Hard to believe that this time last week I was coming down with a menacing cold that would send me into hiding for the next week. I have a lingering cough and some congestion but otherwise I feel nearly 100% back to normal and dare I say much, much better than I did last week. The worst of it is over: the wheezing, the struggling to breathe, the sleepless nights and long, aching days.
Here is some video that I took from the Parol Lantern Festival that I attended tonight. Apparently, Ray and Wolfie had been involved with volunteering since ten in the morning — a great feat, considering that the festival did not even commence until six that night. As I’ve already written, I had a blast at the festival, even if I didn’t volunteer (something that I may do next year, which will be the tenth anniversary of the festival and they will need lots of volunteers for such a celebratory occasion).
Ray and Wolfie didn’t finish wrapping things up with the festival until close to 9:30, and even though they were wiped, they were also hungry enough that we scooped up Spencer and we went to dinner. (Spencer’s fiance is still out of town on business, although I was a little alarmed when I was watching the parade at the festival and this white dude wandered up next to me. He looked exactly like Spencer’s fiance, except by maybe eleven or twelve years younger, an astonishing teenage duplicate.)
As for the rest of the day, it was all mine. I left the house a little after noon and grabbed a bite to eat at Panda Express, the place that most of my friends judge me for liking so much, but I can’t help my whitewashed Chinese food ways. Nothing has ever hit the spot quite like the orange chicken at Panda Express. There’s a really good Chinese place on Sixth and Clement called Wing Lee, and back in college I discovered that they have a chicken dish that I thought would be similar to the one at Panda Express, and Wing Lee could be considered a bit more authentically Chinese. (They have meat hanging in the windows and the whole place does look like a hole in the wall.) But the chicken dish at Wing Lee is much too sweet and drowning in that sweet sauce, whereas the Panda Express orange chicken is just right.
Or maybe I’m just whitewashed — Whitey McWhitey, as Spencer sometimes likes to say. That’s what she was whispering to me for shits and giggles while we were at the festival and visitors and non-Filipino visitors, maybe tourists, mostly white, would wander up to the festivities with wondering looks on their faces and asking out loud, “What is this?” Spencer is Chinese, but she understood when I told her that sometimes I just felt like facing them and answering snarkily: “It’s a celebration of the commingling of my culture’s traditional identity with your western societal matrix, bitches.”
After lunch, I hunted for a book at the library that Spencer had mentioned to me the other day. Recall that when I first got into baseball back in 2009, my first instinct was to read all I could about the subject. That summer, I even ordered my reading list into a “syllabus,” remember? Nerdy, yes, and I’m still doing it now, picking up whatever baseball-related book that is both interesting on a general level of entertainment as well as enlightening for my continued, and perhaps lifelong, education of baseball. (This is not something I would have ever expected to happen in my life: to discover that baseball is entertaining, and to want to learn as much about it as possible, in all my spare time, and even when I am supposed to be busy with other supposedly more pressing things).
Becoming a baseball fan was a new stage in life for me, a belated coming-of-age, and so when I am faced with another life stage, my habit is still to read all about it. I’ll probably spend a long time thinking about what happened in September, and for the benefit of my continued introspection, Spencer came across A Billion Wicked Thoughts, a book that she’d skimmed enough of the other day for us to engage in a fascinating dinnertime conversation about, among other things, fetishes. For a long time, even before September, I didn’t want to admit to myself that I had a fetish — and, well, quite frankly it took September for me to realize that the fetish was real instead of a nice idea from porn. This is what I’m getting at, Linc: I like feet. Okay? I have a thing for feet. I don’t know why. Well, I do know why, and I explained it to Spencer, who met my explanation with the mixture of amusement and restrained horror that I’ve come to expect from her in reaction to my antics through the course of our long friendship. But this feet thing probably takes the cake, and I will have to write you about that some other time, in another never-to-be-sent.
I sometimes wonder if my habit for using reading to seek answers is something that other guys wouldn’t do. What I’m trying to say, I guess, is that I feel that when other guys, other males, want answers, they resort to experience. Action. Actions speak louder than words, right? Such a deterministic statement is so typical of guys. To want to read for the answers, to process them, devote time to thinking about those answers as well as their implications, well, all of that strikes me as an aptitude that totally eludes men. Reading for the answers is a womanly thing to do, it seems to me, and in this context — my context — “womanly” is a term that is not derisive, but rather one that deposes the authority long associated with “masculinity”.
The great thing about the San Francisco Public Library system is that it can get you almost any book you want to read. If it’s not in the system, then you can connect to a bunch of different library systems all over the state. And you can have the book delivered to your nearest library branch. But I didn’t want to wait. The book was listed as being available for checkout at the Chinatown and Glen Park branches. I decided to go to the Chinatown branch because I haven’t been there in a long time, and the walk there involves a very invigorating hike up the Powell Street hill and then a breathtaking view of the bay near the Golden Gate Bridge. Oh, Linc. That area around Chinatown — Nob Hill and the Marina — is one of my favorite places in the city, and how I do wish I could live there someday. But I digress…
It turned out that the Chinatown branch didn’t even have the book. Though it was listed in the system as available, the book wasn’t on the shelf and none of the librarians could find it. I was undeterred. I marched back down the Powell Street hill, hopped on BART, and made my way to Glen Park, where I let out a little “whoop” — I even popped a fist and spun my arm around in the air — when I found the book. Alas, I did this just as a librarian was pulling into my aisle with a new cart of books. “Uh, found what you were looking for?” she asked. “Yes,” I whispered, less out of courtesy for my surroundings and more because I’d been caught in the act of nerdgasming. So, I’m hoping that A Billion Wicked Thoughts will be the launch of a syllabus not unlike what I concocted for my exploration of baseball, except that now I am exploring sex. Which is something that I never thought I’d ever be doing, either.
The commute between my neighborhood, downtown, and then Chinatown, and finally Glen Park and back to downtown for the Parol Lantern Festival ate up nearly my entire afternoon. I got back downtown about an hour and a half before the festival was scheduled to begin, so I ran two errands that I’d long been meaning to get around to doing. Pop taught me that a man should always wear a watch, but my favorite watch died ages ago and I never replaced the battery, until tonight. It cost 14 bucks, and I did it at the place where I enjoy going for watch repair: Macy’s. I don’t know if I’ve ever written this, but I love Macy’s. I love that it’s an old-fashioned department store that has survived to this day, and that it’s the kind of full-service store you can go to for something like getting your watch fixed, just like shoppers would do back in the heyday of department stores in the early twentieth century.
After I got my watch fixed, I also ducked into an eyeglass shop to have my eyeglasses adjusted. What they needed was a good tightening, as the frames had gone loose a long time ago and not even the way they constantly threatened to flee from my face at just the slightest hint of wind had ever been enough for me to make the necessary trip. Not knowing that eyeglass adjustments are routinely provided free of charge, I took out my wallet when the optometrist handed them back to me good as new. “It’s a thousand dollars,” he grinned. “I don’t have that today,” I quipped back, to which he said, “I’ll let it slide this time.”
I have to admit, too: I waited until today to get my watch fixed and my eyeglasses tightened because I’d just gotten paid a pretty good paycheck. When you’re at the bottom rung of the middle class ladder, your perception is skewed and these things become luxuries. It was a treat for me to get my watch fixed and my eyeglasses tightened. Along with getting the library book that I wanted, I felt uncommonly accomplished today. And then there was the festival, and being with my friends, which made it even better.