Where Does The Time Go

April 17, 2014

Wednesday’s Child?

I was talking to my employer today about how her little boy was dressed, very French, blue short pants, brown boots, a white shirt and a little red checked ascot/bib.

Tres chic.

Then I realized that I am just shy of two weeks of my return home from my Paris experiment.

I got two messages today from friends in Paris asking me when I was coming back.

Not yet.

Not today.

Not tomorrow.

But, I will be back.

Sometimes the ache that is in my heart is a hard one to describe, it is a mix of nostalgia, soft regret, and the dull lash of the discordant whip I thrash myself with on the occasion, because, I did not make it happen.  I the all powerful, all knowing, all important, I.

But as I was remembering, it was also with a kind of realization that the Paris I go back to will be the Paris of reality, should I choose to return.  Rather than the fantasy that I went in search of.

It will be one in which I make a much harder resolve to go legally, to go to school for real, if that’s how I am going to go, really do it.

I certainly have the connections now and the know how.

Much better than I did last time.

I will go also knowing that I take myself with me.

In my roll-on luggage, in my bike box, I come with.

My employer has had a house guest all week, a sweet woman on her own for the first time in San Francisco.  I have gotten to give her all sorts of suggestions and it was nice to be the go to person when she had a question about where to meander to next.

Yesterday she took the ferry across the bay, first stopping at the Ferry Building for the Farmer’s Market.  Today it was a trip to the DeYoung with a pit stop at a cafe, FlyWheel on Stanyan, that I had recommended.

I like that I get out and see things and pay attention and go places.

I like that I went to Paris.

Scratch that.

I love that I went.

I don’t like the pride, vanity, and lack of humility that I have beaten myself up with over the last year for not having done it perfectly.

The constant seeking for perfection, in this country and that country, so that I can prove to you, who?  Not really certain who this mythical “you” is, how wonderful and perfect and amazing I am, and now please love me unconditionally.

You know the only person who is capable of loving me unconditionally is myself.

So, I choose that today.

To let my process be what it is and be really ok with that.

I told my employer’s house guest about how the Parisian children don’t have school on Wednesday’s and so Wednesdays were always a day I could find work, in fact, they were the most sought after day and the day I made the most money.

It was the day I would take the train in from the 9th out to Corbevoie, which was just out past La Defense.  It was a long commute and sometimes, often times, in the beginning of the job, it was dark when I left and just becoming light when I got there.

But I always got there.

The little girl I took care of in Corbevoie was named Nenna and she was six.

I tutored her in English.

Mostly, though, we just played and watched videos and sang silly songs, we went to the park a year ago today, it was our last day together.

The next week I was going to be leaving for Rome and the week following I would be leaving for the U.S. again.

Our last day together was really pretty and warmer than it had been, last year the winter was long and dreary, cold, wet, it snowed a lot, and the Spring was so long in coming, but that day, it was sunny, and we went to that park near her house and she ran around while I watched the other children run about and kept to myself on a bench off to the side of the park.

I am a bit of an anomaly here in San Francisco as a nanny.

I was even more so over in Paris.

But I was good and Nenna loved me and I her.

I also had some sweet charges that I still recall fondly in the 7th–Adele and her brother Cole–who were both precocious and smart and fun.  I loved Adele, Cole was a handful and I got to be fond of him, but his sister had my heart the first time we met and it was difficult saying goodbye to her.

My last night with Adele she stayed cuddled in my lap the entire night I was there, until bed time when I tucked her and Cole into their bed–a bunk bed–and they both sat in my lap and we all read books together.

Their’s was the home that I made my forlorn phone calls home to, the parents had a carrier that allowed them free phone calls anywhere in the world, so whenever I was there at some point I made a phone call.

It made me realize, quite quickly the people who I was close to, the ones that I called more than once, the ones I reached out to.

I do long for a Spring in Paris, a summer too, although I know that’s just crazy talk, summer’s in Paris can be really unbearable, but so too are summer’s in Wisconsin, and the first time I ever did go to Paris it was August.

I won’t ever forget that trip either.

It started something.

I don’t know when I will be back, but as the days lengthen here and I look around my home I don’t know that I can imagine leaving.

Yet.

It may be that I have some things to accomplish here first.

It may be that I will get to be a traveller again.

On a different pay scale, I should hope.

I don’t want to experience the Paris of a starving artist again.

Once was more than enough.

“When did you get back?” An old acquaintance I had not seen in, well, almost a year, asked me this past Sunday at an anniversary party of a mutual friend.

“Oh, I’ve been back for a bit, lived in East Oakland, then landed out in the Sunset, out on 46th between Irving and Judah.” I replied.

“You look amazing, and I am sure it was a challenge, but you know, you are so loved here, you belong here.” He smiled and hugged me and said, “welcome back.”

It was a sweet reminder that I am wanted and accepted.

Here.

There.

And everywhere in between.

Knowing in my heart that I don’t have to commit to being anyone other than my flawed self is a relief, knowing that my community loves me is a gift.

Allowing that love in is the work of a lifetime.

Whether I am in Paris.

Or San Francisco.

Or anywhere else for that matter.

Wednesday’s child, though, I miss you, little one.

I hope your day out at the park was as lovely as mine.

Wednesday's Child

Wednesday’s Child/Paris

Wednesday's Child

Wednesday’s Child/San Francisco

All the Bunnies Go Boom*

April 16, 2014

I mean, what else would all the bunnies do?

I am betwixt a rock and an Easter basket.

I just realized, even though I sort of knew, that this Sunday is Easter.

Not got a plan for that one.

I could re-enact a great scene or seven from my child hood wherein I hide my Easter basket in a hideously hard place to find it, then torment myself for not being able to find it, then eat all the chocolate in it when, in tears I finally locate the fucking thing.

Thanks mom for many memories of Easter trauma.

Not too closely followed thereafter by fond memories of being in kindergarten and having mom break the news that there is no Santa Claus.

I had already suspected, but my younger sister was abjectly heartbroken.

To give my mom some credit she was just trying to ease the pain of us watching our cousin, whom we happened to live with at the time, opening the largess of Christmas from the mom and the recently separated dad, pending a divorce, both parents had gone over the top for their solo offsprings affection.

Nothing says good times like having just turned six the week before, don’t remember at all if I did get a birthday present that year, and then watching my cousin rip into her presents on Christmas morning.

