Three vodka and water over rocks at V’s and I am home early. I eat an anti-pasta salad and buttermilk (I never said I was normal), and watch the Discovery Channel’s, Deadliest Catch. It is a reality show about crab fishermen in the Bearing Sea. It is extremely hard work and dangerous. Unlike what I do, the body mind sync after way beyond tough exhausts itself. In the Bearing Sea, if the boat is too icy, top heavy, it will flip over, so between crap pot strings, the deckhands battle ice with sledgehammer or what ever is handy, sometimes for 36 or more hours straight. Although the swells are 15 to 25 feet and the spray turns into ice as it merges with the deck, the hands only react to rogue waves at 90 degrees from the bow. Physics, inner ear, or stamina, they are as concerned as walking along a wide, flat sidewalk on a sunny day.
I am tired, drowsy, physically exhausted and mentally fatigued, but sleep is slow. I am too tired to sleep. In a dream, I am under warm ocean water on the bottom of a cove, and a hammerhead shark swims around us. My partner (I can’t remember who) tells me just to knock it on the snout if it gets too close. At 5 fathoms or so, we are not wearing any diving equipment and talk normally, like the incredible Mr. Limpet or Disney’s Nemo.
The hammerhead hangs out for a while and my partner, low on breath, heads to the surface. The shark follows; it circles, rises, circles, swims a smaller and smaller spiral. As it reaches the surface, I begin yelling, “hit it on the nose, hit it; strike it on the snout.” She can’t hear me. The hammerhead rolls over and sinks his teeth in to her leg. His silent black eye closes as it rights itself and swims away. It chews and snaps, and I can see shards of her flesh between each row, between each tooth. A velvet river flows from the gap in her thigh, and disappears in the blue. In the distance, I see a pack of sharks, black fins, whites, and hammers follow the invisible trace, sniff with invisible noses. I swim up towards my buddy; we’ve got to get out of the water. I wake in a cold sweat at 5:45 A.M. I try for 30 minutes to put myself down again; no way, the he shark’s eye follows me across the ceiling. I got about 3 hours with some REM, so I get up.
I spin up Clark Nova and parse the usual sites, SF Gate, NY Times, Daily Horoscope, the fail blog, and Craig’s List, Rants and Raves. Nothing like a good flailing in the morning from ignorant, racist, hateful trolls and their ditto heads. I miss the morning laugh from MasaMania, an irreverent Japanese photo blog. I check my blog stats, and not much feedback this morning. I can’t tell if I suck, if am just damn dull, both, or what? Have I fallen off the flat earth, or is this the dream and I’m digesting in the gut of a shark? Am just chasing my own tail in an id bubble of my own long-wind-wankery? Is there anyone out there–reader’s, critics, editorial snarks/sharks–anyone at all?
This day is going to be long, overcast, and dreary, so I decide to work at home. After breakfast and parrot duty, laundry and bill pay, and lunch, I’ll write. My desk is in the bay window in the living room, 4 feet from the parrot cage and their latest recycle project. Small tea, cereal, cracker boxes and shipping paper, in boxes, in larger boxes with an old Mrs. Butterworth syrup bottle, a couple of plastic balls, a palm-size and plastic windup robot dog with only two legs. Most of the treasure as well as boxes will end in holes, plastic, paper, and cardboard shreds.
I am sitting at the desk, focused as best as I can, attempting to sync a code edit with the source. It’s tedium at best, and I just can’t fucking read the same entry wank again. Apollo sneaks over and roosts under the bottom shelf next to my feet, and sticks his beak through the holes in my Crocs I guess he wants to make sure that I know he’s there, a part of my flock. Who knows what goes on in the mind of a parrot? I shoo him away, but he sneaks back.
Caliban wants to get in on the fun, so he struts over, bob step, bob step, and I shoo him away. He loves to jump on my shoes and bite my jeans. It’s a game, and my ankles and calves are a favorite toy. I’ve many a scratch from the pointy end of his head. On the forth or fifth attempt, I‘m stuck in thought, and Caliban hops on my ankle, and bites a chunk out of my shoe. I shake my foot to get him to step off, and out of the closet on the opposite side of the room, I grab an RC robot dinosaur and turn it on to guard. Apollo attacks its neck, but as soon as it bobs and roars, they both retreat to the cage.
Finally, I can work in peace–WRONG. A true raptor with claws and beak wide agape, Caliban jumps from his perch toward the back of my neck. I see him and duck at the last minute. His talon scrapes my skin. No blood but enough to trip his momentum, and he flutters wildly to regain air under his half-clipped wings before he crashes into the wall and hardwood. If Caliban were 5 feet tall, I would be a dinner or afternoon snack, where or where has my head gone. He is playing and doesn’t realize his own strength; I think?
Enough, it’s 3 P.M. and the neo-dino’s will not negotiate. If I am going to get anything done, I need a more solitary desk. Fifteen minutes later, one side of the cage top to the other, flight circles around the room, and finally, a one foot nab under a chair, I corner Apollo first and put him in the cage. He protests with warning whistles, and on his back in the palm of my hands, with submission squeals. Caliban is chasing my ankles the whole time, but he’s too slow and an easy capture. He chooses to run instead of fly.
I throw Clark into my shoulder pack, and I am off. I can find a desk for a couple of hours up the street on Chestnut. The Italian Roaster is full and the Grove is in a remodel, so Hard luck Starbucks. The coffee is fair, and the environment consistent. How bad could it be?
It’s almost full; Buddhist monks, policeman, and other scribblers, as well as cell phone yaks, readers, strollers, and a continuous in/out flow of high street tourists fill up the couches, tables, and bar seats. I see a table with a single seat next to the bathrooms and the condiments bar, so I order a small cup of the day, sit, wake and put the finger taps to Clark. A journal warm up and I am on the page.
Fifteen minutes later, and Starbuck’s is wall-to-wall customers. Some go as quickly as they came, but too damn many need the facilities. A queue flows and ebbs around my table, and a couple of customers and their children can’t help, but bend over my shoulder and I can feel their breath. What the hell do they think I am doin’? I appreciate curiosity as much as any normal, but please, please, leave me the fuck alone. I sleep Clark and break until the crowd thins. The Women’s is three deep, and that is not good enough for one patron. She ignores queue protocol and twists the knob on the women’s restroom, bangs on the door, and then jumps to the men’s. Oops, someone is in there, and the look on his face as he turns his head around, surprise, disbelief, and shock aren’t enough to describe it.
“Why didn’t you lock the door?” she harps.
He exits–his eyes glaze over, and his face is cherry with an ear-to-ear grin. No eye contact, audience, audience–she frowns, huffs a loud sigh, and throws her head back with extreme silent screen aplomb. She doesn’t shut the damn restroom door when she leaves and doesn’t buy anything; her silver BMW is double parked on Chestnut at peak. A bus honks as it goes around, and she double birds the driver. I am not surprised. Sometimes, I don’t like this neighborhood, this city, or my fellow San Franciscans.
This day is what it is: out of sync on roller skates, down hill against traffic, and no soft, lush green yard to land. I smile, exhale, shrug my shoulders, shake my head, and pack up Clark. Why fight it? Sip Starbucks and call it a day.