Friday, October 2, 2020
Despite conventional wisdom based on frequent and obsessive glancing at the Purple Air, air quality site, I’m at the bottom of the hill to determine for myself whether I should or should not hike. On Crown road there is a house with a flagpole in its front yard that flies both the American and California Republic flags. Decades ago a Kiwi sailor told me how to accurately gauge windspeed based on how a flag flies. Looking the the Stars and Stripes and the bear, I’m thinking six knots and increasing. Which means better air quality...soon.
I’m off up the hill, not a soul around and a similar warm wind as the night before last. The experience is fabulous, and only the slightest twinge of resentment from my throat and lungs. Some day these fires are going to end. It’s all I can think about as I walk.
On the descent, come a across a shirtless young man who looks as if he’s spent the pandemic doing nothing but lift weights and posting pictures of himself on Instagram. Attempt a congenial, comrade-esqe you-out-in-this-shitty-air-too wave. But the lad is far to self absorbed to respond as he launches into an uphill sprint just as he passes me. Feel as if I should applaud or something, but I think the boy’s therapist would caution against such overt validation.
Pick up dinner, as per usual for a Friday night, and head to my parents with food and new iPhone for my father. Also include an “iPhone for Dummies” book in a ridiculous attempt to mitigate the anticipated tech calls once the old darling starts playing with his new toy.
Thursday, October 1, 2020
I was just getting used to blue skies. Another fire has started just about an hour north of us. Looking at the smog surrounding the hill (Mt. Tamalpais), hiking is out of the question. Pilates and a large scotch.
Wednesday, September 30, 2020
A stunningly beautiful red moon against the midnight blue backdrop of the late evening sky. It's the wildfire smoke. The air quality hazy but not horrible. Warm wind on my hike tonight, like being out on the high desert just as the sun sets. It did much to calm my monkey brain. As I write this am gaining a deeper understanding and envy of monks who pursue a calm mind for enlightenment. The other side of that, for me at least, is the enlightenment that comes at the bottom of a bourbon glass.
Saturday, September 26, 2020
At Toast in Novato with Philip. The outside eating area is packed. Things almost feel normal, except the small staff is desperately trying to keep up with the unexpected influx of eaters.
Philip an I are meant to discuss a project he’s helping me with at BlinkBid. We give the topic a very earnest five minutes just as we’re finishing our last sips of coffee.
As I’m close to Indian Valley College, drive over the school’s pool where I used to work as a lifeguard...thirty-five years ago. The campus is in the middle of a profusion of building. Massive metal structures and construction vehicles have taken over the tennis courts, the grass field next to the pool that used to serve as a staging area for all the people attending swim meets is now eight foot high piles of dug up dirt. The pool remains mostly the same including a soda machine and payphone shell where I used to make myriad calls before the advent of cell phones. A warm breeze swirls around me as I walk the perimeter taking a trip down amnesia lane. The nostalgia unexpectedly sparks myriad thoughts and truths. I could spend the day here in the shade of the trees thinking about the past.
Arrive at the office convinced that I shouldn’t be here at all. Spend a few hours completing the most boring menial tasks then meet Emily in Larkspur to drop my car near Backstage wine bar. She drives us home where we both change onto walking attire and head to the bookstore for new reading material.
Then walk into Larkspur for wine and cheese at Backstage. In all we’ve trekked seven miles and are very happy my previously parked car is only half a block away.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
I can’t quite put my finger on the lack of motivation to write my diary. I could cop out and say it’s a our shit president, or spending three weeks in closed doors as wildfire smoke made going outside impossible. Maybe it’s a combination of all those things. I did a disservice to myself missing those weeks. Granted, there’s not been much to write about, life is somewhat routine during the pandemic. Or so I thought. I feel every strongly that once you let your dreams atrophy, even during tough times, you’re taking steps to kill your imagination.
This morning, thankfully, I recognized the symptoms brought on by lack of writing and have embraced the pen again. Life’s certainly not easy in these uncertain times. But it’s not the end of days, a point easily realized by simply avoiding the news and social media.
The fires in my area have subsided, the skies are clear again, reason alone to celebrate.
Start the morning by wishing my friend’s daughter happy birthday. The hours pass arduously owing to sleep deprivation. But that groggy feeling in and of itself is enough to spur a radical emotional departure. “Change is sexy,” my friend Cerraeh used to say. Absolutely goddamn right it is.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Down to the south-bay to meet my lawyer for drinks. First time to her house. It is fabulous.
We talk about myriad things, Silicon Valley and how it has changed over the last 20 years. Also go deep into a discussion about the Cold Way. I talk about my time in the Soviet Union. She shows me a framed chunks of the Berlin wall that leaves me speechless.
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
Lift an eyelid in response to Emily padding around the bedroom. It’s dark outside. Why is she up.
“Are you going to get up?”
“It’s not even sunrise yet.”
“It’s 9 a.m.”
So starts one the most bizarre days I’ve ever experienced. Everything is red outside. It looks like images from the Mars rover. It looks like the dystopian vision of “Blade Runner 2049.”
The fires accosting California are responsible for all this. The air quality is dangerously unhealthy. People are driving with their headlights on at 11 a.m. because it’s still eerily dark outside.
My friend Michelle sends me a picture taken as she crossed the Richmond bride.
By late afternoon, the red dissipates, but the air is still horribly polluted with wildfire smoke. Windows closed, fans and air-conditioners on, we’re prisoners in our own home until the fires get under control.
Wednesday, September 2, 2020
Step out of my office door in the early evening for a hike on the hill. Am immediately struck with a dull headache. The wildfire smoke is as thick as a fog. It crept up during the late afternoon.
It gets worse higher I drive up the hill. See the ranger and ask his opinion about hiking, without skipping a beat he tells me he wouldn’t. Access the Purple Air web site, 200 is considered a health alert. I’m sitting in a zone registering 191. Abandon the hike, head back to office with air conditioning, do some mat workout, head home to dinner and whiskey. Windows closed.
Monday, August 24, 2020
Early evening we get a most welcome breeze though the open windows. Later that beeze carries smoke from all the raging fries north and east of us. Close all the windows and doors to hermetically seal our home. It’s a tough time right now.
