SF Bay Area journal – days 3 and 4

June 5


I walked to the El Cerrito Mall (the slightly further-away one) in order to steal Barnes & Noble’s WiFi while Rose stayed back at the condo and did some beading or some such. We needed periodically to check various communications, since we were trying to arrange various get-together (such as with Eleanore, the two-doors-down neighbor)  but, as I said, her work is supercrazy and we never do manage to meet. At this point we were also trying to get together with another East Bay denizen, Chris…that fell through, but we did meet him later in the week. I stopped at the Chinese bookstore and bought a mysterious t-shirt: “mysterious” in that I didn’t know where its picture came from, or what the katakana meant (I could tell it was likely Japanese, though). It features a puzzled-looking black cat with large eyes, on a red background. I was hoping the text wasn’t grossly offensive or inappropriate – although “reverse Engrish” nonsense would have been okay. (Subsequent online detective work revealed it to be Takkun, a kitten from the FlCl (or “Fooly Cooly”) anime: turns out the katakana merely said “Fooly Cooly”…and the bottom letters were just stylized roman letters “FLCL.” Of course, I mainly bought it for the cute kitty anyway.

After I returned from checking in to the wubbly-wubbly-wubbly, we went into the city to go take a walk around Chinatown. Beforehand, we went to lunch at the Daily Grill: after a couple of days of various rice-based meals, I felt the need for an enormous beef dip sandwich with tasty hot mustard and about two thousand french fries: the meal won. I’m glad we’re doing lots of walking. Rose has claimed that by the end of this trip, we’ll both have incredible butts and calves. She has a head start, however.

Chinatown was fun, and sort of anthropologically interesting, but not necessarily in the way you might expect, in that it was incredibly touristy, sorta like a very large, very dense Wisconsin Dells if everyone were Chinese. Still, we were certainly glad to have been here, and we heard some yowlingly authentic Chinese music in Portsmouth Park. Off the main drag, Grant, apparently it’s less tourist-oriented and more just Chinese-Americans living their lives.

It turned out to be okay that our attempts to arrange a Saturday evening gathering had fallen through – we were pretty tired. So we read some books, watched an episode of Northern Exposure on DVD, and generally laid low. Yep, we’re old and dull – no staying up till four in the morning huffing heaping piles of cocaine off the asses of supermodels for us.

June 6

The way this trip worked out, the first few days we spent a lot of time by ourselves, the second few with local friends, and the last few with Bob and Susan who drove up from Lancaster. So it was another thrill-a-minute day at our condo: Rose did some handwash laundry, I again went over to the Barnes & Noble to nab me some WiFi, where I also bought a Donald Westlake novel because I’m almost done with the reading I’d brought along, and then ate some lunch. It may not make for gripping prose narrative here, but trust me: just being able to do nothing was a fabulous break.

We then mapped out plans for rest of week and got call from Susan: their plans to stay with some friends (I think also in the East Bay area) were thwarted due to one of the friends’ parents’ medical situation. So they’re going to be staying at Bob’s brother and sister-in-law’s place in Novato, way over in Marin. (Both his brother and sister-in-law are doctors…) A little more complicated in terms of our getting together, but fortunately Bob and Susan like to drive.

We rode along with Gil and Stacey to Sue and Joe’s for a big get-together: sort of a Loud Family mailing list reunion: Bradley came over from Oakland, Steve up from Hayward, and then the four of us and Sue and Joe. Theirs is a lovely place, a quirky Arts & Crafts house with walls and ceilings handpainted by a prior resident: we suspect much consumption of recreational chemicals…at least I hope that’s the explanation for the enormous Pegasus on the living room ceiling. We went off to Forbidden Island, a tiki bar, and sat on the (again) surprisingly sunny and warm patio consuming tropical drinks. I’m not normally a rum drinker, but the place had something called “Navy Grog” that suited me quite well. Even I’m not going to just order a beer at this place (for Milwaukeeans: translate At Random several latitudes south, hold the goddam Jimmy Buffett thankfully.) The table next to us was three friendly women quite a few drinks ahead of us, who offered advice on what to order. One of them also took a photo of our group when we asked them to. Then, we were off to Burmese Superstar restaurant for dinner: I had a dish with minced chicken, mint, jalapenos, and fresh basil – fabulous.

We returned to Sue and Joe’s – much discussion ensued, covering topics from hideous reality TV to Stew’s thin skin to the shape of vultures’ heads and “intelligent design” derivable therefrom. (Note: if anyone ever wants to frighten Gil Godfather-style, spare the horse, use a vulture instead.)

(Many photos of the trip at my Flickr site…)

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