12.24.2008

learning languages

A friend's recent post on libraries got me thinking about my own early book-borrowing trips. Our neighborhood branch was not the most glossy or glamorous; in fact, it was probably the least of them, with its unwashed, yellowish facade and cavernous interior. Surrounding the library on all sides was a jungle of a garden, full of tangled weeds and unkempt trees. Usually, a homeless man or two could be seen adrift in the dry grass. But we were there for the books. My brother and I trailed Mom through the peeling doorway before dispersing to our aisles of interest, armed with the cloth tote bags she'd passed out in the car. We filled them all the way up, three or four bags each--you didn't want to have the two of us ahead of you in the checkout line. I remember the feeling of opportunity, of overwhelming bounty, that hit when we returned to the car. Deciding what to open first was never easy, and sometimes I had to read the first page of each of the top contenders to make up my mind. Our enthusiasm for the library was fervent, but unsurprising: for kids who'd grown up without television, books were as good as it got when it came to entertainment. 

Plus, the library had other perks. In the northeast corner of the front yard sat a rickety, tumbledown play set my brother and I were crazy about. Its offerings included a splintering balance beam and a tremulous little slide, but to us the most extravagant of them all was a two-person tire swing, held up by long rusting chains. From June until August, the library had a Summer Reading program, in which prizes were awarded for the number of books one read. These were modest things--library pencil sets, multicolored erasers--but the pursuit of them was thrilling. I was never a sporty kid, and I avoided trips to the local park, mostly for fear of embarrassment. I'd tried and failed twice at sleepaway camp, unaccustomed to the peculiar traditions and flash friendships. During these summers I felt most comfortable spread out on the floor, paperbacks all around, taking breaks to get lost in the neighborhood's alleyways or work on something of my own. 

Later, I graduated to library's second floor. Gone were the miniature tables and fraying area rugs of the children's section; on the top level there were computers and adults and shelves that reached higher than my head. One year I became obsessed with the language section and took out teach-yourself books on Ukrainian, Japanese and Yiddish. None of it stuck, but I enjoyed the experiment. Somewhere between Yiddish and Nabokov, I started to buy books, as I'd begun to annotate in the margins. Now I write so many notes that getting my own copy is an unfortunate necessity. It's also nice to curate my own little library, although it is growing very slowly, as said annotation habit makes me go through books at a snail's pace. Still, a big part of me misses the days when nestling into a corner of the Richmond branch was so satisfying. 



The other night, I went home to my Mom's house for dinner. A bunch of family friends were over, fellow bookish people, and the conversation turned to Tobias Wolff. I'd read his much-anthologized short story "Bullet in the Brain" for a writing class and was floored; now I'm about halfway through the spectacular Old School. To me, the novel is just about linguistically flawless, but what he's writing about is equally captivating. Here the narrator describes the allure of the English professor (I hope my reprinting of it isn't illegal...):

"The other English masters carried themselves as if they too were intimates of Hemingway, and also of Shakespeare and Hawthorne and Donne. These men seemed to us a kind of chivalric order. Even boys without bookish hopes aped their careless style of dress and the ritual swordplay of their speech. And at the headmaster's monthly teas I was struck by the way other masters floated at the fringe of their circle, as if warming themselves at a fire.

How did they command such deference--English teachers? Compared to the men who taught physics or biology, what did they really know of the world? It seemed to me, and not only to me, that they knew exactly what was most worth knowing. Unlike our  math and science teachers, who modestly stuck to their subjects, they tended to be polymaths. Adept as they were at dissection, they would never leave a poem or a novel strewn about in pieces like some butchered frog reeking of formaldehyde. They'd stitch it back together with history and psychology, philosophy, religion, and even, on occasion, science. Without pandering to your presumed desire to identify with the hero of a story, they made you feel that what mattered to the writer had consequence for you, too." 

12.21.2008

all i want for christmas is

you:



The good news: I got the internship! The bad news: I'm outta a (paying) job. The store where I worked just closed. Two steps forward in the direction of North Beach, many paychecks back. Need an assistant? A fast typist? A hand-knit scarf, for a reasonable price? I'm your girl.



