Monday, April 28, 2008

Technology, Plus Dartmouth

I totally figured out how to map my routes (and post them on my blog). Though, I give myself credit for already knowing how to edit my blog in html. This is the road race from yesterday. It's not quite as pretty on a map.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Miss Fix-It

I'm becoming a little more handy. Last night, after riding in the park I noticed that my tires were feeling a little low, so I decided to take out my nifty pump (that I bought and dragged through the subway from Union Square at rush hour with the kid with the bass), and give myself some air. Unfortunately, after I removed the pump from my back tire, I heard a slight hissing sound. Assuming a snake didn't somehow crawl onto the 12th floor, I deduced that the sound was probably coming from that back tire that I had just pumped up. Shit. The back tire, again.

Maybe I didn't tighten it enough after I pumped it up. So I screwed the screw a little tighter. Then I left, ate, went to a concert, and took care of some of the usually stressful Spec-related business. By the time I came back to my bike three hours later, the back tire was decidedly more deflated. Shit times two. Actually--not shit--now was the time to prove that I actually had some handy-woman skills. So I picked up Roxie, walked her into the hallway, and then went to get a towel as to not get grease everywhere (didn't work).

I then successfully derailed my back wheel from my chain and derailleur (no sweat, I'm actually getting better at this). I then set Roxie aside and started work on my wheel. I got the tire out of the wheel frame, took out the tube, inspected it, made sure one more time that there wasn't something left over in the tire from my flat last week, and took out a new tube. Even though I couldn't find anything wrong with the tube that was in there, I figured I better just change the tube than spend an hour trying to figure out what was going on (I'm not that handy yet).

I put a little air in the tube, got it into the tire, got the tire fixed back on the wheel, and used my handy air pump one more time to get myself up to 120psi (okay, 110). And then I reattached the wheel without a hitch. Not only was I totally proud of myself, but I also had dirty hands, which made me even more proud.

To top of the evening, Sara was in the shower, so I couldn't wash my hands in my sink, and had to go ask Ben to use his, therefore being able to tell my story and look really cool for being all greasy. Ben told me he was proud of me.

And then I went and finished my homework, feeling like a big girl.


I felt like even more of a big girl when I went out and made it forty miles this morning with no tire problems. Therefore, my awesome handywoman work last night actually worked. And now, all I want to do is take a nap.

I went to Ferris today after my ride, finally ready to try the new smoothie bar. Blended watermelon, pineapple, and ice turns out to be a little bit more juice than smoothie, but delicious all the same. And then, it was time for the splurge--as I stared at the pizza, determining if it actually looked good enough to waste calories on, this guy with a bright smile and almost annoyingly peppy attitude came up to let me know that he would make me a custom one if I wanted. My toppings, fresh from the oven. I was sold. Thin crust, tomato sauce, light goat cheese, caramelized onions, bell peppers, and chicken. So delicious that I ate the whole thing. Now I'm pretty glad I went 40 miles today. But seriously--pizza heaven.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Firsts for the Weekend

Manischewitz (first glass...good, second glass...hmm, third glass...kinda gross, fourth glass...somehow good again :) )

O'Connell's -- Really not so hot. I now know enough to know that I wasn't missing anything when I didn't go before and probably won't be missing anything if I don't go again for a while. On the other hand, I got in, meaning...

Uris Pool -- I've decided that I need to start swimming, so that when I decide that cycling isn't enough and I need to become a triathlete, I'll be somewhat ready (plus the suit I bought yesterday gives me awesome cleavage like no bra I've ever had before. Had to buy it, now must use it). 1st swim workout: 15 minutes!

Gimme! Coffee -- Delicious, and it's stand-at-the-bar only, so I can feel like I'm in Europe again!

Spicy Thai Chocolate Gelato from Whole Foods -- A new reason to live.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

I learned a few things today

You learn something new every day. In college, you learn many, many new things a day, and are then expected to keep them nice and orderly and at your disposal for papers, quizzes, and finals thrown at you from all sides.

But that is not the kind of learning that I did today. Today's lessons were the practical, learn-by-doing kinds of lessons that may hurt a little, but ultimately end up being the stuff that sticks with you for life. First lesson: if you plan on having a crisis in the middle of nowhere when slightly underprepared, make sure there are people around, or people you can call, or people that know where you are.

I was out on 9W today, about 7 miles from the GW Bridge, cruising along to my own tune. Life's little troubles, insecurities, and fears were being worked out in my mind, soaked up by the sunshine and the tingle of my quads as I pushed along. And then I started swerving, and I felt kinda rubbery. I slowed, slowed, slowed, and looked back to find a depressingly deflated back tire. That's about when the adrenaline set in. I love to put on a brave face and pretend that I can handle anything, but the simple fact of the matter is that I have never changed a tire on my own before, and definitely not a back tire.

First things first, I managed to get the tire off. Then, I spent about two minutes trying to get the tire loose. When I finally got the tube out, I started to put the new one in I learned my second lesson for the day: friends are good. This guy from NYU stopped and made sure that I was okay, then ended up staying and helping me (aka finishing the job for me) while we chatted about last week's Boston Race. Turns out he got pulled in the crit, too.

