Inbound to Richmond District

May 4, 2015

You got to love NextBus.

I don’t often ride the MUNI trains or the bus, but when I do, this is the best app ever.

EVER.

I can sit in my house, noodle around, and when I have about three minutes, maybe four, if I’m feeling anxious, walk out the door, walk to the end of the block, and voila!

Bus arriving.

So nice.

Remember when you just sat and waited?

Forever.

It would say bus every ten to fifteen minutes in the schedule, but it was 49 minutes later and you’ve seen 18 buses headed the other direction and yet, here you are, alone, cold, shivering in the fog, waiting for the fucking bus to come.

Not waiting for Godot.

No never.

Waiting for the 22.

Or the infamous 24.

Or the 33.

Oh how I have waited for the buses.

Today, I just scrolled my finger on my phone, popped open the app and saw when the next one was coming and even better.

The app also has the time that the bus behind it is coming.

Brilliant.

Therefore allowing me time to do what ever I need to do at the house before leaving the house.

I got up early and got my errands, chores, and laundry on.

I still got a good night’s sleep, just a touch over eight hours, and I took a friend’s suggestion and silenced my phone last night.

I will forget and be pinged awake at all hours of the night, texts from my sister in Florida, which is three, no, four hours ahead, at 6:30 a.m.; messages from friends, Twitter alerts, Facebook messages, all manner of social media pings and beeps and boops.

Plus, of course the occasional text and what have you.

It’s nice on one hand to be in the mix.

But sometimes I don’t want to know who has like my Instagram feed.

I want to sleep.

It is with that in mind that I also do not look at my phone, I am not always successful, or respond to messages until after I have done my morning routine.

I can’t flip on my phone and lie in bed and scroll the internet universe.

I will be a grumpy toad before even having tossed aside the sheets.

I love my world, I love my friends, I love, love, love that I am in contact with so many of them through so many different places.

Case in point: having a conversation on the ride back from North Berkeley with my friend about not having a ticket, yet, to Burning Man, this conversation happened about oh, 24 hours ago, slightly less.  Fast forward to a few minutes ago when I saw a post on a private Facebook page for a group I belong to for a camp at Burning Man that I have dear friends camping at.  The post featured a link to another post saying, hey friends, I have two tickets, who wants them?

I see lots of people want them.

Lots.

However, I look closer, oh!!

It’s my good friend from my first year at the burn when I camped with Camp Stella and he gave me my first playa name: Ophelia and has a photo of me hanging in his office from the dust storm I fell asleep in (I got covered in dust, head to toe, had my hands crossed over my chest and was wearing a tutu, face mask, bandana, and goggles, I looked dead).

I have to hook my friends up!

I message both, get a text from both, exchange phone numbers and they just got off the phone with each other and my friend who didn’t have a ticket.

Well.

Now he does!

Fabulous.

It can happen like that.

Sometimes, though, I do need to slow down, take it easy, turn off the technology and rest.

It helps me get clear with the things I do need to do and a lot of that has to do with taking extremely good care of myself.

Laundry, grocery shopping, cooking, composting, taking out the trash, meeting with the ladies and doing the deal.

I had two ladies back to back from noon to 2p.m.

But before that.

I did all of those things above.

Plus my own writing and having a nice breakfast (hot oatmeal with diced pear and blueberries, cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt, raw cocoa, one organic hard-boiled egg, lots of coffee w/unsweetened vanilla almond milk) of my own.

Then later after my last lady bug had left.

I got to have lunch from what I had cooked earlier, dinner too, and I had time to do a field trip.

So.

I opened my NextBus app and saw when the 18 was heading my way.

Richmond bound.

Legion of Honor.

That’s right.

I finally got myself in to see the Brooklyn Museum’s Costume Collection: High Style.

Oh my.

It was so good.

I got all sorts of art high.

House of Worth, Roger Worth evening dresses.

Edward Molyneux evening dresses.

Vionnet.

Givenchy.

Dior.

Yves St. Laurent.

Charles James and the muslims for his ball gowns, breath-taking.

Steven Arpad, for Delman, Inc evening shoes.

Elsa Schiaparelli butterfly day dress and parasol.

I’ll take two please!

Oh fashion, how I do love you.

Plus, you know, the normal galleries with their Monet’s and Pissarro’s, the Rodin sculptures everywhere, the Renoir’s and Manet’s (I like the Impressionists a bit you could say), it was just scrumptious.

The museum was a bit busy, there was also a concert happening–an organ concert by David Hegarty–which I thought about staying for, but it was standing room only and it felt nicer to just wander through the galleries with the sound of the Skinner Organ drifting around me.

I’m ever so grateful for all the tech that this world has, I mean, I am writing a blog and posting it online and sending it out into the inter webs, but I am also a Mensch for the classic, time-worn, much beloved wander through a museum, sit on a bench and listen to an organ concert, admire art, slow and delicious, taking the bus and not riding my bike willy nilly though the park and over the hills.

I believe this is what’s called balance.

Serenity.

It’s a nice place to be in my life.

More please.

Reunion

May 3, 2015

Babies.

Burners.

Bounty.

Berkeley (North)

Boom.

The room was filled with the laughter and bouncing and the juggling of three babies between six adults who were also busy getting back in touch with one another whilst talking sleep schedules, breast feeding, nursing pads, cloth diapers, double strollers, swaddling blankets, burping, gas, and well, all that is baby and life and beauty.

It was something else to see my beautiful friends with their beautiful offspring.

I did not feel left out or unnecessary or unloved, abandoned, alone, without.

I did not compare and despair.

That was nice.

I just got to look around the room with all my friends and have an afternoon of doing the deal and helping one another out and being of service.

Really, not much, but just the showing up, the making a few phone calls and the gathering of folks, friends from the city, from Castro Valley, from North Berkeley and from the fellowship.

It was amazing.

Nice is not doing it justice.

There was nothing special going on, but at the same time it was so special it made my heart ache.

In a very good way.

And also to know that I am not left behind, despite not being coupled up, married, or with baby, or twins as was the case with one or my friends.

