Archive for January, 2012

Girl On A Swing

January 20, 2012

Sounds sort of sexy, eh?

Well, that’s me, on the “front page” of the Mission Mission blog, swinging away on the new swing that went up last night on Valencia between 19th and 18th.

Is this my fifteen minutes of fame?


I do not like having my picture taken.

I so love having my picture taken.

Come on, I am selfish, self-seeking, self-centered, and vain.  Please, snap a photo of me, where’s the paparazzi?  Wait, this angle is better.  Yes, from this side, please.

That’s the problem with pictures.  I want to have my photo taken, oh yes, but I want creative control of what goes out there.  And I never get that control.  There are some not quite flattering pictures of me out there, oh yes there are.

Shaved head, space hooker makeup, courtesy of Calvin and a wild make up session (that’s make up people, make up).  He was in makeup school and I was his model.  Imagine my surprise when I looked in the mirror.  I thought clown, he said space hooker, snapped some photos, and face booked the fuckers.

I untagged them from my profile awful quick, but not before there were a heap of comments.  I did not get any dates off those photos.

Then there’s the Keith Carlson photos of me and Juni on playa at her mama’s birthday party.  She’s wicked tired, I’m wicked tired, we’re both dusty as all get out, and the one that gets picked up the most?  The one where she’s mashing her hand on my face.

I have more pictures apparently in my future.  Which I am not exactly looking forward too.  As well as being more than a little worried about whatever picture Kai chooses to post on the Mission Bicycle Face Book page because they’re (the marketing team) are going to run a post about the new girl, me.

I was helping a customer design a bike (sold number four!) and Kai just snapped away.  I don’t know how to pose.  I forget all the stuff you’re supposed to do, tuck your chin, not tuck your chin, angles, suck in the stomach.  Frankly, the best pictures of me are probably when I don’t know there’s a camera around taking a picture.

My face is relaxed, I’m not forcing a smile, I’m just my genuine self.  I like to think that I could be a model or an actress or a, fill in the blank, but I don’t think I could handle the photo shooting.  Despite the very real, and slightly humiliating, desire to be photographed.

I don’t know exactly what it is about having my picture taken.  I do want it.  It’s a weird thing, I think I want to know how you see me.  I don’t have very good eyes.

And I don’t mean that I need glasses, which I obviously do (hello, San Francisco rainy season, it’s a whole different ballpark being on a bike in the rain wearing glasses.  This is a new and not exactly pleasant experience I am getting to have).

But that I don’t see myself very well.  I have body dysmorphia–I think I am larger than I am.  And I don’t like my profile.  In fact, I despise my profile.  So, I’m always interested in seeing what I look like in a picture, as though that’s a better representation of me.

Some thing that can be manipulated, photoshopped, tweaked, and distorted, plus it’s a flat image.  The truth is a photo does not capture all of who I am or all of who anyone is.

That being said, I have had the pleasure of knowing a few outstanding photographers and I am always blown away with how they see the things they see and how those are translated to the photo.  It amazes me when personality shines through, or a moment is captured that is fleshed out and not a flat image.  A good photograph tells a huge story.

I’m not saying Kai did not take a good photo, rather, I was not the best subject.  I was stiff and awkward and the point of the photo was to catch the joy of that swing going back up after it had been hacked down by a chemically imbalanced older woman who cut down the original swing because the side-walk is not a playground.

I wish she would do a little pruning in the Tenderloin.

I guess this is just prep for tomorrow.  I am interested to see what the post that Kai and Kristin are working on and horrified at the same time.  And then next Tuesday I am to take my “year book photo” for the Mission Bicycle webpage.  They are cheesy and I want no part of it.

And I have been told, tough noodles.  I will be grinning in front of some bicycle in the store with a Mission Bicycle t-shirt on, thereby announcing to the world, my status as a bike shop girl.

Not the fifteen minutes of fame I was looking for.  But then again, really, who cares?  I am not looking for fame anyhow.

Granted, I don’t always know exactly what I am looking for, but it’s not fame.  Security, sense of belonging, love, my beloved (where is he, by the way?), financial success–definitely all those things.  But fame?  Eh, not so much.

Now my ego, my ego likes the idea of fame.  My ego wants you to know who the fuck I am.  I am a very important person, dontcha know.

My ego is what gets me into hot water.  Here’s what my ego said when Kai told me I was on the front page of the Mission Mission blog, maybe I’ll get a date.


Some things never change, despite how often I tell my head to hush.  I’m not actually angered by it any longer, either, I just find it rather amusing.  My brain today, probably just for today, amuses me.  I can give it a little pat on the head and say, “aren’t you cute?”

What it all really breaks down to is this, I have a job that is fun.  I get to go play on the swings and I get to have my picture taken and I get to design bikes.  I get to be creative and I get to have some fun doing it.

I’ll ride that swing out-of-town.

Day Dreaming

January 19, 2012

Yesterday while everyone was out and about at the shop, running errands, taking photos, going to the bank, I was left alone and I got to eaves dropping on a French family.  It was fun to listen to them exclaim over the things in the store and to hear them admire the bicycles.

It was also fun to interact with their young daughter, six, seven years old, to whom I made a gift, un petite cadeaux, of some of our stickers.  It fanned that little pilot light of a flame I have for Paris.

I was actually able to converse with them, not fluently, but well enough to sell them what they wanted, a pink bicycle chain for their little girl, who had become quite enamored of it and insisted she wanted it for her bike at home.  I was also able to adequately tell them the price of the chain, in French, which was awesome.

I admit I ran the numbers through my head before I said anything, though.

Last night as I was preparing to settle in for the night I made a couple of decisions.  One was to bring home the writers catalogue that I had left on the counter top at work–The Writer’s Chronicle, A Directory of the 2012 Writers’ Conferences and Centers.  

The other was to look into taking the French placement test at City College.

I had been hopping around on the internet looking at writer’s residence programs and suddenly the thought–why not a residence program in France?  So, I knocked around a while looking through pages and websites, until the inevitable overwhelmingness of it all got to me and I stopped for the night.

Before I reached that point, however, I explored my French language options here in the city.  There is the Alliance Francais, State, and City College.

My first choice is the Alliance Francais, however, the courses are quite expensive and I feel as though if I am going to pay for course work, which if pretty much inevitable unless I want to polish my French using language and audio tapes, is to get credit for the work.

