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Erastus- My new Brompton: Coming sometime in 2014

There is nothing that makes me happier than being back home in Upstate New York. But the one thing that always sucks is that when I visit Upstate, I’m never able to take my bicycle because it’s not allowed on the train during afternoon rush hour. I’ve been trying to figure out which bike to add to the family in 2014 because I will soon be in a position to buy a nice new bike. At first, I was thinking about getting a roadie because I would like to participate in RAGBRAI and triathlons.

Yet common sense won out on me. Yeah, it would be great to finally own a roadie, but that’s not going to solve my problem of not being able to ride a bike when I visit upstate. While I’ve had extremely kind offers from my friends who let me borrow their bicycles while I’m in the 518, it makes things a little awkward because it means that they can’t ride with me and then you have to make plans of when to pick up and return the bike. At my parents’ house, everyone is taller than me so borrowing a bike is not an option.

I’ve always heard amazing things about Brompton bicycles. They are folding bicycles, and while they may look like a toy, they are extremely durable. The writer of my favorite cycling blog, Lovely Bicycle, sold me on them when I read about her adventures cycling through Ireland and speaking the praises of how well it handled the terrain. 

Riding in Upstate New York is not a one size fits all experience. I grew up riding mountain bikes because of the hilly terrain near my parents’ house and it wasn’t until I moved to Albany that I saw while my mountain bike was more than capable of getting me from point A to point B, it wasn’t as fun as riding my ex-boyfriend’s hybrid, which was much faster. Even though I was able to build up the muscle mass in my legs and endurance to keep pace with him, I wanted to ride something that was zippy in the city but still capable of absorbing the shock of hilly terrain of rural New York. In 2012, I purchased a Raleigh Alysa FT2 and I’m so happy with it. It fits all of my needs, except the ability to travel with it.

I refuse to let another summer go by without riding Upstate again. Brompton’s website lets you build a bike to your specifications, which I am a huge fan of because I’m really picky when it comes to the specifications of my ride since I need it to handle diverse terrain.

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The bike, when built, will actually be 24.2 pounds. The travel bag adds 5 pounds bringing the total carrying weight to 30 pounds. While the price is steep at $1751, excluding tax, I see buying bicycles as a lifetime investment. As long as you take great care of your bike and ensure that your renter’s insurance will cover it if stolen, you won’t need to buy another bike again unless you want to. After I buy my road bike in 2015, I think I’m done for buying bicycles. I also don’t own a car anymore, and considering that I used to pay $1,800 a year for car insurance in Upstate NY, I don’t see it as a major cash setback.

I will be purchasing the Brompton at Downtube Bicycle Works in Albany. I can’t speak enough about the service at Downtube. They are so nice and truly make an effort to know their customers. I promised that I would buy a bicycle from them. When I purchased my Raleigh in 2012, I was working on a campaign in Florida and while it was an absolute pleasure working with the great folks at J&S Cyclery in Melbourne, Florida, I felt really weird about not getting it from Downtube. I purposely made the colors red, white, and black because I love The White Stripes and they happen to be the colors of SUNY Oneonta, my undergraduate college, and Rutgers University, where I am a MPA candidate. The bike’s name will be Erastus, after Erastus Corning, who was the Mayor of Albany for 42 years and is the namesake of my favorite bike path in Albany. The Corning Preserve may be 9 miles, but it gets the job done if you’re looking to get a quick ride in and leads to the gorgeous Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. 

I haven’t wrote a blog post in a long time but it felt really good to concentrate on this instead of writing a quick Facebook post. I still can’t truly define the purpose of this space, but it feels great to devote 1,000 words to something that is not academic. 

 

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…vignettes from a winter that never was.

It has been a week full of adventures.

I went to Brooklyn to visit my old roommate (hereby referenced to as Sprite) and check out Rutgers-Newark, but most importantly, to visit my Sprite! ;D I haven’t seen her in two years! I guess the Megabus gods were also on my side because round trip from Albany to NY was $20. 

As I was waiting for her, I was ogling at the bikes. It was killing me to be in the city without a bicycle!

She took me to Prospect Park, where we found this awesome tree. I’ve never seen branches stick up in the air like that. While we were in Prospect Park, I said to her how much I wished there was a park near me when I was growing up and she countered with “I wish I had a backyard!” It’s always funny how we all think the grass is greener on the other side. I loved Prospect Park so much, especially for the fact that it had a car lane, a people lane, and a bike lane. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if Albany had that for Washington Park? She took me to this AMAZING bar called Double Windsor where you were surrounded by the aroma of apple cider. They had a great beer list but since I always end up spending a ton of money in the city, I just hung out with the Champagne of Beers, Mr. Miller High Life. I was served the BEST burger I ever had- it was a little pricey at $13 but it was well worth it. The meat was from a local farm and had so much flavor. I would definitely go there again. 

