Sunday, November 11, 2018

Practical Choices

When we moved to Silicon Valley in 2012, I purchased a ten-year-old Subaru Outback Limited for a really nice price.  It was clean, had comparatively low miles, and I liked the way it felt to drive.  It had enough storage to be practical, and a little bit of gumption when I pushed the gas down.

A couple of years ago, the old beast took to leaking oil.  The cost to repair it would be high, and it was not necessary to repair it.  My mechanic said "keep oil in it and it will be fine," so I bought a big box of oil at Costco, and have been on a vigil, keeping that oil "topped off."

It was a comfortable car, it was paid for, but I was starting to think about making a change.  I decided about a year ago that I would replace the old beast at some point soon.  I didn't feel good about taking it on long drives, and that was increasingly becoming a part of my life.

Because the care is spacious, I wanted to have it until I cleared out my old storage unit.  As you may know, less than a month ago, that task was complete, so I "set the clock" for early 2019, after the holiday season, when I would set out to replace it.

The old Subaru had other plans.

Last weekend, I went to the house of some friends, zipping over the mountain on Highway 17 between Silicon Valley and Santa Cruz.  The old beast was running great both down and back, until about a mile from home, it started to stall.  I fought it from the Lawrence Expressway to a nearby parking lot, and called AAA.  I told the driver the symptoms, and he opened the hood pulled the oil dipstick.  "Looks like a blown head gasket."  I'd never seen the outcome of one before, but based on what I knew, and the funky looking liquid where oil once been, indeed this looked to be the case.  I had the old beast towed to a trusted local garage, where the diagnosis was confirmed.

The cost of repair would be more than the car was worth.

Cars are inanimate objects.  Steel and glass and plastic and leather and fabric, pieced together in a factory.  But I bond with my cars.  In a way, they become an extension of me.  I'm a person that loves to drive, and I've spent countless hours on the road.  Long haul, short haul, intermediate haul, I love to drive.

This car was there for me in some tough times, and has seen me through a few big changes.

The cars I've owned since I left Idaho in 1980 have all been practical choices.  The right tool for the right job.  Cost vs function vs need vs what's available.  The Subaru was an extension of that, but big bonus points, it was fun to drive.  It had dual sunroofs, which I loved.  But I also had an idea of what I would like to be driving in mind.

So it was bittersweet, when I cleared out the items that remained in the car.  I put the keys in the ignition, and started the car at the garage's parking lot, and limped the old beast out to the road, so that the guy who would haul it away could do his job, then got in my rented car and returned to work.

to be continued...

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Empty Storage Unit, Full Tank

Just after the gate closed behind me and I started down the road for my house on a particular Tuesday, I had a slight regret that I hadn't taken a moment to turn around and take a picture when I hauled the last bit of goods from the storage unit my "overflow stuff" had occupied.  I'd told myself that I'd take a picture of it, in its rat-droppings-glory just to remember what it looked like empty.

But I don't need a picture.  I know what empty is like.

After DeDe, my wife of thirty-three years, passed away, I felt an emptiness.  That is the first sensation when you lose someone in your life, especially a life partner.  'Til death do us part means one of us is likely to go first, and one of us will have to move on.  I knew, shortly after she died, that there was only one way that I could move forward.  I didn't know how it would all work out, I didn't know how long it take.  No one can know those things when it is the first time to deal with it.

For me, I was a very different man after being married over half of my life to a woman who I laughed and cried and and made a family and made art and made love and, in short, shared a life, with.  I don't believe a person should have to change for a love, but I do believe that having a lover become part of your life changes you.  If not, what is the point?

I became a more complete person with DeDe.  She brought out the best in me.  She called out flaws, encouraged goodness I didn't know I have.  I had an inherent darkness in me that she managed to shine a light on, and show a beauty in it.  I was able to accept myself more wholly, and some of that has only truly come to pass since she left this plane.  The things in me that changed with her were not from her, but because of her.  The difference is, things that because of someone are the things that are indelible. 

After she passed, yes, there was emptiness.  It is inevitable.  For me, the task of dealing with that emptiness was realizing just how complete I am now.  I needed to learn who I was when I was first with her, and to have her become a part of my life.  I needed to learn who I am without her, and the storage unit was, strangely enough, the very thing that put this all in perspective.

The clutter I removed was cleansing for my physical life.  And with each box I went through, I processed and I learned, and I realized much more about her, and about myself.

This morning, as I write, it is dark outside, and I hear the jets taking off from Mineta Airport in San Jose.  A big part of who I am now is my love of travel.  The world turns on, and with my tank full and my storage unit empty, I move onward.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


It's as American as apple pie: The storage unit.

I see storage companies everywhere I go in the US.  Don't get me wrong, they have their purpose, but for the most part, these are absolute money pits.  How do I know?

I have one.  #375 is my storage unit.

I left a house in Pennsylvania in 2012, where I had a lot of spare space, and moved into a place with almost none.  Even after we got rid of a lot of stuff for the move, we still had too much stuff.

What we kept went into storage.  Storage units, like most everything in Silicon Valley, aren't cheap.

Though it is a money pit, but there is indeed some stuff in there that I want to keep.  Still, when calculating the amount of money dumped into a storage unit versus the potential value of its contents, it is a ridiculously bad investment.

And yet, these storage compounds are everywhere in Silicon Valley, and they are in small towns too.

Need to store your overflow stuff in the small desert town of Fernley, Nevada, population 20,000?  They've got you covered:

There is an emotional component to the one I have, and I suspect that is in play for others who rent these things as well.  In mine is some of my late wife DeDe's stuff.  There's also stuff from my kids' childhood.

