Still alive, sill sleepless….

It’s been awhile (many months).  I know why too.  Social media.  No one really wants to read blogs unless I’m giving you great cooking recipes or crafting ideas or software engineering thoughts and patterns.  So I revert and others revert to interacting on Facebook and so forth.  And let’s face it, my blog has no real purpose.  It never had one. And that used to be just fine with everyone.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping lately.  I mean nothing works and I’m up until 5am reading or staring at walls.  I know why too.  My dog.  He’s old and the truth is, he’s not well.  I will have to put him down soon and even writing that out, feels awful.  I have a month to figure it out.  But he’s limping more, despite his meds.

Been getting published also.  I guess I should update that here.  Since this is my ongoing blog diary no one reads, but I’m always thankful I’ve held onto it and occasionally update.

Thanksgiving

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Plus, the one I published a few years ago:

Night At the UFO Ranch

 

Came full circle from a small spiral that grew outwards, ever widening

Right.  I’m back.  So much shit has happened since I had returned from Europe and was patiently waiting for my dream job to spin up.  Short answer, it never materialized.  Several former teammates from Big Company had been promised positions there and then suddenly never heard anything again from the former executive who was supposed to get it all going.  Whether it was truly part of a reorg, or lack of vision execution, I suppose I will never know.

Such is life in Silicon Valley.  So yeah, once I realized there was no job, I flew into overdrive on the job hunt.  A month later I was staring three offers in the face and I chose the exact wrong match for myself.  What I ended up choosing, if I may be honest, was something akin to a cult.  Mornings were orderly and on time and “breakfast” consisted of kale salads.  Then I was to lead my team in a standup meeting followed by this inane synchronized clapping.  Monday mornings were worse.  We had to listen to the founders talk about something or another and then cheer for the company.

It felt like Walmart.  On the first day, I could tell this was a disaster for me.  It took four months to get out, and in that time, I was ill twice (my body physically rejecting this environment).  Pair programming was enforced daily and there was collective calling out of those who seemed to not be participating.  All my joys of engineering were just gone.  I was left with a profound feeling of depression about it.  So I walked.

Sanest move I’ve ever done.

Now I’m two days into a position with a new company.  I can already tell it’s a much better fit.  I feel like I’m allowed to be myself, have autonomy and make decisions that will be respected.  My sense of self worth came flooding back.  And they play poker.  Bonus.

So I’m going to start writing again.  In fact last week, I sent part of my manuscript off (did I mention I FINISHED my first book???) and am working on publishing other poems in advance of sending the complete manuscript to publishers.  This is happening people!

I see the next year as being busy, both with work at the day job and with writing.  Also, trying to work on myself more.  More exercise and all that.  And continuous writing.  Hopefully more traveling soon, but it’s hard with the dog.  He is old and cannot be left alone and cannot travel.  He’s been a faithful companion so I make him feel comfortable and we take one day at a time.

I was looking back over the last year.  By this time last year, my boss at Big Company had walked out the door and I was defending our lab with no backup or direction.  I’m still proud of all my actions.   I miss working with those people, but change is life.  I feel like I went in circles for awhile, spirals that kept widening though.  New ground being traced on each rotation.  Learning from each time….  I got a lot of strength from all of it.

Today, while walking on the street near my new company, a homeless guy started screaming something and we kept walking and talking, ignoring it.  He then reached out and grabbed my backpack.  I turned around and yelled at him.  He backed off.  I feel like that describes my whole year.  Defending myself and my sanity as best as I could.  But it’s not been without a lot of good also.  Time keeps slipping away.  The real challenge is, how much there is left to do.  It all feels so damn fleeting.

And now for something completely different….

Looks like I went from prolifically writing to zero in just a few months.  Long story short…when I went travelling, my old boss from Big Company had promised me a very cool role in helping him and two other executives we used to work with in setting up a new lab, and subsequently, labs around the world.  It was to be the Dream Job.  And in the end, one of the executives had put too many proverbial eggs in one basket as far as his contacts went and the contact disappeared, the company failed to gain traction and I had to hit the streets looking for a job.

