Wednesday, December 22, 2010

How to Be Alone

I wish I could have created something this beautiful.  I've written a bit about being alone before but this video/poem captures everything perfectly.

HOW TO BE ALONE by Tanya Davis

If you are at first lonely, be patient. If you've not been alone much, or if when you were, you weren't okay with it, then just wait. You'll find it's fine to be alone once you're embracing it.

We could start with the acceptable places, the bathroom, the coffee shop, the library. Where you can stall and read the paper, where you can get your caffeine fix and sit and stay there. Where you can browse the stacks and smell the books. You're not supposed to talk much anyway so it's safe there.

There's also the gym. If you're shy you could hang out with yourself in mirrors, you could put headphones in (guitar stroke).

And there's public transportation, because we all gotta go places.

And there's prayer and meditation. No one will think less if you're hanging with your breath seeking peace and salvation.

Start simple. Things you may have previously (electric guitar plucking) based on your avoid being alone principals.

The lunch counter. Where you will be surrounded by chow-downers. Employees who only have an hour and their spouses work across town and so they -- like you -- will be alone.

Resist the urge to hang out with your cell phone.

When you are comfortable with eat lunch and run, take yourself out for dinner. A restaurant with linen and silverware. You're no less intriguing a person when you're eating solo dessert to cleaning the whipped cream from the dish with your finger. In fact some people at full tables will wish they were where you were.

Go to the movies. Where it is dark and soothing. Alone in your seat amidst a fleeting community.
And then, take yourself out dancing to a club where no one knows you. Stand on the outside of the floor till the lights convince you more and more and the music shows you. Dance like no one's watching...because, they're probably not. And, if they are, assume it is with best of human intentions. The way bodies move genuinely to beats is, after all, gorgeous and affecting. Dance until you're sweating, and beads of perspiration remind you of life's best things, down your back like a brook of blessings.

Go to the woods alone, and the trees and squirrels will watch for you.
Go to an unfamiliar city, roam the streets, there're always statues to talk to and benches made for sitting give strangers a shared existence if only for a minute and these moments can be so uplifting and the conversations you get in by sitting alone on benches might've never happened had you not been there by yourself

Society is afraid of alonedom, like lonely hearts are wasting away in basements, like people must have problems if, after a while, nobody is dating them. but lonely is a freedom that breaths easy and weightless and lonely is healing if you make it.

You could stand, swathed by groups and mobs or hold hands with your partner, look both further and farther for the endless quest for company. But no one's in your head and by the time you translate your thoughts, some essence of them may be lost or perhaps it is just kept.

Perhaps in the interest of loving oneself, perhaps all those sappy slogans from preschool over to high school's groaning were tokens for holding the lonely at bay. Cuz if you're happy in your head than solitude is blessed and alone is okay.

It's okay if no one believes like you. All experience is unique, no one has the same synapses, can't think like you, for this be releived, keeps things interesting lifes magic things in reach.

And it doesn't mean you're not connected, that communitie's not present, just take the perspective you get from being one person in one head and feel the effects of it. take silence and respect it. if you have an art that needs a practice, stop neglecting it. if your family doesn't get you, or religious sect is not meant for you, don't obsess about it.

you could be in an instant surrounded if you needed it
If your heart is bleeding make the best of it
There is heat in freezing, be a testament.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Bicycle Shopping (or how to get a friend to buy a bike)

The formula for the perfect number of bicycles to own is N+1, where N represents the number of bicycles you currently have.

I already find myself a slave to this formula and have purchased three bicycles since I’ve been here! Un/fortunately, the first one was stolen so I have two currently, my Shelby and Rose. Even though I purchased Rose at the first of October and still haven’t suited her up, I find myself browsing Craigslist daily for coveted bicycles. Maybe I need a Dutch style loop frame city bike! Or perhaps I’ll find that perfect Brooks saddle. $70 for four lights, a cable lock and a multitool? OK! Ooh, what’s that, a vintage Raleigh Lady’s Sports? Is that my size?

Thankfully, I’m pledging to dress up Rose before I buy another bicycle, and that is taking some time. To still indulge in my browsing addiction, I began to slowly and methodically convince my co-worker and dear friend that she needed a vintage bicycle.

Perhaps bicycles make me a bit devious.

Nevertheless, I planted the seed. “Look at this blog post,” I said, pointing her to LovelyBicycle’s excellent essay on buying vintage vs new. “Don’t you want something timeless, and has already lasted a long time?” Next came beautiful pictures of loved bicycles, with stylish accessories and matching saddle & grips. How could any chic lady resist? It wasn’t just mischievous ME convincing her; surely the bicycles contain a siren song all on their own.

We spent a week browsing craigslist daily for the perfect bicycle. What color? what size? what type? Here in Southern California many of the electroforged Schwinn Varsity and Surburban bicycles float around. They’re fun, with bright colors and a retro flair. But surely... surely, “wouldn’t a stately Lady’s Sports fit your style so much better?” The Raleigh bronze green with many tweedy pictures sold her. A wanted posted on Craigslist turned up a beautiful, mostly complete specimen with almost perfect paint. An hour of looking and riding and negotiating later, and I got a new bicycle vicariously!! My envy cannot be hidden, for truly the bicycle is gorgeous and she loves it. She even sent me glamour shots a few days later with her adorable dog.

