Monday, January 31, 2005

No Fall-Out

I may escape from the Den of Awkwardness unscathed! At work today Gabe asked me questions about my upcoming move. His interest seemed genuine and friendly so we chatted a bit about the neighborhood and my future roommate. Gabe went to the Bike Winter benefit concert and even bought an Illinois First! CD. He seems excited about me moving in with a musician and promised to come to 'shindigs' that I have at the new place.

I asked what people thought of me moving out and he indicated that no one was upset with me and instead are transferring the original blame onto Ted. Score! It's not as if this will have any negative effect on Ted since they already refuse to speak with him. I didn't realize how much this was stressing me out until I found out that I need not worry about it.

On an unrelated Gabe note: Last night I dreamt that he and I were getting make-overs at a nude, gay, male spa. Apparently my subconscious has some issues to work out.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

CCM/Bike Winter Benefit

A fine Bike weekend was experienced. Friday was the Critical Mass Polka ride--ending at Lincoln Square Lanes. Estimates were 150-200 riders.

The Mass was pretty slow, so my feet were damn cold by the time it ended. Polka dancing is basically jumping though, so my feet quickly transitioned from blocks of ice to sweltering. I also bowled one of the worst games of my life--my excuse is that I was only wearing socks (the same crayola yello/red/blue/green toe socks I wore in court earlier that morning--tehehe) and was worried about falling flat on my ass.

One thing that has happened recently is that I feel like I am becoming one of the important figures in the Chicago bike community. I know a ton of people and many of the people I consider to be the movers and shakers I feel are also becoming friends. Additionally, my opinions and suggestions seem to carry much more weight than they did before. I think the lawyer status plays into this--regardless, I feel very welcome in this community. Up until joining this group there were very few times in my life that I felt completely accepted: summer between high school and college, tire warehouse days and spring break of my final year of law school. That's it--less than a year of my life I have felt socially comfortable in my skin. The Chicago bike community feels like a long-awaited hug. Birds of a feather and oddballs who pedal.

I spent most of Saturday cleaning, shopping and preparing for the party. The grocery and liquor stores were packed with other errand-runners. I wish the clerks would really listen to me when I tell them that I have my own bag. Too often they ignore me or seem to think I mean 'please put two items in each panier and then start using plastic bags' or 'please put my vegetables inside bags to put inside my paniers.' Incomprehensibly, what I really mean is 'don't use any bags but the ones I gave you.' So I usually end up packing the bags myself because the packers don't have my ability to cram as much mass as possible into each bag. Thank you Kiel Food Mart for teaching me to master the grocery jigsaw puzzle.

[Free tip for other shop-by-bikers: don't underestimate what your water cage can hold--celery fits quite nicely, as do certain sweet potatoes and squash. Keep this in mind during selection when bag capacity is at issue.]

Another gripe I have with the clerks is their inability to deduce that I rode my bicycle. When I explained that I didn't want additional bags hanging from my handlebars one clerk exclaimed, "you ride your bike in this weather!?!" Sunny, clear roads--above freezing-- Oh the horror. I think her first clue should have been that I WAS WEARING A BIKE HELMET! Did she think I needed protection from grocery-related head injuries? Or did she think I was making a fashion statement? It isn't a huge leap of logic to conclude that I wore a BIKE helmet because I rode my BIKE. The only plausible excuse I can think of is the hipsters' fashion choices. My neighborhood suffers from a hipster infestation and maybe this has caused people to conclude that any unusual clothing/gear choice is the uniform of the attention-seeking, ironic-loving hipster maggots. Or maybe she was just dumb.

Anyway, the party was fun and successful--but it was a repeat of the loaves and fishes story. Except I have a plentitude of booze, cheese and crackers. The hard liquor doubled as did the beer. I think the wine stayed in equilibrium. When people wanted to go to the benefit concert I assured them that I would follow after doing perishable food clean-up. The older dog-woman stayed behind to help.

I have decided to try to control my annoyance regarding this woman. She is the type of person that I have the hardest time dealing with: annoying, oblivious--but nice and basically good. So I have challenged myself to not let her bother me. I thought I was doing a good job until we went outside. She decided to ride with me. Fine. No big deal. It's only five blocks away. She asked me upstairs if I would be cold riding over there in my skirt, fishnets and boots. "No, it's only five blocks. Well, actually yes--but I won't be outside long enough for it to matter." Our bikes were parked on the same rack and I was ready to go in about 30 seconds. She took approximately (not exagerrating) seven minutes to put on her gloves, unlock her bike, adjust her mirrors, dawdle, dawdle dawdle. She was completely oblivious to the fact that I was getting cold as she slowly got everything in order. In order to stay together I missed several stop lights all the while gritting my teeth and trying to be good.

Once again, there was no reason why this happened besides her being oblivious. I know she thought she was being nice by helping me put cheeses away--but she doesn't know my apartment so her help didn't really save any time. After 'helping' me, it would have been rude for me to ride up ahead. I need to learn ways to avoid this type of situation in the future. Unfortunately, I just know that she believes she is solidifying her friendship with me everytime we interact. I need to find a way to politely clue her in that I will never be the daughter she never had.

The benefit concert was fun. I spent most of the night talking with Ethan, who arrived sans Imaginary Girlfriend. We had several great conversations about CBF and some of our concerns about the organization. He has a job interview there on Friday for a marketing position. I am totally psyched and hope he gets the job. It sounds like the weirdness with his imaginary girlfriend has mostly blown over, and hopefully will be resolved shortly. Good for him.

[One last note about parties: I will strive to make my party leftovers more breakfast-compatible. Peppers, mushroom, tomatoes for hummus dipping instead of carrots and cucumbers. From now on cruddites must be able to double as omelet/frittatta veggies.]

Jealousy and Despair

I've recently met even more new great bikey people and have discovered something: I'm jealous. Deep-down, achingly jealous.

Why?

Most of these amazingly cool, amazingly generous people are not single. They are mated with partners of rival virtue. Each person on their own is fantastic and together they certainly seem to equal much more than the sum of their individual personalities and accomplishments. Watching them together is a joy, but a bittersweet joy. I am undeniably single and have never been in a relationship where the pure partnership is anything near what I have witnessed recently.

I very much admire the relationships that my friends back home are in, and have felt twinges of envy as I watch them travel the traditional path of adulthood: marriage, house, kids. But as great as those relationships are, they also seem limited and closed in their goals. The end result is a perfectly typical, perfectly selfish life. Nice houses, good schools, tolerable jobs and interesting vacations seems to be pinnacle of their aspirations. My inner-city teachers and social workers are moving out into the suburbs "more house for the money," to teach and birth white, middle class children in 'safe' neighborhoods. These friends used to volunteer in homeless shelters and soon the only volunteering they do will be coaching their children's sport teams and scout troups.

The bikey 'power-couples' do so much more. Several of them teach at Chicago Public Schools, they work on lobbying for the bike community, they own responsible businesses, they are working to create organic food co-ops and other sustainable grass roots organizations. Most of their social lives involves creating and advocating for positive change. They manage to do all of these great activities in addition to owning homes and breeding. By eschewing the prevailing materialistic lifestyle, they manage to have financial stability and success even though their income is relatively modest. Very inspiring, but also depressing.

Seeing these couples has made me raise the bar higher, and thereby eliminate an even higher percentage of men from my dating pool. I completely understand that I am an oddball and my interests and values often cause me to straddle typical social divisions. Finding a boy who compliments my quirks and posesses the intelligence and atypical ambitions to desire and obtain the lifestyle I desire will be damn near impossible. It is scary to know that this is the single area of life that I cannot control. Almost every other important aspect of my life I can effect by working harder, being disciplined or finding a creative solution. I love looking back on my life and tracing the less-traveled, jerrymandering path that led me here. But neither brute determination, creativity nor lack of sleep can create the perfect boy for me if he does not exist.

So even as I look fondly back at my haphazard past and look forward to bushwacking a path to my goals, I fear that it will be a solo journey.

Idiot

Somehow I stumbled across this little gem: i-love-my-phone

Please don't read too much of her blog because it may hurt your brain the way it hurt mine. Unfortunately, having already applied, attended and graduated from a fancy law school I read many of her posts with gapers' delay morbid fascination. So neurotic, so shallow, so ridiculous, so wordy and self-important.....can't. break. free.

If you do read her profile and a few of her entries about law school admissions, please realize that this type of person made up the majority of my law school class. Tack on the outright misfits, the hard-line capitalists, the politicians-in-waiting, the simple assholes, the old money and add layers of pressure, mountains of ego, too much competition and you have a social, moral train racing to derail. What a miserable experience. Thank goodness I found the friends there that I did in such a human wasteland.

Anyway, I love how she 'likes to be different' by completely obsessing about her phone, lusting after other people's phones and bragging about people's envy of her phone. It's a phone. Get over it.

Maybe she should choose her law school based on whether or not the school's colors match her phone.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Bad Attorney Bad!

