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Thursday, September 2, 2010

As Summer Ends

September always feels like a new beginning for me. It’s the beginning of the best sports time of the year, the weather generally begins to cool off, and even though I haven’t been in school for years things feel like they get back to normal. This year is a little different with the MS Ride looming on the 25th, which in a way will extend the “unofficial summer” beyond Labor Day for me.

I didn’t ride my trike quite as much as I thought I would in the great outdoors this summer. The heat saw to that. Riding in 90-degree temperatures actually wasn’t that bad, but I didn’t think I could afford the two or three days of being completely spent after each of those rides. However, the lasting effect from all of the preparation that I’ve been doing for the Ride may be that I stretched my wings further than I have in quite some time. I ventured to the bike trail on MLK and Kelly Drives several times on my own to get in some extra work on the bike. I’m hoping for a few more solo rides in the fall, even after the Ride.

Though I’m told otherwise, training on the exercise bike at the gym has translated to the road quite well so far. After doing a 40-mile ride on the Drives in Philadelphia a couple of weeks ago, and feeling as though I actually could have gone further, I deemed myself as ready as I am going to be. I’m still hitting the gym, and hope to do a couple more shorter training runs if the temperatures ever do cool off.

One of my weaknesses has definitely been finishing strong in things that I commit to. When I know a job, trip, or whatever it may be is coming to a close, I’m generally ready to move on immediately. As I look forward to a leisurely ride with family on Labor Day weekend and Bike Philly the following Sunday, my hope is to avoid peaking too early in my enthusiasm – or perhaps to regain some of my enthusiasm – for the MS Ride. Friends and family have been very generous in donating, some no doubt having reasons of their own besides supporting my efforts, and they have accounted for more than $1,700 that will be going to the Multiple Sclerosis Society. It’s actually been a bit overwhelming, and certainly adds incentive to complete the ride.

For better or worse, following the Phillies has been the second “main” activity of my summer. Getting to a small handful of games reminded me that, regardless of the outcome, seeing a baseball game live is a great way to pass a summer evening or afternoon. It doesn’t hurt that the Phils went 3-0 in the games we attended despite two Joe Blanton starts, and seeing the comeback of the season made the baseball part of the summer especially fun.

Shutting down my .com was a disappointing yet very necessary milestone. I’m relieved to be done with the fruitless hours spent each week keeping it up to date, not to mention the time spent trying to figure out how to market the thing. My writing and reading efforts have only picked up a touch, but I am buckling down with a bit more focus lately.

Summer has brought one rather annoying aspect with it that I fear won’t be fading with the heat. Republicans have been revving up for the mid-term elections, which is actually a not-so-cleverly veiled ramp-up to the 2012 presidential election, by telling me that I regret my vote in 2008. For the record, I don’t have an ounce of voter’s remorse. I am, however, incredibly tired of people who have never shown an interest in politics outside of a presidential election pretending to be politically-minded and acting as though it has nothing to do with the fact that they can’t handle having a black man in the White House because they are racists.

PhillyACCESS has survived the summer, though it’s future continues to be murky at best. The informational blog for people with disabilities that I started in November continues to get more hits than anything else I’ve done on the web, and information has flowed enough for a post per weekday throughout the summer (though time off for a couple four-day weekends helped keep the streak alive).

Feedback, however, continues to be tough to come by. I realize very few blogs garner many comments, including this one aside from one very regular commenter. I’m still not sure if the loyalty is a good thing or a bit creepy. Yet, when my hit counter reveals that the author of a book I featured on PhillyACCESS checks that post – and only that post – on an almost daily basis, I have to scratch my head. (Relax – his identity was only revealed because he left a comment identifying himself and proceeded to check the site from the same IP address rather consistently.)

To be clear, I don’t care that the guy checks the post daily, I just don’t understand it. Having commented on the post, he could easily have received any future comments on the post by e-mail via Blogger. But I’m more confused by the mentality. Here’s a guy that wrote a book about his experience living with cerebral palsy, he discovered a site practically begging people with disabilities to share information, thoughts, opinions, etc., on disability issues, yet he has zero desire to even look at other posts on the blog. If it wasn’t a fairly common trait in the disability community for people to be focused solely on issues affecting their lives while expecting others unaffected by those issues to care about them, at least in my experience, it would be completely baffling. (To be fair, this isn’t really unique to the disability community.) As it is, I’m left to wonder if it is a predictor of how much impact PhillyACCESS can or cannot have in the future.

Luckily, summer didn’t end before we were able to steal one day down the shore. My dad would probably be rolling over in his grave if he knew I felt that way. I never really appreciated the two weeks we often spent in Ocean City when my brothers and I were kids. Actually, I liked everything about it except the beach. It wasn’t until I had a job that I got why the “old man” (who was younger than I am now for some of those years) could sit on the beach for hours doing absolutely nothing. I spent the entire time we had at the beach in or sitting by the water, and the sunburn that came with it was completely worth it.

I used to love it when summer ended. I’d hate going back to school for a day, but I quickly realized it was better to see my friends again. My brothers were around the house more often as the weather changed. And, as I mentioned, the sports fanatic in my was quite pleased.

These days, while I still look forward to all of the major sports being active at one time and hopefully more than a few crisp fall days before winter strikes, I wouldn’t mind a bit more beach time. Maybe next year.

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