The GGA Project -- Day #81 "Old Haunts Made New"

This year, though I've moved 40 minutes away from downtown San Jose, I was more excited than probably ever for the annual Cinequest film festival to begin.  It would be a great reason to revisit the city that welcomed me to Northern California more than 10 years ago now!  While I've lived in the surrounding areas of Sunnyvale and Santa Clara for periods of time, downtown San Jose has been my home almost exclusively, and any excuse I have to get back there makes me happy.

I put a mention on Facebook in the afternoon that I was heading down to SJ in case anybody wanted to join the fun.  My friend Sowmya wanted to make it but was buried in a grad school thesis, so I went this one alone.  And I have to say: one really nice thing about going to the movies alone is that you are totally free to pick exactly what you want to see, at the time you want to see it, and sit exactly where you like.  I am not exaggerating when I say that during the time I was together with my soon-to-be-ex-husband, I did not chose a single movie that we saw together.  I could have gone to movies alone back then, but that's a whole other story entirely, for another day.

But this alone = absolute say in everything is not unique to movie-going of course.  Since separating I have enjoyed every moment to myself to spend my free time, well, freely.  Of course having a toddler means that the majority of all my decisions will factor in his needs first, and heavily, but when he's with his father (like tonight), or otherwise engaged (zzzzzzzzzzz), it's great to revisit my days of autonomy, of independence, and of simply enjoying my own company.  After graduating from college I took a whole backtracking trip to Europe alone, mostly because I knew I'd relax in ways I wouldn't if I were always halfway-bound to anyone else's itinerary ideas (especially since I'm anti-itinerary...which makes me think it would be great to find a traveling buddy who's also anti-itinerary...I think Nicole definitely qualifies...we gotta get that roadtrip underway!).

ANYway, tonight I chose to see a film from Iceland called "Mamma Gogo," about an elderly woman's fall into Alzheimer's disease and her relationship with her grown children, namely her failed filmmaker son.  It was charming and sad and juuussst emotionally compelling enough without being sentimental.  A couple of scenes, like one in which the mother's nursing home caretakers discover her in the bathroom trying to flush herself down the toilet, were incredibly moving.

***Sidenote having nothing to do with this*** When the movie opened and I first heard the language, I was reminded of my favorite Youtube video of all time, though it turns out this language is Flemish, not Icelandic.

So back to tonight...there were two movies I was trying to decide between, and the choice was ultimately made by the fact that one of them was being screened at a theater I've been longing to see the inside of for some time now.  

Today's New Activity: A Visit to The California Theater

The California Theater, on South 1st street, was apparently an old vaudeville house built in the late 1920's.  It was closed for a long time and fell victim to downtown San Jose's darker days of shuttered storefronts and pee-anywhere-you-like freewheelin'.  That's pretty much what downtown San Jose was like when I first moved there, and I think the memory of those days keeps a lot of people from even going there.  But I've watched as slowly--sometimes painfully so--the city has transformed into a respectable place to bring your friends, even your foreign friends from much more well-known places.  Every time I'm in the area I see a newly restored building or a new, bustling restaurant.  This one was restored and reopened in 2004.

And I'm sad to say that I lived, literally, around the corner from The California Theater for 2 1/2 years and I never caught a single one of the operas or symphony concerts that are the main reasons for its existence.  First time for everything, though, right?  Look at this beautiful building!

I couldn't resist taking a picture of the bathroom here as well.  I don't know that I've been in a prettier or more sparkling one

After the movie finished, I took some time to walk around the streets of the first city I've ever really called home.  I'd spent hours and hours walking for transportation up and down the streets of this city, or waiting for buses, or talking to transient people.  I'd smoked countless cloves, drank countless cups of coffee, completed countless homework assignments in or around its establishments.  I'd found and lost love and friendship among the people I met here.  All in all, the night ended up being a wonderful date-with-self outing of the kind I used to experience often and have always appreciated.

Best way to finish it?  A visit to Psycho Donuts, where a girl in a nurse's uniform serves up these hunks of insanity:

That bottom one is called the Cereal Killer.  Cute.  I'd never been to a Psycho Donuts before, but I'd been curious about checking it out after learning that my friend Laura's art was on display at their other location in Campbell.  I chose a donut called the Kooky Monster, which was a ridiculously yummy and surprisingly not-too-sweet treat.  It was a really nice finish to an all the way around pleasant evening...


  1. wow. what a beautiful gem full of history! i can't believe that theater exists just within walking distance from my home! the more i find out about cool places like these that are within walking distance, the less i feel the need to move anywhere else! me and the girls just took a lovely walk today to the post office and to get a pearl tea and lunch. i really am lucky to live here!) and we looove psycho donuts. i think we've gained a couple inches around the waist now that there's one w/in walking distance. we used to go to the campbell one all the time after visiting with raul's friend dale and his family (you'll have to come along to one of their summer bbq's. you would love dale and his wife wendy. there's another gga for ya! and yes. roadtrip! let's get something cooked up soon! :) you've inspired me to take a night out for myself, by myself, too. i used to do that every once in a while for artists dates. my favorite quickie these days is to shoot out to a book store and peruse their magazines with a sweet, cold coffee drink until they announce "we will be closing in 5 minutes. please bring your purchases to the front..."

  2. The fact that you find alone time with yourself rejuvenating and that you enjoy your own company speaks volumes about how centered you are!

    But oh, lord! What is the story behind that incredibly hilarious video you included? I almost wet myself! Was the guy being punked? PLEASE drop me a note when you get the chance!