day 25: free hugs

September 28, 2008

mission:

  • offer free hugs and chocolate to strangers at one post plaza in sf

earlier this week i decided that i wanted to give something awesome away on craigslist.  right as i began trying to think of material things i owned that i’d be willing to give away, i remembered my challenge to self to try to do things that didn’t require money.  hmmm – free love?  a little too intangible.  i decided to offer free hugs and chocolate on craigslist.  4-6pm on friday september 26th, i did exactly that.

won’t lie.  at first i was a little afraid i was going to get a bunch of super weird/creepy folks responding.  but in reality, i ended up getting some beautiful responses to my ad:

I send you my love, and support. I thank you for your kindness!
Robert

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thank you i always need a hug thank you again

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:)

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are you really giving chocolate too.

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You make me happy.    =]

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I’ll definantly be there!  I could sure use a hug.  I’ll keep it PG.  How will I know where you are? :P

tylor

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hey i do not really need free hugs but i really  want to meet new people i m from france studing here and i wanted to do what you ll do i mean the free hugs in france so that mean you re somebody nice so i hope you ll answer and we can go for a walk just speak thanks

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Seher, thanks for your contribution to the peace of the world, and for your courage and determination.  Yah!  May many blessings come to you, Joi

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Dear Seher…………..I cant come to give/receive a hug in person. I am disabled and dont get out. However all is cool and I am very touched by your posting. With the telephone and the internet I try to do what you are doing, but you are doing your wonderfulness with panache and style. I love it. Yours is the most unique and loving ad I have ever seen in CraigsList. I hope that Friday afternoon 4pm to 5pm goes off beautifully for you and for all who meet you there. If you have the time and inclination, I would love to hear back from you afterwards.
Sending you multitudinous hugs,
Lorelei Rathel

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you are way cool  !!!!!!!————here is a e-mail hug………..I’m in Napa………….gas it too expensive and life is too frantic so I pause now to honor your effort .    God Bless you ……….

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I think what you are doing is GREAT would you like to be interview on my show liberationradio.net if so give us a call Patrick Williams

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hi seher, yes the world needs a hug and so do I. from an ex marine I want to take this moment to give you a hug. only love can conquer hate. thank you my lady. jim.

nonetheless, i was a bit afraid for my safety and possible uncomfortable situations, so i was lucky when my friend shakirah offered to be my “bodyguard, sign holder, and candy hander-outer.”  she said wasn’t trying to give annnyyybody hugs – i could handle that part.  she felt like she was rather in the mood to knock someone out.  “great!” i said – “makes you all the more prepared to be my bodyguard.” :D

i get off work at 3pm on fridays so right after i left there i rushed over to walgreens to buy a big piece of posterboard and some chocolate.  i didn’t want to make the “free hugs” sign in front of folks at the plaza, so i just plopped down on some open floor area near the front of walgreens and got down to business.

per usual, i’m running 15 minutes late for my 4pm “appointment” at the plaza.  shak is running late, too.  i call her and she says she’s at the plaza.  i have my yellow beanie on and have folded up my sign so not to attact attention on my way there – i really wasn’t ready to do this alone.  i get to the plaza and no shak in sight.  commence internal freak out.  i call shak to see where she is and about 2 seconds later i see her and phil a few hundred feet away.

shak posts up with the sign, propped up on one of the steps.  i grab the candy and the minicards.  i realize that i don’t really think any craigslist folks are gonna show so we’re going to have start soliciting people:

“FREEEE HUGS AND CHOCOLATE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”

“WORK SUCKS BUT FRIDAY’S AWESOME AND YOU SHOULD GET A FREE HUUU-UUUGGGG!”

“FREE HUGS, NO STRINGS, AND NO I’M NOT WITH A CHURCH”

“FREE HUGS AND CHOCO-LATE, FREE HUGS AND CHOCO-LATE, FREEEEE HUUUUGGGS AND CHOCOLATE!!!”

“FREE HUGS BECAUSE I LOVE YOU BEAUTIFUL PEOPLE!”

“FREE HUUU-UUUGS, FREE HUUU-UGS, FREE HUH-HUH-HUH…YOU KNOW YOU WANT A FREE HUUU-UUG.”

