Open up your heart and you’ll risk getting a bunch of dirt and bugs and stuff in there.

As I fumbled through the darkness on Thursday morning in an attempt to gather my belongings, I piled onto the floor and made a drawing on the inside of the box in which Vinnie was to be buried.
myfamily.jpg

(Among other names, I generally referred to him as ‘Big Cat’, ‘Bath Mat’ or ‘Iceberg’.)
Later on in the day I sent variations of this email to a few friends;

“Monika and I ended up taking Vinnie in this morning to have him put down. I feel really lucky to have had such a slight relationship with death over my 40 years, but also because of this fact, I feel completely ill equipped to deal with it.

I’m crushed by the weight of it, and being there the second he took his last breath and slowly lowered his head into his paws was easily the single most powerful and devastating thing I’ve ever experienced.

I’m heartbroken, but this will eventually make way to better days, and when that time comes I’ll be waiting.”

To folks who have made contact, thank you for the well wishes. They mean more than I can say.

That said, even though it seems like the world is sometimes falling down around you, for everybody else it keeps on turning. Certainly the mail bag doesn’t take a break, so let’s get into that for a little while.

Bret made contact, debunking my theory that for one to excel at bicycle machine riding, one must wear the wrong socks on the right feet;

“Hey Stevil,
My AHTBM socks got third place overall on the intermediate course at Shasta Lemurian;
bretgoingforthepodium.jpg
Thanks for your help with that. When are you going to do another kit order, I missed the first one? The third place combined with an afternoon of Pacifico recovery beers in the parking lot with a shortbus load of folks from SF made for a lovely day.
Rock on,
Bret”

Lookie there.. Bret’s flying both the EVIL and AHTBM flags all while keeping a smile on his face and finding his way to the podium. Plus it would appear as though he’s wearing my favorite helmet and glasses. If he had managed a bottom three finish, I would swear he was me.

As far as AHTBM kits go, I will get to that eventually. As it stands, I have a pretty full plate right now, and I am not sure if I can emotionally handle throwing the nightmare that is a kit order on top of it all. Certainly when I can efficiently find my ass with both hands, that will be at the top of my to-do list.

One part of my ass that I was able to recently find however, was the production of some new AHTBM water bottles;
newwaterbottles.jpg
The band around the top is in tribute to my friend Chris DiStefano, or ‘CD’ for those whose mouth’s hate syllables.

“My 100% notgivingashit beats your 8% faster.”
Truer words have rarely been spoken.

Anyway, as sunny days made way for grey ones this weekend, I took the opportunity to run some errands, swing by the SPCA to make a donation, play with a gaggle of puppies and kittens, and then finally to get down to business and dismantle my painting studio. I figured as long as it was a reasonably crappy environment in which to make anything other than mistakes, I would put the space to better use and get most of my bikes up and off the floor;
cleanedupbikestorage.jpg
While I still have two unhooked, it beats having seven all leaning against one another, generally leaving the one I wanted the most difficult to access.
Eventually I will give GenO his bike back, freeing up even a little more room for my own.

An observant eye might notice that my sweet, sweet new Ritte has yet to be completed, which right now is the bane of my existence. It turned out that the stem I received was too long, so homie Sean at Ritchey Logic took pity on my situation and agreed to send me a replacement which has yet to show up.

Once it’s built, I’ve agreed to shoot photos of it for Lanolin’s use, and then, I can finally go out and get run over on it.

With this beautiful bike is just inches out of my reach, I finally knows how it feels to be this guy;
gooddogwithbones.jpg
I figure now would be a good opportunity to include a video that was forwarded to me by Ghostship Matt;

“Whatever “this” is, is the new fixed-gear.”

That might very well be, because upon seeing this clip for the first time, I had far more interest in engaging in whatever the hell they’re doing than doing backwards circles and sick bar spinz.

In closing I’d like to say that ordinarily when I write these transmissions I like to try and wrap the end of the post around to somehow relate to the start. I find that it tends to make them a nice little package of generally unrelated words and images.
Somehow today I don’t seem to be able to..
vinnieswetnose.jpg
newlittleskull.jpg

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25 Responses to “Open up your heart and you’ll risk getting a bunch of dirt and bugs and stuff in there.”

  1. Jason May 16, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    So good.

  2. MM May 16, 2011 at 6:38 am #

    Sorry about El Gato! Putting a loved pet down is in the top three for worst things a grown man can do.
    Just remember that you were good to him and he was good to you!
    Try not to dwell on the sadness, but remember the good times.

  3. The Los May 16, 2011 at 7:22 am #

    Jeebus, man… I dread the day when our hairy, four-legged son Zeke will move on. I commend you on sharing your pain, and like MM said, remember the good stuff.
    Los

  4. bRado May 16, 2011 at 7:38 am #

    Sorry for your loss brotha.
    buy another…. bike. dayum.

  5. Tee May 16, 2011 at 8:05 am #

    Sorry to here about your loss Stevil. Yep, the good times are the ones to hold on to man. Another outstanding post AHTBM!

  6. Caroline May 16, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    There’s genius in the fact you headed down to the SPCA to pet kitties and puppies after Vinnie died. That’s probably one of the best things you could do. Hang in there, it’s hard!

  7. Jeff S May 16, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    Stevil-
    I didn’t grow up in a pet household and never really thought about the attachment that can happen with an animal. My wife introduced me to dog ownership back in 95. Our lab had a great life of 14.5 years. Given my upbringing, I was ill prepared for the depth of hurt I experienced when we finally had to put her down. It caught me totally off guard. In the year since the event I have come to realize that if it didn’t suck so bad, the good stuff must not have been that good. So from that logic, you guys had it great. Keep the great stuff close to you and it will help you make it through. I’m truly sorry for your loss.