I can even remember the dingy fawn colored carpeting of the steps that my sister and I sat on that ascended from the living room to the upstairs bedrooms.

Bedrooms I did not have access to either.

My room was a mattress in the basement.

We didn’t have a lot as kids.

Mom had a room that she must have shared with my sister, my aunt had her own room and my cousin had, of course, her own domicile, which was smashed with Barbie’s and Barbie corvettes and Barbie Dream Houses and Barbie shoes, and more crap all Barbie.

And the gigantic, SOLID chocolate Easter bunny she had won at the Easter egg hunt in Warner park that Spring.

My sister and I got to sit and watch that too.

The torture of a child eating chocolate in front of two other little kids who don’t have any is horrid.

Watching my cousin savor that chocolate for over a week drove me to distraction and I think my sister to tears more than once.

If life was fair my sister and I would have found that god damn chocolate egg with the congratulations you won the whole damn egg hunt before it even started.

I mean.

She really did.

My cousin that is.

We walked out into the field, had just barely begun, wasn’t more than a minute, children flocking all around, scrambling to burrow through the bushes, it was cold, not snowing, but frosty, and grey overcast (if it doesn’t snow around Easter there’s something wrong, it typically does, the weather gets all cheeky, then either the weekend before or the week of Easter, it snows, at least according to my memory), my cousin hadn’t walked more than five feet when she bent over and plucked the plastic egg from the grass.

The winning egg.

Repeat sad face of Christmas when my sister and I watched from the stairs.

I think my sister might have won a little prize too, maybe a package of dusty yellow peeps, that were promptly eaten in the car on the way home, while my cousin sat proper and straight holding the biggest chocolate bunny in the world in her lap.

She didn’t even unwrap the thing.

The willpower.

Not something I have ever been able to muster.

Surrender.

Oh yes.

But willpower, like that?

No.

The fact that she eked out eating that bunny for over a week still amazes me.

My basket, little chocolate bunny, not a solid one, mind you, a few smatterings of jelly beans (hate jelly beans, never liked them, gross candy along with licorice) and I think one Cadbury egg cream.

I loved Cadbury eggs.

Gimme!

My sister’s basket might have lasted into the next day.

Needless to say, Easter in my house was never that much fun, although, my mom, in hindsight really fucking tried.

We always dyed Easter eggs.

With Paas Easter Egg coloring kits.

With the little wire egg holder and the little paper cut outs of bunnies and chicks.

I can remember the smell of the vinegar that my mom would mix with the Easter egg dye.

And then dipping the eggs and making stripes.

The eggs drying in the kitchen.

And then after we went to bed, my mom would hide the eggs.

Easter morning the hunt was on.

For the Easter baskets of course, but also for the eggs, and inevitably, I mean every year, one would not turn up.

Until weeks later.

And you knew where it was from the smell of it.

Whew.

My sister and I never ate the eggs.

Only mom.

I remember watching her peel an egg with a very satisfied expression on her face, the shell crackling down as she rolled it along the table top, then the shells falling away and the egg emerging a gray, brown, weird red or blue-green, from the dye soaking through the shell, and then she would put salt and a little pepper on it and eat it with the most smug look on her face.

It smelled awful.

Funny how much I like a good boiled egg now.

Not so much then.

It grossed me out.

I liked the hunt.

The adventure of finding was more appealing than the actual reward that was given, if any.

I don’t think we got more candy for finding the eggs, it was just the finding of the eggs.

And the basket.

I usually found my sister’s first, and would grouse about how easy my mom had hidden it.

Please, mom, in the oven, again?

Then I would become more and more morose as my own failed to appear and my sister happily gnawed on peeps.

Also an absurd candy that icks me out.

I don’t recall this, but according to family legend one year I found both my sister and my Easter baskets before anyone else was up and I ate all the candy in both.

Oops.

So, mom always made a point of hiding mine in the most challenging of spots.

The year my cousin won her foot high solid chocolate Easter bunny I had almost given up, it had taken hours and I still had not found it.

Only when I went digging for my mittens in the wicker hamper holding all the scarves and mittens and hats, did I find it.

Remember, Easter’s cold in Wisconsin.

I need my mittens to go out and I couldn’t find both, so I dug to the bottom, nearly toppling over the hamper, when my fingers grazed the handle of the basket.

At last!

Finally.

I burst into tears.

My mom and my aunt smoking cigarettes and drinking instant coffee in the kitchen laughed out loud at my cries of relief.

I could let go Santa, but I was having a hard time letting go the Easter Bunny.

I don’t have any plans to go hunting through the grass this weekend.

But maybe I will go out and get myself a little Easter gift.

Perhaps a new bonnet.

We used to get one of those too.

That was the best part for me, the new Easter hat my sister and I always got.

That’s what I remember the most.

My sister with her long dark hair in ring curls topped with a straw boater hat that had a black ribbon around it tied into a bow–the ends of the bow draped over the back of the hat and moved with it when she shook her head, and she was dressed in a white sailor dress with a navy ribbon square lined collar,  lace ankle socks and patent leather mary janes finished the look.

That’s my best Easter memory.

Getting ready to go to Easter Sunday dinner at my grandparents house in Lodi and my sister in her Easter bonnet rig.

And despite the poverty of it, looking back, it was exactly what it was supposed to be.

I had a perfect childhood, give or take a chocolate bunny, given enough time and perspective.

It was indeed a grand life.

*No rabbits, chocolate or otherwise, were harmed in the writing of this blog.*

 

All the Animals

April 15, 2014

Today I just had one monkey and with that in mind I asked mom for a permission slip to go on a field trip.

Academy of Sciences here we come!

I really did ask for a signed permission slip.

That’s the policy at the Academy in regards to nannies and caretakers. If you go with your charge and the family membership with a note from the parent and the signature matches the card and the family member states your full name, upon showing your id saying that you are said person, you get in free.

That’s a lot of freaking effort to pull the wool over someone’s eyes, but apparently they used to have a lot of problems with people sharing the membership.

I don’t know what the cost to go is, I cannot remember the last time I paid to get in it.

As a practicing nanny I go lots of places with the kids and don’t pay my way in, the family covers the cost, or if I do pay out-of-pocket, I get reimbursed.

Discovery Museum.

MOMA.

Carousel in  Golden Gate Park

Maritime Museum.

Randall Museum is free, but gone there lots too.

Little Farm.

Redwood Steam Trains.

Definitely done that.

