Archive for April, 2012

You Are Going To Be A Travel Writer

April 30, 2012

I am?

I am!

China Town's Living Room

Early afternoon Portsmouth Square

Holy crow.  I am going to be a travel writer.  That’s it.  I get to do my two favorite things in the whole entire world–travel and write.

Ok, I am down with that.

Today I attended Joh Ater’s Photography Workshop in China Town.  I learned a lot.  In fact, at one point, I was so visually over stimulated I thought I might pass out, but then I realized I was well beyond my normal lunch time.

Which, when you are in China Town can be an overwhelming issue as well.  But John’s got a favorite little spot that we got to go to and it was perfect–I had a vegetable curry with rice and a large ice tea and I was back amongst the living.

I learned an enormous amount, actually, ‘a lot’ does not suffice.

First, I learned to clean my lens.  I never had cleaned my lens on my camera–the same camera has been with me to Burning Man twice–it was a little dusty. How funny, I just needed some one else to point out the obvious there.

Next, I learned to bring back up memory cards and batteries.  This would have been a handy thing to have done as my camera lost juice today.  It did not completely die, but it was so close that I chose to stop taking photos at one point so that when we sat down to look through what we had taken over the course of the afternoon I would be able to access my photographs.

Oh, and they are photographs, not pictures, as John so succinctly told me.

Or scolded me, as the case may be.

He’s right though, I took photographs.  I am learning that I have a good eye and I have a natural way of framing.  I am also attracted to depth, and textures, and layers of textures.

I learned about the rule of thirds and how to break  up a photo and not center things dead on.  I learned about negative space and how to use it.  I learned that you have to change how you photograph the scene you are photographing by changing your perspective.

I learned a whole boat load of things.

I took over 200 frames.

I have never taken that many photos before.


And I was in Paris for ten days in May of 2009.  If I had known when I went what I know now, I would have taken 500 times as many photos.  But I will have the chance to go back and take more photographs of Paris.

In fact, I may go back more than once.

Or twice.

Before we launched out into the back alleys of China Town John talked to us about any number of things, but what struck me was what he said to the two other women in the group–one of whom had such amazing equipment I was a little shy to pull out my Fuji–you are going to do weddings he said to her, then to the next woman, and you are going to be travelling, “and you,” he said looking at me,

“are going to be a travel writer.”

I inwardly gasped.  I flipped open my notebook and wrote it down.  He said it so off the cuff, so flippantly, almost that I could scarce believe he said it.  But it was with total conviction and believability.

I believed him.


The next thing he said, he quoted a famous female photographer from the 1930s, Irma Jean Cunningham, when he was looking over the camera equipment we all had, was this:

“What’s the best camera?  The one you have with you.”

Oh my god.

How true.

I love it.  I suddenly went from feeling just a little inferior with my little camera to feeling like it was alright, and I did not have to ask permission to break from the group and just start shooting.

In fact, a few times I was so lost in taking a picture, ah, excuse me, a photograph, that I was back a block and a half or squatting on the side-walk, or losing half of what John was saying as I was trying to frame the exact shot I wanted.

It was awesome.

I was so in the moment, I cannot describe it.

And I knew, I knew when I got the shot.  I got a great one of Meghan in profile that made my jaw drop.  I am not sure how it happened, but it did.

I also took so many shots that when I got home I could not believe that I had over two hundred frames.  I went through and looked at them all and some are ok, some were just boring, a few were good, and two made me skin goose bump.

They were amazing.

Then I thought, that’s actually not bad, two fantastic frames out of 200. That’s actually pretty damn good.

I have so much to learn and I am beginning to see how working at the bike shop is helping me too.  I have been learning all these computer skills, which are becoming more and more relevant to what I am planning on doing.  Plus, I get to practice taking photos of bicycles at work–we always take photos prior to shipping out a bike.

I have to learn about backing up my work.  I have to learn more about my camera.  I have to learn about where I am going to go.

And I have some time.

I confirmed with Tami when she’s getting married, it’s October 7th, which is on a Sunday.  I have time to learn from some masterful photographers right here in San Francisco.

I get to explore the photography wings at the MOMA, which are always my favorite to look at.  I get to work on mimicking other artists and I get to find my style.

I have an idea of what draws my eye and I have an astounding rich and varied palette to work with–San Francisco–for the next five months.

I have the perfect place to practice and get ready for the world tour.

I am so excited.

Exhausted, yes, absolutely, my eyes hurt a little and my brain is teeming with images, but my heart is full and I get to work on realizing my dreams.

My dreams that I have kept secret for so long now that it seems silly to look back and see all the years I wasted not taking photographs.

I have a lot of catching up to do.

Where in the World is Auntie Bubba?

April 29, 2012

Well, right now, I am at my little pied a terre in the Mission.  Kicking myself because yes, I did get the balls up to ask a guy out tonight and then I realized I scheduled it for a time I am working.


But he said yes, so let’s look on the bright side, shall we?

Be warned, oh ye men of the Mission, I am on the asking out roll.  I am going to have some summer fun if it kills me.

Although, I must be careful as I realized today when I was on the OkStupid site that I may have just agreed to a coffee date with a man who has a foot fetish.

Then again, maybe mama will save some money on pedicures.

The fetishist is not the guy I asked out for coffee, fyi.

I am double booking myself all over the place this weekend.  I have Radha’s birthday brunch tomorrow at Foreign Cinema at 11 a.m. and John Ater’s Photography Workshop in Portsmouth Square in China Town at 10:30 a.m.  I said yes to both.


And part of me wants to bow out of both.

Sigh.  I don’t know which way to go.  There’s also possibly hanging out with Tami and going to the Festivus party at work.

Can’t I just sleep in?

Even my days off are not days off.

Although, today was actually pretty damn nice.  I had  a lovely day.  I got a lot done.  Laundry, writing, checking in with folks, grocery shopping, got to see Beth, I even had a quiet moment in the sun, which I was not expecting to get, and I got a surprise visit from the wonderful Joan bug.

Hayword why do you have to be so far away?

