Friday, July 23, 2010

A “Typical” Day (Part V)

Hi Folks,

We're baaack! Remember, if you'd like to review any of the posts that led up to this one, please feel free to click here.

The story continues as Tiffany and I were sitting on the couch on the second floor in our effect uniforms, talking in quiet voices while the Effect Course was finishing downstairs. This couch is across the hall from the door to Sierra and Jess' bedroom, which was open, as it usually is (an endearing quality of theirs). We speculated as to whether they were actually inside up in their loft bed. We concluded that they probably were, given that they had just come back on a 25-hour plane flight from Africa earlier that afternoon. Where were they going to go?

As if in confirmation, a few minutes later, Sierra walked down the steps from the bed, stretching and yawning. She looked at us and giggled in appreciation to see two uniformed effect staff sitting in the hall outside her room. She asked what time it was, and we told her it was 9:30.

"Wow,” she said, “We've been sleeping for, like, eight hours. Jess is still asleep.”

She started to rub the side of her neck, complaining that all that
sitting on planes had not sat well with her. I offered to give her a neck rub (I am a full-service effect person.). When she said yes, I stood up and had her sit on the couch while I massaged the knot that was bothering her. This was, of course, quite enjoyable. She used the time to describe to us the segments of their flight from Capetown to Johannesburg to Germany to Washington, DC, to San Francisco.

After about five minutes, she thanked me for the massage, stood up and walked back into her room. She saw Jess coming downstairs from the loft bed and she said with a certain pride, “Jess, come look at our Maid Brigade,” and pointed to Tiffany and me sitting side by side on the couch. He smiled in that
Mona Lisa way he does.

As 10 o'clock approached, I took off my bowtie, unbuttoned my top shirt buttons and went outside to bring our car around. I had arranged with Lynne that, once the Effect Course ended, she would escort the newly-graduated student down the front steps to the street and into the car for our return trip. I waited while Lynne opened the back door for her to get in, closed the door, then joined me up front.

In the rear-view mirror, I could see our passenger smiling in contentment. She explained that Kate had made a point of telling her that I had not yet done an Effect Course, so she understood she could not divulge anything of what had happened during the evening, a circumstance that seemed to tickle her somewhat, as if she had something over me.
It was a pleasantly mellow, late-night ride back to her house, as classical music played from the car radio.

After arriving at her place, Lynne accompanied her to her door, said good night, hugged her, and got back in the car. Without saying anything to each other, we seemed to agree that we had enjoyed the peaceful mood that had been set, and we continued it on the ride back to our house. When we got home, we chatted with a tired and happy Kate about how the car ride had been. She told us she was glad the student had had the restriction of not being able to reveal anything to me, as she had thought it would deepen her experience of the course to digest it silently as we drove.

It had been a rich, full day. At the beginning of A “Typical” Day (Part I), I mentioned that the only thing that could be said to be “typical" about our days here at the
Oakland Morehouse is that they tend to end with us crashing headlong into our luxurious bed, exhausted and gratified in equal measure. This day was no different; it was the next thing we did.

It's been a pleasure chatting with you, friends.

Thanks for reading.

Best Regards,


The trip to enlightenment is more fun than being enlightened.

-- Vic Baranco

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A “Typical” Day (Part IV)

Hi again, everyone!

Previously on A "Typical" Day: Lynne and I had just dropped off the Effect Course student at the Morehouse
and we were now headed off to go out to dinner together.

Early on in Lynne's
Evaluacy, Linda had taken her for a pedicure and then afterward to lunch at a restaurant called Barney's on Piedmont Avenue. Lynne had liked the place and had expressed a desire to return there sometime for dinner, so Barney's was our destination this evening.

At the end of an earlier post, I mentioned the many and varied charms of Oakland. Well, Piedmont Avenue is one of those charms. It's about five blocks of unique, festive, eye-pleasing shops and restaurants – most of them locally owned - along a gently sloping street. It being such a pleasant neighborhood to explore means parking can be a challenge. We managed to find a space, however, about a five-minute-or-so walk from the restaurant. The weather was slightly chilly that evening (just right for the
rust-colored leather jacket ), but otherwise the air was clear and fresh with occasional scents from people's gardens, so the walk to and from the car just added to the specialness of our time together.

As soon as we entered Barney's, I sensed a unique feel to the place. It was quite busy, and there was a convivial hum. At the same time, I couldn't characterize it as noisy. A very warm but not pushy waitress found us a table. Lynne ordered the falafel platter, I the Piedmont Salad, and we also got a strawberry milkshake to split between us (Lynne had had one on her previous visit and insisted I experience it.).

The shake was awesome, and, believe it or not, the salad was even better! It had chunks of feta and bacon and fresh slices of crisp red onion. It was the best salad I'd ever had. The perfect accompaniment to a strawberry milkshake. It was so gratifying I couldn't eat the whole thing, and I had the friendly waitress box up the remainder for me to take home. It was a memorable restaurant experience and I look forward to going there again.

I had to get back to the house for my 9pm to 10pm effect shift, so we drove home in time for me to change into my uniform. When we walked in the front door, there was an impressive hush over the household, as everyone had his or her attention on the theatrics going on in the bunk room, where the Effect Course was still in progress. Connected to the bunk room by a pocket door is the dining room, where the staging for the course was happening, including, I speculated, changing of costumes and props for the various actors involved, who all talked in whispers as they slipped quietly in and out of the room.

Enjoying the backstage intensity of it all, I went down to my room, changed and came back upstairs. Normally I would head for the kitchen at this point to do the dishes, etc. However, the only part of the first floor that wasn't off limits to Those of Us Who Hadn't Done the Effect Course was the front hallway, the kitchen being too close to the bunk room presumably to risk either unintended noise being heard by the Effect Course student or hints of the content of the course being overheard by uninitiated folks like me. So I sat down on the blue couch in the front hallway.

After a few moments, Tiffany, who had also not had an Effect Course, joined me on the couch. For some reason, she was also wearing an effect uniform, and for some reason, I never asked her why. So there we were, two people sitting on a couch quietly wearing uniforms that stated simultaneously “We are here to serve,” and “We are invisible.”

There was a problem, however. The couch faces the main door to the dining room, which is a pocket door as well. This particular pocket door will sometimes roll back open six inches or so once it's been closed. This was uncomfortable for me because it meant we kept being able to see into the dining room by default. I felt as if we were making it awkward for the participants, who were attempting to keep everything secret. I suggested to Tiffany that we go sit on the couch in the second floor hallway, across from Sierra and Jess' room. We would be out of the way, we could converse without disturbing anyone, and we would still be available if anyone needed us for anything.

This change of venue led to a delightful home-after-an-extremely-long-plane-flight encounter with Sierra, which I'll be more than happy to share with you next time. Until then, my friends!

Best regards,

The word surrender exists because it's an experience everybody wants to have... under the right conditions.

-- Vic Baranco