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Category Archives: San Francisco

Daily Prompt: Might As Well Jump

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TheWordPress Prompter says Might As Well Jump and then asks: What’s the biggest risk you ‘d like to take–but haven’t been able to?

Golden Gate Bridge

The timing for this could not be more perfect: just yesterday a piece of financial news had me imagining the jump.  Readers won’t love or even like my response, since the expectation of this prompt, or so I assume, is to be inspiring–but that’s of no consequence to me. My jump would, however, require courage–which is in large part why I still haven’t made it. When I saw the words “Might As Well Jump,” an image I’ve harbored for a long time immediately came to me: an image of myself in mid-air, the Golden Gate Bridge behind me, the Pacific Ocean ahead.

I know it won’t feel soothing the way I used to imagine the water would feel; I’ve been told and I’ve read the facts over and over again. The waves will not embrace me, they won’t fold over lovingly. No, they say it’s like hitting cement. WHO says that? The few survivors? There are some who’ve jumped from the GG Bridge and lived to tell the tale–very few, “they” say. Who are these THEY who have so much to say about everything anyway?

I’ve always had romantic feelings about the bridge. Before moving to San Francisco I visited the city, and one day I walked across. The fog swirled around me, and an inner voice whispered, I could write in this City. I was as far away from suicide that day as I’ve ever been. Halfway across the bridge I stopped to stand against the rail and gaze out at the ocean and the skyline, lost in romantic thoughts and future plans. I went into a kind of trance, not that unusual for me, and lost track of time. Suddenly an ancient weathered-faced man appeared at my side. He looked pointedly at me, grinned, and asked, “How we doin’ today?” I nodded and told him I was just fine. And then it hit me: he was one of the guards, or whatever they’re called, who hang out at GG Bridge watching out for potential suicides! I had to laugh.

I was only 42 then. Jumping at the age I am now isn’t entirely irrational. I’m 67, and I don’t look forward to the choices or possibilities that lie ahead. Given I have a lung condition and keep smoking, though struggling against it constantly, I’ll probably go out gasping for oxygen.  The big THEY is always pointing out that it’s a horrible way to go–but come on, what might be better? There aren’t that many attractive ways to get out of here.

I prefer to decide when to go, rather than waiting around to be taken. But the thing is, I don’t exactly want to give up living–it’s just that some of the circumstances of my life make it harder and harder to go on, so given I’ve gotta go anyway…It’s such a bitch that we don’t know when it will happen. I could die today or I could live another 20 years. If it’s the latter, though, what will my quality of life be? It keeps getting worse. The signs, the information, are all around, all I have to do is look at those who are older than me. When my son broke his ankle recently, he was in a rehab facility that was also a nursing home, and I got a real good look. There were days that I couldn’t stop crying.

Sally Binford, a friend of some of my friends, is a hero of mine. She took her life at 70, as planned, even though she was, as far as anyone knew, still healthy. She’d decided a long time before then that she didn’t want to grow older than 70. And then there’s Bill Brent. I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Bill, who jumped off the bridge last September–the only person I know personally to make the jump. While I was sorry to see him die, and sorrier still to see another casualty of a culture that makes it almost impossible for writers like Bill to survive, I could not help but admire his courage.

Cover of "Final Exit"

I’ve read books like Final Exit, and I regularly check into online forums on suicide. One of the difficulties of attempting suicide is you might screw up. My preferred method

actually wouldn’t be to jump; it’d be the much simpler way out of an overdose. Trouble with that is, pills don’t always work. Final Exit lays out instructions involving specific drugs and a plastic bag over your head–which isn’t the way I want to go, sitting with my head in a vegetable bag, waiting. I can’t imagine using a gun, or knife, or any other kind of physical violence. It’s like Dorothy Parker’s brilliant poem:



Razors pain you;

Dorothy Parker Photo: Sat.EvePost

Dorothy Parker
Photo: Sat.EvePost

Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren’t lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

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He’s a Giant! He’s a Catcher! He’s Busta!

Buster Posey was voted the National League’s Most Valuable Player on Thursday. This season Posey had returned after being out more than half of last season after a collision at home plate that left him with a devastating leg injury. Not only did he fully recover, but in 2012 Posey set career highs with a .336 average, 24 homers and 103 RBIs. He helped the San Francisco Giants get to the World Series and win it in four games, becoming the World Champions for the second time in 3 years. Posey is the first catcher in four decades to win the award, determined by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Posey’s 2011 collision

My admiration for catchers is immense. In my opinion, they do the hardest job in the game, squatting for 9 or more innings, up and down, up and down–the physical wear and tear alone is enormous. Then there’s the psychological aspect of managing pitchers, who, as I’ve pointed out before, are frequently psychotic.  

