Sunday, October 31, 2010

dear diary... part 1

Wednesday, October 14, 10:45pm I was walking home from a friends house, when I was attacked. It was strange.

I was walking toward two young, good looking black kids, we both nodded at the appropriate point before passing each other, and then, as they faded into my periphery, something happened. I got blasted. Hard. Rocked with a fist to the jaw, with what I can only imagine was the full force of someone having the opportunity to prepare a full sucker-punch windup. It knocked me back, my jaw/head/neck area going back and to the side from the rest of my body. It was so fast, but I seemed to be in slow motion. I felt like one of those big inflatable clown things, that you bop in the face, and then they slowly spring back up.

What the hell was that?

I straightened out quickly, my adrenaline kicking in, and I realized a half-second too late from where my confusion and pain originated. It was this fully outstretched fist, connected to a good-looking young black kid, which was a heartbeat from smashing into my face. Again. WTF?

Pow! (emphasis placed on the ow.) This time it was a little further back. The first hit was closer to the point of my chin, but from the side. This one connected fully on the side of the jaw. I saw a flash of white, heard a loud crunch, felt my bottom teeth shift somewhere they definitely did not belong, and tasted blood, and something else I couldn't recognize.

I covered my head, screamed something about not having money, and swung a wild fist in his direction, though at this point he'd turned and started half-shuffle trotting away with his buddy.

What the fuck just happened? Did I get jumped? Am I hurt? Why didn't they try to take my money? Why did they run away? My face doesn't hurt a whole lot at the moment, but I can already tell it's crazy swollen, and my teeth are definitely not where they were a minute ago. Fuck, my jaw hurts. Is it dislocated? It feels dislocated. I move my tongue around searching for the inevitable teeth that I will be spitting out, but nothing comes loose.

I spit on the light gray concrete of the sidewalk in front of the Fireside Bowl, expecting some blood. What comes is a stringy mouthful of brownish red, with darker bits of god knows what. Shit. That's not good. Not at all.

I called 911 as I walked home, looking over my shoulders, and dipping down a side road and through an alley. I mumbled briefly through what happened, the details pretty clear in my mind. My keys make it straight into the lock, and I find myself telling my roommate, a friend, and some foreign girl about what the hell just happened.

I quickly get through the story, and come back to the part where my teeth feel fucked up. Like for real guys, like it's dislocated or something. They assure me that if that were the case, I'd be in a lot more pain, and probably wouldn't be able to tell the story like I was. I consider their input. My cell phone rings. The police are outside.

I go downstairs, where the police are in their truck, and tell them the same story.

"They didn't try to rob you?
"No."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes."
"Well, if that's the case..."
So I could ride down to the station and fill out a report, though for just battery. But they're sporting the same logic as my roommate, friend, and newly friended foreign lady. If it was really bad, I'd be in more pain, and probably wouldn't be talking to them so calmly. I got hit in the face twice, so it's sure to be swollen. Take some Ibuprofen and try to relax.

Ok.

We'll take the description, run it, and keep a lookout for anyone matching the description in the area.

Ok.

Honestly, I was pretty exhausted and didn't feel like going down to the station anyway.

I took some Ibuprofen, had a stiff drink, and went to bed.


Monday, April 12, 2010

shift change.

I've been loving the weather recently, as most have, and I always forget how it affects my mood for the coming season. Not to say that I've felt overwhelmed or sad or anything for the winter, but that my general mood has been getting better and better with the warmer, sunnier days. Obvious though, right?

The warmer days also lend themselves to more socializing, which I think was somewhat lacking this winter. It's nice to get out and see people more often, with less planning. Went over to Nate's house the other day for pork chop sandwiches on the grill and some video games. Riding the bike to work every day, and up to roger's park a bit recently. Rode up to the Heartland Cafe the other day to see Dave Herrero play some blues and have a good time. Also went to see Hot Tub Time Machine, which was hilarious. A pretty solid week.

School's winding down, though it looks like I'll have a lot to do when the class is over, which is ok. I'll intersperse the work with friends, bbqs, and general outside time.

Oh yeah, post title. So Lisa's going to move to her own place at the end of the month, still in the hood, but a bit south. My buddy Devin is going to be moving in here, making it the first time I've had just a guy roommate. I'm expecting it will be buckets of fun. Buckets!

Friday, April 02, 2010

self-five.

