I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike!

So I bought a bike this week.

After searching on craigslist for weeks, I finally found one that I thought I could love: a 1995 Schwinn Searcher Transit.   The only problem was that it was located in Rockland County, approximately 65 miles away from me.  However, the more I looked at the bike in the photos the seller had provided, the more I wanted this bike.  So, armed with a GPS and a boyfriend, I headed north toward Stony Point, NY, on Tuesday.  Two hours (and one unfortunate wrong turn) later, I arrived at the seller’s house.  I took the Schwinn out for a spin and, just as I had predicted, I instantly fell in love.  I also test drove a GT mountain bike… but already knew that I would be taking the Schwinn home.  So I paid the man and drove home with the bike in tow.

Once back on Staten Island, I decided to drop the bike off at a local bike shop to make sure that everything was working correctly and that it wouldn’t fall apart on me as soon as I took it out for a decent ride.  One day and $30 later, I had the bike back in my possession.  This is when I decided that I ought to sit down and really think about how I was going to use this bike.  (It’s one thing to own a bike.  It’s an entirely different thing to use the bike.)  Because the Schwinn is a hybrid, it can handle two types of terrains: pavement and dirt.  However, I’m not interested in off-roading.  And commuting is out of the question for the time being.  (It would take an obscenely long amount of time to get to Brooklyn from Staten Island by bike.  I am not yet prepared for a ~30mi ride each way.  Actually, I would be surprised if even seasoned commuters can handle such a trek.)   I could maybe use this bike recreationally, taking it to any one of the parks that makes Staten Island “the borough of parks.”  But, really, I’m not interested in that, either.  Basically, I want to use this bike as a utility vehicle: I want to be able to ride the 1.5 miles to the bank or the farmers market or the post office.  (Strangely enough, the 3 places are all in different locations.  Yet, somehow, I am at the epicenter.)  There’s no reason that I should be taking the car on such short drives.

I’ve already made some modifications to my bike that should make my travels easier.  For example, I replaced the saddle.  Instead of the stock Schwinn saddle, I now have a Forte Women’s Contour saddle.  (I’m finding it rather comfortable.  It’s definitely better than the original slippery saddle.)  Next, I affixed a water bottle cage and a bell.  (It’s illegal to ride a bike in NYC without a bell.  The more you know!)  Next up is installing the rear rack and attaching the matching trunk bag with collapsible panniers, which will allow me to carry loads of groceries with me.  (Wearing a backpack while bicycling results in a very gross and sweaty back.  Very uncomfortable.)  I also bought a headlight and taillight to help me see at night.  (Actually, the purpose of the lights is to make me visible to other riders and motorists, not necessarily help illuminate the road.  I would need stronger lights for that purpose.)  Finally, I purchased 2 locks: a cable lock and a U-lock.  (The two will keep my bike secure and provide insurance that I will have a ride home.)

I also got some non-essential accessories, like cycling gloves and a cyclocomputer.  The former is to keep my hands comfortable on rides and the latter is just to keep track of my cycling stats.  In the future, I want to be able to use my bike to commute to work.  However, that will probably not happen for another few years, until I secure a full-time job in a more bike-friendly part of the city, like Brooklyn.

In addition to riding it, I’m finding that I’m also enjoying working on the bike.  I like getting my hands dirty and figuring out how everything works and why.  This is one hobby that I think I can actually enjoy.  It’s also a hobby in which I can partake with Alex, as we do most of our shopping together.  He’s also always looking for ways to be healthier, so it was very easy convincing him to start biking more.

Just keep swimming

I’ve always been incredibly undecided when it comes to the question of having children.

On the one hand, I’d love to have a child.  It seems like life would be almost incomplete without having at least one.  I mean, watching a mini-me (well, a mini-us) grow and learn and just generally live life seems incredibly fulfilling.  My life (and the life of my spouse) would be changed forever.

On the other hand, I don’t want my life to change!  I’m not a hedonist or particularly selfish but I want to be able to spend my time and money in ways that I want to spend them.  I’m working really hard to build a life for myself with which I can be happy — forever.  Bringing a child into my life will change everything.

This morning, however, Alex and I came to the decision that, when we’re ready for a child (as we will most likely one at least one baby by the time we’re 30 years old), we’ll adopt one.  There are several reasons for it.  The most important is my possible infertility due to my having Kallmann syndrome.  Doctors, though, have told me that I have a good chance of conceiving a child with fertility drugs.  However, fertility treatments usually lead to multiple births…  and I am not interested in raising several children all at once.

The other reason, which is actually probably more important in the grand scheme of things, is the fact that there are thousands (if not millions) of children in the world who need good parents and loving homes.  Why should I struggle to conceive one child (and possibly end up with several children) when I can adopt a child or two and really change his/her/their lives?

If there’s one thing I’m worried about with the adoption route is my family being supportive of my decision.  I know that I’ve always considered adoption as an option when thinking about my future — even before I was diagnosed with Kallmann syndrome at 18 years of age.  I’ve discussed this with my mother and she didn’t seem to have a problem with it.  However, she probably thought I was going to grow up and grow out of the idea.  However, the older I get, the more plausible I seem to find the idea of adoption.  I can only hope that everyone in my family — and everyone in Alex’s family — can understand our reasoning behind this decision and love our child just as they would any other blood-related relative.

But this is all in the future.  I need to focus on the present, like school and work and my upcoming vacation.  (Alex and I have decided to go to Amsterdam this summer.  We’re leaving on August 17th and coming back on August 25th!)  The rest will fall into place on its own, yes?

The best is yet to come

Suddenly, instead of booking a trip for DC this summer, I’m looking up flights for Amsterdam for next spring.

Alex decided that it would be wiser to save up for a “real” vacation, one that takes place outside the U.S.  If I can be guaranteed this vacation, I will gladly take Amsterdam over Washington, DC.  However, this trip would be considerably more expensive.  Alex and I only have about $800 saved up at the moment.  We would need another $2,200 before we can afford flight + hotel… and some food.  I’d want to have at least $4,000 put away toward this trip, just to cover all of our bases and make sure we’re never left without money.

Recently, I’ve been very conscious of the charges I make on my credit card.  If I don’t have to use plastic, I try not to.  (Of course, this may have something to do with the fact that my credit card company raised my APR.)  It’s so easy to lose track of what I’m buying if the cash in my wallet is not dwindling down to nothingness.  Especially when travelling, I try to bring cash so that I can refrain from becoming too extravagant.  Being in a different country — especially for the first time — is incredibly romantic, which is wont to make people do stupid things.

Bringing cash on this trip (which is still very hypothetical at the moment) will hopefully prevent some of those stupid things.

Now… back to planning this bad boy.  I need to buy a travel guide, talk to friends who have been to Amsterdam, and start making an itinerary.  (Hi.  Have I mentioned that I’m slightly OCD when it comes to planning trips?  I like to plan everything, down to the tiniest detail.  I leave almost nothing to chance — inclement weather notwithstanding.  I can’t control the weather just yet.)