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11.12.02, tuesday night

As of yesterday, this is how my Mondays in Oakland will unfold, because a ne'er-do-well must be studious at the art of being idle.

First, I will wake up late, because waking up late is a ne'er-do-well thing to do. Do not answer the phone, because ne'er-do-wells must avoid 1) worried fathers, 2) prospective lovers, and 3) friends who are Responsible Adults.

Then, after taking too long to get dressed and leave the house, I will eat fried eggs and potatoes at Malyís Donuts & Burgers, a Cambodian-owned diner on 14th & Madison, because ne'er-do-wells often forget to stock their refrigerators. (They will also forget to pay the electricity bill.) This should be done while flipping through The New York Times and books-you-have-been-meaning-to-read.

Finally, I will ride my bike to the Lake, to dodge joggers (who bark when you have been spotted as potential obstacle, 30 paces away) and herds of geese that flap their wings in dismay at the strange beast that is a girl on her bike.

. . .

Being a ne'er-do-well can do horrors to oneís health; it demands exercise. But do not engage in a routine that requires the concentration and exertion that jogging demands, for jogging is the exercise of go-getters. Instead, you must bike, because you can be impatient and opt for sudden flights of fancy, like terrorizing ducks. Or going off track to get donuts and ice cream. Or visiting your friendís warehouse, where you will imbibe whisky & Cokes before engaging in wrestling bouts that end with his arm bitten and you a dizzy heap of bones and brains.

. . .

Besides my spectacles, the little bronze Schwinn, its seat emblazoned with an elegant S, is the other possession I cannot live without. With it, I can pretend that Oakland was planned with freedom of (physical and thus intellectual, emotional, and spiritual) movement in mind, rather than being the city it is when I am a sober pedestrian: a city that has been so regulated that its inhabitants are confined to certain modes of interaction. (Here is the Financial District. Here is your shopping area. Here is where you may indulge in recreation, but must cease all play by 10pm.) With my bike, I am a lover of cities; on Mondays, I am Casanova intent on my new love interest: Oakland, to whom I want to scribble coffee-stained odes.

. . .

To: The vegan African restaurant on 14th. The Laney Flea Market. De Lauerís, the all-nite magazine shop on Broadway. The lake, even with its birdshit-encrusted shores and the waters teeming with Styrofoam cups, used Trojans, and empty liquor bottles. 18th Street, between MLK & Jefferson, mos def.

Even though it is sometimes littered with used hypodermic needles. Even though men emerge from dark doorways whistling hello to me. Even though some friends tell me, Your street is so scary!

Because little girls bat tether-ball with their tiny fists and sketch hopscotch patterns on the sidewalk. Because it is a one-way only street. Because it stretches somewhere between the lake and Melís, between the Laney Flea Market and De Lauerís. Because it is the 18th Street between MLK & Jefferson, home to one bespectacled ne'er-do-well and her bronze Schwinn.


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