Josh in California - Part 6: Leaving San Francisco / Berkeley

Tuesday, October 30, 2001

I’m back at the Kinko’s across the street from the Greyhound terminal, waiting for my bus to Santa Cruz. It leaves at 6:15 and gets there at 8:55 and for real I’m going to Santa Cruz this time. Last week I just thought I’d be in Santa Cruz…

Anyway. I’m drowsy and my computer’s slowly crumbling. First Outlook decided to loose all of my mail (which I helped it find, with much trouble), and then something went wrong with the internal fan and it began making a terrible loud buzzing noise that just stopped a couple of minutes ago. I took these two events together as a reminder to back up all of my data somewhere else, just in case this computer decided to give up the ghost soon.

So I’m at the Kinko’s, possibly in need of a soda pop to perk me up.

I found a youth hostel in downtown Santa Cruz that will be perfect for me to stay at. Their desk will reopen at 5:00 and I’ll be able to call and make a reservation before I get on the bus. $18/night for a pad in downtown Santa Cruz. The only problem might be the weather, which has been cool and cloudy with occasional rain for the past several days.

This will be a good time to write about my stay with Mason in Berkeley, though. I arrived — accidentally — at about 10 AM Wednesday morning and spent the day walking around San Francisco, mainly between City Lights Bookstore and Washington Square on Columbus Avenue. I like that area. City Lights is a cool little book shop run by publisher-poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti and they seem to be very aware of what they sell. They sell very good books and you don’t find too much fluff, impressive considering the size of the place. And then Washington Square relaxes me so much. Every time I am there I want to read abook and fall asleep, which is exactly what I did on Wednesday. I had The Hobbit with me and read a few pages before dozing off. I finished my Columbus Avenue experience by having coffee and soda at acouple different places before coming back to the Transbay station (Greyhound station) to pick up my bags and call Mason. I worked on my computer at Kinko’s (sending Coté the mail below) and then went over to another coffeeshop (I forget all of the names by now) where I worked on my site while waiting to get in contact with Mason. When he finally called me back at about 10:30, I finished my work and took the BART to the Berkeley station where he picked me up in his car and took me up to his new place up near Euclid Avenue in the Berkeley hills. He doesn’t technically “live” there — he’s got a room still at Lothlorien — but Melissa stays there so Mason does, too.

As an aside, one of the irritating things about having a lot of fun is that I don’t want to stop and write in my journal. I want to have my fun. This is why my journal probably won’t be very detailed about my stay in Berkeley with Mason and Melissa. We ran around everywhere and did so much stuff and I never felt like I wanted to stop and write on my journal.

I probably won’t write all about it just right now, but I’ll allude to the highlights of the stay:

Thursday I biked with Mason up into Tilden Park. We rode out to Lake Anza where we found a rock that jutted out into the lake and sat and smoked a bit before deciding to jump off the high rock into the very cold water. We biked back a different route. That evening we went with Melissa, Samantha, and Winston (a DJ and former “e-tard” (his word) who lives with Melissa) to see Brenda Boynter at the Boom Boom Room, a blues club in SF. She fuckin’ rocked. We stole marachino cherries all night and danced some. And stole a mixed drink later in the night. After hearing Brenda, I got a good idea of what soul music was all about (I think). She did a great song called “Hoo-Doo Woman” and some other classic covers I recognized (like “Groove Me”) as well as plenty of songs I didn’t recognize.

Friday I hung around near Euclid and Hearst, an intersection right against the Berkeley campus with little food shops and stores along it. In the evening we went to a party at a co-op apartment complex where I got to meet Mason’s friends Fawad, Sahar, and Sharin for the first time. I’d heard the last two names so often in the past few years, I enjoyed finally getting to see the people. Many people dressed up for the party, but we didn’t. Mason and I just walked around from apartment to apartment saying “hello” to old friends of Mason’s and watching the funny people.

My birthday came on Saturday. My 24th. I couldn’t help feeling disappointed in that I didn’t get to do much to celebrate, but that’s sort of the drawback of having a birthday so close to a major holiday — people’s minds are elsewhere and your friends already have a reason to party besides you. Melissa and Samantha did sing me “Happy Birthday” around noon, while I sat on the back porch doing something (eating food, maybe). I liked that. I had a short conversation with my dad about his jog in Brightleaf park and I had an unexpectedly short conversation with my grandparents — I think my call might have interrupted their watching the World Series on television. The next day I got a voicemail from Claire saying “Happy birthday!” and a virtual postcard from Abby saying the same, but that’s about it. My birthdays have never been major events, unfortunately. This one I spent shopping for a Halloween costume and going to a big Halloween party in northern SF.

I never know what I want to be for Halloween, but this time I stuck upon what I thought would be fun while shopping at Mars, a local used-clothes store in Berkeley. Alien Admiral. They had this big, silly, white alien-head mask and several officer’s uniform jackets, but none of the jackets fit so I couldn’t really use them. I ended up being an Alien on Vacation, after buying a beautiful Hawaiian shirt at Buffalo Exchange and coming back to get the alien mask from Mars. At home before leaving for the party, I put on my cream-khaki pants and my shoes, and the new shirt. I tried covering my pants with aluminum foil, and when it became clear that that woldn’t work, I decided to cover my shoes instead. I did this and found an old cowboy hat of Mason’s and covered the top (not the brim) with foil, too, and made myself a little badge that said, “Hi! I’m ‘Bob’ from Canada!” on it in back permanent marker. So I did this, put on the big alien mask with the cowboy on top of it, tucked the mask’s collar into the shirt’s collar, and voila: I look rediculous. Perfect. Photos were taken — you just wait. Mason did a good job dressing like a cowboy and Melissa wore a chainmail haltertop and some little pants and nothing else but a cape. Samantha, who came with us, dressed like a flapper.

More soon. I’ve got to go get my bus now.