Monday, June 29, 2009

clothes are useful when it's cold

“Now that I've got long lovely red hair and wear skirts and push-up bras and shit, life is better.... Part of attracting boys is wearing the "I'm attracted to boys" uniform, and, well, I know it's weak but I'd rather have the boys than be a Gender Revolutionary.”

I don’t think I could begin to separate the way I present myself from the way I want other people to see me. I make choices based on comfort, time, and personal aesthetics, but what I choose to wear is fundamentally determined by the message I want to send out into the world. I have no idea how I’d dress if it didn’t affect other people. At home I go naked a lot and wear more dresses. (The dresses I own are very comfortable for many tasks but not for bicycling or anything that requires pockets, so are fairly impractical for leaving my neighborhood.) Would aesthetics matter if no one else noticed, or would comfort be the only consideration? I have met a few people who appear in most circumstances to think very little about what they project to the outside world (though I know this can be misleading; I had a good friend in college who spent hours to look as if she’d just rolled out of bed and thrown on a flannel shirt). I’m a bit jealous. Some of them (men) are judged less on their appearance, but all of them have decided that they don’t need to get the benefits I do from looking a certain way, and I’m a bit in awe of that. I’ve chosen to give up some of the things I’d get if I wore makeup and dressed more “nicely” by Delmar standards; in return I feel more true to myself. How much more self-actualized are the folks who’ve given up more?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

thanks for showing me your swiss army knife

What to do with the boxes, my friend wonders, the old photos and graduation tassels and ticket stubs, the stuffed animals from my high school boyfriend. So many things to keep.

A couple of years ago my mother dropped off a humidor of old letters to me, I say. I glanced at a few, shuddered to remember how lonely I was as a teenager, and recycled the rest unread so I wouldn’t have to think about that anymore. Dan tried to dissuade me but I have no regrets. If the love letters could have sorted themselves out, I might have saved them, but smiling about the gushiness of my gay boyfriend from ’91 wasn’t worth going through the rest.

She considers. I don’t think I have any love letters, just the teddy bears and hand-me-down bongs.

I’m shocked, and surprised that I’m shocked. She dated athletes, nice boys all, but perhaps less likely than the tortured artists I coveted to write her poetry. Plus I had summer-camp boyfriends back when long distance calls were expensive, and I started using e-mail obsessively as soon as college began; we were writing to each other anyway so paeans of joy were no great stretch. Even the perpetually stoned potter left haikus about my feet on my whiteboard freshman year. (The limericks, well, they don’t count.)

But I hadn’t known that I considered such words to be a standard part of even a fleeting relationship. I don’t remember anyone before Dan giving me tangible gifts. My friend has a collection of jewelry and toys from birthdays and Christmases; she’d have been hurt if a boyfriend had failed to provide her with such. I got sonnets, and just now realized how much I took them for granted. To all my exes out there: thank you for skipping the heart-shaped magnets.

bike plan meeting

Last week’s Albany Bike Master Plan public meeting was a bit of a let-down. It was not well-publicized (indeed, the only reason I knew about it was from an e-mail sent out a month in advance by the organizers to those who’d signed in at the last meeting) and had a much lower turnout than the one in February. That wasn’t too disappointing, though, since they weren’t presenting any new information. The facilitator tried to avoid taking questions publicly, asking us to instead talk to the staff individually. This didn’t stop some irritated people from the audience from voicing their legitimate frustration with the fact that several major roads in Albany were in the process of being reworked without any provisions for bicyclists.

There were two workstations where they asked for input- one on prioritizing different goals, and one to comment on the maps of desired bike routes drawn up from feedback obtained at the winter meeting. There wasn’t a whole lot to say about the latter other than “sure, great, but is any of this actually going to be done?”

I left not really knowing what the point of the whole thing was. It certainly wasn’t to tell us anything, so presumably it was to give the agency our input. But given that the only attendees were a small self-selected group of politically-minded folks who have very strong feelings about cycling, this meeting was not a good place to gather information if they’re actually interested in hearing from a reasonable cross-section of Albany bicyclists. After we were dismissed to the workstations I asked the woman running the study how they were reaching out to other demographics. (Most visibly absent was significant representation of non-whites, when more than half the people I see biking in Albany are black. A lot of people bike because they can’t afford cars, and they weren’t at this meeting) She said something vague about having a meeting in the South End but was quite defensive, even though I broached the subject politely.

I fear that the city is just going through the motions. Someone out there wants to pretend they’re listening to concerns of bicyclists, so they’re making a “plan” and holding public meetings, but they are not making any effort to reach out to most current bicyclists (much less potential ones) and are unlikely to actually implement any of the things we ask for. Well, maybe they’ll put up a few bike racks; that’s cheap and easy and doesn’t piss off drivers. But nothing that will substantively improve the safety and ease of bicycling in the city.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Committing suicide after a failed marriage is courageous?

I haven't read this book; the review alone are pissing me off. There's nothing new about romanticizing dramatic love affairs that end badly. I hate that so few people seem to see how passion can coexist with stability, that happily living with someone day in and day out is in fact love, and that chasing excitement may be a fine option for some but opting out of that doesn't mean settling.

I agree that just because an affair doesn't last forever doesn't mean it wasn't important or worthwhile. But I don't think being subsumed by someone who treats you badly shows self-confidence, either, as Nehring seems to suggest.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

this isn't love, it's narcissism

If Dan were dying and decided that he was going to devote all his energy to making a statue of himself for me to remember him by when he was gone, instead of spending time with me, I'd leave him too.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

no clip-ons at least

Dan has a tie hanger that lives in the corner of the closet because he never wears ties. He pulled it out today so he could install some cables. I asked if we could sort through them, but alas, he wants to keep them all. Even the skinny purple polyester one, the brown paisley one, and the one with Winnie the Pooh on it. Maybe someday….

why do I look at articles on NYC renovations?

The bike must be for show. No one uses a kickstand on floors like that.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

this summer we can calculate prime numbers

A: Me too!
D: Me three!
C: Me five!
A: Me 600!
C: NO, A, that's not part of the Fibonacci series!

Proof that anything your kid learns will just be another excuse for an argument.