Chantal and I arrive at PDX to sunny crisp weather. Take the train into the city grab lunch and head to a large advertising agency for a meeting.
During the three and half hour meeting, Julia joins us. Afterward we all go for a drink, then Julia and I part ways with Chantal and head to drinks and charcuterie with Julia’s friend Haven.
Nightcap with Jimmy and Molly.
Wednesday, December 4, 2019
The day passes quickly as I attempt to clean up, catch up, and throw a bunch of useless things and habits out the window. Ambitious to be sure, but much needed.
Go for and hike and see the most extraordinary photo. Sadly my iPhone camera is not up for it. Too little light for the device that could. Obsess about carrying around a proper camera.
Emily and I go to Sephora for masking materials, then settle in for and episode of The Crown and a facial mask.
Tuesday, December 3, 2019
The day is a mix of messages from all fronts. It ends when the office computer takes its last gasp and expires. It’s a blessing in disguise, providing a highlight on the day.
Whiskey in hand, settle in to watch an episode of The Crown. Tonight’s episode is flawless, more so than the flawless episode Em and I watched last night. The writing, directing, cinematography, and acting of the entire season are incredible.
Monday, December 2, 2019
This time of year, after the rains start, the mist gets heavy on the hill. I love it. Things get interesting when visibility drops to thirty feet. The sounds in forest become a bit more ominous, and, as the light fades, each step becomes mildly more precarious.
Sunday, December 1, 2019
Am thrilled for the second day in a row of rain. Fire season has been put to rest, and the reservoirs are filling. Celebrate with a hike on the hill. Twenty minutes in, I’m soaked.
Watch a California newt crawl across the fire road down into a rain carved rut with water swiftly running through it. Wonder if the newt has some sort of evolved sense of the rushing water that will send him back the way he came. Two steps more, I have my answer, the newt is washed down about fifteen feet before getting slammed against a rock. Could swear he shakes his head before getting some purchase with his feet and crawling up the side of the rut continuing on. It’s an odd, intimate moment…with a newt.
Thursday, November 28, 2019
Thanksgiving. Make a spectacular breakfast for Emily and I, then spend the entire day reading, writing, and naval gazing until it’s time to dress for dinner at Insalata’s in San Anselmo.
Despite the crowds of people at the restaurant and the seating running a tad behind schedule, everyone is in good form. Emily and I had reserved a spot at the bar a few days ago so we could share the holiday with Paris, our friend, and the restaurant’s head bartender.
I’ve brought a 15 year old Glenfiddich so I can share a shot or two with Paris who also has a passion for whiskey. Word get’s around and soon I’m pouring shots for several of the staff including the chef. It’s great fun and leads to a tasting of six different scotches, everything from Macallan to Glenmorangie to Oban. It’s first time I’ve had the opportunity to do a side by side comparison to so many good whiskeys.
Emily and I leave happy with cheeks glowing.
Monday, November 25, 2019
It is cold. High dark cloud floats across the sky with the constant breeze. Yesterday I said “hello” to at least a dozen people who were also hiking on the hill. Today, not even the animals are out. Am loving the solitude.
On my descent, in the dim glow of twilight, recognize a regular mountain biker, who, in turn recognizes me. He’s pedaling up hill surprisingly quickly. We nod to each other, and, just before he passes me, just as a biting gust blows, he says, “Feels like a storm is coming.” His words describe the moment flawlessly. Winter is here.
Sunday, October 27, 2019
With the power still out, Emily and I go for a drive to find cell service and charge our phones in the car. Spontaneous decision to check out the farmers market at the Marin Civic center puts us in a line of cars. A sheriff’s deputy flags us to stop.
“Are you a refugee?”
“Refugees? No mam, locals headed to the market.”
“Ok, you’re gonna want to make a u-turn out of this line and find parking in the next lot over. This is just for evacuees.”
A fire up north near Santa Rosa has triggered compulsory evacuation. The inconvenience of the power outage suddenly seems trivial as we drive past worried faces driving haphazardly packed cars.
The market is crowded, I think a lot of people wanted to get out. Some one has clevery rigged a generator and a mobile antenna to an ATM machine. Business is brisk. They’re the only ATMs in the county that are working.
Temporary stop signs at major intersections replace the dark traffic lights. There is a palpable eeriness everywhere.
Cook dinner by flashlight and candle. Everything in the fridge and freezer has spoiled. With the remaining battery power left in my laptop, Emily and I watch a previously downloaded movie.
Saturday, October 26, 2019
Just as I think we’re going to sail unaffected through the second imposed power outage in four weeks, the living room goes dark in middle of an episode of The Tudors. I figure the food in the fridge will last two hours, the freezer will make it for six. Emily and I head to bed to read by flashlight.
Friday, October 25, 2019
PG&E has cut the power to some of the rural parts of Marin. There is confusion whether the cut will extend to the entire county. I can’t imagine it, still, I make a half hearted effort to gather a few supplies just in case.
It’s pandemonium at the grocery store. The shelves in the bottled water aisle are bare. It doesn’t make sense. With the exception of ranches and other homes in outlying areas—miles away from here—that rely on well-water pumps, the water from our taps is gravity fed with enough safe stores for a few months.
All the batteries are gone. There’s a manic run on food too. It’s bizarre, it’s a potential power outage, not armageddon. Makes me wonder; I live in one of the wealthiest, most highly educated counties on the planet, and yet, the majority of the population are acting ignorantly.
Top off the gas tank in my car, and head home.
Thursday, October 24, 2019
Land at Oakland airport. The ground crew is absent leaving us all standing but hunched over to avoid bumping heads on the overhead luggage compartments. Thirty minutes pass before the door finally opens.
We’re picked up by our driver, happy to be headed toward home and shower. Emily realizes her wallet is missing. She thinks it was left at the airport Hilton in Rome. Her face tightens with the anxiety of having lost something important.
Call the hotel in Italy who tell Emily that she has to communicate with lost-and-found via email. “It will be morning in Rome in a few hours,” I say.
Check apps on phones to see if the credit cards from wallet are being used. They are not. Then Emily’s phone rings, it’s Oakland airport. Her clutch was found in one of the baggage compartments on the plane. Relief. “Tell them we’ll go to the airport tonight at eight so we can avoid rush hour traffic,” I say. “They leave at seven,” comes the reply. Back in the car for a two hour round trip on crowded freeways. We’re exhausted, but it’s worth the effort for the piece of mind.
Wednesday, October 23, 2019
Everyone looks just a little rough this morning. Except for the children who bounce around with extraordinary verve, much to the annoyance of the teenagers who continue their affected cool composure. Phone numbers are exchanged, hugs all around, many of us are leaving today. Emily and I walk around the villa one last time in an attempt to soak up more of this magical place. A breeze blows, the grounds are quiet, and our current, mildly manic lifestyle back in America comes under scrutiny. Neither of us want to leave. And, as if to prolong our torture, we’ll have a few hours in a Florence before we have to leave their too. It’s a double whammy sad departures.
Fortuna, the concierge, kindly prints out a map of the area and the roads we need to take get back to Florence. Say what you will about the amazing GPS technology in our phones, I prefer a map. A wide overview of where one is, and where one is going. I’m not a luddite, I just don’t think one should be so narrowly focussed on such a narrow view as is provided by a phone screen.
Pack up and depart after saying a silent prayer we don’t collide with another car on the way back to the rental car office. The expensive insurance I bought, the just-bring-back-the-key-and-license-plate type, will be moot if I’m caught behind the wheel in accident.
Arrive in Florence, car unharmed, filled at a gas station that could have easily been a set a in a horror movie. With time to kill, Emily and I park our luggage at a Bag BnB. Silly name, brilliant invention. Leave bags with Marco at some tiny hotel across the street from the train station and walk to our favorite restaurant. The meal is perfect, our server, fun and vivacious. It makes out inevitable departure all the more harsh. We do not want to leave.
Retrieve bags, board train, arrive in Rome ninety minutes later. Take another train to the Hilton at the airport and are unceremoniously ripped out of our Italian fantasy land. The hallways of the hotel could easily be the corridors of an insane asylum. Everything looks soulless and institutional. We have returned to the land of capitalism where corporate greed has sucked any semblance of originality out of everything.
To dinner. Sweet Jesus. Fat, loud Americans roll around the dining area complaining as a matter of course. The food is dreadful. Emily and I race upstairs to bed for the sole purpose dreaming about our last two weeks.
Tuesday, October 22, 2019
Breakfast is abuzz with caffeinated conversation, mostly in British accents, and the gleeful screams of kids running around having the time of their lives. The teenagers, of course, are playing it very cool. The scene strikes me as oddly familiar, yet, I can’t place it. I want to say it has a summer camp feel, but that’s not quite it.
At a table of sign-up sheets offering different activities for the day Emily tries to prod me into taking an olive oil tasting class. All I really want to do lounge, write, and engage in conversation. When new friend Josh mentions he’s taking the class, I readily agree to join. “That’s very boy of you,” Emily says. I shrug. Emily has signed up for yoga/drawing class. Not sure how that works, but am looking forward to the results.
Begrudgingly agree to go on a hike with Emily. It’s basically a hot dusty walk down and back up a dusty dirt road. Even though I’m a little grumbly during the walk, am happy to have done it once we’re back up at the villa
To the pool for a restorative dip and a read. Open the huge umbrella to find several dozen bugs who took refuge in the closed canopy. They remind of June bugs in America. Sort of useless ugly things that fly around aimlessly until they crash into something.
The day unfolds slowly. A welcome respite from the pace of the last two weeks in Rome and Florence. Meet new friends who I’m convinced will be long term.
The olive oil tasting which was essentially three people has turned into a party. Juliet K has brought a bottle of wine and we’re getting an esoteric education that is fabulously elucidating. Afterward we all make our way to the dining room and bar for dinner. That’s when it hits me. With all the British accents, the changing clothes for dinner—nothing fancy, jeans and a nice shirt—and the regular gatherings around meal time, I feel as if in an Agatha Christie novel. The night goes late, lots of wine is consumed, and tons of stories are shared. I’ll be sad to leave tomorrow.
Monday, October 21, 2019
The only thing I hear among the myriad instructions and suggestions from Fortuna, the concierge at Villa Lena in Palaia, is “ghost town.” I love ghost towns. Any place that was, but no longer is, save the structures. “It’s about 20 minutes walk and looks beautiful at sunset,” Fortuna tells us. Emily and I both light up in silent agreement, it is going to be our first adventure in rural Tuscany.
Our room at Villa Lena is fabulously posh and comes with a fantastic view. Settle in quickly and go downstairs to lunch before the kitchen closes. Also lunching late on the outside deck are Josh and Fiona and their energetic children, in from London. After food, a few glasses of wine, and a saunter around the grounds of the villa, we venture to the ghost town.
The crumbling walls of the graveyard provide a drab archaic stage to the colorful fresh flowers. It’s almost like viewing a scene from the beginning of Dickens’s Great Expectations.
The only street of the small hamlet is dark and dingy, partly owing to the time of the day, but mostly because of the neglect that’s been frozen in time. Windowless windows and doorless doorways frame scenes of abandoned rooms piled with the debris of collapsed roofs. Wafts of decay swirl around Emily and I as we walk to the end of the town. I’m soon covered in welts from aggressive mosquitos who have found ideal living conditions in the humid overgrowth steadily reclaiming the town. It is both eerie and exciting.
Back at the villa it’s a smallish group for dinner. Emily and I sit at the bar and make fast friends with the general manager who regales us with his life history and his ambitious plans for expanding the bar area. He’s just been hired to update the villa. I’m conflicted if this is a good or bad thing.
To bed with a nagging feeling that we should have booked more time at this extraordinary place.
Sunday, October 20, 2019
At the ticket window of the Palazzo Pitti. The receipt on my iPhone for my three museum ticket bundle does little to persuade the clerk to give me entrance to the Pitti. When we went to the Ufuzi museum the day before yesterday, we were meant to hold on to the tiny ticket stub handed to us.
“That tiny little square?” I say.
“No one told us to hold onto it.”
She looks genuinely empathetic, but the rules are the rules. It’s my first brush with Italian bureaucracy. Given the stories I’ve heard, I should be happy it’s only costing me an extra fifty Euro.
As it turns out the Pitti, once owned by the Medici family, is one of the best museums in Italy. Not overwhelming, and, despite the obvious museum-like layout, it still feels like a palace.
Out the back are the Boboli gardens, designed by the Medici’s, it became the model for Italian garden style that was adopted by other European courts. Wow, they go on and on. Beautiful sculptures and meticulous landscaping aside, it’s the type of place that begs to be explored with a child’s sensibility. Pathways defined by hedges, large ponds, and stairs that culminate with a view of Florence.
Lunch at a small restaurant across the Arno near our place. It’s 2:30 and not a single look of judgement. European food culture is so much more sophisticated than in the United States where we have inexplicably assigned then most ridiculous taboos around food.
Excellent wine, boar, ravioli, and dessert fuels our next adventure to the perfumery. Emily is in heaven. A myriad of scents proffered by patient and knowledgeable sales people. Their deft multilingual skills makes me mildly envious as they attend to Emily in English, and employ up to three other languages to service other customers from across the European Union.
It’s our last night in Florence. Emily and I are a little sad. We adopted this wonderful city quickly and could easily spend another month here. But Tuscany beckons which means I’ll soon be driving among the Italians tomorrow.
Saturday, October 19, 2019
I am mildly skeptical as Emily and I walk toward the meeting spot for our urban tour of Florence. It’s put on by our AirBnB hosts, advertised as a walk with “authentic” Florentines. Meet husband and wife Sandro and Ludovica, my skepticism dispates at once. Sandro’s family goes back generations, and, as it turns out, we’re in the apartment that he and his wife lived in while they were engaged.
Ludovica takes a group of five French visitors, while Sandro takes us English speaking tourists. Emily and I are joined by four Americans, a young woman traveling alone, and a mother with her two daughters celebrating her birthday.
The tour is marvelous. We are treated to espresso and cappuccino at one of the oldest coffee houses in existence, a bun made with pizza dough, we’re shown Berti, a woman’s effigy sticking out of the side of a bell tower of a church that looks down on the street at the spot she used to sell flowers, and we’re taken to Ginori, a porcelain maker since the eighteenth century. They’s known for their depiction of exotic birds on plates, but the entire shop is brimming with breathtaking art. Am obsessed with an art deco vase that has me pondering what kind of house I should buy to give the vase suitable placement.
The tour highlight for Emily is the visit to the perfumery. Another stunning old world place full of history. Were not there for five minutes before Emily declares our return tomorrow.
The tour concludes with both groups, the French and American, congregating for a glass of wine at a local wine merchant. Eager to practice my French, I strike up a conversation with Aurore which turns into lunch with the entire French crew,
Say goodbye to our new French friends and take to the street. Visit Louis Vuitton, Bottega Veneta, where I pick up a little birthday gift for myself, and another small perfume shop that doesn’t quite live up to Emily’s standards.
Encounter a protest as we make our way home. Rush to the middle of the crowd to get my picture. The protesters swarm around me like stream water around a rock. For a brief moment I experience a flashback to my youthful photojournalism days. It’s a wonderful sensation that stirs many fabulous memories.
Cross the bridge at sunset, an epic day that we conclude with a light dinner at our favorite wine bar. I love this town.
Friday, October 18, 2019
It’s important to find the local café which one is happy to become a devotee. After a peeking in a few doorways Emily and I find our people at Volume, on the square. A slightly rough eclectic artist vibe complemented by a dismissive attitude from the staff that dissipates quickly as soon as one reveals one is cool enough to hang. Should mention that Emily’s shocking beauty, which draws attention everywhere we go, goes a long way with male baristas.
Scrawled above the stereo “hippies dead, hipsters next.” Yes, these are our people. The cappuccinos are truly epic, a recurring refrain in this country. Italians really know how to do coffee.
Cross the river into Florence proper to the Uffizi Gallery. A beautiful place with long lines that I have manage to avoid with advanced purchasing of the three museum bundle ticket. Looking at the art am suddenly aware that I’m wearying of religious tragedy. I long for something slightly more upbeat. That said the work is inspiring and Emily and I trod through and work up an appetite. Head back toward our apartment in search of late lunch.
Getting to the top of Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, less formally known as the Florence Cathedral, colloquially known as The Duomo requires ascending a lot of steps in a narrow staircase. Heart pumping, we dizzyingly look down on the magnificent alter and nave.
Continue upwards though and even narrower passage.
Arrive at the roof and the welcome cool night air. There’s no one actually monitoring how long we stay, so Emily and I take a good long time to take in the view of Florence. It’s a magical moment.
It’s decided to avoid the pomp of formal dinner, especially since our lunches have become the main meal of our days. Earlier we passed a wine bar on our side of the river that Emily got a good feeling about. We show up amidst a light sprinkle which adds to the romance of the covered outdoor seating. Next to us a group of Florentine women having an impromptu celebration is egged on by the proprietor of the wine bar. Small snacks and epic wine take us to bed.
Thursday, October 17, 2019
High speed trains are a wonderful amalgam between the romance of rail travel and the intrigue of science fiction. Emily and I watch the Italian countryside fly by at 150 miles-an-hour on our way to Florence. A city that we fall in love with instantly.
Our Florentine apartment, just over the Arno river, is cozy and clean, so clean that I walk full force into a closed glass door leading to a mini courtyard raising a small lump on my forehead.
Nursing a mild headache, traipse around our new neighborhood near the Piazza Santo Spirito falling more in love with the area each step we take. Buy groceries, laundry soap, and other sensible things. Walk to the bridge to take in the river just after the sun goes down.
Find a bar for a proper cocktail only to discover proper cocktails are not quite what Italians do so well. Nonetheless we make a good time of it and pledge to drink only wine for the rest of our trip.
Wednesday, October 16, 2019
Up before the sun. We’ve made reservations for a special early entry to the Vatican, we’re due there at 7:00 a.m.
