Saturday, August 17, 2013

Strolling in Color

On a still, cloudy, somewhat humid summer's day, the backyard is full of life. Everything is in bloom, seasonally adjusted. The pumpkins and peppers and herbs are growing wildly; the apples weigh down the branches of the tree, jasmine clings to the house and fence.

The kids start back in school on Monday.

A good, old friend is very ill. I have been worrying about him the past few weeks. I do not know what his prognosis is.

Today, I researched some of his history to help nominate him for a well-deserved award. It brought back the '70s, such a different time in the Bay Area. We all had long hair, mustaches, bell-bottom pants, colorful shirts -- and smiles of youth.

How fast the decades flew past. I was reading something I published about my friend 36 years ago, back when we both looked the part.

Now, in our mid-sixties, time has caught up with us as it always does. None of us escape time.


Friday, August 16, 2013

Friday Night Check-in

Two weeks in, I am enjoying having a job. It's nice to be around a lot of people and have the opportunity to make decisions that might improve their working conditions, while we collectively improve our journalistic impact.

We have some good stories in the pipeline.

My kids are all on the edge of summer ending. The younger two face the unwanted prospect of going back to high school. My youngest is also excited -- it is her freshman year. As it turns out, the charter school she will attend is also where two girls she knows from Synergy will also be freshmen.

That should help.

My 18-year-old continues to seek a job and work on his unusual and strangely lovely art pieces. (Above.)


Wednesday, August 14, 2013

First Day of School, Part One

We have in this city the largest college in the nation. It is called City College of San Francisco. At its peak, it had over 80,000 students, but enrollment has fallen some 25 percent recently.

That's because like many educational institutions in this state, it has fallen on hard times, given budget cuts and other challenges. It now faces losing its accreditation a year from now, though not for academic reasons. This all seems mainly to be about politics, and posturing by politicians, from what I can tell.

This morning, this troubled college opened for classes in what could be its final year. Among those showing up was Zaira, Aidan's girlfriend. He escorted her there, in his chivalrous manner.

It often amazes me how little we seem, collectively, to value educating our youth. Zaira is the very essence of our future as a society. A smart Latina, bilingual and highly motivated, she wants to become highly educated, successful and to help make this country a better place.

Her Mexican immigrant parents speak little or no English. They work hard but are part of what some call our "underclass."

If we are to tackle the social and political and global problems we face, we need her and all of those of her generation to step up. We need them to be the smartest and best-prepared they can be. How can we possibly allow their colleges to close?

Today was the first day of school not just for Zaira but for the rest of us. We all need to be paying close attention.


Tuesday, August 13, 2013

They Way it Is: Soccer Resumes -- My Own Superstar

I still have one child athlete who is competing on the pitch! My youngest.

Today was her first practice date with her new team. This is a traveling team, one that will compete all over Northern California this fall. It costs lots of money, which I have paid to make sure she is there. And someone will have to drive her to games -- that will be me.

When I picked her and her friend up after their first practice today, she said her body was hurting, including the ankle she rolled at the end of last season.

But she also said the hurting felt "good." That's how athletes talk. On the way home she talked about how much she wanted to get back in shape.

No matter how much we pretend it is otherwise, women's sports are still second-class in this society.

Be that as it may, I have always been there, rooting for Julia, and I intend to be there going forward. In her own estimation, she is "not that good." But in her own words, "I always do my best."

In my eyes, she is a true superstar. I will be posting photos and updates all this fall.

She plays a great defensive game, taught to her by her brother and former coach, Aidan. She squeezes opposing strikers to the outside, turns the momentum of the play around, often steals the ball and turns it upfield to her midfielder.

Now and then, shoulder to shoulder, she takes a striker down, all clean and legal.


Sunday, August 11, 2013

As Summer Ends

My three youngest are here tonight, the last "real" Sunday night of this summer for two of them.

They still have one free week left, though. When I was a kid, back in Michigan, summer didn't end until after Labor Day weekend. But a week from tonight, the two younger kids will face going back to school the next morning, and they are not at all pleased about that.

The oldest, given his "gap year," may be free as the breeze next Sunday night, and therefore still here watching his favorite shows. But he also seems close to landing a full-time job, so maybe not.

As for me, the seasons have no real meaning here. They come and they go. Out here on the west coast, there is no real spring, no real summer, no real fall, no real winter.

It's all just gradations, ups and downs that represent little more than regressions to the mean. (Sorry to get mathematical on you.)

At a coffee shop this morning, Aidan and I discussed precisely this topic. What life would be like living where there are actual seasons. In Montana, there are real seasons. He seems more and more oriented to attending the University of Montana next year. His girlfriend, Zaira, says she wants to go there with him.

It was a very nice conversation.

My main message to him was that when it is cold outside, it really feels nice to get home where it is warm inside.

Especially, when you have a girlfreind.