Angry Bird: Last Words to the Pig

[Note: This post won’t make sense unless you are a regular reader. It is in reference of being fired from my job last December. The “Angry Bird” series covered some of my rants in response to how a hostile work environment took a toll on my health and well-being, how it affected my dream, and ultimately lead to my [wrongful termination] dismissal. It is posted here as an affirmation of a renewed vow to living well. To rise above and beyond, to refuse to fall back into the “victim role” and its accompanying depression and feelings of worthlessness. The final entry to numerous blog posts mentioning to varying degrees how this has hindered my journey.

This is my justice!

In the therapeutic sense of writing a “letter to the abuser” (that is what it is called during trauma work in psychotherapy) you are not to send it to the person in question. You are to symbolically destroy the hold it has over you by physically destroying it, however you see fit.]

As news would have it, “Big Red” got canned. Big Red would be the party ultimately responsible for orchestrating my removal from her sight after employing 18 months of “unprofessionalism” in concert with her Evil Minion, my direct supervisor, resulting in damaging my personal and professional reputation, not to mention causing severe financial distress to my family. Big Red got fired, canned, given the walking papers, kicked to the curb, made obsolete, was superseded, and told not let the door hit her in the ass on the way out. The following month. I’m not sure for what, but it doesn’t really matter. I’m sure she undid her own self, people like her almost always do. That’s the problem when you’re playing cut-throat like a hotshot CEO but you’re a Little Leaguer on the Middle Management Team. There’s always someone with a bigger knife and a bigger thirst for blood and you just so happen to one fine day be in their way.

Dear Pig,

KARMA IS A BITCH, isn’t it?!? Must suck to give up almost twenty years of hard “work”. So many years of maneuvering, cheating, lying, and washing the blood of others off your pudgy claws, all in the name of advancement at any cost and all for nothing. Must really blow to give up a job at a company where every single person disliked you, had zero respect for you, talked trash about you and called you unflattering names behind your back, while sweetly smiling and wishing you a fan-fucking-tastic good morning. Big Red was the nicest one I’ve heard circulating, in case you were wondering. Must suck that you lost your six-digit income. Must suck to be you.

But I wouldn’t really know. I am a good person who can look herself in the mirror every day, knowing that she always tries her best to do right by the people in her life, especially family. Knowing that she endured, coping the best she could under hostile fire and still tried to do the right thing by standing up for herself, even if it didn’t make a damn bit of difference in the end and got her fired.

And here I am still doing the right thing by being humane and not suing the pants off of your company and then going after you personally. My husband thinks it was the wrong move. Sometimes I think it was the wrong move. You were breaking several laws, and your employer settled for less reasons under iffier conditions. It damn sure could be just the thing to finance a doctorate and a fine racing career at the club level. But I couldn’t live with myself if I had your blood on my hands, even if you weren’t family. But I think I may have taken you down had you not been my husband’s sister. Yes. Yes, I think I would have.

Even after all you’ve done to me, directly and indirectly, after all the years of mistreating me and using me for your own petty feel-good reasons. I kept my trap shut out of deference to my husband and the rest of your family. Kept my trap shut, smiled and pretended to be your friend and acted as family would. And yet, here you are still telling lies. Still making me out to be the antagonist, still convincing yourself and everyone around you that you did absolutely nothing wrong and make it a point to bring up how much you have done for me in all these years. How you have given of yourself and always were there for me. And look how you are repaid. The shame! Even after all that, I’m still doing the right thing by not retaliating by demanding justice. Oh, it so sucks to be you.

You have finally reaped what you sowed and that’s good enough for me. It’s just sad that harvest time took so long to get here… and it’s just a little disappointing that I can’t tell you what I think of you to your face, rather than having to spill my guts in this virtual letter.

Don’t kid yourself that I am still bothered by your egotistical self-centeredness and all that comes along with it. You don’t rate all that high in my priorities. I’m not even going to continue wasting my precious energy on hating you and wanting to get even. It’s simply a therapeutic tool to end the final stage of the grieving process and to enable myself to move on and put the past where it belongs without having it control my present and my future with its seething pain and nagging self-doubts.

Why? All because I had already made plans for New Year’s Eve 2009 and I refused to cancel out on people because that would have been rude. All because I didn’t go over to your house and take those stupid golf cart rides freezing my balls off and getting ostracized for not drinking enough keeping pace with your level of consumption. Why? Because it never dawned on you to give us more than three days’ notice. How many times have you cancelled out on our invitations or just sent your husband over?

