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A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams

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Goodbye, Cruel Boys, I’m Leaving You Today

I’m in pain again today. I’m suffering a loss and it really, really hurts.

Yesterday I went to watch the Ishikawa JCBF series road race in Ishikawa, Fukushima. It was my first time to Fukushima and I have to say, at least in the area I was in, there is no evidence of the meltdown. I got sunburned, though, so maybe I shouldn’t be too relaxed.

I went with Thunder and a selection of regulars from the Everwin team. When I asked if it was ok for me to go and watch, Thunder (who is in charge of the team) told me that it was ok, except that I would have to ride in the back with the bikes because the athletes take priority. Whatever, I’m ok with that. Turned out that the back was very nice and the other guys were fighting over it because we were all massively sleep deprived and exhausted from the heat. In the back, you could lay down and actually sleep.

When we arrived at the race site everyone got out to ride across town to the registration booth. I didn’t know how far it was, or where it was, but I had my sweet new race baby (Kookaburra), and I was committed to the day so I did my best to keep up.

I couldn’t keep up. I got lost. I had no cell reception and even though there were staff along the race course, I had no idea what to even ask them. “Hey, uh, I’m looking for my friend’s car… No, I don’t know where he parked it. Or where I am. Or what I’m even doing out here.” With no wallet, phone, or food and my stomach running on so close to empty that I was starting to get dizzy in the early morning heat, lost and with no way of knowing how to get back before the race started and the roads closed, I just sat down and cried.

Somehow I managed to figure out where the car was. Thankfully, it was also unlocked and I was able to feed myself. As I sat on the concrete, alone with my bike, it occurred to me that not only was this not the first time this has happened to me, but it seems to be part of a pattern.

Thunder does not seem to give a shit about what happens to me.
The Giant store manager might give a shit, but it’s apparently too much work.
The girls at the Giant store are useless wastes of good flesh.
The boys on the Giant team are too oblivious to know how hard I work to be able to play with them, or how exhausting it is to always be the one who gets dropped and needs special attention.

In the heat, far from home and disconnected from anyone who cared about me, I realized that my relationship with Giant is over.

The Giant store was my salvation when I came to Japan. I was lonely and lost and they gave me a place to be, bikes to ride, trails to play on and support in my life. And then something happened. I got too big for them, maybe? And now it feels like I’m nothing more than a burden to them all the time. I try to help and they don’t want my help. I try to play and I get brushed off. I try to train and I get ignored. I try to do business with them and, well, I get ignored there, too. I don’t know what happened or why, but I know that the safety and comfort that the people there represented to me at one time is gone now and nothing I can do will bring it back.

And this hurts.

This hurts a fucking lot.

And you know? I can’t help but wonder if a large part of this isn’t the language barrier. People think I’m fluent in Japanese, but mostly they’re rounding up. I’m only fluent when people are talking to me directly and in person. On the phone, in a group, or about a subject I’m not familiar, I struggle to keep up. I wonder if my inability to have a relationship with the people who I desperately wanted to be friends with is that they are all simply too busy to take the time to give me the individual attention I need to actually communicate. Of course I’m angry because if they cared at all about me, they would, at least on occasion, take the time and energy to check in on me. It’s not like I ask a lot, and I’m incredibly flexible. Like with the car. If he told me I had to ride on the roof with the bikes I would make it work.

It’s one of the reasons why I’m so dissatisfied with my job. There’s no reason for anyone to need to interact with me. My students can just sit there. My colleagues never pass me in the hall. But even if they did, they don’t share the same passions that I have.

In the end, I feel pretty damn hopeless that I will ever have a family. I feel like I may never be free of this chronic, aching loneliness that plagues every waking moment of my life. It’s pretty scary to be here. I feel very close to the edge of nothing matters at all. I know that place. I hate that place.

Once I used to be pretty resilient. I have lived with pain since I can remember, but long ago I still had hope. I was still able to tell myself that if it all went to shit I could go and sell sandwiches on the beach in Italy. Now I know that I’m too restless for that. Now I know that even that life would be too hard for me. I would feel constrained eventually, and dead without a greater purpose.

And the loneliness wouldn’t go away.

