3 Dec 2009, 6:38pm
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glow

oof. first freeze. dang, it is cold. incidentally, you know that cliché of the old man on the porch, talkin’ about how it’s gonna rain, he can feel it in his bones? it is true! i have an internal barometer. before this cold-and-clear front came in, i knew the weather was gonna change ’cause my collarbone told me so. yesterday matt told me about an article he’d read about creating new human senses–for example, a guy was fitted with a device that he wore 24/7 that vibrated just a little bit (or something) on the side of his body that was due north. after awhile, he always knew-without-knowing exactly where due north was, and used it to navigate everywhere. when he took the device off, he was instantly and completely lost. maybe when my bone is totally solid again, after that little miracle of biological healing is complete, i will lose that little connection with my environment and i’ll miss it. paraphrasing amy hempel: “how do we know that what happens to us isn’t good?”

yes it has been clear these past few days. the other morning, on my bike on my way to work, i saw the moon, full or near to it, still not set, hovering in the pink band of sky above the horizon. i see the sun rise on my way to work and i see it set on my way home. if that is all i see of the sky, i am glad at least that i ride east in the morning and west in the evening! when it’s clear like this, i see mount hood every morning, too, beautiful and huge and sort of hazy. a few days ago on my way home i saw xmas lights click on and i felt suddenly lighter. my wheels moved faster. in the dark, when life won’t let us slow down to match the long night, light makes all the difference.

two years ago, i was traveling through europe by myself. i was lonely sometimes. i got to germany on december 1st, the day christmas lights everywhere got plugged in. in germany especially, they were fantastic. bright whimsical colorful stars. oh, and vendors below them selling mugs of hot gluhwein. and, bonus!, a friend to meet me at the train station in koeln. a few days later, walking alone down a dark empty street in berlin, i saw an orange paper star lantern over the huge wooden door of a church. it cast a tender glow and it lightened me. my blog at the time was called “slow going”–named when i’d just started biking everywhere, in honor of the novelty of everything i was noticing at my new slower pace–and i wrote a post that night about the light and titled it “slow glowing.” so here we are. i am the sum of my experiences, and i want more, more, more of them. the big ones and the small ones, the loud ones and the quiet ones, the sad ones and the happy ones, mistakes and successes. i am so excited for my life.

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an internal barometer is not the only thing with which my not-an-accident left me. the horrible feeling i get when cars pass me too close, or (as happened today) a truck suddenly starts to pull out of a parking lot towards me and for one terrible moment, before it lurches to a stop at the curb, i am sure it is going to hit me and i am going to die–that is not something i would miss were it to disappear. once, this past spring, a semi-truck ran a stop sign and almost hit me. i was riding in the middle of the lane, in early-morning daylight, with my lights on. the truck slowed down as if it were going to stop, and then didn’t. my caution allowed me to swerve and stop (all the while screaming and swearing), and i thought then that getting hit by a car sort of saved my life in some awful twisted way. but, yeah. i have been back on my bike for well over a year and it’s still rough.

here is what i do after these things happen: i sing to myself, in my head or aloud, over and over, that silly song from the king and i, which, for those of you who may be unfamiliar with it, has a very cheery tune and goes like this:

whenever i feel afraid
i hold my head erect
and whistle a happy tune
so no one will suspect i’m afraid!
the result of this deception
is very strange to tell
for when i fool the people i fear
i fool myself as well!

mostly, it works!

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