Showing posts from July, 2009

Odds and Ends

My life is like a space mission. I try to concentrate, as I fall through the void at high speed. The results—good and bad—are often accidental. After I posted about windows and views last week, I realized I'd left out the most beautiful view I've had, of this sexy Russian Orthodox Church on Geary Boulevard, seated beside the Golden Gate. I lived in this apartment from 1989-94, and I could see a large part of San Francisco, from Downtown to the Marin Headlands, from its fifteen windows. Choreographer Twyla Tharp writes: I read for growth, firmly believing that what you are today and what you will be in five years depends on two things: the people you meet and the books you read. In recent years, the author who has inspired and taught me more than any other is Robert Greene. Recently he wrote a blog entry about his upcoming book, The 50th Law. This short piece cuts to the heart of the confusion I have struggled with throughout my life. In the second part of the piece, Gree

Misa and Max Designs

My son Max is five years old. He draws and makes collage-type gift cards. He was interested in making images from an early age, but only recently his drawing advanced beyond pure scribble, to recognizable pictures. Max is completing his last summer session at ABC PreSchool . To thank and honor his teachers, he drew these images. Misa scanned and printed them onto transfer film, then ironed the film onto the cloths. They made aprons for the female teachers and one black T-shirt for the male teacher. I'll write more on parenthood in another post. Its rewards are much greater than I'd imagined. Greater also are the demands it makes on us. Misa gives all her energy and patience to Max, and I couldn't face the job without her.

Windows and Views

Windows have played a big role in my life, and maybe in yours, too. They act like a theme in a play or an opera, setting the tone for everything that happens. This first photo is of a window in an efficiency apartment I moved into when I was twenty. It was on the 20th floor of a building on 13th Street in Philadelphia. Outside, I could see most of the old city, the Delaware River and Camden, New Jersey on the other bank. I got a spectacular sunrise every morning. The view was especially dramatic at night. I moved to a lower floor of the same building, and enjoyed windows facing north. Here I made a painting of the view at night. The view was real, but the girl was just wishful thinking. Surprisingly, the window needn't have an expansive view to brighten a room. These windows in a restaurant where I worked faced a narrow alley and brick walls. Their reflected light feels more protected, almost intimate. I got a similar effect from my windows on Nob Hill, which faced a lig

The Miracle of Youth

Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got 'til it's gone ? — Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi It's not possible to appreciate youth while you're still young. Eighteen-year-olds don't look in the mirror and say, "Wonderful! No gray hair!" But now, when my face is starting to look like the lunar surface, I delight in seeing flawless young faces like that of Max's classmate, Coral. It's a special gift of age, a heightened pleasure, watching the young. Many beauties are amplified by distance, and so it is with the distance of age. Young people appear to us elders like snow-capped mountain peaks, touching the sky. One morning in 1993, I walked across a bridge near Embarcadero Center, where I worked. I had a lot on my mind, and all of it was bad. I was stuck in a simple, low-paying job. It was the kind of job college kids got for a few months before their first real job, but I was thirty-three and I couldn't get ou

A Personal History of Computing

This was my first computer, a Mac Classic, circa 1991. It had a 40 megabyte hard disk and a processor screaming along at almost 8 megahertz! It had a tiny black and white screen [not even grays, just black and white]. Writing had never been so easy as typing on the Mac. The words appeared on the screen magically. I bought a modem, even though I wasn’t sure what to use it for. I liked getting email from people outside of work, but internet content was still primitive. Compuserve was mainly a list of directories, like a card catalog. Clicking through them was tedious, but it infected me with a gambler’s excitement. If I dug around in there long enough, perhaps I’d find something valuable. The modem also allowed me to fax letters and resumes without a fax machine. This small improvement in transmissions got me two new jobs. I adored my Classic, but it was not portable. I dreamed of a notebook computer, and wondered when I might afford to buy one. A stroke of luck: I got a job at a