duck-shaped pain


2 April 2001
Day Four

Okay, so I'm behind. Don't hate me – I'm behind in everything right now.

Day Four

(Day One, Day Two, Day Three)

If I have one word of advice to give out to the world, it's this: always listen to your body. Or, more specifically, always pay attention to what your anus has to say about things. If it's telling you to stay close to home, obey it.

When I woke up on Saturday, I was immensely sore. Two and a half days of walking around almost non-stop had taken its toll on my legs and feet. Imagine how I would have felt if I hadn't been wearing the comfortable shoes. [1]

I made myself get out of bed, showered and dressed. Headed next door for another dose of crab-cake eggs Benedict. [2] After breakfast, I felt really off and sort of nauseous, so I headed back up to my room.

Luckily, both R. and O. were out, having set out on their own mission to Japantown. I lay in bed for awhile, trying to poke up enough gumption to move. Except for furtive trips to the bathroom, I basically stay put for a couple of hours.

I did actually have something I had planned to do. I had wanted to see the WPA murals that were inside Coit Tower, and I had heard that it was only on Saturday mornings that they showed all of them, instead of just a selected few. I thought about this as I laid there, looking at the scenic underside of the top bunk. [3] I still wanted to go, but just as equally, I didn't want to move, so I finally just let myself fall asleep by rationalizing that there were WPA murals in my own town that I hadn't seen, so it must not be a high priority.

I woke up a couple of hours later, feeling much improved. It wasn't as late as I thought, which pleased me -- I really didn't want to come all this way to spend one whole day sleeping. I threw on some different clothes and went out again.

I decided to stay close to the hostel in case I felt bad again, and it's not like there's not enough things to do in that part of the city. Since it was Saturday, the Shopping Force was out in droves, and there were lots of interesting people to watch. I didn't feel like really doing any shopping yet, so I just walked around in looked.

Made an Orangina stop, sat and wrote for awhile. Went to a card shop and talked myself in and out of many neat postcards. I decided I needed to eat some more food, so I went to a café next door, one that had been mentioned in my guidebook -- Café de la Presse.

It wasn't recommended per se in the guidebook, just mentioned. Knocked down a few notches for being too expensive, but still added, just in case you just happened to be right in that spot and exhausted and ready to eat, sort of like I was. But, since I hadn't even spent half of the money I brought with me yet (which was a big surprise to me), I figured, what the hell.

Okay. Their coffee was $2.50 a cup. But the rest of it wasn't terribly expensive. Plus, it was good good good coffee. One sip and I forgot how much it cost. There were many appetizing things on the menu. But, remembering my weak stomach of a few hours previous, decided to play it safe. I ordered a bowl of asparagus soup and a macaroon.

I love macaroons. All the ones I've had in my life to date have been wee and barely pocket-sized -- little crusty morsels of goodness. Which meant I was not prepared for the macaroon that arrived at my table. It was easily about three or four inches in diameter and about two in height. It was heavy. It was dense. It had quite a gravitational pull. So much coconut. I had to eat it with a fork, and every bite of it was better than the last.

In contrast, the asparagus soup was very light and delicate. It was bright green (which made the French-onion-soup-eating woman next to me sort of wary of it) and had lots of little teeny flecks of asparagus in it. I ate it all, along with the bread that came with it.

I was jealous of the meal next to me -- the man sitting at the table to my left ordered mussels in wine and butter sauce, along with the crispest fries (okay, frites) I had seen in a long time. They smelled so good, and he downed them heartily, along with quite a quantity of white wine. Okay, I thought to myself, this is what I'm going to have tomorrow before I leave.

I sat there for a while after eating -- when I took my notebook out to write something down, the waitress told me that I could have the table as long as I wanted, and continued to bring me cup after cup of excellent coffee. It was nice and relaxing and exactly what I needed.

Post-meal, I decided to actually go shopping. This is the boring part, because it's not like I went anywhere neat or unusual -- when it comes to clothes shopping, I like to go to places I know and trust. I bought a shirt and a dress at Eddie Bauer, and ran into the most butt-appreciative straight male salesclerk I have ever experienced. He all but demanded that I buy the dress (which I had already decided to do anyway) when I walked to the mirror with it on. I was pretty amused.

I went into some other stores, but didn't buy anything. I went into Sephora and bid my basic duty of trying on about 10,00 different dark red lipsticks, but then decided to try on all sorts of stuff I would never buy or really wear. I walked out of there with sparkly silver eyeshadow and turquoise mascara on. It made me feel sort of fun, and fun is one of those things I never feel like.

Headed back to the hostel, changed into my new shirt, and relaxed for awhile. R. came back (O. had checked out and left) and we chatted a bit. More relaxing, another short nap.

When it came time for dinner, I wanted more Indian food. Most of my other ethnic food urges can be at least sated where I live. Like, if I want Chinese food, I can get it, although it's not close to being the very best possible Chinese food. It fills some sort of mental need for Chinese food, even if it isn't super tasty. But I can't even get bad Indian food back home, so it was time to stock up while I could.

The clerk at the front desk recommended a place in the Mission District, something India something or other. He gave me directions, and since I still had a bunch left on my BART ticket, I rode over there.

I was originally thinking that it wouldn't be worth the effort to get over there, but it was. I ordered curried chana masala, samosas, rice, naan and a glass of lassi. They kept bringing me more and more naan. I've never had too much naan before, but it's indeed possible.

The only problem came when I tried to pay with a traveler's check. They said sure, they would take it, so I filled it out and gave it to the waiter. Some time passed, and a party of several waiters came back to my table. They needed my passport, they said, to take the traveler's check. Now, I've never had to show my passport to use one while in the United States before. But, since I had already filled it out and because I actually had my passport with me (I travel prepared), I forked it over and everything was okay.

I did some more walking around and some more poking into bookstores and the like. I stopped at a place to get coffee and wrote some more. The coffee was okay. The tables were spacious, but the chairs were something else -- they were the type of hard chair that inspires serious political thoughts. I gathered my things and headed back on the train.

I spent the rest of the night just enjoying being there, in the city, in a place with interesting people and a lot more going on than where I live. It was raining, but I was still out, watching things and people. I ended my night at the nearby bookstore again, drinking more Orangina and rifling through the art books.

[1] I used to wear heels all the time. Everywhere. I cannot even comprehend doing this now.

[2] Incorrectly referred to on the menu as "eggs Sardou" -- which is really this, which also sounds yummy.

[3] Where some previous occupant had scrawled, in big black marker, "BLUE SKY ARMY!!!!!" With about seven more exclamation points than that.

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