proser

I make art for blind eyes, and speak to empty chairs and the deaf. I write and paint what I'd like to enjoy, but can't find. For me. This is not pretentiousness, this is apathy to public reception. This is my backscratcher, a place to prattle prose and paint as I find myself uncontrollably compelled to do. Enjoy or don't, I'll not be affected.
~ Thursday, August 14 ~
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I haven’t let myself take a drink for 13 days

…and I won’t until the end of the month.  I’m trying to dry out and focus, to realign myself and my energies to the things that matter.  So, I decided to “Take August Off.”  This is no mean feat for me; I manage a bar and I study booze earnestly, in an effort to understand it and attempt an encyclopedic knowledge of it’s many forms and styles.  The lifestyle that comes with that is, suffice to say, celebratory.  I try to take a month off of drinking twice a year, in February and August, to dry out; clean the slate, reset to 0, detox, etcetera.  I do it for the purpose of “focus”, but also for another reason, something I don’t like to talk about because it’s pitiful, sad, un-sexy.  There is this shrill victorian, puritanical voice inside of me that warns that anything good and fun must be inherently bad.  More specifically, I come from a paranoia that my love and study of booze could lead me to a problem of suffering from alcoholism, as several in my family have.  Puns aside, this level of self-awareness is sobering.  I pretend this span of sobriety is no real accomplishment, because if it is, I’m in trouble.  ”13 days with no booze?  How hard does that sound?  Does he want a fucking metal?”  Yes, I do.  But! I won’t allow myself to accept praise for something that shouldn’t be difficult.  I will, however, allow the idea that this break in toxicity offers me some personal clarity and time to reflect.

     I’ve been taking cautious and introspective inventory of how and what I’m feeling every day, to make sure it’s not some kind of withdrawal or measurable response to a lack of booze that could signal the difference between a love of drink and a problem with it.  I tell people I feel no different, just bored.  Am I being honest?  I almost went out drinking the other day because I was justifying it.  I thought, “I proved I didn’t have a problem, two weeks and no hint of these internet withdrawal symptoms, so that means I proved my point.”  I later said to a coworker, who was asking me to go out before rescinding her invite so as not to enable me, “I’m not doing this for my health, I’m doing it for shits’n’giggles, to prove I can do it, but I’m so fucking bored.  I want to go out and have fun.”  

     I’m self-aware enough that that scared me.  I tell myself that I don’t have a problem, then realize it’s what any unrepentant alcoholic would say.  But maybe I really don’t, and I’m just really missing the lifestyle that had me at a new bar every night, trying all the new releases and writing about them, taking notes, talking shit and clanking glasses with my friends.  ”I’m not some schmuck that needs a 12-pack to get out of bed before work, I’m a connoisseur,” right?  Or am I just an expert at flattering myself into giving my body/brain what it direly misses?  Because I am still asking these questions, I am still not drinking.  The shadow of doubt has not yet been cast away by the harshly bright light of sobriety.  

     Let me preface this by saying that alcohol is not intrinsically evil.  It is neutral.  It is like wind.  There is no malice in wind, no generosity; it just does its fucking job.  We are wired to simplify and identify with things as a means to understand them; we find faces in the moon’s craters, and we assign personalities to things that are not persons.  It’s bullshit.  Booze, as an inanimate-and-thus-neutral thing, is the same way.  It is a wonderful invention, heavy with power, which only leans a certain direction on the scale of good-vs-evil after you start tugging on the chains.  I will admit that I have flirted with both ends of that scale.  Booze offers a certain part of me the motivation to abuse it, because drunk me thinks “hey wow booze is good, so more booze is more good-er.”  Let the good times roll, should we do the same thing tomorrow?  ”Work bad, beer good!”  Two consecutive, slammed-busy, densely-stressful weeks of life and BLAM!  Suddenly I have a daily habit; a daily decompression of stress, and a recompression of guilt that piles itself onto the next day’s stress.  It takes a strong person to stop and realize they could be abusing this neutral thing, that the daily recreational habit is maybe becoming a chemical habit.  I am really fucking scared of not being strong enough to hit the brakes if it ever gets out of control, so I force myself to quit twice a year to remember what control feels like; cold turkey, no cheat days built in, full-stop.  Is that like quitting cigarettes for a month and re-starting slowly?  Or is it more like forcing yourself to sleep a whole 8hrs a night long enough to realize how beneficial it is?

A friend says this is probably worse for me than a steady drinking habit, all the rebounding from daily drinking to stone-sober twice a year.  I haven’t found information that says he’s wrong.  It does hurt a little, mostly on the “having fun and not being stressed about work” front, but there are definitely positive aspects, beyond the obvious revelations that weeks without alcohol are actually totally doable.

