Today mine is a privileged complaint. But it’s still a complaint.
After work at two jobs with no lunch break, I rode my bike to the YMCA to sweat it out. When I came out 45 minutes later, something was missing: my well-worn Brooks bike seat. Yes, this is an expensive saddle. Yes, there is a lot of bike theft in San Francisco and in some ways having nice bike stuff is “asking for it.” Yes, the seat was locked to the frame. And you know what? That doesn’t matter. I had so much fucking fun on that bike seat. I rode it across the Pyrenees, twice. I blistered and bruised my ass to wear it in. I worked in a dark cubicle with no windows and no soul for months in order to buy it. And I’m pissed off.
I’m angry that I live in a culture (and a city) in which some people have so much, and other people have so little, so that oftentimes people who are in between and sort of just have a few things can’t walk out their door without locking all their shit down and it STILL gets stolen. I’m angry at the person who stole it for not respecting my shit. I’m angry at the randomness of being late and not staying outside for a minute to make sure that guy who was lingering by the bike rack left before I went inside (a guy, by the way, who did not look in any way in need of the money a Brooks sale might bring him but instead looked like he might just want a really nice seat for his own nice bike). I’m angry at the dozens of rich people marching their cars into the fancy restaurants’ valet parking next door to the Y who didn’t see something or say something. I’m angry at feeling immobilized. I’m angry because this had to happen on a day when I was already feeling taxed by having four jobs for the past three weeks and still not having a paycheck in my hand. And I’m angry at myself for being so upset about having a material, although admittedly very practical, object taken away from me when there are so many greater injustices going on around me every day.
But also something about independence. About the feeling I had, just seconds before choosing that particular bike rack to lock to, that bicycling is empowering for me. It allows me the freedom to drive my own movement, to be in my body in visceral and unexceptional ways, to move faster than people who might want to do me harm, and it always, always, makes me feel better than I felt before. Emotionally, too.
And if I want to be honest, I’m really just upset because the theft of that particular material object takes me one very physical spot farther away from being on that seat, on that bike, pushing myself over mountains and between oceans and into campsites and up hillsides and through rainstorms with my sweetheart by my side. One step more off the road. And one step closer to being back—back to working, struggling, judging, managing, striving, negotiating, and getting jacked.
When I’m angry I listen to loud screamy music.
This record is an amazing compilation by Ebullition Records made in the 90s with the bands Amenity, Desiderata, Seein’ Red, Spitboy, End of The Line, Man Lifting Banner, Born Against, Econochrist, Profax, Suckerpunch, Sawhorse, Struggle, Bikini Kill, and Downcast.
The songs are political in nature, loud and awesome and angry in a meaningful way that would probably not approve of me whining about my fancy leather missing object. The Spitboy song “Seriously” in particular was a staple of my late teen years. The record was also a benefit for Planned Parenthood, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, and Shelter Services For Women. It comes with an amazingly cool insert booklet packed with essays and lyrics and awesomeness.
It’s great. And it helps me focus my anger. It reminds me of being younger and having less things, and still getting jacked by the ways of men and economies. It reminds me to remember to keep fighting for my rights, as a woman. And that there are bigger things than the ones I’m pissed off about, but also that everybody has a right to pissed off about the things that trouble them.
Because nobody ever asks for it.
And dude. If you can’t give me back a just world or my equal rights, and you can’t give me back my youthful punk mental state, can someone at least give me back my bike seat?
(By the way, this is only free linkable thing from any of the songs on this album (except Bikini Kill) that I could find on the interwebs. There’s a nice open slot here for an online video/music archive project about 90s punk/hardcore/etc….)