Friday, April 28, 2006

On a sunny afternoon, things seem a little less trite and cynical in my world.
Know that it is, then, with utter sincerity that I share with you the images and moments that have managed to mark my life in the last few days. They're nothing much, just a few scattered observations about living in town and sharing a city and its resources with thousands of other people, going about their lives, sharing their space and their city with me.

New Hero!

The other day I went to the pool for a swim after work. The lanes were full of somersaulting college boys, trim girls in round swim caps, and proliferate with older, professional people (all a little muffiny about the edges, all a little squeezed into their swimming suits).

I was a bit shy about it. The woman who'd asked if she could make three in a lane at a busy hour last week made things a touch easier. All I had to do was be polite and somewhat sheepish about it.

My target was the lane closest to the wall on the South side of the building. One swimmer. Though an optical illusion, the lane appeared smaller than the others. This being due, I believe, to its one solid edge. She was geared up in a leopard-print one-piece and round as a hot-crossed bun. Her Clairol red hair was piled atop her head in a vain attempt to avoid the pool full of water, and she was doing a version of the breast stroke that I recognized from when I used to be afraid to put my face in the water (neck craned back at an uncomfortable angle, her movement particularly vertical in the water. I watched her swim a few laps back and forth, and watched her watch me waiting to ask the big question.

Eyeing one another like two interviewees crossing paths in the hallway, we started one another down. Finally, as she approached the shallow end, I made my move. Voice soft and deliberately not at all brassy, I blurted my little prepared speech in her general direction as she neared the end of the pool, "Would you mind if I shared a lane with you?" Her response, a little more metered than my own explosion, and obviously also pre-prepared for this precise moment sailed forth with a bold Eastern European accent, "Yes! It'z not my own perzonal pool, you zee!"

She kept swimming. I'm not sure why, but she became my own personal hero for the day.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Originally uploaded by ArielAmanda.
This is how I feel now that it's SPRING!

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Dear Sir. In your fancy car.

Dear sir,

Good morning! Isn't it wonderful that spring has arrived? I can tell you're enjoying the warm weather because the sunroof on your little car was wide open, as was your passenger side window.

I was enjoying the brisk spring air this morning, too, on my bike ride to work. Boy, I was looking forward to the long, swift downhill stretch ahead of me after that long, slow climb from Burnside to Market street. It's great fun because I get to go fast and there is little traffic on the broad, wide thoroughfare through PSU at 8 am.

I'm still a little confused as to why you chose to drive in the right-hand lane directly behind me, though. I know, my little patootie does look cute on the back of my little blue bike, and I did have a smart ponytail in my hair this morning (though, due to my helmet you probably didn't notice it). But, if you wanted to drive quickly, there were two empty lanes to the left you easily could have moved over into. I was tucked right up close to the sidewalk in my lane as it was.

You didn't really startle me when you leaned on your horn. I'm a city kid these days, so I've heard far worse under my window at 4am. To be honest, the tinny quality of your extended "beep" makes me laugh a little in retrospect. With a car as fancy as your suped-up Toyota Tercel I was surprised that you hadn't invested in a more masculine horn to go with your popped up moonroof. But I understand, sometimes it's hard to make ends meet, and things like that are only aesthetic luxuries anyhow.

I was a little taken aback when you leaned out your window to talk to me though. We were moving along at a good clip, so I understand that you had to yell in order to be heard. It was difficult nonetheless to make out what you said, "Pay road taxes or get out of the way!" was what I believe you yelled. The bored, sardonic tone of your voice made it momentarily even more difficult to understand. I'm glad that you slowed down once you zipped around me too. It's always nice to know that someone likes you well enough to want to drive close to you and slow down sharply in front of you. It must have been in order to get a better look at the green grass growing in the park we were passing through. It's spring, I understand, we're all a little crazy right now.

I am sorry that you misunderstood me, though. I commute to work on my bike via a specially chosen path that sticks to bike lanes for all but the last 10 blocks or so. This last little leg is a wide, broad avenue complete with the three lanes aforementioned, which are always empty of cars in the morning. It's unlikely that I proved any real impediment to your morning commute. Furthermore, I know you didn't seem to realize, but even though I ride a bike to work everyday, I'm helping out with your road taxes, too! I own a car, I pay for the license and registration, I even pay the exorbitant gas prices, too! In fact, by riding my bike to work everyday, I'm enabling you to drive that fancy little car of yours a bit longer! Isn't that considerate of me? Conserving a little fossil fuel for your benefit?

Well, I hope you had a good day at work, Sir. And I hope that you made it there safely, too. You should really re-think that whole not using your turn signal business. Even with the invincible flush that comes after hollering out your window at a biker half your age, it still could get you into an accident--and you'd be the one paying for the damages. And I know how desperately you must be saving up to replace that silly horn of yours.

I'll have a good day--even if I am a little sweaty from my ride in. I didn't have to pay for parking, I got a little bit of a work out, and I was able to enjoy the spring morning and feel a tad more connected to the city around me. I don't expect you to try it, or to really understand. It's good enough for me that I do, and that more and more people out there are reaching the same conclusions.

Set some legislation in motion--I'd happily license my bike! I follow the traffic laws (I even use arm signals when I'm turning or moving across a lane!). Maybe then you'd feel that there was something productive happening in your petty little life rather than seeking self-empowerment by striking out against those around you. Because I assure you, it was a brilliantly productive display of aggression--you're right, with summer on the way, I'd better turn in my two wheels for four. It's worth it for a two-mile commute.