I had to say it is astounding how a dad can get used to carrying small cargo.

He picked them up and carried them like he was holding footballs, tucked them under his arms and moseyed about.

I had never thought of my friend as a dad, but there he was, going to the next level, doing the next thing, giving mom a break and hanging out with us for the afternoon to help our friend who’s little one is now two weeks old.

And so big!

Of course, the last time I saw him he was just 18 or 19 hours old, so the growth is perhaps not that startling, but when you see them just a few weeks later, huge.

And healthy and gorgeous.

The blue eyes in the room were enough to make me gush and coo.

What I noticed too, is that my body did not react the same way it has in the past.

There was a time, around 37/38 when my body would respond, ache, with chemical need for a baby.

I noticed it.

My friends noticed it.

It’s hard to not when you see me flirting with a 2 and a 1/2 year old tow headed boy.

Or making goo goo eyes at a little girl with curly brown hair and soulful, deep brown eyes and a little bow mouth.

I would feel wracked with it sometimes.

I had the whole biological clock thing bad.

But today.

Not so much.

And for perhaps the first time I was completely and totally fine with I’m not having children.

It doesn’t make me feel weepy or weird or alone.

I felt pretty at peace with it.

Which was sweet and not something I was too sure about sharing.

I did think and have thought about having children, and I have had so many people tell me what a good mom I would make, that in a certain kind of way, I just suspected it would happen.

But as I am 42, single, and there has not been anyone since my ex, and the urge seems to be lessening, I am content to bask in the bounty of my friends and their broods.

And.

It was also a Burning Man reunion.

All six of us were at the event last year.

Although only two or us are going for sure this year and only one of us currently has a ticket.

“Listen, just keep talking action and seeing what you can bring and just plan on going, the Universe will get you a ticket, you will go,” I assured my friend as he told me about not having gotten a ticket the first round of sales and how he had registered for the Secured Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) and of course there is also the OMG sale, where a limited, but still significant number of tickets become available, 1,000, are released in early August.

“You’ll get a ticket, you will,” I said emphatically.

Then we talked about what service we were going to be doing and what we wanted to bring to the playa and how it’s changed both or our lives.

This event will make number 9 for me and there have been significant milestones in all of them.

Highlights that come up in my brain without much thought:

-putting Shadrach’s ashes in the Temple my first year

-a woman holding my hand at the Temple burn the next year while I sobbed (I hadn’t been able to stay and watch the burn the year before and it all came right back up)

-fighting in Thunder Dome

-the first time I went to the hot springs pre-event and the stars, shooting stars over head, no land light, just hot pools of water and black inky stars and a meteor shower

-putting make up on my friend the first night of her first burn and then taking her up to Gate when they opened it and cheering in the stands

-flying over the event in a small 4 seater Cessna airplane (I’ve gone up three times now, it’s astounding every time)

-being gifted Inner Circle passes five times for the night of the Man Burn

-seeing my face one of those years from the Burn get transposed in the final minutes of Spark: A Burning Man Story

-holding hands with Junebug and walking around the outskirts of Center Camp Cafe and she stops me abruptly, “Carmen, I love you.”  OH MY GOD.  I love you too, bunny, just a tiny, teeny, HUGE, bit.

-helping plaster the Narwhal at night it’s inaugural run on playa

-reciting poetry into a friends ear and the way his eyes bled blue into the high dusty sky

-being strapped into a huge tractor tire, pre-event, and getting the tire swing ride of a lifetime–lifted by a giant crane and swung around the air.

-rolling around the open playa in a golf cart and taking photographs

-meeting Duane with El Pulpo Mechanico and having a wonderful heart to heart with him

-all the tears, the discoveries, the revelations, the solo bicycle rides deep into the playa accompanied only by the imperial violet of the sky and the sunset, the solo naps out at Starfuckers before the event, the dancing, alone and in mobs of people, the shared coffees and dance offs when I volunteered with the Cafe my first year, the subsequent jobs, duties, and work, the art.

-OH, the art

I could go on for sometime.

There is so much there for me to remember and so much to look forward to and as I see my friends and their babies and I see me and my own endeavors I can only be more grateful that I get to keep doing this way of life and showing up and seeing what I can put into it.

Rather than take from it.

Please help me give rather than take.

I end up receiving so much more that way anyway.

Love.

Peace.

Fellowship.

Happiness.

Joy.

Freedom.

Basically.

All the things.

Punked

May 2, 2015

But not for long.

I made it through the week and that is saying something.

I changed or something changed and it all changed.

It was still a tiring week though and I am grateful that I have the weekend off and although a bit disappointed to find out that my person is not available to meet again this week, I will get to see some friends and head over to the East Bay to see my dear heart who just had a baby a few weeks back.

I still get to be of service and I get to hang out with friends.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday.

I’m not 100% sure how things are going to fall out tomorrow.

Suffice to say that I’m going to get picked up either here or in the Inner Sunset around 2p.m. and then accompany my friend to North Berkeley where we will be seeing the mama and the baby with a few other friends and doing the deal.

It’s nice to take the deal over to the new mom.

I feel very grateful that I get to help out.

In whatever small way I can, which was really, just making the time to do so and contacting a few people on the phone.

You know, that thing that everyone stares at but rarely seems to talk on anymore.

I saw someone make texting motions to indicate a letter she recently wrote someone and I had to take a pause.

First.

How long can the letter be if you are typing it out with your thumbs?

Second.

That I even knew what she was referring to.

“Oh, you’re one of those people now,” an old friend said to me when I flipped open my new cell phone and took her number.

I was very proud of my old Sprint flip phone and I had it for quite some time.

Until I dropped it in the toilet at Tosca.

Oops.

No need to really elaborate on what I was doing in the stall, it was not peeing, I assure you, and how flummoxed I was when I fished it out.

I had just placed a call and my dealer would be rapidly swinging through North Beach to make his delivery.

He always rang me and I would come out from where ever I was and hop in the passenger side door and we would chit-chat for a few minutes as he drove around the block.

Catch up.

You know.

Like friends do.

Friends who deal drugs to you at any hour of day or night and make a nice fat income off you.