“HI.  DO YOU WANT A FREE HUG?  OH.  WHAT?  YOU DON’T LOVE ME?”

etcetera.  we thoroughly enjoyed ourselves making up songs, jingles, freestyle raps, and dances.  many people simply walked by – some people looked at us like the odd hippies we were, others smiled quietly to themselves, while others had smiles that eventually widened into uncontainable laughter.  there were some people who approached us from even across the street, so ready for a hug and incredulous why anyone wouldn’t want free hugs ;)  folks sitting on the steps near us mostly didn’t approach us for hugs, but observed us for lengths of time, highly amused.

like many of the acts, it was interesting to see people’s reactions and often, skepticism.  people asked us what church we were with, what we were selling, why were doing it, and what was in it for us.  especially when i handed minicards out – people’s initial reaction was that we were giving out free hugs as promotion for the blog.

as shakirah was the one holding the sign, and i was wrapped up in conversation with people explaining the project, a lot of people were approaching shakirah for hugs.  it didn’t take much for shak to give in to the good energy and become a power-hugger :D  we converted the hard-ass new yorker to some cali lovin awesomeness!!!  yee.  shakirah even introduced two solicitation tactics: eye contact and preemptively opening your arms wide for a hug.  it made it very difficult for folks to refuse us.  shak was very good at making eye contact and talking people into hugs – “weelllll, alllllriiiight,” they’d say.  i favored stalking.  at one point, i caught a couple eyeing us at the street corner and called them out.  they jokingly pretended not to be observing us as i inched over and gave them both hugs and chocolate :)  hahah, they didn’t see that one coming.  of the step people, one man sitting there since the beginning of our session finally approached me 30 minutes or so later and said he needed a hug :D.  on the same steps, a father sat with baby in lap and smiled.

we even made a couple friends.  a young man by the name of zach offered up some chocolate for us to hand out and even sent us home with some free produce.  he told us about his own pay it forward idea around sustainability and composting.  a masseuse named cy shared some sweets with shak and i.  he also offered me up a free 2-minute shoulder massage.  hahahah was a bit of an awkward sight – me soliciting folks amidst contorted massage-reaction facial expressions :D

we were a bit of spectacle, as i’m sure you can imagine.  one man put us up on his twitter feed.  some folks texted their friends to come get a free hug.  other people told their friends to meet them “where the free hugs were,” amused by their friends’ confusion in response.  we ended up taking several photos with tourists and somehow even became the subjects of a mini “photoshoot.”  hopefully we’ll see some of those pictures at some point in life?  if so, i’ll make sure to share them with all yooooz.

we hugged dogs, men in business suits, a kid, a ups lady, students, couples, disabled folks, homeless folks, hippies like us (shak’s one too now), musicians on tall acrobatic-looking bikes from seattle, an environmentalist, a masseuse, tourists and people from endless backgrounds and experiences not readily visible on the surface.  we group hugged.  a particular young man took a liking to shakirah and came back for a second hug on his way back passing us again.

we even hugged a young lady from australia whose friend founded the worldwide “free hugs” campaign in australia a year ago.  apparently it was a youtube phenomenon, which i never knew about because i live under a rock.  quite serendipitous.  check out some youtube footage:

free hugs news coverage:

free hugs campaign music video:

we were having so much fun, we ended up staying an hour past the time we had allotted.  here’s to over a 100 free hugs on a friday afternoon in the san francisco financial district.  and to lots of smiles, lovin, and goodness.

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mission:

  • write a stranger a happy note :)

again, i thought i was going to do something anonymously for my neighbor whom i don’t like (i don’t remember if i’ve actually written about him here yet) – but again, i decided not to :D  the lemon bars were going to possibly be for him, but instead i decided on bestowing the love on fellow beach bums.

i then decided to perhaps send a random stranger in the phonebook a gift.  but i couldn’t think of something basic and cheap that would fit inside a regular postage envelope.  besides movie tickets.  but i’m also trying to do non-money acts of kindness if something moves me.

so i decided to write a nice note to someone.

ideally, i was going to open up to a random page in the phonebook and find a name.  but in this digital age, i couldn’t remember if i had a phonebook or lest, where i put it (i remember where it’s buried now).  so i had to find a way to be digitally random.  i hit up whitepages.com.  there’s no real “browse” feature, only searching.  first i typed in my own last name…but then i thought that was too boring.

there was a fun feature that showed the most popular first and last names in the US and also by state.  i decided against those peeps though.

i searched people with the last name “happy” and “smile,” but decided against choosing them because me writing a happy note to them might be a little cliche and predictable.

