august, 2006

Wed, 2 Aug 2006 19:11:57 -0700

As campus (yes, I work in what is basically a large college) expands, the walk between buildings -- interviews; lunch at my favorite vegan café; &c. -- while still a pleasant time to clear my head from time to time, has become an onus. Scooters are available but are often uncharged or all checked out; I don't know how to skateboard.

me with my new red bike The solution? Another bike! I've been cruising Craigslist for a while, and finally yesterday found the perfect one: A little red deal, a women's Schwinn with metal panniers, a road bike with teensy, pencil-thin tires. And at 49cm it's even my size! Thunder drove me to the Mountain View Caltrain station to fork over $90 for it yesterday; back at work, I had to wait until this afternoon to find a good use for it. Pedalled to No Name for lunch; to Building 44 for a meeting later on.

This is my hipster bike -- in the city, I would never not wear a helmet; the skinny tires would freak me out around MUNI tracks. I would never (okay, maybe I would) load up the fold-down metal panniers with leftover beer from our meeting and, arching my back forward over the drop handlebars, my hair flowing behind me, pedal the half-mile down the sunny California road, back to my desk. When did biking lose its glamour, its two-wheeler joy? I haven't quite jived with the hardcore-biker culture. My clipless shoes that go with my (yet-beautiful, but in a different way) Bianchi sit under the ledge of my bed, in the doghouse for exacerbating the pinched nerve in my foot; with the flat pedals on this thing, the fact that there's no way I can heft it over my shoulder and hike up the stairs of a BART station like I can the pistachio-green 'cycle sitting in my pantry -- that it reminds me of the old brown Huffy that lived in the garage, the one that I don't think I ever saw my mother actually ride -- that I can toodle around campus in my new, not-exactly-see-through "oh you pretty things" David Bowie shirt and huge sunglasses, beers rattling as ballast in the back (just wait 'till I get a Powerbook in there!), brings home one more element of my San-Francisco-meets-dot-com-culture environment. (Shane called post-meeting, and I recounted my escapade; he again, and rightly, laughed at my world.) New red Craigslist bike, how I am smitten with thee, and all that thou impliest. Oh! you pretty thing.

Now on the shuttle back, my hip vibrates with a text message, and I smile. Damn this three-hour difference. And yet the reason I have for damning it makes me happy (a mitigating factor against the recent work stress, as I told him) -- even more so than my new, beautiful, red bike.

Mon, 7 Aug 2006 19:55:08 -0700

I'm sitting in Berkeley -- North Oakland, really, I suppose, though the Rockridge area is its own little enclave that feels like it belongs more to the town that technically doesn't contain it -- at Crêpevine (doesn't use the accent, but it can't hurt), yesterday's Sunday crossword open before me (without my mom or Scott, I make slow but steady progress), a pot of chamomile tea to kill this half-hour of downtime. The sun sets to the west, invisibly progressing across the bay and towards the Pacific, casting a honeyed glow on the wood and brick houses lining the hill up from here, themselves nestled between juniper, coniferous, and palm trees. A heat lamp above my head is almost too warm; in an hour, it would be perfect, were I to stay in my spot instead of meeting friends for a birthday dinner.

Shane remarked on his jealousy as I crossed the Dumbarton bridge an hour ago. Remarked that a topic such as Burning Man would be about as appropriate at his office as talk of joining the Khmer Rouge. Abby K., writing today, noted that I sound happy out here. It seems every email I send these days corroborates that -- perhaps it's the ubiquitous (and sincere) line "I'm never leaving" that tips them off.

Seeing my world through new eyes makes me appreciate it all the more.

Fri, 11 Aug 2006 10:00:27 -0700

The symptoms continue: With this recent wonderful affliction, it feels like the skin around my heart, like the permafrost slowly warming the Alaskan tundra which is now more susceptible to the inevitable oil spills, is thinning. I read the news these mornings (not just these foiled liquid-explosives plane bombings, but Israel/Lebanon, and it all) and have a hard time distancing myself from it.

I want in-person contact. I need sustenance. And I don't mean food (though that has been in abundace recently, with an organic farm selling produce at work), but rather the other half of the Rusted Root Hierarchy of Needs. I want to go to New York, to maintain this momentum now sustained over phone calls and fleeting IMs (gmail chat, I love you!). And soon, I will. (Two weeks?) I can't really complain, as this is all a net positive. But as my emotional defenses weaken, I have a harder time with the distance.

Tue, 15 Aug 2006 20:34:12 -0700

My nine-hour days seem shortish, even to me. (Never enough time to do it all.) But they must be balanced against morning physical therapy, in a building whose doorman puts inspirational sayings on a little message board every day; and evening sanity, which can involve a glass of wine at Café du Soleil with Roxane and then playing obsessively with LED throwies, or, like tonight, pasta to go eaten at Stephan's Building-42 chamber recital, and a brief conversation pre-shuttle home. Now, I face a sinking sunset as I reboot the wireless router on the bus home; the PM for Gmail plays Tetris on her MacBook Pro next to me; I reflect, happily, that I'm headed east in ten days.

