Archive for the ‘commuting’ Category

ow

Thursday, June 12th, 2008

i got hit by a pick-up truck on my bike ride home from work today.

i was riding in the bike lane and crossing an intersection (ne 57th and fremont) on a green light when the car turned left in front of–or i guess into–me. the driver admitted immediately to being at fault and is really remorseful and all that. her insurance will pay for everything. the medic and police officer who showed up were very kind. there were plenty of witnesses.

the damage: broken left collarbone, massively-bruised-but-probably-otherwise-ok right knee (immobilized just in case), sore right wrist, numerous scrapes, busted bike fork, broken glasses, shirt and my favorite bra cut off of me.

if i had not been wearing my helmet, i am pretty sure i would be dead, or at least braindead.

i hurt a lot but i have a little bottle of narcotics. so yeah.

my hospital form said “bike vs car” across the top. i pointed it out to andrew and he said “this time the car won.” i said “yeah but i got a few good swings in.” (i broke her windshield.)

pretty beautiful

Monday, October 22nd, 2007

Boy is today ever a day for falling in love with Portland for the thousandth time. After work I took a detour to go by the cleaners’ to see if I could pick up my purple jacket… they were closed, but I got to ride leisurely through some close-in southeast neighborhoods I’d never spent time in and admire old houses with huge porches and strip off my layers one by one to feel the sun on my arms. I ended up on Belmont and decided to ride over to Hawthorne and stop at Ben & Jerry’s to treat myself to a scoop of Phish Food ’cause the weather was damn well perfect for it! Yum.

(Note the BLUE SKY.)

At work today I bought a big ol’ handlebar bag that just so happens to be a fantastic shade of salmon pink. My bike keeps getting heavier and I keep loving it more. My dad helped me pick out a small multitool to carry around today, and as we were comparing them, he said things like, “well, this one weighs more, and you probably won’t need these things…” Hah! Weight shmeight.

When I’m riding my bike and thinking about the blog entry I’m going to write about riding my bike, the entry always has a graceful continuity and flows easily from one thing I want to mention to the next. When I write it down it doesn’t work as well, of course, or I don’t have the patience to figure out how to make it work.

Anyway. My dad has a great time on his superlight carbon fiber bike. My coworkers have a great time wearing lycra to commute and racing cyclocross on the weekends. I have a great time riding to work in jeans and schlepping everything in the sun around on my bike. Conclusion: bikes = great time!!

I regularly read a bunch of sites that encourage people to think of biking as an easy, laidback way of getting around, not involving a change of clothes or even too much sweatiness. For example, Clever Cycles is a shop that opened up just this summer down on Hawthorne, and one of the owners keeps a great blog at their site about the merits of the Dutch approach to city biking, etc. And just today I found this awesome Flickr group: V√©locouture. Pictures of well-dressed people wearing clothes they bike in! I admit I am much less creative most of the time. I snapped this picture in my front yard when I got home this evening (”snapped” makes it sound easy. I balanced my camera on my housemate’s car, set the timer, ran and picked up my bike):

This is pretty much what I wear to work every day. If it’s cold (and it usually is in the morning), I add a cycling jacket (longer in the back, which I appreciate) and a pair of cheap knit gloves, and I pull my hood up under my helmet to keep my ears warm. If it’s wet, I add a pair of oh-so-sexy rain pants and maybe pack an extra sweatshirt in case my jacket gets soaked through. I wear these fabulous amazing super-comfortable and totally beat up boots just about every day, and the legwarmers and fingerless gloves (both of which are from Sock Dreams, a nice little business that happens to be based here in Portland) are pretty much staples as well. Maybe when I’m not working in a warehouse it’ll be easier to be creative. In the meantime, I’m comfy, at least.

Speaking of bikey fashion, I (and my bike) would love to receive a pair of these hammered steel fenders for Christmas. Y’know.

Biking is amazing. Every morning my alarm goes off while it’s still pitch dark outside and I struggle out of bed. But eventually I get on my bike and I bike to work and the sun comes up and the morning light is beautiful when it hits the orange and red and yellow trees (the green ones, too) and by the time I’m at work I’m downright cheerful. Maybe that’s ’cause I only have two days left there. I quit my job. Did I mention that?

paths

Thursday, October 18th, 2007

This afternoon I passed a cyclist who was not only singing, he was singing while climbing a hill. I’ve been bested. I didn’t even beat him all the way up the hill, though I don’t think that’s really the point. I didn’t make eye contact with him because I was embarrassed to admit that I was breathing hard. I mean, that I was trying to beat him up the hill. I passed him again at the top of the hill and kept him behind me until maybe a mile later when I guess he turned off. What–can’t I be easygoing about anything? Would’ve liked to be moseying along, singing my own song, sharing a grin.

