27 November 2010

the reenchantment of the world

I was all dressed to jog when I looked out my window and saw needles of rain slanting past. Exasperated, I undressed and watched the rest of When In Rome, feeling guiltily entertained and unproductive. Romantic comedies have never been my thing (they make me feel too girly), but what's a guilty pleasure if it isn't unpleasant and dislikeable in some way?

After the movie, golden sunlight made the slick world glow outside, and I bounded back into my workout clothes and out the door. Everyone was putting out free stuff, and just as I nearly fell over myself noticing a narrow, asymmetrical two-story boat-shaped house on McGee, I stumbled upon a curbside box with all the colors of thread I'd been wanting for months, and a seal keychain and tennis balls and poster tape. I couldn't believe how useful it all was and stashed some into my back pocket, resolving to take the rest on the way home. As usual, I deliberately chose random streets I hadn't seen before and eventually wound my way through a charming Victorian-lined lane to the Ohlone Trail, where I discovered that there were two halves to the community garden, one of which I had never noticed. I turned around at Gilman, but not before wandering into a plant nursery and realizing I could buy all the garden things I'd been wanting here and wondering at the beautiful flowering kale and dreaming of having my own garden, built from scratch, a clean doorstep, and time to cook dinner every night. Fat chance, you tenure-dreaming academic, you.

Normally I avoid wide car-dominated streets like Sacramento, but on the way back I was drawn to an outdoor tent on the sidewalk that seemed to be exploding with wooden wares I couldn't quite identify from a distance. To my amazement, it was the birdhouse tent I've often driven past. The artist Michael introduced himself and invited me into the backyard. I picked my way through his garage, which was clearly a basement performing arts venue with an elaborate upright piano and bar, and up a steep flight of stairs where I found myself beneath the shade of trees in a bewildering maze of birdhouses, each so different from the rest. It was another world, right off that busy commuter thoroughfare--a world of debris-turned-magic. Amongst the rows was the birdhouse of my dreams: a chapel with a little belltower. Save that one for me, Michael (how you remind me of Paul and his loft-turned-performing-arts-center), until I have a chance to break open the piggybank and return for the Friday music!

As if this wasn't enough, after picking up the rest of the loot on McGee and doing another double-take at the nautical house I must have passed multiple times and never noted, I stumbled upon Helly Welly's lighting store. I was walking now to cool down and the storefront, past which I had driven so many times, issued a challenge to the greying sky with golden light and musical instrument lamps. Helly led me through a wonderland of clarinet lamps and chandeliers made with transparencies she'd created in 1970s performance art events.

I made the final leg home in twilight, when all the world holds its breath in anticipation of the night. Time comes to a standstill at twilight, and it seems that time could stay stopped forever, and yet twilight is the most fleeting and rapidly changing part of the day, yielding to dusk and then to darkness. I can't love it enough. I was regretting missing Berkeley Artisans Holiday Open Studios this weekend, but the open studios found me, as they often find wanderers.

26 November 2010


I made pie and matzo ball soup for the first time. I biked the Tunnel Road - Grizzly Peak - Centennial Drive loop to completion for the first time. It all proved way easier than I expected. If I had a vacation every month there might well be nothing left in the world to do for the first time.

19 November 2010

shooting stars

Although my short-term memory is abysmal, I'm starting to realize I have a long-term subconscious calendar memory that's uncannily precise. I've suddenly remembered to look up people's birthdays only to find that it was their birthday that day. And tonight I suddenly thought to look up when the Leonid meteor shower, an event I only seem to remember once a year or less, was going to happen, and found that it peaked yesterday. Alas, no staying up late for me until my organ recital at St. John's is finally squared away this Sunday.