Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Fantastic Fenders

I love my bicycle fenders! It was raining when I left work tonight, but I was almost completely dry coming home. The fenders really make a big difference--usually I feel a continuous spray of cold dirty water down the middle of my back, but not anymore! Plus now I won't get grime in my hair or on my work shirts--I think I'll attribute my new fenders to my grandparents' x-mas money. Another reason the ride was so comfortable was because I was wearing my snow pants which are water resistant. Normally my upper body is the most comfortable because of my jacket, but tonight that was the wettest because I was only wearing a tank top underneath so there wasn't a buffer between me and the jacket. It is really amazing that a thin jacket and tank top keep me warm in 35 degree weather.

Last night I went to work out after work, and began lifting weights. I am generally very comfortable in a weight room, because I have lifted sporadically for over ten years. However, this time I felt really conspicuous and it seemed that people were looking at me. Weird. Then I made an even weirder discovery--I was the only woman in the room. The room was full, but no other chics were there--so I think that explained the looks. Finally another woman showed up, but she was with her husband. I guess maybe my experience at campus gyms has skewed my perception of who weightlifts. I am used to both men and women lifting, but maybe this is only among younger people. I'll have to pay more attention as I use this gym.

Another weird thing was that several of the conversations that I heard in the weight room indicated that the speakers were attorneys. Great--now I can leave the office to workout and still have to listen to boring law-speak. This may force me to bring my headphones and radio.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Productive at last

My life finally feels like it is on the right track. The past week has felt really productive because I did a lot of things that I have been putting off. Most of the tasks were boring and mundane: cleaning the house, sewing some clothes, cooking--but I also completely rearranged my bedroom and today put fenders on my bicycle. I also went to the gym after work today to lift weights. Once I establish a schedule I am pretty good at sticking with it, but just breaking out of the habit of being lazy can be hard.

Other nights this week I hope to get a haircut (a trendier one for the first time in my life!), bake pfeffernuseon cookies, do laundry, go to yoga and plan/bake a cake for Peter's birthday this Saturday. Whew. I will be very happy if I accomplish all of this. Being productive becomes a happy spiral for me--what a great compliment to the holiday season.

I also called Mike last night and we had a decent conversation. It feels like we will be able to transition pretty easily to friends--but I don't know if either of us will actually make the effort. I don't think it will be a big deal either way. It feels good to be relieved from the stress of wondering whether or not to contact him. Being productive and taking care of lingering issues is very good for me and makes me happy.


Sunday, November 28, 2004

Divorce?

My mom is crazy--she always has been, and I think she is getting worse. She seems to get involved in a fight with someone near the end of every visit home. Generally I am the person she fights with. Then my dad will get involved and there will be weird tension for the rest of the visit. This time, my older brother was the person involved in the intial fight, and I got to play bystander.

My mom cannot behave like an adult. She doesn't admit when she is wrong or unreasonable, but instead gets angry or uncooperative when she doesn't get her way. She often acts like a spoiled five-year old and picks fights. In addition, she can be incredibly hurtful and doesn't argue to reach a resolution but only seeks to win. When she acts this way she is impossible to deal with and I am incredulous at her immaturity.

So anyway, a fight between her and my brother turned into a fight between her and my father. They didn't speak for the rest of the day. This morning when I went outside to say goodbye to him he started crying. My dad is a good guy and seeing him cry is very upsetting. We talked a bit and he hinted strongly that he might be through with my mom. I have wanted them to get a divorce since I was in fourth grade, because she is crazy. However, I asked my dad if he considered counseling. He doesn't think that my mom would go, and also said that he already went alone many years ago. At that time the counselor basically said that people like my mom never change. My dad is incredibly unhappy with his life and thinks he is fucked. I don't know how to react, because we usually don't talk about our emotions with one another. Somehow I want to let him know that everyone will support him if he divorces her. We all know she is crazy and don't want him to waste anymore time dealing with her craziness. I think I will call my older brother later and discuss this with him.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving means spending time with my mom's family. Nothing makes me more happy about my life than hanging out back home. The place was a freakin' zoo: dogs, kids and hicks. I sat there biting my cheeks to keep from saying something rude and tried to just observe as much as possible--as a participant observer, in anthropology terms.

