Monster Truck Roller Skates!

It started because my Derby Big* was wearing these funky shark wheels at a parade. She said they were great for skating on cracks and pebbles, giving her a smooth ride over lousy terrain. Flash forward a few months and here we are, dealing with a pandemic induced lockdown.

We’re all doing a lot of trail skating and the local trails have a lot of wood slat bridges that keep pretty rough and terrible under our wheels.

Kodi handles bridges with style!

So Joe and I got the bright idea to try out some shark wheels and see if that helped. The easy way would have been to get the derby shark wheels but since we might want to become badass park skaters, we thought we’d ALSO grab the penny trucks some folks use for stability on park tricks and grinds. I even found a cheap bundle of some ugly lilac trucks on ebay!

Nothing a little spray paint won't fix

Once the paint had set, I got to work with my wrenches and bearing press and made… MONSTER TRUCK ROLLER SKATES!!!

Gonna go crush lesser skates!

Now to take them for a spin!

*A Derby Big is a more experienced skater who adopts you as their little. They’re there to cheer for you, encourage you, answer any questions you might have.

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Teach The Children

It’s been awhile since I wrote here so I’ll fill you in on key details relevant to what I want to talk about: I moved in with Gray several months ago. We have his children over every other week for the weekend. There are three children: the eldest two are girls, 9 and 7 and the youngest is a boy who has just turned 6.

This weekend we have the kids over and they tell me they’re hungry so I promise them I’m about to start fixing dinner. “Yes,” says the middle girl. “But can we help?”

And to be honest, I don’t want them to help me cook. They’re good children, enthusiastic and eager to please but they aren’t knowledgeable or coordinated. They are children. When they help a task will take twice as long for every child who gets involved in helping, I’ll have to speak a lot, explaining things several times without showing any signs of impatience. The whole time I’ll be thinking wistfully of the homework I have to do, the other work I have to catch up on, and the myriad of little things I’d rather be doing than teaching one to three eager, excited children how to make taco fixings.

Teaching children is the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I’m clever and creative, I can come up with fun games to play with coins and pretend shops for learning about money. I can come up with beans and visual representations of letters, we can play sound games all day and that’s all very helpful for them. But it is exhausting. It’s endless effort that you pour into them with no immediate, visible result. It is sooo much easier to send to them to school and after school tutoring, sign them up for summer classes in this and that. God, let someone ELSE teach them, someone who’s good at this and gets paid (hah!) to do it.

It seems like an act of selflessness to surrender whatever you’d rather be doing and devote yourself to explaining something to children. To letting them make a mess in your kitchen or wreck something you kinda like with a screwdriver. Frankly, I don’t want to do it. But once upon a time, I was an uncoordinated child full of bumbling, interested enthusiasm and questions. And I can’t remember a single time anyone ever turned me away. My grandmother alone spent hundreds, perhaps thousands of man hours handing me mazes to cross stitch through, letting me “help” with dinner. Unpaid and unthanked. I’d rather not do it but I can’t even remember them showing any frustration or irritation. Was my father’s generation better than mine? Were my grandparents more selfless than I am capable of?

Nope! Because they invested all that time in me, to create a functional and interesting person who would one day pay that investment forward into these three small children. So, if I’ve read my social contract properly, I guess I’m going to have all the help with dinner that I can handle. \o/

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Holidays are Hard

The holidays have always been hard for me. My mother got kicked out of the house when she got knocked up… but her relationship with her parents had been strained for a long time. Generally I was handed over to them for weekend visits with as little interaction as possible, but everyone gets together for the holidays. So there we’d be. Mom fighting with me grandmother and me running between them, trying to keep their attention on me instead of each other.

Later my father took custody of me and… it was even worse. Everything was hugely and drastically different in his family. I can tell you honestly that I had a better life with them, with my father and his family but I’d lost everything I knew. Every time the holidays rolled around all I could think of was everything I’d lost – my mother, my siblings, my mother’s family. Everything I’d known was gone and it was impossible for my child self to deal with that loss.

When I was 17, my mother committed suicide at Christmas.

This did not help things.

As an adult, I can honestly say things are getting better. This is the best holiday season I’ve ever had. And last year was better than the year before it. It used to be I’d start drinking myself into oblivion the day before Christmas with the sole purpose of sleeping through as much of it as possible. When the rest of the world was opening presents, I was crawling across the floor to get to what was left of the wine so I could go back to sleep. It was not a good time in my life. It’s so much better now… But it’s still hard.

