Tag Archives: Oakland

Move It: 2017 Edition

Back when all my worldly possessions amounted to a twin bed, a stack of CDs and a Mr. Coffee, I thought moving was fun. These days, things are a little different. With five bicycles, three grills and a small collection of non-Ikea, grown-up furniture, changing addresses is a stress-inducing hypothetical endeavor. Add a pretty lady, a big black dog and their stuff to the mix, and the subject of relocation is enough to inspire visions of a massive bonfire fueled by unnecessary household goods.

So when the landlord’s real estate sign went up in our yard back in June—roughly eight months after we moved in—the task before us seemed daunting. The Craigslist search. The big dog discussion. The you-want-how-much-for-the-deposit shock factor. The packing. The truck. The loading and unloading. But we did it. Mission accomplished. With a little help from a friend*. Now, as we dig our way out of the boxes, we’re up against the real-life limitations of physical space. We’ve stacked, stored, reconsidered and rearranged. I gave up on recovering the tape measure two weeks ago. I’ve come to terms with the idea of never owning a couch again. I hate shoes (other than the ones on my feet). Extra shirts seems extravagant. I find myself questioning why anyone would need more than two forks. All the things I’ve loved before are clutter and clutter is the enemy!

But one must remain calm. It’s the only option a relatively sane person has. In the end, we’re lucky to have a roof over our heads, a wonderful new neighborhood just beyond our front door and, of course, a magical sunflower watching over the entire process. Without the sunflower, I’m pretty sure the above mentioned bonfire would’ve been the first and only thing on my agenda.

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Cut from my lady’s garden at our previous address, this sunflower has kept me grounded.

* I hired a mover who happens to be a nice guy and by the end of the process I considered him a friend

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In bloom.

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The neon flowers of the bay area are alive and well around every corner. I snap pictures like a tourist and occasionally spot a theme among the many. In this case, Bougainvillea that’s so healthy it’s become an architectural element. Just one of the many reasons I’m proud to call this place home.

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Sunshine and M&Ms.

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As life in the Bay Area gets increasingly more expensive and hectic, I try to frequently remind myself how lucky I am to be here. In this case, three random photos taken on a Tuesday made all the difference. Now let’s see what Wednesday brings.

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Tipsy.

When I was nineteen I dropped out of school, sold what little stuff I had and moved to California to start an illustrious career as a barista. I was broke, lonely and lost. I was also free. No friends. No family. No obligations—except getting to work at 6 AM each day to open the coffee shop.

I took my job seriously. It was all I really had going on. I liked being there among the other recent California transplants and art students. They were slightly off and so was I. Life was just as it should be at such a young age.

I made minimum wage but I really worked for tips. I was amazed at the simple equation—I was friendly to people and they’d toss money in the jar. There was one regular in particular that would stop in early, order a small coffee to go and leave me a dollar—roughly a 95% tip for handing him a paper cup and telling him to have a good day.

Memories of my life twenty years ago came flooding back this morning when I stopped by a small coffee stand on my way to work. The ladies running  things were welcoming but not over the top. I ordered a simple cup of coffee, paid with cash and without thinking twice tossed a dollar in the tip jar. Smiling as I walked away, I felt good about life, the process of growing up and the fact that I had a dollar to spare for a kid that’s probably broke, lost and lonely.

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Backyard bouquet.

My Midwestern upbringing taught me that counting on the beauty of outdoor plants can be a forecast for disappointment. With surprise snowstorms as late as May and the possibility of 100-degree temps in early April, flowers may pop but they rarely stick around for long.

So you can imagine my shock when the wild vegetation that’s overtaken our Oakland quarter-acre produced roses. Lots and lots of roses. Here are a few snapshots. While they’re nothing special in terms of photography, they’re meant to be a bright spot in bad news stream that’s dominated most computer screens for the last few months. Use accordingly.

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Subject to interpretation.

Smart phones can be the great equalizer among a wide range of age groups. As long as you’re spry enough to scroll, humans from 3 to 93 can stay connected to a world of digital happiness.

Best case scenario? People from all walks of life have an opportunity can share ideas and cross paths.

Worst case? Lack of hipness leads to an awkward situation. Which is essentially how a Lyft ride went for me last week.

We were on our way to a live show. On a Monday. Balcony seats and earplugs aside, we were ready to rock out like a couple of twenty-somethings. We got in the car and the small talk began.

“Where you guys headed?” asked the Lyft driver.

“We’re gonna go see a band,” I responded, assuming he’d probably never heard of the headliner.

“I love music, but I’m mostly into oldies…” he trailed off with a hint of shyness in his voice.

Surprised by the combination of a young guy and the unexpected genre, I responded enthusiastically. “Right on, man. Me, too. I’m a big Elvis fan. Carl Perkins? Chuck Berry? Even stuff like the Everly Brothers and Patsy Cline. Wow! So cool.”

There was a long pause. As if the poor guy was suddenly deprived of oxygen.

“Oh, well, I didn’t mean oldies like that, I meant like Prince and Michael Jackson…those oldies.”

No one in the car said much after that. Trying to back track and establish any common ground at that point seemed like more work than it was worth for momentary bond. A few days later, I celebrated my 39th with a little Elvis on the turntable. Some true oldies for a guy who’s almost old enough to know the difference, I thought about the kid driving the car and adding some Prince to my vinyl collection.

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The kindness of strangers.

When you have an unpredictable dog in your life, counting on the generosity of others becomes standard operating procedure. Even while that dog may be attempting to hump, playfully bite or dominate the generous stranger’s well-behaved canine. It’s a ritual I know well with Woody the black lab. Contrary to his incredibly sweet appearance on Instagram, he is an animal in the most primal sense.

This all came to a head last week on an early-morning walk. The timing was premeditated—my hope being that we’d avoid other dogs and people. But alas we ran into one of each just as two tennis balls went flying through the air. A situation I didn’t fully comprehend until it was too late, I helplessly watched as Woody went bounding toward the unsuspecting dog and its toys.

Those of you who know Woody’s history, know his taste for consuming objects—especially crushable, edible tennis balls. The routine is frustrating and predictable. He steals the ball and runs in circles until he can get it down his throat. Naturally, he won’t come anywhere near me during the process.

But I was lucky on this particular day. The other dog owner took an interest in the situation (and the possibility of getting her ball back). I talked her through the process of sneaking up on Woody, speaking to him in a soft voice and then grabbing his collar with a firm hand. She executed the moves beautifully and within seconds the glob of mucous-covered, pre-digested ball was in my hand, rather than Woody’s stomach. A $5,000 savings!

I always appreciate the courage of others and especially feel lucky when those people are random strangers. Sometimes things work out. Now I only hope I encounter this generous person again some day so I can express my gratitude and offer to replace the ill-fated ball that nearly resulted in yet another very expensive trip to the vet.

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