27 July 2008

Pissed

I did everything right. Trained right. Rested. Shaved. Cleaned the chain, rings, der and cassette (which I loath), went to bed early.. And for what? To wake up to a downpour. Sorry Norwell. Maybe next year. What really turns my crank is that the rain has not let up long enough to do a decent training ride. I'm relegated from racing, and from proper training, to the forking wind trainer.. You wait all week for the weekend and then pfffffffttt... Now I just want to punch somebody or something.
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21 July 2008

Weekend of Rest

No ride Sat no ride Sunday. We went to Scarborough Beach today- it totally smelled like ass- I could not get myself to swim in that freezing smelly water. We didn't stay too long. I was tempted to do a lite easy spin on the bike, but I have to admit- I don't really feel like riding lately. The thought of training hard- I'm not into it like before. It's been eight hard months of training for me. No wins. No podiums. A fair amount of stress and depression. No real vacation to speak of. Borderline burnout. So I took Mon, Tues, Sat and Sun off the bike. No doubt I'll be paying for it in terms of speed, but maybe some freshness will make up for it. Since Attleboro/New Britain last weekend, I am dead tired and very lacking in motivation. So tired.. And no amount of sleep or rest is helping. What is wrong with me?
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15 July 2008

The Jouney Ends

It has been an epic trip for my family, one which began on May 23rd and which ends today, in one hour. Once today's page is turned, it's as though a chapter has ended. It's time for an intermission. For any of you who have followed me on this journey, who have prayed for me to be strong, who have shared in my sorrow and mourned the loss of my father with me, who have imagined themselves beside me on my breath taking bike rides on the coast or in the mountains, who have cared for me deeply enough to leave me supportive comments or write me privately: I salute you and offer my sincere Thanks and Love. I now sit here at Boston Logan Airport's Terminal E, sipping coffee and sitting front row of the arrivals gate. With an hour or so before wife Ebru and son Reis emerge through the doors marked 'No Entry', what else is left to do besides try to conjure up a happy ending? Regrettably, I don't have any such words to offer at the moment.
Healing is not a destination, it's a journey. Healing is repair. Healing makes what was broken, stronger than it was before. In order for my father to build his first kanun from scratch, he needed to break his 25 year old kanun down into a pile of broken wooden parts, in order to know how to build one himself. And when we bike racers ttake punishingly fast training rides, perform eye popping intervals and leg breaking climbs, we're also destroying things in order for them to be rebuilt stronger, in order to force an adaptation which makes us better, faster, more powerful.. And never were the six words I now live by more compelling and beautiful than when Father began chemotherapy treatment, which pumps a harmful poison into the body in a sort of scorched earth manner, killing most of the bad cells but also devastating some of the good.. Like a controlled forest fire. I saw what he went through and I saw him fight and never give up. I saw him down, and I saw him getting kicked while he was down. I've even kicked him a few times myself, long ago.. I saw him getting back up over and over and over again. No matter how hard he hit the deck.. He was my champion.. And he is sorely missed.
From all of this, no one has become as enriched as I have.. No one.. And now, these six words ring as true as ever:
"We are created, by being destroyed."
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

14 July 2008

One day to go

Since returning from Turkey on June 9th, wife and son have been in Turkey trying to enjoy the summerm Tomorrow my solitude comes to an end and I am joined by my family at Boston Logan Airport at 8:00 pm. I can't wait to see them again.
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09 July 2008

40 Days

Forty days since brother and I put Father into the ground. It was during the funeral that it hit me like a ton of bricks.. The finality...
Ali and I climbed down into the grave. (Ali being my 26 year old brother) They opened the transit casket, which was placed next to us so we could reach in and grab father. Feeling his tender flesh through the white cloth which covered him- it would be the last time- I didn't want to let go, not even after Ali and I gently lowered him to the bottom. I wanted to lay down in there on top of him, bury my face in his chest and just curl up like a five year old child..
[Two hours before, I stood and watched as two holy men washed Father, preparing him for burial. I don't know where I found the courage or the resolve to stand there and to even help them.. Maybe because I knew that those were the final moments where I could still see him, touch him, adore him..]
We started to position the wooden boards diagonally over him, to keep the earth off of him, and I realized that it was to be the last time I ever lay eyes on him, or on his broken form through a piece of cloth.
[It's times like that when, surrounded by 100 people, you put your hand over your mouth. You do this to stop your lip from quivering, to stop your chin from trembling, to avoid those uncontrollable panic breaths you take when you're overwhelmed and about to cry really hard.. The hand over the mouth helps..]
Then we begin to replace the earth and the very last finality kicks you in the teeth, as if you're not already down enough. Everyone takes a turn re-filling the grave, hastily, as if to get it over with and save me from completely losing it.. Because I'm dying a thousand deaths watching all of this, my heart is breaking to see my little brother cry..
It's been forty days.. How am I doing? Not sure really. I guess I'm feeling better in a lot of ways.. but no matter how dry my eyes appear, no matter how good I've gotten at forcing a smile or feigning interest, I have not stopped crying, not for an instant.

