…Adventures In Getting Back On

Previously, On The Adventure Addict…

Mike fell off a bike in Aspen last Summer.

He hurt himself pretty bad.

His friends and family helped him heal quickly.

For that, he’s incredibly grateful.

Six months later, he finally hopped on a bike again.

But what happened next proved to be AN EVEN GREATER BIKING DISASTER.

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In the months following my bike accident, I slowly graduated from physical therapy to running, weight lifting and yoga. But I had avoided getting back on a bicycle until I made it to the six-month mark, at which time, about 50% of people with titanium collar bones get their plates removed due to discomfort or complications.

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I’ve been fortunate to spend much of the Winter writing in San Francisco. It’s been 72 degrees and sunny nearly every day since I’ve been here. (Great for sunbathers and tourists and those who suffer from seasonal affective disorder. Bad for livestock, flora, fauna, produce, and romantic couples hoping to recreate rainy scenes from The Notebook.) But I’ve been in isolation a great deal, living by myself in an empty house in Pacific Heights.

So the other day, I walked around outside to get me some Vitamin D. It turns out that I’ve been staying right next door to a certain well-known cycling studio that’s good for your soul. I’ve frequented the spin classes at my New York gym over the last few years. It’s a stimulating, invigorating workout for someone like me who finds the gym boring but also enjoys ice cream nightly at 3 am. So I signed up for a class…

Upon arrival, I navigate through the throngs of PR princesses and Lululemon lovers to my seat.

Overheard conversation:

“We’re just having casual sex. Bonobos have casual sex too ya know.”

“Yea but Trish, bonobos also eat their babies.”

Unaccustomed to wearing specialty spin shoes and clipless pedals, I ask a nice dude to my left named Buck to help me out. Buck! I teyl Buck that we don’ wear special shoes at mah speen class back in New Yawk. I’m just not used to bein’ locked een. What if they’res a fahr and I need to escape?

The leggy blonde in front of me turned around and coos, “Why would you ever need to escape? Enjoy your ride.” She smiles, winks, and turns back around.

Oh this’ll be interesting.

At $30/class, spinning at Unnamed Cycling Studio That’s Good For Your Soul sure is different from all those other spin classes. They have grapefruit scented candles burning during your ride. And motivational wisdom shared through loud speakers, courtesy of instructors with glistening torsos and exciting names like Tiffany and Chad.

We start out easy enough. Dimmed lights and a midtempo groove take my mind away from the fact that I’m rubbing sweaty elbows in a walk in closet with sixty other people.

But then Chad turns off the lights. And it quickly gets hot. Like, really hot. And the scent of mass quantities of perspiration do not mix well with grapefruit. And then the music gets louder. Like, really loud. And the mid tempo soul quickly moves into a hard dubstep. (For you more seasoned readers, dubstep is the sound of robots fucking and murdering each other at the same time.)

Chad, in his v-neck tank, yells, “I need you to sweat! I need you to clear out your pores!” I’m sorry, but I’ll sweat in my own way, thanks Chad. I didn’t ask for forced pore cleansing. This is pore rape.

And then it gets worse. We move on to saddle jumps, where you alternate between seated riding and riding up “out of the saddle”. Well remember that leggy blonde in front of me? Like, two inches in front of me? As she rides up out of the saddle, she straight up bullhorns a three second anal symphony right in my face.

Now when I was a little boy, my father convinced me that girls neither shat nor farted. And that when ladies went to the bathroom, they emitted tiny pink packages wrapped with ribbon and string. So either I had a few moments of disbelief, or her frothy flatulence impaired my judgment like a stun gun.

Suddenly we move on to two count jumps. And this lady in front of me straight up Bippity Boppity Boo’s each time she lifts up! 1. 2. Fhwat. 3. 4. Hoot! 5. 6. Schwat. 7. 8. Toot! And now this studio coffin reeks of grapefruit and sweat AND intestines. People, this is not a fruit salad you would ever want to order!

