Random Thoughts

10 04 2008

In My Mug: Yogi Tea Active Body

Tea Quote: “Joy is the essence of success.”

For some reason this quote reminded me of my car. My car is not joyful, nor does it give me joy, but the car ad people say it should. Have you ever REALLY watched the car commercials? Not just watched, but paid attention? All the car ads are basically the same: “Buy this car, it’s a lot of fun, and you will be fun and the subject of great envy if you own this car!” But are cars really that much fun? 

Have you ever heard of Road rage? Now, how about pedestrian rage? Bike rage? Skateboard rage? Rollerblade rage? Jogger rage?  If you have, it was probably because some jerk in a car tried to run one of them over; I would consider that Justifiable rage. But seriously. Road rage is just so common anymore. This week in Omaha, a man rear ended an off duty cop in an act of road rage, and was arrested! The story is here.

People, this is ridiculous. Perhaps if we all slowed down, and enjoy the very act of getting from point A to point B, we would not feel so stressed out. I mean, I get it. We get stressed because we spend so much time cooped up in little boxes on wheels, going places. We don’t enjoy going places, or being cooped up in little boxes (how many of you JUST LOVE your cubicle?). So we go out and spend a lot of money on our boxes on wheels, getting the shiniest, fastest, loudest, leatheriest, most window-est car we can afford. What’s the point of a fast car? How many of us will EVER get to push our car to its full potential? How many of us are stuck in the monotony that is the suburbs? Or stuck in the city, where traffic is stop and go all day? And what about all the windows, no not windshields, I’m talking sun roofs, moon roofs, mid roofs? Could it be so we don’t feel so cooped up in our cars that we just had to have?

How about, instead of shiny, new and expensive, we buy beaters that we hate driving, and get a bike to run our quick errands? I hate my car, it doesn’t give me joy. It never really did, to be honest. It has baby puke stains in the back, dog hair embedded in the upholstery, dog vomit in the hard to reach cracks up front (both my dog and my kid got carsick, often). It is ugly, loud, and smelly on the inside and out. It is a perfect example of what we should all aspire to own. Because I will tell you what, my bike gives me a lot of pleasure, my bikes does give me the joy that the car ads say I should be getting from a car. I enjoy running my errands! Even on the yucky days when it is blowing rain and snow so hard I almost tip over, I arrive at my destination feeling alive, invigorated, full of life. I could never say that about my car.

I sure do wish our wonderful city (Omaha) was more bike friendly. But it won’t be more bike friendly until more people like me get brave, get out in the streets and make sure they are seen. Cycling is a minority here, and it will be as long as people are afraid of getting out of their cars and out into the world. Your car will never give you the same kind of joy you can get from biking. It won’t give you the kind of joy you can get from getting to your destination by your own muscle power. I will take “Jami power” any day over “horse power”!!

My boyfriend agreed to let me go carless for the summer. He thinks I am buying a new car in the fall. We’ll see. If I do, I promise it will be as nice as my current car is. ;0) Because if I buy into the hype that a car is FUN, and go spend $200, $300, $400 bucks a month on car payments, then I will feel obliged to drive it, so I “get my money’s worth out of it.” I would rather buy a $500 beater that I am happy to leave sitting in the garage for weeks at a time, only to be used in case of extreme urgency; like if a dog needs to go to the emergency vet, or, umm, if I need to bail out said boyfriend (I hope not!). But sometimes, there are emergencies. I still think a taxi now and then would be a hell of a lot cheaper than the cost of a car (cost, maintenance, insurance). Heck, one month of car insurance is equal to several cab rides alone!

Lastly, I was approached today by a lady that works in my building, but not in my office. She asked if I was the girl who rides her bike to work everyday. (I guess I am getting noticed, Hooray!) Anyhow, she said that she has gotten her bike out, and is trying to ride in to work a couple of days a week. It looks like the flow of inspiration that I am going for has finally started. It may only be a trickle now, but I am okay with that. The weather this time of year is fickle, and for someone not as used to commuting as even I am (and I’ve only been doing it for a month), bad weather would be very off-putting. I am just glad that I am slowly increasing awareness. This is good.

This is all good. I am glad I got that off my chest.


Green In Ways You Never Thought Of

2 04 2008

Date: April 2, 2008

Mileage: 5.1

April Mileage: 5.1

Year to date mileage: 97.5

Temp/Weather: 40F-54F, partly cloudy

Days until RAGBRAI: 108

In my mug:Yogi tea Green Tea Active Body, Tazo tea Berryblossom White, and Tazo tea Lemon Maté. I really like to drink tea, it helps me get my liquids in for the day, and it’s tasty, without all the sugar. (For non bitter tea, steep in water that is not quite boiling for 5 minutes, then remove the tea bag.)

My tea quote for the day: “It’s not life that matters, it’s the courage that we bring to it.”