On my way into work it was Really Raining for the first time (during my commute) this year–and, surprise surprise, my jacket ain’t waterproof. It wasn’t too bad, though, and it wasn’t too cold out today so I dried off without too much shivering. And anyway I’m fleeing Portland’s winter in two weeks. To go to… London’s winter. And, hey, the French Riviera’s winter! I bought my Eurail pass the other day! I got a postcard from my friend Devin (in Ireland this semester) that my mom read to me over the phone ’cause he sent it to my parents’ house for some reason! We might be going to Amsterdam together! Thinking about my Europe trip makes me imagine big exclamation marks hovering over my head!

But the real reason I wanted to write tonight (quickly, before much-needed sleep) is another one of those things-I’m-going-to-do-when-I-get-back-(I-swear), which is: do Portland bike-culture-y things and maybe get involved in bike/carfree advocacy. Okay, mostly I just want to ride in some parties-on-pedals. Anyway I joined the shift email list, and the other day someone posted a link to this 2006 essay by Rebecca Solnit: View From the Future. The premise is she’s looking back on the first quarter of the 21st century from 2026. It’s brilliant and is one of a couple things (see also this article on expansion of the I-5 bridge by BikePortland.org’s Jonathan Maus, for example) that have me thinking about… stuff. Here:

The resulting food crisis of the early years of the second decade of the century, which laid big-petroleum-style farming low, suddenly elevated the status of peasant immigrants from what was then called “the undeveloped world,” particularly Mexico and Southeast Asia. They taught the less agriculturally skilled, in suddenly greening North American cities, to cultivate the victory gardens that mitigated the widespread famines then beginning to sweep the planet. (It also turned out that the unwieldy and decadent SUVs of the millennium made great ecological sense, but only if you parked them facing south, put in sunroofs and used the high-windowed structures as seed-starter greenhouses.) The crisis spelled an end to the epidemic of American obesity, both by cutting calories and obliging so many Americans to actually move around on foot and bike and work with their hands.

Or:

Every schoolchild now knows the Old Map/New Map system and can recite the lands that vanished: half the Netherlands, much of Bangladesh, the Amazon Delta, the New Orleans and Shanghai lowlands. And who today can’t still sing the popular ditties about those famed “fundamentalists without their fundamentals”–the senators who lost the state of Florida as it rapidly became a swampy archipelago. Most schoolchildren can also cite the World Court decision of 2016 that gave all shares in the major oil companies to Pacific Islanders, mainly resettled in New Zealand and Australia, whose homes had been lost to rising oceans (a short-lived triumph as the fossil-fuel economy ebbed away).

Or, perhaps most pertinently for this blog:

The future, of course, is not something you predict and wait for. It is something you invent daily through your actions. As Mas Kodani, a Buddhist in Los Angeles, said in the early twenty-first century: “One does not stand still looking for a path. One walks; and as one walks, a path comes into being.”

Today I spent awhile looking through old letters and journals from the past few years. I have done so much looking. It is hard to start walking.

Solnit draws an analogy between this new future and natural history museum dioramas’ illustrations of the Age of Reptiles giving way to the Age of Mammals. Tom Robbins, in one of my favorite books, Jitterbug Perfume, also imagines contemporary society as an age of dinosaurs and reptilian reactionism… but for him, the next age is one of flora. Loaned my copy to a friend recently, so no quotations to draw from.

P.S. I am thinking about changing the title of this blog to “slow going”… hm?

gumption

Tuesday, October 16th, 2007

On Sunday I went for a desperate endorphin-seeking ride down (or up?–east) the Springwater–despite the fabulous weather (I wore just a t-shirt!) it didn’t really work, and so I called my friend Judith and we agreed to meet at the Pied Cow on Belmont. I biked down there and waited in Sunnyside Park until she showed up (by bus). We ate some bagels and talked–and that did work. We ended up walking back to her house off of Holgate, exploring residential side streets on the way. A few hours later I biked home and hit the sack.

