December 31, 2011
What if I miss something?
Well, you will, bitch.
EVERY DAY, EVERY NIGHT OF YOUR LIFE
you’ll be missing something. How can you not? No one can live life to the fullest, whatever the hell that means anyway. It’s something that’s subject to everyone’s own definition. I’m just saying, you can’t do it all. You can strive to, but you’ll fail. You can’t have children and not have had children in the same lifetime. Can’t be done. So it’s a choice. You pursue certain things, not others. In this vein, you’ll miss a lot of stuff, and it’s not a tragedy, it just is the way it is. When I think of “living life to the fullest,” I think, “with as little compromise as possible.”
MY GREATEST NEED IN LIFE,
one which I have doggedly pursued, seems to be solitude. So I have opted out of marriage and children. Yet I need companions to care for, like most humans do, so my compromise is cats. And it’s one that works. I have to bring intermediaries in to administer their belly rubs when I’m out of town–that cramps my style a bit, but in a way I can tolerate. A compromise I cannot tolerate is spending the majority of my time doing things I don’t want to do, like working full-time for someone else’s gain. In honor of that realization I sold, one after the other, my two-bedroom cottage in Berkeley, the adjacent fourplex income property, my four-bedroom bungalow in Portland, Oregon, and my two-bedroom renovated Victorian flat in the Lower Haight of San Francisco.
YOU MIGHT HAVE THOUGHT,
she’s set! She’s got her niche in the Bay Area marketplace! And I did think that, at one point. Some coworkers and I were driving by Dwight Way and someone pointed my property out and another asked, “Are you some kind of real estate magnate?” I remember lying on my couch in Berkeley watching “The Sopranos” and congratulating myself for staking my claim in the Bay Area. I was way under the wire at the time. I had my own little house and an apartment building bringing in money, and picked it all up in 1997 for $250,000. Not a typo. I’d refinanced my Portland house to acquire the Berkeley property, then I sold the Berkeley property to acquire my San Francisco flat, then I sold my Portland house to quit my San Francisco job, then I sold my San Francisco flat to continue to live with as little compromise as possible.
I WAS JUST NO LONGER WILLING TO DO
what I had to do to pay Bay Area mortgages. Work full-time, in other words. Take roommates. Be in debt. Compromise. Now I’m still lying on my couch, with few assets and fewer prospects. Soon I’ll start selling stuff off. If you’ve been to my place, and like my stuff, maybe you’ll buy some of it. I’m developing an online yard sale. Stay tuned.
BUT THAT’S ALL BESIDE THE POINT.
The point is that I’m lazy and always have been, but am so much lazier than I used to be. I used to be willing to work full-time to own a house. Not now. Holds zero appeal. I’m lazy and I live in a one-bedroom third-floor walk-up apartment, and if I get down to the street and realize I’ve forgotten my camera (iPhone or Lumix), I’m unlikely to go back and get it (depending on how far I’m going). And the last time I found myself in this position (on the street in front of my building without a camera) I said to myself,
WHAT IF IF MISS SOMETHING?
And I answered myself, well, you will bitch. Every day and every night of your life, you will miss something, despite being a writer and a photographer, that you failed to pin in place by freeze-framing the decisive moment or spelling it out in words. It’s the nature of things. Of course there will be abandoned shoes, graffiti, furniture in the wild, street life, all that stuff you have, as of 5:45 a.m., December 31, 2011 PDT, posted 16,951 pictures of on flickr. You just posted a picture of a trash can on 34th St., New York. Because taking a photograph, as you told your flickr pal Christina, aka Mercury 17, is the same thing as saying, “This is worth looking at.”
WHAT’S WORTH LOOKING AT ABOUT A TRASH CAN?
On this one, it’s the graphic “34” motif specific to 34th St., Manhattan. Near Penn Station, I believe. Don’t know how many of them there are. Think there might be a BID that installed them. If you don’t give a shit about graphic or industrial design, or the number 34, or Trash Cans ‘round the World, or whatever else inspires me to document these things, then it’s not worth looking at. Sorry I wasted your time! But everyone has to decide for him and herself what living life to the fullest is, and for myself, it is traveling around the world taking pictures of trash cans, rather than paying the garbage bill for houses I have to work full-time to maintain. And as Christina says, “I appreciate other people who also appreciate the beauty and comedy and the little (and sometimes big) stories in the every day world around us - so easily overlooked.”
BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE
from the streets of San Francisco…
TIME TO TRASH THIS
I have tired of my trash. If you have not, visit my Trash/Trashed set on flickr.
SO ANYWAY, I DIDN’T GO BACK FOR THE CAMERA!
And of course I missed stuff. At least a dozen shots I would have taken on my pilgrimage to Divisidero St. and back. So what! No one knows but me, what those pictures would have been. It’s not like they’re actually missing from the world! No one’s crying. But as soon as I rounded the corner of my own street, there it was. A dirty floral rocking chair sitting on the curb. Damn! What a great entry for “League of the Empty Chair”! But I did not relent. I had a mission to accomplish and I was on my way. But more importantly, too lazy to go back upstairs.
QUITE OFTEN I DON’T DO THINGS
I might otherwise do if I lived on the ground floor–for instance, my laundry. I’d do a lot more laundry runs if it didn’t involve running the three flights down and back up (six trips for one load). Often I don’t go out because I have nothing specific to do in the outside world and am content where I am, in Big Sky Country (not Montana, my apartment). My place is full of sky, six bay windows full of it, featuring my own personal slice of the San Francisco pie including Sutro Tower, the other charming buildings on my street, the godawful yoogly (U-gly is uglier than ugly) seniors’ complex that blocks my view of Mission Dolores, and whatever heavenly objects might be visible between the fog blankets descending from Twin Peaks.
I’ve thought about leaving San Francisco to make life cheaper to live, but life here is not just more expensive, it’s richer. It’s Granola town–the city of fruits, flakes and nuts. I’ve thought about going back to Portland where I spent 15 years–best friends galore, best pie in the world at the Bipartisan Cafe, but the weather sucks and it’s too provincial–too much Granola, not enough fruits and flakes. (To cement this decision I watched all six episodes of IFC’s “Portlandia.” That is simply not the place for me. 37th & Hawthorne cannot be the center of my universe.)
I CAN’T LEAVE MY SKY
my orchestra, my ‘hood…
but I did leave my apartment, again, with my iPhone this time, after returning from my photoless errand, to take out my garbage and pick up some milk at the Spot Lite.
As I was heading towards the floral rocker, iPhone in hand and at the ready, I saw a white van pulling away and thought, Damn, missed it again! But the van had not absconded with the rocker, and so now neither I, nor you, have missed it…..
OH AND BY THE WAY
HAPPY NEW YEAR!