I managed to sleep almost to 7am (and without getting up in the night, either). Yay me. Did the NYT puzzle and wrote yesterday’s blog post. As a result when I got to the coffee shop the almond croissants were just out of the oven, and that’s a good start to the day.
My plans for today were, first, to attend the Sunday Assembly, and then in the afternoon to drive to the City to look at the current exhibition at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. I figure to time that so I get back to Palo Alto around five, and find supper somewhere to kill the time until the potential buyers have cleared from the house.
Sunday Assembly is an international secular organization that sponsors Sunday morning meetings under the slogan “Live better, help often, wonder more”. They try hard to create the sense of community that is (I think) the main reason religious services exist, but without any supernatural trappings. I and Marian attended a couple of their meetings back in 2017. Marian didn’t think much of them. I attended once with Dennis, also. I haven’t been to one in at least a year, and I thought I’d try it again.
I’m afraid that Sunday Assembly is not doing well; there were fewer people in attendance than I remember from before. I don’t think they are setting up as many rows of chairs at the Masonic Hall as they used to, and there were a couple of empty rows anyway.
As usual the meeting began with group singing. The speaker today was a person who was a counselor and leader of the secular summer camp movement, Camp Quest. So the theme was “adventure” and we opened by singing summer camp songs: “There’s a hole in the bottom of the sea,” “If you’re happy and you know it,” etc. That was fun in a mild way.
Then came a strange episode that I’m still processing. This of course is all to do with me, not a reflection on Sunday Assembly. The next activity was introduced as “We always start with an ice-breaker and here’s <name I didn’t get> to lead it.” Well, I can live with an ice-breaker, at least, times I’ve attended a Mass, I could shake hands with strangers around me during the “kiss of peace” ritual. But in this case, the very enthusiastic <name I didn’t get> tried to explain this quite complicated thing in which people were to pair up and you would say your name and point to the other who would say “Yeah!” and say a sentence about yourself and point, “Oh, yeah!” and trade off — there was more to it than that, a really complicated three-stage thing.
Even as he’s explaining and demonstrating this supposedly fun ritual I am thinking (I may have actually muttered aloud) “I ain’t doing that.” I was just swept by a negative reaction, an instant “Nope” as they say on Reddit. Nope nope nope! I don’t want to do that, I won’t do it well, I’ll feel like an idiot: in just a few seconds these barely-coherent feelings came over me. Plus, I’m sitting alone in a back row, there’s nobody near me to pair up with. So I instantly apprehend that I’m not going to have a choice, somebody in the row ahead is going to come up unpaired and look back at me and I don’t want to do this but I’ll be stuck. So just as the leader is saying “OK, let’s pair up and…” I just swept up my hat from the seat beside me and strode out of the room. Out the door, to my car, and drove away.
In hindsight there’s something familiar about that instant, strong, emotional rejection of a group activity. I haven’t felt it in many decades I’m sure, but now, a couple of hours after, I think I can relate it all the way back to grade school. It’s like the awful feeling when you are required to participate in a sport that you are shit at, but have to go out on the field anyway, knowing you will only humiliate yourself. So, I guess I’m still in touch with my inner third-grader. I’m not sure that I want to be! But maybe I should start to think about how to nurture that pathetic little guy.
Driving home along El Camino from the Sunday dis-Assembly I realized that it being Sunday, the
California Avenue farmer’s market
would be on. I haven’t been to that in four or five years. Marian and I always did our week’s food shopping on Sunday, and for several years we always started at the California Avenue market. For the last few years we found it more convenient to go to DiMartini’s farm stand in Mountain View; so it’s been a while. Just for the heck of it I parked and walked the length of the market.
This Sunday market, I’m pleased to note, is thriving. Walking it made me a little sad, however, because I really have no excuse to buy. Well, today I bought a box of Medjool dates, half a pound of cherries, and a bottle of apple-pomegranate cider. These are things I can consume in my bachelor life-style. But looking ahead, living in a facility with full meal service really means having no connection to food prep at all. This isn’t a new feeling. One of my very first realizations, like within 24 hours of Marian’s death, was that I’d probably never cook a proper meal again. But this was a reminder, a cold wind blowing on the raw surface where that “shard” of the old life has fallen off.
Anyway, 2pm I headed for the city for the
exhibit at the Palace of the Legion of Honor. Drove myself, it being a Sunday, rather than using the train and Lyft. Took a few pictures.
In an early “Annunciation” Rubens caters (no doubt) to the expectations of his Amsterdam audience, giving Mary a lovely head of blond curls.
This lady was I think not quite getting what she wanted. But I like my composition, the diagonal line from subject’s eyes to artist’s.
Here, the spotlights make Rodin’s “Three Shades” into six or nine.
So drove on back to Palo Alto, had a burger and a beer at The Counter, then over to Midtown for a dish of ice cream. Answering texts from Chuck all along this route, as he relayed questions from the clients. “How old is the roof” and so forth. Later he said both parties were very favorably impressed. I’ll meet him tomorrow afternoon to learn more.