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Adventures with Children – Duck Racing

By my next Adventure with Children, I was starting to feel pretty serious about Gray. I was spending most of my time with him and very happy, in a comfortable way… So when my parents announced they’d be in town on the same weekend Gray’s children were going to be over, I asked if he might want to meet them and bring his children.

“I don’t know, I think that might be a bit too much. Mobbing them with three children? You dad will think ‘My daughter is dating a circus!’” That’s my new favourite term for his children. The Circus. ^_^ Still I told him the offer stood and it was up to him, but I didn’t think my parents would be more shocked by three children than one.

Coincidentally, Gray picked up his eldest daughter for the weekend, with out the rest of the circus. I originally planned to make myself scarce so as not to intrude on the girl’s daddy time but Gray suggested I not. He turned out to be right – I joined them for dinner Friday night when he got her and she was shortly asking me if I was going to sleep over and did I want to sleep with her.

Aleeza is a real sweet kid. She’s the eldest of what is now five children with her mother and three with her father. I get the feeling she spends a lot of time playing little mother to her siblings but, at the same time she gets stuck doing things that’re just a little too young for her. In anyway, it was a pretty exciting thing for her to come up alone and spend the weekend with her daddy and me.

I’d read a flier advertising a semi-free (you don’t have to spend money, but you will) Duck Racing event outside my workplace and after some fancy phone tag everything was arranged – we’d go to the event in the morning, wander around, have fun, meet my parents at my work (which serves the BEST food and cider) and then finish the Duck Race. Pretty much the best day ever.

And it went so well! She liked me! She held my hand the whole time and we ran from thing to thing, enjoying the sights and making poor, poor Gray carry all the stuff we picked up. I was terribly anxious to get on well with her, so every time she showed an interest in something, it was hers. ‘Look, face painting’ ‘Let’s get your face painted!’ ‘Look, snow cones!’ ‘Have a snow cone!!’ ‘Look at these eagle pens…’ ‘HAVE A PEN!!!’

But, I mean… A little spoiling isn’t too bad of a thing. Right?

And my parents seemed fairly enchanted by the concept of a small child. My stepmother’s people breed so she already has grandchildren but my family.. Well, I’m pretty sure my father has long since given up on ever seeing our family line continued. The amusing highlight of the day though was when Aleeza decided to go use the restroom and, being nine, went by herself. But my father and I spent the whole time peering anxiously at the hallway, as if any moment we’d see her being carried off by barbarian hordes or something.

We’re neither of us accustomed to children.

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Meeting Gray’s Children

Shortly after we began spending time together, I met Gray’s three children. Gray shares custody with his ex-wife (more on her later, believe me) so he gets them a bit more than every other weekend. This particular weekend, I’d made plans with Djinn to go play Magiquest (Infrared LARP playground extraordinaire!) and all the timing aligned so that after taking Djinn home, I’d be able to go meet the kids for a few hours before it was time for them to head back home.

I have… very little experience with children. I was my mother’s lamaze coach when I was 7 or 8 and that afforded me an intimate enough knowledge of the pregnancy and childbirth process that it is highly unlikely I will ever produce my own spawn. So I don’t spend much time around kids. I like the ones I know (Mama Elf’s children are delightful, my exes’ two children were wonderful), but I just plain don’t know that much. But I really like Gray and I really liked spending time with him… which meant getting on well with the children was a requirement. Fortunately Djinn came to my rescue with a dozen strawberry cupcakes left over from our Magiquest related revelries. I’m never too proud to resort to bribery.

After dropping Djinn off, I changed into my nicest casual dress, brushed my hair, applied a tiny bit of make-up from the Fool Proof Idiot’s Make-Up kit Djinn put together for me, and rushed off to the playground where the kids were playing. Armed with sugary goodness, I was a big hit and it wasn’t long before they were running around and demanding I go here and there to watch them play.

In the midst of this, the oldest daughter was afforded an opportunity to yell “I can see your underpants!” And as she gleefully informed the park, “They’re BLACK!”

… So that happened.

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Meeting Gray

Gray and I met on a singles website. He’s sent me a message while I was seeing someone else and I’d been interested in his existence but occupied so… we lost touch. And then he sent me another message that said, “I wondered why your pictures looked so familiar, and then I ran across this in some old photos.” Attached to the message was a picture of a stunningly beautiful girl. She has brownish red hair that reaches shoulders that are broad for a girl. She stares at the camera, head tilted slightly and wearing a wry smile that suggests of wit and humor. She wears no make up and her eyebrows are thicker than most women would wear them – here is a woman who is confident in her own natural beauty. She’s dressed and positioned comfortably, with no sign of self-consciousness or insecurity.

