Rando bit of very late in winter these days snow last week. Probably the last cold-ish weather till next winter (when we’ll still be in lockdown ’cos haha isn’t Germany slash Europe doing well?!? Dying. (Figuratively, yo.)) And the crows are back in their precarious nest high up in that tree in the centre. The small black blob midway from bottom of photo to crown of the thin trunk is them.
Late-December last year, I got paid in one hit for a bunch of work on a couple of projects, that contemporary dance thing in Europe of getting cash after the work was done. One of those was the solo which got canned a few days before première (thanks poor response in Germland and EU to global pandemic) which we’d been working on since January.
So, I had mad cash and, for possibly the first time in my life, no pressing obligations. Also not mad enough cash that I could do bougie middle-age things like get a mortgage. Cash enough I’ve been working my way down a list that’s a decade old in places of stuff I need to buy. Like new underwear and socks.
And then there’s the big items. Big for me and pretty much everyone I know. The kind of things which cost up to a couple of thousand and actually cause me cold sweats when I think of doing the spend. ’Cos what if, tomorrow, I’m fully povo again and a couple of hundred is the difference between eating, making rent and all? Except this year I already have work till August and money-wise — ’cos I’m good at living on fuck all — I’m kinda sorta maybe doing ok.
I’d been struggling with training over winter. My back blew out in November, I was feeling well too soft to be doing 90-minute rides in below zero weather, and my base training felt majorly on a plateau. I’d been thinking of buying an indoor trainer for years, very attached to the idea of getting rollers rather than one of those remove the back wheel direct trainers, but somehow over the last few years (thanks bogan mountain bikers on a YouTube channel I watch far too frequently), I went for the latter. Went for multiple times and nah nah nah I’ll come back in the morning, need to sleep on this massive decision, only to find them sold out for more weeks, repeating this until a month ago when there it was in the morning, still available.
It arrived within days and sat there, unboxed for three weeks. Because I needed a 10-speed cassette for it, and decided to get an isolation mat and cadence sensor and new heart rate monitor and … and … absolutely spraying money around. And I knew I’d need a calm few hours to do the setup, get it all working, get a feeling for it. On Monday, I did that.
And joined Zwift.
Total fucking bougie middle-aged cunt on a bike.
Yeah but I’m also a semi- / ex- / occasional- athlete-ish dancer-ish professional who knows very well how much I fall apart if I don’t train and it’s work and an actual work expense and a serious commitment and investment.
For the moment I set up in my kitchen. My balcony has some weird, complex slopes I need to make a trip to the Baumarkt to get some levelling blocks to sort out. I put myself through the intro 5-day training plan, 30 minutes each ride and fuuuuck me I have to face the shame I might have never pushed myself as hard — or maybe as structured and intense within that structure, even though I like suffering. It’s very different having actual numbers on a screen to correlate to feeling, and to have to stay at certain numbers for more seconds or minutes than I’d do when doing laps at Tempelhofer Feld and doing it on feel. Mostly it feels like what I get in 30 minutes on the trainer is about what I’d get from an hour at the airport. And if I did my casual longer warmup and cooldown, 15 minutes either side, it’d maybe be comparable. Still though, I haven’t ridden since November, and very not in endurance and high-intensity shape, and I might be in love with how good a fit an indoor smart trainer is for me. Especially because I can set it up at 9pm and do a session in the dark.
Yeah but the bougie, white, racist, cisgender, heteronormative, ableist, masc-centric, middle-class and all miasma is what cycling soaks in, road cycling especially, and online smart training environments even more so. There’s almost not a day that goes by where there isn’t another story about legislation to ban trans kids or athletes — almost always girls, femmes, and women — from sport, competition, changing rooms, swimming pools, and all. I barely ever see a rider who isn’t white — and yes, this is why riders like Ceylin del Carmen Alvarado and Teniel Campbell and Ayesha McGowan are important but aren’t in themselves or as ‘representation’ enough alone. I’m acutely aware of who I am when I’m in lycra on a bike in that environment. I’m acutely aware also, when I’m in queer and trans spaces, that my decades-long relationship with and love of physicality, training and the discipline that is part of professional dance which I carry into riding, climbing, and everything else, all this has a very uneasy, fraught and painful relationship of its own with and in those spaces. How my trans-ness, femme-ness, queer-ness bangs up against cis AFAB queer spaces has a history of exclusion that has an eerie familiarity with sport.
Shit’s mad over-complicated. I just wanna ride and thrash shit.
I can tell my mood by how often I blog. Honestly, there’s not a heap to blog about these days, and hasn’t been for the last year.
I’m doing ok. I’m surviving.
I’m trying to ignore how appallingly bad the pandemic has been handled by Germany and Europe and much of the rest of the world. I’m trying to ignore the plans I had and the desires I have. I’ve done good work in the last year. I’ve lost my shit a couple of times and truly, no fucks given. I like the person I am when I need to be harsh.
I’m deeply sad at how the pandemic has been handled has disproportionately hit trans and queer people, and Indigenous, Black, Brown, and migrant people. And how selective access to the vaccine is exacerbating this. And how all we hear about is how tough it is for ‘families.’ Dog-whistling so loud I can smell it. It’s on-going grief and I survive because I survived before.