That brings me to State and City College.  A large part of me would love another degree, in French, and the allure to apply to State was tempting, but I would rather get a little French under my belt here and if I do pursue a degree, do it through the Sorbonne while in Paris.

Which brings me to City College.  I can take courses, take a placement test (and if I test well I can get retro-active credits for the levels I test out of), and go to classes out of the Castro Campus.  This would be ideal for work, where I live in the city, and to get a little refresher into my system.

I still plan on going to Paris.

My savings account is still entitled Paris.

I don’t know how exactly I am going to do it.  I don’t know when, exactly either.  Although the plan is to be there for my 4oth birthday.  That has always been the dream.  I could go for a few weeks around my birthday and be in Paris, the City of Lights, over Christmas and New Years.

Holidays in Paris.

I like that.

But I think what I would like even more is to be living there.  I would like a little flat with a Christmas tree and a fire in the grate.

This may all be fantasy, but what I realized as I was mentally masturbating to the idea of being in France, was that none of it would happen if I just sat there on the couch thinking about it.

The first step then, is to get re-acquainted with the language.  I also feel that were I to take course work I could network through the school system and get some ideas and some insights about how to apply to take course work through the Sorbonne.

I really would love to live abroad for a year, at least, if not a little longer.  I would love to bicycle through France.

Perhaps on a Mission Bicycle!  My frame came back from the painters today.  Boy oh boy, does it sparkle!  I had to laugh when I pulled it out.   Nothing subtle about me.  And that’s ok.  I like bright and sparkly and pretty.  Fact is that is sort of my personality.  I don’t need to apologize for it.  I am colorful.

There are times when I wish I was a little more subdued, but then again, I like to rock it out and maybe you can tell that by the pink stars tattooed on my neck, or the blue glitter fingernail polish I am wearing.  I don’t know much about subtle.  Although I can identify it when I see it.   But, well, I like to be noticed.

I am, ahem, flamboyant.

I will stand out in Paris.  I did last time I was there and I had half the tattoos I now have.  But then agin, I will probably stand out where ever I go, but if I am to go anywhere, the actions need to be taken.  Not just re-naming my savings account.  But actually putting money in it.  And doing those little things like making an appointment to talk with the head of the French department at City College.

But first I need to take the placement test and print it off.  Then I make the appointment.  This semester has already started up, so summer is what it’s looking like for me.  I may only take one semester at City College.  But I know that thinking about it does me no good.  That thinking, for me, is akin to fantasizing.

Instead of trolling the web and trying to figure it out on my own.  I will take the test, make the appointment and talk with some one who knows better than I.  Concrete, direct actions.

Further actions, aside from writing my blog and continuing my commitment to post a day, is to write down my writers hours for this week.

I have decided that I will write on Saturday and research on Sunday.  After I have coffee with Stephanie at Four Barrel on Saturday I am going to write.  I’ll be just meeting with her for an hour.  That puts me at 2:30 p.m.  I hereby block out 2:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. for writing.

I will write as I learned from when I took Alan Kaufman’s writing course.  I will write long hand, I will write for one hour.  I will just see what comes out.  I have a few ideas.  I have a few thoughts.  I do not commit to any of them.  Doing that leaves me feeling obligated to produce.  The only thing I need to do, is what I learned from Alan, pick up the pen and write steadily for one hour.

No judgements.  Not deleting what I wrote.  All in long hand.  His analogy, that still really works for me, is that like a tailor, I need a large amount of material to make my suit from.  I edit later. I commit now.  One hour.  Saturday.  Long hand.  I will get myself a new notebook just for this.  I will buy it tomorrow after work.

Because this will be different from my morning pages, for which I already have a notebook, and also different from my blog, my blog is never “hand written”.  This  notebook that I am to write in

A Bicycle Sighting--Paris

At The Cafe

will be my next book.  What ever I write, whatever gets thrown down.  It is of importance to me that I also pick up the pen and just let the creation process happen.  I feel the need to be a conduit for the writing.  That has been making my skin itch with need.  I am a word junkie, I admit it.

Then, Sunday, I have commitments from noon until 3:30p.m. and another at 6:30 p.m.  so I give myself from 4pm. until 5 pm to research and put together submittals of my currently finished work.  Two hours this weekend.  That’s all I need to commit to.

I can do this.  I am capable of doing this.  These actions will build on one another.  These actions will lead me to that airplane ride to France.  I can almost see the streets flashing by underneath the wheels of my bicycle as I ride to my favorite cafe to write over a cafe creme.

I can do this.  It does not have to be a day-dream.

Dropping Hints

January 18, 2012

The building where Mission Bicycle is located is the old New College campus.  The College lost its accreditation a few years back now, I want to say five, maybe even six years ago it closed.  Perhaps not so long as that, but it’s been a while.

None the less, occasionally some one will come by looking for the college or they will be alumni who have not heard the college closed and they are in town visiting, etc.

And once in a while there’s mail.

Today there was mail.  I took it for myself.  It was a writers magazine that I had never heard of that was addressed to the writing department head at the college.  I figured he would not be missing it.

I opened it up and saw lists for grants, MFA programs, writers residencies, scholarship awards, contests, agency listings.  I said, mine, mine, mine.

Then like the scared chicken I am, I left it purposely on the counter at work.

The Universe said, “hey, you, yeah, you, bike shop girl, you ain’t gonna be at this bike shop forever, get on it”.

I got excited.  Then I thought, hmm, I have lots of time on Sunday when I will be in the Mission between commitments; in fact I have four hours of kill time.  I will hang out in a cafe and devour this catalogue of writers gold.  I will underline and highlight and make lists.

Or I can get scared and say, ah, thanks, Universe, that was nice of you to drop this literally in my lap, but nah, I’m ok working at this bike shop…


Oh, good lord.  No I am not.  I am a writer.  And that is what I’ll be doing for the rest of my life.

I heard something really interesting tonight.  My friend had come to the realization that he was jealous of some one he knew because he had all this “stuff”  a nice house in San Francisco, an awesome career as a photographer, assistants out the wazoo, a family, a nice studio, etc, etc.

But then my friend realized how hard this man worked for his success and that it had not been handed to him.  My friend came to the realization that he too could have everything this successful photographer had if he was willing to work for it.  But, he was not that driven.  He liked his down time, he liked going to the beach and surfing, he liked having options.