so then i decided i wanted to send a note to someone with the last name “funk.”  after browsing a few folks, i decided that people with the last name funk might have issues with their last name and may not enjoy their note.  i mean, i was thinking “funk” more like “fonnnnk” …like, git down.  yadada?  but…then i thought, maybe they got teased in childhood for smelling like “funk” or one could be in a “funk” or something to that effect.  i concluded they may have repressed issues with their last name and might find it offensive that i sought them out with it.  in retrospect, maybe that’s why they’d need a happy card.  yes, i’m also grossly generalizing and reading waaaayyy into things, but that’s me :D

i decided that “funky” would be better.  don’t ask me why, as it probably could have the same teasable applications as “funk.”  for some reason, it just felt safer.  i don’t know…i guess i was just scared of some angry person feeling violated that i found them in an albeit, public, directory – and try to hunt me down.  ummm.  yeah.

anyway.  decided on mailing donna funky from texas.  i wrote her the following note on a pretty papyrus card and slipped a minicard in the envelope:

positivity breeds more positivity, so..

smile :)

i don’t know you and you don’t know me – i found your name randomly in the phonebook.  but i do intentionally hope that maybe this card will brighten your day.

be well.  peace, seher

i actually really like this exercise.  it’s incredibly random and awesome.  i may just do it again one day.

the end :)

day 23: gas

September 25, 2008

mission:

  • put $10 on a random gas pump

since i’ve already put $5 on an atm, i wanted to avoid taping a $10 to a gas pump.  i decided that i would approach the gas station attendant and ask him or her to treat the next customer to $10 off their gas bill (and also hand them my mini card).

i had to get gas anyway as my tank was on empty.  so after work, i roll up to the gas station…alllllll ready to go.  except i forgot my mission-critical minicards.

so i decide instead to screw it and go eat dosa with my homie scott instead.

nah.  but we really did eat dosa :D  after which i rush back home to grab my minicards and we hit up a gas station on mission street (yes, mission gets a lot of lovin from the rehes).  i jump out of the car and go inside the mini-mart to talk to dude inside:

“excuse me, do you have 2 $10’s for a $20?” i ask

he looks at me reluctantly, “ehhh…”

he doesn’t really want to give me his change.

…but, he finds some and gives me two $10 bills.

i take one of the bills and slap it right back on the counter.  pull out a minicard and slap that down right there with it:

“can you do something for me?” i ask

“…ehhhhh..” goes dude

“can you tell the next person that comes in here to pay for gas that $10 of their bill is already covered?  then give them this card?”

he seems to understand what i’m saying – he’s nodding.  i start to walk away until i notice that by the look on his face, homie is utterly confused.  i approach him again:

“so, people come in here to put money on those pumps outside right?  like, ‘can i have gas on pump 4, 5, 6?’ right?” i ask

he nods.

“so can you just tell them that $10 of it is already paid for with this money?  and then give them this little card?”

he nods, still a little confused.

“do you get what i’m saying now?  or…?”

he sorta nods.  i think he’s searching for a re-explanation or some punchline.

“um, cool!  you got it!  have a good day!” i quickly say and bust out as i see another customer approaching (a possible beneficiary :D)

i get back into my car and i arch my neck over to see if the guy inside is paying for gas or about to buy something from the mini-mart.  then say to scott:

“what if the attendant guy doesn’t get what i just said?  what if i just bought that dude in line some doritos or something?  what if…”

“this is where you leave it up to fate,” says the wise scott

“oh.  well…” say i

“such a virgo.” (insinuating that i always have to map out, understand, and control everything)

:)

alas.

(prep for) day 25: free love

September 24, 2008

mission:

  • give out free hugs and chocolate

to garner attendance, i’ve posted a craigslist ad.  feel free to tell friends to come, but i’m trying to keep the larger “love is the word” project anonymous on the craigslist ad.  i’ll hand out minicards and let folks know about it all at the actual event – just think it’s more fun/interesting to leave larger details a mystery for now.

a recount of the process/event will be up for the actual “day 25” post :)  just wanted to give you folks a heads up if you want to come!

