The Other End of Sunset

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Ocean front views, or, squirrel-watch 2006

There are many depressing times in one’s life. Sometimes it seems there are more depressing times than uplifting ones – but I don’t actually intend to dwell on this topic, all evidence to the contrary.

In my opinion, the most depressing day of the year is the first day when I have to turn the lights on when I wake up in the morning getting ready for work. I live a healthy commute from my office, and traffic is, well, exciting in the Bay Area, so I spend a fair chunk of time in my eco-unfriendly commuting boxes. And since I like to get to work early – get a little time to think and catch up before the whirlwind of the day starts – I wake up before “standard engineering hours”.

During the summer, this is no problem. My house has lots of windows, and I can have many of them open when I sleep, so the light pours in. What a wonderful way to wake up!

My dogs are involved here too. Normally, the first time I move, my Dalmation starts kissing me, and my brown dog bounces up on the bed to come and sit on my chest, licking every piece of exposed skin he can find (and sometimes pulling the covers off me to encourage me to get up a little faster).

The winter? Not so nice. Dark, dank, and cold. I don’t like to get out of bed in the mornings when it’s like that. In the depth of winter, the dogs don’t even want to get up with me. I get a bleary look from Minnie before she puts her head back down (clearly wishing that I'd walk a little more quietly).

Last winter, I would try not to turn any lights on in the bedroom, padding around in the dark until I could get into the master bath, with the pocket door closed, before I turned the lights on. I didn’t want to wake JR, you see. I kept my clothes in another room, again to make it so she could sleep in while I was getting ready for work.

I guess that’s not a worry for me now, eh?

// I'd like to interrupt this discussion with a news flash – in breaking news, it appears that, today, JR is still dead. We now return you to your regularly scheduled erudition. //

The last week or so, I have turned on the lights to make it easier to find stuff. It’s not necessary, strictly speaking, but it’s starting to be helpful. The beginning of the end. Like finding grey hair, or that telltale creaking in your knees, or the first time you suspect that your mom put the money under your pillow where you put your tooth the night before. This is the beginning of the end of the happy, sunny time of the year, and the beginning of the rain – where I live, it rains for about 3 months without stopping. Me? I miss the sun.

The summer is so much more “my” time – you can go wakeboarding, you can have cookouts (although I can’t cook, as you all know), the motorcycle can be a primary mode of conveyance, and people wear less clothing. How happy are all those thoughts!

Winter is the time of dark, of cold, and of big bulky coats that make you wonder about the gender of the person to whom you are speaking.

// Although I guess if you are talking to someone, their voice timbre is probably a clue to gender. But not a perfect clue. Of course, fewer clothes are also not a perfect clue. Go to Asia SF. Anyway. This is a particularly silly sidebar. Sorry. //

On the other hand, winter has skiing. And skiing at Lake Tahoe is a bit like Camelot – it only seems to snow at night, and have amazingly sunny days for the slopes. Perhaps I need to get myself more excited about skiing again. I always get a season pass, and think I'm going to ski a lot. But the last few years I haven’t.

Skiing is kind of a lonely sport for me. I learned to ski when I was married to the lovely Italian. She was a terrific skier. I'm still not, but I tried hard.

The deal with skiing, though, is that on the run, you are basically by yourself, and you get to reconnect with your friend on the lift. But on the lift, you are freezing – the sweat on your body from the run is evaporating, and you are surrounded by cold air and metal, and you can’t really move. Additionally, lifts don’t tend to be very comfortable – they are built for people who are somehow shaped differently than your faithful author. Anyway, all in all, the whole time that I was supposed to be bonding with my skiing pal, I was trying not to have my legs fall off, or my arms turn into humanoid popsicles (or perhaps armsickles, anyway). Generally, not conducive to having good friendly conversations, for me.

So, skiing is too lonely for me. I like people. I want to engage. Solo sports, not my forte.

And, really, find me a group sport for winter. Really?

I guess there is ice hockey, but my Canadian-esque accent does not extend to the rest of my body, beyond my voice production – I have no skating ability, at all. Additionally, I just don’t really get the game. I could probably learn, but seems like a big investment in time. And there is a lot of gear, too.

And, fundamentally, ice hockey is an indoor sport – where I live, anyway. Indoor sports are year-round, and if I'm going to be inside, why not engage in some warmer sport? Indoor soccer or basketball or some other sport involved with other people. Way more fun, the whole interpersonal thing.

And, yes, I'm still an introvert. Stop asking.

Changing topics, rather suddenly now. Please keep your hands, feet, and hearts inside the car for the duration of the post.

So I took her to the beach last night. She liked the sound of the ocean, but didn’t like the waves. She was a little afraid of the ocean, which didn’t seem like her at all. She wasn’t afraid of much. She was in Miami for Andrew. No, not the prince, the hurricane. Keep up now. She was in a hotel on the beach. Asleep. Then they evacuated the hotel, and she went to a friend’s house a little ways inland. And went to sleep again. Then a tree crashed through the wall where she was sleeping. Seemed like it might be worth moving again – it got windy under her covers. And so, they evacuated again. This time, when she went to sleep, she got to sleep through the rest of the storm. Although she woke up to see the eye pass over. She said it wasn’t pretty at all, but rather very creepy.

So, given that, how could she be afraid of a 3-foot break in southern CA? Anyway, she was. But she liked the sound of the waves. But she would have liked to hang out, above the waterline, where she can see everything.

It was dark (it was night, remember), and it was windy. And I was a little cold (I was wearing a short-sleeve shirt). I could hear the people playing on the pier in the distance, and see the planes taking off from LAX. Periodically, I'd see a boat in the distance, bobbing with the sea. The waves were crashing, loudly, so it was hard to hear myself talk to her. Also, I don’t like sand. But I walked across the beach – I got lots of sand in my shoes. And tried not to tweak about it. Somewhere, she was laughing hysterically at my discomfort. My hair kept blowing in my eyes, and I know it was the wind that was making my eyes water.

After a little while, I left. Went back to the city, to the lights, to the voices, to the living. Even though this phase is done, she’s still with me. She’s on my body, she’s in my brain, she’s in my heart.

And the sand is still in my shoes. That part is not my favorite.

It’s warmer this morning, and strangely, less dark. Gotta love the whole daytime thing. I am going to try to ride my Benelli this morning – my friend read my last post, and started it up for a long time (standing still) to see if it overheated. It didn’t. Cool. Maybe I'll get out on it, enjoy the traffic, try to avoid the parked cars.

But probably not for long – I have to drive a car from here back to northern CA. As I have mentioned previously, not a lovely drive. But this time, I'll be driving along with Robert Heinlein’s “Citizen of the Galaxy” on CD. Gotta love a novel about slavery, espionage, and interstellar travel. But I won’t tell you how it ends.

It’s important, sometimes, to read the book, not just listen to the summary. Feel the words in your mouth, see the pictures in your own head. Art is not for the artist, but for the audience. My friend recently reminded me of that – it doesn’t matter what I think I'm writing about, it matters what you all think I'm writing about.

I'm just writing about a journey. From start to finish. With musical accompaniment by Peter Gabriel, the Sex Pistols, Marilyn Manson, Mary-Chapin Carpenter, and lots of others. There is always music playing in my head.

Want to know what’s playing now?