Thoughts on Change and Tradition and Things Other Than Weather (ride coming soon)

For the next few minutes, try to imagine that I am not horribly angry at the weather. I mean, I am, but other things have taken priority in my thoughts, scaring away my desire to impale someone on my frost-stiffened fleece.

Today, I told my students that I would be leaving my teaching position at the end of the year. To those of you who actually know me, this is either a: not news or b: not shocking news or c: a total mind-blower. The rest of you are probably interested, but not overwhelmed. Folks change jobs relatively frequently nowadays, like a seven year-old and his underwear. Especially teachers. Our culture chews them up and spits them out, and I’m going to stop the underwear analogy right there, though this sentence is dying for me to complete it.

But that’s not the whole picture. You see, I love teaching, and I’m really, really good at it. It’s not like I’m that guy from Stand and Deliver or anything. I haven’t shepherded hundreds of kids from the crushing poverty of the ghetto into a lifelong love affair with dusty British literature and all the economic success guaranteed therein. No, I just enjoy what I do and I adore my students. But being a teacher is more than being good at talking literary smack to rowdy, hormone-crazed teens, unfortunately. It’s about working within a system, and that’s not something I’m all that great at.

Systems, as I realized long ago when my son was chronically ill with an undiagnosed problem and I had to navigate through the health care maze, exist to perpetuate themselves. That’s what all systems inherently do. And I, for all my vintage-bike-loving-retro-camera-stylin’-I-JUST-discovered-Angry-Birds-this-week-ness, like to shake things up when they move too slowly or don’t seem (to me, anyway, as the foremost expert in Most Things) to work properly. I don’t like committees, or debates, or consensuses (consensusi?). Years ago I took a Myers-Briggs-type test of some sort which used military terminology to create personality analogies. I got “Field Commander.” Like General Patton. Or Napoleon.

Of course, this is a great quality in a teacher: I like to draft curricular orders, marshal my eager troops, and send kids out to do battle with books, armed with charged background knowledge and the occasional fixed bayonette of pointed criticism. And I enjoy extended, twisty analogies based in internet personality tests that, while not exactly complimentary in their assessments, confirm the outsize personality disorder I’ve long known I have and my weird desire to ride around on a horse with one hand in the air and a lemon between my teeth, like Stonewall Jackson.

Having this sort of large and bossy personality is good for other things, of course. I know this. But teaching has been my life for more than ten years, and on some level, it’s what I do best. It took many years of systemic head-butting to feel ready to admit that I cannot, in fact, figuratively lock my classroom door and operate on my own. I can’t even literally lock it, because we have these weird emergency key boxes that the keys get stuck in, because that’s what you want in an emergency, you know? Stuck keys. See what I mean? I don’t even like the key box system. I want Control of the Keys!

So I’ve wanted a Change. You know, not a change, but a Change. A systemless world, controlled by me, the Field Commander of Life. Somewhere I could boss folks around like a wee sheep-pig (I love you, Babe! Wilber was such a downer, but YOU… that’ll do!): loving, but firmly in control.

Then it hit me one day, while I was out on a long bike ride. You knew this was going somewhere with bikes, right? Yes, inspiration hit while I was on The Raleigh, clearing my mind with repetitive physical actions like a steel-steeded yogi: I could lead trips! I’ve been leading trips for my school (see Ireland up there in the menu) for six years. And as a Field Commander, you better bet that I can plan like nobody’s business. So in less than a month, I had created and executed pretty much everything necessary to start my own business. I got a small business coach, a small business lawyer, a small business bank account, a small business accountant and a small business… uh… new computer and iPhone (totally about the business. Angry Birds was just a byproduct, I swear. And man, those pigs are so hard to slaughter! What’s up with that?). And then today, I told my kids.

They cried. Some aren’t speaking to me.

Will my trips run? I don’t know. I debated going “public” here, and revealing my super alter ego to the rideblog universe in order to get more business, but then I figured most of you people ride vintage bikes, which means you’re probably just as cheap as I am, so there wasn’t much point. No, actually, I just like a level of anonymity in teh interwebs (see, I am so hip to the kid lingo). But I am going to lead trips, starting in June, to places around the world. Assuming people sign up for them, which I think they will. This will be a good thing.

Right now, though, I’m feeling both terror and grief. Like any good Commander before the battle of their career, right? Now let’s all think Eisenhower at D-Day, not MacArthur in Korea (did I mention I’m not a historian?).

And I did ride this weekend, and will write about it shortly. I promise.

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28 Responses to Thoughts on Change and Tradition and Things Other Than Weather (ride coming soon)

  1. anniebikes says:

    Woah, what a life change, but well-deserved. You go girl!

  2. DisabledCyclist says:

    Wow…I guess I’m in the latter (blown away). My thoughts are,”Hey,you’ve BEEN organising trips for a while now,right? Why not get paid to do it then?”,I think you’ll do well,my friend! It’s AWESOME to read that a friend has stepped out to step up and live a dream,and I look forward to reading about all the adventures you will now (get PAID,teeheehee) to have…you are still going to write about them aren’t you? AREN’T YOU??? :P

    I would most definately love to take the kids (and the Wife,assuming I can ever get her past the “OK,I want to learn to ride bikes” stage to actually getting on one,hahaha!) on one of your trips,and someday that could happen. My issue isn’t one of frugality and riding vintage bikes though…it’s one of no-budget-on-a-fixed-income woes,sigh.

    He Who Loves and Supports You,I should think,is thrilled as well,I bet he’s as happy as a lark! :)

    I know when the day comes (that my Wife is planning and working towards) that mine steps out to step up into her dream job (she wants and is working towards a self-owned culinary business,predominently deserts; she most dfinately has the talents,and is educating on the business end) I will be ecstatic for her :D

    Do what you Love to do,and you wil never work another day in your life. My friend,you will do well. If you start to get overwhelmed or things start out slowly,do not be discouraged at any setbacks if there be any to come,remember that any new business will have them-most if any will be small even if they don’t seem so at the time…you have a good head on your shoulders,have faith in your dream,I have faith in you :)

    The DC

  3. heart-in-hand says:

    Wow! That is change with a capital “C”! Having read your blog for a while now, especially those lovely posts about your trip to Ireland, I have no doubt you’ll be great at leading trips. I wish you all the best in your new venture. I also wish I could go on one with you, but I do ride a vintage Sears Free Spirit “Brittany” 12-speed, after all.
    p.s. Hope the Change in focus of my blog hasn’t been too weird for you. ;)

  4. Hmmmm….takes some nerve to do what you are doing. I can totally understand your desire for this change, and your reasons as stated. Indeed, you will be exceptional at your new endeavor…of that I have no doubt. There is a plus side for us selfish blog readers, as we should now have all sorts of interesting blog entries and photos to peruse when you go afield. Best of luck, Godspeed, and don’t forget us little people when you hit the big-time!

  5. Erin B says:

    I will be very interested in what trips you offer. I really wish I could have tagged along to Ireland and I like the same kind of things you were interested in talking about. Most of the trips I see people going on are either are “spend a week getting skin cancer on a beach” trips or “Blue hair grannies smoking on a tour bus” trips. Not for me.

  6. Jim Duncan says:

    Congratulations! Listening to your heart is not for the faint-hearted. It’s wellspring though knows what’s wholesome and sustaining for us. Your school kids will come to understand that you’ll remain a touchstone for them. All the best in your new life. Jim

  7. Auchen says:

    Big changes always bring with them a little pain, but it’s the only way to grow, and truly experience life. (Of course some people achieve the same effect with whips and chains.)

    Good luck with your new endeavor.

  8. LanzaMarie says:

    I am a girl on a vintage Raleigh … who has been dreaming of a cycling trip through northern Scotland. There’s definitely a niche for “Commanders” like you and I wish you tons of success in your new chosen profession.

    I’ve been reading your blog for a little over a year and can see your love of teaching in your posts and realize what a big, scary leap this change in life must be, but I know you’re going to rock the cycle tourism industry.

