Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Kind Wishes for an Early Death

Upon arriving at home from Spirit Rock on a beautiful Wednesday afternoon in April, I found myself asking of everything, why do I have this? Why is this stored here? Why do I have two of these? I went through my kitchen cabinets and piled up a small mountain of items to give to a local soup kitchen. It’s amazing how, in a studio apartment occupied by a person who hates clutter, there is always plenty more to get rid of.

I also decided to sell my second bicycle, which I almost never ride, and have turned it over to Tom
(my tall, handsome ex-boyfriend and best friend). He’s going to clean it up and handle the marketing; in return, I gave him the rack, which he was coveting, and will give him twenty percent of the proceeds.

I spent that first afternoon quietly at home, and Thursday was also a simple day, devoted to doing laundry. On Friday I went up to Novato in a City CarShare car, and Carol Joy and I had brunch at Toast and to see Transcendence, which neither of us liked very much, and then we played cards in a cafe, followed by dinner at La PiƱata. It was excellent to see Carol Joy, as always. She told me all about her trip to Scotland.

Saturday must have been cooking day, because on Easter Sunday, Tom and I went over to Berkeley Rep to see Accidental Death of an Anarchist. Beforehand, we had lunch at Gecko Gecko, half a block away, where the food seemed way too sweet, almost sticky with sugar.

Tom works as a special ed teacher with high school students, so he is used to directing traffic and having to get people’s attention in chaotic situations, so I have from time to time found myself shushing him in a restaurant. I don’t mind his volume so much myself, but I worry that someone nearby is getting irritated. During that lunch, I indicated my desire for him to speak more softly, and he gave me a rare dirty look. This, by the way, was a perfect example of evasive action. I heard his loudish voice, I registered it as unpleasant, I felt mental and physical discomfort (or would have, if I’d been paying attention) and instantly took action—to change Tom’s behavior so that I wouldn’t have to feel the discomfort I hadn’t truly registered in the first place.

During a handful of silent moments, when he was looking at me with annoyance and I was looking back at him with guilt, chagrin and no doubt defensiveness, the person at the next table said, “I thought it was very interesting what he was saying!” If this blog went in for emoticons, I’d put a smiley face here. That was awfully kind on the part of our neighbor, but also rather proved my point.

The neighbor turned out to be Deb Janes, whose name I’ve seen here and there for years. Like me, she was on the board of directors of the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition for a time (we didn’t overlap) and she works at Bike East Bay (formerly the East Bay Bicycle Coalition). She was accompanied by a nice woman I’ve encountered in a variety of milieus over the years. Tom happily told Deb all about whatever it was while I marinated in a degree of shame, exposed as a mean person, and we finished our lunches and went to the play, which was absolutely delightful and drew attention to terrible true-life events I was hitherto ignorant of. My friend Lesley joined us for the play, using Ann’s ticket, and then we all had dinner at Esperpento.

As Tom and I walked home after dinner, we saw a fellow riding a very ingeniously designed bicycle in the shape of an enormous wooden cross, no doubt in honor of the holiday. Now and then you see someone pedaling along carrying an entire bicycle wheel or other good-sized object in his hand, but a few days before we saw the cross-bicycle, I saw a fellow carrying an entire second bicycle! It wasn’t rolling along beside him, but hoisted clear off the ground.

On Monday, when I was cycling home from work, I found a block of Valencia St. near Market St. closed to traffic by the police, who said I would need to walk my bike on the sidewalk. I asked what had happened and an officer said, “Someone jumped.” I did not walk by the scene of this dreadful occurrence, but instead went over to Mission St. I can regard a squished pigeon with dispassion, but avoiding the sight of a squished human seemed both respectful and like good self-care.

The next day, continuing with the project of evaluating ambient possessions, I donated an expensive digital camera that I never use to the Mission Cultural Center. On my way home, I gave a fellow a couple of dollars, and in gratitude, he assured me that I’m going to “go” (meaning die) “before whatever happens to the earth. Don’t thank me, thank Him!”
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