I got the novel — which I gave myself to during post-surgery recovery back in late-2019, finally having time for art again and it flooding out — to a 4th draft and people are reading it. And that’s a madness ’cos I never believed in myself on that.
I’ve really lost it on training though, especially since blowing my delightfully petty back to shit in early-November. I think it’s that ‘surviving’ for me is mental and emotional discipline and training has always been that as well and I don’t have much in the tank at the moment for pushing myself.
I’m really missing physical contact, seeing the same three people for a year, sometimes only once every couple of weeks. It’s austere as fuck. It’s what it takes. It reminds me my neurofuckery, which tends towards a lot of time on my own while still loving being around people, has not aided me in having a lot of close friends in Berlin. Or maybe that’s on Berlin.
I wanna say, “It’s all good,” ’cos I can do this for as long as it takes. It’s not though, but whatever, suck it up till it’s done kinda thing.
Anyway, this was supposed to be a couple of lines reminder to myself, and now it’s a long, unformatted few hundred words. Fucking weirdarse twelve months which mainly dialled up the contrast on how shitty our current era of late-, high-, necro-, 500 years of- capitalism is, how like an authoritarian dictatorship democracy looks these days, nah it was always that.
It was Strada Bianche yesterday, one of my fave bike races. Weird as watching the women thrash it out. Doing anything we love in a pandemic feels weird. It’s also rhubarb and asparagus season (green thanks, not the white stuff they love up north-west Europe). I dunno. Yeah, doing ok. Ok is good enough.
(I added in some paragraphs ’cos my neurofuckery hates walls of text and won’t even on that shit 🤷🏻♀️)
I never realised there was a bike inner tube vending machine outside the Radspannerei workshop until I stood at the door in the pandemic queue and it was right in front of me for quite a few minutes.
4th layout in 2 1/2 years. Bed is now by doors to balcony, which means more cold air for me ’cos I still sleep all winter with them open, and hopefully a slightly better auditory space, ’cos the corner where the books are now and where bed was is mad noisy with upstairs neighbours doing the Altbau shoes inside stomp and a bit of a dead spot for air circulation. Bed also rolls up during the day giving me space to train and lie on the floor or whatever. Walls look kinda bare now which reminds me of my neurofuckery being very blasé about things sometimes. A large piece of eyebleed hectic technicolour art would be nice, and doing something with the space under the window (besides ripping out one of the wall heaters ’cos it’s truly shiteful.)
It’s been an age since I was last doing laps on Tempelhofer Feld. I haven’t done any training rides since my back went from “lol fuck ya” to “nah really, howdya like not being able to stand?” mid-November. Give it up for floppy joints!
I had to go out to the Bürgeramt in Lichtenrade, way out near my fave stretches of cobble, and kinda wanted to not spend a heap on taxis, and I miss the full-on aggro of Berlin drivers. One day I need to have a convo with myself around the life choices of punching up when up is a LKW.
Anyway, I missed the turn that would have eventually put me on Hermannstr. and I meant to do that put me at the south-west gate of Tempelhofer Feld. Floppy back had been asking for a break and how often do I actually get to walk at the old airport, so I got my hips swinging the length of the southern stretch of pavé and said hi to the crows. Cold permafrost wind coming from Siberia bringing snow.
Up late a few nights ago and the sound outside changed, went that quiet-loud it does when everything’s blanketed with snow and all the tiny sounds get heard. Snow that’s survived a couple of days now. Haven’t had snow like that or a winter this cold for a few years. I’m still sleeping with the balcony door open, letting in that crisp -6° air. I love how the snow forms soft rime up the bricks of the apartment block opposite, reminds me of mixed ice and rock mountain climbing and how long it’s been since I was hanging onto rock with fingers and toes.
Long time ago when I washed dishes for cash, the lunch chef was getting fancy with this beautiful knife, steel handle with black dimples and very sexy curves. She told me it was a Global knife, from Japan, and was cheaper than the usual pro kitchen knives and just as good.
Some years later, in one of those rare I have cash student moments, I bought my first one, I think a G2 cook’s knife, with which I’ve been slicing and dicing for probably twenty years, and occasionally adding chunks of finger and fingernail to whatever I’m mincing. I had some unexpected cash to finish 2020 (thanks pandemic?), and have been going down my list of necessary shit I haven’t had coin for in the last decade, and arrived at, “Buy some new Global knives.” Which I did.
I always wanted a proper blocky vegetable knife for bouncing alongside my safely clawed knuckles over a head of garlic. And having a sleek as little peeling knife to match. And here we are, doubling my collection of those dimple-handled knives. Number four is a 15cm utility knife I bought maybe mid-’00s, which is currently primarily on bread and cheese duty, though I’m very tempted to buy a couple more just for that. Along with one of them magnetic knife racks and a couple of tree stumps worth of chopping boards.
Oh fuck, Vass. Crunchy peanut butter halva?
Waking up at midday after an evening of biking to northern Berlin and back and going on a 3-hour walk. Not celebrating Christmas, just impromptu hangout and wandering the empty dark streets of Pankow, Heinersdorf and Weißensee. Waking up to flurries of fat snow and the air feeling that proper winter way it does when it’s got that cold. Snow melted and gone in minutes.