I saw that my Sprite had Golden Girls on DVD which was fitting because, back in the day, my roommates and I assigned each other a Golden Girl that fit our personalities. Sprite was Sophia, I was Rose, C was Dorothy, and M was Blanche. We then had a conference call with the other roommates and it felt like old times again. We haven’t all been in the same place since we graduated. I can’t wait until we’re all together again.

Sprite and I, after watching a ton of Sh*t (insert group here) Say videos, proceeded to watch Aladdin and play with her bunny, Ginger! 

In the morning, I went to Rutgers-Newark. I’m still trying to figure out how I feel about the school since academically, it’s wonderful, but I’m still a little iffy on the neighborhood. I would have liked it feel more collegiate but it was a commuter school in the truest sense of the word. Whereas Portland and Maryland have college towns around their respective campuses, there was nothing around Newark’s campus. Although, I must remind myself, if I did end up going to any grad school, I’m just going to be commuting from school to my apartment and probably hang out wherever my apartment is. I did love the fact that there is light rail so I wouldn’t need a car and use my bike whenever I pleased. 

After I came back from Newark, Sprite and I went to the East Village to get Ethiopian food. It was my first time and it was DELICIOUS! You don’t get a fork and knife, you just scoop up the foody bits with the bread! 

 

Afterwards, we had some time to kill until Beauty and Beast in 3D started and found this awesome bar that I forgot the name of. But! They had cheap drinks and appetizers AND! All the tables had chalkboard surfaces.

Beauty and the Beast 3D, although it was very expensive and we could have just seen it for free at the Sprite’s house, was worth it. Sprite and I sang and danced (I know, you must think we’re out of our minds, but it was delightful and we were able to develop a fan base on the streets) on our way to the theater to keep ourselves warm.  During Finals Week 2009, my roommates and I decided to watch a loop of Disney movies, and Beauty and the Beast was the only movie to make us all cry at the end, so we felt that it was only right to see it together now that we were reunited. It was hilarious because the audience was comprised of 20 and 30 year olds who may have dabbled in the spirits a little bit so everyone was singing and shouting at the screen. It was almost like a Disney version of Rocky Horror!

When I got back to Albany, my friends and I went ice skating at Empire State Plaza. It was my first time back on the ice after I almost broke my arm a few weeks ago, but this time, none of that happened. I actually learned how to spin and skate on one foot, thanks to my friend, who used to be an ice dancer! We also taught my other friend how to skate and he was a champ- he didn’t fall once! We then went to the Lark Tavern- which was interesting. It’s…not the same place. It’s very sanitized and is lacking the grit and glory it was known for. My first drink there was my last drink before it burned down- a Utica Club. 

And now, I’m back in Albany. I can’t believe this weather. I’ve been able to bike every single month this winter, which is a first.

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A reason why I love living in Albany: enjoying cheap and delicious pastries from Crisan. This cost me $3.50.

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Home’s face, how it ages when you’re away

Hi Albany. We haven’t seen each other for a while. I woke up in my bedroom for the first time in months. The weird thing is, I’ve had the apartment since May, and all of my decorations were just sitting on my dresser. I don’t know why, but I never felt the need to hang them up but as soon as I got in the door, I immediately started hammering away and put all of my pictures, posters, and pennants up. (say that three times fast)

Looking back, even though it hasn’t been two weeks since my assignment was completed, I’m glad to say that if I could do it all over again, I absolutely would. That whole thing, “why don’t I just drop and leave everything and go to work in Virginia?” was one of the best decisions I made all year. There is a lot I miss and it has reinforced the notion, it’s not where you are- I was living and working in a county that is every regional planner’s worst nightmare realized- but it’s who you’re with. I found out that yes Virginia (no pun intended), it is entirely possible to have fun in a bar located within a strip mall. In fact, other than the fact they didn’t have Magic Hat or Spaten, it probably is one of the best bars I’ve been to. I’ve always been a fan of frequenting the places where everyone knows your name and I think Glory Days’ Broadlands location ranks up there with DeJohn’s and the City Beer Hall. 

I don’t know what this post really is supposed to be about. The only sentence I can write is that I think we should follow our passions and let the people who care about you know that you care about them as often as possible. Right before I left Virginia, I made sure a good friend knew that without meeting him, so many beautiful things in my life wouldn’t have happened and I’m thankful to call him my friend. If there is someone like that in your life, please let them know. 