A judge scolded me today.

As I walked into my office this morning I was told that MM was on line 1 waiting to speak with me. Great. "You have to go to court for me today." He gave me a bare-bones description of what to do and I scampered into a suit and directed paralegals to pull the file for me knowing that I needed to be out the door in about 7 minutes to meet the motion call.

I have never spoken in court before, and honestly had made a goal in law school to never speak before a judge. I guess I am a failure, because today I was forced to speak. About a motion that I knew nothing about. Anyone reading this knows as much as I know about the file. MM had several false assumptions: 1 the other side will show up and do most of the talking, 2 the judge knows this file really well so you won't have to explain anything, and 3 it's not a big deal.

Sorry, but the other side was not present. The judge didn't remember the case, nor had she read the motion (Hey, neither had I--What a weird coincidence!), and she became pissed when she read the motion and wanted me to answer her questions. I thought this was uncalled for, considering that I introduced myself as the attorney on behalf of the file, filling in for MM because he had a personal emergency to attend to and that I was unfamiliar with the file.

She became snippy with me and I immediately ceased being respectful towards her. Screw that--I will not kiss the ass of a person who is treating me like dirt. Even as the 'smart' part of my brain was directing, 'call her your honor,' and 'apologize profusely' the controlling part of my brain willfully ignored these requests and instead I became sort of brazen. I think I even wore my super-disturbing facial expression. So she scolded me in front of a full room of attorneys for being unprepared and I still didn't apologize or really acknowledge what she just, and just asked her again to grant my motion. She did, after adding a little more scolding for good measure. Her job is to uphold the law and the rules of the court, not act like the courtroom is her own little kingdom. This was an uncontested motion--all she needed to do was nod her head and tell her clerk to stamp it. Instead she had to be a bitch and purposefully try to humiliate me. If this was a case that I had worked on I would have been mortified, but since the reason for her wrath was out of my control it didn't really bother me. Her clerk was a sweetheart though, and seemed to have a lot of sympathy for me--so I treated her very well.

Additionally--below is a list of some more unprofessional attributes she could have noticed:

tongue stud? check.
visible primary-colored striped toe socks? check.
failure to shower this morning? check.
shoes with soles hanging loose? check.

Quite the charmer I am. Actually, I am pretty proud of the way I handled this situation because I wasn't cowed by the judge nor her meanness. If I have to be a litigator, at least I should be able to retain my dignity.


Friday, January 28, 2005

Happy Friday!

It's the last Friday of the month and that means it's Critical Mass! Fun, fun stuff. Today's ride is a CCM tradition: The Polka Ride.

We'll ride to a bowling alley to hear the Polkaholics. Apparently this is one of the most fun CCM rides of the year, and everyone is super-excited about it. I can't wait--however I am sort of nervous about the ride itself because I don't know how to dress for that slow of a ride. As I learned on the MLK ride, I really depend on exhurtion to stay warm--and the Mass is not about speed. I think I will bust out my shearling mittens to wear inside my over-mittens--I can't imagine my finners being cold inside that combination.

PolkaBiketyDrinkity Fun up ahead!

Random Babblings

Work: This week has probably been my best week of 2005. I am hitting my recommended billable hours and didn't feel cranky. Thank goodness. I'm also moving a lot of work across my desk, too.
Today I met with a new client--a young woman who is the fashion/travel editor for the Chicago Sun-Times. Afterwards when we were speaking with the boss about the meeting, Mike mentioned that she said I was cool and hip and seemed to like me. The boss pondered this and basically decided that I should be used as a 'networking tool' to develop relationships with young, upward professionals. He suggested setting up a policy for me to lunch with some of our younger clients to strengthen relationships. Ummm--that sounds fun, but I can see a few problems: First, I'm not exactly hip. Odd is not synonymous with hip. Second, I have far too much candor to be a good networker--some have said that I am socially awkward. Third I am not exactly a poster-child for the legal profession.
Apartment: I filled out my tenant application form. It asked for credit card and bank account numbers along with standard background and SSN. Fuck that. My future landlord need not know my bank account and credit card numbers--should I give him my mother's maiden name along with my favorite pet's name too? So I left it blank. If he has a problem with it I think I'm going to ask him for his bank account number as part of my screening process. Oh well.
Icicle Bicycle Festival: I went to the Derailleur collating party tonight after work. It was fun, as usual. One of the other girls who I have been getting to know damn near jumped when someone asked for my advise as an attorney, she was so surprised. She thought people were joking and asked several times for verification. I can't take this as anything but a compliment. tehehe.
It sounds like several people are planning on coming to my cocktail party on Saturday. Yippee!
Also it was suggested that I make the move to my new apartment via bicycle. I have thought about this, but don't know if I should attempt it given that I myself don't own a trailer. Several people offered to help, so maybe I'll try it. Regardless, I need to start planning for the move.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Infidelity Accusations

My friend Ethan and I were supposed to meet up tonight and babble about exiting new possibilities in our respective lives. So today we got in touch to make plans and he bailed on meeting tonight. Why? Because his long-time girlfriend has been acusing him of cheating on her, and he didn't think it would be cool of him to hang out with me. Good call.

However, I have a few weird thoughts about this issue. First, she is known as his "Imaginary Girlfriend" because most people, myself included, have never met her--but he talks about her all of the time. She seems to be a homebody from what he says. I've invited them out several times, but either they don't show up or Ethan comes alone. This lead to me calling her the imaginary GF--and Ethan readily admitted that several other people have also labeled her as such. He says that he has know friends for over five years that have never met her. This is weird to me.

Anyway, I don't know quite how to deal with this. On the one hand I feel like I should completely back away and not initiate any contact with him, so as to not create any new possible suspicions. But on the other hand, Ethan sounded pretty bummed and distraught about the situation. He seemed to want to talk in depth about it, but we were both at work. We've known each other for only a year, but he has always been incredibly supportive to me and has always been completely willing to lend an ear/shoulder during stressful times in my life. Plus, my impression has been that many of his friends in Chicago are more 'drinking buddy/acquaintences' than confidants. So for these reasons I want to reach out to him--but I don't want to make the problem worse. I am not sure what is the way to be a good friend to him--actually be present and supportive, or disappearing to help resolve the situation.

It seems crazy, but I fear there is a potential that I may be suspect in the eyes of his girlfriend: we exchanged X-mas gifts, sometimes meet for drinks/dinner, email, talk on the phone and share our interest in CBF and biking (she is afraid to ride a bicycle). If this is the case, then I really shouldn't contact him until this blows over.

This shouldn't even be a problem--she should just go out more with him. What sense is there in being suspicious about your partner's activities when you simultaneously refuse to join in? If she spent more time with him outside of their apartment then she wouldn't have to wonder what he was doing when she wasn't there. Crap--now his unpleasant situation has stressed me out too.

Good vibes to Ethan--I hope this gets resolved and we hang out soon.

SuperFrick Saves the Day!

Apparently it has cooled down since I rode to work this morning--or at least it felt a lot colder at lunchtime, and there was an icy-feeling snow falling from the sky. Brrr. I only wore a t-shirt under my windbreaker and expected to be cold riding home.

However, my adorable baby brother Frick sent me a package containing a merino wool long-sleeved shirt that arrived at my office today. He apparently fell in love with this fabric on his trip to New Zealand and gave the shirts as X-mas presents to those cool enough to deserve them (i.e his cold-weather biking sibs). So in a few minutes when I leave the office instead of being too cold, I will hopefully be just right. Thanks Frick!


(Oh yes, I link Frick's damn near non-existant blog to shame him into actually posting something now that he is back from NZ.)

Tuesday Sleep-In?

I almost overslept today. I awoke to Isaac yelling to ask me if I was supposed to go to work today. I couldn't even figure out what day it was to properly answer the question. Tuesday!--this is not a good sign. Waking up on Friday morning thinking that it is the weekend is one thing, but doing it on Tuesday certainly foretells a long week ahead.

It wasn't even 8:00 so I had plenty of time to get to the office. It's weird that I slept so late, though. There really isn't any reason why my mental alarm clock didn't wake me up earlier. Overall, I am quite satisfied with myself for not needing an alarm clock now that I am an attorney. I hope I never have to use one again because it such an unpleasant, uncivilized way to wake up.

Today was Day 6 of the Icicle Bicycle Festival, so I went to the Winter Maintenance Workshop hosted by Kevin at Boulevard Bikes. My bike got a much needed scrubadubdub treatment in the bike tub as I washed off layers of salty grime. Plus, after several comments about my loose fender stay, or 'curb-feeler' as every one was calling it, Kevin grabbed a new bracket and fixed it for $2. Money damn well spent.

