Category Archives: Writing

Day 23: (Remembering Matt)

Returned a few hours ago from an early morning grocery store run. I was hoping to score some highly prized toilet paper.

I was allowed to buy 4 rolls.

Apparently, the trick is getting to the store at 6:00am vs. 6:45am.

Whatever.

I’m feeling a bit sick of this whole thing. I was not able to take in my own grocery bags. I could not buy more than one carton of eggs. Yadda yadda yadda…

I’m whining now. The world isn’t the same and I don’t like it. I don’t like wearing gloves and an N95 mask to buy fucking groceries. I don’t like asking the grocery store workers, many of whom I know on a first-name basis if they and their colleagues are okay.

I don’t like having an orange Cheeto despot running my country.

But all that is beside the point.

Today, I’m healthy. Today, I’m not struggling to breathe.

Today…I’m alive. And that’s a gift.

When my 17 y/o step-son became a quadriplegic in 1999 (he died in 2005) as the result of a car accident, I learned first-hand the advantage of not taking the little things for granted. Matt used to tell me he had dreams about running…about simply walking. It fucking broke my heart. In fact, it still is hard to talk about.

So when I see myself spiraling into self-pity, I remember Matt. I remember the things he yearned for that I took for granted. I miss him so much.

Today, I’ll remember to be thankful for the little things.


Day 20

Just riffing here…but holy cow: 20 days of no work and shelter-in-place. Walking the dog in a downpour this morning I reminisced about where I would be, specifically, at work at this time on a Sunday morning. More “normal” musings. Meh.

The dog (and by “the dog” I mean 70-pound Belgian Malinois aka 70-pounds of muscle and fury) accidentally head-butted me in the mouth, nearly knocking out one of my front teeth. So there’s that…

Planning on doing fuck-all today as next week I need to start getting up early in the mornings and attempting some form of self-discipline in order to remember that I am, in fact, an aspiring writer and have plenty of stories to revise and stories-in-progress to work on. It won’t be pretty. Additionally, I need to start working on some online onboarding for my new job as well as tutorials for a new software program I’ll be using.

That said, I’m also looking forward to the break in the rain Tuesday so I can get back on the bike and continue the progress I’ve made the last 20 days. I’m starting to feel myself again on the bike and I really want to push my suffer threshold and do some big climbs.

I never thought I’d look forward to suffering. Cycling is weird…

We’ve been looking at rentals in the East Bay as our current situation had become unstable, and it’s bizarre to see the diversity of neighborhoods/gentrification, especially in the Oakland/Emeryville area. For those of you that live in non-inflated parts of the country, know that we are looking at one-bedrooms to rent for monthly price tags of $1900-3500, with $2300 being about the median price. Ugh.

For comparison, Missoula, Montana has 2-bedroom apartments for $700. Why haven’t I moved yet? Oh, yeah, that pesky employment obstacle.

In today’s moment of dystopia, nearly 9,000 Americans will die of Covid19. Today. One day. And the current federal administration is attempting to cover up the reality that they dismantled every protective mechanism that could have prevented this since 2016. And yet Trump blames Obama for “bad tests” of Covid19. But, as per usual, it’s a bald-faced lie that Fox will run with.

Finally, many churches are defying common sense and community protection by encouraging their members to attend Palm Sunday services in person:

Fuck all of you.

I really have nothing more than that. If you’re willing to risk my life, and those of my loved-ones by defying a common-sense order, then I’ll dance on your grave when you get infected, but by god don’t infect the rest of us.

Darwin was on to something…

 

 

 


Day 18 (Melancholy Edition)

Since my cycling legs are slowly coming back I decided to ride to my old stomping grounds. I wanted to head out to Yerba Buena Island via the east span of the Bay Bridge.

As a student at Cal, this was my primary fitness ride–a 20-mile loop encompassing a bit of Emeryville Marina that was flat as a pancake. No big deal right?

Well for starters, we’ve moved. My previous starting/ending point for the ride was at sea level. We now live at about 1100 feet a.s.l. Great for the ride down, not so much for the ride home. In fact, this now 30-mile ride features a tortuous 9-11% grade for the last 2.5 miles of the ride. Again, painful but doable.

