Friday, May 29, 2009

I feel more relaxed this week than I have in awhile. No doubt this is attributable to the road trip to Portland last weekend. Despite the fact that I've lived nearly all my life within a twenty or thirty mile radius of where I'm currently sitting and typing, travel is in my blood. I need to throw a bunch of stuff in a bag and go on walkabout, or drive-about, as the case usually turns out to be. I need to experience the subtle differences offered by other cities and other hills. I need to watch the landscape flashing by as I drain a cup of coffee from a nowhere roadside diner or as I crunch on whatever snacks occupy the space between the seats. It's nice to have like-minded friends along for the ride too. We're only as old and settled as we feel, and I'm increasingly finding that my true friends are a lot younger in spirit and a lot less "settled" or "stuck" than other people our age. It's the attitude and the creativity that keep us young.

I also am reminded that suburbia, and the suburban lifestyle, gives me the chills. I have nothing against the majority of the people who live in suburbia (I'm one of them, after all), but suburbia often feels like a cultural dead zone - sort of like those oceanic dead zones spreading out from river deltas all over the world. Suburbia is spreading out from the cities, but instead of taking any of that vital city culture along for the ride, it just takes the cookie-cutter shopping centers and rows of tract housing - and everybody knows those are poison. Maybe it's because most of the "edgy" people either live in the heart of things or far off the grid.

During my years of marriage, we seldom ever did that kind of thing. Hell, we never even had a honeymoon. Not anybody's fault, really - more due to timing and circumstances and all that. Still, I'm enjoying the freedom to hit the road now and then. I plan to do it more often now, if I can manage it.

I'm trying to find the right balance between responsibility and irresponsibility here. It's all about balance, after all.

Currently listening to: Tor Lundvall "Sleeping and Hiding" lp

Thursday, May 28, 2009

I almost forgot to mention Willow's question for me after I got back from Portland: "Did you meet any people that spoke Portlandish?"

I had to tell her no. Outlandish, maybe, but Portlandish, no.

Portland really isn't that far away. When I found out that Amebix were playing there over Memorial Day weekend, I realized that I had three days during which I had no other responsibilities, so I jumped on the opportunity to get out of town for a few days. In the end, only my friend Devon also had the weekend free, so the two of us left early Saturday morning. I picked Devon up at his place in Emeryville and we hit I-5, stopping briefly in Weed for gas and some filling Mexican food, and then again in Grant's Pass to futilely search for a bookstore Devon remembered from a previous trip. In the end, we made in to Portland in slightly over 11 hours.

I had arranged to stay at my friend Howard's place, and stay there we did. It's funny how similar Devon and Howard's apartments are - lots of the same movies and toys and other detritus stacked on overburdened shelves. The two of them had never met, and hit it off pretty much instantly. Devon and I both met Howard's girlfriend, Miranda, for the first time. I like her - she makes multimedia art pieces, and while we were there was involved in disemboweling stuffed animals, turning them inside out, and re-sewing them. Cool. We managed to luck out and eat at some good restaurants too - a place called Paradox, at which a friend of Devon's worked as a cook, another vegetarian restaurant whose name escapes me, and the almighty Voodoo Donuts. A couple of Devon's friends live around the corner from the Paradox as well, so there were lots of new people for me to meet and talk to.

We also went a bit north to visit our mutual friend Courtney, who I hadn't seen in 12 years and Devon hadn't seen in even longer. It was nice to reconnect and wander around in the mild sunshine. I came away from Courtney's with a bit of kombucha floating in a nalgene bottle, which I have since transferred to a large glass container in my apartment. Time will tell if I can inspire it to thrive.

It was great to just hang out and reconnect without having to watch the time (other than to make sure we made it to Amebix in time, that is...). I found myself re-inspired by all of the creativity and life choices evident in the people we spent time with over the weekend. I felt comforted by the fact that many of them (especially Howard and Devon) are also obsessive collectors with apartments full of fascinating piles of books, dvds, cds, and other subcultural detritus.

It was nice wandering into Voodoo Donuts at around 2am and buying strange donuts (there were human-shaped ones pin-cushioned with strategically placed pretzels, donuts covered in sugar cereal, and many other mouth watering treats). It made me realize that in many ways, my life is no longer as free as it once was, but I'm okay with that. It makes moments of nocturnal donut-eating abandon all the more rewarding. We also wandered past the Doug Fir Lounge, where I'd performed as part of on a previous trip. It was interesting to note that across the street from the Doug Fir is a Mad Science franchise - a company that I still very occasionally work for.

The show itself was great. Howard came along after deciding not to go see Windy & Carl perform (The Melvins were also performing that night - choices, choices). He hadn't previously heard Amebix, but came out with a big smile on his face. For more in-depth report on the show, go here.

I always feel more alive when I'm traveling. I love anticipating whatever might be around the next corner, even if it's just another stretch of freeway. The weekend whipped by of course, and we hit the road on Monday afternoon. I made it back to my place in 10 hours and 15 minutes, without even speeding too excessively.

Thanks to the holiday, I came back home to an abbreviated work week. As I type, there's only one more night to go before my weekend begins. Last night, as I drove to work, I had one of those moments of sudden realization that I was about to run over an animal on the road leading to camp. It was too late to brake, so I took evasive action, steering so that the wheels would pass harmlessly by on either side of the hapless critter. I stopped and hopped out, hoping that I wouldn't find it crushed in my wake. Fortunately my evasive action had worked. The Kingsnake was still stretched out on the road. I picked it up, thinking for a moment that maybe our camp Kingsnake had escaped (I was just down the hill from our nature lab), and drove the rest of the way to camp with the snake in one hand and snake poop dripping between my fingers. It had musked me pretty good. In the light, I confirmed that it wasn't our snake. Later, I put it in the garden, away from the road.

