Friday, December 17, 2010

Bus v. Bike: The Full Story

Friday, December 3: I’m riding one of my bikes down to see some friends of mine play at Rudyards. A little before 10PM when I’m on Lawndale by the cemetery, I hear a bus coming up behind me. The bus passes within a foot of me, almost causing a serious accident. And just for full disclosure’s sake, there wasn’t another car on that 4 lane road at the time and I was to the right side of the right lane. The driver intentionally rode as close to me as they could even though they had another whole lane to move into that wouldn’t have slowed them down in the least (not that they’d have an excuse for treating my life as callously as they did even if there was other traffic).

Saturday, December 4: I call into Houston Metro to file a complaint about the driver from the previous night. From the very beginning, Christian seems completely unconcerned that a Metro driver almost intentionally killed someone. He tells me there is nothing Metro can do because I wasn’t able to get the bus number, even though I told him the time and location. I told him I wanted a phone call back from a supervisor and left my contact information. Christian gives me no clue on when I can expect a call back and repeats again that Metro can’t do anything about it.

Sunday, December 5: I call back into Metro and again speak with Christian. I ask why I haven’t received a call back yet and then am told that the supervisors don’t work on the weekends and I’ll get a call within 3 days starting on Monday. I immediately ask him, “You are saying that I’ll get a call back no later than Wednesday?” and he agrees, I’ll get a call within 3 days. Then I say I have the bus number now (I looked up bus routes as soon as I hung up from the 1st call and found out that there is only one bus that goes down Lawndale), before I can say what it was Christian interrupts me and says that he knows, it’s the 36 and that’s the only bus that goes that way…. OK, that’s not at all what he told me the day before. I again tell him where the near-accident happened (this time I told him the closest bus stop) and what direction the driver and I were heading (he didn’t bother to ask that the first time) and now Christian tells me they can find the driver who I said did this and investigate the situation.

Thursday, December 9: After receiving no phone call from Metro the previous 3 days I call in and again speak to Christian. Now he tells me that I’m supposed to receive a phone call within 3 to 5 business days of the original complaint.

Friday, December 10: Call back into Metro again in the afternoon since this is day 5 and I don’t want to wait until Monday to find out what’s going on. I finally speak to someone besides Christian, who now tells me I’m supposed to have a complaint number. What? I was never given one in my previous 3 phone calls. She’s able to look up my complaint anyway using my name and tells me that no supervisor has even looked at it yet. She offers to put me through to someone’s voice mail and I lose my cool. I yell at her that it’s absolute bullshit that Metro doesn’t seem to care that one of their drivers almost killed someone, and why is it taking a week for someone to even look into this? She says that I must have misunderstood her and I let her patch me through, but I understood perfectly. She wasn’t putting me through to someone who could finally get to work on my complaint, she was putting me through to someone’s voicemail, when who knows when that person would check their messages. As it turned out, I couldn’t leave a message anyway. A menu would cut in after a second into my attempt to leave a message asking me to send the message as is or rerecord. It was impossible for me to leave a message past, “hi, my name is –“.

I hang up and call back into Metro again, this time getting Erica. This is the first person I talk to at Metro who actually sounds concerned about what happened to me and my lack of getting answers. She tells me that Christian should have never given me the (multiple) time frame(s) he did, that it’s actual Metro policy to return a phone call within 3-7 days (sigh). She then offers to transfer me to her supervisor but when I tell her about what just happened with the previous person I talked to and the nonexistent voice mail she actually stayed on the line with me until her supervisor was actually able to take my call without sending me to voicemail.

Now I’m talking to Antoinette and repeating my original complaint and all the new complaints I have about the misinformation and runaround I’ve been getting from Metro for the past week. Like Erica, she seems legitimately sympathetic to me and apologizes to me profusely. Antoinette also tells me that there was a note in my complaint file that someone tried to call me for additional information but that person was unable to get a hold of me or leave a message (remember I was told not half an hour before, that no one had even looked at my complaint yet). Now, I did receive a missed call earlier in the day, but there was no message left and the number wouldn’t accept incoming calls and I told Antoinette this. Whoever called me before was perfectly able to leave a message for me, they just chose not to. She then offers to transfer me to Carla R., who is allegedly the person who is actually handling my complaint. I stop her and tell her about the voice mail debacle earlier and she assures me that Carla’s voicemail works and that she is in charge of my complaint and will get back to me as soon as possible. I let her transfer me and I leave a message, explaining the clif note’s of what’s happened and asking her to call me back ASAP.

Monday, December 13: I finally receive a call back from Metro, but it’s not from Carla R. (unfortunately I missed this guy’s name at the beginning and didn’t think to ask him to repeat it), it was from possibly the smuggest asshole Houston Metro employs. He apologizes for how long this has taken, but he was out of town and then he had jury duty and call backs usually take 8 days (lolwut?) anyway. He says that they talked to the driver and the situation has been handled. I ask him how it’s been handled and he tells me he can’t tell me that. He then sighs and says, “Well would it make you feel better if I told you the guy was fired?” Thanks asshole, this has nothing to do with my feelings, and has everything to do with how I was almost killed the weekend before and Metro seems utterly unconcerned about it. I then ask him what kind of training their drivers have to share the road properly with cyclists and it’s clear from this guy’s answer that he has absolutely no clue about the legal rights of cyclists on Texas roads. Great.

So a Metro driver intentionally tries to run a cyclist off the road. It takes over a week and 6 phone calls for anyone to take it seriously and then… they still don’t take it seriously. I was just expected to take this guy at his word that the driver involved was disciplined after being repeatedly lied to by Metro employees. And the worst part is, I will see that driver again, unless he or she was actually fired. If I want to ride into downtown or Montrose (where I spend most of my time when not at work or home), I have to take Lawndale or else go several miles out of my way. I’m going to fear for my life every time a bus passes me in that area when I’m doing something I love to do and doesn’t hurt anyone. Thanks Houston Metro!

If anyone sees a Houston Metro bus driver take the lives of cyclists or pedestrians into their hands, or you just want to know why they didn’t take seriously what happened to me, please contact them at 713-658-0180 or

Saturday, December 11, 2010

The Good, The Sad, and The Ugly

Since I still have bike in the blog title and a bike picture as my avatar I figured I should give an update on things bike related in my world for the last few months.

