Brain Balm

Xmas Eve, a rather sad night. I have a visitor, Rob from Victoria BC, so that’s been a nice distraction. In fact, that’s the story of this week, putting angst and grief deep inside in favor of constant distraction and socializing, the balm that soothes the sour taste of sadness.

Tuesday I went to the movies (The Squid and the Whale…mildy interesting, but not great) with Allyson and Michael, Wednesday I had eight swell guys over, and we had a very warm and cozy night after the rainy day. A scrumptious dinner and intelligent conversation all around. Thursday started with Carin for breakfast, Mary for lunch, and then Marina for dinner, followed by going to Cafe du Nord and seeing Balkan Beat Box (Wowza! Fantastic!). Friday Marina and I went to Mt. Diablo. It was gray and wet and dismal as we drove through the Caldecott tunnel. Finding the north gate from Walnut Creek, the unrelenting gloom was pretty overwhelming and I figured we’d go a short distance in and find a hike and turn back. But the ranger said it was clear up top, so with that glimmer of hope, we climbed to the summit and voila! We found a warm, summer day atop Mt. Diablo, surrounded by an almost unbroken sea of white fluffy cotton clouds covering everything. It was fantastic. Here’s some photos:

This is the view of Mt. Tamalpais in Marin County from Mt. Diablo, Dec. 23, 2005.

This is the amazing oak tree that just grabbed us and insisted we come and sit under it and enjoy the warm sun streaming through its intricate and sturdy arms.

We later retreated up the hill a bit and had a bucolic picnic overlooking the sea of cotton. At one mysterious point we heard a siren insistently rising from the anonymous cloudscape, but where was it? What was it in a hurry to answer? Who was waiting for it? Was there really a real world down there somewhere?…

On my way home after dropping Marina near USF, I popped in to Page Street and hung out with Allyson, Michael, Martin and Diana. Martin entertained us with great leftovers from their night-before party, and then put on some DVD clips from the Ali G show (what a wacko shtick!) and then a George Carlin HBO special–ol’ George has worked his rap into a straight-ahead radical critique of capitalism and the ruling class. Who’d a thunk it? And he’s unabashed about unleashing some serious vitriol against the stupid venality of “most Americans”… at one point he waxes rhapsodic about the beauty of America, and then a beat later starts ranting at how stupid Americans have converted this once lovely continent into a coast-to-coast Mall. Surprisingly coherent!

In the evening I made my way to 12 Galaxies for the Jazz Mafia Holiday Summit, a wildly entertaining gathering of several dozen great musicians. They go by the “Realistic Orchestra”, the “Shotgun Wedding Quintet” and the “Shotgun Wedding Hiphop Orchestra”… hung with Greg D. there and it finished the complete filling of my week.

And today, the sun came out and Rob and I rode over the hills to the Wave Organ (we did not wave ours, though), past the GG Bridge, Baker Beach, to Ocean Beach, and then home at dusk through GG Park. Nice to have a warm, hazy day to cruise around town without a care, at least not one I could do anything about…

Here I am at the Wave Organ, Alcatraz behind me, late afternoon Dec. 24.

But now it is xmas eve and it’s a night that I haven’t failed to be with some loved one (usually my daughter) for many many years. It is sad and strange to be alone. But I guess not so different than millions of people are spending it (and usually do)…

Anyway, thanks to my friends again. You do comfort me, a balm on my ache…

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