Morning tea led to the living room, and then to a decision: brunch. After someone I care very much for insisted, I put on shorts and we headed along our street and a few blocks over to Portal. Sides (biscuits with butter, bacon, scrambled eggs) and coffee later, we could see lanes of Lakeshore Avenue and its intersection with Foothill Boulevard coned off for Love Our Lake Day.
We paid our bill and left, letting the path lead us around to the amphitheater. I declared I was staying put for a while, and listened to the bicycle-powered PA system pump out an acoustic-leaning lineup. Then I people-watched for a bit, stopping to take an actual Hyperlapse and a Framelapse.
I watched pedestrians dodge fliers passed out on behalf of political candidates. I saw the mayor herself greeting people from her booth, conveniently placed next to another booth with a large sign outlining the lake’s many upgrades and improvements. I chatted with an on-duty Oakland Tribune photographer who’d already been up to Albany for the Solano Stroll earlier about our quiet, uneventful workweek. Then I figured I’d better walk home before it got too much warmer. Additional hyperlapses were required.
If you have to live somewhere, it’s good to be someplace where you can drive off a few miles on a Saturday morning, come back and know just where to scratch an itch: satisfy a sweet (or savory) tooth, or accidentally run across an acquaintance who just wanted a veggie sandwich and sparkling water after getting her tired fixed up the block.
If you look up, hours later, and realize you’re not cooking dinner, it’s a lucky thing if you’re able to people-watch restaurant-goers and and dawdle next to a window display if a city-based tchotchke catches your eye.
And if you get to stop in the middle of a local highway’s bridge overpass for the thirty seconds or so it takes to GIF smoothly moving traffic below, you might even be distracted enough to briefly forget small things like new residents and rising rental prices.
You who give yourself over to patterns, to data, to teasing out significant signal from the big nothing’s worth of noise in the background, take heed and take heart: You’ll have to deal with the fact that you’re not the biggest issue on or offline, and you’ll have to think about something bigger than yourself: how to bring balance to folks dead-set on upending The Way Things’ve Always Been.
Maybe there’s no way other than to point to the folks who say this is how it’s always been. Maybe there’s nothing to do but show up with your money for your ticket and your popcorn, and to try not to keep score when people look at your family, their progress and what may be leftover for the church to pick over.
I wish I weren’t the kind of person who only looks bad when times are tough, news is bad, or difficult things play out in real time. I’d like to be the kind of person who looks forward, but that’s usually the person getting the evil eye from other people stuck in the present and still processing. So when I noticed the #DearMassimo hashtag floating around some designer folk on Twitter, I figured it’d be a good idea to re-watch “Helvetica” late yesterday. That meant when I logged in today, Netflix suggested “Page One: Inside the New York Times.” I hadn’t seen it before, and figured now would be a good time because, as we all know now in a way we didn’t know a week ago, nothing of significance or import can ever happen to a newspaper like that.
I noticed a couple of sayings (“Humanism is obsolete” and “humor is a release”) in rows on a poster hanging in the background of a designer’s studio in the movie “Helvetica.” Googling the sayings led me to their origins in Jenny Holzer’s “Truisms,” one unsurprising instance when they were removed from display more than 25 years ago, and a quiz, where I found 19 things I believe, as well as how many people believe them out of the 2906 people who’ve voted to share their own beliefs:
- A LITTLE KNOWLEDGE CAN GO A LONG WAY (1037)
- A SINGLE EVENT CAN HAVE INFINITELY MANY INTERPRETATIONS (822)
- ABSOLUTE SUBMISSION CAN BE A FORM OF FREEDOM (459)
- ABUSE OF POWER COMES AS NO SURPRISE (730)
- ALL THINGS ARE DELICATELY INTERCONNECTED (626)
- AT TIMES INACTIVITY IS PREFERABLE TO MINDLESS FUNCTIONING (574)
- DEVIANTS ARE SACRIFICED TO INCREASE GROUP SOLIDARITY (338)
- EVEN YOUR FAMILY CAN BETRAY YOU (572)
- EXPIRING FOR LOVE IS BEAUTIFUL BUT STUPID (399)
- HIDING YOUR MOTIVES IS DESPICABLE (253)
- LACK OF CHARISMA CAN BE FATAL (366)
- MEN ARE NOT MONOGAMOUS BY NATURE (249)
- MOTHERS SHOULDN’T MAKE TOO MANY SACRIFICES (340)
- MUCH WAS DECIDED BEFORE YOU WERE BORN (482)
- RAISE BOYS AND GIRLS THE SAME WAY (412)
- TAKING A STRONG STAND PUBLICIZES THE OPPOSITE POSITION (312)
- TORTURE IS BARBARIC (629)
- WISHING THINGS AWAY IS NOT EFFECTIVE (596)
- YOU ARE A VICTIM OF THE RULES YOU LIVE BY (588)
This evening, the food trucks and the crowds were mostly unfamiliar. Last week there was more serendipity, warmer and brighter sunshine. I probably made fewer statements about how much more likely it was that we would need to look around for a place to live outside of Oakland. Once you notice the clock ticking, it’s hard to hear much else.
I went with the Bacon Bacon truck, picking items at random and paying with the now-going-away Square Wallet. It felt good to sit against the museum’s outside wall and watch everything.
I love watching for moments like the dog who’s looking up and waiting for his companion to drop something on the ground. I love waiting for the food I’ve got stowed away to eat later in addition to whatever I’ve felt like eating in the moment. I love looking up at the signs overhead and seeing the wind go right through them and being able to zip up my hoodie because it’s gotten cooler than others (but not me) might have anticipated.
Most of all, I love being able to walk away once I’ve had my fill, wandering up the street toward the Lake Chalet for another vantage, another perspective while there’s still light in the sky and a lake to look across and stools to perch on while loud, dated music blares overhead on the public address system.
All narratives are nested dolls, tale within tale with tale told in service of faulty memory, in thrall to adventures and testament to those we’ve met. If we are lucky, we live long enough and well enough to pass on certain values and stances to those alongside whom we work and love. We develop a slightly more cosmopolitan approach to others: either a veneer of politesse to smooth over our paths, or an abiding orientation that lets us navigate through life with verve and, ahem, panache. If we are not so lucky, we find ourselves donning drab black uniforms and throwing in with greedy hordes and warmongers. Choose alliances carefully, cultivate allegiances accordingly and carry yourself appropriately. Keep calm and lobby boy.