I went to the Handlebar with a new friend, Chris, who I met on the MLK Ride. Luckily, the owner of the restaurant whose share I will probably buy was there, so we discussed aspects of this deal. Assuming I still want to buy, it appears that this deal is actually going to happen. I haven't seen the financial spreadsheets, yet--but he is willing to sell the share on a payment plan. We haven't given each other firm offers for the price of his share, but from what he has said, it seems like it will be within the range that I expected, and find acceptable. Very exciting--but this creates serious implications in my life, and lifestyle--so I need to be sure that this is a good deal for me before jumping in. kersplash.

whew another very busy day. I am completely booked up for the next five days--hopefully I won't have to resort to an alarm clock to get through it.



Monday, January 24, 2005

Entire Office Decimated!

Half of the attorneys called in sick today--myself not one of them. This is of course the logical outcome of contact with me last week. I have a kick-ass immune system and the few times I do get sick also means the people around me are about to become miserably ill. I didn't even get sick when I lived in the co-op during law school, even though most of my housemates were sick for most of each winter. That must really suck for them.

The quieter office, and some fast-approaching deadlines helped me to be pretty productive today. Yippeee!

After work I went to the "Chicago Auto Show Protest Planning Meeting" at the Handlebar restaurant. I have so many bikey events coming up in both the near and farther future that it makes my head spin. Everyday into the beginning of February I have at least one bikey event to attend. jeepers. Bike Winter--the ultimate cure for cabin fever.


Sunday, January 23, 2005

Beyond Romance

This is the name of an article in the December 2004 issue of Utne. I read it a few weeks ago during one of mine and Isaac's hung-over breakfast bondings at Filter.

Beyond Romance: Nine types of everday relationships that are more intimate than you think.

This title intrigued me and it was a thought-provoking article-but probably not in the way the author intended.
  1. Coffee shop connection (customer--barista)
  2. Circle of friends
  3. Bumper-sticker bonding (N/A--no actual interaction)
  4. Co-worker confidants
  5. The new homosociality (The ability of guys to be close friends with one another without people assuming they are gay. This is new? Weirder is that it cites Sam and Frodo--didn't everyone joke that they were gay? I know I kept wanting the hobbits to kiss.)
  6. The Mother-Nanny Relationship
  7. Animal kingdom (pets)
  8. Object relationship "Armed with cellphones, iPods, and Blackberrys, we have become the people we used to hate. Card-carrying Luddites notwithstanding, most people these days would be lost without the various objects they see simply as extension of themselves."
  9. Cyber Fan Clubs "The ubiquity of chat groups, Web sites, and blogs devoted to tracking our various celebrity obsessions means that armchair connoisseurs can, as never before, ooh and aah with each other over their favorite musicians, filmmakers, and artists, forging an intimacy based on mutual unrequited love for one another.

OK--so there's the background about this article. I've only read this issue, but it seems to gear towards the Conscious Choice, Whole Foods, educated, progressive, green, New-aged crowd. The back cover is an ad for an SUV hybrid--and I think this best illustrates the demographic as the people who are eager to spend, spend, spend more money for the causes they believe in, but are not willing to give up any component of their typical American Dream.

Different relationships irked me for several different reasons. First--the barista and mother-nanny relationships assume a pretty damn high level of income. Sure the Utne readers may get their caffeine from an indpendent coffee shop instead of Starbucks, but they have still decided to spend almost $1000 annually on coffee, and probably get it 'to go' in a disposable cup (260 disposable cups a year + sleeves or double-cupping). Great. The mother-nanny assumption is fucking crazy, but the actual commentary was good because it discussed the employment/exploiting issue, considering that so many of the nannies are immigrants. Still, nannies!?! I still think that nannies are for the elite and really quite creepy.

I don't have a cell phone and don't plan on getting one anytime soon. I don't want an iPod and I will run screaming from a Blackberry. Shit--I had to look up what exactly a Luddite was, to see if I should be offended or inquire as to where my membership card was. I guess my eschewal of cars and cell phones might make me qualify, but I pretty much adore the internet, which nixes my acceptance by true Luddites.

Anyway...back to the idea of relationships with objects--this is totally fucked up. People see these little electronic boxes as an extension of themselves? iPods are storage devices that access music--I don't feel a special relationship with file cabinets, drawers or CD players. Same with phones and email--they are communication tools. Tools are meant to facilitate human actions--they are not a party in a relationship. Seriously people--step away from the fucking gadgets if you are developing a 'relationship' with them.

Same thing for people who develop an obsession with celebrities--get a life of your own. Please--for your sake and for society. What other activities or relationships are people forgoing in their own lifes when they are vicariously living through celebrities, or when their actual personal relationships are based on mutual vicarious celebrity? This is sick and seems to tie in with the iPod phenomena. Both celebrate commercialism and celebrity disguised as individualism and creativity. Create your own damn music/art/experiences instead of wearing other peoples as a badge. Or at least worship the 'art' itself instead of the celebrity* or the little shiny box you store it in.

Now that the rant is over, it is time for me to shine this light on my own life. The first things that come to mind are email, blogs and bicycles.

I check my email often during the day--who says I wouldn't be a cell-phone junkie if I had one?

I also write this blog and read other people's. Besides my brothers, I never expect to meet these people. Sure it is a hell less superficial to read these people's thoughts than to obsess about who some celebrity kissed or what she wore, but it really isn't very interactive nor does it enhance the relationships in my life that deserve extra effort. Typing my own blog doesn't bother me too much, because there have been several times in my life when I have kept a journal, and I think it is a good practice for me. Writing issues down often forces me to clarify my thoughts and confront my hypocracy in a way that just thinking about them doesn't. Plus it also put's me in my place when I discover how whiney, bitchy, doormattish, weak, shallow, mean or inconsiderate I was after reading old entries. Overall, I don't know how blogs cut--I guess a lot of it depends on the content I am reading and writing.

Another question is whether blogging affects people's real relationships positively or negatively. I can imagine it cutting both ways. In a way, blogging is an outlet for people to share and receive advice and support independent of the actual people in their lives. This certainly can be helpful if it teaches insight and empathy towards others, without any personal interests at stake to muddy the waters. However, it may also give people an excuse to avoid developing true intimacy with their real friends and family because their internet connection fills the need adequately. I can imagine this leading to icky situations where people interact with one another in person on a very supercicial, but frequent, level while basically remaining strangers. Couples have already found enough ways to live together and share experiences, but fail to connect--now it may be even easier to mentally log out of the relationship while still physically participating.

On to bikes. Do I consider my bike as an extension of myself? Often when I am riding it, and I miss it when I am out of town. Is it the bike that I miss or the riding? Obviously I can't ride without a bike, but how attached am I to the bike itself? Hard to say. Seeing it often makes me happy, even when I am not taking it for a spin--but memories of previous rides and anticipation of rides yet to come certainly must play into my reaction. Perhaps my current bike is not where the trouble lies--but my yet unknown future road bike may get wrapped up in some weird way with my identity. I'll have to stay on guard.

This blog entry is quite unsatifying for me because I don't feel like I have fully thought through this article. It still irks me, but I have a 'tip of my tongue' sensation that indicates I have missed an important point that could tie it together for me. There may be more on this subject.

* Certain artists deserve more consideration than others. The celebrities and artists that I am referring to are the omnipresent, no-talent types that generally grace magazine-covers and are usually only discussed because of their romantic life, wardrobe and/or hairstyles.


Saturday night

Chicago experienced a blizzard on Saturday and we are blanketed under 6-8 inches of snow. I biked to my friend Gabe's party. What a fun, silly, frustrating experience that was. Apparently I picked the 'snow-plows on strike' route--only a few blocks were plowed at all, so most were completely rutted. The ride was very silly and several times I just got off the bike to push it the snow. Giggles galore--it was both funny and fun. Many cars were trying to 'rock' out of their spots, wheels were spinning uselessly and owners were unhappily trying to free their metal prisons from the snow prisons.

One guy who was making decent forward progress, rolled down his window to express total disbelieve that I was able to ride, "man how can you even move in this stuff!" He didn't seem to believe me when I laughingly said it was fun. I arrived at Gabe's safe and happy. When Diane heard me remark that it was fun outside she chided, "says the girl who can simply pick her transportation up when it gets stuck." Well, duh--it's a beatiful thing.

Adorable lawyer-boy M showed up to my surprise. As per our tradition, we spent most of the evening speaking with each other as Diane shot me naughty looks. I told him about my upcoming restaurant thing and he excitedly suggested that I stop being a lawyer to cook and manage the restaurant. Too adorable.

I very much enjoy that his advice to me about career/life stuff always skews in the direction of getting out of law, getting my Masters in Urban Planning degree, scaling back hours and basically doing whatever makes me happy and satisfied, instead of more financially secure. Most of my other law friends are in the mindset of 'suck it up until you absolutely can't stand it.' I told him that I no longer was very interested in getting a higher $, higher hours job, but instead thought that it was more likely that I would move in the opposite direction by looking for a government job that paid less, but was more 9-5. He completely agreed because he believed a big firm would make me miserable and he didn't want to see that happen. Too bad he doesn't apply this to his own life and unhappiness.

