I’m de Huntington Beach (oft abbreved to HB, which I have begun to refer to as “the Hubs”). There the sun is pretty much always shining. It’s a fetishized clime with its aggrandized azure and nary a cloud, but sun-uninterrupted becomes humdrum, especially for one complected more toward freckling than godly bronzage. Living down that-a-way I relished the rare rain day; El Niño ’97 had me in kiddo ecstasy. I remember vividly hearing the word’s “flash flood” on the car radio and experiencing frissons of anarchic glee.
I'm now nearly a dozen years deep in the Bay. Though the fabled North is itself quite temperate, there's a better semblance of seasons here, and I savor every bit of Weather that comes our way. This so-far wet winter has been great, yes because duh drought, but also because I continue to be butt-crazy in love with la lluvia. For starters it's great for exercisin' in. I'm not often so lucky, but swimming in rain is strange magic and anyone who has can attest. As for rain running, I invariably find myself faster, in part because the misting helps keep my temp down, but beyond that the air itself seems to contain a charge. Wind-whipped storm hikes are similarly invigorating, like moving through palpable energy. (All this within reason, and waterproof footwear is paramount for anything at all extended.)
Beyond the bodily, rain transforms the look and feel of places. For me anyway, ugly places are rendered less uggo; sans stark sun strip malls blur and soften into aesthetic acceptability. If you're lucky enough to be somewhere nature-y and lovely, rain flips a switch there too, awakening frogs, unleashing smells, endowing streams with vigor, and giving trees a pattering audio track of drip-drops and leaf-rustles. Days that would feel commonplace are transmuted and potentialized (another neo-lohj). Just as a "certain slant of [afternoon] light" can feel like a dose of erasing white depression boring right into your skull, so can a time and place metamorphose to be infused with mysterious possibility when sun is diffused by mist.
I guess I'm in general a lot about light, indoor as well as outdoor (maybe to an unreasonable degree--bad light invariably conjures an unsettled temper-tantrumy vibe where I obsessively want to adjust it, and nice light = my brain sinking into a soothing bath of lapping contentment). Beyond my weirdness I think love the look sun takes through clouds partly because I have the usual blue-eyed mole-person sensitivity to bright sun, but also because I appreciate what darkened skies do to pop and saturate color in a landscape. Even more so since I started taking pictures I've had a slavering devotion to overcast days, and can feel an outing ruined with dissipating cloud-cover (that's extreme, but I do put the camera away). In the summer Rama feeds my mania by taking me up to Tilden for early morning June gloom fog-hunting, but this neen-yoh winter's provided an abundance of gray days I've been collecting like Tahitian pearls.
Because R's working on improving one of his rental units (which will inshallah be Officially Rented 3/15) we've been more tethered than yoozh, even if just energetically by the dreaded shoulds. We've been more about quickie hikes in East Bay parks and half-day jaunts on Tam, with a little North-directed day-tripping to boot. Psychically I've missed the catharsis of Escape!, but we've had lots of lovely outings that warrant my appreciation (and documentation).
Good Ol' Tilden
Tilden's the first "nature" I found in the Bay Area, and I felt so #blessed to live in a "city" (Berkeley is definitely a city compared to my 'burbed beginnings) that possessed such pristine-ness-ossity a mere ten minutes from its hub. My last two years of college (excepting our semester-long European stint) Stacy and I shared an abode in the Berkeley Hills. The apartment itself was very whatevs, but it featured a massive wall of windows at tree-house level, that in the day was all canyon and squirrels and jays and deer, and was at night a jaw-dropping, hypnotic panorama of the blinking city below. I loved living there, and visiting Tilden still conjures that same feeling of being above the city, like a Jack and the Beanstalk illustration. Rama and I have at this point covered most of the Tilden trails (he hearts fahrtfinder-ing), and we have established our favored rutted loops when we're pressed for time but want a dose. We got to hike one of these with Tim recently when he was East Bay dog-sitting supermodel Eva; Poundo, it must be said, was extremely well-behaved on his doggy date.