Cycling as a greener, simpler way of life? Sure, in the obvious ways. I don’t drive, so I don’t have to buy gas, oil, and all the other fluids and lubricants an old, falling apart car needs on a weekly basis. I don’t have to get oil changes (filters?). These things are not Eco-green-environmentally friendly. Sure, I could replace my car with some shiny fancy hybrid thingy and be “cool.” But then I would have to buy oil, gas, fluids and lubricants, get oil changes, new tires, and outfit my car with Eco-cool bumper stickers to tell the world where I stand. Not to mention car payments and insurance.

So that is one way that cycling is better for my corner of the world. But HOW ELSE does it change things? Oh! I’ve got one for you. I buy less stuff, and I am pickier about WHERE I shop. By virtue of the simple fact that I don’t have a trunk, I must think long and hard about any item I might consider purchasing. Can I carry it home in a back pack? No? Well, I probably don’t need it. That might change at some point, but right now, this is how my life is evolving. I go to the store more often for groceries (it’s on my way home anyhow, I literally cut through the grocery store parking lot on my way home). But I only buy what I NEED. We are eating healthier because junk food takes up precious space that something healthy could be using. Since we are eating healthier, we are also eating fresher. I can’t carry 2 gallons of milk (1% for him, whole for me). So we get the smaller milk cartons, drink them up, and replace them. Fresher, mmmm.

Another way it has made my life feel green is much more subtle. I am exploring. I feel more creative and curious. It probably has something to do with increased blood flow to my brain since I am getting, horror, exercise. And having a better time when I am out commuting. I know that if I have to run an errand, my day is most likely going to revolve around running (biking) that errand. it means I am forcing myself to slow down and enjoy tat actual process of running my errands. It isn’t just about getting to point A, it’s also about HOW I get to point A. And I am meeting my neighbors. I can make eye contact with them. I can wave to them as I peddle by. Conversations get struck up. People feel inspired. All of these things make the world a little better. Just imagine what the world could be like if someone each of us knew (me? you?) went through their day in a better mood because they felt connected to their life and their world? Is it easier or harder to hate someone that you don’t know, don’t feel connected to?

Yesterday I drove. I already admitted it. I can’t believe how foul my mood was just 5 minutes after getting in the car. I felt empowered, strong, invincible. On my bike, I feel humble, delicate, fragile. I read a quote from somewhere yesterday that basically said that riding a bike as a primary mode of transportation is the closest that a lot of people of my social/economic class ever get to being treated like second class citizens. I thought about that a lot on my way into work this morning. The quotee also went on to say that those of us the CHOOSE to ride a bike instead of driving a car try to fancy themselves and their bikes up so that people will look at us and see the choice we made, instead of seeing us as having a lack of a choice. I say, who cares? If they want to look at me and see poor, fine. I really don’t care. Buying expensive bikes, rims, components, clothes, helmets, shoes is not going to change the way the person feeling more entitlement to the road than me is going to treat me. It just isn’t. They are going to go whizzing past me at 20 mph over the speed limit seeing nothing more than a chick on a bike taking up road space that doesn’t belong to her, if they see me at all. All the bright little blinky lights and reflective and neon colored clothes in the world can’t force people to open their eyes and see past their front bumper. But I am changing MY world and I am opening MY eyes. They can stay in their self-important-better-than-the-Joneses-inflated-debt-bubble for all I care. These things are making me more aware of the world around me.

I hope that if I am diligent on my bike, I can make it through life without some idiot driver plowing through me at an intersection some day. But it is a risk I take. The benefits are so worth the risk. I can’t say that about driving: last night I was trying to park at the grocery store so I could mail some packages, and I got stuck behind a women driving a HUMONGOUS dodge ram pickup. She seemed too tiny in that giant truck, and the perception I got was that she wasn’t comfortable parking it. She spent 5 minutes trying to squeeze into a parking spot that she barely fit in because she didn’t want to park 20 feet further away from the store entrance, where there were plenty of wide open parking spaces she would have no trouble fitting in. It was like a switch was flipped in my mentality. I immediately started screaming, waving my arms, flipping her off, calling her nasty names; all because I didn’t want to wait 5 minutes for her to park her behemoth. I am very uncomfortable with the sense of entitlement that seems to automatically accompany any person behind the wheel of a car, including myself. It’s scary how fast my attitude changed. I might someday miss the a/c on hot hot days, and the heated seats on frigid mornings. But I am really not too concerned at this point about what I might miss someday.

I was so glad to get on my bike this morning. My outlook about riding shifted quite a bit yesterday. I am going to try to sell my car this week. With the proceeds, I am going to get my rack, panniers, and a trailer. With the rest of the money, I am going to pay bills. I am not saving it for a down payment on a car in the future. I want to be car-less for now, I don’t need a car. If I can’t get somewhere by my feet, my bike, a bus, a cab, a ride from a friend, or a ride from my boyfriend, I have no need to go there. The hard part will be convincing my boyfriend that I don’t need a car. He seems very worried that I might be motor-less very soon. F*** ’em. If I can deal with it, so can he.

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