Emily and I walk along the dark, quiet streets catching up to a German mother and daughter walking with similar sense of purpose. Assume they’re headed to the same place until we make a left and they continue on straight. A faint echo in my head tells me I’ve made a slight error in my directions and I should be following the Germans. They’re all so organized and diligent and all. Ignore the feeling and forge ahead. As we close in on the holiest of holy cities, the streets become more populated. Feel as if we’re part of a pilgrimage.
Come upon security gates and columns, but its too dark to make out exactly where we are. Find a line of people and ask, “Is this for the Vatican?”
“Yes, yes, you’re in the right place,” comes the response in broken English.
Interspersed in the growing line are women wearing wedding dresses standing next men wearing suits. This doesn’t feel like the right line. Find a policeman, “Excuse me, is this the line for the early entry.”
“There is no early entry.”
Show him my ticket, and his face lights up with recognition. “You need to go to the Vatican Museum entrance.” He points to his left which gives me a direction, but not an obvious path.
Pull Em out the queue and walk quickly. There’s little time left to make our entry appointment, it’s dark, and the crowds are increasing rapidly making it difficult to get a long view down any of the streets. Still unsure about which street we’re supposed to be on, check in every hundred yards or so with a police officer to get some clarity; through the arch and just follow the Vatican wall.
Our last confirmation comes from an army officer holding an automatic rifle across his chest. “Just keep following the wall, you can’t miss it.” At last we come to it, five minutes to spare. The gray of daybreak fully illuminates the wall we’ve been following. It is massive, three stories tall, and a quarter of a city block thick.
The museum entry area is eerily cavernous without the hundreds of people it was designed to accommodate. Our small group is herded by two reticent security guards wearing grumpy looks. After climbing a few flights of stairs and traipsing through a few halls we’re deposited into a courtyard just before the sun rises. It is serene and breathtaking.
We’re led to another, bigger courtyard with an open-walled structure where a huge buffet breakfast awaits. The friendly Vatican staff buzz around sweeping up used dishes and vigilantly refilling hot trays. At a corner table the German woman and her daughter we saw on the street enjoy their food looking decidedly unharried. I should’ve followed them.
After breakfast we’re given an audio guide and pointed to the entrance of the museum. We have an hour or so before the doors are opened to public.
Walk through mesmerized by the magnificence while Vatican workers quietly clean in preparation for the onslaught of tourists. I am obsessed by the map room. Stunning paintings of the various cities of Italy under and incredibly ornate ceiling.
Come to the Sistine Chapel. It is darker and smaller than I imagined. The television shows I’ve seen about the chapel depict a brighter, larger space which, now that I’m standing here, does a disservice. Looking up at the ceiling, almost to dizziness, and staring at the walls the reality conveys a truer representation of what it might have been like in sixteenth century. I feel that documentarians overdo their story telling when it comes to great works. Why do visual storytellers have to sprinkle glitz on everything they make?
Pictures are not allowed. Emily and spend the better part of an hour listening to the thorough audio guide and gazing in all directions trying to absorb as much as possible of this stunning place.
Become aware that the chapel is becoming crowded. The doors to the public have obviously opened. Emily and I make our departure thankful for the opportunity to see everything among so few people. The experience has been inspiring.
Outside the significant police presence we saw in the dark of the early morning is explained. The pope is speaking in St. Peter’s Square. Go through security and marvel at our luck. Even though the pope is off in the distance, to be in the presence is incredible.
Back near our apartment to find lunch before we’re off to the forum. Our mild regrets that we didn’t book a guide are soon alleviated, one merely need stand within earshot of the multitudes of tour groups to get a remarkably complete history.
I get a thrill upon seeing the spot where Julius Caesar’s body was cremated on a pyre. It is unassuming and festooned with coins and roses, homage to the great man continues 2062 years after his death.
With the sun low on the horizon, our feet beat up from over thirty miles of walking in four days, Emily and I head back toward our apartment and a leather store called Bags and Fruits to purchase a backpack Emily spied in the window a few days ago.
Across the street, dinner at a bar where the American trend of artisanal handmade cocktails has caught on and been combined with the cost effectiveness of employing only one bartender to make them. She’s very nice, but a man would sooner die of thirst before getting his whiskey drink. The food is fine, and the crowd: recently graduated frat bros, a disgruntled academic, and a very posh cold tempered New York woman treating her far less posh friend.
Home to pack for Florence.
Tuesday, October 15, 2019
Not five feet from where we’re sitting at an outside café table, passenger cars and small delivery vans navigate impossibly narrow streets mere inches from scraping the corner of buildings when they make a turn. Maneuvering around the cars and vans like impatient cats are dozens of scooters. One is driven by a man in his late thirties, his young daughter behind him wearing a school backpack, her arms wrapped around his torso, her legs dangling too short to reach the foot pegs. Good morning Rome.
Under threatening rain clouds Emily and I saunter to Suppli, a take-away food counter in the Trastevere district. Along with a myriad of fresh made pizza and other traditional Italian dishes they serve a fried ball of rice, mozzarella, and red sauce called suppli. It is decadent and delicious, the perfect super-food to fuel the long walk to our next destination.
Emily’s friend, Suzanne, has a photography exhibition on at gallery across the river. Betrayed by the malfunctioning map on my iPhone we’re left to our own navigational guesses to find our way during a downpour. True to the bohemian spirit they represent, the gallery’s hours start at 3 p.m. We’re two and a half hours too early.
Duck into a small café to get out of the rain. Only slightly peckish, we try to explain to a waitress, who only speaks Italian, we want a spot at the crowded counter for a coffee and a snack. She seats us at a table in the restaurant section next to a gentleman named Marco, an Italian journalist who speaks English.
Our snack turns into lunch. One of the best pasta dishes I’ve ever eaten, a couple of glasses of fabulous white wine, and a wonderful conversation with the somewhat notorious Marco. A political journalist by trade, a few years ago he had an affair with Livia Giuggioli, the wife of Colin Firth, the Oscar winning actor from the The King’s Speech. After the affair ended, Livia accused Marco of stalking her. Somewhere in the recesses of my memory, I remember reading about this in People Magazine while I was getting my hair cut. Marco assures us that stalking charges were bunk. In fact he won a defamation settlement for the spurious accusations.
After lunch Marco takes us just a few doors down the street to meet Jodi a massage therapist and expat from California. After a few minutes of talking about how Los Angeles has changed for the worse, a classic “back in my day” chat, we say our goodbyes to head across town.
The Colosseum is much more stirring than I anticipated. Emily and I bounce around the massive crumbling structure listening to an an audio guide. If you ever find yourself here, I highly recommend paying the nominal fee for the audio tour which offers a wonderfully gory recounting of how prisoners were fed to the wild animals.
There are of course a ton of other people and tours and selfie sticks. Still, it’s not so daunting that one can’t get a feel of the place. Sadly, access to the underneath where the gladiators readied themselves is highly restricted and booked months in advance.
The cobblestone streets have taken their toll and both Emily and I dig deep to find the energy for the remaining two-and-a-half mile walk home. There is always a cab, but it we both agree experiencing the street first hand much more fulfilling. Our efforts are rewarded when we come upon an excavation site close to our apartment. There are cats running around everywhere. A sign tells us the cats are spayed and fed by a city funded organization, and the site where they roam is where Julius Caesar was assassinated. It’s both surreal and amazing.
Stop in at a food shop with an ebullient proprietor for salami, cheese, and wine to take home.
Monday, October 14, 2019
Cappuccino, brioche, and go this morning. We’ve got a full tourist agenda that starts with the Spanish steps. Having never seen the steps before, and just getting my feet wet navigating the streets of Rome, am mildly concerned I won’t find them. That is until we see, steps, and hundreds people, some clutching their chests, ascending and descending. There are uniformed officers with whistles prodding those about to sit down, to not. It’s bizarre, but necessary. The sheer volume of visitors the steps has to accommodate doesn’t allow for lallygagging.
We climb steadily until we reach the top and the breathtaking view. I can’t help thinking that a few hundred years ago this it’d be a great place to meet a toga clad buddy for a sandwich or something. Looking down at the sea of people, those days are over.
Next we’re on the move to the Trevi fountain, another extraordinary monument also overrun with tourists closely monitored by whistle blowing uniforms. The intricacies of the beautiful fountain inspire long looks and internal expressions of amazement. Emily and I shoot a selfie then check with one of the uniforms about throwing coins in the fountain and making a wish, “This is possible he says.”
The Museum and Crypt of Capuchins is thankfully a lesser known attraction in Rome. Emily and I are easily able to purchase tickets and comfortably enjoy the museum. The crypt itself is extraordinary. A monk took the skeletal remains of over three thousand monks and artistically arranged them to create a final resting place for all his fallen brothers. Candle fixtures, niches, and religious iconography are all made out of bones. The close examination of a rose shaped piece on the ceiling reveals that it is made out tailbones. The whole effect is mesmerizing and reassuring. Sadly, photos are strictly forbidden.
The enormity of The Pantheon takes my breath away. The roof, architecture, and alter, are all incredible. Surprisingly most folks visiting observe the reverence the place inspires and maintain a low tone of voice. Still, I long for five minutes alone in this magnificent structure to truly experience the majesty that inspired its construction.
With the sun low on the horizon, Emily and I meander aimlessly to find ourselves at the Piazza Navona. It is a beautiful place, not so overrun, with a convivial sense of socializing in the open air. It is a welcome respite from the throngs.
Make our way to the Trastevere district, to a recommended restaurant housed in one of the oldest buildings in Rome. It’s a family run place with excellent food, and a fun loving staff who seem to be the only people speaking Italian in the place. They invite us to see their wine cellar. Emily and I finish our bottle in the bareley lit, dank, humid cellar among thousands of other bottles and hundreds of years of history.
Not quite adjusted to Central European time, we do some late night exploring of the back alleys of the Trastevere. Discover lots of bars, bohemians, and graffiti that is an art exhibition in its own right.
For those bar patrons with a newly discovered love interest, the closed Farmacias provide outside vending machines with condoms, lube, dental floss, and water. Everything for the last minute Lothario.
Sunday, October 13, 2019
Emily and I push through the eleven hour flight to Rome in the hopes that we’ll snap into the local time zone without jet lag. At the suggestion of Tom, the person from whom we’re renting an apartment, we’ve booked his friend Alex and his black Mercedes for a 50 Euro trip into the city. My skepticism that this is unnecessarily fancy is confirmed when we pass several billboards lauding the 32 minute ride on the train for 11 Euro each person.
Deep in the haze of sleep deprivation, Emily and I walk to the Jewish Ghetto for dinner. We talk courageously of not drinking too much so we can stay awake until at least 10 p.m.—the final step of our time-zone-adjustment plan. A bottle of red later we’re drunkenly babbling on about the fabulousness of Italy.
A picture of Anthony Bourdain proudly displayed outside one of the restaurants tells the world that the food and travel host was there and had some nice things to say about the place. Tourists fear not, this place has been consecrated by an American celebrity. Am mildly revolted by the whole notion. Emily and I discuss how Bourdain and Johnny Rotten suffered from the same problem, both were rebels who had their anarchical styles coopted by the mainstream. Capitalism is a mechanism for mediocrity.
As we wind our way back to the apartment we’re drawn into a Catholic church. A majestic alter looms over a nave of simple wooden pews.
The solemn silence is unexpectedly suffused with music. An organist, flautist, and violinist accompany a breathtaking voice singing a Latin hymn. The effect is mesmerizing. A true expression of spirituality.
Wednesday, October 9, 2019
The ferry never disapoints. Crowded, empty, at sunset, or in the middle of the day, there is a romance to racing across the bay.
I’ve just come from a glass of wine from Charalyn—the brilliant conversation cut short by the departure time of the boat. Still, we made the best of the time we had, and have planned a dinner upon my return from Italy.
Today passed with all the quotidian drama, trials, and trivialities which, as of late, I find dreadfully boring. Have decided on a new mandate to shake the tree. A lot. Why be dull, I say.
The novel has run into a rutt. I feel like I accidentally let go of the steering wheel of my sensibilities and am now paying for it by having to reread two thousand words of what I can only politely call total drivel. Delete, delete, delete, and start the section again. At times like this there’s nothing romantic about being an artist.
Saturday, October 5, 2019
Emily, my mother, and myself at The Buckeye to celebrate my mother’s eightieth. It’s fun intimate affair that ends with a fabulous plate of desserts.
Friday, October 4, 2019
Start the day with a call to my mother to wish her happy birthday. Even at eighty the sound of her voice still commands my attention. Amazing.
Today is the first that I’m feeling the scramble to get a mountain of little things done in the eight days before Emily and I depart for Italy. I feel overbooks and spread too thin while simultaneously feeling like nothing is getting done. There is a deeper time management issue here. I’ve fallen back into the bad habit of over committing.
Meet John C for a cigar. Pick up dinner and visit my father.
Wednesday, October 2, 2019
Up a half hour before my 6 a.m. alarm which gives me plenty of time for a proper breakfast. The last three nights, Saturday especially, I’ve had the most fitful sleep.
On the road to Oakland airport. I barely squeeze through before the traffic density builds to point of immobility.
Blue skies, sunshine, and just enough of a chill to justify my sweater. The meeting at rc2 goes well. It offers insight and a possible new client.
Meet Julia at Lewis and Clark before we go to dinner at Picnic House for drinks and charcuterie. Then to Molly and Jimmy’s house for drinks and sleep.
Monday, September 30, 2019
It’s a crisp fall morning, the first weather that feels like Summer is over. Am uncharacteristically looking forward to Winter this year.
The next ten days will be crammed as I try accomplish enough work tasks so my trip to Italy with Emily will be a true vacation.
To the DMV for a license renewal. The appointment was made almost three months ago, an insane amount of time to wait. The level of bureaucratic absurdity of which the state of California is capable is astounding. The roll out of the new Real ID has been a debacle, and there is serious concerns about the voter registration process that occurs at the same time as procuring one’s license. Still, the things goes smoothly despite the DMV representative telling me that without a Real ID type of license—more expensive and not necessary if one holds a Homeland Security approved Global Entry ID—I might not be able to get service at some gas stations in other states. I ignore the inane pitch.
The afternoon is filled with making a presentation deck, a most loathsome exercise, for a meeting in Portland tomorrow. I only last a few hours before I grab Emily. We sprint up to the Arthur Murray dance school for an open house, an invitation from our friends who are taking classes for their wedding. I had no idea how difficult, yet absolutely fun formal dancing is.
Thursday, September 26, 2019
Tamsen comes by the office for a visit. Always good to see her. She brings a lot of sunshine to the dull day.
To the Terrapin Crossroads for a cocktail hour thrown by my bank. All the people that work in my branch are wonderful. Meet some other fabulous customers as well.
Wednesday, September 25, 2019
Chantal tapes a large piece of butcher paper to our office wall. She starts drawing and writing as we commence company strategizing. Days of a thousand decisions like these compel me to daydream of being a rock star. It’s not that I don’t like to work. It’s the mundanity that kills. That should be a slogan; “Mundanity kills.” Or maybe; “Friends don’t let friends do mundane things.” “Just say ‘no’ to mundanity.”
I last until mid-afternoon before my brain drifts to far to be pulled back in.
To Lynda’s place for wine, cheese, and a catchup. She rallies even though she is sick. About two hours in I can see her eyes droop. The virus has got the best of her. Despite her protestations, I make my way toward the front door. Lynda make the fifth person in my immediate circle who has come down with a surprisingly pernicious late summer cold.
Sunday, September 22, 2019
After making breakfast for Emily and our friend Julia, visiting from Los Angeles, decide to forgo an event in Sonoma so I can have a day to myself.
Contend with a mild existential crisis in short order, then head to the hill for a long hike. The wind kicks up toward the end of the day, and I get the first real sense that Fall is here, with Winter not far away.
Saturday, September 21, 2019
I can’t tell if I’m hungover or if I just don’t feel good. Maybe a little of both. I’m dragging this morning.
Go to my French lesson and surprisingly hold it together.
It’s a combination of mild hangover and a mildly upset stomach from the Pirate’s Booty popcorn snack I ate yesterday afternoon. Miserable stuff.
The day wastes away, my brain unable to full engage. It doesn’t help that it’s hot and still outside. As soon as the sun drops, I feel better. Consider that I might have vampiric tendencies.
Pick up food to-go and head toward my parent’s place for gin and British mystery.
Sunday, September 15, 2019
I’ve been asked to read a poem written especially for Gunnar by poet Jim Murphy. It’s an honor, one I’m keen to do justice.
Awake early to write the entire poem out by hand a dozen times over. Each time reveals more depth and beauty.
Jesse and I arrive at a venue in the hill country that is breathtaking. The buzz of event preparation pervades. Find a quiet corner in the main hall to continue practicing with the poem. The atmosphere is not all together somber, but not happy either.
Gunnar’s casket up on an outdoor stage that’s only slightly raised above the audience. A huge picture of his cute face and stunning blue eyes grips my heart. Stuffed Cookie Monsters dolls, dozens of them, brought by all in attendance, surround the casket.
The memorial starts with a song, “Blue Eyes,” sung by Dillan. He just barely makes it to end before he starts to cry, walking off stage to be alone. I have to chase him down for the microphone. It’s a surreal moment. This six foot four Texan, tears streaming like rivers from his eyes, appologizes, hands me the mic like a baton, and touches my shoulder as if to say “good luck.”
The mic in my right hand, poem in my left, the late morning sun beating down on my face, and fifty pairs of red eyes looking up at me. For a few seconds I’m lost. I’m not here to entertain, or to engage, I’m here to read, reverently. A deep breath and think of the poem; where it dips, where it rises, the imagery it conveys. My reading of the first two lines is flat, but I soon feel the love behind the words, and they thankfully take hold. I read, I look up, I breathe, my voice goes up, it goes down, and I wrestle away the urge to cry. The last syllables drift out of my mouth, almost daring the tears to come. They do. In the few seconds it takes to get to my seat, my cheeks are soaked.
Gunnar’s father, Chris, reads a composition of his own that is majesty. We all say goodbye as Gunnar’s casket is carried away.