Don’t forget I also dated the grandson of the original engineer who built the train tracks up in the Berkeley hills.

Nannies need loving too.

So, today’s adventure was off to see the fishes and the snakes and the frogs.

The python’s, not my favorite to visit, but they had my charge spell-bound.

On a normal day I take loads of photographs of my charges and send them willy-nilly through the air to the parents phones via text.

Not so much today.

The lighting in the Academy sucks for photos.

Flashes are useless in the underground aquarium and reflect off the curved walls of glass. Plus, the light is super low and back-lit and my charge, though definitely enjoying himself was super serious in regards to his watching the fish.

At one point we were in the underground part where there is a tunnel that you can go below the aquarium and be surrounded by fish and turtles and all manner of creatures paddling about, and he just sat in my lap and watched.

It really was pretty amazing.

In fact, I saw two fish playing together.

I never thought about that before, playful fish, but they really were, they were having a good time chasing each other around. I could almost imagine them having a goofy little conversation.

The Academy was far busier than I thought it would be, and then I realized it was probably Spring Break. There were too many big groups of kids and they weren’t tourists, they seemed kids on vacation with mom and dad and maybe a daycare or two had a group.

But a lot of kids were running around.

Poking fingers here and there, slapping the glass to get the attention of a penguin, the penguin exhibit was a lot of fun today for my charge, though.

One of the penguins was paddling close to the aquarium wall and was following us back and forth as we were walking. It was close to lunchtime and I suspect he was thinking I was bringing him some food.

But it was close to lunch time and we needed to go, so off we went, reversing our travels from the Academy in the park, through the park, back out to Stanyan and yup, there he goes, with his little paw stuck in his bag of snacks, a sleep.

And then it happened.

The most illusive of all animals showed his face.

The nap Unicorn.

You don’t believe me do you, but there is such a thing.

It is a magical beast that bestows nannies with the gift of a quiet sit down lunch without a charge underfoot. You don’t need to be a virgin to be gifted by the nap Unicorn, he will bring you things with no strings attached, like the New York Times Sunday Magazine supplement, and after lunch cups of tea, and quiet.

Glorious quiet.

The nap Unicorn brought me an undisturbed three-hour nap.

THREE HOURS.

The last time I was visited by this mythical beast was the first day I had with my Thursday girl, who immediately endeared herself to me for taking such a gigantic nap on our first day together.

This charge today has never taken a three-hour nap with me.

I have heard that he will and has for his parents on a rare occasion, but never for the nanny.

Often it is because his little companion that I also have a share with is not a big napper, 45 minutes, twice day if I am lucky. And they don’t often overlap with my other little boys nap schedule.

Today, said short napping charge was on vacation with his family.

So, I had only one charge and one very long nap.

Oh glory.

It was lovely.

Though I will admit that after two hours I start to be on pins and needles anticipating when the wake up would happen. I had his lunch ready to go an hour before he was up.

In fact, I actually went and checked on him to see if he was still asleep.

I mean, I totally believe in the nap unicorn, but I still had to see for myself that it was true.

Although, now that I am thinking about it, one should never look the Nap Unicorn in the mouth, take the gift and don’t question it whatsoever.

I mean, I even read through the entire April issue of 7×7 as well as the New York Magazine and the entertainment section of the Sunday portion of the newspaper.

What a nice Monday.

Then I got done and got to see a lovely friend and confirm some dance plans for next Friday.

Monday, you are not always this nice an animal.

We need to meet like this more often.

Glad to have met your illusive acquaintance.

 

Perfection

April 14, 2014

You are not my friend.

“I just realized, I mean, truly, deeply, madly, how insane my need for perfection is,” I said to my friend on the phone today.

I mean I am off my rocker with needing it.

It could just be that I am über aware of it.

I see it’s roots so deep in my psyche and I wonder will I ever extract it.

“Gratitude, you get be grateful about this, and laugh, have fun with it,” she said to me yesterday as I was letting it go and surrendering again.

Surrendering this old, old as the hills, old as the age spots on the back of a bent old man pate, old as the sun, old as the rain, old, old, old, idea that I am unlovable unless I am perfect.

And in the pursuit of that perfection I isolate myself, not the perfect body, not the perfect job, not the perfect outfit, certainly, not the perfect hair, no matter how many different filters I use on Instagram, it’s still just hair, it could use a trim too, and I will continue to be on my own until I let myself get vulnerable enough to not be perfect.

To let go my pride, my vanity, which is ultimately some warped kind of self-loathing, that too, does not serve me.

Whew.

Where did all this come from?

I am not a great scooter rider yet.

Bwahahahahaha.

That’s my brain.

I can’t get it down, I am not smooth off the start,  I am still awkward with the brake, I had to re-start it twice, I had to let people pass me at intersections, I am just so not good enough, why did I ever bother?

Oh.

Good fucking times.

Ha.

I had gone out and practiced today, and it’s a practice, let me remind myself.

Practice, not perfection.

A slow, gradual, sustainable learning.

I don’t need to be whipping across town on my scooter, yet.

I can take it slow.

I have options.

There wasn’t even anywhere for me to go.

I had an idea I might, might try to head over to Stonestown.

I wanted to see how close the YMCA was to me and I am interested in getting a membership there.

They have a pool.

I like to swim.

I made it to Kirkham and knew that I was not going to go to Stonestown.

I live between Irving and Judah.

If you’re not familiar with this part of San Francisco, the streets run alphabetical.

So, ugh, yeah, not even a couple of blocks and that goal shattered.

However, I did get it into gear and I did ride and though I did kill it, I also was out on my longest solo ride to date.

And remember, I have only taken out the scooter, including today, five times.

I was out on my own for an hour.

I did swing back by the house and grab a quick snack and throw a Japanese sweet potato in the oven to roast for lunch while I was out making the neighborhood rounds.

I rode up Lincoln to 41st, turned left, rode past Chain of Lakes in the Golden Gate Park, so pretty, so pretty, so pretty, and then wound my way through to the other side, the Richmond side of the park, then dropped down and rode to La Playa and down and back a few more times.

I went around my block a bunch, up the hills a bit on Irving, down to the beach and just around and about.

I got pretty good at the shifting between second and third and a few times dropped into fourth as well.

But, like when I was learning as a kid, the lowest gear, 1st, is my nemesis.

And not an evil bad nemesis, but a kind I don’t quiet understand yet.

That’s all.

