Monday, September 22, 2003

go home and string the beads you already own!

Although I'm hip-deep in beads already, I always end up in bead stores...ever since I was a teenager hitting the bead shop in Birmingham, Michigan, after school. I'd get my little muffin tin and start choosing two of these, four of those, each kind into their own little muffin spot. I've bought beads all over the US, in Paris, Spain, Canada, Madagascar. If there is a bead shop, I will find it. I'm the drug-sniffing dog of beads.

So when I walked by Beadissimo, the magnetic pull was strong. The 'we're closed' sign, however, was stronger, and bore the above admonition. I thought it was so funny I read it out loud, and then looked to see if there was anyone I could read it to who might appreciate it as much as I had. People walked by with their children and dogs and cell phones, wrapped in their own not-obsessed-with-beads lives, and I had to keep my amusement to myself, for fear of looking crazier than I suspect I am.

Craziness. After work Saturday night, I ended up out at Ocean Beach looking vainly for a bonfire/party I'd been invited to hit. That's a whole 'nother story, involving a guy named Jake the Wizard, Asian kids setting off illegal fireworks, and yours truly slogging around in the sand after 2 am in tux pants, work shoes, and a red fleece pullover, a wine box full of Krispy Kreme donuts and cold mashed potatoes under my arm. Anyway, after I decided that maybe walking home from the beach was not such a swell idea and writing off calling Mike, who lives out there, and asking if I could crash on his floor, I found myself on the N Judah with a very friendly bus driver and a blonde woman howling in the back.

People talking to invisible people is a very common sight in San Francisco. As I understand it from a training I went to when I was working with homeless kids, schizophrenia is primarily dangerous for the people who have it, not the people around them. Listening to someone respond to the voices in their head can be unnerving, but the affected are far more likely to hurt themselves on the voices' orders than other people.

Which is small comfort when you're listening to someone really getting angry, scared, confrontational--and loud. The driver, a gregarious guy with three teenaged children and an urge to move back to Chicago, responded by turning on the air conditioning to drown out the woman's voice. At one point when she started addressing him directly, he threatened to call the police to "put her off the bus." I didn't know what to do. Telling him that calling the cops seemed excessive didn't seem like the best plan, but I wanted to advocate for her in some small way, because I really didn't think she was herself. Or dangerous.

Of course, the day before he'd been driving the 44 O'Shaughnessy route in Hunter's Point, one bus ahead of the one that got strafed by gunfire. So I can see where he might be a little edgy.