It sucks when friends move.

Then, again, who am I to say anything?  I am about to do the same.

Well, not quite about, but things are moving along.

Despite not being able to locate my passport.  This is obnoxious.  Granted, it’s expired, but I wanted to send it in to renew it and I can’t find it anywhere.  The last time I saw it was in Nob Hill when I was filling out the application to go to Aveda.

And now I can’t find it.


Not that I am leaving on my world tour quite yet, but I am getting some ideas.

One of the ideas came courtesy of the divine Ms. Molly Daniels.  Kickstarter.

I have some experience with Kickstarter, actually, the shop did a Kickstarter platform to help fund the new bike frame.  And it was very successful.  So, I know how it works and in a weird way have some idea of how to make my idea work better because of the experience of seeing it behind the scenes at work.

Basically Kickstarter is a grass-roots funding platform to help you get your creative project up and off the ground.

My idea is this: Where in the World is Auntie Bubba.

You all know who Auntie Bubba is, moi.  And you all know that I am looking to go out into the world.

What you may not know is that I want to do this not just for the experience, which I do, but also for more fodder for the writing.  And I thought, why not write a book about my experiences aboard?

The way it works is that you put your project together and Kickstarter decides if it’s actually something worth while.  I can’t get on there and say, hey you, give me money to help me travel.

But I can say, hey you, help support my travel while I write and research my book and document my experiences.

The idea I have is that I get input from my backers as to where and how to go.  And if you pledge enough, you get to decide where I go.  I may end up in the Republic of Georgia or Vietnam or the South of France.  Who knows?

Then I write.

And I write.

And I write some more.

One of the rewards that I want to provide are first run editions of the book.  Another I want to do is make stickers or Where in the World is Auntie Bubba?  I’ll send you postcards from all points across the globe.

If you pledge high enough I will also dedicate blogs to you and I will send you journals from the road.

One of the things that I did in Paris was to go to a local book store, Le Merle Moquer, and I bought a journal.  I put stickers in it and Metro tickets and receipts from museums and photos of myself in photo booths a la Amelie.  I can pick up that journal anytime and replay my trip in Paris.

Ten days in May of 2009.

It is a fabulous souvenir.  All I needed was the little journal, some postcards, some stickers, and a glue stick.


So, if you pledge enough, I will actually send you one of my journals from the road.

Can’t travel?

Got kids, marriages, careers, obligations?

See the world through my eyes.

Or not.

It may not fund, if it doesn’t fund, I get nothing.  But if it does, I get the money that was pledged and I get to publish a book!

I am excited to give it a try.

I will need a videographer to put together a little story to help me tell the story of what and why I am doing this–one of the Kickstarter suggestions is that you do a video so that your backers get to know you and actually connect with what you are doing.  It works.  People that do videos are twice as likely to fund their projects.

I don’t know a thing about doing a video, but I do know some people that do.  I shall be asking about.

I also want to start another blog, soon, called just that Where in the World is Auntie Bubba and post up pictures and notes and ideas about my travel and my trip.  I will still continue to do my post a day, but I will add-on a photo blog so that you get to see the process of what I am doing.

Which then makes my decision tomorrow to go to John Ater’s photography workshop, which I committed to first.

Second, I must make a rain check with Radha and make time to see her, birthdays are important, and I hate flaking.

Third, use your calendar in your phone!

I started my journey.  I have a date set, sort of set, of October 15th.  Joan and I agreed today to be each other’s date to Tami’s wedding on October 11th.  We’ll go down the coast to the wedding, split a hotel, watch our dear friend get married.  And as one of my friends embarks upon the wedded bliss stage or her life and another continues down the nursing school path, I will turn the corner onto the path less trodden.

The path unknown, where in the world am I going to go?

I don’t know and it is fabulous.

Estimate Departure Date

April 28, 2012

After Tami and Allen’s wedding.

I finally saw lady Tami tonight. It has been months, literally months.  The last time I saw her in the flesh was right before she flew to Chicago with Allen for Christmas.

Where he proposed on Christmas Eve.

So darling.

I have weddings to attend.  How amazing that I have friends getting married.  June will be Fred and Heather; October will be Tami and Allen.

Then my own wedding.

To the road.

Thank you very much.

I told Tami tonight what I was planning on doing.  If you can call planning having absolutely no idea, but that I was to be leaving on a world tour.

Not a three-hour tour.

But a world tour.

I suspect I will be out of San Francisco circulation for about a year.  But I have no clue. I really don’t.  I am so excited sometimes I could scream.

Well, maybe not that excited, but excitement is there, oh yes it is.  Nerves and fear and anxiety?


At least not at this moment.  Right now it all feels still rather surreal.  Am I really going to up and go?


Yes I am.

The more I put it out there, the more positive the feed back.  I have not had a single person say, Carmen, bad idea.  Oh, I suspect there are a few folks that have had that thought, but the fact is, it just feels right.  I’m not walking out the door tomorrow.

That is helpful.  I am taking some time.

I have suspected for over a year that I would be gone in September or October of this year anyhow.  I was thinking it would be Paris and it would be for school.  Who knows, I may find myself in Paris at the Sorbonne for a semester, then again, I don’t know.  The window is open, the road beckons.

I believe though that I will be gone, I will be out the door.  I will be off on the adventure of a life time.

I have resources, some of which I am still developing.  I have friends, I have community.  I have a place to check in when I am out there.  I know where to find the rooms.  And I know how to ask for help and direction and to take direction.

The first time I ran away from home I was 19.

I left without telling anyone.  I fled with less than two hundred dollars in my pocket.  I had ramen noodles, cans of tuna, apples, and raisins stuffed in a black canvas messenger bag.  I had some cigarettes.

I had no idea how it was to end up.  The hope was to go Miami and find work on a cruise ship.  I was naive.  My travel partner was naive.  I was 19.  He was 17.

We wound up homeless on an abandoned airforce base.

The next time I ran away from home I was 29.  I had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, with a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature.  I had also received my black belt in Shaolin Kempo Karate.  I had been running a successful micro brewery and nightclub for the past six years.

