I started out with a pleasant (but hot) morning walk to The Vault to join the casual, constantly shifting gathering for wild_irises's milestone birthday. (She's one of my favoritest people in the entire world, so there's no way I would miss it.) She sent out an email saying she'd be there (at The Vault) all morning, and that folks should just come and go, get coffee or breakfast, and it would all be very fluid. It totally rocked. wild_irises's friends lean heavily toward the bookish, as she's been working in the publishing industry for much of her life, and I just looooove book people. So, besides wild_irises, I chatted mostly with abostick59 and waywardcats and wordweaverlynn and LJ-less Marcia (who is also tight with my BFF Lisa), and we talked grammar and books and the publishing industry and cats and iPods and all kinds of great stuff. wordweaverlynn and Marcia were raving about an author for The Atlantic named Ta-Nehisi Coates, and they urged me to check out his blog, which sounded fascinating from their description. (It's syndicated on LJ at ta_nehisi.) I really enjoyed the conversation throughout! I felt like I was among "my people."
I only stayed at wild_irises's gathering for less than 2 hours, though, as I'm not a big "group" person, and then I ventured on to take care of some long-delayed errands. I mean, I'd been putting these errands off for months. Maybe several months. Maybe years, in one case.
At this point, during my walk to the BART station, I realized that I had massively underestimated the temperature of the day. I was dressed all in dark colors, and the sun was shining down on me like a glaring ball of hellfire. (A few hours later, when my errands were finished, I would arrive home pretty much drenched in sweat. Ew.)
So, anyway, I headed off to downtown Oakland in search of a Clipper card (our local universal public transit pass, good on many different train and bus systems in various cities), because I can get one at a discount, but only at certain locations. No more carrying coins for East Bay bus fare, tickets for BART, tokens for MUNI, etc. Convenient! Okay, maybe a little Big Brothery, but in a good way, right?
I couldn't find my piece of paper on which I'd written the address of where I needed to go, so I was going just on memory, and I ended up stumbling into Oaksterdam University, the lobby of which simply reeked of pot. I am not exaggerating. A few very mellow twenty-something guys were just hanging out inside, and they welcomed me enthusiastically. I told them, "I don't think I'm in the right place." But they just boomed another hearty welcome and assured me that surely I must be looking for cannabis. Um ... no. "Of course we can help you!" they insisted. I asked with a straight face, "Can you give me a Clipper card?" This stumped them for a moment, then they admitted that they could not. The eldest stoner gave me directions to where I needed to go, and I reeled back into the sunlight, hoping I hadn't gotten a contact high. I figure the mellow guys probably ventured off in search of munchies.
Outside, they (okay, probably not the potheads, but people they hired) had painted an incredibly cool mural, which you can see here. It's a proud Oakland mural, with images of the Fox Theater, the Port of Oakland, Lake Merritt, the Tribune tower, a BART train, an oak tree (of which there are darn few in Oakland nowadays), and the funky triangular building at Broadway and Telegraph. In the center, the dot in the middle of the "O" in "Oaksterdam" is formed by a marijuana leaf. Still, cool mural. I'm a big fan of murals in general. (I should go back to the Mission District in SF sometime to do the self-guided mural tour. It's neato keen. Any of you local folks want to go with me?)
Of course, obtaining this special Clipper card required standing in line forever ... and then filling out forms ... and then standing in line forever again ... and then waiting to have my photo taken for the card (and I'm sure in all my sweatiness I looked charming) ... but there were tons of interesting people milling around, so it was actually pretty entertaining. There were all these people coming in looking for items they'd lost on the bus, like one guy who kept insisting that he'd lost his backpack on the #51 line two months ago when he was really drunk. Dude! You wait two months to come ask about it? What, did it take you this long to remember the incident? Another guy showed up saying that a bus driver had taken off before he could retrieve his bike from the rack on the front of the bus. Wow, that sucks! Anyway, so I listened to everyone's stories and it helped pass the time. Now I get to wait 1-3 weeks for my Clipper card to arrive in the mail.
From there, I caught an incredibly crowded #72 bus (and made great friends with another woman at the bus stop, since we both waited quite a while), in which there were no less than 3 teen moms with strollers blocking the aisles. The #72 goes through some very poor (though not dangerous, as far as I know) areas in west Berkeley, so the buses tend to be packed, a bit smelly, and a bit more aggressively peopled than on most other routes. I put in my earbuds and listened to Simon and Garfunkel and tried to ignore the arguments and ranting and unpleasantness around me. It was a looooong bus ride. Well, it felt long, anyway.
Arriving at Ohmega Salvage in west Oakland, I found myself in a sort of old-house-stuff wonderland. I was looking for plates and doorknobs for two of our funky old doors, but this place had a million gazillion other cool things to look at: all these antique bathtubs, windows, doors, light switches, hinges, locks, light fixtures, grates, and innumerable other things I'd never seen before. I ended up only buying a "spindle" and doorknob for our bedroom closet, but I will have to go back with more detailed measurements and opinions from Shannon to buy the rest of the stuff we need. So I see this as a successful reconnaissance mission.
Then I walked home, trying to stay on the shady side of the street, and promptly fell deeply asleep within 10 minutes of setting foot on our property.
In the evening, Shannon and I went on the exciting (no irony intended) adventure of cat tree shopping. We ended up buying this cat tree that has 5 levels, and it's over 6 feet tall, and the cats seem to love it. All three of them have been climbing all over it, with Lucy being the most enthusiastic (unsurprisingly). Getting it home was a bit of an adventure for us car-less folks, but we had taken our little hand-truck thingamabob, so the primary problem was dealing with curbs and uneven sidewalks. But in the end we were victorious, and much joy was experienced. (I'll try to post a photo of the new cat tree tomorrow. Right now I'm too tired.)
Tomorrow, I'm hanging with Lisa (as usual), but in the afternoon Ting and his guys are going to come over and do our Spectacular Sofa Swap. So I'm hoping that this time tomorrow, our living room will sport not only a new cat tree, but also a new couch and new love seat. Huzzah!