Welcome to Glenn's Blog!

Here I will periodically post random thoughts and stories about what's going on in my life and the world around me. As if anyone cared. But seriously, you've found your way here, so hopefully you will enjoy at least some of what I have to say, even if you aren't entirely interested in it. At the least, it should be a good way to waste time.

Of course, you can visit my website for more info about me, or feel free to email me anytime.

Monday, December 2, 2019

Christmas Is Coming

Well, it's now December, and Christmas is coming. I suppose somewhere, a goose is getting fat. Well. Who isn't? After a full day of gorging on foodstuffs last Thursday, and hosting a mimosa brunch yesterday, followed by happy hour wings at Hooters, I certainly feel like I am. 'Tis the season. But Thanksgiving came and went without any headaches, and it successfully provided us with its annual placeholder between the Halloween and Christmas seasons. I actually put my Christmas tree up the week before Thanksgiving. Why not? Just more time to enjoy it. Plus, I know if I didn't get it done, I probably would not have gotten around to it until mid-December. And what a lot of work that would be just to have it up for a couple of weeks. So, the house is decorated and ready, more or less, and one present currently sits under the tree for Connor. With more to come. Well, for Connor at least; no one's buying me any presents to put under there.

Speaking of Christmas trees: yesterday I posted a holiday video on my You Tube channel which featured Connor describing the "proper" way to decorate the tree. Basically it amounts to putting a hook on the ornament, and then hanging it from a tree branch. Or as he puts it, "you put it on your thing". I guess he doesn't know the word "branch". Well, more educating of the kid is clearly necessary. But the video was a good excuse to post some pictures of my Disney-decorated tree, as well as some photos of the two of us with the tree. Our annual holiday tradition. Well, except for last year. But now I have some fodder to create some actual Christmas cards to send out to some people. I don't send a lot, really. But still it's nice to have them.

And with Thanksgiving so late this year, we're now entering the final week of classes at Sac State before finals. Usually we have a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving; I can't recall a time where we came back from the break and it was already December. But here we are. Which means, now, 10 concerts in 7 days. So it goes. Consistent and predictable, at least. And that is where I sit, now, at work with the final week upon us. Lots to do here this week, and then it will settle down. I'll probably be late at work most of this week, including Thursday when I'll need to step in and help run the choir concert downtown. There's just too much going on at once and not enough people to do it all. But hey, the concert should be festive anyway. And next week will begin the gradual slow down, for me, as we plod on towards the winter break. Getting quieter and quieter as each day passes. I kind of like that.

For now, I'm currently playing Christmas music through my computer at my desk. Why not? Everything is early this year, I guess. I mean I know it's not like the stores started stocking holiday paraphernalia in early October. Oh wait - they did, they did. But it's okay, I'm in the routine, in the groove. And Christmas is, after all, coming...



Thursday, November 21, 2019

Spell Check This

The auto-correct on my iPhone can be quite annoying. Especially when using the voice-to-text feature. I swear when it first came out, it actually worked better than the current version does. I often will speak sentences in to the phone, watching as they magically appear. And then as soon as I finish speaking, the phone says, "Hold on a minute, let me fix this for you...". And then it promptly changes half of the words into phrases that I have never once uttered in my life. Sometimes the message was actually perfectly correct, before the phone stepped in and messed it all up. I swear it's like my phone is a 6-year old.

Then of course there's the corrections that cannot help but to make me smile. Like when "Sac State" changes to "Sex tape". Or something like that. Who knew Sac State was so sexy? This morning I attempted to speak "vocal jazz ensembles" into the phone. It promptly changed to "vocal jazz and some balls". Maybe my phone just has its mind in the gutter. Like father, like son? Sort of how like pets often resemble their owners. I think maybe our "smart" devices are getting a little too smart for their own good. Or for our own good. Something to ponder later.

Anyhoo. This morning I went for a walk by the river by Sac State. On weeks when I don't have Connor, there's a lot less to get done in the morning, so I tend to get into work super early. But hey, a chance to get my steps in. And today I cam across a coyote, out near the water treatment plant not far from Alumni Grove. I froze in my tracks as soon as I saw him. But I think I startled him more than he startled me. He was only about 20 feet away, half hiding in the overgrown brush. I'd not actually ever come upon a live coyote before, so this was something of an event. Come to think of it, I actually rarely see any wildlife when I go out for walks along the river near campus. I've actually seen more right at our own building, with squirrels and skunks and turkeys. And the occasional opossum.

In any case, this coyote seemed to not particularly care that I was there, although he kept his distance a bit and eventually trotted off down the trail away from campus. So that was fun. I just stood and watched, and clumsily tried to get a photo. I suppose he was probably foraging for food, and I must have interrupted him. Shame on me! He did look a little scraggly. And also alone. I guess we were sort of kindred spirits out there, in that regard.

It's nice in the morning, peaceful and quiet generally. Though there's sometimes bikers whizzing by as if in training for the Tour de France. And of course there's random students, still half asleep, slowly shuffling there way to school. Like moths to a flame, only in slow motion. But aside from that, it's quiet and serene, and definitely pretty. If you get there early enough you can see the sun rising over the far reaches of the river. It's especially nice if there's some clouds in the sky. Clouds, backlit by the sun, are always nice. It adds a nice contrast and sense of dimension to them. I tend to snap photos of it often, when it's pretty enough to inspire me, so I have quite the collection building of shots of the river, the clouds, the sun. I don't know why I take them, or so many of them. Photos are nice, but can never compare to the live experience.

But after me and my coyote brother parted, it was about time to head back in to actually go to work. I already have 1.5 miles of walking in for the day. Or so says my phone. It could be a liar, I suppose. But I will assume it's being honest and consider that a win for the day, even though the day is still young. It's always nice to start with a 'win'. It's a busy time here of course, as the end of the semester draws near, and everyone is trying to squeeze in their concerts. Not to mention, it's now the scheduling period for the spring semester, so everyone is trying to squeeze those events into the calendar as well. As an aside - I appreciate that this blogger program doesn't try to auto-correct my typing. It just underlines with little red dots any words it doesn't recognize. It's less insistent that way, or more passive, depending on which way you look at it. It just calmly clears it metaphorical throat and says, "Excuse me...but I think you might have missed something there...". So much nicer than the phone, who just says "Nope! You meant to say this.".

No, phone, I didn't. Go spell check somewhere else.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Catching Up On Reading

So I'm not what you would call an 'avid' reader, though I suppose it's fairly relative. I read a lot more than some people, perhaps more than a lot of people, but I know quite a few people who really read a lot. In that sense I suppose I'm not what you would call "well read", but I do at the very least try and read a little before bed each night. I suppose part of it is just to tire out my eyes, in some sort of (often futile) attempt to wear myself out and help me fall asleep quicker. And of course it depends on the level and complexity of the writing as to how much I'll get through on any given night. Not to mention how tired I already am when I start reading. I might tire out after only a couple of pages of something that is rather wordy and intricate, or I might get through a dozen pages or more of something simple and straightforward.

This year I tried something new, for me. I started keeping a log of what I've read. I thought it would be interesting to see, at the end of the year, just how much I got through. It's not a particularly long list, but I like to think it is a least a little varied, in style and thematic material if nothing else. I mostly read fiction, often mixing juvenile books with more adult themed ones. And of course my favorite author is Kurt Vonnegut Jr., so he's definitely going to show up prominently in any list of books I read. I also find that I tend to like dystopian novels. Kind of gravitate towards them. That and satire, I suppose, are two biggies on my hit list. But in any case, here's what I've read (thus far) in 2019:

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel
The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr
The Handmaid's Tale, by Margaret Atwood
To A God Unknown, by John Steinbeck
Jailbird, by Kurt Vonnegut
Catch 22, by Joseph Heller
Cat's Cradle, by Kurt Vonnegut

That's it, 8 books. Not quite one per month. I know it's not a lot in quatity, but in this day and age with our complex lives absorbing up so much of our time, it's often tough to make the time to just sit down and read. Or perhaps I'm just lazy, I don't know. Maybe this winter I will find some more time to read. I certainly have bought more books this year than I've read. If one were to view my personal library at home, you'd probably think I was much more of a bookworm than I actually am. Well, maybe I'll get there. At the least, I should start catching up on reading those that I've bought but have done nothing more with than to ceremoniously add them to my collection. Well, I still have 7 weeks left in the year after all...

Monday, November 4, 2019

Party Sunday

Yesterday Connor had a birthday party thrown by his mother at Rebounderz, a new indoor play place with trampolines, play structures, a ninja warrior-style obstacle course, rock walls, and more. I'd never been to this particular place; it's housed in what used to be the Country Club Mall, which flourished in the 1980s before recessions started wiping out businesses. I actually had not been inside what is now left of that once great mall from my childhood, in many years. Throughout the 1990s and into the 2000s, the shops there started shuttering their doors, unable to compete any more, until the mall became a virtual wasteland. It's starting to come back now, apparently, with some new stores and restaurants popping up, including a movie theatre and a Winco (for some odd reason). And Rebounderz.

It was nice to see a new place, and it certainly is a monstrosity. You could get lost in there. The party rooms are actually upstairs, and they all overlook the play area much like a box suite at a sporting arena. Which, I gotta admit, is a really nice feature to be able to have a bird's eye view of the facility. There's even a dedicated parent viewing area up there, in case you happen to not be there for a party. What's different about how they run parties at this place, as compared to places such as Wacky Tacky, is that they don't have organized play areas cordoned off for party guests. Everyone is just free to roam around the entire facility to whichever attraction they choose, mixing with people from other parties and the general public. Which sounds nice, I suppose, but what ends up happening is that people in a group party get spread out quite a bit and ultimately spend little time hanging out with anyone except their closest one or two buddies. Many kids hung out by themselves. And this was a bit of a detriment for Connor, since at this age he doesn't have a lot of close friends, really. They are more of acquaintances at best, and he sees none of them on a weekly basis being that he's shuttled back and forth each week between two homes. If his classmates from school had been invited, perhaps it would have been different, since he sees and plays with them every day anyway. Oh well.

So what happened was this: about 20 minutes or so after I arrived, I was downstairs and Connor randomly found me. I had not seen him up to this point, as most everyone had already scattered out around the facility when I arrived, and they all blended in with everyone else there that day. But when Connor found me, he was alone and kind of sad because, in his words, "Everyone left me". So I hung out with him and directed him over to the rock wall area, where I knew the only one of his school friends in attendance was. But he didn't connect much with her there, as she was just exiting the rock wall attraction and he wanted to go try it. In any case, to make a long, rambling, play-by-play story short, I hung out near him and watched him play for the next half hour, through the rock walls and ninja course and trampoline basketball court. And he seemed better, comforted even. So that was nice. He does love to have an audience.

After quite a bit of running around, he was working up a bit of a sweat, and told me he was thirsty. So we went to the snack bar and I bought him an Icee. He does love his slushy drinks! He picked out cherry and watermelon (I thought for sure he'd pick blue raspberry to go with the cherry, as he usually likes the red and blue mix). But it was good, and he really liked it. Not much after that some kid whom I don't know came up to him and said that they had announced that it was time for his party upstairs. I guess that's how they wrangle people back together after they've scattered throughout the facility, they make some sort of announcement. Not that we heard it. Good thing that kid saw him and told us, or Connor might have missed out on pizza and cake. We would have never known. Well I imagine someone, hopefully, would have come looking for the guest of honor if the party dared to start without him.

After pizza and cake, the kids were all handed game cards for the arcade by the staff, and although there was a small mound of presents there, we never got to see them opened. They were eventually loaded on a cart and taken away, as they started to clear and clean the room for the next party. I actually went by the Winco after that, because a) I had never been in one before, and b) how often do you get to go to a grocery store. In a mall. Actually, it's a pretty cool store, and has really good prices on things. Even better than Walmart (which they proudly display in the form of price comparisons every chance they get). Who knew about this place? I'll have to find one closer to me, if one exists, and check it out some more. I couldn't stay long though as yesterday was also the opening day of the Festival of New American Music at Sac State, so I had to go check in and make sure things were off and running. And they were. And it was pretty low-key, so I got home early enough to still enjoy a movie before bedtime. In the form of Coco. Well, after all, I had to do something to celebrate the recent Día de los Muertos.

So that was my Sunday. Tra la la.

Friday, November 1, 2019

6

So yesterday Connor turned 6, though he said this morning that he won't really be 6 until all of the family comes over to celebrate his birthday. Which is happening tomorrow. Perhaps he just wants more presents. But of course I had a few presents for him to open in the morning, before I had to load him up in the car and take him to school. And his Ma got him a little cake for after school, so he has at this point already ticked off the most important criteria for celebrating a birthday: cake and presents.

Anyways, yesterday was Halloween and Connor and I dressed up as ninjas and terrorized the neighborhood. Actually the neighborhood was already quite dead; probably 70% or so of homes in the area were not serving. Everywhere you looked it was lights out. Even several homes that were decorated for Halloween were dark. And we tried knocking, we tried. It was a weird year. Get this: I left my big dish of candy 'salad' out for trick-or-treaters, for when we were out hitting the pavement ourselves, since the cats weren't about to answer the door and hand out candy. And Connor is too young yet for me just to send him on his own. It was still almost all there when we got back. Then we left shortly after to go to a get together (pronounced: "party") at Bernie's house. So I left it out until we returned after 9pm. Not only was almost all of it still there, but there was MORE candy in it - a Butterfinger was on top, and I didn't buy that...someone actually dropped off candy. Was my selection THAT bad? Or did someone just see an opportunity to offload something they didn't like??

It was that kind of holiday. To be fair, in my neighborhood the houses are setup in rows of three that face each other, so the street alternates with rows of six garages or six front doors. And ours is the furthest back in the row. And in our row, ours was the ONLY house with a porch light on. A solitary beacon in the darkness. Not surprising that kids don't want to waste their time walking all the way to the end of the walkway just for one potential house to get candy from. But I had it, it was there. So now I'm left with a whole lot of M&Ms and Twixes and 3 Musketeers and Nerds and Milky Ways. And so on. Oh, and one Butterfinger. You know, for a little variety.

Actually, I also had some little packets of fruit snacks, in case anyone came who didn't really like chocolate. I know that's hard to imagine, but I've heard that they actually exist. Of course my thoughtfulness got slammed on Facebook for being "that guy" that hands out fruit snacks. Oh well, I just can't win. In any case, I have a lot of chocolate (and some fruit snacks) to get through, and with a birthday party tomorrow there's going to be even more junk food littering the house. This will be one fat weekend.

But hey, Connor turned six. Happy birthday to my little man, who's not so little anymore. And he did make a good little ninja, though he gave up the sword and daggers early on so he could focus on holding his candy bag. Priorities, am I right?

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

20

So, yesterday was the annual Staff Employees Award Luncheon at Sac State. Our department goes every year, since, well, we get a free buffet lunch out of it. The luncheon recognizes those who have achieved milestones in employment here - 10 years, 15 years, and so on. As it turns out, this past year was my 20th year. Though it took some convincing on my part, because the University apparently had the wrong hire date down for me. They had to go all the way to the State Controller's office to verify when my employment began. The benefits of this: I got my name in the program (along with a whole bunch of other people), and my name scrolled down on the slide show (along with a whole bunch of other people).

20 years. Has it been that long? Yes. Yes it has.

I frequently remind people that I was a student here just before that, so really I've been on campus now for 26 consecutive years. I do that mostly to illicit sympathy. I don't always get it. But I also don't get students saying, "Wow I wasn't even born yet when you started here!". Even though that's true, in most cases. So, there's that small consolation. I also tell people to shoot me if I'm still here 10 years from now. No, really, I'm serious. I really don't plan to be here that long. If I am, it would certainly mean that my soul had died some time before, and my body just continued on in its place, merely out of habit.

One person yesterday was honored for having worked here for 45 years. Imagine that. I wasn't even born yet when they started working here.

But anyways. We had a nice lunch of pasta and salad and garlic bread. And carrot cake for dessert. Yum! I should have taken a picture of that. It was a highlight, to be sure. They also had some sort of 'other' cake there - it looked like a marbled cake of some sort. Actually it looked like a cheesecake-cake, if there ever was such a thing. Like a cheesecake, and in the form of a sheet cake, and with frosting. I'm sure it too, was delicious. And then we got to listen to people speak who are not trained nor experienced at public speaking, and they got to have the grand finale of butchering many people's names as they tried in vain to read off the list of honorees.

Incidentally, this is a highly attended event, being just one of two times in the year that the University Staff Assembly gifts everyone a free lunch. 600? 700? I'm not really sure how many people were there in the University Ballroom. A lot. But there's a lot of people on staff here. To give an idea, in the 20 years of service category there were, including me, 24 people being honored. 24 from that one year, way back in 1999. There were even more in each of the 10 and 15 year categories, and a fair amount in the 25 year category. So yeah, a lot of people work here. Bureaucracy at its finest.