The spirit of the day lifts tempered by waves of sadness. A video is played in the main hall, music, food, and drinks, and lots of toasts to the lad, and to those that helped put together this event.
On the way back to Austin, stop at Taylor’s house. Jesse, Taylor, and I all go out to dinner to a place that’s part sports bar, part family restaurant. But, because we’re in Texas, they have a great steak.
Saturday, September 14, 2019
Up early, as in before the sun. Breakfast with Emily before she gives me a quick ride down to the Marin Airporter to SFO.
Have a terrific experience with Alaska airlines. I’m able to write for the entire flight. Land in Austin for a late lunch followed by visits to two different Target stores looking for Cookie Monster stuffed dolls.
Dinner with Jesse and Adam at L’oca D’oro. It’s a fabulous catch up, I haven’t seen either of them for almost a year.
Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Begrudgingly attend a SaaS conference with Chantal today. It’s not as bad as I thought it would be, and I actually glean a few ideas before getting antsy after an hour or so.
Watch in amazement as a speaker, a failed startup founder who has reinvented himself as an advisor/analyst/guru/author/blogger/podcaster, talks at a clip just shy of the speed of sound. Brace for a sonic boom.
The conversations floating all around me are singular in their use of jargon. Everyone is hustling. I can’t say that the pace is much different from entertainment industry event, it’s just the subject matter ain’t about the movies. Dunno, maybe I’m being a snob.
Chantal and I escape to The Slanted Door for a boozy lunch. Afterward walk down to the Pier 24 photo gallery. Their kind enough to let us peek in at some of the beautiful work.
Take requisite art photo of Chantal as we walk to the ferry terminal to catch the boat home.
Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Brutal news this morning. The inevitable prognosis for my friend’s little lad, diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer twelve weeks ago, has come to pass. He was three.
Everything is distorted. I feel like a veil has been pulled over my eyes.
All I can do now is say goodbye and keep a good thought for little Gunnar. His glacier blue eyes and elegant smile will be sorely be missed; heaven got a new angel, the rest of us down here got stiffed.
Friday, September 6, 2019
Breakfast with Charlotte, the eighteen year old visiting Fiona and Kilian from Australia. All ambition and verve and self-awareness, she lives in a space between typical teenager and wunderkind.
Tony arrives from Newport Beach with my mother’s new car. He’s in a fabulous mood despite having to suffer the 405 traffic to get to Brentwood.
Grab a BBQ chicken salad to-go from Barney’s and hit the road North.
It’s an inauspicious start, a ten minute drive to the freeway takes me half an hour. The freeway getting out of LA is a mess too. Finally make it to Pyramid lake on I-5 where I stop for a quick bite, there’s five more hours to go.
Two thirds of the way North, call my mother to tell her to extend the rental car another day. I don’t have it in me to race through a Friday afternoon rush hour to arrive at our previously agreed upon hour. Then call my father to cancel our dinner plans.
Time constraints gone, change my route toward the Romero Reservoir. This place has always been magical for me. Especially after 5 p.m. when it’s closed and totally devoid of people. All I can hear is the gusting wind and the water lapping up on the shore. It’s a perfect moment.
Arrive home very happy to see Emily.
Thursday, September 5, 2019
Drive to Los Angeles to exchange my mother’s leased car. It’s monumental effort, but in the end I’ll save thousands of dollars.
Tweak the stereo settings and wonder if my mom knows just how fabulous her car audio system sounds.
My new strategy for long drives; stop every hour or so and get out of the car. It adds only about ten for fifteen minutes to the overall trip, and I arrive at my destination feeling much better than when sitting motionless in the driver’s seat until the gas runs out.
One break is at a rest area (safety rest area or SRA), a wonderful relic to the past days of road travel when very few gas stations and fast food restaurants existed along the route. Still can’t sort out how the kiosk map knows where I am, but it’s remarkably accurate.
Looking at one’s self in a rest area bathroom feels a little like being in a waking dream.
In a concerted attempt to avoid lunching at a fast food outlet, find Willow Ranch Barbecue. It’s a classic American diner, complete with a counter that’s almost a block long. There are three people in the place. It’s hard to imagine it being busier, but there are a lot of booths, a banquet room, and a bar covered up by wallboard for a remodel. My server tells me when the bar is open, the place is packed. The food is good, well, the barbecue chicken is good, it’s hard to have an opinion about iceberg lettuce.
A random rainstorm just before climbing the Grapevine, it’s a hundred degrees outside. Arrive in Los Angeles, see Fiona briefly before visiting Steve, Tefany, Mia, and Ila in my old neighborhood. Mia uses my phone for a selfie.
To R&D for dinner with Fiona and Charlotte.
Sunday, September 1, 2019
Read my book over coffee and breakfast with Emily. Notice that since I’ve eschewed my read later list, I’m more drawn to books and other long-form reading.
To the office for a few hours of writing and a short hike. Then shower and don fancy clothes for dinner with my father. Mom was expected, but she’s been pulled away to help her close friend with a mild crisis.
Harris' steak house. Great food, great drinks, and everyone in good form. Drop my father back at his house, Emily and I to ours.
Saturday, August 31, 2019
Today is not quite as plodding as last Saturday, but it’s not brilliant either. I’m missing something. Too much ruminating especially when the answer to said ruminations is clear as crystal. I just can’t seem to get myself to make the leap forward. Must try harder tomorrow.
The basic disappointments unfold. Down a rabbit hole leaving me too little time to do the things I want. Salvation comes at home. Emily and I have a fabulous dinner together followed by two episodes of Mindhunter, without a doubt one of the best shows Netflix has ever produced.
Thursday, August 29, 2019
Start the morning late. A call with Callan, she’s a youngin, daughter of my good friend, about to sign with a manager in Los Angeles. Try to instill skepticism and a sense that she’s as valuable to the manager as he is to her.
To the office for the normal drudgery. A hike, then to BevMo where I spy a bottle Redbreast Irish Whisky for, ooh, a lot of money. A splurge. Take it to John and Kimberley’s house and manage to go through half of it.
Wednesday, August 28, 2019
It’s late on a moonless night. Perfect for a drive on the dark back roads while listening to music. The only light I see for miles is this gate. The lights arching over the top fade to different colors. It is bizarrely magical.
Tuesday, August 27, 2019
At twoish, announce to my business partner that I’m off to the dentist.
“Why are you smiling?”
“Dunno, I look forward to seeing the fabulous folks at the dentist office and I kind of like getting my teeth cleaned.” She gives me a suspicious look.
Lay down in the chair while Emily, the hygienist, tugs on the surgical light to position it. The glare hits me in the face, it feels like home. Which is just another way of saying; a spotlight by any other name is still spotlight. Sweet Jesus, I gotta get myself a part in a play or something.
Back to the office for a bit, then to the hill just before sunset. The air is remarkably still, which gives free reign to mosquitos an other biting insects. Get back to the car covered in welts.
Write for a good long time next to a glass of bourbon.
End the evening watching two episodes of The Derry Girls. The show is truly brilliant and dovetails with the book I’m currently reading.
Monday, August 26, 2019
Having made a few monumental decisions yesterday, followed by celebrating said decisions last night, I am a little rough this morning. This sort of internal brutality always conjures memories of the vampiric TV series True Blood. No idea why.
All in all we have a good day in the office. Many decisions made without much bloodshed. Feel like Chantal and I are getting good at this running a company thing.
Write a little, then to the pool for a quick dip. Send Danielle a picture of the Cars towel I’ve had since we broke up nine years ago. An homage to her son Flynn.
Hit the road to Petaluma to see Elaine at her place for dinner. The light on the back roads is stunning this time of day. I could continue driving and listening to music for hours.
Dinner is fabulous; dimsum and vodka. I get the full account of Elaine’s trip to the Galápagos Islands. Home to read my latest book obsession Say Nothing by Patrick Baden Keefe.
Sunday, August 25, 2019
Up early to take Emily to the airport. The drive is easy, the hour is not. I loathe morning people. How do they do it?
Pursue a project I’ve been wanting to get built for years. At the end of the day I feel good. Hike, then head to Petaluma to meet Philip P for wine and food at the Speak Easy. Our favorite bartender no longer works there. The current crop is just fine, but Kat, Kat is something to behold. Makes me think that truly good bartenders and servers are a rare breed indeed.
The fabulous conversation goes on for hours. Take the very long way home, roof and windows open to the cold night air, car heater on high, music loud.
Saturday, August 24, 2019
It’s a random Saturday. By that I mean, the day is plodding on without direction.
Go to Nir’s house for a visit and some life advice. He’s good like that, a gentleman of the world who’s seen a lot of things. Meet Mike, a friend of Nir’s from his old neighborhood in Emeryville. Kids are running around everywhere. Youthful energy is always makes the day better.
Back at the office to get captured by a rabbit hole. Existentialist thoughts and the heat of the day create a dream like atmosphere. To the hill for a too-short hike in spite of the fact that I’ve proclaimed the for last three mornings that I’m going on a long hike. My inability to get out in time for that long hike feels mildly self destructive.
Home to Emily who is puttering around the house packing for her week-long trip east for a big job. The lack of any professional photo rental houses on the area of the shoot has her packing up an inordinate amount of gear.
Emily and I enjoy a nightcap and head off to bed.
Friday, August 23, 2019
Hopper’s last day before she moves to New York for graduate school. A new chapter. We mark the day with lunch at M & H in San Anselmo.
Try as I might get out to got for a much needed long hike, I just can’t. Run to Sweet Things for an apple pie, then to the cigar club for smoke and conversation. Dinner at dad’s.
Wednesday, August 21, 2019
The day slips by with a blur of calls and company discussions. Catch the late afternoon ferry to San Francisco to meet Charlyn B for a glass of wine.
The boat ride back to Marin is stunning. The violent salt water splash that typically drenches the back deck is nonexistent, owing to the calm waters. The sun, wow, the sun is just above the horizon in a clear sky.
Hop down to the Buckeye for dinner with John L.
Sunday, August 18, 2019
After breakfast, Emily and I forgo our plans for the Monterey Bay Aquarium, mostly because I can’t find the motivation to drive two and half hours south. Instead we go to Tomales point for a eight mile trek that overlooks the Pacific Ocean.
The trailhead starts at the historic Pierce Point Ranch, which I always find fascinating. Given how cold it gets at this spot, I often wonder what life was like here when the ranch was active.
With our legs jello like, we change in the parking lot of the trailhead and go to Central Market in Petaluma for dinner. Great wine and food as a reward for the long hike.
Saturday, August 17, 2019
Meet John L for lunch at his house in Sausalito. We have an incredibly elucidating business conversation.
The rest of the afternoon slips away too quickly wading through the most annoyingly trivial tasks. By the end of it I’m grumpy I didn’t manage my time better and take off to the forest for a long walk.
Grab a few laps at the pool just before sunset. Then meet Chantal to drive to the city for Hopper’s going away party. In a week she’ll be in New York to start her graduate degree. Am awash in flashbacks. The party is all twenty-somethings in the kitchen, and on the back deck. The only thing that seems to have changed since I was one of them is the price of the rent and the booze. Have the most lovely conversation with a girl named Laura, a musician by night and political graduate student by day.
Chantal and I leave to back across the fog enshrouded bridge to the sound of eerie music on Soma FM.
Tuesday, August 6, 2019
Jumpstart the day to get wrangle on tasks so I can leave early.
To the Jewish Home and Rehab Center to see an elderly family friend, a catholic nun, who has taken ill. She looks good, and is surrounded by friends. The heat is kept on the high side which makes things feel a little stifling. I last about twenty minutes before saying goodbye, craving the cool San Francisco air.
Drive to Sunnyvale on the 280 for a meeting with Lynn L. This freeway used to be such a blast to drive on. I think it enjoys the title of “most beautiful freeway in California.” But today it’s like a scene out of Mad Max. Desperately resist the urge to compete with the other speeders.
Get to Le Plonc an hour early, my stomach none too happy about “The Forgager” salad I had for lunch. Find a discreet bathroom and…
I feel much better. Order espresso and scone from a nearby café to bide my time.
At the appointed hour, get a spot at the bar and speak French with the bartender who is from Strasbourg, France. She’s a young, gorgeous, bubbly black woman who finishes her sentences with “darling” in a non-contrived way. Lynn arrives and my meeting ceases to be a meeting five minutes into our first glass of wine. She is fabulous, been in the industry as long as I have. We trade stories and ideologies for hours before it comes time to make my way home. But first a top at my father’s house, computer issues.
Home for a chat with Emily, then off to sleep.
Saturday, August 3, 2019
Meet Chantal and new friend Mike and kids and spouses at Terrapin Crossroads for a midday beer and an almost business conversation. The scene is just fabulous; kids everywhere and the parents of Marin watching them closely with a cocktail in their hand.
After a long hike head to the Buckeye for dinner to sit at the bar with an all-star cast of regulars.
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
Birthday dinner for Emily’s mom, Carla. We all gather around the dinner table for home made pizza and a fabulous bottle of Zin. It’s Carla’s last night in town, and, tragically, she has to get up at 4 a.m. to catch her flight. We’re sad to see her go, her visits brings a wonderful Connecticut charm to this California home.
Tuesday, July 30, 2019
Drinks with Kam at The Farm Shop. Then dinner with Jeff B at Guest House to celebrate the sucess of the show at the Sweetwater. Oysters and prime rib.
Sunday, July 28, 2019
Emily and I take her mother to Sausalito to the Freda B, a Schooner charter that tours the bay. It’s a great old ship with a fabulously friendly crew. One of whom, Lauren, I know.
Lauren is an icon around Sausalito, a young, skilled sailor she’s crewed on Freda B for two years. We get to talking and she mentions that she thought about me the other day. “I was at Modern Sailing last Thursday and watched some poor guy get knocked into the water while a boat was pulling into the slip. It was only half way because he held on to the life lines. He could have been your brother you two looked so much alike.”
“It was me,” I say.
Lauren laughs her ass off and recounts the story to the rest of the crew. I get a good bit ribbing about it.
Saturday, July 27, 2019
Emily is out early this morning. Gives me an opportunity to write. It goes miserably. Well, maybe not that bad, but not so great.
French lesson at Christine’s where I manage to hold a long conversation almost at the level of a fifth grader. A reason to celebrate.
After lunch, catch up on a bunch of articles to find Rutger Hauer passed away this week. What an icon. I never knew Blade Runner was a flop when it was released. To me it was always one of the most brilliant science fiction movies made. The multiple “director’s cut” versions always befuddled me, but I think that’s what happens when a film reaches cult status. People want more of something that was only made once.
To dinner at The Wild Goat with Emily and her mom.
Thursday, July 25, 2019
Hit the ground running this morning to get work out of the way early.
Meet John to go sailing. It’s one of the best days on the water in years. Good beer, good weather, and strong winds.
John lines up the boat perfectly to pull into the slip when a man on another boat across the way yells “hello.” The distraction screws up John’s line and the boats heads toward a concrete piling. Use my feet to push us away then run to the bow so I pull the same maneuver on the dock. At the ready, on the other side of the lifelines, feet on the edge of the rail, John realizes the precariousness of the situation and kicks the boat into reverse. I go over. Grab the life lines on the way so only lower half of my body hangs in the water. Am congratulated for my James Bond move by people watching.
Thankfully I have a change of pants in the car. John and I head to the Buckeye for dinner.
Tuesday, July 23, 2019
Wide awake at 4 a.m., I’m anxious about the set design for the production tonight. I don’t have the stage depth to pull off my original lighting idea.
Call Philip P., ask him to come and look at the stage with me at 1 p.m. We need to try and alter the set design using just the stage lights. After lunch at the Sweetwater we start working with the light board. It is complicated, but Philip demonstrates a natural aptitude and soon we’re aiming lights and tweaking effects. It all comes together by 4 p.m.
Run to the fabric store to get a large piece of black cloth to cover our stage bar. It is a completely different world. A land where measurements are expressed solely in yards, and coupons are king.
The staff moves at slow, deliberate pace. Glance at my watch repeatedly, talent will arrive at the venue for rehearsals soon, I haven’t printed out the final version of the script yet. The well meaning fabric cutter seems intent on exactly measuring my black cloth. Politely I tell her I’m happy to take the rest of the bolt, I’m in a bit of hurry. She thinks aloud as she meticulously folds my purchase. “I think there’s a coupon for this material.”
“Oh gosh, I’m ok, no need to trouble yourself with the coupon. Really must dash,” I say.
The fabric cutter and the two elderly women in line behind me stare at me with shocked eyes. I have blasphemed. After a long minute, I say, “Well, if it’s not too much trouble…”
Everyone relaxes, the natural order of the store returns. My fabric cutter holds her hand-held computer extraordinarily close to her eyes to accommodate her thick glasses, after a few seconds she looks up triumphantly; 50% off. Oohs and ahhs of approval echo behind me. Dopamine courses through my veins, my eyes subconsciously dart around the store to if there are any other deals to be had. My phone rings, breaking the spell.
To the office to print 5 copies of the script. Rush to Telfords for a cigarette holder, then back to the Sweetwater to start rehearsals.
Only one talent has shown up. Steve, another actor arrives a few minutes later allowing us to start. Philip kindly steps into the director’s chair while I stand on stage and run through my lines. Mitch, the keyboardist, who is also on stage, and I work through a timing issue on the transition to the second scene. After a few tries we get it.
At 5:45 Ciara, one of the other actors, arrives, but owing to the time, she’s relegated to an ancillary role. Camille, the first actor to show up, is given the principal spot in all the scenes. Considering she was brought in as an extra to fill a chair on stage, she rises to the occasion heroically.
The key actor shows up at six, but it’s too late, she’s been cut.
A miscommunication about doors opening adds pressure to the rehearsal. A crowd has gathered expecting to be let in at 6:00, we need until 6:30. Mark the stage manager handles the situation with calm confidence.
At 6:30 Mark ushers us to the green room where I start running my lines. Last minute changes to some dialog that’s not coming of my tongue easily. Everyone in the green room trades stories. Word comes back that the venue is packed to standing room. We all take a deep breath and keep the conversations going with a palpable nervousness in the air.