I wasn’t sure if I was not letting out the clutch well, or if it was sticky, a couple of times it seemed that I was struggling turning the clutch to 1st gear.

I am actually going to ask my friend to come out and do another ride with me this week.

And I found out I won’t be working this Friday again, so I am going to practice that day as well.

“Before you know it, you will be zooming around town and it will be old hat, and you’ll be a natural,” my friend gave me a little pep talk as I down loaded my experience as well as my insight around my crazy pursuit of perfection.

Which, thankfully, is not so bad that I didn’t go for it, ie, didn’t try to learn how, didn’t bother to get my motorcycle license or try to learn something new because, unless I can do it perfect, why try at all?

This attitude used to stop me.

I wouldn’t even get out the gate.

The old idea is still there, but I can see it.

I am aware of it.

I have to accept it.

Ah, acceptance, there you are again.

Because it’s not about self-improvement, it’s about self-acceptance.

And allowing myself to fail at stuff, get up, try again.

Roll the scooter through the intersection, pull it up on the kickstand and kick-start it again, wait for the old lady to cross the street, roll the throttle, squeeze, slowly let out the clutch, let off the foot brake and scooter on.

I spent an hour practicing.

Then I took a walk to, well, walk it off.

Walk off the attitude, the adrenalin, and to laugh at myself a little.

I came home, had a great lunch, then made some homemade soup.

This weeks flavor?

Split pea soup with brown rice and organic chicken, broccoli, zucchini, carrots, celery, garlic, sea salt, black pepper, Spike, and onion.

It is sooo tasty.

I had some for dinner when I got back from my later afternoon adventures, which included a successful trip to buy a few new things for my wardrobe and going to see a friend who was celebrating a big anniversary in the Mission.

I rode my bike there.

But I can see riding my Vespa there soon.

With a little more practice and a lot less perfection than I might want.

But with the perfect spice.

Humility.

With a dash of acceptance.

And a big pinch of self-love.

Recipe for a successful day, month, year.

Hell, probably my whole life.

 

Out All Day

April 13, 2014

Up all night.

Well, maybe not all night.

But I realized that I drank caffeinated tea up in ye olde Noe Valley and that was not my intention to do that at 8:30 p.m. in the evening, not at all.

AT ALL.

Oops.

What’s done is done and I won’t die, despite having a speedy mind and some rapidly moving fingers over my keyboard.

Hopefully once I get my frenetic energy expatiated out via my blog I will be able to unwind with some non-caffeinated tea and chill out.

I have things to do tomorrow.

Two things.

Perhaps three.

I really don’t have jack to do tomorrow, but I like to tell myself that I will be keeping busy.  I will make some soup for the week, thinking split pea, and I will go out for a ride or two on my scooter.

I say two, because I believe I may actually get my butt out of the Outer Sunset and go maybe, perhaps further, say to Church and Market.

I have a commitment in that neighborhood at 6:30p.m.

It will go an hour, then I can zip back.

I feel like the traffic on a Sunday at that time won’t be too bad and once I get through the Wiggle I can hit a stretch of streets that brings me down to the Pan Handle and on through the park.

I shall play it by ear.

There’s a big piece of Fell Street that I may not want to navigate until I am a little more comfortable on the scooter.  The park I won’t have a problem with, but Fell, that could be busy.  I will get on my vehicle and scoot around in the morning and see what is what.

Then cook some soup.

Then, I dunno, nap?

Relax?

I was told to explore the joy of living, so whatever that looks like.

Baha.

I actually did ok with that today.

I spent the morning doing my normal little routine, with an extra cup of coffee, one of my few extravagances on the weekend, that and a longer meditation.

I know, coffee and meditation?

But I find I can do it.

And I do enjoy it.

Slowing down for me is not a bad thing at all.

In fact, I slowed down a lot today, I didn’t even ride my bike.

I took the train to my meet up at Tart to Tart, spent an hour there checking in, doing the deal, letting go of some inventory that had to be discussed, then being told to go explore the joy of living.

I got picked up shortly thereafter and rode over the hills and through the woods, sort of, to the Mission and perhaps not to Grandma’s house, but grandma would have approved, to Mission Pie.

Where, I discovered there’s more to them than just pie.

Sat there for an hour then walked with my companion to Scarlet Sage and bought some pretty smelling candles and canoodled about the store.

Afterward I walked back toward Valencia and Cesar Chavez, hit up the Salvation Army, on the hunt to replace my jean jacket, and decide to walk up and down Valencia until I was to be in Noe Valley–dinner date with a salad bar at Whole Foods and a catch up with a girlfriend soon off to Paris.

I walked down one side of Valencia from 25th to 16th, then turned around and walked up the other before heading up to 24th and going up into Noe Valley.

I felt a bit like a tourist and I acted like I had never been there before.

I went into a bunch of stores.

I window shopped.

I found a sweet sweater at Therapy and I got the best tea mug at Viracocha.

In fact, the stop at Viracocha might be my favorite and most adrenalin producing, shopping of all time.

It’s a very cool little store, bit of an artists co-operative, from what I can see, a venue, a vintage store, a music shop, there’s a person playing the piano, the clerk sitting behind the desk is in an old barber shop chair, there’s repurposed furniture, art, cool things that need to be picked up, touched, stroked, appreciated.

I had poked into it hoping the lending library was open, but it had been shut down or was not in evidence so I just noodled around and I saw this very cool Mason jar with a leather tea cozy sewed around it.

$20.

I was torn.

Do I want to spend $20 on a tea cozy?

I mean, yeah, it’s cool, but a Mason jar costs a buck, maybe two, do I need this?  Don’t I have enough tea like things already?

But it sort of called to me.

And then I saw the sign by the piano.

“Recite a poem from memory and receive half off one item in the store.”

Now that could be a big freaking deal if I was buying the $1200 reupholstered vintage couch in the back.

I just wanted the tea cup.

But I wasn’t sure I could do it.

I left the store, but it stayed with me, and yes, when I was walking back from 16th and Valencia, I swung back across the street and peaked in the store.

I walked over to the tea mug and picked it up.

Jar.

Really, it’s a tea jar.

Went over to the counter, said “nice chair,” and then asked if the sign was true.

“Yup, recite a poem and I’ll give you half off,” the clerk said, I was beginning to think he might be the owner, or manager, but I wasn’t sure.

I stood in front of the register, a beautiful old one with the swinging handle to open the cash drawer, and drew in a breath.

