Goofy Foot Synapses

Ever since my bike got stolen – ARGH! – I have been relying on my wheeled piece of bamboo to get me places faster than just walking. I’m not shunning walking, walking is fantastic. Anyone who has seen Wall*E knows that, considering the course our increasingly lazy society is headed, we all could benefit from a few more steps on the pedometer. But when it’s hoofing it over 2 miles back and forth every day, plus 2 train rides, the commute just gets long.

On my longboard, I get there a little faster.

I bet you have a preferred hand with which you hold a pencil to write. Probably you use the same one to brush your teeth. I bet too, you have a favored foot with which you kick a soccer ball or take the first step up a flight of stairs. By the same token, I have a foot that I always put in front when I’m riding on my longboard. It’s my right foot.

Ironically, most people who ride a board (longboard, skateboard, snowboard, wakeboard) position their right foot behind, and lead with their left. This is the normal riding position. When the right is forward, its called a “goofy” stance. Thus, I’m a “goofy” rider. What’s that you’re giggling at? There was no pun intended.

With all the skating from A to B that I’ve been doing lately, my left ankle (the one I use to ‘kick’ along) is getting tired out. The scales have tipped back in favor of walking. That, or switching feet on my longboard.

Have you ever tried brushing your teeth with your other hand? I kinda miss my mouth a bit, getting ‘Cool Mint’ foam all over my face. Then I try a little harder, determined to give my teeth a good scrub. I can only seem to tame my hand to go back and forth, back and forth, in one spot on my teeth, then if I try for a new angle, ahh! ‘foaming action’ all over my face again.

What is the point of this silliness, do you ask? Besides turning a simple 3-minute bathroom affair into an epic battle between oneself and the lesser extremity, new brain cells are actually being created – right out of thin air. Thin air and lots of frustration, but nevertheless. Exercising our muscles in different ways forces new synapses to form inside our brains, bolstering the health of our grey matter. (Read more here.) Heck yeah.

So, in an effort to exercise my other foot and my brain, I try – sometimes, and not during rush hour – to skate kicking with my other foot. It’s definitely a challenge, but it feels good to relieve my left foot of its kicking duties and know that I am, in a sense, “smartening” myself up too.

To Buy or Not To Buy

So after much deliberation, Kirk and I decided against throwing caution to the wind — AKA $3,000 into a fixer-upper sailboat sitting on the shores of Indiana — and instead agreed to hang on to caution, that unexciting, yet sensible, and ultimately comforting ideal.

Like the proverbial cliff jump, after your foot leaves the edge, will enough water sit far below to allay the effects of gravity? Is there even a pool down there at all, or just jagged rocks? Parachute anyone? Maybe a hang glider?

Buying any sort of vehicle off ebay is fairly risky business, and with rehabbing the condo, our reserves are going to be stretched in the upcoming months. Financially, even with a quarter-share investor secured (my Dad), we’d be jumping off that nautical precipice clutching a plastic garbage bag, at best.

Ah well, not this time. There will be more boats. Considering that worldwide oil reserves deficit thing going on, I surmise only more and more boats on the horizon. Particularly with sails.

Little Mexico

I should learn Spanish.

Last week I moved to Little Mexico. Or so it seems. I feel like a foreigner in my own country. Walking down the street with Kirk a few afternoons ago, we passed another 20-something guy wearing a U of I t-shirt.

I gaped. “Look, it’s a white guy.”

Kirk laughed. I giggled. It was odd seeing another white person. Other than the briefcase-clutching 9-5ers who appear in droves near the Metra train station for their weekday commute, our new neighborhood, Rogers Park, is very much Latino.

With the last name Schroeder, and a mother who spoke only German through her toddler years, I decided to study German in high school. I don’t know a lick of Spanish, besides the numbers 1 – 10. At the restaurant where work, most of the kitchen employees speak Spanish. When I arrive for my shift I’m greeted with “¿Cómo estás?” or “¿Cómo te llamas??” and forgetting which is which, I usually reply, “Lauren good!”

Last night I walked to the corner food store, La Frescasita. On the prowl for taco dip ingredients, the destination was exceptionally appropriate. I needed refried beans. The entire left side of aisle 3 was a tin curtain of canned beans. I’d never seen so many beans in my life. Black beans, brown beans, green beens, beans with jalapenos, beans with chipotle, beans with green chiles, fat free beans, authentic beans, garbonzo beans, beans, beans, BEANS.

I stood in aisle 3 for so long that the word “bean” started to look ridiculous.

At 9 pm, it was dark. As I left the store, I heard cheers and shouts on the busy street corner of Clark (the main drag) and Lunt (my street). Clusters of people waved Mexican flags and cars passing through the intersection honked their horns. A local shopkeeper stood in the doorway of his store watching the commotion.

I smiled. There was something to shout about. A Mexican holiday? I wondered. At home, I googled September 16th. Sure enough. “El Grito,” Mexican Independence Day.

Seeing waving flags, so clearly not spangled with red, white and blue, I thought might only increase my stranger-in-a-strange-land feeling. On the contrary, I felt enlivened. Life and excitement were flowing from that street corner. I wanted to go grab a flag and start yelling, too.

I like Rodgers Park. I don’t think it will long before it feels like home.