At this point I’ve pumped way more money into fixing this bike than I thought I would have to. For the amount I’m spending, I could’ve just bought a new bike. But it is somewhat meaningful to me that this one used to be my grandfather’s, and my dad used to ride around on it before I did. That, and now that I’m fixing this myself, it’s kinda become a me-versus-the-bike scenario, and I’m going to win.
Yesterday at bike church, Nancy and I:
1. Put on a new stem.
2. Installed a new cable in the brake on the left side—since we had to remove the brake completely in order to take the handlebars off of the old stem—and then reattached the brake.
3. Put new housing on around the new cable.
4. Finished putting a new shifter on, started the job of putting the other shifter on.
5. Put a new cable on in the back that’ll need housing.
6. Taped up the handlebars and put them on the new stem.
Now all we have left to do is:
1. Put new housing around the cable in the back.
2. Install another new cable in the back, on the right (how could the shop have overlooked the fact that this one’s almost completely worn out?!) and housing.
3. Finish with the second shifter.
4. Adjust the seat, a job I botched myself when I went at the bike with my iKea toolkit and assumed I’d be able to figure things out.
If I feel like it later, I’ll probably go down to bike church and finish up. Yesterday they were cool enough to stay open until 10:30 for me (they usually close at 9). But working on bikes until late made me pretty tired—dunno if I’ll be up for it today, might wait ‘til Saturday.
Regardless of when I go back, yesterday I realized that I really like doing this kinda work. Fixing things up, putting things back together. I know nothing about bikes, but I’d really like to learn. If I get up the courage I’m gonna try and figure out how the whole “co-op” part of Neighborhood Bike Works functions, and if there’s any way that I can just hang around there sometimes and learn to fix things up. Nancy was awesome, but I’ve met other people there who’ve obviously looked down on me because I know jack shit about this kinda work. Wish I’d asked her yesterday when I got the chance, but if the person I work with next time isn’t too pretentious, I’ll try and summon the courage.
1. Advice my uncle gave my mom last night: “You have to find something you’re good at that nobody else can do. And then, do it.” Advice I’ve heard before, but somehow it stuck this time.
2. Dream: Bard was having an international film festival, which for some reason was taking place in the gymnasium of my high school auditorium. All of the bleachers were packed with seemingly high-school aged students. I was sitting in the bottom row of the bleachers with some friends. I noticed Jonathan Brent sitting way up in the top row, and kept trying to get his attention to ask him whether or not he mailed my letter of recommendation to Temple.
It turned out instead of a film festival, the whole event consisted of a huge game that everybody seemed familiar with. Jonathan Brent was the ringmaster—the festivities began with his tumbling down the aisle of the bleachers, clown-like, but obviously straining himself in the process. He chose all the players, who stood in concentric circles drawn out with tape on the gym floor. The “villain” of the game was given the title of “The Evil Blaine,” the name of a friend of mine whom I get pretty frustrated with often.
3. I want to be the enigmatic, self-determined sort of beautiful. But I have acne and I put off going to the gym, my hands crack and bleed in the winter and whenever I say something foolish I beat myself up about it constantly. If I speak up sincerely about something I feel very unsure of myself—I speak quietly, my sentences are peppered with “ums”—and generally I’m self-defeating. My own caution trips me up. But I want to leave myself alone, and I want to be sure. I’ve begun more intensive work on leaving myself alone as of late, and I plan on continuing with it. Thought-stopping, breathing exercises. All very difficult.
4. I miss guitar. Time to pick it up again. Maybe find a new teacher?
5. Find something you’re good at. Something that nobody else can do. Something you’re good at.
Getting an advance copy of Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland to review for Stereo Subversion! So excited. Pekar’s work has stuck with me since high school—he’s always been something of a hero, and close to my heart (may he rest in peace). Very excited to have a first crack at the book…this kinda thing is definitely why I started writing reviews in the first place, and very rarely do I have a chance to write about something that I’m this invested in.
"Mother of heaven, regina of the clouds,
O sceptre of the sun, crown of the moon,
There is not nothing, no, no, never nothing,
Like the clashed edges of two words that kill."
And so I mocked her in magnificent measure.
Or was it that I mocked myself alone?
I wish that I might be a thinking stone.
The sea of spuming thought foists up again
The radiant bubble that she was. And then
A deep up-pouring from some saltier well
Within me, bursts its watery syllable.
A red bird flies across the golden floor.
It is a red bird that seeks out his choir
Among the choirs of wind and wet and wing.
A torrent will fall from him when he finds.
Shall I uncrumple this much-crumpled thing?
I am a man of fortune greeting heirs;
For it has come that thus I greet the spring.
These choirs of welcome choir for me farewell.
No spring can follow past meridian.
Yet you persist with anecdotal bliss
To make believe a starry connaissance.
Is it for nothing, then, that old Chinese
Sat tittivating by their mountain pools
Or in the Yangtse studied out their beards?
I shall not play the flat historic scale.
