Tag Archives: bikes

visual evidence

Standard

I feel like sharing a little bit of where I live. Partially because most of my best friends live very far away and don’t see the little items and spaces that make up my world. sorry if these pictures aren’t the greatest, I don’t have a smartphone. I make do.
hallway

my neighbors put this in the hallway. it felt poignant. we all live in such tiny spaces here, it seems unsustainable for the long term. all of our homes are temporary.

blankey

my patchwork quilt that scarin trashpicked over a year ago. it is torn up like hell, and any halfway sensible person would have scrapped it by now. written it off as a lost cause. not me though. I’ve been patching it up, slowly, using patches that no longer seem appropriate, or cloth pads that I don’t need now that I have an IUD, or t-shirts that don’t fit. clockwise from top left, I have a patch that I bought on etsy that happens to be printed on the same sheets I had as a child, a few cliché bike patches, a cute frowny artichoke shirt that was too big, a repurposed former rag with kiwis and strawberries on it, a lovely silkscreen patch of a bike being carried away by birds that I wore on the back of my hoodie for years until it got too mud-splattered and torn, and a t-shirt for the Berkeley Prison Lit Project (which I am a core member of) that emma gave me that is far too small. this is only one corner of this blanket. to capture the whole thing in one photo is hard. it feels nice to lay beneath.

view

the view outside my window. a tiny slice of brilliant blue sky. the scarf says “another world is possible.” etta made it.

each day

my bike, at aquatic park in berkeley, under some posi graffiti. I live so close to here and I like to go there after an overnight shift, when I’m waking up at 4:30 and desperately need some sunshine on my face. California stuns me, endlessly, with its beauty.

 

apt

the white walls were upsetting me, so I bought some fancy paper and taped it over the walls. I’m not allowed to paint. it made me feel about a hundred times better!

tenofkeys

this card, the ten of keys from collective tarot, is the card of burnout. of loving everything you do but stretching yourself far too thin. I feel that card tremendously, and it looks a little bit like my apartment. am I living in the ten of keys? I don’t know. I mean, I have certainly been busier, stretched thinner, but sometimes it doesn’t feel that way. I do an ok job of taking care of myself but there never seems to be enough time. Always exhausted, underslept, my book to-do list is so long and I just don’t know how to do it. Trying to teach my impatient Aries self to take things slowly, slowly. it’s so hard sometimes.

Advertisements

farewell, bikey. 1998-2013.

Standard

Image

here is a shitty picture of me and a good picture of you, at the beginning of our biggest adventure yet–crossing state lines, living in the woods, really going somewhere. but that was in 2010. let’s start at the beginning.

my dad got you for me when i was sixteen, which was sweet of him, but i didn’t ride bikes then because i smoked too much and worked too much. my town had too many hills. i could walk to work. i could make it back up the hill on foot but not on bike. so i let you languish in the garage for two years. when i was 18 i had a change of heart. realized that one could bike everywhere. that shitty winter, you showed me the magic and fun that could be had on long island. we biked through the drive-thru and all the mcdonald’s employees laughed. i took you on the LIRR, every day, three stops, to a town seven miles away. the conductor always talked to me because of you, and didn’t take my ticket.

i got kicked out. left my family behind and moved to memphis. for the first time in my life i lived in a city. i got pretty much everywhere i needed to go with you. i’ve never known how to drive, always been dependent on other people or public transit. but with you i slogged through the humid heat, in the bike-hating south. my co-workers called you my cadillac, and i smiled and said you were better than one.

i fled back north, to philly. your tire blew out the same time the towers were getting hit a hundred miles north. i pushed you home in a crowd of weeping, panicking philadelphians. i’d spent my last dollar that day. waiting for a sketchy check to get cashed. i tried so hard to repair that hole with no money. patches, duct tape, friends’ old tubes. it just would not work. i got my money and spent $15 getting someone else to fix your flat & felt so stupid. eventually i learned how to change tubes, patch flats.

you were my favorite for so long. so many good times, too many to list here. sharon and i ran a red light to beat that snarling motorcycle and laughed in his face. amanda and i decided we were going to be social. we went to a party despite the snow but the most fun part of the evening was biking by the river singing “parentheses” by the blow. or when we rode around the whole city with aaryn and branden. i know these memories are mostly good because of the people in them, but you were there too.

