What’s Been.

It’s been a long brace of seasons, last fall and this winter. Which is good, as it all goes by far too fast for my liking. This is slowed down, of course, by anticipation of good things to come, a blessing no matter which way you slice it. Which is, in turn, sped up by the busy days leading up to the little gems of joy with which we reward ourselves along the way. It’s like existential traffic, all this stop and start. I’ve been leaning on the horn for months. And through the few words imagined but not written, I’ve been describing the great experiences of the past few months in my head for others to see, or perhaps just myself. And words are lovely, but fleeting, so here are many pictures with only a few words to keep them in line. My lesson and task this year is to celebrate memory as much as living now and the hope of things in the future. Temporal badminton, if you will. And because I’m late, Happy New Year, friends distant and close!


Dear Lori’s birthday this year was punctuated by some of the finer, more luscious and hedonistic pleasures. We seem to always squeeze weeks into a few hours, after work, before returning to the City, and just before bed. I’m so pleased at the life she leads with Jeffy, and it is, indeed, a magical life well-led. That’s an amazing Pinot, friends.


Cheese, if you please, brings weakness to my knees. I’ve always said that if eating the stuff will take five years off my life, then so be it. Fast-forward to that point, and I’m sure to drop straight down to my cheese-knees and beg to turn back the clock. I’ve been branching out lately, and enjoying the pairing of these beauties with other food and drink – a kind of culinary alchemy with no horrible explosions or transmutations gone awry.


Effortless preparations, or ridiculously-talented friends who make it seem effortless, punctuated the little bits of downtime during the fall. Replacing resplendent leafy hues and other East Coast autumnal exaltations, we ‘make do’ with such things out here in the wilds of the Left. Nights like these with people like these make my branches stretch and my own leaves unfurl.


Green and Red came early this year, months before Christmas, and they brought part of their home to ours. This trip had been much anticipated, and the three weeks they spent here made it feel very much like they were always here, and always would be here. It’s sometimes difficult to remember that there are so many miles between us, which is one of the profoundly strange things about being blessed with friends abroad. We expect to pop round the corner and meet for tea, but it’s a bit farther than we figure. The fact that there are visitations and travel makes it fun to host back and forth.


In bars and pubs, everyone’s a native. Alcohol is our international elixir, relegating us all to the same stool-sitting countenance, shooting the shit and perhaps feeling a bit lighter than we normally would. I say ‘we’ but I mean ‘I’. The bars in this city underwhelm me. Being a regular at a place is fine, but San Franciscans treat their watering holes like countries, and they defend them with American-brand neo-con flag-waving. We can do better.


The last time we met on the other side of the world, there were stones and towers and beaches and oceans. Synergies are rampant, and I like comparing and contrasting the experiences. We have them too, and even though they were only miles from where I currently call home, I had no idea they all convened in one lovely spot. Seastack sleestak.


All of our first times walking across the red steel span. Our guests had never been here before, we had been here for ages, but had never seemed to make a hoof-trek out of it. Tourist icons aside, it’s a beast of a structure and a very nice stroll. The wind was still and the sun was kind to us. Para-sails billowed below, container ships with Lego-like cargo did not hit bridge towers while we watched, and we walked and talked and sang, at times.


Behind hanging bells she smiles and I can hardly hold on to myself. She is my love and my light, and though we saw no parrots on Telegraph hill, there was a lovely swan there, craning her neck to catch the evening rays of waning light before the dusk settled on this fine city.


A jaunt to Monterey and a couple days off work provided the backdrop for some brilliant experiences one weekend in late September. I could get lost in the jelly exhibit at the aquarium there, and though I’ve heard it’s not the finest in the world, the undulation, dynamism, and serenity of these colorful little flesh truffles never fail to astound me. The movies we took were even better.


The Ginge fell in love with the otters, as everyone seems to. I believe they were put here to make homo sapiens squeal – an innate ability learned as a form of defense, I suppose. It seems to be a botched system, however, as the first thing we tend to do is reach for them to stuff into our mouths. They have very sharp teeth, too. Good thing the glass is there.


Undersea trees wave in the current, wispy tentacles reaching for microscopic morsels almost invisible to the human eye. It’s like a desert beneath the water, the ultimate nature-created irony. Ricketts must have had a blast with all the various species in the Monterey environs. He must have felt he was on to something big, seeing and touching things no one had before him.


Say what you want about British-themed American pubs…the nautical tchotchkes and laminated wood abound, but they sure know how to measure out a dram. It was a good primer before visualizing an evening café meeting and a round of hot teas and sweeties. What else to do on vacation but eat and drink and play and sleep?


The great explorers had nothing on us that weekend. We silently drew many comparisons between their coast and ours, but the undulating waves and floating kelp beds and jagged spits of rock could have been either place. We left them there to split off for a couple of days, only to meet up again just a little bit farther north.


A gathering of friends ensued, with not a few terrible rounds of billiards in a rented riverside home. Despite finding strange cooking implements in the bed linens, we had some good time to talk and quietly convene away from the business and busyness of city life. The blanket of stars above was limitless, and from our perch in and amongst the redwoods, a few very good days were leapt upon.


It’s interesting to see how other people live, and what they choose to do with their money. Partly, it makes me appreciate what I have, but it also makes me dream and desire and leave complacency far behind. I’m rarely exhausted at the end of vacations, no matter how large or packed with events. Usually, I’m ready to spring forth and attack the next day with all of the strength and ardor from my recent experiences behind me.


