Checking back in with the world

I’ve been gone.  Not just from Pasadena, but from the world at large, for at least six months.  I can probably count the number of times I left Mike and Susan’s house in 3.5 months on two hands, or maybe three, but some of those were just hiking.  I didn’t see much news.  Thankfully I missed the entire healthcare debate.  I didn’t spend time with other people.  I was checked out.  Now I’m starting to check back in, and of course things seem kind of surreal.

I went to a mall last Friday.  The one by the Santa Anita racetrack.  I went with Ian to see Avatar in IMAX-3D, and to get a little exercise.  I’ve mostly been laying around trying to stop being sick for the past week.  When we got there, the show had sold out, so we decided to walk around the mall — to literally circumambulate it, not walk around inside like shoppers — and decide whether we wanted to go to the next showing, and kill some time.  It was bizarre.  The whole place.  I felt like an alien, first for having biked there (they have a giant valet-only parking lot), second for clearly not wearing culturally acceptable Friday-night-at-the-mall attire, and third for having a giant crazy-homeless-guy beard.  The homogeneity of the people just seemed bizarre somehow.  Lots of black and white clothing.  Lots of text messaging.  Lots of makeup and trying to look tough.  The scene was so strange we decided to pee in the bushes in the parking lot rather than try and find a bathroom inside.