Too much happens in any given day that many given days pass in a blur. Recently I added a skinny journal to my standard backpack supplies (which also include my laptop and work notebook, reusable flatware and mug, charging cables, headphones, camera, alcohol wipes, a lint-free cloth, multiple scrunchies, extra pens). I’m attempting to scrawl notes, catch thoughts, cement a moment or two. It is not an act of art so much as desperation.
Aug. 7, on a bus from LAX to Redondo Beach
Experimenting with thrift and strengthening my tenuous recommitment to public transit. If a transfer had been necessary, I’d have called a Lyft, but given a single bus will deliver me from point A to point B, I opted for cheaper, greener. Only three of us on the bus at the moment. I hope it doesn’t fill up because I need space for my carry-on, my backpack.
Los Angeles is, as expected, hot. Sweat puddled in my armpits and slid down my thighs as I walked the three-quarters of a mile from the terminal to the bus stop. The fresh air blowing through the open windows offer some relief. A fly pesters me. The bus bumps over potholes, makes my hand bounce while I try to write.
I did utilize Lyft this morning to SFO, running too late from oversleeping after Nick’s high blood sugar episode to mess about. The driver, who was Brazilian, shared with me the troubles she’s been having with her IUD, a manner of birth control she’d chosen reluctantly after running out of pills. She pointed at her face, her neck, how the IUD had given her acne. I could see what she meant. She also said she’d developed a cyst. I urged her to talk to her doctor, get that checked out as soon as she could.
On the plane, a gloriously empty seat didn’t stay that way for long as the man on the aisle sprawled out folders, papers, turned our shared space into his satellite office before the plane even motored up the runway. The man also refused to put his laptop away for takeoff despite being asked multiple times by the attendant. Arguments for safety fell flat. “If things go flying, your fellow passengers could get hurt,” the attendant said, nodding in my direction before moving down the aisle.
I wish I could jump in the ocean, nap in the sun, but work awaits – I have calls all afternoon. Turns out the Airbnb is fine for that, a bottom-floor, below-ground bedroom with few windows, therefore allowing me – after borrowing the owner’s beach cruiser for a quick taco jaunt – to ignore the glorious SoCal outside and be a proper do-gooder instead.
Aug. 8, Redondo Beach
Nostalgia bubbles up as I drive, walk around. Flashbacks to being a teenager, a young mom, the songs from those eras still soundtracking the scenes despite decades having passed. The radio stations tilt heavily in the direction of “Remember when?” I walk down the waterfront and hear the Butthole Surfers emanating from a bar, “I don’t mind the sun sometimes/the images it shows.” It makes me grin. I rarely wallow in memory, but here, I let it wash over me.
Less enjoyable, the bringing forth of the insecure 15-year-old who thought she was monstrous in a bikini. Everyone is too beautiful here. I stop smiling – bad teeth – and think about my legs, lumpy instead of smooth, marred by stretch marks and veins. I’m also hungry to surf and long to fling this weary body into the ocean.
Aug. 13, San Francisco
Like surfing, writing has felt, lately, like a thing far away. Unlike surfing, I can’t blame the wind or lack of swell or cold, gray skies for my inability to muster enthusiasm. Or not even enthusiasm, exactly, more like I can’t remember being a writer, being a surfer. When I think about writing, I find myself out of topics. To write about how I don’t write, or surf, is – clearly! – boring. To write about how hard it is to have a son with diabetes or that I went somewhere – same.
So why am I here doing this now? Too much fills my brain; I am off-balance, unmoored.
Here are good things: recent work achievements and healthy choices, concrete plans and tangible inspiration; I made myself (fancy) ramen soup today, along with a salad and snacks of caraway harvarti and Bobby’s sauerkraut, goat cheese and dates. I hold my people close in my heart.
Aug. 11, on a plane from Sacramento to San Diego
Aug. 22, on a plane from Long Beach to Sacramento
On my way to argue to our legislators that they should support a couple bills that would help ensure no new offshore oil drilling can happen in the Pacific, at least the part the U.S. has control over. How to say “a bit exhausted” in a single word? I am a bit exhausted. From all the travel or, more precisely, the loneliness that holds onto me despite everything. Or maybe this recent spate of insomnia.
Upon my return from Redondo to San Francisco, I discovered I’d forgotten to rid myself of the half-empty bottle of wine my friend had pressed upon me. I didn’t drink it, just stuck it in my bag planning to pour it out and discard the bottle before flying. But I forgot all about it until unpacking, which means I put my carryon bag through the machine with an open bottle of wine inside and no one noticed or cared. This trip, though, my body set the machine off and so TSA spent five minutes feeling up my legs and patting down my crotch.
Sept. 3, San Francisco
The human proclivity for torture is what makes me most doubt our worth as a species.
Things I’ve forgotten on this trip: water bottle, ibuprofen, sauerkraut, coffee, bike shoes and helmet, pannier, boots.
Something about the difference between what we do and fail to do, and what others would have us do and not.
Sept. 6, on a plane from San Francisco to Burbank
The man in front of me smiles so sweetly at the woman next to him as he handed her pretzels that it echoed in my heart. I have to pee, but don’t want to make the aisle person move. The black bean burger I ate at the airport was not as good as the waitress suggested. I would like a club soda now, but can’t bring myself to order a plastic cup, plastic bottle. I’m nervous about tomorrow’s thing, about belonging, about money. I hope I carry myself with the poise I do not necessarily have and the confidence I do not feel. I wonder if my writing will ever improve, if I will ever see success or, more desperately, feel the sense of accomplishment finishing a book might provide. The steps to the longed-for accomplishment would, of course, necessitate the actual effort to be put forth.
I finish the crossword in Hemispheres and want to write a poem about it.
I think about my children, my husband, the world, want no one to be lonely, wonder when my wishes fell into merely avoiding the sad instead of chasing the happy?
Dear Next Person to Sit in 21A,
I’m sorry, but I did the crossword already;
it was pretty easy.
I finished even before takeoff.
(To be fair, we did linger on the runway.)
And I did not know the boneless cut named for a New York restaurant (vegetarian).
Nor the Iraqi City whose name, appropriately, anagrams from ARABS (bad at geography).
But was only able to fill them in due to the answers around them.
I did know the answer to “active types” (my task list is long);
I filled in the squares without hesitation.
The conceit of the puzzle lie in the clue regarding a Hilton hotel chain.
(They spelled it out, I did not suss it out.)
Returning to Delmonico Steak, one sees elm and teak
The answer to “Nonsense!” gave us alder and ash
The jet that evades radar detection, tea and fig
I am told to put my tray table up now, takeoff about to commence, and because I am a doer, I do.
Safe travels and good luck
with the Sudoku.