I spent the summer in Madison playing as hard as I could.

Sometimes a little too hard, oh sweet Lord what was I doing at Justin’s house at 3a.m.?  Too much beer, too much maudlin emotion.  And a very misguided, drunken idea, that if he only knew that I had never had an orgasm with him over the course of our five-year relationship that we would have never broken up, because my needs weren’t being met.

Oh yeah.

Great idea.

Bad hang over.

Really bad hang over.

Then I cut my ties, I cut out and I ran.  I dashed across country in my two-door Honda Accord with my best friend in the world, Stephi, and landed up in the Mission at Eric Roblees one bedroom apartment on 18th and San Carlos, before the Mission gentrification, when the hookers shot up in the street and shat in the gutters in between blowing johns.

I stayed at Eric’s place over that Labor Day weekend, hugged my sweet Stephi good-bye and the prepared to do the ultimate running away from home.

I ran away from myself.

For two years, I shucked, I jived, I smoked crack with homeless men in between parked cars on Minna Street, I partied with the DA’s office, snorting cocaine off plates being passed at the assistant to the assistants loft in Potrero Hill; I showed up to work hung over, or still up.  I danced at 1015 until dawn and then bought sunglasses at the gas station with extra packs of cigarettes and squandered my good sense and all my money at the End Up and on cabs too and from.

I lost my self.

I lost my mind.

Then I stopped running.  I have since tried to run in small circles around the city, trying here and there to run from feeling, thoughts, ideas about myself and who I am.

Always over the course of the seven years I would have recurring ideas about travel.  About where I want to go.  When I actually sat still for a moment, in a park, on a bench, in a coffee shop, I dreamt of where I would go.

Ice Land.




The Pyrenees Mountains.



Then I would quietly drift off and fantasize about what career I could do, what would bring in the bucks and let me travel the way I wanted to–and ultimately that was just more fantasy.

So I continued running away from myself, but as the years pass, as the days add up, I am still here, the dream is still here and I circle it closer and closer.

Until I stopped.

I stopped running.

I said.  Ok.  I will stay in the job. I will stay in the room.  I will stay put for long enough to let my dreams out into the light of day.

And poof!

They came.

They were always there.  A passport full of stamps.  A camera full of pictures.  A daily blog with travel itinerary.  A cafe across the world with internet where I upload my life and document my journey.  There is not better time, there is not another excuse, no if this than that.  I made a decision, to sit still and meet conditions as they came.

Life, in other words.  I stopped running away from my life.

My departure date is set.

Today I have stopped running away and now I run toward.  Towards my dreams, toward my authentic self, I take a giant leap of faith and believe that I will be caught, carried, taken care of, transported.

By cargo boat, plane, train, automobile, perhaps the back of a pachyderm.

And love.

Let me not forget, ultimately by love.

The only way to fly.


Mama Got Money

April 27, 2012

I got a raise today.

I should be turning cartwheels.  I should be using exclamation points.

I got a raise.


But I am too tired to have a lot of excitement to pass along to the blog-o-sphere tonight. I am just a pooped puppy.


That is correct, pooped puppy.  Did you ever read that Golden Story Book–“The Pokey Little Puppy?”  That’s me.  Right down to the sleepy brown eyes and the droopy little puppy ears.  I am all tuckered out.

Part of the issue is that I have not been sleeping very well.  I am exhausted.  Exhausted, I say, but when I crawl into bed at night, my brain is going full tilt boogie.

Order number 4015 needs to be updated, wait, is that the guy in Sweden or the one in Finland?  Take the rush charge off that order, he’s going to be away in South Africa on business, make sure to refund credit card.  Call the West Coast Powder Coating and Ube’s Ice Cream Shop and get updates on the frames still out.  Invoice J&B Importers, get up to date statements, make bank deposit, schedule design appointments.  Smile.


My god, you would think that the brain would just shut down.  But I am somewhere between hyper vigilant alert and punch drunk stupid.

Today as I was walking through a bike pick up I said to the client, “and make sure to put tires in your air once a week.”

Abort! Abort! Abort!

Brain stem malfunctioning.

I find that when I come into the shop at the beginning of the day that I don’t have a lot left to give and I really noticed that today.  My juice fizzled flat by early afternoon, right after lunch.  I stopped being able to look at the e-mails in the inbox that needed answering in the store, I just had to stop.  I kept staring blankly at the computer screen, knowing that there were things that needed addressing, but that I was not mentally competent to deal.

I actually said, I need to sweep the floor.  And that helped immensely, and I dusted, and I wiped down display tables and I tidied.  My brain needed a respite.

Oh, sweet three-day weekend, how I cherish you.

One more day.

One and then, sleep, refreshment, laundry, naps, read a book maybe, go to a birthday brunch for Radha, maybe actually take a bike ride out of the Mission?  I may very well avoid riding down Valencia Street so that should a co-worker be out on the street doing a test ride, they won’t see me.

We also are having a Festivus party at work Sunday.  I know I should go, but right now, I cannot commit.  It took everything I had to stay for the investors meeting tonight.

I am really glad I did, however, as I got to meet everyone who has put money into the business and really see how hard everyone works, we are a really good team, and it’s kind of cool to be a part of it.

Especially as I was offered a nanny gig last night.  A good nanny gig, $20-23/hour with one baby, a one month old in Pacific Heights.

Can I just tell you about all the days that I suddenly questioned and what was I doing at the shop and I could be making more money and…..

I said no.  I wanted to say yes, I thought, maybe I could juggle the two?

Oh, yeah, that sounds like a lot of fun.

I said no.

I said no, partially because it is in Pacific Heights and I am just getting re-established in the Mission and I don’t feel like riding my bike back and forth to Pacific Heights.  I don’t want to commute in the rain either.  It was nice to walk to Ritual today and meet with Carolyn.  It was nice to walk in the rain and get to where I needed to be in less than fifteen minutes.