It seems that work and school are kicking my ass lately. I get home and I'm just beat. A few weeks ago one of my coworkers wore a pedometer to work just to get an idea of how much we run around during a shift. He was waiting tables in the "easy" section where you don't have to run as far for everything and still logged over 16, 000 steps. His pedometer wasn't calibrated, but we figured about three feet for a good work-stride for someone about 6 feet tall. That put him around nine miles for the shift. Plus carrying shit. No wonder we're all beat after work.

Came home the other day and was in the mood for this:

Easy-peasy and really good. A little butter and salt, pepper, and lemon. Sometimes even I am in the mood for crunchy green veggie-type things. No bratwurst, but I guess I can't eat them all the time.

I don't have photos from my first bbq of the season, but the next day our tree in the back started budding. Literally overnight. That was pretty cool.

And sort of on a whim I decided to take the month of April off from drinking. No real rhyme or reason, maybe just to give it a try. But I figure the side effects aren't so bad. Lose a few pounds? Maybe save some bucks? I can work with that. I already miss that post work beer, (today was awful) but I think I'll get used to it. And it's only a month, so I'm not going to cry about it.

That's about it for now!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

food and stress.

I did a bunch of errands yesterday, including laundry which always feels like a small accomplishment, and paying bills and things. Went to the bank to deposit some cash, and worked not quite enough on school work. Dinnertime rolled around as it tends to do, and I realized that I was virtually out of food.

I rummaged through the fridge and found a big portabella cap that somehow I forgot to use. There were a couple green onions in there too, and on the island table thing there was a sweet potato and a bunch of garlic. Bam.

I've been making quinoa in different ways recently, but I like it as a sort of grain-salad side. So I made some:


Threw in some toasted almonds and dried cranberries and a little olive oil and it turned out pretty well. While I was making this, I roasted one of those heads of garlic in the oven.



That portabella went in the broiler with a little cheese and the entire head of delicious roasted garlic. Oh, yeah. It was awesome.

Other things:

-School is more difficult than I remember, but probably good for me to catch up and get with it.
-That, finances, and living situation are stressing me the fuck out right now. It's weird, because I feel like I'm usually pretty cool. Right now though, not so much.
-I'm a little obsessed lately with the take away videos here: http://www.blogotheque.net/-Concerts-a-emporter-?lang=en They're really well done, sound fantastic, and are only a few minutes long. Click on a couple. Be wowed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

frosted mini-wheats.


I had some of these the other night. The box was almost empty, so I ended up with lots of broken pieces and leftovers. It was ok, since I was just sort of shoveling it in anyway.
When I was a kid, I used to pick these when we went to the grocery store. I would make a bowl in the morning or sometimes at night, and since I was the only one who ate them, I knew how much was left in the box.

I'd open up the whole top, reach in, and carefully select the ones with the most frosting on them. Then, I'd layer them in the bowl (frosting up, of course) three or four across, alternating the direction of each layer, like Jenga blocks. I think the bowl was always three layers high, with an extra couple wheats on top, so they'd soak up the leftover milk. I was just as particular eating them, too, eating each one in one bite, and making sure to start at the bottom so they didn't soak too long and get soggy. Talk about priorities.

I was thinking about this while shoveling in the remains of the box the other night, thinking how strange of a habit that was. Though, if I'd had a full box, I'll bet I would've gone through the whole ritual once again.

Monday, July 13, 2009

go higher than high.


Wicked Awesome got its second official win of the season, and I was glad to have the day off and be able to participate. We all played well and the action was spread around so everyone really contributed. It was a beautiful day, sunny and warm, and it was nice to hang out in the grass before the game and relax.

The summer has been packed with festivals and barbecues, new music and old friends, and apartment hunting. The big move is next Wednesday, and I'm pretty excited. I'll have a sublettor for the first month and a half before my new roommate, Lisa, moves out from San Francisco.

It will be strange leaving Palmer Hall. It has been my home for two and a half years. And more importantly, it feels like home. It has been great living with good people, creating routines, and being the gathering household for barbecues and birthday parties. I think some of that is going to be missing when we move, but I also think it will help me be more active in getting out to see people.

Someone just started playing bagpipes in the park across the street. It sounds good. And melancholy, but uplifting in that way that bagpipes always do. Pretty neat.

I'm going running in a few minutes. I do that now. Not like a runner runner, but a few miles three or four times a week. It's funny because I always hated it. I still do, every single lumbering step, but I guess it makes me feel like I've done something when it's over. My feet are terrible and flat and unstable, so I've always been looking for shoes or insoles that are more supportive, or better at correcting what's going on. I've tried lots of things, and found a couple that help, but I've been thinking that maybe I'm going about it the wrong way.


