Tag Archives: observations

About last Saturday.

We’re all aware of the fact that life can be reduced to a series of what-if scenarios and dissatisfaction. Plenty of people spend their days that way. But those of us who are lucky enough to be influenced and charmed by others and their insatiable encouragement, have 40th birthday parties.

Booze is mandatory. Pizza is never a bad idea. And space to socialize is best advised for everyone’s comfort. While all the logistics were carefully considered and necessary purchases were made well in advance, space turned out to be the unexpected issue.

In the spirit of welcoming everyone—humans and canines—the park was our original destination. The green grass of Washington Square was perfectly suited for the festivities. But then the rain came.

We didn’t know what was in store until the last minute. As a matter of fact, it wasn’t until we stepped out on the sidewalk—with bags and backpacks full of party-in-the-park  necessities—that we discovered our fate. Watching people rush by with umbrellas in their hands, I cursed each drop as they collected on the windows and hoods of the cars parked along the street.

It was the time to pivot, as folks in the tech industry like to say. So, pivot we did. Actually, to be fair, it was more like a U-turn as we went back into our apartment to prepare our 400-square foot, one bedroom abode for an undetermined number of guests.

As the buzzer began to send electrical signals from the gate to the third floor, a small crowd began to form. Slightly frustrated at first, I was suddenly struck by the realization that the small crowd was comprised of some of my favorite people on earth, the small space was filled with thought-provoking conversation and there was plenty of pizza to go around (there was even a glutton-free option).

Who needs space? Who needs sunshine? San Francisco is supposed to rainy and cold. City life is supposed to force people to overcome small spaces with dirty stairwells and pigeon problems. The whole event started to feel like a bit like a movie sequence. Wine, beer, dogs and adults all cross pollinating, socializing and making the most of a rainy Saturday afternoon in North Beach.

I leaned against the plaster wall and took it all in. As people churned among one another, all I could do was smile. Smile like a dork. Smile like the world is OK. Smile…and crack open the bourbon.

 

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Old codger.

It was New Year’s Eve. We’d found a comfortable place to have a cup of coffee and debate what to do with the day in one of California’s quietest cities. It was all part of the plan to have a low-key holiday in Pacific Grove.

The sky was gray and it looked like rain might be a possibility. We were dressed in muted tones consisting of black, gray and brown. Woody the black Lab was curled up under the table, blending in with the surroundings. All was calm when a neon ray of light came into view. To be more specific, it was woman, probably in her mid-60s in zebra-stripped, lime green pants, a tie-dyed t-shirt and a fur coat. My San Francisco sensibility quickly sprung into action as I prepared to hand over some spare change. But as I quickly discovered, things are wonderfully different in “PG.”

“Excuse me, have you seen an old man come this way? Brownish hair. I don’t know…maybe in his 70s?” she inquired.

We told her we hadn’t, but she continued to elaborate.

“He’s this old man I met while visiting my mom in the nursing home. Nice guy. Just an old codger. Big house. Widowed. He asked if I wanted to meet him for coffee. I was dressed real conservative that day…nice sweater, slacks…he hasn’t seen me in this…in my zebra stripes…but I figure, what the hell, right?”

I immediately liked her and asked her more about the blind date. Her concern was that he’d shown up early and left as she was running late. She didn’t have his phone number and explained that she doesn’t believe in cell phones.

As she continued to fill in the details of the backstory, I noticed a rather conservative-looking older man crossing the street with a smile on his face. Intervening without interrupting, he politely squeezed her shoulder.

“This is HIM!” she exclaimed, as he put his arm around her and they walked into the coffee shop. No goodbye. No silly promises to talk again. We decided that was the official beginning of 2018 and the positive things to come. Here’s to hoping your new year is off to a good start.

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Reality Check: Black Friday Edition

Friends, I’m at the crossroads of adulthood and San Francisco. The apartment is far too small, but the neighborhood is conveniently located near all my bad habits and the office. I blend in nicely with all the other half-bearded twerps that came to this city for tech—telling myself all the while that somehow I’m different. I constantly reassure myself that I’m a nice guy while having reoccurring, mildly mean thoughts. I don’t deserve half of what I have, but you can be damn sure I’ll keep shopping for more.

This personal lament isn’t meant to come across as some jerk feeling sorry for himself. Instead, it’s just a short dissertation on feeling a million different things at once as I watch frenzied “Black Friday” shoppers momentarily glance at a homeless guy sleeping in the doorway across the street.

It’s not meant to be sad. It’s simply a reality check.

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Friday morning notes.

Tow It.jpg

I’ve always liked having a plan B—but some days life feels like nothing more than a series of accidents and spur-of-the-moment antics. Think it over this weekend and let me know what you come up with. In the meantime, happy Friday.

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Duly noted.

Cities are full of contradictions—especially here in San Francisco where tech and tourism thrive along with one of the worst homeless epidemics in the country. As vividly illustrated by these handwritten notes found on an early-morning dog walk a few days back, some struggle with parking issues, while others simultaneously seek spare change and handouts.

Idiot

Sharing.jpg

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Making arrangements.

Yesterday was a lousy day in America. After some deeply disturbed coward in a Las Vegas hotel room left most of us feeling sad and hopeless, the office was silent. People on the street spoke of feeling vulnerable. I wound up at the grocery store wandering the aisles looking for plastic wrap and a friendly smile or two.

That’s when the Safeway floral department came into view. Colorful, living things—free from gun control debates, social media bullshit and the perpetual stress of trying to get by. Just pretty things that make human beings happy.

Suddenly, with a bouquet in my hands, the checker wanted to chat, neighbors stopped in their tracks to ask about the flowers and complete strangers nodded their heads when I passed by. I’ve never seen nine dollars go so far. Were people glad to see the flowers? Or happy to witness one human theoretically doing something nice for another? Maybe both? I suppose it doesn’t matter why people reacted—it’s just the simple fact that they showed signs of life on a day when so many were focused on the subject of death. And that’s noteworthy. Or, in this particular case, blog worthy.

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