#Post2016


Ah, yes, year in review.  I didn’t have such a bad 2016, although it was disappointing.  I took a chance and tried another job, one that pays better and has cheaper insurance and sits closer to the home base (would we really call it home?) and allows me to work from home occasionally for the first time, but…like the last job it isn’t the job description I was promised.  I was promised analyst, and I’m still Band-Aid girl for the agent statistics, making up numbers to cover up boo-boos, and a different set of leadership is scratching their heads wondering why desired results can’t be obtained.

There were other disappointments, too, but they were more of learning experiences.  I would go into greater detail on these little growth spurts, but they are probably going to carry into 2017 and some days I fall off of them like their surfaces got slippery.  Rome wasn’t built overnight and I’m sure they had to stop occasionally due to rain.

I’m about halfway through my own personal Colesium, you might say, and I had to tear down another parking garage before I could start building this thing, so I’m a bit behind.

But I’m getting more efficient at the brick-laying.

*****

To revert back to the standard updates in the posts…here is what I have been doing lately (the continuous nod to Jamaica Kincaid):

Books:  I’m reading The New Yorker, New York Times, LA Times, and Washington Post, but never fast enough.  I’m also working my way through Barbarian Days:  A Surfing Life, by William Finnegan.  I’m reading this book for the same reason that people see the movie Raging Bull when they don’t like boxing; I am not a fan of surfing and probably never will be and yet this book kind of fills in the gaps like caulk.  Finnegan is one hell of a writer, and I love his stuff in The New Yorker, and occasionally he “diversifies” as he calls it in the text and you get less surfing and more of the rest of it.  It helps that I now know where most of these places are (minus Hawaii, and I’m not sure I want to take that one for a spin).  I think of Finnegan’s passion for surfing as comparable to mine of baseball; we can hold our own at a bar with our respective topics of expertise, but we will mute ourselves after a bit if a blow-hard steps in.

Sometimes humility is better, although it’s more and more seen as weakness.

Music:  For some reason I’m on a Florence + the Machine kick (blame the film Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), but other stuff beats on–Miranda Lambert (damn, Jo’s back in country stuff!), Childish Gambino’s latest album, Beyoncé on shuffling repeat.  A week or so back I was on an “Angel of the Morning” kick (covered by various artists).

Film:  I enjoyed Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children more than I thought I would (kind of wary of Mr. Burton’s films, but this one and Big Eyes were pretty good).  I’ve watched a little Debbie Reynolds and Carrie Fisher, naturally, and a movie called A Dangerous Method that seemed a bit on the clinical side for being all about sex and Freud and Jung.  I saw Fences and was fine until Viola Davis got in Denzel’s face and my struggle with 44 years of men helping themselves to me made me cry.  That was nothin’ compared to Moonlight, though, which, for a movie that has very little CGI and no storm troopers was the best piece of cinema I have ever seen in my life.  No “probably,” no “in my humble opinion;” I’m owning this one.  Moonlight was complete genius.  We’ve seen film after film of minority communities, of drug culture, of LGBTQ issues, of feminist struggle, and then a director and a playwright from the same part of Miami get together and get it right.  They just effortlessly execute it and make it look like “Duh, this is what you meant,” and the pure, bald-faced news of the story was like Viola Davis’s speech in Fences for TWO HOURS.  There’s an introvert in Chiron, an unloved in Chiron, an observer in Chiron, and there’s a part of every life in him.  Someone finally got the engine streamlined.

Social media:  I’m present less and less on all of the platforms, and spending more time sitting in coffee shops, bars, and restaurants actually talking to people.  Yesterday was magical (magestical?  I saw Hunt for the Wilder People too) in that I took a Lyft (ridesharing as a microcosm) to a newish restaurant in Carlsbad called Campfire (recommended by friends in the East Village) and sat at the bar.  I have been sitting at the bar for years; bartenders are a wonderous lot to me, and not just for the booze.  As I was munching and imbibing, two little boys climbed on the bar stools next to me and ordered shots of milk.  One boy was 4 and the other was 6; the 4-year-old was from here and quiet, and the 6-year-old was from the UK and could speak the Queen’s English and Japanese.  These are the wonders I moved west for, and some days I find them.  