They look fun, and weird, and get crazy good reviews. Your stride changes without tons of heel cushion, and you start using all those little stabilizing muscles in your legs and ankles and feet. And either way, they look fun.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

a couple strips of bacon to ease my stomach.

Sunday morning and I was given the day off today at the last minute.

Plan for the day:

-softball at the lakefront
-playing outside
-food on the grill later
-beers on the porch

Let's hang out soon.

Friday, May 22, 2009

All of this writing sort of happens in my head, and just never makes it here. On the way to the bus stop, while running in the park, or just sitting on the train. Those are the times I always feel like jotting something down. Strange how that works out. 

I came home from work tonight, milled around for a bit, and went to the hall closet off the kitchen to get out the ironing board. It set up with a loud metal-on-metal screech, and I plugged in the iron, though not before pouring whatever water was in the iron out onto the board, and floor, and myself. 

My suit was already pressed, and I made sure I had my dress shoes, socks, and a decent tie. These things have a habit of getting lost, or stuffed into the corner of my closet, and become unavailable when I actually need them. 

I set to ironing my shirt--a standard white dress shirt, nothing fancy--and I quickly fell into a rhythm. Long, straight, smooth passes over each side of the front, redo the pockets, then in between the buttons. Then it's the arms and finally the back. 

As I fell into the careful monotony of the task, I thought about the idea of ironing itself. It's a strange thing, taking wrinkles out of clean clothes that will be wrinkled again within minutes of wearing them, but i sort of feel like doing it tonight. It's trivial, but it seems like the small amount of effort and care put into it is sort of a way of showing respect. A token of gratitude. Something like that. 

My great aunt Kitty died this week, and I'm getting ready for her funeral. She was always a sweet old lady to me, and had a way about her that was all her own. She laughed a lot, more chuckling to herself, and she had a voice that was completely unique. 

Her husband, Ray, died a few years back, and I always got along with him well. He had a woodshop when I grew up, and made all sorts of old-fashioned wooden toys that he sold around. Trains, cars, animals, trucks, and all kinds of pull-toys and things for little kids. I used to love playing with all of them when I was a kid, though, when I got older I grew to admire the work involved in making each of them. 

I don't really feel sad about her passing, she was quite old and lived a good and full life. Though, I feel like I should've appreciated more when I was a kid. Stories and histories and family and things. 

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

things.

Things I did in the past several days:
  1. edited music for an upcoming dance competition. not my own.
  2. watched 30 rock on dvd.
  3. avoided doing laundry. it's getting scary.
  4. went shopping for semi-healthy things.
  5. ate buffalo wings while shopping for semi-healthy things.
  6. applied for school in the fall for a couple refresher classes.
  7. made a fire in our "authentic mexican caldera grill." (firepit.)
  8. went to trivia at the logan grill.
  9. ran outside.
  10. had pizza for breakfast.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

winter skin.

I guess this thing is still here. And so am I. I just haven't felt like writing or sharing or whatever lately, and it seems that's a pretty common thread. The winter has taken its toll on just about everyone and it's like our collective emotional and mental well being is as beat up as the streets around the city. We've all been going about our business, trudging through the winter, and planning for the months ahead.

Personally, I've been holed up watching shows on dvd, and making my way through the selections at vas foremost. Most recently, we're getting Northern Exposure through netflix, and I've found it hard not to power through an entire disc in one sitting. I probably haven't seen the show in fifteen years, but it's still really good. I hear it starts to unravel pretty quickly in the last season or so, but for now it's still fantastic.

This winter feels like it's all been preparation for the spring and summer, moreso than in the past. It seemed more punishing, more relentless, more bent on forcing us inside, and feeding off our frustration and boredom. It's like it has been a forced hibernation, and now the entire city is on the edge of emerging from this. Pacing back and forth, like a big old bear, waiting for the ice and snow to melt from the entrance of his den so he can go out and hunt.

This bear just wants to go out and ride his bike, and play some sports, and barbecue with friends, and ride in a car on the highway with the windows down, singing along to the radio with his hands dancing in the wind.

Monday, February 16, 2009

green hornet.

Ran lots of errands today, and it was nice to be out driving. Took Simone to work in the am, and I'm still not convinced that actually saves her any time over taking the train, but at least you're riding in a car and not packed on a rush-hour train going downtown.

On the way back I stopped and picked up a couple croissant sandwiches from BK for myself and Colin for breakfast. Also got a medium (read half-gallon) soda. Oh yeah. This is how days off should start.

