Sunday, September 30, 2007

Folsom Street Fair & Bicycles

Goodness gracious. Here is the kinkiest thing I saw at the Folsom Street Fair: a plane flying a banner with salutations from Jesus. Click on it to get a closer view.

Below, I've added a picture of a guy dancing in a cage suspended from a crane, in front of a Catholic church. The residents of the associated Catholic charities home were watching along with every one else. Now that's catholic with a little 'c'.

I also got connected with the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition, an advocacy group. I've had one of their stickers on my bike for at least 8 years. It says: THE REVOLUTION WILL NOT BE MOTORIZED.
The other day, while I was walking little Tuna home, I came across an event that apparently takes place once a month, on Friday just after rush hour. Thousands of people on bikes take over Market Street and keep going past City Hall. It went on and on and on, I'd say about six bikes across each lane, and it stretched out at least 15 blocks. I missed the head of the (parade?) so I don't really know. What I do know is I've got to get my tire fixed and replace the brakes. I'll be in the throng next month. I can't wait.

And a quick update on the Sisters. I met up with a bunch at Cafe Flore last night, and as I walked in, Sister Mabel Syrup said, "You're the guy with the blog." I'd never met her before, but apparently, she monitors the web for any mention, so she had happened to read it earlier that day & recognized me and Tuna.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

My Morning Visitor

Many mornings, I see this hummingbird feeding on the purple plant outside my window. I'm embarrassed to say I don't even know what kind of plant it is, but I think it's in the sage family.
It's a real treat to watch it zip from one spot to another in an instant, then hold that position no matter what the wind is doing.
I also bought a three foot tall rosemary plant at the Farmer's Market last week. And I picked up two sage plants from the West Coast Green Building conference.

I went to see the opera Samson and Delilah at Giants' Stadium last night, it was simulcast there from the opera downtown a block from where I live. I was super excited about the idea of opera for the masses, and also getting a chance to see the ball field (the only other time I've been to a baseball field was for the closing ceremonies of the Gay Games in New York in 1992). But, I'm afraid to say, opera just isn't for me. I've only heard it on the radio before, and I figured that having the live action would help make sense out of it.
But, the live action was deadly slow. There's only so much emotion you can display while belting out a song loud enough to overcome the orchestration. And the story line was soooo slow. I'm sure it's a great story, but it just couldn't hold my attention.
I also figured that seeing the sets and costumes would be pretty. And they were, but not anything novel or exciting. I guess it's tough to compete with television and movies, who have all the time in the world to set up and frame each shot.
That said, if they did it again, I'd go, because who knows? It might grow on me.

It's been up and down. I'm realizing just how much work it is to do it right. I'm really getting comfortable with the students, which is good. But now that I'm designing their first test, I'm realizing all the things I haven't taught, or stressed enough, to be able to ask them questions on it. So there are definitely some things I will do differently next semester. I've used all historical studies, but haven't really pushed them to see how well they understand what's going on in them. I guess I'll get a sense of how well I'm doing after grading the tests.

Right outside my window, as I write, the San Francisco Love Fest is going on. A parade of dance floats (clubbing music, not square dance) are coming down Market Street, and turning at the Public Library to head in to City Hall Plaza. So, there's a huge jumble of beats and people whistling and carrying on coming in through the window. I just love how many fun surprises there are in this city. Tuna and I will go down and check it out soon. She's always been a party animal.

And that's not all the festivities this weekend. There's also the Folsom Street Fair, a daytime raunchy gay and sexual fetish bazaar that happens a few blocks south of here. So, the city is filled with guys dressed (or undressed) in leather. A bunch were at the opera last night, of course! I'll go take a walk through and have my eyes opened. And Mark invited me to a party afterwards, which I'll go to. I mean, why not? Oh, and the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence are getting together with members of the order from other cities tonight beforehand, so I'll go meet up with them. I don't see myself becoming a Sister, but they are a super fun bunch of folks to hang out with.

Finally got together with Michael, had him over for dinner in my messy, tiny apartment. I was a little star star struck at first because he has written one of my favorite academic books, Smearing the Queer. But we had a really interesting conversation about a wide variety of topics, some about the role of social marketing in gay men's health, a fancy term for advertising campaigns about health, rather than about commercial products. Also about the role of the internet in promoting both sexual freedom and sexual health. He's built an interesting website called dotMEN to address some of those issues.
Anyway, I'm really looking forward to working with him more, and also getting more involved in the gay men's health work that's going on out here.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Gotta Love the Sisters!

