30 December 2009

end of the decade commemorative post.

The 2000s are over.  Hurray!  I've been reading so many commemorative accounts of what to call the decade (I liked this one from The New Yorker) and summaries of events (I liked this icon chart from The New York Times) that like, really, how glad am I, as an individual and an American, to put this decade behind me?

IIn honor of that simpler time- before hanging chads, 9-11, the Iraq War, swift-boating, sustainability, iPods, social networking sites, the recession, and change you can believe in- or for me, before dating, state lacrosse championships, parental divorce, baptism, high school graduation, community college, acquiring a sister-in-law, singles wards, college, nieces, working, and graduate school in two states-- I present to you my own lackluster account, straight from my journal, of New Year's Eve, 2000.  I was a sophomore in high school.  If anything, in contrast to my account of 2009, the entry is evidence that the most humdrum of occasions (dancing in a gym? come on!) can portend a decade of change, accomplishment, and greatness.  However you celebrate it, Happy New Year!

(edited in spots for coherency; names abbreviated to protect the innocent. spelling errors left intact.)

"DUN-DUH-DUN! HAPPY NEW YR.! It's January 1, 2000, 2:18 am!
Time 4 the MILLENIUM REPORT!


Alright, a quick run down of todays events...
11:30 wake up by hang up phone call
1-2 library, checked out The Divine Comedy by Dante, Beloved by Toni Morrison, etc.*
2-4 Reading
4-4:15- attempt to get ready for planned "Main Street" course run (27th to 67th, 67th to Cirque, Cirque to Grandview, Grandview to 27th, up 27th to home)
4:20 leave house, under excuse of don't want to be worn out, do the "2000 m spring" (approx) in 7:21, w/rest / 1000m.


My last millenium meal:
-1.5 beer marinated pork chop, dipped in ketchup & Sweet Baby Ray's BBQ sauce
-shoestring french fries
-water


We ate with Big Brother, Mom, Big Sister and Dad.


-Big Brother hosted a small get together and smoked stogies w/ T at midnight.
-Mom went to CF's, as tradition stands.
-Dad worked, unwillingly.


And A showed up early- at 7- for the big par-tay, so we could help set up.  Of all places, the Tac-South Stake [city-wide conglomeration of Mormon congregations] rented out our High School, so I went to school for New Years!


We left [the party] around 8:15, went to Dairy Queen, but someone was in our spots so we stopped by my house for a bit o Toblerone ( :) ) and went to B2's house for a while. Went back to the school- swung by the Youth dance for a while, but there were way too many little kids in there and it smelled like B.O. Danced with B2 to one song and then me and A had a shift managing the inflatable "bouncer" for 30 minutes.  Then we hooked up with J & E & went to E's house. The boys played pool & we girls were obnoxious with this big blue bouncy ball. Got back to school @ 11... that's when New Year's got fun.  The dance was movin, and it was a great time. I got sick of following A & B though, so I just hung out with the other group I know- lot's o' fun!


Last Song- "I'm Dreamin'"- Selena
Partner- Freshman DD


Then we did the countdown and poof- 2000! The lights stayed on & I came home. Ate licorice, triscuits & choc milk & a See's mint truffle, read Harry Potter & The Chamber of Secrets and am now here.


My goal, as told to A & B, was not to be an old spinster this millenium.**


Oh, my attire for the eve. was:
new heman shirt
green cargo shorts
brown Saltwater sandals
old navy pullover, gray fleece***


My goals for this yr, officially are:
-to lose at least 5-7 lbs & keep it off
-Learn the non-metric distance system (yds. vs. meters)
-play la-x & run varsity x-c
-build my testimony
-expand my base of friends
-get kissed
-be a better friend to J
-not eat so much chocolate!


...Merry freakin' millenium, as Dad said!
-Melanie"


*I'd love to know what the etc. was, as I never read either of the books listed.
**Jury is still out on how I'm doing on that one. Good thing I have 90 years to work on it...
**It just so happens that I still own this entire outfit.

29 December 2009

2009 end of the year meme.

So I'm back in Philly, and like, so tired that I'm drooling.  It was smooth sailing getting back here, aside from the getting up and 4 am and having a facefullofsnot all day parts.  I am already homesick and missing the constant company of siblings, dogs, and the little people but feeling very enthusiastic about sleeping in my own bed tonight, once I dig it out from the laundry I left on it two and a half weeks ago.