Image

you were crappy, ornery, after tens of thousands of miles, too many lousy fixes by people who didn’t quite know what they were doing (mostly me). when i brought you into the fancy bike shop to get tuned up before our big journey, the mechanic called me at work to yell, “i can’t fix this thing. you shouldn’t be riding this. i can’t believe you haven’t gotten killed yet! you’ll never make it to DC, never.” i got my ex to pick it up for me and drop it off at a more low-end shop. got a new chain, and made it all the way to DC with only one flat tire. all the long, slow, heavy miles. we learned something then, but i’m not entirely sure what. about strength, endurance, something, maybe. i don’t know.

the years wore on. many people tried to convince me to give up on you. but i wouldn’t. then i moved to the bay area and everything went to hell with you. brakes, pedals, spokes, seat. 9 flat tires in 6 months. i bought a new back wheel because your spokes wouldn’t stop breaking. as i handed the bike guy my credit card i thought, “this thing’s gonna get stolen.” and i was right. 3 months later, it did. right out of my own backyard.

i’d promised myself, after the wheel, that i was done putting money into this shitty bike. with the amount i’d spent since moving i could’ve bought a new, infinitely nicer bike. i would borrow my housemates’ bikes when you weren’t functioning & i’d get jealous. i’d fantasize about getting a new bike, one that wasn’t so old, so heavy; one that would let me fly. remember how we used to fly?

i guess it makes sense. you were so much a part of my youth and i guess i just don’t feel young anymore. like wild dance parties will never again be a part of my regular life. like biking down the street isn’t an adventure anymore, now it’s just what i do. now it’s just how i live. now you’re in the basement and i won’t ride you again. the last time i rode you was fun, sleep-deprived, heading home from a good show. i guess you (usually) never know when something’s gonna be the end. whitney houston and jawbreaker shuffling on my headphones. i don’t remember too much about this particular ride, just that we were happy.

hail & sexism & jobs & other things.

Standard

on tuesday evening i was taking the bus from my job to the main library. the bus was crowded & loud, and all of a sudden, the sky got really dark, almost like it was night, even though nightfall was hours away. the bus quieted down, and you could tell that everyone was having the same creepy feeling, that something was going to happen. what is it about extreme weather that does that to us?

when the first piece of hail hit the bus, it did so with a loud thwack, ice vs. metal, and everyone freaked out–screaming, laughing, crying–pure pandemonium. i love pandemonium, of course, so i was happy to be stuck in the thick of this odd scene. the hail kept coming, and it was a little scary because it was so damn loud, but more of an experience than anything. when i was a pizza-bike-deliverer in philly, i delivered in a hail storm once. it was really scary, but i made like $20 in tips in about 15 minutes, because people felt so bad for me, plus i got to one-up the dudes i worked with (we were always swapping stories of all the extreme weather/circumstances we delivered in).

one thing i remember loving about being a bike deliverer was the days when it was sunny and under 85 degrees, when i’d traipse into offices carrying bags of greasy styrofoam and cardboard into giant office towers. everyone in there was so pale & miserable looking, and i was tanned & happy & free. (as a side note, i REALLY wish i was familiar with tribe 8’s song “daredevil delivery” [i dunno if that link works, i’m at work and can’t actually listen to it] back then. it would have been my JAM back then. “they pay me to ride my bicycle! they pay me to live free! runnin’ reds, killin’ peds, bus exhaust all day…”)

don’t get me wrong. i didn’t want to be a delivery lady forever, as much as i loved it. i nearly got killed or severely injured at least once a week. riding your bike for 10 hours a day in a major urban center known for its bad drivers and assholes, for $4/hr plus tips, isn’t really the best situation. still, it remains my most beloved job to date, remembered and missed fondly…