“I don’t know why he’s calling me,” I told her frantic on the phone.

“I don’t owe him any money,” I continued.

I always find myself grateful for that, I never asked for fronted drugs and I never copped unless I had money.

Which was part of the problem at the end.

“I don’t have a problem with cocaine,” I told my room-mate in a huff.

I had overheard him explaining to a friend of his who was visiting (who had happened to get me mighty high at the End Up the prior weekend) that I had a problem.

They were smoking cigarettes in the kitchen, adjacent to my room, and whispering in gossipy undertones about why I was still in my room at four in the afternoon.

You would be too if you hadn’t gone to bed for three days.

Please.

When I next saw him I had my words, “I don’t have a problem,” I continued, zooming into his space as he was frothing milk for a cappuccino, “my problem is that I don’t have enough money to afford doing the amount I want to do.”

Um.

Yeah.

Mission Control.

We have a problem.

But I did quit.

And I was shocked to get the message from my dealer.

He wanted to “talk” to me about something.

I was walking up Valencia Street where it ends at Mission and heading home towards my new little tiny rented room at the foot of Bernal Hill on Kingston at 30th.

And I was freaking out.

“First,” she said on the phone, “you don’t have to call him back.”

“But what does he want?” I cried, “I don’t get it, why is he calling me?”

She laughed uproariously.

I did not know what was so funny.

“Carmen, honey, he probably wants to know if you want any blow, he’s probably wondering where his good customer has gone off to.”

The rooms and I ain’t never going back.

“Oh,’ I said.

“OH!” I cried out, “of course, that makes perfect sense.”

I never did call him back.

I realize tonight that yes I am tired.

But not that kind of tired.

Not the kind of tired that was soaked into my bones.

The constant repetition of I’m not going to do it, I’m doing it, I don’t want to be doing this, why am I doing this, please stop doing this, I’m killing myself, don’t do it anymore, I’m not going to do it anymore, it wasn’t that bad, I can do it just this weekend, it’s a three-day holiday, I’ll just get a couple of grams, it’s not a problem, I don’t have a problem.

Fuck me.

I have a problem.

And I am ok with it.

I have a solution today.

So, tired.

Yeah, sure, it was a long week, but it was a week full of joy, yes some exhaustion and some tears, and some frustration, but also a burgeoning of flexibility in my schedule, an unleashing of wild pink hair, a happiness to have rent paid, my student loans paid off for the month, and friends that I get to see and a new baby in the mix.

I don’t mind getting a little tired to have that.

As well as reconnecting with an old friend.

Who was swell when I said, I got to go, friend, I’m beat, the groceries in the bag got to get in the fridge and I have to get on my bicycle and pedal out to the beach.

And that is alright too.

A quiet Friday night in is not a bad thing at all.

I’ll be ready for the rest of the weekend and refreshed.

Because tomorrow.

I’m sleeping in!

And More Will Be Revealed

May 1, 2015

And it was.

I learned that I could make it much longer than I thought without dinner.

Now.

I know that’s not revolutionary news to many.

But to me.

It’s a big deal.

I didn’t like the prospect of waiting until after I did the deal and covered my commitment at Our Lady of Safeway and then the bicycling home and the not having dinner until after eight this evening.

But as I sat there in that same chair I have been sitting in for years.

I realized something.

I wasn’t hungry.

Oh.

I was a little annoyed.

I like having things my way.

But I learned by doing what I “thought” would be uncomfortable, that I could go through it and be just fine.

Work is work is work.

That’s why they call it work.

And the work that I put into my job is considerable.

However.

I do have breaks and I do have down time and I made myself sit for a nice long leisurely, late lunch.

It was perfect.

I was anxious about what the day would bring.

I always am when it comes to my food stuff.

You can name 1800 different reasons why and none of them would really matter, I have a disease of perception and more is always the answer.

More donuts.

More sex.

More ice cream.

More vodka.

More blow.

More cigarettes.

More attention.

More drama.

Gimme.

More, more, more.

So I don’t have to sit in myself and feel uncomfortable.

Anything to not feel uncomfortable.

Hate to break it to you disease.

Life is uncomfortable.

Oh.

There are times when it is not, but we all have problems, life happens to everyone, it’s not like I’ve been singled out.

Some things in my life have been harder to walk through and some experiences I would not wish on a person I don’t like, but I have gotten through all of them and there is so much that is wonderful and amazing and awesome about my life.

That too can be uncomfortable.

For completely different reasons.

I didn’t have the greatest day at work, I was a bit in dread of the late afternoon family swim, but it actually went off without a hitch.

Of course I also realized some things.

And that is I’m around the parents all the time.

I forget that now and then.

And I don’t have to act different or be different.

I’ll put on a happy face or a bright face and muddle through.

I did put on a bit of a tolerating the entire scene attitude, but it was more of a, I’m being quiet to reserve my energy and see how I cope with another change-up to my schedule.

I’m a creature of comfort and routine.

When my routine gets thrown, so do I.

But it doesn’t mean I need to freak out.

I freaked out a little yesterday and admittedly, I was tired and Wednesday’s well, they can be the hardest day of the week, the weekend in either direction is too far away and I felt dangerously low on my reserves.

A good night of sleep.

A good breakfast.

A lot of coffee.

Sunshine.

Oh so much sunshine.

And I was ok.

Not great.

But ok.

I felt pretty emotionally hung over all day and it did lift, but it took a while and a lot of reaching for tools and taking extra time this morning to get right with God and do all the things.

Of course.

I now have a full tummy and a good dinner under my belt, so I feel expansive and uplifted as well.

Good food will do that.

The other nice thing that I realized.

This has been the only dinner I have had this week where I wasn’t admonishing a child to sit his bottom down and face the front or to not feed the dog, or stop spitting milk at your brother, or how did you get humus on your feet?

The only dinner in a month of Thursdays when I didn’t feel rushed eating my own meal to accommodate the families schedule and the boys bath time.

I usually have a scramble on Thursdays to feed myself, and the boys and there have been too many times where I am sitting next to the bathtub eating an apple that sits resting on the sink top while I help facilitate toothbrushing, hair washing, not throwing the 17 toys out of the bathtub, not telling one boy to stop saying “penis, penis, penis, look at his penis.”