Let’s rave on. 


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keep albany warm and full. a community service project.

It’s very simple. 

Knit a scarf, give it to the homeless shelter. I’m going to try to churn out at least three by Christmas. I’m hoping to talk to my fellow friends who knit and see if they want to get in on this. 

Also, first thing I do on Monday is go to Caffe Vero and ask if they would like to host another food drive for the holidays. There is always a need for food around this time of year, but especially after reading this from my hometown newspaper, I’m inspired to start this back up again. 

Albany, it feels good to give back to you. 


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a realization.

Tonight, while I was eating dinner with my family, I felt something in me that I’ve never experienced before.

Last year, I missed Albany like crazy while I was away for my job. I missed it to the point where I couldn’t look at AllOverAlbany.com or the Times Union and would let out a “rah rah roar” (if you know me, that will make sense, if not, you probably think I’m insane, but that’s cool. we all have our quirks.) whenever I streamed WEQX. When I would visit the city while I was unemployed I would feel so frustrated because I was a visitor and I wasn’t living there. It felt as if something was absent in my heart.

Tonight, I didn’t feel that. In fact, it was shocking. I don’t know how to explain it but I’m not feeling the “OH MY GOD I NEED TO GET BACK IN THE 518 STAT” feeling that was so prevalent in the past. I know that it’s not because I don’t miss my friends or care about the community issues I want to work on. I do miss my friends. I’m disappointed I won’t be attending the October Neighborhood Association meeting or Albany Bike Rescue meetings.

I think part of me is gearing up for what my next position will entail. There’s no doubt about it, this kind of work hardens you and I need to focus my attention at the priorities at hand. I also think part of me doesn’t miss my Albany life because I know that it will be there for me when I come back. All throughout that past gig, I was so worried about if life would be the same when I got back after four months, and to my surprise…it was. Everything was exactly how I left it. My friends still loved me and my baby brothers remembered me (they’re 6, 4, and 2). Of course, I’m sure the reason why this was the case is because even when I’m away, I still make it a point to treat the ones I care about like gold. 

So yeah. I feel good about this new direction. 

Until then, I’m going to spend time with my family and chill out with my dogs. I won’t be doing much of that soon.


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Moving to Virginia (for only a little bit!)

I just accepted a temporary position in Virginia. I’m thrilled for the opportunity and the funny thing is that it hasn’t even hit me at all. Rest assured, I will be coming back to Albany in November, I am keeping my apartment this time around. The only thing that I switched is that I made the decision to move my GREs from Sept 26th to early December because of the logistics of it all. 

Onward to the next adventure =D 


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“we just got so excited every time someone brought something in. we always looked forward to it.”

That is what one of the baristas from Caffe Vero told me when I came to pick up the supplies from the Food and Hygiene Drive I put together with the help of the United Way. Since I have been so busy with work, I didn’t have time to check on how the drive was going so it was almost like Christmas when I saw how generous my neighbors were. The hygiene box was full of several CVS bags, each filled with brand new toiletries. As for the food, to my surprise, the food didn’t look like it came out of someone’s pantry- again, all brand new. I almost cried when I saw that someone bought two boxes of baby food to donate. 

This was more than just a food drive to benefit our neighbors. This showed how much heart the community of Center Square has. Caffe Vero, a business that hasn’t even been open for a year, stepped up to the plate and offered to be the drop off site. Price Chopper was kind enough to donate the boxes. My friends stepped up to the plate and offered to print out fliers to advertise for the drive. Another friend of mine let me borrow her craft supplies to make the boxes look more attractive so that people would be encouraged to donate…and the best thing out of it all, most of the Lark Street businesses offered to hang up the fliers to advertise for the drive, even though for some- Caffe Vero is their competitor. They didn’t care. They did the right thing. This was purely a community effort.

So remember last night when I wrote that Albany has heart?

Today solidified that point. 


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Food and Hygiene Drive at Caffe Vero

Here are the details: 

Food and Hygiene Drive

Location: Caffe Vero, 260 Lark Street, Albany, NY 12210

Items will be collected from Sept. 5th to Sept. 11th

Items in need are: non perishable foods, canned goods, baby and adult diapers, toiletries, laundry detergent, and dish soap.  

All items will benefit the United Way of the Greater Capital Region.

Any questions? Contact Alex at AielloAM@gmail.com

Albany tumblrs, if you could reblog- that would be great!