I’m glad you could save face through all of this and rest comfortably in your knowledge that you (and by extension your kids) have been wronged by me. It was an expensive enough price that was paid, it had better be worth it.

I’ll go out on a limb here and make another prediction: You’ll die alone. Just take a long hard look at yourself and how you’ve been treating others in your professional and personal life. There’s still time, but somehow I doubt you will make good use of it. Narcissists need professional help to empower them to do what comes natural to most people.

That’s ok. I’ve taken out the trash, and with this final rant I have rid myself of all toxins that threatened my well-being and inner peace. I may be broke, I may lose my home, I may have to declare bankruptcy and put my dreams on hold. But even in the worst case scenario, I still have friends. I still have people who enjoy my company and like me for who I am. I won’t die alone, I know that.

Sorry for your terrible loss.

Condolences,
Angry Bird

P.S. Maybe you should try adding apologizing to your undoubtedly considerable skill set. I hear it works fairly well when you screw up royally or have been a complete ass for one reason or another. Most of us real people take turns doing that, you know. It’s actually a socially acceptable practice and the injuries inflicted upon your ego are rumored to be fairly short-term. Worthy of consideration.

P.P.S. Oh, and I forgive you. But I damn sure won’t forget!

And now I’m just a Bird. Without a Pig’s worry.


It’s Tool Time!

I’m patiently waiting on the Man in Brown to show up on my doorstep to drop off a load of (highly specialized) tools, so I can get this front suspension pain in my arse taken care of once and for all.

What did I actually put on the track at Road A? Let’s just say that I was way too trusting of a bike that my hubby had acquired for me from a dude who is a mechanic by trade and the bike in question had also been set up and raced by a local racing team.

I’m not complaining, mind you. As far as I am concerned hubby got a great deal on the R1. The added up cost of the performance upgrades alone would have set us back as much as we paid for the bike itself. I’m speaking retail cost here. When you’re sponsored you could find yourself getting these things for free. I’m sure both parties came out of this deal smiling. I know I did, and Skinny Dude with Similar Spring Rate even cut me a break and knocked another five bills off of it. But it goes to show that even though I had checked the bike over to the best of my ability, with the mechanical knowledge that I had gained thus far, some things do not become obvious until you put the beast on the track and give it as much hell as you dare. I did. At the last race of the season. Yes, the finals. I went testing at the Grand Nationals and then still entered the actual race (there are some freakishly fast dudes in A Superstock); knowing it was a really bad idea, but when did that sort of thing ever stop me? But that is a different story for a different time. Maybe I’m going to tell it someday… when I’m completely over the public humiliation I received that weekend, and deservedly so.

Candy's Fork(ed) Leg

But I digress.

Finding a rolled up piece of shop towel shoved in between the outer dust seal, the inner oil seal and the ring clip that holds the seal assembly in place was the last straw. (Somebody sneaking some leaky fork seals through Tech?) The last straw in a long line of other straws that made me say WTF!?! out loud. Every one of these straws presented me with the awesome opportunity to research and add yet another tiny increase to my MotoMech Skill. I need to develop an eye for these things, I’m starting to, but I’ve got a long way to go. Vic Fasola took one quick glance at my bike and muttered something along the lines of my suspension setup being totally fooked and my grips being a few degrees off from each other! Holy hell, I measured those clip-ons as best I could with my digital calipers, which isn’t the right tool for that job anyway. They looked even to me, hell they felt even when I was riding the bike.

Later disassembly of the front forks revealed that the preload between the two legs was differing by several millimeters between right and left, the compression damping differed by 25 clicks. Absolutely nothing was right about the front suspension setup. Not geometry, damping, preload, relative positioning, or fastening torques. Nothing. Those tubes were slid so far up the triple tree that they were in danger of giving you a nose bleed when in the race tuck. A twitchy proposition to say the least. And to facilitate this extreme lack of straight line stability it was necessary to have the upper triple tree clamp half on the skinny part and half on the fat part of the fork tube. I snapped off both pinch bolts on the right side in an attempt to loosen them. I wonder how close they were to snapping when the bike was on the race track? I don’t even want to think about that. I managed to release the left-side bolts without a snap, by backing them out alternatively a few turns at a time. The bolts showed signs of fatigue. They were bent and the threads were unevenly stretched.

No wonder the bike felt weird in the front and kind of strange in the back. No wonder I was as slow as a blob of molasses hanging out in a fridge. The bike was talking to me. I didn’t understand all this feedback I was getting through the chassis. I am slowly learning, but my lackadaisical attitude, a conditioned response to balance perfectionistic tendencies with and adventuresome spontaneity into a more sensible approach, sometimes gets in the way and slow natural progression.