So I’m now at a startup and life has returned to, well, working for a living.  After having been part of such an amazing experience at my last place of employment, it’s a hell of a gear shift.  I used to love what I did so much, I hated the weekends.  They interfered with my work.  Now, the weekends crawl towards me on hands and knees and I try to make it to them.  In other words, this new gig will take some getting used to.  It’s very different. That’s all I can say.  I need to come back to my writing again, at least as a way to maintain my sanity and humor.  Hopefully, someday I’ll get the magic call up again.  For now, I need to make this work.  We’ll see…  At least I’m getting some production level experience in automation.  And the people are just great…very smart.  It’s the process they use and adhere to that is particularly soul sucking.

I think David Foster Wallace would love this company.  Somehow, in being a super streamlined, agile startup, chock full of young smart people who very seem to me like they were the popular and smartest kids in high school, well they seem to have taken what was once considered counterculture and they’ve made it mainstream.  Hard to explain, but it’s given me the fodder I need for a new story…one that will join the compendium of my Silicon Valley narratives.

“If you worship money and things — if they are where you tap real meaning in life — then you will never have enough. Never feel you have enough. It’s the truth. Worship your own body and beauty and sexual allure and you will always feel ugly, and when time and age start showing, you will die a million deaths before they finally plant you. On one level, we all know this stuff already — it’s been codified as myths, proverbs, clichés, bromides, epigrams, parables: the skeleton of every great story. The trick is keeping the truth up-front in daily consciousness. Worship power — you will feel weak and afraid, and you will need ever more power over others to keep the fear at bay. Worship your intellect, being seen as smart — you will end up feeling stupid, a fraud, always on the verge of being found out. And so on.”
― David Foster Wallace, This Is Water: Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life

 

First sighting of Scotland…

Things are fine with the new job.  More or less.  I haven’t started yet, so I’m getting restless.  What will I do with the time?  I don’t know, maybe write, read and keep setting up the home library?  While I was gone, I had someone set up some bookshelves while he was housesitting for me.  I’m already in need of a fourth bookshelf though, thanks to my going to Portland and buying too many books at Powell’s.

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I do have a hard time writing without the balance of work during the day.  I feel like there are remnants of my younger self that will start allowing myself to stay up until the sun rises and then to sleep when it sets.  I feel that I have a tendency to fall apart a little bit without the organizing and monetary security of work.

Anyway, apparently my job has put the start date on hold as one of our clients went through a reorg.  So hopefully, this doesn’t screw up things on a grander scale.  What it continues to mean is time off for me.  I’m really wishing I’d stayed in Europe longer.  But I just didn’t know how long I had.

I was reflecting on Glasgow today.  When I was flying in from London, I was feeling remarkably run down and on the verge of illness.  I managed to sleep on the plane for a brief while, but towards the last bit of it, the Scottish flight attendants came cheerfully down the aisle collecting donations for something charitable.  We don’t have this in flights in the states, so I was rather surprised.  They were rattling off what we could donate to in their beautiful and friendly Glasgow accents, smiles on their faces.

It was really quite a casual flight.  Everything felt laid back.  No one came sternly by to bark at me about my seat being reclined.  I went ahead and adjusted it before we landed, but the mood was strangely jovial.  And off the tip of the wing, I caught my first glimpse of the very Southern end of Glasgow suburbs.  I took a photo to mark the first time I saw Scotland, which has been something I’ve wanted to do very badly for about 25 years.

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Nothing spectacular from the air, but it was meaningful, even if I did feel like I was ready for two days of sleep instead.  It was not dramatic or fraught with color and passion as perhaps Durrell would describe something, but Durrell fled the British Isles for The Middle East during a romantic time to do so.  When travel to places was more hard won, and because of that, the contrast between a mysterious landscape like Alexandria and London was probably a sublime vision to behold for the first time.  He sexualized what he saw too. As if passion for another and passion for a city was inseparable.  Which is how I often feel. Even about my first glimpse of Glasgow.

When I emerged from the plane I made my way through the tiny airport.  I had already called from London for a cab to fetch me.  Much to my embarrassment, I had to ask a few times for them to repeat their questions to me, but it worked out.

The cab wasn’t hard to find.  Only two people were waiting in the area to be picked up.  A Pakistani fellow with a thick Glaswegian brogue was my driver.  And soon he had me to the address I was to meet my friends, in G42 (I suppose this is a postal code of sorts, never really found out) and in a half hour, we had dragged a round table into the emerging sunshine (already I’m getting a completely strange first impression that Glasgow’s foul weather is just exaggerated) in the midst of a beautiful front garden and were immersed in catching up and sipping wine.  The fatigue on my end, starting to temporarily fade.

The first night was really a swirl of input for me.  After convening at the flat for a bit, we were off across the Queen’s Park with S. leading the way for a proper night out, which by the way, somehow involved us landing at a posh bagel shop.  But one that sold whiskey.  S. had chosen it because music was playing at an attached theater, but we were too focused on catching up and, in my case, in meeting new people….namely G.M. and S.G..  Here we all are, including myself, now slightly tipsy and still wondering if I were becoming sick:

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The evening rounded out at a proper Scottish pub where the denizens were drunkenly singing, then after we finalized it at the flat we were staying at by telling stories, drinking a bit more and getting acquainted or reacquainted.  The feeling I had was that this was a very friendly and warm city.  One that was welcoming.  I was already wishing I had just pulled the trigger on a proper two week trip.  When I feel asleep that night, it was deep and fairly dreamless, the jet lag having started to play havoc with my throat and my head.   I was determined not to let it win.

Because we do travel and move and change color…..

From Lawrence Durrell’s “Bitter Lemons”…opening paragraph:

Journeys, like artists, are born and not made.  A thousand differing circumstances contribute to them, few of them willed or determined by the will — whatever we may think. They flower spontaneously out of the demands of our natures — and the best of them lead us not only outwards in space, but inwards as well. Travel can be one of the most rewarding forms of introspection…

Those thoughts belong to Venice at dawn, seen from the deck of the ship which is to carry me down through the islands Cyprus; a Venice wobbling in a thousand fresh-water reflections, cool as a jelly.  It was as if some great master, stricken by dementia, had burst his whole color-box against the sky to deafen the inner eye of the world.  Cloud and water mixed into each other, dripping with color, merging, overlapping, liquefying, with steeples and balconies and roofs  floating in space, like the fragments of some stained-glass window seen through a dozen veils of rice-paper.  Fragments of history touched with the colors of wine, tar, ochre, blood, fire-opal and ripening grain.  The whole at the same time  being rinsed softly back at the edges into a dawn sky as softly as circumspectly blue as a pigeon’s egg.

Shifting landscapes…

I was so tired from all the traveling I’ve been doing, that I slept 11 hours after I fell asleep last night.  The dreams I had were all about change and shifting landscapes.  A blend of my traveling, my flirting psychically with uprootedness again, being away from home and anxiety about starting the new job.  And the fear that goes with change. I had a meeting with my potential new company before I left for Oregon, and they seemed unfazed by my salary (it was an appropriate salary for the job I’m taking though) and we shook hands. Then I went to Portland.

Portland was great.  I spent too much money on a nice hotel room, because, I’ve never really had money in my life before.  Staying in a nice hotel room was, well, relaxing.  I liked it.  The previous years I worked as a software engineer, I was also surviving recessions and/or moving a lot.  My birth mother, who is ill and in the hospital, told me on the phone today, but you always take vacations.  And I corrected her that moving to flee recessions with only $700 to your name is not a vacation.  I can tell she didn’t believe me.

Anyway, Portland, if you’ve never been, almost seems too good to be true.  Especially in the summer when it’s beautiful out and you can see Mt. Hood on the horizon.  It’s a small, beautiful Northwestern city.  I lived in Seattle for four long years.  But that city is just not as friendly or educated, in some ways, as Portland.  In Seattle, I often found not only the people and the weather somewhat chilly, but there were these strange neighborhoods interspersed with pockets of weird poverty, prostitution, drug trafficking, dingy casinos, and the always dirty and grimy Aurora Ave.  In Seattle, I met a lot of people who were content to stay home all the time, smoke pot, play video games and work weird jobs. They were content to barely get by.  Then other pockets would be software engineers, random people who just worked clerical jobs in local companies and smallish companies, like one or two that I worked for.  In short, Seattle always felt all over the map to me. And it required lots of driving.  Although, I have an undying love for West Seattle.  That place with beautiful, friendly and easy to walk or take buses to anywhere.

Portland, I probably love, because of my time in college.  And my college friends, for the most part, all moved there too.  The houses are these gorgeous Craftsman style homes.  And the city has a reputation for being weird, because it IS weird.  Weird in a way that’s fun, if you’re observant, and it never seems to stop.  My last night in Portland, I was stuck there because all my flights got cancelled, so I stayed at another nice hotel.  Across the street was this strange band with a guy who looked like a hippie clown, a woman on a synthesizer, a whole band basically, and this weird 65 year old “dude” on stage singing Elvis Presley.  The band was weird, the vibe was weird.  And I kind of enjoy weird.

Now I’m back and semi-worried as I haven’t heard from my new company since I returned.  Last message I had from them was that they were looking over the severance agreement from Big Company and it all looked good so far.  But I just returned yesterday, so I’m not going to worry about it too much.

I actually gave it a lot of thought after I woke up and felt my stomach registering anxiety.  This is most certainly a dream job.  But anything can happen.  They might have changed their minds, maybe all their contracts fell through, maybe they’re just busy.  I don’t know.  Living with uncertainty is a life skill that comes with more experience in the world.  Negative capability.  One has to have the ability to be ok with things when things are not known.  It’s hard sometimes.  I can only think that if they truly had wanted to pass on me, I would have known by now.

Last night, I had a dream I was on an earth made of shifting lands.  The  ground kept moving and rupturing below my feet.  I was walking along a river and looking over at the other side.  The other side was stable.  This was a knowledge I carried deep inside that if things got too unstable where I was, if the land threatened to swallow me, I always had the ability to swim to the other side and start anew.

 

 

Yah not from around heh, are ya?

Trying not to dwell on the negative today. The whole fiasco in Arkansas was eye opening for me, to say the least.  But mostly, I hope my sister is ok down there.  She’s a genuinely good person and it’s upsetting to know that my being myself (assertive, outspoken, impatient with incompetence) affected her.

Other than that, it’s great to be home.  I have this flat I got over two years ago from Charlotte, who passed away five months after I returned home and this was a real gift.  It feels more like home than any other place I’ve ever lived.  My books are finally home with me too!!!  All several hundred of them.  I put three large bookcases in my room, but I’ll need more.

And it was a relief to get them out of storage finally.  The woman in the storage office was really the icing on the cake for my Massachusetts experience.  Completely unhelpful, surly, didn’t lift a finger the entire day, and when I wanted to print my shipping label there, she said she’d do it only if I gave her my email password.  Which I couldn’t do.  I spent the whole day trying my best to be as nice as possible.  Paid her compliments, smiled, all that. None of it had any effect.  When the shipping company showed up and asked for the label, I explained the situation.  The driver, himself a crusty New Englander laughed.  And said, “fucking typical, eh?  Yer lucky yer gettin’ outta here!”  It all worked out in the end though.  Here, this is what closure looks like.

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So yeah, the whole trip to Massachusetts was really a strange trip for me.  Like a real glimpse into my stab at small town life for three years.  New Englanders are an odd bunch. I met some great ones, to be sure, but mostly in the Boston area.  But rural Massachusetts, like Arkansas, can be insular, close minded, and judgemental. Maybe that’s why Arkansas was causing me so much anxiety, because I knew I was going into a region where people were most likely that way.  And when I’m in places like that, I have a visceral response to it.  Places that don’t like outsiders and where the people go the distance to make them feel unwelcome don’t resonate with me.

I was often lectured by people in Florence, MA for reading books in bars.  To give you context, this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere had cheap rent (I was on a teaching salary) and along with the low rent went very little in the way of things to do there.  There were two bars, the VFW Club and the Silk City Tap Room.  One cafe.  One Friendly’s (a chain restaurant) and a pizza parlor.  The cafe closed at 6pm.

So when snow storm after snow storm locked everyone in during the winter, I had to get out of my small apartment.  Often I went to one of the bars, since there was literally no other place to go to.  And driving was treacherous, so that wasn’t an option either.  And often I would get some drunk townie leering at me, “What the fuck are you reading a book in a bar (remember not to pronounce the R for an authentic NE accent here) for?  You think you’re better than us? Yah not from around heh, are ya?”  Most of these guys were unemployed, on parole for something, addicted to percocet and liked to get on moral high horses about this or that concerning how tax money was spent.  Your basic knuckle heads.  Charming.

But I did get a lot of poetry written there.  Studying with Famous Poet was life changing and being immersed in the world of writers also had its merits.  So in the end, no regrets.

In stark contrast, Boston is at least more civilized.  Though I got randomly pulled over by a State Trooper in Worchester (Wooster is the pronunciation) and lectured for going the legal speed limit in the left lane and not leaving the left lane.  And then he told “everyone knows this law in NE”.  I didn’t and showed him my Wash. State Driver’s license.  This had no effect on him.  He was one angry trooper and I really had done nothing wrong.  as confirmed by my friends in Boston when I finally arrived at their home.

In short, I was just happy to make it back to NYC so I could get ready for my trip to London.  NY is like this oasis of civilization and when I lived in Western Mass.  I spent lots of money I didn’t really have escaping on the weekends to NY just to save my sanity.

My impact on the Bible Belt…

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So I was in Arkansas.  To visit my critically ill birth mother (this is the one who gave me up for adoption).  I flew back on the way from NYC after being abroad in the UK.  So my birth mother is not really with it right now and I offered to help my sister through the process of getting a legal guardianship for her.  My sister, also from California, is easily intimidated by such things and standing up to people and all that.  My birth mother has told her, in fact, she needs to be just a little bit meaner in life to get by.  But it’s not my sister’s way.

So there’s also a CLEAR case of medical negligence here.  They screwed up a surgery two months ago on my mother and never went in to repair it until they heard we were flying out.  Suddenly, she was operated on again.

So I took my sister to an attorney who agreed we probably have a case, but need the medical records.  And suddenly, the hospital said they couldn’t give them to us without Power of Attorney or Guardianship. They knew we were going to pursue this and suddenly every roadblock was being thrown up.

So our lawyer wrote up some papers for the process and while he was doing it, we went to the ______ Court House to ask about the process.  We went from room to room (Circuit Clerk, Probate Office, etc) and asked questions about who to file what with and were met by the most incompetent of answers, or often none at all.  There were no forms (go to an Office Depot and use a computer to download a form there they said).  I said, but don’t the tax dollars pay for the forms to be available here?  Blank stares.

The final stop was the probate office with these three old biddies all done up like McCarthy is still the shit in 1958.  Beehive hairdos, the whole works.  We asked them questions and they gave us answers like “we don’t know how to do a guardianship” or “you can’t file that here”.  This was counter to what our attorney had said.  I showed them a text from our attorney.  One of them read it and then looked at her screen like she was looking something up.  A few minutes went by.  We waited.  Then she looked at us like, why are you still standing there? I said, “I thought you were looking something up”.  She shook her head almost imperceptibly.  The others stared at us.

According to my sister, I lowered my head to look at my paperwork and this is where I swore under my breath…”fucking christ”.  My sister said, when we left, “that’s gonna come back on you…these people take that whole swearing thing seriously…especially with the Lord’s name in vain.”  I didn’t believe her.  I waved it off.  I mean, c’mon!

Later we came back with the correct paperwork, got it stamped and raced across town to the judge’s office to have it stamped.  He wouldn’t stamp it and immediately requested a hearing.

Our attorney said, “well that’s strange”.

I left yesterday and my sister went in to the court this morning. Only to be given a lecture about coming here from California and expecting things to work the same way and that this is Arkansas and they do things different around here.  Guardianship denied!  He also said the paperwork “wasn’t done right”.  Even though our attorney is pretty experienced and worked all afternoon on those papers.

The guardianship was DENIED!  WHAT THE HELL?