Dubstep and darkness and fire and farts. If Hitler were alive today, this is surely how he would do me in. My feet are locked in place. The chamber’s quickly filling up with poisonous gas. Chad starts yelling “motivations”: Open yourself up! Release! Take a risk! Why keep it in when you can let it go! In my head, the demon bitch from spinning hell in front of me cackles, “Why would you ever need to escape?” No, like, her eyes are turning red and horns are sprouting from her temples and she’s screaming like Megadeth, “WHY WOULD YOU EVER NEED TO ESCAPE? MWAHAHA. MWAHAHA.”

The scent becomes increasingly nauseating. Then I notice my buddy Buck start to sway in circles. Then I see his eyes roll back. Then Buck falls off his bike!

MAN DOWN. WE HAVE A MAN DOWN.

With his feet still locked in, Buck’s legs twist the bike to a stop. But it’s nearly pitch black and our eardrums are being assaulted so nobody else even notices.

Thankfully Buck’s OK. Oh thank God. He swiftly gets back on his bike and continues riding as I intermittently hold my breath and tremor like a bad Kevin Bacon movie. As the ride winds down, Chad offers up a few more lines of inspiration from the likes of Buddha and Dame Taylor Swift. He admits that before class, he ate a big lunch of Mexican food. After his hearty meal, he felt scared to lead class today. But since life is all about taking risks, he pushed through.

Clearly, Chad pushed through hard.

So. Was Chad the guilty party all along? Did his lethal dose of Salagadoo Lamechickaboo merely inhibit my sense of direction? Or were both he and the lady in front of me guilty parties? OR. Did this all happen Murder On The Orient Express style, where EVERYONE was out to make me the first case in history of Death By Stench?

As we exit the Spinning Sauna of Doom, Imagine Dragons  “Radioactive” so appropriately echoes through the speakers.

The point of relaying all this nonsense is that I survived. I fell off a bike. I got back on. And though evil forces tried to bring me down again, with a little help from my friends, I kept pedaling through. What an old valuable lesson for a promising new year.

Take risks. Let go. Push through.

Unless you had Mexican food for lunch.

THEN DON’T TEACH A FUCKING SPIN CLASS.

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Now watch THIS.

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I’ve had safer experiences JUMPING OFF CLIFFS IN RIO than riding bicycles in suburbia.

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Adventures In Making Sense Of Your Childhood, Or, What Happens When You Listen More Closely To The Verve Pipe’s 1997 Seminal Hit “The Freshman”

What excites us changes over time. 15 years ago, when The White Power Ranger & The Pink Power Ranger finally hooked up? So cool. When Mortal Kombat: The Movie” used brand new characters from “Mortal Kombat II: The Video Game”? Thrilling beyond belief. Unlimited rides on The Big Dipper rollercoaster at Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk? Best thing ever. These days, excitement comes in the form of paying bills without an accelerated heart rate and severe dry mouth, finding public restrooms in the middle of the day that are just sanitary enough to remove your contact lenses in, or making it through one New York City subway ride without being groped.

Our adult brains have the ability to give old experiences new context, which sometimes make for sudden realizations about random things from our childhood. These moments most often happen in very banal ways, like realizing that Mickey Rourke and Mickey Rooney are not the same person.

Or sometimes they happen in more meaningful ways. I recently received the following message on Facebook from a kid I went to middle school with – someone I have not spoken to in over 15 years. “Hey man, I know it was a really long time ago but I just want to apoligize for the way I treated you when we were growing up. It was really stupid of me and I sincerely apologize.” So. 12 Steps? Did he convert and miss Yom Kippur? I don’t know. Did I appreciate the gut punches and Jew jokes at the time? Not exactly. But by looking at those difficult times with my now super handy adult brain, how could I not thank him for ultimately teaching me resilience and fortitude? So I wrote back and simply said, “Thanks. You spelled apologize wrong.” Adult brains: Good for logic, reason, and being an asshole.

