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Archive | April, 2010

You can go home

27 Apr

…kind of.

I hadn’t been home since September, and I wasn’t home for 10 minutes before I walked out to the backyard and burst into tears. It’s strange how home — the place I spent my first 18 years, and significant moments of the ensuing 13 — can develop an unpleasant patina. Everything has a different weight.

For instance: The backyard is where I had a little zip line and Annie’s Roost, the treehouse Dad built for me. Both are gone now, and the yard isn’t as meticulously maintained as it once was. So I go there and remember, but I also see the absence of what used to be. I miss my father terribly. I am embarrassed to admit that a day hasn’t gone by without me crying about missing him, because then it seems like I’m a depressive. But if I can’t be sad about this, what can I be sad about?

I am just getting home from a night out with Jesse, JC, Miles, and (unexpectedly) Tim and John and Jimk. While I don’t miss certain aspects of Chicago (pollution, sprawl, noise) I miss my friends and family terribly. I miss walking into my old haunts to meet them and then running into other friends because this is where we go and have gone for 10 years. There is always a friend there. I don’t have that in SF, not even after almost three years.

One thing I’ve learned lately is that your old friends really are often the best ones, because they know all of your sullied parts and love you anyway. And vice versa. I am lucky to have them, and am equally grateful for newer friends who will be old ones in 10 years’ time.

He do the librarian in different voices

19 Apr

He do the librarian in different voices

This weekend, the city felt different — foreign, almost. Maybe it was because of the sunshine and warmth, or maybe it was just that I’d been cooped up all week and was grateful to get outside for a little while. Whatever the reason, walking around felt like being somewhere else. I watched strangers dance with each other by the BART station, bought a burrito, then picked up some books from the library.

I know this is a silly thing to notice and I’ll seem vaguely anti-lady by bringing it up, but: The exterior of the library has a dozen or so authors’ names carved into its stone. Dickens, Twain, so on and so forth. But what’s odd is that at the bottom of one list, it says geo. eliot.

The library was built in 1915, the same year T.S. Eliot published Prufrock. I like to think that some stuffy librarian didn’t like this shady T.S. Eliot character’s nonsensical yip-yap, and before those names were carved, he or she rushed out to send the construction crew this message: “No, wait! Make sure it says GEORGE, so they know we aren’t talking about that sexually frustrated poet!”

In this daydream-history, the uptight librarian felt the need to tell the world that at the Mission District library, one could expect Serious Literature such as Middlemarch rather than looney-tunes silliness about singing mermaids and peach-eating. There’s probably a logical explanation behind the geo. eliot, but this speculation is infinitely more dramatic and funny, no?

Next girl

16 Apr

It has been quite a week. Regular-ish updates to resume shortly.

In other news: I am participating in the 826 Valencia 5-Minute Volunteer Reading Series next week. I’m tired of suffering for my art. It’s your turn.* The event is at Amnesia on Tuesday, 7pm. To be followed by an excursion to the monthly emo night, because as we all know, nothing says “party” like listening to Sunny Day Real Estate. See you then.

*Good writers borrow, great writers steal. (Thanks, AS.)

Choose your own adventure

12 Apr

Choose your own adventure

I went to the café tonight. Across the room, a man sat alone with a pot of tea and a glass of water. He had no book, no phone, no newspaper, and a direct view of the door. He sat quietly and patiently and looked toward the entrance with a steady look in his eyes. It was ten to 9; he must be waiting for someone, I thought.

Nine came and went. He remained alone, quiet, looking — not watching, looking. Every so often I’d glance up and he was still doing the same thing, as though waiting for something without knowing what it was. He didn’t look miserable, but his face was slightly melancholy.

So now is the part where you get to guess what happened next! (more…)

When I was young and moving fast

11 Apr

When I was young and moving fast

Because I grew up in the country and have lived in cities as an adult, suburbs simultaneously fascinate and confuse me. It is strange that suburban San Francisco bears much resemblance to suburban Chicago, all chain stores and wide intersections that lead you to cloverleaf exchanges.

Yesterday I drove to Mountain View for the first time. No mountains were viewed, but the psychic cleaners sign made me laugh. I saw it while driving around like a slow-witted crazy person trying to locate my destination. Found some irony in Google Maps giving wrong directions to its own town.

I’d rented a Smart car not because it was cool, but because it cost half of what other rentals did. (Miser.) Word to the wise: If the bulk of your trip involves highway driving, you may want to rethink this plan of action. It had been a couple of years since I’d driven a Smart, and what I remembered as quirks turned out to be terrifying safety hazards.

For instance: Most cars will shift from first to second gear rather smoothly. You press the gas pedal, it crescendos into a vroom and then gently slides into another one. Easy, seamless, fast. But in the Smart, this is the acceleration process:

1: Press gas pedal, maybe even all the way to the floor.
2: Wait one second. Slightly panic when car does not respond at all.
3: Second gear kicks in.
4: Wait one more second, hope air bags work, and then feel the car finally thrust forward.

Essentially, it’s like working a manual transmission in slow motion, except the rest of the world isn’t slowing down with you. That is some Quantum Leap stuff right there.

The other thing to note with Smarts is that other drivers — especially those in Hummers and other house-sized vehicles — tend to marvel at its wee size. I caught a few drivers looking at it with peculiar expressions, but they were probably laughing at the tiny car instead of its tiny driver who was howling along to its tiny stereo. On the way home, I discovered that anything past 85 miles per hour is pushing it a little too much. (Cars are not supposed to wobble and vibrate, right?)

Final verdict: the car was entertaining/terrifying enough for Saturday’s suburban jaunt, but squeezing four grown women into a Smart (see above) provides more oh-god-we’re-gonna-die thrills.