California skies got room to spare
It's a sad testament to my slacker tendencies that not only have I neglected to write about my Blogistan meetup with Anjum about a month ago, but she has updated about her first California trip a couple of times already, and then she was back in the SF Bay Area on a second business trip, and I still haven't gotten around to writing about our hanging-out sessions from a month ago. Talk about major laziness, man. Stab me already.
But I had long ago promised Anjum I'd post my version of our meetup(s), so here it goes, in all its rambling glory thanks to hastily scribbled notes and bullet points, but organized into paragraph-form so late that I'm probably not doing it justice.
[Oh, and in case you haven't figured it out already, check out Flickr for some of the photos from our Berkeley/SF hanging-out sessions.]
TUESDAY, JANUARY 3rd: Anjum arrives in the Bay!
This is after about a week of us exchanging emails and phone calls. At one point, Anjum left me a voicemessage that ended with, "Umm, what's going on with all the flooding out there?" I sent her emails warning her to bring whatever clothing she considered suitable for rainy weather, because it damn well wasn't sunshine-y at this end. Oh, and in regards to phone calls - to be honest, I must confess I can't recall even one single time I answered my phone when Anjum called. This was not deliberate; the reception around here sucks. But I bet it started to seem highly suspicious after the first, oh, four or five times.
The first thing that happened after I parked my car at the Oakland Airport (to pick up Anjum) was that I somehow set off my car alarm. You'd think, after owning the new car for four months at that point, I'd have learned all these fancy schmancy nuances regarding car alarms and such by now. Apparently not. The first week I got the car, I set off the alarm an average of three times a day. I guess setting it off just once in January (so far) was progress then. While I was pressing all the buttons on my keychain and cursing under my breath, a guy walking by called out, "Try locking your car, then unlocking it with your key!" So I did. And it didn't work. But then the alarm inexplicably stopped blaring ten seconds later while I was still pressing the keychain buttons at random. So I breathed a sigh of relief and continued on my way inside the airport to wait for Anjum, who took a while getting out, but that was okay, because I highly amused myself by reading the warning signs regarding what one should absolutely positively not take on planes while one is traveling. Sadly, all I remember is the fact that paint-thinner is a no-no. Just don't do it, kids.
While driving Anjum to her hotel in San Ramon, she glanced out the window at one point and exclaimed, "Palm trees!"
"Where?!" I said. "We have palm trees in NorCal?"
So we had a good laugh over that, because apparently there are palm trees around here, it's just that I never notice them unless they're as abundantly in-your-face as the palm trees in Southern California.
FRIDAY, JANUARY 6th: Jummah in Oakland, Hangingout session in Berkeley
PrincessPrettyPants picked up Anjum in San Ramon, and they drove up to meet with me and my sister in our hometown, where they jumped in my car and we raced through Highway24 to my favorite masjid for jummah in Oakland. While driving through Oakland, my sister turned to the backseat and asked Anjum, "So, how're you liking California so far?" Anjum mused that California folks don't seem to be in as much of a hurry as East Coast-ers, rushing around less.
My sister misheard rushing as washing. "You mean, like, hygiene?" she exclaimed, horrified.
I started laughing. "Not washing less, buddy, rushing less!"
Jummah [the Friday congregational prayers] were rocking, as usual. Afterward, we headed over to Berkeley for lunch at Julie's Cafe (where PPP had wayy too much fun with the hot sauce), then to the Oddball store down the street (where I saw gems like this and this), then to the Berkeley Hat Co., where I was totally busted for taking photographs of - among other things - PPP trying on funky purple beanies with pom-poms attached. Somewhere in between, I saw a store display of children's rain boots, and exclaimed, "I want those! Galoshes! That would be so awesome!"
PPP shook her head. "I never want to see you wearing a pair of those, you hear me?"
"Whaaat? I could totally pull it off!"
"No, Yazzo, even you couldn't pull that off."
Props to Anjum for putting up with our mass craziness, because when we crazy Cali kids hang out in a group, we are insane.
SATURDAY, JANUARY 7th: Hangingout session in San Francisco
This was the best day ever. I invited my friend S to come hang out with me and Anjum in San Francisco - basically, because I had originally invited him to Jummah the previous day and we planned it out a week in advance, but he overslept on Friday and then sent me an apologetic text message ("Good morning, I just woke up looking at the time, I don't think I will make it to the Bay but can I come up tomorrow or Sunday to make up Friday please"). I laughed at the sheer audacity of flaking out on people at the last minute through text messaging, then called S to yell at him, made him feel sufficiently guilty, and then graciously invited him to hang out with us on Saturday, because I am so kind and forgiving like that.
S drove down from Sacramento and met me at the BART station so we could take the train into SF together. He had never ridden the train before, and professed to feeling freaked out about this. I told him to suck it up. "Man up!" as Somayya says. Besides, he was wearing his Superman t-shirt, and Superman is not supposed to be afraid of measly things like trains. Once on the train, S busted out with his Treo and started photographing the interior. I told him to calm down with that a bit, since brown people taking pictures these days is cause for such drama, mygod. Then I took the Treo away from him and started checking my GMail, even though I had done that right before leaving the house. Once I figured out how the tiny keyboard worked, I teased him, "Oh, so this is why I've been getting text messages in complete sentences from you lately! I thought maybe you were just turning into me, or something." I may never pick up my phone or return calls in a timely manner, but at least I'm famous for text-messaging in full sentences, with perfect spelling and grammar.
After that, we commenced bickering about phone calls - S accused me of never returning his calls, while, in my defense, I explained that if I'm in a "not picking up the phone or returning calls" mood (which is most of the time), I'm ignoring not only his calls but also everyone else's. This cheered him up considerably. "Oh, okay," he said. "So it's not me, then. You just have psychological problems."