Hopefully it will stick around and snack on the resident mice before they snack on our garden.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

I just got back from the park with the girls. They brought along a couple of old Mickey and Minnie Mouse stuffed animals (I wish there was no such thing as "popular culture", but I am just one voice against many on that one, I fear), and spent most of their time on the playground wildly hurling them into the air and over the playground equipment. I approve.

Suddenly, Sophie stopped and exclaimed, "A Robin!" Sure enough, almost invisible in the heart of a nearby tree sat a mother Robin. "It's got a worm in it's mouth," Sophie pointed out. As we watched, the excited beaks of a cluster of baby Robins burst upward out of a perfectly camouflaged nest. The girls were entranced.

The spell was momentarily broken when another kid obliviously wandered too close, scaring the mother into flight. Afterward, taking care not to get too close, I put the girls on my shoulders so they could better see the nest. Nearby, the watchful mother hopped back and forth along the fence. I pointed her out to the girls, making sure that they were aware of the bond there.

I love those little moments.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Partial Huun-Huur-Tu

Partial Huun-Huur-Tu, originally uploaded by Corbie.

Sometimes the day presents me with a perfect moment. Sunset definitely provided that moment for me yesterday.

This photo was taken through the windshield on my drive to work. Now I have a little reminder of a perfect moment.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

The sun has conspired with the wind to create a beautiful day. A couple of cds came in the mail earlier, and new music surrounds me as I type. I paid the multiple subject credential application fee yesterday, which was the final step I needed to take towards actually getting the credential.

Summer beckons, and I'm feeling lazy. A friend (or two) and I are taking a short road trip up to Portland in a little over a week. We're going to a gig and visiting friends. I've been feeling the need to hit the road lately, so when relatively inexpensive opportunities to do so appear, I'm taking them.


Currently listening to: Osso Exotico "V"

Monday, May 11, 2009

I've been lazily not posting as much this week. Maybe it's the weather. Maybe it's because of one of my indecipherable internal cycles. I don't really know for sure.

I had a relatively busy weekend, and I'm left with some soreness from dancing and tick bites. There was a time when I measure how much fun I'd had by how sore I was afterward. Maybe this is how my midlife crisis is going to manifest itself - I'll once again use physical discomfort as a litmus test for fun. Doesn't sound like a crisis to me though.

Some brief moments from the weekend:

Coming home from the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum show last night, looking out across the bay and marveling at how the moon had painted the water silver. The stillness of the scene formed a startling counterpoint to the freeway traffic.

This morning, opening the front door to find a Fence Lizard on the walkway. I love it when I see reptiles in the city.

Seeing a variety of friends. Always good.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

My friend Devon celebrated his 40th birthday by playing a gig with his band at Gilman St. in Berkeley. I considered getting a babysitter for Willow before heading up to see Devon, but ended up deciding to take her along. After all, she knows Devon and going to the show meant kicking around Berkeley for awhile. It also meant that she got to meet my old friend Wayne (who took the photo above, as well as many others which he nicely shared with me). We made the obligatory record store stop (the evidence of which is on the bench beside me), had pizza (Willow ate a slice bigger than her head), went to the East Bay Vivarium (a reptile store I used to buy pets from, and which Willow was reluctant to leave), and finally wandered out to the Berkeley Marina. Out at the end of the pier, Willow was excited to see a fisherman pull a Stingray and a Sand Shark out of the water. She even asked if I would take her fishing sometime. I thought about it for a moment. Being a vegetarian, I'm reluctant to engage in activities that result in the deaths of animals, but then again, fishing is a lot more direct, and somehow more honest, than buying pre-killed, prepackaged, faceless meat from a grocery store. Maybe taking her fishing and going through the process of killing, gutting, cleaning, cooking, and eating a fish would be educational. Maybe I'd even eat some myself if we went through the process together (the only meat I've eaten in the last 20 years was fresh fish, cooked by a good friend - and that was only once, nearly a decade ago now). Later, I mentioned this to a friend who surfs in Santa Cruz, and he mentioned seeing people fishing there all the time and thinking what a great hobby it was - you got to do something you enjoyed, while at the same time putting food on the table. Food for thought, anyway (pun intended, as usual).

At the club, Willow was excited to get her very own club card (a punk membership card!), and it was cool to watch her signing her name on the back. She was also excited to see Devon and give him a present (I'd burned a cd for him, and Willow drew a cover for it). Willow was much less excited when the first band started. Despite earplugs, she shrank into herself in reaction to the volume.

We went down the street and had donuts instead. I had coffee with mine. Sometimes coffee and donuts just hits the spot.

Afterward, we met up with Greg at our usual coffee shop. Wayne and Greg hadn't seen each other in nearly 15 years, so it was fun to meet up and hang out.

One of these days I'll see Devon's band. They've toured Africa, the Middle East, Australasia, and elsewhere, but I've still not managed to catch them here at home. Oh well. Of course, I kind of figured that Willow would have the reaction she did, and we had fun anyway, so I'll just chalk this up to a partially successful experiment.