Yesterday morning I drove my car for the first time in probably long enough to be not very good for its engine–eight blocks round trip to take my cat to the vet (here’s where I’d parenthetically add “she’s okay” if I knew that she was, but I don’t, and so). Then I walked the same eight blocks again ’cause I’d forgotten my credit card at home. Then I biked to work, and home again. On the way home I let myself get a little competitive with another commuter, whom I caught and eventually dropped, much to my delight. (When I caught her and we pulled up to an intersection together, she looked over and asked, “is that a singlespeed?” I said no and she said, “oh good.”) In the evening I walked to my friend Sarah’s apartment, and we walked together to a coffeeshop on Powell at Milwaukie (or thereabouts) and back.

This morning my wrist hurts. I’m a little baffled.

When I was in college and stressed and sleep-deprived all the time, and partying when I wasn’t (and when I was), I thought my life would even out and my moods would steady themselves as soon as I’d graduated and started getting exercise on a regular basis and eating well and all that. And okay, I’m still working on the eating well part of that particular equation (though I could be doing much worse), but I keep wondering when everything is going to get easier. Or steadier, or just… better. Less confusing, at least, maybe.

I am leaving for Europe two weeks from tomorrow. I have, consciously and subconsciously, made Europe into a kind of deadline. My trip will be some kind of last hurrah, or a voyage of discovery and adventure, or whatever, and when I get back (conveniently, for symbolic purposes, around the New Year), I will find a job I like, I will throw myself headfirst into the Portland theatre scene, I will cook a real dinner every evening, and I will successfully pursue my various hobbies: knitting, painting, dancing… I will not be broke; my car will be sold. I will learn to maintain and repair my bicycle. I will go for long, long rides. I will never ever flake out on my friends. I will keep in touch with all of them, near and far, and I will even make new ones. I will go on spontaneous adventures with my boyfriend. I will make up with my ex-boyfriend. Et cetera, etc., &c.

Hahahahaha.

Patience and acceptance.

I wonder at what point patience and acceptance ceases to be an adequate substitute for (to borrow a page from the show I just finished working on) …gumption?

Just some things to think about, I guess.

I sometimes make ridiculous facial expressions when I’m concentrating on something, or thinking about something, or biking up a hill or whatever. Every once in awhile I catch someone looking at me and then I feel very silly. I was thinking about how visible I am on a bike (when you see a car, you see the car; when you see a bike, you see the biker) and how I miss listening to music during my commute (I don’t feel safe with earbuds in while biking)–not necessarily related thoughts, but still. I used to sing along to the radio all the time. So I decided to start singing while biking. Feels GREAT on downhills; not so practical uphill. And while I love riding alongside cars belting something off key, I get self-conscious every time I pass pedestrians or other cyclists, and I shut up or else whistle or whisper instead. I’m not sure how I feel about that. Something else to think about. Gumption indeed.

“the odyssey years”

Wednesday, October 10th, 2007

I took a new route to work this morning, one recommended by a coworker as a way of avoiding Killingsworth (though not its intersection with Columbia–that’s unfortunately unavoidable). I had to get up my steepest hill yet–but hey, I did it! And I was rewarded with a quiet ride through a residential neighborhood, a golf course down a hill to my right. The houses were big, the lawns were green… it looked a lot like suburbia. Very nice and all, but I thought about the things within walking distance–a school, a convenience store, a gas station. That’s about it. Made me remember to count my neighborhood in the things I’m thankful for. I can walk to a grocery store, a video store, a couple coffeeshops, a pet store, my cat’s vet, a public library, Reed’s campus, a hardware store, a great Thai restaurant, a yoga place that I keep meaning to check out…

Awhile ago I found this website: Walk Score. You put in your address and it tells you how walkable your neighborhood is. Mine (the Woodstock area, in the 40’s) scores 89 out of 100. My work’s address (out in NE near the airport) gets 29. Ouch.

Mostly it kinda drives home to me that living close-in in this amazing city is pretty much where it’s at. I am pretty blessed to have ended up exactly where I want to be–and where it is oh-so-easy for me to use my car as nothing more than a landmark to help people find my house, these days. (For the record, I’ll be driving it to my parents’ house in a few weeks and they’ll sell it while I’m in Europe. Their idea and probably for the best.)