Wednesday, August 19, 2020
Pass this truck on the way to a doctor's appointment in San Francisco. How bizarre to see my name in fabulous graffiti art.
Tuesday, August 18, 2020
The sun beams on the bedroom floor are orange this morning. The unmistakable scent of fire pervades. Less than hour north three blazes are out of control. It has only been nine months since the last wildfire season. I’ve never seen things this bad in California.
Sunday, August 16, 2020
It’s four a.m., outside a raging windstorm has kicked up blowing the already oppressively hot air of a heat wave. Just as I try to nod off again, thunder shakes the windows, lightening streaks the sky. This weather, like everything else in 2020 in unprecedented.
Wake to a wet ground littered with branches and needles blow out of the trees during the night. High humidity and heat are harbingers for the what’s to come for the rest of the day.
Emily is off early. She and her friends are off to Santa Rosa to participate in a workout challenge followed by a wine tasting. I want to ask more, but...
My french teacher took pictures of the lightening from her balcony window. It’s just bizarre. This is tropical weather the likes I’ve never seen in this state.
Emily returns from her workout adventure with her friends. After sitting around for an hour trying to find the energy to do something, we head to Backstage for a glass of wine.
Saturday, August 15, 2020
Emily and I saunter down to Equator coffee in Larkspur. Our first time to the cafe since the pandemic. They’ve cleverly opened a window, about a third of the way, on the side of the cafe that looks out to the courtyard to manage safe transactions. On a small table outside the window, a baby monitor, inside the gentleman taking our order listens intently the monitor’s other half. Funny ole world we live in now.
Walk on a redwood tree lined street with our drinks in the oppressive heat before going to the farmers market to pick up a rotisserie chicken for dinner. Also buy two chicken wraps for lunch with my mother.
The air conditioned office is a welcome break from the heat. Normally these heatwaves last a three days before the fog rolls in and cools everything off. Not so this week, it’s going to be miserably hot for the next five days.
My mother and I share one the of the chicken wraps. The combination of densely packed chicken and veggies, and a soggy tortilla make for a lunch that sits like a brick in my stomach. Should of gone for the sushi.
Get this and that done with soporific effect. Hike and seriously reflect on how to shake things up so as not to be so bored at work.
Drinks and The Spanish Queen over a light dinner.
Sunday, July 26, 2020
After a fitful night sleep Emily and I head back to our new favorite breakfast joint. A walk around the town of Cannon beach reveals it to be a rustic beach community with a few upgrades to accommodate tourists. Today is incredibly crowded. Some said the valley is hot today which is why so many have flocked to the coast for the fifteen degree cooler weather. I’m really sure what constitutes “the valley”—make a mental note to look at mapa of Oregon.
Emily and I entertain thoughts of going for a hike, but Ecola state park is closed due to landslides and we fear another state park, ten miles south, will be packed. After switching rooms, we decide to make a day of it locally.
Another walk around the town we find the Chocolate Cafe. It’s heaven. Truffles, dark chocolate covered marshmallow, and espresso. The conversation gets kicked up a few notches. After a trip to the store for provisions and vodka, take a drive around some of the neighborhoods that overlook the water. It’s interesting, some have clusters of large fancy houses, others have the smaller houses like you would’ve seen twenty years ago in the California beach towns.
Back at the room, make up some chicken tacos in the microwave, drink a short vodka, and depart for an hour and a half walk along the beach to watch the last sunset of our trip.
Saturday, July 25, 2020
Lazy Susan for breakfast, this wonderful cash only place with epic omelettes starts our day. After a bit of work Emily and I go for a drive to further explore the coast.
Back at the hotel Emily preps for her gig, and I settle in to write a webinar I’m putting on this week. It’s not going well. After Emily leaves, all I can hear are the small waves washing up on the shore. After clearing my todo list as a way to procrastinate, I submit to the call of the ocean and head to the beach.
Get in the car and go to the market for dinner fixins. Our room has a fridge, a microwave, and a sink. Purchase wine, cheese, crackers, chicken, and lettuce and shove everything into the tiny fridge.
Head back out the beach to catch the waning rays of sun. The breeze and the water are most welcome. It’s the most relaxed I’ve felt in weeks.
Emily returns to the room just after the sun goes down around 9ish. We settle in with some food at an episode of “The White Queen.”
Friday, July 24, 2020
Emily is here to shoot a wedding, and, since she’s contractually obligated to provide a backup photographer should she fall ill, and, since the two week Covid incubation period that started the day she returned from the east coast ends today, I get a free trip. (She’s fine by the way, never healthier.)
Our hotel room looks out over Cannon beach and something called Haystack Rock which juts upward 235 feet out of the shallow shoreline. Search for it online and you’ll find about million or so images of it. I’m watching visitors add dozens more as I stroll down the beach.
Something about getting up too early for our flight and a general malaise has left me too cynical to bother photographing the 16 million year old boulder, I continue on.
It doesn’t take long for the stunning beauty of the water and the embrace of a cool breeze to raise my spirits. Upon passing Haystack Rock on the way back to the hotel, I snap a few photos. This lifts my spirits even more.
After Emily meets with her clients we head off to dinner at Mi Corazon for fancy Mexican food and tequila. A night cap at MacGregors pub where I discover a new Irish whiskey called Writer’s Tears. It’s like they named the booze for my afternoon.
The Covid-19 rules make for a lackluster bar scene, still the drinks are delish and they end the night nicely.
Tuesday, July 21, 2020
When utterly devoid of people the Oakland airport looks like a science fiction movie set. I meet Chantal outside under the Southwest signs. We quickly breeze past the phalanx of affable TSA agents who look positively thankful for something to X-ray.
The descent into Burbank is mildly disconcerting, for all the hundreds of times I’ve flown into Southern California, I’ve never seen so few cars on the freeway. It’s more bizarre than dystopian.
It’s wonderful to see Kimi who is kind enough to collect Chantal and I from the airport. At the Red Maple café we encamp at a table in the covered patio and attend to the business at hand. I apologize to our server, telling her that were likely to stay for a number of hours. With a warm smile she tells us she’s grateful to have customers. Kimi, Chantal, and I order coffees and snacks. An hour later, our lunch meeting arrives, and Kimi departs to run errands.
The meeting goes on for two hours, through another meal. Our server has become such a familiar face, I consider inviting her to thanksgiving.
