Saturday, April 30, 2011

Shows in West Philly

I'm leaving tomorrow, but tonight there's a show.

I rode out to West Philly to hang out with Shelly. We sat on a bench on her porch. We talked for awhile, until it was time to go see Mike play a guitar. He pulled out a couple old Mini Band songs, and I was happy to hear them. I was a little bit lit, and I sang along to one from my chair. My voice was on that track of the CD, so why not here? No damn reason. I love that song. It was track two on the "Wander Around" EP. We always offered free downloads for every song, and Mike is still making that happen. ( It sure would be nice to re-unite some form of that band. I wish we never quit. Hey Mike - tell me why we don't start up Mini Band again? I'm up for whatever formations or instrumentation. I can also play the fuckin' drums.

In any case. Shelly got a text about Algernon Cadwallader being put on a show at the last minute only a few blocks away. Me and her and Tara went over there. I was already fairly goosed. We staked out a spot, and I took that opportunity to smoke mad hits just before they played. Those guys are always the best. Serendipity. What a lucky last minute occurrence.

I barely knew which way was straight when we left. I jammed my bicycle into Tara's car, and off we went.

Friday, April 29, 2011

My Relationship with Isopods and Females

Probably more important than the isopod in the shower is the fact that I'm slipping. I'm slipping into getting just really drunk and toasty every day. Maybe I need to reel it in a little. Jesus - of course I do. Shit.

I saw an isopod in the shower. Me and isopods are close. I've been hanging out with them ever since I was a kid flipping over bricks. I found two out in Kennett, and made sure to put them somewhere safe where they could converse. If you're thinking about killing any isopods, I recommend that you don't. They don't bite, and they never do a damn thing wrong.

At 7:21pm, there were no isopods in sight. My hands were on the steering wheel of Tara's car, and for once, I was operating the vehicle. It's rare, but it happens. We're going to the Outback. I have one 40oz Colt 45, and a 24oz can of Blast, which is also produced by Colt 45. (They're unopened, and I wouldn't have my hands where they are if they weren't.) I recently sewed a Colt 45 patch onto my shorts, and I'm not joking. I forgot to mention it before, but it's there. I like it a lot.

Later, we're going to a movie. We're acting like a couple, but we're breaking up in two minutes. It's a scheduled breakup, but tonight feels very much like we are together. It's a rare scenario that I'd never imagined before.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

the big El Bar sendoff

Tara invited a bunch of people to the El Bar to say goodbye to me before I leave on my cross country bicycle adventure. Someone else probably told people too. I was happy and surprised to see so many people who I like. Most of the staff of the bicycle shop were there, along with people who actually had to drive a considerable distance. Tim gave me a Leatherman, which might prove useful on the trip. Plus, a man should have one.

I'm blessed, and I fully realize the fact. I'm humbly and happily blessed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Swapping cranks.

I'm back at the shop again. It's after closing, but everyone is still here. I'm swapping my cranks out for the ones that I actually want to ride on my tour. 40 tooth middle ring beats my current 36t; 46 big ring is plenty for me. Otherwise, they're the same exact Sugino cranks.

This is me hard at work trying to get the least amount possible done each day before I leave.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Drilling up some rack struts

I was at the bicycle shop at 7:21pm. I let myself in with my keys. Mike and his new girlfriend were looking in the window when I pulled up, so I invited them in too.

I ran a drill bit through the rack struts so I could fit the holes over the new solid axle that I put in my Deore front hub. This is all very trick shit.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Waking up to a beeping watch.

I wake up with my watch beeping, covered in sweat. I either drank or smoked pot too early in the day, and fell asleep with a hot laptop burning my legs. It's like slapping awake a zombie.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Making glass beads in Kennett

The most important thing that happened today was making beads. My mom recently took a beadmaking class. She bought a basic torch head that screws onto a canister of MAPP gas. She got a few basic tools, and put the setup in her craft room. She showed me how heat the glass and twirl it onto a mandrel. From there, the bead is embellished then cooled. After it's cooled down, you remove the mandrel and that leaves a hole for string or wire.

That's a simplified overview. My beads are fairly crummy so far. Like everything, it takes practice. I've seen some really nice glass beads before, and this makes me appreciate the level of skill and difficulty involved.

