Do your research.


Okay, so I'm in Brooklyn, not Quebec, but that's a minor technicality.

Okay, so I'm in Brooklyn, not Quebec, but that's a minor technicality.

Don’t worry, this isn’t some sort of “succeed in school” disclaimer, clearly I don’t want to be a hypocrite. I was just reading the paper, well, continuing to from yesterday, when I stumbled upon an article on suicide rates. It would seem that I have, unwittingly, landed myself in the suicide capital of Canada. This worries me, because I think, since moving here, that I have developed ADHD and what I’m hoping will be temporary, insomnia. Last night, I laid in bed for five hours before I fell asleep, well I didn’t just lay there, actually, I got up and did things after two hours. I washed the dishes, swept the floors, continued to work on the windows, and it still took me three more hours to fall asleep. I blame Quebec.

    While I love Montreal, don’t get me wrong, I feel as if I’ve become a bit of a psychotic recluse since I’ve arrived. However, I’m quite sure that once I get this place fixed up, I’ll be fine. I love order, you see. And when I start a project I do it right, and I see it through, and this place that I’m in, well it is way over my head. I don’t want to say I’m drowning, because using swimming metaphors with me is just plain ironic, I failed level six Splash, after all. Anyways, once this project is done, or near done, I will go back to being a rational person. By partially done, I mean that my dad said he’d come down, bring me some of my stuff that I left in my old loft, and help me paint. So I will have perfectly sanded, even, crack-free, primed walls for when he gets here. I think that painting will be a fun thing for us to do. Plus, he’s not that big on the environment, so I want to get everything ready before he comes. Or else I’ll be living in off-gassing central, and I’m a VOC-aphobe

    Living in a fixer-upper makes me realized exactly where I want to live later on. I want a loft, with lots of windows, a balcony, and this part is essential, concrete floors. I want something very minimalistic, something easy to clean, and something very low impact and modern. I know, I know, “Lauren, concrete isn’t low impact, who do you think you are?” My rationalization is that it is in the long run. I would love to opt for cindocrete, but I think finding concrete-floored lofts is enough of a task. I want a bedroom, with lots of windows, an open concept kitchen looking into the living room, industrial lights, that sort of thing, you know? I used to want to go into interior design, but I realized that I was so into my own style that I wouldn’t be able to help anyone else out. Anyways, that’s where I want to live. And I will eventually find that place. If I could get into one of those new buildings, with LEED certification, and have a top floor with terrace, that would awesome. Although I think penthouse has far more rooms than I’ll ever need. So that may be ruled out.

    In order to keep morale up here at chez Petti, I would like to report that 20k a Day is in full swing. Yesterday, I got lost on the way to Brakeless, ended up 2km away from target, but I eventually found it. Okay, well I called 411, but I was the one that cycled there. And I’m surprised that I don’t have hypothermia. It rained all day yesterday. And being as I challenged myself in writing, I had to do my 20k. So I went to Brakeless, and there is no chance of my working there. Because it’s a really small shop and I doubt they need people helping out. But the guy that works there was really cool. He was sort of an aging indie rocker; with an inch or so long beard, black modern glasses, and a plaid shirt, he was truing wheels, with some really adorable little girl, and these two incredibly hip freestylers. I’m going to assume they were hiding from the rain. All the guys were really cool to me, which was surprising because I came in looking like hell. Underneath my dinky raincoat, I looked pretty damn hip though, so I think I was tolerated. I also think they were a little surprised to see a girl in there, talking about building her own bike. This whole fixed gear thing is such a boys club, seriously. But anyways, I picked up a crazy awesome Bici Concepts messenger bag, so I’m kicking my Dakine to the curb. By the curb I mean I’m filling it up with stuff and donating it to the Salvation Army. I also picked up a 1/8 Miche chain and some bar tape. So when my Internet comes back, I’m ordering my wheels, on Miche hubs, because they’re relatively cheap and still awesome, and I’ll search how to properly wrap bar tape. This whole thing is coming together.

    Back to this long-awaited messenger bag. As previously stated, it’s by Bici Concepts. It’s black with some sort of an odd, checker to circles, pattern on the front integrated pocket as well as on the padded chest strap. The cavity is of good size, but there’s a u-lock pocket which really sold me. Plus it didn’t get wet in the terrible rain storm of yesterday, which I was impressed with. The bottom is of a different, more rigid material, so the bag won’t damage when I put it on the ground. I’m just pretty impressed with myself right now. And it was only $110! I know, some people may think that’s some sort of an exorbitantly high amount, but my Freitag bag, which has failed me numerous times before, was in the realm of $300, so I’m impressed with myself. 