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subject: free love

i am giving out free hugs and chocolate.

this friday, 9/26, 4-5PM
@ one post plaza near the triangular sitting steps (market and montgomery streets)

no strings. i just think the world can always benefit from some good positive energy – just because.

i’ll be the long curly haired female wearing a yellow beanie and holding a large sign lettered “FREE HUGS.”

come if you need a hug. come if you want to give a hug. come to laugh at corny people.

one note: let’s keep the hugging PG, thank you :)

peace,
seher

day 22: connection

September 24, 2008

mission:

  • stop everything for just a moment to be in that moment
  • show appreciation for those who’ve had a positive impact on you
  • support independent music by buying a cd

i actually had another act planned for yesterday.  but the fact that my nap turned into sleep last night, kept me from doing it.  since the prep and execution for that given act spans a few days, i was also struggling about which day to attribute the act to and how to blog about it.  i just came up with a solution, which i will share in a later post.

every morning on my way to work, i unplug my mini external hard drive from my home computer so i can bring it to work.  it carries my massives of music.  this morning i decided to leave my hard drive at home because i remembered i had some newly bought cd’s to listen to!

i started thinking back on my day yesterday, if i had done anything “nice.”  otherwise, i was going to have to do two acts today to make up for yesterday / bump everything up a day.  i popped in one of the cd’s i bought yesterday, and kept thinking.

eventually a track called “connection” came on.  it was the track that made me buy the cd.  i remembered how i felt when i heard it: i was walking down market street yesterday and i hear these dudes playing – it immediately shifts my mood and forces me out of whatever thoughts i was buried in.  for that moment, i am right in it.  i see folks chillin on the steps around the plaza where they’ve set up-  some are just layed up, others chit chatting with friends, and still others bobbing their heads and smiling…as if there wasn’t a care in the world.

i slowed down my pace and took it in for a few seconds, but for some reason i still kept walking.  once i was a few paces past them, i just stopped and stood where i was for a second.  i asked myself why i always have had a habit of walking on when i hear good music on the street like that.  i’ve asked myself this question a few times – to no avail.  maybe i thought that’s what i was supposed to do.  or maybe i always happen to be too busy or focused on whatever it is i got going on that i can’t stop.  really, though, seher?  every time?  nah.  this time i needed to stop…and turn around.  i walked back.  i bought both of their cd’s.  who knows if i was gonna like it all, but it felt good to support folks doing their thing.  and to effectively say “thank you” for uplifting me in that moment.

on the real, it’s moments like that that make me feel still and utterly content, simply because i am living and experiencing that moment.  it makes me feel connected to humanity and purpose on a very powerful, intangible level.

that definitely deserves a moment or two of my time, a thank you.

let me expand on the whole music thing for a second.  i have so much music that i haven’t even listened to most of it yet.  but, i can also honestly say that i wouldn’t be able to be discover so much new music if it weren’t for all the downloading/swapping with friends i did.  and to buy all that music, i can’t really afford.  and it doesn’t really make sense to me when a good bunch of it just ends up sounding “okay” to me.  still, there is a good deal of dope music that i’ve “discovered” either via downloading, friends, or hearing a track somewhere.  of late, i’ve tried to make a point to buy music now and then – particularly from artists that i already like and in other special/one-off situations.  a lot of these independent artists are selling their albums for just $10-15 bucks.  forego a lunch or dinner out one time and support, yall.

just really on a larger level, it’s important to show appreciation for people’s hard work, and even more so when that work has a positive impact on our lives.  it’s our responsibility to advance and uplift our peers/community members that are doing good things – whatever that may be.  otherwise who will?  so while i may have spoken about music in this particular instance, i really mean to also generally highlight valuing/supporting/encouraging/uplifting each other by rooting for each other, saying “thank you,” and showing love through our actions and material support when we are able.

that might seem like a given, but i don’t think it’s something we always remember to do.  we, myself included, are quick to take the good for granted.  let’s not do that.

flash mob iftaars

September 23, 2008

courtesy of zahra, thank you :)

http://muslamics.blogspot.com/2008/09/new-take-on-feeding-hungry.html

your stories.

September 23, 2008

with just over a week left in the project, i’ve begun a little thinking about next steps for this “portal” i’m trying to create.  some may remember me mentioning another project i wanted to introduce via this site.  how long it will take me to plan and formulate the model for that project – i don’t know yet.

but, with this particular project – i have an idea.  you all!!!

i would love to continue to use this space as a forum/display/community where people can read about acts of kindness experiences and ideas.  so, if you have done an act of kindness (or are planning on doing one) that you’d like to write about…send me a story!  write one on behalf of a friend if you saw/heard of them doing something nice.  if someone did something nice for you – give em props, tell us about it!  you can include names or you can be completely anonymous.  your choice.

send all submissions to: loveistheword.org@gmail.com

i will begin posting your stories after the final entry for the 30 days project :)

i really hope you consider sharing – very much looking forward to it.

