Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Long before I got here, I had a love-hate relationship with California. When I was in college in the mid-1970s, mocking its eccentricities was one of my classic comedy routines; I came up with an elaborate rationale as to why Californians should not be allowed to vote in US elections. (Something about tectonic plates and the madness of any place that would successively elect Ronald Reagan and Jerry Brown.)

Yet California had its appeal. Even in my childhood, many of my favorite writers had strong Bay Area connections: Jack London, Kathleen Norris (the novelist, not the author of The Cloister Walk), Mark Twain, Robert Frost. (I know everyone thinks of him as a good New England poet, but he was born and raised in SF.) Later I came to love the work of Ursula LeGuin, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, John L’Heureux, Larry McMurtry, Ken Kesey, and Peter Beagle. (The latter three were all writing students in the Stanford graduate program in 1960-1961 — an almost unimaginable concentration of disparate talents.

By chance or destiny, I spent most of my single life dating expatriate Californians, though I married a man from Long Island. (An aberration.) Still, I kept making friends with people in the Bay Area. When after a decade and a half the marriage ended, I took a year or so to pull myself together, and I moved out here with a suitcase, a laptop, and a cat.

So here I am: working at a dot-com, living with three refugees from the western edge of the Confederacy, and watching life in Silicon Valley with a certain bemusement. This blog is home to my observations on the natural and cultural history of California. At least, that's my excuse for writing it. In fact it will serve as a convenient forum for whatever I have to say about God, art, life, death, sex, writing, dreams, and cooking. Plus the adventure of actually trying to live with three other people — an incredibly complicated process, I assure you, especially for an introvert whose chief desire has always been just to be left alone.

I'm also hoping to cure a five-year, near-fatal case of writer's block. I write for a living, but that's somehow not the same. If I can keep this blog lively and honest and down-to-earth, I'll have made some strides. (Also keep it *going* — that is the crux, after all.) It helps to have a framework: a specific topic to write about, one that demands a variety of styles and approaches, one that offers concrete details, and one that isn't just an artistic form of self-disembowelment. The temptation for writers is often to live inside their heads — as dangerous a practice as sticking their heads in the sand.

I may not always have my feet on the ground, but I try to keep my toes in the mud. It feels so good. And in this blog, I intend to keep my shoes off.