The meeting concluded, our guest departs and Kimi returns.
On the one hand it seems odd to have travelled 500 miles by air to spend a day sitting at café just off a boulevard, but, then again, it’s the most adventure I’ve had during these lockdown months.
Order gelato and coffees, have a good laugh, and talk about Berlin where Kimi will live for the next three months. Chantal and I are whisked back to the airport for our return flight back to the bay.
Thursday, July 9, 2020
The dentist beckons. First time in an age, my last appointment was suddenly cancelled. Something about a pandemic. All a hoax I’m sure.
Am asked to sit outside in the courtyard on faux rattan. New rules prohibit lingering in the tiny waiting room. It’s just was well, listening to drills grind against porcelain, while trying to read Harper’s Bazar, I’d rather be outside.
The new hygienist takes the time to introduce herself, which I find a bit odd. Plenty of time catch up in the chair I would’ve thought. Then it becomes clear as she dons protective magnifying glasses with a bright LED light pointing down from the nose bridge, a surgical mask, a face shield, and gloves; I’m never to see her in her human form again.
Behind the hygienist a contraption of some sort. It’s a box on wheels with an articulated arm. It turns out to be a hyper suction device designed to sit just above the mouth and suck up atomized particles durring the cleaning. It sounds like a jet engine. When all is said and done and we get started I feel like an alien abductee. Maybe all those stories we’ve heard are not really space ships kidnapping unsuspecting ruralites up for examinations, but, rather, a cabal of dentists out late with a large supply of nitrus oxide. Just saying, the similarities between what I’ve read and what I’m witnessing from the chair are shocking.
Teeth clean, I bounce back to the office for a remarkably unproductive afternoon. A stark contrast to the morning which was brilliantly efficient.
At the end of the day, feel the malaise of having let myself down a little. Ok, a lot. To top it off, I don’t realize I’ve left my hiking gear at home until I get to the base of the fire road.
Home to pour a glass of self-forgiveness which serves to fuel promises of a better tomorrow.
Saturday, July 4, 2020
For the first time in over a decade this fourth of July I'm not sitting on a houseboat on Lake Shasta with my friends. The annual trip has been postponed until August.
It's a good day to bury the dead from my past, hope for a new president, and start anew. What better way to mark the event than a sunset picture from the windy hill that provides the solitude for decisions like fresh starts.
Happy birthday America.
Tuesday, June 30, 2020
Myriad phone calls. Enough to make my throat a little sore. A collection of incredibly dull errands.
Meet Stephanie G for drinks in her back yard. She has the hot tub going and Sting on the speaker. It's like being in highschool again. A long talk about contemporary times. We're both thankful we went out and got into trouble when were kids rather than cower in our bedrooms over a blue screen.
Monday, June 29, 2020
It's a Monday through and through. Chaos and nightmares at every turn. Muddle through managing to get yelled at only once or twice.
A computer issue keeps me chained to my desk instead of out on a hike. Still, drive up to the hill to catch the sunset. A soft breeze of warm air makes everything okay again, and spawns and idea for tomorrow.
Home to dinner and Lucy Worsley’s Royal Myths and Secrets.
Sunday, June 28, 2020
Up at six, unwillingly. With determination, fall back to sleep hoping for another hour or so. Wake at 9:45. Coffee, toast, dunk head in cold water, and sprint to French. The lesson goes until noon. Lots of conversing.
The day sinks into a lull. Too bored to work, too much work to plow through to justify pissing off to aleviate my boredom. Read the news, a mistake to be sure. Our idiot president retweeted a video of someone yelling "White power." Never have I felt more responsibility to vote.
Late in the day find some steam and get to work.
Sunset hike and back home for another episode of The Patriot with dinner. The show is exceptionally well written. I'm addicted.
Saturday, June 27, 2020
Lazy day. Coffee with Michelle C followed by phone calls.
Head into the office with good intentions to get things done, end up reading a bunch of useless fodder.
Dinner solo. Drink whiskey and watch The Patriot.
Sunday, June 21, 2020
Feeling much better than yesterday. Sleep, very important.
A long French lesson today which is a helluva lot of fun. Mostly work with pronouns, the current bane of my Franco pursuit.
Catch up on what I missed yesterday, a list of boring tawdry tasks that range from “take out the recycling” to “go through the mail.” I have too many interactions with too many companies. Dream of a simple life off the grid, then lookup how to do that online.
Philip comes by for his birthday dinner which we get from Joe’s. Prime rib, caesar salad, bourbon, and James Bond. A proper dudes night.
Saturday, June 20, 2020
Something is off this morning. I can't quite put my finger on it, but I feel dreadful. Coffee helps.
Meet Chantal for business hike. Two hundred steps I feel a sharp burning pain above my ankle. Nailed by wasp. The pain radiates outward as we continue on. It’s my first sting of the summer. The talk is wonderful and fun.
Luncheon at chez Chantal then head back home where I feel worse than when I woke up. Try to shake that feeling of exhaustion with two bowls of chicken soup. It doesn’t work, lay around the couch feeling like someone gave me a lobotomy.
Talk to Michael B who I haven’t spoken with in some months. It’s nice to catch up.
Watch the first half of “Banksy and the Rise of Outlaw Art,” it is fascinating and brilliant.
Make the mistake of scanning the news, the world is on fire. In San Francisco statues of Ulysses S Grant and Francis Scott Key are torn down my angry mobs. The president, well there is not much to say except no more reprehensible person has ever walked the earth than Donald Trump.
Feel good enough to hike the hill. Notice a profound difference in how I feel during a midday hike and one when the sun is lower in the sky. I love late afternoon hikes. Am convinced it has to do with thirty-two years of being a photographer. I am obsessed with beautiful light.
Home for dinner and the rest of the Banksy movie, then off to bed early.
Wednesday, June 17, 2020
Start the morning with the second of three webinars scheduled for this week. It goes a damn sight better than the one I did yesterday. It’s all about a good eye line.
To Sausalito with Hopper and her sister Camille to meet John for an afternoon on the bay. A gorgeous day with strong winds. Make it out way past the Golden Gate Bridge almost to the Point Bonita light house.
Grab burgers to-go for dinner at chez mien.
