Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Hodge-Podge (does anyone actually know how to spell this word?)

Three weeks ago today, I arrived in Portland. I have been sick half of that time. What the hell?! There is something about Portland's microbial make-up that defies even my superhuman immune system (thank you public education and all of the lovely germ-carriers you serve for giving me one hell of an immune system). Mario, one of the friends I'm living with, says I just haven't been exposed to Portland's germs and it'll get better. I hope so because I'm over it. I have this super rattly cough and it's obnoxious when trying to fall asleep at night. Also, my knuckles have been permanently cold for two days now. The rest of my hands are warm, but my knuckles feel like they've been hanging out in the freezer. I considered stopping by the drug store to buy gauze and sport tape so I could wrap my knuckles and hopefully keep them warm, but I thought that would just make me look like a boxer or MMA fighter. Not a desired effect In other news, I had a job interview yesterday. I was really anxious about it and had a long train ride to ruminate and make myself more nervous. I plugged in my ipod and I'm happy to say I have found the perfect song to relax before an interview. Here it is: The Flaming Lips- Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots Pt. 1 I'm signing up for a 24 hour zine contest, which is pretty ambitious considering that I've never actually self-published before. The writing will be easy. We'll see about the publishing. I have to come up with a zine idea, write 24 pages, make at least one copy with illustrations (or, in my case, other people's pictures), and bind it in 24 hours. I'm doing it simply to kick my own butt into gear. I have been writing like a machine here, because inspiration is everywhere. But historically, I never follow through with publishing anything. I've decided that needs to change, and what better way than a little baptism by fire? Finally, this has totally become me: I've been thinking a lot about my biking here in Portland. I've recently become infatuated with a zine called Taking the Lane. It's a zine about female bicycle commuters and the challenges and triumphs we face. The most recent one that I read was about biking and our bodies. In the forward, the editors talk about how bicycle commuting is still heavily dominated by men. I believe I read that only 30% of the population of bicycle commuters is female (it might actually be less than that). The percentage is higher in Portland, but I've definitely been looking around as I bike the city and noticing that I am in the minority. It's kind of cool, because it makes me feel all avant-garde and what have you, but it's also problematic. I have had men try to give me tips about how to take care of my bike on the Max (Light Rail), and even lifting my bike off the rack for me, which I find completely depowering and absolutely annoying. I am perfectly capable of lifting my own bike and one of my intense pleasures is enjoying the fluidity with which I can lift my bike and carry it up and down the multiple flights of stairs to get down to the Max station. Please don't insult my taking my bike off a rack that's one foot off the ground for me. I have also noticed that women take the brunt of drivers' rage at cyclists. I have never once observed a driver being confrontational toward a male cyclist even though I have observed several male cyclists behaving obnoxious, rude, and even antagonistic toward drivers. On the other hand, I have witnessed on a couple of occasions where drivers have yelled at or nearly hit female cyclists to make a point. On one occasion during a group ride I was involved with, the leader of our ride (a female) rang her bell at a man who was getting out to have his car parked by valet. She simply wanted him to know that we were there and that swinging his door open without paying attention might hurt one of us. He screamed at her "I'm parking, you bitch!" Now, I'm pretty sure he was an out-of-towner, as this was in front of a hotel downtown and most Portlanders are way too passive-aggressive to say something like that to a cyclist. It still bugged me. Anyway, that's my rant. But I have had to become like Fred Armisen in the above sketch, because drivers just cut it too close. Oregon law says that if a cyclist does not have a bike lane they may take the lane. I read somewhere before moving here that, you should really take the lane (like place you and your bike at least 2 feet from the curb or edge of the lane). If you try to make yourself small out of consideration for drivers, they will take advantage of it and drive way too close to you. It's true. In fact, when I take the lane, I ride square in the middle of it. I have already nearly been hit about 6 times. If they want to pass me, they can get in the other lane, damn it. I mean, really. I'm the one puffing and sweating up these gigantic hills only to gain minimal speed and reprieve on a downhill. All you have to do, driver, is slow down for a moment until you can pass me and then press your foot ever so slightly on the gas pedal. My efforts take priority over your self-importance in this case, buddy. Hah!

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