Can’t Keep the Wolves at Bay

To help pass the time in between academic programs and the training both on and off the bike, I have taken up to reading books and trying to re-immerse myself in the cultures of the world (catch up on classic films, see sights around the city, take the metro more often, look at more art.) Since then I have made it a habit to get to know my local & not so local libraries. It’s been years since I have stepped foot in these places. Part of me choosing this route was to get a feel for how people interact and behave in the library setting, and to take advantage of a service that is heavily funded by taxpayer dollars. One of my favorite libraries in Los Angeles has to be the central library in downtown. Although the transient population is very present there, this place has about 3-4 floors in both up and down directions. My reading has lead me to the fiction department to which I have now become familiar with. This place can be a bit overwhelming for someone who has not set foot in a library for a number of years. Long story short, I’ve figured out how to use the primary functions of checking out, returning books at any Los Angeles library, and placing books on hold to be delivered to my local one that is a short walk for anyone with two human legs.

Since then I have read about four books. I re-read “As I Lay Dying,” a book I’ve had laying around to get back into the swing of things. Cant say I liked it very much since there are about twelve to fifteen characters in the story that don’t like good lives or make good decisions. The thing I disliked the most was the synthetic southern english the author uses to give the reader a better feel for how the language is spoken in that part of town. This makes for very slow and inconsistent reading. That book was finished and got the ball rolling to check out other books.

I could try and describe what reading, “House of Leaves” was like, but I have a hard time verbally describing it to co-workers and would end up devoting an entire separate post about this book. In summary, I loved reading this book. Never have I been so emotionally energized to read a book that there were times when I would hesitate to turn to the next page in fear that something or someone would jump out and scare me. This would make it hard to work and night and try and read through creepy parts of the story in which this book is filled with. A lot of character development, easy character names, the writing style of the author made for smooth reading allowing me to read larger portions of the book per sitting, and a number of twists on what someone can do to a novel (very cerebral reading.)

I have recently finished, “The Master & Margarita,” which was a pleasure to read. I tend to get joy out of reading about characters that possess an evil side to them (perhaps since I think it reflects my own personality on some ways.) Currently I am half-way through reading, “Leaves of Grass.” I didn’t know this was going to be a book about poems. I have to really be in a certain mood to read poetry. With the way the author writes this book, he comes off as very philosophical (almost spiritually elitist if those two terms can be used in the same sentence.) There is a lot of references to the American lifestyle and hippi-dippi dualities that I don’t particularly care for. Alas, the book will be finished by the end of the weekend and I will move on.

This reading has been a productive way to pass the time and has resulted in more alone-time for me. As much as I enjoy time spent alone (walking around in downtown with a book in hand and headphones in ears) slowly, I have longed for a little change in pace. To try and interact with others every once in a while.

As mentioned before, I fully acknowledge and embrace my introverted personality. It is who I am, and I am finding ways to let it blossom  into healthier more self-satisfying ways. Yesterday however was an example of a change in pace/mood that felt like the introverted, cynical, sadist got the best of me. I ended up riding bikes in the morning instead of my usual cardio/core workouts which I was fine with and knew were going to happen days in advance. There were a few friends there, and we ended up holding short conversations throughout the ride. My mood never did exceed that of a neutral and grumpy. To this day, I frankly have no idea what would cause such a dip in attitude. We all have things that bother us, and sometimes those things just sink deeper into our skin. The morning ride came and went and a friend being a good friend, asked what it was exactly that ailed me. I would like to preface this next part with a short rant.

I don’t know if this mostly happens with that of the opposite sexes, but there are some things that we (I) do that I may or may not have a solid, fully descriptive reason as to why I do or feel a certain way. I cannot count high enough to determine how many times my ex has poked and prodded at me to ask, “Why did you do that?” or “Why did you think that way?” In my most polite response, I simply tell her I do not know which never goes well when you’re talking with someone who cares about you; women especially. So she would continue the day trying and trying to get an appropriate response out of me (which I did not have the answer to.) Not only did the repetition get on my nerves but also the fact that she would ask the same questions and expect a different response. As if someone told her that if you ask someone the same thing three times they will tell you how they really feel. If you enjoy seeing someone being driven up a wall in annoyance, then I encourage you to try this out.

-sigh-…. okay, rant is over.

I responded with my usual (and honest) “I don’t know” response and was told to cheer up. I took this advice with a grain of salt and tried to explain that I (like most normal people) just have mood swings in our lives. Everything isn’t candy canes and lollipops all of the time. While I was reading that afternoon, I began to realize that I haven’t hung out with my usual beer drinking friends in a while. Due to a change in our priorities, we haven’t seen each other as frequently (plus I get heckled for following through with a more positive and productive form of competitive cycling than that of the weekend warrior.) It was then that I had decided I was going to ride again, if only to interact with those around me (and to work on my sprints.) The sun went down, the lights on the bike were charged and stayed lit all night and we rode through the hollywood hills like madmen. I had a  few chats with some friends, but due to some of our lifestyle changes, I felt like I couldn’t connect the same way as I used to with everyone else. This naturally lead to more jokes and heckling which I can handle. The ride ended at a bar we have been known to go to from time to time, and this was where the introvert stepped in and took control.

There is just something about large groups of people being intoxicated together and asking tons and tons of questions they never thought to try and answer themselves before asking you. Maybe I’m just turning into a grumpy man at age twenty-three, I don’t know. I don’t find this amusing anymore. Almost every Thursday night we would do this we would get the usual,

“So you rode your bikes here?”

(Why do you think I am standing next to you with a helmet on, wearing spandex?)

“Where did you ride from?” “No, I don’t know where that is.” “Thirty miles?! That’s so far! (Insert name here) check this out, these guys rode thirty miles just now! Isn’t that far?!”

“And your drinking beer afterwards?”

(Why else would I be at a bar? Nothing gets by you.)

“Wow, you guys are crazy.)

This reminds me of the same slew of questions I would get when I would tell everyone I am a vegetarian. The long and short of it, I don’t miss it.

The night ended on an earlier note for me. It was one of our friends birthdays the next day and there were a lot of people there who made it clear that they were going to stay there for the rest of the night to wish him a happy (and eventually hungover) birthday. I chose not to drink (mostly because I was annoyed by the large groups of strangers around me) and I had been doing well with the meal choices I’ve been making. I’m no longer inhaling my meals and getting less bloated as a result. On my ride home, it felt like I had never left the bar in the first place. More and more people were exiting bars and stumbling the streets drunk and cat-calling the guy in spandex pedaling a bicycle. This plus the numerous amount of drunks speeding on the road I took home made for a stressful ride back. Thank goodness multiple police officers were there pulling people over, trying to make, “thirsty Thursday” a little safer.

I made it back in one piece, had a meal afterwards, showered, and immediately went to sleep. Today is a new day, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that again in the future. I don’t know what’s going on with me. Might be a face, maybe I’m just turning into a sourpuss. Maybe this sprint training I have been up to has turned me into a cynical sadist. Either way I know I am not depressed since I still feel emotions both positive and negative. I am trying to keep the wolves at bay but perhaps this is my body telling me that I do not enjoy doing things like this anymore and that I should move on. Until then….



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