I've explored Redwood Regional Park a lot less. Back in the day I'd gone up to Joaquin Miller a couple times (to its archery range once--got creeped by the armed nerd contingent--and to the Chabot Space and Science Center for a solar eclipse). I went on a memorably awful trail run with Emma and her friend a couple years back--a few miles in I was hit with the most intense and excruciating midsection cramping. I pretty much never experience inexplicable pain and was completely freaked. Emma was ready to get me air-lifted out, but I somehow managed to very slowly make my way back to the car. It was hellish: I'd walk a few steps, then get hit by a wave and literally lie down in the mud until is subsided enough for me to move a few more feet along the trail. Heinous, but the pain went away after an hour or two, and I never did ascertain what caused it. First I thought my IUD must be out of place (it wasn't), but I suspect I was experiencing mittelschmerz, which is basically painful ovulation, and is often confused with appendicitis symptom-wise.
K quite the detour there, but back on track: Rama and I have done a moderate amount of hiking in Redwood Regional and I love it. We recently had a quick late-afternoon fix following a particularly demoralizing brunch shift, and it very handily set me right, mood-wise. Redwoods spin their own numinous circles of influence, and I kind of love that I've never really been able to camera-capture the look and feeling of the wheeling space and gravity they create.
The swell's been enorm, which makes Rama gaga as he is a madman (or to employ the official lingo a "Hell Man": he charges). And so we've had some surf-y city days of late. Usually R's at OB and I'll do a Golden Gate Park run then hunker down to read or write and await at the Park Chalet or the Cliff House. He's also had a couple seshes as Deddie's Brooooh (Deadman's Cove--named for the olden-days water-worn tombstones piled on the tiny beach), which he usually avoids because it's such a crowded agro LOCAL scene. Zeke described the vibe there as the starting line at a motorcycle race. MLK Day we peeped it with Liz (who is a nine-to-five gunner and doesn't usually get to accompany us on our Monday jaunts).
R opted not to surf that day and we ended up all three doing a short Golden Gate Run (Liz is having back problems--such doo-doo), then had an incredibly yum lunch of oysters (I'm an old pro now), clam chowder (very spot-hitting), and their ridick delish popovers (they serve them at lunch only--word to the fucking wise).
We did some shopping, then grabbed a beer at Magnolia, followed by an a'ight dinner and another beer at Barrelhead Brewhouse (Rama funnily may rent to one of its owners) where R and Liz could watch the Warriors.
Another drizzly day found me flying solo during the surf sesh. Ram first peeped Fort Point but didn't find it firing (I myself got a cheap thrill playing chicken with the waves surging up into the parking lot).
He settled instead on Deadman's; there aren't a lot of places to hang right in the zone, and so it was decided I'd kill the mid-afternoon at the nearby Legion of Honor. Rama has through his UCB Botanical Garden Membership an awesome pass that grants free entry to most SF museos. (He gave Madz the secondary pass since I'm most always his "guest," which the little betch has yet to utilize. I need to remember to nag her about it.) And so he granted me access and then zoomed off to catch a few.
I've next to never museum-ed solo (save occasional wanderings through the BAM back in my schooldays). I know it's a thing to do (Carrie makes it sound so romantical on SATC), but for me museum-ing's always been companionable-like. In junior high and high school I was blessed with Teri Hagen's bestie-hood; girlfriend's always been a fervent art appreciator and throughout our tweens and teens spearheaded several missions to the Getty, LACMA, and the Huntington (among others). Whilst 'studying abroad' in England, Eisen (who is a very diligent pardner) and I hit shitloads of Euro musée, and in the post-college years Maddy proved herself game for a plenitude of (not overlong--she's a little more ADD-inclined) SF museum forays. In most recent años Rama and I also have passed many a time-pocket paying visits.