I wouldn't say I caught the bug right away. I didn't work on beads for very long, and probably only made about ten. This is something I could see becoming a hobby though. I want to design and create some more difficult beads, and see if this is something I could get good at. Lord knows I need some new hobbies and skills. A very basic setup like my mom's is about $150. I think professional level torches start at around $600, but they are capable of working on much bigger projects.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Moving Out.

This morning was all about packing up. My hangover probably should have been a lot worse, but science doesn't always hold all the answers. I was groggy and sore as I put all of my belongings into feeble plastic bags. A whole garbage bag full of acquired Care Bears, several bags of clothing, a few boxes of bicycle parts and wheels. Not too bad. Aside from a couple bicycles in the main area downstairs, it all fit in Tara's car.

We're parting ways. She gets the big screen, and I get the bag of Care Bears. I'm probably coming back before too long, but I'm not planning to reunite us back into a relationship. I think we can do better, and I expect that we will remain friends. I'm afraid that I'm signing myself up for another long run of being lonely and sexually inactive. Still, I think it's for the best.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Rowdy at a show.

Shawn called and said there was a show in West Philly, and the music was stuff like 1994! who I like. I mulled this over while drinking a 40 and looking at boring shows on a computer screen. I mulled it over some more drinking a Four.

Tara drove me over there, and it wasn't long before the details get lost and only flashes remain in my memory. I'm pretty sore from apparently tackling Shawn more than once.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Last Day at the Bicycle Shop

I'm leaving on this long trip really soon. I still need to print up some directions, do a couple things to my bicycle, and sew some waterproof covers for my sleepshit.

Today is my last day of work. I'll be using the interim time to prepare and move my stuff from one place to another.

Now it is 7:21pm. I am sitting on the workbench at the bicycle shop. I'm talking to Shelly and Mark. Shelly and I will go out for a last-day drink. It's not a big send-off, but I have an Abita Turbo Dog and a Brawler from the PBC. I'll be back at the shop to pick up some odds and ends. I'll be back to move a lot of bicycles and wheels and stuff. I'll get my tools back, or a fair cash value.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Brake pads and closing up the shop.

I'm putting free brake pads on our best customer's bicycle. No. I forgot that a customer is someone who has bought something at least once. I pulled the brake pads out of our trash box because they're better than what he had. His spent front brake pad scraped a deep groove in his rim, and he brought it here just in time to avoid serious damage.

Then I found a free orphaned pedal to replace the stick of metal that remained when his previous pedal disappeared. He did a quick pass with the Swiffer to show appreciation, and rode home on an improved machine.

We closed up the shop and opened up some tall beers. I sat on the workbench and talked to Tim for awhile. This is a great bicycle shop. I won't miss certain difficult aspects of the job, but this here is a great bicycle shop. I'm proud of everything I've done to help it get to this point, and I'm excited to see how it evolves under Shelly's leadership. I will miss many aspects of working here.

Me and Tim drink a couple beers. I set the alarm, and we walk out into a warm comfortable night.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Walking into my bedroom.

My watch beeps as I push open my bedroom door. Tara is on the far side of the couch. She's watching a show on the big TV. It's one of the shows that wouldn't exist if everyone in it weren't extremely attractive. As soon as you realize that the show is drivel with a cute face, you want to punch it right in the premise. Knowing this, and avoiding any forthcoming underhanded commentary, she immediately hits pause. She looks at me with her big pretty eyes, and soon it's time to make dinner.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Perfecting my iPod

I downloaded a program to take the place of iTunes. The program can also grab the music off your iPod and put it neatly into folders. Now I am back in charge of my music. My music is now easy to navigate and edit. Now I use Winamp. Free at last, baby.

I'm downloading more stuff and easing my iPod back into some semblance of acceptability.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Best front rack setup EVER.

I wanted a front rack on my bicycle for my cross country tour. I ordered the Jandd Extreme, but fitting it wasn't possible with my current fork and brake setup. Fortunately, the bicycle shop can just add it to stock and sell it to someone who can use it.

