All posts filed under: Non-Fiction

On Developing a Thicker Skin

“You need to develop a thick skin” is the remark that came, after I told of having been thrown in a writer’s block because of a nasty personal remark at a writers’ workshop, one that had nothing to do with my writing. I understand the metaphor, but for some of us the solution may just be to avoid contact with the infection. Let me open up a new metaphor for it. I have had the unpleasant experience of a few skin infections, triggered in different ways under various circumstances, but the one thing a doctor doesn’t tell you is that you should thicken your skin. Some doctors are nice and caring enough to give you advice on prevention, and yes, you will freak out when a bee comes flying straight into your bike helmet and sting you, because the thick skin can be pierced anyway, but the other elements of an infection aren’t there anyway. The simpler prevention of keeping bacteria away, and keeping it from dwelling and developing on you, actually works. You learn …

Found, and Lost Again

Found black leather bound note book with journal entries starting December 7 until the last one December 21, Solstice Day. It was at the top of the escalator, swept by every step rolling into the metallic comb, at the Embarcadero Muni Station, some time past nine pm. There was no name and address in the book, but well-structured notes taken at the end had plans to find a place to stay, among other things. The first journal entry speaks of the author liking a woman called Cindy, but the last entry, on Solstice Day, is written hastily with a bad pen and concludes with “too much speed, not enough sleep.” In retrospect, when I entered the BART side of the station, there was someone who seemed to be having a bad trip on top of the gates, the attendant not minding anything but his own business. How could I know, at that time, this could have been the writer? I left it on the round stone bench at the east side end of the BART …

for Matt

I am hard of believing, I am belief-challenged, in this century of greater discoveries. There is no god in my mind to take him to a better place, especially the so-called better place where there is no suffering imposed on a select few. No consolation, no parable will fit these circumstances because at 26, he lived fewer years than Jesus himself! No. This will not do. Unless I make Matt my own version of a savior. OK Matt, are you ready for this? I am talking to you. You certainly win the competition every time I notice that something in my 61 year-old body isn’t working as well as it used to. Actually, you did point that out to me, not so long ago. And so I learned from you and I will think of you whenever I am about to complain, whenever a needle approaches my hypersensitive self. And instead of telling me what a sissy I was, or getting angry at me, you simply said, “you should try F.A.” Silence. Pause. “You should …

The Sorry Pedestrian

I am sorry to have slowed you down Did you have a good time wherever you were rushing to? Did you get compassionate ears to listen to your improvised Excuse, the lack of parking at the door, the traffic, a school bus? I am sorry to have interrupted Or to have challenged your multi-tasking abilities, Yes, conversation, even hands-free, occupies your mind, And sorry pedestrians should know to wait quietly Because it is obvious they are going nowhere. I am sorry I was in your way I understand collateral damage Means I will be the necessary loss In the war you feel is necessary For how would you get where you need to go Without a car, and yes, I will be realistic And stand by to watch your parade. I am sorry you were enlisted as a road warrior And the economy commanded that you drive More, and pedestrian life as its name implies Is so commonplace and unimaginative Unlike your choice of a shiny armor Shielding you from street life. I am sorry …

Why Should I Want to See this Sky Again

On the way down from Tilden at sunset, I took photos of the glorious sky, but down on Spruce Avenue, a woman asked me why…  And I should explain that living in Berkeley you must get used to being asked, and expect a suggestion in any kind of direction the person wants you to adopt.  The woman asked me why I took photos when it was obvious that nobody took photos any more.  Her children had been camping and had taken videos with their cell phones, and she held hers to show me, perhaps how smaller and lighter they were than my heavy SLR from which a selfie must be a difficult thing to obtain.  As for me, I tried to explain in a few words why I took photos of the sky, in order to contemplate them later.  That’s why they are still photos, to serve as the starting point of a simple thought, perhaps delayed from this moment, when there were no words to describe what you saw and why you wanted to …