Search

In This Moment

what if it matters?

Tag

work

Uncomfortable

Note to self Friday:  Reflect on the Uncomfortable.  Not sure why.  But I’ve been uncomfortable these past few minutes.  As it happens I walked up Montgomery with the idea of executing a “walking photo tour” assignment I gave myself today, as a way to get back in touch, get grounded between projects.  Guess I have lots of getting in touch to do as the walk is uncomfortable.  Why?  The discomfort seems to be from lack of psychic force:  I’d done a presentation this morning, made cold calls, and confronted my marketing department in trying to solve a long-term problem in my brokerage work.  The discomfort was partly from distrusting the psychic strain of all this would produce a good result, partly just from exhaustion.  Empty, and without hope of being filled.  Uncomfortable.

It’s cold in the City today, so I walked uphill until I got to the Ritz, then stood on the sunny sidewalk out front.  Thought of going in but that would be more psychic strain.  What if going into a place like the Ritz-Carleton is simply a use of psychic force, not about money?  What if everything around me is about psychic force?  This morning I arrived at work before 8AM and by the time my cube-next-door neighbor arrived I was nearly into my second hour.  Oh the space in an empty office!  He started talking up a storm, telling me about his grandfather who’d had a stroke years ago.  Had to put up a virtual psychic shield to stay focused.  What did it cost?  Feels like I’ve burned through reserves and am now depleted.  What recharges me?

Pushed through that psychic resistance and went inside the Ritz.  Dressed in a stylish suit who’s to question me?  There are others standing around the lobby on devices too.  Within the outer perimeter it’s easier, so I don’t have to stay out with the grandmoms walking their grandchildren across the top of the hill.  But there’s a different psychic challenge inside.  The barrier is replaced by a demand.  I don’t want a drink or a snack and don’t feel properly demanding, so the implicit demand of the space itself that I act like I belong steadily grows.  Funny, if I were more rested I could handle loitering in the lobby longer sipping their lemon water.  If I were more demanding of food, shelter, drink also long time in lobby.  Too bad, I want to demand.  With nothing to push for I’m soon back out on the street.  The result of another layer of psychic defenses in that place?  Yes.  What is the agreement amongst people there?  I could’ve taken out my laptop and worked at the bar or in the nearly empty restaurant beside it.  Ordered something minor.  A cup of tea.  What pushed me out was feeling not quite in-sync with those around me.  It was a pensive place, gray and empty except for these guests wandering around looking at their phones.  It only now occurs that the guests with their sidelong glances, not the staff, are the enforcers of who belongs.

The place I went next had everyone working, good music, even a co-working use fee.  Pushed out of the free Ritz-Carleton in favor of a place that charges by the hour.  Plus I purchased coffee and a snack (having escaped from the dismal Ritz I was hungry again).  Could’ve had coffee at the hotel, but that place is dead–if  I’d been staying there I’d have gone upstairs for a nap.  At the co-working cafe I slowly begin to gather my forces.  I remember sitting at an open air cafe on September 11, 2001, in the warm sun, gathering force.  How many hundreds of times, both notable and not, have I been reflecting at a cafe?  Now I’m focused on recovering from the efforts of the day, sipping coffee, nibbling on the coconut pudding, letting the music wash over me.  Let them charge me $2 an hour, it’s cheaper than paying for parking if I had brought a car…

Managed by psychic forces, I tend to feel discomfortably buffeted, as though by a rock in a river, a sudden turn in the rapids.  A drop.  A swirl.  Don’t necessarily hit the rock, just feel queasy rushing past, changing direction, washing up to a high place (the Ritz) and back down to the co-working cafe.  I could sit and look at roses all day, but don’t, I mean can’t.  I’m embedded in a psychic milieu that permits me to do this and that, but not all.  The best I can do is look at a photo I took with my new phone of some roses on a tabletop, glancing at it while I’m carried towards the next thing.  It would be uncomfortable to stop.  Would it even be possible?

Advertisements

Late

Am I late?  I know the feeling so well.  Today I board BART  at 8:03 AM.  My goal to be at my desk making calls at 8 AM.  That makes me late…Or do I make myself late?  Walked down to the station rather than taking an Uber, that pretty much made the difference.  Talked with my wife about plans for the coming week.  That made the difference.  Played mini-basketball with my son.  Of course you can add up each little thing or you can pick them out one by one.  Each one makes the difference.  What’s the net product?  I’d rather be late like this than on time missing any one of these things.

