March, Not March

I didn’t have a true need to participate in the Women’s March. But I did want to speak up about the complexities of being a man who wants to be a good ally. In the end I got the message that by doing so I was just putting my fingers on everything, as men always do. I decided it would have been better to say nothing at all; to just, from a social media standpoint, ignore the entire event.

And then after making that decision, another powerful woman of my acquaintance posted to all the men, come march with us, we want you to.

I’d rather they all didn’t want me there, than that some do and some don’t. But my feelings about it don’t matter anyway.

I write a lot. It is not Real Writing that I write. It is journaling, again. The self-absorbed examination of self that I meant to quit because it so amplifies the negative. But it’s how I process, and I have a shit-ton to process. Either that or I’m just way too bound up in my own head, which is also true.

Writing here instead of there makes a slight difference. Very slight, since the audience is about the same.

When I try to Write For Real, I don’t get very far. With that or anything. Damn ADD brain anyway. I really don’t think it’s worse than it used to be. I don’t think age and “retirement” have made me lazier. I’m just more keenly aware of how poorly I’ve trained myself to be productive despite all this continuous distraction. The relative lack of structure in my current life is why I notice.

And I’m starved but the kitchen is unusable thanks to multiple kids being up all night, as they always are, and not yet having cleaned up after themselves. So I’ll just go out somewhere. And it was that thought that brought me back to the March and led to me sitting down to write about it here. Cause actually, I did want to go, just to be among friends in the bright winter sunshine in one of my favorite parts of one of my favorite cities. Which I knew in turn was just turning a statement of social action into a pleasant walk in the park, hence another instance of a man putting his fingers all over something that isn’t his.



Our lives are dominated now by the art installation. We load it into the Crocker in a couple weeks and continue to learn how much work there is yet to do. While tonight I’m laser-cutting some parts for one part, a team is sanding and staining larger parts for another. Tonight they just learned the water-based stain being used raises the grain too much on the pieces, necessitating a whole lot of unexpected extra sanding. A whole lot. Dozens of hours worth.

We have work. Come and earn a little over minimum wage, sanding and listening to music and sanding in good company while sanding.

I’m only writing here cuz I won’t on the F-book but I feel like typing it out. While this project is somewhat funded by the museum, the up front costs, and ALL other costs in our life, are covered by me. My choice was to either have faith in our future plans and intentions and spend what’s left of my retirement now to allow them to happen, or just say no, keep my money, and walk away. I couldn’t do that, of course. Not only because I love her, but she and her family depend on me to enable this stage of their lives. I can’t throw them into poverty, government assistance, and probable despair just to keep my money. My choice was to instead live in faith and hard work and see how things work out. She’s validated my faith many times. Never failed. So here we go.

Meanwhile more and more friends and acquaintances are paying their rent with my money in exchange for help in getting this thing built. It’s a peculiar feeling. I’m not worried about being old and broke. I just don’t care about that. If I have no dependents, what’s to worry about? I’m only worried about actually running out of money before we’re ready for me to. Against that, I’m sort of willing to go look for work. But I can’t yet, really. This project is all-consuming, and I am doing a lot of important work that otherwise won’t get done, just as she and her team are.

I was cooperative with a recruiter a few days ago, which is more than I can say for previous calls. But there’s been no word since, and I just don’t know. I’d rather write and build a company than work for someone, but work for someone I will if it’s the only way to bring in some income. And until our new venture turns the corner after this museum piece and starts selling actual stuff we make, that will be the only way.

I don’t know, I’m just sharing a piece of life because I don’t blog anymore and almost no one reads this. I feel just alone enough in all this to scratch it out onto a piece of paper and toss it into the wind.

Who Knew

Who knew one could be so bold? I have so much to learn, and I want to learn more of it, and faster.

We were signed up for a sarasa tantra retreat in a luxurious woodland setting, a long  weekend of fine food amongst other couple, singles, and groups to learn and practice methods and techniques of intimacy. Various factors to do with family and business led my partner to decide to bow out. But she encouraged me to stick to plan.