And she looks just like me.

Oh, that’s an inaccurate statement, but there’s something strikingly similar – we share the same eyes and something in the jawline. I stared at her picture like a drooling idiot and considered the social acceptability of dating a girl specifically because we look so much alike. Narcissism? Me? Never! Regardless, I very much wanted to know more about her, so I wrote back.

Arienna: Hey! Who’s the girl? :)

Gray: That’s me. From when I was 18.

Arienna: … Seriously? Are you transgendered or just really pretty?

Gray: LOL

After that, I decided it was imperative that we get to know each other better. Well, I demanded he exchange IM information with me and do a quick Are We Related check. Same thing, right?

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State of the Arienna Address

Oh man, where have I been?

Let’s see. When last I spoke to you I was pedicabbing my summer away and having a great time… Alas, I have financial responsibilities and with school starting back up I needed something a little more reliable. So I started waiting tables again. I feel like it’s a giant step back from the reliable clerical work I’ve been doing but I’ve got solid classes from 10 to 2 every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. It’s not easy to find an office willing to work around that kind of schedule *and* give you time off to study for midterms and finals. Yuck.

I also met and fell into a relationship with the wonderful Gray. He’s an efficient German man who works as a software engineer and has three (THREE!) children with an ex-wife. He makes me… wonderfully happy. Much of what I write for the next while will be about Arie’s Adventures with Gray and Gray’s Children. Because, man. That’s a whole new thing.

School is… going. Calc III is interesting, Physics is really hard. I’m pretty constantly worried about the future, whether or not I’ll be able to get into university, whether or not I’ll be able to learn everything I need to learn, whether or not I’ll be able to succeed… But these are such standard anxieties, they’re hardly worth speaking of. Old hat, sirrah.

That’s all for now. ^_^ Just a quick update to get us back on the road.

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Pedicabbing Tales – A Great Saturday Night

My night started out rough – the (hopefully) annual Rickshaw Races were taking place… It’s a big pub crawl race where the participants have a bingo card of drinks they have to drink and a list of rules. Included on their bingo card is “Give your Driver some Water” and “Drink Water” and on their list of rules is “Tip your driver $25 – no skimping!”. Two participants per cab – you run them to the pub as hard as you can, they run in and drink their drink, then run out and onto the next. You ride your butt off, but you make $50. This year they called for 7 bikes and we were all excited as heck. Unfortunately… Well, there’s another cab company that just opened up in town and competition is fierce. We aren’t allowed to ride with them because of liability issues… and therein messed everything up. Half the riders got into the other company’s cab and… then we had issues. Our boss was right there and tried to convince everyone to ride in our cabs, but they were already in the spirit of their race and not able to listen… so… none of us got to ride them. It really sucked for everyone – we’d waited around for them for about 45 minutes so we’d all lost out on a lot of shift time, plus the other cab company doesn’t have enough cabs for them, so their event was ruined. It was.. a really awful start to the night. Everyone was pretty down about it. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to have a good day until I got it out of my system so I pulled my shift leader aside and bitched at him.

And then proceeded to have an AWESOME night. The streets were busy, I rode repeatedly, but nothing that really made me feel worn out and the tips were all pretty good.But a few highlights of the evening:

  • The soon to be married couple who tipped me a $20 and a can of mace, telling me to be safe out there. I have MACE! Tremble before me. ^_^
  • The drunk fellow and his sober friend who I picked up on Glenwood who were both charming and a ton of fun. The sober friend tipped me comfortably for the ride and then the drunk fellow pushed a pocketful of crumpled dollars into my hand for being awesome.
  • The extremely attractive girls who kept asking if they could ring my bell…
  • The chimney sweep who I hung out with for about half an hour who might’ve been hitting on me. Chimney sweep! Hah!
  • The young lady who got a beer tossed onto her leg and then insisted on tipping me when I chased her down with wet wipes.
  • The fellow who insisted on tipping me for letting pretty girls sit in my cab while I was hanging out resting my legs and then periodically asked, “Do you need more tip yet?”

Thanks to all of you, my evening was both profitable and a ton of fun. Much love!