Maybe the real feeling of being late that rankles is the feeling of being out of control.  If I’m late by choice it’s OK.  If I pretend it’s not by choice, my whining causes damage to my self.  The train sits at the sunny BART terminal at MacArthur and I see an attractive woman with slumped shoulders.  I have to say she doesn’t appear attractive. Maybe just for an instant before the slumped shoulders registered.  It’s like being late: if you think you’re late and you slump sadly then you’re the essence of late, you’re the self-condemning late person rather than the cheerful late person, and that makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

Now I’m on time, at this moment, because I’m doing the one thing I’ve agreed to do right now.  Write.  Even though not everything went as planned today, I said I’d call the Uber at 4:45PM and start writing for 45 minutes at that time.  Even if I haven’t written for every second of the time, I have done it.  Even pulled a picture of a tree taken against the sky and placed it onto this post.  Why?  Because we all know the tree is not late.  And I’m supposed to switch to going for a run at 5:30 PM, and no, I’m not required to do that while in the Uber as long as it gets me home within another 15 minutes.  So I could be on time for that too.

Here’s the real challenge.  As I was stepped into the elevator to go down to the Uber I could feel it.  The resistance.  Inchoate.  Resistance to actually sitting in an Uber and doing my writing the whole way.  And that is the failure, not the reading of emails, the quick playing a round of a video game.  The failure would be in that tired moment at the elevator.  So I said to myself, at that moment, look at your reflection in the elevator doors, face the resistance because this is it, here.

So, am I late?  Only when not present.  One thing we do that trees probably don’t do:  pretend this isn’t really happening.  I’m thankful for all the things I can do that aren’t getting to work on time.  I’d still like to set a time and be there.  More important to me, to set a goal and reach it.  More important still, to have a clear intention and stand with that.  So my various intentions are to follow through with some core goals, and deliverables in service to these goals.  Such as spending time with my kids, making creative contributions to the world, as for example building applications and writing on subjects that others actually read.  Things I’m excited to be present for.

There comes the tricky part.  I know in principle, what I want to do.  Yet in practice it’s easier to oscillate between two states: reacting to what’s at hand and recuperating from that.  Do you notice those two things can describe a life?  Technically I’m outside the iron trap now to the extent I’m not either reacting to the command to write nor escaping from my life through writing complete crap.  But guess what lies outside the trap?  A wasteland.  Yes, you step out for a second and there you are in a beautiful, terrible and bare place where it’s cold (or unbearably hot), you have no apparent sustenance, and no one to help you.  That’s how I feel, anyway.  The iron trap:  answer emails, then, after an hour or two, go to the cafe and try to forget.  The wilderness: instead of playing a video game, checking email, jumping on the Web while I sip my coffee, I write.  And the most wildernessy thing about the Wilderness is stepping into it.  That’s when the resistance reaches such a peak that to submit to the desire to not move forward seems very pleasurable: “What, you dare to set aside email responsibilities (pleasure of checking, of addressing, of deleting) to create something new?”  Surely not now.  And the pleasure of just a momentary diversion–can’t I do that first?  Or, wait, what about just writing now.  Well, it’s either now or else I’ll be late for life.

I Am Eating Salami

The perfect segue into the Election of 2016.  If Donald Trump wins we’ll all be eating salami.  If Hillary Clinton wins we’ll go on eating whatever we were eating before.  I think the Trump supporters just want us to all join them at the table and stop putting on airs.  OK, I admit it, I’m having two different kinds of salami (they call it salumi here), by choice.  And smoked gouda with some pretty good Zinfandel.  Yeah.  I seem to be the bad guy?  I don’t know…I care about women.  Wait, that’s what Trump says… OK, how about this, I’m open to criticism?  So, how well do I score on the Fact Checker with that one?  Because Trump has shown us that you can say anything…  Here’s how I check out:  I’m open to criticism as long as you put it into terms I can support (my logical structure), and you present it in a diplomatic way (stroke my ego while shattering it).  Is that too much to ask?  Frankly, or salamilily, I do think that I’m worlds different from Trump, as I push my way through paperwork and sales calls to try and grow my own real estate empire.  Um, I’m not a politician.  Wait, he says he’s not either.  He probably says he’s not a liar.  What am I supposed to do, say that I am?