When I was a young child, my mother would sing me to sleep under a canopy of glow and the dark stars with “Michael row your boat ashore, hallelujah,” thus the name of my production company and accompanying e-mail address, Boat Ashore. Beyond my love of all things nautical, and the metaphorical references intrinsic in constantly trying to “row one’s boat ashore”, the phrase today evokes my childhood. It reminds me why I’m here and why I’m doing what I do. But I recently discovered that my beloved “Boat Ashore” isn’t some sea shanty hymn – it is in fact an old African-American spiritual about death and going to be with Jesus.

Well I never had much luck with religious songs anyways. When I was 10, I played Mordechai in the Purim story at Hebrew School. A singing and tap dancing Mordechai, but still, it was a pretty authentic portrayal. My opening number was to the tune of “I Heard It Through The Grapevine”. It went, “Ooooo, I bet cha wondering how I knew, about your plans to kill the Jews….” It wasn’t until last year that I realized those weren’t the original lyrics. Now I understand why I got so many strange looks when I was singing along to the musical Motown on Broadway. I wasn’t so off-key after all! #SilverLining

As adults, we listen to lyrics differently than when we were kids. When the ball dropped on New Years in 2000, I was in high school. My mother and I happily sang along with Sting as he crooned “Brand New Day”. 13 years later, I’m horrified of the notion that I once sang to my mother in public, “I’m the train and you’re the station. I’m the flagpole to your nation.” But sometimes, we want our childhood understanding of songs to remain true. Who wants Third Eyes Blind’s “Semi-Charmed Life” to be about crystal meth? IT’S ABOUT 8TH GRADE.

On a recent walk home at 1 am after a long day’s work, I was jamming out to my mid 90’s alt-rock playlist – because I can’t remember the last time I heard an actual rock song on the Top 40 radio – when listening to The Verve Pipe’s “Freshmen” suddenly gave me great pause. “I can’t be held responsible. She was touching her face…I can not believe we’d ever die for these sins. We were merely freshmen.” …WHAT is he talking about?! And more importantly, WHAT DID HE DO HIS FRESHMAN YEAR?!

Now I could be misinterpreting things, but we often have surprising moments that force us to re-evaluate the past, whether it be something as meaningful as an event or a relationship, or as seemingly meaningless as an old song lyric. For better or for worse, it’s a daily practice for many of us. But perhaps it is these inconsequential moments in pop culture from years ago, like finally understanding why Brenda had every reason to be so angry with Dylan and Kelly when she came back from Paris at the start of Senior year on Beverly Hills, 90210, or what Jareth’s want for teenage Sarah to be his Goblin Queen might really entail in Labyrinth, or that, yes, “Semi-Charmed Life” is in fact a rock song about crystal meth, not middle school melancholia, that have the power to make us re-evaluate our childhoods as a whole.

There’s a reason the famed performing arts camp Stagedoor Manor doesn’t allow past campers to return as (out-of-work) counselors. There’s a reason Disneyland doesn’t want you peeking behind the scenes to see Mickey Mouse with his head detached smoking an E-Cigarette and quickly skimming through audition notices in Backstage West on his 20-minute lunch break. Our childhoods and our adulthoods, due to the proven laws of relativity and the long debated laws of romanticism, must remain two separate halves of the whole. If our adult selves could fully make sense of our child selves, we’d rewrite history and replace every moment of horror with a sense of wonder. And if our child selves truly knew what was to come, we’d have never gotten out of bed and gone to school every morning. It turns out that endless childhood nights in suburbia of gazing at the glow in the dark constellations intricately strung out across the ceiling while we dreamt of infinite future possibility was the healthiest daily practice we ever had.

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A late 90’s high school made collage of my favorite pop culture at the time that still hangs on the wall in my childhood bedroom. Note the tangled glow-in-the-dark stars that hang upon then top left thumbtack.