Mark returns to the green room and leads us all to the stage door. The house lights go down, the room goes quiet. After a few seconds, Mark sends us to take our positions on the darkened stage. There’s a round of applause. Then silence. In the back of the house I can see Philip scanning the room, hand on the light board, taking a few seconds to build anticipation…the spot light fades up on me and we start.
Judging by the applause, the show is a huge hit. Run to the bar at the back of the house for a well deserved whiskey drink. Jeff, still on stage, fields questions from the audience.
Afterward, cast and crew head to Bungalow for dinner. By the time I get home, I’m exhausted and exhilarated. An epic night.
Monday, July 22, 2019
Talk to Mitch, the musician providing the score for the event at the Sweetwater tomorrow night. “Lou, the script looks good, but where are the music cues?”
Not exactly a rookie mistake, I’m used to music occurring in post production, but a mistake nonetheless. Promise an updated draft by the evening.
To Samy’s camera in the city to look at lighting for my stage set idea. A large silk backlit with a blue light on stage with silhouetted action in front. Anne sets up the silk, the Arri light is strong enough, but doesn’t shift blue. It has a great red. I think “sure, why not.” It’s the first crack of compromise, never a good sign.
Glass of wine with Anne, then to the Sweetwater to look at the stage. It doesn’t look deep enough for my idea. The light needs room to fill the silk.
Back to the office to push out a new draft of script, with music cues.
Saturday, July 20, 2019
It’s the anniversary of the passing of Emily’s father today. After French and a hike, Emily and I spend the day together. Nice talks, fabulous lunch at the house, then to Nordstrom for a sniff around their once-a-year-sale.
Homemade pizza and vodka cocktails while watching Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.
Wednesday, July 17, 2019
The week’s frustrations continue. Kimi and I make video ads for LinkedIn, starring me, which makes me uncomfortable as hell. Afterward, we never quite find our groove. It’s disheartening. The travails of the previous day have sapped our creative spirit.
Over smoothies we hatch a plan to make sure this doesn’t happen again.
Kimi departs to Los Angeles, and I to the hill for hike earlier than I’d like, it’s brutally hot.
Back to the office for a meeting with Mike B. and Chantal. After a brief chat the three of us head to Insalata for snacks and drinks. It’s the first time Chantal and I have met Mike, we feel like he’s already family.
Home to Emily for a much needed night with the precious person in my life.
Tuesday, July 16, 2019
Kimi arrives from Los Angeles, Tiago, our new developer, arrives from Brazil—via Florida—where he was visiting his in-laws. The day is a chaotic mess. The office is too crowded and I’m constantly barraged with questions about the software in order to take advantage of the one day Tiago is in town. Unfortunately Tiago is exhausted from travel and time zone changes so nothing really gets accomplished. All this derails Kimi and my efforts to get to our marketing agenda. Frustration reigns.
To Le Garage in Sausalito. It is a perfect evening. The sun in retreat, the water still, and just enough of a breeze to blow the odd hair out of one’s face. Chantal, Kimi, Tiago, and I let loose over wine, cheese, and charcuterie. Tiago and I talk about guns, living in Brazil, and his Japanese wife.
Chantal heads home, and the indefaticable Tiago catches a cab to the city to meet friends. Kimi and I soldier on at the bar where we have a candid, enlightening, bonding, and beautiful chat. A rare moment for the both of us.
As Kimi is staying with Emily and I, we introduce her to an episode of The Last Tzars a fun docudrama mini series. It’s full of awkward sex, melodrama, and puntuated with talking heads, but I love it.
Saturday, July 13, 2019
Wake to a fabulously windy day. Emily’s best friend Julia is in from Los Angeles, she and Emily are shooting a wedding today. Make breakfast for all then to French class.
Late afternoon hike. The hill is devoid of people, windy, and the sun is dazzlingly bright. Ideal conditions. Have a long think about everything.
To the Buckeye to chat with Jeff about the staging of his upcoming book reading. I’m feeling the creative pressure to get it finalized.
Friday, July 12, 2019
It’s a mildly momentous morning. My first pilates class since my surgery. The first step to re-strengthening my core, which, as it turns out, needs to be taken slowly and intelligently. Begin a program used for mothers who are recovering from c-sections.
To the cigar lounge for some fabulous banter and a good smoke. Dinner with my father.
Monday, July 8, 2019
Up early. Coffee, quick bite of a bagel, pack. A large group of us head in to watch the Women’s World Cup match between the United States and The Netherlands. The U.S. wins in fabulous form.
And so marks the end of my 33rd Shasta trip. This year a group of six of us got a differing versions of the same design of tattoo to celebrate our Shasta solidarity. The design is based on the logo of the Seven Crowns Resorts, the company that used to own the Bridge Bay Houseboat company. Someone spies the old logo on a safety sign, so we all gather around for a picture. Will’s design is incorporated into his one-eyed jack tattoo as the hat of the jack.
Getting on to a freeway seems so tedious after five days of relative freedom on sweeping waterways.
Saturday, July 6, 2019
Am meant to leave Lake Shasta today. The kids protest, they like the way I tow them on the giant innertube behind the speedboat. Still, I maintain my resolve, until Coco quietly saunters up to me and tells me to stay another day. There’s not much use in trying to argue with Coco.
Gather a group of people to take the patio boat to the dam. It’s yearly tradition for me. Walking across the massive structure always makes me happy.
Get back to the houseboat where Steve has organized a hike to a tiny swimming hole. Nadja, Mia, Steve, Amrita, Teffany, Ian, Amelia, and myself all take turns plunging into the icy water. I dub the place the Shasta baptismal font.
Thursday, July 4, 2019
Sleeping in the galley area, I’m awoken by the puttering of the early risers. Soft chatting over coffee just as the sun touches the top of the hill across the channel. We purposely moor the boat in a spot that will realize the maximum time of shade in the morning.
Breakfast; bacon, sausage, and bagels all cooked with amazing skill by the beloved Mr. Science.
Tim and I head to Bridge Bay in the rocket boat to pick up Tims’s wife, Jean, my city based drinking partner, who is arriving at eleven-ish. Get world that she is running late, so Tim and I head to the bar and restaurant formerly know as the “Tail o' the Whale”—the new name is such a travesty of banality I can’t utter it—for a beer. Tim, and expert on San Francisco politics imparts the most remarkable elucidation of why the city is in such utter shambles. I am riveted. Jean arrives, we pack up and speed back to the houseboat.
Late afternoon, Jean and I swim across the channel. My first swim in two years since my shoulder has healed. It’s challenging but feels great.
Just after sunset we all gather at the back of the houseboat to sing the national anthem with a Patriot Act, a red, white, and blue colored shot of two types of liqueur topped with whipped cream. It’s awful.
Wednesday, July 3, 2019
Pick up Kilian (arriving from Seoul) and Fiona (arriving from Los Angeles) at SFO. Hit the road to Lake Shasta. On the way, just after the junction here the 505 meets the 5, stop for lunch at a Mexican restaurant in the middle of nowhere. It’s one of those sparsely appointed places with fabulous food and a glued-to-her-iPhone teenage daughter working as the server.
Arrive at Lake Shasta. The abundant rainfall this past Winter really shows. We all comment on how we haven’t seen the lake this full in decades. It’s gonna be a good fourth of July.
Steve, Teffany, Mia, and Ila meet us in the parking lot of Bridge Bay where I change in to my entry outfit. Flag adorned cowboy hat and Britney Spears tee.
Eleven year old Ila tries on my cowboy hat on and flashes her big green eyes. Powerless in her gaze I give her the chapeaux.
As the houseboat company is out of rental speedboats, they give us one belonging to the owner. It’s a basically a rocket ship.
Saturday, June 29, 2019
With Emily out of town, am trying to make good on cleaning up everything I possibly can work-wise before my departure for the lake on Wednesday. Grab the late afternoon ferry to meet Emily T for a very quick glass of wine. It’s gay pride in San Francisco, the boat is full of folks in celebratory rainbow-esque outfits.
Short hike, then a solo dinner at the Buckeye where I encounter an all star cast at the bar.
Friday, June 28, 2019
At the club proudly show off my gnarly scar to a room full of cigar smoking men. I get full props as only boys can give such a thing. Settle in for my first cigar in months.
To dinner at my father’s.
Thursday, June 27, 2019
Wake to a hint of a chill in the air. The weather has been remarkably temperate for the end of June.
Spend the morning unraveling the chaos of the week. Am silently determined to go to Lake Shasta with—to use the cliché—nothing on my plate, in the cupboards, in the closet or anywhere else in my metaphorical psyche.
Dinner at The Buckeye with John L.
Tuesday, June 25, 2019
Confusion and miscommunication are the order of the day. It gets so bad I throw my hands up and avoid talking to anyone except Hopper. Muscle through and get my butt up to the hill for a hike, away from people.
Monday, June 24, 2019
Fabulous breakfast at Petit Soleil and then, sadly, we hit the road north. A brilliant mini holiday and birthday.
Arrive back home my mid-afternoon only to get back in the car to Petaluma for a quick meeting.
Emily and I spend dinner recounting the weekend, and not drinking.
Sunday, June 23, 2019
Meet Caroline and Matt for breakfast at CJ’s in the AG. It’s a good old fashioned diner. I order an avocado and bacon omelette and am presented with a solid half an avocado wrapped in egg that’s had bits of bacon cooked into it and cheddar cheese melted all over the top of it.
Say our goodbyes to Caroline and Matt, pack up our stuff and relocate back to Petite Soleil in San Luis Obispo.
Walk around downtown SLO, visit the Mission, a quiet day to wind down and adventursome and celebratory weekend. Finish with a hike Laguna Lake.
Dinner and drinks at Koberl at Blue and the back to the B&B for our last night in town.
Saturday, June 22, 2019
Coffee, avocado toast, and smoothies for breakfast at Cafe Andreini in Arroyo Grande village. Then off to Avila Beach for whale watching.
Mark, the skipper of the fabulously fast and stable twin engine catamaran speedboat, is incredibly knowledgeable and entertaining. On the way out to the spot he saw whales this morning we encounter a huge pod of dolphins. He angles the boat to “engage” with them. The dolphins swim along side our boat jumping and frolicking.
A few minutes later we’re all looking out at the horizon in various directions for signs of whales. On the boat with Emily and me is Ville, a professor from Iceland, Karen, a local photographer, and seven year old girl named Lily who is riding with her grandmother. Mark sees a bunch of birds hovering above a specific spot on the water indicating that there are fish underneath them. As we get closer dozens of sea lions are feeding.
Then it happens, two humpback whales break the surface with a loud exhale from their blowholes. For the next hour we follow the birds, sea lions, and whales as they all follow the fish. It’s fantastic. We get to see a few—almost impossible to catch on camera—breaches. We also see a lot of tail splashing. All the while the marvelously amiable Mark is regaling us with whale stories.
Lunch at a café on the pier, then back to the Day of the Dead room at our Airbnb to change for dinner.
Our friends Caroline and Matt have driven up from Santa Barbara to join us for Emily’s birthday dinner at the renowned Ember restaurant. All week Emily has been telling me that we have to get to the restaurant when they open at 4 p.m., they don’t take reservations. I am of course dubious that a restaurant in the heart of a small town could attract metropolitan sized crowds, but, it’s Emily’s birthday.
Arrive at 3:45 p.m. to Ember’s parking lot. There’s not a soul in sight. I recommend that we go up the street and walk around the AG Village. Emily vetoes that idea out of hand. Not two minutes later does the lot start filling up with cars. I have the enviable first position. A few more minutes pass and there is a line behind me. My jaw is on the ground and my skepticism is duly stuffed. Caroline and Matt turn up and we’re seated at the best table in the place.
Cocktails are ordered, Caroline, a wine aficionado, produces an incredible bottle of 2013 Law which our server opens to let it breathe for dinner. The appetizers are out of this world. My favorite; pork belly and abalone. A surprising combination that works smashingly well. The main courses are put on the table, everyone shares bites. The food is flawless as is the wine. It is one of my top five best dining experiences. Dinner concludes with Emily blowing out a candle on top of strawberry shortcake.
To Mason for after dinner drinks and fabulous conversation which drifts from perfume to poker.
Friday, June 21, 2019
Wake at Petit Soleil. They serve an exceptional breakfast which Emily and I devour. We chat with the owners for a while before we have to pack up. Sadly Petit Soleil is booked for the next two nights so we’re moving to a place in Arroyo Grande.
The Airbnb is fabulous. The owner is lovely, passionate, and enthusiastic. She has a real knack for hospitality. Our room is Day of the Dead themed with remarkable sculptures and art work on the shelves and walls.
Emily wants to roll down a dune for her birthday. So to Pismo we go. After several failed attempts to get access to a dune that’s not festooned with rented ATVs we give up to pursue Emily’s other birthday wish, to sit on a warm beach.
Beach chairs and books in hand we plop down on the sand. A cool wind keeps us wrapped in towels and sweatshirts, Emily’s new bikini never sees daylight.
Undaunted we seek out wish number three for the day, a drink overlooking the water at sunset. Arrive at the Sea Venture hotel. It’s slightly dated look lends a fabulous charm. Given the luck of the day, we’re shocked when we walk right into a spot on the hotel’s third floor outdoor patio. The drinks are fabulous, and, most surprising, the food is damn good. We watch the sun drop and toast Emily’s 40th, repeatedly.
Thursday, June 20, 2019
Depart to San Luis Obispo for Emily’s birthday weekend full of verve and enthusiasm. Mood is dampened an hour later by absurd Silicon Valley traffic. Our goal is to get to SLO in time for the farmer’s market.
The traffic clears somewhere past Gilroy which gets us back up to highway cruising speed. Arrive SLO in plenty of time for corn on the cob and BBQ chicken. And so the weekend begins.
Monday, June 17, 2019
Errands in the morning. Then to the office to review our new web site. Looks fabulous, I think, I’m never confident with my design opinion, I’m not a designer.
Kimi and I record a podcast, and then I’m back in the car for more errands and finally a much needed pedicure. It was the last thing on my post-hospital list, it feels good to get it done.
Home and dinner with Emily.
Saturday, June 15, 2019
A classic day of half-heartedly doing things I need to, while depriving myself of doing things I want to. Academically I know if I pursued the latter, the former would get done in a quarter of the time. It’s idiotic how the brain works sometimes. Or, maybe it’s not my brain at all, maybe it’s some emotional demon from my childhood, or a past life, when I was a king. That’s the regal delusion I’m operating under to get me through.
Finish a half-hearted hike—clearly the theme for the day—then dinner with Emily, followed by two episodes of Fleabag, one of the best shows on TV.
Friday, June 14, 2019
I can’t tell if I’m in a bad mood, or if I didn’t get enough sleep last night. Maybe it’s the former because of the latter. Work is annoying at best, am peppered with questions all day which impedes accomplishing anything. But, if I’m honest, I’m not sure I wouldn’t have just sat idly looking at my computer screen brooding away the day. It’s like I have petulant alter ego skulking around my head.
My father, recovering from a surgery yesterday, reschedules our Friday dinner to Sunday. Emily has a dinner guest this evening so I opt for a sunset hike and late supper at the Buckeye by myself.
See my friends Julie, Mary, and Ged at the bar. Over cocktails, we all vomit discontent over our shitty day. It’s cathartic especially while enjoying the post hike endorphins combined with the warmth of the whiskey.
Ask Ged when his new restaurant is going to open. He proceeds to school me for the question. Passersby the restaurant that is still under construction relentlessly ask the same thing. “When are ya going to open? What kind of place is this going to be?” It’s a perspective I never considered before.
Head home to Emily, the back way.
Thursday, June 13, 2019
A dull day with beautiful weather. The heat wave has passed.
Visit the surgeon to get an explanation for a sort of hard part inside my stomach around the area of the hernia he fixed. It’s called a healing ridge. It’s a good thing. The molecules come together and make a ridge around the wound, much like you see when you cut your skin. Amazing really.
Hopper arrives at the office with sad news, her friend’s car was broken into yesterday while they were both surfing at Ocean Beach. Phones and cameras gone.
San Francisco leads the country in car break-ins. It’s almost to be expected these days when one parks on the street. It’s part of the sad state of things in what was once an incredibly dynamic city.
Tuesday, June 11, 2019
Kimi arrives from LA for a massive marketing summit at BlinkBid HQ. These meetings can be mildly contentious as we try to agree on changes, but we get there in the end and manage to remain friends. It’s all just a part of the creative process.
Celebrate at Le Garage.
Sunday, June 9, 2019
As Emily is off shooting a job today, come into the office to clear a huge backlog of tasks and errands. Well rested and sufficiently caffeinated I manage to plow through absolutely everything by the end of the day. Wonder why this can’t be a norm.
Celebrate with my longest hike since the surgery. Feel like I’m on the near side of heading back to normal.
Dinner with Emily and our new obsession Outlander.
Saturday, June 8, 2019
Smoke from I don’t where makes the sunset fabulously stunning. I just hope that there’s not a wildfire out of control somewhere.
Friday, June 7, 2019
I feel almost normal today. Which serves to explain the persistent exhaustion of the past four. Should’ve known there was something amiss. Of course, why wouldn’t there be—am healing from a major surgery that’s only three weeks past as of yesterday.
Lunch with Hopper where we find the opportunity to have a long wonderful chat.
Stop my day in the early evening and reflect on my hospital stay. There was a lot sorted out in my head during those long days alone. Happily realize there’s more to be discovered. Life altering events have far more facets than the obvious.
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
This week it’s been hard to get momentum going at the beginning of the day. This morning is no different. It’s the myriad silly problems unexpectedly popping up that seem to be derailing. I’m sure it has nothing to do with my petulant intolerance of all things stupid and boring. Must try harder to push through the muck more quickly.
Spend the evening with Emily. Dinner and the first episode of Outlander. My gosh, I heard this show was good, but wow, it’s really good.
Monday, June 3, 2019
At last, a brilliant slumber. Feel like I’m ready to take on anything today. Which actually becomes a required attitude. Complicated negotiations at every turn. Soldier though and head off to the hill to hike.
