This is my City. Isn’t it?

Last night on a bike ride with my oldest teenage daughter, we talked about living in different cities and what life must be like. When her mom and I first met way before she was born, we were living in the San Francisco Bay Area. All told, I lived for eight years between San Francisco, Oakland and Berkeley. San Francisco became my City.

“I was glad that I lived in the Bay Area back then,” I told my daughter on our bike ride on a dark beach path in Long Beach last night, “and I’m glad I’m not living there anymore.”

So many reasons: The high, high, high housing prices. The bad traffic, as bad or worse than L.A. The workaholic corporate types who just can’t wait to get back into their cubicles. Maybe it was things like the recent news story about a guy who lived in a trailer park and drove a Tesla.

We are somehow shocked at seeing a Tesla parked outside someone’s Bay Area trailer, with all of our judgments about class, education and entitlement laid bare. Another well-paid tech worker just can’t find a place to live for less than several million dollars. For years I would say, “the Bay Area people don’t deserve the Bay Area with all its beauty. They’re too busy in their cubicles and their corporate drive.”

Still, it was hard for me to leave the Bay Area. Emotionally hard, like a break-up that no one wanted but had to happen. It took me about five months to actually make the full transition to L.A.

And now? So many years later, in an entirely new life, I am much better here. Oh sure, I’ll go back and visit San Francisco, maybe Berkeley, possibly Marin. And then I’ll go home. San Francisco will always be my City, but where I am now, where my family, is truly my home. And no amount of great views, bridges, good food, fine wine and progressive intellectual thinking can match that.

Meanwhile, my old apartment at 777 Bay St. in San Francisco? The rent there tripled in the instant that we moved out, and it was re-rented in less than a day. I’m sure it’ll be fine. The residents there, I can only hope that they once in a while poke their heads above their corporate cubicles and look around.



London by Day

Back in the mid 90s – that is, the mid 1890s – Impressionist painter Claude Monet created a series of paintings of the Cathedral in Rouen, France. He did more than thirty paintings, all (or most) of which recreate the facade of the church from the same angle.

While from the same angle, they are done at different times of day and in different seasons of the year. As argued in Art & Physics, the series shows a kind of time travel, a fourth dimension: The same object looks differently over time. It evolves and changes, and yet it is the same object. Or is it?

We are humans evolve and change over time and yet we are the same person inside. Or are we? One of the beauties of art is that is stirs up human psychology, history, religion, politics, the weather, technology, and college papers.

“Yours is the best paper I’ve ever read in a freshman survey course,” gushed my art history college professor at the end of my final exam. I was a senior at the time. No matter. Art is its own adventure, and if stories like this could be true, then I want that adventure too.

The opposite idea of Monet’s paintings, and only done with an iPhone and some clever filters. This series is one single photo of Trafalgar Square in London. Under party cloudy skies, a little chilly, and full of tourists and visitors.

And yet each recreated image evokes the same object, at the same time, but with a different feeling and mood. Is it the same object then, in each panel? I’m no Monet, but I’m not so sure.

Sunday Books: What are stories good for, anyway?

Okay so I’m a day (and several weeks) late on Sunday Books, but this is a good read so far. A judge sentences Sam Pulsifer to 10 years in prison for burning down Emily Dickinson’s house with two people inside. But at the same time, this judge confuses Sam, his lawyer and the prosecutor over his ruminations on what must have been his frustrateinside_book_coverd career as a professor of literature.

So goes the zippy narrative and biting humor of An Arsonist’s Guide to Writers’ Homes in New England. Sam, convicted of murder, blames his crime on the crude stories his mother told him about the Dickinson House after his father, her husband, left for three years.

Continue reading “Sunday Books: What are stories good for, anyway?”

How to Meditate

There are plenty of really good resources out there about how to meditate. Really good. Want to meditate and practice your Spanish at the same time? Try this. Here, however, is my way. It works every time, without fail:

  1. Sit down.
  2. Close your eyes.
  3. Shut the fuck up.

Coming Soon: Why meditate. (This entry could be substantially longer.)

Writing for fun or profit (but not both?)

Tom Teicholz blogged this week that blogging is no fun. More to the point, he says:

I still find that it is neither as pleasurable as composing a column or article essay, and not necessarily as emotionally or intellectually rewarding. I don’t really write in as great depth or push myself to think as deeply.

True, when something is  not fun anymore then either don’t do it or find a way to do it differently, right? Not so fast. Perhaps the real trouble is this: Continue reading “Writing for fun or profit (but not both?)”