Wednesday, December 31, 2008

What to Do with that Unexpected Windfall

Yesterday I did what has come to be my favorite run: starting at Anand's place in Noe Valley, passing through the Mission, up and around Bernal Hill, then zig-zagging back to Noe. On the return trip, I found a $10 bill lying at the side of the road. No one was around. I stuffed it into the tiny pocket of my running shorts.

I imagined buying a lottery ticket as my mother would surely suggest, but by the time I got back I'd forgotten about the cash altogether. It was only later in the evening, when I was eating dinner, that I remembered the money and fished it out of my shorts' pocket. It is now on the table beside me, again pondering that lottery ticket. Or just a $4.25 cup of coffee from the Clover machine at Ritual.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Other Bridge

I had Christmas dinner at Dave and Kirsten's in the East Bay. To get there, I had to cross the Bay Bridge. Some people I know actually prefer the Bay Bridge to the Golden Gate. In the interest of fairness, I'm posting a photo. That's Treasure Island at the far side (of the photo, not the bridge. The bridge continues on beyond TI to Oakland.)

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Church & 18th

And Back Again

The climb up was just right: steep but not too steep, long but not too long. I parked my bike at the highest point of paved road, just below Hawk Hill, and gazed at the City across the bridge. The sky was clouding up, and a brown-grey haze lingered over the city. Despite being a weekday afternoon, there were a fair number of cyclists roaming the hills. I stopped frequently on the way down, again soaking up the spectacular views. For the return trip, I decided to go around the city. Sticking to the paths and sidewalks along the water, I was able to avoid Van Ness, traffic and the worst of the hills. Using VN on the way there, I'd made it to the Marina in about half an hour. It took me well over an hour to return. I walked the bicycle briefly while passing through the heavy pedestrian traffic of Fisherman's Warf. By the time I reached the Mission, street traffic was heavy and the sun was approaching the horizon. I struggled a bit going up the final hill to Noe. It was dusk when I reached home.

Friday, December 12, 2008


The weather yesterday looked promising, reasonably clear and warm, so after lunch I got into my cycling gear and hit the road. I wanted to ride over the Golden Gate Bridge and up into the Marin Headlands. On a clear day, the view of the city from there is spectacular. It turned out to be somewhat cloudy, and the pollution was visible, but that didn't stop me from taking about 180 photographs.

Unsure of the best route and hoping to avoid the really killer hills, I took Van Ness across town to Lombard, and from there out to the Marina, Fort Mason and Crissy Field. Once you hit Crissy Field, there's a series of bike/ pedestrian paths and bike lanes that take you all the way to the Golden Gate Bridge. Van Ness, however, sucked. The road itself was more pot-hole than pavement, and the traffic-- even at mid-day-- was heavy. I decided I'd try an alternative route on my return.

I made good time crossing the city (despite the mess of VN), but once I hit Crissy Field I found myself stopping repeatedly, mesmerized by the ever-changing views of the Bay, the Bridge, and the Marin Headlands. I vowed several times that this would be the last stop until I reached the Headlands, but each time I found myself deciding that my appreciation of this lovely place was more important than time. Besides, I had plenty of time. (TBC)

Monday, December 08, 2008


Yesterday afternoon while browsing at a bookstore in the Castro, I pointed out a Philip Roth novel in the bargain section. V read and loved The Human Stain. He remarked, "You know what makes Philip Roth's work so amazing? Its brutal honesty."

That reminded me of something that came up in my memoir writing workshop back in Fredonia. I've never been able to really write with complete openness. I censor my blog because of who may be reading it. And I even hold back in my journal writing, leery that someday someone might read that. To some degree I attribute this to an early childhood memory of my mother reading my elder sister's diary. I mentioned this to someone, and they were aghast: how dare my mother do such a thing?! I, however, know exactly how. My teenage sister was completely out of control, and my mother desperately wanted to do something about that. Of course violating her daughter's privacy was not a good way to go about it, but my mother was doing the best she could. It's possible to appreciate that in retrospect.

Now that I'm on the topic, I recall another incident. A decade ago I went through a rather long and messy (thanks to me) break up, and my long-distance, soon-to-be-ex- boyfriend logged in and read the messages in my email account. Though I was surprised and appalled, I could not really blame him. At a distance and in absence of any real meaningful communication from me, it was the only avenue left open to him.

Thursday, December 04, 2008


Today I needed to make a visit to Mountain View, so I got on my road bike to ride over to the 22nd Street Caltrain station. It looked easy on the map, and even looking down 22nd Street from the living room window, it looked like a nice ride. But I was in for a real surprise when I actually hit the road. The hills were punishing. I lost my way. At one point, I actually had to get off and walk the bike. I reached Caltrain with three minutes to spare, only to find that all trains were running late, and all day it was FREE TO RIDE.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008


Last night I dropped by to see John as I was in his (my old) neighborhood. While there, we spoke briefly of Chris, someone he knew well and I only slightly. Neither of us has been in touch with him for years. When I got home later that evening and went online, I found a friend request from Chris on Facebook.

This morning while I was getting ready to go out, I listened to My Bloody Valentine's 1991 shoegazer masterpiece, Loveless. It put me in the right mood to walk through the Mission and over to Sports Basement. Pausing at the light at 18th and Mission, I heard someone call my name. It was John, who just happened to be driving by.

After accomplishing my mission at Sports Basement, I headed back toward Noe Valley, stopping for a while to drink a cup of joe at Ritual Cafe. After a few cups of amazing coffee there last week, the past couple have been disappointing. Today's coffee tasted muddy.

I took out my Miura Shion book (the one I picked up last week in Japantown) to read. The collection is titled "Mukashi no Hanashi," A Long Long Time Ago, and is billed as modern fairy tales. The first story is about a man who works as a gigolo. It's written as an email. The message begins by saying that his grandfather died at the age of 27 and that his father did as well. And he himself turned 27 the previous month. His mother often told him that his father's family was cursed. But our narrator was both afraid and distanced from the prospect of turning 27. Imagine that NASA announced that tomorrow a giant meteor was going to strike the earth. You'd be scared, but there'd be no escape. You wouldn't want to believe it, but you'd be wondering what was going to happen, and you'd be anxious. That's the way he felt about turning 27. The meter image appears again later:

"Do you believe in fate?" If you think about it, this is as embarrassing a question to ask as "Do you believe in love?". I don't want to believe. Neither in fate nor in love. Because I've never seen either. Or rather, when you're thinking "that was it," you're looking back and its too late. That's the same as not existing. It's like a meteor striking the earth. When it hits, everything is finished anyhow. (translation mine)

We learn that our narrator is writing the email on his mobile phone while trying to hide from a group of hitmen. He got one of his clients pregnant, and she turned out to be the girlfriend of a yakuza boss.

I finished off the coffee and the story at about the same time. Looking at the title, I smiled to see that it was ラブレス, Loveless.