hot guys on motorcycles

A few months ago, there was a video of some chick in Russia riding her motorcycle, wearing nothing but a helmet, pasties, and crocs. I was underwhelmed and didn’t bother to share, because hot chicks on bikes getting hella attention is kind of par for the course in the motorcycle community.

In fact, it’s so common that when I typed the search term, “Russian woman on motorcycle,” to illustrate this entry, I got tons of hot women wearing little to no clothing who are on or near motorcycles — but not the naked woman in question. Then I realized I left the most important word out of that search string, and retried it, and she was the top result.

screenshot

I choose a screenshot lacking definition for a reason.

Anyway, as a straight-identified woman who appreciates hot people on motorcycles, I gotta admit: I get a little tired of the sexified chicks draping themselves on or around (and occasionally riding) these large sexy pieces of machinery. I mean, I’m not a big fan of objectification/ sexualization in general, but I do get it: Sex sells.

What I don’t get is why we don’t have more pictures of sexy guys on motorcycles. The proportion of women riders is increasing every year, and there have got to be plenty of bisexual and gay men who would also appreciate a little variety in the objectification/ sexualization associated with motorcycles.

Actually, I do get that. For the ads, motorcycle companies and dealers probably still see straight guys as their primary market, and the marketers think that sexy women are more likely to bring in customers than the motorcycle alone.

For the self-submitted pics/ videos, there’s a lot of complex psychological and social interactions going into the decision to sexualize oneself (or ones SO) for public consumption, but the long and short of it is that our culture has led to women who court the male gaze getting more positive attention by dominant portions of society than men who court the male gaze.

As a result, sexualized representations of men on motorcycles tends to be unofficial and tongue in cheek, such as the MotoCorsa MANigale series by photographer Alicia Elfving.

Can you imagine what the reaction would be if a similar photoshoot was done with regular gals drawn from an average population of riders? I can. Just like the MotoCorsa shoot, I bet some of the women would be incredibly attractive — but some would be overweight or otherwise not conventionally attractive, and I bet such women would be verbally eviscerated for everything from their weight to makeup choices to hair style by viewers inexplicably offended by ordinary-looking women in photoshoots.

Hell, the MotoCorsa shoot had a fair amount of body-shaming comments (as well as plenty of guys commenting on how gross it was and how they didn’t want to see half-naked people they have no attraction to draped over motorcycles … WELCOME TO THE FUCKING CLUB.)

"I am going to unsubscribe from this website because of this egregious replacement of women in tight clothing with men in tight clothing! How dare you!"

“I am going to unsubscribe from this website because of this egregious replacement of women in tight clothing with men in tight clothing! How dare you!”

"I humorously choose only to acknowledge only the existence of the motorcycle I want to ride and the woman I want to bone."

“I humorously choose only to acknowledge only the existence of the motorcycle I want to ride and the woman I want to bone.”

"I think pin-up shoots of women are representative of all women."

“I think pin-up shoots of women are representative of all women.”

“I think the social cache of riding a Ducati has measurably dropped by the association of semi-naked men with the vehicle.”

"I am going to attempt to humorously insinuate that these guys are gay for doing this. The humors relies on the assumption that being gay is somehow funny or offensive. Also, no homo."

“I am going to attempt to humorously insinuate that these guys are gay for doing this. The humor relies on the assumption that being gay is somehow funny or offensive. Also, no homo.”

Now, don’t think I’m complaining about this series just because it’s tongue in cheek — I still love it, both for the jarring social message and because some of those guys are fucking hot — but let’s face it. This was not meant to be an analogous photoshoot of, “They had a hot chick model posing, so we’ll get a ripped hot guy model posing.” This was, “They had a hot chick model posing, and we’ll do a photoshoot with regular guys around the shop in those same poses.” This was intended as tongue-and-cheek humor, and that’s largely how it was read.

humor 2

Because, clearly, when guys pose in suggestive poses it is mock-degrading and therefore self-deprecating.

humor 3

It is humorous for men to wear tight clothing and drape in sexy poses.

humor 1

There’s lots of social commentary that can be drawn from this, actually. There’s tons of stuff to say.