It felt frankly weird to be alone, and yet most of the people wandering the Legion's in-your-face-opulent galleries were unaccompanied. Maybe some are hardcore art aficionados who want to sit down and stare at and mezditate on and marinate in a work without feeling rushed, maybe some are jump-starting their own creative batteries with a quick inspirational plug-in, maybe some are taking their loneliness to lunch with a deliciously melancholy self-date. Maybe some are creepy beta-males trying to troll for the previous (one of these follow-y lurkers had me doing to the old furtive middle-to-ring-finger transfer; it's really gross but post-glasses I've been going fake-matron a lot, especially at work with lech-y middle-aged business asshole clientele--Dorothy Parker 4 lyfe).
It made me think about how infrequent it is for me to be in (relatively) unfamiliar space by myself. Sure I have alone-time in places I know; most of my runs are sans companion, which I prefer as they seem to serve as my jenky "meditation practice." I remember reading the differentiation between an extrovert and an introvert is if they recharge in the company of others or on their own. I'm by no means solitary. I have lots of friendlies, a handful of bosoms, a few besties, and am tight with my fam. Maddy's not only my sister, but also my baby momma/muse/hero/closest confidante/bff, and Rama is the capital "P" Partner I never even knew I wanted. And yet time alone is the cornerstone of my mental well-being (so I do think think I'm more intro than extro, though moderation in all), but unless that alone-time is in familiar zones I seem to have trouble achieving that beneficial centering energy.
One of my friends Balone (Ilona) who is a total bad-ass (and has been since I've known her--Freshman year when I was just squeaking by adjustment-wise, she was already sampling every restaurant, visiting every exhibit, and seeing every show) just completed a solo seven-week adventure through Asia, and last year she took a one-woman vaycay to Peru. !The cojones! The only time I've "traveled alone" (obviously I'm not counting visits between people) was for an overnight to Manchester to see a Will Oldham show. It wasn't ideal--I stayed at a hostel and was navigating a strange city at night--but I hated it. I was so far from at ease. Who knows what's in store, but I don't know that I'll ever in this life be a romantique voyageur solitaire. I also don't know that I need to be, happiness-wise.
In my last relationship I often felt lonely in the company of my boyfriend. We didn't see eye-to-eye a lot of the time, and much of our energetic interaction felt (to me at least) like an ojo por ojo power volley. We were industriously venturesome though, and did a fair amount of day-tripping. He'd usually act like a recalcitrant grump for at least the first half of the outing, then we'd have some hours of better-quality time, and then we'd head home. On drives back I remember the deep ache of looking out at the lit windows of passing houses and imagining the close coziness within, myself feeling miles and miles from the person a half-foot to my left. (Quelle tragédie. He wasn't a grouch a lot of the time, and we had a lot of fun too--I'm just in soul-searching mode and taking a particular perspective on it all.) Not to get all Goofus and Gallant, but travels with R the world's made "hale and harmless"--when another person feels like home base you don't get that same un-anchored sadness moving through space.
My wussy squirminess going stag at the Legion reminded me of that exhortation to "do something that makes you feel uncomfortable every day." I don't know if I totally jive with it. I think I prefer to stretch myself like slow-growing plant, extending a reaching tendril in gradual creeping increments. That might not be the best metaphor. Rama and I ran into Sarah--an old Flora gal and friend--at Drake's Dealership a couple nights ago. Rama fell into convo with her guy-pal, and Sarah and I started talking astrology. Disclaimer: I grew up thinking astrology was complete, utter, 100% bullshit. I didn't know much about it, mind, but that was my inherited opinion (from my dad). Freshman year I reconsidered when Balone, who is partly Russian (I ticked astrology was big in Russia when I had the sun signs as vocab words in Russian II), correctly identified the signs of my family and best friends from home, having no notion of their birth dates, simply from how I had described them to her. It was uncanny.
