Office Queen of Fundy Software
What kind of bike do you ride?
How long have you been biking?
Had a mountain bike growing up in the wooded hills of Vermont, but started street cycling about 3 years ago.
In what ways do you use your bike? (to/from work, on leisurely rides, to get groceries, pop wheelies...)
I used to commute to work, and ride around town to meet up with friends or to do errands. Newer job is a lot farther away now, so I take the train mostly. Bicycle has been waiting patiently for when I have free time.
Tell us a bit about your personal style...
Like a thrifty tomboy Lady Gaga! A mix of functional layers, wildly impractical yet totally fun girly touches, completely pared down simplicity AND overzealous embellishments. I love all things old and glamorous, ladylike, artsy, and androgynous.
If you could change one thing about your bike commute to make it easier or more comfortable for you what would that be?
A bag that hovers nearby like a hot air balloon, so my back wouldn't get all sticky! (Also, a way to dress where I could express my style without bringing a change of clothes)
How has your style changed since you started biking?
A lot more function, a lot less fashion. I think more about water resistance, breathability, and temperature control (having the right layers, etc.) than I ever thought I would. I am forced to dress like a hiker instead of a city girl.
What advice would you give to someone who’s thinking about adding a bike to their transportation mix?
Absolutely do it. Especially in towns like Portland, there are so many safe paths and lanes to commute – if you can do it safely, definitely do it. Find a friend who's a seasoned rider to show you the ropes, always know where the nearest bike shop is located, and resist the urge to succumb to the Portland Uniform (black hoodies, while sexy, are not terribly reflective). Oh, and never assume that cars and peds can see you. One second of distractions can change your world.
How do you feel about helmets?
Helmets make me feel safer. They also protect more than your head – if you get into an accident with a car, and you don't have safety gear (including lights, yo), don't expect to be taken too seriously. I've seen cyclists get treated poorly or blamed for accidents altogether when they didn't have the safe stuff... I used to hate how my head would sweat and mess up my pretty hairs, but it's really not too much to ask. Wear a dang helmet. They even come in pretty cool colors, if you're into that.
You have some incredible tattoos, which one is your favorite and why?
Portrait of my high school sweetheart cat, Ruca. She's in Vermont now, and I miss her a lot. This way she's always a glance away
I know you lived in Canada for a bit, how was that different than being here in the U.S.?
Living in Montréal was fantastic, and quite different from anywhere in the United States (that I've ever been). I chose Portland as a close second city when it came time to move on, though – similar music scene, art, food, coffee, trees, a mini mountain. Montréal specifically has a more aggressive feel in the air, and I don't just mean the sub-zero winter. There's still a huge split between Anglo and Franco, which I found a bit too intense. Then again, it kind of fits with the notion of the East Coast "stiff upper lip" mentality, as well as the distant cousins of European "snobs". All in all, the two cities have more in common than not. But the people are way different! I was too timid to ride a bike in traffic there, though plenty of people did. Drivers tend to jump the red lights in MTL, while PDX motorists often slam on the brakes at the hint of a yellow. You can probably imagine how that might make cyclists and pedestrians uneasy!
What is it about Portland that makes you stay here?
It's a relatively peaceful place. The neighborhoods are unique, the people are kind, the music is cheap, and the art runs deep. There's a cornucopia of tasty food, the bike paths are endless, and nature is everywhere.
If you could live somewhere else, where would that be?
Probably somewhere in France or Japan.
Do you believe in marriage?
Sure do. I even gave it a shot once! Maybe it's become archaic in our current society, but I found the idea of it incredibly romantic at the time. Maybe it's not necessary in a lot of ways, though... I'm a fan of committing oneself to ideals and values, and for some people that means lifelong vows. In the end of my three-year experiment, it turned out my partner and I had become very different and it was no longer a symbiosis nor a friendship. People might not realize it takes a high level of maintenance, whether you feel like it or not. We were on such drastically different levels that the gap just got wider. It's too easy to breed contempt when you find yourself living with a perfect stranger. Every day needs to be a choice to move closer together, and I'm not sure we were capable of it. That being said, I'd do it again. But I wouldn't recommend eloping after four months of dating...
Have you ever come across a book, movie or song/album that stopped you in your tracks and changed everything? Tell us about it.
Tough question! Music has been super important in my family history since tippy-top of my genealogical tree. So it's hard for me to remember specific songs...writing was as well. One book I really connected with as a teen, which seems to change meaning every time I pick it up, is The Prophet (by Khalil Gibran). It's a small book of stories and life lessons, told in poetry form. (When it came out it was so popular the world over that it's been translated into tons of languages.) Each little chapter addresses a different common element in life: Marriage, Children, Love, Time, Pain, etc. It got me to think about the world and about myself in a different manner, which played an integral part in my internal growth. From the segment "On Love", he talks about how wonderful it is if you're willing to accept the difficult moments in life, so here is the second half since we all can imagine the good parts of love:
But if in your fear you would seek only
love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing floor,
Into the seasonless world where you
shall laugh, but not all of your laughter,
and weep, but not all of your tears."
When my hippie uncle gave me a pocket-sized edition of this book, I was struggling with a lot of hard things no 15-year-old ought to experience. It completely floored me. Now more than ever, I make space to really live this concept of two sides to the same coin.
What's next for you? (in life... anything!)
Starting a new chapter. World travel, cat collecting, taking time for myself. Learning qigong and practice meditation, maybe even teaching myself to knit this winter. Developing my photography skills, becoming well-rounded, and always dreaming of the next big thing. Interior decorating, fluency in French and Japanese (I'm gonna pick up where I left off), and studying whole food nutrition. I'd like to teach others how to care for their bodies. Study holistic medicine, horticulture...so many things!
Monica is wearing the 24 Hour Dress in Cream