Anyways, I was catching up on my blog reading to stave off going to bed too early and happened upon PilgrimSteps' version of the "2009 End of the Year Meme."  After a sort of blog hiatus, it looked appealing because it's a fill in the blank thing.  So here it goes:


1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
Finished a Masters thesis, got my MA, fell in love with the English countryside, presented at three academic conferences, went to Wales, moved to the Eastern time zone, started a PhD program, sold my car and became a bike commuter, bought a pack of cigarettes (naughty naughty!).


2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I didn't make any last year, but 2010's will probably have to do with achieving balance or some shit.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
does my brother's BFF's wife count? my circle really isn't much for breeding.


4. Did anyone close to you die?
Lost a great uncle and an acquaintance from Utah.


5. What countries did you visit?
England, Wales, middle Pennsylvania.


6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
cop out answer: headlight for the Dahon, or better yet, a road bike.


7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
the day I went to Park City and decide to go to Temple, the day I played in the Pacific at Ocean Beach.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Finishing my Master's thesis meant a lot to me.  Broadly, figuring out that I could make things happen in a big way.


9. What was your biggest failure?
The times that I lost sight of my worth and abilities. 


10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
The Great Kidney Stone of January, hangovers, heartburn.


11. What was the best thing you bought?
All those plane tickets. My iMac and my foam mattress will have to duke it out for runner-up. Also, a pair of gold leggings for my superstar niece.


12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
My family, doy- and all the people who propped me up during a very difficult Spring semester, and really, year round.


13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
Meh. I got over it. So let's go with all those people who tried to block healthcare reform.


14. Where did most of your money go?
Rent, travel.


15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
moving to Philly, going to England, going to Denver for WHA 


16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Sun Kil Moon, "Lost Verses." my anthem.


17. Compared to this time last year, are you: (a) happier or sadder? (b) thinner or fatter? (c) richer or poorer?
a) way happier!
b) thinner
c) poorer


18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
More fiction reading. More walks in the park by my house. More embroidery. More trips to the Philadelphia Art Museum. Basically, more me time during the school parts.


19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
fixating on my ridiculous man problems, moody wallowing and brooding.


20. How did you spend Christmas?
3 busy days with family, culminating in a beautiful dinner at "my other parent's" house.


21. Did you fall in love in 2009?
I fell in love with my profession. A lot of things clicked for me. I fell in love with Philadelphia as I rode my bike every day. I am so happy to be here.


22. What was your favorite TV program?
Mad Men and Gossip Girl. I get uber dorky over those shows.


23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
I have better things to do with my energy.

24. What was the best book you read?
So the other night I was reading a book and my brother said something to this effect: "If somebody would've asked me a long tiime ago what you were going to be when you grew up, I would've said, 'I don't know, but she sure reads a lot of books.'" Here's my best effort at a short list:



For work: To Serve God and Wal-Mart; Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America; Woman's Body, Woman's Right; Fighting for American Manhood; The Bitter Road to Freedom.


For pleasure: The Road; Bloodsucking Fiends and You Suck; The Yiddish Policeman's Union.


I really discovered magazines in a huge way this year. I'm a little obsessed with Vogue and The New Yorker.


25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
The Weepies, Phoenix, Sun Kil Moon's acoustic albums.


26. What did you want and get?
To have a life I could be happy with.


27. What did you want and not get?
see 30.


28. What was your favorite film of this year?
The Wrestler. I also rediscovered Rocky and it occupies a special place in my heart. Godfather 1 and 2 as well.


29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Suffice it to say I drank a lot of free beers. I'll tell you the story in ten years.


30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
It was pretty damn satisfying, if anything because I had such a great time working to make up for what I didn't have.


31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
Cardigans, or, dressing like a grown up. I was really into wearing a ton of colors at the beginning of the year, but I toned things down a lot as the year progressed. 


32. What kept you sane?
Family & friends, long soaks in the tub, bike rides, lager.


33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
John Hamm. Yowsers. Though I do love that Ed Westwick as well. 


