Friday, October 27, 2017

"How are you doing?" is all that it takes.

I went on that Thursday night bicycle ride again. I brought plenty of beer along this time. Now that I know what the scene looks like, I came better prepared. Like last week, I was hoping to meet new people. Riding with hundreds of folks through the streets of Austin is good enough for me, but meeting some new friends would be that much better.

I figured out the trick for meeting people. What you do is ask "how are you doing?" Nobody wants to talk first. Gobs of people want to meet other people. They are more than happy to talk, but most will not speak up first. I've tried the "silent and aloof" approach, and it has always been far less successful.

So I asked a couple people how they were doing. It worked way better than I expected. I met some new people who I like. I am thankful for bicycle rides with a party atmosphere. The Thursday ride is making my quality of life a shit-of-a-lot better these days. I honestly wonder what the fug else I'm doing right now. Buying vintage sewing machines on eBay is one thing.

Friday, October 20, 2017

I moved to Austin Texas, started sewing, and resumed bicycling.

I'm making changes: New location. New projects. Better life. 

Instead of selling my Big Blue stripe van, I decided to drive it down to Texas and keep it. It's parked in my friend Moe's backyard. I am renting a room inside the house. I was sleeping in the house for a couple weeks, but then I turned that room into a full-on sewing studio. I sleep in my van, I ride a bicycle, and it is glorious.

The Sienna minivan? I flew back to Pennsylvania and I drove it back to Texas. Now I have a giant semi perma-parked van to live out of, and a Sienna minivan as my car when I need to drive one. I can travel and sleep in either one. I'm not saying it makes a ton of sense, but this is working for me. I like this. Bottom line: I'm glad that Big Blue is still in my life.

Readers might recall that I planned to start rehabbing travel trailers with Moe. Upon return to Texas it became pretty obvious that that plan was not going to get off the ground. We didn't talk much about it. It was simply clear that travel trailers were not happening. I brought all my tools, but it's not gonna happen.

About this sewing.

I brought a sewing machine to Austin, and I set about trying to make a zipper pouch with a lining for practice learning how to properly sew. Then I made a second pouch. Then several more. That was about two weeks ago, and now I have a new sewing machine, and I've made over 130 zipper pouches. I have fabric cut out for 120 more. I can barely make time to type these words.

I'm tired of selling books on Amazon. I'm not that interested. It leaves no space for self expression. I am much more excited to live a life of novelty and whimsy. I want to sell zipper pouches. I think it's funny. I challenge myself to have the moxie to do it.

I don't exactly know how to sell zipper pouches, but I believe that a good start is to make A LOT of them. Working in large batches allows me to hone my efficiency. Sewing for many hours at a time is leading to straighter and faster stitches. I am obsessed, and it feels great. When I am done working, sometimes late at night, I watch sewing and quilting tutorials on YouTube. Then I research sewing machines.

Sewing zipper pouches reminds me of two things: Learning how to fix bicycles, and building the Condiment Packet Gallery. Those are two activities that put me into hyperfocus mode for years. I have reverence for these simple machines which have changed little in the past 100 years. I find it meditative to create a process which produces hundreds of unique colorful rectangles. Like with my condiment packet collection, no two zipper pouches are the same. I'm not sure if it will stay that way, but for now I'm tickled. I am amusing myself. I am having a blast.

For a minute there, I wasn't riding my bicycle. It happens. I was sewing all day, and I wasn't getting away from the house. I don't know many people in Austin, and staying inside all day doesn't help with that. Two days ago, I hopped on the Hoopty and rode downtown. It's about 30 minutes there, and 40 minutes back. The route isn't perfect, but it certainly ain't bad.


Last night I went downtown again to join up with a weekly bicycle ride. Hundreds of people participate in the ride. There are tall bikes, and many people with stereo scenarios blasting various music. There are costumes and colorful lights. I arrived at the spot, put down my double kickstand, and sat on a concrete picnic table. I observed quietly with an inward grin.

Minutes later, a guy about my age pushed an old bicycle close to my table and said hi. I wanted to be social, but I'm not good at first contact. I knew his 'hi' was simply an acknowledgement of proximity, but I moved on it. I asked if he'd been on the ride before. Yes? I haven't, because I just moved here. I don't know anybody. He'd moved here once himself. He knew the feeling.

My friend whose name I never bothered to get packed a bowl and offered green hit. Yes, I do want a hoot, but probably later when it won't make me feel awkward, and I can be alone watching sewing videos. Of course I didn't say that. "Yes, thank you" was my reply. I got good and funny, and when his friends arrived, I drifted about twenty paces elsewhere. Luckily, one of his friends was an angel. He was dressed like Mario (the 'theme' of this particular ride was 'Mario Kart') and he yelled over at me in a friendly manner.

"Hey, man! You want a beer in that hand?"

Fuck. Yes.

I was happy to see that this is exactly the type of ride I hoped it would be. It was like the Denver Cruisers ride I happened onto in 2011. There were joints, spliffs, bowls, beers, and bicycles. Everyone had a great time, and we covered far more territory than I expected. Traffic rules, for the most part, were respected, and some experienced ride leaders kept the whole gaggle on course and re-united split groups after traffic lights. I will be there next week.