I want to ride my bicycle

25 11 2012

I hate writing, but I love having written.

I would never say that.

Having written is just fine—there is a satisfaction after finishing a long or difficult piece—but I don’t love it. And even with the satisfactions, there is also a kind of emptiness at the completion. I’m done is an occasion for melancholy and relief.

But writing? Hell yeah, I love writing. It’s even something beyond love: It’s as if I become who I am, that there is no distance between the being and the doing, that everything comes together in a moment of tumbling stillness. I disappear and am more there than I ever am, less a paradox than a transcendence, a clarity of purpose in which the purpose dissolves into itself.

Working out, on the other hand, yeah: I hate working out, but I love having worked out.

No, I don’t really hate working out, but I don’t really like it, either. I put up with it, because I don’t like what happens when I don’t. I want to be fit and reasonably trim and able to take care of myself, and so I work out. But the weightlifting and the bicycling and the stretching and all that?

Eh.

When I was younger I was fairly active, but I have no idea if I liked workouts or not. Maybe I did, or maybe I just didn’t think to ask whether or not I liked working out. I said I liked running, and, honestly, on my best days I still do like running, but did I really mean it? Did I really like lacing up the Brooks or Adidas or Saucony and wriggling into my jog bra and heading out to loop around the track or the neighborhood?

It’s possible, I guess, but this was probably a story I told myself as a way of crowbarring my sorry ass off the couch. I had an image of myself as more-or-less athletic, so I needed to say that I enjoyed partaking of athletic activities. Even if I didn’t.

Well, okay, I did like playing catch or shooting around, and I do enjoy taking bike rides with friends, but hauling myself on to my bike to lap around Prospect Park or over to the gym? Nope. Means to an end.

It’s good that I don’t hate weightlifting or biking, because I do like what they do for me: Nicer arms, stronger legs, increased endurance—and the sense that I’m not just a slug growing in Brooklyn.

But if I could accomplish all of that by napping? Oh, now that’s something I do enjoy.





Dum-de-dum-dum DUM!

27 08 2011

I am an idiot.

No, not for riding to Brighton Beach with C. to check out the storm. It didn’t rain and then it rained a little and then a lot and then it stopped and, anyway, this is what we saw:

We did see some waves:

What, you couldn’t see it? Here, this might help:

Yep. That was it, as of 3:00 Saturday afternoon.

There were some number of us behind the yellow tape (keeping us off the boardwalk), and nobody seemed particularly panicked.

Or disappointed that there was nothing much to see. Yeah, C. and I wanted crashing waves and, y’know, something interesting, but we agreed that we had to look, and if nothing else, we got in a wee workout on our bike down.

This is where the I-am-an-idiot piece comes in:

Can I blame this on the storm?

Yes, I got a flat.

That’s not the idiot-making part, however. No, it was my EXPLICIT decision to bring NEITHER my patch kit NOR my pump on the ride.

Oh, hey, it’s just down to Brighton. Not that far. I just fixed a flat; what are the chances I’d get another? Anyway, it’s not like we’re going to the Rockaways.

Dumb dumb dumb.

C. was great. I checked with one SUV cab for a ride back home, but he declined. At her suggestion, we decided to walk while looking for another SUV cab, and ended up walking the whole way back.

It was raining, but not too hard and it wasn’t windy, so we just chatted. About her novel. About the point of education. About homeschooling. About whatever. It took awhile, but it didn’t feel like it took long at all.

I don’t know if I’d have bothered to go without C.’s enthusiastic decision to accompany me, and it would have been a fucking miserable walk back alone.

With her, it was all good.

(Okay, I got a coupla’ blisters, but, really, I can get those wearing the wrong shoes to my local take-out joint.)

Anyway, mindful of  how my disregard for the “better-safe-than-sorry” adage screwed me over, I decided to be proactive for the rest of the weekend:

Honestly, not really hungry for either (and the Oreos really do need to be frozen), but, again, “be prepared”. . . .

As for other essentials, well, I already had those:

Trickster agrees!





