Memorial Day

Just a quick reminder we will be CLOSED on Monday May 30th for Memorial Day. We will resume our regular business hours Tuesday May 31st. See ya bright and early after the long weekend!


Newsletter 5/15/16

I’ve spent a lot of time in hospitals lately. I’ve watched nurses dismiss very serious issues with smug demeanors, discriminate against people based on their appearance and discharge people who were in no way healthy enough to be thrown out into the world by themselves simply to clear beds and turn a profit.
Oh, maybe I should say that I’m fine and I wasn’t the one being seen at the hospital. A very close friend of mine has been dealing with a lot lately and finally we needed to bring him to get some help after a week of not acting like himself. Saying things that made no sense, making strange movements with his hands and getting worked up over very little things even as minute as simple conversation, it was scary and upsetting to say the least.
The first time he was taken to the hospital after having an episode the doctors ran some tests, including MRI’s, and told us that they thought he had taken acid and sent him home with us. Our friend has never taken acid. He is, however, a very heavily tattooed person very clearly involved in the punk scene, as we all were. We were upset about this but figured if that was really the case we would let him sleep it off and talk to him about it in the morning.
The next morning there were no signs of improvement. We had a repeat incident, this time at a different hospital. This time, however, the nurse was guiding our friend through these questions heavily implying that he uses hard drugs and is schizophrenic. We intervened as soon as we were able to and he was once again discharged to us. We were all exhausted from sitting in hospital waiting rooms and crying and just hoped he would be better the next morning. We dropped him off at his house and he just went right to bed.
The next morning one of us went to go check on him at his new house. He was even further into whatever hole it was he had fallen into and was immediately taken back to the hospital we had just been to the day before. They admitted him and started running tests and monitoring him. Eventually a nurse named Sharon came in and started talking with our friend and taking his blood pressure and putting things in motion to actually get him some help. She even spoke with his father on the phone for well over half an hour, much more than the doctor who had come in would prove to do. She talked a lot with our friend, just little things here and there as she was working the machines and clicking around on the computer screen. Eventually, transport showed up to take our friend to a specialized facility. Sharon even went so far as to expedite that process for us and remarked how sweet of a person he was and gave us all hugs. I cried a little. Thank you, Sharon. You’re a saint.
He’s been at the new facility for about a week at this point. Every time we visit he seems to be doing better. We’ve been bringing him his favorite vegan food and some shirts so he feels more comfortable in there. We hadn’t realized how little he’s been eating for the past few months and how much weight he had lost. That on top of the weight of the world he had been carrying around with him for 33 years and working himself into the ground had proved to be too much. I find myself asking if he’s eaten today, if I can get him any water, how he’s been sleeping, how he’s been feeling lately, which brings me to the point of this story.
There are so many ways to tell someone you love them and none of the typical romantic or familial words for love ever have to be used. I’ve been making much more of an effort to ask all of the people I care about all the same questions I’ve been asking my friend for the past week a lot more. I’ve also been asking myself these same questions as well. They’re so simple but so important and I just wanted to put into perspective the weight they hold and what they can really mean to someone.
I’ll see y’all out there. Stay drinking water and eating well and try not to hang on to stuff for too long.