Then I remembered that I put aside a different rack. It's free and possibly much cooler. It's an old Schwinn rack that attaches to the headset and acts as a spacer - and has curved struts that attach down at the axle. It's an attractive rack, and it also has a spring clamp to hold something like a book or a light jacket.

I'm lucky that Kyler is working here. He hung out after work and provided the support needed to make this project happen.

I should say that earlier today was the Fairmount Arts Crawl, so we had beers left over from that and were hanging out for at least a couple hours.

I held the Schwinn rack up to my bicycle and tried to visually determine if it could work. The cable for the cantilever brake was the primary obstacle. I was ready to call it quits, but we tossed ideas back and forth until a fantastic solution came to fruition. I drilled and tapped the clamp area of the rack to make a fully functional barrel-adjusted housing stop. So simple, so beautiful, so functional. I was a little skeptical and OCD, but Kyler kept egging on progress. It was a good time that yielded great results.

The front rack is where I'll probably be keeping my tent and sleeping gear. If I wanted an easier solution, I could just tie some shit to the handlebars like Nick. But I like the rack. Looks boss.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Belmont Plateau before Work-Related dinner.

Me and Tara went on a ride out to the Belmont Plateau earlier. I'm a wuss about weather. It's getting warmer, but I still wore a jacket. I don't want to nitpick, but I have to. If I'm not in shorts and a t-shirt, it needs to be better.

We went out later to a restaurant in Old City. It was a work-related get-together for a birthday. I'm not the only one who drinks a nasty amount. More than half the table was goofy blitzed before we had to pack up and get to a bar. I think I had a lot of interesting stuff to say. No work the next day - so half a fifth with dinner and some beers after proved manageable.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Eating Mexican food instead of bicycle gang ride.

There was a proposed bicycle gang ride tonight, but it was canceled because two people were going to the Flyers game. No - I don't know what kind of gang this really is, but it's not a very serious one.

Instead of riding around drinking light beer at various bars, I got beer and beer-like drinks from the crunk deli at 7th and Master. I picked up some Mexican food, and housemembers sat on the roof. The weather was beautiful.

Thursday, April 14, 2011 / day off / trip preparation


This shit is good! This day is really good. It's 69 degrees outside, and everything is alright.

I feel like I had a productive day. A productive day should be the norm, but for me it's more like a cause to rejoice.

I just clicked my cellphone and saw that it was 7:21pm.

Earlier today, I worked more with my GPS unit. I made a map with Google Maps, used a third party tool to convert the information into a .gpx file, and loaded that onto the unit. I'm not getting the exact turn-by-turn that I had pictured, but I think my imagination is picturing a functionality that doesn't quite exist.

In any case, I made it to the hardware store to get some denatured alcohol to use for camping stove fuel for the penny stove that I made. Then I rolled back home to make a base and a pot stand for the stove. The stove wasn't quite up to par. There's a leak that lets all the alcohol burn off too fast instead of simmering.

Instead of just fixing it, I went on the Rivendell website and bought the alcohol stove that they sell. It's a Trangia, and with the 3-day ship it set me back $45. I justified this by telling myself that I'm happy Rivendell exists and to support them can only be a good thing. (Unlike the new sneakers I purchased awhile ago, which were probably stitched by kids and sold by jerks, Rivendell makes sure to use 'fair trade' and explain where there products come from). It makes me feel less handy and more fickle, but I can mix that with the high esteem I grant myself in other departments and call it even. I'm excited to see the damn stove.

I also put a front Jandd rack on the QBP order at work, and it should arrive tomorrow. I could have used bailing wire to hold my camping gear to my handlebars, but I guess I'm on a buying-stuff kick. I'm also just joking about the bailing wire setup.

Continuing with bicycle trip preparation, I went through the required steps to re-instate my account. I was booted automatically for inactivity. For a person like me who feels that music is one of the most important things in life, I've really fallen off with keeping up to date with technology. The formats have changed, and I've been stuck in limbo. I have a nice iPod, but I don't want to use iTunes. Here I sit with the same music from 10 years ago on a tired iPod. (Hot Water Music? Really? Right now?) Now I can download almost anything that comes to mind. I need to do some more work to avoid iTunes and have more control over my music file organization, but I hope to have lots of new tracks available to play while I cross these grand "United States."