Stupidly, instead of taking the more gradual, scree-less descent route, my macho ass slips on loose rock. I fall right on my ass. Thankfully my right foot was back so my leg absorbed most of the shock, but my stomach muscles contracted nonetheless. My imagination immediately wonders if I’ve torn some internal sutures. Chastise myself relentlessly in the glow of a gorgeous sunset. Thankfully I’m due to see my father tomorrow morning. He’ll be able to tell me if I’ve done any damage.
Sunday, June 2, 2019
I can’t quite get my sleep pattern back to normal. In the hospital one is awoken several times a night, with the hours of 12 a.m. to 5 a.m. being excepted, to have vitals checked. Around 5:15 a.m. blood is drawn. So goes the routine of being a patient which seems to have followed me home.
In spite of better of advice, push through a harder uphill hike. It does much to clear a cloudy head.
Emily and I get in the car, play some good music, and cruise the hills near Nicasio as the day ends. Back at home Emily cooks a fabulous dinner.
Thursday, May 30, 2019
To the doctor to get my staples removed and ask a ton of questions. Most importantly, when can I have a drink again.
Thankfully I’m healing well. Lobby against taking an antibiotic regimen in favor of self-watching my wound for infection. The doctor agrees and so I get a pass on the Keflex. The staple removal performed by Josy and is remarkably painless.
Meet with Chantal at the office and end the day with a walk along the creek with Emily. John L and I meet for dinner at the Buckeye for what is to be my first night out in ages. It’s a fun but civilized, just the perfect pace.
On the way out of the restaurant I run into the caregiver for the ninety year old man who was my roommate for one night in the hospital. The coincidence is startling.
Monday, May 27, 2019
My first hike since the 9th of May. It’s more of a baby hike. I’ve been cautioned by three medical professionals—two of whom are my parents—about pushing too hard post surgery. I want to ignore them and embrace my inner urge to race back to normalcy, but a half-dozen steps down the trail reveals that they’re absolutely correct.
The sudden jolt from a misstep over a loose rock brings a shot of pain from my healing incision. So with a renewed respect for those that know, I tamp down my ego and proceed cautiously.
The waterfall is still running, mildly surprising considering that we’re about to start summer. Spend some time before slowly and steadily heading back up the hill.
Monday, May 20, 2019
Had to sleep on the couch last night, the rigid arms act as a good support to keep me forty-five degrees. It’s the first day back to work in a while. Am welcomed by my co-workers with balloons and requests to see my scar. Make it only a few hours before I’m exhausted. Inadvisedly push on a bit further and end up feeling miserable. My mother cautions me on respecting post surgery protocols. She is of course absolutely right.
Sunday, May 19, 2019
No more magic words have I heard this year than; “How’d you like to go home today?” It’s just after 8 a.m. Dr. Stahl’s subtle Georgian accent declares me fit to leave my hospital bed, my home for the last nine days. As the morning progresses food is brought which I slowly but enthusiastically devour. The nurse disconnects the IV drip that has been keeping me alive during my mandatory eight day fast. Finally the nurse removes the IV needle going into my vein.
I feel beat up, I have a slew of staples holding my stomach together, and I am weak, but I am free. As Emily walks me outside, it’s almost shocking to smell the salt and mustiness from low tide on Corte Madera creek. Arriving home feels almost like a mild culture shock. Am diligent about respecting post surgical protocols. Am also thrilled to eat again.
Saturday, May 18, 2019
As my surgeon is out of town, his partner has taken over his patients. Dr. Stahl drops by early this morning to put a stethoscope on the four quadrants of my stomach. He likes what he hears and clears me for food. Real food. Well, as real as hospital food can get. My first meal after nine days of not being able to eat is eggs and potatoes. A small amount. The process to kick start the digestive system after its been sleeping (yes, that is the medical terminology) is a slow one. Still I am thrilled and it sets the tone for the day.
A dietician comes my room to take my order for lunch, dinner, and tomorrows breakfast. From nothing to choices, it’s all wonderfully bizarre. The day passes in and out of sleep. The pain is now manageable with Advil, it feels like a momentum of progress has taken hold, at last.
Friday, May 17, 2019
It’s hard to believe that at this time seven days ago, I was just out of the shower ready to conquer the day.
Thought I would’ve slept better last night post surgery, alas not great. No matter, I’m optimistic that I’m on a better road. The morning’s liquids; juice, water, and two sips of horrid tasting broth seem to move through without much ado. The surgery wound still doesn’t hurt much, but I know it’s the nerve blockers still at work.
My mother and father visit. It’s good to see them, unfortunately I keep fading in and out of sleep. My mother goes to fetch the OP-report for my father to peruse.
The pain kicks in precipitously and severely. Norco with a morphene topper to get over the first wave. After that the Norco seems to keep things managed as the day continues. About 11:43 p.m. a visit to the gentleman’s convenience. Things seem to be heading back to normal.
Thursday, May 16, 2019
Wake this morning still feeling unwell, but confident of my release from the hospital. Start simply with juice, water, and broth. The first liquids to pass through my lips in seven days. Now all I need do is wait for a gaseous sign that my innards are on the mend.
A few hours go by and nothing. Ignorantly I state to the nurses that the lack of any solid food for so long is the reason for the dearth of gas. It doesn’t work that way.
By mid-morning I feel miserably until I expel a bunch of bile from my stomach. All hope from yesterday has been dashed, I resign myself to surgery. The doctor puts everything in play, Gabrielle’s mom, Stephanie, an operating room nurse, lends a terrific hand from the surgical floor by pairing me with a top notch anesthesiologist. Her opinion of my suregon is beyond glowing, he’s smart and incredibly experienced. Stephanie has also gotten herself on to my case. I feel incredibly lucky to have so many people championing me. Am keenly aware that it doesn’t actually work this way. The gratitude I feel is overwhelming.
By early evening it’s time to go. Down the elevator to pre-op. The pre-op nurse covers my head in dreadful looking blue cap. Remind myself that this isn’t actually social event and I shouldn’t be so vain. Stephanie comes around the corner, “Nice hat.” Her presence and humor put me immediately at ease. I am good to go.
The anesthesiologist introduces himself and confers with my mother. He’s wonderfully amiable. Then the surgeon stops by, a man of few words, but brimming with confidence, I could not be better hands. Bring on the drugs.
Am asked to talk about my time in New Orleans. The last thing I remember saying is three fingers of bourbon.
Am awake. Two hours-ish have passed. My lip is a little swollen where it was chafed by the tube they put down my throat. The surgeon comes by with good news. There was no need to resect any of my small intestine. Further, the adhesion causing problem was found and removed, and, as a bonus, a decade old umbilical hernia was fixed. My stomach is distended from the inert gas pumped in for the procedure. The incision which stretches from sternum to belly button is held together by staples. Surprisingly I feel very little pain. I know this is the nerve blockers at work, but until they’ll wear off, woohoo.
Emily and my mom are here. Seeing the both of them is beyond comforting.
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Everyone from the nurses to the assistants and even the housekeeping folk are cheering me on to pass gas. The definitive proof that my digestive track is heading back toward normal. I am optimistic, but the surgeon remains cautious. After listening with his stethoscope he decides on a barium test to get a visual on movement through my plumbing.
In the radiology department it’s everything I can do choke down a quarter gallon of sickly sweet and thick barium. Try ignore the nausea knowing that I’ll have to start the process all over again if I vomit up the chemical element. X-rays are taken and I have to wait an hour. More X-rays and another hour wait.
Back in the room I feel miserable. Try to pass the time watching TV, but it just serves to annoy. A few hours pass and the radiology crew with their portable equipment shoot another round of images. Ask the young tech if she thinks the barium is moving. She cautions that she’s not qualified to render an opinion, but she doesn’t think anything is flowing.
A few hours go by, an I’m feeling more and more nauseous. Then just when I think I’m going to pass some gas…it’s a sprint to the bathroom. A few more trips over the next hour and things seem to progressing in the right direction. I am elated.
The surgeon comes in to recommend surgery when my mother jumps up to say “wait.” Tell the doctor about bathroom trips and he smiles. I’ve dodged a bullet. I ask if I’ll be released in the morning. He tells me it will be the afternoon depending upon how I respond to clear liquids.
The rest of the evening I’m worn out, but elated.
Tuesday, May 14, 2019
When Emily walks into my room she tells me the police are out in the hallway. She’s trying to prod me to get up and do a lap around floor, the most helpful thing a person in my situation can do. I, on the other hand, am exhausted. I’ve not eaten in five days. My stomach seems to have calmed down some, but things are far from normal. Enough to justify taking out the incredibly uncomfortable NG tube. This makes me feel a bit better and lifts my spirits.
Emily, being Emily, coaxes me out of bed, and, with IV pole in tow, we go around the floor a couple of times. The police officers she referred to are corrections officers from San Quentin jail, just a few miles down the road. They accompany prisoners who need medical attention.
Ask one of the officers if they know a friend of mine in their line of work. They do, he’s in the hospital in the cafeteria grabbing a coffee.
Patrick swings by my room in full uniform. It’s good to see friendly face.
Sunday, May 12, 2019
Exceedingly sleep deprived, at the edge of my wits, I disconnect my sunction tube and roll my IV pole down the hall, all my belongings tucked in my arms. The thrashing continues behind me. Tell the nurse at the nurse’s station that I can no longer stay in that room. She understands completely and relocates me with a ninety-year-old rommmate who is dead asleep. The nurse asks, “Will that be a problem?” nodding to the elderly gentelman’s caregiver sleeping in a chair, tented under a blanket. My eyes bloodshot, my body exhausted, “Not at all.” Asleep in minutes.
The doctor visits at ten. He’s still befuddled as to the source of my problem. The current protocol, NPO and wait, is time intensive. He’ll see me tomorrow. In the meanwhile I’m to start doing laps around the floor a couple times a day.
Emily, an archangel of love and support, visits. The day passes walking, watching bad science TV, and trying to read. But the words on the screen on my iPhone make me nautious.
My elderly roommate has been dishcarged, and the nurse promises to fill the other rooms before mine. Pass the night alone sleeping like a baby.
Saturday, May 11, 2019
It’s 3:30 a.m. To the right, behind a thin privacy curtain, silhouetted by the dim blue lights of medical instruments, the snoring beast with a new hip. Behind me the eerie mechanical breathing of the suction machine that’s keeping the pressure and pain from my stomach. The room is overly warm, I’m tethered by the air tube that connects the suction to the NG tube in my nose, and the IV tube pumping life sustaining fluids into my arm. Out of boredom I lift myself out of bed to take a pee which requires disconnecting the suction tube and rolling the IV pole with me to the bathroom.
Back in bed, in spite of exhaustion, the roaring snore monster with the new hip is just too loud. I know I’ll never fall asleep so I hope for a speedy sunrise.
5 a.m. the nurse’s assistant comes in to take vitals which curtails the snoring just long enough for me drift off. Awake at 8 to give a new set of vitals.
The surgeon has chosen a conservative route. Keep me NPO (nothing by mouth) and on continued suction for a few days to see if the blockage will resolve itself. I’m in full agreement, anything to avoid surgery. We talk more about my history which just adds to the mystery. I really shouldn’t have this issue, but here I am.
The day passes listening to the snoring beast hold court among his vistors and on his phone, his phone ringer audible and loud even though device is rarely out of his hand. He is fond of telling anyone within earshot, which given the unrestrained volume of his voice encompasses the entire floor, that he’s not going take pain meds. He is a recovered addict and actively involved in a recovery house. The only solace I have is the tiny smile that sneaks across my face when I sort the timeline of his surgery and realize that the nerve blockers deployed durring the procedure haven’t worn off yet. The pain really hasn’t started for him yet.
He fashions himself as a Tony Soprano type. His vistors pop in and out the room having done his bidding. The whole scene is just bizarre especially through the clearing haze of the morphine used to control my pain the previous day.
Night creeps up like an unwelcome friend. The snoring starts and I’m doomed to pass the darkness wide awake.
Friday, May 10, 2019
Wake, eat a quick bite, and meet Sara for a my Pilates class.
Back home to shower, half a cup a of granola, and an annoying burning sensation in my stomach. Call my father who advises 20mg of Pepcid and to call him back in an hour. My protestations to wait until the end of the day to update him are met with a curt rebuke.
An hour later the stomach discomfort persists, my father orders me to the emergency room.
While I’m waiting for the doctor at Marin General Hospital the pain increases. By the time I get into see the nurse I vomit into an emesis bag. The nurse quickly responds by inserting an NG tube. A brilliant yet scary procedure that slips a tube up through the nose down the back of the throat past the gag reflex into the stomach. The suction on the tube relieves the pressure and the pain. Still, I’m lost and I have no idea what’s going on.
The ER doctor presents me with a few possibilities the last of which, a blockage, the most scary, is also the most unlikely. I’m not a candidate. For a clearer picture I’m wheeled to radiology for a CT scan.
The results reveal I do have a blockage. No one, including the surgeon who’s been brought into consult, expected this, nor can anyone sort out the origin. Early theories are bandied about, the most compelling is some fat from a twelve year old hernia has somehow become entangled around my intestine. I’m formally admitted and taken a room in the surgical wing. My roommate is a rotund, boisterous, and loudly snoring recipient of a new hip.
Friday, May 3, 2019
Jimmy and Molly’s dog, Pip, decides that I’ve had quite enough sleep, so in a dexterous move he hops up on to my bed and slathers me with loving licks to wake me.
Say goodbye to Molly and thank her for the hospitality as she hops out the door to work. After a shower, get into a Lyft. Inexplicably the software keeps changing the address I enter to something different. After a few minutes the driver and I agree on a cash price and exit out of the Lyft system altogether. I call out turn by turn instructions as he tells me the story of his life.
Meet Julia for breakfast downtown before we’re to meander slowly to the Portland Art Museum. On the way I spy a building with the worlds Je ne veux pas travailer painted above the door. Peer in the window which offers no discernable indications as to what they do there. Curiosity urges me to open the door and ask. It’s the office for the band Pink Martini, the french phrase above the door, I don’t want to work, is from the first song of the band’s first album.
At the Portland Art Museum Julia meets profesor Read and her classmates from the apocalypse and armageddon class for an exclusive look at etchings, block prints, and lithographs spanning from the 15th century to the 1980s. Am thrilled to be included.
The incredible work is presented by curator Mary Weaver Chapin, PHD. Looking at the pieces is inspiring, and hearing the student’s analysis reveals the clever thoughts of ambitious minds. My favorite is Death Waits by Percy Smith. An image of death waiting next to the trenches of a WWI battle field. But I’m also struck by Warrington Colescott’s wonderfully bizarre and irreverent work from the seventies.
Alas, I have to duck out and catch a plane just as the class wraps up.
Land in California and finish the day at the office before going to my father’s for dinner.
Thursday, May 2, 2019
Drive to OAK to catch a plane to Portland. Thankfully sail through TSA, the text message alert I received earlier saying the flight was delayed thirty-five minutes has been amended, they’re back on time. Just about make on board in time.
Land at PDX and make my way to Lewis and Clark to meet Julia. We grab lunch at the campus café before she shows me around. Last time I was here it was evening and winter. The place has a completely different feel in the bright light of a spring day. A gorgeous new wood bridge that traverses a forrest gully is the highlight of the tour.
Run into a group if Julia’s friends. I feel like a college student again, sitting on the lawn, baking in the sun, yammering about all things.
Reality slaps me across the face when I listen to Julia’s exceedingly cool friend, Eduardo, speak in the vernacular of his age group. Trying to emulate him by using phrases like; “that’s what’s up,” or, “tight,” will make me look like tragic middle-aged man trying to regain his youth, so I stick the Queen’s English and hope for the best.
Julia’s friends Eduardo and Gigi are wonderful. Clever, ambitious, and fun to be around. After an hour or so we head back to Julia’s dorm room where she shyly plays me a song on her guitar that she’s a tad nervous to perform for her music class in just under an hour.
Try to work at the school’s café. Alas smoke from the microwave used to heat sandwiches and the basic chaos of the room prompts me to find quieter environs. Which I do, on the bottom floor of the Miller building. Lie down on padded bench and pass out.
Julia and I meet Molly, my host for the evening, at a bistro somewhere downtown. Garlic fries, calamari atop foie gras slathered toast, beef tar tar, and drinks all around. Back to Jimmy and Molly’s for nightcap and conversation. Jimmy, always the gentleman, forces himself out of bed to come downstairs to say hello. Our mutual friends Adam and his daughter, are in from Austin and apparently kept Jimmy up way past his bedtime night before. Am sad that Adam has already hit the hay without an opportunity to say hello, but he has to depart in the pre-dawn to make an early flight.
Julia grabs a taxi back to campus, Molly heads upstairs, and I start dreaming as soon as my head hits the pillow in the guest bedroom.
Tuesday, April 30, 2019
Run up to Petaluma to help Elaine with a broken dishwasher, get an invitation to a Katie’s impromptu birthday celebration at Nicks’s Cove enroute. The restaurant is in the middle of nowhere in Marshall, near Tomales Bay. Arrive late-ish, the atmosphere is a little off. Katie tells me on the way back to Petaluma there was a spat between a couple at the table that deflated the mood.
Spend and hour installing two new pulleys for the dishwasher door before heading back home.
Monday, April 29, 2019
One of my oldest friends and fellow photographer, Laura C, is in from New York. While Laura makes her way in to the city from SFO, she’s asked Gabrielle and I to stop by a liquor store on Geary street to pick up a consignment of nips. Those mini-bottles of booze found on airplane service carts, or in any bar in South Carolina up until 2006. Laura is going to use them as leave-behinds for a slew of meetings she has this week.
Booze bottles in the bag, Gabrielle and I arrive at a gorgeous Victorian just north of The Haight belonging to Laura’s friends Anne and Darek. The interior is stunning, the original Victorian decor has been preserved or recreated. It’s like walking through a time portal, but not a dusty one, the house is dynamic and active and mesmerizing in its beauty. As Darek demonstrates the original gas lights, I feel like I’m in a Dickensian novel.