“You should go. You will get a lot out of it. Me, maybe not so much.”

“Yeah, well.”

“Ask someone to go with you.”

My list of acceptable someones else was quite small. It numbered two. And after some discussion of what was going on in the life of one of them, it was reduced to one.

“Isn’t it kind of crazy?” I asked. “Here I’m going to invite someone to a tantric yoga weekend whom I’ve never gone out with, never even so much as made out with at a party.”

“Try it.”

“So these women,” I said, feeling out the overall situation for future reference. “I’m extremely picky. They have to be smart and confident, they have to like me, and they have to completely accept our situation. I don’t want much from them. Sometimes I wonder what I want, what they have that you don’t.”

“Boobs.” She laughed.

I shrugged. “Yeah.”

“They have big tits and I don’t. I’m fine with that. Ask her.”

So I did. I asked a woman who’s amazing, really, someone I admire and knows it, someone who admires me back and has said so, whom I’ve never done anything with but talk to, maybe dance a little, a brilliant, quiet, glasses-wearing book-reading redhead whose boyfriend recently moved in with her and her husband. And she was flattered, and said several times she would normally make adjustments to go to this thing with me, but this one time has an unbreakable commitment and, alas, cannot go.

I was lifted by her encouraging attitude about the whole thing, and especially lifted by the supportive outlook of the woman who loves me. I never knew I could be so bold. This was a true revelation. That aside, I will be going to this retreat without knowing a soul, which is probably best anyway. I can then open up without worrying about anyone else and maximize whatever lessons I will be there to receive. Mostly breathing exercises, I guess, though the list of things to bring includes a blindfold, as well as “something that makes you feel sacred and sexy” to wear for pujas and rituals, so who knows.

I’m just moved to write about how blessed I am in this short-lived phase of my life which, like all phases, must be appreciated in the moment and not just rushed through and (hopefully) remembered later. Why I should write more but of course I don’t.


Just Paper

Making room. I find files taking up space. Space I need to use.

Some of it is easy to throw away, even though it wasn’t easy at the last pass a couple three years ago. I kept it then. I’m filling a wastepaper basket now.

The purchase agreement for my grandparents’ gravesites? I scanned it and tossed it. Well, there’s info in there. Who knows, some distant descendant might have no other way to find their graves. And want to. I have no need, but I can’t speak for others.

Tossed all the scripts and instructions from that one time my father was in a San Francisco Opera production of Lohengrin.

Tossed the manuals for a TEAC tape recorder that I remember having but don’t remember how I got rid of it. Don’t see it anywhere. Must be gone.

Then I found all the records scrupulously kept by Dad during his firstborn son’s final year, from when he was diagnosed with leukemia in January 1959 to when he died in November shortly after his 5th birthday. There’s a lot of emotional weight in those insurance letters and medical bills and invoices and receipts, and in the certification of death and final payment to the mortuary. Dad kept every scrap. Then after his son was cremated, he buried the ashes under a tree. No one knows where. A secret taken to the grave and, given subsequent developments, probably long since uprooted and scattered through a housing development.

Wastepaper basket. It’s just paper. This blog post represents my memorial to the sentiment. Jimmy is dead. Dad is dead. Sentimentality is a distinctly useless emotion (as distinct from sentiment), and I am happier the further I get from hanging on to things of this sort.

And from the sort of personality that kept it, though I suppose I’m being harsh. One can’t always help it when they’re so close.

Here We Are Write Here

Steven King (On Writing) cautions against spending your time not writing when you could be writing (or reading). He doesn’t have much sympathy, nor should he, for people who claim they want to write but whose time is spent doing other things. When he wrote this, his example of time misspent involved television. Now, of course, the would-be writer has it even harder. Blogs helped us pretend we were writing, and Facebook and fake news sites help us pretend we’re not watching TV. But neither of those activities are writing (or reading).