Busing through the city, I've seen a lot of decorated houses, but nothing quite compares to the one I came across last year in Poughkeepsie. It seems as though it would be difficult to make it to the doorway.


Made dinner with Mart and Elana on Tuesday. Yum! We battled our way to Safeway in the cold to buy ingredients. The thermometer in my house says it is 40 degrees out, but I think it's lying. First we had salad. Martina brought peppermint bark for dessert. In-between pasta course not pictured:


Shaun had a Christmas party last night. Lotsa people, lotsa strobe lights. The combination of sugar cookies and a keg felt somehow appropriate.

12.15.2008

paint

Now that it is WINTER BREAK (hallelujah, mazel tov, etc.), I have started to make a mental list of productive things to accomplish so that my time off isn't just spent watching Jon and Kate and eating gingerbread cookies. So far, I have 1) a stack of book recommendations, 2) seeing friends who will be returning to SF from all parts of the world, and 3) spending time with my little brothers, perhaps during tailor-made field trips: the Academy of Sciences for Jordan, a Sinatra movie viewing for Ty. Also competing for a spot on this list are Things I Wish I Enjoyed But Just Don't, which include tidying up the apartment and getting through Dickens novels.

All I wanna do, though, is read. I am hun-gry for raw sentences, dialogue that reads like sound. Chomp. Got time? This is wonderful. You have to get the full issue to finish it, but I promise it's worth it. (And if you are broke like me, reading it curled up in the back aisle of a bookstore is both satisfying and financially prudent.)

Today I had an internship interview in North Beach, which is the San Francisco neighborhood I am least familiar with. I got there an hour early, so I explored the area to pass the time (and calm my nerves). North Beach opens up out of Chinatown without warning, and suddenly the streets are all paint and wide boulevards and art deco shapes. And more Italian restaurants than you can count. And strip clubs. It is an odd mixture of elements, but I was really into it.




Potential place of employment:


 Got Mayan food for dinner with Dad at Mi Lindo Yucatan. When I came back to the apartment, it was freezing. On cold nights in December, there is nothing more enjoyable than 

1) planting your body right in front of a heater,

2) slowly rotating, and

3) getting warm.