Dude.

It’s the same penis as yesterday’s bath time.

Let’s move on.

No.

Rather I rode my bicycle home, enjoying the late dusk and glow of the sunset, the ocean as I turned onto Lincoln Avenue from Chain of Lakes felt like an Impressionist painting.

It really did, like I was riding right into the heart of one, the light shimmering on the water and the smoked clouds and smudge of the fog out on the horizon.

So beautiful.

When I got home.

I sat down and wrote my rent check for May while my dinner was heating up and popped open some sparkling water and had a really nice, quiet, slow, enjoyable meal.

Flexibility.

That’s what I learned today.

I can be flexible.

I can fall into a rut, get in a certain scheduling groove, finding the comfort of routine, despite knowing that change is always happening, I clutch onto that modicum of comfort and get rattled far too easily when it is shifted.

I can’t say what tomorrow will bring.

It’s tomorrow and I really would rather stay in today.

But.

I don’t believe I will be emotionally hung over.

I dare say I may be quite happy.

It is Friday after all.

Another day.

Where more will be revealed.

I am certain of it.

Feelings

April 30, 2015

They are just not facts, man.

But when I am in them, they will encompass my entire world view and said world view gets exceptionally small, ego-centric, and uncomfortable.

I saw it happening today at work and I stepped outside myself, took a minute, went to the bathroom, peed–it’s important to do that, take time to pee–sometimes I forget how my body functions as I will get caught up in my job.

“You make yourself indispensable,” she said, “but you have to set boundaries, because they are going to take until you have nothing left to give.”

My friend’s suggestions and thoughts and compassion as I was on the phone with her after work.

Frantic.

Over tired.

Exhausted.

And dwelling, not in the moment, oh no, that would be where there are no problems, that’s just too easy.

“You could take a sick day,” she suggested.

A mental health day.

I have not done that in years.

And I do have a legitimate mental health issue, in fact, more than one, but I am loath to do that.

However, she does have a point.

I do need to take some self-care.

I love my job.

But I can get exhausted.

And I reached that point today.

Not exactly because I was exhausted in the moment that the issue came up, but in dwelling on what the following day would look like and how I was going to manage it.

I can barely manage right now.

Let alone tomorrow.

I had to see that and I did and I let go, peed and prayed, you could say, and kept right on going with the day, which was a good day, a sunny day, a nice day, busy yes, work always is, but a sweet one with the boys.

Then it came back as I was leaving the mom mentioned tomorrow’s schedule and I got caught back up in the worrying about the tomorrow.

I am never good in tomorrow.

I awful in yesterday.

All I have is today.

I acknowledged to my friend that I had to set a boundary and I hate that, it means I am not super nanny and I have my limits and oh no.

“I remember, quite distinctly,” my friend said, not admonishing me, but showing me my own patterns, “this happening at Burning Man last year with your employer, you do too much, get exhausted, and break.”

Yup.

“Didn’t the mom tell you how important you are to the family and how they don’t want to burn you out?”  She injured further.

Yup.

The mom, did indeed say that.

So.

I have to come back with my piece and just let her know that I may not be at my highest performance at the end of the day for some of the schedule that she outlined with me.

In fact, it was so much to take in when it was brought up this morning I didn’t even register what she wanted.

I wasn’t able to process it.

It sort of went over my head and into the great blue yonder.

When she explained herself again I got it and I freaked out.

That’s so close to the end of my day and that’s a lot of extra work to add at the end of the day and oh, yeah, I leave early on Thursdays.

I come in early, not by a lot, it’s not the full extra hour of early I do on Monday’s, but a little early, so I may make a commitment at Church and Market by 6:30 p.m.

A commitment where I need to be and I can’t have food there.

The schedule the mom wants is to be out and about doing this and that during the time I am normally tucking the boys into their dinner.

And mine as well.

Despite having just eaten and being full, I was suddenly thrust into tomorrow where there’s not enough and I will have to wait until 8:30 p.m. to have dinner.

That’s not a big deal to some.

But I get angry when I miss a meal by that much time.

I have an eating disorder and though I allude to it here once in a while I haven’t really spoken about it to the parents.

It’s weird enough that they know I’m sober.

That’s been some interesting conversation.

They do know that I don’t eat sugar or flour for health reasons.

But I have not explained to them what those are.

I have left it in loose terms.

I have an allergy to sugar and flour and I get sick when I ingest them.

I don’t tell her that if I have some sugar I’m going to break out into a dozen donuts and two pints of ice-cream.

It’s not an allergy that a lot of people have.

I’m not special.

I just know what I have.

And what I have is a distinct desire to not be in the open family swim at UCSF Koret Center at 5:30 p.m. when I am typically eating dinner with the boys.

I am scared what I may say or do.

I am scared that I will be hungry and angry.

I know that I won’t be at my best.

And I don’t want to lose my job because I snap and have to shove food in my mouth.

I tried to work it out in my head, what can I make, bring to work, go grocery shopping for, do for myself that will allow me to deal.

And I just couldn’t figure it out.

Which exhausted me further.

So.

I came home.

Made some phone calls.

Cried.

Wrote an inventory.

Shared it.

Breathed.

Prayed.

And made a cup of tea.

A cuppa will fix me just about every time.

I sat and read a book.

I got quiet and stopped living in tomorrow.

I have no idea what is going to happen tomorrow.

But I can tell my employer that I am nervous about not performing at my best abilities at the end of the day.

That’s all.

I don’t have to explain.

I don’t have to rationalize.

I don’t have to manipulate through withholding my honest response.

I just have to communicate my needs.

Easy.

Hahahahaha.

Well.

Easier now than it used to be for me.

I have had some practice.

And with a little help from my friends.

I can do this too.

Thank God I am not alone.

No matter what my brain tells me.

I have a solution and I got to use it tonight.

And the feelings?

Well.

They too shall pass.

Especially after I get a good night sleep.

Sleep is such a cure-all.

And.