34. What political issue stirred you the most?
The Inauguration, health care, Iran, education funding.

35. Who did you miss?
So many people! I hung my hat in 4 different places this year, I was bound to miss somebody and everybody.


36. Who was the best new person you met?
I've been lucky to meet lots of great people in my new program and through the internets. 


37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
To paraphrase Thoreau: Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life that you've imagined. Build your castles in the air, then build foundations under them.


38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Don't stop me now

'cause I'm having such a good time!

-Queen, "Don't stop me now"


Let me know if you do the year end meme!

28 December 2009

disney templates.

Big Brother shared this with me. The kids liked the music. Clever stuff.



24 December 2009

a pack of strays.

I've been touched lately by the thoughtful Christmas essays featured in The New York Times recently.  One spoke to the realities- and hopes- of being a single person during the holidays, another, more poignant, answered for the struggles of the unmoored and the families who take them in on festive days.  While I have never been in the foster care system or experienced even half of the traumas the author alluded to, I have felt the pinball feeling of ricocheting off of other people's (and sometimes my own) family events as both a grateful participant and an uncomfortable intruder.  Confronting this feeling annually involves a late, reluctant, and resigned purchase of an airline ticket and a frustrating blend of enthusiasm and dread.  I love, love, love being around my family but I struggle to really enjoy the holidays (coming home in the summer is so much easier!).  After reading this NYT story about people skipping the holidays- I, feeling very curmudgeonly (probably from gorging on candy and teriyaki to cope with, you know, the stress) was like, YES! Maybe next year I could just spend the holidays at home in Philly in my most amazing bed that I miss so much, without any drama or feelings of holiday malaise!  Maybe I could just skip it, all of it!  Validated in my dark and brooding state, I was plotting a dramatic iCal reminder that would suggest I consider traveling after New Years so that I could just bypass all of the running around and the inexplicable misery I feel in the midst of all this apparent happiness.


It's like you see me making a white sauce, but really I have this complicated inner life. 


I recognize that I'm not the only person on the planet to feel this, and I recognize I'm probably not the only person in this house who feels it either.  Which is why I'm so especially grateful that my some special folks rallied our pack of strays this evening.  Fragments of an extended family, we boast a large percentage of single people.  We lack a clear leader- there are no matriarchs or patriarchs here, just a  contingent of several generations willing to go where they are called.  Suddenly planned, the food was simple, the giving was directed primarily towards the children, and the evening involved the installation of a car radiator.  This was not some ungainly production, but an effort of basic pragmatism:


We would all celebrate Christmas elsewhere, but tonight, we needed to celebrate our Christmas.  We gathered from the far-flung corners of Seattle, rural Pierce County, Tacoma, and Philadelphia to be together.  And perhaps, because of the nature of the season, we were able to see in each other qualities we'd missed or thought too long dormant.  It was an awakening moment for me.


It is easy to see the holidays for what they aren't, for what ones' life isn't.  It is a default, for some, to feel lost and aloof amidst endless hams and cookie platters.  It is not difficult to focus on those feelings, it just happens.  And that is why it is so blissful when that moment of grace presents itself and you can't feel anything better than the love and caring that comes from being a part of a family.  We say we're coming together for the holidays, but really, we're coming together for each other. It is good to be reminded that we are no longer strangers and together we are no longer strays.


God bless us, every one.

07 December 2009

slow and steady wins the race.



In conversations about the health benefits of moving to Philadelphia and bike commuting, I typically use the "fat summer" of 2008 as a point of reference.  I had moved to Utah, lost ten pounds from the stress, bought a bike, gained all the weight back, and then set upon a rather solitary, sedentary summer that included a lot of air-conditioned hours spent watching movies while consuming a steady intake of drinks, Pringles, Cheeze-Nips, Oreos, and the like.  It was a lonely time that was met with poor food choices. We've all been there.  There are basically no pictures of me from that time because I took special care to delete them along the way.  I had no energy, wore loose sundresses because my pants didn't fit, and was pretty squishy.  I didn't have a waist.  We don't have to talk exact numbers here, other than that I had a BMI of ~27- right in the middle of the overweight category.