Anyway, my sister is livid at me.  And here I don’t even remember swearing.  In my recollection, I was exercising a LOT of patience and bending over backwards to be nice.   And my sister did admit that we weren’t really that bad.  Worn down and impatient in the end, but given the many things we were dealing with, it was understandable.

What this judge did feels illegal.  Waiting for our attorney to come back from a business trip.

A nation of nations….

I’m in NYC. Specifically, I’m sitting in the air-conditioned glass cafe of the Brooklyn Museum of Art. It’s hot outside.

New York. A place of heat. Extremes. After a few days here, one at once sees color and stops seeing color. And I’m not just talking about the people. Sensory overloads, shifting of light, the sounds coming on hard and load when you first hit the street.  As  was leavng Sean’s, a black church across the street had its doors open to the heat outside, a preacher going full tilt and broadcasting the sermon all down the block, the congregation passionately responding with cheers and singing.  I let those sounds recede behind me as I headed for Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Museum.  The heat was searing and soon I was covered in a thin film of sweat  But the walking was easy and good, so I feel into a nice stride, perfect for thinking while strolling.  Just right to let NY wash over me, stream past.

I stayed in Crown Heights with Sean last night. After a wild Coney Island night. We rode the Cyclone, catapulted ourselves on the slingshot and joined the teens on the Thunderbolt. The warm night air cooled just slightly by a breeze. The cacophony of experience. Families and drunks rolling along the boardwalk, nothing was sacred, yet all of it sacred. The Margarita Island gave us cheap drinks, loud rap and a seat in the middle of Luna Park. A guy wearing a giant snake named Rah stopped to talk to me for a few minutes. The snake impassively moving its head around to the ringing of bells and explosion of lights.

Later we ate at a Russian MC biker bar nearby. Filled with Russian bikers wearing their colors. After which we went to a Russian/Italian karaoke bar next door called the Foxy Lounge. There was a roped off area where the karaoke singers lounged. One after another they sang songs in Russian, the Cyrillic hieroglyphed on a huge screen that occupied the whole wall.

In London, you also have a city of international mixing. Accents and languages don’t stand out, because like NY you have a place of people from other places. But there’s a difference between the two. Well, many differences.

London has always been the Empire. The heart of darkness, the seat, the throne, the kingdom. NY is a “teeming nation of nations” (Whitman). The place was made by the people dragging their souls in with them from the far corners of the world…almost as soon as it was begun in its tug of wars between the Dutch and the English, before America threw off London and became a nation.

London seemed to hold to an identity of politeness, this is true. But there was no soul where I went. Things were quite posh, high end, and the expectation might have been that if you’re looking for something other than that, try elsewhere. Though seeing Aidan made the entire London experience worthwhile. Met me in a pub in Soho. And it had truly been fifteen years since we last saw each other. He was part of my life in the late nineties. The Cockney Wanker, we used to call him. Talks with a pronounced Cockney accent and all forms of London politeness fly out the window with this one. “Pick up yer fuckin’ bags mate!” he yelled at a tourist who was sitting nearby. Aidan ducked his tall frame under a divider in the bar and gave me a huge hug.

He does walking tours. He used to do them in SF. Walking tours of the blight of the Tenderloin, the passed out drunks, the heroin junkies lolling in the doorways. I think he made some good money doing that too. Ah, the Trainspotting days.

Aidan used to work the door at the Edinburgh Castle in SF. Where we all drank, wrote, or acted. It was an artist ex-pat bar. You won’t find the likes of it anywhere in SF anymore. Those heady days of just making things happen, it was magic. Seeing Aidan reminded me of all of that. The madcap adventures. Irvin Welsh and James Kelman coming out for readings in our bar. It was cool.

I’m glad I made it to London though. It made it easier to experience Glasgow, which in sharp contrast was friendly and direct. With an easy gallows humor and a great heart and spirit. I’ll write more about Glasgow later.

The World Is My Home…

I am here, in New York City now.  My last update inadequately described what was really going on.  I was indeed laid off, by my own design (showed up late for work, sometimes not at all and made my dislike of the new boss readily apparent…so it was easy).  My old boss approached me about joining him and two other former executives to do our own company.  One that’s run the way we like, that emphasizes the creative and does good things, really good things, for people and for banks.  So I start my new job with better pay, an much better circumstances mid June.

