So, The Tour is over. I had a lovely, if exhausting, time.
A shout-out to my homies in LA, who are all totally black (or Jewish) enough, even if they sound like pasty-ass white guys and, whatever, I wouldn’t exactly call them people, anyway. (Boondocks is amazing. For some reference, watch the episode with Stinkmeaner.)
I had the fun experience of waking up to the sound of three police officers taking someone down outside the window of my hotel room. “Get on the ground!” they shouted while pointing guns. “Uh…but I am on the ground,” I muttered as I dragged myself out of sleep.
LA is a nice place to visit, but I’ll never understand a city that doesn’t even pretend to have decent public transportation and yet also claims to be cool.
On to San Francisco, which I approached by overnight bus, much to my eternal chagrin. Yet, I say, is it MY fault that our lovely Amtrak is so dysfunctional as to have NOT CONNECTED the TWO MAJOR CITIES on the coast of California by train? Why should I add more CO2 to th atmosphere by taking a fossil-guzzling plane? But next time I think the environment might just have to suffer, because I have never had less leg room in my life, and I include several domestic flights within West Africa.
But once I actually arrived I had a lovely time, visiting with a good friend in Palo Alto, who in fact had just discovered that she has been accepted to academic servitude at UCLA (a.k.a. grad school). We celebrated by going to some docks and buying ludicrously delicious cheese and real SF sourdough, and then bringing the bounty to a wine bar, where we split a bottle of pink champagne. Joy! Drunkenness! Memorable moment: the two of us attempting to totter back to the commuter train in time, I decide to go sprinting down the median strip in the hopes of catching up to the fast-departing MUNI train, as though my desperate desire really could fold the fabric of space-time, I suddenly hear my friend’s voice shouting my name, but I don’t see her anywhere– hey, is that a car pulling up beside me, like I’m a second away from the bad guy capturing me in a thriller? “Get inside!” she shouts, improbably, from the back seat of a taxi. “Hey, how’d you get that?” I ask, getting inside. The cab driver seems disappointed that I am not, in fact, Ethiopian. In consolation, I tell him that I do love injera.
The reading in Berkeley was nice–though not quite a reading, and the bookstore was like crack to a recovering addict. My god, all those books! I need to go back when I’m not toting all my luggage on my back like a turtle. Dark Carnival is a gem.
Then a plane to Seattle, because of course I discover a mere week before I’m scheduled to leave New York that there has been some kind of natural calamity westerners call mudslides that has apparently rendered EVERY Amtrak train impassible until mid-March. Not helpful, I tell you. So a plane, mercifully uneventful, and I’m picked up by my other really good friend (seriously, in high school I had four of them, and one was my sister), who has moved to a swank, HUGE new apartment in Capitol Hill and we proceed to eat ridiculous amounts of good food and swill coffee. Bill loves coffee. I love coffee. We stayed up very late. I had a lovely time. I actually did read this time, and the word on the street is that I was rushing at the beginning but hit my groove a few pages into the chapter.
More food and coffee and food (holy crap, the best crepes I’ve ever had in my life, I’m really not kidding. It’s a restaurant with precisely one employee, who takes the orders, makes the crepes, serves the food and gives the change. I’d go back to Seattle just for that). Yeah, Seattle is a great city. I’m still not sure that it beats out Vancouver for my wholly undesirable trophy of best West Coast city, but it’s close.
Then this afternoon I take the super-secret Amtrak train from Seattle to Portland. Admittedly, it is dark and rainy and I don’t have the slightest clue where I’m going, but Portland is…weird. I ate dinner in an old church that was converted to a brewery and had the singular experience of eating gnocchi (after the waiter stared at me like I’d asked for escargots when I ordered it) while listening to some hard-up musical conservatory student play The Band and Led Zepelin on a church organ. Everyone clapped. The reading was great, though–very nice conversation, and someone who’d bought my book on Amazon after reading the first few pages.
Then the pensioners/drunks/high schoolers bus, where I nearly missed my stop, and nothing I saw from the window did much to improve my impression of the city. HOWEVER, I am now typing this blog post from the free wifi available in the airport, so I guess I can’t complain.
They’re boarding my plane now, so I guess I’ve got to go. Thanks so much to everyone who made my trip so great. Time to go home.