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There is no quiet in my soul without camaraderie.

I move away, I move on; upward but always looking back. I think i can sustain myself on introductions, but it’s not true. I’m not sure it ever has been. I find approval in new places, impress those I can with the surface of my being and wall in what is myself so I can remember who I am. If not for the secret interior, the private past and coveted future, I am a passably friendly acquaintance and a paper trail.

My entire self quiets with my friends. My good friends. There are so few of these people in life it seems impossible that you could ever forget yourself. And then it happens. The need to entertain, impress, please, assuage is gone and only laughter and remembrance obtains. Stories you don’t even recall give continuity to the self: yes, that sounds like something I’d have done. There’s a me – an essence, an assemblage of tendencies – that has always been. And there are friends, to stand testament and to accept.

I cleave life like a wedge. Only will and fortitude move me forward. Yet the dull clang of progress fades in the company of known hearts. The rasping grind of metal on stone seems interminable, but now and again – a breath. And in that moment prevails the clarity of position, a knowledge of the permanence of life, the happiness of nothingness.

Los Angeles

It’s been a while since I’ve written.  Just didn’t seem like daily blogging was the recipe for my summer.  But I did want to post a little recap of my Los Angeles vacation.  I wrote this on the train home.  Perhaps I’ll do another post of pictures from the road trip portion – I foolishly took none in LA except at the wedding!

Amtrak.  Friday.  8:00 pm.  Somewhere between Salinas and San Jose.  Shaky writing, but done with a distinct feeling of relaxed self-satisfaction.

We should be in Davis in 4 hours or so, wrapping up our ludicrously successful vacation.  I can’t believe how much we’ve done.  Mom and Dad met us Davis last Saturday, and we drove to Tahoe to see Bob Dylan, Willie Nelson, and the Wiyos play.  It was a neat show – good to see Bob, and an excellent introduction to Willie.  mom was very pleased to be doing this for our anniversary / Lewis’ birthday.

Drove to Bishop the next day, and saw much beautiful scenery en route.  Bishop was extremely cute – a tiny town all alone in the high desert.  Next day we drove to San Diego via Mt. Whitney, which was quite a sight to see.  I was very impressed with the entire range there – starkly beautiful granite faces rising abruptly from the floor of the arid Owen’s Valley.  Also saw Mono Lake – beautiful but surprisingly alkaline, thus pungent and seemingly less-than-salubrious.  A lake best enjoyed photographically.

San Diego was nice per usual – saw grandparents & cousins, and had an above-average visit with Mom & Dad.  It’s good to have time to warm up to Mom; our visits lately have always been too short for me to overcome my testiness at being mothered.  This trip was just right.  Stayed something like three days and then caught the train up Friday to LA, where Lewis met me (he had gone up a day earlier for bachelor party fun).

First few days in LA were occupied primarily with wedding stuff.  Friday was the rehearsal and dinner.  It was a bit chaotic, as the pageantry of a conservative Jewish wedding is somewhat complicated.   Lewis and a bridesmaid, Meredith, were assigned the small balcony to decorate, which was serving as the retreat space required for the couple to have some minutes of quiet time between the ceremony and reception.  We spent the greater part of Saturday searching out materials (plates, food, a book of poetry) for their comfort.

That evening we had tickets to see Harvey Danger play at the Largo on their farewell tour.  The Largo seats only a few hundred people, but it’s a theater, so the set up was both intimate and somewhat awkward.  They have “a strict no talking policy”, and the whole timbre of the show was a little like the band playing a show in their own fantasy, and the audience looking in from outside.  They did not disappoint, however, and I spent a good portion of the show chuckling at Sean Nelson who was doing his best to be both amusing and acerbic.  The best part of the show was certainly the second half, in which they took requests only if properly prefaced by an “interesting question”.  The band’s working definition of “interesting” was quite strict, thus there was more mocking the audience than playing requests, and those questions which were answered rarely were done so with focus on veracity.  What made the night truly unforgettable was the after-show, in an as yet smaller theater.  We had great seats here, and the show took the form of a jam between friends – Sean did several songs accompanying himself on piano, and Shana Levy (ex Rilo Kiley) played.  The best sets were with Jon Bryon and an excellent pianist backing Sean, doing audience requests of classic rock songs – I remember “Maybe I’m Amazed” and the Monkee’s “Porpoise Song” specifically.  It was really wonderful, and left me feeling both touched and lucky.  Harvey Danger will be truly missed, but I can console myself with the knowledge that what I always loved most about Harvey was Sean, and I have no doubt he will remain in the public eye in some capacity.  (I also forgot to mention the hilarious introduction John Hodgman recorded for the band – a word-for-word copy of the introduction Bob Dylan is using on his tour!)

