02 July 2014

If Nothing Else a Daily Commute Provides Fodder for the Writer (Or a Father for the Writher)


I'll keep on moving
Things are bound to be improving these days
These days-
These days I sit on corner stones
And count the time in quarter tones to ten, my friend
Don't confront me with my failures
I had not forgotten them
- From 'These Days' by Jackson Browne


And so I go. Forward is the only direction I know anymore. Standing still is not an option. There is a pain in the psyche that can only be alleviated by laughter and insight and love. All else is pointless.

Dancing and probing and looking and forever the gerund of my mind.

I'm entering into a barren period in my writing  -- can feel it. It's a time when eking out a sentence seems a monumental task and creating an entire paragraph feels impossible. Some people speak of writer's block and others say there is no such thing. I am very firm in my conviction that I have no strong opinion on the matter. Indeed -- and here I at last get to a point of sorts -- I think that holding opinions can be highly overrated. Far too many people too often feel obliged to have opinions on any and all matters of the day both the critical and the trivial. The convenience  of the internet with its access to myriad viewpoints and the ease it provides to make comments has exacerbated the spreading of ill informed opinions.

It's actually quite healthy to say: I don't know. Or: I have no opinion. It can save you time and it can limit the spread of pure unadulterated poppycock.

There I said it.

Yesterday I got on my morning train and opened my book and opened my mind and started to read. At the next stop a man of about 3,000 pounds dropped his enormous body into the seat next to me. With this prodigious weight coming down I practically flew up into the air. I settled back down to Earth and the seat and found that his enormous bulk was intruding onto my space. I felt claustrophobic and so went in search of another seat. This morning I again had to move at the second stop this time because a duo I've come to call the gum chewers brigade sat across from me. They are a couple perhaps married perhaps living in sin (as bible thumpers used to say) who immediately upon having sat down break out the gum and start chomping. The energy from the man's vigorous chewing could light a skyscraper. In any event the resulting noise is cacophonous. Even with my iPod pounding against my ear drum the sound is as apparent as a jack hammer. And should I at anytime look up I am subject to the sight of his large maw working furiously. How exhausting it must be to chew gum with such vicious intent.

Other than that my morning commutes have been wonderfully uneventful of late and free of undue discomfort. This is largely because I come into San Francisco early enough in the day to avoid the teeth of the morning commute. Lamentably I travel home at the peak of the evening commute and am thus subject to all manner of horrors that make fighting in a war seem like a day at the beach. Okay all right that was a gross exaggeration and a shining example of hyperbole. Apologies all around. Suffice to say that making my way home -- as previously chronicled here -- is a daily struggle. It's a wonder that most commuters don't go stark raving mad. Perhaps many do.

Today's return trip started on MUNI. I've eschewed the early evening trolley owing to a preponderance of tourists on that line at those times these days. So I take the number 30 which goes through Chinatown meaning the bus is often redolent with mysterious odors some deriving from raw chickens others from raw fish and still others from sources one dare not ponder. Today there was a junkie on the bus one of those serious addicts who tries too hard to seem straight. Overly polite overly informative overly chatty until teetering precariously into obnoxiousness before falling face first into annoyance. He was accompanied by a bemused much younger woman whose drug of choice must be of a mellow variety. She seemed to barely tolerate her partner and yet they are likely fitful lovers who quarrel as much as they make love and do both badly.

The ride was otherwise tolerable, aside from the usual swinging purses and backpacks that sometimes knock my book flat or poke me in the head. One is always on guard on crowded public transportation. The mindless far outnumber thieves and malcontents. Keeping a sharp eye out for the criminal element is easy stuff. Anyone who is at all street savvy can pick em out a mile away. But who knows which sir or madam is going to step on your foot or emasculate you with their suitcase.

So onto BART and a seat and a comfy ride to the strains of Jefferson Airplane's Surrealistic Pillow on ye olde iPod. In days of yore one could not imagine traveling with their favorite music least of all stored in an object that fits comfortably in the front pocket. The only music we could travel around with in my youth was the transistor radio and at that we listened to what they played and endured commercials and babbling DJs in between. These are the good old days.

Stopped at the gym where I was unable to run. A recent doctor visit revealed that I have achilles tendonitis and must start physical therapy next week. Nine days without running has me feeling morbidly obese. The stationery bike is not the same though lifting weights was a welcome tonic.
Now I'm home and so is the wife and a three-day weekend looms with the World Cup quarter finals as an entertainment option. No substitute for proper English Premier League footie but it will do until the new season commences next month. Life generally provides one thing or another to look forward to along with several delights to enjoy in the here and now. Can't be bad, can't be bad.


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