The Good
Some generous soul has taken pity on me and filled a hole in my heart I didn't know I had by donating to me a unicycle. Now I just need to learn how to ride a unicycle.

The Sad
I gain one wheel and lose 2. I sold my pink baby to a friend of mine. Hopefully she can treat her with the respect she deserves and actually get her out on the streets of Houston more than I ever could (doing 15-20 miles round trip on a cruiser that's not quite my size is not something I want to do, no matter how pretty my ride is).

Farewell, my love. You are in good hands now.

The Ugly
I'm currently in a fight with the bus system (Metro) of Houston. See, I am of the belief that I shouldn't have to worry about being intentionally killed by a bus driver when I'm utilizing my legal right to ride a bicycle on a city street. They evidently disagree. Or at least are undecided... I'm still waiting on a call back from my complaint.

Seriously, last Friday a bus came within a foot of hitting me. 12 fucking inches, and yes, it was intentional. Let me count the ways this driver could have killed or seriously injured me:
*Could have clipped me with the side mirror.
*Could have startled me enough to make me veer off course, either causing me to crash into the curb, or crash into the bus and end up getting run over.
*Could have sucked me under the wheels of the bus with the draft as the bus passed (seriously, I was fighting the draft hard).
*Could have misjudged their distance from me and hit me straight on, or run into me as they passed.
It was my ability to confidently ride a bike and pure fucking luck that kept me from being killed last Friday. The driver intentionally tried to drive as close to me as they could and it could have easily turned into a disastrous situation for me.

I've called into Metro 4 times now and each time I get different information about when I should be receiving a call back about what they are doing about this situation. Up until my last phone call with them yesterday afternoon, I have gotten nothing but the run around and false information about what is happening with my complaint. The last person I talked to even claimed that there was a note in my file that someone did attempt to call me but they were unable to reach me and leave a message. Bullshit. I did get one missed call on Friday, but whoever it was that called then did not leave a message, not could not.

It's not that hard Houston Metro. (At least) One of your drivers is intentionally endangering the lives of other people on the road. It shouldn't take a week or longer to try to "resolve" this. Get on the fucking ball.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Oh Joy

Another social medium for me to get sucked into for a short amount of time before I just kind of forget about it like all the other ones! That's right, I be atwittering now.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


I did a lot of coming of age in the mid 90s, which meant that for an R&B fan like myself, I had a lot of strong female role models to listen to at the time. En Vogue, TLC, Queen Latifah, Salt N Pepa. Their songs helped form the soundtrack of my life before college. One friend even bought me a Salt N Pepa cd she found at a garage sale one time for a buck... until she got the urge to open it before giving it to me and realized she bought me a Salt N Pepa cd case for a buck. I love their music and I never thought I'd ever get the chance to hear any of them live.

Imagine my surprise today when I found out that Salt N Pepa are playing in Houston this Saturday night! And it's not just them, they're headlining for Doug E. Fresh, Naughty by Nature, Kid & Play, and a few others. ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME?!? Holy crap, it's like someone went into 12 year old me's brain and pulled out a Best Of compilation concert.

But I'm not going to the concert.
record scratch

You see, that same night, at the same time, in a different part of Houston, Loretta fucking Lynn is also playing. And I'll be soaking up her awesomeness instead.

Seriously though, couldn't their camps join together and put on the most awesome concert ever instead? There's still time!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

2 bicycle videos and an update to the employment update

Pure awesomeness (via chic cyclist):

And after going through a ton of Mark Ronson songs on youtube yesterday I'm going to have to go and buy some of that fool's music.

New helmet design (via Toxel):

I like that people are trying to come up with alternatives to helmets (full disclosure: I usually don't wear a helmet myself unless I'm going for a long distance ride), and after seeing this video, I have more faith in this design than I did just hearing about it.

Two things in this helmet's defense that I've already seen people question:
1) It's a one use thing. Well yeah. Technically a normal helmet is too. You should get a new helmet after a crash because the structure has been damaged.
2) On the face plant crash, the helmet ended up not adequately protecting the dummy. Same thing for a regular helmet. I knew a guy who had his jaw wired shut for a month because he hit the road face first in race crash. Unfortunately nothing's going to really protect you in that kind of crash.

Now for the downsides as I see them. Obviously there is the cost, but if this design picks up and really becomes feasible, the cost will drop. My second concern is if people decide that this design means they can wear normal hats or have some extreme updo (such as the super high ponytail in one of the pics at the link). In the video on one of the slo-mo shots you can see that for just a fraction of a second, the helmet catches on the smooth head of the dummy as it inflates. Hopefully the designers have or will test out the helmet with stuff that will impede the inflation so they see if it still works just the same. Lastly, and this one's mostly personal, I live in an area where it's 90+ degrees for half the year and always significant humidity. I'm not wearing some thick ass thing around my neck as I bike!

And now for the update to the employment update:
I'm staying employed at my current job through the end of the year. Woot!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy Columbus Day!

via feministe, transcript available at the link.

More information on the worthlessness and insult of this holiday at Racialicious:

In my opinion, it’s not as if the information does not exist out there which explicitly states that no, Columbus was never even near the continental mass of what’s now known as “America”. The “great” navigator that he was didn’t even know where he was going and never washed up here – ever.

What he did do with the full backing of the voyage was ensue genocide, apartheid, and colonization – all whose affects are deeply entrenched in existing assimilative federal policies, hierarchical societal structures, and the realities of Indigenous communities here and around the world.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Employment Update

I mentioned a little over a month ago that come October 1st of this year, I'd be out of a job. Well, it's October 9th now and I'm still employed. For now. I got a one month reprieve that keeps me working until the end of October, and there's a chance I can get another reprieve that take me out to December, possibly even next March. I'm not out of the woods yet, but it's nice to have even just a little more time to hunt for a new job and save up money in the mean time.

*fingers crossed*

Saturday, September 18, 2010


When it comes to naming sexual violence, too many of us are like frogs in a pot of slowly heating water – by the time the violation rises to the level of rape, the victim-blame has been heating around us so slowly for so long that we don’t even notice we’re boiling. And so, when an interviewer asks us if we’ve been raped, we say no, even if we’ve just described to that interviewer the details of a rape that was perpetrated against us. -Jaclyn Friedman

People wonder why women don’t “fight back,” but they don’t wonder about it when women back down in arguments, are interrupted, purposefully lower and modulate their voices to express less emotion, make obvious signals that they are uninterested in conversation or being in closer physical proximity and are ignored. -Harriet Jacobs

Both quotes pulled from Thomas's post. Please read all three links.