12.10.2008

this morning

          I had my headphones in as the 24 Divisadero wheeled from Castro and 16th to Duboce, so what I noticed first was not the sound coming from the back of the bus but the way that every head had turned toward it. I put away my iPod; the bus slowed to a halt.
          "She won't wake," yelled a voice, gravelly and uneven. "She won't wake up."
          In one of the rear-facing seats a woman had slumped toward the window. She wore a brown sweater and house slippers. I couldn't see her face--only her dark hair, which had been wound into a bun, and the small rectangle of cinnamon-colored skin underneath.
          "I said she won't wake up," repeated the speaker, a middle-aged black woman in a Mickey Mouse sweatshirt. She placed her hands on either side of the unconscious woman's head, rolling it back and forth. She let go; the head bounced and hung heavy, unsupported as a stuffed animal's.
          "Stop the bus!" someone shouted.
          "Don't touch her!" cried another.
          "Is she breathing?" asked a white woman with blonde hair and braces, standing.
         "There's a pulse," said the first woman, "but she won't wake."
         "I volunteer at a halfway house," the blonde woman said, clattering down the aisle in a pair of high heels. "I see this type of thing all the time. I'm calling an ambulance."
          The woman in the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt pressed her hands to the unconscious woman's cheeks.
          "Wake up," she ordered. "Come on, now. Wake up."
          The blonde woman wedged a cell phone between her ear and shoulder, squinting down at the two seated figures.
          "Yeah, I'd like an ambulance to Castro and Sixteenth. It's an emergency. A woman is unconscious--black, mid 40s--"
          "Fifty-two," said the first woman.
          "Fifty-two, heavy-set, unresponsive--"
          "Has anybody got water?"
          A scruffy-bearded man in a Patagonia sweatshirt offered an aluminum bottle. It read, in block capitals, GO GREEN!
          The first woman shook water out onto her palms, then slapped lightly at the motionless woman's cheeks.
          "Don't do that," said the lady with braces.
          "Shut up," said the other.
          "I'm on the phone with the ambulance. They said not to do that. You should really stop it."
         Water droplets rolled slowly down to the unconscious woman's chin, where they grouped and clung like icicles before puddling on her pants.
          "I told you don't do that," repeated the blonde woman. She covered her mouth and whispered into the phone. "Listen, I can't stop her. Maybe you should send the police over here, too."
          "You sure can't. And you can tell them that, too. Wake up, sister."
          Outside a knot of clouds had bruised purple. The rest of us sat hushed and reverent, staring at the trio in back like people in prayer.
          An ambulance, a fire engine and a cop car careened around the corner, shrieking violently. They skidded to a stop in an open trapezoid.
          "Everybody off the bus!" shouted the driver.
          We all filed out onto the street. The blonde woman hung up her cell phone and left the bus next, picking her way carefully down the ridged stairs. The paramedics jumped out of assorted front and back doors, then ran up the steps with duffel bags full of resuscitation equipment. Only the two black women remained, their turned backs silhouetted against the window.
          We stood on the sidewalk, scattered like stars. I tried, unsuccessfully, not to watch the paramedics fit an oxygen mask's elastic band around the soft skin of the woman's neck.
          Beside me an elderly lady snorted. She wore a fur coat and held a small clasped purse.
          "When I was a girl," she said, "we were taught to ignore the homeless. If you saw someone passed out on the street, you were told to kick them in the boot. Just kick them to see if they'd stir."
          Her voice carried loud through the silence. A white man with a briefcase and large, rabbity teeth walked up to the bus and pressed his nose against the window. Inside the slumped woman's head bobbed unsteadily to and fro, then fluttered, bird-like, to an upright position.
          "She's awake," someone called.
          From the sidewalk the scene was a pantomine. A swarm of paramedic hands grabbed hold of her shoulders, her arms. The woman in the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt was pushed out of the aisle as they pulled the patient to her feet, then walked her to the door.
          We all watched as she came out, controlled like a marionette by the arms of others. I don't remember the faces of the paramedics, or the sounds made by the passengers outside, or the way the woman moved. Only this: her eyes, stunned open, the whites round as twin moons. She didn't blink once. The lids seemed peeled back and pinned, like staked butterfly wings.
          She stared at us all with those eyes, even as they carried her up into the back of the ambulance. The driver reopened the doors of the bus. We filed back in, tentatively at first, and sat down in the same seats we had before. Everyone carefully avoided the back seat by the window. The blonde woman with braces sat down next to the old lady in the fur coat, chatting easily. The woman in the Mickey Mouse sweatshirt had not left the bus. She walked back and forth through the aisle, then sat down next to the driver, as we all continued on to Duboce.

12.07.2008

when blue...

Recipe for self-comfort: 

1. Cut fruit into bits; put in small bowl. (Types of fruit you have to peel, like mangoes or persimmons, are particularly therapeutic--but any kind will do.)

2. Sprinkle with cinnamon. (Or sugar. Or not.)

3. Climb into bed with something to read.

4. Eat slowly.



12.04.2008

lights

Last night I went to see my Mom in a play. It was an Albee production, put on by an experimental theater in a converted apartment building. Leah Garchik mentioned the show in her Chronicle column a few days ago, and the building was almost too small for the crowd that showed up. It was so surreal to be inhabiting the same space as the actors; I once caught myself holding my breath. One wrong move or too-loud laugh, I thought, and I'll throw Mom off! I didn't have to worry, of course. Afterward, I walked down Broderick and then took Geary to Divisadero, listening to Frank Sinatra and counting constellations of Christmas lights. This is the very best time to live in the city, I think; but then again, as a holiday person, I'm biased. Tomorrow we'll go to the Three Bees to get a tree. I will be on the hunt for a tiny one to bring back to the apartment. The challenge: to find something under two feet and ten dollars! Mission impossible?

