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From The Vaults: Vacation Diary August 1999, San Francisco

Crappy motel. Proof positive that the “sani-bands” on toilets mean nothing: I pull it off our room’s toilet cover and find drops of urine all over the seat. Hotel’s neon sign is right outside our window. Trolley goes by every ten minutes or so and the Patel Motel Cartel is having a family reunion next door. (Next door? Downstairs? Upstairs? The fact that the sound comes through every wall lends to our feeling of powerlessness against the sound and the general bad vibe.) Mom just called the main office, and the noise was louder in the background of the call… the owner said, “I jussel emma Kweitown, mam.”

Everyone but me is talking about going someplace else tomorrow night. I, meanwhile, am enjoying the fact that the exact same print hangs over each bed… Man, I hope I’m not getting anything negative from the shower, which smells like egg-drop soup.

Ah, travel. Budget-style.

…Mom made a comment about how it’s hard to know what kind of neighborhood you’re in in a foreign place… that hitched itself somehow to some thoughts about the comprehensible universe of Poly and Pasadena… how it strikes me nowadays that there are so many people out there, oddly in spite of my having grown up in an area with millions of people… was I just used to seeing as scenery anyone who wasn’t a “useful” person? Is this vertiginous sense of the expanding world a part of growing up? Or did I just think that everyone would eventually fall into some sensible slot? (with my strong sense of US and THEM in earlier years, I guess they mostly did…)

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