As I set out this morning, I realized I was retracing a good chunk of the same route I rode to school for 2.5 years. So that put a good-sized lump in my throat. Those years, I’ve often commented, are likely some the best years of my life. An amazing education at a world-class university. So lucky.

So there was that.

But then, as I jumped off my commute route and hit the Bay Trail along the actual east side of the San Francisco Bay, I was struck numb. This was the route I’d ridden countless times back when…life was normal. When all I had to worry about was my next paper, my next reading assignment, my next FAFSA application. Back when the world, in all its glory, was predictably screwed up.

Now, we find ourselves amidst a vicious deadly global pandemic that has upended life as we know it. No more classroom lectures or trips out to eat. As I put one foot in front of the other on the pedals today I suddenly ached for normal.

We are being hardened to a new normal that I fear will be usurped by opportunistic politicians for their own selfish ends. Hell, capitalism in the United States already essentially fits that definition now. But it was “our” normal. We were used to it.

Todays normal feels like a dry-run for end times. And yet…

It’s also an opportunity for those of us who have stood idly by and allowed our country to spiral into the inequitable and self-deluding shit-show we have become to roll up our sleeves and take meaningful action.

I believe we’re at a crossroads.  United States Navy Capt. Crozier has set an example for us. He has shown us the best of what this country can be in the midst of a deluge of corruption.

Will we follow his lead?


Day 17 (Da Fuq? Edition)

I refuse to watch these #MAGA campaign rallies masquerading as the Daily White House Corona Virus Task Force briefings, as they are clearly nothing more than an exercise in narcissistic masturbation. I typically get the Cliff Notes version from journalists I trust on Twitter.

Yesterday, in the midst of unprecedented carnage, Trump gleefully told the nation he was #1 on Facebook (He’s not, Obama retains a commanding lead).

But today was the day that makes me wonder if the end of the world isn’t closer at hand than we suspect. Soulless ghoul, Children of the Corn mannequin Jared Kushner addressed the nation during this time of crisis. That’s it. That’s all I’ve got. If you can’t read into this the abject horror we are experiencing, there’s nothing I can do to educate you.

To further enhance my spiraling depression, in a perfect shot/chaser (Kushner) tandem, the Navy is relieving the Captain in command of the USS Theodore Roosevelt for complaining about the dire emergency vis-a-vis the Covid19 outbreak on his ship and the utter malfeasance the government is engaging in by not responding appropriately.

So let’s fire him. But lets PARDON and psychopathic war criminal who murders teenagers and then poses with the body. Yeah. Let’s be that country.

Fuck, I just can’t anymore.

I didn’t ride today as my legs are sore from three solid days of hard climbing and I’m planning a backbreaker tomorrow. I’m sure this isn’t helping my perspective of where we are collectively either.

On a personal note, I received the formal job offer I’ve been hinting at. If I don’t screw it up, I’ll be making the most money I’ve made in 17 years. It’s the ideal job for me as I pursue my real passion as a writer. That I’m blessed beyond belief is not in dispute. It’s just hard to remember that sometimes when I look outside the window.

Stay safe…


Day 15 (a day late), and Day 16 (a two-fer!)

I started this SIP journal 16 days ago when my local government issued a Shelter-in-Place order lasting until April 7. Yesterday, March 31, they extended the order until May 3.

Lovely…

Look, it’s ultimately the right thing to do and should have been done earlier. The Trump administration will be appropriately lambasted someday (Rep. Adam Schiff of CA is calling for a 9/11 type commission to investigate the federal response) for their negligent and inept response.

Here’s what I know. I’m out of work. I’m worried about where the money is going to come from for food and shelter. I have applied to the CA EDD but have no idea when or how much I’ll receive. I’ve been fortunate enough to receive another informal job offer, but until I sign on the dotted line, my anxiety remains. Even then, the old “last hired/first fired” adage remains in effect and in these uncertain economic times, I think we’re beyond the “sure thing” method of planning our futures. And that sucks.

Being a member of the recovery community has taught me to try to take life One Day at a Time and there’s no better time for that than now.

Here’s a Day 15 photo of me doing just that:

IMG_2789Life doesn’t get much better than this…

Day 16

Ok, so maybe I’m carrying this sleeping thing a bit too far. It’s 0930 and I had to pry myself out of bed. My girlfriend was kind enough to get up with the nagging animals at 0700 and feed them, leaving me to contemplate whether I could, in fact, justify spending the entire day in bed.

