May 20th, 2012

totoro catbus, happy


I'm exhausted and planning to go to bed in the extremely immediate future, but I wanted to scribble down some brief notes about the last couple days. I haven't been doing the best job of updating this journal lately, and I'd like to be better about it.

Yesterday consisted largely of a plumbing emergency in our upstairs bathroom that took up 3 or 4 hours of my time in the afternoon/evening. Plumbers tromping in and out, an incredible racket that put my teeth on edge for about an hour, cats unhappily shut up in separate rooms so they wouldn't get underfoot or fight with each other, the next door neighbor coming to tell me that the plumbers' cable had somehow ended up dangling over the fence into their yard and was waving around and damaging their plants, the light fixture in the living room filling with water from the upstairs toilet and then dripping directly onto me as I stood beneath it looking up to see what was going on, Shannon and me having dinner while the plumbers were still working upstairs, water water everywhere but not a drop you'd want to drink. The situation wasn't completely resolved until something like 8 p.m. It didn't bother me too much while it was going on, but it was nice to have our house nice and quiet and private again.

Today I did lots of housework in the morning: laundry, dishes, litter boxes, etc. In the afternoon, Shannon and I headed off on a bike ride I had suggested, which took us first to the Target in Albany (because Shannon needed a new pair of jeans), then to the dog park at Point Isabel (where we watched two incredibly cute pocket gophers -- which we initially thought might be moles -- nibble skittishly at the grass on the top of The Coldest Hill in the World), then to El Cerrito Plaza for dinner at Rubio's, then to the donut place in El Cerrito Plaza (where I ordered a custard donut, and the guy pulled out a regular donut, then used this funky machine to put the custard inside while we stood there waiting -- I was totally amazed! I'd never seen someone do that before! Custardization, happening right in front of me!), and then home along the Ohlone Greenway (which is STILL majorly fucked up, and so we were only on it occasionally, and otherwise on the road nearby).

The ride home was the best part, because we happened to be traveling during the height of today's "annular eclipse," so there were groups of people standing around everywhere just staring at the sky, holding up mirrors and pieces of cardboard at funny angles, standing idly in the middle of streets, talking on street corners with apparently complete strangers as if they were old friends, letting their small children run naked in the public parks. It was like this huge, citywide block party, except with a bizarre sci-fi element, because all these people, all along our route, across miles of the city, were all standing around in amazement, all facing the same direction, all looking into the sky and pointing and gaping, and it was just like all those movie and tv scenes when the giant alien ships arrive and hover over the city and everyone stops what they're doing, wherever they are, and stares and points simultaneously. It was like "V" or "Independence Day," except right here in Berkeley, along our familiar bike path.

Shannon and I didn't actually stop to watch the eclipse, since we wouldn't be able to actually watch it, anyway, without special glasses or one of the funky homemade contraptions we were seeing among the milling crowds. Looking straight at the sun is generally inadvisable. But we did pay a lot of attention to the weirdness of the shadows around us as we biked. The shadows of the trees on the cement, for example, formed these kind of strange doubled arcs; and our own shadows had a sort of wavy look to the edges. When I looked at the shadow of my hand, which was gripping the handlebar, it looked like a giant spider, all arcs of shadow leading away from my fist. Shannon pointed out, also, that the sky had become very dark, almost purple, above our heads, even though it was only around 6:30 and we haven't been getting full dark until after 8:30 lately.

So it was a neat experience: cool shadows and freaky social dynamics. I'm glad we happened to be out and about -- and traveling, so that we got the impact of the fact that the same weirdness of people standing around in the road and on sidewalks was happening everywhere, which made it much weirder than if it had been just a few isolated people -- because we hadn't actually planned it. We hadn't even been sure the eclipse was going to be today. Coolness!

Okay. Time for bed.