Thursday, November 18, 2010

what am i doing????

Lately, I've been wandering, just being a wanderer, no plans, just aimless and getting pretty good at it..which freaks me out because I usually have a plan.  Im not overly organized or ocd (i dont think) or anything, Im just usually trying to have some kind of baseline plan and goals going into the next season.  But this year, I dont have any.  I dont know if its boredom, or what.  I really am starting to miss "home", wherever "home" shall be.  But mainly, Im missing living in the states.  I love living in Europe and the travel opportunities, but I miss having a crapload of riding buddies, be it gals, guys, and excellent, unlimited singletrack, people who speak "bike", people that understand the sacrifice, and share it with me.  Im really missing that whole lot.  I miss being so excited to ride, I miss lusting over bike parts, I miss the chamois, I miss the hours of training, the drain, only to be uplifted at a race and see the hours pay off.  I miss it all!  I miss the occasional wreck, that lets me know Im alive, and to not get too cocky.  I love the clowns in the sport, the funny people, you know the ones--the playaz-- they make a ride in a torrential deathly desert/lightning storm the best, scariest and fun all at the same time, ride of your life, people you can have a beer (or 3) with after a great ride, people that know you, that really see you, that make me laugh until I pee my pants, and dont care if you belch, fart or puke on a ride(or if you pee your pants)--the socially incorrect, the politically incorrect or uncorrect, whatever...I've had the joy of calling many "friend", even "best friend".

I had that life.  Then I moved here.

That sounds awful, but I really feel lonely.  I guess I am finding I am a person that needs friends that share the same hobbies hobby.  I dont get into the stuff here, which is basically, oh, lets go hang out at my house and watch football and stuff our faces full of crap food and drink cokes, or lets just all get drunk.  I mean, I dont care about the drunk part, just at least lets go ride first!!!  I mean COMEon Man!!!  am i asking too much??

I used to be funny, I used to laugh at life, now Im just annoyed most of the time.  I dont even wear pink anymore, and thats a BIG deal.  I've become a monotonic/monochromatic moron, trying to ride my bike on foggy, wet, PAVED paths, that run for miles, but little dirt ever reaches the tread.  I dont even dream about that next tattoo, most of my clothes are black, gray, or navy blue.  BORING!!!!!!!!!

I am whining, and Im sorry.

But then, I DO remember who I am, and I come back, even though I dont like the non-endless amount of singletrack in Germany or the endless rain, and fog.  Eventhough my friends consist of me, myself and I and my kids and husband, at least thats 6!  Im not depressed, just homesick and dont think for one second that I dont love Europe.  I think I was just spoiled before...and lucky.
My husband, he's def adaptable.  He doesn't need a social network.  He doesn't care either way, Im sure, but he is fine training alone, and he still pushes himself whether with a group or not.  And he does it everyday, he NEVER complains, he is always happy to be out on his bike, so it makes me feel even MORE like a whiny little puke.  Its pretty awesome he can do that, and I look up to him and hope one day I will be that great, not just as a cyclist, but as a human being.  I guess that's what separates the champions from the weekend warriors, haha, and Im not even that anymore, I used to be a champion, but I've resorted to sorta ride my bike, if its not too cold, but I guess I just need to take a chill pill and be thankful for what I have, the people I get to see everyday, my family, because they are what makes me happiest, I just cant wait to move back in a few years. Hopefully its somewhere I can hop back on the train and catchup with my mates....

p.s. thanks for reading this if you actually could stand to read it : )

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paris, the lens perspective

A few weeks back, I took a trip to Paris (4hrs away) to explore the darker side of the 'city of lights'.  It was around Halloween, so I thought it most appropriate to get a glimpse of some things I have wanted to see for a long time.  Mostly, I wanted to take the opportunity to use my awesome camera and also, my husband wasnt interested in going and I wasnt interested in taking my kids down under Paris into the catacombs, so it was a perfect solo adventure for me (I did have a guide). 

First, a quick jaunt to the Eiffel tower, 

Looking up towards the gargoyles of Notre Dame:
 then off to another great sight for my lens-- the gargoyles of Notre Dame.  You walk up a gazillion never ending little stairs that spiral up to the bell towers, where the beautiful, yet mysterious creatures greet you, as they guard their ledges.  They have been there for hundreds of years, watching over Paris.  If I could have only seen all the things they have witnessed perched on those ledges over many lifetimes..