Ugh.

This is not how I want to live my life.

I need structure. That means, I need self-discipline, which I sorely lack. But I’m gonna do it anyway. As soon as I post this blog, it’s time to glove-up, mask-up and enter the trenches of the grocery store. After that, I’m going to attempt a cycling climb that has defeated me in better days.

All of this is to say, as usual, I’ve got a bunch of quality problems and am much better off than a lot of people. I complain about my decision to stay in my warm bed while other human beings are being sectioned off in quadrants on asphalt outside and told they’re fortunate to have those “beds.”

It’s all about perspective. But there’s no denying that our collective experience has been upended.

If nothing comes of this, it will be a goddamn tragedy. If nothing else, the theme of this SIP journal is a call to collective action. A call to overturn the paradigm and use these challenges to make meaningful change. Will it work?

A guy can ask…


Day 14: And so it goes…

Both the Federal government and local counties are extending the Shelter-in-Place order through the end of April.

To celebrate that news, my employer officially placed me on furlough. I’ve heard the term furlough before, mostly in the context of work furlough surrounding an arrest, so I looked it up. I wish I hadn’t.

My paycheck stops on April 1. The good news is that my employer will continue to fully fund my health insurance premiums through the end of May.

In the immortal words of Ferris Bueller, “life moves pretty fast,” so before I could fully mourn my loss of livelihood, I received an informal start date at my new employer. It’s not official until I sign the formal offer letter, so I’m keeping it under wraps, but once the letter is signed, I’m good to go with a pay rate significantly higher.

But wait, there’s more!!!

I contacted the director of the Creative Writing MFA program at the University of Montana who confirmed that I could defer my entry for a full year. This has a bunch of benefits for me, namely staying in my new position (in academia) for a year a well as potentially moving to Missoula early to establish residency. In addition to allowing me to apply again to more fully funded MFA programs next year.

Someone on Twitter mentioned that today is March 97th which, after this day, makes absolute sense.

Not only has the pandemic crippled reasonable planning, it’s apparently required a new level of adaptability in the era of the virus.

Disclaimer: All of the above reflects my avowed privilege. I’m whining about quality problems. I have food, shelter, and a couple cats and a dog. I’ve got a job offer on the horizon and an exciting Masters program to look forward to.

I’m acutely aware that many, many people are righteously suffering right now.  I’m not meaning to minimize that in this space, but reflect my experience during these dystopian times. I’ve been through enough pretty bad stuff in my life to know the stress I’m feeling right now is a blessing.

My heartfelt thoughts go out to those truly struggling right now.

Let’s not forget those folks way less fortunate than us right now.

 


Day 12: The Unspoken

Day 12 brings more of the same nonsense out of Washington.

I’m still sheltered-in-place.

And I’m afraid.

Afraid to talk about that fear.

I’m 59-years-old and in the sweet spot of the Covid19 fatality metric. Each day I read about more and more Americans, often quite younger and healthier than me who have died of this virus.

Monday they felt fine.

Tuesday they had a cough.

Wednesday they had a fever.

Thursday they’re in ICU.

Friday they’re dead.

And they died in isolation.

That’s my fear. That I’ll wake up tomorrow and have a cough. That less than a week later, my life will end.

I think about this each and every time I go for a bike ride. That a distracted driver will hit and kill me. But there’s something “normal” about that fear.

Life is about risk. Ride a bike? Maybe get hit and killed by a distracted driver. I choose that risk each time I saddle up.

I’m not choosing to die because I didn’t immediately wash my hands after handling an Amazon package delivery.

There’s something terrifying about that prospect. Get a package. Die.

I didn’t want to write about my fear. I have a terrible fear of self-fulfilling prophecies.

But maybe someone else shares my fear.

You’re not alone.

We are in this together.


Day 11: The Covers are Coming Off Edition

And by covers, I mean the covers of disbelief that a grifting game show host is the leader of the free world and is running my country into a cesspool.

Trump admitted at his presser today that he is effectively shunning governor’s “who aren’t nice to him.” What the actual fuck? By extension, he’s willing to kill the residents of those states, many of whom may have voted for him.

