Like many of us, I am a creature of habit. At my favorite taqueria, Ramiro & Sons, I am almost always inclined to order the same style burrito. It's rice and beans (pinto, whole), slices of avocados, hot sauce, no salsa (cilantro makes my tongue tingle). Another habit: my favorite pair of jeans. I wear them even though they were purchased right after my last pregnancy and no longer fit, and even though my neighbor Hilarie insists that they're sadly out of fashion.

Most of us, to one degree or another, do what we're used to, be it jeans or burritos. We tend to like what is comfortable and routine.

You may not be surprised then to learn that — even though there's a garage full of empty spots at the new Civic Center garage at Oak and Central — I still find myself yielding to another habit: driving laps around downtown. I turn left on Park Street, left on Encinal Avenue, left on Park Avenue, looking for a place to park the car while I scramble out to buy a birthday gift at Book's Inc. or pick up the Tuesday night burritos. I've also found myself, having finally located a spot, stopping traffic while I back into it, and then rustling through the car for quarters to feed the meter.

It's not that I've got anything personal against the garage — though I know others might. I'm actually, for lack of a better term, "cool" with the garage. Maybe even excited about it.

I'm also looking forward to the opening of the theater. I can imagine date nights with my husband — we'll no longer have to endure 880 to catch a flick. And I foresee that sometime in the early '10s my children and their friends will be old enough to visit downtown and savor ice cream and a movie. There'll be no need to brave traffic, no need to pollute.

Despite the fact that my husband (and he is, of course, correct) reminds me it would be better for my health and the health of the planet if I were to walk or bike downtown, people do drive. And since commerce is part of our reality — who doesn't like a nice meal prepared by someone else? — and since our city relies on sales tax dollars, it's nice for people to have a place to lodge their vehicles when they're out and about.

So, last Wednesday, when I was heading over to do some work at the main library, I turned onto Oak Street from Santa Clara, and then, passing a group of construction workers, I turned into the Civic Center garage. There were perhaps eight or nine cars parked right there in front of me by the entrance, but I opted to turn left and drive directly to spot G112, looking toward City Hall. There were no cars in either G111 or G113. It was quiet and empty, but easy. I walked back to the kiosk, entered my spot number, inserted my credit card, and paid $1.50 for three hours of parking. And then I walked out to the street toward the library.

Easy as pie. It might just become a new habit.

FROM THE ALAMEDA JOURNAL BLOG, Life on the Island. This week I added a new category, "posts with video," to make it easier to find multimedia coverage on the blog. There's footage of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's visit to the USS Hornet on Wednesday as well as the Alameda protesters who greeted him, calling for more money for education. You also can find video of last month's high school student walk out when students from cross-town rivals, Encinal High and Alameda High, banded together in defense of their sports programs, their AP classes, their counselors — all of which have been cut from next year's school budget. The blog is here: www.ibabuzz.com/alamedajournal

Editor's Note
Eve Pearlman also writes the Alameda Journal blog. Look for more news, impressions and discussion at www.ibabuzz.com/alamedajournal