M isn't happy, and hearing it makes me sad for him. It seems like he should take the advice he dispensed to me and try to scale back his own hours. I don't see him seriously considering that for quite a while though. Almost none of my law friends are happy with their lives/hours and I wish they would really consider doing something about it now, instead of waiting another few years until they are completely burned out, or in the midst of a full-fledge midlife crisis.

He definitely expressed interest in the cocktail party next Saturday, so hopefully I will be able to chat with him then, too. I obviously still find him adorable, but it may be transitioning into a platonic adoration. That would be nice.

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Gross, gross, gross

I unwittingly created a science experiment on my stovetop. Before the deep chill last week, I had a large pot with leftover chili outside on the fire escape. I brought it inside to thaw and realized that water leaked in and I had about two additional inches of ice in the pot. I knew this was going to be a mess to dispose of, so I sort of willfully ignored it as it sat covered on the stove.

One of the reasons I initially put it on the stove was so the pilot light would melt it quicker--but I completely forgot about this fact during the week. Today I decided to deal with it and was treated to a mold wonderland--it was a rich, dense landscape of mold diversity. Nas-tee.

Cleaning one disgusting pot gave me the courage to face the rest of the refrigerator. Isaac and I each have bad fridge habits that the other does not inhibit with disapproval. This apartment is a race to the bottom since there are no social checks on bad habits.

Now the refridgerator is clean, the dishes have been cleaned and are now being additionally sterilized in the dishwasher and their contents are outside in the dumpster. The grossness level of the apartment went down significantly in the last hour! I aspire to clean the rest of the apartment today, but I am becoming doubtful.

John G. seems to be a pretty clean person, so I need to get back into practice in the next month to be a better roommate. Like the chili on the stove, the Den of Awkwardness has provided to be a fertile ground for filth to flourish.

Sick Days

On Thursday morning my boss walked into my office to ask how I was feeling. I said "better, but still not good" and he sent me home. I told him I would leave after I briefed him for a meeting with a client we had scheduled later that morning, but he sent me home immediately. [My guess is that a sentence along the lines of, "I'm sorry I am not as prepared for this meeting as I should be, but the attorney who handles all of the details has been sick all week and busy with other matters. Today I finally sent her home so she can get better, but unfortunately I don't know all of the details of the file. Shrewd, devious and very smart.]

At first I thought that going home was nice, but quite unneccesary. I have certainly worked when I felt worse. However, both the ride to and from work (I pretended I was going to take the Blue Line home, but just couldn't bring myself to do it) hurt my lungs and chest and took a lot of energy. I know that the ridiculously low air in my rear tire contributes to this, but my lack of giddyup was the main cause. At home I tried to nap, but basically just layed around all day under blankets. Boring, but cozy. I had locked my bike downstairs in the foyer to melt off the nasty slush before bringing it into my kitchen. I brought it up to the 3rd floor around 4:00 so it wouldn't be there when people came home from work. This little ascent completely kicked my butt. I was panting with pain in my lungs by the time I got it in the door. It finally hit me, "I actually am sick."

It seems like I may have spread it around the office, too. Several other people are getting achey and "feel like crap." My boss is starting to cough and sneeze, too. This is one of results of the few times I do get sick--most everyone in my vicinity without a similar kick-ass immune systems becomes incapacitated.

Luckily on Friday I felt significantly better, and today--aside from a mucus increase, I feel fine.


Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Some biking observations

First off. Today Chicago had a reprieve from the cold weather and the temperature actually went about freezing. This was cause for several delightful 'new' experiences including:
  • No Balaclava--yippee I don't feel like a ninja or a bank robber!
  • Fewer layers (I still wore my steel-toed boots & thick wool socks--but it was by choice and not necessity)
  • No worries about my lock freezing up

I don't think I mind the cold of winter so much as all the bundling and layering that I need to do to deal with the cold. After I change into my 'work clothes' my office looks trashed because there are clothes everywhere. I seriously can't wait for the day that I ride bare-legged and sandaled (barefoot is fun, too) again. The layers sort of sneak up and I become accustomed to them. Every year on the first warm day of spring I feel so free and unencumbered without pounds and pounds of clothing on. I am very much looking forward to that day in 2005.

Another thing that I noticed because of the warmth was the smell of the city. I don't think I noticed any smells besides car exhaust (and that is more like a raw taste in the back of the throat than a smell) for quite a while. But today there were lots of smells including a fantastic minty-smelling cigar/cigarette. At first it brought memories of my mom's mint x-mas tree chocolate candies, and then morphed into an image of a den-like place with books and leather. I normally hate the smell of tobacco, but every once in a while the smell triggers this very pleasant image. I don't know if it is memory or imagination. The chocolate factory and the bakery were also pumping out yummy smells for my sniffing pleasure. I'll guess that six months from now I will have far fewer good things to say about Chicago and its smells.

A final observation is that over the last weeks I have dealt with several aggressive, angry, dangerous drivers--even though I think my behavior has remained constant. A theory I have is that now while riding I look androgenous--my hair is covered, I wear bulky, shapeless clothes and the balaclava completely disguises my gender.* Years ago I spoke with my big bro, equipoise about the harrassment that we received while biking. Interestingly, it took different forms. He seemed to experience more dangerous, aggressive drivers who could actually cause him harm, whereas I think I heard more icky comments, but it was more along the 'hey baby' or other sexually laced line of jackassery comments: super-annoying, but basically harmless. So now I wonder if I am experiencing biking as boy when I am all bundled up? Maybe boys should try wearing wigs and looking girly to hear some of the foul, foul shit that women have to deal with.

Acne, cockroaches and impotence to those assholes who yell nastiness to random women.

* Whether or not my hair is revealed causes motorists to treat me very differently. When I used to hitchhike no one ever stopped when my hair was hidden, but once it was down and showing it was quite easy to get a lift. Also, two years ago I was fixing a flat tire on my car with my sweatshirt hood up--no one stopped for about 40 minutes. In the last five minutes of tire-changing, I pulled the hood down because I was too warm, and two cars stopped to offer to help me. One guy even profusely apologized for not being there earlier when I informed him that there wasn't anything left to do. Apparently the damsel in distress is still a viable role. Sad but true.


Tuesday, January 18, 2005

You give me fever

I'm feverous. Flushed cheeks, shivering-sweating cycles, achey. blech. One of the least charming things about me is that I am a whiney bitch when I don't feel great. Generally I have damn near perfect health--I don't usually get sick, injured, tired or hung over--and I don't understand that other people don't function this way. I inadvertantly dismiss other people's ailments as signs that they are wimps. But wrapping myself in hypocrisy, I just can't function when my body isn't working properly. Delightful, I know.

I realized last night that all of my symptoms that made me feel crappy during and after the ride were not going away. I was supposed to do work that I had been ignoring all weekend, but couldn't uncurl myself from my shivering ball of pity to even try it. This morning I had two major debates:
1. Would I go into work, or call in sick? I had a motion to finish/file and an interview to prepare and conduct. These factors made it more important to go to work, but also more tempting to stay home. [I have decided that I will definitely use my sick days even if I don't actually get sick--why should sick people have all of the fun?] and,
2. How would I get to work? Would I ride or take the train? I answered this question before I actually knew whether I would work--of course I would ride. There is nothing appealing to me about feeling like crap, coughing and having a dripping nose while helplessly waiting for transit and then packing myself into the train with a hundred people who will soon hate me. Besides, I know my tendency to ball-up and wallow, and riding with traffic out in the cold would certainly beat that out of me, for at least a little bit.

I rode to work and felt better almost as soon as my feet hit the pedals. I thought I was cured, but then an aggressive car proved me wrong. A car with two women, about my age or younger, honked angrily as they sped by me. I couldn't hear over the horn what the passenger was yelling out of her rolled down window, but it didn't seem to be encouragement. I did what is almost instinctual--but probably not wise--and tried to catch them at the next light. I pulled down my balaclava and put my mettle to the pedals. At first it seemed like I would be able to engage in a little 'educational conversation' with these two bitches, but then I completely ran out of energy. Apparently the fever depleted my energy reserves and my legs refused to maintain the pace. ggrrrrrr. Instead of being triumphant and confrontational, I was defeated, having done nothing but triggering a new sweating/hot flash session . I sure showed them.

Work was hectic and I garnered many sympathy/toughness points for being there at all. I do think the sympathy points were converted stupid/crazy points when people saw me leaving in my helmet.

I felt like I was moving at a pretty good clip, for my condition when a single speed flew by me. I usually don't get passed--especially now that it is cold and the roadies are hibernating. Several more single speeds passed me in the next few blocks. I wonder if there was some sort of event--because they didn't dress like messengers, nor were they carrying any bags to indicate commuters. Hmmmm. Anyway--it didn't make me feel very happy about myself, because those guys were seriously moving. I had a better chance of catching the aggressive car this morning than pacing these guys.

OK, my fever has spread to my typing and now I am just plain babbling. The End.