We went to Target to take back an espresso machine I got for Christmas. I used it once, decided it was cool, then had to clean it. And concluded that it was so not worth the hassle. So I got a new Calphalon frying pan instead, and Colin bought a new Swivel Sweeper. And I saw a grown man buying a Snuggie.

Went to Kohl's next for a return, and I browsed through the kitchen section while Colin scoffed at some of the overpriced cutlery. Colin and Simone surprised me with some knives for my birthday that were rated the highest in Cook's Illustrated, and used in lots of restaurant kitchens, though they're relatively inexpensive . The handles aren't inlaid with pearl, or made from old-growth Brazilian hardwood, but they're sharp as the devil and feel great.

The last stop was Blockbuster, to return Kung Fu Panda and some girl movie about poetry or weddings or something, and we picked up four movies from the some number for some amount of money rack. Pineapple Express, Hancock, Tropic Thunder, and In Bruges.

The rest of the day will be filled with doing laundry, movie watching, beer, and 25 cent wings.

Monday, February 09, 2009

something stupid and confusing:

Honey is sold by weight, not volume. We have a 16oz bottle of honey in our pantry, and for the life of me, I can't figure out why it would be sold this way. According to the bottle, the serving size is one tablespoon, and there are approximately 22 tablespoons in the bottle. It also says that one cup is about 12oz.

So if I use a half cup for a recipe, I'm using 4oz, but six ounces by weight, leaving 10oz left. But the internet says that there's 2 tablespoons per fluid ounce, meaning there's only 11oz in the bottle to begin with. So there's really 7oz left?

Now I consider myself a fairly smart person. I think I'm pretty good at problem solving, and I was always good at logic problems, spatial relationships, and figuring things out in general.

Though today, I'm standing in the pantry eating a bowl of cereal and looking this label, putting numbers together, and a strange feeling overtakes me. The only thing I can think to compare it to is the reaction your car might have if all the oil had drained from the engine instantly and the entire thing suddenly locked up, lurching the car to an abrupt and skidding halt. While on a nice drive on the interstate.

That's the reaction my brain was having.

Hours later I still can't wrap my head around it.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

29

Yesterday was my 29th birthday. I've now entered the last year of my third decade on this planet. A lot of things have been going through my mind over the past month about life, the universe, and everything.

I came to the conclusion that, for almost a couple years now, I've been in a funk. Not a depressed funk, or a mid-life career funk, or a what-does-it-all-mean funk, but a funk nonetheless. And I think that's over. Neat.

I woke up one day, and felt really good for the first time in a long time. And I might consider myself to be a moody person, so I figured I just woke up on the right side of the bed. And then the next day was the same. And the one after that. And so it continued, that, in the middle of this God-forsaken winter, with record cold temperatures, and near record snowfalls, I've been in a pretty good mood for most of the time. It's interesting.

My preferences for music are changing slightly. I'm more inclined to listen to things with strong bass lines, creative beats, electronic influence, and playful melodies and harmonies. Songs composed predominantly with major chords instead of mostly minor. And I guess the interpretation of different sounds has changed slightly as well. It's a funny thing.

I had a series of interviews recently for a job that sounded interesting and challenging, and it didn't work out, but that's ok. I think I'm at a point where my confidence has boosted, or my insecurities about many things has started to drift away. I've gotten interested in trying out new things, and not being afraid of failing at them. Now I'm trying to figure out what it is I'd like to get involved in. There's a lot out there, I guess.

Yesterday I cut mats for some pictures I got from a friend, and it turned out well. Cool, because the walls in my room are pretty bare. Today I'm going to try to put together a new rechargeable battery pack for our cordless sweeper.

It has been a while since I blogged. I think I should do it more often, but I'm not sure if I will.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

coffee and tv.

I had a really tough time sleeping last night, tossing and turning and waking up every couple hours. It was one of those nights with all these vivid dreams that kept running in circles, slamming into each other, and breaking apart in pieces. There were bits of being inside a building that was under attack, being torn apart by gunfire. There was a glimpse of being at an imaginary apartment surrounded by lots of friends without faces at Christmastime. There was a PG-13 clip with dramatic lighting, rain on windows, and an ex-coworker. There was an old friend's yellow lab drinking water out of an old bucket in the driveway during the summer.

I woke up a little late today, had some coffee, sent a couple emails, and went to take a shower. I had an interview today, and I was pretty nervous. I stumbled across something the other day not really looking, slapped together my resume and a couple sketches and sent it in. It's not industrial design, but it's involved, and sounds interesting.

