In time you’re gonna pay


I started the day still thinking about a couple of difficult losses.

Then I drove up to a popular scenic route in the East Bay hills where a guy got fatally shot three years ago after breaking up a fight. His mother and sister were there as police announced a reward for information leading to a suspect.

Then I drove to the office and walked past one of the more reliably happy places and moments I know: the Paramount Theatre on Broadway on one of the monthly Wednesdays that it hosts citizenship ceremonies.

Then I got to learn about a particularly difficult request, presented with the illusion of choice, strictly as a stopgap measure and under color of opportunity.

Then I went home and ate the healthy dinner my wife made and paid some bills and petted my poor sick barely-eating cat.

Then I went to an open-mic night at an Alameda bar, where I didn’t get drink because the bartender couldn’t see me despite ten minutes at the bar, with an older guy perched on a seat insisting on shaking my hand, saying “no offense” and launching into a conversation about race, his father’s war service and bigotry toward the Japanese, and his father’s Japanese-American friend.

Then I got to listen to my bandmate’s lovely set, followed by an acoustic duo, followed by two guys on electric guitars, singing to a girl, who ended their set early when one guy whipped out a ring and proposed (to the girl).

Then, after a few more acts, I got up and sang, missing the fight that broke out next to where I’d been standing.

Then I took myself home, following and then losing the detour signs meant to guide folks safely to the highway.

Some day, all in all. I could be laid off, dead, starting all over in a new country, told what to do at work (like last year) instead of asked nicely, unable to pay bills, divorced, caught up in a conflict, unable to sing or drive or write. But I’m not any of those thing, not yet and not today.

Up in the air

We deserve better than we’re getting. Better arrivals, better departures, better in-flight meals, better snack and drink menus, better this-is-your-captain-speaking banter. Better seat reservation, better check-in processes, better security-theater stage direction. Better pre-flight safety videos, better exit-row volunteering, better seat-pocket magazines. Better flight plans.

And if you still think I’m talking about the airline industry, well, you must be in airplane mode.

My neck, my back, my thighs, my bike rack


Ow ow ow ow ow.

I asked one of my editors: so long as I’m starting at 11 a.m., why don’t I bike over to the press conference outside the sheriff’s office and see how it goes? Sure, she said.

I hauled my road bike inside, inflated its tires, and headed down my avenue, around Lake Merritt and over to Lakeside Boulevard. A little over an hour later, I was feeling good about things. Some of the marchers were heading west on 14th Street to City Hall, followed by an Oakland police SUV, and I figured I could trail them slowly along 14th and make it to the office before the top of the hour.

Then my editor called and said there were boats on fire on the waterfront, off Fifth Avenue and Embarcadero. I turned around on 14th, barreling back around Lake Merritt Boulevard and onto East 12th Street. Turning right at Fifth Avenue, I went down to Embarcadero. A couple of officers were waving cars around, but I was able to go through and into the marina. Somehow the bike drew less attention than the couple of television station reporters and cameramen who barreled in around the same time. For some reason, a kindly boat owner decided to walk me out onto the dock where he could see the burned boat yards away from his own. Then I was able to pedal back from the marina and over to the newsroom, file and then slowly make it home.

I’ll be sore tomorrow, and that’ll go away. Some things will stay: the feeling of freedom, the sight of the road under my tires, the effort of balancing my satchel and a bag while dashing around.

Car me maybe


Today I decided to call trunk. When a planned meet-up fell through, I figured I would go open up my car and see what there was to organize and get rid of.

As it turns out, I found something I’d ordered online, placed in a box for safekeeping, and then forgotten about. Not as good as giving myself a gift from the past, but close! I also managed to separate several dozen books and maybe around 150 CDs, trash-bag a bunch of debris and broken glass, and figure out what’s still good out of the other stuff (water, a cigarette-lighter-powered pump, some tea and add-water “iron rations”).

While I took some cleaning solution to my dash and cupholders, I looked around for newspaper for my windshield, thought about room for a few other slightly worse-for-wear pieces of equipment, and listened to They Might Be Giants’ “Flood.” As long as months begin, opportunity to help them begin well should be met with sincere effort.