So in summary, I got fed, my name got read, people clapped, some random person came over and handed me a 20-year lapel pin (now I have a matching set with my 10 and 15 year ones, which are tucked away safely in a desk drawer underneath some packets of parmesan cheese from Round Table Pizza), and now it's back to work as normal. 20 years down. Still a few more to go...

Sunday, October 20, 2019

No Answers, Just Questions

I went for a walk, and looked at the stars. They're always there, dependable, reliable. Shining down and smiling at us, showing us the way. Or trying to at least. I used to recognize more of the constellations, or at least my memory fancies that I did, back in my youth. But now I just know a few. Maybe it was always so.

I just finished a made-for-TV mini-series on Hulu called Looking for Alaska, based on the novel by John Green. I haven't read the book, but it's on my hit list to acquire. I think I just liked that it references Alaska, but in the book (and show) it's a person and not a place. Still, small details can attract us to things which we may have otherwise overlooked.

The story is about a group of friends at a private high school that more resembles a camp than anything. Several of them have troubled pasts - including the main girl, Alaska, who has a fairly serious drinking problem that no one seems to really notice until she drives off upset one night and dies in a car crash. But it's never clear whether or not it was an accident; in fact evidence seems to suggest it's not.

But wrapped within all of this happiness are serious questions about life and life after death, and why we're here, if there's a reason at all. And it ends with the hope that there is some place for us after this life, and that it's beautiful. But the reality is no one knows. To paraphrase one of the professors: the only questions worth asking are the ones that have no answers.

So tonight, I have no answers. Only questions. The show left me unusually emotionally drained. I'm not sure why, as I don't really relate personally to anything in it. But I found that I could not quite function, so I had to go for a walk. To get some air and clear my head. The characters in the show are prone to doing this too.

So now I swing on my swing, to and fro like a pendulum, and look at the stars. And they stare back at me, and everyone else, just as they have for millennia. Unchanging. They don't have any answers either. Maybe no one has any answers, just questions.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Kid Thoughts

Kids say the darndest things. And no, I'm not referring to that failed late-90s comedy TV show hosted by the formerly revered Jell-o salesman. My son turns six, two weeks from today. We know that because he asked me this morning how many days it was until his birthday, and I asked Siri, and Siri told us. He automatically began processing the timeline, and pointed out that after this week it would be mommy's week, and then my week again, and that's when he would turn six. Kids at this age have such a unique way of looking at the world. It's so innocent and unfiltered - and often so profound. We could learn a lot from them. We should already know these things that they seem to know; after all, we were all this age once. Perhaps we've forgotten much, in all of the hustle and bustle of life and of growing up.

This morning as we drove to school along the massive building construction going on along East Commerce Way, Connor suddenly started babbling about construction. "I know how the guys make buildings. First, they do the walls, and second they do the roof. Then third is the lights. They do the lights third. And fourth is the windows." Then he paused for a second, so I prompted him, "What comes fifth?". "Oh! Fifth is the painting and the flooring. Carpeting and pretty flooring. And they paint the walls. Then sixth they do the rain tubes." (he means the exterior downspouts. Apparently those are so important that they require their own dedicated step). "And seventh is the last step, that's when they move in the furniture." It's a pretty accurate, if overly simplified, description. He's not wrong.

Of course we, in our adult wisdom, know that there's innumerable steps in between all of these things. There's the concrete slab, and the pre-wiring, and laying out of the plumbing groundwork, and insulation and sheetrock and on and on. And it occurs to me just then, that we make life pretty complicated. I mean obviously the building of a house or office building IS complicated. It needs to be structurally sound and pass all the necessary inspections. So, too, does life need to be complicated sometimes, I suppose. To a point. But maybe we make life a little TOO complicated. Maybe we should take a lesson from an almost-six-year-old, and just focus a little more on the basics. The things that are really, truly important. The things that matter. Perhaps, in the end, that will help to solidify the foundation even more so than if we constantly nitpick all of the little details that pass us by in our daily routines. (Don't try this in 'actual' construction though; you certainly don't want your roof collapsing on you...)

On the other hand, last night's conversation with Connor as he sat soaking in the bathtub went more like this:

Connor: “I have my two tentacles!”
Me: “TESTicles. They’re called testicles.”
Connor: “....I have my two balls!”

So, there's that. Pure unfiltered wisdom from a little tiny package. Well, not so tiny anymore; he's 48.25 inches tall and weights 55.2 pounds, as of his physical this past Tuesday. But of course he still has a long ways to go. And in life, don't we all? Well we hope so anyway. We could drop dead tomorrow. Who knows? Better not wait to live, I guess, just in case. Just in case. That warrants repeating, because it's important: better not wait to live. For who knows how many tomorrows you have?

I actually started compiling Connor's random spoken thoughts, which have become somewhat infamous on Facebook under the umbrella of the "Connor Quote of the Day". I started this right after the new year, this past January. I suppose initially it was a device to distract me from my separation, which was very fresh at that time. It was also something new to start in the New Year. Not so much a resolution per se - I don't make those, really. But the Connor Quotes have grown throughout this year, and I have quite a collection now. I'm thinking of publishing a book of them soon. Not really for public use, just for myself and my family, really, and eventually someday for Connor. Perhaps they will be wedding gifts at his wedding, someday. That would embarrass him, I'm sure. The first of these, recorded on January 4, 2019, was this:

"Did you know I’m allergic to bad guys? I might cough at them and make them gross."

Well. That's not a particularly profound way to end this post. And I do like to leave my handful of readers with something to think about throughout their day. So I'll jump ahead to March 14, and offer this profound little bit of five-year-old wisdom:

“I still love you even when you do mistakes.”

There. Think about that for awhile. That's almost as good as this little gem from five days later:

“Daddy, I love you. I love you even when you’re sad. I love you even when you’re dead.”

Well. That's a little morbid. But unconditionally sweet. And it is Halloween season after all, so I'll call this "holiday appropriate". Perhaps it's a bit of a stretch. But I don't care. I'm going to be more like a five year old, more carefree and simple about the way I approach life. That's what we should learn from these little kid thoughts. My kid has so much to teach me...

Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Exploring Humanity

So this past Saturday I took another of my frequent trips to San Francisco. Unbeknownst to me, it was "Fleet Week" there (shows how much I pay attention), and much of the Marina Green area was closed off for the pending festivities of military prowess. Who knew? That was my normal go-to parking location, as it's free to park there, usually. And it's right next to Fort Mason, which makes for an easy walk over to the Embarcadero area. Fortunately the area around Chrissy Field was still open, although they had traffic monitors with orange vests and little orange flags, frantically directing people where to park in order to maximize the available space. And it was already filling up at 9am; they were already given to having people park on the gravel areas. Packing us in as if at a sports stadium, and with no trees for shade to boot. But still, it was free. In a city as expensive as San Francisco, free is always a nice option to have.

This put me an extra mile or so away from where I needed to be, but I don't mind the extra walking. And I was early enough that I had time. I actually got another discounted ($49) ticket to see the matinee showing of Hamilton, as I had done back in early June. Really fantastic seat - row K in the Orchestra section, and just two seats left of exact center. It was a sign when I saw it online, saying "Buy me...buy me...". So, I did. The walk was as usual quite pleasant, if not a little tiring due to all the hills. There's so many interesting neighborhoods and cool architecture and store fronts and on and on, not to mention the panoramic views you are treated to as you reach the top of the hill near Hyde and Lombard Street.

Along the way I also stopped at a little local bakery for a chocolate croissant. I'm not even sure the name of the place, but they had a quaint neon sign in their store that proclaimed "I got baked in San Francisco". It made me wonder what exactly they put in their baked goods... Their to-go bags were long and pink and adorned with big block letters: "C6H1206". Not being too well-versed in coded languages, I had to google that; if only to make sure I knew what I was really ingesting. Turns out, it's the chemical formal for simple sugar. Whew! I guess I don't remember much of my last chemistry class, way back in...1992 or so. I'm sure they probably went over this. Stay in school, kids!

In any case, as the walk progressed back down the hill it came closer and closer to the theatre district, and that's when you start seeing more of the interesting locals. And by "interesting", I mean "crazy". Literally. Like, truly suffering from mental illness. It's the homeless population of San Francisco, and just like in Sacramento, ever appearing to grow and grow. It's society's cancer, and it's spreading unchecked. And it's quite sad really. At first you see random people just milling about, yelling mostly incoherent obscenities at each other, or at themselves, or at walls, or at blank space. There's the guy at the bus stop, straddling some lady sitting on the bench. She's fairly unresponsive, and you can't tell if he's trying to help her, put more drugs into her, or rape her. An older lady at the stop must have seen my concerned look, and assured me, "She's fine, she's fine". I guess that sort of thing is just normal routine for that neighborhood. I grew up far more sheltered.