I find I have more time to read and write as well, being off the snark sites more and more, and at some point it’s probably just going to be my blogs and that’s it.  So…much…judgment on social media.  I’m reminded of high school, and I hated high school.  My happiest days were college, where my best friends were classmates and professors and a former Californian who told me I didn’t know anything from university and that I should feel lucky to have any friends or lovers at all because I wasn’t beautiful and took after my father in looks so I was just going to get worse.  “Not nice, actually,” Natalie from Love Actually would say, but in those days I thought she walked in water because of where she was from, as though California birth is a stamp of worldliness in itself, so I followed her around between semesters and after graduation hoping to meet her expectations.  I started losing myself when I lost college and lost my mother in the same damn 18 months; I loved college because I was working full time teaching and going to school for literature.  

People have suggested that I go back for my Masters, and I’ve thought about it.  It is time to write, though, and I would have to follow more prescriptions in going back to do that.  I feel depleted on the social platforms and remember reading and writing as my community at university; it’s been brought to my attention that I’m being anti-social in this aspect, but…social sites have turned anti-social.  One half hates the other half because both halves want the whole, and listening occurs less and less.  I have to admit that I would be shocked if more than one friend in my circle read this open letter to the world, but I’m the listener in the crowd of them; it’s not so much that I am more and more anti-social, but it’s getting too difficult to have a conversation or connection.  I don’t consider it giving up as much as finding out if there are people out there who think I’m worthy of a conversation instead of just worshipping folks for putting up with me.

It is possible…I have to believe that.  I cannot settle for less…less I don’t want to live for.

Dear reader, may you have a blessed and wonderous 2017; you are deserving of it. 🙏🏻✨🎉

#NightStandChronicle #TwentyThree #NewShortcuts


I was going to knock this out during my visit to San Francisco for Litquake, but time got away from me there, or my passions for all kinds of things NorCal got away from me there, and what I accomplished wasn’t a blog post but getting through a really good novel in three days (“Today Will Be Different” by Maria Semple; heartily recommended by this reader), drinking and eating great food (that I can still taste past the age of 40, so age isn’t always a sentence, folks), watching baseball in bed, hatching all kinds of new plans longhand, and listening to people talk about books without apology or in clandestine tones.  Ok, maybe they don’t talk about books in clandestine tones in San Diego, but I would be hard-pressed to discuss books in San Diego unless I lived in close proximity to Warwicks (which is where I got the Semple book, btw, and at the airport location; San Diego airport knows how to define the city in its airp0rt, delightfully) or the Central branch of the San Diego Library, and I don’t live in close proximity to either of those.  There are so many wonderful second-hand bookstores in San Diego, but only one of them seems to have an optimistic proprietor; the rest of them I love more for ambiance than the dialogue I have with the cashier.  I wish San Diego was less comic and more literary, but I suppose that wish fulfilled would bring about a copy-cat culture more than distinction, and, roaming about today after a month-long banishment to Carlsbad because of rail construction, I found I missed San Diego almost as much as San Francisco.

The San Francisco trip was a little marred, too, by how continually the tech giants up there continue to polish the turd.  Some of us liked our City slightly foul, worn, or bohemian:  as Anthony Bordain would say, the hipsters are great about bringing back the dark meat in chicken salads, but the gentrification of neighborhoods might not be worth the trade-off.  Whether this was an authentic refuge or not, I sought that refuge in museums.  I thought I would find it in the Litquake panels, and, while I have to stress that I love Litquake because there’s a discussion about books, something didn’t sit right in the content.  Then I got back home and read Marlon James’s Piece on why he’s done talking about diversity, and when he got to the explanation of cities with the most issues having “festivals” where panels talk about this stuff but local governments do nothing with the panel content, I knew I had reached across to an understanding in my discomfort.  Is this going to keep me away from Litquake?  No.  Will it keep me away from San Francisco and Oakland?  Hell, no.  But he named what I couldn’t, and I have to seriously consider where my own work goes, and how women’s literature interacts with the mainstream stuff and how it interacts with the literature of other minorities and how we have to make it ALL mainstream, and make these panels, as James says, obsolete.

Enter Steinem.  What I’m reading right now, that is; while in San Francisco I bought other books besides the Semple novel; but to save on space in my urban version of Monster (a lovely Timbuk2 duffle that converts to a backpack; yes, I’m enough hipster to get the irony) from the movie/book “Wild” I packed most of the souvenirs into a UPS box on the last day and sent them home, which included all of the books but Semple’s.  (Side note:  Semple stayed behind in the hotel room on purpose with my monetary tip for housekeeping; seemed appropriate given the reason for the trip.). I figured on two things:  I have the New Yorker as a Kindle subscription on my phone and Compass Books is in SFO (more book shopping!).  So the Compass Books find was Steinem, a choice I only regret in that the guy I had to sit next to on the plane called her a loon.  Vacation’s over, Jo, I thought when he said that, and felt sad.  I took a women’s history class at university as a history minor, and I understood that she was considered a radical, but so far everything I’ve read in the memoir “My Life On the Road” is pretty mainstream these days for more of the population than when she was promoting it.  And…as I pointed out to the guy on the plane, she might be considered a loon, but…she’s a damn fine writer.  At the end of the day that’s what it boils down to for me; this book is less propaganda than lessons in how to listen; learning that she learned most of her approaches to equality from leaders like Martin Luther King, Jr. makes me wonder at why she’s still insisted to be a “loon.”

Perhaps this lack of understanding makes me a “loon,” too.🐒

*****

Since I’m a baseball freak you have to know that there would be coda on the World Series on this post.  This is probably the best World Series I’ve seen in years, and that’s saying something considering I’m a Giants’ fan.  These teams are so evenly matched that when you do mistakes in play you see humanity; I just watch these three- to four-hour games barely breathing.  Pitchers are my weakness; when the scores are within hairs of each other I find myself strangely wired and exhausted after the game, wanting more.  Pitchers Miller and Chapman are mostly responsible for this reaction, and while it feels like a cross between drunk and high I can’t complain.

Who am I rooting for?  The Cubs, a-course.  That drought is serious.  🐻⚾️ And, National League, people.  

#NightstandChronicle #TwentyTwo #AfterYou


It happens more than one would think:  writer stands in shower or sits at table with toast and Twitter and starts the potter’s wheel of a blog post in her head, all detailed and neat and maybe with little strands of sparkle in it…and then someone comes along and bumps the camera, jars the table.  C’s become G’s and hearts flip.

‘Twas me, this morning.

I got up early because I’m in charge of the diabetic cat this weekend, ministered to him, made my bed, padded out to the living room with the Writer’s Almanac and a cup of green tea, threw open the doors and windows to cool the joint before hell visits us around noon.  I curled up in my wide chair with a soft blanket that the cat likes to make love to and turned on CBS Sunday Morning, which was a tribute to Charles Osgood.  I figured on poignancy.  I figured a few tears.  Sunday Morning got me through the transition from Missouri to Cali twelve years ago, homage to Charlie.  Ads were on, pre-trumpet.  I opened my Twitter app.

The first thing that hit me in the death of Jose Fernandez is what hit many:  to question a logic the universe doesn’t possess.  Why?  Well, shit, if we could answer that question, then we could answer why the Syrian photo boy lost his brother in the shelling that he was famous for…we could answer for Orlando, Zika, this ridiculous political season.  Still, it’s hard to dislodge from asking, over and over, why Fernandez?  Why kind of sick joke is that, fates?  The man attempted to defect from Cuba twice before he finally made it in 2008, but getting here involved him saving his mother from drowning in the passage and saying goodbye to his grandmother.  (If your sinuses need clearing, Google his reunion with his grandmother when he was first signed with the Marlins.). He was expecting his first child with his girlfriend.  And, probably how most of us became aware of all of this (because how else would we know stories like this of each other, particularly of the masses of individuals struggling to get to the United States?), he was an impressive starting pitcher, with a good humor that some other starting pitchers could use (Bumgarner, I’m trying not to look at you).  There is a GIF floating around the net this morning of a pitch to Tulowitzki in which Tulowitzki hits the pitch back to Fernandez, and Fernandez fields it so quickly and neatly that Tulo asks, “Did you catch that???”  “Yes,” Fernandez says around that grin of his (only one better was Tony Gwynn’s), “Yes, I did.”  But of course, Tulowitski; why are you asking?

