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Through the Marine Layer


Through the Marine Layer

Yesterday morning, I embarked on my first bike commute of the year. It was through what we in San Diego call the marine layer, that fog that rolls in over the coast and the city from the Pacific Ocean. Some parts of the ride was thick with ground level clouds while a clear path was seen further out. It’s just one part of my cycling journey.


Last year, it was off and on with the bike riding for me. A year ago, I was recovering from prostate cancer surgery, so there was no riding a bike for a while. I could barely walk for the first three months, but I managed to do so with a cane and I took public transportation. I even managed to fly to the AWP conference in Washington DC in my condition. I would have loved to have experienced riding around this city on a bike, but it wasn’t the time.

It would be in the late spring I was able to ride. I could no longer throw my leg over the topbar of a traditional men’s bike, so I bought what is traditionally seen as the women’s model, a stepover Linus model from my favorite bike shop. It helped that she was bold and beautifully black. Elke, as Spot the bike mechanic christened her, even inspired envy from men who noticed my bike.


In the previous year, before the surgery, I had done much of my thousands of bike miles with Beau, the electric blue Swobo. In my recovery, I couldn’t ride him anymore, but I did find a good home for him with a poet and fellow teacher.


I’ve had four bikes in the past several years and they represent different aspects of the bike journey. In late January 2015, my first bike was a Bianchi Cameloeonte, a lower end model that was made for daily practical use versus long treks and races like the higher end Bianchi models. It changed my life with the commutes. I fell in love with riding a bike and I got to learn about bikes from taking in to the shop to get serviced. Early on, within three months, it got stolen at City College when I was teaching an evening class.

That was very stressful and put the brakes on my cycling for a while. 


 Before I got Beau the blue Swobo Fillmore, I found a used Bianchi Ibex on Craigslist. The woman selling it to me out in the far suburbs didn’t seem to know much about it as it must have been her husband or son’s bike that had been sitting in the garage and not getting much use. She didn’t know how things worked mechanically, which made me wonder if I was getting a lemon of a bike. After I handed her the $200, I drove it home and had the shop take a look at it.


Some servicing and a tuneup sometime later had the Ibex running well. This was the bike that brought me to being able to ride up the steep hills of San Diego, a city of mesas and a few big hills. It would take me through the first half of the year until Fall 2015 when I bought the blue Swobo, christened by Stephen the shop owner as Beau.


Beau got me many of my miles and continued to be with me in the tumultuous year of 2016 that claimed some of the cultural treasures of my youth like David Bowie and Prince and then later on gave us the Orange Haze who shall not be named. 2016 was also the year where I first showed the signs of having prostate cancer through blood screenings early on, a confirmed diagnosis mid year, and then the surgery at the end.


Even though I like to personify these bikes, gender them, and see them in terms of relationships (Beau the boyfriend, the Ibex and Elke as girlfriends), the bikes are also like the tools for writing. I’ve had some fountain pen-level bikes. However, I could have also made do with less expensive models and got the riding done.Ultimately, it’s what I do with those bike - plot and move through the story of my rides that matters.


Each day I get on a bike is different. Most days seem the same as far as the pedaling goes, but variables include the weather, my state of mind, and even the traffic. Most days, it’s very clear as San Diego days typically are. I can generally afford to go off the beaten path. However, on those marine layer mornings or late afternoon, it helps to know where I’m going. What I experience on the way is what’s different. 



My Web Presence History


My Web Presence History

My first website was made sometime in 1997 on Geocities after a friend of mine created his own site on that platform. I started from a template that created a simple, but ugly website. It went this way for a few months until I bought a copy of Dreamweaver and created more attractive HTML files I could upload and then I updated it with an attractive portfolio with some short stories and poems I have written to date. The title was unimaginative: The Fiction and Poetry of Shinichi Evans.

I went into the Wayback Machine and, unfortunately, I could not find a copy. A few years later, I branded my site shindotv and I got a domain name to boot. Shindo came from a moniker a high school friend gave to me when he created a postpunk goth zine.

I created an artful entry page with a cross and cigarette photo made by my brother, which the Wayback Machine has an intact copy, but for the menu page that follows, the blue square graphic grid with the mouse on over squares is incomplete. It still had the portfolio of the previous page with some additions.


It was something I could use to show others my work as I was studying in an MFA program at the time. Alas, I didn’t update for several reasons: formatting works took time, my work at the time had a lot of images at the time, and that uploading files seemed to take more work. The site and the domain name lapses and it would be some time after I graduate that I would create a blog on Blogger/Blogspot.

