The Fiji and Jasmine Bond

Fiji growled at me for the first time ever today. I am sure it feels worse to hear a child say, “I hate you,” but I felt like my child said I hate you. I was putting ointment on a wound she has from playing in the chicken coop. The wound must really hurt for her to have said such hurtful words to me. I corrected her and she got on her back to apologize. But I still feel a bit sad. Some people don’t understand the bond owners have with their dogs. They really don’t understand the bond I have with Fiji. I remember when we went through the Paw Paw Tunnel. Nothing but darkness and the sound of dripping water. It was a long walk; I was on the left side of the bike and Fiji was on the right. I shined the flashlight down to check on her. She looked into the light, eyes wide and terrified. But she kept pace with me. It’s like there’s nothing Fiji would not do as long as I was there with her. I felt proud to have her with me, and I picked up my feet a little more, so we could make it out of that tunnel, not for my sake, but for her. She didn’t growl at me when we slept next to train tracks (a train passed by every hour, shaking our tent like an earthquake), when she tore a muscle after running too long, when we rode through flood waters and her trailer was full, when we were caught in the subsequent mudslide, and I had to walk the bicycle through the mud. She kept sinking into the mud, and I walked at one mile per hour because of the weight of the bicycle and trailer, sinking into the mountain side. She didn’t protest when we entered new homes, new situations. She didn’t whimper or lose energy when we would be on the road until the wee hours of morning. I remember starting at 4am one day and not making it to our next destination until 1am the next morning. She didn’t get sick. She smiled and wagged her tail the whole day. When I took showers in strangers’ homes, Fiji would lie next to the door and growl and bark at anyone who approached it. When I went into portable potties or gas stations, Fiji would growl at anyone who approached the door or came too close to our gear. When I felt frustrated and wanted to give up, Fiji, full of energy, would pull the bike and speed us up. She’d jump up and lick me. She’d do something comical.

So excuse me if I’m a little bothered by her words. I know it happens. Dogs do that. It’s the only way they can express when something is wrong or when they don’t like something. She didn’t show her teeth, and even as I write this, she is snuggled next to me. But I still feel like I got into an argument with my best friend.

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Home to Home

Today, my nerves, from brain to toes, jumbled from one location to the next. My interview with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra went super well. Of course, I thought that about the job in San Diego, but I did make some key mistakes with them. I don’t think I missed one beat with the ISO opportunity, no pun intended.  Most people don’t know this, but while in Los Angeles, I met my father, aunts and uncles and siblings, some for the first time, and others for a second (but I was way too young to remember those encounters). So, it was like the first time for me! They all turned out to be quite nice, and they accepted me into the family as if I had never been out of it. They wanted me to settle down and not take on “these crazy adventures” anymore. My paternal grandmother who is blind (I cycled for eye research, so it coincidentally hits close to home) wanted me to stay and live in Los Angeles. While LA is a vibrant place, I could not see myself there. I wanted to go back to Indianapolis, the city that stole my heart. I said goodbye to my family last week with plans to hitchhike back to Indy. Instead, I spent three remarkable, tiresome days with Emma, the cellist, in her old pickup truck, Fiji sitting on my lap for six hours at a time, while Emma and I took turns driving.   We stopped in Colorado, stayed with friends I had met on the road, and headed on to Missouri the next day to stay with my mom. We  stayed in Missouri from 4am until 11am on Sunday, and hit the road for Indy. Of course, we received a ton of calls because we were apparently driving in the path of tornadoes. We missed them, but I am so sorry about the people who didn’t. Emma received a cancellation text from someone else she was supposed to pick up. “My house was hit by a tornado. I am not sure I can go,” he said.

I arrived in Indy late Sunday evening where I am staying with a war veteran and fellow cross country cyclist. I said my adieu to Emma, and closed the door to my new bedroom and home for the next several months.