in other work news, today i was eating lunch in the lunch room (NEVER a good idea, but it’s too cold to eat outside & i don’t want to spend money). the roof caved in on one of the other welfare offices, so a lot of the workers moved in here, so there’s a lot of people milling about our office who i don’t know. a whole gaggle of them were eating in the lunch room, talking loudly, but not a big whoop. one of their friends walked in. a guy from the gaggle called out, “hey, [name], i hear you’re a misogynist!” he said it in a sarcastic-yet-admiring tone. the other guy responded, “yep, i guess i am! whatever the hell that is,” sounding proud.

from the rest of their conversation, i ascertained that the misogynist had a poster in his cube that offended some woman/women. i wasn’t sure what it is, but the guy who originally spoke said, “after you went home yesterday, a whole bunch of angry women came by looking for you. i had to plead with them for your life!” uproarious laughter all around. ha fucking ha.

this is a relatively minor incident, of course, but just another drop of the poison. i don’t really know what to do. amanda & i had a good talk about this a while ago–how work is unbearable for us because things that 90% of people don’t give a shit about bother us profoundly, and when we talk about how it makes us feel, we’re branded as whiners or crazy or too sensitive or causing trouble or any other of things that we (mostly) aren’t. we just want to be able to work in an environment that isn’t like rubbing salt on our wounds every fucking day. but where do we go? amanda works at the library, an idealized work environment (for me, anyway)! the library is one of the coolest places in pittsburgh with a delightfully diverse staff of wingnuts! if she’s having such a rough time, well, where the fuck can we go? (i work at the welfare office, which is rough by pretty much anyone’s standards. usually when i complain about the depressing things going on, i get a reaction of, ‘well, what do you expect?’)

so what to do? right now we’re doing what we always do. surviving. dealing with it. staying mostly silent because speaking out just seems so pointless. (amanda speaks out more, she’s good at it. i am learning from her.) fighting back in little ways. what else can we do? what do YOU do, faithful reader?

oh my goodness!

Standard

ray & i are leaving for our bike trip in two days! two days! two days! aaaaahhh!
preparing for this trip has been long, stressful, and annoying, yet exciting. today we took a test ride on a city bike path with our loaded-up bikes:

my bike, all packed up


ray looking super hip! haha.

anyway. so. i am leaving pittsburgh for the longest time since i arrived in september 2007. i really, really need to get away from the cars and the dog poop and the awkwardness and the yinzers and the sameness of being in a city for three years. i know this trip won’t be easy, in the classic sense of the word, but i think it will be very necessary.
my front rack is hilariously janky, ziptied to my front reflector. i hope it lasts. my bike has been going through all sorts of breakdowns & i’m gonna be riding all the way to washington, DC in third gear! (that’s the largest, hardest chainring). pray for my knees. i don’t mind riding in third gear, my legs are strong enough, but it’s pretty hard on one’s knees.
also, last night at free ride, ray & i struggled to remove my pedal, all to no avail. this is important because i can’t bring my bike on a bus or a train unless i box it, and the only way to fit it in a box is to take the pedals off–which means i would have to ride all the way home! i’m hoping that a bike shop employee might have a secret magic trick to getting this damn thing out.
OKAY BORED READERS HERE IS SOMETHING THAT IS NOT ABOUT BIKES! i kind of want to go on a zine tour when i’m done with my new issue (fall-ish). are there any zinesters out there that might be interested in touring with me? i’m thinking like a week or two, five cities or less. i was thinking of maybe doing it entirely by megabus ’cause it’s so cheap and i don’t know how to drive. i think it would be fun, i love reading/performing, i need to have more adventures, i’m a pretty low-stress/fun travel partner, i admit to being a bit of a diva when i can’t have coffee with soy milk in the morning (although i am GIVING THAT UP for the next seven days, in the interest of touring the state by bike) but other than that i am pretty good at rolling with the punches. interested parties should email escape_well at yahoo dot com or leave me a comment!