"Yeah, I think that sounds about right."
We met up with Anjum outside the Powell St. BART in San Francisco, and from there made our way down to Union Square. I was delighted to see how quickly S and Anjum got along - S, like Somayya, has a habit of making fun of people as a way of showing his love, and Anjum not only took it in stride with good humor, but she dished it right back, so that in no time the two of them were all making fun of one another as if they'd been friends for years. A recurring theme of conversation throughout the day was S's Superman shirt, ironic because Anjum and I kept accusing him of being "SO SLOW!" Anjum, fearless East Coast-er that she is, would surge right ahead and cross the street in a split second, while S and even I hesitated and looked both ways and checked the lights and signals before proceeding. Clearly, we need to work on our jaywalking skills. Pedestrians need to take back the streets!
At one point, Anjum and I ducked inside the Mocca cafe not only to check out the pretty food but also for old time's sake because this was the spot where Baji's sister, LB, and I had met up for chocolate mousse cake and a little bit of hanging out at Union Square back in September2004. However, we decided to move along to the Ghirardelli store for ice cream sundaes, but S and I were really in the mood for root beer floats, and no one seemed to have 'em.
We decided to skip the food for the time being and move on to a bookstore, where Anjum browsed postcards and I found a wombat book that would be perfect for DeGrouchyOwl. I was super excited about this, and had to take a photograph. As Anjum and S continued their own browsing, I wandered down to the lower level of the bookstore, where I was delighted to find the Glamour magazine article on WOMEN WHO BLOG. While I was skimming the article, Anjum and S came by, so I gleefully pointed out the article to Anjum, who had heard about it already, too.
"Blog?" said S confusedly.
"Yes, you know, weblogs," we said. "That's how we meet, through our weblogs."
"What?! I thought you were two were related or something!"
We burst out laughing and explained about the weblogs a bit more, but S wasn't feelin' it. He just gave us Why would you do THAT? sort of looks.
At the register a few minutes later, while Anjum was paying for her postcards, S patted me patronizingly on the head. "It's okay, Yasmine, you're a nice blob."
"Blob. Blog. You know. What you guys do. Blobbing."
I rolled my eyes.
We wandered around some more. Anjum was on a quest to find a post office, of which there is apparently one in the Macy*s department store, of all places. Every time we went up and down from one level to another, S, who was quite comfortable chillin' in one spot, kept asking "Why do you keep walking on the escalators?" to which I would retort, " 'Cuz I'm not a lazyass like you." To which he told me how short I am, because this is his favorite thing of which to remind me.
While Anjum stood in line at the post office, S and I went off to amuse ourselves with the plethora of other stuff available at Macy*s: disgustingly expensive fresh-baked bread in animal shapes, Mango-A-Go-Go smoothies from Jamba Juice, and vending machines that dispensed quite another form of (eye)candy altogether: iPods and their accessories!
More walking: We ducked into Anthropologie, where I decided that any store that sells a pair of pants for $165 is damn overrated. Also, I got Anjum and S to take pictures of me with Anthropologie's humongous shopping bags, which seemed almost as big as I was.
Back out to the street: we witnessed the cablecar turnaround, some street dancing, and a reminder about how much Jesus Christ loves us.
We stood waiting in the long line for our turn on the next cablecar, which took us to Fisherman's Wharf, by which time we were hella hungry and dying for some food. S supposedly knew of a good clam chowder place, so Anjum and I just followed his lead. Along the way, we passed some monkeys who made me think of Baji, and an earring shop at which Anjum and I did double-takes, waffled, and glanced at each other uncertainly before deciding, "Alright, let's go in!" So we checked out all the gorgeous dangly earrings to our hearts' content while S waited patiently, then we went and got some clam chowder from Boudin's and saw even more animal-shaped bread.
At the end of the meal, I offered Anjum some of the orange-flavored Trident gum that I love. She chewed it for a second and exclaimed, "This is what your car smells like!" I remembered I had been chewing it the evening I picked her up from the airport. Well, if my car had to start losing the new-car smell, as far as I'm concerned the next best thing would be for it to smell like oranges.
We walked around Fisherman's Wharf for a while longer, taking pictures of each other taking pictures, checking out the lazy sea lions, marveling at the ships and ferries and the little white sailboats. Soon, I had to leave, so S and I said our goodbyes to Anjum, leaving her at the wharf because she wanted to stay for a view of the impending sunset.
S and I walked back to the cablecar stop, and I did some bread-watching from the street along the way. Also along the way, while I was walking along and in mid-conversation with S, a homeless man sitting on the sidewalk shoved a potted bush in my face while screaming, "YAAAAAHHHHHH!"
I jumped in surprise, then yelled, "What the hell!"
S was doubled over in laughter. So was the homeless man.
I was not amused. I punched S in the arm. "What kind of damn friend are you? That wasn't freakin' funny!"
"It was!" he gasped, still chuckling. "You totally didn't see it coming. He made you jump!"
"Well, he freakin' scared the hell out of me! God!"
We got on the cablecar heading back to Union Square. The car was crowded and I had no handhold, so I reached up and grasped the closest thing I saw - the wire above my head. "Don't pull that unless you want to get off!" said the cablecar man quickly.
"Here," said S, "hold on to this."
I looked up at the metal bar he was gesturing to, and laughed. "Do you seriously expect me to reach that? There's no way I'm going to be able to reach that!"
He offered his arm as a handhold, but I stubbornly stood my ground, and somehow we made it back to Union Square - with glorious views along the way - without me falling off the back of the cablecar. Then we descended the escalator at the BART station, got on the next train to the East Bay, and then drove back to our respective homes.