Monday, November 29, 2004

Thanksgiving (and a mini bus report from Beantown)

I spent a lovely Thanksgiving weekend in, here it goes: Brookline, Scarsdale and Somerset with cameo appearances in New Brunswick NJ, Brighton MA, Allston, MA and Trenton, NJ.
If you showered me with love, affection and hospitality I am grateful.
I took the 57 bus through Brighton after visiting the H. family. The bus was warm and never got too crowded. I kind of wanted a transfer but I never know which T lines offer them, so I just got off on Brighton Ave. and walked.
I saw the Hs., the Ys., Miss M. and A. I was given birthday cake twice in public and once at the Ns.
I saw the bird, who is doing quite well.
Coolidge Corner continues to lose it's neighborhood flavor.
Kenmore Square looks more foreign every time I pass through.
I scored big in the book department this birthday. K. gave me the new Michael Chabon, M. gave me a Paul Auster book, and C. gave me a first edition signed copy of In The Time Of The Butterflies.

Monday, November 15, 2004

Bus Report #31

I rode some new (to me) routes this weekend.
The 28 bus goes from SF State to Fort Mason. I was trying to get down to Cost Plus with as little hassle as possible, and the map imprinted on my brain told me that the 28 was the way to go. The bus passes through the Presidio. The Eucalyptus smelled wonderful and fresh. Then we were at a roundabout near the Golden Gate Bridge, which was beautiful on a not-foggy Saturday morning. We sped past Crissy Field, abandoned military housing and active military housing, the Palace of Fine Arts and then straight down Lombard, through a part of town I never visit. I started to feel a little lost so I got off the bus at Bay, and strolled through Fort Mason. Lovely.
On my triumphant return trip, I took the 15 Third Street bus downtown. Not scenic, but now I know where that bus goes before it hits Market. Got to see North Beach without having to be on foot or looking for a parking space.

Tuesday, November 09, 2004


I recently learned that WordsWorth, the bookstore I used to work at in Harvard Square, has closed.
Working in retail is hard, working in books is very hard, but I met some of my favorite people at the store, got a nice discount, and had a pretty good experience. Some random memories:
-I got the chance to work readings with Junot Diaz and Chang-rae Lee, who are two of my heroes, and Allegra Goodman and some other people, too.
-I experienced last call at Charlie's a couple of times a week.
-Waiting for the 66 Dudley Station bus at 1:20 AM with Rachael and Andy.
-The WordsWorth baby, who is almost 6 years old.
-Listening to Andy and Makoto's punk band play a show at a local drag club.
-Fresh copies of new books, arranged in a 'gentle cascade' on the front tables.
-Special orders, Special orders, Special orders.
-Lunch breaks and a shared locker with Cheryl.
-Advanced reader's copies of coveted books.
-The daily receiving line, little me catching 50 pound boxes off of a conveyor belt.
-Merchandising the windows.
-Ed, the homeless man who 'lived' beneath the stairs. Our manager installed a smoke alarm in Ed's lair when he was out one day.
-Being able to take breaks and go outside to Harvard Square, pre-Abercrombie and Sunglass Hut, when Sage's and Billings & Stover still existed, when buskers played acoustic guitar in the square, in the T station.
-Special guests catching me unawares.
-Tall Brian, who called me 'Chief'
-A section for British Books
-The guy who came into the annex when I was the only person working, who challenged me to an arm wrestle.
-Runs to the Tealuxe with Rhys.
-Music wars.

Rest in peace, WordsWorth! And good luck to my now unemployed old friends....

Bus Report #30

Unbearable ride today and it had nothing to do with the kids, the weather or the driver.
It was my seatmate.
1. This guy, we'll call him Claude (cause I hate that name) gets on the bus at my stop, and seat hops for about 5 minutes.
2. After trying 4 different seats on the bus he settles next to me.
3. And IMMEDIATELY breaks my reverie by asking me if I want the window open.
C: You want the window open?
R: If that's ok with you.
C: Well, that's what I'm asking you. DO YOU WANT IT OPEN?
R: Yes, yes I do.
He said it all in such a jerky fashion. Hello, the bus is stuffy, it's not raining and it's not cold, of course I want it open!
So, already he's annoying and a pill. I turn up my CD
4. The kids stream onto the bus, en masse from a broken 22 up at Grove. I notice another broken 22 right across the street in the opposite direction. The bus is so packed there's no room for anyone to move.
5. A little girl's backpack brushes Claude's shoulder and he shoves it (and the girl) away. But since the bus is packed, she moves right back to where she was. He shoves again.
I glare, roll my eyes, suck my teeth.
6. AND THEN, Claude opens his newpaper.
7. Not in the intricate 4-fold way that every other bus rider opens their paper, but in the regular way, elbows and wrists out.
8. Elbows and wrists in my face.
9. So: It's okay to be in MY face, but no backpacks can be in HIS face.
10. I try to take up as much room as I can, but it's not much. At Haight, I notice another broken bus, a 7.
11. Claude almost misses his stop, and gets all twitchy about it, and flails off the bus.
12. I wish he'd missed his stop, because he deserved it.

Monday, November 01, 2004

Pain/No Pain

I read an interesting article today, about a little girl who cannot feel pain. It's a problem with her nerves, or something, I don't recall the details but it was just fascinating.
For a moment I wished we all had that ability, but then I took it back.
Because feeling pain can be a good thing.
It reminds us that we are alive.
It alerts us to physical danger.
For some people, it can serve as a release.
Not feeling emotional pain, now there's a health problem I think we can all get behind.


Pretty uneventful Halloween in the Fog City.
The oddest thing I saw was the sign at the bank, which read (and I am paraphrasing):
For the safety of yourselves and others, please remove all HALLOWEEN MASKS when entering the bank. Thank you.

How weird. And the bank was not even open on Halloween, since it was a Sunday.