Whoa! I have a friend in Barcelona named Nina. She’s so cool. She’s a baker at some sort of famous bakery and she makes beautiful cakes every day. Well! Her sister Yasmin has been living in Oakland for the past few weeks, and Nina said she was a little lonely and didn’t know too many people, so I picked her up from the Berkeley Public Library in downtown Berkeley last night and we drove through the torrential rain to get to Missouri Lounge, where I told her we could smoke out back beneath the heat lamps. I got her a margarita and I drank a shot and a beer and we hung out on a picnic table beneath a tent while the rain came the hell down. She rolled me a few cigarettes and she told me she had been studying English that day since, according to her, her English isn’t very good. She’s nuts, because her English is So Good. Like my friends in Belgium, she has a way of phrasing things that a native English speaker would not think to phrase something . . . which is to say it is abstract and almost poetic sometimes. Hah! It has flavor is what I mean. It’s so good. And of course I can understand her perfectly. She wouldn’t believe me though.

Anyway: Yasmin is real cool. She has a tattoo of an owl with Nina’s name above it!! See:

Yeah!! She’s coming to my birthday party next weekend and everything. And I think maybe she’s gonna stay with me for a few days in February before she heads to New Orleans. I’m trying to find her a place there. . . . Leila!! Help!!

She has lived in Berlin for six years, and saved up a bunch of money to hang out in the US for six months to learn English and meet people. So far it has gone all right, but there were sadnesses she told me of too. She said everyone in Los Angeles was awful to her, but that people in Oakland were so inviting and helpful. And she said next time I’m in Berlin, which will be soon enough, I can stay with her and she’ll introduce me to all her friends. Whoa . . . yeah.

God dang it!! I love doing stuff like this. It is, I think, the best thing in my whole life—to hang out with people like Yasmin. I don’t know if Nina reads my website, but Nina, if you do: you got a good sister and I’ll take good care of her while she’s here. H’okay?

(P.S. I accidentally got very drunk, on account of having not eaten anything that day . . . and I went to use the restroom and found a plastic pistol that shoots mace out of it. It says something like PEPPER GUN on the side of it. I have no idea why I shoved it in my inside pocket, but I sure did do that. I found it this morning when I put my jacket on to go to work and was real confused. I guess I should probably take it back. What the hell am I going to do with a PEPPER GUN other then unintentionally shoot myself in the face with it??)