I have a penny for your thoughts

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My favorite DJ was spinning the Police, Steely Dan, Tom Petty and a few other sublime slow jams at a bar I hadn’t officially been to in four months. Then there was a burrito, just extra carnitas, beans, rice and cheese, and a really low-hanging, tiny swollen moon on the western horizon. Eventually there was sleep.

I woke up under too many blankets. They wouldn’t stay put in one place, so I folded them and propped them up on the rolling chair in front of my desk. I drank much more water than I usually do. I was much more grateful than I usually am to live in an apartment that gets no direct sunlight after 10:30 a.m..

At the end, there was a trip to the grocery store and an extra trip around the lake just for spending an extra fifteen minutes in air-conditioned sixty-five-degree comfort, followed by a falling-through of plans and a run-through of the album I expect to spend a lot of the autumn digging.

You can quote me on this

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I appreciate reporters. I still can’t believe I am one. I never feel more like one on days like today. Everyone is watching things happen and trying to make sense of things.

Some of us are cracking jokes. Some are waving notebooks around and apologizing for brushing politicians in passing. Some of us are trying to walk the line between observation and commentary. Some of us are just trying not to open their mouths until they know the shot.

Can I be trusted? Almost always. I don’t have much room to get it wrong about a dead body or a crashed car or a fire. Independently observable and occasionally natural phenomena offer their own proof. More often than not, it’s easy enough to get out of the way of people intent on arguing with reality.

There goes the neighborhood

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The bike share station that got installed a couple of blocks away from my apartment this week is not for me.

I have a bike. I have a car too. I use the bike mostly for exercise. The car is for driving to work and back and to run errands. Most of the time it’s parked in the space below my apartment. When I work, I park it in the next block or two over since the bike share station that arrived two weeks ago took out the parking outside the newsroom.

None of this should be skin off my nose, given that the newsroom is moving a mile or so away next month from our ground-floor former bank across the street from a Sears-turned-Uber-rehab site to a third-floor building suite with a lakeside view and even scarcer streetside parking (and a bike share station steps away).

As it turns out, I can walk to the new newsroom. I’ll still have to drive there in case I’m asked to go out to cover some stories in person. But it feels weird, and I feel weird about it feeling weird. It’s just more change, steady, inexorable and most likely uncomfortable.

The bikes are here. I didn’t choose them. They spook me because they’re not meant for me, not even if the mini-billboard next to them features a more handsome and helmet-less demographic doppelgänger. Maybe there’s a market, and the people who can actually afford the newer apartment rents or latest mortgage payments will take to them. It’s not like I have a lawn I can tell it to get off, right?

Who thinks about how a post-carbon future might look until it lands on the edge of their block and says there’s an app for that?

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Ape-pocalypse now

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We could’ve gone and visited the city of a thousand planets, but I don’t think either of us has gotten over paying good money a couple of years ago to see “Lucy.” Plus, my schedule change earlier this year made a matinee easier for both of us, and we figured we’d support the Grand Lake Theater. So we went and were amused by the cousins on-screen and annoyed by our brothers off-screen who talked through trailers and couldn’t keep pace with the plot’s advances.

Fortunately, there weren’t any bad actors in front of us. Andy Serkis will pull down awards somewhere if there’s any justice, and so may Woody Harrellson. But the ones sitting a few rows behind us could’ve used a strong dose of the simian flu, or whatever variant of disease wound up playing a pivotal role in this version of the film. Burroughs said that language is a virus. He wasn’t wrong about that.

When you see me like this and when I see you like that

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I sent out a couple of e-mails before learning about an additional Crap Thing that happened overnight. Then I went out for a 19-mile bike ride up to El Cerrito and back. Rounding Lake Merritt on my way back, I ran into Ash’s RV. If the weather is good on a holiday weekend, he’s had good fortune drawing a small, friendly crowd of passers-by and regulars for potluck snacks and cans and full-throated karaoke in a setting as different from dive-bar confines as can be expected.

Before Ash’s song and post-song pound, I saw another karaoke jockey, Glenn, use a small stuffed cat to meow Celine Dion’s “It’s All Coming Back To Me Now.” If I’m going back into a certain routine after a bunch of Crap Things happened while I was away, there are far worse images and memories from which to draw a little bit of succor and suck-it-up-buttercup motivation.

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Limited vision

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Today was lots of questions about how to see things more clearly. That meant tests and questions and a lot of squinting and some waiting. Eventually, a few more things swam more easily into view, especially after the dilation wore off. The biggest thing was seeing how my optometrist’s office looks these days. There’s more room to walk around and assess styles against facial shapes.

