july, 2005

Sun Jul 3 18:51:55 PDT 2005

I think I've sworn, twice, never to do this again. But Saturday morning, what should I find myself doing but waking up earlier than I do during the working week, BART/biking my way over to somewhere in Walnut Creek, and running six miles. Somehow it was just the sedentary lifestyle I seemed to have been cultivating: bagely breakfast; amazing Googley lunch (they just opened yet another café, at which I can get the most mind-blowing paninis in the history of everything extra-Italian); dinners as they come; at [two] computer[s] during the day; my quads screaming out to be used as more than just laptop balancers.

And I've never been one to do things the easy way. I know that, simple as it seems, getting myself up to run on Saturdays is not going to happen with out external motivation; I just won't bring my shoes down to Mountain View without a good reason to do so.

The logical choice, then, is to run yet another marathon. Right?

It felt very much like I was back in DC -- up (though not as early, thank god) on a Saturday morning; developing a ravening hunger; feeling my hamstrings tighten and grow after a run; waiting for a metro BART to take me home to wash the salt off my face; raising money for AIDS (donate!) in so doing. And yet here I am, training not for the Marine Corps but Honolulu Marathon; where the climate is mild enough that we can start as late as 9 AM; where the Clif bars are free at work ... and Emily still living with me. It's strangely tropic, how I bring themes with me West. But this is the best way I know how to feel good about doing a lot of running, and to actually do it.

In the continued quest for athleticism (much as I have yet to embrace that term -- it still connotes, for me, those who at least climb rock faces, who not only finish but place in marathons, or at least hardcore 10Ks), I vowed Friday to stop stealing my roommates' mountain bikes, and get a pedal means of transportation of my own. To that end, I rode the sleekest, best-fitting, most comfortable bike I ever have at the Missing Link, and intend to become even more hardcore by biking everywhere. Or at least to the marathon run sites.

Thu Jul 7 18:12:50 PDT 2005

I'm never good with enforced vacations. Recall the complete insanity I experienced while unemployed this spring (though it feels empty to call it that! O tempora, o mores! O seasons!): the first few days lovely and footloose; the final hours twitchy and unsettled.

I should have been grateful for a four-day weekend, and, I suppose after a while on this job that promises to only scale up in its workload, I will be. It's not as if I didn't enjoy having the time to wait in line for an hour and a half at IKEA with Gina to get our faces painted like butterflies by a clown, and then wearing the exotic mask into the city to Lulu's barbeque, where she piled plates full of colorful veggies and marinated-tofu kebabs, mind-blowing peach and lavender sorbet, fragrant wheat beer. Or having the time to loll at Thai Brunch with Emily; time to discover that all it takes to make pesto is a pungent herb and some nuts to toast, plus olive oil and garlic. But I would have taken a ride down to the South Bay on Tuesday, had the shuttles been running -- this three-day week isn't as relaxing as it should be, given that deadlines (minimal as mine yet are) do not go on vacation.

But there is always more to do, and four free days was enough to slowly roll through my extra-work to-do list without feeling at too many loose ends. Putting together my new bookshelf (not quite as stunning or adulthood-conferring as my last one) on Tuesday, finally unpacking the CDs, photos, and newly-purchased books that have had no home these past four months; lashing to a stick of bamboo the hand-beaded Nepali tapestry I'd purchased at the Ashby flea market on Sunday that I'd intended for the office -- that is, until I spread it on my bed, and saw what the quilt of colors added to my own room: making these small alterations to my space, I dimly remember how long it actually takes to make a place feel like home. When was it that Claire and I painted our wall red? January of '04, a full six months after I'd moved into the apartment on 9th Street. These things take time.

I would do well to remind myself of that more often. No matter how much I needed to leave DC, I had friends there. Could call Jaime up and demand that we buy a Bundt pan and make cake; get Emily or Joanne to come along to African and then back to Delafield for vegan haggis; get Colin to come in a kilt and recite Burns for same. Here, I am less -- well, rooted? Is that what I want? In a sense, I must answer, 'yes'. I want a community, and I left one out East. Yes, it was ravelling at the edges; yes, I needed to go; but I must remember that, four months into a new home, I can't possibly expect to have the same kind of affection for a place that I now harbor -- seemingly rosily in retrospect -- for DC, and my people there.