Fast forward fifteen months.  There were some slow and steady changes made over time.  I started with not buying junk and drinking less.  I lost about 12 pounds doing that.  I moved to a city with a Trader Joe's where I do most of my shopping, making sure to toss a bag of spinach in with my groceries and skipping out on the treats (I bought sweets at TJ's for the first time in Philly this week... seriously).  The last 8 pounds came off as I embarked on a car-free lifestyle.*  This was unintentional.**  I should round out Fall Semester with 500 miles under my belt.  


I've mentioned the changes in posts along the way, but today was a big milestone.  I've lost 20 pounds since the "fat summer." My BMI is 23- right in the midst of the normal weight range.  I am decidedly less doughy. I've lost about four inches off my waist and now have an extensive collection of pants that are much too large.  Double chins in photographs are seldom a problem.  I weigh less than I did my senior year of high school in 2002 and any time since.


I'm not trying to brag-- but I really, truly believe in the power of lifestyle change.  There are lots of reasons to consider getting on a bike, and weight loss is a legitimate one.  Most days I ride between 2 and 6 miles, with the occasional 10 or 12 mile day.  So there you have it-- you don't have to run a marathon to see results!






*My comments about nutrition should be qualified to note, in earnest, that I consume lager and fried bar food with greater frequency nowadays.  That's slowed my weight loss but nonetheless, since selling my car, I have steadily lost weight without any gaining back. Eating everything I can- including glorious full fat dairy- has not stemmed the tide of weight loss.  So there's some logic there.


**No, really. My poor roommate can attest to the endless whining about being hungry all the time and how none of my clothes fit- and I couldn't even buy Gap Jeans any more because even the smaller sizes are cut too wide (I recommend J. Crew for bike-altered bodies) .  It was a very rough time for him. 

05 December 2009

because it's snowing, i should be riding my bike.

Most things I do fall into two categories.  There are the things that I do that are a good idea, like eating a balanced diet, and things that I do because I can, like supplementing that diet with lager and whatever kind of bar food can be rustled up (lately: perogies from my beloved Oscar's and beer battered green beans from Prohibition).  The two categories aren't mutually exclusive (selling my car) and things can even migrate from one category to another (moving to Philly without a job).  


I tell you all this because today I rode my bike to the store in the snow. I did it just because I could. I am not quite sure if it was a good idea or not. 


I went back and forth on it all day- I was down to basically zero food, but the weather was crappy.  A girl has to eat, but I was making good progress on one of my papers. (approximately 6,000 words to go!).  Finally daylight was starting to dim, and it occurs to me that if it freezes there will be zero food tomorrow.  So I bundled up a little more than I do for just rain and headed out into the mess wearing all this:


On my feet- a pair of soccer socks, with a pair of wool socks over them, with a pair of rubber boots.
On my legs- (thermals tragically MIA) yoga pants, rain pants.
On my torso- shirt, North Face puffy coat (I like to sweat), rain jacket.
On my hands- water & wind resistant gloves
On my neck- a scarf that got very wet.
On my head- crocheted beanie and Nutcase helmet, sans pads.


So this was no small effort, but I'm thinking, riding in the snow? I've done this like a million times.  And I get outside, and it's kind of crappy.  And I get on my bike, and I'm like WHAT ARE THESE DAGGERS STABBING MY EYES?


Utah people, allow me to delude myself here, but the snow in Utah is as fluffy and dry as marshmallows, and getting hit in the eye by a flake is akin to, I don't know, an angel's wing brushing against your eyelashes.  When I saw the big flakes out my window, I was thinking of that. Not being stabbed in the eyeball.  I think it might've been sleeting, but that was really unpleasant.  It was also unpleasant that the only people doing dangerous shit on the road were from New Jersey.  If there's any prejudice I've learned to cultivate while living in Philadelphia, it's that people from New Jersey are the worst (try going to a decent bar on a Friday or Saturday... ugh). This did not help their case.


I interrupt this blog post for a Church of the Granny Bike Public Service Announcement:
If it's snowing, stay the hell out of my city, New Jerseyians!


Those people crossed the line.



proof that I went (after 11,000 pictures my camera struggles a little in bad weather)

Anyways, the grocery getting part wasn't so bad, because I inadvertently stumbled upon The Secret to managing Trader Joe's on a Saturday.  It's called "Forget To Turn Your Blinkee Light Off." No wonder people gave me so much space!  I am going to do that every time I go from now on.


