Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Transitions are a bitch

As if worrying about where to shop for groceries, when to pick up the kids, how to take care of my ailing mother, where to put the computer, who to ride with, where to ride, how to harvest brussel sprouts, which internet company to use, and all of the other assorted quotidian and workaday logistics weren't enough to occupy my time, now I have to think about Winter? In October?

This blog will serve three purposes, I hope:
1. Keep my California friends apprised of my work, play, and athletic life. They all said, "Keep in touch."  Well, hell. Here we go.
2. Give me a bit of an outlet for meandering thoughts about my work.
3. Force me into the daily discipline of updating the thing each morning, thereby encouraging me to get off my figurative ass and do something productive.

So the above paragraph (the one above the above, actually) serves as an apt example, I hope, of #1. But also, a newly discovered #4: existential musings.

I write about culture in lots of different ways, and the sudden onrush of winter has gotten me to thinking about how change approaches us. I was expecting a slow, gradual transformation from Summer to Autumn, with a Keatsian flair for good measure. Keats: "Ode to Autumn"
 I often lamented that Davis had two seasons: hot and rain. Sure, one could traipse off to the Sierra for a good dose of Winter or drive to the Bay to mitigate the oppressive July heat. But in Nebraska, ya just can't do that. Drive 100 miles? The weather's exactly the same when you get out of the car. 

So the climate is both more and less monotonous here. The difference has to do with spatial and temporal displacement. In Omaha, temporality brings liminality: sit still for not so long, and the weather will change. A lot. In Davis, move spatially for a bit, and the weather changes. A lot.

Problem is, a bike racer / nomadic wanderer can affect change much more easily in Norcal than in Nebraska. Waking up to five inches of snow--on October 11, for chirssakes--is a perfect example of the complete lack of control one has in Nebraska. I was shocked. And because I was expecting and hoping for a long, delicate slide from Summer into Autumn, jumping almost straight into Winter freaked me out.

Sure, the snow melted. Sure, the leaves on the massive oak in my backyard are still green. But damn. The gods said, "Hey, E! Guess what? It's gonna be cold and wet as hell here this Winter, and you volunteered for this! Sucker. The memory of every ride you skipped in Davis because it was too "cold" is going to gnaw at your soul. Bah hah ha ha." 

So, we come to exposition at the end rather than the beginning (I'm a postmodern Romanticist, after all): I have recently moved back to Omaha after six years of graduate school in Davis, California. The reasons for this spatial and geographical shift are legion, but the main ones are:
  • My wife lost her Kindergarten teaching job to CA state budget cuts, and Omaha Public Schools offered her a contract. 
  • My Grandmother died this Summer, and my dear mother really needed (needs) some family support as she tries to deal with her grief. 
  • My department (English, UC Davis) was kind enough to scrape up some fellowship and research money to spare me a teaching obligation for a couple of quarters.
I'm going to set a few goals here, in public, and encourage friends and supporters to call me on them every now and again.
  • Complete my dissertation by August of 2010. 
  • Publish a journal article by June 2010.
  • Present a paper at a major conference by June 2010. 
  • Place top 3 in the Nebraska State Championship / Cornhusker State Games time trial in April of 2010.
  • Finish on the podium in a master's race in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas or Missouri in 2010. 

I also have goals as a father and husband and friend, but really, how do we quantify those? So blog purpose #5 will be to examine my life as a cyclist. But purpose #1 is also geared toward being a better friend, ain't it?

I'm a dad, husband, son, teacher (not teaching and how that's killing me slowly will be a future topic, I'm sure), scholar, friend, and bike racer. I hope to use this forum to investigate how in the hell I can manage all that without losing my mind. In Omaha. In Winter.

Thanks for reading.

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