The final piece in the whole tire business is where I found my last lesson, NYU boy became my hero, and my hands got really dirty. Invariably, I couldn't get my only CO2 cartridge to fire. Therefore meaning I had no air in my tire and was basically up shit creek. EXCEPT-NYU guy happened to stick around and happened to have a pump, and happened to pump up my tire for me, leaving me feeling incredibly embarrassed/stupid, but with a fully inflated tire and a smile on my face. His name was Grant, and I learned that no matter what the people at the bike shop say, CO2 sucks and I really just need to invest in a pump, for my sanity if not for my security (lesson 3).

As Grant rode away, having fully fixed my dilemma, and I sat on the ground, cursing myself for not ever cleaning my chain as I put it back on my rear wheel, I was very glad for the (teeny tiny) amount of cleavage coming out of my sports bra. Unfortunately, while at stop lights on the way back (having turned around directly after refitting my rear wheel as to not get caught with my pants down, no spare tube, and a malfunctioning CO2 cartridge even farther from home), the catcalls and rude gestures that I endured made me regret my assets and wish I was more in-your-face-lesbian-tough (or maybe just male).

However, having been rejected before after being called "too intimidating," I guess there are just ups and downs to being a girl. And if I learn my day's lessons well enough, next time I might just be able to change my tire completely on my own, and if not, at least I'll have my own pump.

Meanwhile, in the absence of any other kind of anatomy to explore, I might as well start learning the intimate anatomy of my bicycle.

Monday, April 14, 2008

The Sun's Out Today

Life is a wild frenzy of excitement--in the way that I cannot sit for a minute to update my life. The past two weekends I have been gone with the cycling team to West Point and Boston, respectively, as I have joined and begun racing my bike. Getting away for the weekend has done wonders for my state of mind. I think I was going crazy here for a while because everything was so very stable and subtly stressful. I was in a stalemate of school work, Spectator work, try-to-make-my-social-life-work. Instead, I got out a little bit, tried something new, met new people (who are not first years and therefore are not quite so insanely unsure of where/who/what they are in life), and most importantly, had a nice roller coaster ride of super-difficult physical and mental challenge paired with lots of relaxing, fun downtime. I don't remember laughing so much, being so tired, or being in so much pain in a long time. So I think I am going to keep it up, even if it means stepping back a little bit from responsibilities that I have here (school, Spec). Ultimately, it is better for my mental state.

In other news, spring is here! There have been several days where the weather has reached high above 60, and in the below picture, check out bike lessons in Riverside Park on a lazy Saturday afternoon!

Also, see what happens when you realize that large vans with bike racks aren't going to make it under the bridge labeled 9'2" high, and must stop in the middle of a 2-lane highway and shove down all of the seat posts, creating hours and hours of traffic for the poor souls behind you.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

When Ventucky Shows Up in My College Reading...

"...three adjacent cities in southern California (Oxnard, Ventura, and Camarillo) kept outbidding one another (with tax breaks) to attract large stores to their respective shopping centers. After several years of such maneuvering, one council member concluded, 'this is not about creating new business. This is about spending $30 million to move two stores three miles.' The competition for business investment results in a 'race to the bottom' in which the burden is gradually shifted from businesses to residents."

--From Place Matters: Metropolitics for the Twenty-First Century, Dreier, Mollenkopf, and Swanstrom

Gotta love suburban sprawl.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Grr for gender pronouns.

I have issues with gender pronouns. I don't particularly like gender neutral, but I positively HATE gender male. I am quite disgruntled over the continuous "bud," "kid," "man," and "dude" that I get. I am most definitely not a "dude," nor a "kid," and the continuous barrage of references to maleness and childishness cause me to continuously question whether or not my complete lack of romantic prospects this semester might have some other root cause than the continuous load of work that I have creeping over my shoulder.

I do realize that I'm not boobalicious and my previously stated workload has caused me to be seen in more casual attire than at previous times in my life, but that really doesn't help me come to an understanding. Last time I checked, wearing jeans all the time does not make me a man. And, while I can see a certain type of person being confused when switching from my formal name to a pronoun (You're Shane like Shane West? -Yeah, only not a man), I would think that most Columbia students could wrap their minds around that.

I would almost prefer some sort of saccharine baby-doll nickname to "dude." Babe works (but only because Ranger uses it), although I don't know if I can swallow "cutie pie" or "baby." Those drift a little too far towards the "kid" end of the spectrum. But seriously, what's wrong with a "hey beautiful" every once in a while? "Bella" is a good one too. Sweetheart is another maybe. If you are a certain person (namely Shaunacy, Hansie, Xtina) you could even get away with "bitch," "slut," or "ho," so long as it even jokingly refers to my decidedly female qualities.

When all else fails, how about just "hey you!"?

Here ends my rant, proving what a lonely hour and a half on a bike as my only escape from endless academia can do to my perception of what is important in life.