I am just getting into my Mission groove, I don’t want to shake it up.  And I remembered how isolated I was with my last nanny job and yeah, I cherished the idea of snuggling with a one month old, really, aw!

But there was something that said, no, you are supposed to still be at the shop.  You are of more service, you are more connected to people, and I am not isolated.

Granted a few times in the last couple of days I have been so inundated with people, customers, vendors, co-works, investors, bosses, owners, UPS deliveries, bicycles, bicycles, bicycles, that a little isolation sounded almost good.

So, I did what was anti-intuitive, I said no.

I showed up today and a few times I kicked myself.

Really, I am invoicing this long bill with tiny numbers into a tiny box and why?

Then the GM asked to speak with me and one of the owners outside.

I got a raise.  I was not expecting it.  I did not think that what I was doing was actually being seen, but it was apparently, a lot more than I even realized.

That was really nice to hear.  I got acknowledgement, which was really lovely too.  It’s nice to hear that you are wildly exceeding expectations, and that you are doing a good job.

The extra cash in my pocket helps too.

Thank God.

I have been feeling a little tighter than I would like and the lure of bigger money was definitely a siren song, but I also thought, if I don’t want to be single, I have to stay at the bike shop.

Nannies my age with my looks, not that I am glamorous, just that I look unique, I don’t look like a typical nanny (one of my previous employers who I worked with briefly said, oh it’s so nice to work with a hip nanny), I was often mistaken for the parent of the child I was taking care of.

Nothing stops a man from asking you out more than if they think you have a child.

I am single, no babies here.

Single, with a little more money.

Tomorrow I will be more excited.

But then again, tomorrow the weekend officially begins.

My blog will be peeing its pants with excitement.

Or passed out from exhaustion, who can tell.

Now, where’s the paperwork for the bike getting shipped to Mexico?

All Aboard!

April 26, 2012

Oh, the ideas adrift in my head.

Sailing around  the world being at the top of the list.  I am seriously considering crewing a yacht.

It was something actually offered to me over seven years ago.  An opportunity with a room-mate whose parents had friends with money.

A lot of money.

They were looking to fill crew positions on their yacht sailing all points exotic from Santa Barbara.

The woman I was working with at the time said, of course you can go, but you may want to work on your foundation a little more.  She didn’t want me to skimp on the mortar, so to speak.

She was right.  I needed to stay.  I needed to get connected with my community here in San Francisco.  I needed to let my roots grasp new soil.

But now, now I feel that it is time to fly the coop, ready to spread my wings, leap from the ledge, and fly, fly, fly.

Or fall.

And whatever happens with it, be absolutely ok with it.

I am truly free.

It is only now just starting to sink in.  I am going to really do this.  I woke up this morning and it was solid, it was there, it was not just in my heart, but in my gut too.  So many positive responses, so much support, I was actually rather surprised.

I had mentioned to John yesterday, “isn’t this running away?”


No, apparently it’s not, especially as I have been already running away from this for years.  I have wanted to do this for years.

I had a lover over at the Alameda Yacht club and I went out a few times with him and a small crew around the bay.  I actually got to main the wheel a bit too, I had assistance of course, but I was enthralled.

I know next to nothing about sailing.

I know I don’t get sea sick, or at least I have not experienced it the few times I have gone out and I love the smell and the salt and the sun.

I am not naive either, I know it can be hard physical labor.  But what a way to travel.  I found and and a few other agencies that I am interested in applying with when the time comes.

I have many ideas.

I don’t have a distinct plan.

Not yet, anyway.

And I have a slight distrust of plans.  Mine always seem to go awry, my little designs and schemes.  So, I am just going to shoot for the very nebulous goal of a post-Burning Man departure.  Some time mid September to early October, to get on the road, or in the air, or on a train, or a boat and go.

I have had a few thoughts–travel across country on the Amtrak.  I have always wanted to do a long train ride.  I think that could be ridiculous awesome fun.  There is a line that leaves the Bay Area, travels up the coast and then swings across the top most part of the states.

I would stop for a moment in Minneapolis/St. Paul and visit the fine Fox family.  Then I would continue via rail or air, depending on my druthers, to New York.  I would hang out with Zefrey, catch up with Mark, kick it in the Big Apple.

Then, depending on the Gods that be, fly over to Europe.  Back pack my way around the European continent.  Work on farms, be an au pair, wait tables in Spain and just pop about the continent.  Then maybe dip down into Africa.

Walk about there.  See what there is to be seen.  Circumnavigate the Pyramids, boat down the Nile, who knows.  Climb a mountain.  See a lion.  Take a lot of photos.

Write every day.

Walk the Great Wall of China.

Take the slow boat to Asia.

See the Russian Steppes.


And lest, I forget, Australia and New Zealand.

I hear they’re have a labor shortage in both countries.

What is I actually went all the way around the world?

South America?

Can you imagine the postcards?  Can you imagine the passport stamps.

I always wanted to fill my passport with stamps from far away places.

Ok, there are certain places I’m not super excited to see, South America, Latin America, neither hold a great deal of  appeal.  Nor Canada, frankly.  Or South East Asia.  Don’t know why, don’t need to reason it out.  There are other places I would rather go first.

But the Caribbean might be fun.

OH, the places I’ll go.

I feel like I could leave now.

But I am to here, in my little nook in the Mission for just a little while yet.

I have one last summer in San Francisco.  This will mark my 10th summer.  It seems apropos to be preparing to leave after this.

Perhaps it will be my own little summer of love.  Perhaps I will ease off the whole Calling in the One deal, I mean, I am going to be leaving in less than six months, that’s not a lot of time to establish a long term relationship.  Besides, no one is going to want that when I am going to be leaving and who knows where I end up!


Time to find out what else is out there.  Time to be a world travel, to live abroad, to go.

Every day I write affirmations.


I know exactly how Stuart Smalley  it is, and I don’t give a damn.

One of the ones I have been writing for years, aside from “I am a brilliant, prolific, published author,” is “I am a world traveler, I am going to live abroad.”

It has been in my secret heart for a little while now.

For years now.