Reason will not save us. Or maybe it will.

13 03 2011

Like wiping an eraser across the land: The New York Times allows you to see before and after satellite photos of the devastation in Japan.

Stunning.

~~~

The planet does not care about us. Nature does not care about us.

Any care in this world begins and ends with us.

~~~

Errol Morris does not understand Thomas Kuhn.

Part of this non-understanding is due to Kuhn; part of this non-understanding is due to Morris.

(I am not the only one who thinks so.)

~~~

Judith Warner confuses the consequences of inquiry with inquiry.

Michael Bérubé is not confused, but did he really not understand the implications of epistemological nihilism?

I am not a genius—repeat, I am not a genius—yet even I, as a 2nd or 3rd-year grad student was able to suss out the political dangers of such nihilism.

I wrote a paper for a course on the philosophy of knowledge in which I (budding-but-not-yet-full-epist-nihilist) noted that the slipperiness of fact was a constant problem which must constantly be confronted. That “fact” and “evidence” and “reason” could be used as weapons meant that one must be ready to contest the deployment of such weapons.

This was a problem for me, for awhile: If everything is up for grabs, how can one move?

I solved this particular problem by moving.

Yes, there’s more, much more, involved than this, but this isn’t the place for an explication of my solution. I brought this up simply to signal my recognition that, yes, this is a problem.

I’ll try to dig out the particular paper, but I believe I used an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, in which Captain Picard is tortured by a Cardassian; his torturer, in an attempt to break him, wants him to say that there are five lights when there are only four. Upon his release, he turns to his torturer and emphasizes that there are, in fact, only four lights.

Later, however, he admits to Counselor Troi that he did see five lights.

Given that people can be coerced into not seeing what is in front of them—that truth as an intersubjective activity means that it is vulnerable to domination—means that truth is subject to political debate.

Upshot:  those of us invested in particular forms of and inquiries into truth must defend against assaults on those forms and inquiries.

I got this, as a smart-enough grad student, and I’d bet that I wasn’t the only one.

But Bérubé and Warner are shocked—shocked!—that  “it turns out that the critique of scientific “objectivity” and the insistence on the inevitable “partiality” of knowledge can serve the purposes of climate-change deniers and young-Earth creationists quite nicely.”

No shit, Sherlock.

Okay, so that wasn’t very nice. Bérubé  is a lit professor and was busy mining his own particular veins of concern; that’s one of the benefits of scholarship, after all: to forsake the surface and plunge below. Conversely, it was really not such a stretch for me, as a budding political theorist, to have recognized the political implications of anti-foundationalism.

Anyway, Bérubé is now aware that excavations below can lead to instability up top:  “[P]erhaps humanists [read: humanities professors]  are beginning to realize that there is a project even more vital than that of the relentless critique of everything existing, a project to which they can contribute as much as any scientist–the project of making the world a more humane and livable place.”

Just so.

There is more to this story, of course, not least of which is a defense of such excavations given the possibilities of instability; the short version is that the cracks were always there.

The long answer awaits.

~~~

What makes NPR liberal? What makes any media outlet liberal or conservative?

On the Media didn’t quite ask this, but in a segment with Ira Glass (who insists NPR is not liberal), they introduced the possibility that they will ask this question, as well as, perhaps, whether it matters.

