Thursday, November 6, 2008

God Bless America...

The days previous to this last election I kept getting those email links to Leonardo DiCaprio's video telling me "not to vote". I thought it was funny. Since I turned 18, I've voted in every election except one. Big election, little election, I vote, dammit! And I go to the polls, no absentee voting or early voting for me. It's a ritual I love. I am damn proud of being a member of a democratic state. I think it's cool that I don't live under the Taliban or something. I love taking advantage of it, and wearing my "I voted" sticker.

Why do none of these well meaning, big election voters know that? At least I assume they don't know, because they sent me links asking me to vote. I think it's because I don't discuss politics. I spent my life listening to my right-of-Karl Rove dad rant and rave about the damn liberals, and I have his temperament, if not his political leanings. I don't want to force others to listen to me passionately rant on and on about things I only half understand. And, naturally as a result of my childhood, I'm afraid of others doing the same.

But I love my right to vote, and I always do it. During the continental congress, I would have been a Thomas Jefferson groupie standing outside the door waiting to seduce him with a flash of my ankle.

People should vote. At every opportunity available. It's not only your right, it's your responsibility. Maybe your vote doesn't really count, but what if it does?

Monday, September 22, 2008

VIVA La Fuel Savings!

Filled the tank once in August, and once so far in September. Carpool to work, ride to groceries and other errands. I wrote the insurance company about my new driving habits, and they offered me a small discount. Hmmmm...still not enough savings, though. I've got 13 days to decide if I'm gonna' retire the poor old beast and do without car headaches for a's a hard decision.

Monday, September 1, 2008

My Life in Junk

A few weeks ago I couldn't shut my file drawer. I put in a retirement savings quarterly report or something like that. Stuff I think I should save. And then, it was full. This big fat drawer was stuffed full of my life's minutiae. I couldn't close it.

So I cleaned it out.

Tax returns back to 1991.

Old papers I wrote in college when I thought I was brilliant and insightful. Comments from instructors in the margins asking me to dig deeper into the text. How bored they must have been with my sophomoric musings written only to get that degree my parents always wanted for me. How smart I thought I was back then.

Warranties for things I do not even own anymore.

A drawer full of psychic junk.

Emptied. Except for the necessities?

It's only half full, now.

Like my future's glass.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Hoofin' It. Spinnin' it. Savin' gas.

I grew up with God watching everything I did and begging forgiveness for being a regular kid every night before I went to bed. I gave that up at 17, and partied a lot until I found honky-guilt at UC Santa Cruz in my twenties. So, then I went to work with disadvantaged youth of color and had nowhere for the guilt to go. But, then, I found it again, now I can go back to the comforts of my guilt-filled childhood by feeling responsible for the abuses towards the environment.
I'm making an effort to solve that problem, too. No driving. Well, less driving. Well, my old car is dying a slow death, and I don't want to buy a new one. I want to spend my money going to fashion design school and riding bikes, and eating high quality organic food. Gasoline fueled engines make the sky ugly and encourage old conservative guys to start wars. I want to wash my hands of this blood and angst. And save money. And those of you who know me, know I am a bad driver. Yep, Old Lady Seery was right not to let me drive the van back from Moab back in '99. I can admit that now that I almost lost my license.
Anyway, for a month I've been trying to drive less. I've carpooled, ridden my bike, walked and ridden caltrain and BART. My rough estimates have me traveling 700-800 miles without driving my own vehicle. I've saved money on gas and learned a few lessons, too.

Lesson #1: Freedom Isn't Free
Yeah, it's really cool to be able to drive in the carpool lane and smile kindly at the solo drivers as you drive the speed limit as they read a book while trying to avoid their next guy's bumper at ten miles an hour. And it is fun to talk to your carpool pals. But, you have to be prepared for other things. Like not doing that extra lap at the bike festival because your ride needs to leave, or going to get a SCUBA tank to help build a spud gun when you hadn't planned on it (that was actually fun, but what if I'd had to urgently check an email or something?), or having you carpool buddy freak out on the traffic and almost turn around. Then there's the trying to get it together with other's schedules. Oh Vey. But, it saves society from my driving menace, and it saves the money and the environment.
Lesson #2: Timing IS Everything
You gotta' plan better for a no-car lifestyle. Bring the right size bag for shopping on the bike, don't stop at Whole Foods for a sandwich without checking the train schedule first, allow time to put on your sunblock, pack extra clothes 'cause you'll be sweaty when you get there, know how to get to the other train and BART stations in case you end up away from the one you're used to leaving from, find out who you know is going to be at the event you want to go to, and be on good terms with them. I just need to put cab companies numbers into my phone, and I'll be ready for a full-blown no car lifestyle.
Lesson #3: It's all About Balance
It's really important to be conscious of how to walk in your cleats on grocery store floors if you want to include the store in your road ride. I was scared to move quickly, I almost slipped a few times. It's also a challenge to speed along on your road bike with a heavy messenger bag full of groceries. New balance shifts for me to learn. How to best fit the bag to avoid back and shoulder pain took some trial-and-error as well.
Lesson #4: Earn and Burn
Not driving is like paying yourself. But it's not all savings. This new lifestyle has made me more hungry and more tired. But I know the tired part is an adjustment, and why complain about getting to eat more food? I just have to remember to bring it with me. It's still cheaper than gas. Caltrain is cheaper than driving the distance I've been going from Redwood City to San Francisco, and faster on the morning commuter baby bullet train. BART is kinda' expensive, but I only had to use it once so far. The bike is cheapest, but comes with the most inconvenience, like helmet hair and sticky girl sweat.

