Saturday, October 26, 2013

Here are the Dots. YOU Connect Them.

This week’s blog entry will be something of a buffet, a smorgasbord of ideas.  If there is any central meaning in the mishmash of things in my life this week, I can’t see it.  
The Cougar in Central Park
This week, listening to the radio, I learned that there is a wild mountain lion living in Griffith Park.  For those of you outside of Los Angeles, Griffith Park is the L.A. area’s premiere green space and at 4,100 plus acres is one of the largest city-owned and maintained parks in the United States.  New York’s famous Central Park is about one-fifth the size at 840 acres.  
The mountain lion doesn’t have a name, though he has been given a designation.  P22. Which stands for “Puma Twenty-Two.”  He was originally captured and tagged in 2012.  Genetic testing shows that he’s related to lions living in the Santa Monica mountains.  Which means he had to not only sneak through miles of urban jungle, but also had to cross two freeways, the 405 and the 101, without getting hit to end up where he is now.  
The cougar, a young guy at about three or four years old, was probably driven out of the range he was born in by bigger, tougher cats, has remained in the park since being tagged.  At first glance it looks like he has it pretty good.  As far as big predators go, he’s the King of Griffith Park.  The coyotes and bobcats that roam the park with him aren’t much competition.  He has all the mule deer he can eat.  
But as good as he has it, the naturalist on the radio show said that eventually he’ll probably try to leave.  Why?  Because no other mountain lions in the park means no other FEMALE mountain lions.  And male mountain lions look for female mountain lions more than they look for food.  
What does this mean for P22?  The closest population of mountain lions to Griffith Park are in the San Gabriel mountains, north of Glendale and Pasadena, where I live.  This means that P22 will either have to try to go back the way he came, unlikely since he probably remembers the bullies that pushed him east in the first place, or he’ll have to make another treacherous crossing, over the 5 freeway and the 134, and through the much more heavily urbanized areas of Glendale and Pasadena.  If he doesn’t get hit by a truck trying to cross the interstate, he may run amok of some frightened homeowner and get himself in trouble that way.  
I feel for P22.  I imagined myself going to the park and leading him out, through underpasses or waterways, tunnels and back alleys, to the point where he could sneak to the San Gabriel mountains on his own.  He’s still a young guy, but living in isolation will only get harder for him as time goes on.  
I speak from experience.  
A Vehicular Conspiracy.
This has been THE WORST commuting week in my driving history.  Every day this week.  EVERY SINGLE DAY, I have been forced to come to a complete and total halt on the freeway due to an accident involving three or more cars.  
Four times, this has been on the way home at the end of very long days.  Waiting on the freeway, stuck in traffic, is ten thousand times more damaging to one’s psyche that being stuck on the way to work.  I don’t know if any studies have been conducted to prove this, but I have no doubt of what the results would be if they were done.  
Last night, after creeping past three cars that had rumbled into the woods at the northeast corner of the 405/101 exchange and seeing on my iPhone that there was ANOTHER incident up the freeway ahead of me, I forced my way through the three lanes between me and the off-ramp, turned around and headed way out of my way to the 118.  It’s called the Ronald Reagan Expressway, the 118.  If I had to register as a Republican to drive on it at that point, I would have done so.  
Maybe that was the point?  The freeway is always slow in Los Angeles, and you see fender-benders every week.  But this week was so far out of the normal that I had to wonder if it was being set up against me.  Was there some force, alien, spiritual, political, that was trying to divert me on to another path.  
“Don’t use these freeways paid by the government.  Look at how bad they are!  Vote for the initiative coming up in November to PRIVATIZE the roadway system.  Private enterprise is ALWAYS better at any endeavor, given equal resources.”  
Or maybe the universe was just trying to get me to relax.  “Hey...  Slow down...  Sit for a spell...  Take your foot off the accelerator...  You’ll get there soon enough.”  
No.  That can’t be it.  But I’m on to them now.  I’ll figure out their plot and how they’re doing it.  If a three year old mountain lion can find his way home through this mess, nothing is going to stop me!  
Pick Is as Picky Does
Another idea I had about P22, while sitting there NOT MOVING A FREAKING INCH FOR TWENTY MINUTES, was that maybe we could bring a female to Griffith Park for him.  An older kitty with a taste for younger males.  
‘Cause she’s a cougar.  You get it, right?  
We’d airlift her in, because we wouldn’t want to run the risk of being stuck behind four cars crumpled together because, through some insane mind-control project gone wrong, their drivers simultaneously decided to plow their cars into each other.  We’d have a helicopter land at the Griffith Observatory and release her in the brush beyond.  And then we’d wait and let nature take its course.  Then everyone is happy.
Unless P22 didn’t like our choice for him.  Maybe P22 didn’t leave the Santa Monica mountains because the other males were bigger and stronger than him.  Maybe he came out this way because all the females he found there weren’t up to his standards.  Huh?  It’s possible.  
Now, you might say to P22, if this was the case, “Look...  How many females you see sprinting across eight lanes of traffic to get to you?  Huh?  None!  So if one comes your way, you better just accept what you get, see?”  
But P22 might think, “Is that really the mindset you need to find love?  Sure, for most of the males of my kind, once we’ve done our business we’re out of the scene.  It would work for any other mountain lion you might find.  But me...  I’m looking for something different.  Hey, I know I’m a weirdo among mountain lions.  So I need to find someone compatible with me, who can take my idiosyncrasies in stride.  Or better still, complement me in how I live my life.”  
Hang in there, P22.  I know where you’re coming from.  People have said the same thing to me.  When I see so many relationships go from boom to bust, I don’t understand what advantage there is in “being less picky.”  Go chew on some mule deer jerky while I think about it some more.  
Avocation is a Hobby Wearing Better Clothing.
I think my writing is turning into a hobby.   And that feels like a step back for me.  
The biggest clue this week came on Thursday, when I cut my writing session off short to go online to play my playoff game for my WGT Baseball team.  I won.  I eventually won first place for the season.  That makes it three times in six seasons I’ve ended up as champion, though it’s been three seasons since the last such win.  
My writing numbers have been going down.  Previously I’d get around fifteen hundred words a day.  A thousand would be my minimum.  Friday, I ended up writing a little less that seven hundred, and all of it was writing the section of a short story that I wrote two days before.  Thursday I didn’t get any new writing done.  I wrote a journal entry and I read what I’d written on Wednesday.  Then I went off and beat “Stephen’s Team” to clinch a spot in the finals bracket by a score of 13 to 1.  
When I’ve talked about myself as a writer, I would refer to writing as my Avocation.  To make it clear I wasn’t earning my living by writing.  I want to.  I’ve been paid for my writing.  But not enough so I only have to do that.  
But now, Avocation feels too...   Fancy.  Too made up.  Too stuck-up.  But on the other hand, “hobby” is too...  Amateurish.  Too unsure.  Too...
It is what I was doing before I started submitting stories to publishers.  I remember the change that went through me when I decided that I was going to put the story I was working on into an envelope and send it to a publisher when I was finished.  It became IMPORTANT.  It had to be right.   It had to be the best I could do.  I was much more sharply focused on what I was doing.  I’ve tried to maintain that focus in the decades since.  
Calling what I do a hobby would take me back to before that point.  But if it fits...
Anyway.  That’s it.  Not all of it.  There are some dots from this week that I am not able to make public.  I’ll have to try to connect them as best I can on my own.  
If all this makes a picture for you, let me know what it is.  I’d appreciate it.  


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