The new exercise ball lives in my room, but when friends are over it comes out to play. It functions something like a domestic mechanical bull; people like to test themselves on it, lifting their feet from the ground and keeping upright as long as they can. Fairly often they will roll onto their back, and though there is no recovery from that position, they still attempt to stay atop the ball, arms and legs flailing. Occasionally someone will outright crash, but so far we have zero casualties.
Jackie Chan gets more spectacular the older I get, and it was good to get people together to marvel at him tonight.
I was following the eye
We celebrated my step-grandmother Bessie’s 90th birthday. One of her sons, Clint (unfortunately obscured at the left here) hosted the celebration in a classy club beneath a building he owns in San Francisco, and a huge number of Bessie’s friends and family came to celebrate her.
It was a lovely event, with live Irish folk music and delicately presented food. I thought it was so fantastic when the caterers offered platters of deviled eggs and potato salad delivered in pretty leaf bowls with bamboo forks – the family’s traditional foodstuffs made as fancy as possible. The party was absolutely a celebration of the family’s culture, their strength as a clan (or “dynasty”, as someone put it), and everyone paid their thanks to Bessie for bringing them all up and keeping them together.
Not all of Bessie’s children made it tonight, but her dedication in raising so many people is marvelous indeed, and she certainly deserves the massive trophy they gave her before she blew out the candles.
I only see any of these people at big family events. It’s nice to see them all together like this, but I wish I could talk with them individually; all I can ever get is a short catchup, a quick conversation to see where they are in life – no chance to learn who they really are.
It’s still a bit of a miracle to witness these reunions. I’m glad to be here, even if only on the edge.
say that I’m sane
Kendra recently returned from Seattle, bringing with her a jar of beautifully decayed leaves. Something about their previous home – acids in the damp soil, perhaps – stripped away everything but their veins, leaving just their skeletal details behind.
Kendra has a wonderful talent for capturing the tiny worlds in everything – the clouds in a curled palm, the soft slopes of gelato, the forests at the bottom of your tea cup. I liked seeing her trying to photograph another strange world today; it was clear that the image was already in her head, and only needed to be conveyed to her camera.
Friends distracted her and the light soon faded, but in a day or two I’m sure she’ll pull something magnificent from these leaves.
I prefer your love
I no longer walk through the forest to get to lunch like I did while living at UCSC, and I don’t have waves breaking almost in earshot of my front door anymore, but I still live in a beautiful place. The paths I take in Berkeley to and from work are full of trees with dancing branches, and the sun is thick as honey both morning and late afternoon.
I take these lovely short walks every day, chew on a book on the train, and spend the day tinkering with things until they work to my satisfaction. My biggest problems right now are old software, and when I come back to Berkeley I get to see Laurel.
Things are going so nicely here – it feels so strange knowing about the trouble weighing on the rest of the world.
snoozing and muttering
We occasionally find these holds that are totally inscrutable. They have a dozen different wrinkles where you might place your fingers – so many possible configurations from which you might start your climb, and each goes through a quick set of tiny tests to find if it’s viable: do your hands feel solid there? Can you pull against it with your weight? Can you lift a foot off the ground? How about two? Is either hand steady enough to bear your weight while you reach for the next hold?
In this case, we could never quite get our feet off the ground, no matter how we shifted ourselves, no matter where we placed our hands. The hold had so many promising ridges on it, but we were utterly confounded.
But it is good to be confounded sometimes.
focus on the pain
I had a productive day at work, and arrived at home burnt out. Too tired to focus on anything, I slowly fell asleep while birds welcomed in Spring outside, and woke with that bled-out feeling that I slowly banished with cashews and a Clif bar.
Despite the weary feeling, I made it out to Jeff’s again tonight, where Kristina poked at Jeff’s hedgehog-tea-cozy hat. She’s another friend of his who I only barely recognized; several years ago I saw her face and filed it away somewhere, and as the night progressed my subconscious thumbed through all its old portraits, sweeping away the dust, until it found her again, and now she seems perfectly familiar – though I still can’t remember if we had any classes together.
I walked home much more awake, a bit more alive, than when I’d left. A bit of time with friends was what I needed, it seems.
thought for food
Construction at our office is just about finished, and this weekend the slide down to the kitchen was unveiled. The landing isn’t quite finished yet, still lacking a patch of “grass” to welcome us to the lower floor, so we planted a bean bag chair to cushion our falls in the meantime. It makes for a somewhat awkward bump when we reach the bottom, but as far as I know there have been no major injuries yet.
Developers in San Francisco are allowed to remain children to some extent: we’re welcome to take the slide down and help ourselves to goldfish crackers and soda whenever we like, and stop for a game of Foosball on the way back. I am all for making the workplace into as much of a playground as possible; it’s important to have an escape when I’ve been sucked into a difficult problem for several hours.
I can’t help feeling spoiled here. Everyone deserves a slide.