I believe I am somewhere in the middle.  I am willing to do the work.  I am totally willing to do the work, but I want someone to tell me how to do it.  I feel like I need an instruction manual on how to do it.

Actually, I feel often times just flat-out overwhelmed by it all.  It seems like there is so much that must be done and attended to.  It does not matter, on one hand, that I wrote the book, it matters how I put the book out there.  And I still don’t know how to do that.

I’ll start a google search and send out a query.  I have researched how to write query letters.  I have started a blog.  I have stared at the internet.  I have tried to figure out SmashWords and self publish.  I feel like I get to a certain point then I have not idea where to go next.

For example, I believe I have a great book proposal with writing about my experiences nannying at Burning Man.  Granted it may be a very niche audience, but I am willing to believe that some body out there, perhaps more than a few some bodies, are quite interested in what happens when you nanny at Burning Man.

The question is then, how do I pitch an idea?  To whom?  How do I start?

I want there to be something clear-cut and obvious.  I want a check list.

I don’t think that it exists.  This is not to say that I will not continue attempting to find ways to get published.  I just will have to keep muddling through.

The catalogue I got today was intriguing, scary, yes, but intriguing.

Then I got home to an e-mail from Zefrey.  An old friend of mine who I have had moments of being in complete awe over how much he has accomplished as an artist and how and where he has shown and, then the “why not me?”  has risen it’s ugly, nasty little head.

The jealousy monster.  I heard Matt’s voice describing that photographer and his success and how he came to realize he wasn’t interested in working that hard.

Am I?

Am I willing and ready to let go of my creative jealousy whenever I hear of another show Zefrey has put together?  I know he works his ass the fuck off.  I know he put himself through school while working a full-time job he hated.  I know he got up and pulled his roots and set off into the wilds of the New York art scene and I cannot imagine how hard he worked for it.

So,  am I willing to do the same thing for myself and my writing?  Am I ready and willing to put in the work and do the same.  I am prolific. I write all the fucking time.  I have notebooks upon notebooks of stuff.

The desire seems to be there.  The material is there.  The fear is definitely there.  But I feel like the work is what is missing.  I don’t do enough work.  I have to really just stop thinking about it and do it.  If I feel that sitting down in a cafe a couple of times a week is going to be the necessary impetus to get the work done am I willing to do so?


Yes I am.  I am also willing to apply to writers in residence programs.  I am willing to check out applying to the Iowa Writers Workshop.  I missed this years deadline, but I can get the application together for next year.  I am willing to go through that catalogue page by page and take some constructive actions.

Yes.  I am willing to do the work.

I am not willing to be jealous of my friend any longer.  I am letting go of the green monster.  The Universe dropped me a big ass hint today.

The gauntlet has been thrown down.

I hereby pick it up.


Holding Steady

January 17, 2012

I feel as though I am in a bit of a holding pattern.  Nothing really happening for the next two weeks.  I am just expected to show up at work and do my job.  I will be couch surfing for two more weeks.

Then, my new place.

Oh, I am so looking forward to being in my own space.  I am looking forward to sleeping in my own bed, with my own bedding.  This last couple of weeks of being on a couch has really made me come to appreciate my bed.  I miss my bed.  I miss my own sheets and blankets and quilts and pillows.  I do. I do.

A bed is a very important thing to have.  A grown up bed with a mattress and a box spring.  A bed to call my own.  I have had many places where I have slept, but few that have been legitimately mine.

I have had mattresses on the floor, best friends old futon frames, couch cushions, sleeping bags, egg-shell foam, flattened cardboard boxes, plywood sheets, back seats of cars.  I have slept in some pretty uncomfortable places on and on some fairly uncomfortable things.

I dream of a really nice bed.

Sometimes I will still catch myself fantasizing about  a place or a thing, people, not so much anymore.  Even men, I don’t find myself fantasizing about the boys either.  But a good bed?  That is a bird of another feather.

A good bed needs to be at least full size.  I honestly have never had a queen or a king and would not know what to do with all that space.  Perhaps if I were in a relationship it would be applicable.  I tend to sleep on “my” side of the bed, even when there is no one else in the bed I don’t really sprawl out.

I don’t know if this is old habit from childhood, sleeping with my sister.  Or from the one long-term relationship I was in, five years.  But for whatever reason, I tend to sleep on the left side of the bed and the right stays empty.  Maybe I am holding space for the One?

A good bed should also have very clean cotton sheets, with a thread count of at least 400.  And could I let myself splurge I would definitely get sheets that have a higher thread count than that.  But absolutely no polyester, no cotton blends, and no silk.  I don’t like slippery sheets.  Also, no flannel.  There’s something weird to my skin about flannel sheets.  Yeah, I know, they’re warm or something, but they don’t feel right.

There is just something so good and right about getting into a bed with fresh sheets on it.  I don’t tuck them in either, my feet like the option of “breathing”.  I don’t want to be corralled into my bed.

Then a good soft fleece type blanket and a heavy quilt.  I prefer quilts to comforters.  I have a hard time with down comforters as I get to warm under them.  It I am too hot I cannot sleep.  I love the weight of a good quilt and occasionally when I am feeling crafty, which is not all that often, I do entertain the idea of making a quilt.  I think it might be good fun.

But then I sometimes have queer ideas of fun.

Next, pillows.  Not too firm, not too soft, and at least four of them.  Not that I sleep with four, but they just look better on the bed that way.  I sleep with two.  More’s too much, less too little, two is perfect.  I actually get to buy new pillows when I move into my room and I am excited about that.  I may also up date my sheets.  I have a nice set, but not a great set.

And two sets would be nice.  I change my sheets once a week.  Mandatory.  Nothing is yuckier than dirty sheets.  I remember my sister hated making her bed and washing her sheets and once I caught her sweeping off her bed!  Ah, no thanks.

In fact, I used to scent my sheets with my favorite perfume.  I found it decadent and divinely delicious to crawl into my bed and be enveloped in scent.  I don’t often do that.  But I do wash my sheets in nice detergent–Mrs. Meyers and I use nice dryer sheets–so they do have a cozy pleasant smell to them.

I am a scent person.  I like a nice candle to be burning in my room pretty much whenever I am in it and I like pretty scents enveloping me when I go to sleep.  I should perhaps qualify that even more, I like sensual things.  Those things that are pleasant to my senses.  And I do them for me more than I do them for anyone I might be entertaining, friend or lover.

