Monday, December 22, 2003


I've lived here too long.

I just sat through two earthquakes, the first a 4.7, the second a 6.5, without a reaction. They were down in Central Cal, of course; pretty weak up here, but still. There's no way of knowing that when you feel the first one. Sometimes the second's a lot bigger, and of course there are aftershocks.

I was sitting on my little bed, with my little red plastic IKEA bed table popped up over my legs, working on my laptop. When the shaking started, I thought, gee, I guess I should go stand in the doorway.

Or at least I should probably blow that candle out.

Naw. I'd have to move the computer and everything, and I'm almost done with this paragraph.

Weird few days here. Strange electrical fields, maybe, a disturbance in the force. Two nights ago the lights went out as we were getting a party set up for some wealthy regular clients. They flipped, we stayed calm; most of our cooking is done with Sterno anyway, and if you're accustomed to regularly staging elaborate parties in temporary locations, working by candlelight in a real kitchen is still an improvement on being in a tent in a parking lot. The power went out all over the city, and hasn't come back everywhere yet; there were still lights out downtown last night and around Civic Center. Cops directing traffic. I'm also noticing that my WiFi connection has been really patchy this session. I should stop re-reading the 'Invisibles' graphic novels ArchitectX has been feeding me; I'm seeing ultraterrestrial conspiracy everywhere. Tom Ridge sees terrorists, I see Archons.

Anyway, the USGS has a cool site where you can find out about your earthquake in real time, and tell them about your experience of it for their calculations. So far, I'm the only person who's responded from this zip code. I am amazed. I mean, you'd think everyone would drop everything to touch base with the USGS, you know, check in.

Which reminds me. Last night, AX and I were driving around, trying to find Picasso's house. "Look!" I said, pointing, and feeling a lot like a little kid. "Airstreams! Two of them!"

"And people ask why I like you," he said.

I know it's hard for some folks to follow my mind. When I visualize my mind, it's a sort of shiny greenish bird that's been fed too much caffeine and can't hold still. My mom's the same way; long ago we had to cut a deal with my father that we would make some kind of noise, like the car backing-up beep, to indicate that the subject had changed, so he didn't get lost. He's an intelligent man, is Dad, but his mind is a very different animal.

So AX and I finally found Picasso, who marched us at gunpoint to a Moroccan tapas sort of place and forced us to eat delicious things like prawns grilled with lemon-sumac gremolata. AX's best friend and her affianced were there, exhausted from a day of nesting, and the five of us had the sort of conversation that my little green bird loves. I couldn't really keep up, however; I was still suffering from pre-holiday-get-shit-done sleep dep, two hours trudging in circles through the Dickens Faire dressed like a nineteenth-century Romani (the important detail here being that I was doing it in boots that don't care for the floor of the Cow Palace, even covered in sawdust), an intense play about wrongly accused people on death row, and then rushing around watching AX do his holiday shopping. Fortunately nobody else seemed to be firing on all their cylinders either; but as Pavlova noted, as long as one person at the table knew the answer to whatever esoteric question had been raised, we were fine. We're not quite ready to field a Trivial Pursuits team, however, as none of us know anything about sports.

Now that I've turned in my piece about fad diets (do not EVEN get me started on Olestra) the week stretches ahead of me without a single work commitment. I can't even begin to fathom it. I haven't had this much time to myself in months. Tomorrow I'm going down the coast a piece, stay in a youth hostel a couple of nights, go out and visit the otters and egrets and elephant seals at Ano Nuevo. This is the elephant seal breeding season, which is about as noisy a spectacle as you might imagine. They migrate, you know; they've been spotted as far north as Alaska, so when they do come to land they hang out and get fat to prepare themselves for months in the cold water. I'm bringing all the silliest books I can find, none of which will be about theater or dieting, and I'm going to read in the sand dunes and draw bad pictures of birds. Merry flippin' Christmas! I did roughly the same thing last year, around Thanksgiving, and it was so restorative. I had two conversations in three days--one with the elephant seal expert, and one with a fellow hosteller about environmentally sound building practices. Otherwise I was quiet and still and loved it. This year I understand that the hot tub is working (!), better and better.

I suppose before I go, I should move as much of my stuff out of the house and into my studio as I can, so that I'm not coming back to face that particular task, but I am feeling supremely unmotivated to do anything more complicated than microwaving a Gardenburger and going back to bed.