I found out late yesterday that I even had the day off today. The only change made to my plans was a taller pour of whiskey. Today's temperature confirmed for the ten-thousandth time that I have no business dealing with any type of cold weather. I've been a dead goddamned jackass for months.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Late at the shop.

We had some work to get done today, and it didn't all get done. I'm sticking around a little bit late and talking to Tim about home-matters and past jobs. We're fixing bicycles. I have some Baths music playing which is soothing out my mind. The typical customer interactions that we see every day can give a human brain a bit of a warp-job after awhile.

Some of this job is positive and good. Sometimes we feel helpful. But there are many people who have the impression that we are running a bait-and-switch operation when something unexpected becomes an issue during the tune-up. I guess that's how I feel when I need work done on a car. Bummer.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sort of sick.

I don't know how sick I got today. My nose was running, and that always puts me in a foul state. I took a Benadryl at work because I thought that wouldn't warp my brain. I was wrong. I went home an hour early getting drenched in the cold rain. I arrived home in a foul state indeed. I napped, drank a smaller amount than usual, and got a good night's rest.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Shop Happy Hour.

Everyone who works at the bicycle shop was invited to happy hour down the street after work. Turns out they don't serve the happy hour specials if you sit outside. Interesting. We got a couple pitchers and a couple rounds of nachos. That worked well too.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Pissing at the El Bar.

I went over to the El Bar with Drew for a couple rounds of Specials. At 7:21pm, I'm simultaneously peeing and receiving a txt from Dreamane about getting together for a movie.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Su Tao going away get together.

I'm leaving soon, and some of my friends knew it and wanted a gathering at my favorite restaurant. I think we might see each other again before I leave on the trip, but I guess that's not written in stone. At 7:21pm I'm in the bathroom pissing out some of the Four and Bud Ice that I had on my way here.

Su Tao is in Malvern, which is close to my friends' place in West Chester. Boy did I have a really fun time talking and being silly. I wish everyone could always just be in a comfort zone. I wish anxiety never played a role for any of us. This was a great night, and I'm thankful for these friends.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Riding through shitty cold rain.

This is fucking it for Philadelphia. The climate of this city is a pile of shit. I have rain blasting me as cars pass me too close and my fingers feel like I'm clutching ice. My glasses are covered with drops of rain, and my vision is impaired as I smack over shards of broken pavement. None of the pavement is smooth anywhere, and some of the potholes could drop a cyclist right into a hospital. Fuck this climate, fuck it more for fucking up the roads, and sign me up to get out of here.

Philadelphia is pretty boss for some months out of the year, and I love my friends, but god knows how big this planet is without me seeing nearly enough of it. 7:21pm.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Text to self:

I have no idea what I was doing at 7:21pm on this day. I texted myself "badass streamers." That's a bad sign. That means I'm getting less and less smart. I have no idea what badass streamers are, but I guess I could start at the drawing board and come up with something.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Closing up shop.

The front door closes and the employees are milling on the sidewalk again. Shelly, did you know that 7:21pm is the exact time that the doors close and we're unlocking our bicycles? I mentioned something to that effect.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

How to spot a gay. Painted nails?

I'm all finished closing up the shop. I'm out on the sidewalk unlocking Tall Cool, and one of our young customers just rolled up. Let me amend that. Customers are usually people who buy something. This young guy just hangs out on a regular basis, and sometimes we fix his bike.

I don't know all of the details about how humans work. Humans as a whole don't either. That's why we have sociologists, and they're still chipping away at the edges and reading each others' science reports.

This young guy is twelve or thirteen, and to my untrained eye and ear appears to be what many people would call 'flamboyant.' He can't be classified scientifically as gay, but there's just that certain twang, sass, and style. I hope humans and life treat him well, because he is a polite young man and I wish I thought that was good enough to hold him over to a confident adulthood.

We're standing here on the sidewalk, and he's telling me what some people think is gay. I have fingernails painted the brightest blue you've seen. How I explained it to one curious customer a few hours ago: "I just like to look pretty."