I would call this blog shindotv and eventually reregister the dot com I lost earlier. Even though I called it my MFA afterlife, it never had a clear focus. I wrote some grad school memoirs, rants about adjunct teaching, and soon discovered the gay blogosphere in networking with other bloggers. Some of the blog entries from the time were clearly correspondence with other bloggers, where some others were more caught up with pop culture topics like Project Runway. I also added to my blogging community when I networked with the San Diego blogging and Twitter community. By that time, I had moved my site to a hosted site using Wordpress software. I felt like I was moving on up.


Going side by side with my Blogspot blog was a profile I created on Myspace and my first Twitter profile. I cross-posted some of my blog entries on the MySpace profile. As for Twitter, it was early days and I didn’t tweet much on it. The iPhone would come out a year later and make it easy. But at the time, it depended on either posting the tweet by their website or texting from your phone, which was more tedious with having to having to use the number keys to get your letters and then send the message to a five digit phone number. The myspace profile would eventually lapse in use, but when I got a second generation iPhone, tweeting became easy. And then it became easy to tweet too much. As I made more connections in the San Diego Twitter community through their Tweetups (Twitter Meetups), I had more of an audience. 


I would eventually get rid of the Myspace profile, especially when Facebook made it moot. Over three years ago, I got rid of my original Twitter profile. By that time, I wanted to put the content of my tweets, whether they were in the moment tweets, mini rants, or even my annoying attempts to promote shindotv behind me. Also, I stopped being invested keeping up with the relationships on Twitter.

I joined Facebook in early 2008, which is shortly after creating my Twitter and Facebook profiles. I friended old high school connections, colleagues, and even friends of friends. Of the profiles mentioned so far, the Facebook profile is the one that’s still in existence. It’s not because I like it anymore, but it’s become a communication utility that’s become entrenched in our culture. And like most people, my usage has evolved over the years.

There were silly games and applications. Facebook was convenient for short rants, some of which I’m not proud of. It was too easy to circulate memes. I posted a lot of links to current issues over the years. I also tried cross-posting my blog and posting links to entries early on, but eventually, Facebook killed the blogs. Speaking for myself, I can say it killed mine.

A few years ago ago, when I was lamenting blog death, I tried creating another blog, which I named The Shindoverse. It was hosted on my web server and I found snazzy Wordpress templates for it. Whereas shindotv went all over the place, The Shindoverse would have fewer, but more thoughtful entries. My intent was to go for quality. I had some writerly entries and then I did discuss my cycling as a process and discipline I was discovering later. Two years ago, the site fell victim to malicious hacks. The attacks didn't seem to target me personally (like it was trying to ruin me), but it was a time when sites with Wordpress software were heavily targeted by hackers looking to hijack the sites. I copied and pasted as many entries onto a MS word file and then deleted the blog.


I ended my account with my web host shortly after and I migrated the shindotv blog and my domain to my account on Wordpress.Com.

Over the past five years, I have also had accounts on Instagram and Tumblr. I posted images of bow ties, local beers, and lots of photos of San Diego on my Instagram profile. One nice thing at the height of the bow tie postings was that I developed some relationships with bow tie sellers and I got some free ties from them, which I then happily shouted out. I also posted photos of the ones I bought. Much of these images were cross-posted on my Tumblr profile, which I also used to try to get back into blogging and writing. I have tapered off from using both Tumlbr and Instagram about half a year ago.


Two years ago, I decided a going back to a static website would be good. I created my website and this blog on Squarespace. This time, I would keep it focused on my Resplendence project from my MFA and related works. Though I named it The Shindoverse, the Gold Lady became the face of this new site. She’s always been a better ambassador of my brand than I can ever be. There’s room for other works though. 


I put off on making the site live after I got most of the pages up as I needed to put text and captions where needed. It was simply procrastination. I finally got the text where I needed it around the start of the year and here it is. I also started posting on The Shindoverse Notebook, more or less going with a New Year’s resolution to write 250-500+ words a day. However, this also represents a step I’m taking in my creative journey, so it’s important to me.


Last summer, I created The Shindoverse blog on my Wordpress account as a way to tell my story, whether with the creative journey or other things, like having dealt with prostate cancer over the past two years. It has recently found use as the mirror blog for The Shindoverse Notebook. It’s not completely out of line with the purpose I outlined on the blog and there’s room for discussing a wide variety of things under my creative journey or telling my story. 


Over the decades, I have sought to present myself as a writer online, not all attempts successful. All these different manifestations on the web have also been an attempt to develop my voice, whether it has been the stories or the discussion. I’ve come back to having a portfolio. I’ve also returned to having a blog. I hope my use of these things will evolve in way that serves my intentions and my art. 



Reading in this New Year

It's so easy to get caught up in this idea of reading as a writer that it becomes this rule, a dogma. Some writers, like Stephen King in his famous book on writing drives home this point where it's easy to internalize in this way. I have to admit it's easy to feel guilty if the reading falls by the wayside for whatever reason.