Now, don’t misunderstand me in my call for sexy men on motorcycles — I would much rather have no sexualization/ objectification, of women or men. But if everyone else has collectively agreed that objectification and sexualization is going to be par for the course in the motorcycling community, then I personally would just like to see more hot NSFW guys. Maybe Yamaha or Ducati could hire this guy.

Yum. That’s all I’m saying.

(also, the comments on Break.com, where I first saw this but cannot figure out how to embed from, are really depressing. http://www.break.com/video/naked-motorcyclist-dazzles-town-2556273)

fixing my bike

So, there’s this subreddit called r/samplesize, where you can answer surveys and take quizzes and such. I like surveys, so I’m on there pretty frequently. It’s usually people asking for respondents to a survey for their statistics/ human psych/ sociology class, and they generally do not offer any sort of incentive (other than the love of sharing ones opinion!) for participating.
Well, a week or so ago, I offered to participate in a survey about media consumption and t.v. viewing habits, but this one was a bit more in-depth, with a Skype interview and such. So I got a $20 gift card (Amazon or AMC) for participating. I opted for the Amazon one, which is how I paid for these footpegs:
Through Amazon
I was planning on getting black pegs and handles, but these weren’t available in black (that I could see). These are the Emgo Slash-Cut Style Footpegs. They’re machined aluminum (the OEM ones I broke were forged aluminum, I gather), and they’re compatible with Yamaha R6 and YZF6 up to 2005. Some quick research indicates they’ll be compatible with my 2008 Yamaha FZ6, as well, and a close up of the picture on a different site indicates the same conclusion. They also have pretty positive reviews.
They were $25.60 through Amazon, so I only had to pay $5.60 out of our own pocket with the $20 gift certificate. They’ll be arriving in 3-5 business days. Overall, I’m pretty damn excited, and I should be back on the road soon, thank goodness. I’ll update with whether or not they fit when I actually get them. I’m just so super excite that they’re ordered and on the way!!!

on home ownership, PNW living, and motorcycles

I love living in the PNW. It’s friggin gorgeous out here. Since moving out of the house everything has been easier, even winters. It used to be I hated winters out here, all rainy and cold and wet. Now that we live in a rental in the city, the feeling of being “stuck” is gone. Home mortgages really suck, you know? I mean, they’re essentially 30-year rental contracts, with the option to own at the end. I know, I know, there’s all this other stuff involved with equity and perceived investment and blah blah blah, but the way I see it is this:
  • Society is more mobile now. We don’t buy a home with the intention to live there, retire there, and have our children raise their children there. We buy a home with the hope we’ll be able to sell it for some sort of profit in 5, 10, 20, 30 years. It’s ridiculous.
  • We tend to calculate the value of the home in terms of purchased price vs. sold price. We don’t factor in sunk costs for repair, renovation, interest paid, etc.
  • The idea of home ownership as a measure of success is a societal myth we built and perpetuated on ourselves, and has no bearing on reality.
I mean, if I live in a home, I have to pay “rent” (mortgage) to the mortgage company, who can and will sell my note to anyone they choose. We bought our home through First American, who sold it to Chase the day we moved in, who sold it to Litton Loan, who sold it to Ocwen. We didn’t get a say in any of this. We never even made a mortgage payment to First American, because they sold our loan immediately to Chase. I have to do my own repairs or pay a guy to do them — roofing, plumbing, etc. With a rental, my landlord provides a handyman and I gotta say, this is an aspect of renting that is highly underrated.
If I want to move (transfer for work, maybe?) or I get cabin fever from the same walls and layout every day, I have to either commute or deal with it until we can find a buyer. With a rental, you just look for a new place.
Oh, and you know how they sell your note? Believe it or not, the personality/ values of your mortgage company matter. I know it doesn’t seem like it’d effect you like a petty landlord does, but it turns out that some mortgage companies will work with you to overcome bad times, while some level fees against you and stick hard-and-fast to the rules until you have no choice but to foreclose. It has the overall negative effect and stress a bad landlord does, except a mortgage company can ruin your credit and send you into foreclosure. So there’s that.
I know, not exactly on target, but still hilarious.