Last night, I had a wonderful dream. It was quit symbolic of what’s been happening in my life lately, and the decisions I’ve made. It started with me looking in the mirror. It was me. Usually when I have dreams, I am always someone else, a better version of me. I had a suit on, and I looked confident. I walked out of the restroom, and saw my father and uncle, two big guys, waiting to escort me somewhere. Apparently, it was a job interview at some liquor store in LA. While my relatives stood outside, I met with a very nice lady who managed the most upscale liquor store I’ve ever seen. I don’t know why, but we sat on couches in the middle of the store and interviewed while customers passed by and looked around. I put on the charm, told her about my travels and goals in life, and answered her questions. After hearing about salary, I was quite sure I could do the job, and I wanted to. At that moment of resigned resolution, my eye caught sight of a famous violinist. She was browsing the products with a few burly men following her–bodyguards??? Suddenly, I found it quite hard to focus on my interviewer, and I rudely kept looking at the violinist. In her, I saw opportunity, greater than the one in front of me. Maybe not with the highest salary, but doing something I love, being in the environment I am passionate about–that of music. As the violinist exited, I stood up. “I’m so sorry,” I said, running towards the exit. “Hey, where are you going?” My father said who stood at the front of the store. I ignored them and ran towards the pickup truck (it resembled the one I had just driven from San Diego to Indy with Emma) and stopped it before they drove off. I proceeded to tell the violinist my aspirations, and how I always wanted to be a manager or secretary of a touring violinist, getting to see the world and simultaneously learning about and being immersed in the world I adore–classical music. I was talking super fast, and she looked at me with some enthusiasm and interest. However, I woke up. I don’t know the outcome, but the dream was representative of my real life, and that outcome hasn’t been revealed as of yet.  The liquor store and my father represent the opportunities and people I left behind, and the violinist represents Indy and the ISO and every other adventure my life will dish out in the future. Going down the road less traveled…  I am so excited to make my mark in Indy, to now take on another challenge–becoming the violinist I want to be. I figure if I can pedal 14 hours a day, I can practice five hours a day. Really, after cycling across the country, facing adversity, never giving up, meeting beautiful people, I feel like I can conquer anything, at least what I’m passionate about. I’ll find out in a few days if my career in music starts or not. I’ll let y’all know.

BTW, Fiji has settled down in her new home. However, she still expects a 20 mile bicycle run each day. No slacking for me!

Save Fiji’s Boyfriend

Fiji made a little friend while in Coolidge. His name is Max. He came by everyday to ask if Fiji could come outside and play. He’s about 6 months old or less. Unfortunately, his wandering ways has landed him in the town pound. He will be euthanized on 9/16 if no one claims him. I told his owners, but they do not seem interested in paying the fee to get him out. Fiji is so sad about her friend. She misses him! If you want a doggy, please give Max a forever home. He’s super sweet and a little dopey, but trainable. 🙂 Email me at jbrzr3@gmail.com if interested.

Max comes over to play with Fiji.

Max comes over to play with Fiji.

Max is a tough little one who takes all of Fiji's punches.

Max is a tough little one who takes all of Fiji’s punches.

See more photos here:

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.619322538099209.1073741827.100000644051693&type=1&l=9251bbcf68

Trayvon Reflection

Several days ago, I pulled up to a house. It was hot, I was dehydrated and dizzy. The house had a huge tree in the front yard. Overall, the neighborhood was nice and welcoming.

The owners of the home drove into their driveway just as I started to sit down. I told them what I was doing, and asked if I could use their gorgeous front yard as a resting ground. Husband and wife were happy to oblige, offered me cold water and went on with their business inside.

After several minutes, the cartoon birds stopped flying around my head, and Fiji and I were cool. However, I was frustrated due to the humidity and hills, so I decided to rest a little bit longer to remotivate my mental.

There is no excuse for what happened next, but I can only imagine what my pitbull, boxer , whippet mix and I look like to onlookers. With the trailer and bike, we must look rather vagabondish. As I was sitting in the yard, an older man drove by really slow in his car, staring me down with a mean look on his face. He was holding up several other cars behind him. I gave him a “What are you looking at” expression. He sped up and parked in the house garage two doors down the street. He came out of his garage, put his hands on his hips and continued to watch us. I ignored him, but in the back of mind and after a long day of riding, I thought to myself, I could really just punch this guy for being a judgmental, unkind, annoying Butthole. Instead of asking if I needed help or finding out in a kind way what I was doing in his neighbor’s yard, he presumed the worst and dealt with it in a way not befitting of a sane human being.

All that to say, it was at that moment that I thought about Trayvon Martin. If he punched George Zimmerman who had prejudged him and stalked him in the night, I could understand. I’m not saying it’s right to deal with stupidity in that manner, but I comprehended the frustration that comes with being prejudged and stalked in an overtly unfriendly way.  Hey, I wanted to punch the guy and he didn’t do nearly as bad as Zimmerman did that night.

I’ve run into so many wonderful people so I don’t speak for everyone. But, some people jump to conclusions way too fast, resulting in bloodshed, violence, “good” people turning into murderers because of their judgmental, over-the-top fears of other people. It’s really quite sad.

This trip has taught me that despite what we see on the news, good still exists in the world. I would even say there is more good than bad. So, I hope to impart this message to you, the next time you see a girl and her dog, sitting in an awkward place, or a young man walking through a neighborhood at night, and you really feel that uncomfortable about it,  call the police. Don’t be a vigilante, butthole who ends up finding out you were acting like a dumb nut to a completely innocent person. I’d rather a cop pull up, ask me if I was ok, and confirmed my being there with the owners than putting up with that nosy grumpy man.  Or if you’re not uncomfortable, you can ask nicely if I’m ok.

 

Dog Attack!

Fiji lies on my lap.

Fiji lies on my lap.

