A New Life

Why “TransCyclist”?  The “Cyclist” comes from my major identity in life, as a person who gets around metropolitan Boston on her bicycle and tries to make it easier for other people to do the same.  I bike for health, for the environment, and because it’s a lot more fun than other means of getting around.   I ride quite a bit every day and think a lot about bicycles as transportation and life style and political statement.  I try to set an example as someone who almost always bikes to get around (which I found out by Googling is sometimes called “transcycling” for “transportation cycling”), though what I really want to teach people is that choosing the means by which you make any trip should be a conscious decision and not just default to the use of an automobile.

The “Trans” part is more complicated.  I’ve been doing a lot of reading (“The Thoreau You Don’t Know” by Robert Sullivan, most recently) and working on a project (New Brook Farm) concerning the Transcendental movement in mid-19th Century America and the ideas concerning community and living in the world which it promulgated.  And then there is the feeling that the bicycle transcends its status as a mode of transportation into a way of looking at and living in the world.  Last but not least is my recent transition from male to female and the ensuing change in perspective and ways of relating, many of which are taking me by surprise.

I’ve rebooted my life, and enough interesting things have happened that my friends are saying that I should write a book.  I don’t think that I am disciplined enough to do that, so I’ll try blogging on a regular basis and see what happens. Maybe if I write things down, I’ll be a bit less long-winded when I try to tell stories orally.

Thanks to Bekka from Bikeyface for inspiring me to get started.

[originally posted December 16, 2011]

Poetry Sunday

April is National Poetry Month, so the Theodore Parker Church in West Roxbury, Massachusetts makes its first Sunday “Poetry Sunday”.  After a little practice reading poetry in public at the Longfellow House National Historic Site at the first Thursday Brown Bag Poetry Lunch, I put together a poem from my favorite poet which is somewhat pessimistic about our place in the universe with a response provoked by some events of the past few weeks, one of which is significant to me and one of which helps us understand how the Big Bang happened.

from “Margrave“, by Robinson Jeffers, from “Thurso’s Landing and Other Poems”, 1932

The earth was the world and man was its measure, but our minds have looked
Through the little mock-dome of heaven the telescope-slotted observatory eyball, there space and multitude came in
And the earth is a particle of dust by a sand-grain sun, lost in a nameless cove of the shores of a continent.
Galaxy on galaxy, innumerable swirls of innumerable stars, endurd as it were forever and humanity
Came into being, its two or three million years are a moment, in a moment it will certainly cease out from being
And galaxy on galaxy endure after that as it were forever…


Jessica with bangs

“Bangs” by Jessica Mink, 2014

How do I measure my place in such a universe?
Days after a change in hairstyle for which I’ve waited years,
Came new observations of the  beginning our universe?

How do I measure my place in such a universe?
The space and time through which I bike in a day, or in one life?
Or swimming through the words of great thinkers of our past like Theodore Parker or Plato?

How do I measure my place in such a universe?
Knowing we’re on one of many planets circling one of many stars,
in one of many galaxies, in one of many universes,
In the end, is there any practical difference in scale between our universe and ourselves?

So the best we can do is to inhabit our own world,
To make our selves the best we can be,
To share with those who inhabit our tiny part of space,
And together make our own purpose.

Sunday, April 6, 2014