Gabrielle hops a cab to a Nina Simone event, Laura, Anne, Darek, and I go to dinner at Rinataro. Epic Japanese for the well paid San Franciscan. The scene is contemporary, fabulous, and suffused with the irony.
Her event over, Gabrielle meets back up to get a ride back with me to Marin, but not before a nightcap at her favorite bar, Madrone. It’s Motown Monday. Music, dancing, and general fabulousness. Meet Devina and Mahasen two young women visiting from New Jersey for Devina’s 24th birthday celebration. By the time I get home, I can’t believe it’s only Monday.
Saturday, April 27, 2019
A day of reading (backlog of longform articles) and rabbit holes. Manage to spend the day avoiding everyone except the wonderful chats with Emily on the phone. Also take a few hours to purge the old, organize the essential, and get myself generally sorted out.
Thursday, April 25, 2019
Wednesday, April 24, 2019
An incredibly fitful night’s sleep. Feel human again. Make note of everything I did yesterday in the hopes of creating a routine that will yield slumber like this all the time. Somehow I don’t think raising my stress level to a point exploding and drinking vodka is a healthy formula. Nonetheless there’s something to be learned here.
To the Buckeye to re-shoot the Twenty Years Behind Bars II book cover. This is probably the very last commercial photo project of my career. Seems fitting that it all ends in a bar.
Another hot day. Run through BlinkBid calls. Hastily throw together a mockup of the book cover to show Jeff before sending the elements off to a professional post producer.
Gabrielle and I hike in the early afternoon and then meet Tamsen for drinks and dinner at the Buckeye.
Tuesday, April 23, 2019
The temperate climate of Spring seems to have come and gone in less than seventy-two hours. Today is uncomfortably hot. The mood in the office is grumbly. Not horribly so, but I think we’d all rather be on a lake somewhere cinching up chin straps of sunhats against a light breeze.
Meet Sheri G at a café in San Anselmo for an iced tea and to borrow her camera. I have to shoot the politically correct version of Jeff’s book cover tomorrow. The one I did last year with Tamsen on the bar met with too much controversy.
Barely keep my afternoon together and ultimately go crashing down through a time wasting rabbit hole. A little foggy, drive to Petaluma for dinner with Elaine. Make it home and pass out happy that the day is done.
Sunday, April 21, 2019
A long overdue get together with my mother. She arrives at noon for Easter lunch. French omelets, salad, and coffee. We pass hours yammering on about everything. Careful to avoid subjects that we both know will cloud the good time.
Late afternoon embark upon a very long hike to the East Peak of Mt. Tamalpais. Decide to make this an Easter tradition. Conclude the ten mile hike just before dark. Legs shaky.
Saturday, April 20, 2019
Write most of the day. The first two hours of work end up on the fire. Traipsed down a wrong path. Pick things back up in the late afternoon, only to have to stop to go to dinner.
Dinner at Central Market with Katie B. A fabulous catchup. Then a nightcap at the Buckeye.
Get home and decide this is my last night out for a long while.
Friday, April 19, 2019
Wake this morning well rested but restless. The day passes in a perfunctory fashion. Write a rant about Apple, post it for a few hours only to delete it. It’s a concious decision to understand that no matter what I say, or how loudly I say it, it won’t have an effect. Best to be informed and choose the wisest path based on that information. When a wise man sees a tsunami he doesn’t yell at it for existing, he runs to higher ground.
Smoke a cigar in the early evening, then grab food from Joe’s to bring to my father’s house for dinner.
Thursday, April 18, 2019
This week I’ve been out every night. The trend continues. Drinks with Lynda at her maison fabulous.
Wednesday, April 17, 2019
Dinner with Anne S at The Commissary, as much as I’ve been on a rant about eating out in San Francisco, I am thoroughly enjoying our dinner. Catch up about the old days and try to get our head around the new ones. A spectacular evening.
The bonus is getting to drop Anne off at home and say hello to her husband, Chris. A photographer who is a spectacular portraitist. Also get to say hi to their daughter who seems to be sprinting to young adulthood with a viola in her hand.
Tuesday, April 16, 2019
This week is high stress. It shouldn’t be, but deadlines that have been procrastinated upon—uhhh. Forge ahead anyway, cognizant of the notion that stress stifles creativity and critical thinking.
To dinner and drinks with Philip. Attempt to go to a place we haven’t been in Petaluma, Central Market, inexplicably they’re closed Tuesdays. End up at our usual The Speak Easy.
Monday, April 15, 2019
The only thing I can think of this morning is how many people sacrificed their weekend to sort receipts. Tax days that fall on Mondays are tough on the r-and-r days that precede them.
Somewhere in the ether of the internet I read how the companies that offer tax services and software successfully lobbied to curtail the US government’s efforts to make a free tax filing web site. This, of course, will only screw the middle class and those struggling below that because the people in upper tax brackets can, and do, hire accountants out of hand.
Lunch with Dr. Dhanda in Nappa. The drive up and back I take call after call. Understand it’s and efficient way to get these tasks done, but I much prefer listening to music loudly with the windows and the sunroof open. (Or is it a moon roof? I never quite know.)
Stay at the office way too late, Emily is out of town so my workaholic tendencies are running unchecked. Get home and scrounge just enough raw material for a French omelette and salad; served with a large bourbon. Settle in for the last three episodes of Alias Grace, one of the most intriguing, and one of my most favorite mini-series on Netflix.
Saturday, April 13, 2019
By invitation, Hopper, John, Julie, and I get a private tour of the USS Pampanito, a submarine that served in World War II. Our guide, Pete, a retired submariner, tells us the most wonderful stories about living life underwater, including the choice spot to sleep in midship bunk area.
Walking through the boat it’s hard to imagine 83 sailors living in such a confined space. If I couldn’t be captain, I’d be the cook.
Hopper and I lunch at Radhaus at Fort Mason, and then saunter through a craft fair. Try as I might to be open minded about other people’s arts and crafts, I keep getting astonished by the prices of hand made goods. Straw hats for boat or beach at $59, candles massaged into existence while being read poetry for $30. Comparably a similar straw hat at Target, $4. “But it hasn’t been hand dipped in organic dye,” I’m told.
Still, in this exceedingly wealthy city business is brisk thanks to the Millennial the sect. Must-have items like lightbulbs from the Edison era are very popular. Back to the future for $50.
Leave Hopper in the city and head home. The midday beer leaves me a little sleepy. Rally just before sunset for a hike, and then go to see The Brink, a documentary about Steve Bannon.
Late supper at the Buckeye.
Thursday, April 11, 2019
The day is the day, stunningly gorgeous, but suffused with confusion and disappointment. No matter, do my best to press on.
The night is much better, Hopper and I head to the Buckeye for dinner and a catch up since her return from southeast Asia. Run into some of my friends, but manage to cloister ourselves so I can hear stories of her adventurous travels. As she’s now a vegetarian, it throws a wrench into our normal routine of sharing a plate of ribs. Which really means, I don’t eat enough on concert with my cocktails. Still the night is memorable and fun.
Wednesday, April 10, 2019
The first pictures ever of a black hole were released today. It is an astonishing accomplishment. My mind is lost all day long as I consider, amateurishly, the physics of how light and space and time are contorted by the gravitational forces of a black hole. I could spend hours, days, pondering all of it. Sadly the mind bending realities of real life beckon. Still to be alive today feels pretty darn good.
Tuesday, April 9, 2019
Awake at four a.m. for no discernable reason. Settle in with my book and read for an hour before I feel like falling back asleep. Open one eye at eight to catch Emily running out the door. Finally wake at half past nine to see text messages from the office. The insurance claim person I’m scheduled to meet is there, early. Rush out the door to meet her, she could not be nicer and we conclude our business quickly.
The rest of the morning is spent working with Gabrielle to finish a long article entitled Naked Truths in Fashion Photography for Chaos and Creativity.
Emily and I grab an early dinner at Le Garage, our last night together for a while. She’s off to Connecticut for a month tomorrow.
Monday, April 8, 2019
Standard operating day with the exception of getting my car back from the the shop.
It was the evening hike that was exceptional. Large wisps of white fog slowly snaked their way through the green trees. It was the quietest I’ve ever heard the hill. Out of nowhere, an epiphany. Several vexing problems I’ve been wrestling with for ages all solved at once. It was relief and elation all at the same time. No idea where it came from, but one rarely does. Better to be happy with the outcome, me thinks.
Celebrate with baguette, cheese, salami, and bourbon for dinner.
Sunday, April 7, 2019
Emily is up and out early this morning, a shoot down the peninsula. It takes me another two hours to conjure the energy to peel my head away from my pillow.
Coffee, banana bread, and the last hour of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, a movie I started last night. It’s just wonderful. Slightly melodramatic, a dash of mystery, stunning locations, and super performances by the actors. A true escape flick.
As the final credits roll, all I want to do is day dream about far away places. Sadly work calls. Break things up with a hike and then into the city for a meeting. Sundays weren’t meant to be this busy, but there you have it.
Saturday, April 6, 2019
I’ve eaten something that I’m allergic to which has put me in a severe histamine haze. I’m groggy, exhausted, and can’t focus.
The weather isn’t helping. It’s a dull grey breezeless day.
Emily and I embark on a walk, and, after an hour or so, find ourselves at a wine bar. One glass too many on a stomach filled only with cheese and baguette. Home for dinner. Start to feel better just before it’s time to go to sleep. A day lost to body chemistry intolerances.
Friday, April 5, 2019
The return of the kid. After two months of travel, Gabrielle’s tan, genteel face is back at the office. Spend the morning getting caught up on all things BlinkBid. Then off to Equator at Proof Lab for a coffee and her travel stories. Lunch, finish up a few odds and ends, then Gabrielle and I go for a hike.
Everything is spectacularly lush, the Phoenix Lake reservoir is fabulously full. California looks good in green.
Dinner with dad and home early to for a good long read before falling asleep.
Wednesday, April 3, 2019
Not a great day. A spot of chaos rips through my head like the storm that perpetually skates along the surface of Venus. Still, I manage to soldier through to the end of the day when I get to visit Elaine G up at her house in Petaluma for dinner.
End the evening at my office at 11 p.m. to finish up last minute details for a London client, and to expiate for a few missteps over the last two days. Off home at 11:43.
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Out early to Pilates, which sounds just silly to say in words. But true to the trite and the transcendent is my commitment to this space.
Send a “happy birthday” text message to Hopper, only to realize that I’m a day late as seen from her time zone in Sri Lanka. Chastise myself a bit for not being cleverer.
The day elevates to magical when Emily and I depart to Woodside and the Filoli house. The weather could not be more perfect. We laugh and tell stories as we saunter through the stunning gardens. My favorite part is the old pool. I have a real penchant for water features.
Inside I fantasize about having the kind of money that affords such a grand old manor, and living in a time when grand old manors are de rigueur. What a thing to think that one would need every piece of Tiffany silver in the chest to service a dinner party. It’s a social extrovert’s dream.
But it’s the library that captures my heart Ah, if only.
As the sun starts to set, Emily and I leave for Le Garage and a proper French meal and bottle of French wine. A beautiful way to end a beautiful day.
Thursday, March 28, 2019
The absence of a full crew in the office for such an extended period has brought new thoughts of how to run the company to bear. Growing pains, as I’ver heard them called. Thankfully Chantal returns Monday.
After a grueling morning, off to the city to my father’s. Rain was predicted to drop for about ten minutes and so it does just as I’m winding my way through the transition road form Park Presidio to Nineteenth Ave. And then whack. Am rear-ended by a pickup truck.
The young woman driving the truck sits in my passenger seat, her friend in the back so we can exchange information out of the deluge. I feel sorry for her, it’s her first accident, her hand shake like leaves as she tries to look up insurance information on her phone.
Get my father’s car smog checked just before the garage closes. Then to a glass of wine with my friend Kathy for her birthday.
Join John L at the Buckeye for dinner where we have fabulous catch up about everything.
Wednesday, March 27, 2019
Am still lending a hand with customer support for BlinkBid. It is astounding to interact with people who try to game our system so they don’t have pay for our software. They are so sincerely full of shit. Apparently this will be my role until the 5th of April. Not sure I’m gonna make it that long.
Finally, after too many long days in my office, make it to the hill for a long hike. A much needed respite from people.
Tuesday, March 26, 2019
The day, hardly worth talking about. Lot’s of customer service emails in light of everyone being out of town, and poor planning on my part. Paying for those sins now.
The bright spot comes in the evening at home; dinner with Emily followed by the final two episodes of A Very English Scandal. Without a doubt one of the most brilliant shows on TV er Amazon Prime.
Monday, March 25, 2019
Am communicating with people in the three different times zones this morning; London, New York, and Sao Paolo. It’s maddening, each one needs something from me by a specific time, in their time zone. I don’t recommend this for anyone. I can’t tell if it’s breakfast, tea time, cocktail hour, or dinner time.
Every soul who works for me is either in another country, or traveling. Makes for a cavernously empty office. Which may be a blessing; no one will see me slowly lose my mind today.
Sunday, March 24, 2019
It’s a daft idea. Drive my overdue leased car to Los Angeles, pick up the new one, and drive back the same day. Twelve hours total driving time.
Emily and I have breakfast and coffee before I depart with an overnight bag in the trunk. Vow to make at least four stops on the way down, and eat healthily to avoid sugar crashes and drowsiness. Also vow that if I’m exhausted when I arrive in LA, I’ll stay the night.
Four and half hours and a slew of BBC Crowd Science podcasts in, reach the foot of The Grapevine, the part of interstate 5 that ascends the canyon to the Tejon Pass in the Tehachapi Mountains. When traveling in winter this is the part of the drive that one checks for weather closures. Today there’s ony been some intermittent rain.
After a ten minute break I start my drive up the hill. A few minutes later, cruising at 75 MPH, a fire truck, its lights flashing and siren wailing, is trying to make left onto the freeway from the center median. The traffic isn’t slowing so I rapidly decelerate and flash my high beams. The heavy truck pulls out in front of me and does its best to gain speed on the precipitously steep grade. Pass the truck on the right and continue on for a mile or so until I get to a wall of break lights glowing through a tule fog. The traffic is stopped.
The fire truck passes me on the left in the fire lane. It’s followed by a CHP car. A second CHP car in the fire lane stops a few car length ahead of me. The officer gets out and starts deploying traffic flares, moving cars to right the best he can. Another CHP vehicle arrives to help.
Open my window and ask the officer what’s going on. A fifty car chain reaction crash about a mile up. He tell’s me if I can scooch over to the freeway exit, I can make right on one road, and a left on another which will take me all the way to Gorman, effectively bypassing the accident.
The densely packed traffic jam is full of polite people, we all work together carefully allowing each of us make our way to the exit. The tule fog has all of us driving judiciously.
Pass the accident to my left on the freeway. It is chaos. A car is smoldering and there are dozens of smashed vehicles. In a few minutes I make it Gorman and back onto the interstate which is wide open.
Meet my car broker, Tracy, at the Infiniti dealership and swap cars. Talk to Tracy for a few minutes before she has to get back to work. It’s 6 p.m. I feel good. The northbound side of the I5 is open past the accident. Decide to go for it.
Make it home by midnight, exhausted. Yet, having had an entire day in the car has given me an wonderful opportunity to ponder a myriad of things, listen to some great music, and fabulous science podcasts. All in all a fantastic journey.
Look online for the news of accident. It’s a catastrophe. Thankfully, no human deaths. Sadly, a horse in a three-horse trailer didn’t make it, but the other two did. All the injuries were minor excepty one sustained by twenty-two month old baby who had to be airlifted to a hospital. Can’t stop thinking, had I not stopped at the base of the Grapevine for a breather…
Wednesday, March 20, 2019
Drive to San Francisco with Kimi to do a podcast with super agent Heather Elder. The episode goes swimmingly, we record for over an hour. Then a quick video of Heather answering fun questions.
As Kimi, Heather, and I yammer on over a glass of white, we lose track of time. Tamsen sends us a text from the Buckeye to say it’s slammed with an hour wait. Reconfigure our plan to all meet at Le Garage for wine and food.
Sunday, March 17, 2019
Work tasks so boring it’s barely worth the syllables to mention them.
Later, write a letter to the core three of my company, not so much to shake the tree, but to ruffle the leaves a little. It’s remarkably cathartic and inspires brisk intelligent conversation on how to keep our our current momentum in motion.
Emily and I settle in and watch The Tree of Life, a movie I’ve meaning to watch for years. It is a cinematic triumph. Am kicking myself for not having seen it on the big screen.
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Start the day with the best intentions to catchup on some work—manage to be distracted by everything else except what needs to get done. Am sure it has to do with some deep seated psychological procrastination tendencies. I’m just not suited to the drudgery of quotidian tasks that don’t lead to a creative result. Still, the work must get done, so the wheels can keep rolling.
Toil over getting a new car lease or buying out my current car. The whole thing is dreadfully boring. Conclude that when one drives as much as I do, a car lease is part of the cost of living in California. So glorified over-insured car rental it is. Probably a good thing in the end. I miss having a black car. Call my car broker and give her the green light to get me a new automobile.
The half moon tonight is going to be high in the just sky after sunset. This gives me the leeway to start my hike way late. My return trip to the car is stunning. A warm spring-like wind blows and the fire road has a cool blue moonlit cast to it.
Start re-watching season 7 of Game of Thrones to prepare for the final season coming next month.
Thursday, March 14, 2019
Up at 4 a.m.—can’t sleep. Write for a few hours before going back to bed.
I should have held off my complaining yesterday. Today is worse. I feel like a feather in a whirlwind. Upheaval at a major production company in NY, Chantal is attending her son who had to be rushed to the hospital in Brazil. Try to remember the phrase “that which does not kill us…”
Two o’clock and the dust has settled. All that remains is to clean up the mess.
Meet Lynn C and her husband Sheldon for drinks and snacks in Albany. Sadly Emily is feeling poorly and can’t join. Get home, pass out.
Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Have decided to send today down the river. It was a three ring circus of shit-shows. Usually, on days like these, an escape to the forest puts things right. But I was so backed up I barely made it in time to meet Emily for dinner. On the way home Emily played Rush Hour by Mac Miller, that put everything right enough to get to sleep.
Tuesday, March 12, 2019
Tamsen joins at the office today. With her help, plow through a tiresome to-do list. Lunch, errands, then TamTam and I head to the hills for a short hike. The first half of which I spend bitching about the company who did the Master Class video of me. They’ve done something sneaky and unsavory. And, in the light of being caught they don’t have the courage to admit it. They’re communicating in doublespeak. Just another day in a savage industry. It’s a jungle out there.
Am supposed to go to the city to meet my friend for a drink, but the freeway construction on 101 has cars gridlocked. Reports of over an hour to travel less than a mile pervade. In classic bureaucratic style, CalTrans did little to communicate about the carmegeddon they were going to cause, catching people totally unaware. Cancel my get-together for another day.
I suppose there are worse things than being trapped in Marin.
Monday, March 11, 2019
Stunning day outside. Crisp, clear, and the occasional gusts of wind. Go to Equator Coffee at the Proof Lab surf shop for coffee by myself.
Standard Monday morning mishigas until the early afternoon when I go down a rabbit hole that steals two and half hours of my day. Total waste of time. Mildly frustrated, run errands in San Rafael which takes twice as long owing to the hour and the traffic that comes with that time of day. Deep breath. Return to office, change and go hike—thankful for the extra hour light thanks to DST.
Sunday, March 10, 2019
Up early to meet Jean F in Pleasant Hill at Diablo Ink, a tattoo shop highly recommended by my friend Rebecca. A group of us long time regulars—as in decades long—of the annual Summer houseboat trip at Lake Shasta are all getting the same tattoo designed by Jimmy N. Caitlin, Hollace, and Coco were the first to get theirs in Seattle on the 17th of February.
Jean and my ankle tattoos make four and five of the fellowship of the Shasta.
Back home with just enough time to get dressed up. Emily and I take my parent’s out for a decadent dinner at Harris' to celebrate my father’s ninety-first birthday.
Get home early enough to catch a classic episode of Absolutely Fabulous. It’s a show that I inexplicably get a hankering for every so often.
Saturday, March 9, 2019
Emily and I escape to the car for a long drive up highway one to Bodega Bay. With all the rain there’s barley a soul on the road. A much needed quiet day off.
Thursday, March 7, 2019
The day progresses slowly with phone calls to far away time zones. Chantal is in Brazil, she’s taking a week off to be with her family before she meets our developers for a two day meeting. I’ve got the office to myself which explains why it looks like a college dorm room. Really have to pull this place together.
Wednesday, March 6, 2019
I can barely describe what a shit-show this morning has turned out to be because I’m on the age of hyperventilating. Every turn is a crisis. Hopper and Chantal are traveling, backup assistant one is out, and backup assistant two is shooting a gig. Never thought of myself as dependent, but…
Granted this is all occurring in Marin county, one of the most beautiful and wealthy places on the planet. It’s not like I don’t know where my next meal is coming from. But that’s as far as my calming mechanism has taken me. I’m out for blood.
Call Kimi, over the last two decades she’s talked me off more ledges than anyone on the planet. Her advice is simple, piss off and go for a hike where people are not.
So I do.
Tuesday, March 5, 2019
My master class in the business of photography dropped today. The trailer looks great, I look tired. Can’t help but to wonder why it’s sitting behind a pay wall. As I remember the original discussions it was supposed to be free for all as a promotional thing for RGG and BlinkBid. Leave the drama in Kimi’s capable hands.
Am still reeling from the news about Kieth Flint. Today I’m being selfish with my sadness. I never got see him and The Prodigy live. Each new release the band dropped was always a well timed dose of rebellion adrenaline for your’s truly. Am sure the band will soldier on, but man oh man what a loss.
Monday, March 4, 2019
As I’m about to hop into the shower, Emily tells me Kieth Flint is dead. The news hits me like a ton of bricks. The Prodigy is one of the more significant influences on my life. Try not let it dampen the day, but it does give one pause.
Sunday, March 3, 2019
Today is all about getting away from everyone for three hours. Seven miles of mist, mud, and waterfalls. Fabulous.
Saturday, March 2, 2019
After a mountain of work—penance for being away all week in New York—get to the hill just as the sun is going down. Not that I can see the sunset. It is incredibly foggy. Eerily so. I’m not usually given skittishness, but my visibility is restricted to about fifty meters. Out in the nothingness all manner of forest sounds leap out at me over a din of patter from large water droplets falling from the tree branches. Eventually the light is barely visible. Small bushes look like wolves and small trees look like Sasquatches. Make it back to the car in total darkness amid a symphony of coyote howls.
Reprieve comes in a bourbon glass at the famed Tosca restaurant. John and Julie have invited me to join them for a drink and desert. I order the squid, which is remarkably good, and cannoli.
Thursday, February 28, 2019
In complete contrast to yesterday morning, today starts a little rough around the edges. Calls to the United Kingdom sans coffee support. Brutal. Am trying affect a smooth cheery voice, all I can manage is a gravelly resonance reminiscent of an nineteenth century brothel owner who smoked too much.
Owing to the lateness of the hour, Brigid and I have an abbreviated version of our coffee routine at the café downstairs.
Race back at the Fashion Institute to give another talk. Again the room is packed. Young, clever, soon-to-be photographers looking me up and down with discerning eyes. The insecure side of me wants to scream; look fools I was shooting pictures before you were a glint in your parents' eyes. But as the coffee kicks in, and my vocal chords loosen up, insecurity fades and rationality returns. The talk goes well.
Race back to the Jane’s apartment, make a few more calls to the UK then on the subway to LGA. Arrive the airport in record time still wondering why I thought I remembered taking a train to and from the airport last time. Then put two-and-two together to realize it was Newark with the train and LaGuardia with the bus.
Land in Dallas for a ninety minute layover. To the bar for overpriced bourbon and wretched prime-rib quesadilla. A young woman in her early twenties saddles up next to me. Turns out she’s an assistant buyer for Nieman Marcus, we have a wonderful conversation about the fashion industry.
The weariness from the previous night starts to hit me as I board my flight to SFO. Make the critical choice to keep drinking bourbon and write for almost the entirety of the four hour flight. Land in San Francisco crosseyed tired.
Conjure just enough energy to drive home. My dreams of falling into my comfy bed are thwarted by a closed Golden Gate Bridge. They’re still doing the late night bridge deck replacement or some such nonsense.
Kiss Emily just before she reminds me that I have to get up in four and half hours to take her to the Airporter so she can catch her flight to Virginia.
Wednesday, February 27, 2019
A spectacularly good night’s sleep has me feeling remarkably together and well prepared for the day. At a French café just downstairs from Jane’s apartment, Brigid and I yammer on and drink coffee and eat croissant. She’s off to NYU to attend classes, I’m off to the Fashion Institute to speak.
The room is packed with nineteen and twenty year old photographer hopefuls. The talk is well received and I get to field some marvelously astute questions. Jayne W and I have a quick lunch before I rush over to JN Productions to say hello to Elise who’s not having the best of days. Thankful for a desk to work at until my next appointment nearby, I bang through the day’s digital drudgery.
To The Great Bowery for a meeting where I run into Liz, the CEO of GB, on the elevator. She’s a lovely bright eyed woman with a wonderfully enthusiastic spirit. Manage to pick up on her South African accent which mildly impresses.
Meet with Ivan for a wonderfully long chat about everything from Moscow in the late eighties—he and I were both there at same time, although he was twelve and I was twenty-four—to the state of social media and entertainment. Funny that no one says they like social media anymore. It’s just this weird loathsome thing that has inculcated into our lives that we begrudgingly engage with, or proudly pronounce that we don’t use at all.
After Ivan and I say our goodbyes, race over to The Smith near the ABC studios to have a drink with Ellen C. We have a too short but nice catchup before she has to go back to writing tomorrow’s Good Morning America episode, and I have to get on subway to get to Jane’s birthday party.
Philip P, a California based producer, sends me a text to say he’s in town for a shoot, so I invite him Jane’s shindig. Dinner at Scampi in Chelsea with a great group of people. We all sing happy birthday to Jane and finish the night at her apartment with a nightcap. After everyone heads home, Brigid and I stay up gossiping until two.
Tuesday, February 26, 2019
It’s 4 a.m., when Californians must awake to show up in time for cocktail hour in New York. The torrential wind and rain that have been swirling around all night continue, making driving on the empty freeways mildly perilous.
Land in Denver for a brief layover. This airport is always ridiculously crowded. Am desperate for anything resembling healthy food. Find nothing, so I inhale one of Emily’s homemade banana blueberry muffins tucked away in my bag.
Arrive Laguardia starving, but am keen to hold out for dinner in the city. The MTA machine is incapable of processing transactions so I can’t get a much needed subway card for the bus ride to the subway station. There are two others in the same boat so we collectively agree to hop on the bus and plead our case. As the bus arrives, I’m unanimously elected spokesperson which turns out to be unnecessary as every one gets on the bus en masse and no one is checking fare receipts.
Land on the doorstep of Jane’s, hugs and kisses all around. Call Chantal and Kimi who have both asked me to check in. Turns out that Kimi and I, unbeknownst to either one of us, were in the same terminal at the same time during my layover in Denver. Too bizarre, literally seventeen gates away from each other at the same time.
Dinner at Bar Sardine with Jane and Brigid. The resto is awesome. Spectacularly well made drinks and the best burger I’ve ever tasted. Back to the apartment for a nightcap and much needed sleep.
Sunday, February 24, 2019
A long fabulous morning with Emily before I trot over to the office. Am off to New York day after tomorrow, and I have a ton of stuff to catch up on before I leave. That said, have resolved to start taking weekends off…staring next weekend.
Get only the bare minimum done before I pull an internal prima donna and decide I’m too important for all this nonsense. Hit the hill for a hike and come across this sign which I’m sure is a cryptic metaphor for something in my life, I just don’t know what.
For the first time in over two decades, I’m not watching the Academy Awards. The politics behind it all got too heady for me this year. I’ll try again next year.
Pick up a bottle of bourbon on the way home so Emily and I can fully get into the True Detective vibe. The ending gets much more enthusiasm from me than Emily, in short, I love it.
Thursday, February 21, 2019
Off to the dentist, which, bizarrely, I look forward to. The treatments are the treatments, but the people that work there are wonderful. I love them all, even when they point out a simple, obvious oversight that reveals me to be an idiot.
A few days ago in this space—don’t look I’ve done an Orwellian revision—I criticized the end of True Detective, which wasn’t actually the end. I’m calling it the Netflix effect. I binged watched the first six episodes of True Detective assuming that the whole season had dropped at the same time, like Netflix does. Sophie and Jessica disabused me of my presumption. I called Emily and we both screamed with glee.
Coordinate with Gabrielle who is texting from the future, she’s fifteen hours ahead of me in Thailand. Then hit the hill before finishing the day over homemade chicken soup and the latest episode of True Detective.
Wednesday, February 20, 2019
Busy, busy, busy. Chantal is in. With Gabrielle on a scuba boat somewhere off the coast of Thailand sans cell service, we’re picking up the slack. Am sure there is a derivative of Murphy’s law that says; when you have the least amount of help is when the shit will hit the fan. And so it does.
By mid afternoon Chantal and I are exhausted. Grab myself a hike and then off home to help Emily set up her new computer. Em takes me out for dinner to Insalata as a thank you. It’s a slow night which means we get to gossip a ton with out favorite bartender, Paris.
Monday, February 18, 2019
Feel like utter shit today. Didn’t sleep well and my stomach is waging a revolt. Still, forge ahead with a meeting in Emeryville and then record a podcast episode. Probably not my best work, but not my worst either. The rest of the world is enjoying the holiday, think that would have been a good choice for me as well. Should have parked my ass on the couch and watched a James Bond marathon.
Drinks with Carla S in San Francisco at a new place Cow Marlowe, it took over the East Meets West space on Fillmore. Funny how all the new places are so similar to all the other places that were once new. Feel like going out for drinks in San Francisco is as difficult as looking for good, original content on the internet; everything is derivative of everything else and run by a corporation that tries to mask its existence with an authentic veneer.
Ultimately the devil is in the details. Precision pours, overly attentive servers who say “perfect” way too much, who constantly clear your table so you’ll feel compelled to fill the emptiness with more food and drink purchases. Else a glass containing your check is dropped on the vast open landscape of your tabletop to hint that it might be time to vacate and make the space you’re occupying revenue generating again.
Yep, I’m definitely in a grump.
Sunday, February 17, 2019
After a fabulous morning of caffeine and chatting Em and I do a mini hike off of Panorama Highway. Then to the spa for a well deserved day of pampering.
Sufficiently spoiled, we take a drive to the Nicasio Reservoir to take in the sunset.
Home for dinner and to watch the director’s cut of Amadeus. If you want my advice, stay away from the director’s cut, the included scenes, deleted from the original release, add nothing but frustration.
Saturday, February 16, 2019
It’s 12:15 a.m. and I’m at my office mildly inebriated scrawling an essay on the white board. After an hour writing and editing, I sit back, look at the work, then erase it all in the spirit of a Buddhist sand mandala.
Some creative works are meant to serve as evolutionary bridges. As such they are meant to be ephemeral, to be destroyed just after the completion of their creation.
Thursday, February 14, 2019
Surprise Emily with one of those large garish helium “I love you” balloons attached to a bag from Le Labo, an epic perfume line.
Kimi is back at Oakland. Southwest has cancelled her rebooked 10:30 a.m. flight from last night. Southwest’s treatment of passengers in this situation has been uncharacteristically horrible.
Lunch with Amy C at a Pho shop in Noe Valley, then to meet my dad to take him to the hospital for blood tests and other mishigas. Back at my parent’s house, take a call with Kelly M. from Apostrophe. One of the most dynamic business owners I’ve ever known.
Back to Marin to catch the last vestiges of light for a hike. Home to make Emily dinner for Valentine’s day.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
See Julie C for drinks and a catchup. Then race home to dinner with Emily.
Just got a call from Kimi. She’s stranded at Oakland airport. Southwest had delays of four hours. Then cancelled the last flight to Los Angeles. Kimi is in a cab back to the San Francisco to try again tomorrow.
Tuesday, February 12, 2019
Pick Kimi up at the ferry terminal at midday. Back at the office, I’m still trying to coordinate time zones with Gabrielle who is working from Bangkok. Some how I can’t get plus fifteen hours to compute properly in my head.
Kimi and I tweak the Chaos and Creativity web site and choose a new logo. I love it. Finish writing an article about the value of free and post. Sprint through more work, exhausted at the end of the day. Drop Kimi at the ferry so she can join her friend in the city. Emily and I eat dinner, drink bourbon, and watch the riveting season three of True Detective.
Monday, February 11, 2019
Kimi arrives at the office from Los Angeles. It’s go time. We immediately hop on the road and head to St. Helena for lunch with Dr. Paula about World Wide Healing. On the way, we take about five calls in a row. Can’t help noticing how productive we are in transit. The lunch is delish and fabulously productive.
Head back south to get some marketing work done, and then to dinner at Kimi’s favorite, The Buckeye. Run into John C and Julie C (not married, both just happen to have last names starting with the letter C) sitting at the bar. We all get a booth together and have a good time of it. Run back home to Emily while Kimi heads to the city to stay at friend’s.
Sunday, February 10, 2019
Wake just before ten. Emily reminds me of a pilates class I have in just a few minutes. Sprint out the door slightly out of sorts, what with having left the house without a proper cup of coffee.
The day feels a little like a Monday on a Sunday. Bit of work, a meeting, then join Emily at the house to sweep her up. We head to the pub at the Pelican Inn for a drink and dinner. It’s easy to feel like I’m in England in this place. The fireplace is big enough to stand in, and the fire warms the wood floored room with low ceilings.
Well fed, we go home for a nightcap and and episode of our latest obsession, Sex Education. It’s like a modern version of a John Hughes movie except it’s set in England.
Saturday, February 9, 2019
Hiking in the wind driven rain which turns to hail for a few minutes and then back to rain. It’s wonderful, not a soul on the hill. Get to my turnaround point and head back down. It will be dark by the time I get to get the car. A pang of embarrassment, another hiker has caught me making a selfie video to send to Emily.
The young woman approaching me is one I see often during these later hours. In the past my effusive salutations have been met with a terse “hi” as she passes without altering her pace. This evening, in an attempt to cajole more than one syllable out of her, I say, “It’s my favorite late evening hiker, how are you?”
Maybe next time.
Wednesday, February 6, 2019
Have decided that busy work doesn’t suit me at all. Still, I trudge on begrudgingly and wonder if I shouldn’t have stayed a photographer and watch my career decay as I slowly aged out of the industry. That thought in mind, find new enthusiasm for tragically boring tasks and soldier on.
Dinner plans in the city are cancelled with news that a gas explosion has erupted on Geary at Parker. Watch the raw video feed from a traffic helicopter while listening to the San Francisco Fire Department radio communications channel on Broadcastify. It’s much more interesting than being tortured by newscaster palaver.
First hike in days. Not a soul on the hill. The valley is positively roaring with swollen creeks and robust waterfalls redistributing the near constant rainfall of the last few days. Catch a wonderful picture of the crescent moon rise between dark clouds.
Tuesday, February 5, 2019
Up and four a.m. for no apparent reason. Work a bit on the novel.
Things at the office are mildly frenetic. We’ve suddenly caught the eye of companies and investment groups who what to buy us. I defer all this to Chantal, it’s her element. I’m way too emotional for hard core negotiations. Undoubtedly a result of having had an agent for thirty years of my creative career.
Wine with Emily’s friend from the advertising world, Martin R. Nicest guy you could ever meet. So smart at such a young age. Can see he and Gabrielle becoming friends.
Monday, February 4, 2019
Drinks with one of my heroes, Kelly Montez. Meet at a pub and yammer on for hours. The comfort and the fun reinforces my core thoughts on drinking, keep your fancy mixology establishments and give me a pub, tavern, or saloon.