Newsletter 5/1/16

Every Monday night I go to “my weird folk-singing group-thing.” I call it that because there’s a long explanation.
Sacred Harp is a 300-year-old a cappella tradition of gospel music that originated in the South. I know people’s minds jump to one thing when I say gospel (as they jump to specific stereotypes for all the things I do [weightlifting, bike messenging, political organizing… I’ll probably write another newsletter about that phenomenon]), but there are hundreds of Sacred Harp songs that range from dirge-like chants to vibrant, polyphonic fugues. With its structure, vocal style, and lyrical content Sacred Harp feels like a lot of the old American and Irish folk music that originally got me into this.
There are four parts to the harmony, and the singers sit arranging a square with each part a side, all facing each other. One by one, each singer chooses a song from the big book of Sacred Harp we all have, and stands in the middle of the square to lead it. Sacred Harp is participatory rather than performative; everyone at a gathering is there to sing, and there is no audience. The leader chooses pitch internally and keeps time with specific hand motions. Singings aren’t rehearsals, and there’s no final performance. Everyone is also singing as loudly and abrasively as they want, as that’s kind of the style, and making mistakes and deviations from the written music, as it’s a loose guide written with little shapes designating the notes. This notation, shape-note music, was designed to be accessible to rural people who could not read. People with all levels of musical knowledge sing Sacred Harp, and it’s very easy to learn.
All this makes Sacred Harp extraordinarily fun. There are Sacred Harp singings all over the WORLD at this point. Most meet once a week, but then there are regional and national all-day singings that last six hours with hundreds of people and a massive potluck. People take weeks off to travel and participate in all-day singings, and there’s a strong culture of hospitality for travelers coming to be a part of your singing. A book comes out every year of the schedule of all the singings, regular and all-day, all over the world. It’s like 300 pages. Included is a compendium of contacts so you can call or email a point person who will ask their local singers to let you stay at their house to be a part of a singing. The community and camaraderie is extraordinary.
There are all different sorts of people into Sacred Harp. Though it’s originally a Protestant Christian tradition, believing in Jesus is not a prerequisite to singing loudly and passionately about death (a LOT of the songs are about death). Some people I know have stopped singing because they were uncomfortable with the religious lyrics. Personally, I didn’t grow up with or take on any sort of Christianity (thanks, Berkeley), so I have no trouble singing words so distant to me. In addition, a lot of the lyrics are beautiful poetry that can be broadly and metaphorically interpreted. The songs differ. It helps, though, that there’s no religious undercurrent to the actual gatherings. People are with each other there because they love to sing in this communal way. I’m usually the most dirt-and-road-grime-encrusted person at singings, but, if you can believe it, not the most weird.
I’m going to be an old man and paste a url into this newsletter, so that, if you’re curious, you can watch a video and get a better idea of what I’m talking about. Look, these people are singing in Ireland! If you ever wanted to explore your musicality, but have been daunted (I know this well), there are regular singings in San Francisco, Berkeley, and Palo Alto.


Newsletter 4/18/16

The crest of summer is on the horizon. Having a deep love for sun, California drew me from my frigid origins of Minnesota. My love for the sun has caught up with me, though, and proven to be a harsh mistress. Years of riding and working under the fiery goddess, has caused damage to my skin that required surgery last December, hence my hiatus. Fully recovered (skin cancer has 99% recovery rate), I am all geared up to do a bike tour from Alaska back to SF in June, with a lot of sunscreen. I’ve been working so hard to recoup from the financial backlash medical issues can cause, I decided to take a month, and do something for myself. To live minimally, and re-enter the city with 2,000 miles of gorgeous west coast and thinking behind me. I do love this city, but I need a new perspective. The constant hustle, the information overload, everything at your fingertips, the gloomy thought of forced relocation; it all builds up like a pressure cooker. Well, my cooker is steaming, all the irons in the fire are starting to melt. This trip will be a reminder that everything I need to live….I can carry on a bike.


Newsletter 4/4/16

Finally, after what felt like forever, I’m able to take advantage of multiple creative outlets. I felt like I was going insane. I’m sure everyone knows the feeling, consumed by work and all the other everyday stresses and feeling completely stagnant. But when that creative dam finally bursts, it’s like gaining a whole new perspective on life. As of late, I’ve been writing song after song after song for one of my bands (albeit they are between 25 seconds to a minute long) and also kind of took the reins of our visual design (i.e. shirt designs, patches, etc.), and it has just been filling me with much-needed and welcome feelings of accomplishment and purpose. It has changed my perspective so much, in fact, that I even made use of a giant paint stain on my bag, which was the unfortunate result of unsecured paint can lids by revisiting an old habit of mine. Now I kind of love the way the paint spill made my bag look, just took a little modification and creativity. I’ve been trying to take that approach with Cupid as well. Make little changes and modifications and try to make things more fun and exciting. Designing the new brochures and website were definitely large tasks, but they were also super fun because I had to problem-solve and be a little expressive with things as well. I dunno about y’all, but I definitely think there’s a bit of my personality in both. Or I could just be a raging narcissist. There’s always that too. I guess that’s easy to fall into when you’re part of the best-looking messenger company in the  city!


