Saturday, March 19, 2011

Tis the Season for Bicycles and Politics

Tis the Season for Bicycles and Politics

Oh, spring! Dost thou truly approach? Today, for the first time since early November,
I brought my bicycle out of my apartment, climbed atop its black saddle, and rode it. I rode a zig-zag route to the library with my father's old, retro mustard shoulder bag draped over my back; I cared not for the traffic on the main street, and in my boots, tights, dress, and cardigan, I listened to an apt playlist with my chartreuse headphones and then cursed the heavens when I found that the library did not in fact open for another hour, at noon. Spring break hours, you know. I then rode up a tremendous hill--huffing and puffing all the way--and arrived at Fair Grounds, the fair-trade and about 85% vegan coffeehouse that I've begun to frequent due to its distinct lack of both undergrads and shoddy wifi.

Here I am reading Adrienne Rich's poetry and inventing ways to dissect it with Levinasian ethics for a 7-page paper due next week.

But it's not really thinking about ethics. I'm thinking instead about politics, and about relationships, and about how I am going to need to become acquainted with the previous in order to maintain the latter.

Yesterday R and I had a very serious conversation about politics and how I don't have any. And I wonder if I actually don't have any, or if it was just always easier to act as if that were the case. After my brief stint as a libertarian in high school, I decided that political discussion just made everybody into complete dicks and that it was against my nature to risk offending anyone anyway. When I dated Austin and he told me that he wouldn't allow me to get an abortion if I ended up pregnant, I realized that there are things that are worth offending people over and battled him over the phone for hours.

Since then, though, politics have only ever come up in obnoxious, self-righteous ways in literary discussions and I had mostly been annoyed by them.

But I'm not an idiot. I know that they're germane to just about everything. Being in Madison really highlighted that for me. I've been telling myself for a little while now that I need to start reading the New York Times again, as we get it for free in both the library and EPB. But after talking with Robert about it, I guess I've decided to finally stop thinking about doing it and just actually doing it. It's true that I call myself a feminist and that I will probably work in public education someday. It's true that I believe in access to efficient public transportation,and the ability to safely walk or ride a bike through a town or city. Having lived in Arkansas and meeting people who were actually taught that condoms don't protect one frome STDs so one just shouldn't have sex at all, I am fiercely set against abstinence-only sex education. Things like this. It turns out that I don't not have politics, I just didn't advertise them.

I even meant to pick up a NYT today, but, as I've already mentioned, the library was closed when I biked there earlier. Now, I leave you with a poem by Adrienne Rich:

Peeling Onions

Only to have a grief
equal to all these tears!

There's not a sob in my chest.
Dry-hearted as Peer Gynt
I pare away, no hero,
merely a cook.

Crying was labor, once
when I'd good cause.
Walking, I felt my eyes like wounds
raw in my head,
so postal-clerks, I thought, must stare.
A dog's look, a cat's, burnt to my brain--
yet all that stayed
stuffed in my lungs like smog.

These old tears in the chopping bowl.