Monday, January 17, 2005

MLK Ceremony

Now after showing what a whiny bitch I can be, I write about the actual MLK ceremony.

The audience was very diverse and the speeches were inspiring. The former CEO of the NAACP was the keynote speaker, and his speech was very well-received. He condemned not only racism from whites, but racism against whites and lectured the black community to take responsibility for the actions of its members instead of looking for blame from the outside. Not quite the victim-mentality that conservatives probably would expect.

The ceremony forwent the classic, "I have a dream" speech in favor of King's other teachings, speeches and positions. One such speech was apparently written during and about the Vietnam war, but was completely applicable to Iraq. Damn it--don't we learn? King's teachings argued against apathy and challenged all good people to constantly be diligent against injustice. This was very inspiring, and I was reminded of a quote along the lines of, "in times like these the place for good men is behind bars" as a response to people who wring their hands at the consequences of action while encouraging people to remain passive and accept the status quo. Also mentioned was that freedoms, advances and rights do not spontaneously rise up from a stagnant pond, but must be fought for.

Many times I have thought where my loyalties and actions would have been throughout other times in history. Would I have been an abolitionist/feminist/pacifist when that was a hard, lonely position? Or would I have ducked my head in the sand, ignoring the suffering of others in pursuit of my own pleasures? For a moment I felt proud and smuggly sure that I would have been among the few people who acted passionately against the majority. Certainly some of my actions show it: biking being a prime example, I protested the war in D.C. in Autumn 2002 and other times, I try to keep my environmental footprint small, I have friends of all races and generally don't discriminate.

But do these actions mean that I should pat myself on the back, sure of my goodness? What about my other thoughts and deeds? Trying to leave a small footprint isn't the same as actually doing it. I am not nearly as diligent about recycling as I should be. I certainly blame many thugs and welfare recipients for their own predicaments, while wrapping myself in my history of self-reliance and bootstrap-pulling--as I overlook the many, many advantages that I had over these people. I don't give money to street beggars and I am more cautious in black neighborhoods than diverse or white communities. So basically, I can talk the talk and sometimes walk along, but often act in the same small ways that the people I condemn do.

Even when my actions are 'proper' my motivations may not be sincere. Do I really bike to be oil-independant, or is that just a benefit? Honestly, I think I do it because I hate driving and biking is fun, sensible, saves me time, saves me money, is good exercise and intangibly makes me quirky and tough. Additionally, now that I am part of the 'bikey community' I also do it to maintain membership and respect. Once I changed social groups, I could simply be described as giving into a better form of peer pressure.

So basically, I bet that I would have been a feminist, abolitionist and pacifist shouting out against different forms of oppression, but with probably more than a streak of hypocrisy. Then, as now, I would implore others to do the right thing without completely taking those actions myself. Dr. King's message about apathy and diligence are just as relevent to me as his comments about the war are today. As in so many areas of my life I hope to do better and to simply live up to the image that I want people to have of me.

MLK Day Ride (a.k.a. I feel like shit)

I had off of work today to observe Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. day, so I organized a ride down to UofC in Hyde Park for a MLK ceremony and then lunch at Soul Vegetarian. http://www.bikewinter.org/calendar/scheduleofevents.php?city_id=1&showPast=true

The warmest temperature that I saw on any of the bank clocks was 14F. I knew it was going to be a cold ride, and cautioned everyone to dress warmly. After the colder Vampire Ride, I was confident that this wouldn't be too cold at all--especially since the people who RSVP'd were some hardcore, experienced riders who wouldn't dawdle. An unexpected rider showed up--Ms.-gortex-way-too-invested-in-her-dog on a folding bike. She bikes a lot and I didn't pay much attention to her when she said that she was concerned about keeping up, because on other rides she has done just fine. Well today she did Not.

The bike she rode was not her normal geared bicycle but a fixed gear ratioed at slow-as-fuck. On the way down to Hyde Park, with the wind on our back, we went about 14 mph--slower than I prefer for staying warm. My extremities were cold and during the ceremony I felt...off. I was fidgety and muscles ached, I was starting to get a head ache and I couldn't warm up. I perked up quite a bit after I got some yummy vegan food in me (normally I wouldn't use vegan and yummy together without a negative in the sentence, but this place also adds magic to the food.)

Two riders needed to be downtown for a meeting so they hopped on the Red Line and I asked her if she wanted to join them, too. "No, I feel great." Fuck you. You damn well should know that you were slowing us down with the wind, now that it will be in our faces you are going to freeze us to death. She stated that she couldn't ride faster than 10mph and also added that she was afraid of riding alone this far South--probably a good point considering that I was itching to take my U-lock to her. Approaching 4:00, I mentioned that if she wanted to take the train she needs to do it now before the rush-hour bicycle ban--but Nope, once again she felt Great, and besides, she would need one of us to come with her to carry her bike up to the platform since she can't lift it up stairs herself. WTF?!? This is the woman who brags so much about how independant she is with her bike and how she can take her folder everywhere? Oh yeah, except where there are stairs or on the South side. Grrrrrrr.

I am freezing at this time and so is John G. He actually stopped to run with his bicycle several times to stay warm. This is my future roommate--the organizer of the Icicle Bicycle Festival and the Frozen Snot Century. Obviously he knows how to stay warm biking in the winter. Were it not for the fact that I am more opposed to running than beating an old woman with my U-lock I would have joined him.

Anyway--I ended up getting home and experienced that horrible feeling of too cold, when curling up into a whimpering ball seems like the only thing I am capable of doing. My feet hurt to walk on them they were so cold and my hands kept getting icy from unsuccessfully trying to rub heat into my ass and hips. The only thing warm was my blood boiling with rage for this selfish, selfish, selfish woman. How fucking dare she go on a relatively long, cold ride (probably about 30 miles round trip) and not have the right equipment for keeping up with the ride? How dare she ignore the hints (John running w/ his bike and my repeated requests that she might want to take the train) that she was hindering us and making us cold?

Just to be clear, I was wearing basically the same gear that I wore on the Vampire Ride--which was much colder and at night--without being too cold. I would have been fine today were it not for her god-damned slow pace. She was so clueless that she thanked me profusely for organizing the ride and can't wait until I organize another one.

I really don't know why, but I also just feel like shit. My shoulders, arms, back, ass, quads and knees feel weak, sore and wobbly. Basically, I feel like someone beat me up and now owes me a massage--plus my ass is still cold!. The Vampire Ride left me sleepy-tired, but didn't seem to effect my body at all. I totally blame the slow pace, and the corresponding extra time in the saddle on the slow pace I was forced to ride.

[OK, I know I am being a horrible person, and that no permanent damage was done. I will feel completely fine tomorrow, and it was good of me to accomodate this woman, who has done some wonderful things for the biking community, on a ride that seemed to make her happy. I may rot in hell for it, but that woman rubbed me the wrong way before and now I feel completely intolerable towards her--and her little dog, too!]

Dropping the First Shoe

Actually I did it barefoot and in my robe. Isaac didn't want to commit to a meeting with a hidden agenda that Ted was involved in. So this morning I told him that I was thinking about moving out. We agreed to discuss the details after he gets home from work tonight. So far he has responded pretty well--I hope I can get him to actually talk about his plans/feelings/thoughts/fears with me tonight.

Complicating the issue is that he got an offer for his first temp lawyer position--and it starts tomorrow. So today he is quitting his job for a two week position. I am sure that now this seems even more risky than it did a few hours ago to him. It actually is a great opportunity, because it has almost twice the hours at twice the wage--plus he will actually have legal work on his resume, so it will help him get future jobs.

Anyway--I feel relieved that this is out in the open, but I am still worried how he feels about it.


Saturday, January 15, 2005

Restaurant

A few weeks ago I was tentatively offered an opportunity to invest in a restaurant nearby. There is another investor ahead of me and apparently one of the current owners is hesitant about bring more partners aboard. The owner that I have spoken with seems pretty confident in the likelihood that I will be have this opportunity.

From their perspective, I am a great candidate for the next partner for three concrete reasons: 1) I used to cook professionally as both a line, head breakfast and pastry chef, 2) I am a lawyer and would be able to do any contracts without incurring outside counsel fees, and 3) although a relatively new arrival to the scene, I have become pretty entrenched with the bikey community and share the same ideas and vision about bicycling and environmental responsibility.

From my perspective, I am interested in investing in this restaurant for several reasons--some practical and some less tangible. First, I feel really excited about the idea of saving money for this investment in a way that saving money for a house down payment does not excite me. I think I would be very diligent and disciplined with my finances to make this work. Secondly, I expect that my ownership interest in the restaurant would be able to be used as part of a down payment (probably as equity securing a line of credit) towards a condo in May 2006. These are my practical, responsible reasons the restaurant appeals to me. A less tangible reason includes me wanting to have a steady outlet for cooking--I am very excited at being able to work with menu development along with actually cooking for the restaurant at times. I think I would like to work about one day a week, probably running brunch and/or preparing dessert components/pastries for the upcoming week. Even though my time is limited, working at the restaurant is very appealing to me. Additionally, ownership in this restaurant would cement my position in the bikey community and give me additional chances to meet more cool people.