Newsletter 3/17/16

Farewell To San Francisco
“One makes mistakes.  That is life.  But it is never a mistake to have loved.”  — Romain Rolland
     If I can give myself so much credit, I will ride away from San Francisco in two weeks, knowing that I loved it with all my heart.  And it failed me.
     But only in my dream of what it might be when I moved here five years ago.  A place of artistic, caring people, and progressive action.  The reality was even better.  It was more real.  More challenging.  More beautiful, and had greater rewards.  A couple major losses, several jobs, many new friends, hundreds of incredible views, thousands of magic moments, and metamorphosed thighs later, I could lay down on the ground and hug its dirty sidewalks for how much this layer cake of beauty and ugliness has given me.
     But the nomadic spirit that guides me has to move on.  Still, I wonder, and grieve; I feel like I’m abandoning a lover, and many friends.  Robert Frost said,  “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life: It goes on.”  It does.  Often, just like that, and overnight.  But I don’t know if it can ever be a clean break.  There is both unwanted residue and newfound armor that clings to our physical bodies and our minds.
     I am moving both for more and less romantic reasons than why I came here.  I am going to try a more natural place, a slower pace of life, stretch my daily adventures further than what our topographically diverse, but ultimately limited parcel of earth allows.  But will I really forget the pain of that conversation about love, tears streaming, rain pouring on 15th and Guerrero?  Or the first and last kiss in front of the laundromat deeper in the Mission?  That time I almost became roadkill on the 3rd Street bridge?
The day I discovered the majesty of Mile Rock Beach by accident and watched the sunset on our massive, engulfing ocean.  Or the train ride down the peninsula that day one of my best friends almost died?
     What you remember and what you forget are about as unreliable a source of real history as you can get, but they are a part of what carries you forth.  Whether I will think on San Francisco fondly, for all the freedom and innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and natural beauty it represents.  Or, with some bitterness at the pain and suffering I saw day after day, and the hard times I personally endured, is neither here nor there.  When, you consider the fact that it is now a part of me.  My physical muscles are cut from riding its streets – some of the asphalt is actually still embedded in my knee from a bad fall I didn’t have time to properly clean out.  And my mind molded by everything from my life as a messenger, to its intellectual denizens, its businesses, its complicated but colorful history, to the transient populations yelling in the Tenderloin.
     And, if you look at it another way, I am forever a teensy tiny part of the ever-changing organism that is San Francisco, too.  We all are.   So, I will not say goodbye.  But I will tip my hat, er, helmet.  And say, let’s hit the road.  Because, as Mr. Albert Einstein famously said: “Life is life riding a bicycle.  To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
Arrivederci, mi amori.
-Michele L. Appel

New Rates and Brochures!


There you have it! Our updated San Francisco rates. Effective as of 3/1/16. Physical copies will make their way to you very soon. If you’d like an extra one//one for a friend just let us know and we’ll be happy to drop one off with you next time we see you. The rates page has been updated as well, so if you don’t hold onto your new brochure and this post gets buried it’ll still be very easily accessible. Please don’t mind the typos, I’m a messenger not an editor. See y’all out there


Newsletter 3/1/16

Hello again everyone,
Another few years have passed, and we’re readjusting our rates.  This will mostly be reflected in the vehicle and out-of-town rates; vehicle costs are on a definite rise from 2014, and other expenses necessary to running our courier business are having us pull the belt loop tighter and tighter.  Some of you with offices close by will receive a new, shiny brochure with our bicycle and vehicle rates.  All of our rates, and other information, can be found on our website (which is also new and shiny, thanks to Sam!).  But, if you’d like a brochure (because they’re nice things to have, in lacy envelopes, or perhaps you’d like to pass it along), don’t hesitate to let us know!
For all my financial anxieties, I made a vow to myself, long ago, to never feel bad about spending money on food.  As a messenger and weightlifter, I need to eat about four meals a day and snack constantly.  I can’t carry the amount of food I need to eat in a day on the road, lest there be no room left for packages.  Food is a very personal subject wrought with emotions and fears and intense connections to the very core of how we feel about ourselves.  It’s something we put inside of our bodies so that it may, literally, become us.  The experience of eating is an extraordinary physical sensation; we smell the food before us, taste it in our mouths, and feel it slide into our bellies.  Muscles relax and a burst of hormones surges through us, seething in our blood and changing our perceptions of thoughts and situations around us.  It’s also a cultural heritage and center of social activity.  Several times a day we encounter this phenomenon, and it’s nothing short of amazing.
It’s no wonder food is so intensely bound to our deepest emotions.  I think back to an article I once read about assigning moral qualities to food, and how dangerous that practice is.  When you’re convinced that a food is “good” or “bad,” YOU become “good” or “bad” for eating or not eating it, and oh God what a way to torture yourself into misery.  There you have your worth as a human being defined by a cupcake, or a carrot.  Unfortunately, that line of thinking is a main pillar of the diet industry, and almost taken for granted in this society.  People often don’t think twice about calling something “a guilty pleasure,” or thinking of having “earned” a “sinful” treat because they went for a run.  In lieu of statistics about eating disorders that I don’t know off the top of my head, I’ll say that many, many people close to me have suffered from them.  It’s devastating.
It might be easy to think, “Oh, this incredibly active person eats 4000+ calories a day and doesn’t need to worry about food at all!”  but that isn’t true.  In fact, that kind of sentiment, that people often openly express to me, falls right in line with all these toxic perceptions.  The athletic world is filled with as many (and many of the same) terrible attitudes as the diet industry regarding food.  My own relationship to food has changed drastically throughout my life.  I’ve done extensive research on different diets and learned a great deal about nutrition and digestion (particularly, the hormonal response to certain foods that you eat, and how that affects the way your body functions).  I love to cook and experiment with recipes; it’s a primary activity along with all the moving I do.  On top of all that, I’m on my way to developing a chronic gut illness that runs in my family, and I get sicker every year.  There are a lot of foods I can’t digest, and you can bet I have my own complex emotional relationship to that whole ordeal.
Where does that leave me?  I try to get people to not feel bad about the food they eat, or the effect they think that has on their body and the way they look (a whole other topic no five-newsletter could cover).  At the same time, I understand that absolutely everything else around us is shouting the contrary.  I’ll give whatever crack in the monolith I can render, I suppose.

