Thursday, May 21, 2009

Monday, May 18, 2009


Dear Disgruntled Pedestrians and Idiotic Motorists,

From the DC Bicycle Code:

1200.3 Operators of bicycles have the same rights as operators of motor vehicles.

1201.9 There shall be no prohibition against any person riding a bicycle upon a sidewalk within the District, so long as the rider does not create a hazard; Provided, that no person shall ride a bicycle upon a sidewalk within the Central Business District except on those sidewalks expressly designated by Order of the Mayor, nor shall any person ride bicycle upon a sidewalk in any area outside of the Central Business District if it is expressly prohibited by Order of the Mayor and appropriate signs to such effect are posted.

Oh, and did I mention that the Mall is National Park Property, and bicycling is permitted? So my 15 group members and I have just as much a right to be taking a tour of the place as you and your 15,000 bratty middle-schoolers in obnoxiously bright shirts.


I get the weirdest feeling when I listen to Stan Rogers' music (Witch of the Westmorland is my favorite). It's something that's vaguely like homesickness, but not quite. You know when you listen to certain pieces of music that you relate to particular times in your life, and listening to them conjures up some resemblance of whatever emotion you felt listening to it at the time?

Yeah, kind of like that.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Yes, I DO actually love my job.

Oh my goodness. I have had 2 tours in the past week who are the reason I can continue to do my job without wanting to cry. That's 2 out of many, but it's enough to keep me going. The first was a group of National Junior Honor Society girls from a creative arts school in Tennessee. They kept calling me "ma'am," and one girl told me she could hear my (non-existent) "Canadian accent, ma'am." We geeked out about musical theatre and they asked me oh so many questions. The kind of goofy questions middle schoolers ask that no one would know, but they were just curious.

This evening, I had a group of 16. Among them was the most adorable elderly couple from Chicago in my group. After the husband came back from the Vietnam Memorial (I was standing watch over the bikes, as I always do), he said to me, "You know, you're such a wonderful tour guide." They tipped me very well at the end, but the real joy was hearing them tell me that. They also asked me to come to the Chicago location of Bike and Roll and give tours.

Also in the group were two families from Montreal. I was trying to suppress my joy at having Canadians on the tour because I wasn't sure how sensitive they were about that whole Quebec-not-Canada thing, but I did speak some French with them. The kids were ADORABLE. The little girl was 4 and kept coming up and telling me things in French, only some of which I could understand (her telling me she needed to go to the bathroom needed no translation). Later, she looked up at me and told me she wanted to be next to me as I was talking to the whole group.

My favorite part was when she saluted me and told me she was "comme un soldat!" ("like a soldier," which made sense, give that we had just seen the Korean War Memorial). At the end of the tour (at the Jefferson Memorial), she was telling me about her "petit velo rouge" (little red bike) at home and how she wanted to go sit in her "chateau" (the Burley trailer attached to her dad's bike). And I had a conversation with a 4-year-old in French. Given that young'uns are just expecting that you, too, speak their language, I felt positively fluent. I told her mom this very excitedly, and she laughed really hard (in the nice way).

I've had a couple of real zingers of tour groups in the past couple of weeks--like the group from St. Louis who looked positively bored the entire time, no matter how goofy I was (the chaperone later told the girl who does all our administrative work that "The kids didn't enjoy the tour, anyway")--and have been having a couple of really terrible days for no particular reason at all. So to be able to connect with these groups like that reminded me that I'm in the right place, doing the right thing--at least for now.

Friday, May 15, 2009

I'm running off to Canada. Later.

The hardest part of my thus far hour and a half-long day was changing the location on my blog profile back to Washington, DC. I don't really care that half my friends are ready to kill me for talking about Canada too much; I miss it. Most recently, I've decided I'm moving to Vancouver, in spite of the fact that I've never been there. I just really like the idea of the city.

This blog is quickly drying up of cheerful material, I've noticed, so I promise to type out something happy soon.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

This evening

I was headed to a friend's house to go gallivanting off to do something or another, when I realized I was about 30 minutes early. (I'm a bad judge of distances when it comes to walking.) Deciding to wander towards Tenleytown rather than be awkwardly early, I wound up walking by the Subway on Wisconsin Avenue. There was a guy outside who asked me for a quarter. I generally don't make a habit of giving away change--because really, what's someone going to do with a quarter? Buy a gumball?

The guy seemed nice, though and he wasn't making lewd comments at me (I'm careful about that sort of thing because if there's one thing I can't stand, it's being blatantly hit on). So I told him I didn't have any change, and I was about to keep walking (which, as much as I hate to admit it, is my programmed response when someone asks me for change), but he asked me where I was from and seemed genuinely interested in having a conversation with someone. Predictably enough, so was I. I wound up buying him a sandwich instead and chatting with him for a bit...I would have liked to stick around longer, but at that point I was going to be running late and I had to hop off...