I've mentioned before here, other places on the web, and in face-to-face interactions with people that I've been raped. But I've never given any more detail than, "I have experienced rape." I've also mentioned here and everywhere else that I've experienced attempted rape. That one I'm not hesitant at all to share all the details. The assault itself, the subsequent trial, the shame I felt, my distaste for a "justice" system that would parole a serial rapist after only 5 years of an already pitiful sentence and why there had to be another victim before he got the life sentence he deserved.

The attempted rape is easy for me to talk about. Fuck, change the line of trees he jumped out from behind to some bushes and I actually experienced a stranger jumping out of the bushes with a weapon. Give me back my virginity and my attempted rape is a goddamn trope people. But that one's easy, because that one was "acceptable". My actual rape... not so much. And it goes back to what Jaclyn and Harriet talk about.

Here’s a situation every woman is familiar with: some guy she knows, perhaps a casual acquaintance, perhaps just some dude at the bus stop, is obviously infatuated with her. He’s making conversation, he’s giving her the eye. She doesn’t like him. She doesn’t want to talk to him. She doesn’t want him near her. He is freaking her out. She could disobey the rules, and tell him to GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM HER, and continue screaming GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME every time he tries to step closer, or speak to her again. And then he will be all, “I was just talking to you! WTF!” and everybody else will be all, “Yeah, seriously, why’d you freak out at a guy just talking to you?” and refuse to offer the support she needs to be safe from dude. Or, the guy might become hostile, violent even. Ladies, you’ve seen that look, the “bitch can’t ignore me” look. It’s a source of constant confusion, as soon as you start budding breasts, that the man who just a moment ago told you how pretty you are is now calling you a stupid ugly whore, all because you didn’t get in his car.


You could follow the rules. You could flirt back a little, look meek, not talk, not move away. You might have to put up with a lot more talking, you might have to put up with him trying to ask you out to lunch every day, you might even have to go out to lunch with him. You might have to deal with him copping a feel. But he won’t turn violent on you, and neither will the spectators who have watched him browbeat you into a frightened and flirtatious corner. -Harriet Jacobs

I was taught to scream "No!" and fight back.... when a stranger popped out of the bushes at me. So I screamed no and fought back when a stranger popped out of the woods at me. But I was also taught to be deferential, to be "nice", to not interrupt other people but to not say anything when men interrupted me, that my opinions don't matter, that my boundaries don't matter, that I don't matter. And I learned those lessons just as well as I learned the scream-no-and-fight-back lesson. Better, actually, because that was was drilled into me every day of my life. So I followed these other rules, and a man was able to rape me because I followed those rules. My first PIV sexual experience was rape.

And I couldn't even see it as rape! It took me years of uneasy feelings about it to realize why it was those experiences never sat right with me. And like the women mentioned in Jacyln's piece, I thought I wasn't affected by what had happened to me either. Again, the attempted rape was "easy". There were the nightmares that were an obvious PTSD result that I still have from time to time. There was the immediate rage, and the depression that took a little longer to materialize, but all of that was obviously and justifiably tied to what happened to me. The actual rape? It's not like I went through years of self loathing and self destructive behavior when I first started having sex. Or like I flinch any time someone touches my arm or leg uninvited. Or that I get incredibly uncomfortable when a date or lover tries to kiss me repeatedly in public. Or that I still feel like I have to play nice with some guy who won't pick up on my obvious cues to leave me alone (or ignoring it when I flat out say, "I am not interested in you.") when what I really want to do is break his face on the fucking bar. Oh wait....

But the issue of boundaries is not an individual issue of what one rape survivor did or didn’t do. .... Rapists look for the spots where boundaries cannot or will not be enforced. They don’t really care why. They are opportunists. They do what works. They can’t be changed. And we sure can’t wait around for the people who can’t defend their boundaries to change it; they’re doing what they can with what they have where they are. More than that, the boundary violations tend to work by degrees, so that the little ones build the foundation for the big ones, and by the time the rape happens the rapist stands on a stepladder of disempowerment. -Thomas

It's a societal problem, yet somehow again and again the entire onus of responsibility is put onto the victim (usually women). Yeah, tell me one more "joke" about how women control sex and access to it. Tell that to my face when I've told you I've been raped. When I say I still can't enjoy sex as openly as I would like because that makes me "unrapeable" in some people's eyes.

The one thing that every rape has in common isn't the clothes the victim was wearing, or the height of the heels on the victim's feet, or the presence of violence, or alcohol or drugs, or the gender or orientation of the victim. The one thing that every rape has in common is the presence of a rapist.... and a society that will support the rapist more quickly and more often than the human being who was victimized.

Friday, September 17, 2010

So I had this dream last night

I was hanging out with Tyra Banks and some other people at a beach house. We were goofing around swimming and such when I realized I really really had to pee. I figured it would be bad form to pee in the pool with Tyra Banks right there so I start trying to find a bathroom. Then the typical dream shit started happening where all the characters and settings in your dream somehow conspire together to fuck up your chances of doing whatever it is you want to be doing, whether that’s running from something, trying not to be all naked in front of everyone, or in my case, trying to take a piss. So like I said, Tyra wouldn’t leave the pool so I couldn’t just pee there, and I didn’t know where the bathroom was, and then the doorbell kept on ringing and for some reason I had to answer it every time. The first time it was someone selling gallon jugs of water door to door and I tried to tell her that we were good on the water front when Tyra and all the other people came up behind me like, “No, we could really use some water right now!” and I was stuck between the door and this woman selling water to Tyra Banks and her friends. Then I just decided to take a piss in the kiddie pool that was hanging out on the front stoop of Tyra Bank’s beach house when another woman showed up, this time selling tamales. It was around this time that I actually woke up and realized that I needed to pee so bad in my dream because, well, I actually needed to pee that bad. No clue on what the tamales meant though.