One more cup of tea before I retire.

I’ll worry about tomorrow.

Well.

Tomorrow.

Submit A Story!

April 29, 2015

So I did.

And then I forgot that I had.

Then I got a nice little note saying, hey, we got your story and we’re interested, but so many projects!

But we like it.

We’ll keep in touch.

And what do you know.

He kept in touch.

I received the following missive this morning after I hopped off my bike and stretched out my legs before starting my very busy shift today at work (swimming lessons, t-ball practice, potty training, cooking–wild Alaskan Salmon anyone?) and let out a little whoop when I read it.

Hi Carmen. Your post is scheduled to go up a week from today on Tales From The Playa. Thanks again for writing.

)'(

Jon Mitchell | @ablaze

managing editor, Burning Man

So cool.

I’m going to be published on the Burning Man blog!

I’m excited.

I had sent the story in last June.

I was thinking about that and wondered, what the hell was I doing last June that out of nowhere I decided to send the Burning Man blog a story.

Oh.

Yeah.

Damn.

I had just had my severe ankle sprain.

The one that way laid me for weeks and still, yes still, hurts on the occasion.

Small aside.

I feel like I am rehabbing my entire body.

My knees hurt, my ankle hurts, my shoulder hurts, all injuries sustained while working or getting to and from work.

Even the spraining my ankle was in conjunction with work–I was anxious about having enough time to commute to work in the morning and I had a double scheduled that day and wanted to take my scooter in rather than ride my bicycle.

I decided to gas it up, feeling like since I was tight on time, might as well do it now before I need to worry about it in the morning and I got frustrated kick starting it, it was cold and didn’t want to start, and I went too fast (story of my life) and bam!

Sprained my ankle so severely that ten almost eleven months later, it’s still not completely healed.

I’ve been doing stretches, ankle strengthening exercises, hip strengthening exercises (damn they hurt), and rolling out my back and shoulder every night on the yoga roller when I get home from work.

My creaky old body needs a hot tub soak.

End aside.

I was laid up.

I was trying to keep busy.

I got a Jack Rabbit Speaks e-mail–the official newsletter of the Burning Man Organization–and I must have read one of the Tales from the Playa and I got a wild hair up my ass and decided to submit.

I think my exact thought was something like, I can write better than that!

And maybe I will.

And I put my money where my mouth was and submitted.

And then didn’t hear back until after the event sometime, mid-September of last year.

I had completely forgotten I had submitted.

Jon had sent me a very sweet message about how the story mattered to him and he wanted me to know that it was still in his bailiwick and forgive the tardiness in regards to it.

Sure thing!

Thanks for keeping me posted.

Then I forgot about it again.

I am sure the process of getting pieces in is far more arduous than I can imagine.

I am sure everyone has a great Burning Man story they just have to tell and then they decide to and well, maybe the story is great!

But.

Maybe, the writing, not so much.

I cannot imagine how many bad blog pieces the staff on the editorial team has to read.

I suspect it’s the same with every one who has anything to do with publishing.

There are few of them and many, many, many of us, with our stories and words and art and ideas, and hey, what about me?

Don’t you want to know about my story?

This one time at Burning Man.

I coasted a good bit of the day on the steam from the e-mail message.

It was really nice to think about.

I’m going to be published on a blog independent of mine.

I have a few other times and now I get to have another piece out there.

Then just as I got close to the end of my day at work, I did what I had been telling myself all day long not to do.

I started to read the submission.

“Oh shit!”

I thought.

This is ass.

Do I really swear that much?

Fuck.

Maybe I do.

Oh God.

I wrote what?

No.

That’s horrible.

ARGH.

Insert ego here.

Then smash it all to smithereens.

I put it out there and I let go of the results and when I actually got the results I wanted, to have a story on the website, I might have changed my tune.

Like.

Let me fine tune the sucker some more.

I had the same reaction when I got my first short story published in the Paris Journal of Spoken Word–The Bastille.

I was really happy about my submission.

Happier still when I found out they wanted it and they were going to publish it.

Not so happy when I finally read it in print.

Oh God.

I wrote that?

It sucks.

It is not good.

It could be so much better.

I am my own worst critic.

And yes, I stopped reading my story.

I just said, no.

I have better things to do than mentally masturbate about what I could have changed in the piece before submitting it.

I am not perfect.

Nor are my blogs or my stories or my poems or the books that I have written but not published.

Not a one of them holds up to my inner, fiercest, critic.

They all suck.

But.

I keep writing anyway.

I have to.

That’s just the way it goes.

“I’ve been an artist for the last 41 years,” he said to me last night as the cake was being passed around, small slivers of chocolate cake from Sweet Inspirations, I could smell how rich it was and had been a tiny bit nauseated when the cake was unveiled for the anniversary celebration.

He patted me arm.

“Good for you for doing what you’re doing with graduate school, you’re going to be a great therapist, but don’t forget your art, and don’t give up on it, it’ll happen when it’s suppose to happen.”

He smiled, gave me a hug, and walked out the door.

Who the hell was that?

I had never met him before and it was like God just sent a little angel to give me a hug.

Thanks man.

And then the e-mail today.

It was nice.

Affirming.

Lovely really.

And my defect of character–perfection–can just take a time out tonight.

The story is not the best, but it’s sweet and endearing, and true and I am grateful I get to share it.

Grateful it will be published.

Flaws and all.

Imperfectly.

Perfect.

Just like me.

I Still Read Your Blogs

April 28, 2015

Good to know.

Good to see you again, friend.

Really fucking good.

Although the time catching up over tea fucked my commute, it was well worth it.

When the fog comes in, it comes in with a vengeance.

By the time I was on the Wiggle it was already crazy, I got pushed so hard by the wind and the fog that I felt as though I was about to topple off my bike.

When I got to the Pan Handle it was like riding through soup.

I actually got splattered, big heavy wet drops of fog gathering on the leaves and falling on your head like fat ass raindrops.

It was worth it though.

My heart, oh, you messy thing you, was so happy to catch up.

Cautious.

Curious.

A touch afraid.