Back to Sarah: she was born 5/10/86 in Alameda. I was born 5/13/86 in the Hubs. There's a lot more going on in "one's stars" than sun signs, but we are strikingly similar in a lot of Taurus-y ways. For a long time I hated my sign (Sarah did too). I wanted to be some cool ruthless man-eating creatively-consumed artist/philosopher/wanderer, and instead I read I was destined to be materialistic, unfailingly loyal, slow-to-act, and stubborn. I am very stubborn. Basic maturity means recognizing the loyalty thing as a positive (I'm actually doubled up on loyalty as a Cancer moon, though that is in turn balanced by the pull of Venus in Gemini, and I'm glad the flaky flirty flightiness of that is pretty mild and generally tempered by my sun and moon into levity, slight unpredictability, and tame irreverence).
Sarah was actually the person, years back, who made me feel okay about the "materialistic" biz. She explained it didn't necessarily mean greedy or obsessed with gaining status through stuff (neither of those ring true for me), but it could mean appreciating nice things. This is definitely accurate. I am particular about objects and discerning about what I wear. I can't stand stuff that feels tacky or cheap. I like things with a degree of quality (within reason, moneybags-wise). I love things that have meaning contained in them, stuff that was designed and/or made with intention and care and an interest in detail. This extends very definitely into how I feel about art. I want it to possess the gravity of thoughtfulness, rigor, thoroughness, and conviction. In general Taurus peeps are supposed to be dialed-in aesthetically, and Sarah and I talked about the importance of being in beautiful, good-feeling space--candles, flowers, music, the works. We like thing to be nice and comfortable.
Taurean slowness-to-act seems to me related to that "do something uncomfortable" shiz. I really, really value feeling at ease. There's no doubt I could and prob should take more (small and calculated) risks, and I want to (gently) work on that. But I'm starting to learn I don't hate this slowness in myself. I trust my gut, and I've very rarely found myself in situations that feel off and give me cause for regret (which I next to never experience). When I do make moves they are long-considered, but they are decisively executed and absolute. I don't feel like a tattered thing blowing in the wind. Giving my actions gravity cycles with esteeming myself and the meaning of my time here. I trust myself. I think (aside from the shitty blind spots I know we all have) I know myself pretty well, and that allows me to work on myself. And I like myself and my own trusty pig-headed company. That being said I really should work on being less chicken when stuff presents itself. #farmwisdom
Longest tangent ehvuh. Apologies to those who opine astrology's hooey. I seem to have become that boiler plate woman droning endlessly about star charts. Mah bad.
Here are some photos of fave Legion pieces (I had to use my shitty phone camera instead of R's better phone camera and there's something off about them).
I grabbed a crazy loaded salad in the museum cafe and read for a spell before resuming my wandering.
Rama texted to ask where I was (sitting on a bench in one of the galleries) and I looked up to see him standing ten feet away not seeing me. He set off searching down a long arcade of gallery rooms with me stalking his heels at a quick but stealthy pace. In the final red room he turned finally to see me, and together we peeped its single painting, Raphael's "Lady with a Unicorn."
We left the museum, and Rama had to peep Deddies again (though he'd just finished a few hours of surfing), 'cause FOMO.
After a spell we grabbed a good dinner at Suppenküche (Zeke's rec--I loved the hunks of chewy dark German bread), then met Zeke for a beer and some Warriors before rolling back to the East Bay.
Rama and I had another short rain hike with Tim in Mill Valley. It was some good QT, and they were thinking and talking a lot about their friend Dan who had passed away but whose spirit felt very present.
Rituals (especially small and private ones) are important.
I appreciate this mountain more and more; R and I passed a particularly paradisiacal day there recently, from which I'm going to post a buttload of redundant photos because I like them all and I don't feel like pruning.
We wound our way up the mountain through thick cloud; naturally I was giddy to get out and start snapping pics, but when we emerged onto the crest's parking lot it was suddenly blue skies. Then just as suddenly the fog god heard my plea and the mist started blowing in at a striking speed. I took a couple film shots of the rapidly-changing cloudscape--this film was so shitty and weird, but here they are:
Rama, Bird Man, I believe took this one:
And back to phone pics. We dallied a few minutes in the P-lot getting our crap gathered.
And we were off.