I get in my own way. There. I’ve said it. I’m a brainiac klutz. Leave me to my own devices with too much time to think and too much room for self-doubt, and I’ll stumble over my own two feet and land on the mental equivalent of my JLo ass. But I own my solutions and failures. I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have to own something to trust in it. I have to test a theory and be able to reproduce the promised results on my own to fully believe it. I don’t follow blindly, unless the source has repeatedly proven itself, and even then I can’t help but feel the gnaw of insecurity. I like my variables to be assigned beforehand. I like the equation’s result to be known. But this is the real world… and constants aren’t much fun anyway.

In the end I have nobody to blame but myself; which is the preferable scenario to me. When the blame falls squarely on my shoulders I can spare myself the annoyance of being upset with someone else.

I should have done the research beforehand, educated myself on the things I was unclear on or was ignorant of and check all fasteners. Set the suspension up for myself instead of trusting “it must be right, because the guy is my height and approximately my weight and he raced it.”

However, too much theoretical knowledge without any real world experience makes my head hurt, it gets me frustrated by information overload and I end up winging it half of the time for lack of patience, time constraints, not having the proper tools, or simply by saying: “Ah, screw this, it’ll be alright.” After all, I don’t want to wrench. I want to ride!

I own it or am owned by it.

Sometimes I do find myself getting a little jealous of some of my friends who can call upon the experience of trusted others to help them along their way. I do most everything myself, and I fall down a lot. Occasionally, this gets a little old and I feel like quitting. Fortunately, I have Mr. Slow to kick me square in the leather pants when I start uttering such nonsense as wanting to quit racing because it’s such a pain in the ass in between. Hubby is EXTREMELY supportive of my racing endeavors. He is my rock. His is the hand that reaches out to help me up. He is the one who puts up with all my girly insecurities and the shit I dish out when I’m stressing, smiles and says: “I don’t care how slow you think you are, baby. I still am damned proud of you for getting out there. You are doing it. You just need to do it more. That’s all.”

He’s right. I know that on an intellectual level. Sometimes it is just hard to hold on to that emotionally when you’re down, but not out. I wish he could also be a master mechanic and a pro racer instead of just playing the role of my psychologist. 馃槈

My stuff is here, I’ve got to go!

17 days until race day.


One-track Mind of Hell

Today the God of Speed spoke to me through a fortune cookie. Yes, this can’t be anything but racing related. My bike number is even in there, albeit in reverse. Yes. I would say I am horribly preoccupied. I wonder if this is a good or a bad thing. It was just like this last year. The brain stuck in gear weeks before the actual race; much ado about nothing. *sigh*

20120131-195504.jpg

Did I mention I also ran my fastest mile today? 9:56. And my fastest 1K at 5:56. Not too bad, considering I had a gut ache, was severely dehydrated, and felt the torturous beginnings of a migraine. I would think that getting to lap Mr. Slow three times in three miles would be a motivating factor, but my overall average pace dropped back by 25 seconds. I need to find a different backmarker, the man is distracting. 馃槈

Observation of the Strange Kind: It’s a little after 1 o’clock in the morning, I’ve had but four hours of sleep and my headache is threatening to make a reappearance; oddly enough, I feel like going for a little run.

I need to get my head checked.


Dedicated Trackie

Mr. Slow keeps bringing up the subject of getting a dedicated race bike as soon as we pay off some things and free up a little cash flow. Today he was going on about something and my attention didn’t snap to until I heard the words: “… get that 600 you want so you can have a dedicated race bike….”

I looked up and told him that I didn’t want a 600 any more. He gave me a questioning look. “Why?”

I didn’t know that I had actually made a decision until I heard the words coming out of my mouth: “I’m racing the Pirate. I know all the other women that I know of, except one, are racing 600s, and 600s are a blast. But I’m tired of hearing about how this bike is too big for me and how I should have started small. And how I can’t do this or shouldn’t be doing that. I’m going to give them something to take into consideration.”

“So, you don’t want a Gixxer anymore?”

“Yes. But I’ll be riding it to work.”


