"One day in late November, I talked with another temp, Dorothy Wilson, as she prepared to close up her beer stand on the upper concourse. She worked for a temp firm called Acrobat Outsourcing, earning $11 an hour and told me she was struggling to get enough hours to afford an apartment. For the moment, she was living in a storage unit in a San Jose trailer park. “I’m trying hard to take any job,” she said. She’d worked many stadium events for Acrobat, and accepted assignments no matter how far afield—Concord, San Francisco, Half Moon Bay."
Wednesday, February 10, 2016
with scrub on the hills behind me,
hammerheads, rumored, around me,
San Nicolas a day's kayak away,
if the book's to be believed. I dodged no buffalo
as I drove to the line-up in my friend's new car.
He waited nine years to get it. He lives alone.
Almost all the land on the island is a preserve.
The state fish is the garibaldi, on the island's
leeward-side a friend to tourists carrying bread.
They pass through liquid toward a goal,
as I do when I paddle, as a baby does
pre-first-swaddle, like a pathogen in the water
in the glass from the tap. A surfacing whale.
Its wet eye's gaze when up close by a castaway
is taken for kinship. Oh that it might be.
Friday, February 5, 2016
Today while surfing, I had the profile of Catalina on the horizon in front of me, the snow-covered San Gabriels behind me, a crisply outlined downtown Long Beach to my right (with the cougar-inhabited Santa Monica Mtns faintly outlined behind it), the Palos Verdes Peninsula to its left, terns dive bombing hither and thither for little fish, a sailboat thataway, HB pier to my left a couple of miles east, and the wind coming offshore, reversing the approach patterns of planes landing at LB Airport. Life can be all right.
Thursday, February 4, 2016
You pull a missing size-43 boot from under a pile of 100 other shoes. Then you try to mix baby formula in the most hygienic way you can, given the conditions. Eight hundred refugees have to be squeezed into a space fit for only 450.
Though the camp falls officially under the purview of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, it is actually managed daily by hardworking volunteers. I counted eight nonprofit groups that don’t integrate smoothly, nor communicate effectively. So camp life is an accurate simile for the larger forces at work, with kindness competing against organizational self-interest.
That said, it is solely by the good grace of individual volunteers that these camps continue running. This is the bright spot in a crisis dominated by bureaucratic maneuvering in Brussels and barbed wire fences on the EU’s eastern borders. The camp is neither sanitary, nor comfortable, but it is vibrant.