Friday, July 17, 2009

What is This "Good Day" of Which You Speak?

The sun's fighting to make a showing now, but when I woke up it was grey and overcast in the sky. Bella was making affectionate demonstrations to my wife, crawling and nestling on her, which is rare for this normally reserved Savannah. Toki was elsewhere in the house for most of it, though now I can hear him chewing on cellophane in the next room. One moment...

It was the foil cap to a bottle of wine, peeled off days ago. Sometimes the cats will dig out little treasures from the trash, if it's an open waste bin.

It's 8:30 AM now. In half an hour I'll start getting ready for work, taking a shower and assembling my belongings in a pannier, choosing an outfit. When I started biking I was all excited about shopping for biking shirts, advertising my cyclist-ness, but those shirts are fairly expensive. Whenever you get into a niche interest, there will always be a merchant waiting to jack up the price of whatever you need; the deeper you go, the more expensive it gets. In this way, capitalism stifles personal development and creativity, makes them prohibitive.

So when we went on our cruise around Europe, I was especially excited about picking up biking shirts from each nation we went to. But that gets costly quickly, what with the American dollar being as anemic as it is. I picked up one shirt in Norway, a blatantly souvenir-ish shirt modeled after their flag. It was made of the breathable material I've come to associate with athletic clothing. That's it, one shirt. I bought a couple nicer workout shirts last year, when we got My Fitness Coach for the Wii and started to really make an effort to exercise. Dressing in them puts me in the mindset for exercise, as I find it helpful to have a ritual about some things. I've worn those workout shirts for biking, but now I find it suitable to just pick out some old ratty t-shirt. I mean, who cares how I dress? I'm old and pudgy and married: being "marketable" should be the least of my concerns.

The cats are thundering around in the next room, stampeding back and forth. I've always thought cats were silent and stealthy.

I went to the Minneapolis Institute of Arts last night, for their Third Thursday presentation. This one was "Tour de Force," a play on Tour de France, and the focus was to be on bicycles. To that extent they had an interesting "make your own vintage French bicycle poster" activity, using templates of old posters with space for you to make your own design. I thought that was an awesome idea. They also had a local fashion designer displaying her "bike-friendly" work, which seemed to be cloth flowers you could pin in your hair. Which, as my wife pointed out, prevent the use of a bike helmet. In that light, "bike-friendly" means a decoration for your head that won't get caught in your bike chain, I suppose. Otherwise, I don't know what made her stuff more "bike-friendly" than it was "casual office-friendly," "radio-friendly," or "lemonade-friendly."

Kid Dakota was playing, but he wasn't singing songs about biking or public transit. I didn't see the connection, anyway. The pamphlet mentioned briefly that there was an exhibit "celebrating all things transit" but it did not allude to where this might be, nor was it mentioned anywhere else. There was a showing of The Bicycle Thief, but I didn't go to a museum to see a movie. Except for the DIY poster design, the evening's features seemed arbitrary and random. I'm sure I just missed the point.

The event was thickly populated with the kind of counterculture cyclists I have learned to hate: dressed uniformly, announcing how very into cycling they are, but in practice completely dismissive of traffic law or consideration outside of themselves. At that point I became disinclined to buy any special exercise shirts for biking, but would rather dress like a pedestrian while riding my bike.

Yes, I own a courier bag. Everyone at this event did too. The difference was that I actually carried a lot of stuff in my courier bag, like a small library, my laptop, and a complement of stationery items. Theirs looked empty. Mine was made by Swiss Gear and I keep it looking new, in gun-metal grey and royal blue. Theirs were uniformly black, ragged canvas, in the same way people buy pre-faded and distressed jeans: to advertise to others how long they've been into this motif, making them more integral and harder-core than you.

I don't wear my courier bag anymore, and I'll probably sell it despite its usefulness. I wouldn't want anyone to think I subscribe to their fashion show, just like I wouldn't dress in any way that would lead random bystanders to think I'm a neo-Nazi. I've identified a group and wish to dissociate myself from it.

Anyway. Currently I'm updating my podcasts, though I don't know when I'm supposed to have time to listen to them. I won't wear headphones while biking, unlike half the cyclists I see, and if I have time alone at home I don't want to spend it sitting still and listening to something for an hour. When I'm not alone, that's an even worse thing to do. But my concern is that my wife and I don't share enough interests, so I'm downloading all the Planet Money podcasts and need to find some time, somewhere, to listen to them so I can discuss the economy with her. I will also have to read a lot more about the economy and start studying the news, too. These commentators just bring out the misanthrope in me, which makes it hard to focus on the core message, but as a matter of self-discipline I need to learn how to do that. It's like The Andromeda Strain: putting energy into avoiding irritation only makes you extremely susceptible to the next irritation you encounter. Better to constantly subject yourself to irritation and deaden your nerves.

No comments: