Category Archives: Culture

Day 61: A Real President Sighting

It’s been a very melancholy day. My girlfriend was scheduled to walk in her graduation today, celebrating earning her Masters’s degree. That didn’t happen. She was really looking forward to it and so was I. Hundreds of thousands of #Classof2020 graduates and their families shared our pain.

But there was hope.

Barack Obama took to the primetime airwaves tonight, and for a brief moment, offered a tear in an alternate reality we have suffered through for the last four years.

His calming tone and utter lack of insecurity soothed a parched nation looking for a sparkle of light in the dark days ahead.

His speech had an incredibly odd, visceral effect on me. I could LITERALLY feel the chronically tense muscles in my body, loosen. I have hypertension and had I taken my BP, I promise it would have been normal.

We have come to accept the hatred and neo-fascism of the GOP and Trump as our new reality. Seeing former President Obama, and Malala, offer words of encouragement to a battered nation was profoundly healing.

That’s it.

That’s all I’ve got.

That’s all I needed…

 

PS: Congrats to the UC Berkeley Class of 2020. From civil unrest, fires, Earthquakes, smoke, PG&E power shutdowns, to COVID19, you have indeed earned your iconic status and a place in the history books. Fiat Lux.


Day 55: Murder Bees and Murder Cars

Bike front damage

I’m no structural engineer, but I’m pretty sure this photo of my bike last Tuesday does not represent the preferred geometry of a road cycle.

But more on that later.

Murder bees, amirite? WTF.

Between wondering if the next presidential election will be compromised, the very first time in my 59 years I’ve even considered the possibility that our election may be illegitimate, and then fricking Murder bees…

And now we have Billy Bob and Jethro murdering African American’s in cold blood in the South. Lynching by Winchester. Yeah, I know, I’m late to the game. Most of my liberal, boomer cohort is late to this reality. We just KNEW this wasn’t our America. Until a vile, grifting, wannabe despot opened our eyes to a new and ugly world, that our privilege has allowed us to ignore.

Maybe the quarantine is a good thing. It’s allowed some of us to take a very hard look at how our perception of our America and how our new reality of America squares. News flash: it doesn’t. My gut tells me that despite the horrors we are collectively experiencing, that these hardships were/are a necessary corrective mechanism. God, I have to believe that, because if I don’t, desperation and cynicism will win the day.

This is our opportunity to fundamentally reshape our democracy for the better. But that won’t happen until folks like me, erstwhile liberals who have skated along waiting for the other guy to do the right thing, take a deep dive into the agenda of organizations like Black Lives Matter and #MeToo. Because if we don’t step out of our freshly cut front lawn encapsulated hallucinations, we will eventually be at the mercy of the steadily rising fascist movement crawling out from underneath their rocks and finding agency in a new media landscape.

Fuck. This is depressing.

Back to the bike. On my lunch hour Tuesday, I decided to try to get an hour ride in at least three days per week to combat my predictably expanding waistline. Less than a mile in I was approaching a four-way stop sign and saw a pick-up truck approaching his stop on my right. I slowed down to nearly a stop and entered the intersection as I watchfully eyed the truck, out of sheer habit and a well-earned caution of Berkeley drivers. Sure enough, the truck never even slowed down, entering the intersection and turning directly into me.

Had I not anticipated this, I would have gone underneath the truck, just as my bike did, but seeing it unfold in slow motion, I was able to unclip from my pedals and ninja jump backward as the bike crunched under the front bumper. I literally landed on my feet, unhurt.

I’ll spare you the legal details, but a HUGE shout out to the witness that stopped and provided his name and phone number. His testimony to the insurance company solidified their ruling that the driver was 100% at fault.

I don’t recall if I’ve documented this on my blog before, but I suffer from PTSD (TL:DR, but it can be gleaned from previous posts) and this little incident unexpectedly caused it to rear its ugly head for the balance of the day. This is the second time in the last six months that a stressful incident has unleashed the PTSD symptoms. I’m sure some of it is simply aging, but I intend on checking in with a therapist specializing in PTSD to explore this more. I’m no hero and strongly encourage others to seek out mental health. Time for me to take my own advice.

Day 55. Nearly 80k Americans dead. Damn…

 


Day 48: The Other Pandemic

Courtney

I’m absolutely gutted right now.

Writing angry is never good, but you’ll excuse the oversight.

I’m feeling pretty hopeless.

The photo above is of Courtney Brousseau. My daughter was a classmate of his in high school. In response to my text to her this morning, she said, “…he had more potential than most I knew at school.”

Courtney was murdered.

After an illustrious career at Newbury Park High School where he was the Editor of the same student newspaper that my daughter was Chief Photographer, he enrolled at UC Berkeley. My school. My alma mater.

He went on to a position of leadership in our student union, and a cursory google search demonstrates the extent of his engagement here at Cal.

There are over 40,000 students here at Cal, but despite his well earned high profile, I never knew him. I’m the poorer for it.

Courtney didn’t die from Covid19. Courtney was murdered in a drive-by shooting.

With a gun. The other pandemic.

The pandemic that we will go on to ignore once the Covid pandemic is but a distant memory.

The pandemic that is easily diminished through common-sense gun legislation. You know, like Canada did within a month of their worst mass shooting.

I’m fucking sick of the other pandemic.

Friends of my kids and a Sheriff’s sergeant that I used to work with were murdered in the Borderline Bar shooting in Thousand Oaks a few years ago. In the same bar where I proposed to the mother of my children.

Courtney is just the latest example of the other pandemic to affect me personally.

I lost a son five-years after a vehicle accident that became a high-profile media event in the same community Courtney was raised. I’d like to say I can’t imagine what the family is feeling right now, but I do.

Maybe the anger is a manifestation of the PTSD I continue to suffer as the result of his accident.

Maybe it’s just because it’s so fundamentally fucked-up that a young man with so much potential to make a positive impact in this dystopian world was cut down by another gun, while Covidiots roam the streets and the President acts like a petulant child on Twitter.

I’m so sorry for Courtney’s family. I’m so sorry for his friends and the Cal community that embraced him.

I’m devastated that his voice and his spirit was silenced.

This was posted hours before Courtney’s murder:

Screenshot 2020-05-03 at 11.51.17 AM

Everything’s okay for you now Courtney.

I wish I could say the same for us…


Day…whatever (33)

I missed posting yesterday, as I had promised.

The day got away from me. Most days are getting away from me. I’m certainly falling into the following rut:

Wake up later than usual. Drink coffee. Get on social media. Check email. Look for apartments. Go on a bike ride. Or not. Nap. Nap again. Nap some more. Wake up. Drink more coffee. Do some actual productive work. Make dinner. Watch “Repair Shop” on Netflix. Go to bed and scroll through Twitter for a few hours. Repeat.

There, ladies and gentlemen is the wreckage of my life during the quarantine. It’s varied only slightly from this routine.

I will humblebrag that yesterday I went on a 29-mile bike ride from my place in the Berkeley Hills to Yerba Buena Island in the San Francisco Bay. It’s a great ride with the following caveat: miles 24-29 are gradually uphill, with mile 27-29 being painfully so, or in the words of us nerd cyclists–a Cat 3 climb. So yeah, it’s painful. But you know what, yesterday I destroyed my PR (personal record) on that climb. I blame shelter-in-place and my pent-up rage, but damn it felt good.

And then I took a really long nap.

Postscript:

I probably won’t be posting daily any longer. Or maybe I will. The bottom line is this SIP portion of the blog is intended to document my feelings/experiences during one of the most unusual times in modern history. And I’m lazy. So I’ll stick to the spirit and post as often as possible. And oh yeah, I start my new job (remotely) on Monday, so that may add another slight barrier.

Stay tuned.

 


Day 31: A day late

Ugh. No excuse. Time just got away from me.

I’m still having issues with IRS and EDD. Bureaucracies suck.

Nice easy bike ride today in anticipation of a longer one tomorrow (later today). It’s amazing what a simple 40-minute escape from reality can do for my mental health.

This…the quarantine…is the new normal. I don’t like it.

I don’t like having to be home all the time. I don’t like not being able to access services normally available.

But most of all, I don’t like the fact that my fellow citizens are taking their dislike to incredibly selfish and privileged standards.

In Michigan, Trump supporters gathered en masse, with their god-given guns of course, and created a blockade to a hospital. One of the Trump/Pence signs carried prominently displayed a swastika.

In another part of the country, a man complained that he couldn’t get grass seed. He was nearly in tears. A woman indignantly stated that she couldn’t get her hair did.

Fuck me.

Need I even state that the vast majority of these folks are white?

This pisses me off to no end and I am desperate to write a book about white privilege and the legacy of the entitlement white folks like me seem to carry like a birth right.

But in the meantime. I’m going to try to login to the IRS website for the billionth time.

Until later today…


Day 29: The Real Enemy

I have a well-documented hatred and disgust for Donald Trump. It began long before he announced his intentions for a run at the presidency, back in the days when he was simply a grifting real estate mogul in New York.

As the nation saw yesterday, under stress, his true colors came out. He’s a fraud. A grifter can only run the game so far and it’s my desperate desire that yesterday was a peek at what’s to come.

But amidst the death and destruction caused by this would-be despot, the fact of the matter is he’s just an instrument of a far more sinister personality: Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky. Forgetting for a moment Vlad Putin’s influence on Trump (I believe it’s there, but less active and more opportunistic on Russia’s part), McConnell is the real enemy.

On April 12, 2020, the New Yorker published an exhaustive examination of McConnell: his upbringing, his motivations, and his relationship with Trump.

As many have suspected, absent the support of McConnell, the Trump presidency, and the disaster it has wrought, would have ended almost as soon as it began.

Without re-narrating Mayer’s excellent piece (its TLDR for sure, but worth the time), it’s painfully evident that at some point, McConnell developed a sociopathic need for control. He has become the poster child for the end justifying the means. Witness the article’s discussion of McConnell’s personal disgust for Trump, balanced against his own innate lust for power, and his unremitting willingness to turn up his nose while he does the unpleasant work of satiating the President as long as the Republican base, particularly in Kentucky, is soothed.

Perhaps the most striking feature of the piece was an anecdote about McConnell’s long relationship with David Jones, former head of Humana. Upon Jones’ recent death, McConnell said he was “without exaggeration, the single most influential friend and mentor I’ve had in my entire career.” And yet when Jones, prior to his death, and his sons, post-mortem, implored McConnell in detailed and pointed letters to prevent the train wreck that Trump was foisting on America, McConnell chose the path leading to power, and simply ignored their pleas. That corporate donors wield such specific policy-making power is the subject for another day, but further evidence that the Oligarchy is already among us.

It’s abundantly clear where McConnell’s priorities lie, and he has no shame in doing whatever it takes to attain that goal. He is willing to destroy the United States of American and her constitution to retain his hold on power.

Without McConnell, Trump goes down in history as another failed sideshow barker, properly disgraced and reviled.

With McConnell, historians will have a field day describing the global criminal enterprise that Trump has amassed.

I only hope they give credit to the real enemy.

Stay safe…


Day 27: The blood on his hands…

Dear Leader recently downplayed the need for Covid19 testing at one of his televised masturbation sessions.

Today, I read an excellent article by one of my former classmates detailing the tragic death of a young Santa Rosa police detective. It was heartbreaking.

The detective and her family requested tests multiple times during the initial stages of her illness and were refused by Kaiser (this is a post for another day, but it appears that they were following federal guidelines). When the test was finally performed, sadly, the young detective was too far gone. She died.

And our “President” has blood on his hands. My god, even ignoring (Narrator: there is NO ignoring) his intentionally negligent behavior leading up to this crisis, that his narcissistic obsession with ratings overrides any efforts at correcting the mess he’s already made just makes me sick. And makes me very, very embarrassed to be an American. That’s a first for me.

There is ZERO excuse for his behavior and when I read about a preventable death like this, well, it makes me want to take action. That’s the silver lining to this ominously dark cloud we’ve been living under since 2016.

Maybe the lives of those lost can be remembered and honored by those of us unaffected physically by taking action to guarantee something like this never happens again.

Look, folks, we’ve been headed down this road since Reagan and the moral majority and we’ve sat on our asses and let it happen. What we are experiencing today is the direct result of privileged apathy. It disgusts me. And I share as much responsibility as the next guy.

Let’s do something about it in the next presidential election. Regardless of your views on Biden it’s IMPERATIVE that we vote out the criminal currently occupying the White House. Spare me all the arguments about voting for Trump in protest or simply not voting. You’ll have just as much blood on your hands as Dear Leader does.

But that’s not enough. We MUST institute significant constitutional reform. The reality is, we’ve outgrown the document as written, but the framers were keen enough to create an amendment mechanism to allow growth. Well, it’s time to grow kids: starting with oversight of the executive branch, term limits in the Senate, campaign finance reform, and measures to eliminate gerrymandering.

And lastly, Trump and his entire criminal enterprise must be investigated, prosecuted, and sentenced to the full extent of the law.

To do anything less is to dishonor the memories of those Americans who have been preventably lost to this pandemic.

Stay safe…


Day 26: Ennui

Listlessness and boredom punctuated by moments of terror.

And by terror, I mean those private moments, for me generally at bedtime, when I feel a bit of a sore throat. Or my allergies kick in and I cough.

When I suit-up and ride my bike, I’m subconsciously aware of the fact that a distracted driver can mow me down on each and every ride. It’s a risk I accept and a trade-off I choose to engage in for the joy of cycling.