“Ok, I’ll do it,” I said and prepared to tell him a poem.

I have done this at Burning Man, recited a poem to a stranger, how could this be any different, but it was.

It was miked.

“Oh, great, now turn around and speak into the microphone,” the clerk said with a wry smile.

My body temperature went through the roof, I could feel myself about to actually start sweating.

“The mic?” I said.

“Yup, into the mic,” he repeated.

Which happened to be next to the piano, which happened to have some one playing jazz on it.

And, yes, I did it.

I recited one of my poems from memory, listening to the soft plink, plonk of the piano being cajoled into a deconstructed and slowed down jazz rag, the mic was mic’ed through the store and I almost jumped when I heard my voice drift down from the rafters.

But I did it, to soft sweet applause after, and I sketched a quick curtsey, told them my name, paid for my half price teacup and collected my new mug.

“That was nice,” the pianist said to me, coming up on my elbow as I was departing the store, high on adrenaline and the quiet applause of the people in the store.  “I really enjoyed playing underneath your poem, we found a nice place together.”

“Thank you,” I smiled, and floated away down the street.

San Francisco you may be a bit gentrified right now, but that experience, surprising, sweet, slightly anti-establishment, kind, and generous, resembled the city I came to twelve years ago.

Came to live.

Came to love.

Glad to make your acquantaince once again.

 

How the Day Gets Away

April 12, 2014

It’s suddenly 8:30 p.m. and I have just finished having my dinner.

Not too late for some, but rather late for me.

And I wonder, how did the day get away and what the hell did I do with it?

Oh, I did plenty, but my head thinks that unless I have gotten a book deal, a screen play written, planned a trip around the world, figured out who is my illusive boyfriend, and what I am going to wear tomorrow night when I go up to Noe Valley, then my day was a waste.

“You get more done on your “down days” than most people get done in a week,” a good friend of mine said recently.

And she’s right.

Perspective, of which I have little, is important.

Just as important that I do the little daily things that make it possible for me to build up to the bigger accomplishments.

Which reminds me I need to write an inventory about getting my MFA in Creative Writing and share that tomorrow and I have conveniently not done that.

Yet.

I will soon.

Just after I get this blog out of my system.

I have to say I love my blog, I adore it, I am its biggest fan.

In case anyone was wondering.

It’s just such a great way for me to continue the practice of writing and letting myself have a forum to do so has to be one of the greatest gifts, unexpected, that I have given myself.

I do, as well, want an MFA in Creative Writing.

I would love to go to The Iowa Writer’s Workshop, or pursue a Stegnor Fellowship–although it does not translate to a degree, or how about Columbia?

I have poked into these programs, even applied for the Stegnor years ago.

Oh, the poor person who had to read my submission.

I cringe at what I sent them.

Slop on a paper plate.

But.

I have learned and then learned some more about writing.

I don’t always have a brilliant twist of word, but I have found a style that suits me and I have a practice and perhaps it will just always be me and you, blog, but hey, it’s better than me and no one.

Today I was supposed to go for a scooter ride with an old friend of mine from Madison, but he mistook our eminent reunion, it’s been over ten years I think, for next Friday.

Today I had off and meeting with him was what I had on my agenda.

Not much else.

Oh the typical, grocery shopping (SafeWay, Noriega Produce, and Other Avenues), laundry (two loads), clean the house (which I always do on the first day of my weekend and since it came early this week, so too the cleaning and the laundry), take out the trash, recycling, compost, write three pages long hand, meditate, and then meet my friend.

Except.

Well, no friend.

He was heading out-of-town and when I sent a query text inquiring where he was, Petaluma was not the answer I was expecting.

What to do?

Shop.

Ok.

I am not the biggest shopper, but I do need to implement some changes into my wardrobe.

“Oh man,” the young dude with the skateboard said to me as we awaited the incoming N-Judah this evening from the Inner Sunset, “I used to have a jacket like that, just shredded it wearing it so much it fell off my body.”

Yup.

My jean jacket has gone from being comfortably worn in to basically falling into denim ribbons on my body.

But I love it.

I don’t even know what the label is.

I bought it at the Sally on Valencia and Cesar Chavez.

That’s the Salvation Army.

I might have spent $4 on the jacket.

I have had it for years, five, maybe six?

Part of it the allure of the jacket is that it’s been all around the world with me–London, Rome, Paris (aren’t you cold in that jacket?  A question I was asked often as I shivered in my bones waiting for the Metro.  Yes.  But I wore a lot of layers underneath it), Burning Man.

And it’s the last location, Black Rock City, that makes it the hardest to give it up.

I have a screen print of a kneeling skeleton praying in supplication with a halo of stars around its head that was done by Breedlove at a Media Mecca Volunteer appreciation party on playa on the back of the jacket.

I love that print.

Maybe what I will do is cut it off and frame the back panel of the jacket.

Anywho.

So, I tried shopping today.

And you know, unless it’s grocery shopping, and I have that down to a fucking science, I am not the best clothes shopper.

I did try.

I went to Nordie’s Off The Rack.

I got lip gloss.

I went to Gap.

I got annoyed.

I went to Anthropologie.

I fled.

I got back on the train.

Oh.

I got rush hour traffic on the N-Judah.

Yick.

But I tried.

And for that I am grateful.

I will try again tomorrow, not that I particularly want to, but I do need to remedy this jacket thing.  As it also is now important to be wearing something more substantial with the scooter.  The wind sort of rips right through my current jacket.

Try again I shall.

I did sneak in a manicure and pedicure and eyebrow waxing.

Oh, who am I kidding, I got the entire face waxed.  I am no lady.  I have a mustache.

Thanks pops I love the coloring of my skin most days and my hair is great, but yeah, I got to wax that upper lip and recently, ugh, in the last few years, my chin too.

I am probably over sensitive to it, but I see it and when I started to see it, it had to go.

Go it did.

Then off to my 6:30 p.m. engagement and after a ride back to the fog and the Outer Sunset and a late, again, for me, dinner at the house.

A house that I loved coming home too, clean, and tidy and sweet-smelling, with fresh sheets on the bed and clean towels hanging in the bathroom.

And a big bowl of home-made soup for my meal.

Last of the black-eyed peas I made this past Saturday.

Tomorrow, another day.

Tonight.

A mellow evening in.

Next week, don’t you fret, I will be shaking my ass and my blog will be a late night affair–dancing is planned.

