Monthly Archives: August 2009

this one’s for the bikeys

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something funny happened while i was biking to work today. out of the corner of my eye i noticed two 30-something guys. one had climbed up the side of the beam holding up the porch, and the other one was helping him down. i glanced at them, was amused, and rolled on my way. as i passed them a little, i overheard the following convo:

ridiculous lawrenceville man #1 [scornfully & loudly]: man! you did all that and that biker lady didn’t even LOOK!
ridiculous lawrenceville man #2: how could you not look? that shit was so cool! what the hell?

this made me laugh and i continued on to work happy (until my tupperware malfunctioned and i spilled the delicious curried-zucchini-potatoes-and-chickpeas lunch i’d packed all over my bike & the sidewalk, in front of this annoying guy from the bank. BOO!!!

but speaking of bikes, OMG. i seriously had the worst bike shop experience of my whole life at iron city bikes this week! i normally don’t go there, but it’s really close to job #2. i heard a rumor that my bottom bracket was fucked up, so i dropped it off for an overhaul. it was bad enough that when i dropped it off, the obnoxious dude working the counter implied that i was stupid enough to ride around with my brakes totally disengaged (“uh, you do know that your back brakes aren’t even on, right?” “that’s because i had to take the wheels off to fit it in his car!” “uh, you do know that your front brakes aren’t even on…?” DUH. like i am just gonna bop around with NO FUCKING BRAKES. grrrrrrr).

but then when i went to pick it up, i found that the front derailleur had come loose in the fixin’ process and was pushing my chain into hateful first gear and not smooth, easy second gear. i was like “sigh” because i REALLY didn’t want to bring it back and deal with more dudeliness. but it worked when i brought it there, however imperfectly, and didn’t work anymore. so i gritted my teeth and went back in. i calmly explained what was wrong and asked if they could fix it. and the manager fucking yelled at me! he literally yelled, “i don’t know WHO agreed to fix this bike! there is so much shit wrong with this bike! it’s a safety hazard! i can’t believe you ride this thing!” etc etc. i seriously wanted to cry. i have issues with men yelling at me, but i said, in a firm unwavering voice. “look. this worked when i brought it in and it doesn’t work anymore. can we please just fix it so i can get home?” he knelt down to look at it and was making hyperventilating noises like he was about to start crying himself. IT WAS SO WEIRD.

but i guess the story ends happily, because they took off my offending derailleur (which hasn’t worked since 2002) and now my bike works so well! i zip around the city like a dream. now i understand why i was having so much trouble getting up the hill, why i was so exhausted after biking everywhere. it wasn’t my fault! it was the fault of a shitty bottom bracket that should have been replaced years ago, as well as the derailleur rubbing against my chain. and now that i’m free of both those things i feel so free.

but seriously, fuck a bunch of those bike assholes. i am so tired of being treated like an idiot every time i go to a bike shop. i’m not an idiot. i’ve been a commuter biker for 9 years now. i know how to fix a flat, adjust my brakes, etc. and what REALLY pisses me off is that EVERY TIME i go in to a bike shop with a dude, it’s always a dude who knows less about bikes than i do and rides less than i do, but they are ALWAYS treated with more respect. they are listened to, things are explained to them, they aren’t rudely cut off or yelled at or condescended to. it makes me so angry i could just scream. i wish i was handy enough to fix all my own shit and never have to give my money to someone who is such a blatant asshole to me ever again, but my hands are tied, as are the hands of any woman who drives a car or rides a bike. it’s fucked up.

dudes: if you’re in a bike shop with a lady (or someone who’s perceived as a lady) and you catch the mechanic treating them like an asshole, you can call them on it. really, you can. just a simple “hey, she knows what she’s talking about” can do wonders. i remember once, about 7 years ago, i was at home on long island and i was telling my dad about something that had gone wrong with my bike. he said, “oooooookay,” like i was being ridiculous, chuckled condescendingly, and gave my brother (who does not know a damn thing about bikes) a sidelong glance like i was being crazy. my brother snapped, “you should listen to ocean. she knows a lot about bikes,” and my dad’s face fell. it was an awesome moment of sibling solidarity. and you know what? my dad never questioned my ability to fix my bike again. that’s all it took. (and geez, it’s my dad! my dad is always saying that i’m smarter than him, but even he couldn’t be nice about this one fucking thing.)

so please. dudes and people who are perceived as dudes: bike shop solidarity. we need it. mechanics: yelling at people for not having a perfectly maintained bike does not accomplish anything. being condescending to women does not make yr dick bigger. and being a fucking asshole serves no one. the end.