I’m pretty sure that at some point during the night I also had a dream about cleaning my toilet. Really subconscious? This is how you choose to entertain yourself at night? More Tyra and tamales and less toilet scrubbing next time, please.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Proof I (used to) Have Some Artistic Ability

I never actually took a drawing or painting class until I was out of college, so when I was growing up I had to improvise in my art "lessons". A lot of my early sketchbooks (and class notes) are filled with the backs of peoples heads or clandestinely drawn figure drawings of people laying down in a park. When I was in college I decided I needed a little more practice drawing faces and fine details but you can't really do that and expect people not to notice you staring and subsequently get creeped out by you. Instead I took to my collection of CDs and LPs and recreated the images that fascinated me in some way or another. Here is my collection of that cover art.

Audio Adrenaline's Underdog

Urban Cowboy, John Travolta

Fleetwood Mac's Rumours

A Man and a Woman (still one of my favorite drawings I've ever done and a damn good album to boot.)

Happy Days Are Here Again (couldn't find an album image online)
This woman that I painted from the cover of the Happy Days album (The happiest record ever made!) was only my second attempt at water colors and while there's certainly plenty of mistakes in it, namely the foot and face, I'm strangely attached to it. Especially considering my first attempt at watercolors ended up looking like this:

The ugliest water color flower known to man.

Thanks to Tony for taking all the pictures.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Now I just have to figure out what I really want to do

Since I seem to be on a posting storm right now anyway...

I went to the Women of Texas Art Show in Houston on Friday, the day I found out I was getting laid off. I found this painting waiting there for me and knew I had to take it home with me where it could give me inspiration.

If you get a chance, check out the rest of Jennifer DeDonato's stuff. It's amazing.

Yep, It's Like That

Street Harassment, Barry Deutsch
Click picture to see full cartoon if it's cut off for you like it is for me.


Sooo. Yeah.
On my second day back at work from my vacation my manager called me into his office to let me know I was going to be in the first round of layoffs as our contract ended. As of right now, come October 1 I'll be unemployed.

This news wasn't completely unexpected. I knew our contract would be ending soon and I haven't been completely sitting on my ass about finding a new job (only mostly). I do have a backup, "crap" job lined up that will keep me paying the bills on time and on insurance. And I got a full month's notice, a lot more than most people get when being laid off.

But I'll be unemployed in a month. And I don't have a lot is saving right now. And I don't want to have to work that crap job if I have an option not too (it's crap for a reason). And I am terrified.

Even my grad school plan (which I still very much want to do) has to be put off for at least another year because I freaked myself out looking at admission rates for the programs I'm interested in and ended up not doing the things over the summer I wanted to do that would have made me a better candidate for applying this fall.

I don't know. Maybe this is the perfect time to get out of Texas, or at least back to Austin (I love you Houston, but you and I need a break). I just hope I at least have a few options to choose from as September ends. In the mean time I'll be plastering my resume anywhere and everywhere... Anyone know of any engineering openings right now?

So that's my depressing post for the month. But isn't this at least better than having me write about pegging like I've been thinking about doing? ;-)

Monday, August 30, 2010

Yesssss! (Part 2)

When we hit Watkins Glen (the town I was going to spend the night in a hotel in), the brothers headed on to the camp site while the rest of us headed to Watkins Glen State Park to see the water falls. Um yeah,it was gorgeous and well worth the side trip.

The next morning I set out to rejoin the group, after backtracking a tad to pick up the sunglasses I left at the place I ate the night before. It was a short but hilly ride, especially towards the end. I did have to walk up a few more hills but I figured out a strategy that ended up working fairly well for me. I would ride until I felt like my quads were about to pop out of my skin, usually focusing on a point on the road and telling myself I had to bike until at least that point, if not farther. Then I would get off the bike and walk, stopping and resting whenever I felt I needed it. And as soon as the hill started to level out, or at least get a shallower grade, I would hop back on the bike and start the process over again.

The rest of the "rest day" was fairly uneventful. A few of us drove into Ithaca (Eric's wife was with us now with her car) and grabbed a few more groceries. When we got back to the campsite, we found that the guys who had stayed behind had found a lot of blackberries and apples in the forest. That night we had berry cobbler and apple sauce to go along with the evil corn whiskey and various boxed wines we picked up in Ithaca and it was all delicious (even the corn whiskey).

Day 6 continued the turnaround for me and was awesome. I was really hitting my stride and didn't have to walk up a single fucking hill all day long! Hooray me! We did have a strong headwind that day, but it was nothing compared to the climbs of the previous days. This was also our longest day but I was feeling so good I was able to pull our pace line for a good 5 miles, my cadence and speed staying pretty steady.

Back to the headwinds for a moment, these are their own form of torture for cyclists. You feel like you've gone pretty far based on the amount of effort you're putting out, but then you look down at your bike computer or map at a rest stop and realize you've only gone 2 or 3 miles, if even that much. Disheartening.

The night we camped um, somewhat illegally, on the coast of Lake Ontario. We didn't even start a fire that night took make it that much harder for any wandering rangers to spot us. In the middle of the night we figured out why camping isn't allowed in that particular park. Evidently there's some prehistoric creature that roams around at night, making lots of noise, sniffing around, and generally scaring the shit out of unsuspecting illegal campers. Or it was some deer. Whatever.

Our night time friend.

On the last day of riding, this weak ass managed to conquer all hills again! There was one last vicious hill just a few miles from Eric's house that I had to stop about 2/3rds of the way up, but that was less due to ability and mostly because I turned to look back and when I turned around again I realized I was about to run into the curb. I took a few seconds to regain my breath then started pedaling again and finished that shit. A few more miles and that was the end. Over 300 miles in one week.

A few end of trip notes:
I think my bike computer tops out at 42 mph. I hit that speed at least twice, possibly 3 times (I didn't look down again after I hit 40 that last time) and I swear I was still accelerating one of those times I looked down and saw 42. What the hell bike computer?

I need (OK, just really really want) a touring frame the next time I do something like this. I don't think it's a coincidence that the only 2 people who got flats (raises hand, twice) were the people on road frames with road tires.