So I shaved today, fully, for the first time in at least a couple years. It's weird. And cold. And you can feel things touch your face.

I suited up, went out to the interview, and was fairly nervous up until I shook the man's hand when I met him. Once I started talking, I was surprisingly calm, articulate, and confident. We talked about my past experience, and I asked him more about the company and my job in particular.

I felt pretty good when I left, but I'm not really concerned if I don't get the job. I guess that's a good thing. I went down the street for lunch at Taza on Franklin, and stood in line behind a dozen people waiting between rows of tables and the counter. The last time I ate here, I was working at Morningstar as a graphic design intern before I graduated. I instinctively glanced around to see if I recognized anyone from my old job, but the only familiar face was the guy making falafels next to the gyro grill.

I scanned the menu, then heard myself mutter "gyro/falafel combo, please." I had defaulted to what I used to order, and man, it's fantastic. I ate, sitting at the window, watching everyone come and go. The owner wasn't around today, but I remembered talking with him and my boss one day when it wasn't so busy. He talked about moving here and running a restaurant in the loop. We talked at length about food, and in the middle he got up and started to make us some Turkish coffee. We all sat and drank and talked for a little while longer, til we all decided it was probably time to get back to work. That was one of those really nice breaks in an otherwise unmemorable day.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

aspirations.

I think everyone did a good job of documenting the happenings at the wedding, so thanks for that. I was really glad to see everyone, especially those from out of town, Dave and Mendy, Nate and Laura, Martha and Matt, Kevin and Jenny, and Angela. The visit was short lived, but packed with happiness.

I'd never been a groomsman before, though I think the three of us pulled off the stereotype pretty well.

Before the ceremony, the photographer pulled Brian, Colin, Kevin, myself and the two ushers outside to take some creative photos. The guy was probably one of my favorite parts about the whole wedding. He played the part perfectly, and it reminded me of someone like Dane Cook doing a bit about a photographer. Picture that. Then his photo booth shot. Serious, or trying to be funny? I can't tell.


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

may tomorrow the land be anew.

This month seems to be flying by.

I've been making some attempts at getting together some work for ID, developing my sketching, and relearning what I actually went to school for. So far it's going alright. I'm more motivated than I have been in almost two years, and I'm feeling pretty good about it.

This weekend is going to be legendary, as our good friend Brian is getting married to Liz, all of the out of town friends will be together, and I'll be donning a tux for the event.

Last week the most exceptional thing in my lifetime happened, and I only had my phone to document it. I know we've all been saturated, but I guess I just don't want the feeling to go away yet. It was great to be there for something so incredible.

What got me is how everyone was so excited to be there, and happy. I got a little lost from our group and meandered closer to the front for a while. I was on the phone trying to find out where the group was when we got Virginia, then moments later when the giant screen showed that Obama won. The roar from the crowd was one of those that was so loud you could feel it from your stomach to your ears. It was like a drowning noise from cicadas, twisting up inside my head, becoming a single tone that almost made me cover my ears.

Next to me, an elderly black woman with whom I'd been chatting grabbed my hand, sort of raising and shaking it, and said, "We did it, baby. We did it!"

I almost lost it right there.

----------------------------------

Halloween was fun, and we carved pumpkins this year. Simone roasted the seeds, and in avoiding the usual GDP, she just salted them and they were great.

With the help of my new lady-friend, Jen, the carving of Walter happened. His look is somewhere between surprised and trying to look innocent, I think. Maybe he's singing. Christmas carols.


----------------------------------

Last night I went to see A.A. Bondy at Schubas. He's kind of a folk-country-rock guy and last night was apparently his first headlining show, though he's been playing for quite some time. It's great music to get you through the winter, soulful and raw. His playing is precise, but not labored, and on several songs he changes the tuning of a couple strings to give a lower, bass-driven sound, smooth alongside his somewhat gritty vocals.


He's no amateur, and although his album American Hearts was recorded in his barn, it sounds great. You should check it out if you like good music.


I got to have a drink with him after the show, and he talked about touring, sleeping in his car, and Obama-Chicago coolness. The coolest thing was that he asked me for my phone number when he was trying to figure out a place to stay for the night. So he almost crashed at Palmer Hall. Would've been neat.

Anyway. I'll try to do this more regularly so things aren't so jumpy-aroundy.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

go, go, go. as fast as your legs can take you.

After a full night's sleep, I spent a good day walking up and down hills, looking at colorful homes, checking out caf├ęs, and walking along the bay. At first I just went up any street that was higher than the one I was currently walking along. I soon noticed how many people had well defined legs.