I mean look, our country has been headed down this rabbit hole since Reagan. The advent of Fox “News” simply injected a bump of cocaine into the process. Add a pinch of internet conspiracies and where we find ourselves was entirely predictable.

But I’m not having it. I genuinely believe that this crisis, this game-changing paradigm shift is the kick in the ass this country needs to collectively pull our heads out of our asses. Not just the deplorables that put the orange shit-stain in office, but privileged white boomers like me that sat idly by and opined about what a shame it is that our country is coming apart at the seams. We are ALL responsible for this.

Things will get worse folks. The Donald will implode as this crisis continues to get so far ahead of his grift, that it will eventually dawn on him that he won’t be reelected, and will likely go to prison (if there is a God). And by God, he needs to. Biden MUST unleash the full weight of the new DOJ without regard to perception and set an example for the next would-be despot. Barr, Pence, Pompeo, McConnell…ALL of them need to serve significant time. ANY public official that broke the law needs to see a metal commode toot sweet.

I’m pissed. I’m tired of sitting on my ass at home (save the daily bike ride) and watching the fabric of my tattered country stretched beyond its limits.

We can do this. We just need the will. This crisis has provided the cover.

Time to clean house.

 

 


Day 9

Great bike ride today. That’s it. That’s the whole damn day. The only silver lining.

The rest of the day was consumed trying to avoid more bad news from Washington. Believe me, it’s very taxing to try to figure out what I’m going to do with all that cash I’ll have leftover from the generous (taxed) $1200 that the GOP was kind enough to grant us.

What a shit-show.

For most families, $1200 is a slap in the face. I spent the morning on the phone trying to get a new EDD card so when my unemployment benefits kick in, I can actually, you know, buy food and shelter since my employer is failing to pay me. And honestly, I don’t necessarily blame them. They are shut down based upon (the correct and scientifically proper) government decision to protect the health and welfare of the citizenry. Ergo, the government is the one who should be reimbursing us. And by government, I mean the FEDERAL government who has systematically mishandled this crisis since the beginning of the year.

I saw some toilet paper today with Trump’s face on it and it was ALL I COULD DO to avoid buying some on Amazon. But I’m doing my level best to wean myself from that addiction. Jeff Bezos represents the worst of us. A modern-day Dr. Evil. The sheer greed of that man (and the Walton’s) represent EVERYTHING that is wrong with capitalism in its modern form in America. I really hope this pandemic is a wake-up call for the few of us remaining with functioning brain cells and critical thinking skills. For the Fox crowd, Darwinism will eventually resolve that issue.

Grit. Hope. It’s all I’ve got left in these really depressing times.

That and my bike. Thank god for my bike.


SIP: Day 8

Dr. Fauci is clearly the only adult left in the White House Corona Virus TF press briefing, and today found him back at the podium…tepidly challenging Dear Leader’s pronouncement that Easter would be the end of social distancing.

There’s so much to dissect here, but I’ll limit myself to the extraordinary lack of courage on Fauci’s part. People are dying while the orange fuckstain is practicing medicine on Twitter. And the best Fauci can do is tepid??? Fuck that guy too.

No ride today as the rain visited the East Bay so I’m more ornery than usual. I spent most of the day doing absolutely nothing. Listened to my partner’s Zoom conference from her job and reinforced my belief that most industry is comprised of human beings trying real hard to justify their paychecks.

Whatever. I mentioned I’m grumpy.

We’re supporting Takeout Tuesday by getting Round Table later so I guess that makes us more productive than the “President.” Oh, did I mention that Liberty University is reopening?

The best-case scenario finds the deplorables back to work on Easter while the rest of us with an IQ over 10 continue to practice common sense. Can someone say, Darwin?

Okay, that was a little much, but JFC, Cult 45 is drifting ever closer to Jonestown by the day and I’m not having it.

Oh…I called my BFF today. He’s a big-time financial adviser. One of his clients lost $2 million this week and another one of my friends he works with lost $18 million. I’m absolutely not in favor of bailing out business or reopening the country prematurely to save the Dow, but realistically we may be in for some fairly catastrophic financial times in the next few years. Act accordingly, kids.

We considered that hopefully, this perfect storm of a pandemic and Dear Leader is the reset button our country needed to right the ship.

Ah, the sustaining power of hope.


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