I probably should hesitate to say things like “exactly where I want to be.” What do I know? There are many, many reasons to love Portland. Sometimes I’m not sure if the reasons I have found to not like Portland aren’t actually reasons to love Portland after all–if you follow me. The theatre gigs I’ve gotten since graduation have ocassionally been frustrating in their, you know, utter lack of real pay and such. But I was talking to a friend and found myself saying something along the lines of “but, I don’t know, I kind of like tiny incestuous communities where everyone knows each other…” Theatre people in Portland all have day jobs, but they also have enthusiasm and generosity that remind me of the theatre community at Reed (my alma mater, where I majored in theatre and literature, for the record). And maybe they don’t have that hint of bitterness that comes from relying on your passion for your income…? Or maybe I’m reading too much into my comfort zone. My beautiful, rainy, mountainous, bikey, friendly comfort zone.

Anyway I’m leaving for two months to wander homeless through foreign countries. I am terribly excited! Anyway I have a paying theatre gig when I get back. If somewhere between one and two bucks an hour counts as “paying.”

My mom sent me an op-ed piece from the New York Times a few days ago: “The Odyssey Years.” It suggests the existence of a new life phase, odyssey–”the decade of wandering that frequently occurs between adolescence and adulthood.” That’s us, right now, blah blah blah, according to this salt-and-pepper, receeding-hairline, spectacled guy anyway. Admission: I have never read Homer’s Odyssey all the way through. But Odysseus knew what he was heading towards, didn’t he? His wife and kid, his home island or whatever it was. The author of the New York Times piece claims we know where we’re going, too–we “have highly traditional aspirations ([we] rate parenthood more highly than [our] own parents did) even as [we] lead improvising lives.” I don’t know–every time I think I have something figured out, I learn something about myself or my environment or the world or whatever and I doubt everything again. So mostly I just work on not being bothered by the doubt.

But hey, somewhere my instincts lined up with this NYTimes guy in calling this blog, in which I’m mostly writing about my routines and lifestyle(s) and choices and futures, a travel blog. Right? I’m not a confused 20-something–well, maybe I am. But I’m also hella journeying or whatever. Got my oceans to cross, my cyclops(es?) to battle.

annoyances

Monday, October 8th, 2007

Some things that drive me nuts about bike commuting (and biking around in general), to counteract my bicycle evangelism–

1. inconsiderate drivers
Well, of course. This includes drivers who roar down the street perilously close to the bike lane; drivers who roll slowly up wide, but bike-line-less, streets lined with parked cars, without leaving room for me to pass them without entering the perilous door zone (i.e. the zone in which I could get whacked by doors opened by oblivious denizens of parked cars); drivers who try to squeeze past me at intersections because they can slip into or between gaps which are too small for me; drivers who don’t use their turn signals and thereby cause me to miss gaps I might otherwise be able to slip into or between, causing annoyance as well to the inconsiderate drivers behind me who haven’t already tried to squeeze past me; and drivers who leave their turn signals on, leading me (made antsy by the drivers behind me) to lunge into a gap that does not in fact exist and leaving me fearing for my life and forced to pedal furiously across the intersection.

2. excessively considerate drivers
What? Yes, really. This includes drivers who stop at intersections when they have the right of way and I, say, have a stop sign. If I don’t stop I’m breaking the law; if I do, the result is often a cat and mouse kind of hesitation game in which I move forward and stop, then the car moves forward and stops, then I move forward again… and we both spend more time at the intersection than necessary. This also includes drivers who stop for me when I’m waiting to cross a busy street, despite the fact that cars are still coming from the other direction. By the time there’s a gap in the other direction, the overly considerate driver has usually gotten impatient or figured I’m oblivious and begun to move again.

3. hills
(Pant, pant–) I– (Deep breath–) hate. Hills. (On the other hand, I have thighs of steel and I think I’ve dropped about a pant size since I started biking regularly.)