So that bumped the camera lens.  I shut off the TV.  I sat with all the player condolences on Twitter, the news of the cancelled game (was Fernandez supposed to start today? No matter), and then the beginnings of people using this death as a reason to talk about a life in the evils of illegals…and that’s when I turned it off.  The polarization started, I knew what was coming next, and I needed to remember that grin.  The grin, the pitching, the fielding, all of which I wouldn’t have known without the rest of his efforts.

*****

Time to remember that guy by talking about other loves and passions than baseball.  

I finished Fates & Furies last week, and I normally mourn books that are written that well.  I normally don’t read for a while afterward.  But I thought I would try something new this time, read something I knew wouldn’t live up to the amazement I felt for the Groff book, so I picked up the Moyes sequel to Me Before You, a word play of a title in After You, and it’s been the best thing.  I think this “rebound read” has been even more enjoyable than Fates & Furies BECAUSE of Fates & Furies, like a literary pairing of two great tastes that taste great together.  (Huge fan of chocolate and peanut butter.  Huge.). It’s the best thing for several reasons:

  • It’s no Fates & Furies, and if it were I would probably off myself from the intensity;
  • The book is about the experience of being changed/challenged by someone and then of them walking away, leaving you with the judgmental/unhelpful majority of folks in your life.  I’ve experienced this twice since 2011, and it’s nice to have a novel that I can sit with and sort out this stuff with in some way;
  • Moyes has the capacity to make me laugh in some pretty unorthodox ways, like most British authors.

Hence, the “fluff” piece becomes the help piece.  I don’t know what’s after After You, but it may well be Olive Kitteridge, as that’s the story currently dealing me my morning compassion during breakfast on HBO after I finished Sonic Highways.

In writing, I am hashing out a short story of a strange collection of pedestrians called “Afoot”–we’ll see what becomes of that, but I’m losing myself in writing it, which I haven’t done since university days.  Regression ain’t always bad.

Movies lately have been re-runs, comfort viewing of flicks that I know won’t assault me with vomit but will help me believe in some kind of romance again, but for new stuff I’ve rented the original Magnificent Seven and have my sights on the remake.

Music is a hodgepodge of favorites lately…with the new Springsteen memoir I am listening to him a lot, with the recent binge-viewing of HBO’s/Foo Fighters’s series Sonic Highways I found my way back into New Orleans and country music (Nashville and Austin episodes), not to mention a dabbling of Nirvana (Seattle episode).  One of my favorite podcasts, All Songs Considered, has been drifting into a lot of hip-hop lately, so I am hooked on a British dude called L.A. Salami (that’s his real name) and Frank Ocean.  I found a video of the Dixie Chicks covering Beyonce’s “Daddy Lessons” in London, and have been abusing Lemonade and Not Ready To Make Nice because of it.

My next post may very well come from San Francisco’s Litquake literary festival, so I’ll part with this:  I’m cutting my hair today.  I’m also burying the lead on revealing that in case anyone who has met me or knows me in real-time reads this (unlikely, but ya never know), but it’s taking on its own symbolism:  a cross between a Tess of the D’Urbervilles reason and a method of starting over, a promise, a helping hand gesturing through a door held open by a beautiful man with a grin all over his face and a pitching arm of steel.

After you, Jose. ⚾️✨

#CoolerHeads

The temperature here in North County plummeted to highs in the 60’s this weekend, and my sense of reason and common sense returned.  I imagine–probably falsely, but still–that amazing things would be accomplished here if the sun weren’t primed to burn a hole in us and if we didn’t have to endure like hothouse flowers.  Any climate that celebrates the spectacularly skinny and skimpy of coverings makes me skeptical, obviously.

So I walk around fat, until weekends like these, where I am the healthy one.  Not that my body image has ever determined me; I tend to go with how I feel, not how I look.

Yesterday was a lot of reading after a week glued to the television for the World Series.  Today was scribbling.  These are sedentary passions, so yesterday I left the house for about forty-five minutes to walk to a park and not a coffee shop (as you remember from previous posts, I’m trying to escape the only decent coffee shop in the tourist trade here in Southern Carlsbad:  Starbucks).  I was in a turtleneck, that wishful piece of clothing I had hoped to incorporate into my San Francisco trip.  Even bundled up the sun tried hard to make me regret it and failed miserably.  I’m one of the rare people on the face of the planet who relishes a good shiver.