Anyway, coming home from the Vampire Ride this morning, I stopped at the Bank to inquire about my ability to obtain a loan for this investment. First we talked about getting a personal loan--but the interest rates are crazy for an unsecured loan--plus there are penalties for paying the loan off early. I mentioned using some of my parents' assets as collateral, but in that instance my parents would need to be the primary lendee--yuck. Finally I suggested using the share in the business as collateral to secure the loan and this is the best option. Luckily the restaurant is old enough to have all of the necessary documentation for obtaining this type of loan. So on the financing front this is definitely feasible. Now all I have to do is wait to hear from the rest of the partners and really crunch some numbers to determine if it is a good investment. Some of my law friends who work with business transactions have readily agreed to help me review the books to make this decision. Very Exciting.

On a separate note--I will pay down my remaining credit card debt with my next paycheck. So less than four months of working will negate my year and a half of unemployment--sweet.

The Vampire Ride

All-night bike ride on one of the coldest nights of the year? Great idea! So spawned the Vampire Ride (creatures of the night). Back in November my friend Hui Hwa mentioned that she was thinking about planning an all night bike ride that stopped at several different places throughout the night. Last night was the night. The ride was staged at the CCM Happy Hour which Hui Hwa hosted and went roughly as followed:

11:00pm--ride begins and we head towards Lincoln Square Lanes
11:30ish-2:00am--dancing to a live band and bowling
2:00-2:30--ride to the Green Mill Jazz lounge
2:30-3:30--Green Mill
3:30-4:00--ride to a Korean restaurant (the coldest most unpleasant part of my night)
4:00-5:00--Korean food
5:00-5:30--ride to Xsports
5:30-7:10--hang out at the hottub & pool at Xsports Health club
7:10-7:45--ride to the lakeshore to catch the tail end of the sunrise, take pictures, play on the ice
7:45-8:30--ride to Heartland cafe (10 miles)
8:30-9:00--breakfast, coffee, starting to crash....
9:00-9:30--live radio interview of Lisa and Chris about Bike Winter
10:00ish--ride back home (8 miles)

1:00-6:00pm--sleep

Fun stuff. Great night. We stayed too long dancing at the bowling alley/bar because we were having a great time dancing. The ride started out with 30-40 people and about a dozen made it to daylight. We were a mobile party and made a scene every place we went. The people at the bowling alley and jazz club were perplexed by the mass bikers and then incredulous that we were riding in the cold and planned to do it until daylight. We initiated the dance floor at the bowling alley and constituted the bulk of the dancers for the rest of the performance. I had a great time and this was definitely the most purely fun part of the experience.

I think I sort of dozed off laying on the deck with my feet in the hottub and planned to go home. Then I figured I'd watch the sunrise and go home, but decided to head up to Heartland also. I expected that everyone would ride back down, but people started obviously crashing at breakfast and opted to take the Red Line home. I wanted to ride home to get some more miles in* and this announcement motivated three others to forgo the train ride back down with me. Cool.

My face feels really warm and pinkish, so I think I have a mild sunburn/windburn thing going on. Monday probably won't help this.


* The date has been set for the Frozen Snot Century: February 25-27. http://www.bikewinter.org/calendar/scheduleofevents.php?city_id=1 This is a crazy event that I plan to do that involves the Milwaukee and Chicago Bike Winters. On Friday 2/25 Milwaukee BW folks will make the 100 mile journey down to Chicago, ride in Critical Mass and then attend the CCM Art Show closing party before crashing on Chicago BW couches. Saturday morning these riders are escorted back to Milwaukee with Chicago BW riders, and the party/couch favors are returned. Sunday morning the Chicago riders go back home. Back-to-back winter centuries (dubbed Bikecentennials by roommate Isaac).

Assuming the weather isn't really horrific, I am going to do this. There are only three glitches: 1) since moving to WP I don't ride nearly as many miles as I used to and I (currently) feel unprepared for this ride, 2) I have never done a century--I think 70-80 miles is the most I have done in a single day, and 3) I should probably borrow a road bike for this occassion. To prepare, I am going to try getting in some longer rides on the weekends to prepare for the Frozen Snot Century. It will also be good to figure out what clothes do and don't work for long distance, cold riding.

Since I hope to spend many weekends this summer 'bike packing' this seems like the perfect event to get me in shape and ready to kick off the season. If I can do a bikecentennial in late February, then I should be in fine form for dealing with the hills of bikepacking and longer tours.

Friday, January 14, 2005

The Demise of the Den of Awkwardness

I might move out.

The Den of Awkwardness may dissolve as of 3/1/05.

John G. needs a new roommate and I am probably she. Nice place, he's super-bikey, super social and super-motivating. $$ is probably about the same, but the place is much bigger, has lots of storage, a back porch, garden and is in one of my preferred neighborhoods.

The Fall-out:

I haven't talked with Isaac about it--he will surely not be happy about the situation.

Sunday is the day that I decided to talk with Isaac and Ted about this. I am dreading it.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Don't Confuse the Issue

Last week I was riding downtown over a bridge in rainy/icy conditions. There were two Eastbound lanes and I was riding somewhat to the right of my lane. I wasn't quite 'taking the lane' but I wasn't inviting cars to zoom by me either. I car rode really close past me as it honked to beat me to the yellow-turned red light, along with the three cars ahead of it.

Knowing I had time, and annoyed, I coasted up to the car to have a conversation. I asked the woman why she beeped at me. She said that I shouldn't be on the road at this time of day. "But this is when I go to work and it's illegal for bicyclists over the age of 12 to ride on sidewalks in Chicago." She said that I shouldn't ride on the busy streets (please tell me where the magical non-busy bridge in downtown Chicago during rush hour is, and I will consider taking it). We got into the standard conversation about bicycle rights, lane sharing/passing...blah..blah. She then expressed concern for my safety as the reason why I shouldn't be on the road.

This is utter and total bullshit. I am sick of hearing this excuse from people who moments earlier showed complete disregard for my safety. Does a person who is concerned about my safety pass by me so closely that they don't cross the lane line? In slippery conditions? Accompanied with a startling beep? To get to a light that will be red by the time you reach it? Sorry, but I don't buy it. Just be honest and admit that either you weren't really paying attention to the situation or that you drive like an asshole, caring for nobody but yourself. I expect some of both played a part.

I actually would have more respect for a person who boldy just said, "I don't like bikes on the road because sometimes they inconvience me. I also often don't pay attention, and they spook me sometimes because I am not looking for them. I don't like to be spooked, nor do I like anything to indicate that I am not observent when I drive. They also make me nervous even after I am aware of them--I don't quite know why, and don't really care to think about it. All that I know is that sometimes I can't speed and have to pay more attention when driving, and I don't like that." That is a conversation that would make sense--because it deals with ,what I consider to be the real issues, why people don't like bikes on the road. Sure, I would think the person who says this is an asshole, but not a self-delusional hypocrite.

Instead I hear people professing concern about my safety as a shield from their own selfishness. The worst part is that I know that most of these people actually believe that their concern for my safety is genuine. Not only can't they be honest with me, but they are lying to themselves, too.

Additionally, why do cars beep so much? Do they really think that biking on an arterial or downtown, I am not aware that there are cars sharing the road with me? Do they not know that I not only hear them, but have a pretty accurate idea of their speed, size and proximity based upon the different noises they make? I can't remember ever being surprised by a car overtaking me. Cars make a lot of noise--I hear you; they also pollute--I smell you; I definitely see you--because you are ugly, too. I am quite certain though that the reason I haven't felt or tasted you is primarily due to my diligent observations and reactions and has little to do with motorists' 'concern for my safety.'


Potluck

Last Thursday I invited friends over for a potluck to be followed by a trip to hear Kelly Hogan at the Hideout. Several interesting things developed:

First, the turnout was nearly all bikey people and the only lawyer friends were my roomates and Emily. Bikey people overall are definitely cooler andor less busy than law friends. Let the record also show that this was Episode II of these three together in the same room socially since the incident spawning the Den of Awkwardness occurred. Overall, that seemed fine with very little noticable weirdness. Since Ted doesn't stay here anymore, and Isaac and I have messy bedrooms, we jokingly designated his room as the place to 'entertain unexpected guests', should that unlikely situation occur. Ted promptly took his nice comforter when he left.

Secondly, no one brought brownies. WTF? Normally potlucks end up being dessert-skewed, so I didn't provide anything sweet. Did ill-fated New Year's Resolutions cause this weird turn of events?