I digress, though. This wasn’t supposed to be a post about home ownership, mortgage companies, and why I think renting > buying when it comes to living spaces. This was supposed to be a post about gorgeous PNW spring weather and how I want to ride my motorcycle.

I mean, seriously, it’s insane out there — the trees are budding leaves of green, and the sky arches blue and cloudless overhead. The pavement radiates warmth from the 70 degree sunshine. In the PNW, our roads curve and twist in spirals and loops both long and tight — with mountains and varying terrain everywhere, every motorcycle ride is both an adventure and an exercise in skill.

Source: A View of the World

We could ride to the ocean and talk to the instructors at the Grays Harbor MSF Course, who taught me how to ride. We could ride to Mt. Baker  or Mt. St. Helens or Mt. Rainer and enjoy the scenic vistas. If we had motorcycle insurance (Washington is one of the few states that does not require motorcycle insurance), we could ride to Portland, Oregon and browse Powells Bookstore for a bit — and we could do any one of these during the 7 hours or so Kidling is in school, and still have time for coffee.

Unfortunately, I can’t ride. Besides the obvious (footpeg being broken), I actually need to grab some riding gear, too. My helmet is about 4 years old by this point, and you’re supposed to replace it every 2-4 years, or immediately after an accident. John needs to replace his, too — his was on sale at something like 75% off for being unsold inventory when he bought it, so it’s actually about 6 years old. I need new boots, and we both need new summer gloves. Also, I need to adjust my chain, because it’s a little loose. And getting that motorcycle insurance wouldn’t go amiss.
So there are actually several reasons I allegedly couldn’t ride today — but let’s be honest, the chain adjustment is easy to do, and if my footpeg wasn’t broken, we’d adjust my chain and be off. I’ve decided I’m going to replace my clutch/ brake controls and the footpegs with matte black versions instead of the silver versions. I also want to get new gear.
I just realized all the gear I want is black. That’s . . . interesting. I wonder if that says something about my character or outlook on life. Most gear (when marketed to girls) seems to feature flowers, pink camo, and just various shades of pink. I’m not really a fan of flowers, pink, or camo, so I tend toward the neutral-toned gear.

bummer

I am just seriously way too bummed out to write today. I am volunteering at my sons school every day this week for the Scholastic book fair. Because it’s raining and less than a 5 minute ride, I figured I’d let my husband drive the car to his work (cold, wet, gets off late), and I’d ride my motorcycle to the school (warmish, wet, done by mid-afternoon).
So our driveway declines gradually, and at the end there’s this funny little dip before it humps back up. Right now, because we’re working on a friend’s car, we’ve got all three cars out of the garage. The friend’s car is at the top of the driveway. Our big honkin’ SUV is parked behind it, the tail end and spare tire stuck to the rear hangs out over the dip. To the right of that, the 1960 Ford Falcon is parked in front of the yard.
This is the Falcon, sitting where the SUV is currently parked.
So my husband pulled my motorcycle out front for me (what a gentleman!) and parked it between the tail of the SUV and the hood of the Falcon, the front and back tires straddling that little dip at the end of the driveway. And I rush out to head over to the school, because I don’t want to get there late, and I drop my bike. And I actually damaged it.
It was the dumbest mistake, especially considering I’ve been riding year-round since 2008 and haven’t dropped it since that first summer. I’ve wrecked twice at middling to high speeds, yes, but I haven’t done something as rank newbie as drop it while it’s at a full stop in miles.  But I did, today. I dropped it in a staggering display of newbie-like idiocy, and I broke the damn thing. The clutch-side footpeg snapped off and my clutch handle broke on the end — that little knob. So now we have $75- $100 in repair parts, and there are no local Bent Bikes to scavenge parts from.
I just get so angry whenever I think about my stupid, stupid screw-up. I’ve been trying to distract myself all day from it, but nothing works for long. It’s fucking spring. It’s spring. Dry sunny days, the best kind of riding days, are not merely “just around the corner,” they’re here. They were here all last week, and now I went and broke my damn bike and when this rain stops, my bike will still be broken. Stupid stupid stupid.
Here’s my baby in better days:

last repost from history: 10-11-2009

This is the last in the 3-parter about motorcycles. My husband does work today, but it feels weird to just post 2 of a 3-part post series and ignore the 3rd part. Anyway, here’s the third and final motorcycle post drawn from my blog history.