The day may have gotten past me, but it was still a day of good progress, even without getting what I set out to do done.

Plenty was.

This is how I get things done.

This is how I make great leaps.

I am ready to jump when the time comes because I have done the prep work on my days “off”.

The weekend is young and I have already done everything I need to accomplish this week, except that pesky inventory, who knows what’s going to happen.

Whatever it is, though.

I shall be ready.

Oh yeah.

Bring on the weekend.

 

 

Give Me My Interwebs!

April 11, 2014

I can’t decide what is worse.

Not having the Internet so that I can get online to write my blog.

Or not having anything to write about for my blog.

Probably the first.

I usually come up with something if it hasn’t struck me by this point, I could be doomed to write and ineffectual, although to me, somewhat entertaining blog.

There are times when I sit down, often of late, and find that I don’t have a single thing that makes any sense to write about and something will come up just like that.

Unlike the Internet.

There was a time when I did not use the Internet.

It did not exist.

I do remember this time.

I remember too, when I got my first cell phone and an old friend from elementary school who I happened to bump into on State Street in Madison, said, “oh no, you’re one of those people.”

Yes, I am one of those people.

And now I like my internet and my WIFI and I don’t want to pay for them and if I am going to I want them to work.

Then, too, there was a time when I did not blog every night.

I did not use my computer very much.

I like to watch videos on it that I checked out from the public library.

I am not kidding.

I remember talking to my therapist at the time (not gone to therapy in years, that’s sort of amazing too, when I pause to think on it) that I was annoyed with myself for not understanding or using my computer to better use.

That I was just using it as a monitor to watch the first season of Grey’s Anatomy.

My therapist said, “sounds like you’re using it.”

She was right.

But at the time I wanted to be using it to craft great best-selling novels that would make me famous, outside my own mind, and rich, or at least be able to pay of my student loans and prove that the degree in English Literature was not waste of thousands of dollars.

Like nearly $40,000.

Still paying off that.

But, that’s the only thing that I am paying off.

Scratch that.

I am paying off the Vespa too, but I will have that paid out within the year, that’s the plan anyway.

The student loans are going to be around for a while, unless something happens that I cannot foresee.

Then again, so many things happen that I cannot predict, that I should just keep my mouth shut about it.

I use my laptop a lot more than I did when I first got it.

I am sure that there are many applications that I don’t use that I could, but I am proud of my neophyte ways and the progress I have made with them. I use the Word application a lot, recently, to write my blogs, which is so not how I prefer to use it, but there it is.

I use the Iphoto, a ton, I have thousands and thousands of photographs logged in there and I use the editing in the application quite a bit. Altering over exposed shots to balance them out, working with the little tools to clean up the photos, crop them or enhance the colors.

I enjoy the hell out of that.

Of course I have a library of music on my laptop.

In fact, I have no albums, vinyl or cd, anymore.

Everything is on my laptop.

My slowly decaying laptop.

I need to take her in to the Genius Bar at the Apple store and see about getting the fan replaced and soon.

Recently it started to shut itself off because it was getting too hot.

I do not like this.

No I don’t.

And my IPhone is going through the same thing that happened when I came back from Burning Man last year, i.e., not taking the charge very well.

I could get a new IPhone pretty affordably; I could renew my contact and get a decent discount on it.

How much?

I have no clue.

I was able to get online for a moment and pay off my phone bill for this month, but as soon as I was looking at the phones and pricing, the Internet got wonky and dropped me.

So, I am not to post my blog and I should not be phone shopping at the moment.

Or this is my interpretation in a me centric world, the Internet being all about me, you know.

I should peep the landlord and see if she would restart the modem in her place, I mean if I am going to be charged for it, let it work, man.

Speaking of work.

I don’t have any tomorrow.

Friday free.

I am going to meet up with my old friend from Madison, grab some coffee at Trouble, then go for a ride.   He will have his cycle and I will have the Vespa.

Other than that I don’t have plans, I am interested in seeing what turns up tomorrow.

I could even stay up late tonight.

I could even sleep in tomorrow.

Not like I will do either thing, but I like having the choice.

I keep thinking that tomorrow is Saturday though, and that has been throwing me a bit. I got a hit on OKstupid; I might also have a coffee date with a stranger, who also happens to be from Wisconsin.

What are the odds?

Actually, I think there are a lot of folks from the Midwest out here and we do tend to find each other very quick.

The guy went to UW Whitewater and UW Madison and grew up in Milwaukee.

We’d a least have something to talk about.

I wonder if he was at Madison the same time I was?

That would be funny.

His name doesn’t ring a bell with me at all, but I have run into people here that I went to university with and once in a while I run into someone who knows me from the six years that I ran the Angelic Brewing Company.

The world is a small place.

The Internet makes it smaller.

When it works that is.

Hopefully, it will soon and this blog will go out to the ether and I won’t be concerned about it anymore.

Fingers crossed.

*Posted after three hours of trying to get online*

Oof.

Who’s Reading About Me?

April 10, 2014

I got a bunch of hits to my “About Me” post that the server, Wordpress, uses to help you, the blogger encapsulate themselves and what the purpose of their blog is.

My purpose, is what?

I dunno.

To write.

I went in and re-read my about me post and did some editing.

I have re-edited a number of times.

When I realized that it was going to be more than just a device to publish my book (which is in here, dig around, you’ll find it, poorly edited in all its amateur glory) and began to take it serious.

Which is when I began to write a post every day.

Rain or shine.

In good health or bad.

Although, you may, one of my readers did, see on the occasion a night when I don’t post.

There are two reasons for this.

I am so sick I can’t type.

This does not happen that often.

Heck, I am sick now, though not bad enough to call in sick to work and not bad enough to not write.  No way, no how.

The other?

“Did you get laid last night?” My friend sent me a text after, yes a night of amour.

That does not happen that frequent either, just saying, oh you’ll know if I have, I tend to write about it, though in very vague terms, I am not interested in outing anyone here.

Although a former lover at the time we were trysting found it quite amusing to read of himself.

He sent me a text one day with a cartoon stick man and a cartoon stick woman in bed.

The man asks, “how was it?”

The stick woman replies, “read my blog.”

Yup.

I am discrete though and there have been times I have had a little lovey dovey and not written about it either.

The point I am making is that I write and I write every day and that changed me as a person, as an artist, ie, I say I am an artist, I say I am a writer.  I pursue things to have something to write about, I take Artist Dates for myself, which reminds me, I need to do one of those soon.

