Sunday, May 22, 2011

100 Miles of Nowhere Somewhere

Consider this an early entry into Fat Cyclist's 100 Miles of Nowhere

East Harlem High School Division

I work in a true inner-city high school. One that, in a few short years, will cease to exist and will remain only in the memories of the staff and students who came through its doors.

Most of our students come from less than ideal, one might even say, crummy, circumstances. Many of them have only one parent at home. Others have none. Too many of my students need a hug when they come in each day, a pat on the back, a kind word. Too many of them start off life at a disadvantage and, by the time they reach us, catching up is hard to do.

I’ve heard people say that the students in my school can’t do it. That they can’t come back from years and years of lost time. That my students are going Nowhere.

This is what I pondered as I debated whether or not to take part in this year’s 100 Miles of Nowhere. I know that the main purpose of the ride is to raise funds and awareness for cancer research but the idea of going Nowhere just resonated with me as a metaphor for what people say about the students I love.

Too many of my students have been told, repeatedly, that they are going Nowhere. That school is pointless because they are going Nowhere and that they should just give up. And too many of them do give up. Those that don’t, however … they wind up Somewhere. And their kids get a better chance in life.

It is tough working against so much ingrained negativity. But sometimes we get through to them. And when we get through, and the kid that was told they’d go Nowhere winds up Somewhere … well that’s when we realize that all the work was worth it. When the kid you were sure would drop out gives you a hug at graduation … well then you just have to wipe away the tears.

So, in the spirit of getting Somewhere while staying in the same place, I am dedicating my morning commute to my students. For 5.25 miles a day, most week days and a few Saturdays, from now until June 30th I promise to keep my mind on my kids (and a small part of it on the traffic around me) and do my best to figure out how to get them Somewhere. Because everyone deserves to be given the chance to go Somewhere.

Monday, May 16, 2011


"It was only a matter of time before I got doored."

I'd thought that only a day or two earlier.

Dooring, the act of a cyclist being hit by an opening car door, is a not unusual occurrence. Riding in and with traffic, an urban cyclist winds up passing hundreds of parked cars every day, thousands over the course of a year. Add to that all of the taxis that pull up into bike lanes or up near curbs to discharge passengers and it is kind of surprising that dooring does not happen more often.

Which is why I was not really surprised when it finally happened to me.

Riding home on Friday, I was negotiating my way south on a traffic-packed Ninth Avenue, picking my way between the cars and the left-hand curb (riding on the left is legal in NYC if the street is wider than 90 feet). This is my standard evening commute and I've done it probably close to a hundred times this academic year.

Somewhere around 45th Street (I really was not paying attention but I know I was south of 47th and north of 42nd) I slowly pedaled past a taxi at the corner of whatever street and Ninth Avenue. As traffic was crawling, I did not realize that the taxi was pulling over to discharge a passenger, as the curb lane is open to traffic at that time of day I thought that it was just another cab caught in traffic.

And then it happened.

The passenger opened her door without looking and caught the back of my bike.

In slow motion (or so it seemed), I fought to keep my balance and failed, falling with my bike toward the curb.

The passenger, it must be said, was apologetic and offered to help me up, staying a moment to make sure I was o.k. (I was).

Hauling myself and my bike onto the sidewalk, I rolled up my bike tights and checked the scrapes that I could feel starting to sting. Just a skinned knee and some really, really minor skin loss on my other shin. But boy they stung!

Nothing else appeared to be injured on my body though I knew that I'd caught myself with my left hand, so I expected a bruise or worse when I got back on the bike. Fortunately I was wrong.

Examining my trusty bicycle, I found the handlebars twisted this way and that and skewed on the stem. A quick application of my multi-tool put everything right and gave me a few moments to collect myself before reboarding and completing my commute.

Once at home I did a more through self-examination and put a couple of band-aids on my scrapes so they wouldn't rub against my jeans. No real damage done, though I could feel a nice bruise on my thigh and, just this morning, realized the my upper arm soreness was actually due to a handlebar shaped bruise.

Frankly, if I had to get doored, I'm glad that this is how it happened.

I was back on my bike the next day and even commuted in the rain today.

Didn't even lose my back blinky!

Saturday, May 07, 2011

Eighteen pairs of socks: pair number 4 ... and a shawl

Dee commented (via facebook) that I had not blogged in a while. She was / is quite right and I have been selfish. You see ... pair number 4 of the eighteen pairs of socks was actually finished back in April while I was out of town. (Visiting is great for getting knitting done.)

So here you go ...

Eyelet Rib in Knitpicks Stroll Peapod. Sized for Youngest Sib's feet ... which mean they are sized for my feet. Yo Sis, you better come in and get them because I found them so cozy while doing the photo shoot that I'm tempted to keep them!

Also finished in April, the Pinkerton Shawl from the Spring 2011 Interweave Knits.

Modeled by Squidette but made for moi. It used about 600 yards of handspun two ply which came in between sock and sport weight.

On the wheel, a bump of Still River Mills wool meant for an interesting shawl that my Aunt found on Ravelry.
On the needles, another of the eighteen pair of socks intended for a friend and the Prairie Rain scarf from the Spring Interweave Knits out of my handspun Guanaco. This yarn has been aging in the stash for a few years.
Next on the needles, sock pair number 6 and either Annis (knitty via Cookie) or the shawl that my Aunt found (the name eludes me right now and I'm too lazy to pull up the PDF).
It's been a busy year both at work and at home and things will only get more hectic as we head into the last 7 weeks of school. Next week: presentations for a program Squidette is finishing, and concerts for both kids and Mitzvah Sunday. The following week: Squidette takes her first Advanced Placement exam. And, in the not too distant future: Little Squid's school concert (this week is Boro-wide), Little Squid's Arista Induction, an awards ceremony for Little Squid (we assume) and the same child's eighth grade graduation. Also, my school prom, Squidette's birthday (sweet sixteen -- no party), and possibly Mike's school prom. And who knows what else.
I'll try to post more often ... but really, I'm trying to live a bit more
in the moment, hence the drop off in posting.

Happy mother's day to my Mom and everyone else's mom!
Mom (holding Youngest Nephew) and Lil' Sis (holding Louis the Cat)