—————————————————————–

In the last two posts, I illustrated how cagers don’t notice motorcyclists on the roads and how they  often misunderstand motorcyclists riding habits as selfish and rude. I understand that not all motorcyclists are perfect, no more than all cagers are really jerks. It’s mix — there are some motorcyclists out there who ride selfishly and horribly and dangerously, giving the rest of us a bad name. And there are some cagers out there who have taken it on themselves to be freeway vigilantes, giving cagers a terrifying reputation among motorcyclists.

Motorcyclists: Just terrifying.

Incident the third.

My husband switches lanes in an interesting manner. It is designed to catch the eye of the surrounding drivers and make them aware of his presence. Many motorcyclists (myself included) switch lanes in the manner of a cager — we signal our turn by hand or turn signal (often both), shoulder and mirror check, then drift into the desired lane.
John does the signal and shoulder/mirror check, but rather than drifting into his intended lane, he aggressively throws his bike into the lane. There’s really no other way to describe it. The first time I saw him do it almost two years ago, my heart leapt into my throat — I thought he was about to wreck. It’s a full lean, almost parallel to the ground, followed by an abrupt straightening up. It’s very eye-catching, let me assure you. The thing is, he’s in complete control the entire time.
Last week on his way up to work, he got off our exit onto the freeway, doing this maneuver. He proceeded to quickly move over to the far left lane (our freeway is a two lane road, so including the exit lane, three lanes) and just sort of slab it (freeway riding) to work.
Except some 20-something kids who had gotten off at the same exit saw his lane-changing style and decided that his “crazy swerving all over the road” was “dangerous,” so they pulled up next to him in their SUV. The female driver began squirting her windshield wiper fluid and running her wipers so it squirted at John, laughing and pointing at him as she did.
Remember how I mentioned the freeway was a two-lane freeway? It’s like that for quite a while, so John was stuck, blocked by the cars in front of and behind him and the SUV to the side of him that was now squirting windshield washer fluid all over his helmet visor and motorcycle. Unless he wanted to pull a seriously illegal (and, incidentally, impossible, due to all the road work and lack of a shoulder) move and speed away along the shoulder, he was stuck next to that SUV for about 23 miles.
He followed them when they pulled off at their exit to find out why they’d endangered him like that — slicking up his tires with wet, soapy fluid and obscuring his view. Obviously, he wasn’t in the best temper. The explanation they gave was that he was riding dangerously, “Swerving all over the road,” and, “Speeding in and out of traffic.”
Apparently they felt so passionately about his actions, they informed him that they’d even called in his plates to the police, which had John laughing pretty hard a few hours later (after he calmed down from their possibly unintentional attempt to kill him).
Side note here — if you call the police to tell them a motorcyclist is riding like an insane person, swerving in and out of traffic and speeding dangerously, but you’re able to easily and coherently read that little teeny tiny license plate, the police might guess you’re a retarded liar. Just sayin’.
Look, if you don’t like how a motorcyclist riding, don’t take it on yourself to be a road vigilante, okay? Maybe you’re shaking your head saying, “He’s going to get himself killed,” or, “He’s going to get somebody killed.”
Maybe that’s true. Maybe it’s not. You don’t know. But do you want to be the road vigilante who, in an attempt to “teach that guy a lesson,” ended up accidentally killing that guy?

repost from history: 10-18-2009

A Discussion on Cagers, continued.

This is the 2nd of a 3-parter about motorcycles, posted as my husband’s days off continue.

So in my last post I talked about how one of my friends, while an otherwise nice guy, could end up being an agent of death for a motorcyclist. Well, there are others who do see motorcyclists but actually have it out for us. They may think we’re rude, or unsafe, or just selfish road-hoggers.  They don’t understand many of the perceived “rude” motorcyclist behaviors are for safety.
You know how we swerve back and forth within a lane? We’re taught to do that. It’s because we can.  It’s to avoid the slick oily spots that cars leave behind, to constantly put ourselves in the best line of vision, and to avoid blind spots of other vehicles. It’s safe riding.