A package from Ali came in the mail yesterday. I tore into it: a Florentine pouch, petite notes, a card with Pantalone! See if you can spot it in the storm of junk that is my desktop. 


Of concern: I am becoming disturbingly clumsy. It all started with the oatmeal incident, when I overturned Nora's Quaker's bin onto the floor. Since then, I've spilled a jug of olive oil, broken two teacups, and fallen in the middle of the street while J-walking. More than once. This morning I knocked my coffee pot onto the floor; it shattered. Something must be done. Maybe this is a sign that I should ballet again.

The past few days have been crazy--I always seem to forget how overwhelming finals week is until I'm in the thick of it. Papers and tests I can handle, but applying to internships is a whole new animal. There is a feeling of total, unavoidable responsibility. It is impossible to say: Well, I didn't really care. I met this morning with the editor of a literary journal, which helped to ease my anxiety. I left with stacks of books, mounds of advice and the warm, full feeling that comes with genuine conversation. And I felt amazed at the kindness in people, the way that can feel from a stranger. We should all give books away. And meet to talk about things--no emailing required. They're free, these words, in all of their forms. We forget sometimes: gratis! What better reason to write?

12.01.2008

hello, goodbye


I have found the perfect winter coat. It is turtlish* in both form and function, providing optimum insulation and the potential for facial privacy.


* Turtlish is probably not an actual word. However, it is listed on urbandictionary.com as meaning "Like a turtle; having to do with a turtle." (Accompanying sample sentences: "That turtle is so turtlish. You are so turtlish.")

11.27.2008

oranges

I went to my Dad's house for Thanksgiving. Slept over Wednesday night on the fold-out futon under a tiger blanket, then woke up the next morning to coffee and clouds and the smell of things cooking. Dad is big into Thanksgiving: we have about twenty people over and spend the day dicing, basting, peeling, mashing, chopping, boiling, and rest-taking in accordance with his typed schedule. 



Ellen made pumpkin and cranberry bread. Dad made mimosas. I made "orange cups", a strange mixture of sweet potatoes, juice and unscientifically measured spices in empty orange rinds. 


Gramps with mimosa.


The cooking continued until about five in the afternoon. There was an overall smell of citrus. Every few hours, I snuck down to the den to read Robert Bolano in a big chair.


Oh--I also arranged the (water) bar. This required the skillful cutting of orange and lemon slices, the arrangement of wine glasses, etc., etc.


Ellen did the table.


Around four-thirty, guests arrived!




I returned to my apartment with two slices of pecan pie and a desire for a long nap.


11.25.2008

how small i am

I want to go to an observatory, to the Planetarium. I want to see the face of the moon and Neptune up close and all of Saturn's rings. And the dark bellies of black holes. And stars. There are a lot of things I can imagine, but I want to see the things I can't. 

Outer space is a good antidote for excessive introspection. Sometimes, it is nice to stare up into a thing infinitely older and vaster and deeper than you. When I was little I made my Dad quiz me on space facts: the order of the planets, which moons belonged where, that sort of thing. I have forgotten most of it now, but looking at photos of these places still gives me a feeling of vertigo. 


11.18.2008

wonderland

Here are some things I wish I was good at:

- Sudoku

- Running

- Not getting ahead of myself

- Editing my own work

(The first two are hopeless and the third is the most difficult, so I am going to start by tackling the last one.)

This winter weather makes me want to write lists. Also to:

- Knit scarves

- Read stories

- Walk, bundled up in sweaters and mittens and tall socks and two layers of jackets and a hat, as far as I can.

It also makes me think of my winters at Vassar. I remember feeling surprised when I realized that the snow lasted for over four months. And running from my dorm to the dining hall to the library in leggings and a sweater because I didn't like to lug a puffy winter coat around with me after I got indoors. Once Ali carried me across a melted snow puddle because I'd refused to wear boots and had already soaked my sneakers straight through. 