My active, always-on spellcheck tried to make “salamilily” into “Salami Lily.”  I bet Trump called somebody that sometime.  Sigh.  Truth has a hard time in an environment where people are being regularly abused.  Or maybe it’s humor that has a hard time.  Or maybe…what if people have been being abused for a long time and we’re all just trying to figure out how we make our way out of this smoky room into the sunlight?  I think so.  In that case Truth is really about something called integrity.  And I have a question about that.

Just now I’m sitting at a bar in a tapas restaurant with a whole bunch of other people from Berkeley who have lot’s of apparent character.  They aren’t looking around trying to figure out whether to pick up on someone, no, in the afternoon glow at 4:35pm I’m with the Berkeley geriatric crowd.  These people are charging into their older years full force and full of purposeful talk.  It’s almost a 1960’s Madmen feeling of camaraderie in which I don’t participate.  Or maybe I do.  I predict in 15 years my kids will be out of the house, my mom and my wife’s mom will be in a stable place, and I’ll have quit my job and so will my best friend.  So me and him and my wife and his wife can come here in the afternoon and have chitty chatty about the new condominium towers in Berkeley, the fall of the Russian and Chinese empires, the virtual worlds that have consumed all the have-nots, and maybe, if I’m allowed to temper the mood, the diminishing world of ours in this tapas bar, in the late afternoon, in the fall sunshine, at 4:35.

Maybe.  I hate to be a harbinger of things that no one will hear, but one of us will have suffered a change of life that will throw off the others.  Even if it’s just an unremitting sadness of heart.  And another one of us will be looking far beyond the confines of this little bar.  The other two will be trying to figure out what the f*ck is going on.  And the Trump supporters won’t actually be gone, they’ll be in the virtual worlds doing stuff.  And I hate to pop your bubble (if I am, which I’m not, because you either already agree with me or won’t listen…unless you are that odd person who actually keeps an ear to the wind and a foot across the threshhold) but that stuff will actually matter in proportion to the amount of passion and luck those people have, not their presence in the virtual world.

The virtual world will be so blended with this one in fifteen years that we’ll wonder how the two were considered separately.  So, I’m all wrong about the have-nots because they’ll be marginalized in all Worlds, even if they elect a president to try and represent themselves.  The best they can hope for is to try and change the dialogue.  And that matters…  OK, sorry, it’s not that I lied, just that I got carried away, made an assumption that just because someone goes into a virtual world, and just because the virtual world is where the power resides, that someone who goes there becomes powerful.  Nope.  But give me one shred of Hope to hold out to those of us who don’t want to see other humans lose every last part of dignity: of those who disappear into a virtual world some will prevail there when they failed here in the bricks and mortar, de-industrializing, AI-got-my-job real world.  After all, the AI lives in the virtual world so at least you’re taking the battle to it on its home turf.  At least you’re meeting the adversary unblinking.  There is something to that, you know.  Let me whisper it to you: it’s called Meaningful Work.  Because all work, in a world where less than 1% produce food, is make-work.  So, make work that means something to you.  Why?  Because then you have many advantages: you’re moving, you’re engaging, you’re building and you’re giving.  The worst possible thing, in America, is to be prevented from doing those things (otherwise known as pursuit of happiness).  So go go.

Ferry

Feels like I’ve been here before.  On the bench at the Ferry Terminal in San Francisco.  The difference is I’m not with family — that’s important, as when I am with them I see the environment both through the eyes of one who is with them and also from an imagined traveler’s perspective.  The challenge, in returning here, is to be the traveler and not the hurried business luncher.  Today I’ve managed to watch, as a childrens’ book narrator watches, myself and my surroundings.  Present in the same way I was when visiting my Grandmother in Texas as a child.  I have no more grandparents, only this lesson in how to notice the ocean air gently blowing on my face.  Gentle as a San Francisco summer afternoon is not always gentle.

Seagulls cry as the ferry line grows.  The terminal bridge creaks.  Five minutes to departure; I didn’t really see people getting off but some people passed me in that direction.  Is the boat already empty?  The line moves, fast.  Getting shorter, in fact disappearing.  The woman at her laptop on the bench already got up and stood in it.  At 3:11pm the sound of cars on the Embarcadero suddenly seems louder.  A shift.  People heading home.  And the seagulls.  Does anyone recall the moment, in The Lord of the Rings, when Legolas saw his first seagull?  Far up the Great river from the Sea. The cry meant Legolas could never again be satisfied with Middle Earth, that he’d have to leave for to the Elvish land across the sea.  I notice he did travel around Middle Earth for a while first with his friend Gimli, not to mention finishing the War of the Ring.  So, like Buddha he helped out those of us still on earth before he travelled on.