I also pay attention to detail, any writer who wants to be good, in my opinion, needs to keep up a pool of images to draw upon.  I am always looking at people, at places, at the color of the newspaper stand and the mailing label graffiti on it.

I need that stuff.

I am an artist and I will beg, borrow, or steal that stuff from the world.

That’s expected.

This all means then, that the blog has become something else, a record of me, a personal diary, yes, to some extent there is that, but I also believe that it has become a way for me to work out what I need to work out and need to address in my life.

Whether it is challenges at work.

Or not having work.

Travelling.

Living abroad.

Hello Paris.

Not living abroad.

Good bye Paris.

Dating.

Okstupid, in my community, the playa, the coffee shop.

Hell, even the street.

Tonight as I was waiting for the light to change, you get one bicycle ticket and you’ll stop at the light too, I had a man drive up to me and admire my person from the other lane.

“You just getting out of school?” He said and smiled.

“Nope, work,” I said, smiled and flashed across the intersection as the light changed to green.

Not exactly true, but true enough.

I was on my way home via a visit to my fellows in the Inner Sunset.

I was flattered, however, to be thought of as young enough to be in school.

Maybe he thought I was working on my Doctorate.

Still have to get my Masters, but you know, it was flattering.

So, the blog becomes a vehicle to express myself as an artist and to learn about myself as a person, loving, falling, dating, not dating, having sex, not having sex, taking a trip, not taking a trip.

And I get to see my own progress and I get to engage in all sorts of surprising ways with others.

I have gotten trips to Rome from writing about what was happening in my life, or Euro Paypal’ed to me in Paris when I was struggling and really in the dumps about how I was getting on, or not getting by, as was the case.

Job offers.

Friend offers.

Yes, sex offers too.

Ahem.

It’s like my own personal dating site.

Ps.  I am single and available for dating.

Ha.

I changed a few other things in the “About Me” piece as well.

I had to update my age, now 41.

I had to update my location, no longer of the mean streets of Oakland or Paris.

I edited it a bit and shortened it and changed the e-mail to my Paypal account.

You can still contribute to helping me write the blog and or publish Baby Girl.

You want to donate: carmenreginamartines@gmail. com is my Paypal account.

Yup.

I will happily go on an adventure and write about it too, if you should have a request.

Speaking of adventure.

I was going to go out and ride my scooter tonight after I got back, love me some Daylight Savings time, there was still light, but the fog was so thick that it would not have been a fun adventure.

I may need to go back and put that down too.

Scooter Girl.

“Girl on the Go” is the underlying thematic to my blog and that still works.

Just may not always be a “girl on the go” on a one speed sparkle whip.

I will be the “girl on the go” on a vintage 1965 Vespa.

Either way, hella cute.

See above note about motorist stopping me to flirt.

I am glad that some one checked my “About Me” out.

It gave me a chance to update and see how much progress I have done in the last year, how far I have come.

Not just geographically, though there is that, moving to and from Paris was a huge deal, but also emotionally, spiritually, mentally, seeing myself grow.

I like it.

I feel like I am blossoming.

And it’s a really pretty bloom.

My life.

It is.

It is.

Kickin’ It Into Gear

April 9, 2014

Fourth gear that is.

Yes, I got the scooter up to 40 mph.

Vroom, vroom indeed.

I also learned how to put gas into the tank today.

Guess how much it cost to fill her up?

$4.02.

Bwhahahahahahahaha.

Giggle.

Granted the tank was about a third full, so it will cost more to fill her up if the tank is empty.

But guess how much it gets per gallon?

Somewhere between 100-109 miles per gallon.

Dude.

Then there was this other thing that happened with it today.

I got my insurance taken care of.

I was referred to an agent by a friend who rides a scooter–also a Vespa–and I got the quote and a good driver discount from the agent of $154.36 for six months.

Six.

I am full on insured, licenced, registered and ready to rock and roll.

I still need loads of practice.

I still killed it once tonight.

But I am getting better.

I have to work on getting used to the brake on the right side of the scooter, which is on the floor of the Vespa and keep my foot more connected with it.

It’s not really comfortable to ride it that way, but I have to learn to let my foot hover over it.  I end up being a bit cramped up and sitting a little further back on the seat than I would like.

I was riding along really well, but my friend noticed that I was not engaging my rear brake fast enough.  So we pulled over by the DeYoung, how awesome to learn how to ride a scooter then by zipping around Golden Gate Park, and he showed me how to hover my foot over the brake more.

I got nervous about it and lost a little bit of the flow of the ride, but I will just keep practicing.

Practice, they say, makes perfect.

I practiced grinning a lot.

I am also going to go out again this week, Friday, with an old friend from back home who’s going to ride along with me on his Honda.

It really is exciting.

It is scary too.

Learning new stuff, not getting killed by large motor vehicles, or by flocks of bicycle racers whipping through Golden Gate Park in large groups doing training rides.

The cyclists were not gentle hearted riders training for the AidsLifeCycle Ride, no, they were serious cyclists, kitted out and riding hard, easily going 20-25 mph through the park.

I had to let them pass me at one point, I did not want to be in the midst of that.

I also crossed my first major intersection with lights.

“We’re going through,” my friend hollered at me, “you ready?”

“No!”

I said and went anyway.

Yeehaw.

God, though, the park, so pretty, even with the thick fingers of fog filing in through the trees.  It really is such a gorgeous spot and I do feel incredible getting to learn in it, not too much traffic, rolling hills, riding past the bison in the paddock, the trees and flowers and the lakes, so much beauty.

Then dropped down to La Playa and there’s the ocean.

It was amazing to pull back into my block and see myself get off the scooter, secure it, tuck away my gloves, lock my helmet to the seat and take a big, deep breath, as well as pocket a SFSG flyer.

What’s that?

San Francisco Scooter Girls.

That’s right.

My friend gave me their flyer.

They are having a 10 year anniversary party on May 10th at the San Francisco Motorcycle Club on Folsom Street–right where I took my motorcycle safety class room portion of the course–I might just have to go.

I typically have a commitment on Saturday nights, but maybe I will ride down from Noe Valley and peep into the club and meet some new folks.

I would love to be a part of the organization.

They provide support for women learning how to ride as well as organizing socials and rides.

How much freaking fun would that be?

Ride out with a bunch of girls and terrorize the mean streets of San Francisco.

I am in.