From the CA DMV Motorcycle Handbook

You know how in some states (CA) it’s not illegal (or legal) to lane-split, and how in other states, it’s not even legal, but motorcyclists do it sometimes anyway? They usually don’t do it to be jerks. There are jerks in every case, I admit, but lane-splitting is actually an extremely safe way for the experienced rider to handle stop-and-go traffic. If a rider is lane-splitting, they are less likely to be made into motorcycle pancake because some cager got distracted for a second and didn’t slam on their brakes in time.

Lane splitting . . . appears to be worthy of further study

because it offers a means of reducing congestion in addition to possible safety

benefits. It is widely used in many other countries.

                                                                                           — National Highway Safety Administration

In that vein, here’s a safety issue that happened to John and I this week that may have been misread as dickishness by the drivers around us.

Incident the Second
John and I were riding 2-up on his TL1000R (also know as the Tiller, or as I call it, The Sand Thumper, because it makes the same sound the sand thumpers make in Dune.) We came up on some construction. Traffic is at a standstill, and John turns off his bike as we wait for the flaggers to wave us through. I sit up and look around.

Same bike, different day.

We’re at an intersection normally regulated by a light, and the road is being repaved. Since it’s a busy intersection, flaggers are waving the cars through in shifts. The portion of road we’ll be riding on is the portion currently being worked on. The road is scraped and grooved, ready for repaving. It’s the sort of surface that if you’re on two wheels, it’s better to be going 35 miles or a little faster on, the better to keep your balance. There’s a large orange “Motorcycles Caution” sign to the side of the road.

Just in front of us is a little beat-up black VW something or other. Jetta, I think. Anyway, the flaggers finally wave our line through, John starts up the bike (he’d turned it off while we waited), and we start moving forward.
The minute we hit the grooved pavement, the VW slows down. A lot. The truck in front of them was going at a normal pace. The car in front of that truck continued at a normal pace. The beater VW?  Slowed down to something like 10 mph. I kid you not. John revved the throttle and the car sped up ever so slightly, then slowed right back down. John was right on his tail, and he revved the throttle again.
I know how this looked to everyone else. To everyone else, it looked like the meanie motorcyclist was threatening the poor teenage kid driving through a construction area. To everyone else it looked like the Big Bad Biker had an attitude. He was revving his engine, and noise equals bad. Do you know what John’s motorcycle horn sounds like? An anemic goat. Seriously. You wouldn’t even be able to hear it.  That’s why he revs his throttle — you can hear it.  (I do honk my bike’s horn — it’s loud.)
I was riding passenger, though, and I knew what was going on. I could feel in my thighs the way that John was struggling to keep the heavy bike upright at those low speeds on that grooved pavement; the way the road was grabbing the tires and trying to flip us down. I could feel the tremble in his chest muscles from stabilizing the wiggle in his handlebars. I’ve ridden on grooved pavement in the past, and I know the heart-hammer feeling in your chest at the strangeness of how the road feels.
I also knew that much of the issue was the speed we were going. I knew that if we could add just a few mph — 15, 10, even 5 — everything would be a lot easier, a lot less of a struggle. I was angry at the kid in the beater VW for driving so slow on the grooved pavement — he has four wheels! What’s he worried about? It’s not like a four-wheeled beater VW is going to flip on grooved pavement! I was also scared we were going to wreck. Sure, at those slow speeds, it probably would’ve just hurt, but I didn’t want to have to buy new helmets.
Once the kid pulled to the side of the road and waved us by (everyone else glaring at us like we were death-bringer-baby-killer-orphan-dolphin-thingies), we rode home. But not before an old lady shook her finger warningly at me and her husband frowned at me in disappointment from the cab of his truck.
Yes, what is this world coming to?

