november, 2005

Thu Nov 3 18:59:01 PST 2005

November has chilled slightly, giving me hope. Insubstantially: though waking into an open-windowed forty-some degrees this morning kept me pleasantly snuggled in bed for a minute, and the chill of my fingers propping up my drowsy head over my New Yorker on the BART down to West Oakland were reassuring, it is yet warm enough that the patio at lunch is flooded, leaving only room for sitting on benches or the grass. Mike commented that it's unseasonably warm for even NoCal -- but what does anything containing the root "season" mean out here?

Seasons or not, a reason to be glad of the welcoming temperatures presented itself on Monday: though my Saturday-night-purchased pink feather boa was a bit warm at the ridiculous Googleween that gave us all a half-day at work, I kept it on to match the designs the face painter had brushed around my eyes. And that evening, shuttling up to the city as early as possible, it was warm enough to wear only what could be dug out of Christophe & Tessa's burning-man bins: neon-green-and-black striped tights, something resembling a tutu, a bit of lace, something that could be called a shirt if viewed only from the front, a yellow blinking light whose battery pack clipped onto the tutu, and a long sweater with furry cuffs. From time to time, Christophe's fiery orange-and-yellow tiger cowboy hat would find its way onto my head, which, along with the remnants of the pink face paint, somehow completed the utterly-nonsensical-yet-pleasing ensemble. Who needs a theme? I recalled having to pack costumes of trick-or-treating in Madison under parkas -- perhaps even over boots (though there are pictures of me wearing nothing but a turtleneck and pants under my computer costume at age 12ish); I was glad to have the luxury to wear as much or little as I felt necessary.

And sometimes, much was necessary: a coat with tufted blue and brown fur, calf-length on its owner yet sweeping the pavement when draped over my shoulders, was somehow less of an accessory than it was a costume in its own right.

After a while, who knew the temperature? The Castro was packed solid with wall-to-wall partygoers. Picture the biggest, most happening club you've ever been in, take it outside, and multiply it across four or five city blocks. Keep the music. Huge sets of speakers were set up every half a block or so, peppered with drum kits and -circles, people dancing to anything, or moving to the loud rhythms in what little space they had. My body buzzed with indica sensation, and the tiny beads dangling off the borrowed shirt rubbing against my belly before the tutu began. Christophe's coat loomed huge and enveloping. Back and forth between this madness -- only more mad by the hour -- and a party of half Googlers down the street -- who knew how many streets? -- where Tessa, in many more blinking pink wires than my yellow, held court. Fighting our way out of the Castro for one last time, I felt like I was swimming upstream, barely able to move, or orient myself, just like every other of the thousands and thousands of fellow halloweeners. All thoughts of returning to Berkeley that night were scrapped upon successful egress from the madness.

This all just confirms it: I have to go to Burning Man next year.

Mon Nov 14 18:14:22 PST 2005

Despite recent protestations that I need to stay where I am, the thing to do may be in fact (if not to eat flowers and not to be afraid, then) to move to the city. Emily's and my misunderstanding (which is such a light word for it -- but what would you call a house meeting that involved two separate tearful screams at me?) has been ironed over -- and thank god we're talking again -- but unfortunately used as the catalyst needed to push her over the edge with her thoughts of moving out. After an initial shock, she explains that it's more than just a rash decision: it's the gunshots she and Gregory hear when the rest of us at the Goat House are asleep at three in the morning. Gunshots not followed by sirens.

Ahh, Berkeley: you're so hippie-dippy that you enforce stop signs for bikers on a three-way intersection with a designated lane downtown, but you won't come over to Ashby and stop the selling and the shooting. I've been pretending it doesn't affect me -- I've lived in slightly sketchy neighborhoods before; I'm not stupid about when and where I walk; I wouldn't feel comfortable going any farther down Fairview than I already live. But the gunshots, I've been able to ignore, by the simple fact that I've been asleep. (Shocked I haven't woken up! I sleep with my window open for the breeze on some nights ...)

So, the Goat House is breaking up for the ostensible reason of a completely unsafe neighborhood. Valid. But it can't help but underscore the secondary reason: with Sara and Abby poised to follow Emily (to be closer to work (which is already only a mile and a half away) and to be in a safer place, respectively), it's clear that communication styles -- and an environment in which the former can safely leave her French press on the counter without fear of my apparently all-too-vocal annoyance -- are incompatible. Eh, so be it. If Andrea quits her Oakland job and comes with me, if Ojan still wants to move, I could have the three-bedroom I've been fantasizing about. A social atmosphere without the late train home! People to cook for plus a clean kitchen! And all this closer to work. The prospect is not unappealing.

