Sunday, April 11, 2010

You Say Rolls I Say Royce

This morning, Pete and I went out for a bike ride up and down hills, through a park, across a campus, over a bridge, back through a park. We probably rode about 11 miles, stopping twice for water. Generally, half an hour of exercise buys me two hours of minimal hip pain, so I felt pretty good when we got into the car to trace the path of our hometown food bank's fundraising bike ride. The ride has 60 mile, 40 mile, 25 mile and smaller segments; we've been thinking about riding a 10 mile segment, which we understand is part of the 25 mile segment and we had a map. We drove around on the 25 mile route and at about the halfway point, I knew my hip would not handle that distance well. Pete had his doubts as well. By the time we reached the finish line, I was glum and Pete was overly optimistic. We stopped at the bicycle store on the corner for a rear view mirror for my bike. It was a mistake.

The store itself is the size of my kitchen and every centimeter is covered with bike gear. For some reason I have not been able to put my finger on, this is Dude World. Seven customers are in the store, three of whom are women - and yet, you can almost smell the testosterone. No one says anything to me. No one says anything to Pete either until he gets face to face with the guy in charge and asks about mirrors. The other guy, who is shouting to someone else about how he didn't get his ride in this morning because he came here to build bikes, points to a crowded corner and waves dismissively. Pete waded in, picked out a mirror and the shouting guy explained to Pete how to install it on a bike. I was already steaming when Pete went around the counter and asked the owner about the race.

Dude: They get a few guys who hammer the 60 mile. For the guy who wins, it's a race, but from second place on, it's a ride. They've got a 40 mile and a 25 mile part.
Tata: There's a 10 mile part, too.
Dude: Yeah, they have a few kiddie races. You're thinking about riding that one?
Tata: I'm rehabbing a hip injury and that's not too ambitious.

He didn't apologize. He meant that slight. I brushed him off and we left, but my hip ached. Back at home, I limped to the couch and stayed there for a while. I drank a glass of wine and lay down for an uncomfortable nap; when I got up, I still didn't have much to say.

This douchebaggery is nothing new and certainly not unique to me. We all encounter people who size us up and declare us wanting. Usually, all I have to hear is Pfft! You? and I'm off to the races, but this guy got a piece of me because I was already doubtful. Last night, I declared I'd never set foot in that shop again, and I never will. This morning, I got up and got back on the bicycle with my rear view mirror properly installed. We are going to do that 10 mile bike ride.

My friends, the bitch is back.


Monday, April 05, 2010

It Rains You're Here

Today, it was finally warm enough to leave the car at home and bicycle to work again. Last year, I rode around with a basket hooked to my handlebars, but everything I dragged back and forth made steering feel I was riding a two-wheel Titanic. Pete decided he hated his matching panniers, which are like skinny backpacks that snap onto a frame screwed onto the back tire hub, so he removed them from his bike and attached them to mine. It's a relief to not to hit the brakes and feel the weight shift. This morning, a cop on a corner asked if I was ready for long-distance biking. I looked down at the day-glo vest Pete insists I wear in the gray-blue morning light and said, "Well, no. My husband wants me to be eighth grade class president."


Sunday, April 04, 2010

The Road That They Walk On

About a week ago, seed potatoes from Seeds of Change arrived, so we were waiting for a sunny weekend day and today was one!

It was one of those breathtaking early spring mornings as we drove out to Lowe's for vermiculite and organic garden soil. A light muddy smell on the breeze along the river reminded us of the recent rains. The ground hasn't dried out yet and probably won't until later this week. It's warm enough now for the doors and windows at home to stand open, but as car speeds, the air still feels cold. Perhaps a couple of weeks ago, the doors to the garden center were chained shut, but today, they were thrown open and rows of flowering pink and purple geraniums lined the sidewalk. The hard winter is over. For a moment, I stood in the parking lot and let my heart sing. Then I got over myself and we got a cart. The cart proved too small for four bags of organic garden soil so we commandeered a giant hand truck, and not a moment too soon: those bigass bags were really heavy.

The square foot gardeners on the Yahoo list went on at length about how hard to get vermiculite can be, so I was both surprised to find only three bags on the shelf and looked both ways before I grabbed two. We are trying to eliminate the front lawn so we spent about half an hour looking over the perennials and small shrubs, but we we're not ready to buy.

At home, everything came together rapidly: Pete opened a bag of soil, shoveled in an almost equal amount of compost, tossed in about half a bag of vermiculite, mixed and suddenly we were ready to retrieve the seed potatoes from their cool, dry storage place. Pete shoveled about six inches of dirt into the first potato bag, I placed Yukon Gold seed potatoes at even distances from one another and Pete topped off the bag with another few inches. In the second, we planted blue potato seeds. We had so many leftover seeds we decided to plant more of each into the half-barrels, which are inches from falling apart. At the end of this process, we still had more seed potatoes than we knew what to do with. We will share them with my sisters most likely, but we will certainly share them with someone.