(First posted: 13/09/08)


Reaffirmed: I’m awesome.

I happened to fall - and skid along the asphalt - one day

I happened to fall - and skid along the asphalt - one day

Today, I’ve decided to implement a little bit of a challenge for myself. I know, “Lauren, why ever would you want to challenge yourself to a challenge?” Well, friends, stalkers, and noble country men and women, this is one of those challenges for personal gain. I came up with it today during a trip to the Puralator, which is 10 km away from where I live each way, and when I finally got back to my apartment, modem in hand, I felt awesome. Thus, 20k a day was born. Yup, 20k, everyday, regardless of weather, classes, mood and/or relationship status. I’m doing this not to beat myself up, I mean I live 7 km or so away from campus already, and I cycle there & back 3 days a week. Today I cycled 20 km already, plus if I ever get my DSL light to stay solid green, I’ll head over to Brakeless and finally pick up that messenger bag. And a hat too, because I feel the need to treat myself, for all that hard work I’ve been doing… 

    Anyways, so this is not me putting out a call to arms for people who read my blog, or even people who check my vlog (I will undoubtedly be putting this in a vlog some time), because I know most people will, maybe, if they have the time, cycle 20 km in a summer. And the hardcore cyclists who may read this, probably for shits and giggles because I’m new to this whole bike building scene, cycle 20 km like it ain’t no thing. However, I do encourage everyone to get out on their bikes, and later on I will be doing a series of posts on how to cycle on a budget. I’m talking super cheap, like around $200.00-CDN-super-cheap. Because if I can do it, most anyone can. I built a bike and I can’t do a push up off the floor. That’s saying something.

    In other cycling-related news, my time has gone down for my Concordia journeys, by a whole minute! I would like to attribute that to tofu scrambles, and the lack of availability of course packs at the Loyola Bookstore.

    And I just got off the phone with Bell, and apparently my Internet could take anywhere from now to Tuesday to connect properly. Nice one, Bell. So you probably won’t be reading this until then. A word to the wise: don’t move into 100 year old buildings just because you like the atmosphere, because it will screw you, many times. And the last tenant was probably a painting obsessed weirdo. Not that I’m bitter, or anything. I’m going to go clean my kitchen. Get on your bike.

(First posted: 11/09/08)

Who lived here, really?


Looks like someone got into "The Big Lesbian Tool Closet"

Looks like someone got into "The Big Lesbian Tool Closet"

Brakeless has eluded me once again. But I did get a fair bit of cycling in today. Actually, I got lost on the way to Canadian Tire and ended up on the highway, and I had to do the walk of shame back to the city road, it was embarrassing. However, it was not a trip I regret, the roadie in me says “way to pile on the junk miles, Lauren.” the fixed gear freestyler in me says “if you don’t ditch the hybrid soon, I give up on you ever being cool,” but the new Montrealer in me says “Zut! J’aime mon velo beacoup, parce que je veux aller tres vite!” The good old Lauren in me says, “what the fuck?” and I think that my former self wins. I ended up on the wrong side of a river, in old Montreal, in China town, in The Village, and finally I found my way home. So at least I kind of, sort of, know where things are. And I know my directions now too, that’s really all I need to know. I also did a 12 km round trip to pick up some exorbitantly expensive groceries, so I’d say I clocked a minimum of 30 km today, not too shabby.

    When I arrived home with my groceries, I made myself some food, and I came to the realization that I bought the wrong size of socket. So it’s back to the drawing board for me. And by drawing board, I mean it’s back to the road, so I can try to find Canadian Tire again. With nothing left to do on my bike with the tools I had, I turned to my apartment. I wish I owned the place, simply because I seem to be doing a whole lot of spiffing-up, and well, I don’t want to leave it once I finally have it perfect. But I digress, the person who used to live here before me was a crazy person.

     How do I know this? He had a minimum of three Bob Marley posters in each room, with the exception of the bathroom. Wouldn’t want one of those babies to curl with the steam, obviously. And unlike normal people, who use thumb tacks, or sticky tack, he used nails. Really long nails. And they were everywhere. So I stacked up three milk crates, and got to removing the nails. When I realized that my window frames, which I still need to install drapes on, had four different, but equally useless, rod holders for drapes. So I’ve spent my day unscrewing, leveraging, and just plain old removing nails, screws, bolts, those little plastic things you put inside holes in walls for nails, sticky tack hangers, and everything within that general category. I have to ask myself though, who just nails something to a wall, or a sill, or a frame, without removing whatever is already there? More so, who just decides to paint over absolutely everything, making even more work for me? Really? Who paints over wall mounted sticky tack tooth brush holders? The guy who lived here before me. That’s who.