I mean we had not parted ways on the best of terms, nor had we acknowledged each other the last few times we had bumped into each other.

That’s the thing about this town.

It’s rather small.

And eventually you’re going to run into folks.

Whether you want to or not.

Or they want to or not.

It happens.

And it typically happens when it’s supposed to.

I can see that very clear.

Crystal like.

So, to run into my friend and acknowledge him and then get the nod on a hug.

Priceless.

Worth the glare downs and the stare downs and the weird and then even, a cup of tea.

A reunion of sorts.

Or, perhaps, a refreshing, a rebooting of the friendship and who knows what’s going to happen or where things are going to go.

I can only see so far ahead, the fog blocks my view, but it felt good to re-connect and get right with each other.

Life is too short to not have your good friends beside you.

I don’t have a lot of close friends.

Despite what Facebook may suggest.

“You are as much of a Facebook junkie as I am,” my ex-boyfriend said early on in the relationship.

Not really.

I thought to myself, sure, I have a lot of “friends” but that doesn’t mean they know me all that well.

Although I still get a kick out of having some one message me and let me know that they read a blog or two and how much they got out of it.

It’s a really nice by-product of doing the work, my insights helping another person.

Sometimes it’s family.

My sister, a cousin, or an aunt.

Most times it’s an acquaintance from around the block, a friend of a friend, if you know what I mean.

Occasionally I will have some one reach out and talk to me and relate their experience, especially when I was going through the initial break up with my ex, or when I was in Anchorage with my dad, or when I moved to Paris, or when I moved back, and I will get support, love, insight.

And that is lovely.

And delicious.

But most of the time.

I don’t know who reads my blogs, unless you’ve subscribed, then I have a list of folks who are following, although they may not necessarily read my blog, they get it sent directly to their inbox on the e-mail account they request.

I currently have 266 followers.

And as it read in my OkStupid profile, before I deleted it, there are people who read my blog who aren’t my friends.

There are people who follow it whom I have never met, yet they too, will once in a while reach out and it’s like getting a kind tap on the shoulder, a psst, hey, thanks for writing that, it helped.

And I feel grateful.

But I write with no one in mind.

I write with not particular audience.

Well.

Maybe God.

God’s always a good audience for me.

“Santa brought me my basketball hoop, what do you want from Santa?” My little charge said as I changed him out of his nap diaper (so close to being potty trained, not quite there, still has to wear a diaper at naps and at bedtime, but almost) to his big boy pants.

“A boyfriend,”  I said, smiling.

“Hey Santa, I mean God, I mean Santa,” I laughed out loud, but continued, “please bring me a boyfriend!”

“But don’t wait until Christmas ok?”

“Santa and God are sort of the same thing,” I told my charge, “they both have white beards and know your hearts desire.”

I continued with my theological discourse as I gathered him up in my arms to head down stairs and off to the park where it was glorious and warm and sunny (which is why the fog was so fierce tonight, the heat from today draws it into the city from the coast), “although I don’t really have a conception of God having a long white beard, God is just love, that’s how I see it.”

“I love you Carmen,” my charge said.

I teared up.

“I love you too, bug,” I said and kissed the top of his head.

“Meow loves you too,” he continued and then bestowed tiny kitten kisses from his stuffed cat on my face as I carried him downstairs.

Tell me I don’t have the best job in the world.

“I can’t decide,” she said to me one day as she watched me from the door of the nursery at the old Burning Man offices on 3rd and 16th (where the new UCSF Mission Bay Hospital is), “if you have the best job in the office or the worst.”

It can go either way.

And I have had my bad days.

But most of the time.

My job, and not just the one that I do to pay the bills, but my primary purpose, it is so fulfilling, that whatever the passing pain that may come from a growth spurt around a person, place, or thing, is well offset by the love I receive back when I am willing and accepting to receive it.

I got some of that tonight.

And though it was not the same sort of hug I received from my charge.

It was one of love and God and all the good stuff.

All the things.

My friend.

I wish for you all the things.

Always.

Clown Explosion

April 27, 2015

I jest.

Sort of.

This is what happens, I tell myself, this is always what happens and when you get used to it, it’s fabulous, but for the first day or so, you are uncomfortable.

I feel like a small car full of pink clowns exploded on my head.

I could only keep the hair straight for so long.

Once I hopped in the shower, I knew it was over and I prepared myself.

It’s actually really awesome.

In an over the top, oh my God, that’s pink, kind of way.

I’ve been messing with it for too long and finally just pulled it up in a big clip and now I have the bun of madness on my head.

I sort of want to stick a small rabbit in the mass of curls, just for fun.

I tried barrettes.

Too babyish.

I tired leaving it down.

Too much.

I am sure pig tails will do the trick, they usually do.

And give it a week and I won’t bat an eye and I’ll be yearning after the Manic Panic in the bathroom, sweet Cleo Rose, color me pink again please.

Because that’s how my brain works.

Always on to the next thing.

The next hair geographic.

I did feel stylish and sophisticated and pretty and polished for 24 hours.

That’s not bad.

And should I ever get it together to learn how to straighten out my hair on my own, I’m sure I could achieve that status again.

I even looked at curlers today when I popped into the SafeWay to grab some groceries.

I’ve spent enough on my hair, however, and I don’t feel like tossing anymore that way.  I have other things to spend my money on.

Graduate school tuition.

Student loans.

Groceries.

I don’t have graduate school tuition to worry about yet, but it is there, looming on the horizon.

I do know, however, that I have been given the green light on this so far and I don’t believe at all that I’m going to be dropped.

The money will be there, the tuition will get paid and if I’m paying off student loans for a while, so be it.  And stuff happens, miracles and magic and pink hair or no pink hair, curl explosion of glory, I’m always taken care of.

And in the mean time, I get to focus on the small tasks ahead of me.

Work.

Writing.

Blogging.

Living.

Reading.

I butted through about 190 pages of a book one of my cousins sent me a few months back.  He’s got quite the collection and he shipped me off a few of his favorites.

Although not what I would have chosen, story of my life, the books have been good and easy reading and I found myself lost in a book for a good long while today while I got used to the pink mania of my hair.

