December 21, 2006
I realize I haven't been crossposting. I've posted a lot about the accident aftermath on vj.vox.com, though it could be easily summed up as: I hurt, and it's all I can talk about. And unfortunately, it does dominate my thoughts, and it's really bumming me out.
I know that at some point I'll be okay again. And I know I almost got myself killed, or fate just decided to spare me this time.
The other morning, waiting for the bus, I got to watch a woman (well-dressed, seemingly normal) pace between two bus stops on two sides of a corner. First to the #33 bus stop, then to the #6 busstop. Rinse, repeat.
Have you ever had the scary realization that that's what you look like? Mind you, I try very very hard to quell the pacing by, say, reading or knitting or walking to the next bus stop. But sometimes I just can't help it, I just can't position myself so I can see both roads, and so I pace. Oh dear g-d.
She was very nice, and once she was on the bus, she was just another person going to work.
This morning I somehow forgot that the 15 minute walk to the chiropractor had just about rendered me into a walking zombie twice, and thought it would be good to walk to work. Ha!
First, a half a block from the house, I slipped on some black ice. Back home, we just called it ice. Ice being what happens when roads are wet, and then it freezes. Anyways, here, it's black ice, I guess because regular ice is self-evident whereas black ice is sneaky. It's duplicitious.
Anyways, I didn't go down, I just made a note about it. About at that point, I noticed that my legs were hurting. From walking.
I've been a little daffy lately, and there was no bus in sight, so, for whatever reason, I kept walking, even though I was in pain. Stoopid.
I slipped again, and this time, almost hit the ground. And finally, I stopped walking and then I really needed to sit down. Luckily, the bus came then too.
to the white guy who sat in the middle of a three-seat bench on the bus -
Yes, you, with your hemp and recycled rubber, your oh-so-hipster garb! Why are you too good to move over and share a three-seat bench? It was so kind that you let me squeeze in beside you, it just filled me with the Christmas spirit. Bah, humbug. What is wrong with you people?
I don't get it. Are you entitled to a three-seat bench because you're white and middle-class and male? Because you buy groovy expensive recycled things that advertise how groovy and expensive you are? My mother would back hand me if I acted like you did. And she'd have reason.
And what was my crime? That I dress like a social worker, going to work? That I'm middle-aged? That I'm fat? That I walk with a limp? What sorts of assumptions were you making about me?
You know, if you had moved over, we both would have had a bit more room. You wouldn't have had to lean into me as I fished into my pocket for a tissue. But you seemed to want to punish me for sitting down with you, one white guy, on a three seat bench. As you noticed, I do fit into one seat. As do you. You could have made this a pleasant experience for both of us. And you would have seemed like less of an asshole.
I hope Santa brings you coal.
December 18, 2006
have I been sent a sign?
So, I wrapped up my mom's christmas presents, and jumped on the bicycle to go to my beloved's work. It's only about a quarter mile, but I had other errands to run: buy stamps and send off a package, get lunch, etc.
Two blocks from work, I wait for the light to change. It does, and I cross, slowly, after checking that the traffic is stopping. Except, only the traffic in the near lane stopped. The guy in the far lane was hightailing through. Luckily, I saw him coming, but I couldn't entirely get out of the way, and he hit my front wheel. And then he just kept going.
I'm not sure what happened to the bike beyond the fact that the front brakes no longer work, the tire felt like it was going flat (but wasn't), and to go straight ahead, you have to turn the handlebars about 30 degrees. I rode it, sorta, to MBPOW, and after finding no bike racks at the front or rear of the building, I took it up into the parking structure. I was planning on looking for bike parking, but I saw my beloved's truck, so I decided I would just put the bike in the back of the truck. Which took some doing.
Meanwhile, I was being watched by a bunch of smokers. They all went inside, one by one, until one came over and offered to help me with the bike. He kept insisting that I needed to call my beloved, and I kept insisting there was no way I was going to call my beloved, I was fine, thank you very much.
I did go in, and I did call him, and la-ti-da.
Why did I trust a traffic control? Why wasn't I thinking about the fact that all cars are out to get me?
I was in shock then. I think I'm coming out of it now. And I'm freaking out.
the grace to go slow
I rode Pinky, my three-speed. I had a lot of stuff to haul today: christmas paper, gifts to be wrapped, my usual cache of clothes to change into, etc. So I felt rather festive, riding around with christmas paper rolls sticking out of my pannier. And since it was cold, there weren't so many folks out on foot or on bike.
I read something over the weekend that has reverberated over and over again: Grant me the grace to go slow. Especially at this time of year, everything seems feverish. But does it need to be?
Riding Pinky is one way of going slow. It's also just a fun bike to ride, as it's pink with lots of chrome, and a big front basket that I've attached silk flowers to. And the ride in went without much happening. No one threatened me with their car, I chatted with lots of folks as they were on their way whereever it was they were going, and I managed to not fall over on the ice. That last thing is huge, really.