Monday, June 15, 2020
Start the day with a trip to the city. Chantal has arranged a socially distanced meeting with our two new interns, Chen and Tasha. Wonderful people; ambitious, smart—wow.
Back to the office to meet my new assistant, Sofia, she’s an instant hit. Feel very lucky to find such quality people for the company.
Phone calls and the like before everything turns into a whirlwind of tasks.
Emily and I drive to the Apple store to pick up her new iPhone. She should get an award for how long she managed to keep using her iPhone 6. The thing still works, it just can’t hold a charge for longer than fifteen minutes.
With office empty by late afternoon, take the opportunity to think about my day-to-day and what I’m doing that is superfluous, to mitigate the feelings of too much to do. The answer isn’t much of surprise. I liken it to volleyball. Despite being good at it, its time in my life has passed. Funny how we spend so much effort to get good at something only to have to let it drift away at some point in the future to accommodate new things.
Sunday, June 14, 2020
As Emily is going to be out of town for her birthday this week, we start the party early. A long walk to Backstage for a glass of wine, and, as we're informed, food. Only restaurants, not bars, are allowed to be open. We gladly order a cheese plate to go with our white wine. It feels odd to be out, almost like we've forgotten to how to do it.
Fabulous long walk back to the car, then home for dinner. Finish watching "Victoria and Abdul" which is almost good.
Wednesday, June 3, 2020
It's brutally hot today. Which I think is almost unfair to say out loud as my friends in Texas endure 100 degree weather daily. But ninety degrees for an area that sits in the mid seventies, well...
It’s hard to watch this country in turmoil. The riots, the anger, the dreadful authoritarian actions of an inept president.
Amid a backdrop of chaos and confusion, the day bakes on. Order a fan for the house to try and create an atmosphere Emily and I can sleep in. Hope for some elevation out of the muck tomorrow.
Sunday, May 31, 2020
Wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Too little sleep, too much stress. A bad combination for a day off. The weather isn't helping. Dull grey skies and heavy humid air.
After a second coffee around noon, my mood improves. This is immediately tempered by politics at an organization where I volunteer. Uh. What’s done is done. Decide not to dwell.
French class via Facetime snaps me out of my malaise.
Drive to the Lucca in the city for meatballs and sausages for us, pasta an mozzarella for my friend Christine who lives up the street. Drop her goods off and stay for an espresso.
Emily and I depart on a walk that continues for two and half hours. Seven and half miles in all.
Make meatball pizza and watch two episodes of our latest obsession, The Game.
Wednesday, May 27, 2020
Normal morning mishigas.
Off to Sausalito for a long overdue sail on the bay with John L and Kimberley L. The wind gets up to 30 knots. Just stunning.
Monday, May 25, 2020
Start Memorial day with a languorous breakfast.
Emily and I drive to San Francisco to help my parents with a few things.
Take the scenic route home which quickly becomes a traffic nightmare. Shelter-in-place has fallen by the way side, everyone is out and about. Our scenic ambitions turns into an escape from San Francisco adventure.
Stop by the office to pick up a few things and see this sweet sight out my window.
Saturday, May 23, 2020
Meet Chantal for a hike to talk about the business this morning. Two hours in the Novato open space near her house. Excellent weather and a fabulous breeze. We are both amazed how much we accomplish when outside the four walls of the office. Decide to make this a weekly thing.
A Zoommorial for my friend Grant who passed away a month ago. The event is run by his brother Ian in New Zealand. Fifty-five of Grant's closest friends attending from all over the world on the screen. Four hours of love, laughter, and tears. Everyone is in good form, it is wonderful to hear the stories.
Home for dinner with Emily. Continuing our English history theme of the last few months, watch sixth episode of Charles the 2nd.
Friday, May 22, 2020
It’s Tamsen’s birthday today. One of the most remarkable friends I have ever encountered. Send her a text early, head to the office where I find myself exceedingly bored with the tasks at hand.
To my parent’s to meet briefly with my father, then back to Marin to clean up a few more vestiges from my past. A long hike, followed by the normal Friday fare back at my parent’s house back in the city.
Thursday, May 21, 2020
The day passes with a lot of successes. To top it off the weather could not be more gorgeous. The day also spawns a lot of thought. It’s time to close the book on old chapters, bury the dead, and step in a new direction. If I’m honest, these thoughts have been floating around my head since December 26th, 2019. Today it feels as if I’ve mustered the courage to embark.
Wednesday, May 20, 2020
So much truth in graffiti.
Saturday, May 16, 2020
Balmy today. Yech.
Traffic is creeping up to its normal levels. The day passes with exceedingly boring chores. It doesn’t help that I feel exhausted from sleep deprivation and maybe one too many gins last night.
The highlight is the hike.
Friday, May 15, 2020
Attend an online OSHA course to get certified for the new world of virus avoidance.
A surprise visit from Hopper.
Traipse to the bakery, then back to the office to mildly obsess with the cleaning of the bottom side of the glass topped table that supports our work environment.
To-go from Joes, then to my parent's house for gin, burger, and British procedurals.
Wednesday, May 13, 2020
Another spring rain. Plod through the morning slightly discombobulated. Why do things seem to go awry the day after a successful day. The afternoon is an exercise in repetition and time slippage.
Late evening walk along the creek proves restorative.
Tuesday, May 12, 2020
Busy, busy, busy. One of those days where everything falls into place and everyone I talk to, including the representative at the United States Postal Service, is in a good mood.
Bright sun, cold air, and a lot of musing about where spring went. It was just here a few days ago. It feels like winter again.
Hiking on the hill is extraordinary.
Sunday, May 10, 2020
A much needed day away from everything. Breakfast, lounge, read. The black cat makes an appearance for food, then lingers in the bushes outside our door all day long. Every couple of hours he meows at the door for more food before galloping back into the sun.
Call my mother for mothers day, and then call her again for good measure.
Emily and I walk along paths near the marshes that I’ve not seen before. Five miles later, were ready for drinks and dinner. The cat makes one more appearance for attention before heading back to his owner.
Watch the second to the last episode of “World on Fire.”
Saturday, May 9, 2020
There’s more traffic on the road. More people are out. A good thing, a step in the direction of normalcy. Whatever the future of normalcy looks like.