The party is a few weeks out and fingers crossed, I will be up to riding cross town by that point.

I am going to keep practicing in my hood and eventually, not this week, but maybe once next week, I think I am going to try riding into my job in Cole Valley.

I don’t think that I will be quite ready to tackle the job in the NOPA–lots of morning commute traffic–or the job in the Castro–huge hills.

But sooner rather than later, I will.

It’s just a matter of time and I don’t think it’s going to be nearly as long as my brain tells me it will.

There are also a few supplies I want to get for the scooter–some gloves, plastic mechanic’s gloves, to keep in the little side compartment, so when I fill up the tank I am not getting gas on my hands.  I have to pay attention to pumping it in, as well as needing to mix a little two-stroke motorcycle oil in with the gas when I fill the tank.

Then there’s the need for a better placed rear view mirror.

And last, but not least, a net that I can put over the rear seat so that I can haul groceries back on it.

Oh groceries.

I can go over to Rainbow again.

I can get more than a messenger bag full of groceries.

I look forward to this, I do.

I also am just enjoying the ride.

Having fun, being silly.

Yelling at my friend as we turned a corner of road, “Bwack! Bwack!”

Now, to anyone over hearing me, I sound like a lunatic.

But it’s an inside joke that we have had running now for over seven years.

He and I and my friend Shadrach had seen this crazy martial arts movie years back and it was so bad it was good.

I mean, so bad.

The main character at some point or other Shanghai’s a scooter and is riding it like a madman through the streets screaming out “Bwack! Bwack!” as the pedestrians fling themselves to the side of the road.

We all fell out of our seats laughing.

And you couldn’t have told me then where my life would be now, nor that I would have a scooter.

All the little things that add up to today, even when today is not that huge a deal, it was just an hour and a half with my friend cruising around the park.

But it was the culmination of time and teeny tiny baby steps toward getting on the Vespa at all.

The journey has been amazing.

Can’t wait to see where it goes next.

My Heart’s Not In It

April 8, 2014

Not tonight, anyway.

I don’t feel like I have much to write about and I am battling the beginnings of a cold.

I believe, oh yes I do, that I will not succumb to a full-out and out cold, I don’t get sick that often, and having seen the wreckage of the families over the last few weeks as they all have battled various flu bug and cold bugs I don’t think I got it that bad.

Just bad enough to not really give a damn about what I say or write.

Not bad enough to not write, even though I am not feeling it.

The writing, it shall continue.

I promise you nothing with this blog.

No clear conclusions.

No uplifting messages.

Just me rambling away about this and that, so I excuse you should you not wish to read the blog, go watch Game of Thrones.

Yeah, I know, that was last night, but I haven’t seen it yet.

It’s what is going to happen once I finish up my writing for the evening.

A hot cup of tea, a snack, Game of Thrones, bed.

That’s it.

Hot night.

But hey, it’s a school night and I already worked my day and did my deal and rode my bike back and forth, didn’t get killed, didn’t get doored, didn’t get a ticket, didn’t even wear a jacket home on the ride, either.

The weather today.

Stellar.

Gorgeous.

Makes you glad to be alive.

Well, I will speak for myself, made me glad to be alive, cold or no cold, not feeling good or feeling good, it’s hard to be a sour puss when the sun is shining and the temperature reads at 77 degrees.

That’s some nice weather.

Indeed.

Can I just end the blog there?

Ugh.

I got my title to the Vespa in the mail today, all legit and all.

I got my quote back from the insurance folks and will be making that payment tomorrow, then I will be all set to have my scooter ride with my friend on Friday.

Weird to think that this week is a short week.

I wonder what else I will get up to on Friday.

But I can’t think that far out, makes my brain get groggy.

I know I am sick when the brain can’t manufacture fantasy.

It wants to.

Hell.

It always wants too, but there’s not much energy there.

Just enough to piece together some random thoughts about the day.

The park today, Golden Gate Playground, was over run and busy and I found myself corralling my charges and occasionally some one elses.

Not always my favorite thing to do, but I do take my responsibilities seriously and if there’s a kid mucking about with my kids I usually will step in.

The day was sunny, sand was shoveled, a little eaten, shh, swings were swung, slides were slid.

Poop happened.

Naps too.

That’s it.

Oh, and a dance party.

Listened to Violent Femmes, Violent Femmes, at the end of the day and it just brightened up the last half hour of work.  I danced about the living room waiting for the mom’s to come and pick up and I sang and I played with the boys, who were quite amused by my theatrics.

I remembered when I first heard the album, just having dropped out of my freshman year at the University of Wisconsin, Madison (I did go back years later and get my degree, that’s another blog entirely) and suddenly finding myself squatting in a low-income housing apartment complex on the North East side of Madison with a bunch of gutter punks and street urchins.

Included amongst them, my sister, her boyfriend, her best friend, the best friend’s boyfriend, my ex-boyfriend who was dating the woman who lived in the apartment, her two-year old child, and yes, me, recent college drop-out.

How to blow your full ride in one fell swoop.

The college years.

Ah, memories.

Anyway, we loved the Violent Femmes, or they all did, and I soon did and I got to play at being a gutter punk, which I was not so good at, and a bit of a goth kid, also not exactly my style, and I learned some street level cons and we all grifted a bit and ran stupid things like hanging paper and returning things we had bought with bad checks for money and then sitting in the Denny’s or the Country Kitchen, or the IHOP and swilling coffee and smoking cigarettes to beat the band.

I don’t know why we were on the bus or where we were going, but the whole motley crew of us, me, the sister, the boyfriends, the best friend, were headed somewhere on the bus, the one that trolls up and down East Washington, God, we were probably headed to the arcade now that I think about it, Challenges at the bottom of State Street, next to Expresso Royale, and we were singing Add It Up by the Femmes at the top of our lungs.

Hoodlums all.

The bus was not full, but it had enough people on it and they all stayed clear of us.

We were a bunch of little brats having fun, I know that I can look at that fondly and say, yup, I was a brat too, slightly put off by the show that the others were doing, but I found myself joining in the musical fray and belting it out too.

I always did want to fit in.

Still do.

Just not as bad, nor am I willing to change my clothes or my attitude to do so.

I like me just the way I am.

Sick or not sick.

I am a pretty good egg.

And I can still sing out a Violent Femmes tune with great vigor.

Only now to the amusement of toddlers.

Rather than the horror of my elders.

End blog.


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