With all these potatoes going into the ground, you'll be pleased to hear the first thing that shot up a couple weeks back was the pot of chives. It was a great sight a few weeks back when the weather was so miserable everyone just wanted to kill themselves with demitasse spoons. About half of the seeds planted two weeks ago germinated; today, I got a few of them into containers we will leave in the little plastic greenhouse for another couple of weeks as I continue to take the tender little ones from the sprouting medium to the containers. We are concentrating on lettuces and herbs. Today, I transplanted four kinds of lettuce.

This afternoon, we also took a really fast seven-mile bike ride to test out our bikes and tomorrow, I start riding to work. It has seemed like it took forever to warm up enough for me to get out of the car and onto the bike, and I am thrilled the time has come. Ooh! What am I going to wear?

Labels: ,

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Still At Last Your Love

Sweetpea, self-plated.

On Sunday, my brother Todd ran the L.A. Marathon. This is really annoying. What about my needs, hmm? I had no idea he could run a marathon. Neither did he: it was 14 miles farther than he'd trained. You're supposed to run 26 miles at least once before you line up at the starting line. Also really annoying: Daria's high school cross country buddies talked her into doing a triathlon, though Daria hadn't run a step in twenty-five years, but it involved shopping, so one pair of running shoes and three hot athletic outfits later, Daria's determined. She called me up and asked if I wanted to do the triathlon as a relay - apparently this is a thing, and people do this thing, if you can believe that - and take the cycling leg. While I can pedal until the cows come home on the stationary bike in my attic, that is a distinctly different pursuit than painting on skin-tight togs and elbowing my way through a 15-mile crowd. But that's not why I'm the teensiest bit testy. No. As a Jersey chick, I was born to elbow my way through crowds in form-fitting clothes. That's nothing. I'm perturbed because Todd ran a marathon, and Daria's planning a race, and I cannot picture myself as an athletic spectator. No, my new cartoon goal is a photograph* of an in-shape yours truly holding my barbell captioned THE BITCH IS BACK. What the hell! A year and a half ago, I was soft and fat, but not anymore. I stamp my tiny New Balance cross trainers and insist: if not this summer then next.

Sometimes pigs do fly.

*I am shallow and require flattering gifts from me.

Labels: ,

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Hope That Holds Us Together


Your current products permit users to bend at the hip a mere 90 degrees. A generation of athletes, sex fiends and Shriners will be arriving at your door any day now for whom 90 degrees simply will not cut it.

Plan accordingly.


Princess Ta


Thursday, February 04, 2010

If the Door Wasn't Closed

Usually, original pictures on Poor Impulse Control are taken by Pete, though sometimes I take them. Those are often pictures I crop thumbs out of and adjust for dumb darkness. These pictures were taken by the intrepid Darla at Lake Erie, near her house. Dad's third wife is Canadian, you know. You'd never guess but she looks just like a normal person. For example, if this were my neighbor's house, I'd be using some exceedingly piquant verbiage. Darla called it a mishap. Crazy Canadians don't know when to get excited. The house is about to fall into an inland ocean. Now might be the time to employ a modifier.

Haloscan's magical transformation into another monthly bill proved curiously timed: I wasn't writing well. Sorry about that. I often write blog posts while people are talking to me; when posts have nouns and verbs I feel like I got away with something. Anyway, I had to give some thought to whether or not blogging was my metier anymore and if I was going to put the time and effort into Poor Impulse Control to make it vibrant, quirky and full of interesting crazy. I thought about it long and hard. Finally, I decided if there was anything I was willing to add some elbow grease to it's poor impulse control. My ennui can bite me. Haloscan's gone. I'm still here, rededicated to thinking the funny thoughts.

In New Jersey, we call that a breezeway.

The thought occurs: what if rowing camp, on which I have focused what we laughingly refer to as my attention, requires that participants arrive with a clean bill of health in July? That would give me five months to exercise, stretch, get massage and plunk myself down in the bathtub. Shouting, "LOOK! SOMEONE FAMOUS!" and switching xrays isn't going to cut it when the doctor for the U.S. Crew Team shares an office with my sports medicine doc, so I'm working a new plan. I've ordered new exercise videos and quit bothering to remove the ski pants in my office anymore, keeping the hip warm. We've changed our diets to reduce the amount meat on every plate relative to the amount of vegetable. In a few weeks, it'll be warm enough for me to bicycle to work again. I am going to push as hard as I can; if I can go, I'll go. If not, then not, but not for lack of trying. When I find myself limping, my best defense is to tighten up my abs and walk evenly. In related news: I walk like Charles Atlas in ski pants - only, you know, smaller, rounder and better-smelling.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

The Street And Back Again

What is it, besides beautiful? I don't know.

Video taken at Lake Atitlan, Guatemala, by my cousin's uncle-in-law.


Tuesday, June 16, 2009

She Sings From Somewhere You Can't See

Regina swims around Manhattan! See the race's unbelievable ending!

Pete and I make glamorous cameos! This video will fit neatly only in archives!


Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Unfold Your Body Is Free And Behold

On Saturday afternoon at the South Cove in Battery Park City, each racer had a boat with a team and at least one kayaker. The racers stopped every fifteen minutes or so for water and a nibble. My cousin Sela was on the boat, with Regina in the water. Sela had told me Regina's girlfriends traveled to New York and would be waiting in the park; I should look for "a bunch of crazy Guatemalan women with Guatemalan flags." For an hour, I eavesdropped on every Spanish conversation and watched for flags. Pete was talking about something I instantly forgot when behind him I saw the blue and white Guatemalan flag unfurl and I ran around him to find four women in matching shirts with Regina's face on them. There followed a lot of squealing and jumping up and down. Thank Kali I'd just spent months in physical therapy, specifically forbidden to jump up and down.

These women told me they'd been friends with Regina since pre-school and they'd all come to New York to celebrate their 45th birthdays. They were vivacious, loud and happy. Two Spanish-speaking EMTs joined the conversation and everyone talked at once. I was breathless with joy. We'd gotten used to the pattern by this time: in the distance, we'd see one of the big boats, then a kayaker, then flashes across the water's surface that became a swimmer that swam right past us and finished the race. Then we saw this.

Tata: Those kayakers do not appear to have swimmers.
EMT: They're all supposed to have swimmers. These guys may be something else.

I turned toward him slowly and with purpose.

Tata: Are you saying those are MARAUDING KAYAKERS?

He nodded slowly.

EMT: I suppose I am.

This might be a good time to mention the Guatemalan women had difficulty believing I was born in New Jersey, lived all this time in New Jersey and continued to live in New Jersey. In the distance, there, it doesn't look like that much of an improbable suckfest.


Monday, June 08, 2009

With the Scenery Flying By

Saturday morning, Pete and I climbed the long flight of concrete stairs to the train platform and walked a long way to an empty space against the wall. I heard an accordian and took the camera out of my bookbag. "Pete," I said, "it is totally crucial that you take a picture because nobody believes that everywhere I go there's theme music. If we're very lucky, you'll also capture the back up dancers." Of course, you may be inclined to say, "Ta darling, those are people having their own lives. Your presence is a coincidence. Stop being so Center Of the Universe about it." Shaaaa. Have you met me?

This is the only picture Pete took all day of something that wasn't moving so obviously that's the one out of focus. But it is important! All hail the bowl of Veselka's borscht, the bowl of soup so sublime it must be experienced to be believed, and no shimmering verbiage approaches its epic yumminess. The ordinary bowl cannot contain it! The challah must sop its brothy goodness. Behold the borscht - and know that when you stare into the borscht, it stares into you!

The coffee was also pretty good.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Just De-Lovely And Delicious

Holy crap!
Yesterday, my brilliant Guatemalan cousin swam the hell around Manhattan Island!

It's been about thirty hours since Regina climbed out of the water, wrapped herself in mylar and a towel and ran to a crowd of friends she's known since pre-school and I still don't know what to make of what happened. What did I see? What was it? Who the hell knows? A Daily News reporter leaned over the railing with me after the first racers finished, pulled out a notebook and ran a sweaty hand through his hair. He asked if he could ask me a few questions. I said sure. Then he stuttered, "What do you make of all this?"

I gushed about the Twitter feed that started when the race did and mentioned Regina by name. The whole undertaking seemed preposterous and frightening, and the Twitter feed assured readers the race sponsors took the racers' safety very seriously. Not a single thing I said made it into the article, but I totally didn't care.
Strokes of genius 'round Manhattan
Sunday, June 7th 2009, 4:00 AM
It's not the easiest way to get around Manhattan.

Dozens of swimmers braved the chilly waters of the Hudson and East Rivers yesterday to compete in the 27th annual marathon swim around the island.

The 25 solo racers and nine relay teams jumped in at Battery Park City to swim the 28.5-mile race - the best finishing in just over seven hours.

"The water was cold when we first started through the East River, and it warmed up around Harlem," said George Pond, 43, whose relay team scooped first place.

"This is a great way to see New York, I highly recommend this to anyone."

Large crowds cheered and applauded the swimmers from the shore, as boats honked their horns to show their support.

That's us. We were very large but dressed in layers we shed as the temperature became less temperate.
"The Hudson was really choppy, so it was the biggest obstacle by far because you couldn't get into a rhythm," said John Van Wisse, 36, from Melbourne, Australia, who won first place in the solo race with a time of seven hours, 10 minutes and 35 seconds.

"I sing a lot of songs in my head during the race and try to go into a trance and focus on the stroke.

"The training is fairly intense," he added. "The water was really clean considering the rain. It was a surprise."
Swimmer Penny Palfrey won the female race, completing the challenge in seven hours, 17 minutes and seven seconds.

Most sports reporters use the word women's when not referring to livestock.
The first-place six-man relay team was Vice Lords, with a time of seven hours, 12 minutes and 42 seconds. Team Mexico was the fastest four-man relay group, swimming the distance in seven hours, 40minutes and 42 seconds.
"You couldn't pay me enough to do this," said Cealan Clifford, 21, from Florida, who was watching the event. "It's actually really dangerous. ... There's even huge pieces of wood that you can swim into."

Swimmers from around the world come to New York every year to take part in the contest.

Hopefully, I will be less speechlessly stupid in days to come.