, unfortunately saved on Laura’s phone and for some reason she has not uploaded them to her computer yet. Maybe someday I will have these videos. Maybe.

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Driving the two seater bike/car thingy.

It seems to be a tradition that when someone reaches a milestone in their young life, it is the duty of friends to embarrass them as much as possible. When people graduate from college, friends will plaster posters with embarrassing statements and photos all over the town they live in. Since Italy is very social and people meet daily for drinks, meals, or just promenading around downtown in their finery, it is easy to spot the persons being celebrated. hence, every Saturday night, in every town, you will see groups of men trying to embarrass the hell out of a particular man who has decided to marry. They make them walk in ski boots, wear women’s underwear, bear GIANT crosses, balls and chains, blow up dolls, wear ridiculous safety gear, you name it. THEN they give them a job. Either giving away condoms, collecting trivial change in return for performing antics, wash car and motorcycle windows at the corner, assuming the role of a super soaker target, you get the idea. The bachelorettes do a similar sort of night, but more frequently will be selling shots of alcohol and giving away condoms and candies in the form of certain anatomy parts.

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Laura with the bachelor party.

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Party member with bullhorn.I believe that is a man in a dress behind him.

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More single men.

The above photos were with my iphone at night, sorry for the quality. But like I said, I lost my camera somewhere after Italy.

We spent a day in Venice (I did this for Laura as I don’t much like Venice. The sacrifices I make!)

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Boat garage.

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I love the history of Venice, but today today tourism has jaded it.

Laura tries a traditional spritz and tells me what she thinks of it. All while wearing my shirt.

Laura tries a traditional spritz and tells me what she thinks of it. All while wearing my shirt.

After collecting my things from my little town (amazingly, everything fit in the car), the one thing left on my list of things to do before leaving Italy for good was to visit the Aprilia factory. Pictures, coming right up.

Jerez GP Zero, Sunday

This post is titled Sunday because Saturday I woke up late and was feeling terrible (drinking sometimes does that). It wasn’t until the middle of the afternoon I even got out of the hotel, and then I didn’t feel like spending money on a taxi to go to the track.

I know that sounds ridiculous, I had access, I was in Jerez and paying to be there, but it was the GP teams first day of testing and the people I wanted to speak with would be incredibly busy so I wouldn’t even contact them until later. So I walked around town a bit and enjoyed the nice weather and sent text messages to a few people I was meant to find at the tests, asking them if I could stop by the next day. I recieved gracious and positive responses.

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Church in the center of the old part of Jerez. Why it's lit up all heavenly I don't know, I'm sure many evil things happened in it's name

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Rossi's other ride

In the evening I went to a tiny traditional bar for dinner. Southern Spain has really. really. good. food.  And amazing wine. While I was standing at the bar, some silent procession went by outside in preparation for the Semana Santa. It’s essentially a week (and then some), where they parade giant effigies of bible scenes and figures through the streets and get very emotional, sing spontaneously with lots of Southern Spanish clapping and flair, usually accompanied with crying, and generally flail about at the feet of “their” Maria -each town has their own statue thing of the virgin Mary and the details about how it looks seem to be something people are proud of and identify with, as if they were acutally different goddesses to pray to.

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Semana Santa procession at midnight. How those kids resisted torching everything sight with their giant candles I don't know.

Sunday I headed to the track in the late morning.  I was absolutely shocked at how many people there were there to watch testing. There were no jumbotrons, but there was an announcer. And the stands were totally full.

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In the afternoon some ominous clouds appeared on the horizon. A mass exodus of people who rode motorcycles there followed (and there were a lot of them).

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Parked bikes as far as the eye can see. Note rainclouds in the sky.

The rain and wind came quickly. The temperature dropped around 10 degrees (Celsius) and all the bikes went in the garages while it poured rain. I hung out in the womens lavatories with my hands under the hot air blower. A woman with a radio show in Madrid joined me under the dryer for around an hour.  Bikes ventured onto the track a bit later, and Casey Stoner won a BMW. (I’m sure he had been saving for one for months.)

I stopped by the garages I needed to and received word that someone was looking for me, that they likely had a job in the Redbull Rookies Cup for me. I nearly ran over there, and met with Jose whom I had exchanged maybe one or two emails with, introducing myself as a friend of Eduard (whom I met on the return flight from Italy). He told me he had emailed me and did not know I was at the track, so was very happy when I introduced myself in person. And he did have a job for me as an assistant with the Rookies Cup, for the year. He just needed to OK it with the rider and the bosses (Note the foreshadowing in this last phrase…).

I don’t think I need to tell you that I was excited. This would mean working at 6 European GPs for the year, an opportunity that in nearly April was very rare indeed.  So I agreed to talk more about it on the phone.  Meanwhile, I found Anscari Nadal, who was there to help out the US Rookies cup rider Benny Solis (whose dad I raced with a couple of times), and who eventually gave me a ride to my hotel.

When I spoke with Jose later, he asked if I could stay longer and come to the track on Monday to help him out with the Rookies tests. I walked around thinking about what this whole thing could mean, and went for dinner at another bar (the total was 3 Euros for some amazing fish, patatas fritas, bread and tea). Dudes, did I mention I love the food here? Well I also love the prices.

Monday morning I got up early and as I was getting ready to head to the track, Jose called and told me…there would be no job after all.  “They” didn’t want to pay, and a rider’s father was going to attend the races to work instead. I had already told a few people that I had a job offer from the Rookies Cup, as I do have a hard time keeping quiet about things, hence, this blog. (It took me a little while to figure out who “they” were, but when I had dinner with Jose later to cry on his shoulder, he told me who, and now it all makes sense. I cannot divulge here though, sorry!)

Remember my friend Gerard’s tires? Well I picked them up and checked them as my baggage on my flight back to Barcelona Monday. I wish I had gotten a few photos of this. Then I saw Gerard and his crew in the airport, looking quite the worse for wear. They had stayed out until 6 in the morning, after several very long days and not much sleep each night. I wish I had gotten some photos of these guys as well, and I am positive they are glad that I did not.

It didn’t hit me until the next day back in Barcelona how disappointed I was. A job in the GPs in my hand for 14 hours and now nothing. I needed to move out of my flat soon, I needed some kind of job to keep me in Spain longer while I worked on an employment position in racing, I was running out of money, I couldn’t sell bikes at home because the titles have been lost in the post,  I still hadn’t heard from Alpinestars about a second interview, and to top it off, it was raining when I returned to Barcelona. It was a depressing week, but there were many good things about the weekend as well (and more than just the food).

I met a lot of good people and I was reminded that anything can happen. Things can change overnight, and often do when you keep trying (more foreshadowing here, people…) I also have a new friend here in the form of Jose, who has worked in the US with the AMA and with the Spanish championship and the GPs, and is interested in helping me out. Awesome. He makes a kit for the new 450 single racers and is invloved in all kinds of racing (His company is . He also drives a pickup truck in Barcelona. Dude has some serious street cred.