Thu, 24 Aug 2006 19:01:56 -0700

This week has crawled along as I wait for Friday. Tuesday, sick of and frustrated from fixing bugs at work, I decided that my foot had been gimpy long enough, and put on my long-sleeved orange shirt and Asics to jog up into the panhandle of Golden Gate Park, out almost to Stanyan and back. As soon as my feet hit the ground, my nerves immediately quieted. I ran harder than I should have, so glad to be bipedal again. The past few days, though, despite my attempts at alleviating it through icing, the active impingement is back, though not debilitatingly so. Perhaps running isn't quite in the cards yet.

Meantime, everyone seems to remember where I'm going tomorrow. Jaime wrote to me with a countdown numbered in the hours; Malcolm recalled that I was headed east on Friday; Olivia sent me a text two days ago with the same excited sentiment. And, I must admit, I'm feeling very girlish about this trip, by which I'm not just referring to the bits of makeup I've mailed to myself to get around the recently-imposed crazy restrictions on carrying on liquid, but also my bright-eyed anticipation of seeing someone who, in some respects, I barely know (but who, in others, I know better than most). Finishing up and emailing around a design doc at work, my weekend has now begun, my boarding pass for tomorrow already printed out and in my bag. All I have left to do is stash a couple of shirts and my new pointy-toed red shoes (liquidation sale at Shoe Biz! Maybe this is even more girlish) in my bag, and I'm off to see the boy.

Mon, 28 Aug 2006 21:50:39 -0400

On the plane back from New York (no longer am I physically in east coast time, but I'm not going to timestamp this to conform with Idaho's just because that's where I happen to be; and bodily, I've almost adjusted to the three-hour difference) -- JFK direct to SFO, sweetly on his miles -- I'm re-delving into Seth's A Suitable Boy, abandoned a year or more ago not quite 300 pages in. (Having recently conquered Stephenson's Baroque Cycle, whose 3000ish pages took me over 10 months, and blasted through the Madison-set Dive from Clausen's Pier, I'm hungry for more novels, and am feeling up to the 1400-page challenge.) Talk of the Indian breads and sweets in Seth's modest verbosity reminds me not only of my hope, now that I'm not actually transferring teams as I'd thought, to get sent to that same country for this next business quarter (Shane asked me eagerly about it again this afternoon, meeting me for a quick coffee and farewell kiss near his Midtown, beCaldered office -- "you seem excited", said I; "a life-changer!" countered he), but also of the two of our comfortably happy, late dinner at the Bread Bar at Tabla this Saturday night: The cocktail I'd heard about wasn't on the menu and the riesling didn't go, but I wore my new pointy-toed, $10 brown shoes (the red pair I costumed for the following evening, coffee and drinks with Olivia and Charlie at Chris (whom I also got to see) and my favorite 10th-and-First establishment, Taralucci e Vino, and then to Café Gitane), I ignored the ghee on the rosemary naan, and basked in my good fortune to be in such good company.

Despite his having been obliged to work more than he'd wanted to this weekend (which is to say, at all), I'm now happily thinking back on the three solid days I spent with Shane in the only city this country has to rival San Francisco. Him looking through his irregularly octagonal glasses at me, compiling data for him, looking back at him over my reading ones; the vegan scones I found at Teany near his SoHo sublet; his endearing fashion-cop insistence that I wear stockings with my beautiful new shoes and that, if I took out one dangly red heavy earring, I had to take out both; good food (despite the fact that, twice, losing track of time, I let myself get too hungry to function well); a wonderful companion who took the ten minutes he assuredly did not have after a conference call to meet me, having walked the humid mile up from the Google New York office in Times Square to his "swish" place of work, for a coffee and a few kisses. Him having not minded losing face because of me at the office the day before I arrived, when their secretary had opened the package of makeup I'd mailed to myself through him, showed its contents around, and then pinkened and insisted that she "didn't want to pry into his personal affairs."

We spent the weekend mostly downtown, in the interstices between SoHo, NoLiTa, the Lower East Side, the East Village -- at least, that's what I've cobbled together from what I've been told by him, Chris, and my new map of Manhattan (finally purchased, after years of coming to this city only to attach myself to friends, or (time had it) Mapquest a few locations, as I did with Elena's violin recital four years ago). Lovely: As if we were just staying in for the weekend, we only took a cab once uptown to dinner and equally-tall coworker Iain's sceney birthday bash (to which I was glad I'd worn my pointy-toed shoes and a necklace); my first hop on the Metro was this morning, to work. Many cafés, close together. It drizzled, then rained; my orange Marimekko umbrella served, perhaps, better even than the erstwhile pink duck one. Under it, as we walked back from a coffee shop across the median on Allen Street discussing the possibility of me acquiring a red velvet chaise longue, he swept me up into a kiss.

I am, of course, sad to be leaving. But he'll find the note and French chocolate I left on his nightstand soon; I'll talk to him tomorrow, if not yet tonight; if he can find the time off work to come west, perhaps I'll even see him soon. And I am in SF, and he in New York -- and, as yet, we are happy in our respective and combined situations: apart, together.

all this Šnori heikkinen, August 2006

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