Recently my husband and I were looking for something to do that would divert us from our everyday life. We couldn’t go great distances for our getaway but we could go back in time. How’s that done? You may ask.
I was pretty sure that San Jose has a collection of old buildings open for touring. We looked into it and confirmed that a section of Kelley Park houses San Jose’s History Park . After a big pancake Saturday breakfast we were ready to visit history.
History Park’s main entrance at the end of Phelan Avenue opens up to a wide pedestrian-only tree lined street – huge wood barn on the right and historical homes on the left. We veered right toward the crusty Associated Gasoline station and the blacksmith shed with early farm tractor out front. Taking in the scene by snapping pictures, we spun back to the Trolley Barn.
Caught Up in the Trolley Barn
Trolley Barn volunteers – train and trolley enthusiasts – greeted us and shared their wisdom about some of the vehicles found inside.
The 1914 electric-horseless-carriage caught my attention. I was amazed that a car from so long ago runs on 14 car batteries (no gas) and has the capability to be re-charged. I did “know” that different car manufacturers tried out different fuel sources – electricity being one of them. But I’d never seen a car with a carriage inspired frame filled with 14 car batteries before. And it works!
The barn houses several vintage trolleys that volunteers preserve, display and give rides around the park on. We got to check out a 1930s era streetcar, with a guided demo on how to start it and clang the bell to get pedestrians off the tracks.
Later in the day we rode the outdoor track around the perimeter of History Park. The car we were in was open air at the ends – nice for warm San Jose days – while the middle of the car is covered.
I highly recommend the Trolley Barn to car, train or trolley buffs. Don’t miss their special Transportation Day celebration held on Father’s Day every year. All the cars and trolleys – that are able – are taken out for a spin.
Catch up on our adventure at History Park next week: Ice Cream for Lunch at O’Brien’s, Wild West to Orchards and Housing Cultural History – all covered in Part 2.
The bay sparkles. Clear blue skies overhead and fishing boats flit across the calm water. Eireene Nealand and I take over her sister’s green sail boat docked at Pillar Point Harbor in Half Moon Bay, CA.
We tell ourselves that we’re actually going to do some writing once we get inside. Eireene takes my bag of crab cake sandwich and fries so I can keep my balance stepping onto the back of the boat. She assures me I won’t fall in the water.
She unlocks the cabin hatch, slides it back and moves the ceiling panel so we can make our way inside. We sit across from each other on padded benches with a multi-use pop-up table between us. Eireene heats up water in the micro kitchen lining one side of the cabin. She sips tea and I eat my lunch.
The boat gently sways back and forth. I take out my digital voice recorder. She agrees to an impromptu interview. For a little context, Eireene is a poet, short story writer, European language translator and holds a Ph.D in Literature and MFA in Creative Writing. So, I have lots of questions for her as I’m in awe of her resume.
I start with the basics.
Siege of Leningrad and the Office Breakroom
Eva: What’s your favorite type of project to write?
Eireene: I like writing weird connections with history. I wrote a story about Lake Ladoga the Siege of Leningrad. It was about a girl in California who felt she was suffering then she learned about the Siege of Leningrad and was like “Wow my life’s not so bad!”
I like writing weird connections with history.
Eva: Do you fantasize about Eastern Europe?
Eireene: I did fantasize about the Communist Revolution when I was younger. But then I went and visited and found it wasn’t so romantic.
I did a whole story about that. It was really great that people had a big dream and the big dream had a lot of awful things to it. But how much worse would it be if there was no big dream and there was just awfulness?
Eireene: What do you write about?
Eva: I try to write about something that’s happened to me. I blow it out of proportion like a Seinfeld episode.
Eireene: Do you stay away from politics?
Eva: I keep it casual. In, The Birthday Committee, which is a funny story, I have a character in the office breakroom and she’s watching CNN and it shows a bomb going off in Syria. It’s not really a comment on Syria it’s a comment to the story. It’s a war zone in the breakroom.
Eireene: What kind of settings do you like to write about?
Eva: Things I’m familiar with. A lot of my writing has been about things that’ve made me mad. I want to go back and reinvent the moment. Become empowered in some way. It’s never a big deal. It’s just something that’s bothered me. The settings are small and familiar, the breakroom at work, the college campus out in the back fields, a coffee shop confrontation.
