August 5, 2010.
The desire to do all things that strike my fancy has led to hundreds of half-finished projects. It may be time to become a minimalist. Taking baby steps in that direction, I've deactivated my Facebook account. For every bit of fluff I eliminate from my life, my hope is to find a meatier replacement. Each hour I would have been tempted to Facebook my friends, update my status, chat with my compadres, I will now devote to creative writing. That is the plan, anyway...and if creating a blog for the first time can be interpreted as taking a tentative step towards honing "the craft," well then, so be it.
Three years ago, I took another, more drastic step towards living simply: I changed schools so that I could live within cycling/walking distance from my place of employment. I now teach just a mile from the sanctuary of home, and I have learned that I can no longer lounge around in my pajamas with the blinds open because I'll hear about it the next day from one of my students. While watering my zinnias, it's common for a random student to politely honk and discreetly holler "Hi Mr. Hardy!" as he or she drives by. I now no longer water those zinnias while shirtless.
Giving up a bit of distance between work and home has been largely beneficial. Instead of spending hours each week stuck in traffic on North Loop 820, I now pedal a bicycle every day, rain or shine. The family makes do with one vehicle, the stereotypical suburban soccer mobile, and instead of paying a second car payment, not to mention health club membership, I now do most of my commuting by bicycle. It's a great way to get to know the neighborhood, and unless I get hit by one of my multi-tasking neighbors, my health should continue to improve.
Cycling has also opened my eyes to glaring differences between my childhood education and the education many of my neighbors have experienced. When I was a kid, we were taught that sidewalks were for pedestrians and that cyclists were bound by the same laws governing automobile drivers. In fact, we learned proper hand signals (employing more than just one finger) to help communicate with others sharing the roadways. We were taught never to ride against the flow of traffic because drivers making a right-hand turn never look to their right when pulling out from a stop sign, and because head-on collisions can kill.
Many of my Texas neighbors have politely suggested that the road was not meant for bicycles. One woman, upon meeting my wife while riding a stationary bike at the females-only fat farm, said "Is that your husband who rides his bike to work every day? He sure is an idiot! Ha ha ha...don't he know that he's supposed to stay on the sidewalk where it's safe?"
My wife replied, trying to smile, "well, actually, the key word in sidewalk is 'walk'" and then began to explain how cyclists can be ticketed for riding on the sidewalk instead of the road.
Another thing one learns from cycling through the neighborhood each morning is that some people will water their lawns no matter what, rain or shine, sleet or snow. Nothing says "howdy neighbor" like hitting an ice slick on your way to high school with a satchel full of research papers on your back.