Sunday, December 20, 2015

What a Wreck!

These last few weeks have done a great job of testing the efficacy of my new antidepressant, Cymbalta.  With the trip to visit Andrew’s family last week, I was a huge bundle of stress leading up to the trip to Pittsburgh, and there was a general miasma of foreboding floating through the house.

Andrew's sister, Lily, did not improve things.  Andrew's last two conversations with Lily were disastrous; she said that he might as well not come home for the holidays and also hung up on him after a "fuck you."

Dramatic interpretation.

The reason she claims for hating me more than loving her brother is that I've "said things" about her mother on "a public forum."  Let's get a few things straight.  First, this is a personal website, not a "public forum."  It's only followed by people who personally know me or that one guy in Albania who keeps sending me weird packages (Hi, Gregori!).

My blog is sort of a public journal, but not one that is read by the masses.  I'm just me being me in my personal space, and I suspect that Lily and her family's gossip is far more "public" than my teeny tiny little corner of the internet.  If they would stop acting like a soap opera I wouldn't be able to talk about them so much.  But I spend a lot of time thinking about what they say about me so of course I'm going to examine those feelings here.

This leads me to my second point:  I'm not trying to hurt anyone's feelings or ruin any reputations.  I'm either stating the facts or I'm stating my personal attitudes toward them.  If a person doesn't want to be called out for acting mean when she accuses me of faking sick while in the hospital, maybe she shouldn't accuse people of faking sick when they're in the hospital.  And also, the thing with Ben and Cara's wedding was totally lame and I don't think it was wrong of me to talk about it here.

Which brings me to my third and last point, which is that, as far as I know, nothing I say here on my blog is a secret.  I strongly believe in being as open as honest as is possible within the realm of good taste and discretion.  So while I won't be posting any nude pictures of myself here (sorry, Gregori), I also won't censor myself for anyone's benefit.  If you want things to be kept secret, you either need to specify that it's a secret directly to me, or not say it at all.  It's not my job to hide your skeletons for you, guys.  If you want to be a good person you'll need to actually act like one instead of hoping that Julie lies and says nice things about you on her blog.

However, if anyone out there is in any way offended and wants to complain, you can fill out this complaint form and send it over to me and it will be ignored in the order it was received.

Now that that's out of the way, I want to apologize to Lily for not dying in a motorcycle accident two weeks ago.  That was very selfish of me.

I've been riding for about 5 years now and, as I mentioned in an earlier post, one of the nice things about having a motorcycle in Los Angeles is the ability to "split lanes."  Splitting lanes is like doing a trust fall with the class bully; you didn't want to be paired with him but you do it anyway and you hope to God he doesn't fuck it up.  Similarly, when driving in Los Angeles, you hope drivers aren't going to do anything dangerous, illegal, or stupid, but you prepare yourself for the worst.  As a motorcyclist, it's generally considered good etiquette to drive in the farthest left two lanes (#1 and #2, formally) and not doing it in "merging" areas.  I normally go 25 - 30 miles an hour, which is well below average.  Like other motorcyclists, I wear a helmet, a jacket, long pants, boots, and gloves, under which are leggings and a long shirt and chain mail and an Iron Man suit and a couple of rolls of bubble wrap.

Anyways, it finally happened last Wednesday; I was puttering along and a lady abruptly turned left, right in front of me.  I had a split second to swerve, and if she'd seen me, then I might have gotten out of the way.  But she didn't, and I realized that we were going to impact, and in another split second I turned the handlebars and brought the bike down into a sort of controlled slide to try to mitigate the damage.

"I feel like I should be doing something here."

The first part happened all in slow motion and seemed very real.  The slide itself is a blur in my memory; the bike and I slid about 10 meters (or two car lengths) down the far left shoulder.  I am vaguely aware that I kicked the bike away from me so that it wouldn't pin me down.  (Later, several people said I bumped my head on the concrete medium, which I don't recall.  I was later confirmed to have a mild concussion but nothing serious.)

When we (my bike and I) had come to a stop, I sat up.  My bike didn't, presumably because it was two tired.  One of my feet was under the bike.  I tugged it out and stood.  The lady who had hit me had already pulled over and was on the phone with 911; her door was open and she was sitting in her car with her feet on the pavement.  She was crying.  Traffic had stopped and people were gawking.  (In Los Angeles, it is traditional not to loot the body of a dead person until at least one seagull has alit upon it.)

I lifted the bike and became aware that three other bikers had stopped.  Again, the next part is shaky; I know that the bikers were trying to determine if I had a concussion. ("How many fingers am I holding up?  Who's the president?  Name a continent that starts with the letter A.")  ("Seventeen! Harrison Ford! Albuquerque!")  I reassured the lady that I was okay (in the sense that nothing was broken.)  I tried to start the bike and found it was still starting, but the headlight was out and the front right brake was dangling off of it.  The front seemed a little bent.

It looked pretty okay overall.  Something like this.

"Look, I didn't even burst open my yogurt," I said to the woman who'd hit me, pulling an undamaged yogurt cup from my completely warped messenger bag.  She laughed through her tears.  I waved off the other bikers.  The EMTs and police left.  She and I exchanged our information, and after making sure the bike could still drive, I went to work.

I wasn't even late!

I took the bike to the shop and, afterwards, had a completely and total meltdown.  (According to my therapist, it is normal to react 8-12 hours after a traumatic event and not immediately, so at least in this regard, I am normal.)

The bike was later declared "unable to be driven" and a "total loss."  The arm of my leather jacket was shredded by the pavement, and so were my gloves, but aside from the knock on my noggin, I came out of it fine.

Serious time, guys.  Always wear protection.  This is a leather riding jacket after a slide; imagine if that were skin.

The lady's insurance covered everything, which means now I can upgrade to a bigger bike.  I'm leaning toward a Kawasaki Vulcan 650.

Next week: how I survived the trip to Pittsburgh and visit with Andy's family!

 (Hint: proper riding gear.)

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