I did a much better job of packing for this trip than I did for Texas 4000 where I mailed a box of stuff home halfway through the trip and left some other things in a church donation box. The only clothing I didn't use was my bathing suit (bike shorts and sports bra FTW) and the only things I over packed on were food and fuel for cooking... 2 things I'd much rather over pack than under pack. Also, forgoing the sleeping bag for this summer trip ended up being a safe bet. A sleeping bag liner and thin sheet, combined with my spare clothes on the colder nights got me by just fine. The one thing I do want to get for future trips is a headlamp. It's an additional thing to pack, but they're small, and it would have been so much more manageable than the bike headlight I was using. Having both hands free can be a useful thing. I should probably also invest in a one-person tent at some point in the future. The 2-person I have is surprisingly small and light, and it was great on the two nights it rained when I could just bring my gear inside with me, but it's still way more space than I need when I'm the only one in it.

All that said and done, I'm already planning my next bike trip.

The rest of my time in Rochester once the biking was over was slow and relaxed and oh so pleasant. The entire trip was a blast and a much needed break for me. I'm glad I got the chance to hang out with old friends and to just get away from the hecticness that has been my work recently. I was joking around with Eric and the others that since my work contract ends soon I was going to go back to work on Thursday to find a pink slip on my desk. Sadly, I wasn't that far off.

Yesssss! (Part 1)

Finger Lakes region, upstate New York

I got back from my bike trip in New York a few days ago and I'm already wishing I had just stayed up there (and not just for the glorious weather). The trip kicked my ass and frustrated the hell out of me at times but it was something I definitely needed.

The guy who put all this together, Eric, was a tent buddy of mine from the summer long, cross-country bike trip I had participated in a few years before, Texas 4000 for Cancer. The night I flew into Rochester, another tent mate of ours from that trip and his girlfriend were also stopping into town for the night before heading on to Canada, and then back to their jobs in South Korea. Holy crap, it was awesome catching up with those guys, especially since the last time I saw either of them was at Eric's wedding a couple years ago. Ahhh memories. And since this was evidently an unofficial T4K reunion week, I also found out that a couple from that trip is getting married and November, and Eric and I just missed by a few hours seeing another guy from that year who was passing through Rochester the day we were heading back into town.

Back to the actual bike trip... There were 6 of us who did the entire ride, one more who joined us for the last few days of riding, and Eric's wife came out and camped with us on our rest day. We would start on Sunday, end the following Saturday, and spend the time in between cycling and camping and even doing a little hiking in the Finger Lakes region. In addition to Eric and I there was Brett from Austin who did the original Texas 4000 ride and knew Eric and Shawn from another long distance bike ride they had done on the west coast, Eric's sister-in-law (her boyfriend was the one who joined us later), and 2 brothers from Texas who's connection to Eric and his wife I can't remember so I won't bore you with it.

Despite us starting in a drizzle that turned into a steady rain at times, the first day was pretty awesome. Like I mentioned in the last post, this was the longest distance I had ridden in a couple years, but I felt good. Our campsite that night was absolutely gorgeous, right along a river in the middle of the woods, with our own mini falls right by the campsite. It was it's own adventure just getting into and out of that campsite (had to cross that river earlier on) and those mini falls gave me my first injury of the trip (scraped up arm and huge bruise on one hip) when I slipped trying to change levels.

I busted my ass on those tiny little falls.

The second day started on a massive uphill (once we had hiked back out of the forest and crossed the river again)... that I didn't even attempt to climb on the bike. Screw that noise, I've been living in one of the flattest cities in the US for almost 4 years now and didn't want to wear myself out before the day even really started. I figured I knew my limits, and this hill was past them right now. Unfortunately that wasn't the only hill I found myself walking up. On the flip side of that, we also had some massive downhills that I dominated to the tune of 42mph.

As an aside, I really want to race Brett downhill sometime when we're both on decent bikes (he had Eric buy his for him in Rochester and pretty much his 1st time riding it was the 1st day of the trip) and not loaded down with extra gear. He was the only one who could really keep up with me on the descents... but he was actually pedaling while I was just tucking in an letting gravity and momentum do it's thing. One of the joys of being as compact as I am for my weight, is that I'm like a human ball bearing on downhills. I can tuck in real tight and gain a lot of speed in a short amount of time. This also helps me slingshot back over most or all of an uphill that closely follows a downhill. Unfortunately for me, that glorious 42mph descent was followed by the last 5 miles of that day, which was an almost constant, steep uphill, with the last bit of it on a rocky path leading to the campsite. It took me so long to finish those last few miles that the sun was setting on me as I finally made it into camp and I had to set up my tent in the almost dark.

Day 3 didn't start out much better, with about a mile of climbing once we got out of the forest. After that however, we mostly just saw rolling hills that didn't pose much trouble along the first of the finger lakes. This day I started getting really frustrated with having to walk my bike up the steeper longer hills. I knew I had nothing to prove, to myself or the others, that I was a bit out of shape and that I have barely seen a hill on a bike since I left Austin. I also knew that I was going to finish this damn trip with all my gear and under my own power whether I was on the bike or off it. But all that time off the bike was starting to weigh on me and, no lie, it was a little soul-crushing.

The next day was the shortest of the trip and mostly easy with the exception of 2 things. One, there was a deceptively long, steep, uphill that (surprise!) I had to walk up most of. In addition to the frustration, all this walking was really starting to hurt. The weight of my bike and gear (which actually wasn't that much, about 25lbs), the awkward angle I had to hold the bike at while walking it, and the cycling shoes which made it impossible to walk normally all combined to start giving me a nasty case of shin splints. I honestly didn't know what I was going to do at the next bad hill if it bot hurt to walk and ride my bike.

The other major set back for me that day was waking up to discover I started my period. With a fucking vengeance. Now, this wasn't completely unexpected. I knew I'd have to deal with this at some point on the trip, but I thought I still had another day or 2 before it started. Upstate New York does have bears in it, and I bled over, well, pretty much everything in my tent. Not a good combination.

Not this bad, but close.

And now I'll take a TMI moment and say, for women who do any sort of long distance biking or hiking or camping, menstrual cups are a godsend! They last longer than a tampon, and you only need one, versus an untold number of pads and tampons. Added bonus, no waste you have to hike out with you!

Anyways, while I was cleaning up and waiting for the rest of the group to wake up and get the day started, I decided I would stop in the last town before our campsite that night, grab a cheap hotel room, launder all my shit, and cramp and bleed in peace for one night. I told everyone it was my contribution to helping us not get eaten by bears at night. The next morning I would bike that last 10 or so miles to join the rest of the group at our rest day camp site.