Still would have liked to have heard them discuss O’Keefe’s edits of the vid.

~~~

I am old. I like to go fast.

That I put the “I am old” statement first tells you that I blame my age for my hesitations regarding speed.

Whatever.

I took my road bike out yesterday—first time in years—for a coupla’ spins around Prospect Park. Oh, every time I get on this bike I marvel at how quick it is. Unlike my road bike, this baby just sssshoooms when I crank the pedals.

That light narrow frame, those smooth skinny tires, the aerodynamism of the hunched-over posture. . . ack! That light narrow frame means it’s less stable! Those smooth skinny tires are apt to skip across the road! In my hunch I can’t see as well!

Ack!

No, I didn’t wipe out. (I will: I wipe out at least once every biking season, usually because I panic and can’t untangle my shoes from the clips fast enough. I try to have this happen away from traffic.) But the marvel at the speed competed with the concern that things are more likely to go wrong at speed.

Prudence is a fine thing, but so, too, is the exhilaration which follows recklessness.

Anyway, I’d rather not be afraid, and think that the more I ride the road bike, the less anxious I’ll be.

All the shit I have yet to learn and still, all the shit I have to re-learn.

Criminy.





One foot in front of the other

23 01 2010

I’ve become such a lard ass.

It’s not (just) that my diet has gone to hell, but that I’ve basically stopped moving.

Oh, I get up to get my coffee and I walk to the train and I take the stairs, but beyond that and some basic weight-lifting, nada.

I’ve been physically active my entire life. The 1970s were a time of mothers shoving their kids out the door and saying ‘Go play!’, as in, Get out my hair for awhile.

The adults did what they had to do, and we did what we had to do—which involved a combination of innocent exploring and things best not revealed to the adults.

Both sides preferred it that way.

So we went off roaming around backyards and alleys and streets, racing our bikes and clambering up trees and over fences, and trying to scrape off any excess mud and blood before making our ways through the back doors at dinner- or bed-time.

We didn’t call it exercise, of course. We called it play.

I did start ‘exercising’, I guess, in high school, where I ran cross-country and track and played basketball, but even then, it more about ‘going out for sports.’

College was running and biking and ‘staying in shape.’

Only in grad school did I really start ‘exercising,’ as in, joining a gym, lifting weights, swimming laps, and running or biking in place.

It  was fine, really, especially once I fell into a routine: hit the gym in the late morning, then head over to the poli sci department for the rest of my day.

There was, of course, down time in grad school and after, but it was rare that exercise lapsed for more than half a year.

Until I moved to New York. I biked a lot my first summer here, but after that, not so much. There was also some running, but I never managed to keep at it long enough to stick. My job at the bookstore at least required that I move around a fair bit, and when working three jobs there was lots of veryfastwalking to and from the trains.

But it’s been awhile since I worked at the bookstore, and I spend a laaaaahhhhht of time online.

Hence: lard ass.

I’m not fat, although I have gained weight, but I don’t feel right. I’m used to feeling fit, that I can take care of myself, and lately I’ve just felt bogged down. I’ve also had a few issues with my gut, which was well-behaved before I, well, stopped moving.

As mentioned in early January, I’m not much for New Year’s resolutions, but it did occur to me that if I were dissatisfied with my degeneration into an indigestion-ridden blob, I might just consider doing something about it.

So many excuses not to: I can’t afford a gym. I need to find a job. I don’t have time. Later, I promise.

Well, I did find another job, and while I still can’t afford a gym, it’s not truly necessary. [*Update: There’s a gym in DT Brooklyn which is mighty cheap, so perhaps. . . .] Furthermore, instead of thinking I need to give 90 minutes every day over to sweating, maybe I could start small, by, say, walking. Briskly.

I do prefer to run, but starting a running routine from too far in out-of-shape-land is a recipe for failure. Nope, I need to trim myself up a bit, remind myself of what it’s like to propel myself along, and then, once it’s light enough long enough after work, I can start running or biking again. Hell, I’m less than a 15-minute walk to the southern end of Prospect Park, which is a lovely place in which to breathe deeply.

So, I’ve begun taking those walks. I’ll be working an office job M-F and teaching Th & F nights, but I figure I can simply get off the train at my usual transfer point and walk the remaining leg at least the nights I’m not teaching and, depending upon my mood, the trains, and the weather, perhaps even those nights as well. And then on the weekends, longer walks in the park.

If I manage to keep to the highly-manageable schedule of 5 days of walking a week, I figure I can graduate to running and biking by the time the light lasts into the night.

That’s the plan, at least.

I miss those days in which I didn’t even have to think about my body, when I could simply jump off the back stoop and tear off to the nearest trouble.

C’est la vie. My jumping and tearing off days may be over, but I can still move.

Oh yeah, for an old broad, I can still get around.