Next Chapter

Gentle readers, it is with great relief that I announce the completion of chapter 3, revision 136, of my so-called book. This allows me to do something else, albeit briefly. It does not allow me to stop worrying. So at this point the focus of my mental self castigation has shifted from the literary to, you guessed it, the automotive. Yes, I have not been driving enough. And truth to tell, this is not good. Not only does one’s experience fade, but confidence plummets. Yes, the only solution is to get behind the wheel. Which I have done. This very morning, leaping into vehicular action and steering the mighty Dodge deep into the Valley of the Shadow of Noe.

Being the next neighborhood over, Noe Valley is a logical destination. The problem is that I have really nothing to do there. It’s just a place to go. So when I cruised down the main drag, 24th St., and found not a single parking space on my side of the road, the next step was easy. Hang a series of right turns, climbing a series of modest hills, then continue homeward. With relief, let me add. And at journey’s end what was there to do but the usual? I briefly considered parking slightly across the street but quickly abandoned this idea. No, I want down the hill, around the corner and back into the same space that the redoubtable Dodge has occupied for weeks, right in front of my house.

When the going get fearful, they get the hell out of Dodge. Unless they are in a Dodge. Which forces them to get into Glen Park, my neighborhood, where the going get cappuccino. We get it from Sam, Nicaraguan proprietor of a lovely coffee shop which I visit at regular intervals. I sit there trying to read the paper. Why “trying?” Because the average newspaper is something of a neuromuscular challenge. Following a story that begins on page 1 and continues on page 23 on, say, the inside column, demands all sorts of folding and spreading. Which complicates cappuccino drinking, not to mention eating. Something invariably goes wrong. Remember, all of these moving parts are being controlled with one hand. For which, as Jane points out, I must give myself credit. I mean, just keeping the op-ed page of the New York Times dry and cappuccino-free counts for something. Keeping the contents of my bagel from dripping all over the movie reviews represents another milestone. All this and driving, in one single morning. What a guy I am.

Once at home, I revert to an obsessive practice: reviewing the day’s politics. This also serves to calm. Nothing like professional commentary to make Armageddon comprehensible. And, yes, we do want to understand. It is also utterly draining, this practice of news watching. Good thing I have to read a short story by Albert Camus by Monday for my oldster literature class. Not to mention the class on Jewish views of the afterlife at congregation Sha’ar Zahav, another effort at calm. That is to say calm before the ultimate calm. And all of this doesn’t do much to deal with driving. The Dodge still sits there. So do I.

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