I like soft light, candle light, yellow, peachy light.  I like nice warm smells–not musky, but warm, spicy–cinnamon, cloves, bergamot, vertiver, vanilla, they are almost bright smells to me, but not citrus sharp.  I like smells that have a round edge to them not a square sharp edge.

Then there must be nice things to look at from my bed.  Art, evocative pictures, landscapes, things that my eye can rest on and be pleased with.  I don’t know how to describe it or why it happens, but there are patterns of color that please me more so than others and palettes that I prefer.

I like creamy colors and dulcet tones.  I like sepia.  I like dusky browns and warm greys.  Softly shaded purples, lilacs, and lavender.  I like sage greens and egg-shell blues.  I like shabby chic,  but I like a little edginess to it.  I don’t want my home to look like a store.  Which is how it was described once and I found that off-putting.

The bed is the center piece, the middle of it all, the island in my ocean of calm.  It is where I make my nest.  My current bed is the best bed I have had in a while.  But a secret, the box spring is really crappy and the mattress I bought second-hand off of craigslist.

Granted it was very gently used, but I have never had a new mattress and box spring.  Still, all in all, my bed is gently beckoning to me.  I can see it made up warmly in my old quilt with the corduroy patches in cream, navy, deep purple, and sage with big pillows propped upon it, my bed side tables flanking it and two old-fashioned metal lamps on either side throwing puddles of creamy yellow light onto the floor.

To sleep, perchance to dream, to curl warm and soft into my bed in my own room.

That will keep me buoyed up for the next two weeks like nothing else I can imagine.


January 16, 2012

For just a few lovely weeks there, I forgot it was winter time here in San Francisco.  There has been no rain for a bit and the weather has been scrumptious.

Alas, I fear that warmth has parted ways with my fair city.  The cold descended today and the wind kicked up and I see rain on the horizon.

I went to Sports Basement today after doing the deal in the Mission and I bought a new raincoat.  One that fits and one that although I am not looking forward to wearing it, I will probably don this Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.  The rain is coming.  The sky is falling.

The cold drop has me feeling the necessity to get cozy, to put on my slippers, wrap up in an over size cardigan, eat  soup, and drink tea.  Luckily for me, all such lovely things have been manifested.  And then, I write the blog, a bit on the early side today, as I have a movie date with me, myself, and I.  Then a quilt to cuddle up with on the couch and an early evening in for me tonight.

I feel like hibernating.  I feel like a little winter bear who is all sleepy.  All I am missing is a fire to curl up by.  I am sitting next to the radiator writing this and pretending it is a fire.  It’s actually not a bad substitute, it makes a nice little steamy sound and is putting off a smidgen of warmth.

It does however, for no apparent reason, have a mind of its own.  I do not know when it will decide to turn itself off and leave me in the cold again.  I was talking with Radha about how we have both become acclimated.  She being from the East Coast and I from Wisconsin could bond over the inexplicable way our bodies have changed to feel like 50 degrees is cold.

And I don’t know how to tell you this, but god damn it, it’s cold.  That wind pricks you and pushes you around on your bike and the sun goes away and it’s going to be a long chilly one at work–where the door is always open to the outside elements and the space heaters can only do so much.

I will be drinking lots of tea at work this week.  Lots.

I also feel like being quiet and warm because I am sleepy.  I drank caffeine a little later in the day yesterday than I normally would and found myself up tossing and turning until after 2 a.m. last night.  I put myself to bed at 1:45 am, but it took a while to settle my restless brain.

I was up and going at my normal time this morning, but I knew from the dreary look in the sky and the coldness in the room, the weather had officially returned to winter.  Then I checked the forecast and saw rain for the end of the week.


Oh well, it has been dreamy while it’s lasted.  I really have been grateful.  The thought of couch surfing and riding my bike to and from in the rain is just depressing.  If I had not had these sunny days to sail forth into, the couch surfing could have been a bit more irksome.

That being said, fingers crossed, I just have two more weeks of it.  I re-confirmed that I had the room today.  I saw Caesar earlier this afternoon and we shared a nice hug and a quick synopsis on the room.  Which reminds me, I need to call the cat spa in Berkeley.

Caesar’s mom changed her mind–no cats allowed.

I asked Caesar if I was still able to rent the room and he said yes.  After realizing that as much as I love my cats, I cannot put their welfare above mine any longer, I told him that I would still take the room.  I can’t couch surf anymore.

It’s a nice idea, and there have been true moments of hey this ain’t so bad, but I need my own place.  I need my own space and I am not willing to give up a room with my own bathroom, five blocks from work, in the Mission, with a deck, and my own entrance for $700 a month.

I just can’t do it.

I have been having absolute moments of guilt and panic when I think about letting go of the cats completely.  It reminds me of when I moved out here in the first place and I left Pork Chop and Miguel at the Madison SPCA.  It was awful.  I cried so much I think I cracked a rib.

I was so mad that they could not stay with the friends who had moved into my old place.  Mad I tell you.  But I could not find another place for them.  I tried.  I think I called every single person in my phone book.  Not a one was able to assist.

That’s what I am in fear about today.  That I will have to put the cats up at Animal Care and Control (the SPCA here, despite the myth to the contrary, does not take animals from the public.  All animals are first surrendered to Animal Care and Control where they are assessed and categorized.  Then The SPCA comes over and takes what animals, dogs or cats, they believe are most adoptable to their facility.  There is always the chance that a surrendered animal will be put down at Animal Care and Control.  They do euthanize.).

I will have faith that the cats are going to be ok.  I have to take care of myself.  I just have to.  The stress of carting those little guys around with me while I have been looking for a room has been a lot.   A lot of anxiety, worry, and fretfulness.  And I am well aware that all that worry helps neither them or myself, but there it is regardless.

I have already made one difficult phone call today.  I might as well notify the kitty day spa.  I am terrified of asking them to keep my cats and terrified of having to find another place for them to stay.

Christ, writing my blog is supposed to be cathartic, not stress inducing.

I am just being reminded of what I heard a lot this weekend, however, let go or get dragged.  I am done being dragged.  I hereby let the cats go to their own fate, what ever it may be.  I will do my best to get them situated, but I will be letting them go.

Now, I am going to go write an e-mail and suck it up and do the next action in front of me, before the swan song of hibernation calls to me again and I lapse into a heap of blankets on the couch and check out with a movie.