Had I planned a little better, I could have taken advantage of the weather, but I didn’t. I buried myself in minutia. The day is not a loss by any means, but it could have been more interesting. Lesson learned.
The night ends wonderfully, the last episode of Unorthodox on Netflix.
Friday, May 8, 2020
The nine year old returns for a visit to the office with her mom. All I can think of is we adults have it all wrong. Kids are so full of verve an happiness.
Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Whereas yesterday was a bit of a mess, today goes wonderfully well. Lots of coffee and smooth sprint through a pile of work. Also, am looking at the finish line of a long term infrastructure project.
Monday, May 4, 2020
You’d think there’s be more to talk about. The daily grind of socially distanced shelter-in-place has me on the phone more than anything else. Had to put the kibosh on returning every phone call though. People I haven’t spoken to in ages are reaching out, hours are disappearing.
Am writing a lot more, a good thing. I love the habit.
On the way to the grocery strore near my office, where I grab lunch most days, is the dry cleaners where my dress shirts have been sheltering-in-place among all their cotton kin behind a “closed” sign. I glance over every time I drive by subconsciously checking if they’re open. Today I look over, the shop is empty. Of everything, including my clothes. A phone number on a sign taped to the front door gives instructions on how to retrieve one’s clothing.
The afternoon is a shit show. Full stop. Started on a project I didn’t want to do, only to have it consume too much time. The highlight is a visit from the dry cleaner owner who has brought me clothes. Nice guy. Had to make a choice between a half million dollars in debt to keep his shop open, or working for a larger operation. I’m sad to see him go—but needs must. I wish him well.
With daylight waning, settle for small hike, more out of obligation than anything else. Home late to Emily and a new recipe she’s thoughtfully prepped and asks me to cook. It’s marvelous as is the large bourbon I have in my glass.
Sunday, May 3, 2020
A welcome day off.
The Marin Art and Garden center announced they’re allowing visitors in today. Emily and I walk around the grounds. It is shockingly fabulous. Only a quarter mile west of my office, it’s like being in a different country. Face masks are the only reminder that we’re still in the middle of pandemic.
Go for a drive to the Point Reyes to feel the wind on our hair, then back home for drinks and dinner.
Wednesday, April 29, 2020
Long call with half a dozen producers. We're all trying to navigate what the future of production will look like. Until there is a vaccine developed human contact is going to be regulated among strangers.
Dodge the sheriffs car handing out warning tickets on the street I park to go hiking, am happy to reestablish a regular schedule of walking the hill.
Emily and I head to our friends house for socially distanced cocktails. It is wonderful to be out in a social setting.
Watch the final episode of Ozark. Wow.
Wednesday, April 22, 2020
Claire, my officemate's nine year old daughter, joins us today. Most of her time is spent looking at her computer screen, attending school online. But when she gets a break for recess (ah the memories), or lunch, I put her to work getting people on phone for me. It’s good fun and brings a ton of levity to the day.
After school is done Claire, her mom, Michelle, and I go for a short hike under the canopy of the forest. Reality rears after mother and daughter leave and I have to get back to myriad phone calls.
Monday, April 20, 2020
The news comes from one of my closest of friends, Kilian. “I’ve some bad news. Our brother Grant passed away this morning.”
The rest of the day is spent in a drone like state, mindlessly getting through the tasks at hand to avoid the crushing reality. I measured the time knowing Grant in decades, over three of them. He was larger than life, seemingly invincible. Adventurous, joyous, helpful, funny as hell, an icon, a legend.
Get home and pour two out for my lost friend. Emily and I raise our glasses looking upward. By the time the whiskey touches my lips rivers are flowing from my eyes. Jesus.
According to Kilian, the old darling went to the emergency room with chest pains last night. After a once over, the hospital gave him the nod to go home. Grant told Kilian it was probably stress and that he intended to start back up with Yoga and other exercises. Grant’s step son found him this morning, likely a heart attack.
The loss is profound, not to just me, but to a large cadre of Shastites who had the distinct pleasure to spend a week every July for the last thirty years on a crowded houseboat in the middle of Lake Shasta with Grant. We all loved him, we all miss him.
Tuesday, April 14, 2020
The news is full of politicians patting themselves on the back as the Covid-19 curve seems to be flattening here in Northern California. These same politicians have offered no guidance on what’s next. Meanwhile, our president has delayed release of the much needed relief checks to allow the printing system to be reconfigured to add his name to each check in he memo field. It is a vomit inducing act of narcissism and trying to buy votes.
In direct contrast to the political climate, the weather is stunning. Crystal clear blue skies and an easy breeze. Run a few errands for my parents before driving to the city to deliver their goods.
A much needed hike just after the sunset as the wind picks up.
Sunday, April 12, 2020
It's Easter. The day passes with a mix of work and a long walk at the end of the day. Emily and I celebrate the religious holiday with a dinner of giant meatballs from Lucca in San Francisco and good scotch.
Friday, April 10, 2020
Record podcast episode this morning with Katharine Blake, founder of the Mediaeval Baebes. She's isolating with her daughters and boyfriend in Scotland, feeling guilty about leaving London. I say, there's nothing you can do to help in the city, so you're doing right by your family. She agrees and we get through the episode swimmingly. She is a delight.
The rest of the day is spent working on the now and the future. Had every intention to hike today, but the day slipped away. That’s happened one too many times this week. Tomorrow, reassess time management to prioritize walking, that’s where all the good thinking happens.
Pick up groceries for my ma, and to-go food for my dad, then drive to the parents for the usual Friday night fabulousness.
Tuesday, April 7, 2020
Day twenty-one of shelter in place. The weeks blend together like a seven fruit smoothie. The federal government has passed a two trillion dollar financial support package for the American people. The process is profoundly confusing and bureaucratic, adding to the anxiety of the collapse of the economy. Our president continually demonstrates an utter lack of leadership amidst the crisis. I can only hope his miserable response to this unprecedented pandemic will tank his re-election efforts.
Friday, April 3, 2020
Found this when I returned to my car after a fabulous hike. Not sure if these are going to to turn into fines soon. One of the other regular hikers has pulled off the parking restriction sign from the wood post that marks the beginning of the fire road.
Friday, March 27, 2020
It’s day ten of the shelter-in-place order. Things are settling in to a new way of living until the pandemic is... I’m not sure what constitutes an “all clear.” I’m not sure anyone does.