Then you get further along and find rows of people camped out along chain link fences that block off vacant lots. They have nothing to do, nothing to say, and seem to not even be too aware of what's going on around them. One guy in particular had visible red track marks up and down his arm. He was so out of it already that he moved clumsily and as if in slow motion. He was completely unaware of anything around him. But he was desperately trying - still in slow motion - to get a needle back into his arm. That's all he has anymore. That's all his life is. So many people like this, they hardly even seem human anymore. Most of their humanity was long sucked away. That's why, I suppose, society does little or nothing to address these problems. They don't see these people as "human" anymore. As "alive" anymore. And there's so many, it's become an insurmountable problem to even begin to deal with. I don't know if that guy ever succeeded in getting that needle in, in finding a vein. He probably did. He's probably still there, right now, doing it all over again. It's all he has left.


In any case, I made it to the Orpheum Theatre a little after 11am and picked up my ticket. Even the guy at the window said, "Oh you got a great seat, right in the middle". I smiled. Yes, yes I did. Then, to kill a little time, I went and had lunch at a little local diner about a block away. It was called, curiously enough, Local Diner. Not very creative, but it works. They seem to specialize in breakfast, but also have lunch selections. I had a club sandwich. It came with crinkle cut fries. Seriously, who serves crinkle cut fries? That seems like something you'd buy in the frozen food section of your local supermarket, then promptly burn the edges of in your oven at home, as you curse your poor luck.

I then went to the same CVS that I had once bought a homeless guy lunch in, much to his surprise as he was only asking for change so he could buy something, anything. I let him pick out whatever he wanted, and he got a free lunch that day. Guess I was in a good mood back then. In any case, I saw no homeless people in the store on this day, so I just bought some snacks for the show. Why not? Snacks are always good. There was a religious group of musicians playing for and yelling at passersby across the street. Occasionally getting in arguments with the mentally deranged homeless population. They were really, really, concerned about our everlasting souls, and wanted us to find Jesus as quickly as we can. But alas, I had a show to get to.

Hamilton was, just as last time, amazing. It's so intelligently put together, the crafting of actual historical elements with modern-day hip-hop music. Really, quite brilliantly done. And expertly performed! You can tell the actors are really enjoying their roles. I may have taken video while the exit music was playing at the end. Shhh! Don't tell anyone! I feel like such a criminal! After the show I walked back down Market Street all the way to the old Ferry Building. You can see firsthand the transition as you leave the theatre district: from homeless and crazy people, milling about with nothing to do, trash floating along in the breeze everywhere, it slowly transforms into a more respectable city with a diversity of pedestrians heading off in every direction, and eventually you hit the more famously known tourist areas along the waterfont.

The Embarcadero was quite crowded; apparently the Fleet Week festivities had concluded, the Blue Angels were done performing, and the crowds were all out trying to enjoy the touristy spots. And they were EVERYWHERE. I have a general disdain for large crowds, so I sped through the area as quickly as I could squeeze through, stopping only at the last Ben & Jerry's near the end to get a milkshake made out of their Half-Baked ice cream. So good! I should have gotten a large one instead of a small. In any case I sucked that puppy down right quick. Or as quickly as I could given a paper-based straw that stared disintegrating partway through. Stupid paper straws.

In any case, I followed my typical path along the waterfront and up through Fort Mason. The sun was already getting low on the horizon; I had entertained the idea of taking a walk along Baker Beach and watching the sun set, but I don't think I would have made it in time. Even my favorite bookstore at Fort Mason was closed, as it was just after 6pm. So instead, I hit the Chrissy Field beach area, which was still quite nice and not too crowded.

I'd never really walked along this particular beach much, though I've walked past it many times when heading directly to the Golden Gate. It was nice to get my shoes off and get my feel wet, though it was a bit cold. The changing of the seasons is upon is. But who doesn't love watching the sun set with the Golden Gate Bridge in the background, as you walk through the soft, sandy beaches as gentle ocean waves chomp at your feet? It's a beautiful and awe-inspiring experience. I suppose it offers a glimmer of hope, by showing that there is still beauty to behold in the world. and I kind of needed that after traipsing through the not-so-good parts of San Francisco. What a diverse world it is! It's hard to have hope sometimes, when you so often see only the dark side of humanity. And I drive through downtown Sacramento everyday, so I see it, everyday, even if it is just quickly passing by in the car.

I ended up staying later than I normally do in San Francisco, but it was worth it to see the sun fully set and darkness set upon the world once more. Another day and another adventure, come to an end. And of course now it's back to the real world with work and responsibilities and raising a child and all of that. I'm glad I'm able to get out from time to time, though, to get away and experience things. I think it's human nature to explore, and not just our own world and surroundings but our own humanity as well. I can't really help those poor souls along the otherwise barren streets of San Francisco. But I can't help thinking, they were once like me, a child with parents who grew up and went to school and probably fell in love several times. They, too, once lived. I hope they do have some humanity left in them, somewhere, and that they might someday stop and look around and decide to explore it for themselves. Maybe they'll find some salvation. But I imagine, pessimistically, that those who survive this day and the next will still be there, the next time I visit. Things rarely change. Sad.

Friday, October 11, 2019

The Vortex Of Insanity

So I had the pleasure of driving to Vallejo the last two days for a little music gig. On Interstate 80, just west of Fairfield near the old truck scales which rarely seem to be in operation anymore, there's a section where some sort of construction is going on. Or, WAS going on. It's hard to tell, as there doesn't seem to be any actual construction happening anywhere. But the usual signs adorn the freeway: "Construction Zone - Reduce Speed", and "Speed Limit 55", and "Speed Limit WILL be Enforced." Apparently, they were serious about this rather unassuming looking section of pavement winding through the dry brown hills at the edge of the valley. Then there was another sign: "Lanes Shift Ahead". Except, it wasn't JUST a lane shift...

Picture this: you're driving along the freeway. Your lane starts, slowly, to shift to the right. You think to yourself, "Well, this isn't so bad, I didn't even need to slow d..." And then, suddenly...all hell breaks loose! Before you even see it coming, multiple lane lines appear, going every which way and intersecting one another. You have only a split second to decide which of the three set of lines you should actually follow. And you're not alone - there's several dozen other cars along for the ride with you. Suddenly, everyone is swerving this way and that way, narrowly avoiding crashes left and right. It's like watching a grownup version of the old fair-style bumper car rides, except everyone is trying desperately NOT to bump into one another.

And then, just as suddenly as it began, it's over. You began this psychedelic trip in Lane No. 2, but somehow ended up in Lane No. 4. You look quickly in your rear view mirror to see what the heck you just drove through - but in hindsight all of the lanes appear perfectly straight and clear, and there appears to be only one set of them. Right where they should be. What happened?? Did we all just suddenly shift into an alternate reality? Some sort of parallel universe? A different dimension that's superimposed onto, but just slightly askew from, our own? Or are we all just collectively losing our minds?? There's no honking. No yelling. No obscene gestures through the driver's window. No road rage of any kind. How can there be? Everyone that just experienced this is glad to have gotten out alive. And I'm sure we were all thinking: "Did...did I do that??" But we survived, together, as one species, through this vortex of insanity. And I got to do it twice, two days in a row. I can't imagine what regular commuters through this area must feel. Maybe they're used to it. They should have just posted a sign: "Drive drunk for the next 200 yards, and good luck!" The results would have been similar, I think.

In any case, I got to play a gig that amounted to a musical revue at a high school in Vallejo, directed by an old friend of mine who used to be a pianist at Sac State, and actually worked on my stage managing staff for a time. It was nice to pull out the old Ibanez bass guitar and play again. To dust off the chops a little. I don't play as much as I used to, in the days where I'd do six productions a year that ran for four weeks apiece. Or in the year that I played 8 shows a week of Forever Plaid at the Cosmopolitan Cabaret (RIP). But every once in awhile it's nice to play again. And the 8 piece orchestra was made up of Sac State alums, so it was nice to see some old faces again. And hey, who doesn't like to dress up in all black and go out of town?

I suppose, in a sense, high school itself is like a vortex of insanity as well. And even these private Catholic school kids are not exempt from that. They were quite...spirited. Energetic? What's the word I'm looking for? Oh yeah - crazy. But the concerts went well, at least as well as they could considering we had only a single, one-hour long rehearsal that didn't quite touch all of the pieces on the program. And that rehearsal ended as the doors were opening to let in the audience for the debut performance. Now, two performances later, we're done. Actually, if we had the chance to do it a third time, I think we'd just about have it down...

But the kids seemed to enjoy themselves. It was a mixture of a variety of choral ensembles, along with a couple of solos and duets, and even a hand bell choir performing Phantom of the Opera. Seriously, what high school even HAS a hand bell choir? This one, apparently. We had a good time, in any case, and the music was varied and fun. And the director pays well for services rendered, so, there's that. Afterwards the musicians went to BJ's in Vacaville for some food and drinks. It was actually a little funny, as we were all dressed in black - and we looked EXACTLY like the waitstaff there. I suppose we should have told them that we were the new crew, taking over, and that they were all relieved of duty. They might have bought it. If only for a minute.

And now, after a week of semi-intense playing, my bass is safely stowed away again. It's basically just going to sit in the corner of the room for awhile. Until the next time. When will that be? I have no idea. You just never know. Or, at least, I never know. Gigs are infrequent for me these days, which I suppose is okay as I don't know if I could realistically work many more into my schedule. Life is busy, and even finding time to do small gigs can be a challenge sometimes. There's just always so much going on, and seemingly all at once. I guess life, too, is a bit of a vortex of insanity.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Lyrics, Part 4

Oh, just when you thought I was done torturing you, here I am again. I actually find it fun, though, to really explore the meanings behind songs. And of course sometimes the meanings I find go beyond the original intent of the song, as I clumsily apply them to my own life, to my own existence as a human being. But that's okay; music should inspire us in that way. And in any case, no one is forcing you to read this. But if you're waiting for me to spout out some profound wisdom, like how 'life is like a play, performed without rehearsal', well you're probably going to be disappointed. Well, I mean, that is, if you keep reading past this first paragraph. And even that tasty little tidbit was inspired by a song from the Spin Doctors. So there. And away we go!


1. It's a long way to happiness, a long way to go. But I'm gonna get there, boy, the only way I know.

2. Sometimes, I see past the horizon. Sure of my way, where I am going. But where's the prize I have my eyes on? Where? There is just no knowing! And when despair tears me in two, who can I turn to but you? You know who I am. Take me as I am.

3. It’s a question of lust; it’s a question of trust. It’s a question of not letting what we’ve build up crumble to dust. It is all of these things and more, that keep us together.

4. We all lead such elaborate lives, wild ambitions in our sights. How an affair of the heart survives days apart and hurried nights, seems quite unbelievable to me. I don't want to live like that. Seems quite unbelievable to me. I don't want to LOVE like that. I just want our time to be slower, and gentler. Wiser. Free.

5. Loving can hurt sometimes, but it's the only thing that I know. And when it gets hard - you know it can get hard sometimes - it is the only thing that makes us feel alive...And it's the only thing we take with us when we die.

6. Take me back to the place where I once belonged. This could be anyplace - a place where you and I could sing this song. Take me back where I hear waterfalls flowing. Let me dive into the lake where winter hides the snow. Then comes the summertime; fields of scarlet poppies grow. Take me back where I see butterflies to-ing, fro-ing, and the river flows.


There now, that wasn't so bad, was it? Well if you made it this far, either you cheated and skipped to the bottom - or hopefully you've gained some insight. Into life, love, whatever. It's all good. As an unrelated side note - I mentioned previously about my "banner" month of blog posts in September. It actually was the highest amount of posts I've ever done in a month (10), narrowly beating out my previous record of 9, which happened in the second month of this blog's existence. Way back in July, 2009. Doesn't seem like it's been all that long, but 10 years have gone by. What a way to track time, clickety clackety on a keyboard! Well, anyways. On to brighter adventures...

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Tasty.

My brother suggested I write about chocolate chip muffins and cookies. Well, and also Disneyland. But, we really need to focus on one thing at a time here. I just can't handle this non-focused rambling on multiple topics all at once. So here goes: chocolate chip muffins and cookies are yummy. Especially with milk. There, that ought to do it. Literary excellence, this is not. But hey, everyone needs a springboard to start from.

There's only three months left in 2019, and we're slowly winding our way into the holiday mega-season. It used to be just a "season", but since retailers now typically start stocking Christmas items in July, I think it's fair to give it an upgrade. Anyways, during most holiday seasons I take advantage of the breaks from work to bake up some batches of homemade chocolate chip cookies. Yes, from scratch. With actual flour and cubes of butter and brown sugar, and so on. I suppose this is perhaps a last vestige of the days of my youth, when our grandmother used to come over one weekend before Christmas and bake all sorts of cookies. It was an event, to be sure. And we kids got to decorate the sugar cookies. Some family members of mine who shall remain nameless used to use "red hots" in their decorating. I always hated those. Though they did make convincing eyes. But anyways.

The picture here is the ACTUAL plate of cookies mentioned in my previous post. I'll call them the "Santa" cookies, based on Connor's assessment of the situation at the time. These were not, unfortunately, made from scratch. They weren't even from a tube; it was those Pillsbury packages where they are already neatly separated into 24 convenient squares. How lazy is that? Well, they eat well, in any case. And this famous plate of cookies is now long gone into the annals of our memory. This picture was previously only shared by me to one person, an old close friend who is very special to me. (No, not the "short bus" kind of special). They know who they are. But now here this picture is, resurrected from the deleted file on my iPhone, for the pleasurable and mouth-watering enjoyment of all of you fine people. Whoever you are.

No really, who are you? I can see that there's people viewing this, and it's not just me. It doesn't track me when I'm logged in and view it. You are all a a bunch of stalkers, that's what you are. But I digress.

Now where was I? Oh yes, cookies. So we used to bake all sorts of varieties of cookies when I was young. Or rather, the adults did the baking, and we mostly hung around in kitchen and got in the way. And oh the smells...can you imagine the smell of all manner of baking cookies, wafting through the house and your infiltrating your senses? It was simply delightful. That's what Christmas smells like. It kind of reminds me of going through the Haunted Mansion in Disneyland, as it's decorated for the holidays, and smelling the fresh gingerbread in the dining room scene that they somehow magically pump in. Not that we ever made gingerbread per se, but the sensory stimulation is similar. And I had to somehow work Disneyland into the discussion.

Well, I could go on and on here, but really how much can one write about cookies? It has to end sometime, and you just need to go eat some. Because you know you want to. You know you're salivating right now just thinking about it. I think everyone should bake some cookies this fall or winter; preferably from scratch, but even refrigerated cookie dough will do in a pinch. And then everyone can enjoy the warm smells of the holiday season, and reminisce about the carefree and joyful holiday seasons we used to enjoy as kids. Or something like that. If you don't have such memories, I suppose you can just create new ones. All traditions have to start somewhere, after all.

So what else? What else... oh yeah! Muffins. Those are also good. Tasty.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Even The Weather Can Be Interesting

So tonight I want to talk about...writing. I suppose that may be risky, sort of the blogging version of talking about the weather on a first date. But sometimes even I wonder why I blather on and on in this medium. It started about 10 years ago, and I was talking then about Disneyland and chocolate chip muffins, as I recall. But this wasn't intended to be a travel blog. Or a food blog.

I used to be a composer. Of music. Well I suppose technically I still am, though I haven't written anything new in over a year. The problem with that is, well, music just isn't IN me anymore. It used to be, it used to itch and scratch to be let out into the world. I guess you can call that inspiration. It comes and goes sometimes; it actually left me awhile after I earned my bachelors, and didn't return again for several years - when I started my masters. In any case, it's gone again. Music doesn't live in me now; I lost it some time ago. Perhaps one day it will return again.

So now I write on this blog. Even that has been troublesome, as there's been times when I've been lucky to churn out one post a month. I just finished a banner month in September, though I cheated a little: three of my posts last month featured lyrics. Someone else's words. It wasn't plagiarism, I swear! It was...an experiment, of sorts.

Someone told me tonight that I write very well. Do I? It isn't the first time I've heard that. It is perhaps the first time I entertained the notion to believe it. I suppose in some alternate fantasy life I might have imagined myself a writer. Like Vonnegut or Tolkien or C.S. Lewis. Or James Michener or Gregory Maguire. Or whoever. But I don't suppose I would know WHAT to write about. You should write what you know, as the saying goes. But what do I know, that anyone would want to read? Difficult to say.