But, in the end, it's just stuff.

So I have been working at clearing out this storage unit for the past couple of months.

It is a demanding process, and it can be emotional.  I found a little journal DeDe kept at a difficult time in her life.  I found an incredible poem she wrote that I'm still processing.  I found some surprising art projects she was developing.

But what I have found worth keeping is a fraction of what I have found worth getting rid of.  I've been giving a lot of what has come out away.  There is a cleansing feeling that comes from this.

There are a handful of things with some monetary value, but I don't have use for, which I will sell.  What will remain are a few things that are important enough to take up real estate in the house.

This is indeed a demanding process, but a worthwhile one.  The acquisition of stuff is probably a part of the human condition, but we in the United States have raised it to an art form, and the signs of that dot major thoroughfares today.

But I'm getting out of the storage unit business.  The center of the picture at left is the light at the end of the tunnel.  This storage locker was full to capacity.  Come November 1, it will empty, should you want to move your excessive stuff in there.

But I advise against it.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


One of the places where I have always wanted to visit is England.  My grandmother on my father's side came from there in the 1920s via Australia and Hawaii.  My family remains connected with some of her family there.  There are so many places that I would like to visit, and further, I'm blessed with a number of friends living there now.

So, when I did some research on the cost of flights there, and the prices were quite reasonable, I decided, "no time like the present."

Okay, so the present might be a few months out, but I do have my tickets.  In late April of 2019, I will be flying to England for two weeks.  I have no set plans except to spend a few days of the time in London, and visit with family in Yorkshire.  Other than that, I'm going to be driving, exploring, and I'm up for visiting any friends there who will put up with me.

So, friends in England, I will be on your soil from April 27 thru May 11 of 2019.  Please reach out to me via email or text or Messenger if you'd like to get together.

Happy Weekend from Silicon Valley

Saturday, September 8, 2018

Aussie Rules

I grew to love Australian Football in the early to mid 1980s.  When DeDe and I returned from Germany in August of 1982, I got my first taste of ESPN.  Back then, late into the night, they showed sports I'd never seen.  Most only were of passing interest, but this fast paced, weird hybrid of Rugby and basketball and Soccer, with its oval field and uniquely aggressive play mesmerized me.

I especially liked the officials in long white lab coats, standing at the four post goals, pointing out what type of goal was scored.

Somewhere in the mid to late 80s, they stopped showing Aussie Rules.

So, when I turned on the TV this morning, I was pleased to find that there is a very competitive match between the West Coast Eagles and Collingwood.

I'm remembering back to restless nights in a small military motel room, learning this unique sport.  Some things in the sport have changed, they always do, but it's fun to watch something that so conjures up those crazy days, the early 80s.

Happy Weekend from Silicon Valley, mate.

Wednesday, September 5, 2018

DeDe's Seasons

DeDe Sorensen was born on this day in 1961, and left the physical plane in 2014, a little too soon for my liking.  She will always be a light in my life.  I stopped being sad about losing her somewhere between July 5, 2014 and now, and now celebrate the 33 years we had together.

When we were dating, the winter of 1980-81, I wrote her a little poem titled "A Warm Winter's Thought."  She treasured it, and told me that was the moment I truly won her heart.

Today, I celebrate an amazing 52 year life, basking in the memory of DeDe Sorensen with a new offering in the spirit of that first poem.

DeDe’s Seasons

©2018 Craig J. Sorensen

We found each other
In the Winter

Bound to each other
The end of Spring

We said our good-byes
At Summers dawn

But Autumn remained
Your time to sing

World pivots and turns
Seasons march on

As hands unclasped your
Spirit’s ascent

I always feel you
Inside my heart

The years we counted
Were heaven sent

Saturday, September 1, 2018


Yesterday, I posted a selfie in honor of my friend, Shane Cox, and the last day of his treatment with Lemtrada for his MS.  There was a brief story in that selfie.

More on that below.

Shane has battled, and I mean that in the most literal sense, with MS since being diagnosed over nine years ago.  He has had countless ups and downs, but in each challenge there is determination.

Those who know him personally, or from his site, Hammer the Wall know this spirit.

The treatment he is taking is risky, but holds the possibility of a renewal.  There could be no other treatment for a man like Shane.

All or nothing.

For the selfie, I chose to stand across the street from where I live.  Until recently there was an old mobile home in the area behind me.  It wasn't in very good shape.  They tried to sell it for a time, but they couldn't.  Ultimately, they had to haul it away.  But they left behind a single rose bush.  Usually, they pull everything out when the old building is removed.  I found the remaining plant a pleasant surprise.

As I thought of Shane's journey, I thought of this piece of land, laid bare.  The single, defiant rose bush, is a conduit between the rocky past and a hopeful future.

This is where I hope Lemtrada will take Shane.  For renewal, something has to make room for it.  His immune system has been stripped away.  It is my deep hope that what returns will be something worthy of that amazing fighting spirit.

Not long after Shane's diagnosis, his defiance against the condition began with him buying a Ducati motorcycle.  We spent a fabulous day driving up to pick it up in State College, PA, telling stupid jokes that we share to this day.  On the way back, perhaps I should have been worried, driving the open highway at some pretty high speeds, a man freshly diagnosed with MS getting to know his new bike as I drove his car.  I wasn't worried.

Over the years, he has continued to take new journeys and amazing challenges.  This year, he completed the Boston Marathon in terrible weather conditions.  He continually finds new ways to keep strong, and new ways to raise a middle finger to MS.

That is Shane.  I'm honored to be his friend, and I anxiously await what will surely grow on the new, clear site that Lemtrada has made.

Happy Saturday from Silicon Valley