days of naze
|i will promise you anything
A little audio gift (85 kb .wav)
for my Faithful readers on
the first anniversary (7/14/99) of
the site. Hand cranked to help
you on the long march.
An obnoxiously large
(101k .wav) audio greeting
from the Author.
|December 4, 1999
Ex Post Facto
a wildly belated (and perhaps irrelevant) concluding chapter of my September SF odyssey
[For those catching up, you may wish to go to the beginning of the journey.]
I slowly, gradually drifted awake.
My body clock said it was time to get up, but the rest of me was having none of it.
The rest of me won.
And thus it wasn't until 10:30 a.m. that I showered, dressed and packed. Check out time.
The woman at the desk in the Metro Hotel had a strict but kindly manner that reminded me of Jack's last pre-school teacher. Like Jack's teacher, she also looked of Middle Eastern/Mediterranean origin. I asked for a breakfast restaurant recommendation and she recommended a spot a couple of blocks down Divisadero. After I deposited my bags behind the desk, she asked me where I was from. She thought that I was English.
As ridiculous as it may sound to all of you out there in the world, we Americans take that sort of remark as a compliment. I took it just the way I did when a woman told me that I looked like William Hurt -- flattered, but somewhat skeptical. [William Hurt made his stage debut at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in 1977 in Henry V...thank you, IMDB.]
Man, I was hungry! She said go left out of the hotel and a block and a half down the street to get to the Bean Bag Cafe. How hard could that be to find?
Damned hard it turns out. I walked up and down that street for 20 minutes looking for this place, of course, too angry and proud to go back and admit my failure. Just before I quit my quest for the BBC, I found myself smack in front of the Church of Saint John Coltrane. Steve had mentioned this place several times to me and I, in fact, had asked if we might attend a service together sometime. We didn't ever quite put that together. Standing there right in front of it, now tinged my hunger and frustration with regret.
I settled into the Oakside Cafe instead, a funky little coffee shop type place, and read pieces of the Examiner. The barrista (I guess the Starbucks propaganda does have an ennobling effect on the job...) handed me my drink with a playful "olè!" (chai au lait) which I appreciated. Stanford had just begun it's highly improbable road to the Rose Bowl and my Ducks had decimated a non-conference foe 72-10.
Two guys in their twenties seated near the window were engrossed in a game of Scrabble™. However, one of them had a nicotine jones and spent half of the time outside on the sidewalk observing the game closely through the plate glass window, gesturing and mouthing remarks to his companion.
I still had time to kill before my airport shuttle arrived. A jaunt up Haight Street was in order. Two skateboarding gents whisked down the empty steep streets right through the intersection.
There's an old Catholic church on the Haight made of reddish brick. It is riddled with immense cracks (presumably from the quake of '90[?]), clearly abandoned. An official looking condemnation sign hangs from the front. The building looked alone and forsaken. I felt a wave of sadness wash over me.
But once I crested the hill, I caught a cool gentle breeze tanged with salt from the ocean.
And then I met these people:
"Penny for your thoughts!", as they offered me an actual penny for my thoughts.
Whoa. What's going to happen to me after I take that penny? Are they going to sell me something or recruit me into their cult or...? Of course, now I feel like a dweeb for not playing the game. I mean, they did dress up and everything. A penny for my thoughts? That's not much, but here I am giving them away for free.
I did smile however, and that counts for something.
The crowds were pretty touristy (me pot, calling them black) and middle-aged. But maybe some of them had a better claim to the turf than I. Hell, I was 5 in the Summer of '69.
I stopped at the costume shop to pick up knick-knacks for the family (pirate tattoos, wearable mouse noses, white fishnet stockings - for me or for Cath? - I'll just let you wonder). And then I had a shuttle to catch.
The shuttle from hell.
It didn't take long after my bags were loaded into the crowded van to learn that we had a cranky passenger. A thirty-ish guy with a very anxious demeanor. There were a number of "you told me this and now I'm going to be late" variations to the agitated driver, who looked Turkish to me.