One last responsibility to take care of today.

At Peace

January 15, 2012

Seven Stars

Serenity Stars

I have gotten to make peace with some of the old haunts from seven years ago in interesting ways.

On Friday, when I was with Joan, we ran some errands before  heading off to the MOMA.  One of the stops was to the Walgreens on 24th and Potrero.  It was the Walgreens down the block from where I hit bottom on 25th and Potrero.

The Walgreens were I bought many a pack of Marlboro Light 100s in a box.  The Walgreens were I bought a lot of kleenex and Claritin, although I was not addressing allergies.

Although, come to think of it I was.  I just did not realize it at the time.

The Walgreens were I would wear my sunglasses inside the store because I could not handle the fluorescents on my eyes after being up for three or four days in a row.  The Walgreens were I bought a lot of Coca Cola in 1 liter bottles to go along with my kleenex and cigarettes.

I can remember how daunting it was to leave the house and walk to that store.  To simply get the few things I needed and get back to the house.  It would take me hours, truly, hours, to work up the courage to go from my room in the house to the Walgreens.  I am beyond grateful that I can go in and out of any Walgreens now and I don’t buy cigarettes or Coke.

One of my last purchases at that store while I still lived in that house, which was only through the month of February 2011, was a pack of hotdogs, a bottle of ketchup, a bag of white bread buns, a jar of pickle relish, a pack of cheddar cheese, a box of Drumstick ice cream cones, a liter of Coke, and a pack of cigarettes.

Disgusting.  But it got me through that 24 hour period.

Early on, I ate the weirdest shit.  I remember once being on the 33 coming back from the Mission and I literally had to get off the bus at 16th and Potrero to buy food from the McDonalds.  I got a double quarter pounder with cheese meal, supersized, with a Coke and a McChicken sandwich.

Apparently my body was craving nitrates.  I am pretty sure that some of the cocaine I had been doing was cut with laxative or baby powder, occasionally what appeared to be kerosene or some sort of petrol derivative, but then I began to suspect that it really was being laced with nitrates because that’s what my body craved.

And sugar.  My god the amount of sugar I ate.  I put on  75 lbs so fast it made my head spin.  I had so many empty pints of Hagen Daz in the garbage can, I actually took out the garbage to cover my embarrassment.  I don’t think I ever had worried about the clink of empties in the can, but the rattle of Hagen Daz pint ice cream containers, well, that bothered me.

My favorite flavor was a specialty selection that was German Chocolate Cake.  But I would eat anything that resembled ice cream.

I remember the skin on my thighs felt tight because I put on weight so fast.  Rebecca would tell me to shut up and eat the ice cream when I complained.  She was right, so I did just that.

Thank God, that’s no longer my solution.

Today I had a gloriously lovely little lunch at South Park Cafe.  I had an organic greens Cobb salad, and apple, and a cup of coffee.  I had just come from Ross K. Jones’ studio on Townsend between 2nd and 3rd.  He tattooed my seven stars for me. (I updated my Gravatar with the picture, but for what ever reason I can’t rotate the pix, so I’m on my side….oops, me no good with the technology, no).

It was a pleasure to sit in his studio.  He has a light hand and the music was great and the conversation pleasant.  In fact, Ross may have the best “bedside” manner of any tattooist I have been too.  And his flash is gorgeous.  His style is American Vintage.  It is a distinctly different from Barnaby’s style, my main tattoo artist, but he worked the stars in really well with the current work I have and I love them.

His studio was one block away from where the mortgage firm used to be, I walked past the building, looked up at the bank of windows and smiled.  I don’t ever have to go through that again.  I felt like I was revisiting the end days of a bygone era and replacing them with a new chapter, a new book of revelations and hopes and dreams.

Then to go to South Park Cafe and eat lunch when all I used to do was get a coffee from them and scurry out the door to sit in the park and nurse my aching head with cigarettes and what am I going to do with myself chatter.  Well, it was soothing and joyful and serene.

Today was glorious San Francisco weather.  It was sunny and bright and so was I.  To sit in that cafe with my new tattoo tenderly reminding me that I am a brand new woman while looking out at the park and the trees and really seeing the leaves against the blue sky and the green of the grass, it was stunning.

I went window shopping downtown and wandered in and out of the malls and Macy’s and Nordestrom’s, and did not buy a thing!  Then took the N-Judah up to Noe Valley.  As the train reached the top of Dolores Park I remembered the day I had been drawn to climb up that hill, seven years ago.

I smoked one of the last cigarettes in my pack and looked out at the view of down town San Francisco.  I was broken and humbled and I had called my best friend for help.  I had me some hopes that she would fly me back to Wisconsin and put me up at her home or put me through rehab.  That was not what happened.

Thank God.

I actually did not want to leave San Francisco, but I did not know how I was going to stay.  No job.  I had resigned that morning.  I sent an e-mail into my boss Alex and told him I had a drug problem and that I was seeking treatment and I was effectively quitting.  I did not go into work that day.  I just sent the e-mail.

I had spent the last of my money on cigarettes and ice cream.  But I had not used and I had no plans on using.  I was desperate and hopeless and sad and broken.  I asked to stay put.  I asked to stay in San Francisco.  I asked for a chance.

And I got it.

I was given a reprieve and I don’t know why and I don’t care and why is not a spiritual question anyhow.

That view from the top of Dolores Park brought it all full circle for me.  I was given my out and I am at peace.  A kind of peace and serenity I had no idea was achievable.

And the crazy thing?

I hear it just keeps getting better.


January 14, 2012

The fact that I get to have relationships with women amazes me.  My favorite Mrs. asked me out to lunch.  My favorite Joan took me to the MOMA today to see the Francesca Woodman photography show.  My favorite Beth gave me unbearably beautiful love tonight.

My favorite Jennifer was adorable tonight.

I am constantly blown away by the women in my life.  Tami, head resident at UCSF, you’re really my friend?  My god that’s sexy.

Precious Joan, who really is the best museum date ever.  We chat, we walk, we look at the art.  We hold hands, we meander, we wander apart and come back together.  There’s no pressure to “intellectualize” the art, we just enjoy.

So nice.

I remember when Stephi Fox looked at me, I was in my early 20s and she said, “you’ve never had girlfriends have you?”

