Tags: Time Day
Summer Shits Itself and Dies Again
Yesterday I grabbed lunch with my supervisor: Vietnamese coffee and phở noodles. The coffee was simply sweetened, condensed milk at the bottom of a glass of very bitter, very strong coffee. It brews on your table and drips out slowly from this metal apparatus sitting atop the glass. It comes out hot and it's meant to be put on ice once the brewing's finished but I enjoy drinking it out of the glass more: plus it's more of a dessert-drink (see: sweetened, condensed milk) so the time-lapse that the brewing of the coffee demands fits perfectly into the time it takes you to finish your meal otherwise.
My meal yesterday, aside from the coffee, was a phở noodle dish of rare, thinly-sliced beef cooked with green onion and served in the northern Vietnamese style; there was not much focus on the broth, in contrast to what I am accustomed to. The noodles were very thin and submerged in a salty, thin broth. My first time having phở: altogether not bad.
The atmosphere of the restaurant was bright and open; all four walls and the staircase's supporting frame were entirely yellow and a few old pictures were sparingly hung around. The San Francisco breeze rolled in on that unusually hot day through large windows facing the street. A few homeless people shuffled here and there on the opposite side of the street kicking trash, slowly, as they mill around aimlessly, doing whatever it is homeless people do all day. The windows were paneled with wood; they constituted almost the entire street-facing part of the restaurant, hardly leaving space for the door. One could probably enter the shop through these large windows with very little effort.
San Francisco is a very noisy city; I work in the thick of it, right on the United Nations Plaza in a building which has been in federal posession since 1936; it's a really beautiful building designed in a revivalist style, but its location right next to the street means I hear all kinds of things all day long.
I rarely eat outside of the building, normally I pack my lunch and lounge in the courtyard. Most of the time it's second-helpings of whatever I made for dinner the night before; other times it's something I whip up in the morning; it's always pleasant to sit in the sun which the courtyard affords and eat my lunch. But yesterday, getting Phở was just as nice. And talking for all that time was nice too.
I hate the train; it's always packed but not in a Tōkyō kind of way. The old rolling stock which BART uses (the A, B, C1 and C2 classes) waste space in a uniquely American way, sacrificing standing room for (the appearance of) "comfort" and sitting room. Each of these classes is lined on either side with a 2-wide rows of seats; both sides are separated by hardly a sliver of aisle space with overhead hand-rails on the ceilings above.
If you asked me to design a train cabin this is the last thing I would draw. It's just bad design: why not just put one row of seats around the perimeter? Why do you need so many seats on a light-rail? It's not like I'm going to Nagano on the Shinkansen, I'm not going to get tired of standing for my whole commute (esp. when I sit all day, anyway) and there are hardly any people sitting down who really need the seats anyway; most of the time it's just people who get on first.
The D and E class trains (the "BART of the future") are even worse; they've swapped the 70's esthetic of the A, B, C1 and C2 classes for a disorienting neo-future look with bright colors and plastic seats that makes the train feel like a stage-piece from Lazytown. I'm glad I will be out of the city by the time these D and E classes replace all the older cars.
Things that Make me Uncomfortable
Well, there's a handful of reasons that I'll be glad to leave the Bay Area. One really, really important reason, so important that I don't even have to mention him because you probably already know; but there are a few other smaller things as well:
- The weather is the same every day
- Commuting is a hassle
- I can't speak Chinese
- Berkeley smells like skunk all day
- Milk, eggs, fruits etc. are more expensive (why?)
- Downtown is noisy
- The rent is too damn high
- In-n-Out is not that great
...but maybe I'm only seeing things with a slight skew; I didn't expect that I'd have such a genuinely unenjoyable Summer when I planned all this out... at least Porter Robinson's Second Sky was good and I'm not upset that I'm making bank and that all my transit's subsidised and that I can go out to weird jungle / breakbeat shows every once in a while.
But I should've made this a weekend trip instead.