The following afternoon, we saw Gabe and Melanie get married.  The ceremony was beautiful, the weather fine, and the company superb.  All Lewis’ old roommates were present, and even happily attached to lovely girlfriends.  There was much bonding and dancing – we danced the horah for at least half an hour! This big group closed the night out – dancing till midnight and finally leaving out of pity for the exhausted bride and groom, and our own sore selves.  Both this night and the previous filled me with blissful, life-affirming thoughts and I felt more connected with life and love and the universe than I have in some time.

The remainder of our trip was occupied with seeing friends.  We met our old lab manager, Laura, on Melrose and shopped.  We moved in with Sepideh and Cyrus for a few nights, and spent very much quality time together.  Getting to know Sepi better first-hand was certainly one of the highlights of the trip.  She’s a truly kind and interesting person, and a very good friend to have.  We also managed a trip to Zankou Chicken + Amoeba to stock up on records.  Nearly the whole group of boys from the wedding was there, and it was really amusing to watch a group of music school kids all shopping together in the jazz section.  We had dinner with Sepi on Sawtell (tiny Japanese restaurant strip in West LA) and met Nick & Suzanne at Beard Papa to catch up.  Beard Papa has some seriously delicious cream puffs, and Nick Martin is one of the best conversationalists I’ve ever met.  We also managed to see Chris and Ashley for dinner.  He cooked us exciting Mexican fare – shrimp and cactus!

Finally, we finished up our week with Devin.  We went out to dim sum (in my old neighborhood!) at the Empress, and got coffee downtown.  Greg joined us for dinner at Father’s Office, which was delicious but somewhat snooty.  Greg & Dev were as always hilarious and I laughed a good deal all day.  Got to hear lots about Devin’s escapades as a somewhat newly outed gay man in West Hollywood, and Greg amused us with jokes on the same topic.  It’s lovely to have college friends still living in LA to remember good times with.

Life in LA was wonderful.  We saw campus – including the new cinema building, and even visited with our old advisor, Joyce!  Campus made me proud to be an alum, as did seeing all the neat things our fellow alumni are up to.  LA itself has changed remarkably little since we left.  We saw most all of our old haunts, and even ate at the Brite Spot twice!   I had to force myself not to pontificate on the wonders of LA and how much I love it’s streets, people, drivers, and scenery.  I saw with ease how we could come back some day for another extended portion of our lives – if we could ever get employment in the area.  LA is full of love and life in a way I never found in the Bay Area.  I am looking forward to coming home to Davis, but I do so knowing I left a piece of my heart in the streets of LA, and the smallest corner in Sean Nelson’s foppish breast pocket.


Long day full of not a lot.  Didn’t have class this morning, so I got to sleep in and make Lewis a tasty weekend-like breakfast with some of the tasty hot sauce he made yesterday.  I did manage to mow the lawn today, which was a really nice excuse to hang out in the decent weather and sunshine.  Did a little weeding even, and spend a while gazing lovingly at the waxwing flock in our tree.  I need to spend more time outdoors that doesn’t involve moving from one location to another.  I’ll be happy when it’s toasty enough for long enough to read on the lawn again.  It’s been so damp this winter!  You know, for Davis.

Did manage a few accomplishments today.  Bought my tickets to San Diego for my grandparents’ joint 80th birthday party in April, so that ought to alleviate some parental worry.  Also turned in my neuroimaging quiz, which went slightly crappier than I could have hoped.  I’m definitely a little out of my league, so getting a decent grade I’ll consider a triumph.  I really have no idea what I’m going to get as a final grade in that class – as far as I can tell, it’s going to be entirely dependent on 3 quizes, the second of which I just finished today.  Got an A on the first one, and I’m feeling B on this one… so hopefully I can nail the last one as scrape by with an A- or such in this class.  Phew.

I also baked a loaf of bread!  I haven’t made this recipe for potato bread for a few years, so it was a nice one to come back to.  The potato in it always makes it turn out nice a moist and smooshy, which is great.  I did forget to put the butter in, but it doesn’t seem to have made any difference.  All in all, pretty great.  After all that, I was pretty pooped today, so I sort of slugged around and ended up needing to go out for dinner, despite having lots of food here.  I was just too knackered to cook, and was feeling really ready to get out of the house anyway.  So Lewis and I had a great sushi dinner, and I was feeling much more relaxed and put together by the time I got back home.  Though we did reneg on a pictionary party with the philosophy grad students.  We’ve got a party to go to tomorrow, so I’m not feeling too bad… but we are so terribly unsocial some times!

dreams of, etc.