And then, of course, comes the domino effect: memories triggered by memories triggered by memories. I've been thinking a lot about Vassar this week. These photos are from the Alice in Wonderland shoot. We were so cold--it must have been about twenty degrees out. In the first picture, on the right: here comes Brian with a blanket. The wine jug is as big as I am!



This one reads like an I Spy of my freshman year. Town House crackers. Ty's belt. Sophie's printer. Ballet posters. Embarrassing use of Photo Booth to kill time...


Today, on the bus, I saw this. A good thing to remember:

11.13.2008

i dream of:

Now that I've been cooking my own meals for a little while (read: making 5-minute ravioli with Prego sauce and calling in for Ebisu takeout), I've become obsessed with the idea of finding the perfect X. In the past, this X variable has been supermarket pesto, lettuce leaf, and pasta brand. (My conclusions, respectively: Classico, butter, Eduardo's Egg Noodles.) 

Anyway--right now I am on the hunt for both the ideal avocado and San Francisco's best granola. Bell Market is winning on the avocado front. This is a big upset. I had expected Trader Joe's to have the best everything, but it seems they only have the best of everything except avocados. On the other hand, Bell, the ridiculously overpriced and disproportionately shitty grocery store around the corner from my house, has surprisingly excellent avocados: creamy, unbruised and the same pale color as the inside of a lime. Things are not so clear, however, when it comes to the granola. Cascadian Farms: too sweet. Bear Naked: too stale. Kashi: disqualified due to lack of oat clusters. ("Fiber twigs" are not the same thing.) 

I see: my C mug! Do you c it?


Last night I had a dream in which all of my professors were taking part in a debate. They were sitting in a room that looked like something out of one of the Oxford University scenes in "The Golden Compass" (the movie, not the book). I'm talking mahogany furniture, flames crackling in a gilded fireplace and outfits too decadent to be truly collegiate. So: there we were, though I was in more of a fly-on-the-wall position. I remember feeling as though I was doing something very wrong, listening to the way all of their voices changed when they were talking to each other instead of their students. 

That might have been a waste of a paragraph. Isn't it funny how nobody cares about anyone else's dreams? We talked about this in my Narrative class last year, and I think it's true. Don't you ever just want to skip over a dream passage when it comes up in a novel? Or when a friend is telling you about a dream they had the night before--do you really pay attention? I used to be obsessed with my dreams. I had this big glossy book that talked about all of the Dream Symbols and what they meant. Now, usually, I am either amused or weirded out by the things I dream. I am too sleepy to figure out what that says about me. 

Oh! Went to a reading the other night at the Bazaar Cafe. The cafe itself seemed too fitting for such an occasion to be real: mismatched wooden chairs, windy strung lights, found art, mugs the size of my head. As usual, I was all wound up beforehand, but really enjoyed it when I began to read. It made me want to look into other open mic/spoken word nights in the city, though I guess those kinds of things can be pretty hit or miss. 

Last night I saw my first lavender sunset:

11.09.2008

ack

Wanted: a cure--or at least a bridle--for the helplessly overactive imagination.



11.06.2008

rabbit's foot

I am being very bad right now: doing everything but reading "The Plague" (looking through The Believer online, thinking about things I'd like to make, writing a blog) when I really should be reading "The Plague", as I have to write an essay on it tomorrow. But. Anyway. 

This November has been alarmingly lucky so far. It's been so lucky that I am worrying about some kind of reverse effect, an allergic reaction, an unlucky byproduct of all this charm and serendipity and goodness. I don't really know how to describe the way that I feel about the Obama win without veering into cliches (euphoric, relieved, hopeful), so I can only say that I am all of those things. I was a nervous wreck all Tuesday, and at night I listened to the returns with my 6-to-9 P.M. poetry class from the top of Lone Mountain. There was no T.V., so instead, we streamed NPR from a laptop and refreshed CNN like crazy. I made my Dad send me constant updates with the electoral count and called them out between Ginsberg and Whitman and Langston Hughes's "I, Too, Sing America", which took on a new poignancy and squeezed something in my chest. 