Above, Dad's old watering hole, one of them actually, his favorite: "5 Corners". Below, this used to be the grocery store where, 30 years ago, I used to go buy dad his beer and mom her cigarettes. I'd also load up on 25 cent bags of chips and junk food, and those 16 ounce bottles of Coke that were made of glass and covered in the old styrofoam which I would always peel off in strips and put inside of the bottle, after guzzling it, of course.

Above, a view down 130th Street in College Point, Queens. This is the street where I lived from age 5 to 15. From our home's front picture window, we had an awesome view of the Whitestone Bridge, below. At night it would be all lit up and look pretty sweet. Here's a real estate lesson: We bought the house in 76 for $58,000 and sold it 10 years later in 86 for $216,000. Today, these homes are $700,000+. Buy on weakness and never sell.
As you can see, I spent the day in New York on business, and on the way back I stopped in the old neighborhood and visited with some old friends, or I should say, with their parents, because everyone has flown the nest for other parts. Above, just as I'm crossing the Whitestone Bridge into the Bronx, sunlight breaks through a peephole in the clouds, finding me. Lucky shot.

Thanks for reading.

06 July 2008

tough day

Today for whatever reason, I've choked up with tears more times than I would like to admit. I think about all of the times I thought to call my Father in the weeks and months before our trip to see him, and I remember how many times I didn't call, and I want to punch myself in the head a thousand times for every opportunity I passed up to speak with him, to hear his voice, to hear him breathing. Yes he had cancer and it ate him alive.. but I don't think that is what killed him.. Father died of sorrow and loneliness. I curse the day last November when we let him fly back to Turkey. He should have stayed here. We moved the guest bedroom furniture down to the 1st floor for him. We told him to stay, we wish he stayed.. but in reality, he did what was best for us, for me, my wife, my son. He didn't want us to see him as he became weaker, sicker, and more dependent upon others. The side effect of getting on that plane was to spare us the agony of watching him waste away. He told us he wanted to be in his homeland, in his own house. Okay..
I'm deep inside the pain cave right now. Contemplating calling in sick to work tomorrow, or all week. Anyway.. here's a piece which seems to fit the bill for how I am now feeling. Fuck this.

04 July 2008

Happy 4th of July!

Since the time I've returned from Turkey June 9th, since the time I went to Turkey on May 23rd, since the time I last went to Turkey in August 2007, never has there been a day such as today, where I can actually kick my feet, up, take a deep breath, exhale, take stock of all the things around me, or not, and just let the day happen instead of forcing things to happen.. I was planning to drive to Kentucky today to make it in time for National Championships criterium race of Masters 35-39. I awoke at 9:00 to the sound of rain drops.. Last night's bike ride I felt like I had dead legs and I cut it short. I'm obviously not at Fitchburg Stage Race, (though we have a few team members up there in the 35+) The prospect of driving 15 hours in the rain for a one hour race which I really didn't specifically prepare for, is lost on me. Heck I haven't even done my taxes yet, even though I expect very large refund checks. Maybe this is the ideal weekend to get the finances in order, and of course do a few three to four hour bike rides, weather permitting. There's always Wells Ave training race on Sunday, if it's not cancelled that is.. That would be fun.. Maybe tomorrow I can join fellow team mates on a mountain bike ride at Big River? (Need to borrow a mtb though.. hehe) I am loving this weekend. This is like a vacation, for once.

01 July 2008

Ben Seni Unutamamki

İlk busenin tadı dudaklarımda
Söylediğin şarkı kulaklarımda
Mutluluk yaşları yanaklarımda
Dururken beni unutamamki

İçimde verdiğin tüm mutluluklar
Kalbimde aşkının pınarı çağlar
İsmini ruyada bile sayıklar
Dururken ben seni unutamamki

Ruhumu okşayan tatlı hislerin
Dudağımda hala dudak izlerin
Gönlümde hülyalı yeşil gözlerin
Dururken ben seni unutamamki

Orhan Altınbaşak
30 Aralık 2001 Köln