I don’t think I’m Legolas, but I do like to take a photo and color it creatively, make reality just a bit different.  Take the horrors of our own underworld and let them blend just a little with the color of the bright San Francisco day.  And can I claim to brush in a bit of color from a better place?  The intention itself colors all.  I know that I can claim only one thing and that is this moment.  The price I pay for it already discussed in past musings.  Too simple and yet too dear.  My life, my time, my soul.  The ferry with its seagulls appeals so much that I want to ride it again today.  Such a curious experience, before, riding alone, as Bernard Maybeck and Charles Keeler did over 100 years ago, before they met and built their first house together.  What if I could live in that same house 121 years later?  What if I too could ride the ferry across that same Bay?  All I know is being out on the water is magic, much more so than the subterranean ways of BART.  The water moves out behind the ferry as it crosses under the Bay Bridge.  It moves so enthusiastically, so brightly, as I move upon the same waterways the Spanish sailed half a millennia past, with Inquisitions behind them and hope of something different up ahead.  Anything.

And now I sit in a Peruvian restaurant eating food garnished with giant pieces of corn.  I think they call it something else… On the water.  I see the Sausalito ferry depart.  The fog given way to summer sun and a stiff breeze.  A guy at the next table talks knowledgeably to a group of listeners about “disruptive” forces.  How much of his talk of disruption is purely his hope that his company can come into power?  He’s paying for this entire table of people who look spacey.  They’re on their break, right?  Eating at the Peruvian grilled meats restaurant.  Two admin people just jumped up and said they have to get back to work.  Now the guy is talking about how Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld had beliefs that were stupid.  I’d actually like to hear what he was trying to say using those saw horses as examples.  An Indian looking guy with a Texas accent.  Too nice.  Yet kudos to him for taking charge of all this.  I’ve been debating whether to use his company’s name here.  My decision is made by the fact that I can’t remember it.  Touch-something.  “You guys don’t have to wait (get back to work).”  That’s right, Mr. Touch, better use all your niceness and your charm and your whip and your luck.  Then maybe you can be a disruptive force and maybe you can benefit from that disruption.  What I hope for you is that you enjoy the process.  Anyone who has come across the sea to this place in the past half-millennia had better enjoy the process.  There’s no going back.

Time

My time is subdivided into small pieces.  The pieces twist like scraps of paper in the wind, each blowing away before I can read it.  Sometimes I catch a piece, spread it out, even write something on it before I turn my attention to another matter and the piece snaps out of my hand.  I let it go. So I am accountable, not for the wind but for letting my focus go with it.

If I stop writing now the BART train will carry me on to Oakland, a city filling in gaps between other places in the San Francisco Bay area. I head towards the Center.  San Francisco is less a center than an aspiration while for better or worse Oakland forms the center of gravity, if not the greatest power.  Honestly, the Center of Gravity of the Bay area is likely out in the Bay and south towards the salt flats.  But Oakland is probably the closest city to that center, which is probably just off the industrial shore of the worst part of East Oakland south of the airport.  Oakland’s a rising star but we need to consider the Center of Gravity either the sum of its parts, or better yet the hippest expression of new cuisine near the Uptown BART, or even better Ike’s Love and Sandwiches or a store that sells fine spraypaints for Urban Artists.

Five minutes, or do I have even that?  At my daughter’s music lesson.  Used most of the time reading business articles, and next I shall be cast upon the rest of my Sunday.  Could that possibly be a good thing?  Can I use these remaining moments in this quiet, resonant place to connect with a larger picture.  I have tried.  The Business articles are supposed to connect me with the world of work coming tomorrow.  I intend that this writing should connect me with the world of creative endeavor sustaining me through work and family.  And wouldn’t it be full circle if I reflected positively now upon the family time to come in one minute…

Which minute?  Today I’m parsing the time more carefully than usual.  A Monday, and after the weekend off I feel I must use every minute well.  So, that was a minute waiting for my transfer train back to Berkeley.  Everyone around me seems grumpy, if not despondent.  So it goes.  And despite my fear that trying to create an iPhone app is beyond my reach, I press forward into the unknown…  I have the feeling the fog this morning will give way to sunshine.  Nothing like purpose to create a sense of hope in sheer momentum.  I’ve completed board game projects, why not an app?  The doors of the train open and close.  I’ll be in Berkeley momentarily, then lunch and writing, and the app pursuit as the pinnacle above the rest.