Almost everyone seemed at least mildly dumb and small-minded. No one spoke of anything intelligent or interesting, but instead shared boring stories of childrens' antics, workplace conflicts, bad recipes or items purchased on sale. I will someday slap a person for unsolicitedly telling me how much they paid for something. I don't care and can't imagine why they think anyone does. grrrr.

Besides, almost everyone dressed like crap. My cousin is only a year older than me and wears tapered jeans. WTF!?! I don't understand why people don't want to try to look good. I am no fashion plate myself, but at least I dress like I own a mirror and know what decade it is. So once again on Thanksgiving, I am thankful that I moved away from Hicksville, WI and live in Chicago.

See my brother's version here:
http://www.theimpossiblethrill.blogspot.com

Wednesday, November 24, 2004

Bike Fall can kiss my Ass

I cut out of work early the day before Thanksgiving. I had errands to run before I caught a train to Milwaukee later that evening. When I rode to work that morning the weather was windy and brisk, but quite nice. Apparently all hell broke loose while I toiled in my office. Once outside I encountered a horrible mix of freezing rain, hail and sleet--turning to an icy slush on the ground. My clothes were soaked in short order. Additionally, there was a 35MPH North wind, gusting to 45MPH--and I was headed North. Fuckity fukc fuc fuck.

At first the worst part was not being able to see because my glasses were fogged/slushed up. Soon I noticed other unpleasant factors, though. I was getting really cold--apparently biking into a 35MPH wind while soaking wet makes the wind-chill Gods angry as they attempt to drain my body of all heat. But I perservered to reach my destination...the Crate and Barrel Outlet store. I was in search of a wedding gift for my cousin. Upon entering the store I quickly realized how shabby I was. I was a kitten just in from a storm among the other yuppie shoppers. There was nothing there that seemed satisfactory, so I went to the real Crate and Barrel store. Another bike ride in the cold.

At the real C&B store I felt even more bedraggled--puddles were forming everytime I paused. No salesperson would make eye contact with me, so finally I flagged one down. While I waited for her to bring me the pan I wished to purchase I began to get cold. Really cold. She brought back the wrong pan and then tried to argue with me that it was correct. She agreed to look once more. During this second wait, the checkout staff noticed me (probably because I was dripping on their floor) and offered me a thimble of hot coffee to warm me up. I declined because of the caffeine and because I was so cold it was pointless. I think they seriously thought that a tablespoon of coffee would warm me up. Silly.

Finally I got the correct pan in my hands and paid for it. We wrapped it up tightly in a plastic bag so it could survive the bike ride home. I tried to help the woman wrap it, but kept getting everything I touched wet--I was completely saturated with water. I donned my dripping wool gloves, bungeed the pan to my rack and began the trek home. I was seriously cold and could barely feel my feet and hands. About a half mile from my house I started having trouble controling my bike because I couldn't feel my extremities, and I began to feel really bad.

Once I got to my front door I realized that I might not be able to work my key because my fingers weren't moving. I considered asking people on the street to help me, but finally I managed on my own. I was miserable and painfully cold. I stood in the lobby for many seconds on the verge of whimpering as I contemplated carrying my bike up the steps. Finally I just did it and got to my door. Inside I encountered my shirtless housemate talking on the phone in the bathroom doorway. I ordered him out of my way and began stripping down for a hot shower. Even after the shower, my feet and hands didn't feel right. My hands felt weird even the next day. I will have to be much more careful about watching the weather in the future.

So far Bike Fall doesn't make me happy. Hopefully bike winter will be better.