We hiked to a distinctive zone with some dwarfed (by the rocky soil probably) Sargent Juniper--I think it's a popular species for bonsai, though these trees aren't nearly that small. The grove has a lot of very visible mistletoe action going on; I've only ever known mistletoe as the scandalous Christmas decoration, but it's apparently a parasite that can eventually kill its host.
In the middle of the junipers there's a cool rocky clearing, and we paused there for a can of beer. Rama and Poundo also partook of some some gross smoked salmon that had been left unrefrigerated for longer than I found appetizing (for a day and overnight on a car seat--Am I Diva?). Rama argued that since it was smoked it was already preserved, but I'm dubious. It's kept cool in the grocery store, and anyway I'm already so iffy about fish.
I was (obviously) pretty enamored of this little tree portal. On film also, though this shit film makes me cuckoo.
I do however like the way they're composed (I think I've always had a symmetrizing visual fixation), not to mention the subject matter. Beer and food-poisoning break complete, we recommenced our trek.
Have you ever cupped your palms behind your ears as Rama's doing in the photo below? It's incredibly effective for amplifying sound--R's dad Richard calls it "Dr. Dick's Hearing Hands."
A bit more hiking and another quick snack break. We were uncharacteristically ill-prepared provisions-wise (don't eat the salmooooooon), and had bought a very overpriced bag of stale corn nuts from the old man who sells trail mix and fruit and nuts out of the back of his truck en route to Muir Beach and Woods. We also had a couple tasty apples.
A bit farther through the trees and one of my favorite meadows materialized, shrouded in mist and water-colored with the most beautiful cloud-veiled waning daylight. We took many pics:
Passing through and wrapping around the grassland we came upon a massive uprooted tree.
We'd begun to lose the light and so started to wend our way back to the car.
We made it back to the coche practically exactly at nightfall, then met Esan, his pal, Nicole, and her Dad at the Marin Brew Co. (my first time eating there--very ick white rice veggie tostada, but delicious jalapeño poppers, which I'd never had anywhere before and Liz just informed me are "very white trash") for some Warriors (see the running theme here? Gooooooooo hand-game!!!).
We've been neglecting Point Reyes lately, though Rama and I did make it out one gloomy día for a hikey-poo on the Bolinas Ridge Trail. We'd parked and were about to embark when a shady vagrant dude came trudging up the road, then stopped a few yards away from the vehicle to light up a surly cigarette. We were sketched and reluctant to abandon the car jammed with crap, and so began a queer passive aggressive standoff waiting for the dude to resume his course. He in turn started on a second cig, and I killed the time by taking some film pics.
I finished the roll and then effed up and opened the back of the camera before rewinding, exposing the last couple photos to light. They turned out almost interesting:
We finally got bored and abandoned the car--it was untouched upon our return. The guy could probably tell what we were thinking and wanted to fuck with us, and who can blame him? The hike itself was uneventful but nice.
Mostly though we've been farther north along the coast; sometimes "we" is just Rommer and Poundy and I,
and some days Maddog's in the mix.
We've had some pleasant ventures.
One especially stormy day we pulled over a few times on our northerly drive to dig on the fields steeped in green, the narcissus beginning to bloom, and the white-out vistas.
Come hike-time Maddy assumed Rama's extra rain pants.
I stuck with my usual cotton top and spandex leggings. Four hours later I was soaked to the chilled, teeth-chattering bone; Rama was literally wringing out the pockets of my dripping draping top. Before leaving we stopped briefly to scarf our picnickables (this time a great spread--the highlight was probably dipping Maddy's superlative gluten-free Glutino pretzels in hummer), then headed back toward the car, cans in hand. Rama is adamantly opposed to hiking with glass (I've left many a sad San Pellegrino behind in the car), which is very good sense, especially on this particularly slippery day. I think each of us went man-down at least once on our walk back (wet logs are Tretch), and Maddy and I were beside ourselves with laughter recounting Hall of Fame Fall stories.
It's undisciplined that I want to end this (especially ungainly) entry laughing, but I want to end this entry laughing, recalling that lovely gray day, pearly everlasting.