I guess the ultimate truth that I am coming to is that I am different. I used to want to believe that I wasn’t different, that I was just imagining it, or that if I wanted something I could just go out and get it, even if that something was friendship. I have never put so much work and so many tears into having a friendship before. I think I’ve come further with the Giant boys than I’ve come with anyone*, maybe. And to see it all come crashing down in a stinking pile of shit…

Well, it just makes you think that maybe the problem is with you. Maybe you’re unfixable and unlovable. Maybe you really are different, and that’s why no one wants you around.

Women’s Road Saddle Review: San Marco Mantra Racing, and a Rant

I have been hunting for a female pelvis appropriate saddle for three years now. Let me just say that if you want to see sexual discrimination in sports, look no further than your local bike shop. Women’s saddles are their own category as in you have “road racing,” “downhill,” “dirt jumping,” “mountain” and “womens” saddles in the catelogues and shops. So the first thing you learn when saddle shopping is that women don’t need sport specific saddles. We must not be serious enough about our riding to need a saddle that caters to our actual ground conditions or riding position. The second thing you learn is that women have pelvises made of rock and eyes on their butts because a women’s specific saddle is often just a fluffier wider men’s saddle with floral detailing. Now, I’m not a fast rider or a professional rider, but I am a serious rider and I love my genitals. I want a saddle that will not give me clitoral erectile dysfunction, which means I want a saddle designed to support a female pelvis that contains a vagina and vulva and clitoris, not a male pelvis with a dick and ballsack. Try explaining that to a bicycle shop employee and he will inevitably start fidgeting and averting his eyes

…because there are almost zero women in the bicycling industry that women can talk to about buying saddles for women! And it’s not socially appropriate to draw attention to your genitals in a cross gendered commercial situation, so how do you explain to a man that unless a saddle is made with female genitals in mind that it is, no matter what the manufacturer wants us to believe, in fact a men’s saddle designed to support a male taint and male genitals? Buying a saddle as a women is an eternally frustrating endeavor.

I’ve spent many hours searching the web for good bike saddle reviews, but I’ve come up empty handed. And without the ability to actually try a saddle out, it’s really quite impossible to know if a saddle is any good. What’s worse? Any halfway decent product is going to be upwords of $100 (US), so most people can’t afford to get the wrong saddle either. What’s a woman to do?

Well! A woman is to go to the great big bicycle shop in Shinjuku, then Shibuya, then Fuchuu, then Kunitachi and try out all the saddles in stock! I’ve tried two different models so far and as my gift to women cyclists everywhere I’m going to post my reviews to this site. First, however, I would like to describe my San Marco, which has served me well for two and a half years, but is starting to get a little uncomfortable around now.

San Marco TopI bought the San Marco in 2012 as a replacement for the stock seat that came on Pikuro, which was more like an instrument of torture than a seat, really. It cost me a good $200+ at the time. Pikuro is a 2012 Giant TCX2 cyclocross bike with some serious attitude and a lot of pink and I use her for mostly everything and for commuting in particular. At first, the San Marco was love. Riding around the city (3 miles and shorter spurts), I never needed a pad and sometimes I would even forget that I was sitting on a saddle at all. It really fit me well. I never experienced numbness or tingling in my legs or my clitoris/labia and when I leaned forward to use the drop bars the saddle actually became more comfortable. I attribute this comfort to the amazingly wide and smoothly tapered center cutout. For some reason a lot of guys have been telling me that cutouts haven’t proven to be beneficial in terms of blood flow to the pelvis and perineum, but I think they’re just talking about their own ballsacks again because it doesn’t make sense to me how not pressing on the vulva with the full force of your body weight for hours on end can fail to be good for the genitals.

In addition to commuting I would occasionally take her for a 40-mile loop around Valley Forge national park. This was where the San Marco’s true strengths and weaknesses came through. On the out leg of the trip I never had any difficulty. In fact, I could ride out in a thin layer of spandex running capris and experience zero discomfort whatsoever. The problems only ever arose on the return trip where the bare padding of the saddle would start to cause hot spots on my taint and sit bones. I would try wearing padded cycling shorts, but I found that shorts with padding over the genitals would relieve the butt pressure, but cause numbness in my clitoris. Ultimately the San Marco is a great saddle for medium length rides, but at its best it could only ever give me 30 miles before the discomfort would set in and become intense enough to seriously affect the quality and pace of my ride.