peace,
seher

mission:

  • gift someone flowers to gift to their lover.  aaaaaaoowwww.

i’ve been toying with doing something with flowers for a minute, but i already gave away that i was thinking about doing the checkout clerk idea.  so, yeah.

riding the bart train home i have an epiphany (ok it was actually a really basic idea but i’m slow):  i am going to get flowers to give to a stranger!  yes!  first i think i’ll give em to a dude to change it up.  but then some lame dude might feel super emasculated and just plain not be feeling it.  and that would suck and make me annoyed :D  didn’t wanna give them to a woman (sorry fellow womenfolk – too predictable).  i decided i would give the flowers to someone to give to someone else.

i figured it was the perfect opportunity to get someone to sort of “pay it forward” – essentially setting them up for their own act.  what?!  two birds with one stone?!!!?!?!!

i’m actually a genius, fyi.

i decide i am going to approach various men and ask them if they are involved with someone.  wow, that was an easy way to put it – yesterday, though, i was experiencing major brain wrackage trying to figure out what to say.  outlined is seher’s internal dialogue:

what to say, hrrrmmmmmm…

“do you have a wife?”

nah, but then people have girlfriends.

“do you have a girlfriend or wife?”

man, but what about the in between ish? ok…

“do you have a girlfriend, wife, or crush?”

what the hell kind of question is that, seher?  what if someone has moved past the crush stage and actually not gotten rejected?  i guess that’s called dating.

“do you have a girlfriend, wife, or lover?”

mmmm.  maybe a little too forwardly worded.  uhhh, ok – please note you are being a heterosexist right now, seher.  hmmm…yet another wording challenge…

“do you have a significant other or love interest?”

that sounds so stale, generic, and boring.  bah.  but i guess that’s the point.  well, not the point.   but, generic and gender neutral.

i get off the bart at 24th mission and realize i don’t even have to go to safeway for flowers!  there is usually a lady sellin em right at the corner.  score.  and indeed, as i swoop around near the bus stop – i see my lady.  i grab a bunch of sunflowers for $5 :)

now came the fun part!  i got to catch various men off-guard with a seeming pick-up line…and then, with some super steezed out bait-and-switch action, give em flowers for their lover!!!  wooooooo.  amping up for social awkwardness in t-minus 5, 4, 3…

ok.  it wasn’t really that serious.  but, maybe in my active imagination, it was.  if i was in the right mood, i woulda milked that ish and approached several dudes.  but alas, i wussed out.  still, i didn’t want to make it too easy.  i’m at 24th and mission and i’m eyeing the fellas around me, thinking on what grounds i’ll discriminate today to pick my subject.  kindness profiling.  word life.  times is rough.

i decide against questioning folks at the bart station as i see the 49 bus pull up.  i figure i can multitask, continue home and inquire captive bus people :D  hahahah, they’ll have nowhere to run from my randomness!!

i look around and all i see is women in the front.  i see a young man maybe a bit older than me towards the middle.  not sure if he speaks english well (a lot of folks on the buses in the mission don’t, from what i know), but thought to give it a chance anyway.  i’m coming right at him and i can see him ‘what-the-effing’ inside.  one of those holding poles are right at his seat.  as the bus starts moving, i saunter over, grab the pole and swing to a halt right in front of him.  ok, maybe not exaaaactly that…but something like that.  shoot, maybe i did do that.  my memory just consistently fails me.  ju donno me!

“hey, sir.” i smile

“do you have a significant other or love interest?” i ask

it’s such a formally worded and pointed question, it is sort of even an odd way to hit on someone.  dude is taken a back, but manages to spit out a fumbled, “err, no.”

i immediately divert my attention away from him (he’s probably severely perplexed) at the smiling man two seats away from him.  probably thinking to himself something to the effect of, “ohhhh, these young single ones.  never know what they’ll do for a little lovin!”  i smile at him and ask him if he’s single / does he have anybody?  he laughs lightly and he says he does.  i ask him what the exact relation is.  he says he has a wife.  in response, i hand him a bouquet of sunflowers and tell him, “these are for you to give to your wife.”  he already saw me carrying the flowers and whispering sweet oddities to dude next to him, so i don’t think he was tooo surprised at my gesture.  nonetheless, he smiled :)

i handed him a minicard and told him i was doing 30 random acts of kindness in 30 days.  said there was a website where i recorded my experiences.  he asked me if he should go on there and leave a comment.  i told him he didn’t have to do that but could visit the site if he wanted to.  again, interesting how people assume that i am seeking something in return.  still, was nice of him to offer :)

i make my way to the front of the bus at this point.  a woman my age is grinning and darts a couple glances towards me.  i sit down.  “hey, did you just give that guy flowers?” she asks.  “yep,” i told her, handing her a minicard – “i’m doing 30 random acts of kindness in 30 days.”  she looks down, reading the card, nods her head and gives a big smile – “i love this kind of stuff!”

