august, 2009

Thu, 13 Aug 2009 19:32:04 -0700

Though I've technically been working the entire time, I feel as though I've been on vacation for a month: I'm slowly editing photos of Guinnesses and clover-dotted countryside, of meals and friends; I'm catching up, on morning shuttles with tea (I did not miss these buses, but I almost missed the guaranteed reading time), on the raging health-care brouhaha (it leaves newsprint on my fingers) and on three weeks' worth of New Yorkers; I'm remembering again what the world in 3G is like, checking email on my way back from yoga and posting photos of my vegan Thai iced tea from the cafe itself. Home is beautiful: August's fog spills, a slow, translucent blanket, over the low mountains to the immediate west of the Bay, a layer perched like a domesticated bird on top of Twin Peaks. I don't need an umbrella, unlike in Dublin, to guard against the subtle condensation of mist that combines with jasmine and laurel in the air on the sidewalks around Duboce Triangle. Vegetables, three weeks neglected, take on new meaning: salads full of small green leaves and nuts and berries; sunburst squashes explode in the pan; I've arrived back into summer's full flush of the glorious California tomato season -- it's all I can do to coerce the red-and-green mottled heirlooms, the juicy yellow plum ones, into the blender, into gazpacho, before a new batch arrives on Thursday (from whose whiskey -- Midleton, Glenfarclas 25, Redbreast, Macallan 18 on the metal tables on the balcony outside at work this afternoon -- I now make may way home). Beers are hoppy again: pitcher subsides to pitcher of Racer 5 back at Zeitgeist, between tamales and joints. Sam chuckled and shook his head last night at dinner as he remarked how perfect the Bay Area is for me, I for it. It's nice, having been gone, to remember how home this is.

There is, of course (to which I'm so prone), a bit of emotional whiplash -- there, I helped him mend a torn pocket; we saw the oldest passage tombs in Europe, archeology lectures and carved stones and his arms around my waist; we took a black cab to Belfast's dividing walls; he fed me carrot cake on a blustery, lushly green cliff overlooking the Irish Sea; we had a "spot of tea" at our B&B near the Giant's Causeway and later watched the stars; he played guitar and I sang. How could I not? But sixty to zero, now that we've left the lawless, unruly foreign land in which strictures do not apply, is just a bit jarring. Shared code reviews don't quite make up for it.

The city almost does, though. Eating fresh salads and vegetables until I begin to feel sleepy and need perfectly-roasted coffee, slowly regaining my groove at work, reminding my arms about chaturanga dandasana and my legs -- especially the right one, still weak from surgery yet ever stronger -- about half moon, I find that I don't want to leave again for a while. Tempting as prancing around the desert in boots and a frilly skirt sounds, I may just stay here this year: regroup, restrengthen. Me & my vegetables.

Tue, 25 Aug 2009 18:42:46 -0700

Each August, all of San Francisco whips into a bit of a frenzy. It begins with deliberations ("Should I go this year?"; "It's so much time and effort ..."), speeds forward into planning ("Where can I get a cheap bike?"; "Do I really need underwater housing to protect my camera from the dust?"; "I can totally make a vest out of hot-pink fake fur on my friend's sewing machine in a few hours"), and escalates into mild panic ("Help! My ride fell through!"; "Where was my packing list from last year?"; "The tepee doesn't fit in the truck!") -- at least, for most. (The rest of the city, of course, just sits back and watches bemusedly, anticipating a week no wait for brunch in the Mission, even if Home Depot is cleaned out of rebar.)

While it's true that I've been ordering extra things on Amazon right up until the eleventh hour, so much so that my desk looked a bit like Christmas with all the boxes coming in), I haven't felt as panicked about the preparations as I have in previous years. I've already got the things I need (the headlamp; a bike in sorry-but-serviceable condition, especially if I manage to recover the seat in the remnants of that fake fur; a solid supply of stripy thigh-high socks); I've picked up a few extras (more frilly skirts; and updated point-n-shoot; new boots), and, despite the fact I haven't actually put them in their bins yet, I'm feeling rather on top of it.

Who was I kidding about not going this year? I have only myself to quote about the necessity of going back. At the same time as I told myself I was leaning away from it, I was yet washing dust out of last year's costumes -- I told Ari as I folded a sequined, shoulder-padded top, that it was just in case I go to Burning Man; he said, Nori, all your clothes are just in case you go to Burning Man. I'd been telling myself that I had work to do, but for fuck's sake, there will always be work to do. And there's this thing called a "work-life balance," that even my manager invoked when I pulled him aside last week and started babbling worriedly about my relatively small number of vacation days saved up, my projects, my momentum. Eh, small potatoes -- I would like to go run around the desert in my new pink boots, please.

So, I'm going. And the thought makes me jump around gleefully when it really pops into focus in my head: The broad blue sky, the long and level sands, the people, the promise. The chill, the blinking lights, and the fire after dark. Living in a Hershey's kiss tensegrity structure for a week. And, hell yes, my new boots.

all this Šnori heikkinen, August 2009

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