Gratitude Does Not Even Begin

August 3, 2015

To express the wide range of emotions I have had this weekend.

But as a word, it will have to suffice.

I was so overwhelmed with it at so many points in the weekend that I just felt my heart over full with joy and gladness.

There was no need to look on the sunny side of life.

It was there at all times, surrounding me, welcoming me, showing me the beauty and the awe of the world that I get to live in.

I mean.

Seriously.

Yosemite.

Who am I to say there is no God?

What hand, then made this?

I am not going to get into a theological discussion, I will just say that my love and reverence for the God in my life just continues to grow deeper and stronger and I get to see so much more and see how far my life has taken me and how much more I just have to experience.

I mean.

I need more camping in my life.

Hello.

Of course, as I look at the stack, and the stack is getting bigger–there was another book waiting for me in the hallway to the house when I got back from Yosemite today–I know I have a lot of work, and that the work is only just beginning, but that I will need to have time away from the work to be able to do it strong and well.

I have to fill the well.

The well of images and love and senses.

“That good, eh?” My friend teased me tonight as we sat eating sushi up at Raw on Traval and Sunset.

I had my happy sushi face on.

It was good.

“I’m a sensory person,” I said, and rubbed my belly.

“I’ve noticed,” he smiled and patted my hand.

It’s true.

I like the sensory side of life.

The senses were quite pleased this weekend.

The moving forward, riding in the car, traveling under the light of the high bright blue sky, the pines sloughing in the wind, the smell of pitch, the sound of a hawk keening, the cicadas in the trees last night–how soon I forget the sounds of nature at night–how loud they were in the trees, the sight of the moon rising behind the low-lying clouds in Yosemite and the push of light through the darkened pines, the redwoods and the smell of evergreen needles drying in the sun, the warmth of being by a fire at night, the smell of wood burning, the sounds of a teenage group of kids getting their Saturday night party on in the woods.

So many things to hear and touch and see and smell.

So many things to feel.

The wind on my face as I stood on top of a rock at Glacier Point in Yosemite, 7, 214 feet above sea level, my arms outspread, the tears drying on my face from the sun and the vast expanse of the southern end of the valley rolling majestically before me.

I felt so alive and free and joyous.

It was overwhelming and I was so full of awe and wonder.

Still am.

I got to see Yosemite falls and Half Dome, Clouds Rest, which really, literally looked like clouds were resting on it.

I got to drive into the park through the tunnel on the southern side and was so blown open by seeing the valley from a different perspective than the one I had just witnessed, to get to get out of the car and stand again and the door step to Gods kingdom and marvel at the handiwork.

Of myself I am nothing, the father doeth the works.

I could not ever have imagined.

When I was getting teary in the car and excited and my friends were being silly and giddy and saying, just you wait, this ain’t nothing, just you wait, I couldn’t have imagined the grand spectacle of it all.

I had no comprehension of the size and scope.

I also have no desire to go back at this time of year again.

Although go back I will.

It was super touristy.

In fact, we were able, quite be coincidence and chance, is it odd or is it God, to get around some of the crowds because one of my friends happened to work at Yosemite when he was younger and because my other friend was a super savvy driver and knew how to navigate us around.

But I did get overwhelmed with the people and had a moment of panic.

It reminded me of why I have never actually seen the Mona Lisa at the Louvre, although I have been there three times.

The crowds of tourists threatened to engulf me.

When my friend drove to the look out point just after the tunnel descending down toward the valley floor my other friend, said, “pull over, she needs to look.”

And we got out and went to the vista point.

We got there seconds, it would seem, before a couple of tour buses pulled up and disgorged an inordinate amount of tourists onto the point.

I was sitting on the ledge and my friend was taking a photograph of me and all I could see was this tsunami of tourists rushing to the wall.

I was literally engulfed in an enormous wave of humanity.

I got up and dashed madly away, deserting my friends at the wall and walking through the parking area as rapidly as I could to get away from it.

I am not always the best with crowds and tourists, even when I am one of them too, it can overwhelm the hell out of me.

But.

It was just another part of the experience.

Granted one that made me very cognizant of wanting to come back in May, early May, while school is still in, or mid to late September, when the tourists go home to every corner of the globe and the park is not so overrun.

I will be going back.

I will be going forward, I should say, forward with many dreams of camping under the stars, of wood smoke, and the sound of wind in the trees and the trails ahead of me.

My path and journey I do not always know, but I know I need more of what I got this weekend and I am grateful.

Oh so grateful for this, yet another life affirming, experience.

For love.

For my friends.

For joy.

And for the sense to say yes when the gift was offered.

May I always be so graced to allow myself to accept these gifts.

May I always know this depth of love and gratitude.

Thank you friend.

Thank you for an experience I did not even know that I was missing.

And now this full and thank full heart is ready for bed.

And that too is something to be grateful for.

A home to come home to.

An anchor point to my travels and my life.

My life.

It really is.

Well.

Spectacular.

Get Out of Dodge!

August 1, 2015

Or at least San Francisco.

It’s actually happening.

I am, in fact, going to go to Yosemite tomorrow.

Like early.

Way early.

I’ve just finished packing, I’m only going for tomorrow and half of Sunday, so it wasn’t a hard trip to pack for, just a quick down and dirty, and fortunately for me, I have a bunch of Burning Man food staples in my cupboard, so I just raided that guy.

I’ll need to replenish a little when I get back, but I got time.

Not much time, granted, but some.

Time.

I spent some of that precious coin today.

I read for five hours.

Five.

Well, maybe more like four, I took a couple of breaks for the bathroom and to have lunch, but I really kicked it out.

I have, in fact, completed the reading for one of my classes for the retreat, that will also go beyond the retreat.

One of the classes, I realized after looking over the syllabi, is only during the retreat–a sort of seminar on Yoga and the practice of meditation–for which there is only one book.

It’s still a book that has to be read by the end of next weekend, but I can do it.

The really big reading, I got out-of-the-way today.

Things to think about as I go forward, and I”m just ruminating here, I need to find a more comfortable reading position.

Although I do find it hella funny that I am studying psychology texts from a chaise lounge.

I’m already set up with my “office” furniture.

Freud would approve, I’m certain of it.

The other is a realization that I have don’t have the same coping mechanisms as I did when I was in undergrad.