Not drinking at all makes me think about the future more; less about this week and more about this year, or the next 10 years.  I don’t think about where I’m going to hang out when I get out of work, I think about what I need to do this month.  I’ve realized that the internet (social media specifically) is a place I go to, habitually, to feel jealous, critical, and generally bad about myself, the world, and everything in it.  Despite all this, I am bad at walking away from it.  I think that is another problem I want to work on.  I’m also reading a lot more.  I really enjoy reading if I give myself enough time for it, but I usually don’t.  I’ll usually think I don’t have the time for something so intrinsically unproductive, and then fuck around on the internet instead of whatever else I meant to do because I’ve convinced myself there’s not enough time for that particular task anyway.  It sucks and I hate it.  It’s a major cause of unrest for me.  I am always critical of myself, to a fault, using it as a way I motivate myself to be better.  But, I give myself more of a break when I’m sober.  Like a strict and unusually tough little part of me softens up and pridefully empathizes with the rest of me that is bored and wants a beer but shows enough promising discipline to deny itself.  I would usually call myself stupid when I make mistakes, as if I’m insulting somebody else, to try and stop making mistakes.  Turns out I’m more productive when I stop calling myself an idiot.  There are two wolves inside everyone, right?  All comes down to the one you feed more.  We’re in this together, bored-30-year-old-living-metaphorically-but-not-actually-in-parents’-basement-me and tough-love-dispensing-self-disciplined-and-motivated-me.

It is all give and take with myself.  I think there is more give in February and August, but quality vs quantity makes it all even out.  Like stopping drinking, being disciplined about my diet, my training regimen, work, and the maintenance of my family and personal relationships is hard for me, but it feels good to strengthen the muscle of willpower.  For whatever reason I’d managed to convince myself for “taking a month off,” I can at the very least feel good about that.  

Flexin’ my willpower, baby.  Still got it.  Getting’ strong.  Feels good. 

Now to will myself to sleep.  Hi Ho.


~ Saturday, February 16 ~
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from “A Sunday in Hell” 1976


~ Tuesday, November 27 ~
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VELO PATRIA NOSTRA

The bicycle is my home.


~ Thursday, October 11 ~
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Today, I met a lady who carries around a bubble sword. Everyday, she takes it everywhere she goes. It is a huge brightly colored child’s toy that makes giant bubbles, sheathed neatly within the nylon waistband of her fanny pack. I asked her why she always carried it around, and she said it was her therapy. “I’ve had a lot of deaths,” she said. Like a cat? How many? How many did she have left? I began to include the possibility that she was out of her damn mind. Rather, she explained, that after tragically losing her father, then her husband, and then her son, she would find herself anxious and consumed by the past, oftentimes so afraid of the unknown future and it’s potential losses that she wouldn’t do anything, go anywhere; she would just wallow in the pain of her own memories, her own self pity, and suffocate. She makes bubbles, she says, to remind her to be in the present. “They only last a few seconds, or a minute if you’re lucky, but you have to be in the present - y’know, here - to witness how pretty they are.” She didn’t think about the bubbles she made before, or would make, only what she could float across Halsted Street, whatever was happening that moment. She made some really great ones before she left, and I couldn’t shake the feeling that I had met her before.

It was such a poignant caricature of a stranger, and a penetrating reminder that life is both sad and beautiful. Always give the crazy one with the bubble sword the time of day; there’s a good chance they’ve got an interesting story to tell.


~ Thursday, September 20 ~
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I am always thinking I’m doing it wrong…

but I’ve decided my real career choice is to have a full life. Full of what, however, remains to be seen. Full of my own imposed or thoroughly researched meaning? Full of as much happiness I can personally cultivate for myself? Full of study into who I am and why I am that person? Yes. I’ve decided this is my life’s work. Collecting hobbies and developing talents that refine me and continuously celebrating relationships takes up all my free time these days, with little investment beyond what makes me happy and doesn’t hurt anybody else. I don’t care about having nice things, more about being a proper human, and having good tools, too. 


~ Sunday, September 9 ~
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Cycling is my form of prayer now,

…as a weekly service to myself and others; a ritual function of, by, and for my community, as an exercise that fosters providence, health, strength, and benevolence, and the impetus for temperance and willful restraint of my vices so as to maintain my constant vigilance at that carbon and alloy altar that clears my heart and mind of all but good-will.  The bidon is my challace, the gel my votive feast, my sweat and suffering my sacred duty.  My saints and martyrs line the pages of different books, with foreign names and more foreign homes, all deserving of pilgrimage.  My psalms and hymns are the evidential grunts and wimpers of my toil and exertion, and the completion and subsequent liberation from which is cause for joyous celebration.  Today, however, I skipped church to hang out with Carl Sagan and NWA, whom provided similar purgation.


1 note
~ Wednesday, August 15 ~
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~ Wednesday, April 11 ~
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calloriee:

It’s pretty amazing how diverse the world of cycling is and how little I still know about it. When I came to San Francisco I knew almost nothing - this is a frame, that is a chain, crank…and so on, but there is so much more. I knew some things about the culture surrounding but even that only barely scratched the surface. A year later and…ok, I still feel like I don’t know anything. Here’s what I do know - I love it, some days more than others but I still love it.

It’s nice to come home at the end of a rough week and be able to spend the evening relaxing in the comfort in watching beautiful machines do beautiful things in beautiful places.