Visualize This!

vi路su路al路i路za路tion noun
\藢vi-zh蓹-w蓹-l蓹-藞z膩-sh蓹n, 藢vi-zh蓹-l蓹-, 藢vizh-w蓹-l蓹-\

  1. formation of mental visual images
  2. the act or process of interpreting in visual terms or of putting into visible form
  3. the process of making an internal organ or part visible by the introduction (as by swallowing) of a radiopaque substance followed by radiography
  4. (Psychology) a technique involving focusing on positive mental images in order to achieve a particular goal

Visualization, also known as guided imagery, mental rehearsal, or meditation, works for me. If I can concentrate enough to actually visualize rather than just thinking about “doing it right.” A lot of my skill practice is done by using visualization techniques. I was first introduced to the technique by my therapist while doing trauma-work in order to process and heal from a nasty case of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder) I had developed after, well… after “something had happened” that was a little above my natural coping abilities. I would say that visualization and processing through imagery (artistic expression) were the two main tools that helped me overcome the experience and move on with my life.

While reading my first book on racing technique I had occasion to become reacquainted with an old friend that had served me well in the past. I had not a clue that visualization could be used with great success in the field of sports performance. There are some differences between the therapeutic method of “feeling” and the performance enhancing method of “seeing”. One is more intuitive and is based upon abstracts and individual perception; the other is based on empirical data, the interpretation thereof and then the manipulation of skill application for best possible outcome.

So exactly how do I go about using visualization for my riding skill development? It’s not really all that complicated, once you know what it is and how to use it properly.聽Visualization requires a set of pre-acquired data to work in the enhancement of applicable skill.

One must know the environment said skill is to be applied in. You cannot visualize yourself getting through a turn faster unless you know the turn’s geometry. Is it downhill or uphill; flat, banked or off-camber; does it have a constant or decreasing radius; is it tight or sweeping; is it a true double-apex (compound curve) or a single apex turn? What does it look like? Where are the curbs, the brake markers, the paint lines, the skid marks, is the pavement rough in texture or smooth, or a combination. And to know that you have to have been there. The more details you have about the turn and the more clearly you can see it in your mind, the better visualization will work. Mind you, if your recollection is shoddy and your references sketchy or erroneous, you will inadvertently introduce errors in your visualization and therefore you may even hinder rather than enhance your progress.

Once I learn a track layout, I use visualization to remember all that hard-earned visual data I’ve collected, so next time I’m there it won’t take me but a fraction of the time to get reacquainted. 聽If you can run a lap in your head with your eyes closed in about the same time you can do it in real life, then you’ve got it down. If you are faster in your head, you’re missing something. If you are slower you are unsure. I think I took that particular page out of Keith Code‘s book, A Twist Of The Wrist, but I’ll have to double check that. I’ve devoured so many skill books from so many different people that it is hard sometimes to keep it all straight and give the kudos to the proper person.

I use it to find errors in my riding, too. But I don’t like to do that on my own, I usually run that by someone who is a better rider than me and also knows the track and can help me interpret my visual data and analyze what exactly went wrong or what could be done better. Then I come up with a plan and during the next session, I will see if it helps. Lap times don’t lie. If your analysis was correct and your application was optimal you should eventually see a marked improvement in your lap or section times. If you are slower at first, don’t worry just yet. You have to reach a certain level of comfort with the “new and improved way” before it’ll show. If you stay slower consistently, then you have cause for worry and should revisit the problem and its original solution.

I also use visualization to stay cool, calm and collected under pressure. It helps me to not freak out and panic and cause myself a world of calamity and pain. Panic and its related reactions have no place while you are on the bike. You may wipe your butt and freak the hell out when you’re back at the pits (or pulled over safely on the side of the road). When the ass is connected to the seat of your bike, failure is not an option. We are human, we will make mistakes, we will miscalculate and misjudge. Visualize yourself getting out of the trouble you’ve created for yourself and more often than not your cool head and muscle memory will prevail and let the machine do its thing and get you out with the shiny side where it belongs and rubber side down.

I also use it to calm my hyped-up nerves before I go out on a session. Instead of worrying about how embarrassing it would be if I did this or that in front of a bunch of people, like dropping my bike or missing a shift or totally screwing up a start, I see myself being perfect. And I haven’t done anything stupid in front of a bunch of people in a long time. It also helps me not to throw up when sitting on the grid. 馃檪

Visualization is my weapon of choice.

If you visualize it, it will come true. See yourself failing and you’ve made it favorable for the outcome to be just that: a huge fail of epic proportions. See yourself succeeding and you’re on the way. Don’t be afraid to be your best.

And no, we are not having a narcissistic moment when you catch us watching a video of ourselves riding our bikes over and over and over again. Panning, shuttling, slo-mo, pause and stare. I know of one other person who does this (or admits to doing it anyway) and I bet my Dainese two-piece leathers that she is doing it for the same reason I end up spending countless hours drooling over my own ass sliding around on a sport bike. We like the way we look. We are awesome. We are THE shit! But that’s really beside the point. 馃槈 It’s an important step in visualization. The acquisition of visual data, analyzing and processing said data and finding the weak spots in our riding, so we can see ourselves doing better next time.聽If I had to make another wager, I would put my money on all the better riders doing this to one degree or another, whether they know it by its term or not.