Good day, though I’m a bit unclear as to why I’m still awake.   I think it’s going to be a list night.  My brain feels like pudding.

The Good:

  • rocked semantics class/ beginnings of homework
  • got eye exam and am uber healthy though nearsighted
  • had pie with my sweetie
  • got all my prescribed work done!
  • acquired massive stack of books from library
  • successfully navigated unitrans and bussed to school
  • half set up date w/ Devin in LA!
  • downloaded Obama audiobook!

The Meh:

  • got rained on all day?
  • total exhaustion
  • failed to pick out frames (see above)
  • am still up doing laundry…?
  • haven’t packed for trip tomorrow… arg.
  • spent forever trying to circumvent audiobook download doucheiness
  • nearly killed beloved 6-yr-old mp3 player?

Yep.  A few days in LA.  Not going to post much past a few twitters perhaps?   All I want is bed.


Portland's Amtrak Station

Portland's Amtrak Station

Sitting here in Eugene, Oregon waiting for something or other. I really love the Amtrak, and it always makes me a little sad when it gets caught in train traffic or behind track work or something and people blame Amtrak for the delay. It’s almost never Amtrak’s fault, as far as I understand it, since Amtrak does not control or in any way operate the tracks or schedules, but merely runs these passenger trains. At any rate, we got stuck for a good 45 minutes outside Eugene, and now we’re sitting at the platform waiting for something to happen. We’re quite a bit behind schedule, but for an interstate train it still doesn’t seem too bad. Luckily I have this here laptop, upon which I loaded the Linux port of Civilization II for the Lewis to play in just these sort of situations. Yay!

Gustav Sympathies?

Stalwart Elmside

Stalwart Elmside

Didn’t sleep well last night, the wind here was really howling. We have a very nice house for wind storms. Wind (and storms, together and separate) always keep me up at night. In LA it was never an issue for whatever reason. Cambridge had quite a lot of blustery nights, and being in an old creaky house surrounded by huge old trees (see illustration at right… trees not pictured).  I used to stay up all night listening to our house groan and those trees swaying and creaking.  The one solice I had there was that those trees were so old and our house had obviously been there long enough that it felt like nothing could really go that wrong or it would have done so long before we got there.

In El Cerrito we also had a fair amount of windy nights, and we were also in a bit of an old house.  The windows never sealed particularly well, so when the wind would come in off the Bay it would slip right through our West-facing window and rattle our blinds.  That was a surefire way to keep me up, but the plus side of both places was that we never really had any thunderstorms, and at worst we had wind blowing rain onto our windowpanes.  The new house seems to bypass all these problems.  New construction, well sealing windows, few tall trees.  So the wind blew pretty hard here tonight, and the worst we seem to get is that Davis has a lot of trees, generally speaking.  It’s loud, but not creaky.  And I’m not concerned anything is going to crash through the roof.  Though even then, we have quite an extensive attic, which makes me feel like we’ve got some cushion.  We do have one rather large palm tree on the side of our living room, but the landlords are having that chopped down fairly soon, so I don’t even really have that to bother about.

Anyway,  bad sleep always screws my day up, so I spent all day trying to catch up to myself it felt.  Did get a few things done;  we went to the Co-op and got the last of our supplies, and we also hit up the bookstore next door for some train reading.  The wind blew pretty steady all day as well – I couldn’t even top 9 mph on my bike going downhill off the overpass because we had such a serious headwind.  It was only 85 or so today though, which was a really nice break from the steady over-90 we’ve had since we moved here.  I don’t expect anything different from Davis, but a breath of relatively cool air is always welcome.  Oh, and I got laundry done!  It’s pretty fantastic to be able to do laundry while doing other stuff as well so it feels like I’m not wasting my day, even though it takes me at least twice as long as going to the laundromat.

Tomorrow all we’ve got to do is pack and get this place ready for Ben, who is really nicely going to house-sit for us.  May mow the lawn as well.  At any rate, I don’t expect the train until midnight-ish, so we’ve got plenty of time to get ourselves sorted tomorrow.  I really am looking forward to the trip, though I feel like I’m only seeing dollar signs at the moment.  Anyway, the trip is going to be great and I’ll remember all the excellent times I’m sure to have, and not so much how much my hotel and rental car cost.   I hope I can keep up on the blog while we’re out.  I’m bringing the lappy, but who knows about the posting possibilities.


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