Archive for July, 2017


31 July 2017

Dear J—

You find a good deal now and again and you think I’d be a fool to pass that up so there you are, stuck with more things and wondering where all the money has gone. Paying for things you might not (definitely don’t) need and driving everyone nuts with storage attempts and not really succeeding with fooling people into thinking that maybe you really did need that at one point or another. Case in point: the Olympus lenses that I still have yet to fit to a camera, though I keep having plans, glorious plans that never quite seem to pan out, do they?

You become addicted to how the deal makes you feel – ha, I’m putting one over on the world now, aren’t I? – and ignoring all other forms of entertainment or family matters and blindly racing down and trying to find what’s new, what’s next. Assembled together, and what do you have in return? There’s a trip you could have paid for, there’s some experience you guys didn’t get to go after. How about driving for a few hours out of the way, what would or could be better than that? We should be and outfit to be looking forward to wonderful things around here, shouldn’t we instead?



Days and Nights

27 July 2017

Dear J—

It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I haven’t been writing much as it seems I have an active social life on the morning train (102) so if you’re in the area, come see me sitting in the southernmost bike car, two cars up from the locomotive. I’m still almost willfully anti-social on the northbound train (261) but I blame that on my fellow riders, one of whom started yelling at someone who dared to touch his bike.

Hey, I get that guy; I understand how he feels. Your bike, your hands, right? Plus if the guy didn’t put a tag on and got buried, that’s really his fault, isn’t it? And yet … if you’re that concerned about your bike on Caltrain, then perhaps it’s not the right bike to be bringing on board. I see bikes on the train all the time which have to be multi-kilobuck bikes and I just wonder why you would even begin to think that was appropriate for the few miles you’ll end up commuting on it, not to say that you can’t have nice things. I’m just saying that it’s the train and you can’t expect everyone to be as concerned about your bike as you are.

I went up to HIllsdale High yesterday to pick up figgy from her drama camp (last week! Performances are tomorrow night!) and I still have to remark how there are corners of San Mateo that I recognize now, but perhaps haven’t always visited; the school is physically huge. YUUGE. I only got to see a tiny bit of it, though.


Public Transit

17 July 2017

Dear J—

Before 1992, which is a twenty-five year anniversary we’ll be observing soon, public transit meant Bus 24 and Bus 8 from the Spokane Transit Authority; between the two of them you could get from the house to the store in about an hour, providing you had the right timing down. You’d have to hit a certain schedule based on how far you were (usually about a twenty-minute walk) and what time of day it was, but I remember well the transfer station in downtown Spokane and walking around the block to get to where 8-Altamont would take us to the store.

Public transit was a planned event, governed by schedule and exact fare (seventy-five cents in those days, perhaps eighty by the time I left Spokane in 1992). Then came the Bay Area and all the magical wonder of trains and schedule-free living. BART would reliably pick up every ten to fifteen minutes, regardless of where you were going and just showing up, knowing you had a ride in a few minutes was mind-blowing. Couple that with the double-decker Market Street Subway and that first trip I took, with the dorm to Haight-Ashbury (also checking out the girls to see if they were impressed by this country bumpkin) was beyond revelatory, even if BART still had those brown wool seats and the MUNI N-Judah ride was a transfer via the old paper tickets and Boeing Vertol cars.

Nowadays we’re jaded; we have Clipper Cards and never need to fumble for change, but I keep hoping the train will get beyond schedules, the last sticking point of a seamless commute. Someday, perhaps.



10 July 2017

Dear J—

You know what? I’m done with having my pants be too tight after weekends; of popping buttons and choosing baggy clothes that don’t quite fit me right. I’m done with buying clothes from Costco, in fact, where the medium shirts are still too big and the smallest waistband I can find is 32 (this may be a function more of increased demand in my size rather than the Costco buyers’ fault, though I still believe they could be doing a better job around here, especially in managing the food stand at Foster City, where everyone seems to be milling around aimlessly behind the counter instead of taking orders.)

I’m done with long parenthetical statements, too, by the way. Some things will not stand, let’s say.

I’m done with discourteous people, and that means my own behavior too. Blowing up with the kids. At other drivers. It’s silly, isn’t it? In the grand scheme of things learning to let go – and saying no – is going to do wonders for my mental health, I think.


Bulges Seat

3 July 2017

Dear J—

The train cars we usually ride in date back to 1985 and I tell myself that’s not very old – thirty-two years! – considering they replaced cars that dated back almost sixty years in 1985. Still, though. I know they’ve been recovered because I remember the old color scheme from when they were less than ten years old and I was a student here, riding BART from Berkeley to San Francisco and transferring by foot (and Rollerblade) that mile down Powell Street to Fourth and Townsend. Nowadays, of course, there’s other options; you could ride BART all the way to Millbrae and walk through the gates over to the Caltrain station, and someday, there may be an extension that moves the Caltrain terminal up to the Transbay Transit Center. We may never get to the point where we have a frequent transit system that you just hop on and forget about schedules like BART, but it’s a good start on it here.

But for today, I’m stuck with what suspiciously feels like a broken spring jabbing me in tender areas, though perhaps not as tender as I like to fear, what with the years of bike riding now gone by. We have been in Santa Clara for over a year now and I’m ready to declare victory over the commute, six miles each way between the train station and work taking me a consistent half hour or less. The train plus a bike means freedom, and I’m grateful for the luxury to be able to spend that much downtime commuting and reading and lost in my head, at least until the next seat cushion breaks.