I made it home intact, basically dry, but not really filled with the joy that I usually feel after grocery getting by bike.  A balaclava and some goggles probably would've made it better, but the visibility was a bitch.  While fortunately I'm off of grocery duty here for the next couple of weeks, I may have to get on board with public transportation for my shopping when it gets to be high winter.



really... poor strange little camera!


The up side to all of this is now that I have plenty of food to get me through whatever further inclement weather comes, and that food stash includes Candy Cane Joe Joes, one of the best foods of all time! In fact, now that I'm having a cookie, I think I will never question the value of riding in the snow again.

27 November 2009

the most amazing muppet video ever.




I almost titled this post, "In which Animal reminds me of my youngest niece." 
The folks at Muppet Studios are amazing- check out their YouTube channel to watch it in glorious HD and you can follow them on Twitter.

25 November 2009

gratitude.

It's time for the annual "I'm thankful for" list. I'm just dashing it out as I have a lot of writing to do this evening, but this really is one of my favorite yearly exercises.


I am thankful for my always supportive family. They keep me going when times are tough. They give me perspective and insight and patience and love.  In this past year in particular, they generously and graciously opened their homes to me when I needed the time and the space to rebuild my tattered sense of self. My family sustains me, and there really aren't words to express how grateful I am for that.  I couldn't do this alone. I can't wait to be with them soon!


I am thankful for opportunities. I'm grateful I'm in my seventh year of college. I'm thankful that I've been able to travel, present at conferences, meet new people, take on exciting projects, and have such a dang cool career path. I forget how awesome it is when I get caught up in the drudgery and the logistics, but I'm glad that I continuously get reminded that I am doing something special.


I am thankful I changed my life. This city, this school, this program, this life, these challenges-- they were all exactly what I needed. I have never worked so hard or put so much of myself into anything, and I'm grateful for what that experience has done to my spirit. I feel fortified. I am glad I didn't take other paths and that so many things in my life didn't happen so that I can be here, now.


I am thankful that I sold my car and became a bike commuter. The 455 miles I've ridden since moving to Philly last August have made my body fit and relieved me of so much stress.  Those miles also allow me to consume lager and fries several times a week without consequences, which I am particularly grateful for.


Which reminds me, I am thankful for my health. In a season of colds and swine flu, I feel phenomenally blessed that I have not been sick once. 


I am thankful for my friends in every time zone. I like knowing that they are out there in the world being good people and making the world a better place. It gives me hope. I am thankful that we have the bonds that we do. 


In the moment- I'm thankful I have a place to be this Thanksgiving. I'm thankful that in the past month I've become apart of a great group of friends who give me endless opportunities to laugh. I'm grateful for the prospect of pear butterscotch pie, a ride in the rain, finally being able to understand how to write about political culture, and getting to tell stories that have never been told this way.  I'm thankful for white Christmas lights and a roommate who, in five seconds, is going to ask me to help him start preparing an amazing meal for tomorrow.  And I'm thankful for all of you who read my blog and make me smile with your comments and encouragement. I have so much to be thankful for!


Happy Thanksgiving! 




13 November 2009

confronting the hard parts.

I like what I do. It's a privilege to tell the stories of others. I've enjoyed meeting the people I study. I love going to conferences, I love going to class, I love the feeling the feeling of opening up a box and not knowing what I'm going to find. The challenges of interpreting the past engage me deeply. I have made a lot of sacrifices because being a historian is so satisfying and rewarding that I want to do it for my whole life, and I want desperately to learn how to do it well.


I love to study New Right conservatives. I admire their passion and temerity. Their rhetoric and writing captivates me. Making sense of a time in which my parents came of age and the moment I was born into has great appeal for me. I have come along way since I started studying these people, and I really, genuinely appreciate what they have to say and how they challenge my worldview.


I say all this because today I had to confront the aspect of my topic I hate the most. It's impossible to write about the New Right without talking about abortion.  For many social conservatives, it's the reason they mobilized, the one thing in the world that they would give anything to change.


I hate reading about it. I hate talking about it. I would do anything to avoid it all together.


