Tags: Day I
One Wild Last Friday Night in Berkeley
There's a few different flavors of Steel Reserve: the most elusive (and one I only just found today) is pineapple. The less-rare flavors are: Blue Razz, Black Razz, Watermelon, and Pink lemonade, among some other minor variations; while it's not the best / healthiest choice to drink a malt, I figure once in a while is okay: normally I stay far away from beers and malts and anything fattening but I break down every so often and try something new.
Looking In, Looking Out
Today was my last day of work with the Man; the day was mildly underwhelming and my laptop was taken half-way through the day so I stared out the window for the remaining four hours. It's tedious to work with the Man because he giveth and taketh according to no one consistent scheme but it's something you learn to deal with.
My window has a view directly overlooking an entrance to Civic Center station in downtown San Francisco; there's always something going on: organic markets, homeless panhandling, public drunkeness, incoherent yelling and rambling, ambulance / police sirens, car horns: it's really the whole downtown experience packed up into one square and waiting to be discovered right outside my window. Needless to say I had plenty of time to observe all this in my post near the window for the last half of my last day.
As we're nearing 5 o'clock I walk around the office: everyone's gone home already. I decide that I ought to leave too, given that my offboarding is complete and the paperwork is signed and my equipment is all returned. I gather my stuff and head out by myself one last time down the stairs of the ornate, historic building which is my office. As I walk through the lobby I look to the security officers and wave my hands and begin to say, as I always do, "Have a good night" but nobody is paying attention and I end up making a fool of myself waving to people who aren't even looking.
I step out of the building and make a path which splits the organic market in half: it's the end of the day for them and all the good fruits have already been sold: the only vendors left are those who are selling plastic crates of brown-red strawberries which have sat in the persistent NorCal sun all day, a full 8-hour shift, warmed into to an upsetting and unpalletable red mush and sold at half-price to the homeless who are wandering around now. The Civic Center BART station is on the southern side of the market, right across from my building, and I get a full look at the spectacle as I pass through the vehicle barriers which surround my office and descend into the belly of the station.
The same Jehovah's Witness people I see every day are to my left as I approach the station Clipper terminal, retrieving my federal transit subsidy card and my Clipper card; upon swiping the subsidy card I am greeted with a screen which informs me that my card has no funds; despite clearning this with an agent yesterday who assured me the subsidy would be ready today it seems I won't get my reimbursement for this trip or any hereafter: I sigh, too deflated to be mad, and charge my personal card, walking past the fare gates and deeper yet into the station; nothing special happens on the train back and after an hour I am finally back in Berkeley. I drop in to the liquor store which is downhill from my house and grab the pineapple Steel Reserve (new! the sign says) and continue uphill, homeward or something.
Upon breaching the front-door to my house I begin to feel a little shaken. I think, at first, that this must simply be the regular weariness I feel after I get home, only amplified by the fact it's my last day and I only stared out the window for four hours, but somehow this feels different, like someone had thrown the autopilot switch in the cockpit from "auto" to "manual" and suddenly I'm very present where I hadn't been before.
The kitchen is occupied by one of the nameless, (operationally) mute Chinese students who live in this house too and only come out when hungry or summoned: "operationally" here means that he is only a functional definition of mute: I'm sure he can talk; I've never heard him say anything ever, not even when I'd greet him with a warm "hi" in the hallway; now I don't bother to say anything because it depresses me to not get an answer.
Anyhow, here he is in the kitchen: he's hunched over a bowl, carefully and selectively picking freeze-dried parsley out of a plastic shaker-bottle with his fingers and dropping it over a bowl of naked, otherwise unadorned penne he's just strained: it's like someone socked me in the jaw: I stand there for a few seconds, attempting to process what's happening and my face unconsciously souring at the thought of rubbery penne seasoned with freeze-dried parsley. He doesn't break his concentration on the bowl and I slip silently away from this mute Chinese soliloquy towards my room.