Namely blowing off steam by going out and drinking with a bunch of my co-workers from the Angelic Brewing Company.

I didn’t rely on drinking to get me through undergrad.

Or did I?

I know that I was a maintenance drinker and I daily drank, I ran a brewing company, it was inevitable that I would be drinking the beer, but I kept it to a “dull roar” I never had more than five pints per shift, and the majority of that drinking was in the late hours of the evening, I didn’t really drink on the job, once in a while a shot.

I drank when I was done counting out the money.

And the king was in the counting house counting out the money/while the queen was in her chamber eating bread and honey.

I didn’t want there to be any question as to the reliability and the integrity of my word while I was securing the tills and the check outs from the various bartenders, waiters and waitresses, the cocktail staff, even the door money which I had to count and distribute to the band that was playing that night, or to the promoter or dj.

I was responsible to a fault.

But I did drink and I had that valve to release steam.

And I often procrastinated to the nth hour.

I am extraordinarily efficient and could manage to write a fifteen page paper on King Henry the V and do it in one night and get an “A” on the paper.

I don’t, obviously, want to employ those kind of tactics to my graduate degree.

I figure, as I have so well learned over the last ten and a half years, that the slow daily progress, the sustained, continual effort, is what is going to work the best for me.

Small chunks, small steps, always moving forward.

Always doing a little something.

And some of the work is going to be easier than others.

The reading I completed today was super dense and had a new theory or concept every other paragraph.

Fortunately I am not finding anything beyond my comprehension.

A few concepts I can see I will need to go back and review them to remember and recall with efficiency and adequate understanding before heading into the first class dynamic, but I’m getting the material.

I’m also very glad that I didn’t put off the reading.

It was up in the air whether my friends and I were going to be heading out, hinged on a couple of factors, and so instead of thinking, oh, well, I’m probably going to be here in town, I can wait until tomorrow or Sunday to do the reading, I saw my spot today was clear, no work (at least not the kind where I draw a paycheck) and I sat myself down on that chaise and got to it.

I’m so grateful that I get to do this.

I remind myself that this is an astounding gift, if life were fair, I would not be in graduate school.

If life were fair.

Well.

I’d be dead.

Circumstances being what they are in my life, I have been graced and given another (umpteen it would seem) chance to do it right.

Doing it right is also taking the calculated risk, the jump, the leap, the sure, I’m ready, let’s do it, last-minute drive to Yosemite, I’ve never been, what a way to say goodbye to July and hello to August.

Because August is its own monster of a month and well, let’s see it come in like a lion.

It will go out like a Burning Man.

I already know that.

Or perhaps I should say, let it come in like a bear, I hear there are some bears out in Yosemite.

The month of August will hold my “normal” work week, next week, then an eight-day retreat for school in Petaluma, then a five-day work week in Glen Ellen (I haven’t figured out exactly how that’s going to transpire, I may not even come back to the city to only turn right back around to go work in Glen Ellen while the family takes its last summer vacation before the boys start school), after Glen Ellen, I come back, work another week in the city, then end that by leaving for Burning Man.

Oh.

And I have papers due by August 23rd from the work at the retreat and from the reading I just wrapped up today.

Yeah.

Busy month.

So.

The pleasure is all mine to say.

Adios! Good bye! Farewell! See ya!

I’m going off the grid for the next 36 hours, I’ll be back Sunday.

Have a great weekend!

The Opposite Action

July 31, 2015

From what I think I should do is usually the action I need to take.

So.

With that in mind, I slept in a second day in a row, just because, wow, bed, it’s a nice place to be.

“Where did you go on summer vacation?”

To bed.

“Where did you camp on summer vacation?”

In bed.

I jest.

A tiny bit.

Bed, it was nice.

I did get up and I did take care of business, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t, now would I.

I did the deal, I read the works, I said the words, I knelt, no I did not genuflect, fuck off, but I did get humble.

I find that kneeling puts me in a place of humility, it drops me into a level of acquiescence to do that opposite action that I so often do not want to take.

Like.

Um.

Having fun.

Yeah, I know, how hard is it to have fun?

Well, you see, it’s just not allowed.

“I love coming over to your place, it’s like there’s a party going on whenever I come over.”

AW!

That might be one of the nicest things I have had said about my little home.

Beats the time I had a friend over to my place in Nob Hill and she said it was like being in a shop display.

I wasn’t sure how to take that, in fact, I’m still not.

But it felt like a backward compliment.

The former statement though, about my place being a party makes me happy to hear, I like that, and it is a celebratory space and a comfy space and, dare I say it, a welcoming space.

I could use better communal seating, no couch, but it’s not bad for the size of what I have, there’s a chaise and a table and four chairs and my bed and it works.

Plus lots of art and I like to burn candles and I like listening to music while I’m here.

It is a party, my party, I’m the main attendee, but you know, I do like guests, so you know.

Anywho.

After doing my morning, or dare I say, my early afternoon routine, I knew I wanted to do two things, one was cook some food up for the next few days so I wouldn’t have to eat out, and the second, was to yes, take the suggestion that has been given to me more than a few times this past week, go out and have fun.

Well, damn it, ok.

I guess.

I did my morning writing and realized while doing it that, yes, I do want to go to the Turner Exhibit at the DeYoung, but I would like to go with my friend who brought me down to LA to see the LACMA and the MOCA.

He’s a big art fan too and I want to go on a museum date with him rather than a solo outing on my own.

Although, I may change my mind and just go tomorrow anyway.

But today, what sounded like fun was being a little silly and being a little girly and being a little Burning Man.

I made plans to go to the Upper Haight.

But first!

The stuff of life.

I went to Noriega Produce and picked up a few essentials and then popped into Establish to look around, I always find something I like there and today it was a card, I owe someone a thank you and I found a sweet little card and it felt pretty darn nice to write a note and drop it in the mail later on today when I was in the Haight.

I got back from the market and cooked up lunch, and what was dinner and will be lunch and dinner for me tomorrow as well (and stuck one container in the freezer to bring to Burning Man, slowly but surely accruing all my food stuffs, I don’t have much left to prepare for, except picking up some apples to take with me, but that won’t be until I’m on the road)–sautéed organic chicken thighs with onions, garlic, white sweet corn, and brown mushrooms along with a pot of brown rice.