Catchers are underpaid and underrated. Jorge Posadawas my favorite player partly because of his position. I used to call him “Jorge-He-Does-It-All” whenever he hit a clutch home run or a Grand Slam. He was a catcher who hit well.

Jorge Posada

Not superlatively, but well; some catchers can barely connect bat to ball. They’re also notorious for not running very fast on those wobbly “catcher’s legs” that are always going up and down, up and down…okay, no need to belabor the point. It’s a tough job.

That’s why, when a Buster Posey comes along, give credit where credit is due. He’s only 25 and just starting his career–with a bang. It’s going to be fun watching him mature and get even better. Go Buster!

Slideshow: Baseball’s Greatest Catchers


Labor Day Weekend

Work, work, work

Let’s hear it for holidays that don’t require vast expenditures of money and time, and that honor the working people to boot. The standard ritual for this holiday is low key: bar-b-que and outdoor games like frisbee or baseball. There’s also a touch of melancholy about this weekend, being that it signifiees the end of summer and the start of school, and, for some people, a return to work.

When I lived in a tourist town—Woodstock, New York, where the concert was not held—I had another reason to love Labor Day: it was when the summer people got the hell out and we locals reclaimed our turf. On that Monday night we’d fill the bars and cafes, previously overrun with tourists, and after we got good and drunk we’d stroll up the main drag, less than a mile from the bottom of the hill to the center of town. The small triangular Village Green was where the Trailways bus deposited the younger pilgrims every Friday night; they’d tumble out, stoned and dressed in their best tie-dye, asking where the concert was held. My daughter and her friends would point to the flag and tell them it was where Jimi Hendrix played.

It was Labor Day weekend 1988—24 years ago—when I moved to San Francisco. Woodstock friends who happened to be here visiting the  mutual friend with whom I lived for the first few months picked me up at the airport, easing my cultural shock.  Instead of walking up Tinker Street that year, we drove down to Monterey.

A lot has happened since then. Today I’ll be watching baseball with my son, thinking about the work I’m not getting. I hope things change, and of course they will: everything does. I just hope the change goes in the right direction this time.

Happy Labor.

May Day

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It’s been decades, maybe even generations, since the U.S. has seen so much political activism on May 1st, International Workers Day. The SF Chronicle ran an article about the many Bay Area events; organizers of educational seminars in New York spoke on Democracy Now this morning. Organized Labor has always honored this date, but this year’s burst of events is testimony to the Occupy movement and the increased political activity of the past year.

When I was younger May Day confused me, and I’ll bet it still confuses some people, what with so many disparate occasions marking the date for so many wildly different reasons. I had a vague sense it was something political, but then I’d see things like the English royalty in the movie Camelot cavorting in fields of flowers—a far cry from those newsreels of Communist displays of power, or even of American workers marching through Cooper Square in New York City. According to an article on Information Please

May Day just might have more holidays than any other day of the year. It’s a celebration of Spring. It’s a day of political protests. It’s a neopagan festival, a saint’s feast day, and a day for organized labor. In many countries, it is a national holiday.”

In any case, today, May 1, 2012, offers people everywhere the opportunity to become educated, or to protest income inequality; to observe the Celtic ushering in of summer, or to honor the goddesses of fertility—to name just a few of today’s holidays. So go out and DO IT!

Actually you don’t have to go out: if you’re a couch potato like me, you can even stay home and learn about May Day. For starters check out the Industrial Workers of the World website, which includes a list of events around the country, or the Marxist Internet Archive. Finally, the online CNN Report is collecting stories and photos of events, so if you do get out there, be sure to send your info to them.

The Return of Barry Zito

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After four years of disappointing performance as a San Francisco Giant, Barry Zito returned from rehab after a sprained foot  (his first rehab in 11 years as a pitcher), last week. He didn’t just return healed, but HEALED. He might not be the old Zito who was one of the most outstanding pitchers in baseball when he was an Oakland A, but he’s definitely made a comeback as an ace in his first two outings, and I, along with other fans, am thrilled to death. Not only is he pitching like he used to, last night he did it  after a three-hour rain delay!  As MLB pointed out, “Many starters would have called it an evening, for fear of injuring their throwing arm or aggravating one that might have stiffened. But unlike Detroit starter Max Scherzer, who vanished after the delay, Zito returned to pitch four shutout innings.” (emphasis mine for comparison purposes).

I’ve adored Zito for many years. Not only because he’s so physically adorable, and when he’s good he’s very very good, but also because his windup and delivery is a thing of beauty; and because he does yoga, meditates, and plays guitar — evidence of a consciously evolving human being.

So welcome back, Barry. I sure hope I’m not jinxing you by declaring your comeback after just two games, but I’m optimistic it’s going to continue. Love ya, babe!

Two of My Other Posts on Zito:

Zito Razzle Dazzles

The Ballad of Barry Zito