And she was right.  I had not.  This was in response to me not realizing that a comment to a mutual friend about how her new hair cut was a “mom cut” when asked what I thought of her hair.

Well, it was a mom cut.  But I wouldn’t say that now.  One, I don’t need to put some one else down to feel better about myself.  And two, right now, this very second, I’m rocking the mom cut.  I fucking hate it.


But that’s the price I get to pay while I am in the in between stage whilst growing out my hair.  And what’s nice is that Calvin and Diane asked me to be a hair model for a stylist who is auditioning for a chair at Solid Gold Salon and maybe after tomorrow morning it won’t look so mom “ish”.

Keeping the fingers crossed.

I did not know how to be a good friend for a long time.  And I still struggle.  I am still learning how to show up and not talk so much about myself and listen to another woman share her life, her experiences, her joys and her sorrows.

I can get rather wrapped up in my own shit.  Fast.  Oh so fast.

Today, though, it was just a gorgeous day that I got to spend with some of the most wonderful women.  And I am beyond grateful for that.

Then I think of all the astounding ladies in my life and the list is incredible.  Cass, Tami, Joan, Beth, Nikki, Diane, Jennifer, Tanya, Margo, Sidney, Caroline, Wendy, Marybeth, Stephanie Sargent Fox, Amanda, Shasha, Ji, Kelly, Robyn, Jackie, Amy, Carrie, Raquel, Molly G., Felicia, Bonne, Jayne, Maitreya, Shannon Smith-Bernardin, Heather Saltzman, Molly Daniels, Sarah, Aliza, Andie Grace, Arin Fishkin.

Holy cats.

All these stunning, beautiful, awe-inspiring women that do things and make things, cook, have children and careers, volunteer,run, do yoga, make art, sing, dance, laugh, hug, inspire.  These women inspire me.  These women astound me and break my heart open so that I can hold even more love.  Who are there for me when I am a wreck, who are there for me when I am sick, when I am happy, when I am just me.  I have friends, I have family, I have fellowship.  I have joy.

I am suffused with joy.

And all of them–teachers.  All.  I am not saying that I did not learn a lot from the woman who raised me.  I did.  But I did not learn a lot about healthy female relationships.  I did not know how to relate to women.  I did not know how to relate to being a woman.

Something for which I would not trade the world.  I love being a woman.

But I did not always.  And it feels like I did not know how to be a woman in a community for a very long time.  It took a lot of practising.  It took a lot of fumbling.  I lost some friends, and gained others.  I fucked up.  I made a mess of relationships.  I may still do so, who knows what the future holds.

Right now, however, I am just full of adoration for these women.  I could not do what I do without them.  I fall, I get a hand to help me back up.  I cry, I am offered a shoulder.  I laugh, I share my experience, strength, hop, joy, life.  I get back so much more than I give and I keep thinking I need to give more.

I probably do.  I probably will never be able to repay what I have been given.  I have been given a new way of thinking, a new way of reacting to life.  A new me.

I am not alone and I am not lonely.

I am loved.

I am lovable.

I am worthy of love.

I am ready for love.

Because that is what Jennifer shared with me when we were driving back to Nob Hill tonight.  That she is ready to be in love.  I am too.  I realized.  Despite or perhaps because of having all the examples of love that I was surrounded by today.  I have gotten to learn how to be a girlfriend, a girl who has female friends.  I have learned to tolerate myself, then like myself, and now love myself, based on the way my friends have loved me and taken care of me.


I am mushy tonight.

I have no rants.  I have no resentments.  I have nothing but love for you.

Perhaps makes for a boring read.

But what the fuck ever.

Some times you just have to sit and feel the love.

Basque in the sunshine and leave it at that.

Thank you for the most wonderful time in my life.  Thank you for my life.  Thank you for your love.  I could not do it without you.

And knowing what I know now, I would not want to.

Rock Bottom

January 13, 2012

Seven years ago, last night, which was rapidly becoming this morning, which was becoming please God help me, I hit rock bottom.

I was at the lowest point in my life.  The worst kind of hell that was possible I did not know what to do, but I knew it had to stop.

I was working at Mercury Lending, LLC.  I was a mortgage broker, in title, but really what I was doing was cold calling people to get them to re-finance their mortgage on their house.  I got a lot of hang ups. I got a lot of take me off your list.  I was bad, bad, bad at what I did.

How in the world did I talk my way into the job, I still do not know.  But I did.  I worked on commission and I had not made a single commission since I had started, three and a half months previous.  I was living on cash advances from my credit card.  And they were fast approaching their limits, fast.

Especially since I had just gotten back from a week with my mother in London, on my credit card dime.  I had gotten drunk and coked up one night and opened my inbox to see a “deal” from Travelocity on round trip tickets to London.  And in a brown out, I bought two.  One for my mom and one for me, including accommodations across the street from Buckingham Palace.

I was tapped out.  Scared about making rent, worn out, I had sworn off the cocaine for the umpteenth time and I was tired.  God, I was so tired.  I don’t know how I was showing up for work, I really don’t.  Running on nerves, pride, and too much caffeine, which never seemed to be enough as I would still feel like crawling under my desk and sleeping half way through the day.

Two things happened that fateful January 11th, 2005.  Number one, I got my fist re-fi! Oh my god, it just could not have happened at a better time.  My commission was “small” in comparison to what most of the guys in the office were making, $2200, but after months of not making anything it was worth celebrating.

Number two, Jennifer called.  Jennifer and I knew each other from Hawthorne Lane.  We had been tied at the hip when I worked there, but the relationship had a lot of ups and downs, as most friendships based on waiting tables, drinking, doing ecstasy, and   smoking cigarettes at after hours parties, do.

Jennifer relayed that Paul had finally asked Colleen, a friend and co-worker at the restaurant, to marry him!  And he had pulled the trigger with the little blue box, and boy howdy, I needed to get my ass down to the restaurant and see the rock as soon as I got off work.

I was happy to comply.  It would be good to walk in with a little of my own upbeat news.  Especially, as I had gotten fired at Hawthorne Lane three months prior.  I had started at the mortgage firm and worked days and then I would haul ass over to the restaurant and work nights.

It was horrific.  I was always trying to come down, stay up, manage, juggle, get it right.  And no matter how hard I tried I could not quite keep it together.

