a morning in the hood, autumn

There is no snappy headline or overall theme to today’s post, except perhaps that I adore Golden Gate Perk, the cafe on Bush & Kearny that has free wireless and allowed me to check some work emergencies at 8am this morning. I was on the way to passport renewal errand. Then got deterred by reading blogs and eavesdropping on some Australian tourists. Good things about GGPerk: plasma screen showing a movie, satellite radio over the speakers, very nice cute barista boy, very quiet, super central, free wireless, lots of outlets, good soy cappuccino.

Washington Park in the morning was kind of interesting. The healthy old Asian populous was out swinging their arms in huge circles, doing little knee bends, all in their padded four-layer-of-clothes bodies. Kind of cracks me up. There was an office-girl type with coifed hair and an older Asian guy under a tree where 1-on-1 tutorials happen in tai chi. I heard her saying “OK, thanks, next time,” etc., and he would respond in Cantonese. I guess someone has decided they need to start preparing for the golden years?

After being in so many different cities lately I really appreciate San Francisco. My first night going to sleep, hearing the sea lions, Alcatraz’s foghorn, the ring-a-ling of the cable car, all of those sounds are just so soothing to me. Especially the little wisps of cold air going by. It feels so cozy. The air is dry with slight humidity. I just feel cleaner here. I could never move to the East Coast, though my experiences have always been slightly sleep deprived, and with too much drinking. Still, the criticisms East Coasters have of the West Coast are things I adore. Everything’s brown… well, there’s also not random mold growing in places. The weather never changes… and yet, I never have to think of the weather, or postpone plans because of it. There’s also something monumental about the landscape of the West. Seattle is the best example. It’s just stunningly beautiful and grand, almost everywhere. SF has it once in a while.

I think about the fragility of our cities, especially SF, in regards to the Katrina disaster. I lived through Loma Prieta, and discussing it with some Canadians last night, realized that it’s just not as scary. The aftershocks will keep your nerves frayed, but there isn’t five feet of standing water. The death toll was far smaller. There are smart things you can do in your house to keep it earthquake proof, but the death aspect is pretty random. Never drive on a bridge? Go under an overpass? Ha. It was kind of funny when drivers would pause before overpasses while waiting for a light or something, making sure they weren’t sitting ducks.

In local news, drove along the new Octavia road between Market & lower Haight area. It is quite pretty. I’m glad the central freeway went down! Some locals and I were laughing about how they put “take down the central freeway” on the ballot with no alternative. Duh! When they finally put “rebuild, or build expressway” people finally got to let their opinions be known. And they think NO politics are screwy.

One thing I noticed about the walk downtown- it’s turning into autumn. My nephew has started obsessing about his Halloween costume (“I want to be a ninja!” me: “I know a ninja” him: silence, his way of telling me I’m full of shit). The weather driving across from Emeryville was distinctly chilly. And this is one day after our single day of summer (90 degrees, around 70 in the evening!).

There’s something European about autumn in a city. I think it’s the pervading grey that I found in Paris. When SF gets grey, I think of France. Note, to all Parisians and those learning French in Paris; it’s “a Paris”, because it’s feminine. Not irregular like I’d thought, just a city, and feminine, so you add an “a”. I had drilled in my head at one point that one always says “a paris”.

Reading Chinese signs on the way to the passport office filled me with anxiety. I have forgotten everything about the Chinese language. I did the flashcards the other day and that helped a tad, but now I can say useful things like “shi yan shi” laboratory. Lovely. “please sir, i’d like to the laboratory.” “qing wen xue sheng, wo xiang qu shi yan shi.” Grrr.