  9. gl. says:

    please post a link to your travel planning! i would love to see more opportunities for those of us who love bikes and traveling to fit the gap between “thrifty 3-speed adventurers” and “die hard physically superior conquerers.”

  10. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Annie!

  11. rideblog says:

    Thanks, DC. The Handsome Guy does approve, and is being very supportive. Even my ex is supportive! It’s crazy.

    Now people just have to book the darn trips!

  12. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Monk. I’m not put off by the blog change. I think it’s a big switch from Monkdom, but I’m all about big changes right now! :)

  13. rideblog says:

    Oh, Bokchoi, if only I could hit the big-time…

    But yes, I’ll post when I can about the trips. Most aren’t bike trips, I should note. I try to work bikes in where I can, but the realities of the Ireland trip were too much for me! You need a support vehicle, and I just am not ready to provide one.

  14. rideblog says:

    Erin, I have decided to send the link to those who ask, thus preserving some privacy. :) They aren’t bike-heavy trips, but all are wonderfully fun. There is an Ireland trip in July…

  15. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Jim ;).

  16. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Auchen! Change stinks, but is also wonderful. Kinda like life… :)

  17. DisabledCyclist says:

    Believe me,my friend,we would book a family trip if it were in the budget :(….one day it will be though :)

    The DC

  18. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Lanza! I’m not getting into the cycle touring industry, though. It’s too hard and too dangerous and too full of bad things that can happen! My trips are heavy on walking and exploring, not tour buses, but have only “light” biking on a few of them.

    I’d love to assemble a small herd of Raleigh 20′s and travel the world with them! But for now, they aren’t cycling trips per se.

  19. rideblog says:

    gl, I’ll send it on. Again, they aren’t biking trips, but they are active without being “extreme.” We walk A LOT.

  20. gl. says:

    thanks! sad to see you won’t be doing bike trips (except in Cambridge oh yes you must in Cambridge! that’s where I fell in love with cycling on trips, and it’s totally flat!).

    barring that, would you be willing to help create a bike trip if someone wanted to pay you to do all the researching and RSVPing? :)

  21. rideblog says:

    Gl, I think a bike tour around Cambridge would rock! I have. never seen so many bikes as I saw there. And I don’t suppose I would need a support van there either!

    I will do custom trip planning. Let me know if you’re interested.

  22. rideblog says:

    DC, for not-entirely-selfish reasons, I hope you can soon!

  23. LuckyChow99 says:

    Gosh, this is a surprise! Life can be fun that way though! Enjoy what you do and success will follow. You remind me of a movie I watched last night —– Midnight in Paris. If you haven’t seen it, you must.

    Looking forward to your new adventures. Maybe I’ll be part of one of them. Europe has me fascinated.

  24. LanzaMarie says:

    The tours sound wonderful – even better than a dedicated cycling tour! They sound like a great way to really get a feel for life and culture in the chosen destination. If you ever do a tour of Caithness, Scotland or the Orkney Islands, I’ll be the first to sign up! Shoot, Lancashire and County Cork are on my bucket list, too! :)

  25. CJ says:

    I’m really excited for you! I like the herd of Raleigh Twenties idea :)

  26. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Lucky. I haven’t seen Midnight in Paris, which I hear is wonderful. Woody Allen, correct? I’m so behind on movies, now that I have kids. Sheesh. It’s embarrassing! Definitely you can come on one of the trips :). I’ll send you the address.

  27. rideblog says:

    Thanks, Lanza. After doing a dedicated cycling tour… I have to agree that I think these are better. I love to ride bikes, but doing that much riding meant that in a weird sort of way, I didn’t see all that much. The view from the road is sort of restrictive, and I was always too exhausted to want to tour anything when we were done. I think a ride here and there is fun. We rent bikes for the day in the Aran Islands, for instance, and do a bike tour of Copenhagen on the trip that goes there. Otherwise, I like to walk and hike and stroll more than daily riding, with the pressure to get the miles in.

  28. rideblog says:

    CJ, I’m so sure the Raleigh Twenties thing needs to happen, that I may actually do it one day! Wouldn’t it just be amazing? But I doubt others would really understand the glory of that one.

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