The rest of the trip to continue in Part 2 when I get home from work.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

I'm squeeing with excitement over here

In another day and a half I'll be on a plane heading to upstate New York for a week long self supported bike ride. It's the first time I've ever done a self supported ride (Texas 4000, while almost 10X longer a trip, was only semi self supported), my first ride with more than just a messenger bag, and I'll be doing more distance per day than I have since I still did the long weekend rides with a club down by my work. No matter, the guy who invited me up (who also did Texas 4000 with me) and I have been sending embarrassingly excited texts to each other all week.

I can't fucking wait!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dance like nobody’s watching, because they’re probably not.

I've been thinking about some things recently, in regards to my relationship with my body and my relationship with, well, relationships, and how those interact. I was thinking about what to say here and if it was really worth saying (sadly, something I do way too often). It is worth saying, but some other wonderful ladies beat me to the punch so I'll now leave you in their capable hands.

How To Be Alone via The Bloggess; Katie Makkai's Pretty via Andrea Dorfman

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

It did make me laugh though

Dear Sir or Madam with the Palin bumper sticker,

"Babies. Guns. Jesus." is not a legitimate political position. I mean, are you for or against?


Monday, June 28, 2010

Just Doing It For The Attention

This post is going to be long and rambly and ranty, so apologies in advance.

It has to be realized that if a woman or girl is upset about something, it's not just because she wants attention. And if she does want attention, maybe it's because she wants care. Is that something to dismiss? What happens when we do dismiss it? I'm not sure I want to know.

This post over on Jezebel hit home for me in a lot of ways, both in women's voices being devalued and in mental issues being devauled. And Tavi is a hell of a writer, no matter what her age is. I really wish I could have known someone with her awareness and wisdom when I was in middle school, because I was not that much younger than she is now the first time I attempted suicide.

I couldn't tell you of any specific instances of someone telling me I was just doing something for attention as I was growing up (different story for as a grown up, more on that later) but I still knew that attitude was there, all around me. From growing up in a house where sick days didn't happen unless you were bleeding from your eyeballs or bone was showing, to just being aware of what was happening in society around me. You think I didn't hear what people would say if they heard about suicide, or attempted suicide, or worst of all (for me at the time), non suicidal self harm? All those people just seeking validation or craving attention.... maybe they were just praying for someone to notice them and didn't know how to ask for help because assholes keep on denigrating them at every turn. Just like me.

The harm I did to myself wasn't for attention. I hid my scars and emotions even while I was desperate that someone, anyone, would notice the pain I was in. I knew what people said and thought about people like me, that we are selfish and attention whores. How the fuck was I supposed to ask for help when it was only "all in my head" and I'm evidently this horrible person anyway. When you keep hearing that message over and over again, how can you tell someone that it hurts to live?

My parents and other adults certainly didn't notice my "cries for attention". They didn't know about the suicide attempts. They didn't know about the cutting. They didn't know about the exercise bulimia or the severe depression. They didn't know that I almost dropped out of college. They didn't really know anything until I came to them with less than a year to go in college and told them I didn't know if I could live any longer*. Was I attention whoring? No, I was trying desperately not to die and I knew I couldn't do it alone anymore.

Flash forward several years to not all that long ago: I get a referral for a therapist (and a prescription, thankfully) from my doctor because I could feel that old familiar depression rearing it's ugly head again and I didn't want a repeat of my last year of college. My time with this therapist lasted for all of one fucking session. Actually less than that because I shut down half way through. I didn't tell him that around this same time I was researching inpatient psychiatric hospitals in town that I could voluntarily commit myself to. I did tell him about my very vivid and detailed suicide fantasies, that I could barely bring myself to go to work, and I had mostly stopped hanging out with friends. He told me in return that my life wasn't that bad and that I only had minor depression, if I was depressed at all. Needless to say, I got significantly worse before I got better.

This. This is what happens when we dismiss a woman or girl for "attention seeking". People die, or come damn close to it.

And what happens when people don't wait until rock bottom like I did to let people know something is wrong? We are often meet with attitudes like this:
Empathy and sympathy are a matter of negotiation, in all but the absolute closest human relationships. There are exceptions for extreme situations of course, or misfortunes that are out of anybody's control, but the bargain usually is: I agree to give you that shoulder to cry on, that sympathetic ear, if you agree to at least hear me out when it comes to figuring out how to address your problem and move forward.
Problems where I can't directly be part of the solution just don't attract much of my mental energy.

See, it's not really about the person actually suffering at all.

What people like this guy don't understand is, just getting to that point where you can talk to someone about what is going on is huge for a lot of people, and a form of therapy itself. There's a reason there are sayings like "I need to get this off my chest". Cheryl can attest, there have been times I've called/texted her just to say, "I really need to vent. Are you free tonight?" And beyond that, you honestly think we haven't considered different options at all? Asshole. That brilliant advice you just dropped on us was probably something we've heard and tried 20 times before and it doesn't work. So instead of getting a sympathetic ear and a chance to unpack some of our problems, we're branded as ungrateful, stupid, attention seekers. Great. And on a related tangent, if someone comes to you with an issue and you don't know if they want advice or just to unload, ASK!

I've talked almost exclusively about the worst aspects of the "attention seeking" meme, but this shit is pervasive in even the most mundane shit. It's part of the reason I'm fiercely independent. Part of why I almost never show my art or poetry to other people. Why even friends and family don't know about huge events in my life until I'm weeks or days away from moving, or major surgery, or by the way, did you know I added/dropped a major? Why even here, I police myself more often than not because even though only a whopping 2 or 3 people can attach a face to my words I don't want those 2 or 3 people to freak out at something I say and get frantic (but well-meaning) phone calls, or have my words used against me by someone less than well-meaning. It doesn't matter if I need help, or want advice, or just want to brag about something awesome I've done. It's all attention seeking behavior and I'm not supposed to do that.

Fuck that noise.

*I should probably apologize to my friends who were living with me at the time, a couple of which read my drivel. I dropped a major bomb on you guys at this time and you really helped me. So I'm sorry for waiting so long to let you know what was happening and I'm so fucking thankful for y'all sticking by me. Smooches!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

My Bank Just Sent Me a Dollar Bill in the Mail

No, really. A crisp one dollar bill. In the mail.