So there’s that.  The gist of it is, I walked away with a nice severance amount from Big Company.  This then led to the logical next step.  Last minute travel.

More to come, but I made it out to NYC, then to Massachusetts to pack up my storage container (this finally happened after having nightmares for seven years about my precious first edition books ending up on an episode of Storage Wars where they were auctioned off to strangers on reality TV).

Then I visited various friends there…and it was a real mixed bag, let me tell you.  Hearing about the terrible addiction issues one person I studied with (the one who insisted I move with her to Seattle where she became a stripper and I had to move out of the house one day while she was gone because I could not live with her for one more day), another person who had become a shut in and was slowly committing suicide by not managing health issues.  Anyway, there was some of that.  I am terribly glad I got myself out of Massachusetts.  It was good to see my friends in Boston though.

Then back to NYC and off to London.  This was such a last minute trip, that it was terribly planned on my part.  But I went anyway.  Two days in London then four in Glasgow.  To see friends.  Because maintaining friendships as one gets older is vital.  As is doing it in Scotland.

I will recount specifics and details in another post.  I am writing down my impressions here in NY.  But when I caught the cab from JFK after returning, I just slumped in the backseat and felt every cell of my being vibrating on this level that seemed relaxed, in tune, and I felt very much in the world.  You know?  Connected.  So yes, it was a trip that through a haze of exhaustion, semi-sickness from a small cold and overloaded on sensory input and surrounded by old friends, it was one of those trips that took me to a new place internally.

That is what I sought.

Now I’m off to wander NY.  Let the grand chaos of life sweep me up.  Later, Coney Island…that fantastical wonderland of human freakshow, Brooklyn landscapes of boardwalk, chess players, roller skaters, handball courts, basketball courts, and folks lining up for the Cyclone coaster.  The ultimate symbol of Brooklyn’s toughness and fortitude.  We will prowl Ruby’s bar for the people watching (Tom Waits playing on the jukebox and an old Jewish couple from the Ukraine waltzing to it in the corner on a hot summer night).  We will seek psychobilly music at the clown bar further down the promenade.  We will toast one another, love being in this grand experiment and embrace it all.

The world is my home.

 

The Loop

Well, I’m leaving my corporate job.  I’m happy about it.  Once my boss left, it just wasn’t that fun anymore.  Then they finally got around to laying me off (it took them months to figure out how). I’m fairly confident I’ll find something soon.  Getting lots of interview requests.  Studying my systems architecture.  Glad to not be working for the complete tool they had assigned me as my new manager.  No imagination.  No capability of original thought.  Lots of anger issues.  Life is too short to have to toil under that kind of vision. There may be a new opportunity to work for my boss again, but I’m not going to fully count on it until it happens.

Meanwhile, I can travel for a month if I want.  And I do want.  I have things to take care of first here in SF.  But I also need to go to Boston and get my life out of a storage shed in Western Massachusetts, then visit friends in NYC.  I’d like to try for a week in London or Paris if possible.  But my birth mother is sick in Arkansas.  Part of me thinks I should go there too.  I don’t know what I could do.  She is recovering from surgery.  She has her church group taking care of her.  I’ve been wringing my hands on this.

For today, it should just be good enough to clean my flat and find a tax accountant. That’s what needs taking care of.  I may not travel at all.  I fluctuate between living and the drain of responsible activity.

But I’m back in the loop again.  The loop of jettisoning the tired & old, and onto the generative creative.

In Another Room I Am Drinking Eggs From A Boot

by Frank Stanford

What if the moon was essence of quinine
And high heels were a time of day
When certain birds bled
The chauffeur is telling the cook
The antler would pry into ice floes
Swim with a lamp
And we’d be shivering in a ditch
Biting through a black wing
There would be boats
There would be a dream country
The great quiet humming of the soul at night
The only sound is a shovel
Clearing a place for a mailbox

 

Still here…still here

It’s been a crazy month.  Feels like three months dumped into one, compressed, fractured apart, reassembled and then hidden from me.  Then I find it again and the compression and fracturing begin again.