I hadn't arranged my plans for the next few days, so I did that while resting at the top of a hill in the shade of a large cathedral. Since I was just going to be in San Francisco for the day before heading to Santa Barbara overnight, I had nowhere to store anything, so I was carrying everything I had with me. It was exhausting, but felt good at the same time.



The weather was cool, but sunny, and I had a good time exploring the different neighborhoods that seamlessly butted up against eachother. I like the idea of a city that's so completely walkable, but doesn't feel small. The differences in elevation were crazy to me, giving a constantly changing view of the city.


I walked through Chinatown and North Beach and up through Telegraph Hill, then down toward the pier and watched some teenagers do tricks on bikes that would have left me in a crumpled broken heap on the pavement. I relaxed on the pier until the sun finally crept behind the buildings downtown before making my way to the bus station. I still had a couple hours to kill, but I was cold and exhausted and buried myself in a book until the bus came.




* Dinner with Brian last night "—so this old guy's scooting along the wall like a ninja. We get his gun, and he's got a glock. I mean it's nicer than mine. So I'm wrestling him to the ground, and he puts a voodoo curse on me. So now I'm cursed. And the guy was a Jehova's Witness."

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Monday, October 20, 2008

in the middle of the night.

Stopped for one night in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. The train was late getting in, and I didn't have all that much time to look around, but there was plenty of time to meet a weirdo with whom I shared a hostel. Sweet.

The next day was another two day train ride which brought me into Emeryville, California, across from San Francisco. This ride was great, and we went through the Sierras.

I met some great people on this stretch – some musicians, a woman and her daughter visiting family, a guy heading back to school at Berkeley, a Native American named Yellow Horse, and a New Zealander who lived in Ireland and was vacationing in the States.

I spent a lot of time in the observation car talking with people, learning a couple card games, and making my way back and forth through the train cars. This two-day stretch was pretty special, and as we all talked and told stories, we got to know some of the people working on the train. The engineer was L.A. Walker, the conductor's name was D.C. Cannon though he went by Daryl, and the diner car guys nametags said "Curly" and "Johnny Rivers." I swear I couldn't have come up with better names had I written this part into a movie.

Heather and Kendall (the little one) behind me having a good time, and this nervous guy next to me was moving across country to go to school. It was interesting to learn everyone's story, and how they were all very different.

Lots of people just hung out in their regular train car seats, keeping to themselves and watching movies, reading a book, doing crossword puzzles, or just trying to get comfortable while sleeping. I was glad to have hung out in the lounge car instead. The girl in the green shirt was named "Cloud" (Claudia, but called Cloud since she was five,) and was heading home to Berkeley where she had a jewelry and hair wrap stand on Telegraph Ave.

This girl, Lea, was moving from Denver to the west coast. She was a singer/songwriter/guitarist and had a voice that could knock you down flat and pick you right back up again. She was travelling with another guitar player, and they were just sort of enjoying being transient for the moment and deciding where to stay for a while.


I don't remember this little guy's name, but he was a nice sort of fellow, though somewhat reserved.

The guy that was going back to school at Berkeley looked like kind of a jerk at first glance. Collared light pink shirt, strategically tattered jeans, club shoes, and a half frown on his face. Turns out he was exceptionally nice once I started talking with him, and he was in the middle of trying to get Amtrak to utilize a better recycling program. He was an environmental law student and one night after a few drinks it came up that he played accordion pretty well and had one with him.

Turned into a fun late night with him, Lea, and the other musician all trading off playing songs and entertaining about 6 of us on the lounge car. At night, on the train with guitars, and songs, and even one harmonica. It's either cheesy or pretty amazing, and I'm definitely siding with amazing on this one.

Bert, the other musician.


Look at all that country back there. There's just so much of it.


Three-plus days on the train put me into Emeryville five hours late, and I'd missed my transfers by that point. Decided to take a bus into San Francisco with a few others and figure something out, though it was a Friday night, and I soon found that all the hostels were full. Finally found a hotel and a shower, and spent the next day in San Francisco before taking an overnight bus to see Janice.


On the train, there was this girl in one of the back cars who was travelling alone with just a backpack and this oversized panda bear. She never seemed to leave her seat, and when I'd pass by at night, she'd be peacefully resting against his large expressionless head.