Climbing, climbing to the pinnacle.  If you have read Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead you know about climbing the pinnacle, even if it is pointless.  Even if in the end you’re turned back by your team’s fear of some little thing, some stinging insects–a puny obstacle blocking a truly daunting and terrifying but pointless quest.  But the pinnacle that I seek to climb while eating duck in sweet sauce and sipping a tempranillo that’s a third try best choice here at the Spanish tapas bar, is the same pinnacle that you could guess a person in this society might seek to climb: making an iPhone app.  It’s so logical that I’m going to, laughing, throw in my lot with everyone else in this gold rush of the Third millennium.  And did I mention the buzzing hornets (from Norman Mailer’s novel…)?  I don’t think I’ve reached those yet.  My obstacles are simply the fatigue associated with keeping going, of sourcing and carrying my rations, just making sure my associates have blankets and dry clothes, keeping the body fit to carry on, trying to assure none of my associates falls off a cliff before we get to the top.  We may as well make it to the top because no matter what we’re going to die trying.  No particular morbidity intended.  Just, that’s life, right?

So, lately I’ve been pushing towards that pinnacle because Why not?  And I find the most amazing effect when I push upwards into the high, thin atmosphere of the pinnacle.  I get lightheaded.  Really.  For example, as I push to develop my own iPhone app, surprise, an hour or so a day leads to a huge amount of stress and uncertainty.  Because looking into it shows me how little I know.  Because climbing the pinnacle takes me away from my comfortable surroundings and into cold, clammy clouds, silence, giant blind drops into oblivion as far as I know.  Hanging by one hand on the side of a cloud-covered precipice, I could Just. Climb. Down.  And I do.  Each day that I test myself on this pinnacle, at some point I say to myself OK, time to go do some reading, or, Look, it’s time to take a break, or, My God I’d better deal with This Issue down in the farm kingdoms below where I’ve built  my homestead.  So down from the Pinnacle I come.  And what a relief!

 

 

 

 

French

The Uber driver has Frieda Boccara playing. Why do I like it better when the words are all French?  Happy day, though hard.  Lost my sunglasses, only have ten of forty calls done so far at work.  We’re driving all over Emeryville and Berkeley while a technician waits for me at home.  The driver constantly asking me where to turn.  I’m thankful for what I have: a ride, the chance to write, peaceful music, a sense of well being.  Uber is frothing up the social structure, giving people control over their employment and their travel.  My Uber drivers take Uber, and they seem to come from diverse backgrounds, here in the Bay area, not just the recent African transplants from oil work in North Dakota plus women in their sixties making some cash that we met in Seattle.  The weakness of Seattle is it’s a caste system despite its hipness.  Certain people do certain things.

New day.  Had our inspection for the water leak at home.  Somehow completed more than 55 outbound sales calls today to close the week above my 200 call goal.  Another errand to go, but the downhill side of the week on Friday afternoon.  My goal now to recover, recoup, balance the pressured work with deep breathing and small rewards. Sounds like Frank Sinatra, or similar but more gravelly.  Burger at the Bistro.  Shoe shine, maybe even a back massage.  French, Frank, burgers, fries, what does it matter:  I recall our trip to the Pacific Northwest, to Victoria which I saw for only a few minutes before boarding the tall ship towering over the grassy Landing.  Thank God for recall tying my life together, the promenade deck to my sales and home work engine rooms.

The engine rooms are kind of cool (literally) when I’m not constantly in them.  So, a question:  who is happier here at the Bistro, those who are escaping a life of work, or those who have nothing to do but be here or make their own work?  I see the difference in the make-work.  I make lots of work out of writing and am happy in this.  Each person here must have their own work and make-work and the work is the engine room that powers human happiness.

What are others doing here at Bistro atop Nordstrom in the City?  What does the staff think I’m doing here?  The way I’m dressed on Casual Friday I could be the well put-together husband of a woman shopping.  I think of that when I come here.  I believe that’s what my waitress thinks.  But that’s just a guess and I also guess she doesn’t care.  I tried several months ago to get my game design partners to meet me here to work.  I think they don’t care where we meet, they just don’t want to meet to make work.  So here I am not meeting my partners as the clock ticks and my home work in Oakland beckons.  And Victoria stands in my past, a distant, familiar, strange place out of sync with everything else.  Everyone in that smallish place probably wants to come to San Francisco.  Its allure is it seems to be nowhere and everyone there seems blissfully aware of it.  A trip to nowhere, a suburb out of place and time and not in the United States even though practically surrounded by it.

