Bad, Bad Blogger.

Happy July! Yes, I realize that it’s been seven months since I last posted. I’m a bad, bad blogger. But since I do enjoy breaking cardinal rules, I’m just going to go with it. I also have a good excuse in the form of this watertight pseudo-mathematical proof:

marriage
+ grad school
+ work
+ teaching part-time
+ occasionally sleeping
zero time for blogging

So, here’s a quick update post.

The Year of Not Buying Things

The Year is almost over! I have failed on several counts – such as buying myself a lipstick for my birthday (it was so red and so pretty, and I had a terrible moment of weakness – and was also goaded on by my sister-in-law). I also purchased a UV shirt for riding my motorcycle, because skin cancer is really not on my to-do list. I have also had to make a few necessary purchases for work and school (matron of honor dress for my sister’s wedding, whiteboard markers for teaching, and required books that I couldn’t find at the library).

But overall, The Year has helped me to accomplish what I was hoping to do. I was able to take a step back from the habit of buying stuff just because, and to really carefully consider WHY I wanted something, and if I actually needed it. And because I have not been consuming at anything near a frantic pace, I’ve been able to inspect the ethics of my consumption as well. Supporting local businesses is really important to me, as is supporting craftspeople and the overall slow/quality movement. So when I needed a (very specific shade of blue) dress for my sister’s wedding, I was able to pay an extremely talented friend to make it for me, keeping my money in the local economy.

In fact, it’s been such a good year that while I may relax my restrictions a little bit, I think I’m going to keep to the same path. Being able to re-focus on what’s really important to me – my people (you know who you are!), learning stuff, stretching my creativity – has been an incredible gift for the past 11 months.

Summertime, Traveling, and Motorcycles!

I’ve been bouncing around a lot this summer, too. In May, a trip to San Antonio for the Rhetoric Society of America conference…

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And then in June, a trip to Sacramento, where I saw this magnificent piece of artwork and also got to spend some quality time with my (seriously) cool family-in-law…

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    …and to Massachusetts for some beach time and my little sister’s wedding (awww!)…

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…left me pretty wiped out. I was seriously excited to get back home and to my own kitchen! Which I have barely used at all because it’s been near 100 degrees since we got home. (Ick.)

Despite the wretched blistering heat, I really love riding my motorcycle (as you may recall). I haven’t been riding as much this summer because I’m enrolled in two pedagogy classes and totally geeking out over that, and also teaching part-time in addition to my regular full time job. BUT! This weekend I got to go for a little ride with my totally excellent mom.

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Mama’s helmet hair is infinitely cooler than mine. Thank goodness for motorcycles and family. And now, it’s back to homework for me (see item #2 in my watertight pseudo-mathematical proof, above).

Peace, love, and hopefully less than seven months until another post,
Sumiko

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The Best Kind of Vacation Ever…Part Three

So, when last I wrote about our road trip, we were on our way to the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally. We had just left Devil’s Tower, and it was an unusually cool day for August. No complaints here! The cool temperatures meant that Mom’s motorcycle wasn’t acting up any more, and that we weren’t all wiping sweat off our faces constantly.

I wish I could have taken photos as we were riding, because the landscape in the Black Hills is freaking amazing. It’s insanely beautiful. The only photos I took were from stopping at the side of the road to check the map.

It was so quiet and peaceful here…except for the occasional rumble of motorcycles passing through.

See the little purple flowers?

The plants with all the little purple flowers were all over the place, and they cast a beautiful haze across these lush, rolling prairies that we were riding through.

Anyway, we eventually rolled into the (normally small) town of Sturgis, South Dakota, and holy cow. I have to admit I’m not much for crowds, an especially not one for big crowds when I’m on my motorcycle, but this was the town before the rally even officially started, and it was pretty impressive.

There were four rows of motorcycles parked on almost every single street in this tiny town.

There were also police brought in from all over the country, patrolling every single block and intersection, which was interesting.

Most of the streets were closed to non-motorcycle traffic. There were vendors selling everything from jewelry (I almost choked on my own tongue when I realized I’d been ogling a $5,000 necklace) to T-shirts to food to hip flasks. And the sales techniques are definitely an experience in and of themselves. Imagine walking down the strip in Las Vegas and getting those annoying little cards that say “Girls!” thrown at you…times a zillion. Oh yeah, and some of the sales-models will flash you to get your attention before making their pitch. My 17-year-old brother found that out through experience. However, since they aren’t supposed to be completely topless, this particular lady had covered her nipples with bandaids…which had more sales pitches written on them! Sheesh. That’s either desperation or dedication, or perhaps a little of both.

For my money, though, the best part (other than the people watching, and hearing the sales-models giggle over THE LAMEST pick-up lines ever) was listening to the noise and looking at some of the cool bikes.

I love the lacy metal detailing on the rear fender!

 

Red-wall tires? AWESOME.

 

 

This made me think of my friend Hannah, who is also a cowgirl through and through.

Yeah. As great as the people-watching was, the bike-watching was even better. But by the time we were ready to head out to our destination, I was more than ready to hit the road. I would be completely happy riding all day long, just stopping to stretch every couple of hours and fill up the tank. As far as I’m concerned, walking around looking at thousands of motorcycles just makes me want to get back in the saddle and go!

If you aren’t convinced yet that the best vacations ever are motorcycle road trips, Part Four will be coming soon…ish! School has started again, so I officially don’t have free time until December 7th when I hand in my final paper.

Love, peace, and thousands of rumbling engines,
Sumiko

500 Miles

Yesterday I took my beloved Ginger for a ride. A 504 mile ride, to be precise, because I had an excuse (work) to go to Cedar City for a day.

In case you’ve forgotten what Ginger looks like, here she is.

2006 Victory Kingpin

Mmmmm. Shiny.

Anyway…where was I? Let me back up for a minute. Last year, Sean and I took our bikes to California to visit his dad for his birthday. It’s a 730-ish mile trip, each way. And in one day, we covered 630 miles. And once we finally pried ourselves off the saddles at the end of that day, we swore up and down that we’d never, ever, ever do that again.

Well…during the course of the month of September, I drove nearly 4,000 miles for my job. I was getting quite sick of the inside of my truck, but because of the amount of crap I have to haul around, I usually can’t take my motorcycle anywhere. My presence in Cedar City, however, required much less luggage than is usually necessary, and since fall is the best time of year for a bike ride, I decided to take Ginger. (Also, the gas mileage on a motorcycle is way better than on a truck.)

I will admit it. I was seduced by the Chrome Side. The Dark Side ain’t got nothin’ on the Chrome Side, by the by. I’d much rather have a shiny motorcycle than be able to fling people across the room with the Force. All vows of “never, ever, ever” were quickly forgotten. But by the end of Thursday, 504 miles later, I was starting to remember why I said them in the first place!

Long story short…I’m glad I took Ginger because crappy weather and snow will be here before I know it, and I think it’s a good thing to remind myself occasionally of my oh-so-mortal limitations. Like the need for water, and rest, and sunscreen. And Chapstick with sunscreen.

If there must be some kind of lesson to the story, though, it’s this: the optimal ride length is 250-350 miles in a day. 500 is doable but not the most fun thing ever. 630 is brutal. And even though my uncle Lari claims he once rode over 1600 miles in a 24 hour period, I sure as hell wouldn’t want to be a part of that.

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