Well, it sure has been an interesting week.
I'm finally starting to feel like I've got friends out here - just starting, though!

Saw Fred on Monday or Tuesday & we went to a bar in the Mission that seemed like a fun crowd. Even the guy who asked us for coke three times without recognizing us from one time to the next!

Paul and I got together with our dogs on Thursday, and I scored a surplus chair from him that is super comfy. So, now that I've got two chairs in my studio apt, I can think about entertaining guests here. Still no table, but I'm not sure one would fit in here anyway.

My class on Tuesday wasn't a spectacular success. I got kind of cocky from how well the first two went, and I didn't keep control over the time, and wasn't able to give a decent lecture in the last 40 minutes, so I'm going to have to plan that out better for next week, as well as catch up from what I didn't get through last week. This teaching thing is fun, but it sure is hard work!

Now, here's the best part of the week! Novitiate Mary-Lee Onwards (of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence) invited me out to a little event in the Castro last night.
I guess some guy who thinks he's not gay anymore is trying to convince people there that they would be better off living in shame and denying themselves to a bizarre interpretation of Christian doctrine. And there are some other evangelicals out there too who aren't connected to the whole ex-gay scene, but just want to make themselves feel better by making us feel bad about the best parts of being gay - the freedom, the playfulness, heck, even the sex.

So, the Sisters decided to put together a little interference plan, and brought down black sheets to hang up around these people so that passers-by wouldn't be visually assaulted by them, and they performed a variety of ministrations to the crowd to keep the blessings rolling along.
It was a beautiful ceremony, very passionate, and equal parts serious and frivolous. One of my favorites was Sister Flora telling passers-by "No Bible-thumpers to see here, please go on having a great night!"

The theatrics and playfulness and singing went on for over two hours, and then we did our best to just ignore them and keep them from the people of the neighborhood. Once largely neutralized, Sister Simplicity urged us to move on ourselves, and we just left these bewildered hate-mongers alone to do their business. Hard to know if they were shaken by the experience, in large part because they were obviously on shaky ground even before the whole thing began.

I was so proud of Sister Simplicity (a former roommate from Providence) for pulling together such a beautiful ministry.

I didn't bring my camera, so no pictures. Maybe next time.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Monday, 10 September, 2007

Today was a very weird day indeed.

This morning, I was on and off the toilet for almost 2 hours, went through half of a soduku book waiting for something to happen. Finally, I got to the point where nothing more was going to come out, and so I got on with the rest of my day.

As I was walking down Market Street towards my new doctor's office, I saw smoke coming out of a demolition zone. People were running towards it. I had a better idea and kept walking away, holding my shirt over my nose to try to block out some of the nasty stench. Within seconds, fire trucks were zooming to the scene, so I just kept on going without looking back.

I got on the BART at a little before 11AM, and just as I got down into the station, a SWAT team came through, looking for a white plastic shopping bag. I wasn't sure whether to be alarmed, or relieved that they were on the case. I was shaken enough that I missed my train, and waited for the next one.

Then, while at work at Berkeley, someone came by ask if we'd heard about "the incident". We hadn't, but it turns out that one of the grad students took a step on the dark side, and was brandishing a hammer and threatening people. Who said being a student was an easy life?

Ah, life in the big city. I guess the funny part of it all is that if I hadn't written these things down today, I surely would have forgotten them by tomorrow. Despite all the wackiness involved in living in downtown San Francisco, it all feels relatively normal, and I feel safe.

I have my third class tomorrow, the first one involving any math (or as I like to call it, common sense with numbers), so hopefully that won't freak the kids out too badly. Last week, I forgot to print out my lecture notes, so I did my best from memory and the barely legible pen markings on a few scraps of paper. It went off without a hitch, of course.

There was one part where they were really struggling to get a concept about the 'social production of disease theory', but I wasn't the least bit concerned that they were having trouble getting it, because it took me a good three years or so before I got it down, maybe longer. I'll have to give them some encouragement though, because I think a lot of them left frustrated that they didn't have the answer.

So, as promised, here's "the picture" that everyone takes in San Francisco, at the park where Tuna and I go for walks (Alamo Square).

And here's a picture of some picture takers. So earnest, so cute!