A secret that I have let into the light.  I know what I want, but I don’t know where it will lead.  The lovely thing is, this, I don’t have to know.

I will take action.

Every day a little action.  Every day I will talk with some one, ask a question, gather a little information.  I will print off passport renewal forms tomorrow.

I will pay membership fees to get in the CrewSeekers data base.  I will call a friend who travels a lot and ask for their ideas and thoughts.  Last night I sent an e-mail to that old lover and asked about yachting crew connections.

I mean he lives on a boat and owns another huge Catamaran, he knows a few people, I am sure.

I Facebooked a little with Juni’s papa, who has done a lot of traveling and has what sounds like some juicy tips.  Plus, I get to see him and mama and the bug soon, to hash out Burning Man details.  Can’t wait to camp with the family again.

Oh, so much joy to be had.

Fear, yeah, it’s there, but if it’s meant to be I can’t fuck it up.  It will just fall into place naturally, easily, and smoothly.

I just take a few basic actions and let the rest fall out as it may.

I will be living abroad within the next six months.

Holy cats, batman.

Holy cats.

Walk About

April 25, 2012

First, I must walk through the fear.

Today, as I set forward to launch into day eight at work, I have forgotten how to say no, apparently, I fessed up to John Ater on the back couch at Ritual.

I wore eye make up.

I was so god damn sure I would not cry.


John laughed so hard I thought he was going to pee the couch.  Then he pointed out that the mascara was not waterproof.

Fuck, I say.

Oh well, I think that the patrons and the employees at Ritual are used to seeing me dump my woes on the black leather couch in the rear of the store that I have just become another part of the coffee-house scene there.

Oh, look, there’s that one girl crying in the back again.  Ignore her, she’s on her way to work and won’t be here long any how.

And maybe I won’t be here, in San Francisco, for much longer either.

It is too early for me to have an exact date.  But here goes, big deep, huge breath….

I am leaving.

I am going to go on a walk about.  I am going to travel.  I am going to get rid of everything, except my notebooks and some small personal effects, and I am going to go.

For at least a year, maybe two.  I am going to save as much money as I can.  I am going to simplify the hell out of my existence and then I am going to go.

I don’t know where, I don’t know how, and I don’t care about either.

I have some general ideas of places I want to see and go.  I have always wanted to go to Africa and do a walk about.  I have also wanted to bicycle through the French country side.  I want to see the Baltic Sea and the crazy weird music festival that happens in abandoned sea towns.

I want to see the Aurora Borealis.

I want to get on a ship and crew it and sail and have no clue what port I end up in.

I am going to be a world traveler.

I have no career.

I have no family.

I have no partner.

I have no children.

I have an open heart and a serious fear of not doing this.  I don’t want to wake up at 89 and wonder what if?

I want to go.I want to get on an airplane and fly to New York and see my friends and then fly to Europe and back pack through the various countries.  I will stay in youth hostels and I will go until I run out of money to send post cards back home to my friends.

I will take my camera and a computer, probably this one, and I will get my passport renewed.  I checked that out right before logging in.

And I will leave.

I will celebrate my 40th birthday in a city that is not in the United States.  I will ride bicycles.  I will walk.  I will travel by boat.  I will fly.  I will take trains.  I will roam.  I will get sun freckles from hiking.

And I will take pictures.

How in the world did John know? I told him about something I stumbled upon recently, a contract I had signed with my best friend, Stephanie Catherine Sargent Fox, during a time I was going through a seriously challenging time in my life.

It is dated 7/3/97

To whit it states:

I, Carmen Regina Martines will do all that is humanly possible to achieve the following goals by August 1, 2002:

1. Lose 120lbs

2. Take a vacation outside the U.S.

3. Work for the National Geographic as an independent contractor or as staff.

4. Write/publish a book, short stories, or poems

I signed and dated it.  Stephanie witnessed it.

Nearly ten years past the 2002 date I have lost that weight, I have written a book, but I have not taken on that staff position at the National Geographic.  I wanted to be, ahem, I want to be a wild life photographer.  I want to travel and take pictures, is basically the jist of it.  I have taken a few trips outside of the United States.  But that part, that part about traveling and taking photos, that  is on my bucket list still.

The crying started around the working too much and my apparent inability to say no and what the hell was I doing volunteering to work on my only day off this week?

I like my job, but I don’t like it that much.

I make $15 an hour and have no benefits.  This is not a career.  This is just a way to sustain living in San Francisco.

What if it’s time to self-support elsewhere?

Yes I will miss my friends.  Yes I will miss San Francisco.

Yes, I am ridiculously afraid.

But what if?

What if, I act as though I were not.  What if I just go little baby steps out at a time. Teensy weensy itty bitty little wee steps.

Meanwhile I take care of myself in the hear and now and do the inventory that I am writing and finish the work I set forth to do with Caroyln.  That will take a few months.

The deal I have made with myself is that I finish working through what I started with her.  That feels appropriate and I will want a solid foundation to work from, or travel from, as the case may be.

The biggest step is saying it out loud.

I hereby say it out loud:

I am leaving.

I am setting forth to go on a walk about.  I am going to be a globetrotter for a few years.

I may never come back.

But I will send you pictures.  I will send you post cards.  I will write you blogs.  I will never be too far away from you.

San Francisco is my home and it will be my home base.

But the world is my oyster and it’s time to go.

I have been afraid of doing this and so afraid of not doing it, I have come to the cross roads and I have decided to leap.

Make a decision.

Today, with a lot of help from John, I came to my decision.  That’s not to say that I know the how or why or when of it.  I don’t.

Hell, people, I never do.

I am in a month to month here.  I paid my rent for May.  I feel fairly safe in saying I will be staying through the summer.  What feels right in my gut is October.

I want to go to Burning Man. And then when I get back I will know where to go first.

I am going to go.

I am going to go!

I am also going to pick up my camera and start using it more.  I am going to be like the heroine in “The Little Thief,” Janine, I am going to take a camera and go about the world with it.

I am going to actually star in my own life instead of sitting in the audience wishing I had the balls to do something, anything, different.