Came across this on the way back home from my parent’s place tonight. A beautiful sentiment and the best advice of everything that’s been said.
Tuesday, March 24, 2020
Yesterday and a today are examples of profound time mismanagement. I’m blaming the current climate of Covid-19 chaos. In truth, it’s me juggling real life with useless distraction—prioritizing the distraction.
The day passes on the phone, in a light fog. The gray weather doesn’t help I can’t help thinking an executive assistant would be in order. But really, I just need to sit down, pull myself together and get organized.
Highlight of the day is dinner with Emily at home. Watch a documentary about the relationship between Queen Elizabeth and Mary Queen of Scots as told by the letters the two monarchs wrote to each other. The show is marvelously well done. To bed intent on emphatically shaking up things tomorrow.
Saturday, March 21, 2020
The Peet's coffee near the house stopped letting customers inside the café today. Apparently stacking the tables and chairs into an unusable heap wasn't enough to keep people from lingering. They’ve set up a small table in the doorway and taped handwritten signs to the window indicating where to stand to order, and where to wait for the delivery of one’s beverage. The largish coffee corporation now resembles a child’s lemonade stand.
There are a lot people out, keeping reasonable distances between each other to be sure, but out nonetheless. Despite the bizarre state of the world, spirits remain cautiously high.
After coffee, head to the office to at least try to get a few petty things done. Accomplish one before deciding I can’t be bothered. Head down a rabbit hole of randomness.
Friday, March 20, 2020
Day four of shelter in place. I can’t shake the nagging feeling that things have been disastrously mishandled. Histrionics, not data, is ruling governmental reactions putting people’s livelihoods are in peril.
The roads are more crowded than Tuesday and Wednesday. It seems increasing numbers of people are more embolden to get out. That said, social distancing has effortlessly become de rigueur.
Grocery shopping for my parents goes easily enough. With the exception of bread, the store shelves are full. Take advantage of the portable hand wash stations outside the store on the way back to my car.
The restaurant where I usually pick up to-go food for Friday night dinners with my father is empty except for three cooks, two servers, and a cashier. The counter, normally packed with diners, is dotted with clusters of white bags of take-away orders.
The freeway into San Francisco is sparsely populated, it looks like 3 a.m. at 7:30 in the evening.
Thursday, March 19, 2020
Rally early to race to the city and take my mother to the doctor for a post hip surgery followup. I'm not in my parent's kitchen for five minutes before the call comes through saying the appointment as been cancelled. Covid-19 strikes again.
Run my my mother around town, an antidote to stir crazy, for about half an hour. It’s a brisk day, blue skies and puffy white clouds.
Back to Marin for the drudgery of work. Calls, endless calls. The world seems to have withdrawn, partly out of fear, partly out of not knowing what to do. The pandemic has become politicized leaving people misinformed and confused. The hiking trail is significantly more crowded this week. People gotta do something.
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
The shelter-in-place order went into effect eight hours ago at midnight. Unsure how the police will enforce this, grab some of my old National Geographic business cards to show if I get puled over. Journalists are exempt.
The traffic on Sir Francis Drake Boulevard is sparse, but I had imagined things would be more desolate than they are. Come to think of it, the atmosphere is hard to describe. It’s almost a novel. A compulsory stay-at-home holiday and a free-for-all for those that venture outside. The disaster, for lack of a better word, is invisible. Statistics on government charts are the only tangible evidence that something abjectly wrong.
My inbox is flooded with emails from every company I’ve done business with in the last twenty years telling me what they’re doing about virus mitigation and safety. On the internet there is a torrent of tawdry opinion pieces about the virus reinforcing the observation that humanity is more of a self indulgent and histrionic organism than it is an intelligent one. On the upside one wishing to learn how wash one’s hands properly need only open a web browser window.
Michelle, one of my closest and oldest friends, has encamped in our office. Typically she works from home, but with husband and kids sheltering-in-place, she needs a quiet space.
I can’t stop thinking about all the restaurant workers and such who depend on an active economy to survive. Our governor is throwing out shelter-in-place termination dates like a drunken Irishman tosses darts at a board. It’s increasingly obvious there really is no plan.
Monday, March 16, 2020
Have just gotten word via media and gossip that Northern California is instituting a "Shelter in Place" order. Interesting times. We’re strongly encouraged to stay home until April 7th. Schools, restaurants, hair salons; any business not deemed necessary by the order must close or face misdemeanor charges. Which means I’m SOL for a hair-do tomorrow.
The normally convivial overpriced grocery store in the fancy neighborhood of my office is overrun with people scrambling to stock up. Oddly grocery stores are on the shelter-in-place exempt list. I guess this is the mild panic that results from misinformation and deplorable management of the crisis by our federal and state governments.
Head to the dentist to find their hygienists have walked. I missed the voicemail they left for me that morning telling me as much.
It took Emily three hours to get out of the grocery store near our place, our fridge has never been so full. Settle in with a large whiskey. Tomorrow is going to be odd.
Tuesday, March 10, 2020
Sleep through the entire night. A rarity as of late. The sun is shining, the sky is blue.
It’s a mixed bag of meh at work, but I’m getting better at not letting the dull trivial things annoy.
Emily calls to tell me the black cat we call Gatto, a stray that comes around every few days, is at the house. Drop what I’m doing and head home to say hello.
Back to work to sort out a few more things. Finish with mat pilates in the office.
Sunday, March 8, 2020
Wake up on the wrong side of the bed. Exasterbate my grump by going into the office which proves to be ineffectual.
Emily and I can’t decide what to do, and neither can the weather—high grey clouds and still air cast a malaise over the aftenoon. Decide to go to Petaluma.
My attitude makes a complete U-turn after an espresso at Acre coffee. Buy an omlette pan and a few other kitchen items, then walk to Thistle meats for sausages and charcuterie.
Drive south via the scenic route where the clouds have darkened enough to make sky look interesting. Stop at Nicassio Ranch where my mood improves even further. I love a good saloon. Especially when there’s a band.
After a beer, Emily and I head home and hunker down. It’s the first day of daylight savings time, our excuse for feeling off.
Saturday, March 7, 2020
Spend the day fetching my mother from the hospital to bring her home. Meet Kanda the wonderful travel nurse from North Carolina.