Then I hopped on my bicycle, despite rather not wanting to ride, I had a feeling I needed a little exercise and the ride provided just exactly what I needed, and headed up into the Haight.

I went to Good Will and found the dress of the century.

I have never been so lucky at a Good Will.

Ever.

I found a fantastic kelly green and white polka dot 70s vintage sun dress with rushing in the back and a full swing out skirt, it has a sweet heart neck line that ties around the neck with strings and it made my heart sing when I tried it on.

I wanted to come out of the dressing room and parade around the store, “look at me!  Look what I found! I never find stuff like this!”

I restrained myself, barely, and gleefully changed back into my street clothes, but don’t you worry, I’ll be wearing that dress tomorrow, heck it might make for the perfect thing to wear on a museum date with myself, and it will definitely be going out with a big old crinoline underneath it.

After my score at Good Will I was riding pretty high.

I went to the two dance shops on the block and picked up two pairs of ruffle panties, white and black, because every body, I do mean, everybody, men and women, should have a pair or two of ruffled bloomers for Burning Man, and besides they were $5 a pair.

Come on.

Then the other dance shop where, yes I did, I scored a tutu for $13!

Hell yes.

And.

It’s hot pink.

So I’ll have something to match my hair to.

Ahem.

I have one jar of Manic Panic I am reserving for after I work with the family again in Sonoma–I get in the pool a lot with the boys and I have no intention of doing my hair hot pink only to have the chlorine strip it right back out.

Learned my lesson on that one already, thank you very much.

I also picked up a five dollar pair of patterned fish nets at the store.

Quite pleased with myself, I made my last stop of the shopping trip–The Sock Shoppe.

Oh.

How do I love thee?

Let me count the tights.

The funky ones and the butterfly ones and the checkerboard patterned and the flowered ones, and oh yes, the fancy high end ones with a love song lyric scrolled over the legs, I’ll take those too.

I have a Sock Shopped addiction.

But I only hit the place once a year, pre-Burning Man, and I was well within my budget.

So.

I had fun.

And fun wouldn’t be fun if I didn’t stop at Free Gold Watch.

That’s right.

I got my pinball on.

Damn Gina.

It was good.

I had raided my piggy bank for quarters before I left the house.

Two games of The Machine–Bride of Pinbot and Ten games of the Addams Family.

I had fun.

I absolutely did.

And I took the other suggestion and did no graduate school reading today.

I just let myself have a day off.

Simple stuff, shopping, cooking, writing, a bicycle ride, a few pinball games, some butterfly tights and a tutu.

Life is really good.

Especially.

When I get the hell out of my own way.

And take the opposite action.

Your Assignment

July 30, 2015

Should you so accept.

Is to.

Have fun.

Aw.

Man.

Really?

I’m sorry, didn’t you see that gigantic stack of reading I have to do on the table in my little kitchen area–which is also now my study area/work desk/cry in my coffee and stress area.

No.

Fun is out of the question.

“I think you shouldn’t do any reading the weekend,” he said to me at the Church Street Café this evening as lay my head down on the table and the tears seeped out of my eyes.

I sat back up.

“That’s not an option,” I said.

In fact, as I was leaving my domicile this evening to take the N-Judah to Church and Duboce I walked out the door as the mail man was delivering another textbook to my house.

Five down.

Two to go.

And this sucker was a big one.

I spent about an hour and a half reading this afternoon after running some errands and grocery shopping.

Yes, people, I did sleep in.

And yes it was glorious, but at some point the call of the bed faded to the call of breakfast and I got up and went on my merry way.

I was supposed to be harkening to the call of fun, but I did not answer the door when it called.

Instead it took me 90 minutes to read 30 pages in the text-book for Human Development.

I had looked at the syllabus and thought, oh hey, only three chapters to read in this one, no biggie, I can totally knock that out before I go meet my person at Church at Market at 6:30p.m. in fact, I may even have time to sneak up to Whole Foods and grab a couple of things that I couldn’t get between Outer Avenues, my food co-op up on 44th and Judah, and Safeway.

But no.

That’s not what happened.

I was barely able to finish one chapter, truth be told, I did not actually finish the chapter.

The chapter was 50 pages.

The three chapters are composed of 150 pages, slightly longer than I had first surmised.

And I’m still thinking in novel size books, not text books, this tome I was reading, is just that, a tome.

It is a big hefty ass book.

If it were an ass it would be callipygian.

I digress.

The book is a text-book, the language is scholarly, and again, I am finding that the concepts are not beyond my grasp, but that I have to read with a different kind of eye, that I have to slow down and make sure that I am absorbing the ideas.

There are a lot of ideas going on.

And there are a lot of words on the page.

I would say double what a novel is and so, yeah, it’s taking me longer.

I have to remind myself, too, that I am not in the reader mode yet, I am discovering what I need to do, how I  need to sit, where I need to sit for that matter.

How I read.

I mean, yes, I do have an undergraduate degree, but it was in English Literature and well, people I’m a fiction reader, so the reading for that was not so difficult, nor arduous.

I’m reading literal ideas and thoughts, it’s not so much a narrative, but a fact gathering, complying, and understanding.

I’m also getting a very holistic, as in whole picture, view of what my field is going to be covering.

Ultimately I will be a therapist and I am certain that the skills really necessary to have are not going to all come out of a text-book; however, they are going to be based there and the knowledge needs to be firmly implanted in my brain.

I made the decision while reading the text-book for my Human Development course that I was going to need to go back and actively read the text with a notebook and answer the questions that were coming up in the material–it’s summarized at the end of each section with some tidy little bits of what you’ll need to know, and although I got the gist of the material, I couldn’t spit it right back out.

I’m going to either read all the chapters and then re-read them with a notebook or start from the beginning and re-read using a notebook.

Fortunately, I have some.

Notebooks that is.

I picked up some today while I was out doing my grocery shopping.

Four glitter notebooks.

I’m not sure what that says about me.

But I feel that Freud would approve.

And if not Freud, that anal motherfucker, perhaps Erickson.

I feel a plethora of new knowledge getting slid into my brain and despite not knowing how to accommodate it all and how that it’s all going to get in there, I do enjoy learning and I am grateful that I am going to continue to grow in my knowledge base and to continue to be teachable.

So that, ultimately, I can be of service.

That’s where it’s at.

Irony?

I have to enjoy my life a little too.

I need to strike a balance.

