Unequivocally Ambiguous

Humorous Stories on Parenting, Culture and Life

Dropping the dreams of rural retirement

Art in the Lobby

There is no more beautiful landing than landing in San Diego at night. The disorderly lights of the toolbox skyline are a reminder of a city committed to intelligent urban planning before throwing its hands in the air and saying, “Fuck it! We need housing!”

I don’t travel to many rural areas and if I do, I typically drive. So I can’t say whether or not a landing in rural Ohio is as beautiful as landing in an impacted and overpopulated city. Overpopulation and overdevelopment make a town look gorgeous from the sky!

It is similar to the beauty of the sunset in Los Angeles; there are no brighter red, oranges, and yellow as in the city of angels. Or course, those colors are so vivid and vibrant because of the carbon emissions of daily Carmageddon.

Similarly, those cities with their beautiful lights hide the chaotic energy of the projects, the low-income housing, the low square footage of the high-income housing, the inequalities, the arts, the convergence, the energy.

Ah, the energy!!

There is nothing like the energy of a city.

You might get infected by it just standing around it. You don’t even have to jump in the mix. At times, just being close to it might make you feel energized.

Whenever we visit Kauai, my wife always asks me if I’d ever move to an island and live there full time. The answer is always a confident and resounding, “hell, no!”

So many people think that island life is what they are looking for. The solution to all of life’s qualms. The hideaway from people, from the hustle and bustle of daily, and in short, from their problems.

I saw a handful of friends who moved to different islands of Hawaii. They all moved back within the year, unable to relax and overcome “island fever.”

When I talked to Howlies (White people) in Kauai who came from the mainland, their kids moved back to the main island when they were of age. Once I was taking a surfing lesson on Poipu, and when I talked to my instructor, he told me how his son had moved to Seattle.


Talk about overcorrecting.

It rains so much in Seattle that you need to learn how to live with wet underwear for the rest of your life to live there.

When I moved to Sonoma’s wine country, it took me a second to get used to it. I had come from living in a University Town in San Diego, not too far from La Jolla. I could walk everywhere. I didn’t. But I could’ve. And moving to Petaluma, which is a more suburban place, was an adjustment.

I live close to the city of San Francisco in Sonoma County. I’m about 40 miles from the city.

And in one day, I can always get my fix for urban life.

I don’t even go there as often, but knowing it is there gives me some peace of mind. I can’t wait for my daughters to be older and show them the city, that grimy, dirty beautiful place.

To jump on the red double-deckers, the Bart, the cable cars, or the ferry and go sightseeing with the rest of the tourists. To see with fresh eyes the painted ladies, the Golden Gate Bridge, Golden Gate Park, Haight-Ashbury, Chinatown, the de Young museum, the Japanese Garden, Lombard Street, the Exploratorium, Theater District, the ferry building, or do a food tour in north beach.

As writers, we often romanticize so many things.

We believe we would be happier when we could do nothing but write.
We believe we could write better if we could write all day.
We believe we could write better if we could write in solitude.
We believe our 9–5s are beneath us.

Painting by Taylor Smalls.

I’m sure I have many delusions, contradictions, hypocrisies and blind spots. But this one is not one I have.

I like to have things to write about.

And things to write about don’t happen when you are having a staring competition with a blank screen and blinking cursor all day.


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