When this happens, reading becomes a labor. This takes whatever joy there is in reading a work someone else created out of their own dreams and desires that it destroys the point of reading altogether.

Reading is about listening, hearing the story a writer is telling you. Or, it is to take in the view someone is presenting you. This is what it is to be an active reader.

Sorry, that is the English teacher part of me talking, but it is true. We do live in an age where context is missing and public figures are constantly shouting that that's not what they said. Often, the context is deliberately hid, but a bigger issue is that many of us aren't fully equipped to truly see it, especially when we are caught up in what outrages us.

I got it in my head as a young man that somehow reading a book is like eating it and writing creatively is like shitting out your literary meals. I've never seen it explicitly said like that. However, when you are advised to read to shape your own language and learn the form of wiring, it's easy to come to this view. And I'm starting to realize how warped it is.

I suppose it's better than plagiarism, which is like gobbled up prose that's vomited up too soon and the sick is still very recognizable as the food. Often, it's voluntary like the inaccurate image of Romans going into the vomitorium to disgorge the contents of their stomachs so they can eat more.

This year, I do intend to make reading a more regular practice. I also resolve to get past the baggage so that reading is more the act of listening than it is looking for something to steal. In cultivating the act of listening as a reader, I myself can present my story in a way that the audience can listen themselves.



Facebook and Orange Haze

Over the years, I have come to have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love the connectedness I have with the various groups of people in my life. I hate that I can spend too much time chasing updates. I like when people share funny or interesting updates. I hate that the updates have now become non-stop articles about the orange haze. No, I’m not going to name that, but I’m sure you have a good idea already.

This has become the great crazy maker (to borrow that Artist’s Way phrase) of our time. I’ve gotten to where I’ve gotten rid of the personal crazy makers in my life such as certain friends, a significant other, and even a toxic mentor and my challenge became to cultivate sane contacts, whether they have been in my life for a while or I starting to know them. Now there’s a crazy maker in the background and I didn’t say yes. It’s more like having someone scream outside my house nonstop and I don’t want to acknowledge him, so I play the music to maximum volume.

I understand I’m not alone. I see it on friends’ posts. The problem has become that it’s all I see now.

Before, my problem was that Facebook took my time, my thoughts, and words. I resented yet, yet I could not stop.

Every year, I see friends give up Facebook for Lent. Forty days they don’t post and then they are back at it again. I’ve never tried it as I try to turn this abstaining practice of Lent into something life-changing. It doesn’t always work out that way, but that is the intention.

Here, I have to acknowledge that Facebook changed my life. I’m not saying that it’s great, but i’m not saying it’s horrible. I don’t always like it, though.

There is the orange haze I mentioned earlier. That it shows up in my newsfeed constantly makes me feel like I’m forced to stare at something with my eyelids cut off. There’s the time suck that was an issue long before. And it has a way of taking up time that can be used for reading or writing.

The funny thing is since Facebook is still primarily a text medium is that it doesn’t add greatly to the reading anyone does. I believe that it’s that the reading one does on Facebook isn’t active. People often react and miss things and context is lost. And outrage takes over everything.

In the midst of all that, I see posts that add up to compelling stories. I see interesting ideas and insights from friends. However, it’s the reactive side of posts I see more.

For me, if I decided to try to quit Facebook cold turkey, I would be back right away. It’s what happened when I tried removing the app from my iPhone and iPad. I re-downloaded them shortly after.

I have found that making these blog posts have helped. I don’t want to take as much time as I have before. I haven’t posted this much this week. It’s an opportunity to rethink how I engage on that medium and how much I want to engage elsewhere. It’s also made me think of how I can use that time for things I want to do such as writing and my artwork.


2018: Welcome and Be Resplendent!


2018: Welcome and Be Resplendent!

Welcome to The Shindoverse Notebook, where I record musings and projects and works in progress.


I’ve been working on this new website for some time. It’s mainly designed to feature Resplendence, my MFA creative writing project and related work. Most of it was finished last year, but I kept putting off the finishing touches where it was ready for public viewing. I have procrastinated enough and the new year was a good time as any to get started. 

I’ve also been procrastinating on the writing, art, and other things I want to do and now is a good time to get going on those things. A few years ago, I scribbled down “Be Resplendent!” and it’s easy to say. It’s wonderful advice. The difficulty is in following your own advice. 

This year, I want to take my own advice. This may be making more images of the Gold Lady. It may be writing my personal stories. Visiting faraway planets and their civilizations in my fiction counts. Picking up books and reading them definitely. It may also be learning how to play a musical instrument. Most of all, helping others be resplendent is part of that’s.  

Happy new year and welcome. Be resplendent!