March 02, 2012

Thoughts on Women and Food; Consummate Consumables?

What can be so honest as a kiss; eyes closed, touching, feeling, exploring, open and vulnerable, exposed, aroused, curious, deft and teasing, heavy, the savoring of another.

Air - Moon Fever, video from '63, Andy Warhol's "Kiss".

Writing, how I have missed you. The self-imposed sense of deadlines and deliverables, this need to put something down and communicate in a way that uses neither my voice or body language, these thoughts floating 'round in my head are finalized into bits and pixels and expressed digitally. This is my new song.

I remember how much joy I would receive when I knew that people were actually reading what I wrote, with interest! It was a pleasure to be able to share my experiences and observations, my travels and travails. And then I stopped.

As I mentioned in the podcast (previous blog post), I was a bit ashamed of not being on the circuit anymore once I'd moved back to San Francisco. After writing about multi-million dollar prototype racing bikes, who would want to read about old '90's bikes coming out of a little garage?

I was, however, very, very happy and proud to be living back in the USA with people I cared very much about - but the trivialities of daily life weren't suitable to write about, or so I thought. I wanted to guard my privacy, and the privacy of my household, and just live. I was tired of the traveling, and the toll that the distances and stresses had imparted was significant. So tired. And thus, I slept. I put my mind to rest for more than a year, just existing, feeling out my heart and learning to put away all the bad habits I'd reveled in while living overseas, out of bounds, without laws and boundaries. I wasn't completely successful - not by a long shot - as certain temptations proved to be too sweet and I "relapsed". It has taken me more than 15 months to begin to feel like myself again, but a new me, and one that I'm prouder to be. In that time, I have grown lonelier, grown inwardly, and grown far more spiritually than I had anticipated.

We all make choices, some for the better and some for worse, but it is in the act of choosing that we define ourselves. I know this sounds like a overly used cliche, but if I could have known then what I know now . . . .

And so, I have begun to wake up! To re-start my life, realize my ambitions, and begin pushing again. I can count great moments in my life on the fingers of a hand; when I knew without doubt that I was making the right decision; a bold decision, a life-altering decision. Fortune DOES favor the bold, and I think I'd learned to become mortal again, once I'd left MotoGP. I came back to SF. I lived quietly. I started to despise drinking, despite some very big nights and weekends. Actually, it wasn't just drinking that displeased me, but rather the culture and complacency of those involved with the drinking culture here in the city. How easy it is to just sit, night after night, in a bar or pub, and just "hang out". Drink after drink to blunt the pain of daily life. I found myself at odds with my life at one point; wanting so much to feel all the magic and joy of being somewhere else, of being someone else. I re-invented myself again. I stopped visiting the bars, I said goodnight to the nightlife. Life was more peaceful then, and for the first time in years, I could taste home cooking. I cooked, she cooked, the feasts we created were magnificent and I have nothing to compare them to, even today.

I knew I needed to change who I was, and by this I mean, I needed to change my actions and the reasons behind why I did what I did. I wasn't even aware that I needed to do this, just that something was "off" and I needed a big change. Previously in my life, I had this feeling in the summer of 2005, shortly before I was to leave for Europe. I had been dating a wonderful woman, and the relationship was good, but I wasn't. Even now I have difficulty thinking about it, but it is one of 2 times in my life that I have split up with someone when the relationship was working and there were no outstanding issues or problems. I felt that I wasn't ready - and it wasn't some fear of commitment or capability to care for my partner that made me feel this way, it was because I sensed that I needed to do more with my life, to prove to myself that I was capable of achieving great things in real life, because obviously, schooling wasn't my strong suit, haha. I left the US on a hope and a prayer, and thankfully, things worked out. I grew quickly; learning enough Spanish and Italian to merge with my team mates and we became a traveling family. I learned about racing at the top level, what the bikes need to be competitive, and moreso, what a person needs to be competitive. I grew too much, too fast. My ego went through the roof, and while I tried to remain grounded by writing about my life, and trying to capture how special and unique it was, I succumbed to the "aura" of MotoGP and began envisioning that somehow I was greater than the sum of my life. In hindsight, it was one of the most fantastic adventures I've ever taken part of, but there is more to life than just racing . . .

