Thursday, September 16, 2010

The 2010 Cycling Nutella Playlist

Somedays I just want to live vicariously through the thoughts of others, but don't want anything to do with it requiring spelling, edits, tab spacing, or commentary.

If your job requires you to read and write on a computer pretty much non-stop like mine, the senses that are lacking in your daily balance need some tending to.

I've got you covered.

Procrastinating this morning was quite productive. I downloaded a wild, raging meadow of new songs - everything from my Italian pop and French hip hop to the tunes I couldn't do without from the USA that made top lists or sunk well into the depths of iTunes.

Since music is meant to be shared, here's what I craved during long climbs on the bike up Cipollaio, Balbano, and Matraia, or while on the road from Italy to France to Switzerland and Germany. They kept me going...wanting more... and because of it, they represent my 25th and 26th years of life on this earth that have been full of adventure and adversity.

1. We No Speak Americano - Yolanda Be Cool and Dcup

2. All the Lovers - Kylie Minogue

3. LaLa Song - Bob Sinclar

4. Alors on Danse - Stromae

5. Dentro Ad Ogni Brivido - Marco Carta

6. Waving Flag ft. David Bisbal - K'naan (the Spanish/English version is a must)

7. You're Not Alone - Mads Langer

8. Se Fosse per Sempre - Biagio Antonacci

9. Better Than Love - Hurts

10. Airplanes ft. Hayley Williams - B.O.B.

11. Fight for this Love - Cheryl Cole

12. Each Tear - Mary J. Blige and Tiziano Ferro

13. Mondo - Cesare Cremonini

14. Relax, Take it Easy - Mika

15. Pack Up - Eliza Doolittle (one of my favorites!)

16. I Like It - Enrique Iglesias

17. Neutron Star Collision (Love is Forever) - Muse

18. Domani - Artisit per l'Abruzzo

19. Amores Extra├▒os - Laura Pausini

20. Wonderful Life - Hurts

21. Indietro - Tiziano Ferro

22. Kick Ass - Mika

If anyone wants a burned disc, let me know - - and I'll make sure you get one.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Frumpy Flight Financials

Shopping is sort of a crazy love/hate thing for people like me and inner dialogues just make it that much more confusing. Yes, I want something new because my stuff is old. No, I don't need it. Yes, I know clothing doesn't have to be about "need", it can be a desire and that's okay. No, I don't want to accumulate stuff. Yes, I definitely have a too-much-stuff phobia. No, I still want it - even after all of this. Yes, I'll usually turn around and walk away instead of splurge.

But here's the catch - have you ever convinced yourself to purchase something like a shirt at regular price and then spilled something all over it a week later? The beautiful idea then becomes a rag, and the wrath of consumerism wins again.

Just to make it sting a bit more, I usually calculate out how much I paid each time I wore it. It's as if I were making a conscious decision to rent the stupid thing for $15 a day or something. Does no good, you're right, but I feel like maybe I'll be able to rationalize it all by then saying to myself "yeah, I'd pay that money each day all over again" or the more typical "that was such a waste of money for a new rag".

When I consider hideous airplane lines, packaged food, and the air pressure tightening my jeans and making me wish I were anywhere else, I usually try to think about the good deal I got on a flight. Similar to expensive clothing you wear two times however, it's usually the flights that, an hour before booking, catapult themselves into the "no WAY would I spend that on pretzels, security controls, and dry air ... except crap, I waited too long before purchasing" zone.

Inversely, clothing gets cheaper over time. The trend dies down. It's a luxury, I suppose...whereas flights just decide to hike up further and further for no apparent reason until you're calculating about $100 for your soda and snack. I'm in a "no WAY would I spend" zone right now with booking this flight to Interbike next week in Las Vegas. I sort of need to go, and I want to, but between yesterday and today the price for my ticket has not only shot up once, it's shot up three times. And besides that, the times are getting worse, and there are more connections, so it's taking me longer to sift through the already bad flights only to find even nastier flights. Hooray for obscene transportation! I may need some retail therapy...

Let the cycle perpetuate.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Cease Fire, September!

...I've got to catch my breath!

Eurobike in Friedrichshafen was only one week ago, yet it feels like eons ago already. This is what the month of September does to a person, and we forget about it til it lands between the eyes after the comparatively blah 11 months of the year.

