Monday, September 1, 2008

Course of the Day, Part 2

About a week ago I started a series of entries that spell my life outside of my workplace as focus on my life in San Francisco. That series continues with this entry from my handwritten journal that travels with me around the City and East Bay. When we left off last, I was just about to catch my first mass transit vehicle of the morning...

From my stop at Stanyan and Parnassus, I get on the electrically powered Number 6, it's cable braces up in the overhead wires like bunny ears. I finish up the last of the radio program that I am listening to, and then switch to music for my readings in the Kindle, a ritual that usually starts with the first of the stops in the Haight just as the sun is rising and flooding my eyes this time of year. I put on sunglasses. Wedged against the window, I read my morning devotional from Sarah Ban Breathnach and then on to more lengthy writings. Previously this is the time when I would click to my corporate and self-help requirements, but after reading "Better" by Atul Gawande I discovered that for me self-help comes in different packages and got rid of all self-help and corporate crap on the Kindle with the exception of Ban Breathnach and now move to following my devotional with more artistic ventures--the past week a re-reading of "Middlesex" and sometimes the "writing reference" of Natalie Goldberg. The new plan is to enjoy reading. There's enough in my day that is scripted and a measure of control. I would rather lose myself in something curious or lyrical.

We turn left at Haight and Laguna and take Laguna to Page and there I lower the book a little, taking in the corner over the faux leather cover.

Someday I am going to spend the day at this corner. There is a cafe here on the corner to the right of the bus where I could write. Diagonal from the cafe is the San Francisco Zen Center, all brick and white trim, where I could open up my day in meditation before moving to the cafe. To get some fresh air, I could cross Page from the Zen Center or cross Laguna from the cafe and end up at a compact park (I'm forgetting the name of the park now, which means that I must visit it just to get the name) with steps and nooks and crannies and benches and a surprising amount of vegetation for so small a space.

The bus turns right at Laguna and Page, and then we head down the hill to Market and turn left. I usually stow the book at the 8th or 9th Street stops, and then pull out my BART card at the same time. The bus pulls up to 5th Street stop, and I get out at the rear exit and move down the steps carefully to the BART gate, underground.

It's typically only a few minutes to my train, either a Dublin/Pleasanton or Fremont train. Once I get on then I unpack the writing materials. Notebook, planner (to act as lap-desk), and rollerball pens. Between the Powell station in San Francisco and the Fruitvale station in Oakland, I write, as continuously as I possibly can, and typically manage about one and a half to two pages. In the past it was about anything, just to be writing, but these days it's a typical workday, to record my life here.

By the Fruitvale station everything is re-packed, including the iPod--I don't trust Oakland enough to have electronics in plain sight. Then it's short, sleepy, sun-filled ride to the Oakland Colesium station, where I disembark and take the escalator down to the gates. There the light signals me and I cross the street to the Number 50 Hegenberger AC Transit bus stop. The wait there is at least ten minutes.

When the bus arrives I get out my deck of cards for the last time in the morning and find the green Translink card. When I board the bus there is a Translink box on my left, and I flash the gold box on the card to the black rubber bottom half of the box on the bus. The screen on the bus box shows my payment of fare ($1.75, 25 cents more than fare on SF's Muni, and who wants to travel around Oakland on a bus?) and my remaining balance on the card. Then I take a seat, stow my card, and we are off on the third leg of the mass transit adventure.

The bus takes an immediate right up the ramp and onto Hegenberger. We pause along Hegenberger along various unappealing stops--Wal-Mart, gas stations, etc--until I press the stop request for Pardee and Hegenberger. From here on in I am on foot again with hotel employees, parking attendants, and airport personnel for company. All of them are minorities except me. After a walk of four lengthy and highly traffic-congested suburban blocks, I arrive at work.

That, my friends, is how I get to work in the mornings without a car in the Bay Area.

More on life outside of the workplace to come, dear reader.

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