I choose.

I choose a new passport photo.

And maybe you will help me choose where to go first, wide open to suggestions.

Scared to death.

Yet excited beyond words.

Walk about with Auntie Bubba.

That could be an interesting read.

Now, all I need is the funding!

And On The 7th Day

April 24, 2012

God rested.


On the seventh day of working in a row, I sold and designed two bicycles in store, pulled two more orders off of the online site–interacting with both customers over the phone and via e-mail-and then finished the bike build that started last week with my ‘friend’ in Berlin; who actually pulled off a bike design that was cool and not ‘Barbie’ at all.


It was 7:03 p.m. and there were still people in the store.  I just wanted to holler-get out!

But I kept my cool and just kept going.

I am holding steady, but a couple of times I really thought my brains might start leaking out my ears.

I did.

But, for the most part, it was fun.

Exhausting, yes, but fun too.

I actually did a little happy jig with this guy doing a build earlier today.  He had come in yesterday and worked with me and he decided to do it and we had an awesome time designing his bike, he was all big grins, I was all big grins, great looking bike.

I got waved to from the street from a friend who did a bike last week and shook hands with people and smiled, smiled, smiled.

I am just taking things moment to moment.

Some times it is really easy and some times I feel like it is Ground Hog Day, the movie, on constant repeat.  I think I will become less enthused about the bikes or I will blow up at some one, we had a lot of crazy people come through the shop today, but so far, so good.


Just the two of us, we can make if we try, just the two of us….

Me and the GM on the main floor and the two mechanics across the street at the work shop holding down the fort.  It is intense.

Thankfully I did have some down time.  And I am taking pains to take good care of myself.  Getting to bed at a reasonable time, eating healthy, drinking a boat load of ginger tea, doing my writing.

Hell, I even went to the bank before work today, to pull cash out for the rent, which I paid early to have it out-of-the-way.  And I went grocery shopping at Rainbow after work and before heading over to 2900  24th Street at Florida for an hour.

Thank God for sitting still for an hour.  I just sat and listened and my brain got quiet and I breathed, big deep, sustaining breaths.


I have also been meditating in the mornings.  I am now up to ten minutes.

It’s a miracle!

And now, I am tuckered out.

Man, that’s a short blog.

What else is happening?

It does not feel like I have  a lot of other things going on right now.  I am not going on any dates, well, not that I know of at the moment, I did not get a call back from Mister Boring from last night.

Thank God.

I don’t know what I would have said.  Thanks for dinner, sorry I fell asleep on you, no, I never ever want to sit through another sit down dinner with you again.   Please go bore some one else with your synopsis of sci-fi fantasy novels.

I am going to see John Ater tomorrow morning before work.  Which reminds me, don’t wear eye make tomorrow!  Though, to tell you the truth, I am not feeling too upset about anything.  I think I may be a little too tired to feel anything but a little too tired.

But, really, I am through the worst of it.  Tomorrow the back ups will be in.  We will have another person on staff and I will be able to attend to the paperwork that I am just barely keeping abreast of.

So, perhaps I can get away with wearing a little bit of make up.


Better idea, just not wear any, and bring it along with me to slap on at work.

Despite being told recently by a very fine young man, young being, unfortunately the operative word, that I was no way 39 (ok, you can tell right there, too young for you).

Thanks, but it’s true, 39 going on 40.  I will be 40 this year.


That actually feels pretty fantastic, I like who I am becoming as I age.  I am becoming more and more myself and I am liking it more and more–I am letting myself finally be my authentic self.


Life is simple, but not simplistic and really, although I am tired out, I have it damn well.

On the seventh day I said thank you very much for my awesome life as I hopped on my fixed geared bike and pedaled toward the crescent moon dangling from the swath of fog and midnight blue sky over Twin Peaks, headed home to my cozy little nest.

Thank you.

Thank you.

Thank you.

You Know it’s a Bad Date When

April 23, 2012

You find yourself daydreaming about oatmeal.

I am having a fabulous sushi dinner and all I can think about is, I wish I had stayed home and made oatmeal for dinner.


It was that scintillating.

Poor man, it was a pity date.  He’s not a bad guy, but my gosh, he is a boring fella.

I completely understood how he is divorced twice.  I get it.  I am surprise he was even married twice, but I guess it takes all kinds.

I was on the dork date from hell.  Fantasy novels, science fiction, and obscure Kurosawa films.  My gentleman caller nailed them all.  That and grilling me on Game of Thrones.

Sorry dude, I have not read the books.  I understand they are great, but no, I have not read them.  Or any of the other fantasy authors you espoused.  And unfortunately for said authors, I won’t be hunting them up soon.

I may get lost in space-time continuum and never come back.

Oh. My. God.

Apple tech guy, silicon valley, science fiction, pot smoking dork.

I apparently can’t pick them on OkStupid either.

It was fun to wear heels.  He was tall.  I haven’t worn heels out in a little while.  It was nice to rock something other than my Converse.  And I have to say, I did look quite sassy.

I also got the thumbs up nod from the appreciative eye of the waiter, which was then quickly followed by looks of condolence as he came back and served our meal to us.


Not the worst date ever.  That honor still goes to the Russian guy who wanted to know what my favorite sexual positions was after offering to buy me a banana to accompany my latte from Star Bucks.


But there was not a single shred of chemistry.  I managed to nod my head politely, but I got lost listening to the blow-by-blow of the latest science fiction fantasy novel he was reading.


Well, chalk one up to giving it the old college try.  Can’t find the one if I’m not willing to sift through the dorks.

And the thing is, I don’t dislike dorks, nerds, or previous members of the AV Club.  In fact, they can be super sweet, intelligent, nice guys.

Nice guys are nice.

This guy was just flat-out boring.  And a bit pedantic.

Ok, a lot pedantic.

I at least had the excuse of being truly exhausted from work.  No day off makes Carmen a tired girl.  Thank God the divine Ms. Beth brought me a coffee from Fayes this afternoon and delivered it with a sunburnt hug to boost me through the end of work.