    In light of the now hole-filled state of my apartment, I’m going to fill in all the holes, and then I will paint. But before I paint I’m going to sand, and clean and all those lovely things. Why? Because I am a DIY-aholic. I must have something to do or else I go crazy. Literally, I would have cabin fever by now. Actually, I’m sure some would argue that I already do have cabin fever, as I’ve been making holes in the walls all afternoon. To them, I say ‘you try living like this buddy.’

    So the projects I take on continue, be it my bicycle, my apartment, IKEA furniture; I think I have a serious addiction. Today I even pondered redoing the floors in my place. It’s a frigging rental for christ’s sake! And I want to redo the floors?! I think I may have lost it. But as I sit on my floor, and I look at the crown moldings, I realize that there is a little bit too much paint drip on there for my liking, I’m going to be buying a whole lot of sandpaper.

    I thought university was supposed to be one of those things that take up all your time, until you find yourself living on Ramen, sleeping on dirty sheets, floors covered in different articles you’ve printed off. I thought that I would have my hands full with higher education. But no, I have my hands full of tools. On the upside, when I do get my own place, I will have the nicest place ever. And I will never pay labour. So I will have an equally nice looking Visa balance. 

(First posted: 07/09/08)

Rained out, or should I say in?

So instead of going to Brakeless and setting up my Internet today, I sat in the cafe down the street, checking my emails, uploading all those blogs (sorry!), finding the nearest Canadian Tire, and finding out that there’s a cool little vegan organic market literally 2 blocks away from me. Actually, there are 15 within a half decent radius of where I am now, so I’m going to be doing some experimenting, seeing as the place beside me is small, but I’m not ruling it out until I actually buy something there.

    Anyways, so after my research and catch up was over, I headed back home to weather out the weather, and I got a little crazy with a box of steel wool. I had been using it to clean out my new place when I first moved in, because as previously stated, the place was a mess, but I needed to remove the rust from the fork on my beater conversion. Well, I never even touched the fork, because I had no oil. Rather, I removed all the decals, evened out the paint job, removed some exterior rust, shined up the cranks, and my bike looks pretty damn awesome. Which makes me even more excited about the prospect of a new wheel set. And I’m also pondering keeping my chainring at 3/32 rather than picking up a 1/8 one, but I’ll compare prices when I go to Brakeless, hopefully that will be tomorrow. Because I think they carry coloured chains in 1/8, and a white chain would look really sexy. I also need to order some new grip tape, and I’m thinking I want this Cinelli tape which glows in the dark, but is just plain white during the day, we’ll see though.

    Tomorrow’s game plan is ambitious. I’m going to Canadian tire to pick up a tool set, going to Brakeless to scope out bags & cycling caps. Because everyone knows I’m a cycling cap fanatic. Then, if the router doesn’t arrive from Bell, I’m going to call them, see if I can pick it up somewhere instead, and get that all set up. I’m also going to clean, because once I get those sockets, well, my floor will be coated in bike grime, that much is for certain. I’m also going to finish all my school work tomorrow, which means the day is going to be incredibly hectic, but I had enough time to sand down, and remove the decals from a bike today, I think school work is a welcome task at this point. 

(First posted: 06/09/08)

I’m an allen key master, fyi.


Allen KeyToday was actually a little bit productive. I picked up more groceries in my little backpack, and I’m starting to realize that unless I do get a messenger bag soon, I’ll need to go grocery shopping everyday. Thus, tomorrow I’m going to swing by Brakeless (conveniently located on the same street as the grocery store I reluctantly go to), and browse for messenger bags, once I get my Internet connection hooked up, that is. I’m really hoping it comes in the mail tomorrow, because I am dying here. Literally, I think I may pass out any minute, because I cannot find anywhere to eat when left to my own, Internet-free, devices. The grocery store I go to know has a very small organic section, one aisle to be exact, and they only carry three items of organic produce. I stand firmly behind my organic diet, only straying when I go out for dinner and I feel bad after fighting the waiter for a special vegan meal, plus having it made organic. I do have a conscience, on occasion. Actually, it’s more like a fear of someone, or everyone, spitting in my food because I know I’m the world’s worst dinner date. 

    So, yes, on tomorrow’s docket:

set up Internet

visit Brakeless and spend my tuition

Find organic farmers’ markets around town

Finish assignments

Catch up on school work

Blog about how much better my new bag is than yours

…isn’t my life just so interesting?