I had this same feeling again in the winter of 2010 - the winter of my discontent. I knew a change needed to be made, but I wasn't sure what it was. I separated from my partner at this time, and I look back with questions I don't know if I should ask. What is best for two people? It was the first time I have been truly honest with someone in my adult life, and the tidal wave of information that gushed from my mind would have a profound impact in how I would lead the rest of my life. No secrets, no hidden channels and pathways. I am not sure why this hadn't occurred to me before (previously, I always felt like I was playing a part or a role, fulfilling or exceeding someone's expectations, and no more). I hadn't felt complete, except in the presence of a woman. I hadn't really thought about it until the last few weeks, when I'd just begun to write again. Simple words, documenting words, about my motorcycle. But it started the gears turning in my mind and they creaked to life ever faster and more furiously.

I have always viewed myself as incomplete without a partner, and I instinctively rate/value myself based on the image of that partner. Every one of my previous girlfriends has been stunning in some way, be it through their intelligence, beauty, and charisma. I have never dated someone whom I would consider to be unattractive, and as I become older and more wrinkled, I find myself questioning the validity of my choices that much more. I have found more beauty sitting quietly beside someone and being able to openly express myself than in any bedroom setting. I begin to realize that expression and chemistry are the key elements between two people. I dated an incredible woman last year that helped me to realize what honestly is, and who accepted me for all my flaws. We were able to say anything, any time, and it wasn't about playing tit for tat, or bantering back and forth simply for the sake of "being right". It was unique in my life, because I wasn't playing to be her special someone. I just wasn't playing anymore. Our friendship flourished and we spent one or two evenings a week just hanging out, and being regular people with normal lives, sharing work day stresses and stories, and sharing time with her family. In only the second time in my life, I ended a relationship that had zero issues and no apparent problems. I began to realize that while our friendship was profound, I wanted more in my life and it would not be fair for me to seek this out while she was in tow. While she had developed feelings for me, I was unable to return them to the fullest extent, and this imbalance wasn't right. I knew again that I was about to go through another metamorphosis; to become more than I was before. The path to being a good person hasn't always been easy for me, but I've found that those I hold dear are good people, and they in turn inspire me to be more than I was. I am thankful for everyone that has been in my life, good and bad, because of the wisdom they have imparted (whether I was conscious to receive it or not).

Which brings me to good food. I love food. I love the act of eating food (and I love watching women eat food, particularly if I cooked it!). I remember certain dishes more than others, and ironically, the dishes I remember most I don't even know how to spell or cook. There was always some mystery about them, some foreign flavor and distant memory associated with them. I always felt like I had had them before, maybe in another lifetime, because my mother had never cooked them when I was growing up. Women have come and gone from my life, and so has their cooking. I suppose at some point, I could learn how to replicate the dishes that I love, but that would remove a very large part of their magic, and might even damage the kind memories I have of those eras and the people I shared those meals with. I often use this example to explain to people what it was like working in MotoGP. "When I was younger, I used to listen to Jimi Hendrix and dream about being as accomplished a musician as him. Then I taught myself to play guitar, and I began to learn some Jimi songs. Soon enough I was playing his music, but the magic was gone. I had begun to understand the notes and music so intimately that there was no mystery, no magic anymore." It is the same with food.

Last year I began to see my life in a new light, and all this newness took some getting used to! I'm still not used to it, but that doesn't stop me from trying hard. My perspectives started to flow into more aspects of my life. Honesty, brutal as can be, started permeating my creative process. My bike is a perfect example: It is open for the world to see, plain and simple from the outside, but filled with a myriad of details that would be difficult to spot in one viewing. Ever more complexity abounds within, and even this is simple and plain once laid bare. I didn't just wrap up the wiring harness, I stripped it down to its essentials, lengthening here and there, shortening when possible, and all the while it is pure. My bike is pure. It is as honest and fresh an example of my love for riding through the mountains as I can envision and produce. It runs with vigor, it is polarizing, it is nimble, and it gives me new legs and fast feet to run with the best and push. I have never been able to wear a front tire down to its edge until now, and I've never been able to run down a bunch of 690's and 625 SMC before (sorry Sumo dudes, Pescadero and Alpine are what this bike was tuned for). I'm starting to find that I love living again, not just surviving. Passion is growing within me, and it feels good to be open about it. I know I'm rambling on and on, but I have always maintained that there is purity of purpose when passion is acted upon quickly. Time distances us from emotion and feeling. I miss certain things in my life, people and places. Music has remained a constant. Here are some tracks I've listened to recently:

^^^^ This song actually got me to bust out the ole 'gitar and bang out some chords. Might record an interesting version of my own (really, really like the original). Bonus: Homemade Piano version here on Soundcloud

And finally, a picture of Thit Kho! I'm looking for this in San Francisco! If any of you know a restaurant that makes it (or "deh-jew stew" - yes, I know the spelling is wrong) please email me!

Photo by Tramanh

Peace, and chicken grease!

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