from history: 10-7-2009

This is an entry from 10-7-2009, the first in a 3-part series about riding motorcycle. I’m reposting it because it’s my husband’s day off, and we’re doing family stuff, then hanging out with a friend for a bit, so I don’t have time to write an entry. 
________________________________________________________________________
My husband and I ride motorcycle. He’s been riding since October of 2007 and has put a lot of miles on his bike. He rides to work (64 miles round trip) on an almost daily basis and goes on a day long (8-14 hour) ride every week to two weeks. He loves riding.
I don’t get to ride quite as often. First, I don’t have a job to ride to; second, we don’t have gear for our son; and third, I’m scared of being around cagers. Let me tell you, cagers are jerks.
Cagers are what riders (in our area) call car drivers. In the past week, three separate events have happened that have reinforced my strong belief that cagers need to learn to drive.
I’d like to point out something really quick here — motorcyclists need to have a license to get their motorcycle endorsement. That means they know how to drive a car. Then they take a class and/or riding test to get their endorsement. So they’ve taken a minimum of two driving classes learning how to operate a vehicle and deal with traffic. In addition, motorcyclists belong to a culture that strongly encourages taking follow-up classes. Everywhere we go that’s motorcycle-related — to buy gear, motorcycle parts, fix or tune our bikes, or even just hang out in a group or online — riding classes are promoted, from beginning to advanced to defensive. And we’re encouraged to take them every few years to keep our skills fresh.

In contrast, how often does the average car driver take a driving class or test? Take a moment to think about it . . . That’s right. Once. When they’re 16 or 17. And that’s it.
Now for the first of the three incidents.
Incident the First.
I was on my way up to Seattle from Tumwater with a friend of mine, Luke. He noticed a motorcyclist speeding by in the right lane, and made a derogatory comment about how fast the guy was going in the right lane. I pointed out that the motorcyclist was going about 70 mph (10 mph faster than the speed limit), while my friend, who was in the far left lane (technically the passing or “fast” lane) was going 55 mph. I could kind of see why, with people block the left and middle lanes, any vehicle would blow by in the right lane.
Anyway, I made some comment about how his lane positioning was better than other bikes I’d seen that day or something, and Luke said he hadn’t seen any other bikes. I kind of laughed in disbelief, because seriously, no.
I mean, it was 80 degrees and cloudless out. We’d passed something like 80 motorcycles just between Olympia and Tacoma. Sure, they weren’t in a huge pack or anything, but it’s not like you can miss a moving vehicle, right? I mean, seriously! So I was poking fun at him for this completely ridiculous statement, and a couple of motorcyclists ride by us. Of course, I say, “There go three right now!”
He says, “Where? Oh! I see them! Cool.”
And he wasn’t messing! That’s when I realized that my instructor in the MSF course wasn’t lying to me when he said that cagers don’t see us. Let me tell you — shock. I just stared at Luke. I mean, he’s one of my closest friends. He’s a good guy. He’s smart and funny and nice. Sometimes he runs stop signs and sometimes he forgets to signal a turn before he does it. He doesn’t always pay attention when he’s driving, but I wouldn’t call him the absolute worst driver in the world (that’s my dad — kidding!).
But he could totally hit and kill or severely injure a motorcyclist. I did this paper for my English 102 class on motorcycle safety. As part of it, I pulled up all these news articles on motorcycle accidents where the car driver was at fault — quoted as so by the officer on the scene. Inevitably, the cager’s excuse was, “I just didn’t see them!”
That excuse just blows me away. It’s a moving vehicle. With flashing lights that signal our turns. And a headlight that we’re allowed to leave on during the day. HOW CAN YOU MISS US?!?

arts & crafts

I went to Michael’s today. I had to ride my motorcycle, because the Falcon is making a funny sound in the rear end — it did sound kinda like the ocean, but it’s more knocky now, and it sounds a bit like a fast heartbeat at this point. I think the u-joint might be going out, but John says it’s either that or the bearings. It seems to be in the left rear. Anyway, we gotta get in there and look at that, but it has to wait until John’s jaw is healed, because I don’t want him doing mechanic-type work in this state.
So I rode my motorcycle. It was a gorgeous clear November day — the high was supposed to be about 53, but it actually got up to 60. It was nice. There was this one point when I was waiting at a stop light to turn left, and a car pulled up next to me. I was kinda zoning a little bit, enjoying the crisp air and autumn smells and blue sky, when all of a sudden, I hear someone yelling, “Hey, hey!”
So I look over, and there are two strange guys in the car next to me, their window rolled down, smiling at me. The one in the driver’s seat calls over, “Hey, what kind of motorcycle is that?”
I pulled my helmet down a little, flipping up the visor so my voice wouldn’t be too obscured by the helmet, and yelled back, “It’s a Yamaha FZ6.”
They called back, “That’s hot, baby. Keep it up.”
I was kind of taken aback — it seemed like an odd way to phrase a compliment to my motorcycle and advice to keep it shiny side up. Then the light turned, and as I pulled away it occurred to me that they might have actually been referring to the combination of me on my motorcycle.
I don’t know. Maybe they were referring to just my bike — it’s a pretty damn sexy bike if I do say so myself.