*****

There’s talk back in my fair City of “dynasty,” which I don’t like.  If this World Series thing continues to happen every two years I’m going to have to switch my primary allegiance to the Oakland Athletics; the only thing holding me back from that now is the fact that I, like Crash in “Bull Durham,” think that the designated hitter should be outlawed.  Making ANY American League team my primary target of affection violates that repulsion, so…I’m torn. I started out as an American League team fan though, years ago, the first time I saw Kirby Puckett play for the Twins, so it wouldn’t be a stretch.  Still, you won’t find a Madison Bumgarner in the American League because THEIR PITCHERS AREN’T ALLOWED TO HIT AND SLING, TOO.  MadBum isn’t just a pitching phenom; in National League ballparks he’s been walked more than once because he can hit home runs.  For the non-baseball folks out there…as a pitcher, he isn’t supposed to be able to do that.

I get this question a lot, too:

“Why aren’t you a Padres’ fan?”

Rooting for the Padres is like rooting for McDonald’s fries–they may be a personal/local baseball fix, but they aren’t shooting for greatness.  The Padres’ organization conveys the feeling that, look, see, we have a franchise, like those disappointment people who have kids or pets because it’s a societal pressure.  About the happiest time for a Padres’ fan is at the end of the season when the organization knows they aren’t going to post-season, so they relax and play well.  The best Padre performance this year was the last week of September.  Oy.

Under the same token, I’m not keen on rooting for the Angels.  They, like their National League counterparts in the Dodgers, spend money as a solution.  That doesn’t seem to work out well.

I default to San Francisco because I also love the City; during the televised coverage of this year’s parade I drank in more of the images around the Civic Center than I did of my boys.  The Moneyball factor would make for a romantic happy story for Oakland, but that approach still gets laughed at for its absolutism…I find myself considering Denver or Phoenix for a little while…and then my inexplicable heart takes over and insists again on the Bay Area.  (How long will that last?  Let’s see where tech goes…) I’m just sorry to report that my boys aren’t the underdogs they were and that I loved in 2008, after Bonds made my day and made his exit.

Dynasty smacks of…Yankees.  Dynasty is too much heat.

#Postseason

Oh, she’s going to be upset now…her boys lost a NLCS game last night.

Actually, I’m fine with it.

Duly noted:

  • I’ve seen my boys win two World Series contests;
  • I’ve been to a victory parade;
  • I’m kinda rooting for Kansas City, too;
  • I just like good baseball.

Would it be great to see my boys win again?  Well, SURE.  But could I handle it if they don’t?  Most definitely.  The reason I have liked them for this long is that they defy all of the recommended statistics on performance and still manage to kick butt, which defies gravity and logic and just sits on faith like an angel on the head of a pin.

But…I’ll have to pay for it.

As Giants’ fans have gotten more and more belligerent as a collective, and as the players develop this reputation for defying the odds, and coming from a big, rich marketshare…now I know what it’s like to be a Yankees’ fan, or Cowboys’ fan.  You start to feel sorry for those people who fell in love with a team because of its game instead of because it was the popular bandwagon.

So the little sliver of me that wants my boys to win comes from the idea that I get tired of being ostracized as a Giants’ fan for our rep, and the big piece that is rooting for Kansas City is willing to trade that…even if I have to trade it early to the *cough* Cardinals.

At the end of the day I and my baseball fan fiction just want a good game.

#Continuum

I seem to be hitting this blogging thing once a month; this lack of posting isn’t intentional, but anything more often than that seems either talkative or whiny, and I want to avoid both.
This approach seems odd for someone who warns of a wordy blog, so I will try to come back more often.
I am doing a lot of reading and watching of baseball so that I can continue work on the novel…sometimes it doesn’t happen, but one can’t expect uniformity daily in creativity. I try for anything and often end up with a mess. I am often reminded that mess is very attribute of creativity, so where is the worry?
I pledge again; I’ll try to visit more often.