French is like that mysterious Other surrounded by ordinary speakers yet not a part of them.  So I like it.  On the way to the shoeshine I watch a father and son in Polo shirts and shorts travel down the escalator.  They seem so unlike me and my son and I’m not sure why I feel that.  The boy has a perfect light brown haircut and blue sunglasses.  My son doesn’t have that same pretty-boy look, but will he two years from now?  The man has the crafted grizzled look of an out-of-work movie star but his eyes are hard, as though he usually tells people what to do.  That changes things.  I’ve heard that nearly everyone who has money in America works.  Think of the irony in that.  I suppose the man’s grizzled Polo look trumps either suit-and-tie or my current khaki-and-tie for walking around Nordstom.  To what end?  That’s the thing with appearances.  And of course for value in my book Polo shirts are not exactly mysterious.  I’m trying to be fair, here, and not assign value just because it’s counter to the norm.  Just think, every year this Nordstrom mall gets a little more out-of-date.  And what will replace it?  Someplace that father-and-son will go after others have tread, worn and paved a path, or maybe they themselves are mall designer and designer apprentice, and I will follow them.  At $2.50, Nordstrom has has the cheapest shoeshine I can remember ever seeing.  And on the next escalator I’m behind two Homish guys with what looks like a homemade prayer pillow. Rabbis?  There are a lot of different people here and you know I really don’t know what the Polo dudes are up to.  Perhaps they play their own deeper game.

 

 

The Great Outdoors

It’s the name of the dining area I’m at with my kids on the stern of the smaller mega-cruise ship coming into Victoria. The fruit is ripe today and the captain announces it’s sunny. Fresh ground coffee from the machine. Breeze light across my face as the kids play on a computer.  Some magic happens and I later think this moment on the deck came after Victoria.  There’s nothing after Victoria — we wake up and we’re on the dock in Seattle again and the electricians are tearing open the ceiling panels in the hallways and the show has ended.

Back in Oakland remembering this trip — I mainly feel a desire for a vacation (vacation from the vacation), to sit by the pool at a Mexican condominium, to walk past the pool in the 9 AM morning cool and see a caretaker cleaning and know I’ll be able to sit next to that pool later, in a languorous early afternoon with a drink.  The kids, happily playing…  There may be a discussion of heading downtown to the beachside cafes.  There must be a way to not complain that pools on cruise ships are crowded and not relaxing.  Part of the Mexico vision I’m having is the ground doesn’t sway under my feet and it’s quiet, so quiet and empty in that condo complex, except for that one worker tending to a hose, or probably walking off to check on something elsewhere.  Probably not even around, in the cool morning uphill from the beach resort, with the fresh-cut grass and the little broad-leafed plants everywhere about the pool.

Had a gluten-free waffle in Berkeley after my seventeen-day trip to Seattle and Alaska.  Good enough.  Main thing is my choice to go there — I don’t usually get to.  The Heirloom where I got my waffle is particularly disliked by others in my family.  It seems there isn’t enough salt.  And true, some or most dishes are odd, even undesirable.  So how can I complain if they complain?  The problem is I’m seeking an experience significantly about anticipation and the process of discovery.  So knowing a lot of the dishes are wacky doesn’t stop me wanting to go in, appreciate the manicured garden, sip their yellow turmeric digestif and anticipate the gluten-free desert and waffle.  Found medium-rare meatballs to eat with the waffle.  More than good enough.

At a place in San Francisco I haven’t previously liked, Volta.  In the city officially to get a new wallet because mine’s falling apart.  Truly here to reclaim sanity, the process of coming to Volta shaded by intent different than culinary pursuit, intent to survive emotional hits, intent to establish a beachhead of sanity.  Pretty sure that’s what I do most of the time.  Is that what we all do, or am I different?  A song plays here by Carla Bruni; I don’t understand a word.  That’s the point of it being French.  Someone told me that I’m only happy for ten minutes when I’m sipping Cabernet — was that the same person who told me, earnestly, that I’m much more easy to get along with when I’ve been drinking?  I have found a good Cabernet and I enjoy Volta.  And I’m certain that I must sometime more thoroughly evaluate that statement from years past about the drinking.  There is a Buddhist teacher who says your neuroses come to light when you drink?  All right well we all know it is used as a social lubricant…  Laughter from another patron coming in with her partner mingles with a song, Autumn Leaves, still no English.  Volta is a concept and they have a good playlist.  I could live a long time on Dr. Who episodes and the Volta playlist.  So what if their herring tastes like it comes from that same Costco jar at home?