Wednesday, November 17, 2004

Finally a Gym Membership

Tomorrow I teach my secretary how to weight lift.

When I was first hired I looked into getting a membership at the gym in my office building to shower in morning. My enthusiasm cooled with the temperature at the prospect of monthly dues and initiation fees. Then Brent, the smarmy salesman at the gym kept calling me and I decided that I would just wait until it warmed up again to get a gym membership.

I soon learned that my firm used to have a corporate membership there, but it was canceled because nobody used it. Grrrr. However, my boss heard that I was interested and reinstated the membership. We don't have our cards yet, but are supposed to be able to use the facilities if we bring a copy of the contract.

So tomorrow morning I will meet Schanise to work out together and teach her how to lift weights. I am excited about this, because we do not have a very good work relationship, because she doesn't support me well. She isn't very timely with many of her tasks, flat out ignores them or requires so much supervision that I'd be better off doing them myself. She was promoted to legal secretary on the day that I started, so neither of us had much experience in our roles. I've been out of the office lately, so I haven't needed her help much and haven't been around to develop an understanding.

Basically I am frustrated with our relationship and hope that weightlifting will fix things. It must be weird for her to have to work for an attorney much younger than her who also has odd habits. When I waltz in sweating and dressed like a bike messenger, I probably don't look like a person to take seriously. Changing my clothes in my office and having a saute pan on the floor aren't particularly professional either. I'm hoping that we can just become more comfortable with each other so that I can correct her more easily, and she can take the critism in a productive way.

Plus, I like teaching people how to weight lift. She wants to lose weight, and I am currently shedding pounds so we have some things in common. This may also give me an opportunity to advise her on nutrition--because from what I have seen, hers isn't very good. I'm crossing my fingers for tomorrow morning, because there is a lot riding on this encounter.


Monday, November 15, 2004

bike-ity weekend

This was my first weekend as a swingin' single in almost half a year--so I went on bike rides. No booze and mostly other women. After work on Saturday I biked over to a BikeWinter workshop and then 23 of us pedaled up to Devon to gorge ourselves on Indian food. Yummy. The ride was nice, but we were moving considerably slower than I normally bike so I was cold and almost feeling sorry for myself. But once we got to the restaurant all was good. The bikey people are great--I especially like Tod and Lisa. Too quickly I had to leave for game night at Tara's. I was already late so I flew down to Wrigleyville. It's amazing how much heat I generate when I bike fast. Instead of being cold and borderline miserable, I was sweating and tearing off clothes when I hit red lights.

Tara's was nice. Afterwards she and I talked about Mike. She was the first person I really spoke with about the situation, so it was very good for me. I generally think Tara is a very unbiased person, but she has my back on this issue and thinks that my thoughts and actions are reasonable. Either she is a good friend, I am a good person or both. So I feel good about that.

I biked home and went sleep pretty much assuming that I wouldn't wake up in time for a Cycling Sisters ride to the Botanical Gardens. However, through mysteries in the universe, I woke up with enough time to go. The ride was super nice, and I got to hang out with Sara and Hui Hwa. It's been many weeks since we've seen each other, so speaking with them was very nice. Those girls are too damn cool--I need to spend more time with them, because they are my type of girls.

Sara and I rode back to Chicago together and broke off from the rest of the pack because we wanted to ride faster, both for quickness and heat. Maybe bike winter will turn me into a speed demon as I try to stay warm. HaHa--not likely.

This is the type of weekend that I want to have more of: busy, active, outdoors (or at least not in a smoky bar), sober and fun. I had let Mike's laziness determine how I spent a lot of my freetime, and that didn't make me happy. Just another reason to stick with the bikey people.


Thursday, November 11, 2004

Where is your coat young lady?