It felt secret, somehow, nestled up there on the mountaintop, surrounded by trees and the blue-black of the sky. When McCain conceded, we could hear shouts from the street below. There is something different in the air now--I know that sounds silly, but I really can feel it. On my way home, everybody on the bus began to talk together. I mean that every single person joined in. I'd never seen anything like it. Patriotism has always felt like a dirty word, and it is fresh and wonderful to think that it doesn't feel so bad to be an American now. It feels kind of good. 

Another lucky bit of November: my birthday! I guess that is not lucky so much as it is unavoidable, but it made me feel lucky. It was as though I had everything I could ever need. I made everyone play Scrabble. I lost. This was okay. 

To go backwards in time, Halloween was last weekend. Nora and I were Dead. Since we both own mostly black clothing, it was a very economical choice. 


Nora was down with this:


The most recent lucky thing that has happened is that a great little San Francisco boutique has placed an order for the strange stationary I make. I was really surprised--I started doing it only because I can't sit still while watching TV and wanted something to do during "Jon and Kate Plus 8" episodes with Nora. Now I am kind of obsessed. The cards will be at Japonica on 19th and California. They have all sorts of good things, and they're currently expanding--after Thanksgiving the store will have an attached coffee shop.

Another good thing about November (see? they just keep on coming) is that it is finally beginning to rain. I love the way the city looks after a bath: so fresh and so clean. I went on a walk to appreciate it. 



Oh, how I would like to live in this house.



10.30.2008

just saying

I don't get phone service in my apartment, so last night I bundled up in all the winter clothes I own and left to talk to a friend. I went down Church until it ended, past the tea room and the Thai restaurant and long rows of lit trees. When I came back I turned the heat on in my room and climbed into bed in warm socks. There are few things more comforting. 

10.26.2008

a question

While I was waiting for the J this afternoon, a man came up to me on the platform, grinning widely. It was such a big smile--jaw hung open, all teeth showing--that at first I thought he must have mistaken me for someone else. This was not the case. As a side note, the man was wearing his hair in two braids and shoes that had individual toes.* I turned away; he came around to face me.

Him: Hi. Bet you're going to Dolores Park.
Me: No.
Him: That's a shame. Bet you're going to a barbecue.
Me: No.
Him: That's a shame too. 

I said, "Ha," and took out my phone, then replayed a voicemail from a telemarketer until he started talking with the elderly woman standing next to me. (Her: "What a hoot you are! A real original. Look at those shoes." Him: "I think I'm one of the last originals there are. You like 'em?")

This got me thinking. We've been talking a lot about the city-vs.-country debate in one of my classes. (Are city dwellers alienated from each other and disconnected from the natural world? Is it possible to derive coherent meaning from a fragmentary urban landscape?) And while I've always felt most at home in urban areas, I couldn't help but recognize that my reaction to the grinner on the J fit in well with the detached-city-person archetype. 

True: he could have been a creeper. I'm pretty sure he was at least overfriendly. But as I watched him chat easily with the older woman while the J trundled down to 18th street, I wondered if I had been wrong--if he was really only an "original". In cities, we are conditioned to be cautious, self-contained, even aloof--but is it possible to be too independent? Too estranged from the all-around strangeness? "Alienated" is a strong word, but it brings up an interesting question: have we become aliens to each other? I'm all for quirkiness, for odd things, for San Francisco's peculiar eccentricities. But at what point do the things outside us become invasive? And at what point are we too quick to shut them out? 

* The toe shoes. So: friendly oddball or potential crazy? Maybe these are another piece of the puzzle. 


10.20.2008

oh monday

Today is a NO-SCHOOL-UNTIL-SIX-P.M. day! My first class was cancelled. It was the best surprise--the West Coast equivalent of a Snow Day. Having an unexpectedly free afternoon makes me feel like: 




On Saturday, the Red Bull Soapbox race came to Dolores Park. An estimated 60,000 people showed up--!! I feared for the next day's clean-up crew, but the park looked surprisingly clean when I passed it yesterday on the J. More grass than beer bottles visible--a good sign.
  