But then, I don’t really tend to walk around thinking, “I’m a girl. I’m a girl, la de da. People respond to me in certain ways because I am female and I have boobies. Girl girl girl!” And I especially don’t think of myself as obviously female when I’m on my bike.

When I’m on my bike, I’m just a rider. I wear a full-face helmet and a black leather jacket. I feel anonymous — an androgynous, blank rider, hidden behind helmet and bulky gear. Neither male nor female. So it’s always jarring when someone responds to the fact that I am a female rider, especially when I’m actually on my bike, hidden by my helmet and gear.
Weirdly, being catcalled (if it was a catcall) when I’m on my bike isn’t as nerve-wracking as it is when I’m walking. Maybe it’s because I’m still uncertain as to whether they were commenting on me or my bike, while when I’m out walking there’s no uncertainty. Maybe it’s just because I feel safe on my bike. I know how fast I can go, and how slow the average car is. More than that, I know how quickly I can go from 0 to 60, and that the average car (and driver) cannot match me. So it doesn’t really concern me.
Anyway, so then I went to Michael’s. This is another fun thing about riding — I walk into Michael’s in my motorcycle leather, helmet swinging from my fingers, holding my little manta-ray tank bag under my arm, and I head back to the crochet needles and yarn. I notice, as I stride through the store, that I’m getting some disapproving glances from the matronly looking women milling the aisles. An employee starts shadowing me, not very subtly.
It sometimes bothers me how I can be looked at askance just because I’m wearing motorcycle gear — it mostly bothers me in the stores I’m comfortable/ familiar with. The ones I visit frequently, like Michael’s or Jo-Ann’s or Barnes and Noble, and the only time I get attention from customers and staff is when I go in geared up. It doesn’t happen all the time, and I’m not trying to claim it does.
In this case, I didn’t mind. It meant I didn’t have to wander around trying to find an employee to help me out with finding what I need to start crocheting. So I bought some lovely, soft, thick yarn and a set of crochet needles, as well as a small booklet with beginners patterns.

I’ve decided to start crocheting because I have a somewhat twitchy, antsy nature. I fiddle constantly when I sit still, and when I have panic attacks I start pacing and snapping. Smoking is how I’ve dealt with my antsiness and panic attacks, but I don’t want to smoke anymore. I stopped in August, started again in early October, stopped for a week or so in mid-October, started in late October when a bunch of  unexpected stress started causing near-constant panic attacks, and right now I’m at this place where I’ll buy a pack because I’m having a panic attack, finish it off, go a few days to a week without buying a pack, and then something else will happen to start another panic attack.

But I don’t want to smoke anymore. I’m tired of the amount of money we — I, now — spend on this habit.  I’d rather spend that on gas (prices also rising) for my bike, or on parts to repair the Falcon, or on  e-books or a seasonal pass to the zoo or the children’s museum.
So I’ve decided to take up crochet. I’m also going to talk to my doctor about getting some anti-anxiety medication, and hopefully the combination of the two will help me take that last little leap to fully quitting.
Plus, I’ll be able to make little funny hats and sweaters and booties for my animals. They will hate me. This is Dmitri’s future:

I don’t know who’s cat this is. I found it on google images.

 

[fat bottomed girl]

As I was riding my motorcycle today, I realized I was slightly dizzy, light-headed with a funny creeping ’round the edges of my vision. It happens sometimes (not often) if I don’t eat; I think it’s some combination of low blood sugar and the pretty much constant semi-dehydration I (and many women) have. I’ve just been super stressed lately, so I haven’t been eating as much.