You know how Utamaro's beauties sought
The end of love in their all-speaking braids.
You know the mountainous coiffures of Bath.
Alas! Have all the barbers lived in vain
That not one curl in nature has survived?
Why, without pity on these studious ghosts,
Do you come dripping in your hair from sleep?
This luscious and impeccable fruit of life
Falls, it appears, of its own weight to earth.
When you were Eve, its acrid juice was sweet,
Untasted, in its heavenly, orchard air.
An apple serves as well as any skull
To be the book in which to read a round,
And is as excellent, in that it is composed
Of what, like skulls, comes rotting back to ground.
But it excels in this, that as the fruit
Of love, it is a book too mad to read
Before one merely reads to pass the time.
In the high west there burns a furious star.
It is for fiery boys that star was set
And for sweet-smelling virgins close to them.
The measure of the intensity of love
Is measure, also, of the verve of earth.
For me, the firefly's quick, electric stroke
Ticks tediously the time of one more year.
And you? Remember how the crickets came
Out of their mother grass, like little kin,
In the pale nights, when your first imagery
Found inklings of your bond to all that dust.
If men at forty will be painting lakes
The ephemeral blues must merge for them in one,
The basic slate, the universal hue.
There is a substance in us that prevails.
But in our amours amorists discern
Such fluctuations that their scrivening
Is breathless to attend each quirky turn.
When amorists grow bald, then amours shrink
Into the compass and curriculum
Of introspective exiles, lecturing.
It is a theme for Hyacinth alone.
The mules that angels ride come slowly down
The blazing passes, from beyond the sun.
Descensions of their tinkling bells arrive.
These muleteers are dainty of their way.
Meantime, centurions guffaw and beat
Their shrilling tankards on the table-boards.
This parable, in sense, amounts to this:
The honey of heaven may or may not come,
But that of earth both comes and goes at once.
Suppose these couriers brought amid their train
A damsel heightened by eternal bloom.
Like a dull scholar, I behold, in love,
An ancient aspect touching a new mind.
It comes, it blooms, it bears its fruit and dies.
This trivial trope reveals a way of truth.
Our bloom is gone. We are the fruit thereof.
Two golden gourds distended on our vines,
Into the autumn weather, splashed with frost,
Distorted by hale fatness, turned grotesque.
We hang like warty squashes, streaked and rayed,
The laughing sky will see the two of us
Washed into rinds by rotting winter winds.
In verses wild with motion, full of din,
Loudened by cries, by clashes, quick and sure
As the deadly thought of men accomplishing
Their curious fates in war, come, celebrate
The faith of forty, ward of Cupido.
Most venerable heart, the lustiest conceit
Is not too lusty for your broadening.
I quiz all sounds, all thoughts, all everything
For the music and manner of the paladins
To make oblation fit. Where shall I find
Bravura adequate to this great hymn?
The fops of fancy in their poems leave
Memorabilia of the mystic spouts,
Spontaneously watering their gritty soils.
I am a yeoman, as such fellows go.
I know no magic trees, no balmy boughs,
No silver-ruddy, gold-vermilion fruits.
But, after all, I know a tree that bears
A semblance to the thing I have in mind.
It stands gigantic, with a certain tip
To which all birds come sometime in their time.
But when they go that tip still tips the tree.
If sex were all, then every trembling hand
Could make us squeak, like dolls, the wished-for words.
But note the unconscionable treachery of fate,
That makes us weep, laugh, grunt and groan, and shout
Doleful heroics, pinching gestures forth
From madness or delight, without regard
To that first, foremost law. Anguishing hour!
Last night, we sat beside a pool of pink,
Clippered with lilies scudding the bright chromes,
Keen to the point of starlight, while a frog
Boomed from his very belly odious chords.
A blue pigeon it is, that circles the blue sky,
On sidelong wing, around and round and round.
A white pigeon it is, that flutters to the ground,
Grown tired of flight. Like a dark rabbi, I
Observed, when young, the nature of mankind,
In lordly study. Every day, I found
Man proved a gobbet in my mincing world.
Like a rose rabbi, later, I pursued,
And still pursue, the origin and course
Of love, but until now I never knew
That fluttering things have so distinct a shade.
"Zhdanov quotes from the draft statutes of the Writer’s Union to show how this ‘Socialist Realism,’ the guiding principle in Soviet art, should be defined: ‘It is the authentic representation of reality against the background of the revolutionary development of the Soviet Union.’ To the audience that sounds reasonable, and when he goes on to say that novels and poems must henceforth contribute to the ‘ideological education and training of the people in accordance with the socialist principle,’ no one objects either. The occasional speaker does wonder aloud what this means for creativity. ‘Is it not the engineer’s highest calling to invent something new?’ And what will happen to the talent of the writer who feels obliged to mingle with farmers or construction workers in order to portray their ‘heroic lives’?
'I would not mind trying something like that,' declares Yury Olesha from Odessa. 'But it's not my theme. I don't have it in my blood.'”