Why Race It If You Can Roll It?

Suzuki GSX-R600 (BMP)

Miss Busa rocking "The Wedding Cake"

What is so damn important about racing that I spent most every waking minute thinking about it? And it’s worse than just thinking about it, everything I do anymore is in line with racing. Before, I modded mainly for bling. Well, I have to amend that statement, since I have never just put something on my bike for looks alone, but it had to add functionality or performance in addition to just looking good. If it was ugly, it wouldn’t go on my bike no matter the benefit. During research, if two parts were essentially the same in any other aspect, I would spend more to get the part that looked better. However, the main reason I would want to add something was to make my bike look different and stand out from the crowd. That seemed to have changed. Everything I do to my bike now has an additional underlying condition, before it is approved and the order button is clicked: Is this going to put me in a different class? How is this going to affect the overall performance? How is it going to affect my riding?

I tweet about motorcycles. I talk about them, my life has become centered around them. My living room currently reeks of gasoline, and a lot of the time it looks like a garage with tools and parts laying around everywhere. I write about motorcycles and ever since I’ve decided that I don’t care about the remainder of my bike’s warranty, I openly blog about wanting to race it.

When did my thought process change from just wanting to be the best street rider that I could possibly be to wanting to be a racer? I really have no idea. Maybe it is some subconscious attempt to prove to myself that indeed I have found something (finally) that I’m not just mediocre at. Something that has always been bugging me, all my life. I am mediocre in a lot of things (and I mean a LOT of things), but excel at none. I always envied people with talent. Musicians, artists, dancers, singers, strippers,… I had a lot of friends who had “their one thing” that they made look like it came so easily to them, with hardly any effort. Truth be known, that’s probably all they spent their mental focus on, even when they weren’t outwardly engaged in their craft.

Is racing some sort of measurement for me? A way to find where I stand in my development as a rider? Is it the scientific experiment that will prove some sort of hypothesis of mine and turn it into theory and hopefully, with repeated reproduction will become fact? Maybe. I have always wanted to know where I stand with things. I need to know; I suppose that is part of my competitive nature. I really don’t know why, maybe it is to ease my insecurities or maybe it’s an attempt at shock therapy. Get out there, be visible, get all that unwanted attention (whether it be good or bad) and prove that you can cope and won’t drop dead from it.

It’s definitely not for the money (that’s a laugh there) and it isn’t for the fame (yeah, that’s another good one), and it isn’t because I’m being pushed in that direction, although Mr. Slow has prevented me from quitting twice already, telling me in no uncertain terms that this is a team venture and it would be selfish of me, not to mention that he knows better, I wouldn’t really want to quit. He is spot on right, I suppose he knows me better than I know myself in a lot of ways.

I do not have high aspirations either, nor any expectations aside from that one minor detail: I don’t want to get lapped EVER and I would like to not come in DFL. However, I could probably live with the latter, since someone has got to play that position, but I’d rather it not be me. Seriously.

Comes to thinking about it, I do better when I don’t have any people around me on the track. I have a tendency to want to focus on the bikes in front of me rather than my reference markers, and I get slightly annoyed when someone’s way too slow for my tastes and I can’t get an opportunity to pass and make them eat my dust. So, what does she do? She wants to go racing… yeah.

I really don’t get it. I thought about sticking to just track days, but it doesn’t seem enough. It doesn’t scratch that weird itch I have developed. That rash that requires the kind of medicine that drains the bank accounts and leaves not much for anything else. But I seem to be cool with that.

Maybe I have finally realized that my lack of talent isn’t due to me not being blessed with one; that maybe it is due to my getting bored fairly easily with stuff and moving on to “the next thing” when I have reached a certain degree of sufficiency. When growing up I drove my Dad crazy with this tendency. Every time I asked him to let me join some club or wanted him to buy me this or that, he just threw his arms up and reprimanded: “M盲dchen, Du f盲ngst alles m枚gliche an und machst 眉berhaupt nichts fertig!” (“Girl, you start all sorts of things and finish none of them.”) But eventually he succumbed to my insistent begging and pleading and I got what I wanted and end up doing exactly what he was afraid of: not sticking with it past mediocrity.

Maybe the answer will come to me when I’m sitting on the pre-grid with Mr. Slow holding the bucket for me. That’s right. I won’t be needing an umbrella girl, I need a bucket dude. =D