The July Whirlwind (2006)
We're near the end of July, my devotees, and I can again exhale. July happens to be the busiest month of the year for me. Not that any of you care, but you did choose to read this.
July begins, of course, with Independence Day. I'm not a real fan of exploding things in residential neighborhoods, but I don't mind watching other people attempt to dismember themselves in the name of Freedom. This year, my close friend, Xian, was visiting from the Great Expanse of Middle America. It's become an annual trip. He arrived on July 4th and, along with my wife, we strolled down the street by my apartment to watch the local festivities.
With beer, of course.
I wasn't impressed. Noisemakers. Sparks. Children with matches. Smoke. Dense, black smoke. Not even the beer was making this exciting. So, in an attempt to liven the party, we began heckling. This is what good, fun-loving Americans enjoy best. "You call that a sparkler?" my friend hollared at a 6-year old in a Spider-Man shirt. We mocked their display. We waited for a mutinous spark to engulf the family pet in flames or ignite the neighbor's Mercedes. But it turned out accident-and-dismemberment-free, and they ignored us, thus further deflating our fun.
After the 4th is my birthday. Again, I dragged my buddy along and added my other best friend, the one we call "Joe," who traveled from the Land of Implants and Botox, and a rookie, The Condor. Together, the five of us rented a beach house on the coast near Mendocino. This is where July begins to blur just a bit.
On the Monday after our return from the coast, I began the heaviest teaching schedule I've ever attempted. Since then, I've been averaging 4-5 hours of sleep a night (excluding last weekend when I slept an average of 12 hours). This deprivation didn't stop me, however. Still thinking that I am 25, Xian and I bolted to San Francisco for what became a rousing send-off for my old friend.
We centered ourselves in North Beach and visited every local tavern over an 8 hour period. This was our goal, and we achieved it. We even caught a taxi to AT&T Park to watch The 'Roid take a few swings (and fly out). At AT&T Park, frugal fans can watch the action from the "boardwalk" side of the park, the side where die-hard (or simply deranged) fans float in their kayaks, waiting for a home run ball by The 'Roid to sail into the bay. They have nets at the ends of long poles to retrieve the balls. They park their kayaks underneath the pier when the Giants are on defense. On this night, a yacht sat in the bay among the kayakers, its passengers sipping champagne and nibbling on sushi (I made that last part up, but they were nibbling on something. Despite our yelling at them to find out what it was, they ignored us).
We returned to North Beach to find some live jazz, which we did at Figaro on Columbus. They were good. We drank our last drink of the night while they tore through "Stella by Starlight" and "Ruby, My Dear," the tenor sax pushing a mournful melody, the guitar answering over the bass player's thudding rhythm. Lovely. I laughed.
Then, Xian left.
And I'm still recovering. Tonight, I have a wine party to attend with Nicole. Luckily, it begins early. So, today's objective: grade essays BEFORE the party.