Last Tuesday we arrived at 7 am to our tiny hotel in a small town called Stokach outside of Friedrichshafen, Germany (I just like typing that city name for some reason). We were exhausted after our 9 hour road trip turned into a 16 hour or so (we lost track) trip when the Swiss border patrol stopped us for not having correct commercial documentation from the Italian government for transporting 6 bikes up to the land of wiener schnitzel and hefeweizen. I guess they thought we'd be selling the bikes in Switzerland. Just to spite them, we should have cut a deal with the Italian border patrol - who were of course drooling over the Parlees and trying to help us as much as possible - and handed them each a bike to make the Swiss piddle their pants with envy. But the one positive about arriving was that we were greeted by Michelle, Phil's best college friend, since she'd hiked by way of train system from Geneva, Switzerland to see us. Needless to say, none of us had slept - so we cat napped til noonish and then got on with our day as if nothing had happened.

In any case, we got to Germany after pulling an all-nighter of driving through the Austrian mountain passes during a massive rainstorm and stopping three times to sleep for 20-45 minutes along the way. Keep in mind that all of this came after we spent the entire weekend building the bikes until 3 am or so each night, while waking up at 9 to start up again. I guess this is the life of trade shows from the opposite side of where I'm used to being: in the press tours, where they put you up, pay for everything, and make sure you're writing diligently each day while seated in the lap of marketing dollar luxury.

Well the actual show went very smoothly. We had a corner spot at the snazzy Shocker Distribution booth and our Z1, Z5 SL LTD, and CX bikes shone in their "ghost" matte black glory. It was rad to watch people walk past glancing about and to see more double-takes in front of me than in romantic comedies. Men and their bikes, I swear. Some would whip out the knock system - where you gently use your knuckles to listen to the sound the frame makes when you knock on it. Others would grab their little cameras and take pictures of tiny, carbon clamps and outer cable systems, zooming in and snapping 10 shots from different angles. You could tell they were just biting at their bits to not steal the bike away for a test drive. Every time Phil or Tom would remove the bike from the stand and explain something to the daring few who could handle its tempting presence on the ground, an entire mob of people would gravitate towards them, oohing and ahhing even when the language spoken may not be one they understood. The ultimate realization I made at this European show with throngs of people from around the globe is that all of them speak, you guessed it, cycling.

The last day there I realized my flight back to the US was going to be on Saturday instead of Friday. So I went along to the show for another fun day of carbon talk. Upon arriving, the key to the truck just disappeared. I searched everywhere for it to refill our stock of catalogs, but to no avail. The little key was MIA. The rest of the day was full of stress and scanning the ground. In the end, it was officially not in our hands, though it seemed it could just reappear any given second. It's sort of like a worst case scenario situation too, since I was to catch a 6 am train the very next morning leaving from Friedrichshafen up to Frankfurt in order to get back in time for the remainder of Chelsea and Noah's rehearsal dinner in Portland, Maine on Saturday night. (If you think that was a mouthful to read in one breath, try digesting that thought while French people are asking you questions that you answer in a mixture of Spanish and Italian!)

After a bit of help from the Scandinavian Parlee Rep, Alex, and his friends from Norway, Phil was able to drive me to the train station while Tom slept in the driver's seat before the last big day of the show. And with what seemed like a ton of bricks in my suitcase, a traversed the planes, trains, and automobiles into a rental car by 8 pm in Portland's airport and made it safely to the DeLorme farm of Freeport, Maine just in time for the little slideshow and a massive culture shock of english-speaking happiness :)

The very next day I awoke to a library of philosophical books at Noah's parents' house, and snuck out and over to Chelsea and Noah's new pad to join them for breakfast and a quick chat with Phil, who would be stuck in Germany for the coming week. Later, Suzanne and I went to work gathering wildflowers for the wedding and getting on the St. Croix boat headed over to the island at 1:30pm. The wedding took place and was out of a perfect fairy tale. Every friend was interesting, the DJ hilarious, the setting picturesque, and the happy couple basking in the glow of an east coast sunset with fresh lobster and hula hooping.

On Tuesday, about a day and a half after the wedding, I arrived home in Minnesota and was greeted by my two sisters and a beautiful dinner of fresh vegetables cooked with potatoes and seasoning. After so many airport pretzel and peanut packages atop wine from the wedding, my body came back to life out of its post-travel abuse coma. Mia and I went on a long walk around the lakes the next day and chatted about life and love and law. It was perfect, just as Calhoun always is. Later that night, my mom came to town and we all visitied Mia at work before she brought me back to St. Cloud where a brand new man would enter my life. Murphy. Or Smurphy, as I like to call him.

And that's where I am now. I walk with him, he kisses my hands and politely pulls me along the path. I talk to him - he listens intently before he plays, rolling around for belly rubs. We visited Saint Cloud State University's bustling beginning to a fall semester where he's surrounded by people who coddle and pet him as they recognize the change their lives are going through from the relaxation of summer to solid homework and little animal time. With Murphy around - even after the Vikings lost to the Saints 9-14 last night - life has become simple, lovely, and renewed with a dog in the house to start with our darling Sophie left off a couple years ago.