march, 2008

Mon, 17 Mar 2008 19:20:54 -0700

Between last Thursday and today, it seems, all the flowering buds on trees have leaved, turning the early first-green-is-gold hue of first spring. (Left are the stinky white ones lining Alta Rd. at work, which exude the unprintable smell that makes you want to wash your sheets.) And though I don't think it's any warmer than it was when I left, the contrast between the low 30's of Chicago this weekend for PyCon and the balmy high 60's of SF probably makes it seem all the more welcome. (There's even a little pocket of still summer on the patio, making Sam and his law-school friend's lunch visit today all the more idyllic -- their eyes popped; the sun shone.) The snowbirding Midwesterners on the plane out of O'Hare yesterday, despite the two-hour delay that put us in past midnight, were excited to see anything green -- anything at all, that is, besides the freakishly-dyed Chicago River in early honor of St. Patrick's Day on Saturday.

Though the edge of my incoherent fear of flying was taken off this trip by my jaunt down to Monterey for lunch a few weeks ago in Tyler's tiny Cessna (we popped up into the "soupy" air (Keeff's word) like a DeLorean at 88 MPH, sailing easily over the lush and rolling hills on the way down, the sparkling cove to the south on the way back, Bernoulli and my adrenaline made manifest), the bumps are still never pleasant -- until, that is, the combined exhaustion of daylight savings time, jetlag, early conference talks, too much consequential coffee, too little palatable vegan food, all kicked in, and the dull roar of the engines made me forget my fears and sleep through till SF. The Midwesterners were fleeing snow; I was but coming home.

"Do you like it there?" asked Sean (orange shoelaces and blond hair) at the conference. My answer was apparent in my grin. In addition to being put up by work in a fancy hotel in River North, meeting dozens of geeks and passing out my new card ("Software Engineer"), traveling anywhere these days is nice for the same reasons it's fun to watch Sam ogle the oceans of free gourmet food at Google: to remind me starkly, as seen through the eyes of those still noncommittally in DC or eating dorm food in New Haven (respectively), exactly what it is I have here. And though hearing Strauss's Ein Heldenleben at the Chicago Symphony with Mom on Saturday night evoked in me a twinge of the perennial urge, what I have right now is enough to make the heart swell and jump with possibility. In roughly equal proportions:

  • A sense of beauty for my city;
  • An apparently-unquashable extroversion, and, despite recent setbacks, yet delight (always delight!) in new interactions (the taking-stock and meshing of personalities, over beers, both in relative leisure after talks, and in relative haste at the airport before flight departures);
  • Vegetables.

I rebound, and SF glows again.

Thu, 20 Mar 2008 00:17:44 -0700

The park, sloping gently uphill along the N route, on which train I first passed this iconic urban green space during the late summer three years ago on my way to get my fancy bike, is reopened. I can cut across it again, diagonally from Duboce Park Cafe to Potomac, a full moon rising behind me as I stride purposefully, an hour late, to rescue my vegetables from a stranger's stoop.

My clogs thud dully on the earth of the park. The last time I made regular late-night forays across pungent, flowering arbors was in college, on my way home across campus from late nights in the Sun lab; I am glad my nights are no longer so long, nor so stressful.

The night air fairly thrums with possibility, with the fullness of the now! Do people other than teenagers in love dance along like this? I'd say I'm bipolar, just without the other pole.

The air is still chilly -- my leather jacket is zipped against the wind; my cheeks glow in the post-crepuscular briskness -- and the damp grass, the linden, the jasmine I can smell but can't see as I unpack my plunder from its waxed box with my last name on it, all smell the sweeter for it.

The equinox is correct! Not only leeks, citrus, spinach, and cauliflower, but a bundle of the first asparagus of the season surfaces, and I nearly gasp in delight. (It's like Christmas every week, always exactly what I wanted.) Now I know it's spring.

Sun, 30 Mar 2008 22:04:13 -0700

« Sous le pont Mirabeau coule la Seine, » I recited to Jae this evening, as he choked on a hot Thai pepper and asked me to tell him about fin-de-siècle France as he tried to breathe -- beginning to talk about Apollinaire's textually circular poetry soon evoked the words in my head. And I forgot, even as the verses came back to me (« Et nos amours / Faut-il qu'il m'en souvienne ») how much I meant them.

« La joie venait toujors après la peine » -- Joy comes only after pain? Or: after pain, joy always comes? -- a relevant question, these days around the Burner equinox, when the diehards tabulate their midyear, tickets go on sale for next, and the memories I have of incredible moments and permissive social environments override those of a completely buffeting experience, a sensation that has stayed with me these last six months. Seth and I traded stories in a sunny-yet-still-chilly clearing in Golden Gate Park this afternoon, me in my rainbow knit hat, us drinking PBR and playing with fake digital cameras, and I got caught up in my own narrative and swept away, again, in the idea of it: in the bins of costumes these San Franciscans harbor in our basements; in the wish that this beer were a Tecate; in the memory of welcoming, whirling dust storms and subversive symbology and fishnet stockings and playa bikes with drums on them and in people who have been, and who will again go.

I've been worried, these intervening months, that it took too much out of me (« L'amour s'en va comme cette eau courante »), that it only accentuated the cycle of hopes and dashing I seem -- maudlinly, perhaps -- to find myself in these years. « Et comme l'Espérance est violente! »

But not only is everyone talking about it -- new friend Seth; Daniel the statistician; Jae, so newly and welcomly reconnected; Jaime the first-timer -- but I suppose that now, in my young, optimistic, and resilient days, « Passent les jours et passent les semaines / Ni temps passé / Ni les amours reviennent » means to me, carpe diem. I have yet years in me in this city before throwing in the towel and moving to Seattle; Burning Man has less to be feared than it does to be embraced. And I have six more months yet in which to both build up, and calibrate, expectations about it, and about its people. La joie venait toujours.

all this Šnori heikkinen, March 2008

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