too shy to look around and catch the reactions of any other bystanders, i smile quietly to myself the rest of the way home.

when deciding what to title this post, i was peeping my itunes and saw the first track of the coultrain album – it’s called “swimming in the stars.”  i happen to like other tracks on the album more, but overall i love the whole ting :)  yay.

back to bidniz.

mission:

  • hand out lemon squares out to random fellow bonfire-ers at ocean beach

shak’s favorite snack (foreshadowwwiinnngg…those who need to know, know) happens to be lemon bars.  sweet snack, at least.  so i found recently.  i was planning on baking some for one of my acts, but i hadn’t decided what my application was going to be yet.  after i hearing that they were shak’s fave, i decide half would be donated to the shak sweet tummy fund and the other half for something else.

in having my interaction with ryan at the treasure island festival, i realized the value in interacting with people firsthand during my little performances.  i liked the ease and avoidance of awkwardness with anonymity, though.  anonymity allows one to build humility – performing kindness without expecting anything, including recognition, in return.  it’s a beautiful way to contribute a positive energy into the universe, if you believe in that sort of thing.  even so, someone or another will benefit from your act, and at the least, they will come away from it happy and/or affected.

still, challenging myself to interact with people serves important purposes as well. i am forced to get out of whatever funk/mood/baggage/self-involvement i am carrying in that moment and focus on pleasing someone else, bringing my responsibility of spreading positivity to a new level.  many people that anonymously found minicards, probably didn’t visit this site.  but at the least, if i interact with someone in person, i am able to share with them my intentions and ask them to “pay it forward.”  spreading that message is definitely an important part of this project, i feel.  my issue has always been, i guess, the extra effort involved in having to interact with someone and also wanting to avoid taking “credit” for my actions.  i really don’t want my subjects to think that what i’m doing is so they can give me a pat on the back and call me a good person.  my intention, i like to think, is to spread good vibes and encourage others to do the same.  smiles for free, son!  so, yeah.

i was toying with anonymously leaving lemon bars for a particular mean neighbor i don’t like – as an exercise in reverse-response therapy to maybe coax him and myself out of bad vibe-age.  wanna smack dude upside the head?  bake him a cake.  that was the idea.  maybe i’ll do something for him later.  but this time, per the reasoning in the paragraphs above, i decided to interact with fellow bonfire hippies at ocean beach.

miss erica campbell served as my minicard “elf” (i don’t think she likes that term :D) as i toted around the tray of lemon bars.

“what you think of that crew over there?” i asked e.

e: nah, they look too fratty.

s: word.

s: how about over there?  look at us tending towards the brownfolk.

e: hell yeah [or something to that effect]

we approach a group of east asian women.  “hey ya’ll, we’re just going around handing out lemon bars to folks – want some?” i offer.  they merrily accept as erica peers over to their fire – “is that an xbox?”

“yep,” says one of the girls

“we’re burning ex-boyfriend, ex-girlfriend stuff,” says another

“you’re really burning an xbox?!” i exclaim

“yep.”

“we should do that, e.”

e: YEAH.

next, we meander over to a couple on the side.  “hey, we’re giving away lemon bars!  take one!”

“ummmm,” goes dude.  “soooo, do they have stuff in em,” he asks, hopeful.

“nah, just straight.  homemade goodness.  have you ever had a lemon bar?” i ask

“nah…what is it?” dude is skeptical.

“just a sweet.  a dessert,” we explain

“here, just try it.  split one between the two of you and if you like you can take another,” i say

“alright, we’ll split one,” says the guy

and just as erica finishes handing them cards and we’re about to leave, the lady folds and says she’ll take a lemon bar as well :)  THAT’S RIGHT, SON!  hahahhaa.

we see a fire burning in a cool little contraption off in the distance and decide to head over.  we find ourselves amongst four older white men, kiiiiickin it.  they see us coming and i sense their eyebrows raising as we approach.

“hello!” we say in hopes to somehow break the obvious randomness of our visit.

