I was doing some camera research (white balance, iso, etc.) this morning when I remembered my one photography connection. When I was in India in 2001, I met this guy, Philip Greenspun at the Taj Mahal. He was from MIT ad he was lugging around this HUGE camera and we got to talking. Turns out he started Photo.net, and he was in India doing some lecturing. We spent a long time sitting on the steps overlooking the reflecting pool waiting for the crowds to thin and the sun to set. We stayed until we couldn't, until the guards with machine guns happily escorted us out. Then Phil took me and Beth Ann and a bunch of other tourists out to dinner. My pictures never turned out so nice, and I always liked knowing that I was here, with Philip, sitting on the steps at the Taj Mahal, checking another item off my list of "Places to Sit for a Day."
Can't sleep. This never happens. And by "never" I mean in the last seven years I've never had this hard of a time falling back asleep: 40+ pages of American History book. Bowl of cereal. Water.
I've written letters in my head and silently recited lines of Hamlet.
I can sleep anywhere at virtually anytime. Today it was a post-PB&J snooze upright in Wilson Library over books on racial theory.
But tonight I got nothing.
I sold my '95 white Ford Escort Wagon last spring. Parked on the side of the road, it was leaching money: it would get towed, ticketed, and needed regular maintenance. I drove it rarely, and Jessica's car was available. But mainly I'd been spinning my fixed gear Schwinn Tempo around town since the summer of 2005 when a student speech finally encouraged me embrace the bike, and the car just wasn't needed. When Jessica and I broke up in August, I lost the convenience of a car. Currently biking through my third winter, completely committed to the commute, has been more fun than I ever thought it could be.
What are you missing?
You're missing the creation of your own wind chill; rides at 2 a.m. alone with the flurries; bouncing to Daft Punk down the University's transit way; weaving through snow-encumbered cars bumper-to-bumpered; turning corners and tapping car hoods; "Bolle" embedded in your forehead; dropped chains on the Kellogg hill at 20 mph; wind-created ice cream headaches; glances and gazes of surprise, admiration, and hatred through car windows; fishtailing through snow and alleys; sensitivity to weather patterns and wind direction; pumping too hot down Como but refusing to slow down or remove a layer cause you're almost home; and wet feet, white cold hands, and one very dirty blue bike.
Which all adds up to a lot more happiness than you might think.
This year I've resolved to expand and vary my routes to and from Minneapolis, just to keep it interesting and to keep me on busier roads. Biking lonesome down the transit way is only fun when I get to race a train. I need some life around me. The bike is a necessity, and a flat tire, dropped chain, wobbly wheel, cracked crank, and stolen light are worries and frustrations. But I'm in tune with the machine and the weather. I don't coast, and I get where I need to go.
And I'm not alone:
See you on the road.