Colin predicted from the beginning I'd end up at a tech company in the Valley, and living in the City -- a virtual collection of capitalized generic nouns. (Between his prescience on this front and Scott's premonition that I would get the Google job, the McCormick brothers should, pursuant to failure of other career options, go into the psychic business.) And perhaps this is, in fact, where I want to be just now. What, after all, is Berkeley? A haven of hippies; an all-nighter of grad students; a Birkenstock of crunchy college professors; a treehouse of beautiful homes in the hills. Very much like Madison in all but weather and degree of electoral swing. A perfect place, in other words, to move back to when I'm married with children -- not now, when I'm twentyfuckingfive, like to go out clubbing at places where you can dance, not have to worry about a midnight BART curfew or on whose couch I'm crashing when, want more than two bar options within walking distance (Jupiter & Beckett's, I love you, but I just can't smile), and want to live closer to my friends. And not when it's increasing my commute by just enough to be almost intolerable. I don't want to buy a car, therefore, I need to live in a place that has the public-transportation infrastructure to support that lifestyle choice. Ditto with not wanting to take the last BART home. Ditto with the dancing.

Living on top of the San Andreas fault is not the best part of the idea. But when it makes such gorgeous hills, what's a little tempting of fate? Trekking straight up one on the way home from belly-tingling Ethiopian on Friday night, Christophe points out the city laid out in lights, the bay. Everything coruscates. My prohibitively-heeled clogs in my hand, I walk down the extreme slope backwards in my stocking feet (one yellow, one red), giggling at the incline, the evening brugmansia, my state of mind. Took the early train back under the Bay.

I could learn to bike those miniature mountains (or at least, I could learn where they are, the better to avoid them). I could live in San Francisco. There might be gold in them there hills ...

Wed Nov 23 17:22:59 PST 2005

On the early shuttle home, for what is perhaps the first time ever. Not because I've finished all the work I want to do today -- this project is seemingly interminable! -- but rather because, having dragged myself out of some vague dream I managed to overlay on top of my radio-alarm; put Claire's birthday-present travel French press to work with a cup of looseleaf for the shuttle and one in store for No Name breakfast, where I traded my name to curly-mohawked Joe in exchange for his and a tofu-omelet; and fended off a nagging nausea which I tried to blame on a hot bus or the long sleeves of my turtleneck; I've decided I'm actually sick. Sometimes, it takes me a while to realize these things. A juice from the lobby supplied vitamins; the medicine cabinet Tylenol. But as neither one helped me to rally for a 3h40-long production of La Forza del Destino tonight, I've had to abandon Daisy, Ojan, & Jacob to Verdi by themselves.

I'm not even home yet, haven't even begun the trip to the airport tomorrow, and already I'm dreading the thirteen-plus solid hours of travel in store for me tomorrow. This is what I forget about California: the three-hour time difference to the east coast makes it hard to talk to friends during the week; that of nine hours to Zürich, to which I found a few minutes this morning to check in with a friend who's all but stopped emailing while riding out his carpal tunnel, all but prevents reasonable communication; the two thousand or so miles between me and anywhere I want to fly. Two thousand could get me most of the way across the Atlantic from DC or Philly! With BART running a Sunday schedule for the holiday (thanks, guys), I managed to snag a reservation with the one door-to-airport shuttle company not completely booked for Thanksgiving, so as not to be completely stranded, or to have to crash on the benches at the airport. I just might have forfeited the ticket had it come to that, and staged my own vegan meal at home, or contented myself with that which the Cafe staff provided us today: braised dandelion greens; wild-rice and chestnut risotto; slivered squash in sage and more chestunt. Yum.

Not even left yet, and already dreading the ordeal. One of these years, I'm going to have to mutiny, and make everyone come to me. All-vegan; all-Californian. Truffled chantarelle gratin. Bottles from Bonny Doon. Somehow it seems that I won't have the clout necessary to swing that until I'm married, or perhaps find a rugrat somewhere. (Horrors on the latter as a prerequisite -- all I want is to cook!)

Just because I'm young and resilient doesn't mean I want to travel for a solid day to only be in Iowa for two, or that I can sustain this commute (880-N is gridlocked, I'm sure in anticipation of Dead-Bird Day) without enough sleep. Hurrah for cityward plans; hurrah for leaving early enough to snatch a few hours with Morpheus tonight. Maybe I'll get some sleep on the plane.

Wed Nov 30 16:26:43 PST 2005

The few minutes right after caffeination by coffee are always a pure, blissful buzz: the slightly different sensation of my new bra (a custom fitting makes all the difference!); a Linux box with two giant LCDs and an übercustomized FVWM (the boys recoil at the hot pink window borders; I keep it more for their reaction than I do for any inherent aesthetic value); the promise of a new skirt and big earrings to wear to my first company fancy holiday party on Friday; diminished sickness; travel plans to places Midwestern and east in the coming months; an orange espresso cup and chili-infused chocolate -- and my phone! Wallpapered in bright colors from a random German, met one night at Toronado; picture-enabled (a message Gabe sent me a week or two came through, sadly, as garbled text); holds a charge! -- phone, how I love thee. Hope you had fun in London without me.

all this İnori heikkinen, November 2005

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