It was 2:30 p.m., we had 2 more pick-ups, and Mr. In-A-Big-Rush had a 3:20 flight to the U.K. Oops! I'd say we had a little poor planning on the international travel here. However, he succeeded in getting the driver to ride his stress, which led to an exaggeration of the already jerky accelerate/brake motion we were already getting. You know how the game works. Try to find every possible advantage, switch lanes, get caught behind someone who looked like they would speed along but then dawdles, ride the shoulder, switch back again, leap ahead tail-gating the car ahead, but really getting there no faster than if he weren't endangering everyone's life.
I'm not sure if the guy made his flight. We dropped him off at 3 p.m. (About tea time, yes?) At my stop, I tipped the driver a little extra as a form of apology for my fellow human being.
I, having played it exceptionally safe, now had time to kill at the lovely SF Int'l. After I checked in, I decided to stroll a little further past my gate into the international section. My bags were heavy and I took a seat on a comfy bench.
Shortly thereafter, I met Joyce and Schuyler, probably the cutest couple in the place.
[Imagine a really cute picture of a couple in their 60's. She has short white hair and glasses with a very warm smile, he's in a striped cotton shirt and real jowel-y and soft faced, sort of like Mr. Green Jeans from Captain Kangaroo. My scanner bulb burnt out and I've gone through hell to fix it and it still won't work. The things I put myself for you people. Oy vey!]
Joyce was looking for a place to sit and there was plenty of room on my bench. And in that convivial, warm manner that my Grandma Eades had, she started up a conversation.
They were headed to St. Petersburg on Aeroflot (gulp!) and were a bit anxious about the required adjustments that we spoiled Americans have to make in Russia, but also seemed excited by the adventure. Joyce and Schuyler live in L.A. now but lived in Pendleton, Oregon for 2 years a while back. Schuyler went to get something to drink and offered to get something for me too.
They talked about moving along, but Schuyler said he'd stay right here and watch the girls. To which Joyce leaned in my direction and said that she had her boy right here. "You can get away with murder when you're older", she told me with a wink.
A delightful (and representative) punctuation to my trek which began with an invitation to come tell a story.
At 10,000 feet I opened the Examiner and grinned. Rebecca's NetSkink column, which I had read online a thousand times, but now here in print just 12 hours after making a goose of myself with her at fray3.
Tempting Fate and the Forces of Balance, the last roses of Summer welcomed me home.
p.s. Is it more specialer signing up for a hand-maintained mailing list? Probably not, but you'll never know for sure until you try: new days notification.
|previously on days of naze :
what have you done for me lately? i'm not telling...
|May you never be more active
when you are doing nothing.
They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.
-Carl W. Buehner
|in the feedbag:
web: She curses like a sailor (which counts for a lot when you don't have cable). She has a web site named after a Star Wars bounty hunter. She's entertaining Rob for the weekend. She writes Haikus for Jews. And then she links to me sending over her legion of readers. God, I love the web.
cd: Maria McKee bootleg "Club 9:30", recorded live in DC on 12/11/98. Lots of talk with the audience. The next best thing to being there.
magazine: Harper's - "Down and Out At the Hotel Providence: Scenes from a Bowery Flophouse" by Guy Lawson. Things could be worse. Much worse.
games: Bitmagic - I'm somewhat reluctant to share this given the way they treated Derek, but I have to admit that I'm hooked on their goofy weekly Flash Macromedia games.
vcr: Little Voice (B+)
sports: University of Oregon plays #12 Minnesota in the Sun Bowl on New Years Eve (11:15 a.m. Pacific, CBS) in El Paso. Gulp. Please root for us.
car: Goodbye to our faithful old '82 Honda Accord. With the power steering out, running on 3 cylinders, and smoke emanating from under the hood, I had her towed to the salvage yard. The burly man behind the counter gave me a somewhat sincere, "we'll take good care of her".
|tears Jack shed when we took the old Honda to the salvage yard|
© christopher naze