It occurs to me I’ve done a pretty good job of not blogging. I also do a pretty good job of not watching TV, though I am a sucker for a movie (any movie) watched on a laptop perched on our supine bodies in the bed space. The problem activity remains Facebook. Even the recent loss of my phone (not to be replaced until tomorrow) didn’t slow me down. I just take a laptop into the bathroom with me. If I were to claim I was doing less Facebook, no one should believe me.

Still, I’m trying to write more. I’m certainly more driven than I’ve ever been. The trouble is, well, everything else. Right now, for example, I’m (happily) designing a one-sixth scale mockup of the installation Sunya will do for the Crocker Art Museum later this year. They want a picture of her holding a model for the magazine. We don’t have the model yet. I’m trying to design the parts and produce them on a laser cutter without any 3D CAD knowledge but just by faking it in 2D, and the photo meeting is day after tomorrow, so: I’m not writing right now. But I will. Soon. And she apologetically reminds me she won’t need me after this and I (happily) remind her this is our project, not just hers, and I’m enjoying myself.

And if it isn’t that it’s a thousand other things, festivals every weekend with some level of work involved, cars that don’t quite run right, a house needing work (e.g. fix the dryer vent, detox the pool, strip the front yard and landscape it on the cheap, I do go on don’t I). Even so, I do a lot of research, and a little writing, and a little more rewriting, and a bunch of thinking; and I try to read but I get bored so easily, gah.

And no, I don’t want a damn job. I want us to figure this out, and suddenly make it.

Another thing King said (I was reading his book today because of my lost phone — there’s some sort of lesson in that — and I will paraphrase because I don’t want to fetch it from the other room): It’s not possible to make a competent writer out of a bad writer, nor is it possible to make a great writer out of a good writer, but with a lot of hard work it might be possible to make a good writer out of a competent one. I’m a competent writer, and I intend to become a good one. We’ll see if after fifty eight badly-managed years I have time for that. We’ll see.


I don’t know how it’s going to happen.

I’ve felt a lot better, been a lot happier, since deciding to hell with finding a job. I don’t want to work for anyone. I want to bend my energies towards building our arts business, i.e. big works for festivals as a means of exposure / marketing, and smaller works at household prices for the interior decorating market. In addition I want to write my damn novel, and branch out into other stories. That’s what I want.

Meanwhile you might say I need an income. I have a house with seven people in it and at the current burn rate the remainder of my retirement will last about a year. But, while it’s possible I’m being a moron about this, I just don’t care. I don’t want to live carefully. My father did that, my brother does that, my ex-wife, indeed everyone I’ve ever been family with lived soberly and cautiously and left the planet quietly with no undue fuss. But I’m not interested in that model. I’m living now, not a decade from now, and trying to do what I want, and if it doesn’t pay off, so what? I’ll be broke. Who cares?

It seems my influences fall into two camps. The majority are young creatives with varying levels of self-support, some building up a level of prosperity, others unable to keep a car or get their driver’s license, but all of them creatives of varying sorts, while the other group, the smaller group, seems to be older people like me who are retired or nearly so, who played by the rules and are now doing whatever the hell they please. Some are well off, some are not, but all are happy in the main, being themselves after a lifetime of finding out what that meant.

This past weekend was spent at a party, a mini-festival you might say, but a private party really, with a few hundred attendees, aggressively screened against creepers and predators such that the subtle unknown creepers like me can enjoy the fact of many beautiful young women being completely comfortable dancing etc with their exotic costumes mostly removed and just having fun. I call myself an unknown creeper because I know I look like one saying that, but in fact I am happy that people felt comfortable exploring themselves, and don’t care about the details of it. The fact of a social scene in which all manner of young people felt safe, really felt safe, is a great thing to celebrate.