4. scary intersections
I really only have to deal with one of these: NE Killingsworth and Columbia Blvd. It’s a three-way intersection and I have to turn left from Killingsworth onto Columbia. Killingsworth is two lanes in each direction, there’s tons of huge trucks, and the speed limit is 45mph. There’s also no pedestrian crossing whatsoever. I have to either act like a car and merge across two lanes of traffic into the turning lane (the light for which, thank goodness, is on a timer and not a sensor), where I wait as cars and trucks whiz by, or I have to stop at the intersection, wait for the red light, and run in front of the stopped traffic to the turn lane. The intersection is almost as bad on the way home, despite being a right turn. The lane on Columbia Blvd is narrow and goes under a bridge at a bend, making visibility bad. Traffic often backs up here and it’s difficult and occasionally terrifying (what if they don’t see me and start moving??) to pass trucks. The intersection itself has been recently repaved and restriped–there used to be two lanes from Columbia Blvd, one to turn left and one to turn right, but for some reason they have left only the used-to-be left-turn lane, and there’s a kind of curb at the edge of this lane and running along the intersection. So in order to turn right, I must either bike along the very edge of this curb, avoid slipping into the used-to-be right-turn lane, and execute a too-wide turn towards the haven of the bike lane on Killingsworth, or I can dismount and walk my bike over the curb, then remount while cars whiz by at 45mph.

5. glass, gravel, and industrial and consumer waste strewn across bike lanes
Leads to pinch flats and occasional fishy handling or disturbing crunch noises.

catch up

Sunday, September 30th, 2007

I’ve been having trouble writing here because I’m not sure exactly what I’m trying to accomplish with this blog. I thought it might be a “travel blog” in the broadest possible sense–in the same sense that I take the ring I wear on my necklace etched with the words “it’s not the destination it’s the journey.” But mostly I’ve just written about bikes, and in a kind of stilted, uncomfortable tone. I guess I’m cool with writing about bikes for now. In an effort to feel more comfortable with this space and feel more like I’m using my own voice, I thought I’d share some of my bike-related thoughts from my un-capitalised, mostly unedited, semi-private LiveJournal…

aug 7

i biked to work and back today. (ten miles each way, by the way. not much in the scheme of things, but ten miles used to be a big deal for me.) i am, like, a superhero. also, since i did it in the rain, without fenders, wearing cotton sweats, with an uncomfortable saddle–and since today i got fenders, a rack, and an ultra-cushy saddle–i have no excuse to not do it forever after. plus i spent most of the day thinking about how much i wanted to ride home, and not just ’cause it’d mean being done with work.

i found a pretty nice route that’s all bike lanes and low-traffic streets, and the people-watching on the way home this afternoon was pretty awesome. waaaay more interesting than the highway. and yeah maybe my knees were hurting a bit when i got home (i’ll ask my boss tomorrow what i need to adjust) but hey good things, awesome things, etc etc etc.

[...] anyway i also found this, which has inspired me to hereby (semi-)publicly declare my intention to sell my car by next august. yeah. i’ve told a couple people i want to do that, but a more general announcement is likely to make me feel guilty if i don’t manage it. i know thousands of people get by in portland without a car at all, and it’s not the city stuff that worries me–portland is easy. my car has mostly meant, for me, running away to the ocean or to the gorge, to see waterfalls, stuff like that. so i guess i’ll just have to get to the point where i can do those things under my own power. i mean, the not being able to bring other people thing will be too bad, but… there’s always other people’s cars? honestly the only thing i haven’t figured out yet is how to go skiing. maybe skiing’s just not the world’s most environmentally-friendly sport (lifts and all) but man is it fun. so anyway. i love my car. shit. we’ve been through a lot, me and my car. 40,000 miles o’ life. but kids give up their security blankets…

so yeah, my bike is like batman’s batmobile, or superman’s cape. okay, hyperbole. i love it though.

aug 8

last night i didn’t sleep well, or didn’t sleep early, or whatever, because of being worried about kari [my cat], mostly. so this morning when my alarm went off at 6 (when i need to get up to bike) i grumbled and reset it to 6:30 (when i need to get up to drive). then i spent my shower and such feeling guilty and rushed, but i still ended up driving.

kari has a scratch on her neck from whatever she got in a fight with when she got outside a couple days ago, and she’s been licking at it and it keeps getting bigger. it doesn’t seem to be infected or anything, but it’s definitely a problem. i talked to mom about it and she suggested this inflatable collar petco carries that’s supposed to work better and be nicer than those terrible elizabethan collars (the plastic cones). so at work i looked up the two petcos nearest to my house, and since it was such a nice day, i figured i’d drive home and then bike to one of the petcos, the one up on 82nd a little south of the springwater trail.

