Nearing the end of the road

I have a habit of taking up a new interest and devoting myself to it so completely that I do little else—for years. I’ve done it with music, the Italian language, bicycles, the study of history. Invariably, I reach a point where I can’t go any farther with a particular study. I begin to feel that it isn’t essential to my life and so gradually I let go of it. I feel this happening with computers now. I started out with Windows around 1996, and switched to the Mac in around 2000. My first Mac had OS X, and I’ve upgraded to each new version as soon as it came out. Right now the Mac world is all excited about Lion, the new upgrade coming out in July. I’m not. I find that I don’t care at all. I doubt that I’ll bother with it. I’ve gotten deeply irritated with the belief that Apple is constantly pushing: that tech must be at the center of our lives. I would rather sit down and play my guitar than download a song from iTunes or stitch together a fake song from pre-recorded loops in Garage Band.

When I look out my window, I don’t see anybody. Everybody’s indoors. I keep thinking I should go outside, sit down, wait for some people to show up, and get into a conversation. Yesterday I went over the hill to the annual North Beach Street Fair where I sat down in a doorway and studied people as they walked by. After a while I realized that I was actually making some people nervous, which reminded me of the famous line from the Gregory Corso poem, “Power”:

Standing on a street corner waiting for no one is Power


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14 Responses to “Nearing the end of the road”

  1. Sarah Says:

    “When I look out my window, I don’t see anybody. Everybody’s indoors.”

    How ironic you should say this! Earlier today, I drove for several minutes through many streets in a well-maintained residential and seemingly asocial neighborhood near San Jose and noticed that no one was outside. Not a single blessed person! Have people in the U.S. become hostage to karōshi, fear of others, and/or narcissism?

  2. Margaret Benbow Says:

    In ’50’s science fiction movies, the sight of empty yards and parks on a beautiful day was a sign of some mysterious terrible calamity. I think it still is. So many people seem to be turning into unwilling hermits. It isn’t what they want, but they don’t know how to break free and rejoin the human tribe.

  3. JB Says:

    “No more evolution for the monkeys, I guess.
    They’re all in their houses now.
    They’re all hooked up to IVs and watching TVs
    trying to keep their immunizations.”

    – Lyrics from my song No More Evolution

  4. suzy Says:

    Around here there are plenty of people outside. You can see people bicycling, skateboarding, & walking. They walk their dogs, walk their babies in strollers, or walk to the local grocery store for supplies. I see the kids who live behind me jumping on their trampoline. I see the kids next door playing with the water hose on their slip & slide. I see the kids down the street playing basketball. There are gatherings on front porches, gatherings in driveways, block parties & cookouts.

    So there are plenty of people to converse with but not many of them have anything of interest or value to say. They spill out every detail of their lives until my patience is tried. I don’t want to be rude but who wants to hear the replaying of countless sports events, card games, hunting & fishing expeditions, reliving endless minutia of vacations to boring commercialized beaches or their latest get rich quick schemes. The worst are the ones who dwell on their ailments & who want to provide you with a laundry list of their symptoms.

    The discussions with people on the internet may not be as satisfying as they would be if we were together in person, but the choice of people & topics is far richer

  5. Mary Says:

    Just sending you some love – that’s all!

  6. Corrina Says:

    My husband & I were in San Francisco celebrating our 19th wedding anniversary this past weekend (we honeymooned there all those years ago). Spent a large part of our trip exploring North Beach & Telegraph Hill and hoping for a glimpse of the parrots. Not only were we fortunate enough to observe the parrots for a good long while, we also had the fun of spotting YOU on Saturday during the street fair! I didn’t want to intrude upon your day by saying anything to you…but, if I had, I would’ve thanked you and Judy for sharing your talents & your parrot experience with the rest of us. Watching the parrots in person was very moving, as is your writing. I look forward to your blog posts and the publication of your next book. Sending all our best from Nebraska!

    • markbittner Says:

      You would have been most welcome to say hello. That’s what I was there for actually. I was signing books and talking to people. By the way, I do remember a couple looking at me with recognition and moving on. Might have been you.

  7. David Holt Says:


    I was complaining to Linda about our “always on” world and she mentioned your blog, and sent it to me. Good thots.

    I was readng how Blackberry is losing ground with analysts as it isnt coming out with 2 new fones/products every year, as tho that is some kind of new sin.

    Cripes! That is moronic. The real geniuese out there use low tech as much as possible.

    Re indoors, yeah, people are hypnotized by their devices whether indoors or out. Outdoors they take pictures of stuff and share them instead of actually experiencing being there.

    Tho I just watched a great slideshow of a trip by two young friends, 4000 images scaled down to a couple hundred, with music, of them riding elephants and all.

    Tech is ok, it is just blown out of proportion.

    Sitting on the steps, meeting folks, there is a lot of magic there.


  8. martharohrbaugh Says:

    I just finished watching “The Wild Parrots of Telegraph Hill.” It was so much fun to watch and so interesting. I loved not only seeing the parrots but also your journey. Thanks so much for allowing us that look into your personal journey. And . . . I quite agree with your post. My husband and I have been commenting about the rather frightening lack of joyful children playing in neighborhoods as we pass through. They appear sterile and almost deathly. We have created so much “play” for the brain but we are starving our senses of life experience. Parents must be keenly tuned into what is going on and make marked changes for their children’s health. A film such as this helps bring us back to wanting to spend time just taking in all that exists in the wild outdoors. Where I live in PA we have several acres along a stream which provides much outdoor life to get in tune with. I was particularly taken in by the part of film where they talk about your stand still with sunflower seeds in your hand for such a long time and yet I suppose that is what it takes. Thanks again for sharing yourself with the rest of us. My best for what ever new adventure you may find yourself embarking on! ~ Martha

  9. suzy Says:

    The awareness of the danger of pedophiles has made many parents reluctant to let their children play outside unattended.

    Last summer a guy was caught in our neighborhood exposing himself & masturbating in front of the children. If he assaulted any of them it was not made public. He was a renter who moved abruptly when one of the parents sicced the police on him.

    The internet & other technologies seem to have fueled this type of behavior or maybe they just increased our awareness.

  10. Diane Says:

    I didn’t even know Apple was coming out with a new OS. Oh well, I guess I’m hopelessly far behind. Planned obsolescence tires me out. I’ve moved on to more interesting things.

  11. Lynn Duvall Says:

    Apple … isn’t that the name of the Beatles’ production company?

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