I know she was not happy getting sunburnt, but it was lovely to feel a little warmth, before I got on my bike and headed off into the fog.  Summer’s officially here, the fog has rolled in.

It looked like snow.

And felt a little like it too when I was riding my bike home from Dorland Street before meeting up with Mister Silicon Valley for dinner.

He was a gentleman.  I will give him his due.  The door was opened for me, the chair pulled out, the arm offered, the check picked up.

I did my best to be nice, to be polite, but I was bored to tears.

Manners are lovely, a nice car is nice, dinner was good, and all I wanted was to be at home with my oatmeal.

There won’t be a second date.

This is not boding well for OkStupid.  I am not getting the nibbles I used to get on the site.  Then again, I am being upfront with what I am looking for and I am not trolling the site.  I have a pretty good distance from it.

I have popped on and off it since I put my profile back up, but there just seems to be a dearth of interested people.

So, what’s next?

Aside from making a spot of tea and crawling into bed with a down load of Game of Thrones.  I love the show! I just am not really interested in debating the merits of the characters with intimate details.  I don’t know the characters names, even after watching all of the first season.  It’s just a good show.

It would be like if a guy went on a date and the woman talked about the Twilight Movies non-stop.

He probably would not be wanting a second date, unless he was under sixteen and really horny.

Good gravy, I would not have dated this guy were I sixteen and horny.  Not that that makes a good measuring stick of who I want to date, but no chemistry is no chemistry.

Gah, poor guy even makes for a boring blog post.


Back to work.  Oh wait, I haven’t left work yet.  We lost two people yesterday.  I worked my day off.  I am glad I did, the shop would have been untenable had I not.  But it does make for a tired bike shop gal.

I won’t have a day off until next Saturday.  That makes for eleven days in a row with no day off.

But at the end, I get a three-day weekend.

And I am going to allow myself a new pair of heels when I get my next pay check.  I have already sourced them out.

Until then, Converse, fixed gears, and oatmeal are the rule.


Work, Work, Work

April 22, 2012



We are short-staffed.

I worked today, which is normal, I have been working on Saturdays.  And I am working tomorrow.  Which is not normal.  But there is only one person working.  One.  Even on a slim day, we have two people there.  One person working, and no mechanic.

So, I said I would come in.

I am not horribly upset about it.  I am just going to work a half day.  Noon to four to help out.  I have a commitment at 4:30 p.m. and another at 5 p.m. and another at 6p.m.


A date at 7:30p.m.

What?  Me busy?



tte suppose I could have said no, but there are setting boundaries and then here’s leaving some one to drown in bicycle soup.  He’ll drown on his own tomorrow.

So, I am just going to go and be of service and work it out.

I am just trying to negotiate what the hell I am going to wear to work.  That’s really where my brain has gone.

What will I wear?

Because whatever I wear will be what I will be wearing on my date as well.  We’re just grabbing sushi at Blow Fish, so I’m not hyper concerned about getting all got out, but it is the first date.  A girl likes to make an impression.

I should do laundry, but will I actually get up early enough to do it.  I am also covering for a co-worker who is at Coachella on Monday, my normal laundry day, and need to negotiate that timing. The idea of doing laundry before going to work is rather depressing though.

What am I going to wear?

And my date thinks my pictures are gorgeous so I feel compelled to look sassy.


Photos on a website are really hard to judge, from personal experience.  I don’t know that it s possible to be yourself.  I always feel a little posed, a little fake, but they again, it is a dating website, the whole thing is a little posed and a little fake.

I am excited to be going on a date, however, it’s been a little while since I have gotten asked out.

John Ater told me I just might have to do the asking.

And he’s probably right.

Oh, hell, of course he’s right, he’s always right.


That has not actually done me any good, though, as I have not asked out anyone.

Not sure what I am waiting for, there’s certainly a list of guys I’m interested in.  But, I just haven’t found myself compelled enough to say anything.

There’s a part of me that thinks, well, I want to make sure they like me first.  Like I can ever tell.

Some times I think, they do, some times I think they don’t.

Then there’s me, just thinking, which is just stupid.

Don’t think.


I am almost tempted to put it all out there and list the gentlemen of whom I have interest.

Now wouldn’t that just be exciting?

I think I just broke out into a sweat contemplating it.

This could get interesting.

Do I go there?


Why not.

Let’s just get it out there.

I am balking aren’t I?

Some of them are friends, some of them are acquaintances, some of them are customers.  Some of them I have been interested in and then lost interest in, then re-gained again.  Some of them are friends with each other.  OR room mates.

Some have dated my friends.  Some have dated women I have worked with.  Some of them I want to smack around and say, what the hell are you waiting for?

Fact is, I have many that I am interested in.  Some times I forget that I am interested in them and then I will see them and say, oh, yes, I could definitely date him.

The list is actually really long.

Not that you would know, since I haven’t typed any names out yet.

Really, am I going to do this or not?

Fuck it.

Luke. Clint. Thew. Ed. Cliff.

Breaking a sweat.

Brad. Steve. Anthony. Robin.

Oh. My. God.

I am totally sweating.

This is fun.

I used to pay good money to feel like this?


Ok.  Who else?



Actually, that’s the only customer that I can think of right off the top of my head that I am interested in.  And I think that I am only interested in him because he was so obviously interested in me.

Some times I work like that.

There’s more, I think, but those are the top ten?  Great, now I need to go back and re-look.  I am almost to afraid to go back. Top eleven.  All guys I know, and the once customer.  I am sure there’s more.  Isn’t there always?  Isn’t that my nature anyhow?


But, actually, having written the names takes the power out of it.

I certainly don’t think I’ll be going up to any of them any time soon and saying, hey, let’s kick it.  But it’s nice to have it out of my head.

Some one suggested that to me once, just kill the fantasy.  It will clear space up for you.  At first, I was rather put off by that.  Then once I started doing it, it did just that, it cleared the space.

What is actually pretty cool about all of this is that I don’t have to do a thing.  I am really happy, despite working a lot, or maybe because of it, I like my job.