The owner, David Gingrass, called me aside about three weeks before firing me (during the month I took off from drinking) and asked to speak with me privately.  He called me the Pied Piper of Hawthorne Lane.  He said he could not fathom how I could go out, dance all night and then come into work, get raving customer comment cards, up sell the food, and walk away at the end of my shifts being always within the top three in high sales.

But he hated, man he had a cold way of looking at you, the way the rest of the staff was incapable of pulling it together.  He said that my mood, my mood, set the tone for the entire restaurant.  If I was in a good mood, so was everyone else. If I was in a bad mood, so was everyone else.  He had never seen anything else like it.  And despite the fact that I could pull it together to do my job, the rest of the staff couldn’t.

He told me he could not afford to have half of the cooks on the line falling apart because they had been out with me partying the night before.

Man was I pissed.

Nothing pisses me off more than when some one else is right, and boy, was he right.  Despite my vehement defensive arguments to the contrary.

I made it three more weeks before he found a chink in my armour and fired me on the spot.  Thus began the downward spiral that was to culminate three months later.

I did not actually have a problem walking into Hawthorne, the staff had been horrified when I got fired and I was feted quite a bit about town.  When I walked into the bar that happy hour to congratulate Colleen I was just going to congratulate her and walk out.  Get on the bus and go home.

This is not what happened.

Jason, the bartender saw me, said, “the usual?” And before I could say no thank you, I was nodding my head yes and in a twinkling of an eye I had a full pint of Sierra Nevada Pale Ale in front of me with a double dirty Kettle One martini on the rocks as my “beer back”.

I remember this feeling of resignation take over me as I lifted the beer to my mouth, I really was not planning on having a drink.  Then it hit my palate and all bets were off.  The bitter hops perked me right up and I chased that mouthful of beer with a good big pull from the martini.

Colleen came out to show me her ring, but I had already stepped out the door to call my dealer.  I left my drinks on the bar, went outside lit a cigarette, said fuck it, and dialed up Miguel.  I confirmed I wanted three grams and walked behind The Thirsty Bear to the Wells Fargo ATM next to the Star Bucks.

I had placed my order, gotten my money, and was back to the restaurant before my cigarette had finished burning.  I hugged Colleen again, tipped Jason, and walked out the door to the W Hotel lobby bar to await Miguel.

He arrived within twenty minutes of my call.

He was good like that.

He called my phone, I stepped outside, leaving my Chimay on the bar with my coat draped on the stool.  I lit a cigarette and waited for him to pull up in his nondescript Saturn sedan.   He pulled to the curb, I opened the door, we exchanged money for cocaine, he kept it in an Altoid tin, he drove around the block and dropped me back off at the corner.

I walked back into the bar, took a sip from my Chimay, ordered a martini, and went to the bathroom to do my first key bump of the night.

Twenty four hours later I was doing cocaine that I had stolen from some one else’s stash, after roaming all over town, drinking here, drinking there, snorting this, snorting that, playing strip poker at some one’s apartment at 4 in the morning, closing the bar, Doc’s Clock on Mission, opening another, Clooney’s on Valencia, and finally sneaking back into my place as the birds were madly greeting a new day.

I had officially lost my way.  I knew I was done.

I said, please God, help me.

And I never used again.



Where The Hell Was I?

January 12, 2012

Me and God

Quiet time

I just laughed out loud after I posted this comment to a friends photo on her Facecrack page.

I was at Burning Man.  Land of 50,000 + people and things to see.

For a moment I was incensed.  What an awesome photo, what an amazing piece of art, so freaking cool, why wasn’t I there to see it?  This makes me chuckle, or like I just said, laugh the fuck out loud.

There is so much to see and do and feel and be that there is no way in hell you are going to see and do and feel all of it.  I just watched the video that has been recently making the rounds–Oh, the Places you’ll Go–based on the book by Dr. Seus, with “regular” folks from the Burning Man community narrating the story.

I watched it with a co-worker and was just enthralled.  It was so sweet and so true and so spot the fuck on.  He’s thrown his hat into the lottery as well as his girlfriend’s name, neither have been, and he was just enraptured.

After the video had stopped playing I had stepped back and was nonchalantly wiping off my glasses while he was talking about how he accidentally got on the Bay Bridge one day and wound up at Treasure Island on a day the art team for Bliss Dance was working on the sculpture, this kid’s already got the vibe, when he suddenly looked up at me.

“Are you crying”?

I smiled.

I had been just a little.

The video made me homesick, of all things.

And then I laughed, as I realized that just enough time had passed for the weariness and the dust to settle out of my system.  Just enough time had gone by to wear down the frayed edges and smooth over the bumps of the last time I had been to make me just nostalgic enough, ready to once again to contemplate that great haj into the desert that is Black Rock City.

There really is nothing else like it.  And the fact that the person who is my boss now is the person whose camp I first stayed at on playa is pretty ridiculous.  If you think about it.  But logic does not apply to Burning Man.

It should.  It really, really, really should.  But it doesn’t.  You can be prepared as all get out and something unpredictable will happen and things will get thrown up haphazardly into the air and when they land you will not know which way to turn.  And you will feel lost and alone.

Then some one will walk out of the night and envelope you in a hug and tell you it’s alright.

Or you will run into some one that you did not even know was coming running naked across the playa at 7a.m. in those weird little five-fingered shoes and nothing else but a smile.

You will see a gorilla and a space bunny get married at the end of a wooden pier at midnight while their friends yell huzzahs in the back ground and fire dancers spin poi.

You will find a hammock when you really just need to lie down.

Or you will exhaust yourself, eat a lot of dust, sit on something really wrong in the port-a-potty (or worse yet, get stuck in one while that damn person who rigged a greeting card battery happy birthday card with Casablanca playing in the background tinkly and tiny wheedles its melody into your brain for the rest of the night), or you will break up with your girlfriend, boyfriend, best friend, life long soul mate, and you will run out of ice, and you will get garroted by some one’s tent line that didn’t el wire it at night, or you will gash your leg on rebar that is just jutting out of the ground unprotected, or get to close to the Car-B-Que at Gigsville and some jack ass throws in a tank of something combustible, or you get med-flighted to Reno and it costs you $10,000 for the ER to tell you you’re dehydrated, or your camper starts on fire in the Sierra’s, or your engine blows, or you forgot to bring water, oops, or you did not really take the suggestion about rain gear seriously (really, it does and has rained and it gets gross fast), or you forgot your sunblock and your ears have blisters on them, or you did not realize how fucking cold it can get at night, or you are abducted by an art car and you end up miles away from home and it’s lonely out there in deep playa.