Well, I was the recipient of very good news yesterday.  I’m happy.  But, I’m not able to expand on the news and I must wait for things to be solidified.  In the meantime, I’m not finding the time I need for reading and for writing.  This needs to change.

Russell Edson: “The Taxi”

     One night in the dark I phone for a taxi. Immediately a taxi crashes through the wall; never mind that my room is on the third floor, or that the yellow driver is really a cluster of canaries arranged in the shape of a driver, who flutters apart, streaming from the windows of the taxi in yellow fountains…
Realizing that I am in the midst of something splendid I reach for the phone and cancel the taxi: All the canaries flow back into the taxi and assemble themselves into a cluster shaped like a man. The taxi backs through the wall, and the wall repairs…
But I cannot stop what is happening, I am already reaching for the phone to call a taxi, which is already beginning to crash through the wall with its yellow driver already beginning to flutter apart…

Other Worlds…

It’s a bright Sunday afternoon and I really should be walking around outside, relaxing with a hike at Pt. Reyes or at the beach.  Something, right?  But work stuff has taken an ugly turn.

So this weekend I’m back to studying pentesting, Linux stuff, some metasploit and getting more familiar with the Kali Linux distro.  Don’t worry if that all sounds pretty foreign.  It’s just computer stuff.  I’m a generalist and study various things all the time.  Next up after this?  Some Python stuff.  Some network engineering studies and how to engineer with OpenStack. More Bash and shell scripting.  Docker.  All that.

I’m also reading a book by Paul Davies called “Other Worlds” on quantum physics (it’s a pretty good read and seems to be aimed at folks like me who need the basics explained).

In short, I’m doing my best to thwart my anxieties and keep them compartmentalized. At the end of the day, I have a lot of good character I’ve fostered over the years.  I treat people well and I expect the same back.  It doesn’t always happen.  It’s part of the world and life.

What else?  No, I’m not writing.  I can’t write well when anxious.  I’m keeping myself calm.  And talking with J. in Oregon who is going through his own travails with his job.  Actually, what he’s been going through makes my situation pale in comparison.  Just lots of unfortunate things.  But it’s not all bad.  Last night I went to a dinner party with some musician friends of mine.  Ate great food and listened to the after dinner music making while a huge, orange moon rose over the San Francisco hills.  These are the moments we are really here for.  The other worlds around us when they show their beauty is what I’m holding onto.

An Ending

Philip Levine passed recently.  One of the great ones…

An Ending

-Philip Levine

Early March.
The cold beach deserted. My kids
home in a bare house, bundled up
and listening to rock music
pirated from England. My wife
waiting for me in a bar, alone
for an hour over her sherry, and none
of us knows why I have to pace
back and forth on this flat
and birdless stretch of gleaming sand
while the violent air shouts
out its rags of speech. I recall
the calm warm sea of Florida
30 years ago, and my brother
and I staring out in the hope
that someone known and loved
would return out of air and water
and no more, a miracle a kid
could half-believe, could see
as something everyday and possible.
Later I slept alone and dreamed
of the home I never had and wakened
in the dark. A silver light sprayed
across the bed, and the little
rented room ticked toward dawn.
I did not rise. I did not go
to the window and address
the moon. I did not cry
or cry out against the hour
or the loneliness that still
was mine, for I had grown
into the man I am, and I
knew better. A sudden voice
calls out my name or a name
I think is mine. I turn.
The waves have darkened; the sky’s
descending all around me. I read
once that the sea would come
to be the color of heaven.
They would be two seas tied
together, and between the two
a third, the sea of my own heart.
I read and believed nothing.
This little beach at the end
of the world is anywhere, and I
stand in a stillness that will last
forever or until the first light
breaks beyond these waters. Don’t
be scared, the book said, don’t flee
as wave after wave the breakers rise
in darkness toward their ghostly crests,
for he has set a limit to the sea
and he is at your side. The sea
and I breathe in and out as one.
Maybe this is done at last
or for now, this search for what
is never here. Maybe all that
ancient namesake sang is true.
The voice I hear now is
my own night voice, going out
and coming back in an old chant
that calms me, that calms
— for all I know — the waves
still lost out there.