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California Again

I'm back in California, for the holidays, where else would I spend my holidays but with my folks. I guess The longer I live on the East Coast, the more I realize that I might belong here, although I wonder sometimes. It's so tempting to move back here from the cold and snow, and all the petty little issues I have out there. The traffic's not as bad, I don't have to worry quite as much about parking, the weather isn't quite so dreadful. people seem to ski just about as much. It's culturally diverse.

My friends and relatives out here seem, as a whole, to be a whole lot wealthier than my friends currently out there in Massachusetts. Well they could just be a little bit more materialistic. I don't think it's because they're older either. Although my friends on the East coast are a whole lot better educated. I wonder if this is really a dissatisfaction with the pursuit of weath. Or if it's just a little bit of jealousy, combined with the relentless pressures for simplicity which I hear out here.

Gadgets, well it's Silicon Valley, I've been convinced of the superiority of the Mac OS when it comes to editing photos, or just organizing your way around. Case in point the photo to the left - still needs some work, and there's somthing interesting about what can be done with a digital SLR with a F 2.8 zoom lens on it. Even with the camera shake. Well the camera isn't exactly portable, but ehh... It does work pretty well. And there's a pretty good way to re-do the white balance to adjust colors. Anyhow it's kind of spooky when there's a camera and you're looking at the images of your face and all of a sudden you can see every single blemish, freckle and bit of stubble and zit on your face. So after getting the lecture from my sister on how my wardrobe needs a bit of updating, but I'm for the most part useless for trying to get rid of my sloppy grooming habbits, and not throwing away old clothes, or wearing stuff that doesn't emphasize my gut.

Out here, I hear of vacation cabins, ski trips to Vail, 40 even 50 foot sailboats, there's more Mercedes Benzes, convertibles, and although my friends (well maybe relatives) as a whole aren't that much older.

This is California. Where I really wonder where the middle class is. There are people who have made their millions, and most of my family has no qualms about conspicuous consumption. Sub Zero fridges, DLP tv's, Thermador ranges.

Even my sister out here drives a BMW. And yet she's barely a schoolteacher.

Even my friend at the church in the middle of the gentrifying region of Oakland, even he owns his own home. And drives a nicer car than a lot of the folks I know in Boston. Yes there are still a bunch of people who rent their apartments, including my sister. So I can't help but ponder what's wrong with the people I know out there on the East coast, is it that they're scaring away anyone, (except for the doctor) who stands to make any sort of money? Or changing them so that they're not going to ever become part of this relentless pursuit of wealth.

Yes the food is better, or rather different in it's own way out here in California. Yes sure people still shop at Costco. And there probably is a little bit lower cost of living for food out in California. Yet there's the following display, the olive oil section of Draegers, an example of the kind of market that although might have a little bit of a foothold out in the yuppie liberalism of Cambridge, only really thrives in the new money culture of Silicon Valley. It's an unprecedented intersection of wealth, technology, conspicuous consumption, suburban sprawl, multiculturalism, and a spirit built on destroying the past to reinvent it anew. Remember these are a people who started the whole trend in job hopping. Where companies which started in garages have become both the stuff of legend, and lessons for the history books. Driving along hwy 237, I can't help but wonder if the ad and the banner for Tivo is a bit of marketing, a bit of egotism, or simply a sign of the times.

So I don't know, California calls, and every time I'm out here I'm tempted to but to pick up would be to leave everything I've invested in, and all the stuff I'm working on. To what, is it greed, or simply a better life. Every time I come back to California, every time Well, I'd do it for family.

Oh yeah, the new Lord of the Rings movie opened. Celebrated at the following quirky little bookstore in Berkeley.

Even the pizza is slightly different. Sure I can still get a similar pizza same kind of pizza in Massachusetts, with spinich, mushrooms and canadian bacon. But somehow the crust is thinner a little bit less soggy. Maybe it's just memories of my college years.

The sailing is better out here. I can even find a boat club as cheap as the one I sail back in Boston. But what for?

Mostly the reason I don't move back here, is because it's too much work to pack up and move again. I'm too settled in a place where nobody choses to stay. And it's a place where I don't really live myself, but somehow my heart is attached to. Sheez....

More photos

Dec 27,2003