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The purpose for today’s visit was to check for changes in the wake of a broken arm on the pair of glasses that uses my most recently updated prescription. Turns out my right eye’s power been a little over-corrected, and I could probably stand to lubricate my eyes a little more after all the allergens hanging out in the air this year. As for those frames? Well, I think I liked those best of the few pairs I tried on. I thought a matte-black pair worked better than the warm, muted red and blue options available, but I’ll see if I feel the same when I go back in a few months.

Shave and a haircut

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I forget how much more crisp and high-resolution a fresh cut can make me feel. Then I go months without one before finally making it happen.

For a good while, I’d been content to just lather up and drag a cheap razor over my scalp. But the longer I dd it, the less fun it began to feel like. The feeling that I was getting away with something led to the feeling that I was getting away from something I hadn’t necessarily needed but still missed.

Maybe it’s just as simple a thing as figuring out how often I’m willing to spring for the spruce-up, something more often than seasonal but less than weekly.

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Market forces

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I know the market‘s real, but it’s been at least a year since I got to prowl the rows and inspect the stalls. Most Tuesdays, the closest I get is the corner of Adeline Street and Martin Luther King Jr. Way.

A day like today, I can hang for a while at the corner of 63rd and King streets, lying in wait and hoping a parking space will open up. I watch pedestrians and cyclists wobble and wheel in and out, toting produce and balancing boxes.

I’ve even seen some drivers park right on red-curb edges or against the fire hydrant at the northeast corner. Not me, though. I marvel at their luck but know my luck’s only so lucky.

Giving me something that’s taboo

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First weekday off time away from the newsroom? I’ll take it, even if that means driving past and parking outside the office around the usual starting hour for the second time in as many days. Because there are good things like time with A., a visit to the bookstore, a home-cooked meal and a small furry-faced animal that seems to have grown tired of hiding out under beds or chairs for 23 hours in a day.

There is also the strange feeling of going to the grocery store again and listening to my youth in a way I never could have. A dozen Top 40 songs that were almost never on the same air or under the same format as the same time. I think I would have had to tune to three or four different radio stations to hear each one over the course of the seven- or eight-year span they saw airplay. Now they’re all amalgamated algorithmic allies, sonic kinfolk if not skin-folk, uncanny uncle and aunts wafting and wheeling around overhead while I shop, asking me (between store announcements and sale reminders) to remember when.

Three temples

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I’d never been to Thai Temple before, but a friend visiting from Louisiana said we could meet there. I got it together to find parking a block away and found her and a couple of others sitting and talking, having already eaten. There, worship might’ve been about the catching up and small talk or the small bills slipped to the woman who initially asked me for salt to season her food and eventually admitted she was homeless, or even the restraint practiced when a small white Opie-looking preteen behind a fence saw me walk past him and called out “Hey homie!”

They raise some bold little Biebers in Berkeley. At his age, I wouldn’t have dared sing out some salutation to strangers on a street. At my age, I know enough to bite my tongue and not respond with “You don’t know me like that.” With my luck, the police officer who’d rolled past a minute or two later and told a couple exiting their car to fix how they were using parking space would have seen me talk to the kid and taken umbrage.

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I got in my car and drove north along MLK and east along Cedar and north along Euclid, parking by Eunice and turning off the engine. The hills were full of cyclists and Sunday-paper readers and stroller-pushing athleisure wearers, some stopping by the nearby Rose Garden or descending into glorious Codornices Park.I walked down the main path and stood around for a while, but the couple visiting from back East were about fifteen minutes late. Still, they showed up and we talked for about half an hour after surveying the picnic tables and themed parties around us about things had been for us both and what had changed. Then I wished them well and went to Oakland.

I walked down the main path and stood around for a while, but the couple visiting from back East were about fifteen minutes late. Still, they showed up and we talked for about half an hour after surveying the picnic tables and themed parties around us about things had been for us both and what had changed. Then I wished them well and went to Oakland.

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By the waters of Lake Merritt, I stood outside a building for a while until I got invited in. There, a friend in town from the other end of the state was throwing a gathering. I didn’t know I needed to be there until I got there. I said hello to the other person there, and we all just sang and talked and tried to be creative and alive and thoughtful and present. When that ended with a pick-up in uptown and a drop-off in Alameda, I realized what meeting all those traveling friends and others had been like.