The descriptions in pro-life literature, while well-intentioned, are often grizzly and grotesque. They depict excessive and unusual procedures, and overemphasize poorly handled situations.  I concede that it is purposeful and deliberate language. But I think that by and large pro-life accounts are as decadent as the behaviors they are intended to critique.


It has little to do with the fact that I'm pro-choice. I believe that women should have  access to safe medical procedures should they elect to do so. I stand with Linda Gordon in acknowledging that women have made this choice throughout history regardless of its legality, and with Barack Obama who feels that unwanted pregnancies should be prevented through affordable birth control and comprehensive sex education. Like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I believe that it is not a question of either / or. But my politics seldom enter the picture. I am guided by professional ethics and exercise a level of restraint that others have called judicious and even admirable. What I write is not about me. I am not trying to change anybody's mind, nor am I open to my mind being changed.


I just don't like reading about blood and tissue. Needles, suction, disposal, no thank you. I think it's a terrible way to spend the day. It makes me miserable. I don't find it enjoyable to try to understand what's going on in the text; I find it so abhorrent that I struggle to get motivated when I have to address the issue. It's impossible to focus on, requiring breaks, endless coffee, snacks, checking of blogs, email, twitter, and anything that might offer relief from the task.  If someone called and said, "Hey, would you like to come clean my toilet?" I would probably opt for that.  My work ends with descent into exhaustion and then unsatisfying naps. I wind up feeling drained and find it near impossible to shake off the dirty feeling I get from reading this rubbish. To use a turn of phrase from my Mormon days, it offends my spirit.


I love what I do. I love what I study. I wouldn't change my path even if I could. 
But what do we do with the parts of our jobs- our vocations- that we hate? 

11 November 2009

a little wednesday girl power rock for you.

I don't know why, but this song makes me feel like kicking ass and taking names.





I think it's this lyric:
She's an old-time ambassador
Of sweet talking, night walking games
And she's known in the darkest clubs
For pushing ahead of the dames
If she says she can do it
Then she can do it,
she don't make false claims
But she's a Queen,
and such are queens.



Maybe it's too much Gossip Girl, but I'm into the Queen Bitch motif today... Wait, what?



Which reminds me, Gossip Girl is very much into music that involves spelling.

09 November 2009

the bunnies were SAVED.

I know this will shock you, but sometimes my work makes me irritable.  I usually prefer to focus my studies on sensible, logical people like Phyllis Schlafly and William Buckley.  This semester I decided to expand my knowledge of New Right social movements with a project on Jerry Falwell's Moral Majority. In spite of my standard, accepted, baseline level of ivory tower NPR liberalism, I pride myself on my ability to be pretty objective, moderate, and restrained.  


Falwell has turned out to be a real test of my mettle because there are times that I really do think he was CRAZY.  He had twelve different narratives for every event, a staff of really obvious ghostwriters, and sometimes appeared to be a total huckster.  He just isn't as lovable as Phyllis and sometimes I've really resented that.


Until I came across this:


I
That Jerry! He cared about bunnies so much he included them in his autobiography! When ever I get annoyed with him over the course of writing 15-20 more pages about him, I'm going to look at this photo. The bunnies have such a neutralizing effect. 




P.S. I can't even mention the word "saved" without thinking of this:

08 November 2009

two years of dutch biking.




I'm in a relaxed stupor from listening to Billie Holiday all evening, so it's time to take on projects I've been putting off. So now I can check "bike retrospective" off my list. A burden lifted!


I'm celebrating my two year bike-a-versary with the Old Dutch Treat. I brought it home from Hyland Cyclery on November 3, 2007.  Thinking about that first daunting ride through Sugar House and up up up into the foothills makes me a little verklempt- in fact, just thinking about Utah has that effect on me.





But Utah is another post for another day. I bought my bike after a year of reading Copenhagen Cycle Chic daily in a Seattle skyscraper. When I moved to Utah for graduate school, I found myself on a spread out (and scenic!) campus. But more than anything, I had recently made a quiet exit from Mormonism.  


It was a time of aesthetic overload for me. Tasting coffee for the first time since 1999, beginning a drinking career with a six pack of Blue Moon, and entering a whole new world of empty Sundays, strange dating expectations, and choices I'd never even considered having to make- it was eye opening.  It was overwhelming. So one day I went to a bike shop that deals with Batavus' US distributor (at the time?), Seattle Bike Supply, and I ordered my dream bike. 


