The meaning of Christmas

Two days of happiness, for five days of hell — that's a lousy trade, but it’s the best deal I’ve found. So far. 

Lost myself in some zines and this week’s AVA, then went for the mail and discovered several more zines to be read. When it occurred to me I was hungry, I remembered last Sunday’s cheap cheese omelet, and returned to the O’Farrell Cafe. Cheese omelet rerun, with a double dose of hash browns. Still too expensive, but it’s a good breakfast.

Walking back home, though, my blood pressure shot skyward. It's only five blocks, but the crowds got more and more oppressive and annoying as I neared the rez hotel, because of what the rez hotel is near.

This will be my third Xmas working at the department store, so that insanity I know well enough or too well, but this is my first Christmas living here, in the city's central shopping district. 

It's ain’t a strip mall. Within a few blocks of this rez hotel, there’s a Macy’s second only to their flagship store in New York City; ten stories of upscale retailer I Magnin; a three-story FAO Schwarz that’s not where Tom Hanks and Robert Loggia danced on a giant piano but might as well be; the city’s swanky Nieman-Marcus store, where (I am not kidding) they serve high tea in the rotunda; a Tiffany’s jeweler the size of a football stadium; a huge and iconic local store, The Emporium; a smaller but just as revered high-end shop called Gump’s (no relation to the famous moron) where (again, I shit you not) a giant Buddha statue overlooks the shoppers; and the biggest Nordstrom in that chain, where there’s nothing I could afford to buy, but riding their cool curving escalators is free.

There are also, of course, infinite smaller storefronts selling overpriced everything. Point is, there’s a lot of shopping, it’s all expensive shopping, and it surrounds my dumpy rez hotel. 

It’s making me reconsider my move downtown, last spring. I love the easy access to BART and Muni under Market Street, and it’s a quick block and half walk to work, but other than that, this is the part of San Francisco where I’m least at home.

Always the streets are full of cars and the sidewalks are jammed with slow-walking feeble-minded tourists, but as Christmas approaches, the traffic and stupidity has tripled. Elbow to elbow and bag to bag, the crosswalks are so crowded with cretins it’s safer to jay. Horns honk and fingers are flipped and shoppers rush home with their treasures.

For six solid blocks I am surrounded by the meaning of Christmas, which is no meaning at all except buying and selling. I cannot see myself living through a second Christmas so close to Union Square, so I’ll soon be gone.

It went from a question to an idea to a decision as I was walking back to the rez hotel, bashing through the throngs, thumping people out of my way, and wishing for death — theirs, not mine.

Why the hell am I living in the city's Shopping Mecca? The Mission is where I belong. The Roxie is there, and the Sincere Cafe, and miles of cheap eateries and bakeries and bodegas.

Before moving downtown, the Mission was my home, first in one rez hotel and then another a block away. Yeah, the Mission. It has too many bums and beggars, street preachers and needles at the curbs, but unlike Union Square, there’s usually room to walk on the sidewalk.

♦ ♦ ♦

Back in this rez room, in this neighborhood I've decided to leave, I read and wrote until I heard myself yawning, looked at the clock and it was time for beddy-bye-bye.

Tomorrow, another day of weekend, another day of life, and then on Monday it’s back to the hated workplace. I should be seriously thinking about moving on from that job, too.

Yeah, the times, they are a-changin'. Soon.

Union Square
(circa way back when)

From Pathetic Life #7
Saturday, December 10, 1994

This is an entry retyped from an on-paper zine I wrote many years ago, called Pathetic Life. The opinions stated were my opinions then, but might not be my opinions now. Also, I said and did some disgusting things, so parental guidance is advised.

Pathetic Life   

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