Monday, May 16, 2011


New Year's Eve 2009, Iris and I sit talking about the upcoming year and what we plan to do differently. As we explore, I notice that almost everything we talk about is incremental: more of this, less of that. I look at Iris and say, "What about big changes? What about doing things we've never done before? What about doing things we never imagined doing or being capable of doing?"

Iris says, "Well, I hate running! I've always hated running. With my asthma, running long distances is nearly impossible. Maybe I should run a marathon? Is that the kind of thing you're talking about?"

I look at her smiling and say, "Umm, yeah, that's a great example. Are you serious?"

She looks straight at me in a way that says she's temporarily left the arena. After a few seconds her face reanimates and she says, "Sure."

The next morning Iris registers for the NYC marathon and posts a blog announcing that she'll be running a marathon in 2010. Many of you know the rest of the story. Iris starts running (well at first walking). She post weekly articles about her progress and challenges. She determines that learning to run isn't enough and that she will instead learn to love running. She does it.

Over the past couple of months, I've been contemplating doing something in 2011 that I've never done before, never considered before, never thought possible. I've been contemplating writing a novel.

Unlike Iris who with running simply decided, declared and did, I've been taking a more conventional approach with writing. You know, dip your toe in the water, wade in slowly, occasionally glance over your shoulder to ensure that you haven't strayed too far from shore, and then wade a bit deeper. I've even swum a bit in waters where I could no longer touch the bottom. But I've never really decided, never really declared.

So here goes.

In 2011, I Mark Tuomenoksa (aka Teflon) will write a novel. I will love writing it. I will post regularly about my experiences, progress and challenges. And (here's the hard part), it's gonna be a really good novel!

If this were a film or a phone call, you might just have heard the shrill sound of air racing past my lips as I exhaled.

Happy Monday,

PS Below you'll find the first installment.

Her thighs ache as she cranks down the bike-path running along Memorial Drive towards the Longfellow Bridge. The Cateye strapped to her handlebars reads 28 MPH and 155 BPM. Not to shabby for someone just completed a ten-hour shift. 

She'd be on her way home, but the guy at her last stop had paid her fifty-dollars to deliver a heavily-taped envelope to his lawyer's office near Government Center and told her there'd be an extra fifty-bucks if she got it there by six.

Jetting past as line of roadies clad in matching spandex logos, the leader curses as she nearly clips his front tire sliding back to right in order to avoid an oncoming commuter.  

"You gonna let her do that to us?", says one of the riders from the middle of the pack.  "C'mon, man, let's catch her."

She doesn't need to turn her head to picture the scene behind her. Bodies bent low over the handlebars. Heads angled up. Eyes fixed on ass in front of them. The wheels of each bike separated from the next by just two to three inches. She pictures their faces distorted with grimaces of determination. So serious. But then it's hard to take a bunch of guys wearing matching neon pink and green spandex seriously.

She slides the Shimano's thumb-shifter under the right bar-grip momentarily easing her cadence as the chain slides smoothly onto the big ring and then doubles down using the cleats of her Giro's to pull up on the pedal passing from six to twelve as she slams down on the one passing from twelve to six. The sounds of determination fade behind her as the Cateye flashes 35 MPH and her pulse climbs to 180.

Across the river, the golden dome of the State House plays peek-a-boo behind the centuries-old, brick and stone row houses that carpet the mound of dirt rising from the Charles. Decision time: stay on the path and climb the steps onto the bridge or join the rush-hour traffic on Memorial Drive and ride up the ramp.  

She bunny-hops the curb landing just inches away from a Mini Cooper whose driver drops his iPhone as he fumbles for the vehicle's horn. By the time he finds it, she's three cars ahead and two lanes over hammering down the exit ramp and then gliding up onto the bridge.  As she rolls over Memorial Drive, the roadies pass beneath her, one of them noticing her and nearly crashing into the guy in front of him.  

She pedals on.

Her tires scrape the pavement like a belt-sander as she crushes the brake levers to avoid the side-mirror of a delivery truck frozen mid-lane-change at the end of the bridge. Beyond the truck, the traffic's so densely packed that she can't squeeze through even with her trimmed-back bar-ends, so she hops to the sidewalk and weaves through a series of startled pedestrians onto Charles Street. She threads her way around double-parked delivery trucks and out-of-state tourists who mistakenly believe they'll find street parking in Back Bay, and then pulls a left onto Pinckney heading the wrong way up the hill to the Government buildings. Her lungs scream as she hits 30 MPH midway up the hill.

At five-to-six, she pushes her way through the double-doors of the Hancock Street entrance, momentarily considers the elevator, and then ducks into stairwell running up six flights to the offices of Hedgewick and Crawley.  The lights shine brightly through the frosted glass of the firm's outer door, its name stenciled in six-inch gold-leaf. 

Two minutes to spare.

She grabs the doorknob, but it doesn't turn. She tries the other direction. Nothing.  

She wraps on the window and listens for the sound of movement. She wraps and listens, wraps and listens. Nothing.

She looks at the envelope in her hand, stuffs it back into her bag, and turns to leave. As she does, she hears a dull thud from behind the door and turns to see the light go out.

1 comment:

  1. There's some shrill air racing past my lips too... It's just stimulus, I hear myself think.

    Thank you for all the neat stimuli you provide, Tef.


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