It was one of those surreal large impulse purchases that was fantastically intoxicating. It was my mid-life crisis Corvette on a quarter-life scale. Waiting for the bike to arrive nearly killed me.


Not really.  But it changed how I experienced my world once it showed up. I felt like hot shit riding that bike.  With the wind on my face, I had my deepest thoughts.  I started healing from all the hurt feelings and developing a new sense of self.  I even started a blog.


A lot has changed since then.  I never would have thought when I purchased the ODT that it would replace my Honda- or that I would be riding it around Philadelphia, a city I had never been to and never thought of living in. But in spite of the increased purpose and frequency of my rides, the ethos is still the same.  I still feel like hot shit riding that bike.


Here's to many more good years on the Old Dutch Treat.


07 November 2009

philly tweed ride.


I was really there! 

Ok, so I might have been excited about the Philly Tweed Ride since the second I found out about it. But how could I not be? A bunch of finely dressed people riding bikes together? This is what I do. We were blessed with great weather for parading through the city. The part of me that's been reading about fundamentalists all week would like to think that hearts were changed and that many Center City onlookers saw the "style over speed" bicycle light this November afternoon. If anything, a lot of people saw the Old Dutch Treat and had plenty of nice things to say about my beloved beast.




At the Waterworks behind the Art Museum before the ride.


Parade through Rittenhouse Square.






Chilling at the Schuykill River Park.


It was an amazing time. I was the 49th person to sign in, and there were easily at least 20 more people who came after me. We rode through Center City (past tons of shocked Saturday shoppers on Walnut!), walked through Rittenhouse Square, played games at Schuykill River Park, rode past Independence Hall, enjoyed a pleasant regrouping at Elfreth's Alley (Philadelphia's Oldest Street!), and then terminated the ride at the choice bar / eatery The Institute (that extra bowl of chili accidentally sent up to the second floor that I got to eat? AMAZING.). I was fortunate to meet a ton of kind folks that I am proud to share the road with.  It was nice to get together with a bunch of other everyday cyclists for a little fun and to remember why doing what we do is so dang cool.

03 November 2009

grocery getting by bike during a strike.


a nice view from the helm of the Old Dutch Treat


So you may have heard that we're in the midst of a transit strike here in Philadelphia.  On the Granny Bike front, this means that it's business as usual.  Today I determined that I could no longer live off of spaghetti and without coffee, so I took the ODT out for some grocery getting.


Naturally, as I was going to share with you what that looked like, things didn't go as usual. The tote bag that I usually keep with my pannier had gotten put on gloves and rainpants storage duty, and ever eager to eat, I came home with more groceries than usual.






The bike was a little wobbly to get a full shot. Having only one pannier was sort of a problem today. This is why you don't go crazy buying lemon curd and pickles and healthy snacks, people.




Fortunately, I had my super REI bungee with me to help me manage the paper bag presence up front.





In spite of the minor inconveniences, I still enjoyed myself.  It's fall! I can eat whatever I want! I like spending money on food rather than gas! And of course, nothing beats riding an Old Dutch in red tights!


P.S. The Bicycle Coalition has put together a fantastic Bike the Strike blog together! Lots of great Philly bike info and transportation suggestions over there.




28 October 2009

the eyes of my eyes are opened.

 e.e. cummings' "i thank you god for this most amazing" popped into my head this morning.  To me it's the happiest, sunshiney-ist poem in the world, a sincere prayer of gratitude that I have oft repeated. It reads:






i thank You God for most this amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes

(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday; this is the birth
day of life and love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)

how should tasting touching hearing seeing
breathing any--lifted from the no
of all nothing--human merely being
doubt unimaginable You?

(now the ears of my ears awake and
now the eyes of my eyes are opened)



This morning I considered sarcastically rewriting it, including the damnable heavy rain and the tribulations of being a graduate student as apart of my fascetious catalog of blessings. I decided against it for sake of time (being in such a hurry to leave the house to go to school to read a book that I forgot at home, in the rush) and went on my merry day.