So, I guess, I write for me. I explore the trivial and mundane in my life, right alongside the ponderings of some of the greatest dilemmas of the human experience. I write what I feel, what I experience. I suppose that's enough. It has to be. And I find it as interesting, actually, as a discussion of the weather. The weather is quite interesting! Stop and pay attention to it sometime. Perhaps discussing the weather has gotten an unfair rap as a social faux pas.

Oh - and the weather was beautiful today - sunny and clear, but cool and refreshing. I could elaborate, but, well, you know.

Monday, September 30, 2019

What's Going On

So, today is October eve, the last day of September. It's now officially fall. I know the fall equinox was technically a week ago, but it hasn't felt like it up until this past weekend. We got rain! To be more specific, on Saturday evening the dark clouds rolled in and chased away the sun and blue skies, bringing with them thunder and lightning. And for a brief time, it rained. Hard. It was quite invigorating to take a walk out in the deluge. Even with my "big boy" umbrella my shoes and jeans still got a bit wet. But it was lovely. A great friend of mine caught a picture of a complete double rainbow in Citrus Heights. In Natomas though it was just dark and scary, with tremendous awe-inspiring thunder claps that seemed to roll on into eternity.



But before all this happened, it was nice to get away a little bit towards the end of last week to the river, to hang out in nature and just enjoy being outside in the fresh air for a little while. There's lots of little hidden gems around Sacramento, where one can find peace and tranquility, away from the hustle and bustle of our normal everyday lives. This particular video was shot by the American River, in the Sunrise Recreation Area. Great place for a little picnic, and a bit of wading in the water. Just watching the world float by. I then went to Old Town Sacramento, and hung out by the riverfront by myself there for awhile to enjoy the sunset. It's quite a picturesque area to be in, despite all of the human pollution there. I posted some lovely shots of the Tower Bridge and the Delta King on my Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Yesterday I also repaired the flat tire on Connor's bike, and we tried going without training wheels for the first time. It was...a little sketchy. But he was a brave trooper and willing to give it his best. And he didn't crash per se, so that was a positive. Well he did kind of run into a bush. But hey, no one's perfect. We'll try again real soon. Later in the evening I baked some chocolate chip cookies for us, and brought them out to the living room to surprise him, along with a glass of milk of course. One cannot forget the milk. His first response was: "Are these for Santa?". Cute kid, so innocent. So, we shared some cookies and milk before bath time and bed time, and afterwards he proudly proclaimed, "Now we're both Santas!" Apparently, cookies and milk are the only criteria for being Santa Claus. Duly noted.

So, again, here we are on the eve of October. The month of ghosts and goblins and tricks or treats. The season of the macabre, before the Christmas season steamrolls in and obliterates all of this wonderfully dark decor. I find that I'm a little more in the spirit of things now than I was last year, and that's a good thing. Several decorations have already been placed, I've already started my collection of bags of candy for the trick-or-treaters, and birthday parties are being planned, as Connor will turn 6 on Halloween. I expect a far better holiday season this year as compared to last year.

Anyways, it was a fairly nice and relaxing weekend. I had originally considered taking a trip to the Bay Area on Saturday after Connor's soccer game, but the impending weather did not seem conducive to a frolicky romp on the ocean beaches. So I stayed home Saturday, treated myself to lunch at Dos Coyotes, and generally frittered the day away until the rains came. And until Connor came back to me on Sunday. The weekend at home turned out pleasant, and not a bad way to prep for the work week, which unfortunately has now begun.

So, that's what's going on in my life.

Monday, September 23, 2019

Video Stuff

So, throughout my life I've never been big on videography. No particular reason per se, I just never wanted to see myself on video. Or hear myself. Is that what I really sound like?? Yikes. And we didn't have that technology in our house when I was growing up; the home video craze was still new back then. That's how old I am. But when Connor was born I started taking more videos, to capture him, both at birth and as he grew up. I never really did anything with those videos though, aside from occasionally posting one on Facebook. Most have never seen the light of day, and continue to exist only on my computer for my own personal nostalgic fetishes.

Recently I've begun re-acquainting myself with iMovie, so that I can actually do some editing and compiling of my material, and post it on my You Tube Channel. Oh yeah, I have a You Tube Channel. I've actually had it for many years, I just never really did anything with it. I meant to. I really did. But I've been inspired lately by one of my dearest and oldest friends to get more into videography.

So yesterday I wasted away a little over an hour and a half of my time pulling together this video (thanks a lot Rebekah!), and another 45 minutes swearing at the computer as it had difficulty sharing directly to You Tube. Some sort of problem with privacy settings or some damn thing. And also it apparently takes a long, long time to upload a video on wifi. But in any case, it's working now. And you can see the fruit of my labor below. It's a compilation of scenic videos I shot this past summer on our family cruise to Alaska. It is (if I may say so myself) tastefully edited together and set to music. I'm rather proud of the end product, actually.

I really tried, on this trip, to shoot more videos and not just hundreds and hundreds of static photos. Videos do make the post-trip memory experience come alive. I still did not shoot really any videos of people on this trip, and certainly none of myself. But I'm working on that with my "therapist" Rebekah. So in time, more good things should appear. And if I can find some more time to waste away this week, perhaps I'll dig back into my video and photo archives and whip out another one of these things.

In the meantime, enjoy:




Friday, September 20, 2019

Cosmological Constants

So I had a discussion last night with one of my oldest and closest friends, which among other things dealt heavily in religion and afterlife and things of that nature. I don't often talk about religious things; it is after all one of those "taboo" subjects that one is not to discuss at fancy dinner parties. Along with politics. But as this was no fancy dinner party, I suppose I should be given some leeway here.

I am not a particularly religious person, really; I have not been for many years. To be technically accurate, I consider myself an agnostic these days. I believe in possibilities, or at least I do not discount anything that cannot be disproved. I don't think we, as meekly little humans, are really meant to understand or are even capable of understanding the nature of the universe. Or of life. Or of death. I actually grew up in the Baptist faith, largely due to the influence of my maternal grandmother. After her passing and after going to high school in a new town, we drifted somewhat away from religious influence. I suppose it wasn't until much later, really, in late college or early adulthood perhaps, that I really started to define my perspective on the matter.

There are many different religions of course throughout the world (over 4000 by some estimates), many of which believe in some sort of creator. And most, it seems, follow the idea of a union or marriage of two people. One of the common attributes of marriage ceremonies in many Christian faiths is the idea of marriage till "death do us part". The idea has permeated society so much that you see this promise thrown around often in TV and film. Some, however, believe that this is not the end; that marriage transcends death and exists in perpetuity throughout all eternity. Of course that begs the question, "What happens to us after we die?". It is practically impossible for us mere humans to imagine a state of being where we simply do not exist, neither to think nor feel anything. Ever again. I've tried to imagine this. I cannot. This alone should support for the idea that there MUST be SOMETHING after death. But what is the answer? (Fans of Douglas Adams would be screaming here, "42! The answer is 42!"). Well it's difficult to know the answer when the question itself is difficult to fathom.

So, I like to think there IS something after all of this lovely mess we call life. But what? Another lifetime to explore? Another world? Another plane of existence? Who knows. Will we be able to be with all of those loved ones we've lost through time, with those we now call our "soulmate"? Who knows, who knows. Some believe that if you're bonded in this life you will be bonded in the next. And the next. And the next. But what if the two of you don't share the same beliefs? Do those with different beliefs end up being screwed in the afterlife because they did not choose the "correct" path, the "correct" religion? Or do they get pleasantly surprised when they find out that they were wrong? Does God say, at the end, "Sorry, you didn't follow the right religion, so you're done...just kidding! I still love you anyway! Here's your eternity." He must have a sense of humor like that. Wouldn't that be neat? So many questions. So few answers. That's why I think we're not meant to truly know. Agnostic.

There was a movie awhile back that dealt with some of these issues - What Dreams May Come, starring Robin Williams (RIP) and Cuba Gooding Jr. It was a delightfully profound movie about life and death and love, that critics seemed to hate for being too obtuse. But I find I relate to its thinking, in a deep and meaningful way. Some notable quotes from the film:

"It's not about understanding, it's about not giving up".
And: "You didn't (disappear), you only died".
And: "What some folks call impossible, is just stuff they haven't seen before".
And this little gem: "I realized I'm part of the problem. Not because I remind you. But because I couldn't join you. So I left you alone. Don't give up, okay?"

If things like this don't cause you to stop and think - you may be dead already. Check your pulse. Do it now. I'll wait.