All I'm saying is, I could've used that dollar before I went to Sonic.

Monday, May 24, 2010

I Just Got My Ass Kicked... But In a Good Way

Tonight I went mountain biking for the second time ever, the first time in over a year, and the first time with people who know what the fuck they're doing. Holy crap y'all, mountain biking is terrifying! And I was only on a semi technical trail on a city park in Houston. Houston! Where if you want a "hill" the Kemah bridge or a parking garage are pretty much your only options.

Whatever, it was totally fear inducing. Tight turns bordering steep precipices. Small woodland creatures ready to pounce at any moment. Wicked dips strewn with rocks and roots. People who actually know what they're doing coming at you at a high rate of speed from the other direction while you're just trying to stay upright. OK, so there weren't any actual rabid animals about but the rest of that is true. I never thought I'd miss assholes trying to run me over, car doors opening as I pass, bottles of insect repellent and pizza slices being thrown at me and broken glass all in whatever bike lanes my side of town actually has, but shit, I know that mess. I have the finest toned middle fingers you've ever seen. Alas, middle fingers mean nothing when you're in the middle of the woods trying not to take a header into a tree.

I did have to walk my bike up a couple inclines and I racked myself more than once on the handle bars, but I in fact did not run into any trees, fall off any precipices, or run into any other riders. I even stayed upright (or mostly upright) the entire time. SUCCESS!!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

I Suddenly Feel Significantly Less Special

Evidently I’m not the only one who’s had a tattoo complimented by Enigma. My delusions of tattoo grandeur are shattered. :(

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Art Salon

Not long ago, a few friends of mine had the brilliant idea to have artist workshops of sort every month. These aren't classes, just get togethers where people can work on art in whatever medium they choose in a space that is purely dedicated to art. It was born in part from one person in particular who had an extra building in back of his place and decided it would be a great place for people who couldn't have dedicated art spaces in their own places due to size constraints among other issues. So the Art Salon was born and with 4 (I think) salons so far under its belt, it looks like it'll be a continued success. A much better success than my failed art postcard attempt in college which despite a lot of interest, never got past me sending out the first few postcards. :(

My first experience with the Art Salon was the 2nd time they held one. Sadly I couldn't get out of my non artistic funk and walked away with only one quick simple sketch to cling to. (I apologize in advance for the picture quality)

Last night was a lot better for me, partly due to me refusing to pull the same crap I had last time. It's still not up to what I know I can do when I actually practice at my art (I'll probably post drawings later of some of the better stuff I've done), but I'm not unhappy with what I came home with.

The theme for last night was Apocalypse (there was a steampunk goggle making class) and the following was the only sketch I did a long those lines (yes I know it's a stretch):

Strangely, I'm both happy and disappointed with the result. I'll try to go back to it later and tweak it or just redo it to take care of some the problems I'm having with it (mostly with the horrendous typography; I also think it would work and look a lot better if the words weren't so fucking stark but that part I'm not sure about yet).

Past that I mainly just did quick sketches of the other people there, like these:

When I got bored with that I decided to play around with some cheap water colors and, I have to say, I like the result. Especially considering it's really only about the 3rd time I've tried anything with paint since I was in kindergarten.

Despite the resemblance, even in watercolor, this is not in fact my ex-boyfriend (at whose place we have these things). Just someone who looks remarkably like him and has his same taste in hats.

I also did a fan art piece of Tulip, but to see that you'll have to go to her facebook page... which I don't have the address for because I'm not on facebook myself. Woohoo mystery art!

The last piece is of me instead of by me. Enjoy some art by someone with more skill than I!

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Tears of Anger

My eyes start to well up, and my voice shakes. Soon, regardless if I'm careful or not, the tears are running down my face and I can barely choke out another word. I'm not sad, or even just extremely frustrated. I'm fucking pissed. And this crying business? It's doing nothing but piss me off more.

It happened again tonight when I decided to call someone out on how they've been treating me since they found out my sex life isn't approved by them. Luckily, I caught her voicemail and not her directly, but my voice still shaked and I forgot half of what I thought was important to tell her. And when I hung up, I couldn't stop shaking. Fuck, I'm still shaking.

I used to think this was just me. That I was broken because I was child suffering from severe depression and I kept every emotion of mine buried deep inside, so when something extreme happened to me I couldn't help but cry. But nothing I tried could control the tears, or the additional anger I felt for doing something as stupid as cry.

Now I know that this isn't an uncommon reaction at all. But that doesn't help the frustration when it happens. Crying is a sign of weakness in our society. It means you're too invested, too emotional, too much of a silly girl. And that just makes me want to cry some more.

ETA: Hey! Person in the 2nd paragraph just called me back and not only did I not cry but I made clear the rest of what I forgot to add in my message. Woohoo! Now If I could only convince people that, "I'm sorry if that offended you" isn't a real apology. sigh.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

All My Exes Live In Texas (except for that one in California, who isn't really an ex anyway, but that's not how the song goes)

Recently through an absurd and completely unrelated series of events I've gotten in touch with a number of my ex boyfriends/crushes/booty calls/etc. So I figured what better way to celebrate this randomness than to share with others my impeccable taste in men.

Tri-guy was the start of this trip down memory lane. He was a guy I used to work out with and occasionally go dancing with in college and who I once asked on an only slightly awkward date. Tri-guy was awesome: incredibly sweet, hella smart, and ridiculously good looking to boot. I got the friend spiel after that one date but we actually did remain friends for a while after that until we both graduated and went different places. Last weekend I was registering for a softball tournament that was being held back in my college town when I look up and there's Tri-guy! Still as gorgeous as ever and from our brief reunion, evidently still an all around great guy. Just one problem though... I play in an LGBT softball league, this was an LGBT tournament, and tri-guy was wearing the shortest shorts since Reno 911 and a rainbow flag tank top. Whatever, I was still totally justified in my crush.

George is the next old flame up to bat, a guy so awesome I named my succession of mint plants after him and who left me a hilarious drunk dial voice mail just a few nights ago. He was another person I knew from college and it was all I could do to keep from hooking up with George while I was still with The One Who Got Away (coming up later). Unfortunately, George came around when I was trying to reconcile my waxing sexuality with my not-yet-waning Catholicism, so he had to deal with damaged grog. However, he made clear what his interest was and then stepped back. He never once pushed me to do anything I wasn't sure about or ready for. And if it wasn't for him I wouldn't have the awesome story about a hot make out session on the hood of someone else's car which is a lot better story than the time another college crush of mine passed out on the hood of my car and while I tried for an hour to get him up and back into the house, another person sat there and played the free games on my phone. George has promised to keep me in the loop for the next time he makes it back to Texas and I've promised to start scoping out car hoods.