"In my bag" I tell the security guard this morning as I walked into the building. I laughed because I was warm and sweating after biking hard against the cold wind this morning in a skirt and t-shirt. She sits there in a suit with an electric heater aimed at her. Sure, my forearms were pink, but nothing too serious. The temperature was 41 degrees. Maybe Bike Winter won't be too bad--except for the snow of course.

I was out of the office for most of the day doing boring but easy work. This lawyer gig isn't too bad, so long as there is work to keep busy, but no crazy deadlines.

I'm excited about an IRA meeting at work tomorrow--this is not a good sign.

Well, time to change into my bike clothes and face the cold to venture back to the Den of Awkwardness....


Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Can I keep his friends?

This is the pressing issue facing me in the next few weeks. Two days ago I got dumped by my boyfriend and am now wondering about his friends--men I considered my friends also before the break-up. Can I keep them? Is there a waiting period I should observe before contacting them? Has Ms. Manners commented on this situation?

Tonight I went to a new-age bookstore to watch a video of a speech by Howard Zinn that was posted on one of my bikey list serves. The speech was fine, but some of the audience members really nailed home to me why liberals can be hated. I consider myself a progressive, damn near radical liberal, but I wanted to smack some of the people there. There was a table filled with petitions and protest information--and I received several dirty looks when I didn't sign the many clipboards that were passed around. Sorry folks, but I cannot take a bus to Ohio to investigate voter fraud--that does not make me a Bush supporter or the anti-christ.

Seriously, I hope the democrats don't waste the next four years whining about this election. I want to put them in a corner to really think about why we lost this election instead of making excuses. Although if their response is that the democratic party needs to embrace 'faith-based' initiatives and appear more religious, then I think spankings are in order. Liberals need to be more aggressive about our values instead of watering everything down to appeal to moderates. Stop being nice and start trying to win. Bush is so bad that it is embarassing to lose to him two terms in a row.

By the way--I want Jon Stewart to moderate the 2008 debates. I know it will never happen, but it would be amazing.

Introductions are in Order

My older brother suggested that each of keep a blog to better keep in touch with one another. It seems like a good way to vent and contemplate, plus I adore my brothers, so I'll give it a shot.

Recently my life has been a series of fissures. I moved away from the co-op I lived in for three years and into a neighborhood on the other side of Chicago. The people with whom I had been so intimate and were such a huge part of my life I now struggle to keep in touch with.

The upside was supposed to be that I would live in a great social environment with two of my friends from law school. This worked really well until one roommate hooked up with the other's girl--oops. So now they are barely speaking. The tremors are being felt throughout the friend group and because of my refusal to takes sides, I have found myself an outsider. Yes, welcome to junior high. So my super-fantastic living situation has turned into the Den of Awkwardness.

Very recently, I got dumped in a relationship sequel. The whole relationship was almost a rerun of last year, but the breakup scenario was too damn similar: same boy, same reason, same set-up. Plus my friends pretty much had the same reaction: Good. He wasn't well-liked and will not be missed by any of my friends. I anticipate a chorus of "I told you so" in the upcoming days.

My final fissure is a mostly good thing: My disconnect with free time. I was unemployed for a year after graduation and now am finally working again. It feels great! I have paychecks, health insurance and don't feel like a worthless loser anymore. However, I work a lot and am finding it hard to strike a balance between the different aspects of my life. I have gone from unemployed to workaholic. Coming home to the den of awkwardness doesn't really motivate me to get out of the office early at night.

I am going to get more involved with the bikey people again and that should perk me up. Many of my law friends are super-busy, lazy, drunk or a combination. The bikey people are busy too, but in active ways. They manage to organize events, advocate, work and have social lives. This is my goal and they are great motivation--in addition to being great people. Additionally, the legal market seems to be improving, so hopefully in a few months I can try to get a job I really enjoy--that pays more or has better hours, preferably both. If that happens then I'll be in a much better position to make my life look more how I want it to.

So that's the background of what is happening in my life. It's more negative than I usually am, but I'm not feeling my normal happy self lately.

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