A Family of Characters
Eireene: It’s interesting a lot of other people have written about my family but they do it in a completely different way than I would do it. They draw on all of these hippie stereo types.
Eva: How many articles have there been?
Eireene: There’s been two major ones about the idea of a hippie family. I think they do a really good job. A better one than I could do. I can’t get at real life directly. It seems like you’re closer to real life.
Eva: I write about my husband a lot. Like things he does that influence me. He’s usually like “oh god you’re writing about that?” I’m not writing deeply about myself, kind of expressing myself.
He’s the other character in my life.
Eireene: I notice a lot of writers have this break-through moment when they fall in love and write about the other person.
Eva: But I’m not even gushing about him though.
Eireene: Yeah you’re just tracking his behavior. You’re noticing him a lot because you’re happy. One day I aspire to write that kind of story.
Eva: He’s the other character in my life.
**More of our discussion will be posted on the blog next week. Come back to find out how two different writers approach structure in writing.
Eireene Nealand’s stories, poems and translations have appeared in ZYZZYVA, Chicago Quarterly, Drunken Boat, Poetry International, Catamaran, Sidebrow, WHR, elimae, and The St. Petersburg Review, among other places. Her work has received multiple awards including a Fulbright Fellowship in Creative Writing, an Elizabeth Kosova Fellowship, and an Ivan Klima Fellowship. To her degrees from UC Berkeley and San Francisco State, she recently added a Ph.D. in Literature from UC Santa Cruz, where she studied proprioception, a neurobiological phenomenon that allows us to see textures and shifts. She currently lives in Santa Cruz, where she writes and translates Russian, Bulgarian and French prose and poetry.
Eva Barrows is a San Francisco Bay Area freelance writer. Eva writes about local places, people and events on her website www.evabarrows.com. She founded the online literary journal Imitation Fruitwww.imitationfruit.com in 2007 and has enjoyed promoting fellow writers and artists ever since. Her writing has appeared in the California Writer’s Club, Fault Zone Uplift anthology, and the San Mateo County Fair’s, Carry the Light fair winner collection.
Black Friday holds a little of that Christmas morning anticipation and excitement that gift wrapped presents create. I had to hold myself back this morning to avoid sprinting in excitement to turn the computer on and see what great deals were ready to be had!
Last year was my first real Black Friday. Actually my shopping started on Thanksgiving as I was getting side dishes ready to take to my parent’s. I was thrilled about all of the prices I found. There were $10 bedsheet sets and $25 sneakers. I filled my online basket at Macy’s and JCPenny.
My online rush was unexpectedly crushed when the Macy’s order was cancelled. I put a few hours into figuring out what I wanted and I used up around $100 in gift cards. The system stopped my order and sent me an email announcing everything was cancelled. My jaw dropped. This couldn’t be happening. I had such a perfect lineup of items at wonderful prices. I wanted my order!
After waiting on hold for a few hours over a span of several days, I spoke with countless Macy’s customer service reps. First, I found out the reason for the cancellation. My delivery address did not match my billing address, which was what I had requested. And I was told that they wouldn’t be able to reinstate my order. I was frustrated by this because it shouldn’t have been impossible to send me my order. Then I became worried about getting my gift cards re-credited because I didn’t trust Macy’s system or representatives. The resolution to my Black Friday shopping last year with Macy’s was being refunded and never getting my deals. So this year I didn’t waste my time with them.
I went straight to JCPenny this year because my order worked out with them previously. I zeroed my online search into the items that I’ve been wanting for a while; long sleeved interestingly designed tops. Checking under my size and designers that I’ve liked in the past, I found a few things that I wanted to buy. I clicked on the items to save them in my virtual cart to look over later. When I was ready to buy, all of the items I saved had disappeared! I went back through the website to find some of them to add back but they disappeared again. I was a little miffed by this glitch but I knew from last year that sometimes online ordering takes a little perseverance. I scrolled to the bottom of the page and found there was a “recently viewed” section that had most of the things listed that I was interested in. I put these in the actual shopping cart and was able to make a purchase.
As long as my order doesn’t get cancelled, I will be getting some nice shirts and new bedding delivered to me in about a week. I look forward to opening my box like a kid on Christmas morning.