Third--Matt managed an 11th hour resurrection from being permanently deleted as a crush. He was on the email invite and didn't respond, so on Tuesday I pretty much decided that he wasn't interested. Done and done. Then Thursday afternoon he replied in the affirmitive. He didn't come to the potluck, but I met him and Lisa at the show. While talking he told me that not only did he enjoy Kelly Hogan, but that the Hideout was one of his favorite bars and that he liked Devil in a Woodpile even more*. Damn and double Damn the boy. How dare he steal my solace in knowing that my crush on him is over and replace it with more reasons to support his adorability? Seriously, on the day that I was sorta miffed at the law friends for not coming out, Matt shows them all up. Anyway, the book of Matthew is open for at least another chapter or two.

*I live in hipster central. Arty is the norm, indie music rules and posers abound. In this environment of faux-individualism, the Hideout is truly off of the beaten path and DIAW is a truly quirky group--in fact its a jug band. This place is truly eclectic, eccentric and energizing with a crowd consisting of the most random characters ever. They have always served PBR in cans and mounted fish have hung on the walls forever--not just recently to be ironic. I have begged my law friends to go there, but they always have excuses. I even took Frick there once, but my law friends haven't been convinced. This wouldn't normally be a big deal, but I find it exasperating that my few hipper-than-thou friends refuse to go to a place that actually is what the bars they seek out pretend to be. grrrr. Matt however, is not one of these friends. He doesn't pretend to be hip--and in fact thinks that whole scene is silly. He comes across as pretty conventional and strait-laced--but actually is quirky, interesting and independant. Instead of advertising his non-mainstream interests and ideas, he hides them as little gems to be discovered unexpectedly. What a delight compared to the posers who would tattoo "I am no sheep" on their forehead if it became popular.




Bike repair, cleaning and politics

Chicago got dumped with snow last week and created some interesting biking experiences. Most of the route to work is on a major street, so that isn't much of a problem. However a few blocks were snowy/icy/rutted and difficult to manuever on. I am sure that I royally pissed off a more than a few drivers as I slid, tottered and slowly worked my way home as they were forced to join me in a ridiculous slower-than-walking bicycle-lead procession. I thought my clumsy handling was funny--but I suspect that had their windows been rolled down, allowing them to hear my uncontrollable giggles, that I would have used me as a stencil to imprint a bloody snow-angel-riding-a bicycle in the dirty snow. This thought made me just giggle all the more--and giggling does not contribute possitively to balancing a bike on an uneven, shifting, slippery surface. Luckily I haven't fallen.

It all hasn't been smooth riding however. On the morning of the first snow (Wednesday?) my bike felt super sluggish on the road--I attributed this to the snow. Most of my attention was consumed by watching the road--which had snow and icyness. After I was riding on a clear path for a while I realized that I was working way too hard for the speed and gears that I was riding. "Fucking out of shape lazy ass" was the commentary going through my head as another biker passed me (people don't pass me unless they hit a light better than me or are on road bikes). The rhythmic 'flupping' sound that I had been humming to finally penetrated my conscious brain, jarred into recognition by the bone-rattling beating I experienced at every bump. My problem wasn't snow, ice or my lazy ass, but instead a flat tire. I then remembered that the night before I thought I needed more air in my tire, but then completely forgot about it. So basically I rode three miles on a flat tire.

I fanagled the front desk woman to let me bring my bike into the building to fix the flat. It was fun to get all greasy and work with my hands at the office. This tube had been patched before, but I didn't have the presta valve converter, so I patched it again. This worked fine and off I road. Coming home from the bar on Saturday night I went over a grated bridge and the unpleasant sensations resumed. Damn it. I was only a few blocks from home, so it wasn't a big deal--but bike maintenance isn't my favorite activity.

When I flipped my bike over to remove the tire I was treated to the filthy underbelly of my poor bike. I scrubbed all of the nasty, salty crust off and then cleaned the floor where it had been parked. Apparently bicycles can smuggle an amazing amount of snow/slush/ice indoors with them. This frozen mess melts all over the floor leaving a salty finger pointing back to my bike sitting guiltily in an incrimating, dirty puddle. [the trail also demonstrates how uneven our apartment is.] After all of this cleaning I replaced the tube and was quite pleased with myself. Most pleasing was the fact that both of my patches were still intact and holding air. It is good to know that I can rely on my patching ability to get me out of a pinch. tehehe

Riding to work on Monday again made me feel out of shape--but it didn't feel like I was riding on the rims. A quick look at a stop sign confirmed that the tire still had air. I continued onward, once again feeling out of shape and got to work sweatier than usual. Riding home took a ton of effort and after about a mile I stopped to further investigate. After checking to see if it was the brakes or fender rubbing, I realized that the tire was rubbing against the frame. I had to push the tire hard to get it to move at all--no wonder it was so hard to ride. Once the tire was properly housed the rest of the ride home was a breeze. How could I possibly not realize sooner that these problems were mechanical instead of assuming that it was me being sluggish? I ride this thing damn near every day--shouldn't I trust my own abilities by now to identify problems like these sooner?

Another disturbing thing is that recently I have found myself annoyed with some bikey people that I have met. The owner of the bike shop scoffed at me for getting a new tube instead of patching it again, "two patches--that's nothing, I don't consider getting a new tube until it has been patches at least 16 times". First of all, 'Fuck you.' In my opinion this tube is just used up. It has over 4000 miles of bumpy, glass-strewn miles on it and has flatted three times in as many months. January is not the time of year when I want to be fixing a flat on the side of the road, either. Second--what kind of business owner are you? Don't criticize a customer's decision--especially when she is erring on the side of buying more stuff from your store. I didn't ask for his advise, and was secure in my decision. While he knows who I am, I don't feel that we have a good enough relationship for his unsolicited, condescending attitude.

On the other end of this spectrum is a woman who was appalled that I didn't have an all-gortex uniform for riding in. She is older (she coordinates her clothes with her dog's clothes) and tried to lecture me on this about a week ago. She actually was demanding reasons why I wouldn't want completely waterproof clothes instead of settling for water resistant. My temper rose to her challenge and I explained that I would get too warm and sweaty in waterproof clothes. She countered with a glowing endorsement of gortex and couldn't believe that people go without it. I don't know what is so hard to understand about the fact that gortex is too expensive to justify the few times that it is actually necessary.

Why do people get so preachy about this sort of stuff? Neither of these people are negatively effected by my clothing or flat-fixing methods. I just don't understand it. I don't want to be a gear or apparel freak--but I don't try to convert those who are. Both of these experiences just made me cranky. I am not out to prove how hard-core I am (for either of their mind-sets) and I hate this whiff of bikeier-than-thou from these people. I expect it from the roadies, fixies and the immortal messenger class, but I don't want to hear it from the car-free commuters. From that great group I expect only support and friendship.


Monday, January 03, 2005

NYE Boys

I got dolled up for New Year's Eve. Why? Because I love to dress up for fun events, even if I prefer to be a slob on an everyday basis. After CM I rode home and threw on a little black dress, heels and lipstick (OK, my dolling up isn't all that extensive and still takes less than 5 minutes). Then I got the super-great fun of biking in the heels and dress to the party in DECEMBER. Fantastic. I also learned an important lesson about my little black dresses--one is fine to bike in, but this one is completely scandalous, even by my biking/flashing standards. Thankfully it was dark and I was wearing underpants.

After several minutes at the party I realized that something was weird--I was one of two women at the party and the other had a newborn and husband in tow. Fortunately more women showed up throughout the night, but the ratio still skewed overwhelmingly male, and most of the women were 'girlfriends'. Additionally, the word recently got out that I am now single. The intersection of sausage party, my 'fresh meat' status and the lipstick/dress combo created a different dynamic between me and some of my bikey guy friends. This only became worse as the evening continued and the alcohol ran freely.

Yuck--there are few things that make me as uncomfortable as men who I am not interested in expressing interest in me. It's bad enough when these men are just strangers who can be brushed off rudely if necessary. It is entirely different when the guys are men who you know and want to remain friends with--or at least know you will have future contact with or share social groups. I don't know how to gracefully stop them from embarrassing themselves. This is probably partly my awkward ineptness and partly the inability of many men to be able to read women's signals adequately. So anyway there were a several uncomfortable moments and several guys who I don't look forward to seeing anytime soon.

But, beyond this I still managed to follow my New Year's Eve tradition of developing a connection with a cool boy from a different city. This year's state: New York. Also following the tradition--he's the younger brother of a man I hope to develop a professional/business relationship. Breaking the tradition, I did't make out with him in front of the older brother and other family members. He is Todd's brother who I met the night before at Alex's party. We had some chemistry on Thursday, but only spoke for a bit. Friday night things seemed more interesting, but we were both mingling a lot at the party--a few times I sort of used him as my 'shield' to deflect unwanted boy attention, but nothing too overt. He and I then biked over to a party at the lower apartment of Todd's place and hung out there together for quite a while.

This party was sort of the same thing--except half of the guys were gay. Doesn't matter. For some inexplicable reason stereotypically gay guys who are overly concerned about appearance and fashion just adore me. This is completely perplexing because even a cursory inspection of me reveals way too many 'mistakes'.
  • Shoes--Payless, circa two years ago;
  • Legs--unwaxed;
  • feet/hands--unmani/pedicured;
  • hair--boring cut/no product;
  • dress--again, two years old and not 'stylish';
  • handbag--bike panier;
  • make-up--just lipstick;
  • body--chubbyish and flat-chested.