It was a rainy, and rather gloomy weekend, with intermittent moments of sunshine, which was perfect and set the tone for my sightseeing adventures.  

After a little shopping, some hot mulled french wine, a nutella crepe and a quick stop to the Arc de Triomphe, I headed to the hotel for a rest and then to a nice eatery in an old wine cellar within the super cool Latin quarter, where I dined on french onion soup, beef burgundy, chocolate mousse (just a taste) and about a gallon of red wine.  After that it was time for a night cruise on the Seine.  It was a beautiful sight at night.  Seeing Paris at night from the river was a real treat, the little lights, dancing like stars on the waterfront was wonderful!  The highlight was that the Eiffel tower would light up ever so often and the lights would start to sparkle and blink, her toast to me for coming to this great city.

The next day was the highlight for me, the catacombs.  I have always wanted to go, but not because Im fascinated with death, but because I am fascinated with history, and a respect for those that have departed, and there are over 6 million Parisians buried beneath Paris.  What also fascinates me, is the tunnel system itself.  There is a complete history and if you research it on the internet, it is quite fascinating, but Im too lazy to type the whole spill here right now...

The entrance to the catacombs, nothing scary in this very normal french neighborhood, but what lies beyond this simple door? p.s. if you go, get there early, a long line formed, glad I got there first:

*short background story here*
When I was a kid, probably like 13, there was a tunnel system under our town.  Every day one summer, we would always go into these tunnels, with no flashlights or anything.  It would take us at least an hour to get from one side to the other.  In the pitch dark.  Many times we experienced strange people in there, druggies and transients.  Always in a group it was fun and scary at the same time to go and try to freak each other out, I might of even had my first cigarette down there, but it was a moment of liberation down there for us young kids, having fun, being rebels...anyway, I now know, being the adult I am, the dangerousness of the situation and even cringe at all the possible terrible things that could have happened to us, but nothing did, so its the memory of those times as well, that makes me fascinated with underground tunnels systems,,,,end of background story

After a long walk down below the city of Paris, you come to the entry which reads : Stop!  This is the empire of death: (yes, kinda gave me goosebumps) 
Anyway, as I was one of the first people down there that morning, I enjoyed the silence of it all and absorbed the workmanship and the labor that went into creating final resting place for so many.  Temp-wise, it was cool, and moist.  Ever so often my boots would hit a small puddle of water on the dirt floor, or a drop or two would hit me from the ceiling, reminding me I was hundred of feet below the surface of civilization.  The feeling I had once I was walking for awhile, was one of curiosity and one of awe.  It is only a small portion of the actual catacombs that the public is allowed to see.  There are so many stories that we will never know, so much history and of course the awe of it is how they brought so many down there and the arrangements that were made, in a way as a memorial to those that had passed.  Overall the experience was a somber one.  Afterall, it was a graveyard and one should always be respectful of the dead.

random pics:

graffiti stained walls in one area of the catacombs:
Immediately after the catacombs experience, this girl (me) was happy to be back amongst the land of the living! (my expression sucks):
 Inside St. Sulpice:
After that, a quick stop to St. Sulpice, a quick look at the rose line, featured in the book the Da Vinci Code, lunch then finally to Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Chopins grave has the white statue on it:
What an amazing sight, visually, not to mention the size.  It is huge, you could easily get lost within the walls.  Which wouldnt be a terrible thing.  There is a beauty within this place that lures you to seek out those very famous people that had some impact on the French, if not the world, at one time or another.  I first wanted to see Jim Morrison though, whom I have wanted to see all my life (although he died before I was born).  

 At the gravesite, there is still an air of presence, if not him, through his fans.  Thousands visit his grave and because of this, it is cordoned off with barriers.  A tree close to the grave is littered with "grafitti", writings of those wanting to pay their respects and show how much they adore this man, even after so many years.  I was truly touched by that spirit that continues to linger.  If you could say Goodbye to the lizard king, what would you say?
This one is my favorite, "Thanks Jim Find Peace":

So many notable people are buried in this cemetery, its definitely worth a visit on your trip to Paris.

 After all of this, I was feeling a bit drained, and missing my family, it was time to head back home.  

I cant wait to go to Paris again soon, but next time with company.
And so I say Au Revoir and leave you with this last little bit, complements of Mr. Morrison:
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land....
 All photographs are the sole property of Angela Koppa and cannot be reproduced or copied without her permission.