We Huck Finned it down the Russian for a few hours, braving almost no current and lots of gentle rippling against the side of the inflatables. Bags of dried fruit and jerky were thrown from ship to ship as we crisscrossed wakes and gently splashed each other with paddles. I’ve done this meandering route before, and it always ends too fast for my tastes…


Doing his best impression of a nature photographer, anonymous_seth bears down for a waterline shot as his safari partner steadies the boat.


Vacation over for many months, cygnoir and I retreat into a regular life of kind routine with apoplectic bouts of joy and adventure. I get lost in my elephantine monitor, sorting music, words, thoughts, potions…and I occasionally swivel around to find that the cygnet has drifted delicately off, enthused along by the soft fur and rolling purrs of Vercingetorix the cat. Sometimes I’ll turn around many times in an hour, just to enjoy this scene.


We live in a wonderful place, this city by the bay. There is history, technology, open spaces, and progressiveness. We can hear the foghorns as we fall asleep at night and we can walk a coastline that traverses bunkers, forests, beaches, and mountains. There are a hundred ethnicities of food to explore, and some of the most beautiful houses I have ever seen. Sometimes it takes far-away friends to show these things to the native, and sometimes it just takes someone local to share them with.


In either case, it’s been too long since I’ve reached out to embrace these things fully. But I’m finding the time to sneak them in, and it’s making me feel like this is the life that many dream about, and I’m lucky beyond belief. It’s the cracks between the slabs of occupational cement, but it’s happening.

17 Responses to “What’s Been.”

  1. hermiston Says:
    February 6th, 2008 at 4:41 am

    Well hello! What a charming return to lj this entry is. Documentary through photography is such a meaningful form of memory, and presentation of memory. Thanks for sharing them, and framing them with lovely words. You sound very happy – good effort!
    But mate, lay off the cheese. It's bad for you.

  2. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Well hello! I have a thousand media in which to respond to you, and I'm seemingly behind on all of them. We really must do something about this mileage, this time difference. You're right what you say about photography, and I'm moving farther into complacency with Flickr, as you know what the proverbial picture tells…
    How could I lay off cheese? I cannot do it. I just cannot. It's not as if I eat it every day. But it is half the makeup of my very essence. Yes, my dear lord, I am made of the stuff.

  3. angledge Says:
    February 6th, 2008 at 9:18 am

    Thank you for posting some photos of yourself! I miss you.
    Also: everybody loves otters! But we generally don't eat them; we skin them & wear their plush little furs. Better? Worse?

  4. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:08 am

    Depends how they taste, I suppose.

  5. dirtbaby Says:
    February 6th, 2008 at 10:26 am

    it is good to see you happy.

  6. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:11 am

    Thanks. You've been pointing the way for a while, now.

  7. mooflyfoof Says:
    February 6th, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Yay! This post is filled with happy. 🙂
    Which British-themed pub did you go to in Monterey? The Crown & Anchor? That was my hangout when I lived there. Best turkey/bacon/cheese melt ever.

  8. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:18 am

    You got it. The selfsame place. And now, I will have to try that bedamn'ed melt. Thanks for the suggestion!

  9. peasweet13 Says:
    February 6th, 2008 at 1:47 pm

    Halsted is absolutely lovely, Darren, and I am terribly upset that I have not had the pleasure of meeting her. Or maybe I have but in my drunken stupor, I forgot. In either case, it has been far too long since you have hung out with the Schusters and I believe it is time we did something about it. I am also insanely jealous that there was a party with infinite amounts of cheese and wine and great people and I was not there!! Does it not seem like ages ago that the three of us played games in your little back room? Hell, I guess it was. I miss you dearly, my friend, and hope we can find the time soon to get the four of us together soon. I'll share my love if you share yours! : )

  10. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:45 am

    Dear Amy, you've not yet met her…but I guarantee that you will. I'm extremely touched by your words here, and you bring back a very old memory that I often think of when charting the course from There to Here. I do remember that game night very well, which felt like one of the first real adult moments of my life – the understanding that there was this massive, open path ahead of us. It's lovely to see good friends still on that road, with courses charted a bit more soundly.
    Yes, let's make some plans for a catch-up. Will you e-mail me when you have a moment? We'll get something in the pipeline, dear woman.

  11. gingiber Says:
    February 7th, 2008 at 1:58 am

    Great write up. I look on LJ for th first time in 2 weeks to discover this gem. It all seems such a long time ago now. Though memmorys of the sun still warm me in this dark, wet cold time.
    So looking forward to your return visit and seeing Halstead in a whole new country.

  12. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:20 am

    So glad you enjoyed it; can't believe it's taken me this long to post! And I'll definitely be setting up a set of vacation photos on Flickr from your time here. Let's make more soon!

  13. elessa Says:
    February 11th, 2008 at 7:40 pm

    yay! glad to know you are still around and life has been treating you and yours so wonderfully!

  14. FunkyPlaid Says:
    February 19th, 2008 at 11:24 am

    Thanks very much for this. I'm certainly around, but not as much in front of the journal as I'd like to be. We'll see about remedying this in the coming weeks and months. Funny how time shrinks at the same time that words expand…

  15. thistlelurid Says:
    March 3rd, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    "horrible explosions or transmutations gone awry."
    O, vhat zee cheese du tu meeeee! yikes!

  16. seide Says:
    April 9th, 2008 at 12:57 pm

    What a wonderful post- so glad to see you back in the LJ habit!

  17. FunkyPlaid Says:
    April 14th, 2008 at 6:39 pm

    Thanks very much for saying so. Less of a habit and more of a flirtation, though I miss it very much these days. The reading of it is on a much more regular basis, however.

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