Even when I am not 'dolled-up' this type of gay guy just loves me. It is truly a mystery of my life. But anyway, I digress......

So the boy and I spent a lot of time talking as other men drifted in and out of the group. Eventually Todd and some other bikey people arrived. One of them was totally trashed and started to insist how cute of a couple we were and that 'he had a feeling about us' and 'if you aren't at that level yet, you soon will be'. Ummm yeah--too bad he was too drunk to feel the awkward silence that built from his 'compliments'. When the party wound down the boy, Todd and I all went upstairs to talk for a while. What makes more sense than extending the evening until 7:30 in the morning? Obviously, nothing happened under Big Brother's eye and I biked home and napped straight through polar bearing.

Todd and I talked later and decided no Lake Michigan for us--too late, too lonely, too cold. An hour or so later the boy called to confirm the bailing from the already bailed plan and to tell me that he was leaving for New York that night or early Sunday. I wished him a nice life and he said that we'd see each other in the future because he visits Chicago regularly. Cool.

The next day he called to say that he was postponing his trip and that he happened to have an extra ticket to a play that evening and would I join him, Todd and Lisa? Well, yes of course. It was fun and nice--plus it is always reassuring to have additional confirmation that my read on people is accurate. It is nice to just get confirmation that there are indeed cool, wonderful, smart men with whom I can share a mutual attraction. If we lived in the same city I think we would probably have a blast, but we don't so the flirt should just be enjoyed for the moment.


So for three years in a row I have met a fun new boy on NYE who was perfect for the moment. Maybe my NY resolution should always be to begin each year flirting with a cute, smart boy without the worry of what it will lead to. However, I do have some regrets:

  • Not going out with Todd to meet his out-of-town brother on Tuesday night--I could have had a week of flirting instead of a weekend. Dammit.
  • Not being more affectionate with the boy in front of the other guy bikey friends--this could have killed two birds by making the guys think I was attached and by just racheting up the flirt for fun's sake.

Oh well.......this also helps me to put the adorable lawyer boy in perspective.





Saturday, January 01, 2005

NYE Critical Mass

New Year's Eve was spent at a bikey friend's party and was quite fun--probably the fourth most fun NYE of my life. Critical Mass happened to fall on NYE and the ride itself was very pleasant--not super fun, but pleasant. I saw Dana, a UIC Circle Cycle Club leader who I met at the 2004 CBF fundraising gala, and Susan a 2004 CBF bicycle ambassador. Both of these girls are really cool and I like running into them. They are also still both in undergraduate, and relationships with younger women provides a different vibe and perspective because in general my friendships skew older than me.

In the early/middle part of the ride on South Michigan I almost lost the Mass when I stopped to help a kid standing on the median curb yelling for a spare or patch. I wheeled around and started digging for a patch when suddenly cars were whizzing by us. When I finally handed him the patch he pointed across the traffic and said that it was for 'that guy over there.' We waited quite a while for a red light and walked our bikes across the stopped cars. After we were safetly across we learned that there were several other people who stopped and were already helping him, so I wheeled around to try to find the rest of the Mass. Along the way people yelled to me, encouraging me onward, that the 'rest of them' went 'that way'. Nice. I found the Mass and joined the rear of the pack.

As much as I hate people to flat during the Mass, I do love seeing the community's response: help is immediate, excessive and sacrificing. Anyone who stops and actually provides assistance is pretty much guaranteed to Lose the Mass and miss the rest of the ride--and yet people always stop to help. How great is that?

Nearing the end of the ride I heard a man citing court cases, so I dropped back to ask him if he was also an attorney. No, but he does IT for the Center on Poverty Law. This organization is suing one of my clients in a case I worked a lot on. Several times at bikey functions I have met people on the opposite side of this issue and have gotted into discussions with them about it. I knew the story behind this case for several years before working at the firm and thought that my client's position is laudible even before I began working on it. After doing extensive document review and speaking with employees of all levels in the client organization, I am even more committed to this position. My anti-litiguous attitude makes me bristle at the plaintiffs in this case because I don't think that litigation is the best way to resolve the situation, but is instead extremely expensive to both sides and wastes money that would be better spent to address the problem they are arguing about the best way to solve. Additionally, this particular case is frustrating for me because both sides have the same goals and are composed of like-minded, public-interested oriented people whose views overlap incredibly on most topics. They are litigating only a sliver of difference on how to best address a very serious, complicated, compelling problem. It all seems like an incredible waste of effort by otherwise very good organizations.

Unlike my other conversations with bikey people who are involved with this issue, I actually enjoyed this conversation. Since David only did the IT aspect of the case, he wasn't rabidly committed to his client's position and instead wanted to actually discuss the issues instead of merely arguing that his side was right. We tiptoed around a lot of concrete issues because I couldn't violate my duties to my client--which he was very respectful of. I was free to tell him that as an attorney, as a liberal, and as a student of public housing and welfare issues in colllege, I didn't have any qualms about defending my client in this issue. In addition, as our conversation meandered around some of the different issues facing displaced public housing residents, I mentioned my work with the extensive police brutality Burge investigation. This seemed to provide credibility to my claim to be a liberal and that I wasn't just a brain-washed pawn of the city. He had reseverations about his employer's position in the lawsuit also, and wanted to bounce some ideas around with someone who knew the issue, and would speak about the theories and complications invovled. We had a very satisfying conversation because neither of us was dogmatic and admitted that it was a very complicated issue with no easy answers. He raised some very compelling questions that I will have to ponder over--I may try to look him up to continue our conversation.

David broke off from the Mass just before the best part of the ride: a dance party broke out! We did a roundabout at the Polish Triangle between Ashland, Division and Milwaukee and then Alex took his bike/sound system onto the triangle itself and then the whole Mass joined him. For a few moments it just seemed like this was going to be the end of the ride--but then a few people started dancing. Soon, damn near the whole crowd was dancing and bystanders joined in to become participants. Todd climbed up onto a structure (dumpster?) and his dance quickly turned into a striptease until he was only clad in his boxers. Of course, Terry had to join him and quickly pulled her dress down to her waist--that girl gets topless at every given opportunity.

The music lowered and cops descended upon the group as Todd and Terry wisely descended from their dancing platform. I manuevered over to Todd with the same focus that one police officer did. I didn't say anything and simply observed, ready to provide him with my professional services to prevent him from being arrested if the situation became dicey. He handled the cops really well by questioning exactly what he/we were doing illegally in a respectful but not submissive attitude. After a bit of hassling, the cops calmed down and wandered through the group, occasionally investigating the contents of parked bike baskets, but basically convinced that while unorthodox, we weren't any sort of threat.

Towards the end of my stay, a girl was lifted into a tree and the cops quickly threatened to arrest her. Almost immediately after her feet hit the ground she began dancing. It was hilarious to watch the cops threaten to arrest her for climbing the tree. She sassily responded, "How can I be climbing a tree, I'm just dancing?" Some of her friends started a silly line dialogue of "what tree?" "I don't see a tree--do you see a tree?" "Free the trees!" I don't think the cops really are used to such silly, light-hearted, non-violent crowd behavior and didn't push the issue.

Shortly afterwards another ridiculuous dialogue broke out after they told us we had to leave when a person yelled, "we're waiting for the bus!" and everyone started clamoring in agreement. The officers shook their heads in vain and argued that we were not all waiting for the bus. "but what else would we all be doing at a bus stop?" The officers asserted against the tumult that we could not all be waiting for the bus, when a person piped up, "sure we are, it will just take a long time because only two bikes are allowed on a bus at a time." Our crowd almost lost it laughing--and the cops seemed to be struggling with laughter in the face of this ridiculously false, and yet undeniable argument.

Everytime I have encountered CPD officers during the Mass I have been basically satisfied with their behavior. They seem confused and cautious by the group. On the one hand we are flagrantly breaking traffic laws and there is some public drinking and pot smoking. We certainly are drawing attention to ourselves and look like a rag-tagged bunch. On the other hand, we are ridiculously happy and non-violent. Unlike the NYPD, I can sense the CPD officers' hesitation to hassle a bunch of silly cyclists. Still, like all cops they always need to appear in control of a situation and this can lead them to be more assaholic than I would prefer. At the same time, they don't seem at all anxious to actually arrest anyone in front of the group. Would you want to arrest someone for a minor reason in front of thier friends? Would you want to arrest a cute dancing girl on NYE? I realized that the cops were bracing for a long NYE filled with drunken/disorderly/violent assholes and at first glimpse they probably thought that we were going to kick off that evening.

Once the tension with the cops was cut and the dance party died down I determined that it was safe for me to leave and headed home to get ready for John's NYE party. Smiles and giggles abounded.

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