It’s “Between Time” in Santa Cruz, that period in late August when the stick-shift of life has slipped out of summer gear to hover briefly in neutral before falling into autumn gear with a resounding thunk. There then comes a change in weather, the return of the university students, and the departure of the summer vacationers.
The seaside amusement park will soon power down, returning all the expatriate summer workers to Ukraine or Greece or wherever the Seaside Company could recruit American-looking foreigners cheaply. I’ll bet that a lot of young Ukrainians were eager to sell deep-fried Twinkies on the Boardwalk this year.
All these matters are in process right now, winding down or just waking up. Though we’ll have one last blast of summer tourism come Labor Day.
In the meantime, many locals are finishing the summer with a vacation — elsewhere. There’s plenty of room on the broad sidewalks downtown. And as befits a time of change, each day a strong wind blows from the ocean to take the edge off the sun’s rays. Blue skies shine overhead, while a mighty fog bank, mountainous and white, hovers just offshore. We live in a brief moment of balance between numerous dynamics. I give it a week at most, and perhaps only one more day. Public school starts tomorrow.
But it is a very good time, after a long hiatus, to return to this blog. As many of you know I took some months off to self-publish my book Police Blotter Haiku. Which is now available on Amazon; an e-book version is coming someday. Don’t hold your breath,.
I’m in the process of mailing out press copies to any newspaper that might give me publicity. I’ve got a phone interview with a very small daily newspaper tomorrow. Wish me luck.
Still, I’m heading back to something like having a life. I spent most weekends and many weeknights sitting still and working on the manuscript — and doing little else. I’m in lousy physical condition, and my back’s giving me trouble. I haven’t touched the yard in six months, and the large coral passion vine has embarked on a program of total global domination. The only shirts I wear to work these days are the three that don’t need ironing. One of the cars needs a jump start — and has needed it for weeks. The cats have gone feral, or as feral as house cats can. They still answer to the sound of a can opener.
Yet I regret nothing, whether the book sells a hundred copies or ten thousand. It’s been a journey, and a journey teaches you a few things about yourself. I wrote them down for future reference.
My thanks to all of you reading this who gave me your support — moral, emotional, monetarily, or all three. It’ll not be forgotten.
And if this is a season of change, there is one more change to announce: I’m taking a new job, after all these years.
I expected to to stay in my current position until they wheeled me out, though not by choice. At my age, in this economy, there didn’t seem much alternative, nor hope of promotion or transfer. And given the pace, and the stress, and the low-level panic that is ever in the air at that place, I wondered whether the day that they wheeled me out might come sooner that I’d want.
Rhumba pointed out an opening with her employer and suggested that I apply for it, so that we could work together. And I did apply, though I didn’t expect much.
And even though I applied after the initial deadline, with a five-year-old resume, Rhumba’s company wanted to see me. I missed two email invitations to come in, and they got on the phone and urged me to come in. I finally met with them — and knocked over a glass of water during the interview. And they still wanted me.
I gave in and took the job. I get to work in the same building as Rhumba. I get a little more money. Rhumba assures me that the company is okay, and that the people are okay. I know a couple of them myself. She’s probably right.
And after it sank in that I would get this job, that I would leave my old job and go on to something better, I was consumed with the fear that I was going to die. I was so wedded to the idea that I would ride my Flying Dutchman of a company all the way to the vanishing point that I couldn’t believe that I could actually put this burden down. Something awful would happen. It would have to.
But I got past the fear, and my last week at the old place lays ahead of me. A goodbye lunch looms large. Easily a third of the company has called or emailed to congratulate me on my escape — in about those words.
A couple of months ago, in a fairly dark week in my life, my three-item lunch special at the Little Shanghai Chinese Restaurant came with a fortune cookie that had this message to transmit: “Despair is criminal.” This was exactly what I needed to hear. So I kept moving forward in my life; and the worst did not happen, and there were people to help me, and things changed for the better.
For although this is a season of change in Santa Cruz, “change” is a season that really never ends. Change can be for the better, and sometimes for worse, but almost always to something new. The worst thing you can do is despair, and grind to a halt. The best thing to do — the only thing — is to keep moving and keep looking for possibilities. It’s hard for me — and for a lot of people. But I’ve got evidence that it works.
And the winds of change blow and bring fog and sunshine alternately. And we will see what comes next.