I just like to look pretty. And I'm a little queer. I'm a good example of some kind of queer who never poked around or explored too much because it's too easy to walk toward the straight side of the line. Maybe the nail polish is just to remind me to be honest with myself. No - it's also about solidarity. If you have a problem with blue nails, then you also have a problem with a quick dozen or so people who I love. It's both.

I'm on the sidewalk talking to the young man - he doesn't need help, he's just stopping for a chat. I keep the can of worms closed at this point in time. No, I'm not gay. I'm just colorful. I talked about how sometimes you can tell when a person is gay, and sometimes you can't. Many times you're wrong, and never does it matter. It's was a quick and light conversation at 7:21pm. The topic is one that crosses both our minds.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Feelings of greatness. Today is great.

I got over the self doubt that I mentioned yesterday. I knew it would pass. I'm feeling better. I don't have an accurate life plan, but I'm not in the gutter and I'm taking steps toward self discovery and exploring options. That's good enough. In the big picture, it's even great.

It's 7:21pm and I'm sitting down on the rocks by the river. I'm by the Delaware River at Penn Treaty Park. The weather is beautiful. There is a warm breeze coming from the south, and sometimes a hint of marijuana smoke blows over with it. I have a bag of beers. I re-affixed my panniers to the rack on Tall Cool and loaded up some alcohol.

Nat's hanging out down here with his great new young dog. As my watch beeps, an attractive girl is walking away slowly with cigarettes in her back pocket. She is walking toward her dog after both of the dogs were successfully introduced. I have Four Loko and a 40oz Olde English. Then I have a nice Bud Ice for a light dessert.

Kyler was just here. (I don't know about injecting the names of people in this journal who don't know that I keep it, but I try to be good about it.) Kyler just got hired at the bicycle shop. I interviewed him for the job with a measure of awkwardness. I confirmed that I thought he was a good guy and we should hire him. Having me perform the final interview is a bit funny, because I tend to think the best of all humans unless they are extremely obviously terrible. He's not. Me and this guy have actually been getting along great, so I invited him down to the rocks for a beer since he had plans in this direct vicinity already.

This is a beautiful warm spring day. Sweatshirts are optional; shorts are mandatory. This day keeps being great.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Feelings of inadequacy

I don't know what I am. I'm proud to call myself a bicycle mechanic and a generally nice guy. That's not my place on Earth. I can't be sure that I have place. I don't think it works like a puzzle. I doubt pre-destiny and fate. Sometimes I just want to hide or disappear. That happens when I feel like I did today.

We had a new guy start at work. I'm leaving in a month, and this guy is my replacement. I worked with him one day, and I think he's going to be a great asset to the shop. I trust that he will be able to organize and plan better than me. He probably doesn't have anxiety, and he likely doesn't get so easily overwhelmed.

The basement was a mess. There were bicycles stacked everywhere, and it totally lacked order. I came in today, and it's all fixed. That pretty much says it all. I feel like this guy has completely upstaged me, and for all my useless facts and fixes, I suck at my job. Suck is too harsh, but it's also a relative term, and I feel uneasy about how much I comparatively suck at being the manager of a bicycle shop. I'm a series of Achilles heels.

The only saving grace is that I can tell myself this was never supposed to be a career. Also, I truly do want the best for the shop. This guy will help. I should be happy about that - and I am - but at the same time I am humbled, and I feel small.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Passenger seat post Olive Garden.

It's 7:21pm again. Tara is pulling away from her house with me sitting shotgun. My parents are following in the mini van. We all just ate at the Olive Garden.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Flipping my shit about taxes

Everyone I know got a much bigger return. What am I doing wrong? More importantly, taxes are one of the main things that get under my skin and make me want to disappear. I think I'm a reasonably capable human, and the simple act of filing taxes bends my mind and being. What about slightly less capable people? How can we ask them to file taxes, let alone get jobs and eat food?

None of these are good questions. None of this is a valid reason to get bent out of shape.

At 7:21pm, I'm bent way out of shape. I'm drinking Bud Ice and clicking through Turbo Tax like a tornado. I shouldn't get like this. I should be more calm. I'm acting a fool, and getting stirred up about how things should be different than the way they are. This is a dangerous game for someone who has always had it so easy. Balance, Christopher. Find balance.