I just had a bad day on Wednesday, who knows why, and so I am cycling home, and I am still fairly miserable. The ride home is a maker or breaker: usually, I feel better after the ride, but there are just some days, infrequent, where I feel much worse.
Where we begin our story, I could really go either way. I'm on Wheeler Ave, which is a bus-only road with a bike path, heading up the hill. Wheeler always has a lot of debris in the bike path, and while I have the number to call, and I have a cell phone, I'm always too wanting to get home to actually stop the bicycle, find the number, and find the cell phone.
I'm riding, and I hear my keys hit the ground. Wha? So I go to stop the bike, and somehow manage to get a tree branch in the chain, and then somehow I end up on the ground, still on the bike. It was one of those slow motion falls, so I have a few bruises but it didn't really hurt anything really but my pride. And of course, there were a number of people who saw it, so I could feel good and mortified.
So I get my keys, I zip up that pocket (honestly!), and get started again. And there, 10 ft later, is a big pile of glass. I look over my shoulder to see if I can pull out into the bus lane, and I see the cops, barrelling up the hill. So I stop again.
From that point on, I felt kinda shakey on the bike. I brought it in to the bike shop on Friday for its annual maintenance, and they fixed it all up, but they adjusted the seat, and I tried riding with the seat as they had set it. Way too high, I could barely reach the pedals! It took several tries to get it back where it was supposed to be. And that whole ride home, I was cautious; not because of others, but because I was afraid my balance was just off.
But on Sunday, I finally went for a long ride on Pinky. It was good, and I regained my confidence.
As I think about going slow, it seems I should also think about going small. I've got so much stuff, I'm overrunning the house. And there's only two of us there. It's nuts. So I've been slowly tossing things. I filled a couple bags over the weekend, and I've spent the morning cleaning the office. I just want to get the slate clean, is that too much to ask?
December 13, 2006
pay back is a bitch
My ride into work is generally serene. Generally.
If you check out the map on the side, that's part of my route, the treacherous part, in the orange. On Vancouver, there's a bike lane that goes south all the way to Broadway. At Broadway, there's nothing.
And so the two blocks on Vancouver south of Broadway, from Broadway to Weidler to N. Center Ct. Drive, are a little too exciting.
I ride in the rightmost lane, the lane that can't turn right at Weidler, and can only make a right at N. Center Ct. Now, if I were in a car, and I saw a bicycle in a lane, I could think, I'm not getting in that lane because the bicyclist will slow me down (even though I am going the prevaling speed of traffic through these intersections. But hey, someone could think that). Or, I have an engine, I'm just going to blow past that damn bike.
But I've found, more than once, that the automobiles get behind me, and as I pull into the crosswalk to let them go past me, that they will try to force me into the traffic or drive slow enough to force me into the sidewalk.
Obviously, I'm causing some animosity just by existing, just by thinking that I have a right to not be killed.
So this morning, I'm at the light at Vancouver & Weidler. I'm in the right most lane, in the groove where a car's right tire would be. I look, and right along the curb is a broken beer bottle. It's not just a pile of glass though; about a third of the bottle is left, the bottom third, sitting up on its flat bottom.
The light turns green, and I'm off, and into the crosswalk to let the cars behind me pass me. And seconds later, I hear a horrible noise— and a moment later, I realize it's the car behind me. They've driven over that partial beer bottle.
I know it's wrong to feel shadenfreude, to rejoice in someone else's misery, but as these people threaten to kill me with their automobiles, I just don't feel a lot of sympathy.
Why did they run over the bottle? Was it because they were planning on forcing me into the traffic on Weidler? Give the cyclist a good scare? I can only assume they were out to get me. Jeez, I'm just trying to get to work.
December 7, 2006
Am I already suffering from the post-school blues? All I know is, I feel tired, and I have an awful headache this morning.
In the hopes of shaking that, I walked to the MAX train this morning. It's about a mile and a half, a nice leisurely 30 minute walk.
It was good. It felt really good to feel the cold air, and to look at the changes in the neighborhood. A few blocks from my house, someone had a sign in their yard. If I had been on my bike, I never would have stopped to look at it, because I'm in too big of a hurry. Still, after all this talk of slow, still in a hurry.
So I did walk over to see it. It said that they were sad to announce that their cat had died after 20+ years of roaming the neighborhood. The sign had lots of pictures of said cat, who was obviously quite beloved to them and probably to the neighborhood as well.
It made me very thankful that my outdoor cat, Daphne is still around. She has been nothing short of adorable lately: coming over to the shed in the mornings and when I get home to say hi. In the early mornings, when she's waiting for me to bring Echo outside, she lays beneath her quilt with only her head sticking out.