I realized as the day and night wore on that I have become one of the tribal elders. Young men tell me they respect me and the way I’ve supported my lady love’s growth as an artist, both young men and women tell me they are impressed with the open and trusting relationship I have with her, older folks embrace me fully as one of them. It’s a peculiar revelation, to be a tribal elder, when I’ve spent nearly sixty years trying to “succeed” at just being the youngster I thought I had to try being in order to move forward. Well, whatever youngsterish things I did or didn’t do, I moved forward anyway, and here I am feeling loved and respected by a bunch of amazing people. As I say, it’s peculiar. It seems I need to grasp and accept the person everyone else knows me to be, rather than the somewhat less accomplished person I keep thinking I am.

Which brings up a question. Is it all right for tribal elders to make out with young warrior women? I did that, with just one (I’m not an aggressive fellow), and wondered later if I looked the fool I thought I should. But my lady love extracted the details from me (did she kiss back etc — oh yes) and concluded I was worrying too much. I’m a handsome old devil, evidently, so what the hell. No worries.

Right. Yeah. I dunno. I’m thinking at some point there will be alignment between monogamy and dignity that will cause me to care about both of those things. Not yet! But it’s in the wind.

Overall point? I’ve spent a lifetime hiding. Don’t seem to have that impulse anymore. Socially, I’m visible to all, and it’s high time I understood that and quit with the denial. Professionally, I have no interest in following another’s lead. Well, some, if it’s going somewhere. But in not having a boss I’m not at all lost. I know what to do. I just don’t know if there’s any money in it.

Dangerous times. I titled this “Mystery” when I started typing, because it really is a big mystery how it’s going to happen, “it” being the creation of some sort of life that is self-sustaining. It’s headed that way, but I only have so much runway, and have no idea how much runway I actually need. Probably more than I’ve got. But a regular full-time job, while extending the runway, would bring a virtual end to my acceleration. What would you do?

Authentic Intimacy — a long ad hoc essay thereupon

I’ve decided my frustrations over not having whatever sex life I thought I wanted arose from not understanding at all what I wanted. Something like this is never news. But it’s taken me a long time anyway because I’ve led a remarkably slow sex life. By this I mean that while we as a couple have been ethically non-monogamous for five years, I haven’t had a seriously engaging alternate partner since I stopped seeing the one who helped me open that door several years ago, and my partner hasn’t even had sex with anyone else, bar one, for an entire year. We’ve quite slowed down.

I think I understand why, though, and it does not mean that we are simply evolving into monogamy. That will probably happen eventually. But it won’t happen anytime soon. Instead we are blessed to have a relationship within which we can explore and learn ourselves, and while this has meant changes that have led to near-monogamy, it also means changes that will, at its proper time, mean something else.

There was a long time when our openness was very difficult for me. I didn’t know if I was wrestling with latent jealousies or insecurities or my own inability to compete or what. She in turn was not really having all that great a time. I now understand what we both were doing. She was subconsciously exploring from various angles the dynamic between predator and prey because it was the only way to deal with her youth and childhood. I on the other hand have never been comfortable with that dynamic and found myself fighting against my own tendency to judgment and anger when seeing her play in that field. She also had relationships that didn’t bother me at all, and in time I realized that those were the ones that did not involve the predator-prey dynamic. They were simply close friendships. They were, in fact, the one thing that I know I crave myself: relationships of authentic intimacy.

Some of my own attempts to play around felt like failures at some level because there was often some sort of doubt that I refused to acknowledge, a doubt that this was a good place for me. Matters were made worse, which is to say un-ignorable, when this doubt lurking in my subconscious prevented my body responding as I wanted it to. This was very frustrating. Especially so when I knew the men with my lady were not having this problem. They did not have or care about those doubts. Did my sensitivity make me less of a man? Was I attempting the wrong lifestyle? Was I just getting old? Questions like that tried to knock on my psychic door and I didn’t know what to do besides ignore them.

I tried to foster various attitudes within myself but my social abilities were not up to making this a very swift set of experiments. And then she had some sort of epiphany and made a left turn into a much quieter lifestyle. Since then we’ve been de facto monogamous; but we both know it’s a passing phase.

