Monday, March 21, 2011

No Returns, No Exchanges

Sorry for long delay. I've been dithering about this and that. To get rolling again, I considered listing the vast number of movies I’ve seen, but decided to skip it, since my movie reviews are very minimal, anyway. I guess I do recommend seeing A Solitary Man, Fish Tank, and Cyrus. And Lorna’s Silence. And Hideaway. And Heartbreaker. In the latter, you can see Johnny Depp’s wife (or longtime partner), Vanessa Paradis. She is seriously darling, which means they are, without any reasonable competition whatsoever, the best-looking couple on earth.

I recently bought a quite inexpensive mattress after a period of putting some portion of my social life on hold while I grappled with the heavy psychological weight of knowing I had to do this. I’m not letting go of the old one until I’m positive the new one is good, however, so the old one is completely covered with tin foil (in hopes of repelling Hammett; it sort of works) and leaning against the wall in my one room, along with the box spring: my least-favorite piece of furniture by far.

If you have to buy a mattress and/or box spring, I highly recommend Bedroom & More on Market St., which gets rave reviews on Yelp. On my first visit, I inquired into their returns and exchanges policy and the fellow said, “It’s simple: no returns, no exchanges.” “That is simple,” I agreed. He explained that while you can readily return anything you buy from Sleep Train, that also accounts for their higher prices: They are assuming there will be two failed transactions for every completed one. Also, he told me Sleep Train christens every mattress with a unique moniker to thwart comparison shopping. If you go into another store wanting to try the “Tuscany,” or whatever, they won’t have such a thing, and Sleep Train won’t have told you it’s a Simmons Beautyrest Classic Extra Firm.

I went to the yearly membership dinner at the Zen Center and it was really very nice. There was a beautiful, delicious vegetarian buffet, a somewhat romantic ambience due to dim lighting and tablecloths, and a couple of exercises that involved meeting and speaking with a partner, then a chance to share thoughts and discoveries with the larger group. I was pleased to hear the class that led me to Zen Center, Establishing the Path of Practice, mentioned several times as someone’s entrée to Zen Center, or as evidence of a more welcoming spirit. EPP really is a great thing.

The morning after the membership dinner, I was back for Rosalie Curtis’s lecture, which I thought was particularly well organized and pithy, and which resulted in not one but two sudden flashes of insight, which I don’t think has happened before in my 20 years of hearing dharma talks.

I was thinking my 20-year meditation anniversary was coming later this year, but I checked my journal and found the exact evening I first went to Howie’s sitting group, and it was 20 years ago last summer. I've gone to Howie’s every week in the past month or two or three, and to the monthly social gathering beforehand.

After Rosalie's talk, I would have liked to stay for Q&A and lunch, but had to roll on to Rainbow and get groceries, including a hunk of Sartori Bellavitano cheese to take with me on the train to Sacramento later that day, the occasion being Chris’s birthday party, which was attended by a gaggle of Chris’s friends, Eva, Paul, Steve, Dan, Jim, Melinda, Abbie, Abbie’s friend Riley (sp?), Tom, Dave C., me, Tom’s girlfriend and Tom’s girlfriend’s son.

I spent the night on Steve and Julie’s guest bed and (shh, don't tell them) peeled back one side of the fitted sheet to see if I could glean any helpful details about the mattress; this was prior to my purchase.

The next day, Steve and I went to visit Ann and Mac; Tom had gone skiing. Ann let me play her piano a little, which was a treat, and then she drove me and Mac to Berkeley for lunch at the Bistro Liaison and then they treated me to Mike Daisey’s show The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs at the Berkeley Rep. I was under the vague impression that this might be a comedy in which Mike Daisey plays Steve Jobs, and, since I don’t believe in getting a program (in order to maximize any surprises there may happen to be), it took me a while to figure out that this fellow, Mike Daisey, had personally schlepped to China, done an investigation on labor practices there, including some undercover work, crafted a two-hour (no intermission) monologue about it, and was at that very moment performing the same with tremendous skill: a true triple threat. I left the theater in tears, vowing to buy no electronic device that I don’t truly need, though there is no such thing as living a life that does not include increasing the misery of a thirteen-year-old Chinese girl. It cannot be done.

Late-ish in February, on a Friday night, I had dinner with Elea, whom I met long ago at San Francisco State University, in the creative writing program. I couldn’t have told you what year we met, but she recalls not only the year and month, but the day of the week: Wednesday. I was flabbergasted. She said, “Sure, because it would have been the first meeting of our Wednesday night class.” How can she remember that we took a Wednesday night class 26 years ago, or however many years it was? (Despite having had my memory refreshed very recently, I’m still not sure, but it was right around 26.)

Our dinner was at Café Altano, and then we met up with her husband, whom I’d never met before. Until recently, they were living in the Pacific Northwest. I liked him very much right away.

They gave me a ride home and we detoured here and there to show Elea’s husband some nice views. Elea mentioned that she had lived in a certain spot with an earlier husband, whom I will call Dave. I said, “I’m afraid I can’t remember that.” She said, “Well, I wouldn’t expect you to remember every place I lived.” “No,” I said, “I can’t remember that you were married to someone named Dave.” “Oh!” she said.

The next day I took BART over to Berkeley and took Lisa M. to see the other Mike Daisey show for her birthday. This one is called The Last Cargo Cult, and is also is about a trip to a faraway place, and also left me teary. We walked up Shattuck and had dinner at a Thai place and then gelato at a spot right near the round entrance to BART.

Even later in February my co-worker Emily and I had dinner at Ananda Fuara. It was nice to see her. This was our third time getting together outside work.
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