I got up early again, contrary to my intentions. I got dressed and worked on the computer, which was the worst possible way to occupy myself that morning. I spent two hours on the phone with tech support, getting more and more angry. I didn’t realize it at that moment, but I was in the grips of the worst PMS ever*.
* [If you pay any attention to Sex Week on the Discovery Channel, you know the wide-ranging control of female hormones upon the fate of humanity. Now, Heather’s hormones in particular have been known to affect international warfare, the tides, and sometimes even the rotation of the earth. 2,000 miles away from her influence, I found myself completely at the whim of my own usually fair-tempered hormones. Things got ugly.]
Jay came home for a while and somehow, miraculously, survived. When he left for work, I was still hunched irritably over the machine. Sometime around 2pm, I gave up and went out. I had walked past several restaurants on Gough Street the day before, so I headed back down the giant hill in search of food. Since it was between lunch and dinner, several of the restaurants were closed. I examined the menus of the other half, and couldn’t find anything I could eat.
I kept going. At one point, I was crying and walking. Otherwise, just walking. I found myself back in the Castro, and wandered into a little coffeeshop. I got a roasted mushroom sandwich and coffee, and sat out back on the patio in the sun. Of course, I had run out without bringing anything to do, not even my travel journal, so I read People from front to back, and chatted with the guy at the counter for a while, which cheered me up a little.
After lunch, I felt much better, realizing that half my problem was that my blood sugar was so low. I stopped into a few galleries and shopped, then wandered back in the direction I had come from. Without realizing it, I had walked a lot farther than I had intended. But walking is good therapy, so I was glad.
I went to Japantown, and found my way into the mall. I was in heaven. I liked the bookstore the most, and had to resist buying all the crazy magazines and the translated-from-english novels (Stephen King! In Japanese!). I bought a Hello Kitty magazine, and the First Book of Sushi for Heather:
Miso in my sippy cup,
tofu in my bowl.
Crab and avocado
fill my California roll.
At a china shop, I bought about ten different netsuke, because each one I found was cuter than the last. The only thing that kept me from spending a ton of money there was that everything was as expensive as if it had been Japan. I sat in the plaza by the fountain and checked in with the parents. Then I went to the grocery store and bought grapes and raisin rolls. When I’m in Japantown, I know how to party.
I walked back to Jay’s, dropped off my new acquisitions, and headed down to Starbucks, where the same guy behind the counter begged me to sell him my superspecial card, and I once again dashed his hopes and dreams. I sat there for an hour and scrawled in my journal, which was quickly devolving from a travelogue into a preteen girl’s diary (see below). Such is PMS.
I went back to Jay’s after 6 and finally, finally got the computer running. I still wasn’t feeling great, but they convinced me to go to dinner. The tradition known as fratboy pizza wasn’t happening that night, so we ended up at an Indian-Pakistani restaurant nearby. It had weird clientele, good food, and awesome service, and sort of reminded me of our last night in New Orleans at the happiest Indian restaurant on earth.
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random notes from my travel journal:
holy crap. japantown has a denny’s. that’s even better than the chinese starbucks in dc.
it’s hard to be enthusiastic about seeing things when i feel like crap.
___ is making me insane. they’re technically clueless and defensive, which is the worst possible combination. ____ called me this morning. it was so hard not to yell.
being away this long is disorienting. i know where i am, but it’s not real to me at all. i think it’s the lack of short-term memory. according to my amnesia, i now live in san francisco, which could be any city, really. i forget about my daily routine. i suspect i’m doing something horribly wrong, which will likely ruin my life. i think i have cancer. all i know how to do is walk and eat and run away when i get stressed. i’ve realized how incredibly bad my decision-making skills are when i’m pressured. i hate that feeling of panic. i’ve become ok with crying in public and stopping dead for a minute or two to collect my thoughts. i don’t bother putting on a contented look when i don’t feel that way. it’s almost easier to be a stranger, completely anonymous. but i still rely on contact with people i know. like, still having that connection to the world i actually belong in.
i can understand how sometimes people wander off and are never heard from again. however, i’m not that person. i need to feel like i belong somewhere. i need a long rope attached to something stable.
i also realize that i crave this sense of displacement and surreality. it’s like testing how much i can handle. it’s why i keep up the frantic pace, too. if i stay in one place too long, it’ll start feeling real to me. i’ve been here four days now, which is a lot. i know i’m in sf, but it’s meaningless to me. i have to keep reminding myself: california. pacific ocean. it could be anywhere; i know it as well as i know any other place except home.
other tourists are happy to take pictures and buy postcards. i do those things, and i also rush around with a blank stare, wondering where the hell i am half the time. i think this is why so many people are medicated: to stop questioning.
i’ve started to hate the question, ‘what are you going to do about it?’ because i so rarely have the answer anymore. or i know the answer is ‘nothing.’
man, this is not a travel journal anymore. it’s a paranoid’s diary. i’m a freak. i’m going to stare at californians now and wonder what’s going on tonight.
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