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here is what i did at work today.

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warning! the following post is not amanda safe! it features graphic depictions of a certain lovable curmudgeon that you’d rather just imagine. if you are amanda, please redirect your energies to something that you wanna see, like this!

anyway. at work, we’re trying to authenticate a jackson pollock painting. the law clerk, m., made some comment about how anyone could make a splatter-y painting. “let’s see you do it,” said my boss. at first we thought he was kidding, but he went on and on about it (this was on wednesday). “next monday, [ocean] will bring in her camera and a drop cloth, and i’ll bring in some housepaints. m. will bring in a canvas, and he’ll paint us a pollock!”
so, monday came, M. and i brought in the requested items. we did a normal day’s work and then at about 4:15, my boss said, “[ocean], didn’t you bring any beer in today?” “uh, no.” “M. needs some beer! All artists need beer!” So M. went to the bar down the street to buy a 6-pack. then he changed into his painting clothes. i took a picture of him sitting at his computer to show his law-school classmates about how hard he’s working this summer:
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while M. was setting up in the backyard, about one beer into this process, i noticed that he hadn’t closed the front door proplerly & it had blown open (everyone does that! grr!) and i complained to my boss briefly. “he’s already drunk,” sniffed my boss.
and then M. got set everything up in the backyard and everyone shuffled out to watch him paint.

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“you should haul in a psychiatrist to analyze what M’s REALLY saying,” i said.
“i was a psychology major,” said my boss. he stared at the splatters for a long time. “he has an aversion to military service,” he concluded.
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also, another attorney came by to pick up some paper and was barely able to conceal his disgust with all of us for being so unprofessional and wasting company time! ha!
everyone’s gone home and i’m still in the office. they all left over an hour ago. i was going to use the internet time after work today to search for a better-paying job, but i just can’t.

dear internet, i’ve got a rather unique problem…

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…and any advice would be appreciated. it’s irrelevant whether you’re a friend or just a stranger who’s stumbled across this blog. i realize it’s not the kind of situation most people would have dealt with, but you never know.

so, for those of you who don’t know, i work at a small, eccentric law firm. i was out of the office buying candy for my boss (as he’s a do-whatever-the-hell-i-want senior citizen, he subsists largely on boxes of good & plenty). when i came back, the office felt strangely tense, and i heard my boss say to the law clerk, “ask [ocean] what she thinks! she’ll know what to do?”

so i went into the conference room and asked what was up. “tim _______ called. he’s thinking of committing suicide. i think it’s a great idea!” he said, casually. tim is this client of ours. with his twin brother, we’ve represented them in their father’s estate.

tim is in his late 30’s, mentally ill, physically ill, on disability, very few social skillz, no known friends, no known lovers, no hobbies. both of his parents, who cared for him his whole life, are dead. he has nobody except his twin brother, who he argues with endlessly. he hears voices. he thinks everyone is out to get him. he’s been institutionalized countless times, to no avail.

so, tim is coming in next week to chat about suicide with my boss, who seems to think the whole thing is rather amusing. he’s got a pretty caustic sense of humor, so i don’t know if he’s just saying that behind closed doors. (adding to the complicatedness of this situation, one of our other clients DID kill himself 2 weeks ago–the son of one of my boss’ close friends. i was the one who had to break the news to him.) i don’t know if he will be more sympathetic when this client is actually in the office. i sure hope so.

but somehow i feel like this is gonna fall on me, because i’m the only one in the office with a shred of fucking empathy. how do i convince this man not to kill himself? is that even a good idea, if he truly feels like he has nothing to live for? i have talked people out of killing themselves before, but they were people i loved deeply, who had other stuff going for them. i don’t love this man, although i do find him mildly amusing & endearing in a strange way. but seriously, seriously, what do i do?

