Parking woes

I was lying in bed in that nebulous state of self-pursuasion and justification that you get in when you know you have to get up, but you won’t actually be late if you don’t wake up right this minute: “Wake up now so you won’t have to rush later!” “No no no, you have plenty of time.” Fifteen minutes later I was still in bed and my mind was wandering woozily over the events of the day, trying to figure out how many more minutes I could steal, when a realization hit me. I jumped out of bed, threw on whatever clothes were at hand, and ran out of my apartment.

Sure enough, in my carelessness I’d left my car parked on a street where they were doing street sweeping. Actually there were a fair number of cars there, all with an ominous-looking little slip of paper under the left wiper. I approached my car anxiously, all the while berating myself for being so stupid. I’d parked two days ago and had seen the sign then, had all day yesterday to move the car, but I forgot. Fortunately, it wasn’t such a bad fine–$45 is pretty reasonable as a reminder to myself not to be so stupid about where I park.

Well, it didn’t matter anymore whether I left the car there, but I moved it anyway. Driving onto my street felt like entering a refuge: there’s no street sweeping on this street. The worst you’ll get on this lovely avenue is valet parking.

Anyway, it got me out of bed.

I am having the most surreal day ever. Lots of stuff going on. I get jolted out of bed by the above, then have to hurry to get to campus on time to turn in my short story. The bus is late, and when it finally comes, I gradually realize that there is some kind of tour group on board. A youngish guy with a slight Noo Yawk accent is pointing out Sunset landmarks to rapt and cheerful listeners scattered throughout the seats. The tourists’ upbeat mood is catching, and the locals are smiling at one another. I certainly learned a few things from the guy’s recitation: Chi is owned by Justin Timberlake?! (And I’m looking now at their menu: har gow are $9?!)

I get to campus and do some stuff, eat something, then as I’m leaving Rolfe Hall heading toward Northern Lights campus cafe I see a cat weaving through the outdoor tables and chairs. It’s a black cat with white feet, a white chest, and a white spot on its nose. Its slow walk and the occasional white furs make me think of an old man. Everyone is busy eating or talking or studying and no one seems to see the cat. There are no free tables, so I stand just outside of the eating area and watch the cat. This lady sees me looking her direction and smiles tentatively until she realizes my eyes aren’t on her. Then she follows my gaze and sees the cat, smiles at it too. I decide to go say hello to the cat. It sniffs a little but the cream of broccoli and wheat rolls I had for lunch aren’t much to tempt a cat. I think this cat has been wandering around for a while. It picks people and sits patiently at their feet. Since it’s so inobtrusive it takes them a while to notice it. Most of them, when they do, lay down a forkful of food next to it, and it eats. It’s a clean-looking cat, doesn’t look sick or mangy or anything. A non-threatening animal. When people finish eating and stand up, the cat shies away, even if they fed it. It hides under empty chairs at nearby tables and waits until the person has left, and then it picks another benefactor and waits by his or her chair. I lurk, trying not to catch anyone’s attention, moving around so I can keep watching the cat as it does its work. Eventually I go elsewhere, and when I come back an hour later, the cat is napping peacefully at the foot of a small palm tree, enjoying the sun. I guess it got enough lunch.

I’m talking to Mommy on the phone and she tells me she had a dream last night in which I was standing in the bed of a pickup truck, dancing. It’s a weird dream by all accounts but this image just cracked me up.

The day isn’t over yet by far.

[This post was imported on 4/10/14 from my old blog at]