It got me thinking. There’s this stereotype that women eat when they’re sad or hurting or stressed or angry. It’s this whole idea of food as comfort. I don’t, though. When I get stressed or angry or scared or anxious or whatever, I do not eat — I don’t even mean I don’t eat more; I mean I have to force myself to eat even one meal a day. 


And the thing is, I love food. I love preparing it, I love eating it, and I savor each meal. I have very strong opinions about restaurants, and where I will and will not eat. I know food is fuel for our bodies, but it’s more than that — it’s a social lubricant, it’s a decadent pleasure, it’s something to reward yourself with. It’s weird to examine my relationship with food and weight now. 

I think my parents did a pretty good job with me in both regards. I mean, my dad can’t cook for beans, but my parents both taught me to eat in moderation, to try the food set before me and not just turn up my nose, to save desserts and cookies and treats for a reward. I ate apples and oranges as snacks and never considered it a loss. My dad introduced me to things like artichoke hearts and foreign cheeses. My mom taught me to prepare meals with a meat, a dairy, a fruit, and a vegetable. I didn’t even realize they were teaching me the basics of healthy eating, and simply internalized their lessons. 

But they did more than that for me. Mom and dad never seemed to care what my weight was. They never teased me about being too thin or too heavy. I didn’t read fashion magazines or watch a lot of t.v. (I preferred books), so I never really internalized all the social/ media body-loathing messages. I mean, I wasn’t naive as a teenager, I knew body issues existed. I knew there were some skinny girls who fretted and stressed about their weight, and some heavy girls who tried diet after diet to no avail. In a sort of detached sort of way, I knew I would probably get much heavier after I had kids — mom had, so it looked like my metabolism would probably slow down.

I was aware of all that, but it was all sort of theoretical. I liked who I was, I liked my body. I liked my squishy belly and my curved hips and my small breasts. I liked the way my eyes looked at night, and the way my hair shimmered gold under lamplight. I generally liked me.

I don’t really like me anymore. I mean, I do — I still have nice eyes and hair, and I carry my extra weight well. I wear minimal make-up, have nice skin, and dress both modestly and fashionably. But at the same time, I’m heavier. I no longer can buy my clothes in the teen section, like I could up until I was 21. I have a pudgier belly, and even if the rest of my weight is distributed well, the belly bothers me. I remind myself that even though I’d like to lose 30-40 lbs, it’s only for cosmetic reasons — I’m active, I like to walk and hike, I have low blood sugar, and every doctor’s visit basically has me coming up healthy as roses.

For all that, I mostly just want to hide and not talk to people. Part of me is angry that I even care; part of me wishes I had a much more complicated relationship with food so I could do some sort of unhealthy diet rollercoaster thing to lose weight. 

It’s annoying. Intellectually, I know I’m healthy and I look nice. But emotionally, I want to be the same size I was when I was 21.

seriously?

Okay, peoples, I have a novel idea: Let’s respect that we’re all adults here and can make decisions for our own lives (this is, of course, assuming that you have moved out of your parents home and are taking care of yourself). So — again, with the assumption that you are fiscally responsible for yourself, pay for your own lodging, and manage your own bills — lets just all agree not to make the following sort of judgments regarding people’s hobbies/ habits/ addictions, okay?
  • Don’t you know riding a motorcycle will kill you? I’d ride one, but I care too much about my family/ my life/ my health, etc.
  • Don’t you know smoking will kill you? It’s disgusting and I care far too much about my family/ my life/ my health/ etc. to ever do it.
  • Real grown ups don’t play video games. Get outside and experience the world.
Let me break it down for you, okay?
  • Life will kill you. Don’t abstain from life because of a fear of death. Live life to the fullest — your fullest, not someone else’s definition. If your fullest is staying inside, eating cheetoes and playing WoW, then fucking have at it. If your fullest is balls-to-the-wall daring death to fuck your skull, have at it. WHATEVER. We’re all adults, we all know the risks (be it heart attack or brain splatterage) of our activities. Let’s just respect that and move. the fuck. on.
I am really tired of people being all judgmental and bitchy about hobbies they disagree with/ are scared of. It’s ridiculous.