person standing using red umbrella

The Atmospheric River

Leech Lake in early October. From my camping spot

Thin gauze lets in the light but blocks out all but my shadow from the outside, letting me look out unmolested.

It has rained and blown hard all night, rattling my windows, yet thankfully not shaking the walls. In the Beastie such a storm would find water streaming down from the tin ceiling leaving puddles along cracks in the seams. It made a noise like a thousand thousand tiny hooves, amplifying the fallen drops against the metal, making a din. In a real good storm sleeping was impossible. Talking had to be raised to a shout. If I played the guitar I would have my own elemental drummer, chaotic and loud. It was like living in a leaky echo chamber. Whether it was under a canopy of trees, or in the high desert, or by a lake with no shelter, in a hollow that collected water, or in a parking lot that swished blackly with water, watching out for cops in the headlights, who would bang on the tin sides of the camper to move us on. People have to go somewhere. We had to be somewhere on this earth. Our feet had to be somewhere. People can’t simply disappear. Banging on the sides of people’s houses, or wrecking their tents, continually moving them on, is not going to fix the problem of homelessness. It just moves it along down the road, torturing those who really have nowhere else to go.

That desperation that being moved on, and moved on, and moved on engenders builds up into a rage that will rival any storm. “Just where do they want us go to?” The answer remains, “anywhere but here…..or there…or there…or anywhere at all, but mostly not here…” The impossibility of not being anywhere at all. A riddle that can’t be solved.

I am warm. I am dry. I am alive and simultaneously grateful and guilty. I am still furious. I am still fuming. I cannot even articulate why I am angry, it is such a deep seated rage. I am angry with men. I am angry with society. I am angry with Fate, Chance, various kings, and desperate men, to paraphrase John Donne. I am angry that I fought and failed. I am angry that I am shamed and mocked for failing. I am angry. So angry, and I do not care to not be. Woe betide anyone who calls me out on my anger. I remove myself from the circles of those I care about when I feel in such an existential rage. I sit here with the fury in my solar plexus poisoning me, letting the red hot pain drain in to the atmosphere around me. I wasted my life. I wasted my time. I got wasted surviving.

I want a drink. I want to get high. I want to be depleted. I want to get smashed. I want it, but I will deny myself that dampening comfort, because I’m addicted to the pain. As long as I feel I am human. As long as I feel I am alive. As long as I feel this pain and fury I might be worth saving. This anger is mine. It belongs to me. Don’t hallmark card me. Don’t counsel me that it is better for me if I let it go. If I let it go it is saying that it was all ok. All the losses. All the indignities. All the danger. All the injuries. All of it. It was not ok. I am not ok. None of it can ever be ok, no matter the roof that holds off the rain, the windows that don’t send streams of condensation pouring onto my bed, the house that doesn’t shake in the atmospheric river of rage and rain.

The streets are empty today. The few brave souls that are out there have shed the typical SF uniform of shorts and a jacket, a perverse combination justified only by the fact that the weather changes direction at least a dozen times a day, in favor of long pants and raincoats. This will be over too quickly for me to justify buying a decent coat. The cooler summers and temperate winters are part of what I love about this city. I am in love with the marine layer as much as I am in love with the hills and the old buildings, the views and the easy going personality of the least Californian of the Californian cities. We are cooler here in more ways than one.

A red umbrella tumbles helter-skelter, murderously down the center of the road. Its owner has given up on it. There are some things that are irredeemable, un-savable. I might be one of them. The no walk sign flashes but there is no one there to cross anyhow. A rainy sunday morning – anyone who has a bed is in it right now, pulling up the sheets and sipping a hot drink, and playing Miles Davis for all they are worth.

…in a tent it is worse than a vehicle. Much worse. There is an organic art to adjusting the guide ropes and tarp so rain doesn’t drip down, then reaching a critical point of no return, starts to pour down into the humid sweaty dry-ish space inside. Pull those ropes too tight and then the wind takes it. Too loose and the outer rain sheet touches the inner shell and disaster! I soon learnt to pick spots between trees so I could sling up a tarp between them and set up beneath it.

To run electric into a tent in the rain is too risky for my liking, but many do. Fuck electrocution, gimme that phone charge! Wifi or death!

water droplet digital wallpaper

It got dark a while out there. If it gets dark in here I can light a candle. Out there, light a candle in a tent and the whole nylon lot would go up in flame. Batteries rust. Flashlights die. It is misery in winter.

Discarded bags of trash lay outside my window. Parked electric scooters, cars that slosh through the wetness on the road, and the 101 somewhere not far away out there keeps on running too where the past squirms away like a half squished poison toad.

I am so grateful to be inside.

I turned the heating on.

I’ve made hot tea using an electric kettle and my good tea pot.

I’ve a fully charged phone and wifi that works.

The television is working if I want to watch it, and no one can tell me what I may watch, now Billy is gone. He would complain even if I wanted to watch a movie, due to some innate trauma caused by a diet pill addicted mother with a hard on for domination, Gilligan’s Island and Jeopardy. I have been working my way through the entire works of Monty Python. Loudly.

I have been admiring how fast the clock



The move swiftly they do not drag any longer. They race to escape the past. The men. Their failures. Their games. Their brutality and their honied words dripping their poison into my ear..”honey…won’t you let me in?”

No fucking way.




The red umbrella sits accusingly outside my door, just across the road from my window, challenging me to deny my guilt.

I didn’t hurt no one. I didn’t even try to. I tried to save every last one of them I could, and I failed…mostly.

…and somewhere in the past I am buying chocolate bars for a man with diabetes because he asked me to. It was the greatest of my sins. I am way too soft on the men I once loved. Far too forgiving. No more. The atmospheric river runs mercilessly and cold: the tide is turning.

rippling water


  1. Time Traveler of Life

    Once you rail it out, you will come to know that you deserve to be happy. I deserve to be happy, everyone deserves to be happy. I can’t change the past, no one can, well perhaps politicians, but eventually we all have to give up and keep on trucking! Sending Hugs to you and Chris.

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