Tuesday, March 27, 2007

It's springtime.

Getting sweaty during lunchtime rides in Central Park.

Having a big stupid grin on my face all the time.

It's nice.

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Friday, March 09, 2007

Road rage pisses me off because it's such a damn common phenomenon and I don't hear a whole lot of conversations people who drive regularly - or from the licensing process, come to think of it - about how driving a car is a really dangerous thing, and if you're an asshole, you can kill somebody.

I almost got killed twice yesterday by righteous assholes. Something about bikers apparently makes a fair number of drivers think that it's okay to be really dangerous toward bikers. A righteous driver is the worst, because they think that whatever they do is justified by the fact that you were in their way.

I yelled "Yo!" at a driver who was driving erratically. I had to swerve to avoid him twice, and the third time, he actually knocked in to me with his side. I'm surprised I stayed on the bike.

My "Yo!" prompted a barrage of screams, curses, middle fingers, and insults from this BMW driving honkey on the Upper East Side, culminating in, "I'll take you out!"

That shook me.

Surprisingly, a cop pulled up next to me as the asshole drove off, saying, "Hey, you okay?" Shaken, I yelled, "That guy assaulted me. He was swerving all over, I yelled Yo, and he started cursing like a madman and threatened to take me out." "We'll look in to it," he said, went forward, and turned off of First Avenue - I don't know if he was following the other car. Maybe, because I had lost sight of the car, who had possibly turned.

I'm really sick of this shit. I just want to bike in New York City without people thinking that they're justified in coming far too close to killing me. I'm not about to make idle threats about "the next person who does that gets their mirror smashed by my lock," because that won't stop somebody else from doing the same thing a half mile down the road (note to self: remember this please!).

It's scary, and above all, it's ridiculous. There's no reason why encountering somebody on a street should promp such vitriol, such a willingness to disregard somebody's humanity as to threaten them with such violence.

Safer streets would be nice. It's good to know that Streetsblog, Transportation Alternatives, and everybody associated with Times Up! exist and are doing good work.

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Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Two things that are really weird are on my mind.

One is my strange desire to get in to altercations with strangers. When I'm crossing the street, I slow down, daring that SUV that's turning through the crosswalk to come too close to me. I stand on the subway platform, reading a book, minding my own business, but expecting or waiting for somebody to brush by me and knock the book out of my hands so that I can let out an exasperated "Excuse me!"

I'm not sure why. Psychoanalyze me.

The other odd thing is walking down a corridor in an office. Doors half-open, doors closed, the clickety-clack of keyboards, murmering of telephone conversations. Always, somebody's disembodied voice trickles from an unidentifiable source, around a corner or through a wall. Somewhere, a telephone is ringing. It's an uncomfortable, hypoxic, hypnotic effect.

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Sunday, March 04, 2007

On Friday night, vagabondery brought me to the infamy that is the intersection of Broadway and 7 Avenue at 42nd Street: Times Square. A truly bizarre place, all sailors in white uniforms, and tourists from the midwest vying for room on the sidewalks underneath the big-screen billboards bravely battling the night with absurdly bright advertisements, while cabs screetch to a stop in front of competing hailers, narrowly missing another six-person "party bike." And all around, enormous signs screaming at you to buy things, watch things, demanding your loyalty and obedience. Larger than life, really, and you can't imagine how big they really are until you are there, staring up at them wide-eyed, realizing their enormity, and the extent of their trickery - it is entirely possible to absorb their idiocy without even knowing it.

I was drunk, and relieved to be in the company of "an old college friend."

It's not as if college was so far ago, but the fact that the world around me won't ever be organized as it was in college makes it seem far away, though it's not. It's just a few years away. The distance comes from the fact that it is all undeniably over and changed. So, being able to describe somebody as "an old college friend" is of some comfort, adding a sense of familiarity and, more importantly, continuity in a world where I meet people who have never met me, and I must start drawing my personality out to them in everything I say and do, from the beginning. But "an old college" friend has a foundation for understanding - a dictionary for my vocabulary.

The following night, I found myself engaged in vagabondery again. After a day of biking around, interspersed with a generous dose of the giddy feeling of illegal tresspassing that comes with urban exploration, I headed to a party for Purim. Purim is a Jewish holiday when one is mandated to drink until you can't tell the difference between good and evil, and, like a good honorary Jew (I've earned it, and besides, I was late because I was hanging out with my grandmother), I would observe it.

I walked in to a scene that was more like a college party than anything I had experienced outside of school - a comforting mix of friends, aquaintences, strangers, and people who you haven't met but for some reason, don't feel so terribly foreign.

It was an episode of odd connections. I quickly found a different person, "an old college friend," with whom I could hold hands while getting my bearings. Coming from seeing a play in a dark theater, to a room filled with dance beats and people far drunker than you are, makes for a difficult adjustment.

I was experiencing an odd set of continuities. There, holding me and yelling at me to dance, was a dear frien a few years older than I am who, several years ago, held my hand and helped me grow up. Also there was the person who trained me as a medical activist (prior to accidentally bumping in to her two months ago, I hadn't seen her or heard from her in years), who could be part of the reason that I met this dear friend. A friend who I medic-trained years ago, who I see so infrequently but who always manages to communicate a wonderful familiarity, a sense that we have shared experiences or something else that's hard to articulate. The old college friend from a seperate college world was there, comfortingly. And a newer friend from a more recent set of aquaintances, whose presence in these radical and queer circles always strikes me as discombulating and disjointed. And, my roommate, who makes me want to smile, who evokes a sense of current, comfortable at-homeness. All these emissaries from different times in my life, at one party, getting hammered. And I wound up with a good-night kissing from a recent friend of a friend, who lives in a social scene in far out in Brooklyn that, these past several months in New York City, I have been in and out of.

Surprisingly, I felt more adrift than grounded. It was a confusing way for familiarity to come together in a drunken vortex in a city that offers familiarity as a disguise for layers and layers of strangeness, of strangerness.

I bikes home alone in the cold. Tired, satisfied, confused. Feeling that feeling that something has happened, something meaningful but mysterious and confusing, that renders me thoroughly inarticulate.

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