html xmlns="" xml:lang="en" lang="en"> From the archives: Well, some additional self-righteousness. But not as much as I hoped for.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Well, some additional self-righteousness. But not as much as I hoped for.

I’ve been trying to write a post about giving up my car a couple months back. When I decided against fixing a decrepit car one more time, I thought I could write about the transition to carlessness and the adjustments it has required. I thought I would discuss the trade-offs, like the decrease in convenience for the gratifying additional self-righteousness. But none of that has come about. In small, warm, flat Sacramento, not having a car has been too boring to scrape together even a few short paragraphs.

The best part of not having a car has been that now I ride my bike at night. Riding your bike at night is SO fun. Just like running after dark, riding after dark feels faster, like you’re way speedy. At night, Sacramento is the darkest city I’ve lived in. There just aren’t many street lights, so you can glide down entirely dark residential blocks and no one can tell you’re there. The other great way to ride at night is with a pack of friends. That’s totally fun, because then you’re taking ET home with the feds chasing you.

Please don’t scold me (Tall Chris), but I’ve started listening to music as I ride my bike. I know! But I wear my helmet now, so we’re even, right? I love when the music speeds up and I speed up to like, barely subsonic speeds. It is taking all my willpower to not sing out loud. I know I shouldn’t, because my bedroom window is a five-foot setback from a busy street. I hear conversations all night long. Happy drunk people, mostly. Sometimes shrill drunk girls, trying to be naughty enough to get some guy’s attention. I would have felt bad for the man sobbing helplessly, except that he kept saying “I’ll show that fucking slut who the man is.” And I hear people singing along to the music in their headphones. They don’t sound the way they think they do. In fact, I’m usually hard-pressed to identify the song they are singing along with. But I would be different, right? If I were singing along as I pedaled through the streets, don’t you think people would wonder “Where is that beautiful song coming from? Is that a nightingale?” But by the time they rushed to their windows to look, I would be long gone, riding fast through the night.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

California Vehicle Code 27400: A person operating a motor vehicle or bicycle may not wear a headset covering, or earplugs in, both ears.

Go 1-eared and sing on, Megan!
-Tall Chris

12:42 PM  
Blogger Megan said...

I'm a scofflaw?

12:55 PM  
Blogger lil miss dubin said...

I love this because it reminds me of my brief affair with jogging lo those years ago in the Berkeley hills. So dark, and very magical. Very apart. (Then I realized I was trying to jog with Bob Dylan in my walkman and it was slowing me down. Plus, I realized I hated jogging.) Anyway, I can't support your carlessness (I'm in L.A. We don't look favorably on that kind of thing.) But I think it makes Sacramento at night sound like a great place to be.

3:16 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

Rock on. I love it when my sister's car breaks down and I get to give her my car and then feel all tough and self-righteous for not having a car. I've also gotten really good at mooching rides from friends, not a natural talent of mine but one I am glad I can do, in case I ever really really need it.

It is particularly bad-ass to be carless in LA.

But sadly, I am flummoxed by the fact that my bicycle pumps don't fit the tires of my new bike. So I've been driving...

3:38 PM  
Blogger amanda bee said...

N. has a good setup with some battery powered speakers and the remote and a front rack such that he can not only listen to music but he can control the music from his handlebars. Also I can listen to the music. And so can anyone else who happens to be walking by. Which I realize might not make you popular on Sacto's quiet streets but it isn't illegal or nearly as invasive as cars with the speakers cranked, horns, trucks idling, low flying planes ... (huh. sometimes I don't love NYC as much as other times)

8:46 PM  
Blogger Dubin said...

I sing at work and I do it even though I know that I don't sound as good as I think. I hope people will be thinking, "gosh, who knew Dubin was such a great talent, I mean, listen to her!" but I know that they are probably not even paying attention at all.

"American Tune" came on my satellite radio yesterday and I had to turn it up just so I could sing louder without doing a solo.

Many's the time I've been mistaken
And many times confused
Yes, and I've often felt forsaken
And certainly misused
Oh, but I'm alright, I'm alright
I'm just weary to my bones
Still, you don't expect to be
Bright and bon vivant
So far a-way from home, so far away from home

9:26 AM  
Blogger Rob E. said...

Thank you for this. It's hard to believe that I had forgotten one of the great joys in life: the late night bike ride. Where I live now, I don't feel safe riding after dark. I'm either on bike unfriendly roads or potentially scary, secluded bike paths. The bike paths actually have potential for some great night rides, but I don't feel safe there after the sun goes down. The urban and secluded combination makes me uneasy. But in nowheresville where I grew up night-rides were heaven. Wind in your hair, a long, straight, empty road ahead of you, and no cars or people in sight, just the lights in house windows and your moon shadow for company.

And music: At night, in the country, I loved to drink in the silence or the isolated sounds of occassional slamming doors, playing children, or barking dogs, all oblivious to your easedropping (except, occassionally, the dogs). But now in the city music is essential. It allows you to wrap yourself in your own thoughts even as you surround yourself with people. Regardless of Tall Chris and the Dept. of Motor Vehicles, both ears are required or else the free ear will compete with the other for your brain's attention. I try and keep the volume low enough so that I can hear when someone is coming up to pass me or is coming towards me around the bend, but otherwise I focus on the music. I don't sing, though, out of respect for people who aren't wearing their headphones. That's reserved for kareoke bars where, by supplying both beer and a microphone, they are practically begging me to get up and sing off-key. So I say be a scofflaw. Unless, of course, you think your risky behavior is disrespectful to the people who love you. I mean it ain't mountain climbing, but it is trading safety for pleasure. But don't tell my wife about the danger of cycling with your tunes. I get enough flak for the helmet thing. I will cave and buy a helmet in the near future, but my music goes with me.

12:03 PM  

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