Now, who to shop for next?

Friday, November 26, 2010

Thanksgiving (...and how Shelby is my best friend)

Lovelybicycle has issued a Thanksgiving challenge to encourage grateful notes to our steeds.  I wrote about Shelby, my 1948 Shelby Supreme, because she came into my life exactly when I needed her.  I will write about her discovery soon (as soon as I get her set up for glamour shots!), but until then, here's my letter to her.

Dear Shelby,

How did you manage to call to me, a young southern girl who hadn't ridden a bike since she was a child?   How did you convince me to take on the challenges of a vintage bike with no bicycle knowledge?  Perhaps it was your understated beauty, with faded blue and red paint.  Maybe it was the rust pantina on your full metal fenders, or the flower shape of your crank.  But you knew I needed you; I needed your life lessons.

You're sixty-two years young, and your patience knows no bounds.  When I took you apart as a bicycle novice, you did not quiver.  When I felt lost after a hard day at a new job, you let the wind fly through my hair.  When I wanted to back out of a new party, you gently urged me onward.

You introduced me to new friends, new hobbies, new life.

Thank you for your wisdom: for teaching me to be brave on the streets, for giving me strength as a young woman alone in a new city, for showing me simple joy when life seemed dark.

Thank you Shelby, for being my best friend.  You have brought so much happiness to my new life.  I sincerely can't imagine what my life would be like without you.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Dating Myself (...or my bicycle)

I was working all Halloween weekend running some projects during our plant’s shutdown.  A few things went wrong on Friday and I came home after a 12 hour day exhausted, knowing I had to be back in by 5:30am the next morning.  

What’s a girl to do?  

I couldn’t let my Friday go to waste, so after vegging out for an hour I decided to treat myself to a gastropub in downtown Long Beach called Congregation Alehouse.  I’d been eyeing the place with a lust for tasty on tap beer for a couple weeks now.  A hat for the unfortunate hairnet-styled do and kitten heels sent me on my way.

With guests and everything going on, it had been way too long since I went for a ride.  My poor mixte cried for a trip outside the garage so off we went!  Rose was super eager to show off and she collected many stares and several compliments.  I haven’t yet seen a mixte in Long Beach, so perhaps she is a bit unique.  I haven’t decided if it’s her frame or color that sets her apart.

While I locked her up outside the pub, a man around my age walked by without stopping and said, “I like your bike, it’s actually kind of hot.”  I barely had time to say thank you before he disappeared.  Gotta love genuine walk-by compliments!

A bar like this is a decent place to sit by yourself because everyone around you is social.  However, this particular night out was about me, not making friends.  I ordered my food, grabbed my drink and sat at a small two person table by the large open patio facing Rose.  I think she winked at me.

Now, taking yourself out on a date can seem awkward or scary in concept.  If you are thinking, “never me!” then I would suggest taking small steps.  Perhaps make a cup of coffee and read a book outside in a peaceful place.  

Move to a coffee shop and repeat.  The only person that cares you’re alone is you!  In fact, - if your goal is to make friends in a new place - going alone makes you seem more open and easier to approach.  Similarly, it will be easier for you to chat with someone new without worrying about abandoning your friend.

Back to the pub: I should have taken a picture of my ribeye burger.  It was simply fantastic, tender as anything and super juicy.  I sipped on Sierra Nevada’s Home Grown IPA and read the first chapter of The Stranger (mostly because it was the only book thin enough for my biking purse).  The evening was very pleasant and my date was superb.  Working up the courage to eat by yourself may take some time, but the rewards - casual, relaxing night at your favorite place - can be worth it many times over.

As for Rose, she and I got hollered at again on the ride back.  A few ladies leaned out their car and shouted across the street, “Get it girl!  Love those heels with the bike!”  Score one point for the Cycle Chic movement!  I hope they feel inspired to ride a bicycle in their normal clothes one day too.

 It was a great night, indeed.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"After College"

Step 1: Graduate.  Step 2?
I'm blessed to have the opportunity to move cross country in this economy, I know that now.  Many of my friends still hunger for employment, and most struggle to find their new life after college.  What a funny transition we all make: each step of our lives meticulously planned out until that ambiguous "after college."  Suddenly the support groups of sorority sisters, roommates, and boyfriends are no longer right around the corner in the opposite dorm.  We must again learn how to make friends, meet people, and interest ourselves in hobbies outside of our major. 

I'm a new girl in town, and I want to document the struggles and successes to replant and restart.  

I also want to talk about bicycles!  Unexpectedly, my new life revolves around bicycles - specifically vintage, classic bicycles. 

Courtesy of Emily

I don't know much yet about building a new life or taking apart a bicycle.  (Why don't they teach those classes in college?)  This blog is about exploring that journey.