berkeley stefmeet 2000

yesterday i woke up a bit late and glanced at my pcs phone. no messages from stef yet, so i hopped online and of course got distracted there with email and the like. not too distracted, since i remembered to manually check for messages and that’s when i discovered that my service had been disconnected.

i hate pc banking. can i tell you how much i hate pc banking? i am definitely no luddite, but when it comes to banking, i would rather have a stash of golden dollars underneath my bed than depend on banks, let alone monstrosities like quicken and my bank’s idea of online bill-paying. i don’t do well with them and when i get frustrated, especially on money matters, i just avoid dealing with them entirely.

so, all this is a long way of saying i had not paid my last bill on time. the irony of this is that the day that i thought i had paid my bill, i had also downgraded mobile service plans in an attempt to save money.

wearily, i contacted the mobile company’s customer service department and handled it over the phone with a real live person. they said my phone would be switched back on in the next four hours.

since i had no idea how long it had been turned off, i immediately called stef and scott’s hotel, trying to reach them. scott answered and we chatted briefly, established that stef had indeed left a message the night before, and that we were getting ready and on our way over to berkeley for lunch and fun stuff.

i took a running leap into the shower. the good thing about being a night person forced to a day-person’s schedule is that i have trained myself to get ready in a very short amount of time. chad had been over at chris’ on friday night and into saturday morning, so he wasn’t exactly awake yet, but it takes him about seven minutes, shower to out the door, so i wasn’t worried.

we headed out as soon as we could (a little later than i wanted to) and got to berkeley only a few minutes late. en route, chad got work-beeped since he is on-call this weekend. as we were parking the jeep, chad spotted stef standing outside, so i jumped out while chad called work to find out what was up.

you know, i was not surprised at all at either stef or scott. they were exactly as i imagined them, so warm and friendly right off the bat. if they were nervous to meet us at all, it didn’t show. i was a little excited and nervous so i think i came off initially as distracted or vaguely worried about something else, but i shook that off after chad walked up and the four of us headed to the thai place for lunch.

it was a beautiful, sunny and brisk day in berkeley as we walked up university avenue and chatted casually. i felt so not-self-conscious that i had a hard time remembering we had all just met; it seemed more like old friends catching up. chad was waiting on word back from work, so he was a little distracted, but lunch was just terrific. i had papaya salad for the first time, and it had a fascinating taste. stef and i discovered that we have nearly the same ordering habits in thai food: tom kha, panang, thai iced coffee. they didn’t have chicken panang, only beef, so i tried the yellow curry instead, which was less interesting but still yummy. the tom kha was warm and tingly, just as i like it.

scott is a terrible (or really good, depending on your perspective) punster. he’ll slip in references that i catch about two seconds after i hear them, and the result is that i’m always trying to figure out what comparison he’s going to draw next for comic effect. stef, on the other hand, has a direct, compelling conversational style, and they complement each other well besides mirroring us pretty closely. chad and i are very used to riffing off each other, so seeing other couples do it is all kinds of neat.

it didn’t occur to me to check the time, but i sensed by the changes in the shadows in the restaurant that it was getting late and we should do an activity before the dinner gathering. i had suggested lawrence hall of science on campus, and everyone agreed so we all hopped in the jeep and went. i really, really love science museums. my method of thinking isn’t particularly scientific, but i love wandering through museums – my favorite being the museum of science and industry in chicago – and encountering ideas that i’m just not exposed to on a daily basis. we all meandered through together and paused at fun stuff, especially the water-ball game, which i’m sure had a point other than entertaining us but i still don’t know what it was. it was a plexiglass rectangular box with two water spouts you could aim and “shoot” with built into either end. there were eight spouts inside the box that shot water straight up, and there were several light plastic balls. the idea was either to push the balls around with your, um, water-directors, or it was to get the balls into the spouts so they would be lifted straight up and balance there for a while. right. i still have no idea what it was for, but it was fun. an eight year-old walked up and tried to give us rules and hints but i don’t think any of us paid much attention to him. he was a bit imperious.

since we had arrived late, we couldn’t see too much before it was time to go, although the gift shop was definitely our last stop. i got a few ideas for christmas presents i’d like to buy or make for friends this year. the four of us left and went back to their hotel so that stef could do the intravenous-antibiotic thing before dinner. i was extremely curious about that and about her insulin pump, since i haven’t ever seen either before in real life, so i watched and asked a few questions. i felt confident that stef’s spirits and consequently her health had been great all day, otherwise i might not have asked anything, because i didn’t want her to think i was fixated on her borg implants. heh. they were interesting, though.

right before six, we all went to the santa fe bar and grill. mona, brian, and (the first) david were already there, handling a minor snafu with the reservations. i was a little nervous around all the new people so introductions were blurry but i recognized mona from the stefcam forums. everyone started showing up soon after that; i was especially glad to see darius made it. the tables were split, 10 and 7, and the larger table had already filled up so when heath and meredith showed up, chad and i decided to move over to the smaller table so they wouldn’t be alone. we were soon joined by jen and josh, and later david (one of three davids but the only one we knew previously).

i had a glass of chardonnay. and then another one. you know where this is going. there was nummy salmon, and then dessert wine (apricot something) and chocolate torte with honeysuckle on it which i was shocked to find out is totally edible. i had a whole bush of those things outside my window when we lived in larkspur, and i did not eat even one. i think i remember chad saying something to heath about me and i just started laughing because i knew, no matter how much processing power i put behind that, i was so buzzed i wasn’t going to make sense of it anyway and so i should just start laughing, which of course amused people to no end. i think i must be an amusing drunk. the evening was light, and full of laughter, and i was happy to be there.

the dinner seemed a little too short, or maybe the crowd was too large for me to connect with more than a few people. afterwards a smaller subset of the larger group – some of which had traveled great distances, and had to get back on the road – went to franÁois’ home just a few blocks away for coffee, which actually meant “more dessert wine” for a few of us. the conversation turned to phlebotomy, gene therapy, with a smattering of politics for good measure. steve asked me about my name-change, which i am always glad to expound upon, except when i’m tipsy; i really have no idea what all i said, and so i hope i didn’t ramble incoherently. (chad said later i was fine, but i still felt tongue-tied.)

stef at this point sprung her “surprise” which was having us all taste a bit of the dal muth stuff she mentioned in her forums; she was going to capture our expressions as we tasted it and award prizes to the most-disgusted and the least-disgusted. i took a big ol’ spoonful, expecting to like it, but it was gross. i couldn’t get the idea of dessicated mealyworms out of my head, not that i’ve ever eaten them, but dal muth tastes as i imagine they would. yum, huh? randomdavid, on the other hand, loved it, prompting the joke, “give it to davey, he’ll eat anything!”

soon afterwards, around eleven, i started to crash, and so we took our leave. i hugged both stef and scott goodbye and was sorry to go so soon … the whole thing went by so quickly that it was hard to believe we had spent the whole day with them. chad and i drove david to the BART station and then headed home, talking on the way how good a day it was and how much fun we had.

throughout the day i was aware that the moments were slipping by uncaptured, and i had that awful battle in myself whether to take pictures of the day or to focus on remembering the impressions. i mostly opted for the latter.

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