After several days on the train we all dragged ourselves onto the bus, a short distance from our final destination. I hadn't slept well since leaving Chicago, and I was exhausted, sore, and delirious. I collapsed into my seat and stared out the window for a while. When I looked up, I saw this silly little grin beaming back at me, and I just started to laugh.

Sunday, October 05, 2008

foxtrot.

Trains are a lot of fun. Taking a train out west may be one of the best ways to see the countryside. At least that's what I've heard, and although I've never driven through, seeing as you can't really sail through and the fact that you don't see much from 35,000 feet, I'd say that a train ride is definitely in the top two ways to see the left half of the country.


I've never been on a real train before, so I was a little anxious and excited when I got to the station, wondering where everyone was going, who they were visiting, and what sorts of things might be coming up.


I saw one young woman struggling with two suitcases, a large bag, a backpack, and a bicycle. In fact, many people had ridiculous amounts of luggage. While waiting in line to board, I heard someone say my name, and it turns out that the girl with the bike was Sonia (David Morley's girlfriend,) and she was heading to California to visit family.


We shared the ride until I got to Glenwood Springs, my first stop, roughly 28 hours later. It was fun sharing the experience with someone I knew, and as it was her first time going out by train as well, we had a lot of fun together and spent a lot of time in the lounge car.


We shared snacks and stories, met some fun people, and ate in the diner car. A lot of the time we just spent staring out the windows, watching the scenery go by. We went through Illinois and most of southern Iowa the first night, and slept through most of Nebraska. The scenery wasn't as boring as I expected. It was refreshing to see patches of farmland, old homes and ranches, and small towns that sort of ran themselves.


We went past general stores, and people waved. Some stations looked like they had been there for a hundred years. Some were just slabs of concrete next to the rails. One was completely bare except for an elderly woman and an old yellow lab.


One thing I was drawn to once we were in a rural area was the old telephone poles. They were rickety looking, crooked, and chewed up. The lines were thin, and the crossbars all had the old-style glass insulators on top of them which the wires wrapped around. The insulators were different colors and all seemed to catch the sunlight, spilling out rays of green or red light. I wish I could have gotten a good photo of one of them, but it was tough to catch.


Colorado is incredibly picturesque, and I wish we had slowed down a bit once we got into the mountains along the river. It was more than a little humbling, seeing these massive natural structures jutting out of the ground at dramatic angles, scraping the clouds, with trees and other wildlife barely able to cling to the sides. I just wanted to sit and stare all day.


The town of Glenwood Springs is home to some amazing natural hot springs, and since they're visited by tens of thousands of people each year, periodically they will be closed for maintenance or cleaning. It was one of those days when I was there. At least there was a big red mountain.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

this shadow weighs a ton...

one stopover in San francisco and an overnight bus put me in Santa barbara for a couple days with janice. Back to sf tomorrow night for a couple days, then another train north. This is being pecked away on my iPod, stealing a neighbors internet with hopes that it doesn't crash again, so please forgive gram and typo errors. Janice makes a great hostess, so come visit and she might let you borrow the car while she works.

Drove down the 101 to Ventura today where my parents lived for a while a long time ago. The drive was amazing, and I loved every second of it. I came back through Ojai on a winding stretch of highway 150, passing by ranches and citrus farms, and a picturesque spot called the Coyote River runoff basin.

We cooked fish on the grill last night, and janice told me how one of her friends doesn't even own an indoor table, just a picnic table outside since it never rains. It's beautiful here, but I'm doing my best to back Chicago because, hey, what good is a mild summer if you can never look forward to fall, right?

The mountains and tunnels and countryside coming through Colorado were breathtaking, and I see why people say the california zephyr is the best train in the USA. The observation car was packed and everyone's faces were glued to the windows, oohing and aahing and pointing out the landscape. I was pretty taken aback by the sheer size of the mountains on either side as we went through Glenwood Canyon, and the scenery as it unfolded in the valley below. I can tell you, I haven't had much in the way of religious experiences, but someone got that whole part just right.

I'll try to find a real computer soon, so I can post some photos.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

lickity-clack.

I rode a train.
Colorado is beautiful.
As are the Sierra mountains.
Sonia is fun.
Trains are cold.
Lounge cars are for memories.
Schedules are for suckers.
I'm a sucker.
But I'm alive, in San Fransisco, and have a bed to sleep in.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

single cells would swing their fists.

Andrew Bird stood there, alone, the first time in years. Almost insignificant, he was dwarfed by the stage, hiding behind his mop of hair. Looking out at thousands, he began to play, and all the chattering stopped. A single note pierced through the evening, followed by another, then more.