I need to have some fun in there.

I may play hooky, for real tomorrow and figure out what that is going to look like and how I will be flexible enough to let it in, the fun that is.

I have been given this suggestion before and I absolutely do need to implement it.

I may not go off camping, although there is a narrow percentage of possibility on my plate, so if I don’t, I need to do something here in town–go to the DeYoung, see the Turner Exhibit; go to Free Gold Watch and play pinball; go to  a matinée–when I was the last time I went to a movie in the middle of the day?

Or take the ferry out to Sausalito and play tourist.

That is always something I enjoy doing.

Fun will be had.

Damn it.

Let it begin now.

I Might Play Hooky

July 29, 2015

Mwhahahaaha.

I’m going to go over to a friend’s house and have a slumber party.

On a school night!

OOOOH.

Well.

I’m not working tomorrow, the family has left town for a Tahoe adventure and I don’t have to get up at 7:30 a.m. to be at work tomorrow.

I am sleeping in.

It’s my Friday!

I’m not playing hooky from my blog, however, my friend has insisted that I act like it’s a normal night.

But dude, look at the size of your flat screen tv!

I want to watch a movie.

It’s like being in a movie theater, but better, I can put my feet up on the table and not poke the person’s head who is in front of me, because ain’t nobody there.  And there is the added bonus of I don’t have to wake up early, so it’s not a big deal if I write this and then watch a movie, my friend is patient.

And.

The other bonus?

A couch.

Oh sweet Jesus.

It’s awful nice to sit on a couch, I haven’t had a couch to sit on in some time.

I mean, there’s a couch at work, but really, how often am I sitting at work?

Not much.

Although I did have a nice sit down reading session with the boys as mom and dad packed up the car and get ready to leave town.  They timed it perfectly so the youngest was nodding out on my lap ready for quiet time in the car.

“Mama, I sleep in-car, ‘k?” He said at one point, with his sweet little grey cat (used to be white she did) underneath his chin, his weight warm and heavy on my lap made me want to curl up in a little nap ball myself.

I managed to stay awake and not let the sleepy get in me.

The family left the house around 1:15p.m.

I stayed on another three hours, cleaning, tidying, making food for them for when they got back–black bean chili with sautéed turkey and onions, red bell peppers, green chili’s and a batch of corn bread muffins–all to go into the freezer.  All they have to do is take it out and defrost and voila, homemade dinner with no having to think about it.

Occasionally I flirt with the idea of prepping and making food as a sort of side business.

I’m a really good cook and I know what people like.

I also know how to make food that people like that’s healthy.

My housemate actually asked me to help her with some meal planning.

I make food for myself every week, cook up a big batch of whatever is floating my boat at the store, then I supplement with fruit and snack veggies–carrot sticks–at work.

This week I’ve been enjoying turmeric spiced brown rice with stewed organic chicken thighs, crushed tomatoes, onions, garlic, yellow bell peppers.  I mix that all up, stick it in a Mason jar and take it to work, heat it up in the microwave, top it with half a sliced avocado and voila!

I don’t have a problem eating the same thing all week-long.

Makes me happy to sit down with my home cooked food.

But, yeah, I’ll probably not take on anything else right now, I have enough on my plate with the graduate school thing happening and the burning that dude in the desert and maybe, I’ll find out more tonight, doing a brief quick and dirty trip to Yosemite.

Regardless.

It’s the weekend.

It’s my Friday and it may well be my last weekend to have any kind of play time for a little bit.

Though I reckon I will get my playful on at Burning Man.

“You’re the most joyful person I have ever met,” my friend told me last night.

That made me smile.

Though it is true that I have my moments and I have my feels and I get sad, I also get happy.

Happy to be of service.

Happy to be in my skin.

Happy to be out in the unexpected sunshine that San Francisco has been experiencing.

July is not really known for its stellar summer weather, and this has been exceedingly exceptional.

When I rode my bicycle home from the Inner Sunset this evening, I got done early enough at work that I skipped my normal 7:15 pm deal in the Castro and went to 7th and Irving and hit the 6:30 p.m. and even had enough time prior to get my nails done my eyebrows waxed.

Thank you very much.

My friend’s cat is flirting with me.

A couch, a cat, a good friend, a big screen tv.

This “Friday” night is starting out just right.

I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings.

I have a secret to tell you.

I’m not wearing a watch.

I’m not going to set an alarm on my phone and I’m not going to worry about what time it is when I go to bed or when I get up.

I get up when I’m not tired any more.

And maybe I stay in bed even if I’m not tired.

That would be novel.

While the world goes to work I’ll just roll over and go back to bed.

Hehehe.

And possibly camping.

I don’t know if we would go tomorrow or head out Thursday, but once I am done blogging, that topic and what to watch for a movie are the next on the agenda.

We’re going to play sleep away summer camp and gossip until the cat says go to bed.

Do cats do that?

It’s been awhile since I have had one, I forget their cat-like ways.

But this one is stupid cute.

Her name is Melody.

But every body calls her “Murder Face.”

Heh.

That makes me smile.

I have to say it’s been a long week with my brain running this way in that in regards to things I have no control over and the consistent and constant redirecting my attentions to where they need to be, on my own self care, that despite it being a Tuesday night, it actually does really feel like the end of the week.

I can’t wait to see what the “weekend” brings.

I’ll keep you posted.

And So It Begins

July 28, 2015

Not once.

But twice today.

Messages on social media from folks I don’t know.

“Hey, so and so mentioned I should talk to you about getting a ticket to Burning Man, it’s my first time!  I’m terribly excited, the Universe has conspired to get me to go and I need two tickets, can’t wait to meet you on playa!!!!!!”

Heart emoticon.

Smiley face.

Exclamation point.

People.

Come on.

I don’t have a special in.

I mean, I got one certain trick I can do, and that’s about getting myself a ticket.

Nobody else.

Now.

I won’t lie, I have facilitated a few people getting tickets to the event.

I tipped off a friend one year to the low-income ticket and she applied to it and got it.

But that really has nothing to do with me other than I passed on some information that might be considered pertinent.

This year I did actually help a friend by connecting him to a former camp mate of mine who had an extra ticket and it was such a random event of just happening to see via social media after having just talked to my friend who needed a ticket and I connected the two, but they did all the heavy lifting.

Note to general public.