Next up in the parade involves tales that aren't mine to share so instead I'll leave this warning to any future exes of mine:
If you want to tell stories after we break up that make me out to be an unreasonable bitch, chances are I can give you enough actual material to work with. You don't have to make shit up. Because if you do, you'll just wind up looking like a dumb ass and a douche bag when I talk with your current girlfriend and we compare stories about the different things you told each of us. And I will talk with your girlfriend, because evidently my superpower is the ability to become friends with the subsequent paramours of my exes.

Finally we have Cuba, The One Who Got Away (actually last up is another high school boyfriend who my mom just informed me is married and expecting a kid but that's all there is to that story so we'll just ignore him). Cuba's brief resurgence in my life came this morning when I went to get some coffee and one of the baristas there was a dead ringer for a slightly younger and shorter version of Cuba. So naturally I have to share this with him even though I wasn't able to send him photographic proof and we spent the next hour or so catching up. In actuality, Cuba didn't get away so much as different things in life: we wanted them. But I still care for him deeply and I'm glad we're still friends even if we only catch up a couple times a year and occasionally drunkenly make out when I go back to visit my home town. But Cuba, babe, if you ever want to join the poly circle you got my number. Rawr.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

This conversation was totally work related too

Coworker: He's like a Ninja
Me: he does bicep curls!
Coworker: I see that. I think of it more as a bow staff
He's literate too
Me: no, later in the vid he works out with a dumbell
I smell robocize potential
Coworker: I see it now. 20 lbs is weak
he isn't even going all the way
Me: don't tell robonaut his form is off
he might cut you
Coworker: LOL true
Me: and then draw inappropriate cartoon anatomy on your face
robonaut's such a jerk

Monday, April 26, 2010


Hey body, you and me have to have a little talk. I love you, I really do. Well, I love you most of the time. Anyways, you've always been so damn regular when it comes to telling me I'm not pregnant every month, so this business where I never know when you're going to start shedding our uterine lining? It's really got to stop. Last month, you were a week late, and while that did garner me the awesome nickname of 'Plan B' by my softball team, it was hella annoying. And now this month, you're a week early. Can we go back to the time when I could guess the start of shark week within a day, maybe two max? Those days were fun.

P.S. Please stop getting hit by softballs. It hurts and you're messing up my summer legs.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Today in Webcomics

I read webcomics. In fact, I read quite a few, and I even have a specific order that I read them in every morning. That last sentence may or may not be an exaggeration. It also may or may not be an exaggeration to say I get a wee bit anxious whenever a comic that is usually posted punctually is not posted punctually. Like, OHMYGOD, WHAT HAPPENED? OBVIOUSLY MY BELOVED COMIC HAS COME TO A HORRIBLE AND UNEXPECTED END. MY WEBCOMIC ROUTINE IS RUINED!!!!!!! I may or may not have some minor OCD.

Anyways, I was going through my normal routine on Friday and was surprised when I got to one of my favorites, Questionable Content. Yeah yeah, I know, I'm just a tad sensitive to all things poly, but is Jeph really making the argument here that people can't be in committed polyamorous relationships? And is that a whiff of poly relationships being immature compared to monogamous relationships that I sniff as well? Say it ain't so, Jeph! (It's alright if I call you Jeph, right?) And it wasn't just that I felt polyamory was being a misrepresented that got to me, but that Tai is one of only a small handful of openly poly characters in the webcomic universe as I know it. (Someone please correct me if I'm wrong, but I think Tai is the only poly character in QC. I'm not sure how he's supposed to be read, but I always viewed Sven as more of an asshole that sleeps around than a poly guy who happens to be an asshole.)

So yeah, I was a little disappointed and confused when it came to Friday's strip. However, my attention span being what it is, I quickly forgot all about it until I opened up QC again this morning and was surprised again, this time pleasantly. Not with the comic itself, with the blog post below it. It seems I wasn't the only one who had some issues with Friday's comic, but unlike me, these other people decided to email Jeph about it. He explains that he wasn't trying to harsh on poly relationships in anyway, and says:

One of the challenges of working in this medium is that intent and interpretation are two very different things. I thought it was obvious that I was writing about a specific situation, and not denigrating polyamory in any way, but some people felt otherwise. That means I didn't do a good enough job! The vast majority of you guys either had no problem with the strip or actively told me that it was fine! But that doesn't mean that the minority who were bothered by it don't deserve to have their concerns addressed, which is what I'm attempting to do.

This isn't the first time that Jeph Jacques has recognized something that has hurt his readers*, even if it was unintentional, and taken steps to correct it. It's one of the reasons I keep on coming back to QC. You know, besides the fun artwork and great story lines. And since I try to let people know when they've hurt me significantly, I also like to share it when people do something kind of awesomely right. So thanks, Jeph Jacques, for taking the concerns of your audience seriously.

There's another webcomic that made me happy this morning, for a different but related reason: Punch an' Pie, specifically the 3rd and 4th panels. I've been having issues with a friend of mine who can't seem to understand that my choices are my own, and not an attack on the decisions that she herself makes. This comic was just thing I needed this morning.

* The other time I specifically remember was when all that Proposition 8 crap was going down and the Prop 8 supporters got a lot of ads posted in places that didn't necessarily support Prop 8 in any way. Jeph may not have been the only webcomic artist who had those ads posted on hir site but had them taken down as soon as they came hir attention, but he's the only one I'm aware of who made a public statement on hir blog explaining what happened and apologizing for any offense caused, even though it wasn't his fault in the least.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Dear People of Earth,

If you happen to see someone walking deliberately towards a restroom, or a room with a restroom in it, or with their hand on the door to a restroom, in the process of pushing it open, it is a safe bet that person is in fact going to the restroom. As such, you should refrain from trying to enter into conversation with that person. Otherwise you risk making that person poop/pee/vomit/change a tampon right there in front of you. And that's no fun for anyone involved.

Much thanks,