Authenticity is what I must now insist upon for and from myself. This means that whoever it is I am inching closer to, I have to really like her and want to spend time with her. I have to have no agenda or goal or specific intention beyond getting to know her and allowing the energy to flow where it will. She too must have the same attitude. Just as I don’t like predatory men, I don’t like predatory women, and there are plenty of them. This also means, it should go without saying, that one-night stands and first-date sex are right out. To not know the person inside the skin makes playing with the skin rather pointless.

Now I’m all a-dither because I’ve found someone who’s not only very clear mentally and spiritually but likes me a lot and is also inCREDibly sexy. She’s moving very slowly, she has to because of her situation, and that suits me too. In fact I think another one of my criteria would be that a person has to have very little time for me, because I will have very little time for her, and we must have balance. So we’ve got that going for us too, and it might be months (years?) before we fully explore this thing.

I’m not really a-dither. That implies I’m distracted from my one true love and I am not. Instead I live in a very pleasant space where love is radiating towards me from more than one direction; and in every case (yes, there are actually more than two, if I could somehow make the time and if the potentiality of our sex lives isn’t just a fantasy I’m indulging in because I can’t make the time to test it) the women in question also happen to be highly attractive. Attractive is relative and is less relevant the more authentic the intimacy, but the fact of it makes me happy anyway. Who knows, I may in some future rumination realize that their beauty had actually been the point of it all. But this is no time to be THAT analytical.

A Lot Of …

I have a lot of posts in drafts. I start writing with a certain energy, overflowing with some immediate concern. But after a few paragraphs I slow down and stop and take a fresh look and decide that what I’m writing doesn’t serve me, or anyone, and that I should just stop. So I do.

How does it not serve? By mostly being of a negative nature, some sort of complaint or annoyance or outright whine.

Last time, a few days ago, the subject was the emotional burden that accumulated while I sorted through boxes of old papers. Mostly these were old photographs, but also collections of letters. They take up space, they crowd over me, they are of use and interest to no one — and they’re impossible to throw away. Why? Because as I hold them I can feel the spirit that held them years ago and decided they were worth keeping. It’s not as easy as we expect it should be to turn aside the desire of a cherished relative, especially when its physical manifestation is in hand. Worse, my father and both his parents were natural-born data-collectors: accountants and scientists. They were very deliberate in their collections and pretty well organized too. Their ghosts peer over my shoulder as I look through the things they and their parents left behind.

I have some good stuff, for example the original 1875 deed for my direct great-grandfather’s 250 acres of farmland where now a thousand houses form a large neighborhood in Livermore, CA. That’s a neat-o thing; I’ll keep it. I have some not so good stuff, for example the envelope of newspaper clippings a doting mother collected of her son’s high academic achievements at Richmond Union High School in 1943. These were treasured, especially while he was off and away for the War; but they’re not treasured by me.

It is specifically to mark their passing into my office trash can that I started and, any minute now, complete this blog entry. Clippings of his valedictory address, his return from war, his college graduation, his engagement and marriage …

There are not just a few envelopes of these sorts of things. There are entire boxes. Boxes of snapshots taken in the 1950s, 40s, 30s, 20s, 10s; baby portraits galore of people who died of old age decades ago; letters from dearly loved relatives whom I never knew and who probably no one still alive has even heard of. It goes on. The psychic cost to me is not insignificant. I need the physical and psychological space to do my own work. They have to go. Yet they also need their just due, their moment of attention, an active decision on their disposition. Do I really need the many letters of commendation and recognition that poured in upon my grandfather’s retirement as County Supervisor, Contra Costa County, in 1958? No, but will I throw them out? N-n-n-no. Not yet. Damn. So it continues.

Here’s a picture of the ribbon-cutting ceremony at the opening of the San Pablo Dam Road in 1956. My grandfather is third from right.