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Pedicabbing Tales – Awesome Night

Just to show that pedicabbing isn’t all doom and gloom, I had an awesome night last night. There were two concerts playing in town – one large band at the amphitheatre and a symphony down at the memorial building, performing a tribute to Queen. My night was made however on the first ride, which was a stylish and attractive computer geek (I know! But seriously, this guy was bebonair) wanted to go to the other end of town. We had a great chat about technology, languages, and the like and then he tipped me generously – paid off my rental fee for the shift, making the rest of the night profit and guaranteeing me a good day. Thanks Mister Hot Computer Type Guy!

After that things were pretty laid back for awhile – not many people wanted rides to the shows because the weather was lovely, but we all knew everyone would want a lift back after they’d had a couple drinks and stood around partying for a few hours. I still managed to snag a couple of rides though, which made me happy. ^_^ Then I got an hour or so to putter around during the lull. Every shift has a time block where the streets are dead. if you ride all over the place and pester people, you’ll get a ride… but then your legs are going to be way more tired than you want for the rest of the night. There’s an effort to profit ratio you have to watch out for, especially when you work several days a week.

Once the shows started letting out though, it was on! I have a love/hate relationship with the amphitheatre… Whenever they do a show I get a lot of rides and make a lot of money, but it’s situated at the bottom of steep climbs in all directions. After three or four rides, you start seriously considering packing it up and going home. There was quite a bit of awesomeness though – M and I picked up a group of four slightly drunken fellows who wanted to have a good time. They handed us a fifty and told us to take them to a good bar and that we should go uphill. I asked them if they liked irish pubs, they said they loved irish pubs.. so we decided to haul them up the hill and across town to my second favourite pub. Halfway up the hill? My riders decided to get out and push the cab up the hill. xD It happens sometimes, boys feel bad about making a girl pedal them around. The first few times, I fretted and fussed, but now I just kick into high gear and peel up that hill, cheering the fellows on to keep up. Poor M had to trudge up by himself – he was much jealous, but these guys were awesome. They were all drunken but in a pleasant, fun way. They weren’t rowdy or out of control. One kept telling me, “That is a nice thigh. You have great legs!” Which a girl needs to hear sometimes. ^_~

The best quote of the evening came when I was coasting down the Hill O Death to pick up more passengers and past a couple of drunken walkers, staggering up it. One stopped in his path and stared at me, mouth open in shock.

“She’s a wo.. That’s a WOMAN!” he slurred urgently to his companions. I guess my legs are just that astounding.

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Pedicabbing Tales – Broken Speaker

It was a Wednesday night and a terrible pedicabbing day. The weather was cool, but only because it kept raining every hour. I was feeling surprisingly relaxed about this however, as I’d been the first one out on the road and gotten a really good first ride. Two petite Asian women and a little girl who wanted a tour of the capital building. I give awesome tours – they tipped me enough to cover my shift fee and gas money out. So the rest of the night was going to be pure profit and even on a wednesday night I was sure I could get a ride or two… except it started raining. And it kept raining, all night. Between bouts of rain, I’d hit the road, coasting up and down the streets looking for ANYONE. The streets were dead – all the sensible people having decided to stay at home.

I got lucky though, as I turned a corner I found a small family – husband, wife, child who wanted a lift back to their car, a good ways away. I was having a pretty good time, talking to the folks, complimenting the child on his art supplies, playing music for them – Oh yeah. I have an awesome little speaker that hooks up to my phone. When people get on, I eyeball them over and play a Pandora station that I think will suit them best. I get numerous compliments and I do pretty in the evenings, taking couples along a beautiful, starlit courtyard I know while playing Marvin Gaye and Michael Buble at them.

All was going well until apparently the kid discovered he could turn my music on and off by kicking my speaker with his foot. What? Yes! It took me a couple minutes to figure out what was going on until I caught him at it… and asked his parents to stop him. Then followed a really lousy 7 minutes where in I repeatedly asked these people to stop their kid from KICKING MY SPEAKER. Repeatedly. They’d stop him, he’s start again.. they would do nothing until I asked. I was shocked. When I got them to the car and they started to get off, the kid went crazy, kicking my speaker repeatedly. “Hey! Stop!” I cried. “That’s mine! I paid for that, it’s mine! That’s not nice, Stop!”

They gave me $3.

And the speaker? The sound jack is broken and now the cable has to be in at an angle for it to work. *vex*

(Although, my boss was awesome. We had to shut the shift down at 9:30 when a large storm rolled in. He asked us how many rides we’d gotten and all of us had been pretty dead… so he refunded our shift fees. Win!)

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