i woke up this morning at 9am not because i had to but because i couldn't sleep anymore, which is the best way to wake up. i went to bed last night at midnight, which is early for me. i'm not sure if i can get a repeat performance tonight.

the last time i went with laurie for dim sum was almost a year ago, the time we met up with paula and jonathan (020727). i left my house and took the train down to central square, where i waited for laurie underground at the t stop at 11am. i was worried she wouldn't show, but she'd never stood me up for dim sum, so i was sure she'd come eventually. on the phone earlier this week she had told me that she had gone vegetarian with her boyfriend ben, which came as quite a shock, since laurie and i used to be regular weekend dim sum buddies. however, she wasn't strict about the rules and still occasionally dabbled in non-vegetarian food. laurie arrived eventually, and when i saw her, i could definitely see that she had lost some weight since she stopped eating meat.

when we got to china pearl, we were seated immediately. saturdays aren't as crowded as sundays, but i can't remember a time when the place wasn't packed with people on the weekends. i personally think the SARS scare has really affected business in chinatown. or maybe it was just the weather, a light drizzle permeating the landscape for much of today. i recognized some of the waitresses and i think a few of them even recognized me (from the time when i used to be a regular here) as we exchanged knowing smiles. the first pushcart that came out had some sticky rice with pork wrapped in palm leaves, which we ordered. i noticed something that looked like tripe poking out from one of the trays and i asked the waitress in chinese if she had any tripe. "yes," she replied back in chinese, "i didn't think you were the type that would eat this stuff." i asked if she had chicken feet too. "yes!" she said excitedly, "i have chicken feet too!" i told her that only i ate the tripe and the chicken feet, and that laurie doesn't eat that stuff. laurie seemed to understand the hand gestures and frowned to the waitress to let her know she didn't care much for exotic dim sum dishes. "you should slowly teach her to eat it," the waitress told me with a laugh as she went away. "it's delicious," she added. so laurie and i ate, and it was very obvious that she wasn't her old self when it came to the meats, and several morsels were left half eaten on her plate. our lunch conversation revolved around where laurie might want to live after finishing jewelry school next month, and the current plight of our US foreign policy and the hypocrisy and deceipt of the current republican administration.

since neither of us had any plans for the rest of the afternoon, we decided to walk down to copley square in the rain, where i had heard there was a book sale at the boston public library. it was the first time being inside the library for both laurie and me, and it took us a while to find the mezzanine where the book sale was happening. although it had just started, the place was already crowded with book buyers of all shapes and sizes, some of them hauling out armfuls of books. the books were mostly outdated volumes that the library was trying to get rid of. amidst the shelves of books i was able to find a few gems:

iraq...in pictures, part of the visual geography series of children books, printed in 1990 before the start of the gulf war. the way it describes iraq, it almost seems like a place you'd want to visit for a vacation. i learned that from the time of the sumerians 3500 BC, iraq has been the site of countless conquests and invasions, this latest affront by the US just another name on the long list.
being a jew by angela wood (1987), also a kids book to help them learn about...being a jew. page 23 begins the chapter on "having children", including this enticing passage: "when he is eight days old, a jewish baby boy is circumcised...this does not hurt a baby boy, who may even sleep through it."
strong kids, safe kids (1984), a video that teaches children about stranger awareness through songs: what is a "stranger"? how to self-dense yell for danger "the honks", the big "no" and when to use it, how to keep distance from strangers, the different kinds of "touches", and tricks and threats adults use against children. hosted by henry winkler (fonzi!), the cover features him giving the thumbs up sign surrounded by a group of kids doing the same thing. the video also features cameos by john ritter, scooby-doo, yogi beer, and the flintstones. i haven't seen it yet, but i can't wait. i have often found it difficult to distinguish between friends and strangers.

each item was $1, cheaper if they were paperbacks. laurie ended up getting two videos on oregon and new mexico, potential states she's thinking about moving to.
we got beverages from the library cafe (laurie getting her daily caffeine fix, i had some carbonated pink lemonade) and sat by the inner courtyard, watching some kids playing in the rain by the fountain. we left the library and took the green line to park street, where we caught the red line back into cambridge, each of us going back to our respective homes.

in the evening, renata came to pick me up for a dinner and a movie along with her friend kay. lacking the proper food imagination, we ended up going to boca grande, which seems to be the default place to eat when we can't think of any place else to go. kay thrilled us with her motorcycling stories, while renata (sporting a new haircut) told us about show & tell in her classroom. leaving the restaurant, we ran into alex delaney who shouted my name from across the street. renata seemed confused as to who the person was until i told her it was alex. "come see my baby!" alex instructed us. we crossed back and saw her daughter sitting in a baby carrier in the backseat of an suv. alex took our e-mails and we made tentative plans for some future outings.

we got to the kendall theatre with 20 minutes to spare. the movie was spellbound, a documentary about the annual spelling bee down in washington d.c. it followed 8 spelling bee finalists as they prepare for the contest and eventually compete for the championship. the movie is funny in that absurdity of reality way, it's not at all exploitative. i felt bad for the kids, but in the end we see them go back to their loving parents who reassure them that they're still champs. some tears are shed, but it's amazing to see how resilient most of these kids are, i know if it was me up there and i lost, i would be more devastated. the movie starts with one of the finalists struggling to spell the words "banns", one of most hyperactive child of the whole documentary, and once you see that, you're hooked. it's a very well-made film and it's easy to see why it was academy awards nominated for best documentary, worthy of viewing because it spotlights a very interesting world.