Like you, mister, on my Instagram feed.

I don’t have access to tickets.

The box office at Burning Man does.

And the OH MY GOD sale is about to happen, so that’s like your best bet.

Get yourself a subscription to the Jack Rabbit Speaks, the Burning Man newsletter and find out how to get on the STEP program–the Secure Ticket Exchange Program–if you want to get access to kind souls who may have a spare.

That’s another way as well, but commenting on a photo from last years event wondering if perhaps I could, you know, help a brother out, is not how you’re going to get in.

I mean.

Maybe someone somewhere gets that kind of deal.

But I’m not your lady.

So just stop.

Funny thing, I could actually use a spare myself.

I have a friend whose birthday and anniversary are coming up and happen to fall during the event, I would love to get him out there.

But.

Just so you know, I’m not about to go search the web for hashtags with Burning Man in it and beg for special Universal dispensation.

In a way, that sort of mysterious gift has already been given to me when the mom and the little bug, not so little anymore, reached out and said, all that longing I had poured out into a blog was heard and they wanted me to join their camp before someone else cottoned onto the fact that my schedule had become open and I could go to the event.

I wasn’t sure until I found out what my graduate school schedule was going to be.

Aside.

I got four books in the mail today.

Three more to go.

And fortunately of the four that came today are the two that I must have done a bit of reading in for the retreat week.

One of the book in its entirety and the other about three chapters.

It’s an intense amount of reading, but as I look at the stack,  I know I can do it, just like I know when I sit down to the pair page, the words will come.

I don’t always know where they come from, they just come.

The reading will be the same.

I will find the pattern and the times that work best for me.

End aside.

And I am going to damn enjoy my Burning Man this year.

I ran into a dear friend today in the Mission who I have not seen since last year’s event, and we caught up and she met my charges, we were on our way to Boogaloos for lunch, and we dished about the event, when we were headed up, what we were doing–she’s going to be on Gate for the first time, me as a nanny.

“But I heard through the grapevine that you’re not working that much?”

Nope.

Four shifts.

And maybe there will be more, but it won’t be like it was last year.

I explained to my friend the 22 our of 23 days that I worked last year, plus, let me not put too fine a point on it, but I worked the full week before I left for the event as well.

In essence I worked a month with one day off.

And that day off was total emotional upheaval and the storm that froze up the playa for a full day and had me stuck in the commissary, worse places to be for sure, I know, for five hours while the rain poured and the lighting smashed and the thunder shook the air and yes, it did hail too.

But that emotional upheaval, well, fuck, it was so worth it.

I mean.

I am looking at a stack of graduate school readers and psychology texts.

It was at Burning Man last year that I had it tossed at me, “well, what’s your part, this same thing happened last year with these folks, who came back and worked for them again?  You did.  What are you going to do different?”

There was a lot more to it than this, but he ended the speech with, “you’re a child psychologist getting paid babysitter wages, what are you going to do about it?  Do you have an undergraduate degree?”

I said I did.

I do.

“Well, go to grad school, kiddo, and find another job in the mean time, this one isn’t so good for you.”

And they are not bad people, the folks I was working for, we just weren’t the best match, and I wasn’t happy.

I gave notice, got a new job, and applied to graduate school.

I got accepted.

I got a $30,000 scholarship.

I got financial aid for the rest, $60,000, but who’s counting?

And I got a ticket to go to Burning Man.

But I don’t have one for you.

Just saying.

But should the Universe comply, happy face, smile, heart emoji, I’ll see you on playa!!!!!!!!!!!

Ahem.

The Student Life

July 27, 2015

It officially began today.

I sat down with my course readers and syllabi.

I outlined the reading that needed to be done before I head to the retreat in Petaluma–two weeks from today.

TWO!

Holy Mother of God.

Not to take this all so god damn seriously, but wow, how did the time go by so fast?

Don’t I have any summer vacation left?

I do, I think.

But I don’t believe it’s going to be the going out-of-town camping trip that I had discussed with my friend.

Where for art thou, friend?

I forget that people need space and that no response, well, it is a response, so keep the focus tight, like on me, and what can I do today, just today for self-care.

What indeed.

Well.

As it turns out, and I had forgotten, it’s been a few years since I’ve been in school, oh, like um, 13 I think, that having something to do in regards to my academic career has a direct and distinct correlation to how clean my space is.

Like hey.

Look at that.

My place is sparkling.

I striped the bed, laundered the sheets, did a load of laundry, scrubbed the toilet and bathroom sink, scrubbed the stove top, fuck, I even wiped out the fridge, dusted the bookshelves, swept, vacuumed, and swiffer’ed the floors (yeah, I know Swiffer is not a verb, but what else do you call that thing?).

My place is shiny and bright.

I mean, let’s be frank, it’s not like it was a disaster zone, but you know, dusty and in need of a sweep, but once I got going I knew I was in it and might as well do the whole shebang.

It’s a  way to distract myself from what is in front of me.

Stacks.

And stacks.

And.

Stacks of reading.

I also hopped in the shower, ate nice meals, two of which were outside on the back porch, the fog blew off and the sun made an appearance today.

Which was both heartening and upsetting as I really wanted to be outside doing something other than reading my graduate school readers, but, hey, I ate outside and my stewed chicken in tomato sauce with garlic and onions and yellow peppers over turmeric spiced brown rice and perfect ripe avocado, well, it was a delight to eat al fresco and sit in the sun.

Contemplating the reading to come.

But.

Before that.

Two ladies came through to do the deal and then a phone call check in with my person who suggested that I focus on my self-care and having fun rather than worry about my friend.

Although I got to have my sad feelings I didn’t let the day slip by being morose, I kept turning the focus back on what was in front of me.

And when there was nothing else to clean and lunch had been had and I even snuck in a half hour of sitting in the sun with a W magazine and a quick flip through the latest Vanity Fair, I came to the conclusion.

It was time.

I don’t foresee doing a lot of pleasure reading for a while, so I’m glad I gave myself to do so yesterday and really enjoy the hell out of the books I read and the excerpt of the book I read from a friend who has been working on a collection of shorts that is really going to be a fantastic novel and I’m going to say, “I knew him when,” and “I read that before you did,” and “I always knew he was a great writer, you should read his holiday letters.”

Which you should.

They are marvels of Midwestern Americana with a kind of wry wit that is at time dark, but always lovingly painted and I find myself transported to the scene at their home when ever I get them.

Which is the point of good writing–being transported to the picture that the writer wants you to see.

He does it.

Really good.

Anyway.

I’m not going to get that kind of reading for a while.

I may give myself a set half hour or so once in a while to have that pleasure reading, but I can see that I have a lot of work ahead of me.

It is going to be a long, arduous, committed and continual moving through material, processing it, understanding it, writing about it.

Fuck.

I mean.

I have papers due before I go to Burning Man.

BEFORE!

I just about peed my pants when I saw that on one of the syllabi.

And not just a paper, multiply papers.

I mean, I will have submitted work on readings I have done before actually going through the orientation at the school.

Good gravy man.

As much as I wish I was camping along the North Rim of The Grand Canyon, I am actually grateful that my employers changed up their vacation plans and I ended up having to work tomorrow and Tuesday.

It meant cancelling  a trip I was very much looking forward to, but it got my ass down to the Copy Central shop to pick up my readers and get going on the work.

I read 50 pages today for my Human Development class.

It took me three hours.

Fuck.

Three hours.

I can read more than a page a minute, that means 60 pages in an hour.

Then I realized a couple of things–one, this ain’t no pleasure reading, this is serious reading and though the concepts are not completely foreign, they are dense; next, I’m reading to retain, not to enjoy, which meant going back over a few things and re-reading them to make sure I understood what I was reading, plus underlining, highlighting, and taking pertinent notes in the margins of the reader.

Lastly, and not to be taken lightly, I realized the 50 pages were actually closer to 100 pages.

The reader is larger than a book, thus the pages often had two pages of a text or article printed on each page.

Reading one page was in essence reading two.

So that makes my speed of reading a little better, 100 pages in three hours is a much better ratio and caused me to feel some relief.

And.

I finished the assigned reading for the retreat, in the reader (I still have the first three chapters of an accompanying text-book to read as well, but it hasn’t been delivered to the house yet) for my class on Human Development.

I have time.

In fact, I think I may be able to actually read all the required reading twice.

I’ve got some highlighters to invest in and some time to set aside, but I can see it happening.

I also knew to take some care and take a break, to eat dinner while not reading, to sit out in the late afternoon sun and enjoy my meal.

Then I finished that last hour of reading and went for a walk down on the beach to catch the sunset before coming back here to blog.

I will strike a balance, the work will get done.

And how grateful am I to know so well.

Easy does it.

One day at a time.

First things, first.

And breathe.

Don’t forget to breathe.

It’s all going to be alright.

It already is.

A Little “Light” Reading

July 26, 2015

Oh.

Bwhahahahahaaha.

Fuck me.

Aside from the hefty price tag of the readers–$208 and change, the weight of what I have to read for my first semester at grad school also nearly pulled my shoulder out of my socket when I lifted the bag off the counter.

Jesus on a flaming raft.

The bag was heavy, nearly as heavy as the three-year old I look after during the week.

He’s about 35 or 36 lbs, he’s a solid kid, stocky, strong, wily, he can throw a tantrum with the best of them or snuggle in your lap like the largest, cutest, kitten on the “Meow Meow train,” all aboard.

At least when I carry him he’s resting on a hip or holding on to me, “pick me,” he will say.

“Why does he always get to ride in the stroller?” The five-year old demands to know.

“Physics, kiddo,” I say, using the apt answer that my best friends husband gave me as a pat answer to the question, “why.”

And at least with this, it’s partly, if not completely so.

it really is a law of physics, less weight for me to haul around, easier to push, much easier to wrangle, although the smart guy knows how to get his brother to unbuckle him when he gets that glint of monkey pants going in him.

Ugh.

Slight sidebar.

Just that feeling.

That one there.

When you are listening to an album that you, I, I, used to listen to when writing in Paris, but now it’s on your Iphone and sometimes when I get a text, the song will pause and I will know that I am being reached out to.

I haven’t had any one reach out to me and I miss someone and don’t know when I will hear from him again.

The heart aches.

It was not a text.

It was just the song ending.

End aside.

I made my way downtown, resolute to get the readers for school.

I ignored the fact that the universe had conspired to not actually have me be in a great big SUV with my friend heading towards the Grand Canyon on a wild and wooly road trip, rather I was to be traversing the canyons of down town San Francisco.

Wending my way through the towers and condos and banks and business high rise windows.

The streets empty.

There really is not a reason to be a Mission and 2nd on a Saturday.

I got off the New Montgomery MUNI station and rode the escalator up into the blue sky, the leaves of the trees lining Market Street pressing into the frame of light coming from the square above me, the street lamp, old-fashioned and burnished with the seeing of too many tourists and the discarded cups from Starbucks stuck into the hands of beggars and street performers.

I suddenly remember the first time I came up on escalator onto Market Street, that first time it was Powell Street, and how I felt seeing a similar street lamp and tree branches–the sky not blue that day, but a mottled March grey one with low hanging clouds and cool breezes.

I walk down 2nd Street past the closed doors of the American Red Cross where I have taken so many classes in adult/children CPR and first aid, all the re-certification and tests, the small rubber babies with molded faces that pull off so that the next bored student nurse can be certain its been sanitized before she puts her small mouth to the fake child to push air into it and thump it’s chest with the first two fingers of her dominant hand.

Then, I glance to the right, I have no idea why, and there she is, The Palace, where I have had so many drinks, one was never enough and more was always on the menu, after many a shift at Hawthorne Lane, most times extra dirty vodka martinis with three olives and pints of Sierra Nevada.

Occasionally the glass of champagne before a shift to celebrate a friend’s success or bolster another friends hair of the dog before going into work.

I turn on my travels, down Mission Street, longing to walk further, the Van Heusen sign reminds me of all the starched cream shirts I bought there for my shifts at the fine dining restaurant and how annoyed I always was to spend my hard-earned money on them or laundering them.

I think about the MOMA and wish it were open.

I would go in a hot second and sit in front of a Rothko or wander through the photography exhibit on the second floor, or climb to the top and cross over the suspension bridge, or find the secret doorway to the miniature courtyard that faces out towards the Yerba Buena Center and the park.

I think of all time terrible and awful.

How, even in the utter depths of my using I was never able to bring myself to use in the MOMA.

