Monday, November 27, 2006

the giving of thanks (otherwise known as five days away from the computer)

It was still dark when I woke up the first time on Wednesday. It was the first vacation day I'd taken in months, coming on the heels of one of those two-day weeks that somehow feels like a full week all wrapped up in 48 hours (which is lame because my new project is awesome and it's a crisis on an old project taking all my time), so I awoke out of a fitful sleep of the recurring dream where I haven't finished all my freshman math credits and it's only a week until graduation and then there's a giant snake and then there's a pager going off in the distance... which is a sucky dream not because of the giant snake but because the only thing worse than being woken up by a real pager and not being able to go back to sleep is being woken up by a dream pager and not being able to go back to sleep. And then I remembered that this was the start of my vacation, and for the first time in a long time I went back to sleep in the darkness.

Wednesday officially began five hours later, with a trip to Napa. It's been a while since we'd last been, possibly since the infamous trip with Ishy. Agi and Ted and Andrew and I hit up a bunch of the wineries we always go to, and made a good-faith but ultimately fruitless attempt to find new wineries. (Bad car GPS. Bad.) It was a beautiful day and many photographs of sky were taken. I also rediscovered the white port at Praeger Port Works, which I distinctly remember not liking six months ago. It's very tasty now. After picking up shipments at some wine clubs whose memberships I keep sort of meaning to cancel, we ended up at one of those nice little hotels in Calistoga, playing poker with the pennies from the car, with several open bottles of wine (while watching poker on TV). Then it started raining so we went in the hot tub. That's when I dropped my phone in a puddle and it sort of fried itself. So if you tried to call me recently and it sounded like my phone answered itself while still in my pocket, that's because it's a cheap piece of crap and can't stand a good hot tubbing.

Thursday yielded spontaneous plans to have an old-fashioned Thanksgiving at home with family. Fortunately the grocery store was open in the afternoon, so I cooked the sort of Thanksgiving dinner one does with three hours' notice: honey-baked ham (no fuss, just glaze and chuck it in the oven), twice-baked potatoes (similar, but with a pot of boiling water), lots of veggies (slightly more attention during the what's-that-burning-on-the-stove phase), macaroni (microwaveable), and pies. Mandy made the pies, which were delicious.

Friday was a bright sunny day, so we went hiking in the San Bruno mountains, where it is foggy. Whoever wrote the hiking guidebook is a total wuss, though. "Moderate+ exertion" does not describe this meandering path with bunnies and wildflowers up the mountain. I mean, they get trucks up the mountain with radio gear. It's not that steep. Then we had some yummy fish at the new restaurant on Church at 29th (it used to be a greek place, and was something else before that; its current name escapes me) and ate a whole pint of ice cream and played bridge.

Saturday rained, which meant I needed new shoes. I love my Vans but after about 6-9 months I wear holes in the soles, which is OK up until the next time it rains, when I end up in the dark windy rain with no umbrella waiting for a bus. It's been an unseasonably dry November in SF so I'd been walking around in shoes with holes for several weeks without giving it a second thought. Downtown was packed with shoppers (disappointed by the lack of Wii, no doubt), and after acquiring new Vans (this time in camo green) we trekked over to Portola to see Fast Food Nation. I think I've seen more movies in the last week than in the entire several months before that. Happy Feet was by far the best of the bunch (but you know I can't say no to a tap-dancing penguin musical), and Casino Royale was actually pretty good (authentic poker and all), but Fast Food Nation was just sorta disappointing. I liked the book, but the movie was full of exposition. Lots of exposition. Not so much plot or characters doing interesting things or even showing the grossness of industrial meat packing. Lots of talking. Had to shake that one off by going to a bar in the Castro on the way home.

Sunday rained again, so we went to the museum and then played bridge. The De Young has this awesome exhibit by Ruth Asawa, a sculptor. Her stuff reminds me of this one toy I used to have as a kid, whose name I don't remember, but it was a bunch of concentric circle-like gears, and you could put them together and trace out the inner shape and make really intricate patterns on the paper. Her creations were like that, but with wire, in three dimensions, and several feet tall. They all have a characteristic of really intricate detail work, repeated over and over again to make a completely different shape, and the notes on the wall go on about how this is a "form within a form" or whatever, but all I could think was damn, how do you make a giant strand of wire look so nifty? Anyway, this exhibit is not to be missed.

And then it was Monday again, and I woke up while it was still dark.