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Think About This

Because I have lived in the Bay Area my entire life, have taught many, many people in the Bay Area my entire career, and have been involved in hundreds of public events because of my writing, it's hard for me to go anywhere and not run into someone I know.  Try as I might to be inconspicuous, who rounds the turn but my former girl scout leader.  Sneaking into a bar?  Who is there but my old pal Gigi, calling out "Busted."  Wandering with my boyfriend in Muir Woods?  Who is there but my oldest of oldest friends, who doesn't even live that close these days.  But there she is in Muir Woods with her entire family.  On the first date Michael and I had, we met on College Avenue and walked the street to find a restaurant.  During that short jaunt, I ran into two people I know.

"Hi," I said.  "this is my match.com date Michael.  And no, no thanks.  We don't want to join you just yet."

Michael wondered if I was nuts.

It cracks me up, actually, to live a small town life in not a small town or "a" town but several, as these sightings occur in Oakland, Berkeley, Lafayette, Orinda, Mill Valley, San Francisco.  My actual life (and not just virtual, and that availability is another story) seems to be available just about all the time, to everyone.  Once I was buying a pork bun on Clement Street, and a former student was there buying a Peking duck with her friends.  What if Michael had been my "mister" and not my boyfriend?  Gigi would have loved it--I really would have been busted.  At the movie theater, the BMW service area, the beach, even in Michael's office--there is a former student, who wants to catch up on mythology.

I especially love to run into former students when I'm naked at in the gym locker room.  That is always a fun scenario.

But really, all of this connection is a blessing, really, a true validation of my existence, when such validation is hard to find at times.  My past comes up to me in a waft of memory, and I grab on, remember my oldest of oldest friend and I running around the neighborhood at night, both of us clutching a bottle of tequila.  I remember girl scouts, walking to St. Stephens church for the meetings.  I remember the student, his amazing mythology presentation, his laughter.  I am reminded again and again of who I am and what Ive done at a time when my brain wants to let go of the past due to overload.

Here, the world says.  Think about this.

Jessica

Comments
15 Comment count
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My wife and I have lived

My wife and I have lived in  North Berkeley for over 40 years and have the opposite experience.   We amaze ourselves at how frequently we can be in a restaurant or at a concert or show and run into no one we know.  (Oaky, we are not very social; we belong to no organizations that meet; these shows and concerts may be one or two a year; but we do leave the house, practically daily, one or both of us.)  We can sit at an outdoor cafe for hours and watch people go by and recognize no one.  Sometimes these people look like they could have lived no where else BUT Berkeley for 50 years.  Where have they been?  Sometimes we think they have been just deposited here by alien space ships, blending in, perfected in their look and style, ready to take over.

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You Don't Know Me, But . . .

My life is more like yours than Jessica's, to which I say: "Thank God."

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Meaning, you don't like to

Meaning, you don't like to run into former students in the locker room?  I getcha there.

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Getting Lost

Well . . . maybe if it was their locker room.

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I say "Thank God!" for anonymity too.

As a life-long card-carrying recluse, I'd have to say: "second the motion!"

And I shall dearly miss that sweet period of total anonymity (now 59 years and counting...) when my book becomes so famous that I will probably be constantly hounded by legions of worshipful, autograph-seeking Fans who follow me day and night-  and who will doubtless even go so far as to stake out my home in the hope of catching the merest glimpse of my scowling face half-hidden behind a curtain.

But hey, if that's the burdon I am destined to bear, then so be it...

P.S. Jessica-  when you write "I especially like to run into former students when I'm naked in the gym locker room. That is always a fun scenario."-  can you please elaborate?  For instance, exactly how fast are you going when you run into them-  is there a particular velocity that you would recommend in order to enhance the probablity that it will be a "fun scenario"?  And do you make upper body contact first, or position yourselves rather so that your lower bodies collide?  One would think that being naked would always insure a "fun scenario"-  but I am woefully ignorant about such matters, and would appreciate any sage advice you might be able to offer regarding this "tres kinky"-sounding Californian sport!