so off i went. the last bit of the ride was pretty rough, lots of wind and traffic, and i biked past where the petco theoretically was (and i know i’ve been to that petco before. i bought a hampster there sophomore year!) TWICE, then once more much more carefully, only to discover at that address a “coming soon: dollar tree.” woo…!!

so i biked all the way across town to the other petco at ne 66th and glisan, with lots of zigzagging on the way to avoid dead ends and heavy traffic. and the woman who greeted me when i walked in said “oh… hmm… well, if we have those, they’d be down that aisle [pointing] but i don’t know if we carry them in this store.” nope, of course they didn’t have them. at this point i was more amused than anything else, though. endorphins are pretty wonderful things. so anyway, mom called about then and we decided we should buy kari a doggy t-shirt, ’cause that might keep her from licking her wound.

so yeah. then i biked 20 blocks to a starbucks i’d passed on the way, consumed some wonderful, glorious sugary fabulousness (chai and a cinnamon scone), and biked home.

aug 31

the moon was still up this morning when i biked into work. yesterday too. i’ve been doing okay with the biking thing; more on that eventually on my Real Blog. september is the bta’s bike commute challenge, plus i was kinda planning on challenging myself not to use my car for the month of september. i did that last year, but last year i lived a 15 minute (max) walk from my classes, and now i live 9 miles from my job. and i’m running sound in the evenings for a show way across town at the coho starting on the 23rd. for free… all the more reason to save money on gas!

anyway i might have to make an exception for exciting adventures in the woods and that kind of thing. my life has included lots of that sort of thing in the last month or two, which is beautiful and amazing. the stronger i get and the more biking i do, the less i will assume that such things need include cars though… when i suck it up and buy some panniers, i think it might be nice to do a solo mini-bike-tour to some campsite somewhere some weekend, if i can borrow landon’s tent or something and if i can find a route/campsite that my skinny road tires can handle… i mean, just to see if i can do it. and to see if i can feel safe in the woods alone without a big metal box to lock myself into if need be.

anyway i have changed tires or tubes etc four times in the past two days. hah! kind of a medium-long story involving ill-fitting fenders and… mostly just ill-fitting fenders. and my dad having a different approach to bicycling than me. anyway, good practice; better now than when i get a flat in the rain this winter. now i have an awesome pink-striped tire on my front wheel. it matches my pink cable housing. yum.

when i got home i volunteered to change my housemate greg’s tires for him. i think i’m becoming a bike geek. it’s really satisfying somehow to take bikes apart (kinda) and get my hands dirty. i have hella grease stains on my legs, too. i want to learn more!

sept 5

things seen on my commute lately
(or, why i like going slow)

  • a shar pei puppy playing with kids in a park
  • a hearse
  • a tortoiseshell kitten lying on the sidewalk; as i biked past, it looked up at me and rolled over onto its back
  • trees braided years ago around the posts on either side of someone’s front step
  • lots of astonishingly beautiful lush gardens
  • sept 10

    bicycling is teaching me a lot about patience, but i am still so impatient sometimes. i know life is too short to be impatient–i mean, there is too much i will close my eyes to if im trying to move too fast.

    sept 12

    i’m seven for seven so far in the bike commute challenge. every time i bike to work i draw a little bike symbol in my planner. i like looking at the row of little bikes.

    sept 13 [oh, here's some stuff about other kinds of journeying!]

  • i don’t even consider driving in the mornings anymore, even when i’m running late. it doesn’t register as a possibility all of a sudden. and it was drizzling this morning, so bite me. no, i don’t know. i was kinda bummed that all your responses to me wanting to sell my car were discouraging. if one of you had said “go for it!” it would be gone by now. maybe. i don’t know. jonathan got rid of his car… but i know the winter is going to be hard enough as it is. winter is always hard. winter when you don’t know what the hell to do with your life? guess we’ll see.
  • i don’t know what the hell i want to do with my life, or how to make the things i do know i want happen. i’m not feeling super-angsty about it right now, but that’s in part because i have something big to look forward to soon (europe). after that, i’m gonna have to do some figurin’ out of shit. hoping for some epiphanies. [...]
  • i sent a long email to my high school drama teacher expressing some frustrations i’ve been feeling since graduation and asking her how she made the decisions that got her to where she is (with a phd, teaching at a small girls’ school), and how she feels about all that. she wrote back saying she’d love to talk on the phone or in person if possible, so i’m going up next friday (also to see my parents). yes, i will drive. again, bite me. [...]
  • trying not to hope i find myself in europe. i don’t think i buy that anyway. i mean, i gotta make myself. i’m working on that (always…).