“hey!” they all say [wondering…”now what?”]

“….sooo.  do you want some lemon bars?  we’re just giving them out.  homemade!” i’m trying to entice, here.

[insert somewhere erica telling them that i’m doing the project for my mom, as she’s been making sure to throw in to each group we visit :D  ‘she’s doing it for her mom, isn’t that dear?!’ hehehehe]

“ermm, so they…ummm?” starts one of the men

“oh, no, they don’t have anything in em.  no drugs.  i’m a boring 25 year old, sorry,” i tell them

“oh, you just know, back when we were your age…”

at this point i realize they wouldn’t have minded one way or another if we had laced the bars.

the men go on to share with us how the cool fire pit contraptions were donated by the founders of burningman as a push for the city to keep bonfires at ocean beach alive.  there was a point in the last year or two where they had been  banned.  “it’s a tradition,” they said.  “we’ve being doing it for twenty-something odd years.”  dope.

our new historian buddies thanked us for the bars and big upped the project as we wandered back off into the darkness.  said they’d “check out the website” :D

i think a lot of people think the acts of kindness are a ploy to plug the website or some other endeavor.  it’s interesting how much people are inclined to believe that what i’m doing must be for some explicit self-serving reason.

erica sees a tiiiiny little fire burning off in the distance.  “do you want to go there?” she asks.  “ehhhh.  alright.  let’s be ambitious!” i say.

we’re trekkin over, trekkin trekkin.  “dude, watch us sneak up on folks that are trynna be extra private,” i say.  “oh, crap…what if they’re having sex, seher?  we should turn back.” says e.  “hahahaha, that’d be hella funny.  i can write about it…come on!”  i know, i’m evil.

turns out all we find is a lone fire burning with no one in sight.  kind of eerie.  the fire was waaay out in the cuts, right by the water.  i guess we were there to put out the fire.  erica’s like smokey, preventin beach fires and ish!  aaaaaoooowww.

we decide to hit one more group.  we go for another couple not too far off from where our group is sitting.  we offer them the lemon bars but they refuse and ask what we’re doing it for.  e hands them minicards.  “aha, i knew there was a catch,” says the girl.  “nah, all the website is is a catalog of what i’ve been doing.  just spreading some goodness and hoping others will do the same.  i’m not making money or anything off the site, doing it just cause.”  i tell her.  they appear somewhat pleasantly surprised.  the girl is a photographer and testing out her new camera.  she takes a few snaps of me with a minicard.  to my memory, at the end i think they even take some lemon bars.  we bounce and tell them to have a good night.

on our way back we see another couple and decide we might as well offer them some sweets as well.  it ends up being a foreign couple.  when we offer them the lemon bars, they instinctively and immediately refuse, sending us on our way.

i comment to erica how this is the exact reason i wanted to do the project.  we are socialized to instinctively shoo off any approach by a stranger as a solicitation.  we are conditioned into expecting negative behavior from any fool as normal, but kind behavior is met with skepticism.  the world needs kindness to become normalized.  on the real.

we make it back to camp and i tease the group about how our adventures have left me with some good writing material.  phil and shak try to pry, but i slyly smile and tell them they must wait.  erica lies down and stares up at the sky, “you can see all the stars.”

“you can,” says phil.

mission:

  • hook up a stranger with a 2-day pass to the treasure island music festival

from time to time, my homie weyland hooks it up with concert tickets to various shows and events.  so first off, many thanks to weyland for always lookin out :)  and for being an amusing drunk as well :D  hahhahaha, i still won’t forget your self-induced confessional session at farmerbrown that one day (you’re probably like, which one?!)!  fun times.

i’m a planner in many respects.  don’t get me wrong, i love spontaneity, unbeknownst to many.  if i have the means to do it, i will pick up and hannle it with some randomness.  but anyway, over time i’ve come to bring my “organizing” down a few notches so to save myself some stress.  so when presented with a pair of 2-day passes for the music fest, i reached out to a few close homies, all of which couldn’t make it or weren’t too interested.  i didn’t really wrack my brain thinking of who might want to go, so sorry if you wanted to be my date =/

i also didn’t wrack my brain too hard because it had been a minute since i had been to a concert alone.  i love being in ‘solitude amongst the masses.’  i love walking slowly amidst the hoards of people rushing through the financial district during commute hours, taking in everything around me, but not with too much on it.  just being there, somewhat still.  kind of meditative for me.  it’s beautiful at a concert.  just you, the pounding pulse of an impassioned sweat-drenched sound, and everyone else.  a sensation that moves all through you, leaving a slightly lightheaded euphoria.  i, a dot in the crowd, all alone, but still somehow communed by this great sound.