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Full steam ahead, especially

Full steam ahead, especially when naked.  Very useful for further class discussion and humiliation!  You need to come to a good California gym for further details.

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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what's wrong with a good Joisey gym?!

We residents of the great state of New Joisey are not into the same kind of "trendy" (euphemism for kinky) games of the type played in the locker rooms of your oh-so-"progressive" (euphemism for kinky) California. I know this for a fact, because the very first week I joined the local "Bally's", I drilled a peep-hole in the wall of the ladies' locker room, and, even though I work out religiously two to three times a week, followed by an hour or so of...observation..., I have yet to spot any ladies hurling their glistening nude bodies at each other in a sensually titilating ritual of girl-on-girl love.  Which is not to say that I'm "throwing in the towel" (so to speak), for I plan on continuing my vigils until such time as they...bare...fruit.

What's more, since reading your informative blog, I'm now also considering posting a notice on the ladies' locker room bulletin board describing the joys of just such an activity!  For this reason, and for this reason alone, would you perhaps happen to have any videos or DVDs (either HD or Blue Ray) that you'd be willing to send me-  as I'd be happy to share them with some of those ladies for the benefit of their physical well-being...?

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Wait a minute.  Don't you

Wait a minute.  Don't you think you and your wife were depostied by alien spaceships?  That would explain the situation much more logically.  You two were left as observers, your alien memories erased until the time you are brought back to the mother ship for download.

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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That would explain these

That would explain these weird scars on our foreheads where the stalks for our eye pods would have been removed.

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And what about that computer

And what about that computer chip in the back of your neck?  Don't forget that.

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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blessed

This is just to say how much I enjoyed reading your blog, Jessica, for your humor and candor.

I've lived in the Bay Area, on and off, since the mid-1970's, and must say, like Bob, I seldom, if ever, run into anyone I know here, but then "know" is a four letter word.

One thing I miss about the east coast and, to a lesser extent Los Angeles, is being able to go to the movies alone, or the theatre, or dine alone, without feeling like a freak.  Everybody's into being coupled here --it's so bloody provincial.     Solitude is oxygen to the poet, as Rainer Maria Rilke would agree, and the Bay Area can be truly unforgiving, ironically enough, of free spirits.  

There is this nonstop pressure to conform here from the way one dresses to the political candidate one endorses, and such low tolerance for true diversity.

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Okay, maybe Bob is on to

Okay, maybe Bob is on to something.  I am the alien, conformed to my conformity!  I am getting it all now, so clearly.

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Think about this.

Jessica,

I truly believe,  "it's because your light shines so bright everywhere you go, even here in the RR!"  You are loved.

Truly,

Catherine

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I would LOVE to believe

I would LOVE to believe that; however, I  chalk most of it up to being here a long, long time!

Best,

J

Jessica Barksdale Inclan www.jessicabarksdaleinclan.com

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Enjoyed this.

Yes, your life has obviously made a difference to many people. (And I can tell that those people make a difference to you. Yeah! That's the best kind of connection.)

The Muir Woods encounter sounds like an unlikely coincidence--the kind that makes life fascinating. However, the abundance of acquaintances you meet under so many different circumstances definitely means you have impacted a host of folk over time.

I have always assumed that city living provided just as many acquaintances (and probably more) than rural or small town living. However, Bob shows us that you can have fewer people encounters if you wish. That is also true in small towns.

The one summer I worked in New York City, I enjoyed seeing the same people over and over on the subway and began to feel they were neighbors. If I had stayed there for years, I do not doubt that I would have deliberately gotten acquainted.

I always encouraged students to learn to speak to passers-by. (Good morning. Good evening.) With discretion and use of intuition, of course. The world is a safer place is we acknowledge one another as human beings. I was horrified at crowded Yellowstone one summer when a young adult lay with eyes closed in the middle of a concrete sidewalk and hoards stepped around with no one stopping. Of course, I did. (My family knew I would, so they didn't have to.) The sleeper was a visiting international student and was okay. I never figured out why he thought the sidewalk was an appropriate place to sleep, but I was relieved to go on my way knowing he was not unconscious and dying.