But the Covid19 virus has me worried. I don’t know specifically why, but there’s something about the prospect of going to bed with a bit of a sore throat or a little cough and spiraling into the emotional projection that four days from now I’ll be intubated, alone, and drowning in my own fluids. Unable to spend my last few moments on earth with the ones I love.

Adding to the ennui is the global reality that specifically what worries me is a phenomenon that has been exacerbated by Dear Leader and negligently mishandled by the same. There’s just something about the fear of dying and knowing that the entity that you’re forced to rely on and trust, your government, has bungled its response so horribly. I can’t imagine the rage felt by those who’ve lost loved once to this virus as they watch the fuckstain-in-chief brag about his ratings or point to his empty head and claim those are the only metrics he needs to defeat “the invisible enemy.”

We are fucked.

The good news is: as with all things, this too shall pass and I’ll share some silver lining thoughts in the coming days.

Stay safe…


Day 25: “Get off my damn lawn”

Finding myself sleeping in way too late; 0930 this morning which is close to a “fuck it and blow the whole day” time in my world.

Stuff like that happens in quarantine. Absent a job, there’s not a whole lot of reason to wake up. Surely, I jest, but I am pointing out one of the components of our new reality. Too much sleep, and as I’m reading on social media, too much drinking. I’m definitely subject to the former and no longer allowed to engage in the latter, so I think I’m good.

Today, in response to a question about what metrics he would use to decide when the country should go back to work, Dear Leader pointed to the oblong object just beneath the bleached mop on his head and said: “the metrics in here.”

I can’t even.

I understand why Bernie supporters are upset. I cannot understand why, despite their hatred for Biden and the so-called establishment that he represents, they would either not vote for Biden, abstain from voting, or cast a vote for Trump.

I hate to sound all “you kids, get off my damn lawn”-ish, but holy shit, grow the fuck up. This is NOT a perfect world. Sometimes adults must choose between the lesser of two evils. This is one of those times for Bernie Bros and it’s time for them to either buck up, or just freely admit their goal is anarchy because I can damn well guarantee them that will be the result of a second Trump term.

Jesus, just writing that increases my blood pressure.

How hard is it, to simply cast a vote, not necessarily for your nirvana, but in your own (and that of your community) best interests?

OK, enough of that crap…

I took a friend on a bike ride (yes, we observed all the proper social distancing for cycling) for the first time today. She enjoyed it and I’m hoping I’ve secretly indoctrinated another poor fool into the majestic (and expensive) sport of road cycling.

I reconnected via text with an old friend today.  A friend from Part I of my life and it was both a genuine pleasure and a real healing moment for me. I highly recommend this type of thing when possible.

Finally, I’m pretty close to broke right now. No stimulus check has arrived and I’m navigating an EDD system that is confusing and I’m not sure when or if I’ll be getting any unemployment benefits. Stressful but manageable.

And I’ll end with the heartfelt sentiment that despite this, I’m incredibly blessed by whatever spiritual force/entity that maintains this thing we call life.

Stay safe…


Day 24: Did we get vaccinated? edition

Didn’t ride today. Legs felt like logs. Meh.

I did get stuff done though so I felt productive and it wasn’t a total waste.

Stressing about money. I cut this new job way too close, so it’s going to be incredibly tight for a month or so. I know. Quality problems…

I’m starting to sense, on social media, that people are starting to settle into this quarantine gig. They don’t at all seem happy about it, but there is a distinct sense of acceptance and adaptation.

We heard a strange theory today. Researchers at Stanford are investigating whether or not the Covid19 virus made a visit to California in late fall. All sorts of anecdotal reports of “odd” illnesses are popping up in northern California. Including my own.

I can generally feel when the flu is coming on and in either late November or early December I told my girlfriend it was coming. It stalled for a week then finally hit. But it only lasted a day and was gone. That’s NEVER happened to me before. It’s usually a 5-10 day ordeal.  The hypothesis is that it arrived here in a milder form, ergo my weird symptoms, and created antibodies for some of us in California. Sort of like a flu vaccine for Covid19. This speculation is based both on the anecdotal reports, but by statistics. New York City pulled the trigger on Shelter-in-Place only 72 hours after where I live, the Bay Area implemented it. Yet they are experiencing a Covid fatality rate 14 times higher. I took Stats in college and freely admit they are nowhere close to proving this based on statistics, but it’s certainly interesting dinner fodder while…well…not doing a whole lot.

Tomorrow I’ll find out about possible funding at the University of Montana and will need to make a decision on whether to attend next fall or defer a year. I think I already know the answer but will keep it under wraps until I here more in the coming days.

I can’t imagine what Missoula, Montana will be like for this suburban/City boy…

 


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