Although, damn it, I tried.

The best I could do was use the bathrooms to wash up and brush the tears from my eyes that only seemed to surface when I was surrounded by the house full of art, art that I could no longer access because it hurt my heart too much to admit that I was down for the count.

Then I would wash my hands, pat dry the wet circles under my face and go to the cafe and order a non-fat latte and sit out front on a metal back chair and put my feet up on the balustrade that separated the down trodden masses looking for scraps from the tourists like small black starlings with bright eyes hopping under the table legs, except held back by that small barrier of wealth and privilege that I pretended to belong to.

I mean I did wait on them didn’t I?

I would smoke my cigarette, then another, not chain-smoking, but so close as it became a game of semantics, drink my coffee, then head back to the restaurant to make more money that I would later spend, no matter how cleverly I would ration it out–the twenties in my left pocket only to go towards rent, not coke, ok?

Do you hear me self?

Don’t dip into the left pocket.

Or the bra cup, or the left sock.

Never mattered.

Once I got going, it was going to.

Didn’t much matter that brave lecture I gave my “sober” self (sober only in the sense of having abstained while working, which soon wasn’t really happening either), the money always flew, like pigeons circling in weary circles above the sunset lit buildings at the BART station.

I sat and waited at the front counter of the Copy Central store while the one attendant finished a job for a woman wearing navy blue and white polka dot slides and a pony tail that was just a touch too high up on the back of her head.

The stroll down memory lane exiting itself back outside, perhaps over to Dave’s Sports Bar on Third between Mission and Market, where we often ended up after a posh cocktail or two at the Palace, to really get it on.

Didn’t hurt that Marilyn the bartender knew all the words to Chicago, the musical, not the band, and if you sang along with her she would gladly sell you a case or bottle after hours, shhh don’t tell.

The memories were abruptly supplanted with reality, as first one, then the next, and the next, and the next reader was plunked down with a thud that was not satisfying so much as it was terrifying.

“Double check the readers to your syllabi,” the woman said.

I did.

Everything was there.

I pulled out my debit card.

I paid.

I left and walked back to the MUNI train station and as I did the days and ways of old were smoothed over, a soft hand blotting back the memories, a supplanting of this person with that person.

Eleven years ago when I was walking that same route there was no way I could have foreseen the purchase of graduate school readers.

I was too busy cursing that woman who had once again trembled on the lip of indulgence and instead of withstanding, fell over and promised herself, yet again, well since I already have started, I might as well do it up good.

I marveled at the weight in the bag as the readers thumped against my leg.

My graduate school student leg.

It was much less than the weight I used to carry on my back.

I can deal with this so much better than that.

That stack of reading sits on my table, just on the other side of this computer, and as I look around the sweet, safe, room I have nested for myself, I am grateful.

I am so very grateful to have walked down one side of the street and been able to reverse the wreckage to where I am today.

Scared.

Yes.

But free?

Even more so.

Well, I might be tied up with some reading for a bit.

But.

I think you catch my drift.

I Think I Broke Myself

July 25, 2015

Well.

Maybe it isn’t that bad.

But fuck.

I danced hard.

Hard.

Hard.

I wasn’t planning on staying as late as I did nor dancing as much as I did.

Then the ride home.

Woof.

My body is sore.

A 41 hour work week with two boys, a daily bicycle commute of 15 miles, doing the deal, hanging out a lot with friends, writing, blogging, emotional upheaval around my financial aid package at school and finding out that I did not get a full ride–though let me to be thankful, I still was awarded $30,000 and that is nothing to sneeze at–and I should be crawling into my bed.

But.

Old habits, and I do mean this, it is an old habit, 5.5 years of doing it pretty on the daily have made it a habit that is exceedingly hard to break.

I am wide awake as well.

The adrenalin from dancing, then the brisk ride through the night, the quiet singing of blood in my veins, and I am wide awake.

Wide awake.

I, fortunately, don’t have any plans tomorrow but one commitment to keep at 12:15 p.m. at Tart to Tart in the Inner Sunset.

The rest of my day is wide open.

I do have plans to get downtown and pick up my course readers for school, but I’m not exactly sure when I’m going to do that.

I had thought I would be getting a ride in, now I’m not so sure.

Rides.

They be tricky things.

I had a ride lined up this morning and it fell through and as I was tossing my things from one bag to the other, I don’t like to ride my bicycle with a purse, I was thinking how nice it is to have options.

Sometimes plans change and I can be flexible and change with them.

The ride to work was fast, I had a nice tail wind, and I even got cat called twice, that actually sort of made my day.

I’m 42 and single.

I’ll take it where I can thank you.

The boys were adorable with me when I came in and for a rare few moments, we had the house completely to ourselves–the parents work from home–and we snuggled up on the couch and I read them a French pop up book that a former nanny had given them, from yes, France.

Lots of nannies doing the French connection.

I enjoyed brushing up on my French and it was fun to translate the book with the boys, then get them out into the world.

First stop, the Laundrette on the corner, drop off a dress to get altered.

Next stop, Mission Playground.

Running around the courts, kicking balls, chasing each other, swings, tag.

Back to the house for lunch–smoked white fish sandwiches on whole wheat toast with avocado, carrot sticks with humus, and sliced grapes and mango for the boys.

Quiet time was actually quiet time as the youngest, worn out from shenanigans last night and a hard romp at the park, actually took a nap.

I got to have my lunch, drink some tea, check in with a ladybug having a hard time, and talk to my person before the howl of the five-year old alerted me to the end of quiet time.

They have colored clock faces.

When the light on the clock is blue, its quiet time.

When it turns yellow, it’s time to holler my name at the top your lungs.

Good times.

In the afternoon we went further afield, I had the time to spare, not having to prepare any dinner, dinner reservations were happening, to KidPower Park.

Aka.

Crack Power Park.

It’s at 16th and Hoff and occasionally is a little colorful being so close to the 16th Street Mission BART station.

However, today was perfect and I actually sat for a while and soaked up some sun and thanked the universe for my nice job.

After much playing, poking of roly poly bugs, more swinging, lots of sliding, chasing butterflies, and renegading the merry-go-round, we headed back to the house for a small snack, some milk, and a change of clothes.

I cleaned the house, emptied the dishwasher, set right the small disasters that seem to follow after little boys, then hopped on my bicycle and headed to 14th and Folsom for dinner with the family at Rintaro.