  8. howrad May 16, 2011 at 9:59 am #

    So sorry for your loss. Had to put down my 22 year old sweet kitty recently. Your words ring hard and true – holding her, as she purred, paralyzed bottom half and all, as the light faded from eyes. Utterly devastating. And I thought rigid singlespeeding made me tough (inside).
    As I struggled to make sense of the loss, I realized she had over 7,000 good days, and 1 really terrible one. A better ratio than most humans can claim.
    Tonight I drink a powerful beer for Vinnie, and for you. Onward to the good days and times we want to remember.

  9. Jon Grinder May 16, 2011 at 11:24 am #

    Man, I’m really sorry about your cat.

  10. Gray May 16, 2011 at 12:21 pm #

    That Sucks and I am sorry. Will have a beer with my dog tonight in honor of Vinnie.

  11. Matt Moscato May 16, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    I buried my man Ted last week in the backyard. Came home late Monday night to find him perfectly laid out on my front lawn…evidence suggests he was hit by a car in front of the house, and someone pulled him off the street. Too young to go (he was a youthful 8), and the 2nd cat in so many years (RIP Henry). I feel your pain bro.

  12. sMiles May 16, 2011 at 2:10 pm #

    “Let the high times carry the low.”

  13. teamfubar May 16, 2011 at 3:56 pm #

    We just had our last Airedale, Pip, put down about a month and a half ago, so I know where you’re at. Even though we knew it was the right thing to do, when they brought her in and she was trying to wag her tail, I had to second guess what we were doing. It takes a good man to care for a pet Stevil, but it takes a true friend to be able to help them move to another realm. Godspeed Vinnie…just watch out for a few crazy Airedales (Pip, Abbie and Mini) when you get there!

  14. Crank May 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm #

    Amen sMiles. Lost a wife and mother to cancer within a year of each other, kitty kicked it recently. All in threes. Sun comes up, chain still tightens, gears still click like butter. Hurts, but doesn’t good art (of which life qualifies if you are living it well)come from the heart, and soul? Stevil, your palette of colors from which you draw your inspiration has been expanded beautifully.

  15. Stevil May 16, 2011 at 4:17 pm #

    I spoke with my mom this morning, and she mentioned how touched she was when reading the comments and seeing the outpouring of support from this group who she affectionately referred to as ‘beer drinking, bike riding tough guys (and girls)’. Again, thank you everyone for the kindness and the sincerity. It makes me indescribably proud to be able to write about something so personal without fear of being judged.

  16. chad May 16, 2011 at 4:26 pm #

    I’ve been lucky enough to always have had many animals. Currently I don’t have any, can’t have them in my apt.. I know the pain of letting them go. It sucks. Hearing about your loss caused me to reflect on the lives of my fuzzy friends, lots of good memories there. …but it’s amazing to know what a pet can mean to someone who loves ’em, and that last photo made me lose it a little bit. Damn I miss my dogs, and cats, and snakes and lizards…
    Guess it’s time to go for a ride.

  17. rob May 16, 2011 at 5:06 pm #

    Sorry your Vinnie died Steve.

  18. judi May 16, 2011 at 5:36 pm #

    stevil, putting a pet down is the worst, and i do mean, WORST part of owning an animal. it will weigh heavy on your heart for weeks to come. getting to the scpa was a good start in the healing process though. my best to you – judi

  19. Jay May 16, 2011 at 7:35 pm #

    We buried our lab last week after a sudden, painful, and unexpected death. I’m sorry Stevil. There’s no getting around it, just getting through. It sucks.

  20. Steve May 16, 2011 at 8:04 pm #

    That sucks dude. I have 3 cats and I would be disconsolate if (when) one of them moves on to the big kibble bowl in the sky. Hopefully the good times will continue to roll soon.

  21. Patbastard May 16, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    Art Fag,
    I know hows ya feel. In the last year we’ve burried 2 ferrets, 2 dwarf goats, and my hopes of being a rock-star.
    On the riddicule-istic side, I’ve never seen such a collection of WTB DEVA sadles and ROCKSHOX keister-saver posts on a horde of bikes that’s supposed to be owned by a STR8 male…
    …Justsaying…

  22. Scooper May 17, 2011 at 8:10 am #

    People can’t do what animals can for people. Sorry buddy

  23. benzo May 17, 2011 at 8:39 am #

    I’m sorry for your loss Stevil. I can watch war docs all day long but reading your blog had me weeping at my desk. I’ll hug my furry friend extra when I get home tonight

  24. paul May 20, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    Our friends made of fur have an innocence that will crush you in that moment when they pass on at the time of your choosing. In kitty heaven, Vinnie knows you did right by him his whole life.

  25. the brown guy May 20, 2011 at 9:58 pm #

    I am 40 years old, two kids of 5 and 3. When I was 8, I found a dog. Took good care of that flea bus, just to see him get killed in front of me. Over 30 years later, I have never, ever own another pet. I have been afraid of that hopelessness sensation of loss. My kids are starting to ask about having a pet, and really troubles me to think that they may suffer that unexplained pain that comes with the fury ones passing. But you at least had the chance to say a good goodbye, get some tears rolling and look yourself in the mirror in a proud way, because all the love you give him. Treasure that, and it will help you get better sooner. Sorry about your loss. Hope the rupture find you in good standing (meaning enough beer).