So what is the answer? Is there one? I find the more I think about it, the more questions there are. It's a never-ending cycle, it seems, which prevents us from truly understanding. But I'd like to think that there's some great cosmological constant, that is somehow, somewhere, looking out for us. That we will be okay, in this life and the next. In any case, I'd like to think that it's safe to keep taking steps forward on our journey. That we can enjoy life and each other without worrying too much about the ending destination. That's hard, sometimes. We let our worries and fears run our life, and it prevents us from feeling ready to move on, to move forward, to experience happiness and joy. We are true masters at talking ourselves out of things. I said this in closing to my friend last night, and I think it rings true here: "The first step in being ready for anything is to stop convincing yourself that you're not". Read that again. And again. Yes, you.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Rain, Rain, Come Again

Here it is - the first "rainy" day of the season. After weeks and weeks of temperatures in the 90's and even 100's, there is finally a change in the tides. The clouds have rolled in and blanketed us is a great grey mist, and droplets of rain are struggling mightily to reach the earth. And they do. And they will. Actually I'm not expecting a whole lot from this current system, but all the same it's a welcome change. A VERY welcome change, from my perspective. I like the rain. I like the clouds. I don't miss how drivers on the roads of Sacramento suddenly turn into bumbling idiots at the first sign of rain. It's like everyone suddenly loses their mind. But that will be a challenge for later, when the rains really make their presence felt. For now, I'm safely tucked away at work at the start of another work week. And by the time I leave for the day, the rains will most likely have passed on.

It was a fine weekend, after all. I know a couple of weeks ago I had hypothesized about taking another trip this weekend to San Francisco to visit the great ocean once more. And I do so love such adventures. But I got sidetracked by an admittedly better offer. I actually caught most of Connor's soccer game as well on Saturday; he scored the first goal of the game. While playing on defense. It was a nice straight shot down three-quarters of the field that obediently stayed true to its course and rolled gently into the opposing team's unmanned goal. But hey, a score is a score.

And I feel like I scored as well, in a manner of speaking. I got to spend several hours hanging out at Sac State with a dear old friend whom I originally met in junior high...way back in 1987. That was...32 years ago! More years than I can count, even using both hands. (How old AM I?? Yikes). But it was so refreshing to hang out and talk about days gone by, and our own personal first-world problems, and enjoy a friendly hug or two, all whilst enjoying a walk and touring the greener areas of Sac State. And...a little bit of breaking and entering into buildings that probably should have been closed. Well we didn't do the breaking, anyway, just the entering. So I will still proclaim my innocence on that account. But it was so nice to see her in person, after so much time. We used to be closer friends, back in our college years, back in the 90's, when we used to write letters back and forth (this was well before the invention of texting). Then we drifted apart, as people often do. But in recent weeks we've reconnected, and it's just like old times. I feel young again. I feel alive again.

And it was nice and calming to sit by the river, underneath the Guy West Bridge, and watch the world slowly float by. It's peaceful there, and not terribly trafficked at all, even on such a beautiful day as we had. How refreshing it is to waste the day away in such a manner! But of course it was not a waste, not at all. So many stories to share, and even the five or so hours we had was not nearly enough to tell them all. Or to remember them all. It's funny how many experiences of the past, long pushed aside and forgotten, can suddenly resurface and be just as fresh as if they were yesterday. Where have those memories been hiding? The whole experience was like life letting out a great big sigh as it reflects back upon itself and the many times gone by. And my heart and soul did sigh. Probably just as much as if I had gone to the ocean this weekend. Perhaps even more so.

Nostalgic much? Yes. Yes I am. But now I must stop in this frivolous reverie and look to the present, as work is unfortunately beckoning me to come forth and be productive. I'm sure there's a piano somewhere that needs moving. Or some messes that need cleaning. Or whatever. But the memories from the weekend, they will stay, for the moment. And they will help me move forward.

Sigh.

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Lyrics, Part 3

Yes, in fact, there was a planned Part 3. And here it is. Read. Absorb. Feel. Transcend. Heal. All of that good stuff.


1. "I tried so hard not to give in. I said to myself, 'this affair never will go so well'. But why should I try to resist when I know so well, I've got you under my skin? I'd sacrifice anything, come what might, for the sake of having you near. In spite of a warning voice that comes in the night and repeats in my ear: ‘Don't you know little fool, you never can win? Use your mentality, wake up to reality’. But each time that I do, just the thought of you makes me stop before I begin, because I've got you under my skin."

2. "Without you, the ground thaws. The rain falls, the grass grows. Without you, the seeds root, the flowers bloom, the children play. The stars gleam, the poets dream, the eagles fly. Without you, the Earth turns, the sun burns. But I die, without you."

3. "Tell me why, don't we try, not to break our hearts and make it so hard for ourselves?"

4. "I can curl up and hide in my room. There in my bed still sobbing tomorrow. I could give in to all of the gloom. But tell me, tell me what for? Why should I have a heavy heart? Why should I start to break in pieces? Why should I go and fall apart for you?"

5. "I want somebody to share the rest of my life. Share my innermost thoughts, know my intimate details. Someone who'll stand by my side and give me support. And in return, she'll get my support. She will listen to me when I want to speak, about the world we live in and life in general. Though my views may be wrong - they may even be perverted - she'll hear me out, and won't easily be converted to my way of thinking. In fact, she'll often disagree. But at the end of it all, she will understand me."

6. "There are secrets on a leaf, in the water, in the air; hidden planets, tiny worlds, all invisible. Not a person seems to know, not a person seems to care. There is no one who believes a thing I say. Well, I'm fairly certain at one time or other, great thinkers all feel this way. I'm alone in the universe. So alone in the universe. I've found magic but they don't see it. They all call me a lunatic. Okay, call me a lunatic. If I stand on my own, so be it. Because I have wings. Yes, I can fly, around the moon and far beyond the sky. And one day soon I know there you'll be - one small voice in the universe, one true friend in the universe who believes in me."


I promise, this will most certainly, possibly, be the last of these. Maybe. Until then, go out and enjoy the world. It's a nice day, after all. And for fun and visual interest, I post a picture here that I shot this morning from my iPhone. This is near the base of the Guy West Bridge, looking back at Sac State. The place where I've basically lived for, well, too many years. More than a quarter of a century, in fact. And that's a long time. It's hard to imagine so much time has passed, all in this same location. Where did all that time go?? Honestly, sometimes, I have no idea.

Anyways. You can see in this photo that someone hung a rope there, some time ago, from which to swing into the river . A dangerous proposition in this particular river, to be sure. Now it stands as an almost forgotten testament to the care-free days of summer, now long gone as we enter our third week of school. Well. Back to work!

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Pondering

Sometimes I like to go to the park late at night, as it is right now. I sit on the swings and sway gently back and forth. Stare at the moon, the stars, the silhouetted trees blowing gently in the wind. One can transcend reality, if they aren't too careful, and slip back to the time of youth. When playgrounds and swing-sets held our fancy. It only lasts a little while; the cold breeze on your cheek startles you back into reality. You're much older now, and so much has transpired.

There were many paths back then, all open and inviting. Just waiting for us to choose. And choose we did. So many decisions led to so many paths, until we arrived finally at the place we are right now. Did we choose the right path? Have we arrived at the right destination? Who can say, who can say.

And what does the future hold? Maybe wrong paths of the past paved the way for right paths of the present. Or of the future.

Do we stay on our path, stuck in our current familiarities? Do we branch out, take a risk, take a chance? Would it work out if we did? Who can say, who can say. We will never know what may be if we don't try. There's comfort in the familiar, to be sure. So comforting that sometimes it's hard to imagine anything different. To trust in anything different.

The stars shine dimly within the city. Too much interference. The moon doesn't mind, it's a lone beacon in the vast darkness. Showing a course, lighting the way. Why do I suddenly feel so poetic? Who can say, who can say.

Just pondering. And now it's time for bed.

Saturday, September 7, 2019

Lyrics, Part 2

I threatened this in my last post, and here it is: part 2 of my special on inspirational and meaningful lyrics. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, well, you need to go back and read my last post. As before, I've deleted some repetition of words and added in punctuation to turn poetry into prose. Or make it closer to prose, at least. Hopefully you, dear reader (or future Glenn...) will gain some insight into life from these deep thoughts. Hopefully these will, at the least, inspire you into thought, or at their best inspire a motivation for change in your world, in your life.

And again, see if you can recognize any of these; the answer key will be in the comments by and by...