It is riotous.

It did inspire me to watch “Oh The Places You’ll Go at Burning Man” on YouTube, about well, duh, Dr. Seuss’s last book interpreted through the eyes of Burning Man attendees.

The first time I saw it, a co-worker of mine at Mission Bicycle Company showed it to me.

“Have you seen this?!” He asked me all excitedly.

I had not and it brought tears to my eyes.

“Damn it man,” I said, as I wiped my eyes, “we’re not even open yet and I’m smudging my eye makeup.”

“Gives you that smoky, sexy, just rolled out of bed look,” my friend assured me.

I don’t know about that.

I always just think it gives me the I’ve been crying look.

But.

I’m ok with that.

A few tears will not make or break me and it’s good to let them out, tears of happy or sad or joy or love.

The swell of salt in my body wishing to return back to the sea from whence they crawled.

The sea was beautiful today, but I did not take a walk down by the ocean.

It was too breezy.

And when it’s that breezy up around my neighborhood it means, it’s really blowing down by the beach and nothing says fun like getting sand stuck in your pink glitter lip gloss.

I suspect I’ll be wearing a lot of pink and black the next few weeks until the color dies down a little.

Today I shook it up and wore coral.

Oooh.

I also did ride my bike along the Great Highway and it was indeed windy.

In fact, the highway got closed down at the end of Lincoln and the gates were swung shut on the highway.

No through traffic was happening.

Which made a nice quick commute for me on my bicycle.

“I see you all the time on your bike, don’t stop riding ever,” the guy at the garage sale said to me today as I pursued the goods.

It was a good yard sale.

The group that rented was moving, back to Florida of all places.

I didn’t even ask why.

It’s hard making it in the big city and I am lucky that I am where I am at.

I hear so much about people unable to afford rent, getting squeezed out, or bought out, or any other egregious acts of rental roulette in the city.

Either that or no one is moving, even if they don’t like where they live, there’s not really anything to move to.

I suspect that things will change, they always do, but for this afternoon I was happy to walk around my neighborhood while dinner was simmering on the stove (Italian white beans with tomatoes and basil, sautéed ground turkey, onions, garlic, black olives and celery over brown rice) and relish my life here in San Francisco.

I make about half of what one is supposed to make to live here.

And I do alright.

But I work my ass off and when the fun needs a release valve.

Well.

I tend to go the route of hair geographic.

I’m ok with that too.

Even if it does look Insane Clown Posse has sprung full-blown from my brain.

Like Athena springing from he brain of Zeus.

Except.

Well.

REALLY.

Pink.

Pinky

Pretty in Pink

Color Me Happy

April 26, 2015

I got the best hugs today.

I caught up with some friends that I have not seen in a long time.

And.

I got my hair did.

So good.

Roller

Blow Out

Rollers

Rollers

Pink

Pink

Happy

Happy

Damn

Damn

Color me happy, joyous, and pink.

I was just going to go blonde.

But well, one thing, er, lead to another.

And I’m in the pink.

And I love it.

Thank you, thank you, thank you, my dear friends at Solid Gold Salon, Sutter Street at Jones (shameless plug, they are just awesome and amazing, I mean, come on) in the Tender Nob of San Francisco.

Check them out.

I mean they have been doing my hair for a long, long, long time.

Calvin did my cut and his partner Diane did my color.

I could not have been in better hands.

It was not always this way.

“You look like a space hooker!” Calvin hooted in the living room of his apartment in Nob Hill proper.

“Dude.” I said, as I looked in something like horrified awe at what he had done to me.

Note to former self, never let anyone dye your eyebrows.

Ever.

Especially not someone who is still in beauty school.

“You are not allowed to post those photos up,” I said, “and excuse me while I go scrub my face off.”

Calvin was not just in school for hair (Aveda and Vidal Sassoon), he also did the program at Blush School of Makeup down on Market Street.

I too was living in Nob Hill, Taylor at Washington, and I would often make the two block, very uphill walk, to his place and we would shoot the shit, drink too many lattes, and he would cut my hair, color it, razor blade it off, once, oh God, once, he gave me a faux hawk and a tail.

How do you know when you love someone?

You let them give you a tail.

I saw a little boy at the park the other day with a tail and all I could think was, that is so not cool, cut it off.

Off man.

I made him cut that off pretty quick.

I never really gave a damn about the color or the weird cuts, he always figured it out, and it was fun to be his hair model and let him go to town on my head.

“I remember when you were rocking all those crazy colors and cuts, you were doing wild color before any one else,” she said to me last night when I told my friend I was going in to the salon today and I was going to do blonde, pretty blonde highlights, beachy, you know, sexy.

Well.

There was some blonde involved.

And the pink will fade, eventually to blonde.

Which is perfect.

That’s actually what I want.

I also left with a container of Manic Panic Cleo Rose.

When it fades too much.

Or.

When it’s just about time for Burning Man.

I will use the Manic Panic and bring back the pink.

I love the way it fades out though, I may wait a while to douse it with more color.

I’m pretty happy with how it turned out and they gave me a blow out, using the great big curlers, and I just love the being fussed over.

Perchance we are to date, and you are a man, identifying as heterosexual, not gay, not homeless, and not in a poly possible relationship, you will win me over by 1. Kissing my neck and 2. Washing my hair.

Oh goodness.

It is the best thing to have a person wash your hair.

I could just lie in that wash station all day and let that happen.

It still amazes me that I go to the salon and get my hair done.

Or that I go to the nail salon and get my nails done.

Or that I wear makeup.

All the things.

All the things I never used to do.

It’s like having the adolescence that I never had.

“My dad says I should be careful, you’re high maintenance, he says,” my boyfriend in my twenties told me.

I’m high maintenance?

What?

What the fuck do you know about high maintenance old man?

He was right.

Perhaps why I reacted so strongly to it.

If you spot it, you got it.

I love this part of myself though and I am doing my best to allow myself to embrace it, within reason, I’m not so high maintenance as you might think.

“I’m going to shame you when I tell you when the last time you came in for a cut was,” Calvin said as he looked it up in the computer.