At midday, I hit the wall, admitted defeat, and resigned myself to the misery brought upon me by my own forgetfulness, copiers, my eagerness to sign up for conferences I don't have time for, and even my own acid tongue.  


It was an off day, and when I got home I started to tweet that the only redeeming quality of the it was that I had realized that I had good hair this morning, and throughout the mess of my day had continually been able to say, "at least I have really great hair."


But.


I kept finding things to add on that had made the day better, and had vastly exceeded my number of allowed characters with all of my qualifications.  There were so many redeeming qualities in my day! So many good people that make my life better! So many that I had to name them, one by one:


-an in-depth discussion about gin with L.


-A letting me whine ad nauseum about my troubles, including particularly pathetic complaints about soap residue. What a saint.


-unexpected professional development in class, which included a professor memorably giving a student five dollars for a well timed comment.


-Realizing with R that we constitute a peanut gallery, and getting to liken us to these guys:

(I am the short one, naturally)


-In turn, getting to talk about muppets at school.


-Did I mention how fun it is to have a girl friend here? Finally!


-A very nice girl brought "Happy World Series & Halloween" candy to class that included my favorite, Reese's PB cups.


-Seeing a modest, incredibly smart professor get the accolades she deserves. There was so much love in the room! Why do we wait until funerals to tell people how great they are?


-Free wine. Free wine. Free wine.


-M (a man) talking in a very loud voice about douching (you had to be there).


-My roommate telling me I should make cookies for our party instead of getting candy because my baking is so much better.


-A dry, low traffic, twilight ride home, complete with plenty of yellow leaves on the ground to ride through.


I don't talk to god hardly at all anymore, but some days I just have to put it out into the universe how glad I am that somebody- and so many- make(s) my life as beautiful and wonderful as it is. 


Good hair is a start, but being apart of everything which is natural which is infinite which is yes is so much better.


(excuse the wonky formatting... evil Blogger....)

26 October 2009

why there are still people who don't watch 'mad men,' i just don't know.




NYMag's animated gif basically sums up the best 45 minutes television has to offer, week after week. Joan is my favorite.

24 October 2009

watch out for that pie filling.

I had to share this video with you because really, it just shows that they will put anything on television these days. Don't try this at home: 



20 October 2009

three disparate things.

1. I'm reading The Handmaid's Tale again.  After a particularly difficult year of high school, I asked a favored English teacher what to read that summer, knowing that she had to have good taste because she'd done her masters thesis on e.e. cummings.  She suggested Atwood's book. I loved it. It got me thinking about woman's place in the world.


As an undergraduate I pursuaded another kind English instructor to let me do a paper on it. The course of that research introduced me to Phyllis Schlafly, the ERA, the Christian Right, and the LDS Church's efforts against the proposed Amendment. It revealed to me that dirty word: feminism. As a graduate student I've done work on the Eagle Forum and am now working on the Moral Majority. The Handmaid's Tale was written in a very particular moment, and that moment has come to define my career and how I spend my days.


And to think it all stemmed from a very casual book recommendation to a teenage student.


2. When I was living in the dorms at college, I embarked on a mission to a suburban Macy's for a bathrobe. I left the store with a piece of fluff the color of buttercream frosting. It was one of the first times that I said, "damn the costs," and bought something because I liked it and I knew I would need it for a long time.  Now that it's suddenly winter bathrobe season, wearing it puts me back in Pflueger Hall, back in the steamy smell of Dove body wash, back next to the drafty window where I used to sit after my showers. It puts me back in a time before I was an aunt and before my relationship with Mormonism got so fraught. I put on this bathrobe and I go back in time, back to before I knew anything about how good life could be.


And yet I kind of like that my cozy bathrobe takes me back to that time of not knowing any better.


3. Yesterday I went to New York City for the first time. It was big and bustling and dense and busy and shadowy. I only saw a few rushed snippets of the city, and I didn't like it all that much. How do people live there?  Why would anyone choose that? 


And then I remembered that I was in New York City, where I had never been before. That I made choices- a lot of them, big ones- that got me there. That I'd better enjoy right where I was because I'd never get to go to New York City for the first time ever again. Times Square got a little prettier and the people seemed a little nicer. 


New York made more sense to me when it was a myth, but at the very least, there I was. And Philly seemed so blissfully quaint when I returned.