Sunday, February 3, 2019
Realize the absurdity of last night’s pledge to watch less TV, it’s Superbowl Sunday. Breakfast with Em, then to John L’s for the game. The most boring game in history. New England wins, w-o-o h-o-o. Was really pulling for the rams.
Used to love to watch the ads, but even those are tragically predictable and contrived. And overwhelmingly numerous.
Saturday, February 2, 2019
The wind is blowing like mad. I love it.
French this morning. I’m embarrassed to admit to my tutor that I’m a bit behind. Still the lesson goes well, and progress feels made.
A few hours at the office before a hike and I swoop in to pick up Emily for a glass of wine at Le Garage. One glass turns into a bottle and a platter of cheese. We have an incredible time as the rain falls outside.
Finish watching Sharp Objects, mildly disappointed at the ending. Then move on to a documentary about the Fyre festival. It is mind blowing how a few well placed social media posts led to one of the most profound failures and frauds in history. By the end of the evening, after four hours of movies, I swear off TV.
Friday, February 1, 2019
Sweet Jesus. It’s a string of calls for BB this morning, all are enlightening as I close in on solving a development conundrum. Errands around San Rafael which are hampered by a closed road and my inexplicable ability hit ever red light in Marin county.
The day gets measurably better when Gabrielle and I lunch at Jane’s tacos. Afterward, drive to Chantal’s in Novato for a quick meet, then off to Barnes with Emily. Em and I stop in at new Mexican restaurant that replaced the dreadful PF Changs. We have a Mescal and then head home. Cigar, and then to my parent’s for the usual Friday night dinner and British procedural.
Thursday, January 31, 2019
It’s a long morning of phone calls, followed by a development strategy meeting with Chantal that goes a little sideways. I’m in a contentious mood, and my patience is short. Decisions have to be made, priorities organized, and my inbox is full of requests for BB tweaks. Today is not that day.
To dinner at Kimberley and John’s. It’s the best part of the day. Good wine, food, and best of all, good conversation.
Can feel something niggling in the back of my head. It’s been there a while. A realization that I need to come to terms with, something that I’ve been wrestling with, that finally needs to be toppled and pushed out.
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
Chaos and Creativity has a permanent home on the Ghost blogging platform as of today. We left Medium for fear of ending up behind a paywall or continuing to be behind the self pardoning nag windows.
Have concluded that any article writing I do from here on out will be done on C&C. It’s odd to think I have a blog again, but I do. And surprisingly am looking forward to writing for it. Not only for sheer joy of writing, but for the freedom. I honestly can’t see myself writing for other publications any time soon. I just don’t have the patience for the politics—or, better put, I had spectacular run for fifteen years. But now, it’s time to pursue my own projects exclusively. Even writing that out-loud, as it were, is liberating.
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
Two weeks of not using my big screen at work. Paradoxically I get more done. I have theories. A good topic for the podcast.
Midmorning meeting at Poppy Creative in Sausalito, I love these people. Traci T is just wonderful, and fabulously smart.
Afternoon with Chantal. The amount of work we have to get done is totally overwhelming, but we plod through diligently. Wish I had more organizational discipline. It’s not that I’m disorganized, but when faced with a ton of pedantic things to marshal, I’m more inclined to throw my arms up and find a bar. The only exception is creative work. Wrangling chaos in that arena comes as easy as breathing to me.
Sunday, January 27, 2019
Coffee with and old friend—with whom I had a falling out—to bury the hatchet. It takes five minutes to realize there’s no hatchet to bury. A myriad of missed communications, wrong email addresses, and general misconstruing had us both at silent odds for no reason. Harmony restored, 2019 can continue without any bad blood out there.
Saturday, January 26, 2019
The day starts enthisusiastically with impossibly blue skies. A few hours later the clouds encroach and the temperature drops.
In a bid to change the office vibe, store or donate two shelves worth of books and go on to shred five folders full of receipts from over thrirteen years ago. The whole process is marvelously cathartic if not mildy soul sucking. Sometimes nostalgia is mildly agitating.
Quick hike and then home to dinner with Emily. We’re watching Sharp Objects which is intense and, at times, a little disorienting. The writing utilizes sudden partial flashbacks which don’t congeal with any context until the end of the episode. I’m trying to keep and artist’s open mind about the technique but feel the slow revelations frustrating. As I watch, my emotions stew in a mire of uncertainty. I’m unsure if the movie is about a serial killer or the emotional issues of the protagonist. Both are interesting, but the addition of the flashback layer makes me feel like I’m watching a book instead of reading one.
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Pick up Kimi from her friend’s house in San Francisco. We’ve both gotten a good night of sleep and are ebullient as we drive to get coffees from Equator in Larkspur. Text my office neighbor, Caity, to ask if she wants me to bring her a cappuccino. Hear back wile were driving so we stop at the Half Day Cafe’s pickup window to get Caity’s caffeine.
As we park Kimi gets a text message. She looks at her phone and says, “I hope this isn’t bad news.” Leave her to make a call, when I return, the news is the worst possible. One of her closest friends and partner in Play Like a Girl, Laura Peters, of Psychic Love, passed away during the night.
Kimi doesn’t get a second to breathe before her phone is abuzz with calls and texts from music publications looking for a comment. It angers me how the media is so mercilessly vulturous.
The office is full, and even with the sad news, the atmosphere remains respectfully congenial. Kimi, one of the strongest women I know, is stoic, but honest, saying the reality hasn’t hit yet.
Am able to sneak a hike in before Kimi, Gabrielle, and I head to dinner at Buckeye Roadhouse. It turns out to be one of the best dinners ever as the conversation gets more interesting and candid at every turn. Drop Kimi, then Gabrielle, and head home. Get through one paragraph of my book before I pass out.
Tuesday, January 22, 2019
The night’s sleep does not go to plan. Which is a roundabout way of saying I got too little shuteye—a bonafide word I’ve just discovered. Up and out at 6 a.m. to make Emily breakfast before the car fetches her to the airport. Kisses goodbye and I’m back in the sack willing another hour or two of sleep. Stare at the ceiling as all my anxieties float aimlessly around my head. Coffee.
Gabrielle and I go together to pick up Kimi from the Oakland airport, she’s in from LA. In spite of sleep my deprivation, we actually get some work done.
Stop by the flat to pick up a few things. A note on the table informs me the maintenance man has been by and fixed the leaky kitchen faucets. Unfortunately the shower faucet that I ask to be repaired drips on. Stop by the management office to see red faces after realizing the work order was written up incorrectly. So the mistake won’t be noticed, I suggest we wait a week to put in a new order. Everyone readily agrees.
Feeling the restlessness of no exercise for the last two days, depart on a long hike alone. Get back to the car an hour later a changed man. Have a chat with Coco from the car. She’s back in school at Lewis and Clark. Get back to the office, Kimi and I facetime Coco and get a tour of her dorm room and a gander at her latest jewelry creations.
Kimi and I head to Le Garage for dinner. On the way we call Tamsen, who lives a minute from the restaurant, and goad her into joining us in despite declarations of “needing to get things done.” I promise up and down that she can leave after 30 minutes and she can drink sparkling water instead of wine. An hour-and-a-half and one bottle of French red later, she’s still with us, laughing and having a great time of it.
Monday, January 21, 2019
Pick up mom from the hospital post hip replacement surgery. She’s in good form. My parents together is another story all together, but, in the end, we all pull our weight and make it to their house after a brief stop at the pharmacy for pain meds.
Get back home to Emily who is franetic trying to make an impossible deadline on the eve of her departure back to the east coast for a job. We agree that the day is totally off and we can’t wait for it be over. The Great British Baking Show lends a sense of civilized relief to a challenging day.
Saturday, January 19, 2019
Make a fancy breakfast for Emily’s first morning back home in a week. We discuss the job she has just finished and her quick turnaround, she’s back on plane for Maryland on Tuesday.
Tell her about my desperately mediocre experience at the Farm Shop and we decide that going out for drinks has become highly overrated. The experience of going to many of the bars in Marin and San Francisco has become an exercise in getting fleeced. We think back to our last trip to Paris and how going out to meet friends for a drink in Europe is much more of a congenial social excursion rather than a contrived Disneyland-ish outing requiring a heavy financial commitment.
By way of an experiment, and protest, we decide to cut our dinners or drinks out by more than two thirds. By our reckoning we think this will save us enough money to take a trip somewhere within a few weeks. It will also give incentive to use the Insta-Pot I purchased two weeks ago that’s been sitting unopened on the kitchen floor.
To the office for an incredibly frustrating morning of distractions. Then off to the city to help my father.
Make it back to Marin just in time to catch a quick hike.
Thursday, January 17, 2019
Get dolled up to attend a charity event at The Palace Hotel in San Francisco. On the way a stop at the hospital to visit my mother. She’s just had her hip replaced this afternoon. My father is there, he informs that the surgery has gone well.
Join Julie C and John C at the benefit event for military veterans. After the event ends, Julie, John, and I grab drinks at the hotel bar.
Stop by the hospital again, on the way home. My mother is in some discomfort as the effect pain meds diminish.
Home and immediately to bed.
Wednesday, January 16, 2019
It pours with rain. A quick haircut with a substitute stylist, mine if off having a baby.
Meet Tamsen for a hike. We’re hopeful that we can take advantage of lull in the weather. The storm that’s coming is predicted to be torrential.
After an hour hike, we get back to the car just as the first drops start to fall. Pick up BBQ, the deluge and wind are in full force. Umbrellas are ripped from peoples hands walking the parking lot of the mall. Tamsar and I get to my house and settle in with Casino Royale, BBQ, and bourbon.
Tuesday, January 15, 2019
On grey rainy days like today we in California always say something like, “it’s a good thing, we need the water,” as veiled way to cover up our disappointment that the sun is concealed by cloud cover.
Come across an article that contends the use of sunscreen causes a Vitamin D deficiency. It says skin cancer comes from burning, repair, and burning, not normal tanning. And taking Vitamin D supplements to counter the compulsive sunscreen slathering that’s been heavily advocated for the last three decades is all but useless and, in fact, preventing Vitamin D absorption from the sun via the sun is deleterious to one’s health. The article is backed by compelling statistics of numerous studies. In light of recently reading Steven Poole’s book Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas, I think that the article may be on to something and, indeed, radically important.
It’s a busy day that goes by remarkably fast. By late afternoon my hopes for a break in the rain to take a much needed trek up the hill are dashed. The deluge continues unabated and it’s cold outside to boot.
Meet Lynn C for drinks and charcuterie at the Farm Shop in Larkspur. I consistently try to like this place, I mean the interior is nice, the location is great, and the food is good, but it just misses every time. It’s not welcoming. The bar is half a block long which feels like an assembly line for drinking. One is largely ignored by the bartenders. The drinks are a little overpriced and too carefully measured which gives the drinking experience an Orwellian overtone. The cocktails are are served in glasses that look specifically designed to embellish the precision measures. Kind of like drinking out of a wine glass with a horizontal hash mark half way up to demark the correct level of wine to pour. Bartenders are artists in their own right, let them splash a few milliliters more or less of the components of a cocktail according to their taste and style. I am not a number, I am a drinker.
Monday, January 14, 2019
My intention to sleep solidly through until six a.m. is handily thwarted by a nightmare that shocks me awake at four. Try all my various insomnia remedies, none work. What’s really necessary is a less busy life. Leap out of bed at 5:45 to make breakfast for Em and then take her to SFO for her flight to Maryland.
Back home by seven-thrityish and pass out until five minutes before my nine o’lock UK call.
Learn that Magnum photos in the UK is going to start using BB. That means our software is used by the two largest photojournalism archives in the world; National Geographic and Magnum. It’s cause for ebullient lunch with Chantal.
The day passes under rain clouds. Which is good, this state always needs the water. Inexplicably short circuit a perfectly good work momentum and piss away two hours on something daft. Mildly disappointed in myself decide that only a home cooked meal, James Bond, and a large whiskey can pull me back together. It does.
Sunday, January 13, 2019
Start the day writing over breakfast. Completely trash the first two chapters of the novel in lieu of more succinct opening.
A lazy day of catching up on tons of emails. I really don’t see the need for so much communication. Have a nice chat with Emily T, the youth of today, who is in New York.
See Leah, my favorite USC candidate, at the bakery. Pick up the normal fare at Joe’s and head to my father’s for dinner.
Saturday, January 12, 2019
Spend the day wrangling various tasks to help Emily prep for her trip to Baltimore tomorrow. Make a half hearted attempt at getting some of my own work done, but decide that tomorrow is better suited for catching up.
Pick up Kira S from Mill Valley and drive to the city for dinner at the The Slanted Door with our friend Jane who’s in from New York for a few days. Bridgid, Jane’s daughter, makes a surprise appearance which turns the evening into a fabulous time.
Wednesday, January 9, 2019
Meet with producer Karen D who was kind enough to fly from Los Angeles to the BB offices here in Kentfield. It’s a long day made more tolerable with lunch at Taco Janes. Chantal and I cross swords a few times. Two different styles of managing a meeting. In the end it all works out fabulously.
Monday, January 7, 2019
At the office for an hour before the fabulous two show up, Gabrielle at ten and Chantal at eleven. Kick C and G out at noon so I record a podcast with Kimi who’s in LA.
Chantal and I go through a tiresome but necessary list of decisions for the company. Gabrielle departs, feel like today was a burn for her. Lot’s of stuff on her plate. Chantal runs out a bit later.
The busy day ends with dodging a personal bullet. Can be quite discouraging to go down old trodden roads, but I just about do it before pulling back, realizing that it’s a tired prospect.
Quick hike just after sunset before heading home. Start a new series, Killing Eve, which is brilliant and the highlight of the day.
Sunday, January 6, 2019
At work today and it’s not going well. My mind is still in travel mode and weekends, even after long holidays, are meant for fun. Outside it’s dumping rain for the second day.
Settle in for a long fabulous call with Ali. It’s been months since we’ve caught up.
Saturday, January 5, 2019
Spend part of the day at the office. A break in the rain gives me and opportunity for a short trek on the hill. Emily and I head out to the movies to see Favorite which is just incredible. Spend the rest the evening sipping bourbon, eating great food, and talking about the movie.
Thursday, January 3, 2019
San Luis Obispo—Have a chat with Diane, one of the proprietors of Petit Soleil, at breakfast. For some reason I’m having a difficult time sounding intelligent. My mouth opens and dumb words flop out like suicidal salmon leaping out of a creek onto the shore. Too many familial social interactions over the last few weeks of the holidays me thinks.
Sufficiently recovered from our eleven mile hike two days ago, Emily and I head to Lake Laguna for a farewell trek. The sky is a crisp blue owing to the winds that have been whipping around for the last few days.
Get word that my meeting scheduled for this evening is postponed for two weeks which Emily and and I take as a sign to extend our departure time. Celebrate with a trip to Montaña De Oro to see the cliffs and feel the wind. Without a doubt one of the most beautiful parks in California.
As the sun sets, we grab our bags and hit the road. Make remarkably good time home. Whip up a quick dinner and settle in for a movie before heading to bed. There’s a palpable sense that vacation is over and although the week is eerily quiet because the holiday fell midweek, my calendar tells a dreadful story that tomorrow is full of calls and tasks.
Wednesday, January 2, 2019
San Luis Obispo—Meet Emily for coffee in downtown SLO. Then meander around the town a bit.
Dinner at Korberl at Blue to see one of our favorite bartenders who’s in a bit of a snit. He makes us a too sweet Manhattan before he tells us that he’s not actually working the bar this evening. Nevertheless, the evening is a hit under the care of Jeremy, the bartender on duty. Unable to finish the Manhattan, Emily and engage in tasting tour of bourbons ryes as we eat our way through a myriad of small plates of food.
Tuesday, January 1, 2019
San Luis Obispo—To Irish Hills for a short hike which turns into a long hike when Emily declares she wants to see the ocean. Up and up and up on the Ocean View trail without any idea how far we have to trek to see the actual view.
As the sun sinks closer to the hill tops, I check my watch; an hour until sunset, followed by 30 to 35 minutes of twilight (civil and nautical). After that we’ll lose our depth perception (astronomical twilight). A mountain biker tells us that we’re less than a mile a from the top. We soldier on. From what I remember of the map posted at the trailhead, we’ve come too far to go back the way we came with the remaining light.
At last the top. Acknowledge the view, a hug, a kiss, and a selfie, then it’s time to get a wiggle on to get back to the car before dark. Confirm with another mountain biker that we’re headed in the right direction. We are, but the wide sweeping gesture he makes with his hands to describe the canyon we have to walk through leads me to believe that I radically underestimated the distance.
The descent is breathtaking. The silence and the soft breeze provide an other-worldly ambiance. Through the trees, on the faces of distant hills, we see the remnants of sunset. The clock is a concern now.
Break off of the Ocean View trail to the Froom Creek trail which takes through the previously described canyon. Emily and I talk about how the pale dirt and rock feel like we’re traversing a western desert. Round a point and hear traffic din which gives us hope that we might indeed make it before the light fades. But, looking at the canyon walls, I think how they’re spectacularly efficient at reverberation. My guess is the soundscape we hear is actually a long long way off. Forge ahead in good spirits.
The rocky terrain and tired legs cause more missteps and stone kicking. Remind Emily to stay focused. Fatigue, haste, and rough ground make ideal conditions for ankle sprains. She chides me for speaking the obvious. Finally the connector trail which leads us to the trail we started on. To the right, across 200 yards of grass and brambles, a fence and the Costco parking lot. In front of us another three quarters of a mile of trail to the car. The silhouettes of a group of kids on mountain bikes are barely discernable. We make the call to go off trail, through the brambles, and a muddy creek to the parking lot.
Find a TJ Max. Walk in looking slightly bedraggled and smelling outdoorsy. Emily buys, for a great price, a fabulous new coat to defrost under. Next door at Whole Foods, we eat packaged sushi while waiting for a Lyft to take us back to our car. All in all we trekked just over ten miles. A fabulous way to start the new year.