1. "We start with stars in our eyes. We start believing that we belong. But every sun doesn't rise, and no one tells you where you went wrong. Step out of the sun if you keep getting burned. Step out of the sun because you've learned. On the outside, always looking in. Will I ever be more than I've always been?"

2. "Together, we will go our way. Together, we will leave someday. Together, your hand in my hand. Together, we will make our plans. Together, we will fly so high. Together, tell all our friends goodbye. Together, we will start life new. This is what we'll do." (side note: one of my dearest and oldest friends is a huge fan of this artist...and this one's super easy! So she better recognize this one, or else she can no longer be my friend. I kid, of course. Well, maybe.)

3. "Talking loud and clear, saying just what we feel. Lying in the grass with the sun on our backs. It doesn't really matter what we do or what we say. With every little movement we give ourselves away. Opposite and opposite, decisions are reversed. Facing one another with words that couldn't hurt. With every little word you're getting closer to me. Talking loud and clear, saying just what we feel today."

4. "When you try your best but you don't succeed. When you get what you want but not what you need. When you feel so tired but you can't sleep. Stuck in reverse. When the tears come streaming down your face. When you lose something you can't replace. When you love someone but it goes to waste. Could it be worse?"

5. "I've heard it said that people come into our lives for a reason, bringing something we must learn. And we are led to those who help us most to grow, if we let them. And we help them in return. Well, I don't know if I believe that's true. But I know I'm who I am today because I knew you. Like a comet pulled from orbit as it passes the sun, like a stream that meets a boulder halfway through the wood. Who can say if I've been changed for the better? But because I knew you, I have been changed for good."

6. "I peer through windows, watch life go by, dream of tomorrow, and wonder why the past is holding me. Keeping life at bay. I wander lost in yesterday, wanting to fly but scared to try. But if someone like you, found someone like me, then suddenly nothing would ever be the same."


Well there you have it. Did you find some joy? Some peace? Some sadness? I hope so, I hope so. Even the sadness part. I mean after all, sadness is a part of life, it's a part of us. We could not know happiness if we never knew sadness. And embracing sadness and bringing it to the surface, so it can be set free, is a good way to cleanse the soul. And you can not move on if you don't set it free; that's the key. Admittedly, looking back on these, of course I recognize that most of these do have a somber quality to them. There's not a lot of outright joy in these. Perhaps somber, or pensive, or otherwise sad qualities are best for spiritual growth, if only because they are best at inspiring introspection. Does that sound crazy? Maybe. Maybe not. Something to think about anyway.

Friday, September 6, 2019

Lyrics, Part 1

Have you ever really focused on the words in songs? I mean, REALLY focused. There are so many songs I have on my personal iPhone library - which I play every time I'm in the car - that have special meaning to me. Sometimes they elicit an emotional response, or trigger a memory. Sometimes they relate exactly to things going on in my life. And it's the words, not just the music, that really affect me. That is, if I really pay attention to what they're saying. Some are happy, some are sad, and some just make me think. Or dream. Or cry.

So, I'd like to try something a little different today. Below I'm going to post six different quotes from random songs that mean something to me. In most cases I have eliminated repetitive words, and added punctuation, to more clearly demonstrate the flow and meaning of the text. Call that...artistic license, if you will. All of these have had an impact on me on years past, or indeed whenever I hear them. Some even affect me right now, today, as I myself read through them again. But these quotes are not meant to be just read. They are meant to be absorbed, through your skin and through your veins, and transported directly to your heart. Or your mind. Or wherever you wish them to live within you. So read these, think about these, and enjoy these. See if you can guess where they come from, and maybe in the comments I'll post the sources to see how many you got right...


1. "Somebody hears you. You know that inside. Someone is learning the colors of all your moods, to say just the right thing and show that you’re understood. Here, you’re known. Leave your life open. You don’t have to hide. Someone is gathering every crumb you drop, these mindless decisions and moments you long forgot."

2. "Will I lose my dignity? Will someone care? Will I wake tomorrow from this nightmare?"

3. "Time stops when suddenly you see her. Time stops, and what you thought you knew, changes. And life beyond this moment is better, bigger. Time stops, but still your heart is beating. Time stops, though you don't take a breath. She's there, and all you've ever wanted is nearer, clearer. I used to think the world was small. Now I don't think that way at all."

4. "Was it something I said or something you read, that's changing your mind, that's turning you around? Was somebody wrong or somebody right? What was it made up your mind, what could change overnight?"

5. "And the house felt so big, and I felt so small. The house felt so big, and I knew there would be moments that I'd miss. And I knew there would be space I couldn't fill. And I knew I'd come up short a million different ways. And I did. And I do. And I will."

6. "We're meant to be friends, that's what it says in the script. Is it really the end if sometimes I stray just a bit? Oh no, it should be poetry not prose. I'm in love with you. Do you think it shows? And everyone knows when they look at us; of course they do, it must be obvious. I've never told you, now I suppose that you're the only one who doesn't know."


There now, that wasn't so bad, was it? Sometimes the words and thoughts found around us can express things better than we ever could. I hope that you, dear reader, have been affected some way - some positive way - by this little experiment of mine. I hope some of these made you think, made you feel. And by all means, feel free to share your own with me, if you like. Perhaps this could develop into a sort of shared mood-enhancing music library. Who knows? Anything is possible. I'm sure you noticed that the title of this post says, "Part 1". It won't be the last...

Thursday, September 5, 2019

The Journey and the Destination

So one of my good friends did her weekly Facebook vlog this morning (is vlog even the right term? I have no idea. I'm so not 'hip' to these trendy social models). Anyways, one of her themes was talking about the journey versus the destination. She actually usually has a lot of themes going on in her 20-30 minute talks, but I can only focus on one thing at a time while at work...so I picked this one. But it's a curious theme that I think is often overlooked by most people in life, as we're so distracted by everything going on around us, and everything in our past that we carry around like unwanted baggage on our soul, that we tend to just put blinders on and push forward as best we can. So, here I will babble a little bit about it.

My first recollection of dealing with this theme is in music. It's a really a big one in performing arts, or at least it used to be anyway. Question: which is more important as a developing musician, the journey (the rehearsals) or the destination (the concert)? It's really, I think, a very good analogy for life. It may be a good analogy for everything, though the answer may vary depending on the application. Obviously everyone wants to have a "good" concert, so the destination is clearly important. But the steps you took to get there - the rehearsals - is where all of the growth and learning occurs. Or most of it anyway. Which is more important? My college band director who loved this topic was all about the destination. And I suppose, as an educator, in many ways that makes sense. (But of course he wanted to put on a good show at the end of the day as well. Well, who wouldn't?)

These things can apply to life as well, and specifically to our relationships with others. I'm at a point in my life where I'm completely free, with no clear course of direction. Like a sailboat bobbing along all by itself in the middle of the vast ocean. Except I have a small dinghy tethered to me as well. He'll be turning 6 next month. (I do tend to use a lot of nautical analogies, don't I? Perhaps I was a fish in a former life. A whale. Or a dolphin. Maybe I WAS a boat. Who knows?) Anyways, I don't know when or if I will ever be involved in a relationship, but I think the next time around - if there is a next time around - I'm going to try, really try, to focus on the journey more. I will try not to worry about where any potential romance may be leading, and just enjoy the moments with that person. I mean, after all, that's what we're supposed to be doing here, isn't it? Enjoying each other with what time we have.

Too often we worry incessantly about little details that we often have little control over. Oh, this relationship won't work because of this thing or that thing. Well you know what? Screw all that. Just enjoy having time to spend together, to appreciate life and the beauty that this world can still provide. While you still can; life is fleeting after all. The longer you wait, the less you'll have left. It's not going to last forever. So if someone makes you smile, if you enjoy your time together and find you think of them often, just focus on that. Chances are, the little details will work themselves out along the way. But even if they don't, so what? At least you had a nice journey (if you did it right!). Here's the thing about life: you can't go back and change the journey. BUT, if you don't like the destination, you can ALWAYS change that. Just turn around, and take a step forward. And find a new journey. It's as simple as that. Am I oversimplifying? Perhaps. I guess time will tell. But life is nothing but a series of decisions, piled on top of another one after the other. We just need to make the right decisions.

In deciding recently that I need to include more photos on my blog, I'm including here a shot of the sun and clouds not long after sunrise this morning, taken from outside my son's school. Does it have any relevance? You bet. The clouds are on a journey. So is the sun. So are we, literally, as we hurtle through space on this tiny rock we call home. Everything we see around us is on a journey. So I suppose, considering that, perhaps the journey SHOULD be more important than the destination.