Saturday, June 26, 2004

The scent of coffee reminds me of when I was a child and my grandmother, a coffee fiend, would brew a pot for herself as the dawn broke. The smell wafted through the house and was also an invitation to my stomach to appear in the kitchen at once where she usually had a lavish breakfast prepared. It reminds me also of late nights in college when me and my study friends stayed up all night in the House dining hall drinking the local concoction, usually brackish brown. It reminds me too of every coffeehouse I have been in. All these places and images stored away in one scent.

There is an inverse relationship between writing and doing. The more I have to express, the less time I have to express it. Experiences well up like some electric charge.

I see things that happen to me and to others around me and I try to construct a consistent story of what I know and have learned. To explore the world is to undergo a continuous process of revision.

I am always surprised at how much larger the world is than I will let myself believe. Last night, watching a friend perform at a comedy club in the Tenderloin, I was as amazed by the audience as by the performers. Some of the women were dressed like streetwalkers. One comic was soothing his nerves by downing beer after beer in quick succession. His jokes were all about drugs and family dysfunction. One girl near me was obviously high. I felt oddly at home even as I felt like a tourist in a new country.

Friday, June 11, 2004

What I love most about Giuletta Masina in Nights of Cabiria is her instinctiveness. At times she cups her hands to her face and weeps inconsolably. Her body heaves in a fit of expulsion. But all this lasts only a few seconds. She then removes her hands, dries her eyes and immerses herself back in the world as if she had only blown her nose.

At Salsa dance clubs here in the city, you will see young latin men and women dressed to the hilt (well, at least the women) The men hover at the edge of the dance floor like wolves. The women in skirts and heels feign indifference. The ritual is so ancient that it is beautiful.

Yamo Thai is a small place in the Mission with only a small kitchen and bar inside. The entire staff consists of one person - the owner/chef/waiter who considers a visit to this place as a visit to his home. When I walked in he was practicing electric guitar while watching a Bollywood movie. M. arrived later. He put the Bollywood movie on silent (an endless succession of colorful happy dances) and put on some CD's of Miles Davis while he whipped us up some Pad Thai and made me a Yerba Mate.

Monday, June 07, 2004

He awoke, opened his eyes. The room meant very little to him; he was too deeply immersed in the non-being from which he had just come. If he had not the energy to ascertain his position in time and space, he also lacked the desire. He was somewhere, he had come back through vast regions from nowhere; there was the certitude of an infinite sadness at the core of his consciousness, but the sadness was reassuring, because it alone was familiar. He needed no further consolation. In utter comfort, utter relaxation he lay absolutely still for a while, and then sank back into one of the light momentary sleeps that occur after a long, profound one.

Suddenly he opened his eyes again and looked at the watch on his wrist. It was purely a reflex action, for when he saw the time he was only confused. He sat up, gazed around the tawdry room, put his hand to his forehead, and sighing deeply, fell back onto the bed. But now he was awake; in another few seconds he knew where he was, he knew that the time was late afternoon, and that he had been sleeping since lunch. In the next room he could hear his wife stepping about in her mules on the smooth tile floor, and this sound now comforted him, since he had reached another level of consciousness where the mere certitude of being alive was not sufficient.

-Bowles, The Sheltering Sky

-from Flight