The pineapple Steel Reserve is retrieved from my pack: I also have an Arizona ENERGY Herbal Tonic which I begin sipping on while I place the Steel Reserve in the refrigerator. Then it hits me again, the weight I felt coming home. It's heavy. I spin around and sit ass-flat onto my bed from my standing position and drop my elbows into my knees, allowing my hands to cradle my face as I rub cheeks and chin to make me feel a little more present and awake: no use, I'm really out of it and I feel sick. I stay in this position for a few minutes, hoping to wake myself up: still no good. Instead of making supper as I normally do once I get home I decide instead to recline onto my bed and continue my reading of Infinite Jest: after hitting a good stopping point I fold my bookmark into the large book and curl up, fetal position, with the book near my chest. It takes all the energy in the world to not start crying here on my bed, and I muster it only because my copy would be then tear-stained and somehow more battered than it already is and I would have terrible memories of weeping all over my copy of Infinite Jest because I couldn't manage my emotions.
Eventually and after some time in this position I lose consciousness; I wake up at 9PM, my eyes red and dry from having napped with my contacts in and feeling no more rested from when I feel asleep. But now, in that weird state-of-mind one is in after waking up from a late afternoon nap, my emotional filter is nowhere to be found and I find it difficult to restrain myself from sobbing uncontrollably all over the sleeve of my sweater and watching it run down into the book in my arms.
There's a bird chirping somewhere outside; a few people are making a ruckus outside my room but they soon walk outside and their footsteps echo into my room from the wooden staircase outside as they head out.
I still haven't eaten supper and I can tell: that's the only thing that gets me out of my room after 30-or-so minutes of this. I take control of the kitchen and gather all the requisite ingredients from my box of steadily-dwindling supplies in the kitchen refrigerator: there's not much reason to buy groceries when I'm leaving town in three days anyway. With everything laid out and prepared I begin to stir butter and heavy cream into a saucepan on the stovetop, dropping in a smashed clove of garlic and folding in a shredded cheese in the most uninspired sauce I've ever made, pairing it with some noodles I quickly cooked and topped with cut baby tomatoes, parsley (not! freeze-dried) and covered finally with the alfredo sauce.
While I'm cooking someone produces a 4-pack of large, frozen Jimmy Dean sausage patties from the refrigerator and tosses them on a plate which he then heats in the microwave for 4 minutes. After the clock on the microwave reaches 0:00 it beeps. Once. Twice. Three times and he still hasn't returned to enjoy his goddamn Jimmy Dean sausage. I sigh and open the microwave in his absence so it stops beeping every half-minute, then continue folding the alfredo sauce over the bowl. I eat at the bar in the kitchen then retire to my room to once again rest my elbows square on my thighs, somehow more tired this time than the last, too depressed to even drink what I was so particular to get today.
You've Gotta Carry that Weight
It's a lot to carry around; being out here on the left coast means I'm isolated (physicaly, emotionaly) from everyone I know and love. Of course there is room to make new friends, too, while I'm here, but as time's worn on it's become obvious that I have trouble doing that kind of thing. Sure I've made a few friends but it's difficult to leverage the kind of emotional support that comes from a deep, long friendship from someone you've only known for two months.
Plus, living in a share-house so close to UC Berkeley means I am surrounded by second- and third-year university students; normally these are the people I vibe most with but the people who go to school here are so different. And at the risk of coming off as pretentious or stuck-up I will avoid disecting any of their character here, but rather it is left as an exercise to the reader to extrapolate meaning from my interactions; I cannot confess my feelings or lay my emotions on anyone in this house, or anyone at work, or anyone in California for that matter: the entire state is forfeit, nothing is salvagable, and I'm so incredibly lonely in the sun and fog that I'm sorry to even commit you against your will to be a bystander to it.
I'm sure it's a pleasant place to live, I really do: it's always temperate, the sun's always shining and there's always good food. One just needs to be clear-of-mind, which I (at the current moment) am most definitely not.