A special treat.

Good lord it was good.

I had sashimi–salmon and tuna and trout–tomago, the best I have ever had, baked trout, astounding, yakatori–duck and chicken–stunning and simple and quite possibly the best duck preparation I have had in the city, and a Dirty Girl Farm heirloom tomato salad with squid.

Simple, bright, luscious.

It was great and I certainly would not have taken myself out here, but you got the dime to drop, it’s worth the dropping.

After that.

A quick, fast, short ride up the hill towards Church and Market for a little doing the deal at Our Lady of Safeway.

After.

Tea with a friend.

Then.

Yes.

Space Cowboys at Public Works.

Where I effectively danced off all the duck yakatori and baked trout I had eaten, and then some.

The Space Cowboy dj collective is one of my top favorites and I found myself staying far longer than I said was going to.

I got there at 10:20pm, hit the dance floor at 10:30p.m. stopping only around midnight for a quick walk through and some silly photos in the photo booth with my darling friend Le Bon Bon, we then went back to the room upstairs and got our rocks off on Dusty Rhino.

Quite simply the best set of music I have heard out all year.

So worth staying and dancing another hour to.

I left at 1:15 a.m., never running into one of my dear friends who was also there and we were like ships passing in the night the whole evening, to arrive at my door and text my girlfriend that I was home safe and sound.

1:58 a.m.

Not bad, Martines, not bad at all.

I mean.

I fucking take it for being 42 years old and up past my bed time and yes, blogging to beat the band.

I didn’t break myself.

But I am now ready for bed.

A bid you a good night.

And my body a good rest.

xoxoxo

You’re A Natural

July 24, 2015

“That’s great mothering!” The woman exclaimed as I ushered the two boys out of the bathroom stall at Mission Playground.

I smiled, reached for the soap dispenser and looked at her in the mirror, “thanks!  But I’m not the mom.”

“Oh, well, you are a natural at nurturing, you should really now that,” she smiled, waved at the boys and left the bathroom.

“What did she say to you?” The oldest boy asked washing his hands and then playing the favorite, which also happens to be one of the most annoying games he plays, hand dryer roulette, in and out of the automatic hand dryer, which makes the three-year old clap his hands over his years and squinch his eyes shut until the noise has stopped racketing about the ceramic tiles in the bathroom.

“She said I was doing a good job,” I told the five-year old and then we headed back out into the world.

I don’t think about it much, maybe after 8 1/2 years of doing it, it really just does come naturally.

But.

I suspect that I am a natural at care taking.

I can take it too far and not take care of myself, but over the years I have developed better and better self-care.

I still have to practice a lot.

I had to do so this afternoon.

I was invited over to a sleep over snuggle fest at my friend’s house.

Oh.

How.

I.

Wanted.

To.

Damn it man.

He’s got one of those California King beds that you could just sink into and float away.

Except.

Well, I know that I would drift off and never come back.

There are things to do.

Places to be.

Dance parties to go to.

Yes.

I am going dancing tomorrow night and I am looking forward to it, I got a sweet little thumbs up from a friend I haven’t seen in a few weeks about seeing her there and my lady, the luscious Bon Bon will be hitting the floor sans walking boot from when she hurt her ankle.

Ah walking boots, love to hate you.

But yes, dancing, and I even know what I’m going to wear and that was part of it, the turning down the request for the sleep over, I need to be here, in my space, in my home, using my shower and doing my deal.

It’s a part of my self-care that I can and have neglected over the past weeks and days, I get carried away in the experience and then I’m not present or tired at work and that is no good.

I get frustrated and often when I am telling the littlest guy to use his words and take a deep breath, I am really talking to myself.

I am often at the emotional level of a three-year old.

I just have to take myself in hand and say, hey little girl, you’re going to be alright.

It’s all going to be just alright.

I’m not always a natural at self-soothing, but at least I don’t obsessively wring my hands any longer or rub my feet back and forth–classic self-soothing actions.

I will still catch myself twirling my hair, which I used to do as a child and would give myself bald spots on my head.

I’m not sure how or when I stopped.

I suspect there was a shard of violence behind the lesson and today I strive, really strive to be the best nanny I can, and to explain and express and take time and be tender and love the boys.

I really do love them.

Awful hard.

Even when I get tired and don’t think I can do it another day.

I do it.

I show up.

That’s natural too.

I show up for a lot of people and though I know I need to create that space that allows me to be there for another, I can only do it if I’m taking care of numero uno.

I used to think that was the ultimate selfishness.

Of course.

I was taught that.

How dare I take care of myself or my needs when others are reliant upon me, my money, my skills, my abilities to provide comfort.

I like those characteristics about me, I love them in fact, but as it’s been said before, I do have to make sure that oxygen mask is on me before I go assist another.

I can spend the night tomorrow or Saturday at my friends.

Or not.

Time will tell.

I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow.

I hardly know what’s going to happen the rest of today.

I am going to finish my blog.

I will fold my laundry.

Maybe I will have a bowl of cherries.

Life is all about the sitting in the space and seeing the beauty inherent in the right now and the right here.

“You’re always going to taste like cherries to me and cinnamon spice tea, you’re going to smell like wood fires burning in my back yard, no matter what happens, I have this sense memory and association,” I told my friend and laughed, looking up at the stars.

Paris was painful, hard, egregious at times and so raw and beautiful it scoured my soul and set me on a different path.

But no matter how much it hurt, it was always smothering me with gorgeous sense memory.

Paris will always taste like apples to me.

Specifically the apples from the market around Square D’Anvers on Friday afternoons.

I wish I could remember the name of the apple, it is just there on the tip of my tongue.

I remember the flesh though, crisp and tart and sweet, white snowy flesh with marbles of red through out and a sort of yellow cream mottled skin that was also burnished with red.

I was not always happy to engage with the woman who ran that stall at the market, but as the weeks came and went and I always went back with my cloth canvas bag from Le Merle Moquer bookstore in the 20th, she grew if not friendly, at least not curt and once even threw in a pretty extra apple for me.

I have a tendency to always dwell on the positive.

Paris tastes like apples.

My friend like cherries, wood smoke, and cinnamon.

My heart is a deep well of many flavored things and smells and love.

Love.

All the things.

And I am.

Indeed.

A natural at that.


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