It's significant that this is the first move about which I've been torn. Leaving Madison for college was all bright eyes and bushy tails; leaving Swarthmore for both Vienna and then DC was an imperative to maintain sanity. Leaving DC was a whim, but one designed precisely to preclude exactly that point of exigency I felt with the other major transitions in my life. And it accomplished that, but at the cost of this uncertainty about its necessity.

Pre-formed thoughts will flit through my head from time to time, thoughts like, "I never should have moved away." I don't really mean them, and my brain seems to send them through its linguistic lobe without even telling me, but they signify that, despite the mantra by which I live to have {few, no} regrets, I can't help feeling that I do regret leaving my friends.

These things take time. Just as my half-purple, newly-bookshelved, wall-tapestried room will become indisputably home, so will I move into this space mentally.

Thu Jul 14 14:56:56 PDT 2005

I don't think I'm actually turning into a misanthrope in my old age. Not only am I only 24, I probably came out of the womb a misanthrope (my mom used to call me "Nori me tangere," ha ha). But, especially as I just wanted lunch, the carnival of Candyland characters and ferris wheels and dunk tanks sprawling over the Google campus set me on edge, and I tramped over the hot grass to find the only vegan item in the spread (little wraps), snag eight, and munch on them morosely while watching a contortionist in a neon-green suit writhe next to a band.

My automatic dismissal of the snow cones on the basis of their spelling ("S-N-O K-O-N-E-S") aside, it's fair to note that the reason all I wanted was food and a quiet, dark office was the fact that I had just spent four hours in the sun, again biking from San Francisco to work with Jacob (why yes, that is a long fucking way). It was a chance for me to try out my new bike, purchased in a flurry of excitement last weekend, when I located what I believe the only 49cm Bianchi Volpe from 2005 left in the city, dashed over to the American Cyclery in the Haight to try it out, swooned (was that from lack of lunch?), and damn near exceeded the daily credit limit I appear to have on my new checking account. Not ready to buy into the whole confusingly-named clipless pedals style of life just yet, I sipped a soy latte and read my latest New Yorker across the street in a small café while the shop swapped the pedals out for toe-clips. By the time I got it back to Berkeley, I was shaking from the caffeine on an empty stomach, which the sticker shock and the streetcar's almost having crashed did nothing to mitigate. Rode it to the Berkeley Bowl; could barely figure out how to lock it with such a small U-bolt.

So, this morning was try two: A real ride, and over distance that would give me an idea of whether or not this really was a good purchase. And oh, but it was! On my last commute to work, I learned why one does not attempt to ride a mountain bike over forty miles of paved road; on this trip, I understood why one does ride a road bike. The southward hills on Mission still took a lot of downshifting, but the shifters were right under my fingers. And the thirty subsequent miles, even after leaving the city, rode so much smoother on a bike constructed for them. Hallelujah.

Here, then, a bit of renewed athleticism. Running on old shoes a few weeks ago, I managed to bruise one foot, and started to think that maybe this marathon wasn't such a good idea. But a quick check on my donor page showed that my dad has already contributed (thanks, Dad!), so that sealed that: I will finish. Saturday, I'll be back running, maybe not doing the full eight miles, but working steadily towards 26.2.

This morning, after two flats (Jacob's) and only a few wrong turns, we arrived at Google around 12:30 -- just enough time to shower and dash over to the completely insane carnival. I've since retreated into the welcoming cave of our office: lights doused; blinds on the windows; computers purring. Aah, the misanthrope thrills.

Sun Jul 24 16:09:55 PDT 2005

What a crash course in Bay Area microclimates! Just as I've decided I'm going crazy because there is absolutely no hint of anything seasonal in anything within biking distance of the Bay Area, it's July. And this means utter unleashed climactic mania. I watched the fog -- hateful, cold, grey fog -- spill over the coastal mountains last week on a shuttle ride north, piling up like cloudy liquid in an oceanic bowl, and bubbling over the lip formed by the peaks. Incredible, how it moves like slow-motion gravy. Chills the nights, too, such that Ojan, Griff & I froze while walking through the city eating take-out sushi last week, and even more so after exiting, t-shirted, from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. As Mark Twain is famously supposed to have said: "The coldest winter I ever spent was summer in San Francisco."