My thought for the night is simple: be humble because no matter how much you think you know about anything there is so much more to learn than you could possibly ever imagine.


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reblogged via humaneagenda
~ Wednesday, January 11 ~
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1995(?) ProTi Jackal.  I found the frame on eBay, a small hand-builder from “somewhere else” with a mysterious background.  The only information I could find about the builder, the model, or even this exact bike was that Belgian cyclocross legend Sven Nys “may have raced one” in “some championship” when he was “younger”.  No exact dates, no clues to/of/about the company, no nothing, aside from a few posts on the internet wondering if the eBay auction was a good buy.  It came as a secondhand complete, with an Ultegra 9spd group and Ritchey components, so I raced it the way I got it for a year to cut my teeth in ‘cross in 2010.  After my first season I sought to upgrade the bike, and restore what I imagined to be it’s former glory, but with modern components; a full SRAM Force Group, TRP Euro Mags, carbon tubulars on Zipp hubs, some fancypants cabling, and a clean finish of freshly scrubbed raw Ti.  When I finished building the bike, it was so pretty and new and perfect that I was afraid to get it dirty… like it was art; it was sacred, untarnished, above use, as if it’s true purpose was to look pretty, on the wall, in a glass case.  To “use” it was to appreciate it from afar.  I would take it out for joyrides, shakedowns, and little jaunts to and from the park, and then quickly bring it home, clean it, re-lube everything and put it back on the shelf.  It was somewhat satisfying, in the sense of, “This is my baby.  It is a nice bike.  I have a nice bike.” But it felt all wrong.  That’s when it hit me.  I realized what I had to do, and why I couldn’t.  This wasn’t a baby, this was a bike, and this bike was too sacred, too clean. I had to destroy it.  It was an exercise in willpower and detachment; I had to reduce my most precious possession to a simple tool, to leave it stuck in the mud, ridden hard and put away wet.  I had to shelve all my grievances over time and money spent, and be revisited by the ghost of ‘cross’ past that inspired the rebuild in the first place - the act of restoring glory.  I had been putting off racing to complete the build, but since it was finished I still hadn’t entered a single race.  I registered for the next event that instant, before my brain and wallet had time to protest.  By the time the event got closer, I had finally started riding it.  I had remembered what it really was.  The bike remembered, too, and we made a pact to ride together as hard as we could, especially so if it meant destroying both of us.  The event came, and we did exactly as we promised.  As it turns out, it’s a lot more fun that way. 

Upon reflection, I think that without this revelation, I’d be out of a race bike until I bought something that was less nice.  However, I’d probably have my ProTi forever.  Sitting in a glass case.  Hating itself.   

1995(?) ProTi Jackal.  I found the frame on eBay, a small hand-builder from “somewhere else” with a mysterious background.  The only information I could find about the builder, the model, or even this exact bike was that Belgian cyclocross legend Sven Nys “may have raced one” in “some championship” when he was “younger”.  No exact dates, no clues to/of/about the company, no nothing, aside from a few posts on the internet wondering if the eBay auction was a good buy.  It came as a secondhand complete, with an Ultegra 9spd group and Ritchey components, so I raced it the way I got it for a year to cut my teeth in ‘cross in 2010.  After my first season I sought to upgrade the bike, and restore what I imagined to be it’s former glory, but with modern components; a full SRAM Force Group, TRP Euro Mags, carbon tubulars on Zipp hubs, some fancypants cabling, and a clean finish of freshly scrubbed raw Ti.  When I finished building the bike, it was so pretty and new and perfect that I was afraid to get it dirty… like it was art; it was sacred, untarnished, above use, as if it’s true purpose was to look pretty, on the wall, in a glass case.  To “use” it was to appreciate it from afar.  I would take it out for joyrides, shakedowns, and little jaunts to and from the park, and then quickly bring it home, clean it, re-lube everything and put it back on the shelf.  It was somewhat satisfying, in the sense of, “This is my baby.  It is a nice bike.  I have a nice bike.” But it felt all wrong.  That’s when it hit me.  I realized what I had to do, and why I couldn’t.  This wasn’t a baby, this was a bike, and this bike was too sacred, too clean. I had to destroy it.  It was an exercise in willpower and detachment; I had to reduce my most precious possession to a simple tool, to leave it stuck in the mud, ridden hard and put away wet.  I had to shelve all my grievances over time and money spent, and be revisited by the ghost of ‘cross’ past that inspired the rebuild in the first place - the act of restoring glory.  I had been putting off racing to complete the build, but since it was finished I still hadn’t entered a single race.  I registered for the next event that instant, before my brain and wallet had time to protest.  By the time the event got closer, I had finally started riding it.  I had remembered what it really was.  The bike remembered, too, and we made a pact to ride together as hard as we could, especially so if it meant destroying both of us.  The event came, and we did exactly as we promised.  As it turns out, it’s a lot more fun that way. 

Upon reflection, I think that without this revelation, I’d be out of a race bike until I bought something that was less nice.  However, I’d probably have my ProTi forever.  Sitting in a glass case.  Hating itself.   


~ Wednesday, November 23 ~
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#found

#found