When my next six-month insurance payment comes due, I may not pay it. We'll see how it goes. It's easy to run errands on the bike in the summer. Winter, that's another story...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Misadventures in Cycling

Ever look around at your life and realize you do very little socializing that doesn't revolve around bikes? Sometimes I wonder if it's a problem, like what would I do if I couldn't ride anymore? Who would I talk to? How would I get my jollies? Would I become the Frida Kahlo of cycling, painting tortured interpretations of my lost cycling days?

But that's neither here nor there. Last weekend was all about my little bike world.

Friday night was the Hellyer Hoedown, sponsored by Velo Girls and La Dolce Velo. Lorri asked me if I wanted to help, and I asked for a spotlight position. I was assigned bell ringer. Lorri said all I had to do was ring a bell and look cute. No problem. I've been cute for years, and my bell ringing fingers work. turns out I had to pay attention to the racers and the laps, too. Then there were three different guys giving me three different directions promising to coach me through it all. I thought it must be more complicated than it seemed, being there was so much seriousness in their eyes. Add to that Lorri using kinesthetic sexual innuendo to model bell ringing, and I was dust. Turns out it was simple, but I still did it wrong. By the time I figured out it was simple, and the first guy to give me directions was the only one I should have listened to, I was fired. I got canned from the dumb pretty girl job. Never mind that Facebook has me listed as 62% intelligent. I know I was wrong for this job because there was no creativity involved, and a lot of paying attention. I am very bad at being serious, meticulous, and paying attention. But my outfit was super cute. Okay, I can pay attention to matching colors and lines.

Saturday, woke up lazy and laid around for a while because I knew I had to wait for Jimmy to finish putting his new ride together. We finally got it together at 3:00. Off to Demo to see about the fire damage. We parked around the corner from the road closure, and were almost on the bikes when we were told by some riders that the road was open. In the car we hopped and drove down to the gate. Riding up Highland, we saw a lot of ash and fire crews doing clean-up. On Buzzard Lagoon, we were passed three times by CDF trucks. We thought we were free to cruise up the climb without another stop when we were confronted by a skunk family. The mother skunk bailed on the babies and they united against us. Jim and I were chased by four or five fuzzy little fur balls. I couldn't believe we were being intimidated by baby skunks, but they knew the power of their spray and brought it on. When they were satisfied that we were truly afraid of them, they ran back into the bushes. After a lot of "Let's see how we feel"s, at the top, we rode Braille. I had no mojo. The dirt was really dry and slippery, and I was really tired from the baby skunk chase. On the drive home we were confronted by a road block where none had been before, and had to go the long way home through Corralitos. It wouldn't have been so bad surveying more fire damage, except we were starving.

Again, trying to be lazy on Sunday in the hopes of resting up for the laundry, watching a movie in bed, ring! Nic wants to go on a road ride. I suggested the pie ride, and off we went. All was well and good. A chatty pace, for 25 miles of rolling climbs ending up at Gizdich pie! Nic had a Dutch Berry and I had Dutch Apple. Nice pie and coffee talk, then off for the 18 miles of flats back. All was well and good until a mile from home, Nic and were brazenly riding side-by-side so that she was lifting her front wheel over the drainage grates. Apparently our conversation was that important. Inspired by her boldness, I compressed my bike and lunged up to clear a pothole. I learned really quickly that there is a difference in the reaction when compressing a steel frame compared to a full suspension bike. I got higher than I thought, and came crashing down hard on my left side. I have some elbow abrasions and a little hip scrape. My left side shifter needs lots of love, now. So does my neck.
Misadventures and bikes. Even if I didn't ride, I'd probably still have misadventures. It's just my way, I think.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

The Joy of the Deadline

I love deadlines. They give me energy. I get stuff done. I feel like a champ when I've got a deadline.

I can relax for a very long time. In fact, I don't get into action at all without a deadline.

Just got done getting ready for the weekend. Race at the Bogg's 8 hour. It is going to be fun, I think. Lots of old friends. Bike riding. Camping. Stuff I love to do.

And I got my apartment clean after the energy frenzy of packing up and list making. My apartment's been gross for weeks, but having that race prep got me into action.

And I am so glad I got the lay off notice. Because I've been fantasizing about becoming an active wear designer for a long time. And now I have a deadline.

No more being jealous and thinking what if. Now's the time.

Maybe I'll suck at it. But now I get to know for sure.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Turns Out I'm the Solution to State Overspending...

I was scheduled for tenure next year. Today I got my layoff packet of forms to sign. They layed off every teacher who was hired in the last two years.

I am a great teacher, no lie. But I do not have tenure here. I did in my last district, but I hated that job. I like this one much more. I like living here much more than over the hill. I wonder if I'll be able to keep living here.

The state of California messed up. From our superintendent:

"This district had a balanced budget when we started this school year. We are now staffed to improve the lives of our students. This district did not create the current crisis to which we now are required to respond. This is a time when we need to work together to bring about a balanced budget, and we need to contact our legislators to say loud and clear "We did not create this overspending problem - Don't make us and the children we serve the solution." Let your voice be heard at the state level.

Data from the state indicates that K - 12 education was increasing at 4.1% as compared to 6.8% for the state's overall baseline budget. Growth rates in corrections, debt service, and Health and Human Services were higher-than-average . K-12 has not been overspending. K-12 should not be bearing the brunt of other divisions overspending. Write your legislators and the governor. Fund schools now or plan to build even more prisons in the future."

Truthfully, the educational ship in Cali has been sinking for years. Now's the time to act like a rat, even though there's gonna' be union lawyers trying to cover my ass.

Yeah, I guess it's time to take that home down payment savings and go to design school like I've wanted to for about three years.


Scared, but Totally Free