I had mentioned I was of German descent (he had asked), and he said that Germans are big-hearted people. But I don't think of myself as big-hearted at all; I just think of myself as a conversation whore when I get lonely.

This is the second or third time this has happened. That last post about opening oneself up to conversation? Yeah, that's what I meant. It's like the time the Street Sense vendor gave me a hug outside of CVS when I was having a really bad day. It's just...I dunno. Refreshing.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

From Point A to Point B, passing Point Banana along the way

Trust me, the title of this post makes sense. Point Banana is a term a friend of mine came up with to refer to weird and random tangents.

Do you ever look back on certain periods of time in your life and wonder what the hell you were thinking at the time? I'm a big believer in everything happening for a reason, but I'm equally convinced that the reasons might remain hidden for a very long time. Which is unfortunate, because mentally shaking your head at yourself for sustained periods becomes rather disheartening.

I don't mean this in the sense of regret; more a sense of confusion and wondering what would have happened if things had gone differently. Like if your train of thought had switched directions at one point, sparked by some (seemingly) insignificant event or something someone said. Or didn't say.

And of course, there's the corollary to this--wondering what would have happened if you'd just said exactly what you wanted or meant to say at just the right moment...which, in the real world, never happens. You can imagine again and again in your head exactly what you should have said to a co-worker that was pissing you off, to a friend who needed a confidence booster, to the guy you secretly liked, to the girl in the grocery store who caught your eye one time, and a thousand other scenarios like that--and never know what would have happened. Seems to me that regret comes more from this path. Because at least you know what the results of actually doing something were, versus being left to wonder about all the conceivable "what ifs."

Perhaps that's part of what pisses me off so much about communication that is purposefully when you pass someone on the street and they look in the other direction just to avoid your eyes, and all you're trying to do is say hey. Or people who blow off store clerks. Or people who don't even smile and say hi to the person they're stuck next to on a plane for five hours. Granted, I don't expect to make friends with every single person I encounter, but to me, opening oneself up to the possibility, even in the most minute way, is part of common human decency.

And those are my thoughts on this frustrating Tuesday night.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

On dealing with dumb tourists

Dear Puma/Nike/Under Armour/Adidas/Coach Wearing Woman from Chicago,

Excuse me. Please, CUT THE ATTITUDE. Just because I'm covered in bike grease and sitting your skinny, over-fake-tanned ass on a bicycle, you do not have the right to look down your nose at me.

No, it is not necessary for you to bring your Adidas windbreaker because the low is going to be 80 degrees tonight. But if you insist on bringing it, it will not fit in a handlebar bag along with another bag to hold your Coach fanny pack (really?). The handlebars are designed to fit ONE bag, and kindly don't say to me "Well, let's get a bike and we'll try it" in that obnoxiously snotty tone because, despite the fact that I look like a grease monkey and am a third your age, I've seen a hell of a lot more bikes than you have in your lifetime.

If you were less of a stuffed peacock, I'd be much happier about bringing out a bike with a rack on the back to fit your expensive outdoor equipment. I am here to help you, so please stop treating me like I have an IQ of 3.



I hate. hate. hate. pretentious and snotty people.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

OhmygodohmygodohMYGOD what's going through my head right now.

I'm going to be a senior? Congratulations (so much) to everyone who's graduating, but WHY does this now put me in a position of being in your shoes in a year????

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Oink oink...panic!

So after my second trip in a week to the San Jose airport in Costa Rica today, after seeing EVERY customs officer wearing a mask, I'm so glad to read articles like this that actually seem to make some sense. As I was waiting for my plane in Houston on the 27th, I saw that 65 people in the USA had fallen ill with swine flu. Today, the count is up to 120 with ONE death. 120? Really? I realize that Mexico has something to worry about, but...come on. The above article mentions that the greatest effect was economic...I'm certain there could be a really intensive series of studies done on the affects of panic on societies. I guess there's a reason I don't work for the WHO or the CDC, but it seems to me that methods of prevention that aim on not inducing panic would be slightly more effective. Masks are just creepy looking and they freak me out...

In better news, I found myself (along with my two friends) riding in the back of a truck twice today. We were headed to and back from hiking around a waterfall, and the trucks stopped, honked, picked us up and drove us down the road. I just love the fact that several SUV's (Mitsubishi seems big here) drove by us, and the car that actually stopped was the beat-up pick up truck with piles of fruit in the back...

As always, there's more that I could say, but my time here so far has been amazing. We're headed off to Tortuguero tomorrow to hike some more and play in the Caribbean Sea...though perhaps minus the last part, seeing as apparently the water is riddled with sharks and riptides.