    Anyways, back to the title. Today my bedroom set arrived from IKEA, and I assembled the entire bed frame, made my bed, refurnished the rest of my room, cleaned my room, and reveled in my awesome building abilities, all in the span of two hours. Seriously, if you are feeling down, go to IKEA. Buy something entirely useless, and build it up. It’ll be stress free because who cares if you actually finish it? It’s not like you need whatever you just purchased. And when you do finish it, you will feel as if you actually built something with your two hands. Which I suppose there is some truth in. But really, it’s more like you assembled it, with detailed picture instructions, and Allen keys.

     Sorry to put a damper on the can-do spirit, I’m just typing as I think. Even though I just put down my own accomplishments, I feel like a badass. It was as if I was scrapping my beater bike all over again. I wasn’t really doing anything, I was just taking parts off, or in the case of my new bed, screwing things together with Allen keys. I like this whole, working with my hands thing. I think I may have ruled out skill trades too early. 

    Speaking of skills, I think I’m going to take a bike maintenance course, and really get familiar with geared bicycles, and then I’ll get a job in a bike shop. I have all the terminology, not to mention the enthusiasm. Plus I could really use the discounts. I wonder if Brakeless is hiring? I dislike this lack of Internet profusely. While we ponder the ups and downs of Brakeless, I have just realized a kink in my plans for tomorrow, I ride a hybrid. It’s no secret that I do, while people can’t tell in the street (probably because I don’t often wear lycra), I know I ride one, which is really the worst part.

     The problem being, Brakeless is a fixed gear bike shop, so what do I do with the hybrid? Park her around the block? How embarrassing. I cannot wait to get my fixie up and running, seriously. Today really fueled my fixed gear fire, because in Montreal there’s lots of stoplights at stupid places, where the intersection is essentially in the shape of a T. These intersections just beckon me to run the light, I have a risk level so near to zero that I would be even more embarrassed of myself had I not run it. Anyways, I was going through the light today, and this woman is crossing, I stop for her politely, and she goes on to tell me that it’s a red. Acknowledging that, and then acknowledging the fact that I didn’t care if the light was purple, I wasn’t going to be stopping, I informed her that I could see that it was red. She went on to ask me if I often ran reds, at this point in time, the light had turned green, and she was actually the one doing the law breaking, I informed her that it wasn’t that hard to do, it was far quicker, and urged her to try it sometime. She walked off after that. Probably for fear of this crazy Echo driver behind me. I really wanted to be on a fixie at that point in time so I could’ve pulled a track stand during our conversation, making me look far cooler than I actually am, and thus intimidating pedestrians such as her. I like to put the fear of god into pedestrians and motorists. And by god I mean me, while I’m on my bike.

(First posted: 05/08/09)

If you thought being horribly disfigured would hinder your social life, try being a fixie addict.

I don’t know if bikes without brakes could actually constitute an addiction. But I can’t stop looking at them, looking for them, wanting to learn more about them. I mean, I sound like a creep! But seriously, I’m going crazy. I must have a fixie, I’m almost willing to sell off all my worldly possessions, with the exception of my Mac, acoustic guitar, and D80, so I can buy cool rims, and nice handle bars, and custom frames… so good. See? I’m like a pedophile, only for bikes. I search the internet for pictures of these bikes, message people about bikes, I talk about bikes, ride bikes, and my guilty pleasure is, not surprisingly, bikes. And if you didn’t get the pedophile joke, replace “bike” with “8 year old boy” in that last sentence. 

    Anyways, I am so crazy right now. It’s the bikes, really. I wish it weren’t Canada Day weekend, because all the stores are closed today, and most of them are closed tomorrow too, so I’m twisting and turning in my sleep until Wednesday comes around. Literally. Last night I was trying to sleep, and I just couldn’t get to bed for at least 2 hours, so I got up, threw on my glasses and a beanie, grabbed a pan of vegan carrot cake, and I inspected my Marin, to the point that I was measuring my wheels and cleaning my rims. I have a problem.

    Other than the fact that I am now, apparently, a cyclophile, I feel great. I’ve been on my bike for at least an hour a day, everyday, for maybe the last week or so? And might I add just how good looking I am recently? That was sarcasm, just incase you’ve never heard me talk before, so don’t take my statements to heart, I’m just a crazy person.

    Oh! I’ve realized that even though I hate hats, with the exception of beanies, I’ve found a new hat-love. Cycling caps, surprise! I’ve been looking at them for the past 3 days, and I realized they were actually functional yesterday. The two days before yesterday, I kind of thought they were a sort of cult fashion statement, which didn’t deter me in the least. That’s my kind of cult!

(First posted: 04/08/08)