Measured Quaff: Ten for the other day


So it may seem that I drink a lot since I write in bars, but I actually don’t. I drink A beer and order some food, all nicely paced with my productivity. For instance, tonight, after writing copy for the male stripper websites, I wrote a little more for pay–my wellness gig–while I enjoyed the first few sips of my local Seal Beach Citrus IPA. As the glass’s golden elixir diminished, I moved on to other less demanding writing, like fixing up a few blog posts or articles I’m in mid-write. And when the glass reached below half full, about twenty minutes into my stay, I ordered food, and scanned my usual news outlets to look for digestible “news” bites.

Today, at half glass, I switched to the Chronicle of Higher Education and read a lively response to what should be taught in English composition courses and why. It was a rebuttal to some cynical writer’s estimation of college students’ abilities to write a correct sentence let alone a cogent argument. I didn’t read the article to which the writer responds, but I’ve read enough of them to know in my nearly two decades of teaching comp what that might have been. The comments here are among the very few places that I actually read and learn something–good comments.

At one third left, I ordered braised Brussels sprouts with red pepper and read Flipboard’s writer’s section. I perused some headlines but found nothing to land on. Trying to stay absorbed in my screen, an intrusion entered too close to my bar stool. I’ve seen him here before. He’s a regular. But so am I, I guess. I just don’t think of myself as one.

This guy always feels like he’s looking for a conversation. He ordered the meatball special. He scrawled on his phone plenty, but when he picked up his phone and made a call, he was out of my sphere of interest–even for compassion/boredom chat. He knows the young bartender well. The bartender doesn’t know my name or my beer preference, so I think I’m safe to say I’m not a regular. Whew.

At 1/8th of the glass, I started writing this ten minute write. And now, my attention span is thinning, so I figure I can hammer words on a screen rather than focus on content of someone else’s polished work or try and polish one of my own.

As the buzzer sounds, ten minutes are up, I swig the last of the glass, fork the last of the greasy, dripping sprouts and call out to the young man sporting an indecisive beard, “Check, please!”

Bicycle Down

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Why do I want to know that a bicyclist was killed by a hit and run driver way up north in the state somewhere, some place that may as well be Mars for all it has to do with me?

Shouldn’t the news delivered to my phone via text be something more urgent, more relevant like, “nuclear bomb just dropped in Los Angeles” or “meteor headed to earth in about an hour,” something more significant, enough to sound the incoming text alarm and make me look?

A bicyclist down hundreds of miles away.

Well, no doubt it’s a shame, and I can go there with my heart and my mind, that place of family grief and loss, and I can make it my own, especially now that I have a more specific piece of death than people dying everywhere every minute.

But it’s still too far for me to muster up the feels, the agony of killing me pain in the heart over losing someone I love.

Why do I want to be there when I don’t have to be?

And this is how we operate 9 times out of 10 of any given day.