Back to Marin for the last hike of standard time.
Dinner at John and Kimberley’s where we meet Craig and Patty visiting from Seattle. It a fabulous time.
Friday, March 6, 2020
The roads and restaurants are bizarrely barren. People are staying home because of Covid-19 virus fears. The torrent of misinformation is astounding.
It’s my dad’s birthday. Show up at his house with birthday cards and cake and usual dinner faire for a night of British mysteries.
Tuesday, March 3, 2020
Phone calls. Lots of phone calls. By mid afternoon I’m cooked.
Receive word that my mother’s hip replacement surgery has gone well. After a very long, much needed hike alone, saddle up and drive into San Francisco to visit her at St. Mary’s hospital.
The hospital halls still bring back childhood memories when I used to accompany my father in his surgical rounds.
Home for late supper and a Masterpiece Theater production of the Henry the Eighth’s era from Cromwell’s point of view.
Sunday, March 1, 2020
Spend part of the morning trying to hack the mechanical keypad lock that's been installed on a gate that offers easy access to a path leading to the grocery store and Peet's coffee. The lock was installed a week ago by the surgery center next to our place. So annoying.
Feeling a little out of sorts today. Run through a string of tiresome little tasks to prep for a Monday morning.
Emily and I go to a wonderful afternoon barbecue at Nicole and Brian's. Lately, the weather has been bizarre. Two days ago it was in the high seventies and sunny, like spring. Today it’s positively freezing under gloomy overcast skies.
After the BBQ, Emily and I drive up to Santa Rosa to see Philip’s photography show opening. The work is remarkable.
Friday, February 28, 2020
I'm not sure what is more concerning, the Corona virus or people's reaction to it. On the phone with friends in Texas today—they're stocking up on food and fuel because some of the citizens in that state are on the precipice of making a run on the stores and the gas stations. After watching everyone in my city empty grocery store shelves and line up at gas stations just before the forced PG&E blackout a few months ago, I think my Texas friends are being intelligently proactive. It’s a weird new world order.
As of this morning California had thirty-three cases reported with a possibility of eighteen-hundred people exposed and only two hundred test kits available. Our governor came out in the media saying that the number of test kits wasn’t enough—the man is a savant with numbers.
The paranoid mood fits the dull hazy weather outside.
As best as I can tell, from legitimate sources, the virus is going to be a new seasonal visitor to the human population, not unlike the flu. I’m hoping that it burns itself out like SARS did, but, hope ain’t an antidote.
Sunday, February 23, 2020
Feel like I'm playing hooky avoiding the pile of work festering in my office. But the day is too stunning to view from a window.
Poor Emily is in San Luis Obispo, her trip to Los Angeles aborted due to a raging case of the flu. She's on her way home now. I've prepped the house for convalesce. Ok, I changed the sheets, pulled the cushions off the couch to turn it into a day bed and laid out the remotes on an organized fashion.
Wednesday, February 19, 2020
Take dad to the hospital for a procedure that will have me working from the waiting room all day. Meet Terry, a woman who recognizes my name printed on a visitor tag. She’s a beekeeper I did story on back in the National Geographic days. Small world.
Pass the hours running in and out of the pre-op/recovery room to visit dad. He’s cracking jokes and generally being popular with all the nurses. Wonder what it’s like to be in a hospital as a surgeon with fifty years experience.
The doctor visits with me in the waiting room after completing the surgery. It’s all good news.
Stop by a liquor store near my parent’s house. A search online revealed they have a hard-to-find whiskey I want. In another historical irony, the liquor store used to be owned by the father of a girl I had a crush on in grammar school. It’s all very fabulous now, their whiskey collection extraordinarily impressive. Dad loves the field trip.
Drop dad home and then do the same for me. Settle in with a glass of Ichiro's Malt & Grain whiskey.
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Call with the Presidio Trust this morning. The fee for the venue I want to use for the Twenty Years stage production is out of our budget. Unfortunately it’s owned by the federal government, so any negotiations like “we’ll get you great PR if you give us the space for free” fall flat. I guess the Fed is well known enough, they don’t need any more publicity.
Chantal and I get on a teleconference with a group that may be our legal council for a new project. I think the word “perfect” as in “I see your video image, puurrfehct,” is overused these days. I last 30 minutes before glazing over in boredom. Make quiet escape while Chantal continues.
Sunday, February 2, 2020
Wake early and out the door to walk a mile to the Marin Airporter bus stop. At SFO, enter my ticket confirmation into the ticket kiosk only to see a warning: I can’t check-in more than twenty-four hours in advance. Confused, I take a closer look at my email confirmation. Inexplicably I’ve booked my ticket for the 23rd and not the 2nd.
At the United ticket counter their computers have gone down, which is just as well. Am told by a very nice ticket agent that talking to a human to help with a ticket issue carries a fifty dollar surcharge. With minutes to spare, I book a new ticket. My two hundred dollar super-saver fare has turned into a five hundred dollar extravagance.
The regional airport at my destination is closed because of a heavy fog. On the phone with Emily, she tells me the same, visibility is abysmal. An hour later, the the fog lifted, board the plane, to sit on the tarmac for another hour. It has become comical at this point. Five hours have past since my pre-dawn departure to the bus stop, it only takes four to drive to San Luis Obispo.
Take off the to sound of passenger applause, land an hour later at SLO where I’m picked up by Emily.
To lunch at a massive almost Disney-esqe diner complete with a shop full of gorgeous kitschy things. The food is farm-to-table and really quite good. Check in early at Petit Soleil and head to Montana Del Oro. It’s a stunning day, the cliffs and ocean are a wonderfully welcome sight.
Return to Emily’s car to find it hijacked by a seagull.
Drive to get manicures. The nail salon has the Discovery channel playing on a massive screen at the back of the shop. Watch a riveting show about Vietnam while my nails are attended to by a taciturn Vietnamese woman. It’s bizarre, but oddly fun.
To Lake Laguna for a sunset hike, followed by dinner and wine at Big Sky.
Wednesday, January 29, 2020
The day crawls by, seemingly with no purpose. I should have a better attitude, but I’m finding impossible to find a groove. Lack of a good night’s sleep, the pressure of work, and the simple fact that I’m not meant for day-to-day. I like big impossible projects that require focussed intensity for a period, followed by hiatus.