Layers upon layers were built, swished around, manipulated. Deep bass tones bled into playful higher melodies, lighted colors danced around the stage, and everyone sat, contentedly watching and listening.

We had blankets and sheets, throws, sweatshirts, and a tablecloth. Bottles and bottles and bottles of wine, snacks galore, and the best company you could ask for. Those who couldn't make it missed out, and were missed.

Leading up, the weather was a 30 percent chance of rain. Morning of was 60 percent. Before we left for the show, it was up to 70 percent. But not a single drop of rain fell the entire night, and it was a pretty amazing thing.

I'm looking forward to more nights like this coming up, as fall has made its appearance. Good music, great friends, and an even better atmosphere.


















Tuesday, September 02, 2008

Whale fight.

I was walking through the hall when I overheard on the television that the United States is ranked 48th in the world in life expectancy. How in the world can that be possible? I understand that our health care system isn't up there in the top 5, but I never would have expected us to come in that far down the list.

It got me thinking about different aspects of our lives, and how much time is spent doing different things. Work, exercise, socializing, family, food, relaxing. Maybe somewhere along the lines we got it all wrong. Maybe our priorities need to be re-evaluated. Or maybe it just requires some simple modifications to the way we already do things.

*
Yesterday, we had a nice bbq at Nate and Kate's place, and damn, I don't know how, but Nate always makes the best pork chops I've ever had. We all sat around the kitchen floor and talked for a while, had a few drinks, and Kate broke out a deep fryer. It was its maiden voyage, and how better to christen a fryer than with curly fries? Oh, I'll tell you how.

Funnel-cake battered, deep fried Snickers.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "I'm completely, utterly repulsed. Yet I can't stop salivating..."

*
Andrew Bird at the Pritzker Pavilion tomorrow. 74 degrees.
Chance of rain: 30%
Chance of awesome: 100%

Friday, August 29, 2008

billish.

It's Friday evening, another beautiful summer night. I did some reading, watered plants, cleaned up a little, and now I'm relaxing. Watching people come home from work, playing with their dogs in the park, talking on the bench across the street. The air is still, and the rhythmic sounds of the cicadas are loud and sweeping, competing with the bird's lazy songs. I guess it can be nice sometimes to just appreciate what's going on around you.


*sigh*


If something doesn't happen around here soon, I'm gonna go nuts.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Well, Tim, you're not in college anymore...

Went to see my friend Zach play a show at Uncommon Ground tonight in Lakeview. I'd never been there before, and judging by the people I knew who went there and those who worked there I figured it was sort of a dark, hipster bar, full of bikers, PBRs, indie music, and tight pants. I was a little off.

It's kind of a nice restaurant, split into three parts, with an extensive wine list and expensive meals. They do have lots of local art, and music in the back room.

There was a good but pretentious violinist who played beforehand, and I thought it a little rude when he asked people to be quiet. Zach played next, piano and organ, plus one song that was a duet with a sultry blonde on guitar.

I met up with some old co-workers and we had wine and talked and listened to the music, and it was all generally pretty nice. There was a good mix of lighthearted songs, and heavier ones with really warm melodies.

The temperature was just about perfect tonight, and the bike ride home was cool, and refreshing. Fall is in the air. You can feel it, and smell it, and almost taste it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

making hash browns.

It's a rather beautiful summer night tonight. The light, a sort of deep, orangish pink, is turning all the greens dark and rich. The cicadas are singing, and there's a cool breeze. The clouds are low, moving swiftly, and people are active in the park.

It's pretty perfect, save for the crazy man who's been yelling in the park for the past hour and a half.
*
So I've decided not to teach the Earth Team this semester. It's been fun and interesting over the past year, and I feel like I've learned so much from so many different students. Teaching (sort of) high-schoolers has been an experience unlike anything I've ever done before, and I've gained a new respect for those who do it full-time. This summer was almost full-time, and I was taken to my limit several times over the course of the program. Granted, the students I worked with over the summer were different than those I would be working with during the school year, and much more difficult to manage.

– Been running a lot this week, and it's a good thing. Even on days I feel like crap, and I don't really get anything done that feels substantial, if I go running I feel like I've got at least one accomplishment for the day.

– Also biking a lot the past couple weeks, just for fun. To the lake, up north, places of the city I haven't been before. It's interesting, and introspective, and fun. I think I might make a hobby of it.

Ok, seriously, this guy sounds like a cross between a man calling his dog (whose name is just a repeating series of vowels) in monotone, and a zombie trying to sound like James Brown screaming.