Writing is one of those fool’s errands. The only way to succeed is to remember that you’re a fool and forget the errand. Take this afternoon. I was word processing away, trying to capture a particularly isolating, not to mention lonely, moment aboard a train…and not getting much writing done because my mental state too closely approximated the material. Lonely and isolated. Which is a feeling greatly stimulated by recent political events. One is forgotten. People aren’t listening. Nobody cares. So what to do?

My general answer is simple and simplistic. Get out. Which in the neighborhood of Glen Park generally means Bello Coffee. Not much to the place. Just the usual hissing cappuccino machines and assorted local constituents. I rarely see anyone in the place whom I know. Doesn’t matter. I am out and extraverting. That’s what counts.

Of course, on this particular occasion, there was also a birthday card to buy for Jane. There was also weather. We don’t have much in California, of course. But this year is more like a normal year. Rain, actual rain. It’s enough to make one want to get up in the Sierra and see the snow. Or simply cross the Golden Gate Bridge to see the reservoir at Nicasio completely full, its excess spilling into the creeks that feed Tomales Bay. So, yes, it’s inclement, but it’s wonderful. Our local book shop had a fine birthday card. And the woman who sold it to me was cheerily elusive, a perfect bookseller.

Outside Bello a couple of people stood in the rain, soliciting funds for yet another noble cause. There are so many of the latter, and so few dollars that I usually bypass these people and feel guilty about it. But no, today people were collecting funds for the Southern Poverty Law Center. And if you happen to be reading this in the UK, it’s hard to describe or pinpoint the SPLC. Except that they monitor hate groups. The organization’s name is somewhat misleading.

Marva, a gray-haired black woman about my age, asked me for a donation. But for once quite accurately…I gave at the office. We chatted for a moment. She told me that it was wonderful to have so many people giving to her cause. We are all in this together, she told me. And because she was so, so right, I had a closely related idea. Would you like a cappuccino? Bello made her a nice one, and I brought it outside. She told me that I had made her day. Actually, she had made mine. ‘Going out for coffee’ is really just an excuse. And, yes, it was a cold day…but some coffees warm more than others.

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