  • sept 19

    monday sucked. i had a podiatrist appointment that i biked to from work. apparently i have to get half of one of my toenails chopped off (probably next week) and, incidentally, i have very flat feet and should be wearing orthotics (which explains the crazy way my shoes wear down). on the way back to work i got hella rained on. i had a spare pair of jeans and a dry sweatshirt at work, and i bought a pair of wool cycling socks, but then i fought with my parents on the phone over dumb shit. okay, getting caught in the rain sucked, but mostly because my jeans were soaked through almost instantly and sticking to my legs. so, i will buy some rain pants. so, i am still selling my goddamn car. for the record. for one, i need to be some kind of student again and if i sell my car i can afford (in time and in money) to take classes at psu or audit them at reed.

    sept 20

    it’s funny to me how many times i have to learn that there are no answers, because every time i learn it, i think that it’s an answer. hah!

    had an up and down kinda day. drove for the first time this month. i’m in sammamish and by the time i’m back in portland i will have in one weekend pretty much used all the fossil fuels i saved by not driving to work for three weeks. [...]

    this afternoon i biked to nw 23rd and back, and got lost twice, once in northwest and once on the way home. getting lost on the way home meant that i ended up pedaling slowly past one of the ladd’s addition rose gardens, though, and oh my god it smelled heavenly.

    sept 24

    i walked to the bus stop and then decided to walk instead. so last night i walked from nw 23rd and raleigh to se 48th and tolman. i will do the math for you (or ask google maps to do it): 7 or 8 miles… it was lovely.

    this city is beautiful.

    sept 27

    i should be falling gratefully into bed right now, or maybe cleaning the bathroom so my housemates-who(m? agh)-i-haven’t-seen-in-days don’t hate me, or possibly taking a shower, but what the hey, tomorrow’s friday. i biked 25+ miles today, just because lately that is how i get around, and i had to get to work (ne 92nd and killingsworth) and then to the theatre (nw 23rd and raleigh) and then back home (se 48th and tolman). i love (love, love) biking. lately i am feeling pretty cocky about it. in this indian summer, riding home hours past dark in only a thin cotton sweatshirt, it’s easy to feel cocky about it. god it’s fantastic right now. (rain, please don’t bring me down just yet!) especially since i got home just now and the house smells like banana bread. whoever made it is my hero.

    i feel a little bit hypocritical though because i have asked for (or at least accepted) rides in gabe’s car lately (not that i have any kind of rule against riding in other people’s cars–but to an extent this is car rides caused by me). [...] see, his car gets hella worse gas mileage than mine. siiigh. i think it’s worth it to me to have broken the driving habit. i am really goddamn proud of myself, actually. [...]

    anyway, some more consequences of biking all the time:

  • thighs of steel
  • great body image (i look pretty much exactly the same, objectively, but being in shape makes a huge difference)
  • i get lost a lot, but i always eventually figure out how to get where i’m going, and i learn something about portland in the process
  • sore back from carrying too much shit in my bag (when you leave home at 7am and don’t get back until 11pm… agh)
  • i am not scared of hills anymore and don’t really even bother trying to avoid them. i can maintain an even, quick cadence even uphill, usually without using my granny gear!

    on the hawthorne bridge:

    later it says “you’re still cool.” even further–”nice bike.” on the ramp down to the steel bridge it says “call your deadbeat dad. he still loves you” in what i think is the same handwriting. i like it.

  • today

    raining now, of course.

    i got a pinch flat on my way from work to the theatre on friday evening. while i was biking, everything was fresh rain smell and rainbows. while i was struggling to reseat my tire on my rim and breaking two tire levers and swearing a lot, it was pouring rain and i hadn’t eaten since lunch and arrrrrgh. when i finally got it on (30 minutes + spit + elbow grease + remaining tire lever), i went to pump it up and must have pinched the new tube at some point in the process, ’cause it wouldn’t hold air. i called the director, told her i would be fifteen minutes late, and got on a bus. i still haven’t gotten around to patching one or the other of the tubes and getting it pumped up again. calling my dad in the rain, my blood sugar crashing, my hands cold and covered in bike grease, and asking him to look up the bus route for me, was one of the low points of my week. or month. i said “if i complain about this people will say this is why i shouldn’t sell my car!!” and he said “well, yes.”

    but if i’m anything i’m stubborn.

