Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Year-End Top Ten


2015 Top Ten List
Everybody else is doing it, so why can't I?

10  Toyota 

For the beauty of Bluetooth and the ostensible "freedom." (I could drive up 95 to see you; I just choose not to. I am a little bit scared and very bored by highways.)

09  Salice Salentino

Surpassingly fun to say and excellent to drink. Seriously, seek it out, even at Trader Joe's. From the boot.

08  Gilmore Girls

I may be personally responsible for its revival; I have that kind of power. In any case, it got me through last winter.

07  Hannah Cohen

Apparently I have yet to convince one person on earth to listen to her. But there's still time, 2016 is weeks away.

06  Facebook

The freelancer's frenemy. I can't quit you.

05  San Francisco

Well, that was an unusual vacation. It felt like I was airlifted out of winter. 70+ degree weather, odd job interviews, and I covered the waterfront. I covered the Haight and the Castro and the Mission and Hayes Valley too. But mostly the waterfront. On bike, by foot... I climbed hills and sat outside and drank a lot of wine. Eventually to Marin and then Napa. Along the way, I forgot that I was 52. And a guy named Robert.

04  Alexandria

Old Town, Del Ray, Seminary Road. All these (fifty) years later, this is still where I feel most at home. Relaxed, engaged, warm, comical. Too bad it's unaffordable. On Monday they found this in a Fairfax park, breaking my heart. That picture at the top is where I first lived, in a small house on Pitt Street with rats.

03  Tennis

This year playing edges watching for the first time in a long time. (Thanks, Earle.) I am now the proud owner of a one-handed backhand. Twitter became important, particularly because of Martina and (of all people) Brad Gilbert. Very much hoping that all hell breaks loose on the ATP and WTA next year. I'll continue with my cheer: "Come on, Roger!"

02  Comedy

I don't have to set the stage:  It was an awful, awful year. So thank god for Key & Peele, Amy Schumer, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Meyers, Jennifer Lawrence, Tina Fey, The Onion and PARKS & RECREATION.

01  Writing

I actually made most of my money this year in the filthy, filthy trade of words on paper. And I revived this here corpse. And I wrote some poems. And fiddled with my epic short story, "Paddle Tennis." And scribbled down a couple of ideas for novels, plays, screenplays. And...

Thirty years ago, I thought I'd be a writer. I got sidetracked.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Merriman Road: Running Away

When we moved in it was already my sixth house, and maybe the ugliest of all. It never occurred to me that I'd stay there. It never occurred to my mother, either. At that point we were on a pace of a new home every 1.5 years.

There were maps in the basement that showed our pretty (ugly) Victorian farmhouse was the only one on Merriman Road between us and Stan Hywet. But all of our friends were sure we'd move down the street, closer to it -- or at least next to Pat or Steve. Judie Bigelow had space reserved for the inevitable Barr tennis court. Looking back on it, and this just occurred to me, I believe she may have been in collusion with my mother.

But Dad thwarted this. Perhaps his commute was better where we were. I drove it recently and was surprised how far away Goodyear was.

Maybe he was mad by then. If I'd been Dad at that age there are very few reasons you could have dragged me away from that peculiar house with all its porches. (Eventually, for the record, Goodyear bought the house and sent him to Brussels. There ended the Barrs.) There was a whitewashed basement where I had a chemistry set and the laundry was done and there were very many subterranean rooms, one designated for wine.

I lived in the maid's quarters. Coming from Maplewood (Susan) I was told that I'd be living there, the laundry chute in my room. (In Maplewood, I had three rooms to myself on the third floor.) My dad put the barrel of a shotgun underneath my mattress and pulled it out at 5am on Saturdays; everyone threw underwear down through the slot in my floor. Pat will affirm this, and Charlie would. Woody and Mark will confirm that it was a too small house with my brothers right next door. Who only Woody liked.

The creaky back staircase was mine, though. I talked on it with the red wall phone coiled from the kitchen and crept down it for about ten years, Dad protesting, especially when I talked to Mark. With him and Woody, Linda, Eve, Susan, Missy, Betsy, Doug, Rachel, Pam, Robin, Dana, Eric, Libby, Gibby, Brett, Bill, Jill, Tamra, John, Pat, Toni, Gretchen. Fred. Steve. Charlie. Suzanne Spiller. Walt. Traci and Jay.
For such a nice boy, all I ever did was run away.