hi, i’m really tired

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and hardly slept last night but i want to post anyway. because i’m so angry about the fact that a man who hates women randomly shot up a fitness club around here. do any of you non-pittsburghers even know that that happened? did it make the news at all?
why did my dad call me to see if i was okay when those three cops were killed? (yeah, the cops were killed about a mile from my home, and this gym is pretty far away– it isn’t even technically in pittsburgh, but he doesn’t know that) but not now–i mean, i’m a woman. blatant misogyny like this is a threat TO MY LIFE, it’s a threat to the lives of all women. but oh, who cares? nobody’s going to throw a benefit concert for the families of these three women, even though one was a single mother with a fifteen-year-old son. they threw a benefit concert for the families of those cops, even though the pension for an officer killed in the line of duty is HUGE. but women getting murdered is just business as usual.
so fucked up. i could go on and on, but hopefully most of you understand the full ramifications of this and i don’t have to explain. adding insult to injury, the articles about these women in memoriam all go on and on and on about their bright smiles, their consideration for others, their subservience. when surely, surely, they did something else with their lives besides fucking smile. but who’ll remember now?

you left me broke down begging for change had to catch a ride with a man who’s deranged

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okay, before i forget, i want to start this off with the funniest personal ad i’ve seen in a while. it was culled from “out”, not the glossy mag but the pittsburgh gay bar rag. i actually tore it out & tried to scan it in but it, being newsprint, scanned terribly so i’ll just have to re-type:
“preferred tall, blue-eyed, dark-haired, but open, submissive, accomodating white males seeking erotic discipline relationship. and, keyboard players seeking unique lounge act. call (412) xxx-xxxx”

if that’s up anyone’s particular alley, call me and i will supply the number! ha ha ha. people are so strange and interesting sometimes.
anyway. this weekend was weird. after a month or two or a year of manic activity i flipped the calendar to august, nothing written down save sheena’s birthday and “check on garlic” (i have garlic drying in my kitchen). so, i celebrated by sleeping a lot. in a slow motion daze all weekend, which i haven’t snapped out of yet.
ray & i went to the needle exchange in oakland (no, he’s not an IV drug user, he needs syringes for a medical purpose) and it was a really strange and unexpected experience. i’ve been to a lot of odd places in my life but never a needle exchange. there was a man working there with the strangest hair i’ve ever seen–a pregnant junkie asked him if it was “a clown toupee” but he grabbed it and pulled on it hard. “nope! it’s my hair!” he said, cheerfully.
when we approached the building ray said that it looked scary and spooky. i thought he was being silly. but while i was waiting around for ray i asked a worker if they had a bathroom. “we do, but you’re not going to like it,” she warned me. she then led me to a solitary confinement cell. “sorry,” she said, “this used to be a juvenile hall….” it’s weird, considering all the thousands of hours i’ve spent doing solidarity work with prisoners, i’ve never been inside a real jail cell. i couldn’t go into this one. i touched the door handle and shuddered. “i’ll just hold it,” i told her.
i spent the rest of the waiting around time looking at the cinderblocks and feeling the weight of all the lives ruined in this building. i am not sensitive to ghosts but i felt them. i felt all the tears shed and all the misery. nothing could bring me back to my safe present–not book ’em, not dinner, not a warm bath, not hot buttsex. i strained some muscles at the front of my thigh during the latter and i think some harsh memories were stored there because after that i was just completely dead to the world, just mired in this deep deep sadness that had nothing to do with my present reality.
today at work, my boss asked the young law clerk if he’d found our former client, who we haven’t heard from in a year or so. “i thought he was dead!” young law clerk said. “i have no reason to believe he is dead,” (note: he has been insisting this man is dead for about 2 months) my boss replied. “he’s just….morose. like [ocean] gets sometimes. or like how i get sometimes. he’s morose. he doesn’t want to talk to anyone. we just have to find him, that’s all. he’s out there, somewhere.”