And the trip?  Seventeen days, maybe more, following several in Santa Clara for the Olympic Trials.  And the Intel museum.  Busy month.  Wondered the whole time whether my job was bringing me forward in life.  A good question not necessarily best asked while traveling, but then again what better time?  The answer, now I’m back for the first day in weeks?  Not nearly enough.  Daniel Amen, M.D., publishing writer, says we’re supposed to think positive thoughts.  My thought is I’m not accelerating in my career.  A seventeen day trip tells me that.  Tells me I must get moving again, and faster.  Who knows, with a few gluten-free waffles, an occasional trip to a Mexican poolside, and lots of writing and reflection, I may become more productive and successful in real estate sales.

Out of the frying pan into the fire.  Instead of travel now it’s the day-to-day.  If I write quickly, eating this halibut chowder supposedly-not-full-of-cream at Volta, listening to their music skipping forward when a song comes up the powers-that-be don’t like, will that save me?  I remember wanting to go on the submarine ride at Disneyland and I was too small.  The image of burning blue flames from a little highbrow bar-restaurant on College Ave in Rockridge right on the border of Berkeley and Oakland reflects the locus of desire for beauty imprisoning me.  Burning.  On my way to a pricey restaurant I didn’t previously like, passing two choices closed up or at least not open on Mondays, I walked over so much human urine and past so many lost homeless and was asked over and over how to get somewhere or buy a BART ticket, and so came to doubt my quest was valid, began to feel myself a tawdry lost soul wandering in the 11:40am August heat, the stink of urine rising up to the sun and the gods and the empty wasteland of the sky.

While I ponder, the soup I just ate sits for the moment happily in my stomach and I buy a copy of the song Birds by Emiliana Torrini and remember being in Florence writing for a month and can’t help wondering whether I can just write and somehow all will be OK.  My client who has corresponded with me for three years about selling his building texts me that his knee is much better.  Real estate brokerage is such a tease.  Can I work for several hours and then write, suspended amongst several pinion points — kids demands: travel, activity and dining options limited by them.  Work demands: time and life choices limited by those?

Victoria was beautiful.  I got my family to go to a little gastropub in the young Canadian suburb with only moments (hours, minutes) to stop before our cruise set sail.  Ended up a late night on the ship.  We made it back.  Our final stop, bracketed by breeching orcas and pushing my chair in on the cruise deck for the multitudes to pass while I sip my coffee while the kids delve into their videogame.  A whole pod of orcas, by the way.  But Victoria, so small, so green and humble, the pub in a nondescript shopping center.  A second or third rate musician singing live while we ate mussels and I sipped red wine.  That moment with wife and kids, bracketed, but invisibly, by other events, remains in my memory as a moment of departure.  Perhaps because it was my one true venture into Canada in a seventeen day trip on its borders.  Canada was different, even more different than Alaska.  And this was the European trip called off and re-planned as Pacific Northwest because of terrorism.  And the cruise ship was the same.  So amidst the taxidermy, the outdoor passion and the nativism of Alaska, the urbane, San Francisconess-with-beards of Seattle, the hollow,  cattle-run opulence and excitement about what’s on stage of the cruise ship, rests this tiny gem of European flair.  And upon my return it falls to me to choose celebration of that which is worthy or losing myself in details that don’t matter in the end.

Rain

It’s back. And I Ching says “immaturity is a household,” “a leader must bring children to knowledge” and “the child takes over the family.” Today I feel taken over.  Not only by the children but by the indirectness of my path. Yesterday I toured a building for a second time with a client.  Why do it twice?  And today I toured no building and yet made few sales calls.  I did swim in a pool, at 7:30am, that was so filled with people that at one point I had to circle, three to a lane.  After that the day followed no direct course, and I essentially sat by and watched it go, while came the wind, then the rain.