The thing that occurred to me as I was walking is that while I enjoy bicycling -- obviously -- I feel like an outsider there. I'm not sure whether I'm a bicyclist. But even while I'm not doing much walking, I am a walker. I feel like I've fought for that title and earned it, even if I'm not doing it as compulsively as I have in the past.
Last night was the last night of presentations for the sainted, beloved GIS class. There were lots of really good, detailed presentations. It is quite clear that mine was neither good nor detailed; at least, I didn't dig into the ArcGIS toolkits as much as I could or should have. What I would have needed was to do all the labs and have them be past tense by a month ago, and then figure out how to really analyze the data.
That said, I'm determined to do it right and on my own time... and hopefully the ArcMap licensing I have at home won't run out too fast.
December 4, 2006
It was another pleasant ride. One of the things that I enjoy about the morning rides (and sometimes evenings too) is seeing all of my regulars. You probably have them on the way into work as well: the folks you see almost every day.
I usually see my across-the-street neighbor when I leave the house; he's a caterer, and is usually heading to his kitchen to start his day, too. Though this morning his house was shut up tight, with no lights on inside. Oh, I wish I was still in bed.
I passed the guys I see every morning, meth heads probably, but nice enough. They always greet me, ask how I'm doing.
I see the construction guys loading up their truck.
I see the moms and their kids, waiting for the bus.
I passed the packaging factory, where someone usually is sitting outside the big garage door, smoking a cigarette and reading a paperback. But the garage door is closed; I guess it's too cold to read outside.
I look for the usual crew of homeless folks who hang out outside an abandoned house generally, but they too must have sought warmer climes. But the guy who works the freeway offramp with his Homeless Vet sign is out. We wish each other to stay warm.
I see some of the regular waterfront homeless folks, but to a huge extent, the regulars aren't there. It must have been a popular night at the shelters.
I thought about a lot of things as I rode: thankful that I have a house and a bed and heat, curious why some cyclists are in such a hurry, wondering how the homeless get by in this sort of weather, and why we as a society let them rot outside. I don't want to get political about it, but why do we let people suffer?
I thought about a story I had read about calorie-restricted diets, and then I thought that perhaps it would be better to start with something less extreme. Like say, veganism.
'Think about when you've been on a long hike,' Schneider says. 'When you get to the top, or wherever you're hiking, and you're really hungry and sit down for a snack. How does the food taste? It tastes better—everything tastes better. That's how it is for me every time I sit down for a meal.'
And I thought about how delicious heat would feel.
I rode into the parking garage and the wall of heat hit me like bathwater. I had never noticed the parking garage was heated. I mentioned it to one of the attendents who said, yes, isn't it nice? Yes.
Later, when I was dressed like an office lady, I went to get some coffee, and damn, it was cold. It was so cold! I hadn't been nearly that cold when riding.
My weekend was spent doing homework. It's almost over. Almost.
I had to run over to Hollywood, about 3 miles away, and when it was too late, I realized it could be a bicycle trip. Could have, if I had thought of it earlier. I want to get in the habit of converting these solo scooter trips to bicycle, but I have to actually prepare for it. Bicycling really doesn't take that much longer... but it does mean I can't leave at the very last minute. I can't make up time on the road.
(crossposted on vj.vox.com)
December 1, 2006
Is this really necessary?
So this morning I was determined to get back on the bike. Great. It was cold, in the thirties, so I piled on the layers
- breast-immobilizing tank top
- old tshirt
- special expensive thermal wicking top
- old faithful (cashmere sweater that goes on every ride)
- fleece vest
and stepped onto the back porch only to discover that it was raining. Sigh.
So I went back in, put my work pants into the bag with my work top, and put on running pants.
I then went outside... and it wasn't raining.
While I probably overdid it a bit, I was warm coming in, and that was what I was aiming for.
Other than someone trying to mow me down by the Rose Quarter, it was a nice ride. I don't understand why people in cars need to threaten me, when I already know they could dismember, handicap or kill me without really trying. I was wearing the yellow jacket which is flourescent yellow, with its giant retro-reflective stripe, I had my lights on. I can only conclude that she threatened me because she felt I shouldn't be on the road. Or maybe that I shouldn't be alive.
Man, this stuff gets old. Yes, I'm on the road. What else do you propose I do? The bike lane ended, and left me in this lane, that you only need to be in if you're turning into the Rose Quarter.
I did get a good laugh though when I read BikePortland this morning. Yesterday, Jonathan reported on a sticker he had seen on the back of a truck:
One Less Bike
which for those of you playing at home is a reference to the Bicycle Transportation Alliance's
One Less Car
I personally enjoyed the suggested:
One Less Pedestrian (for bicyclists)
One Less Fixed Gear
One Less Bike (for tandem riders)
It was interesting to hear the PC go against the goofsters against the literal bar partiers.