Ladysmith Black Mambazo was playing for free in Stern Grove last weekend, and, after a collective brunch of Dave-assembled tofu scramble, Sara's hash browns, Birger manning the waffle iron, and me on the blender, we dashed off into the city. But, on the other side of the subaqueous tunnel, the sky was oppressive, and I stewed unhappily, not even enjoying the music, for under and hour before rushing back to the security of sun and Berkeley Bowl produce in the East Bay.

This marathoning, too, sees more than its share of weather psychoses. Last week, a sparkling sunny day at the marina, as I with my bruised foot biked along the course and chalked mile markers; yesterday, out in further-east Walnut Creek, the contents of my water bottle were above body temperature by the end of the run. Anita and I vacillated back and forth between slight headaches and slight dizziness, trying to strike a delicate balance between dehydration and hyponatremia, losing track of the course and running somewhere between six and eight miles. It can't be that hot, I rationalized; I've probably just gone soft. It felt like a solid eighty or eight-five on the scale I was used to -- which, I realized when I got home, was east coast heat: warm but humid as fuck. It may have been only 12% humidity in Walnut Creek, but the temperature in which I ran for nigh on two hours was 103 F.

So, as they say, be careful what you ask for. I wanted summer-like weather? Apparently I got it. Thank god Berkeley maintains a constant perfect climate -- as Thai brunch with Kellam and Gretchen today heated up above my even-sunscreened neck preferred, I moved under the cool of the library's overhang, and nirvana was again achieved.

(Clarity and peace of mind have also recently been achieved. Calling one East last Tuesday, I asked for -- and received -- a glossing of that which I had been perceiving as ambiguity. It seemed, after I hung up, as if the cold summer nights were metaphorically warranted. I petulantly tried to force my perception of the seasons into an allegory for this upset, much as I have been known to project my feelings onto the color of the sun. Refusing to coöperate, however, even if the fog hangs low in the mornings, I feel much lighter. Having divested it of metaphor, perhaps I can take on this manic weather.)

Wed Jul 27 10:05:25 PDT 2005

Ye who would know me, heed the following: My books are sacred. This means that, just as you do not fuck with me when it comes to squeezing the toothpaste from the bottom, or washing my dishes and knives that you may or may not be authorized to use (this includes: no breaking into my apartment the day before I leave from my junior year at Swat, using my dishes, and not washing them; not melting my rubber spatula on hot pans; not using metal implements on non-stick pans, ever), if I am magnanimous and trusting enough to lend you anything whatsoever having to do with a book, treat it as if it were your firstborn. No, really.

This means:

  • Do not borrow a book of mine, which is in more or less pristine condition, which I have leant you because I know you to be a voracious reader whose taste in books I like, and then throw it in your backpack for two weeks, dogearing the shit out of it and not apologizing for the fact when you return it.
  • By no means check out five DVDs on my library card, (which privileges I normally never share, but I was feeling nice that day, and thought you might not be an inconsiderate asshole), and then not only forget to return them on time, but
    • not be reachable for days on end, either via email or phone, and not respond to messages left through your roommates, and not pull me aside to bring up the matter when I see you around your friends (in which context I haven't brought it up because I don't want to shame you in front of them -- though in retrospect, I should have);
    • not return the materials for five days;
    • then sound surprised when I tell you that the fines were probably $1 per item per day, and that they're now five days overdue by the time you finally returned them;
    • not pay the fines you incurred through your sloth at the time when you returned them, but rather force me to ask you, whom I know makes less money than I do, to tell you how much they are, and ask you to beg a librarian access to my record so you can pay my fines, which you incurred, bitch;
    • after having been informed that you owe fines and need to pay them, fail to do so for a week, at which point I check my record, and realize that the fines are not $30 as expected, but rather $82.99, because the penalty was in fact $2 per item per day, and you lost one of the movies, for which you I have been assessed a replacement charge of $42.99;
    • still not be accessible for me to tell you to pay the fuck up, asshole!

I'm not usually a violent person (though I have had urges). But please, for the love of the the God you believe in, return those DVDs!

all this ©nori heikkinen, July 2005

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