August

8.1.10 – I woke up this morning dreaming that I was driving along the coastal road in Tanegashima.  The bright green of the rice fields were awash in sunlight.  Beyond, the ocean sparkled.  I was taking E to the airport, which is weird, because you wouldn’t take that road to get to the airport.  Even if you did, the airport wasn’t as far north as we were in my dream.  I woke up, not surprised to be in the cool, foggy gray of San Francisco, but wondering how much longer I will dream of Tanegashima, and if I will always dream of it more in August.

8.5.10 – Lately I’ve been feeling called to the fire.  Sometimes it’s a blaze, something strong and wild ready to burst forth at any moment.  When it’s like this, it manifests itself physically as re-organizing the apartment, taking stuff to the Goodwill; emotionally as agitation, frustration, sometimes anger.  Other times the fire is more like smoldering embers, a glow in the darkness.  At these moments, it’s manifested as deep thinking, startling revelations and re-revelations, a longing for the heat of summer and the question:  What is it that is no longer serving me?

8.12.10 – I had the great pleasure of driving through the hills to my parents’ house today.  I was coming from a birth in Walnut Creek and my plan was to take 24 to 580 to 880 and down, but TomTom put me on 680 South.  It was bumper-to-bumper and I thought I was making a mistake, but soon the traffic cleared and it was smooth sailing all the way down through the sun-soaked, golden-brown hills.  Once near Fremont there are two choices – go South to Mission Blvd and then back-track North, or cut through Niles Canyon and pop up very near home.  The former is safer – less risk of accident and more options in case of traffic – but the latter is a prettier drive and very nostalgic for me.  I rolled down the windows, turned Sarah up and chose the Canyon.

Kim’s already said it, but I’ll say it again – the hills in Fremont are beautiful.  When I look at them from the Fremont side, they always seem like this great, mystical barrier.  On one side there is the Familiar and Home, and beyond is…something else.  It felt good to drive through the something else, the setting sun in front of me and my sister’s and my made up song in my head, “the trees on the hill look like broccoli…”

8.14.10 – “I wasn’t even sure what ‘dying’ meant anymore.  In the past few decades, medical science has rendered obsolete centuries of experience, tradition and language about our mortality, and created a new difficulty for mankind:  how to die.”

“But our responsibility, in medicine, is to deal with human beings as they are…[People] need doctors and nurses who are willing to have the hard discussions and say what they have seen, who will help people prepare for what is to come – and to escape a warehoused oblivion that few really want.”

Letting Go by Atul Gawande

8.19.10 – It’s not summer until you smell bad.  I honestly can’t even remember my summers before Tanegashima – whether they were hot or cold or sunny or foggy.  I don’t remember if I was uncomfortable or sweaty or not.  I’m going to guess not, because I remember being hot and sweaty in Japan and I don’t think I would remember it so much if it weren’t for the contrast.  I wore baby powder religiously to absorb the sweat and prevent heat rash.  I carried a towel to wipe off what was dripping down my face.  I tried not to move – at all – in class, lest I start sweating visibly.  And I stuck to everything – the plastic covering on my desk, paper, my own clothes and hair.  I would go home and sit with the AC on my face and the fan on my back and I would still have to peel myself off my futon.

Today I broke a sweat for the first time this summer.  It was exciting – like summer was actually, finally here.  While the part of me that has forgotten what it’s like to be hot was complaining, the other part was thinking, “this is the whole point of summer.”  To be uncomfortable.  To be so hot and sweaty and miserable that you want to strip off not just your clothes, but your very skin.  To make you ready, willing, accepting of change.

8.25.10 Step from the road to the sea to the sky. Home to BART: 0.8 mi.  BART to Coit Tower: 1.1 mi.  Coit Tower to Lombard & Hyde: 0.9 mi.  Lombard & Hyde to Fort Mason: 1.0 mi.  Fort Mason to The Tipsy Pig: 0.9 mi.  The Tipsy Pig to Home: 2.3 mi.  Total: 7 mi.

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