Steady, gradual incline. My knee started to ache around mile 14. Stopped at a Baptist Church to rest. I was talking to my mom on the phone when a dog came out of nowhere. Fiji’s fur stood on her back, and she started barking and growling like no one’s business. The dog charged toward us, and I braced myself for a vicious dog fight….(story continued from my facebook page)

“No,” I yanked Fiji’s leash and pointed at the other dog. It turned out to be a cute jack Russell terrier/beagle mix. It was not barking, just eager to greet. However, Fiji was in protection mode. I feared she’d harm the smaller dog. Fiji growled and challenged little Toby; he just looked like a Toby, so I went with it. Toby was either real bold or seriously stupid because he kept creeping towards Fiji. Yanking Fiji, who is stronger than she looks, I started walking her away from Toby. He followed. “No, Toby! Stay back! Fiji! No!” This multi-tasking of alpha sternness and doggy training went on for five minutes. You would’ve been impressed. I had both dogs, one on leash and one off, walking calmly near each other in the church parking lot. We walked until they were no longer paying attention to the other. Toby stuck close, and I decided they could greet. I closed the gap between us, and both dogs hit it off. Fiji jumped over, sprinted away from, and tackled Toby. I laughed. It’s nice when Fiji finds a friend.

I didn’t want Toby to get hurt or lost, so I led him back to near a house behind the church. Knocking on the door, a little girl came out. “Are your parents home?”

“Yes.” She said.

“Can you go get them?” The girl just stood there staring at Fiji and Toby play.

“Okie dokie,” I whispered under my breath since she ignored my request to get her parents.

Suddenly, out came six more children. “OMG, it’s the seven little dwarfs, and I feel like Snow Black.” The joke went over the children’s heads, but I cracked myself up, so….

“Uh hmmm….” I cleared my throat. “So, uh, like, parents…maybe?” They said nothing. I looked at the corn field in their “front yard” and thought, this isn’t Snow White; it might very well be Children of the Corn. I chuckled.

A friendly looking woman stepped out of the house, and smiled at me. She turned her attention to the dogs.

“Toby, no. Come here!” She beckoned.

“Really? That dog’s name is Toby? I’ve been calling him that all along.” I felt clairvoyant and proud of myself. The woman said, “Oh, really? Wow!”

Her name was Robin. Her husband was Patrick. He happened to be the pastor at the church. If not for Toby, I wouldn’t have met what turned out to be a beautiful family. The children were ages 10, 9, 8, 6, 5, 3 and 1: Joshua, Caleb, Stephen, Kyle, Erica, Brian and Mark.

Fiji did great around the children and dog. She was gentle, but I still explained to the younger children that we have to respect doggies. The youngest pulled on Fiji’s skin, and while Fiji ignored this, I thought it would be a good opportunity to let the children know the dos and don’ts around dogs. Fiji wasn’t used to children poking and prodding, so I told Robin and Patrick that. They kept eager Mark, the one-year-old, away from Fiji, but boy was he persistent.

The church set up accommodations for me in town, and Patrick gave me a gift card for food. Fiji ate pieces of the children’s Popsicles. Overall, it was a good day. I am scared about my knees, though.

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My Little Girl

Note: little stories like this appear on my social media pages first.

Fiji’s truly spoiled. Thanks to a church in town, we got to stay in a motel for the night. It was a double bed. I was happy because I really didn’t want to share with Fiji last night. I wanted to stretch out my knee, so I put Fiji on the other bed and wished her a goodnight. She stared at me for several moments, hoping I would change my mind. She finally gave up and turned in 10 circles before lying down. At about 3am, Fiji, who knows barking and whining is not allowed in motels, starts to whimper and bark. I turned around to scold her and find her sitting up in bed, looking at me, pleading with me. She barks again. She usually listens, but she’s highly intelligent. She knew that I would let her come to my bed to stop the barking. After a few “no”‘s and “stop it”‘s, I gave up because it was 3am, and said, “Fiji get over here, you dumb dog.” She leaped over to my bed, licked me a 100 times and curled up next to me. I slept on the edge of the bed for the remaining of the morning.

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Happy Father’s Day

Happy Father’s Day to Father’s and Mothers alike. I like to honor my mom year round, not just on one particular day. Each day is a struggle for her, so she deserves gifts, love and hugs any day I can give them to her. But I understand the serendipity of days like these, so I want to wish everyone who celebrates a happy day with their loved ones! Unfortunately, my mom and I are apart, but thank goodness for cell phones and Skype, right? Also, for the first time ever, I’d like to wish my dad and his family a Happy Father’s Day. About 3 weeks ago, I received a message via my blog from my dad’s sister. She explained how her family had searched for me, and they were all following my journey online. Apparently, I have six siblings ranging from ages 20 to 34. Phew…I have a huge family. I don’t know about the past, but to move on to the future…I sincerely wish my father, brothers, sisters, grandmas, aunts and uncles and cousins, all of which I gained in the last week, a happy day together. They all live in Los Angeles, so I will meet them all for the first time when I get there. Now, I have another reason to keep pedaling on to California.