“I know, I know,” I said, cringing.

I knew it had been almost a year.

“Almost a year,” he said, giving me the look.

They say every six weeks.

I say every twelve months.

“I wish you would teach me how you do that cat’s eye,” she said to me, “I just can’t do it.”

It takes me five minutes to do my make up in the morning.

Maybe six if I don’t have a steady hand, but it’s just doing the same thing every day since Calvin taught me how to do my makeup.

I got to be his model a few times for make up and when I went to Blush one of his head instructors also used me to do a demonstration and I learned a lot.

I could learn a lot more.

I don’t know contouring or really how to use blush properly or apply false eyelashes.

But you know.

I’m willing to learn.

I may be high maintenance, but I’m not time-consuming high maintenance.

And I know how happy I feel when I have pretty hair and makeup.

And how sexy I feel.

“Don’t hide your sexy under a barrel,” she told me, “God did not give you all that to waste it hiding in a corner.”

Yes ma’am.

“Where are you going tonight,” Diane asked as she finished the hair and smoothed down the last pieces, coaxing the full soft curl forward in a long sashay of bang framing my face.

“I don’t have plans,” I said.

“You look great! Are you going on a date?” My housemates friend asked as she popped over to check the mail and feed the cat.

Nope.

I do not.

But you know.

Every time Calvin has done my hair.

I do end up getting asked out on a date.

Here I am.

Let’s do it.

My hair looks amaze balls.

And.

I’ll put my make up on quick.

Real quick.

Promise.

Leap Of Faith

April 25, 2015

He leaned forward.

And jumped.

I was two steps below what I would have like to have been to make sure that it was not such a leap, but the boy was ready to not be napping and to get down stairs and be in the world.

His arms wrapped around me.

I caught him.

I always do.

His leaping lizard ways do cause my heart to lurch into my mouth at times, but the sweet and absolute trust in me he has, makes me feel always at the ready to catch him.

“I love you,” he said and buried his face in my shoulder.

“I love you too, bug,” I said and squished him close to my heart.

It never fails to amaze me.

This thing called love.

I felt love of all sorts tonight.

I met with a dear friend after work tonight and we hung out and had tea and talk all things girlfriend and life and the stuff of it.

I went where I always go on a Friday night, that bastion of crazy good and weird and wonky, Our Lady of Safeway.

I texted with a darling friend who just had a baby last week to check in on her and see how I could be of some service.

I’ll be heading over to her side of the bay next Saturday to spend time with her and the new little guy.

I rode home, slowly, in the thick of the night through shrouds of fog and wind and mist that slowly materialized into rain.

I did my stretches and strengthening exercise and though I did not want to do them, I did them anyway.

I have love of self too.

It doesn’t always manifest itself in the most logical of ways and that is why I also have a big community and fellowship that helps me discern when my feelings are having their way with me.

But love.

Well, love can have its way with me.

I may get hurt.

However, I will still have the experience.

I want to experience it all.

I have taken some leaps and leapt into some uncomfortable situations, painful, life affirming, and experiential all.

I don’t see myself sitting on the side lines with anything at the moment.

I am committed.

I sound like I am talking in circles and I am, but I know what I am talking about and as it winds itself out of my head and down into my heart I see where the wound is and how that it might sting, like, a lot.

Or not.

I don’t know.

So I took some action, reached out, and now, well, the results are not mine, the words, with a little help from my friend, thank god for friends, the timing so not mine, but the feelings, succinct and sure, are all mine.

I look forward to what ever happens next knowing that I have asked for what I need given the information I have been given.

And then life, well, it continues forward.

Through the rain and the gentle mist and the days and the nights, through the music and the poetry.

To the hair salon!

Yes.

Tomorrow I go in for a much-needed hair cut and color.

“I’m thinking of _____________,” I told a friend tonight as we were comparing schedules in regards to going out to Berkeley next Saturday.  “I don’t know that I want to do color, everybody is doing color now (meaning blue and green and purple and what have you), I was doing color before color was a thing, I think I’m going in a different direction.”

I will take photos.

Don’t worry.

It will be fun to have a ladies day at the salon too.

I’m going to do the deal and then meet with my person at Tart to Tart and do some reading and checking in and then some lunch and the salon.

I’ll be heading up to Solid Gold in the venerable Tender Nob.

That nice narrow strip of town nestled between the bourgeois in Nob Hill and the hoi poi in the Tenderloin.

It’s not quite the same as the tech smash-up of gentrification and the homeless drug addicts strolling around Mission Street, but it is a clash of worlds and I am grateful that I get to navigate it the way I do now instead of the way I used to.

I have come a long way, baby.

There’s a coffee shop that I used to score at just around the corner from where I get my hair done and it’s always a fond trip down memory lane for me to go past it and occasionally even go in for a fix before getting my hair done.

Caffeine, that is.

That’s a leap of faith too.

All the things I have done that I can forget about.

All the ways that love as aligned to get me where I am now and where I will go next.

As I sit and look around my home and everything that has happened here in the last year and a half and how much I have done and seen and grown since moving back from Paris with $10 in my pocket, I am truly amazed.

Awed really.

Look ma!

No hands.

I’m doing this life thing.

It’s not just fantasy in my head.

And I have been in some fantasy in my head over the last week.

I took some action and, well, I get to let go of those results too.

Surrender is an act of faith too.

“Shh, sweet darling,” I said as I gathered him up from the stroller, “Meow is right here.”

He hung his head down onto my chest, clutching his stuffed cat to his body and clung to me as we climbed the stairs into the house heading straight up into his room, where I tucked him in and turned on the sound machine and a little fan.

I brushed the hair of his face, tucked him in, and bent down to kiss his forehead.

“I love you,” I said and my heart grew a little more full.

“I love you too, Carmen Cat,” he said, finishing with a sleepy, “meow,” has he turned over onto his pillow and burrowed under the covers.

I almost fell over and tumbled down the stairs myself.

Love.

It will catch you unaware and bash into your heart.

And I find.

There is not protecting myself from it.

I am open to it all.

To know that.

Is to know.

Grace.

And.

I am graced.


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