Newsletter 2/16/16

     This newsletter is being written in a tiny airport, in a small town, on the South Island of New Zealand.  I am returning to San Francisco after competing in the world championships for bicycle polo that was held in Timaru, New Zealand.  The town reminded me of Santa Cruz, a small town nestled on a bay surrounded by mountains with crafty little houses stitched along well-kept streets.  The people of Timaru did a tremendous job of hosting a truly world-class event, where 56 teams gathered to compete from all corners of the earth.  My team placed 28th, right in the middle, but was one of the very few teams composed of women.  I felt I was representing women more than my country, which gives me great pride, part of the reason I love working for Cupid;  working together with strong women!
     More notable than the tournament was the the 56 kilometer hike we did over 4 days in the mountains outside of the city, Queenstown.  Honestly, if I knew how grueling it was going to be, I may have chickened out, but I’m glad I didn’t, for it was a deeply spiritual experience.  Seriously, I felt like a freakin monk!  Walking all day through rough terrain in the blazing sun only to reach a hut stocked with nothing but cold water to fill your bottles.  We had to pack all our food, and pack out all our garbage…..don’t think I’ll be eating peanut butter for a long time.  But, to walk for four days in a “Lord of the Rings” landscape, with nothing but the sounds of nature, and not much energy to think of anything more than your next step, was some how enlightening.  It is important to remember to immerse one’s self in nature now and again, it sort of regenerates the spirit.
     Now I have 15 hours of flights ahead, and despite insufficient sleep, I can’t help but feel uplifted and elated to return to the Bay Area, my home.  Last night someone asked me what I miss the most about home, and without thinking I promptly said “My cat, Pear.”  She is a little tuxedo cat, equipped with a bow-tie, gloves, spats, mustache, a buttoned jacket, and her markings even include cuff links!  The extraordinarily well-dressed cat spends most of her days sitting on my front stoop awaiting passing people to pay her homage with pets and hugs.  She runs out of the bushes like a little pup, when she hears a bicycle approach the house, because she knows it’s probably me.
I believe the souls of our homes are manifested in these little creature we call pets.  Even though my house would be considered shabby by San Francisco standards…I feel incredibly lucky to have a little butler that greets me every time I come home.

Newsletter 2/1/2016

I’ve been getting tattooed for 10 years. Weird. I’m getting old. It’s something that hasn’t always been a consistent part of my life, but an ever-remaining part just the same. I’ve gone months, even years at points, without getting tattooed. Every time I’m back under the needle though it reminds me of why I love it. The whole experience is very meditative for me. With the initial stroke, right up until the endorphins have long since worn off, I’m feeling every burning, scraping and stinging sensation running across my skin. The end result is always the most satisfying, of course, but I genuinely don’t think I’d be as into getting tattoos if they weren’t such an experience each and every time. At this point in my life I’ve covered a considerable amount of my legs and arms, feet and chest. I’ve been getting tattooed very consistently as of late with no intentions of slowing down. Not only is the endorphin high one of the most amazing feelings but knowing that I am able to sit through what some people would consider a torturous nightmare and smile and converse and enjoy myself while it’s happening is really empowering. I guess it’s nice to like what you see in the mirror a little more every time, too.
On a completely unrelated note we will be closed for President’s Day 2/15! Maybe I’ll get tattooed that day..