I read some hexagrams of I Ching and now the rain plaps and draps, trickles and shimmels around me in this room that I keep saying I’ll use for…this. Yesterday in the building we toured for the second time I saw a room within a suite that I hadn’t seen before. In the room sat a man at a desk facing a row of many-colored bottles before a window.  Quiet music seemed to come from an old wood-encased amplifier. He didn’t turn, in his modern, 1960s chair, to face us, but continued to work. This tenant has an office that is so much more beautiful than mine. Mine at work, that is.  At home, I’ve set up two offices. The first one is business and my wife uses it also, and the kids and she are in there now watching gymnastics videos.  Here I am, in a jutting peninsula of the house that presses into the rain, before a diamond-shaped window, the very desk and window at which I stood twenty seconds after entering this house for the first time fourteen years ago and thought to myself, “I like this.”

The rain is back. Perhaps to stay?  To end the drought.  I feel positive energy coming into me in this room. I thought I’d feel that in the other office that faces green trees and faces south. But I find recently that this quiet room facing north is the place that rejuvenates the most.  So I have my office retreat just like that other guy…I only have to remember to use it.  Corollary for my brain.  I only have to remember that my mind, my very choices, are opportunities to retreat, to build, and to create beauty.  I remember when I first bought this computer and began to use it as a writing sanctuary, a special place to work.  I tried to set up shop in various places, in San Francisco.  Tried to and it worked to some degree, but I wonder what is next.  Typing in the small quiet office at my home.  How fortunate I am to have three offices plus the ability to work anywhere with my laptop or my smart phone.  Really begs the question of what work shall I do, doesn’t it, and when?

The sun comes partially from behind the clouds and my wife turns around from the little table where she’s eating lunch to see what is all the fast typing.  She laughs and says she had imagined I was sitting here in this little office entering numbers on a calculator.  That’s about right: I’m always calculating return on investment from real estate.  And as a salesperson, much of the time the returns are not mine or even realized by anyone I know.  Just quick math on a calculator and then it’s over.  I even wrote an email to a client between when she laughed about the calculating and when I continued writing here.  Email said Hey look at the deal you’d be getting at this rent multiplier, do you want to proceed?  I actually did that.  So in a sense some of that furious typing was from making calculations.  Then back to writing.  Sun’s still out; rain fell hard earlier.  I’m passing time until this waterproofing consultant comes by to inspect some areas above our unit.  Then I have to pass the time before doing a tenant walkthrough inspection at another property.  Strange, but filling in these gaps with writing can work.  I’m not sure how it all ads up across sales, investment and writing, plus family, but I get the feeling I need to take a step back and see how things go for a bit.

I Chings says nothing because I’m not reading it.  Just sitting here at the quiet desk with my son looking over my shoulder.  It is early morning, barely seven, and I can hear the water trickling in the fish tank, the low howl of the water going to my wife’s shower, the clump as that water stops, and perhaps above all the sound of my son reading and exclaiming “Don’t say that!” to everything I write.  Now he’s hitting me.  He says Why do I like writing so much, only math is fun.  Writing should not be used in this way, to describe one’s situation, one’s momentary experience.  Now he huffs off to take his shower.  Quiet returns but is infused with his concern for me, his perspective.  I can feel where he head-butted me in the shoulder after I wrote the “Don’t say that” comment.  And still I Ching says nothing.

Now he plays his guitar while I type on the bed.  Older now, enough to be real but not felt, (a week, maybe less), so I can’t just say Oh it’s been three years, see how my life has gone… No, it’s only been three to six days so it’s hard to really say I’ve gotten older, surely not noticeably.  The children haven’t grown visibly taller.  But you know, they have grown more mature.  And I’ve changed a little.  I can see myself coming a tiny bit farther out onto the rim of the crater we seemed to fall into some years ago with the Great Recession (do people still remember that?).  Perhaps there’s another crater a few days ahead, but thank God I’ve crawled out of this one.  Uh oh.  Now he’s taking my computer and setting it aside before he jumps onto me for some wrestling, his once-tiny but always round chest hammering down on me, his legs strong enough to lift me off the bed even though I outweigh him two-to-one (correction: 1.5-to-one…when did he get that big?).  There’s nothing to get away from, only moments to attend.  Maybe the sun will come out and everything will be fun, fun, fun.  Or maybe it is already fun and can just keep raining.

Easy

Continue reading “Easy”

Powered by WordPress.com.

Up ↑

%d bloggers like this: