Slow is the New Fast – Epilogue

11 Jun

Last week, as Q and I concluded our monthly lunch outing, we reflected on the fact that I would celebrate my 3-year anniversary of not dying today. He remarked on how much progress I’d made, noting that from his perspective, I was completely back to my former level of functioning. I agreed that from his perspective he was probably right. I also said that there was a lot going on “behind the curtain” in order for me to pull off my public “show.” He asked me to elaborate. I demurred, but promised to “reveal all” (or at least most) via the blog.

So here we are 3 years later. I certainly LOOK better:


And of course I feel better.

In fact, most days I feel better, physically, NOW than I did even BEFORE the brain bashing. When it comes to cycling, specifically, it’s safe to say that I also perform better now than I did before the brain bashing (although given my extended training hiatus this winter/early spring, I’m not back up to the level Coach got me to last year at this time, darnit). As luck would have it, I recently got an unexpected bit of “proof” regarding my pre-wreck/post-wreck riding form and fitness:

For the first time since even before my wreck, I was riding, solo, along the formerly-dreaded Mulholland. The “Snake” portion was a little sketchy, as usual, because of all the motorcycles, but in general the overall feeling of nervousness that had plagued my prior outings on that road (in the company of my friends) was gone. I felt good, strong, happy. When I got onto the lower slopes, I was enjoying a sense of bliss and pride that had eluded me for years. How happy I was that Victory Jon was out there with his camera to capture my joy!

I quickly contacted him and asked for a quote regarding one specific photo that I really liked. Jon’s response was:

Wow! Hi again Cristin. It’s been a long time, 3 years? So nice to hear from you again and I’m so glad I am still here to capture you. … I reviewed ALL of your images and am pleased to report they are all EXCELLENT photos. The one you like best … is actually my favorite as well. Perfect angle of you and great colors and depth with just a part of that green tree in the near background. Here’s what I’m going to do for you since you are a long time client…

What he suggested was phenomenal, and I said as much. Specifically, I said:

Holy cow, that would be PHENOMENAL! Sunday was, in fact, my first time back on that stretch of road (at least on a solo basis) since I had a super-epic, life-threatening wreck on Decker back in June 2011. I’ve appended the full story of that wreck for your “entertainment” (with a subscript being that I only recently learned the wreck happened on Decker and not on Mulholland, as indicated in the tale).

If you read it, you will learn that my life was literally saved by the guys from Major Motion. The fact that I happened to wear the Major Motion kit on Sunday, paired with the fact that I was wearing my Coach’s kit the last time you photographed me, makes for a very neat “then/now” scenario, indeed! It will make an exceptionally awesome “Thank you for saving my life / 3rd anniversary” present for Kevin (the captain of Major Motion) and also a great “Thank you for being my coach and sticking by me all these years” present for my Coach.

Perfect timing. Perfect present. Thank you for suggesting that set up. Count me in for the whole she-bang.

I delivered Ron’s present to him today. It was a pretty emotional scene. Ron witnessed one of my worst moments in rehab (when I couldn’t catch a ball that I bounced into a trampoline, and in fact could not even fathom what the hell the ball was doing nor that I was supposed to have some sort of reaction to and/or relationship with this clearly insane, unpredictable, erratically flying object…). He’s also been one of only 4 or 5 people with whom I’ve maintained steady, regular telephonic communication throughout these 3 years (more on the phone issue, below). Seeing the dual triptych of me riding down Mulholland on May 22, 2011 (i.e. ~3 weeks before my wreck) alongside (or, more, specifically, above) me doing that same thing almost exactly three years later, on May 25, 2014 was a powerful testimony to what we’ve accomplished together.

Three years of hard work = miracle in motion.

Ron and Steven, the co-owner of my bike shop, quickly pulled down some of their certifications and diplomas and mounted my photos on the wall, instead. It was agreed by all that these pictures demonstrate the power of cycling, camaraderie, and determination that Bike Effect stands by, believes in, and delivers. Here we are with the photographic proof of our success above our heads:


And here’s a close-up of the photos (Kevin — your framed copy is waiting for you!) — 2011 on top, 2014 below:


My form is better. My style is better. My ass is smaller. My confidence is visible. I was not only “back” — I was better than ever … at least on the bike.

In my non-cycling world, however, things aren’t always as they appear.

The Z that Q sees during our monthly lunches is carefully constructed. She is highly functional in his presence. She can do anything, and do it well, during the 1.5 hours they spend together. That is because she preps extensively. She practices her small talk in advance. She mentally drafts numerous monologue scripts to use for longer narrative exchanges. She generally relies on asking lots of questions and being a good listener. She is a MUCH better listener now than she was “before.” She is adept at circumlocution to artfully mask the fact that she can’t always find the real word she wants to use. And she will take a Big, Fat, NAP after she has performed. Social interaction = EXHAUSTING.

At her best, she can manage ~5 such performances per week when her interactions are with well-known entities (i.e., Q, ex-work husband, Coach, family, bike shop regulars). If a semi-known entity is thrown in the social mix (i.e., current/former work colleagues, pals from HS, college, law school, Peace Corps, etc), then the weekly social outing maximum drops to 4. If a totally-new-to-me person is added (i.e., dating prospects), then my ability to handle social outings drops to 3 or less per week. Accordingly, it is currently impossible for me to go on more than one date per week (which is why you are not getting any “good” blog stories about these adventures!)

New people are especially exhausting to me. It is so hard to communicate with them. Their speech patterns are odd and often inscrutable. My processor doesn’t know what to do with their inputs. I really have to concentrate on what they are saying in order to track what’s going on, and because I am concentrating so hard on their inputs, my own outputs get delayed or discombobulated.

My writing and reading brain is much, much stronger than my “speaking” brain. When I’m talking with strangers (or even with “known” people about unexpected or highly novel topics), I find that I can communicate most efficiently when I look away from them rather than maintaining eye contact. By doing this, it’s like I am “writing and reading words up in the sky,” rather than engaging in a truly verbal exchange.

Q doesn’t ever see this, because I know him so well and I rehearse so thoroughly that I’m never taken by surprise in terms of topics. I’m sure other people notice it though. I know that Coach does — and he sometimes coaches me through it. He’s an all-around coaching machine! And the reason that he’s one of the very few people that I can maintain regular phone contact with is because he understands how totally broken my processor is and he gracefully allows and enables us both  to   just    talk    really    slowly.

When   I     talk     really     slowly    on     the   phone,  at least at the beginnings of new thought-concepts, I’m able to build up confidence and speed.   The    initial    pauses   and    gaps   allow   me enough time to start composing the ends of my ideas and sentences.  I don’t always need to ramp down, especially if we’re talking about something “standard.” If we’re covering new territory, though,    when    I’m    on     the    phone    I     really    cannot     think     and      talk at the same time.

Ron gets that. So do my mom and sisters. But everyone else totally fucks it up. They start talking over me and then we get that whole “delay” thing like you sometimes get on Skype  (I CANNOT Skype, btw, it is a guaranteed recipe for failure and disaster).

So, I don’t “do” phone.

I text. Or email. Or FB. Or use one of my ~5 social outing allowances, but I don’t (and can’t) talk on the phone.

Except at Bet Tzedek, where I MUST talk on the phone.


Turns out: Holocaust survivors (i.e., my clients) generally don’t email, even fewer text, and none of them FB. Holocaust survivors are phone people. Dagblammit all. My workplace comeback was going to be significantly hampered by this situation. I don’t have any good workarounds for this. I am doomed…

Or not.

Turns out: Holocaust survivors are old, AND they are not native English speakers. So, guess what?

They     talk     really     slowly     on      the   phone, too!

Hot damn and halleluia!

Workplace success = secured.

The show will go on. No need to look behind the curtain.

Slow is the New Fast and although I’m clearly not “back” to where I was prior to the brain-bashing, I like to think that I’ve fast-fowarded to an even better place.

Parting Thought: Ingenuity, plus courage, plus work, equals miracles. ~Bob Richards

12 Responses to “Slow is the New Fast – Epilogue”

  1. Carissa Barker June 12, 2014 at 3:16 am #

    Happy Anniversary Z! Love You!

  2. Carrie Kiley June 12, 2014 at 6:41 am #

    Happy Anniversary of not dying – so glad you’re still with us and inspiring everyone. You rock Mama Z!

  3. Anonymous June 12, 2014 at 10:54 am #

    Cristin, you are really something. Your tenacity is just inspiring! It’s hard to believe that you are struggling with anything because reading your blog is like reading a well written novel. You are my Erma Bombeck! You are so funny when you are talking about something so serious and it’s just amazing. With all your difficulties, you’re still smarter than most people I know. Rock on Cristin!!!!!! Love you, Bobbye Welch

    • justadventures June 12, 2014 at 11:21 am #

      As the blog said: “My writing and reading brain is much, much stronger than my ‘speaking’ brain.” I feel very grateful to have this outlet and form of expression. It serves as a large rehearsal space for me and makes my actual human interactions more successful.

      • Anonymous June 12, 2014 at 11:45 am #

        Well, a fine job you are doing. I love reading about your journey. Love Bobbye

  4. Amanda June 12, 2014 at 3:03 pm #

    Happy, happy anniversary, and absolutely love the photos!

  5. brokenbrilliant June 13, 2014 at 6:07 am #

    Reblogged this on Broken Brain – Brilliant Mind and commented:
    Here’s a great post from a gal who’s on her way back from a cycling accident 3 years ago. Enjoy.


  1. An unexpected run-in | JustAdventures - June 12, 2014

    […] yesterday I celebrated the fact that three years ago I didn’t die. And it was a totally awesome day, filled with bacon, bikes, beer, and blessings. But it was also […]

  2. More anniversaries to celebrate! | JustAdventures - June 17, 2014

    […] at UCLA on the very same day (!), I decided that I should follow the cue from last week’s photo-spread that commemorated my 3-year anniversary of not […]

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