Recently I’ve noticed a serious change in the way the Mantra fits my bum-region. San Marco Mantra Cross SectionWhile it still provides the fantastic and so far unparalleled blood flow critical to the continued functioning of my genitals, it has started to cause pain in my sit bones at much shorter distances than in the past, and now requires the use of cycling shorts at almost all distances. Specifically, the Mantra will actually ride up between my pelvic bones, forcing them apart and creating hot spots against the inside of the bones, towards the anus and taint region. I attribute this to the sharp downcurve that the saddle displays towards the back as it wraps around and under the carrier posts. It’s still a great saddle and it’s possible that with some more aggressive butt padding I might be able to overcome this small fault. However, this new trend in discomfort is in fact the source of my renewed search for a saddle capable of supporting a female pelvis.

Because the San Marco has served me so well for so long, I will be using it as a basis of comparison for my other saddle reviews. My goal: a saddle that is wider or flatter in the rear than the Mantra, but with an equivalently large relief zone towards the nose. Updates will be posted and tagged “saddle review”

All the Same Humans, Sort of

I said to a friend of mine about half a year ago that boys are really all the same. She was itching for some sexy time with a local and was having difficulty reading the Japanese. I had just bedded the most ostentatious man in the entire gym and had discovered, much to my dismay, that he is terribly broken. He was a free spirit and a romantic, of sorts, and had suffered a breakup of the worst kind. He confessed to me on our first night together that he had tried to kill himself. In a matter of moments the image that I had of this man as strong and self confident, if a little obnoxious, crumbled into the reality that he is, like all of us, just a human suffering through a world that never taught him how to find his own happy.

At first things seemed to go incredibly well. Now in hindsight I can see that this honeymoon period was due entirely to the honeymoon effect*: when you are on your honeymoon you don’t have to work or take care of children or attend to other responsibilities, it’s just you, and so you are able to experience a period of uninterrupted, artificial bliss. Certainly there were differences in the way we preferred to live our lives, but he verbally acknowledged my boundaries at the same time as I was emotionally willing to try doing things his way, so it seemed like it was working. Everything came crashing down the day he was forced to acknowledge that my polyamory was not just a theoretical personality quirk, but a reality that involved at least one other man besides himself. It was at that point that he and I were called to employ our respective Relationship Skills to either forge on ahead, or die in the fire.

Well, it would not be much of an essay if the story ended with us just talking through our feelings and renewing our intimacy through shared understanding. The man folded in on himself, exploding at me while imploding emotionally. I used every trick in my box. I tried to listen to his perspective and to ask him what his needs were, but he refused to tell me on principle. I tried taking his words at face value, but he repeatedly failed to be honest with me. I tried talking to his friends. I tried getting his friends to talk to him. I tried getting him to talk to his friends. In the end I tried just avoiding him and cauterizing the emotional wound. This seems to be the only sort of relief I can get.

In my frustration I talked to my friend who had, months prior, looked to me as a role model in her own struggles. Why, I asked. Why is he so stubbornly unwilling to do any of the standard activities necessary for relationship maintenance? How is it that he can be content to turn his back into the storm of my frustration, waiting for it to blow over, and then just say “sorry” without actually listening or attempting to fix any of the problems that caused the blowout in the first place? My friend said to me simply, “he likes it that way.” Immediately I knew what she said was truth.

We humans are in many ways all one being, and in as many ways we are all unique. At a most fundamental level we all desire to be loved and to feel safe and secure in our lives and our community. We need to eat and we need to play and we need to feel respected as the individuals that we are. This is true. Life, however, does not put all of us in the same starting position. Some of us learn to ignore our own needs to take care of others first. Some of us learn that the world does not care for us and so we must protect ourselves from it emotionally and physically. Some of us learn how to appreciate each other as individuals and some of us learn that looking with clear eyes at our own reflection is petrifying.

So in the end, I have to accept that while it is beautiful to believe that we humans are all alike, on a practical level it is not as useful a paradigm as I had hoped. Some of us want to be open to ourselves and to others, and some of us want to plow through life just the way we are, never updating and never truly seeing the world around us. I suppose we can find commonality in that we all make this fundamental choice, and perhaps that commonality makes it more palatable when our choices clash with each other. But I think it is also important to remember that some people really are different and that smashing your head against a wall trying to get them to see the light is a futile endeavor. They choose not to change and in a way, you choose not to change, too. At this level I suspect the choice becomes one of who do you want to surround yourself with more than how do you make it work with who you are surrounded by.

And, I suppose, knowing that this is the choice I have to make does provide me with some peace.


*I coined that term just now ^^

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