You will forget it all.

I promise.

It is like labor pains, if I can make that comparison without actually having been in labor, you forget.  You remember the beauty.  You remember playing pirates with the J.bug on the Narwhal, or meeting Mrs. Fishkin for the first time and going to L’homme Flambe for the finest French food on the playa, or when you danced all night long to Kid Hack playing the really late show at BMIR radio and you were in the dj booth, or you got to go to the inner circle and watch the man burn, or you put make up on the guy who runs Man base, or you see the sunset or the sunrise, or you give some one a hand massage and they become a puddle of love at your feet, or someone comes up to you and delivers a blue raspberry sno-cone out of the proverbial air, or you climb to the very tippity top of an art sculpture and it’s you and nothing else but the stars and the most amazing light show ever, ever, ever, being put on in front of you, or you get the Zoetrope moving and suddenly everyone can see Charon crossing the River Styx, or you drink a coconut water cold, ice-cold, that some one has left by your door, or you give away your favorite gnome to your favorite new friend, or you get to fly in an airplane with a virgin, or you just sit.

Quietly by yourself, at Star Fuckers cafe, and watch the clouds blow across the sky and there is nothing but you, the sun, the playa, the wind and God.

And yeah, you might have tears in your eyes too.  And you will forget the hardship and you will pull out your little notebook of tricks and say, this year I will bring my electric tea-pot and this year I will bring more socks, and this year I will buy a case of coconut water and this year I will find that cool blinky, flashy, whatchamacallit light, and this year I will make art, love, friends, music, family, magic.

This year I will go to Burning Man.

A Smattering of Stars

January 11, 2012

That is the thematic behind my next tattoo.  Yup.  I pulled the trigger tonight and asked an artist I have not worked with before to do a new piece for me.

Baranaby is in Paris until May.

Not going to wait until May.

This is a timely piece.  Seven stars. A time line of sorts if you will.

My appointment is with Mister Ross K. Jones at noon on Saturday.  I am quite excited.  Mister Jones and I exchanged information earlier this evening and it is all set.

It won’t be a large piece, just a small commemorative piece.  Seven small stars vary in size and color on the left side of my neck.

Yes, that is correct.  I am getting a neck tattoo.

Get your freak out on.  Personally I don’t think it’s a big deal, I already have a neck tattoo.  But it is a neck tattoo that one does not often see as it sits at the lowest point of my neck and is easily covered by my shirt collar.  This tattoo will not be.  It will be out and proud and resplendent.

And before you go and try to talk me out of it, save your breath.  I don’t ever plan on working a job where I will need to hide my ink.

Happy tingle, just got a confirmation text from Ross that all is a go.  Yay!  I love getting tattoos.

You may already know that, however.

A new bike.  A new room.  A new tattoo.  A new bag being designed for me at Rickshaw bag works (Lisa, one of the reps at Rickshaw, offered me a free bag when I was at the bike expo and I chatted with her yesterday at the shop–I am getting the Zero Messenger bag in tweed–Orchid tweed–lined in Midnight blue and bordered with Iris purple.  One might say it will, match, I mean, ahem, complement my new bike pretty damn well).  A new year.  A new outlook.

This all just boils down to a change in perspective.  Of course it literally took being beaten down–car doored, bike crash, stumbling on sidewalk, smashed elbows, bruised knees–to get me to the point where I could slow down enough to appreciate what was actually happening.

Last night, admitting this may lead me to never be able to go on a date again (if any one should be reading my blog that would ask me on a date, not that I’m fishing), but fuck it, I watched Dirty Dancing.  Shh…the internet was down, I don’t have any books with me, as they are all in storage and I don’t want to buy new ones until I move, I did not have anything downloaded on the computer to watch.  And the special edition version of the movie was just flirting outrageously with me from the shelves.

Nobody puts Baby in a corner.

Sometimes I put Carmen in a corner.  And then I wonder why the world is revolving and I am not out on the dance floor having the, ahem, time of my life.  Because I put myself in the corner and I spell bind myself with tales of woe and misery and the nobody loves me crap that my head just has an unbelievable capacity to manufacture, and I get sad and stupid.


I was sorrowful on my birthday.  Christmas was glum.  Even New Years was depressing.  Although, as I wrote earlier today in my morning pages, I could not have asked for a better little urban retreat than Robyn’s studio.  I think I needed that quiet space to let myself have all those moody little feelings.

Then I got smacked back into my body.  Painfully so.  Which leads me in some directions that I don’t often go, but here’s my intuitive thought, not my self-improvement thought, just a gut feeling really.  Perhaps I need to channel some of that pain into something less, um painful.

What do I mean?

Well, if getting into my body is going to help me stay present and focused on reality, the wonderful thing that is happening right now, then maybe I need to get into my body more often.  But instead of having to do it by inflicting pain on myself by rushing about, I can slow down and choose some different options.

Maybe it’s time to start that yoga practice I constantly flirt with.  Or I could get into the pool and swim laps.  Or I could take some dance classes.  Maybe all of them.  When I move to Folsom Street I am going to be in the heart of a lot of those things.  There’s Mission Dance Theater on Mission and 24th.

There’s Yoga Tree and Laughing Lotus.  There’s the Garfield Pool.  I feel like it’s time to devote some energy into being within this beautiful body that I have been given to walk around in.

And I will not be getting in quite the same kind of bicycling exercise that I have been getting, not at all.  Exercise, despite my brain yelling at me, no way, is really good for me.

I have been off antidepressants for eight months now and one thing that my psychiatrist recommended, hammered it into my brain, really, while I was on them in the beginning waiting for the effect to kick in and especially coming off them, was to exercise.  My bike commute is going to be teeny tiny.  Five minutes, tops.  Versus the twenty-five I have been doing.  I will need to implement something else in there.

And the time that I spent bike commuting can be put into good use with another kind of exercise.  Whatever that turns out to be.


A tattoo is painful and brings me into the present moment unlike any other way I have experienced.  I wonder if that is part of the allure?  I bet it is.

Regardless, it is also a thing of beauty and my ink tells a story.

My story.

My history.

My little time line in this vast rushing universe of stars that I get to be a part of today.

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