Week in Review – Vaccines, These Women, Fake Fruit

I’m taking it slow on taking off my mask
“What’s normal anyway” is a great song by Miguel. Also, it describes where I’m at in this weird moment of CDC pronouncements that do nothing to help the fact that you can be vaccinated but you still have to be around other people and they might be wackos. Do you trust the people around you? Do I even want to get back to normal? It feels normal to mask up and be careful about sharing air with strangers.

Sirens and helicopters
You can be careful but on the other hand, things happen. Two people just died when their car went airborne going down a street by my house—a 25% grade and apparent brake failure. Crashed just as the elementary school across the street was getting out. More than 200 comments on Berkeleyside offer food for thought and will give you a good sense of what people who know a lot about manual transmissions think about in their spare time.

Listening and writing
Made a new writing playlist as I enter a swoony, power-mad new phase of writing this book. I finally think I know what I’m doing (or do I?). There’s no way I can pull this off. But maybe I can… Am I crazy, or crazy like a fox? The songs fitting my mood just now:
MIRENME AHORA by Myke Towers – bluster and drama
No Mutuals by Fake Fruit – guitars and attitude
Dakotas by Sofia Kourtesis – dreamy bliss

Earlier in April we went to Mendocino for a few days for a nominal Spring Break. It was less of a vacation than it should have been due to 1) having to work the weekend in order to take off the Monday and Tuesday and 2) Grant getting taken down by shot #2. But we did get a pretty interesting half hour in the parking lot of Van Damme beach. If you’re heading north on Highway 1 to Mendocino, this is the part after Little River that dips down and flattens out momentarily with a beach on one side and state park on the other. We watched a succession of RVs pull in. The first, a big old gray thing, was parked in the very middle of the empty lot piloted by a skinny guy with dreadlocks and one metal leg (pant leg rolled up). He let his pit type dog run out to the beach, sniff excitedly, he walked around a bit, and then they were off. He was noticeable, and I think he liked being noticed. Five minutes later, another vehicle pulled in. A man and a woman, both with the carriage of people who do serious Cross-fit. Their van was black with custom siding – I don’t even have the vocabulary to describe it. But they immediately hopped to, sliding out various panels as if the whole thing were a bit of metal origami, revealing bikes and folding slats. They put on black, well fitting jackets – technical fabrics. And went through a production of folding and opening and revealing. When that was done, they climbed up onto seats they had somehow produced out of all that activity, watched the sunset for five minutes and then replaced everything. Both experiences made me realize what very different people you encounter in parking lots like this.

I’m working my way through the “Mystery/Thriller” finalists lineup from the LA Festival of Books from last month. (“Five of 2020’s best crime writers on where mystery fiction is today”). I’d earlier read S.A. Cosby’s exciting “Blacktop Wasteland,” had already read one book by Rachel Howzell Hall, so was eager to read “And Now She’s Gone.” Soaked up the Venice of Christopher Bollen’s “A Beautiful Crime.” Just finished the very satisfying “Little Secrets” by Jennifer Hillier and am now almost done with with Ivy Pochoda’s “These Women” (the voices!). These are five very different books, but all have these interesting, twisty characters and an incredibly strong sense of place. Crime fiction contains multitudes.

Social media in Berkeley has been all pictures of kids lining up near Berkeley High School to get vaccinated. We are all weeks past shot 2 and I’m just so so grateful to mRNA scientists, all the cool kids working the Curative drive through site at Albany Bulb, and even Big Pharma. These things are miracles. A year after lockdown, and I’m getting a shot? The timeline just blows my mind. And it’s so amazing that now you can just walk into a pharmacy or stand in line at a city park and get one of these things. Now, share them with the rest of the world, please. Thinking of my colleagues in India and hoping there’s a way out of the Covid nightmare soon.

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