The day turns around when I meet Amy C for dinner. An Italian restaurant in the neighborhood I grew up in. It’s a wonderful time.
Drive to parent’s house. There’s something about the unconditional welcome a child receives when dropping in on their parents unexpectedly that is priceless.
Home. Emily is out of town, stay up too late reading.
Tuesday, January 28, 2020
The show I wrote and produced at the Sweetwater, last July, around Jeff Burkhart’s book reading is going to have a second run. Chantal, Jeff, and I look at a venue in the Presidio. It is breathtaking. A vast view of the Golden Gate bridge, a small stage, and enough room for 186 people. We’ve decided create dinner theater, small tables, low lighting. It’s going to be marvelous.
After, Chantal and I meet Eric, a creative director we’re going to employ for a new project. He is wonderful and totally gets what we’re trying to accomplish.
Home to watch Succession the current viewing obsession for Emily and I.
Friday, January 24, 2020
Two of the people I love most in this world have gotten together spontaneously and sent a picture.
Thursday, January 23, 2020
Coffee with Emily then a string of errands in San Rafael.
Abandoned by Hopper, who is readying to return to NYU for her second semester, Chantal and I sprint through the day and make real progress on our new product. Then she gets on the phone with the lawyers and everything gets taken down a notch.
Brain power flagging, muddle through annoying things like bills and other nonsense. Bit of a waste of time then head to the hill for stunning skies.
Tuesday, January 21, 2020
Longish, dullish day. Productive and all that, but uhh, productivity is totally overrated.
To Petaluma to meet Philip for wine and food stuff. It’s always a good time at the Speakeasy. Toward the end of our bottle of red, the place is utterly empty. Strike up a conversation with Kelli and Amanda working behind the bar. Amanda and I drift into a conversation about fashion. Anyone who knows who Lee McQueen is, let alone has seen the documentary about him, is my people and immediately granted entry into my inner circle. Young, full of verve and ambition, Amanda is days away from a trip to Milan to expand her fashion knowledge. Have deemed her one to watch.
Saturday, January 18, 2020
Emily and I saddle up to head north west toward Tomales Bay. Listen to the Mac Miller album, Circles, that was produced posthumously, it is brilliant.
I love going for drives in this part of the state. The trees, the landscape, the water, it’s all very inspiring. Pull off the road at a trailhead and set off on a trek. It is muddy and fabulous.
The wetlands are particularly striking, but I’m not quite sure the purpose of the flood gate. Maybe it was useful in a bygone time.
Continue north to Gourmet Aux Bay for wine, crab cakes, and baked cheese, which is really a plop of goat cheese on a piping hot iron skillet. Sip and east as the sun goes down over Bodega Bay.
Head home for dinner, drinks, and the—sigh—last two episodes of Versailles. It wonderfully avant-garde take on King Louis XIV.
Thursday, January 16, 2020
Shake up the tired routine of immediately diving into the work by diverting to M&H for croisant and espresso at an outside table still wet from the early morning rains. Meet Aidan who is working behind the register, a handsome lad who seems a good match for Hopper. Mention this to him, he’s intrigued. Promise to bring Hopper around for lunch.
Chantal and I have a productive morning sifting through a long agenda for about an hour and half. There has to be a better way of organization than looking at a vast constellation of bits that need attention.
Hopper and I go to lunch at M&H, introduce her to Aidan. There’s clear interest from both sides, yet, no one is asking anyone for a phone number. So I step in and make the suggestion which they both jump on. The youth of today, good gosh.
Hike, then home.
Tuesday, January 14, 2020
Dull grey skies this morning. With Chantal back from Brazil, and Hopper’s winter break from NYU continuing, the office is full. Dozens of interruptions via text and phone make it difficult to focus. A broccoli salad form the hippie store plays havoc with stomach, thankfully the mild malady clears by the time I have to get on the boat meet Charlyn for wine in the city.
Take the boat home to Emily and a much needed scotch.
Sunday, January 12, 2020
With a relentless spirit I take to the last vestiges of six month backlog of things to do that I’ve been chipping away at for the last three days. By sundown I am triumphant. The journey of getting through the onerous list reveals an ugly truth about intellectual clutter. Eighty percent of the digital bits and pieces saved were utterly superfluous, it would have been better not to have saved them at all.
Speak to Julia and her mother who are celebrating Julia’s birthday. Am sad I didn’t reach out to her earlier in the day, an oversight, a result of taking on too much in the morning. It informs a philosophy I vow to adopt from this moment forward.
On the upside, with the detritus out of the way, I’m ready and able for the week ahead.
Thursday, January 9, 2020
A dreadful day. It’s not until noon that I realize that I’m horribly sleep deprived. Muddle through the best I can, but am basically useless both in thought and in action.
Thursday, January 2, 2020
Start the morning with coffee at Ascendo. It's a miserable name for a fabulous café. The espresso, the food, and, especially, the people that work there, are wonderful.
Emily and I spend the day walking, talking, and taking in the our adopted city. We end up at the church at the mission. Not one to be heavily religious—I went to Catholic school K-8—I'm struck by the reverence that I feel in the church. It sparks a myriad of thoughts. God and all that surrounds him continues to mystify and confuse, but, for now, I'm taken by the image of the pews and how the light strikes them.
Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Good morning and happy new year.
Looking back on the last ten years, I've concluded they were a mild shitshow. Don't get me wrong, many wonderful and brilliant things happened, I'm grateful for them all. But, if I look at myself and how I navigated the decade, I'm not thrilled.
Rather than publicly self-flagellate as some sort of penance, I'm framing the last decade as a learning experience and blowing it away like a sand mandala.
In front of me, a vast empty horizon. The destination for the journey of the next ten years. This is day one.
Emily and I bounce out of bed, grab coffee, and talk about our dreams for the new year. A languorous morning before we head to Diane and John’s for brunch. Their daughter Annie is there with her husband and their infant daughter. Amy and April are also in attendance. Around a grand table with excellent food the hours pass with good conversation.
Depart for another hike at Lake Laguna, a favorite spot, where we trek and talk. The day is perfect and finishes with salads from Whole Foods, wine, and Netflix on the laptop. Bliss.