Sunday was a Very Special Day for Hitomi.
Hitomi is 33 now, and 30 for me is around the corner. It's been about 9 years since I called Hitomi in Kyoto, where I then knew I was in love with her.
In year's past, we usually commemorate the event by having some sort of trip. In year's past it has been Canada or the San Juan Islands. I believe this is requested so that she might avoid any sort of party. Two years ago I was in Boston and don't recall exactly how her birthday was celebrated. (Did she go to Vancouver?)
Recently, with the Seattle-to-Portland training we've supposed to do, it's easy to get Hitomi out on the road cycling. And so, this is what we did on Sunday. Fisherman's Wharf is full of bicycle rental shops — and there are many employees soliciting tourists to "Ride the Bridge." They rent decent enough cycles to get you over the bridge and back, though I wouldn't want to be hill climbing with the frames they have. Since we both did the bridge, our trip today was going to be along the north and north east parts of San Francisco, a route that took us up a fairly serious hill at one point.
On my bicycle I had an easy time of it. Hitomi did a remarkable job climbing what I would have expected her to "give up" and walk. She actually kept up with a pack of amateur women on much better bicycles. (They were bicycling for AIDS research funding or so their jerseys said.) And I would have had a better time of it, but it was much colder and with the wind had been freezing my spandex covered butt off. The ocean was blanketed in whitecaps and spray, it was considerable wind.
Once in Golden Gate park, the wind was reduced, though I was cold. Hitomi knew that the Giant Robot was in the area and after getting directions, we rode into a fairly "funky" part of town.
The Haight District is a cleaned up and grown up version of Seattle's U District: Tie-dye, organic and vegan cuisine, rock-and-roll art galleries, bongs, used bookstores, conscientious cafes, yoga studios, etc. Hippie culture lives on, though hippie pockets seem much deeper.
Giant Robot is sort of on the outskirts both physically and thematically. The store is 80% museum gift store: Art books, t-shirts, prints, sculpture (vinyl figurines), arty decor, etc., and 20% actual gallery. Thematically, a lot of what is sold is part counter-culture (graffiti art books), but with an Asian cultural aesthetic. Instead of growing up in the 'hood, Asians grew up around anime, manga, weird food, martial arts movies, and collecting and playing with action figures, so much of the art is based around these symbols. Nostalgia plays a big part: Silly monster movies cool when you were a kid are once again cool as an adult.
I wouldn't say that I grew up Asian, though I subsisted on it in high-school. I dig the cute and sassy aesthetic, but aren't much into the collectibles, rubber monsters, etc. There is more to talk about this, but I'll save it for later.
Back on the road, I noticed a nose cap from my right shifter was gone, and probably came off when I took a fall. The clip in pedal system isn't much good when you come to a stop and lose your balance: I had stopped (waiting for Hitomi), unclipped one side, then somehow had leaned over on the clipped in side. Having done this before, I neatly braced myself for the hit-the-ground part. I must not have noticed my bicycle shifters took a blow. Optimistically, I went back to the accident scene to search for the cap.
My bicycle has rapidly been taken quite a bit of damage. There are two main causes: The main reason is because I don't know how to use clipped pedals, and in other ways my bicycle is new and strange. The secondary reason is packing and unpacking the bag. It seems that once in the bag, it's safe, but the packing process puts various metal objects in contact, and requires quite a bit of stuffing to manage. With the pads, yes it's supposed to be safe, but the pads aren't too great.
Post bicycle return, I discovered a parking ticket on the car window. Apparently, Sunday is not a free parking day in all parts of S.F. Alas, a $40 fine isn't terribly much considering how much parking typically can cost.
We had about 3-4 hours until we had to go to the airport. Boon suggested a "romantic spot" at the top of Twin Peaks. When Boon talked about romantic, probably he wasn't thinking of Sunday afternoon. Countless tourists came and went, taking photos, and I saw no couples holding hands, kissing, etc. Tired and lazy, instead of venturing into the cold wind again, we stayed in the car and watched Gun x Sword on Hitomi's laptop and took a nap.