I awoke in the night fearing my fear. Here, I obliquely quote FDR's famous caution that "the only thing we have to fear is fear itself." Actually, FDR went on to say much more interesting things in that famous 1933 speech. In particular, "nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance." For me, this is as useful an FDR quote as the other. Because, yes, I am always struggling with "unreasoning, unjustified terror." And I might as well just Read more [...]


The level of mishigas rises considerably during that zone called 'the holidays' so I must cut myself some slack. But driving has been plaguing me of late. I'm tired of it. Just thought I'd share that, as we say in California. It's hard to say what the supposedly problem is. Well, no, actually it is easy. What makes it hard is the underlying narrative, to couch things in contemporary psychobabble. I'm not confident about hitting the right pedal at the right time. That is the thing. The other thing Read more [...]


The thing about reminiscing is that it is what old people do. And since I'm 72 and can hardly worry about such things, it is what I do too. Get used to it, I'm telling myself. And furthermore, let us acknowledge that it was what Proust did, and he wasn't even that old. He had no qualms about taking trips down memory lane. He wanted to know what memory lane was made of, how it was paved, engineered and marked. Go Marcel, I say. What I also say is that one of the most contented moments I can recall Read more [...]

Joy Flying

How can I have survived 72 years? Why have I survived 72 years? And does it matter either way? What is a birthday, after all, but an annual shot at existential questions? Which, when answered, or even better when unanswered, amount to a simple conclusion. A birthday is a day to be grateful. A birthday is a day to assess. A birthday is a day to change course. All courses need to be changed. And on this day, enjoyment and fulfillment, I have decided, are worthy goals. The latter quality cannot be Read more [...]

In the Alley

It is all in the details, I tell myself as I transition between the societal eco-zones radiating from San Francisco's BART station at Mission and Sixteenth Streets. I was just arriving at 9:30 AM for my first retired-guy appointment of the day, rolling out of the elevator, public transit behind me, a one-hour massage ahead. A man in a wheelchair is rifling through a rubbish bin. He is not much good at rifling. In fact, a colleague assists him in sorting through the refuse. He doesn't seem to know Read more [...]