The soapbox contenders included a Rubik's cube, a pink donut, and a baseball that promptly tipped over when it hit the runway. Uh oh. This made me think about what kind of a soapbox car I would make if I was mechanically-minded. Ideas include:

- A hammerhead shark (the head is the wheel).
- An SF Victorian--a double decker? Is that possible? 
- A marshmallow car: crash insulation, eat while you go. 

Too bad I am not very good at both construction and driving. 
 


That night Nora and I made risotto from scratch. Secret ingredients: olive tapenade and orange zest. I accidentally overturned an extra large box of raw oatmeal just as we were about to sit down and eat. Picture snowy mounds of oats on the floor, the chairs, the table. Nora said the kitchen looked like a barn. The whole thing was very surreal. 

Later:


10.12.2008

miam


Nora and I enjoy going out to a romantic meal from time to time. Our philosophies differ when it comes to restaurant selection: Nora prefers to Google, Yelp, Menupage and map potential spots while I am more into the let's-take-a-walk-and-see-what-we-find approach. When it is time to choose, though, we are almost always in agreement. Ideal locations usually have at least three of the following elements: good lighting, ethnic food, assorted object mishmash decor, an address that is within walking distance. Esperpento had all four, and we were really feeling it. 

The restaurant itself is a tapas bar on Valencia and 22nd. It is the kind of place that looks unassuming from the outside but seems to unfold when you step through the door. Who knew it had two levels? Or walls studded with beautifully odd things (old clocks, painted plates, Japanese fans)? Or a bar with the best Sangria in town? Well, we knew all of this, but only because we'd Yelped beforehand. Still, it is always nice to find something that lives up to expectations. 


We walked down 24th street to get there: Sanchez, Church, Guerrero, all the little alleyways in between. My poetry class last night focused on San Francisco. It made me fall in love all over again. We read an incredible article about the way that the gentrification of Victorian neighborhoods (areas of Pac Heights, the Castro) was brought about by the migration of gay men in the 60s and 70s. There is so much to learn about the history of this place. 


Met up with Nick and Will on 18th and hopped the 22 to Geary and Divis. Will's friend's band was playing. It was something like funk. Mm-good. I made Nora dance. 


By the time we got back, the city was all fog and night shapes. I took off my boots and climbed into bed, listening to the sound of the J train pass by. The hum of the MUNI: that is my favorite after-midnight noise. If I were to translate it, it would be saying, "Hey, you. I am still running, even when you're not." This is a comforting thought. 

10.02.2008

what is in the air? is it a white balloon?

I am feeling this urge to create something. Do you know what I mean? It doesn't have to be very impressive--it could be a paper chain, or a pasta dish, or one line of a poem that will never be continued. I wrote letters to friends yesterday, and there is something therapeutic in physically writing--in forming the letters yourself on the page instead of pushing a computer key. It's as though there is a different kind of relationship to the thing you're making: it is more personal, more tactile, like painting the walls of a house yourself as opposed to having someone else do it. It feels more like a product of you than an alien thing. Is that horribly self-indulgent?

Nora was also in an artistic mood. 



There were lots of San Francisco things going on this weekend: a Bluegrass festival in Golden Gate Park, the Castro street fair. I meant to go to one or both of them but wound up having a sleepy, low-key weekend instead. My dad, however, made it to the park to see Asleep at the Wheel and Jerry Jeff Walker. He is much cooler than I am. 

Here are some things I can see from here:

Little Otsu's 2008 Endangered Species of California wall calendar; my birthday is next to the Sierra Nevada Red Fox. Can you find him? 


And, if I turn around--


Had dinner with family last night--that is always a good feeling. Going home after a long time away is kind of like taking a warm bath: comforting, cozy, over too soon. Seemed so strange and so normal. I am always amazed by how quickly we adjust.