    So. Yeah. It’s a process (a journey!?).

    Some going-slow observations:

  • on Thursday I biked past a church with churchbells going at full swing (hah!). Gorgeous.
  • waiting for the bus this afternoon downtown, a saw a man wearing a brown pinstriped zoot suit and an orange fedora, carrying an umbrella and a Holy Bible.

    Also, last weekend I helped my mom set up a blog: Two Poodles! It’s pretty cute if you like curly-furred pups.

    Also, this is what I want to replace my car with. It’s too bad about the unfortunate color… an excuse to paint it, though!

  • slow down

    Friday, September 14th, 2007

    Yesterday I woke up in the morning groggy, still exhausted, running late. Even so I washed my face, put on my clothes, wolfed down some breakfast, got on my bike and rode into work. It wasn’t until later that I realized driving hadn’t even registered as a possibility. I happily drew a little bike symbol next to the day’s date in my planner–a kind of gold star. My planner is full of little bike symbols.

    I haven’t been very good about writing here because my thoughts about biking and traveling and journeys and such are all very tied up in very personal thoughts about growing up and mourning my past and not having a goddamn clue about my future and all the things I’ve been writing about for years on my livejournal. But a couple weeks ago I did start, and leave unfinished, a blog entry that went like this:

    “I can bike up the Woodstock hill.

    “I couldn’t do it last time I tried, when I first got my bike, in July. I certainly couldn’t do it as a student, when I invariably chose to drive rather than walk or bike to Safeway (at the top of the hill; Reed College, my alma mater, is at the bottom, and the apartment in which I lived was on the opposite side of campus) for groceries and sometimes, I admit, even drove to the library. By the end of my senior year I was in terrible shape: snacked more than ate, slept inconsistently and almost certainly not enough… I was, luckily, taking two dance classes, at least one of which was usually somewhat active; that plus daily theatre warm-ups got me at least a little bit of exercise. And I inarguably loved that life–complaints included. In June, and off and on for the rest of the summer, I mourned it extensively. I’m sure I’m not done mourning it.”

    I am proud of myself. I have a lot further to go. More hills to climb. Any time I try to write here I wax metaphorical. In the past month or so I have:

  • loved my job.
  • hated my job.
  • learned to change a flat and loved loved loved getting my hands dirty that way.
  • thought about being a bike mechanic.
  • thought better of it, maybe; maybe not.
  • thought about selling my car.
  • been discouraged.
  • been encouraged.
  • painted mental pictures of the bicycles I would like to own someday. An Xtracycle, a singlespeed cruiser with a stepover frame and a chainguard, a tandem…
  • accepted a job running sound for a show starting next weekend. For free.
  • sent a long email to my high school drama teacher asking about What To Do and How To Figure It Out.
  • envisioned eight bazillion possible futures.
  • not driven (since the beginning of September).
  • ridden in other people’s cars, however.

    A couple weeks ago, after I made a list of some of the interesting and lovely things I’ve seen on my commute, my mom asked me if I might take some pictures of things sometimes. I replied that usually I just want to get home as fast as possible, and taking pictures would require stopping. Usually I spend most of my ride home counting down the hills, counting down the tough intersections, counting blocks, watching house numbers shrink down to zero and then back up once I’m south of Burnside. But one of the lovely, interesting things I see on my commute everyday is this sign:

    Which is, I think, good general advice. So I took it, and I got out my camera a few times on my ride home today.

    Today I didn’t count down streets and was surprised to find myself only a mile or so from home when I got there. I was just riding my bike and seeing what there was to see. Even though it was stuff I’ve seen every weekday for a few weeks now, it was new. And I was having fun on my bike. Which is, you know, awesome. Duh.

    Yup, this is a metaphor. Life’s good when you’re having fun and not worrying about how quickly you’re getting to where you’re going. Lots of stuff to see on the way, and you’ll probably get there soon enough anyway. These are lessons I am learning. They sound like clichés only because everyone has to learn them a million times. Life’s a good teacher, though. Plus, there’s field trips.

    P.S. I’m selling my car.

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