If you are around me on Foosbook you know I’m slowly but Shirley going through my father’s stuff. Right now I have glassware to get rid of. Last week it was a stack of 78rpm records. Next it’ll be, well, I dunno, but the intent is to make space. I have a lot to do and I need space. And all this packrat shit is taking up a lot of space.


Right now it’s the old lab glassware. It’s all older than me. An old chemist might feel good keeping it around, but not me. I keep dead old electronics on the half-ass notion that it can be used in some weird kind of art. But glassware is too fragile. And useful. It has to go. I’ll find a school that will take it. Soon, I hope. It’s kind of in the way.


Last week the 78s were taken away. All but the single-side Enrico Caruso that I hung on the wall. But the rest were all late 1930s / early 1940s swing. Great music, but easily obtained in a more useful format, while I have no intention of owning a player that can spin at 78rpm. People have suggested I get one, but I don’t get that. Under what circumstances does it ever make sense to spin a large single-track record? None, I tell you. None but one. That one is what the person who took them took them for. He’s a DJ and has some sort of electroswing project in mind. Saw someone spinning once with dual Victrolas and thought it was pretty rad. So, I guess, I dunno, whatever. Have at em, hombre.


These were mine. I had a brief foray into card collecting when my son was an infant. It was psychologically an expression of my unmet need for traditional American father-son interaction. It faded away long before he grew up. I put an ad on Craigslist under Free Stuff and they were gone within an hour.

Meanwhile I sit here meaning to upgrade my resume again because I ought to be seeding the contract design world with it and haven’t been. In truth, I don’t really want to work. I want to be supportive of the household and the art business and write my book. But I need an income. Not right this minute, but I will before long; and then I’ll need to rebuild my retirement, which is why I really just want to write a really good book. I’m not going to make any money as an engineer. I’m not going to make any money working for anyone else. But it’s sort of the more logical path right now, being as I’m not exactly starting my own engineering firm. Too busy researching, and assembling a story to tell.

And it’s so fun! I’ve collected a huge array of minor historical personages whose theoretical interactions I find fascinating. Lines cross and paths intersect all over the place. But that’s nothing but hobby-talk. Until I craft this story of mine that takes place in the fast-moving decade between the Gold Rush and the Civil War and is all about social upheaval and political skullduggery and disruptive technology and naive romance and wild multiracial group sex that sparks a bidding war between the country’s major publishers, it’s just a stupid hobby.

Anyway, back to the things. It takes so long because I’m like the people who kept it and am sentimental. I find I can’t just take the box and toss it, or call it a mystery and let someone risk $5 on the unknown. No, I have to create a spreadsheet detailing every item and do a little online searching to see what each item might be worth while simultaneously imagining that slice of my father’s or whoever’s life during which they decided to keep it; and THEN give it away for free to whoever gets to me first. Seems like a lot, but I am serene when it’s gone.


I’m in the tub typing on a laptop perched on an inverted laundry basket. In the darker scenes of The Man in the High Castle I can see my reflection. I see the reflection of a man in his late fifties who frankly never wants to work for anyone else ever again. Tomorrow I have a meeting with my career coach, the person Intel will pay for a few more months to guide me through finding a job, and that’s what I will need to tell him.

I have money in my IRA to last, at current rate of expenditures, and taking income taxes into account, about a year and a half. Of course that can be stretched out by making money and by somehow cutting expenses. But neither of those come easy. Even so, I feel as though taking a regular job only delays my getting to what I really should be doing. The way to avoid that delay, and get to what I really should be doing, is not in finding a job. It’s in finding myself. And kicking myself out of the way so as to focus on the activities that are really in flow for me, and succeed spectacularly at those.

Write, really write, the book. Discover how to become a contract design engineer and build a solid reputation. Contribute in far more significant ways than merely providing capital and a strong back to Sunya’s business.

How are these going? Well, kicking myself out of the way remains a significant challenge. But I feel I am making progress.