i wanted to take the opportunity to share that with a complete stranger – no strings attached.  just because.  my initial plan was to to wait around for someone looking to buy a ticket at the box office and give it away to them.  to my luck, while waiting for the shuttle in the at&t park parking lot to treasure island, a young dude on a bike strolled over and generally asked if anyone in the line had an extra ticket.  no one answered.

i don’t know why, but i hesitated.  i guess i can have a tendency to want to stick with how i’ve planned something out in my head (meaning, the whole box office idea).  i immediately realized i was being silly, and here was someone who was asking for a ticket.  at this point he had turned around to bike away.  i yelled out to him, “aye!”  i waved him over.  i still don’t think he paid me much mind at that moment, “do you want a ticket?  i have one.”  that caught his attention, “how much?”

“free,” i said.

i’m not sure dude knew what to think or if he believed me.  he sort of exclaimed, ‘oh, thanks!’ or something to that effect.  he then rode off.  i figured he hadn’t taken me seriously and just left.  ah, well.  turned out he went to park his bike as i saw him walk over about 5 minutes later.  i told him i didn’t have the ticket on me and needed to get it at the venue because i was on a list.  i think that made homie a little skeptical, but he stuck with me.  i told him, “you have to be with me to get your ticket, but after that you’re on your own.  you don’t have to hang with me.”  i think i was weirding him out by the minute.  the dude in front of us in line chuckled.

we get on the bus and homeboy ends up sitting with me.  i’m texting, he’s texting, we are totally playing it modern day technologically apathetic.  awesome.  i tried to do my own thing for the most part and not freak him out by trying to bff him :D.  eventually, i decide to be casually cordial though and ask him a bit about himself.  he’s a 22 year-old pre-med student at sf state that works at a bike shop in the marina.  and apparently i’m now free to get hooked up with bikeness something or another at his shop.  rad.

he asked me at one point, “hey, i want to at least get you a beer.”  i told him i was cool.  once we got on the bus he goes, “wow, thank you.  do you want me to get you some weed, anything?”  i told him i don’t smoke or drink.  ‘who the hell is this square ass weirdo,’ i bet he’s thinking.

i asked him how much the ticket costs, he said one day cost $50.  i laughed and told him i guess he was getting a pretty sweet deal.  he emphatically agreed and told me that’s why he felt like repaying me in some way.  i told him it was all good, but ended up slipping him a minicard telling him that in fact, i was working on a project.  30 random acts of kindness in 30 days.  he should check out the website if he wanted to.  he looked mad perplexed and just plopped the card in his pocket.  haha :D

we get off the bus and head over to the box office.  as often goes with guest lists or special lists (i’d technically “won” tickets on the radio), the retrieval process can be disjointed.  and always, i even get a little apprehensive if folks will find my name on some list somewhere and let me in.  i started thinking how it would suck if i just hyped up dude only to find out that there was no ticket.  the event staffer says she’ll be right back, and we see her go back and forth a couple times.  “i guess this stuff is kinda backdoor, huh?”  says my new friend.  “yeah, it can be,” i say.  he then starts commenting about how it’d be funny if i was some weirdo girl that just made up this whole story about free tickets.  hahhahah.  “awesome,” i think to myself.  “i look like a psycho loner.”  yeeee.

it ends up working itself out and i also manage to get dude sunday’s ticket held under his name at will call.  once the saturday ticket is handed to him, and he’s filling out his name on an envelope handed to him by staff for sunday’s will call, it finally becomes a reality.  “wow.  thank you, you’re awesome,” he says.  i was just really glad it worked out in the end.  i ask him his name, “ryan,” he says.  i tell ryan he’s welcome and that in payment he should do something nice for someone else.  one of the staffer dudes at the box office tent smiles, probably not fully certain about what exactly just went on, but knowing enough.

we hand our tickets in together at the gate and he waves off again, ‘thank you! enjoy your night!’  something like that.  i have a memory of a gnat at times.

i leisurely walk through the park.  meander over to the left.  on the other side of the fence are large rocks lining an expanse of water, and a spectacular view of the sf cityscape and bay bridge, all lit up.

the massive sound.  thumping.  young folk bouncing around to it.

it was beautiful.