I am really happy.

I am.




It can all just become a distraction from what is actually happening with me.  When I put focus on being single, I am actually thinking that there is something wrong with what is happening right here and right now.

It’s just a distraction meant to sow seeds of disharmony where there is none.

I am serene.  I am happy.

I am just having a great time with my life right now.

Despite boys, despite work, despite myself.

Life is awesome.

Blame it on the Weather

April 21, 2012


There is monkey shining  happening all over this fair city of ours tonight.

Damn Gina.

Get your 4/20 on.

Fuck me.

It was nutbuckets at work and Kai happened to mention, of course, it’s 4/20, it’s going to be lunacy all day.

I forgot.

4/20 the national holiday for smoking as much pot as you possibly can.  Or eating it–only in San Francisco, gluten free pot brownies.

You think I’m kidding.

In a city that is already fairly notorious for pot smoking, today is like some high holy holiday.

Pun unintentionally intended.

If only the monkey’s at the zoo kept it to the pot maybe it would be a little more manageable.  I mean, once you’re high, who the hell gets off the couch?

Do you see a lot of people out there “stoned” driving?  Motherfuckers usually be too lazy to get off they asses and order a pizza, let alone get out there and mingle it up.

Or they are in a comatose from trying to top off the burritos they got at Taqueria Cancun with a double scoop of Salted Caramel ice cream from BiRite Ice Creamery.  Then, they make it to Dolores Park and crash in the grass.

Ah grass.

Remember when a lid was not a hat?

Remember your parents picking seeds out of a sack?

Remember slinging QP’ers with your friends?

Hmmm, I don’t.

But that’s because I am allergic to marijuana.

Did not stop me from living with a pot head for a good five years.  Good lord could that man smoke.

Good lord all the fruitless arguments I had with him.

“Do you have to smoke before we go into the movie,” as he whipped out a one hitter and stuffed it with some stinky blueberry nugs. Or stuffed the bong for his morning wake and bake.

Oh, I got the patter down.

This particular ex slung a lot of pot.  Grew a lot of pot and smoked a ridiculous amount of pot. Pot. Pot. Pot.

In fact, he’s probably stoned some where right now.

God bless him.

I did not know I was allergic, I just thought that I was getting really, really, really high.  But the pot that I was smoking was not very good, I was just so sensitive to it, that I was getting high off it (note to younger self, if it had been good, you probably would have died doing the bath tub bong hit from the cut off 2 liter 7-Up plastic bottle).  I found out later after I got really truly sick, from of all people, my mom, who told me she was also allergic and my dad, good old pops, used to test out how good the pot was by having my mom smoke it.

The sicker she got, the better the pot.

There is some thing wrong with this picture, isn’t there?


Here’s what happens when I smoke:

I laugh my ass off.

I pass out.

I vomit.

The laugh my ass off part lasts for all of five minutes then I would vomit and pass out–having unfortunately locked myself in the bathroom at the party house.

Not the best way to meet your new boyfriends friends.  And to top it off they were aficionados.  Truly.  These boys knew their pot and they knew how to grow it and where to get their clones from.  Can you say Northern Skunk mixed with blueberry Sativa cross pollinated with, oh never mind.

They were all rich kids, but my ex.  He met them through a bizarre set of circumstances that shook out like this–UW Madison fucked up his dorm assignment, he should have been staying at Ogg Hall–where another couple of my previous boyfriends had hailed from–but got reassigned, on the state’s dime, to The Towers.

The Towers and the State Sider, private dorms for the rich and privileged set of out-of-state kids that go to UW Madison.

There he fell in with a pack of East Coast monied trustafarian kids.  They all had connections, they all had disposable cash, and they all adopted my ex, who had a very green thumb and expensive tastes and knew which parking lots you could steal sodium halogen lights from for your hydroponic grow room.

It was a recipe for horticulture that eventually led to many a lost night of sleep when the cops busted down the door and discovered said grow room.  Thank God they did not discover the scale under the bed, the stash of four thousand dollars in the mini fridge in the bedroom, or the just harvested pounds that he had distributed not even the day before.


Oh and guess what?  Possession is 9/10s the law, even if you are allergic to pot.

Even if your boyfriend tells the cops that the plants were all his.  Apparently if you’re on the lease, like I was, you’re culpable too.


Lost my two grand that I was saving up for a road trip to California to play frisbee golf across the Western United States to lawyers fees.  I got off by “donating” a $200 fine to D.A.R.E.

Thanks honey.

Yes, you read that previous paragraph correctly, frisbee golf, or Disc Golf, if you will.  I played for a few years and my ex was actually an amateur who dreamed of going pro and would play the tournaments to get points up for a place at Nationals.

I have seen some amazing things thrown across a field.

Actually, I rather miss it.  I just realized that Golden Gate Park got a frisbee golf course back in 2006 or 2007.  Maybe I’ll go throw a round next weekend.

I was there covering the opening event with NPR.  I was interning at KQED radio (where I was informed that I had the talent to be an announcer and the voice, but that I needed to go back to the Midwest and work in a small market until I got my chops up and then move to a small city system and then, maybe if I was lucky, fifteen years down the line I could get a part-time gig with NPR).

Not so much, thanks.

The neat, yes, I said neat, thing about covering that story was that I was actually the “reporter” who broke the angle to KQED.  No one had ever heard of the sport when I brought it up, I had found it in a press release that had been sent to the station, most of which end up in the recycling, but this one I scooped.  And it ended up getting air play.

Fairly cool.

Wow, that was a total digression from the topic at hand.

Or was it?

Our minds tend to wander a little when we’re high right?

Back to the post.

It did not help matters that it was glorious today.  Super sunny, warm, hot even, for San Francisco anyway.  I actually saw riders come into the store who had broken a sweat.  I haven’t broken a sweat on my bike in quite a few weeks.

Speaking of, I hope the entire Mission stays high tomorrow and sits at the park, it’s just me and the GM running the show.  We are short-staffed.

It could get interesting.

And with that realization, I should wrap this little guy up and start thinking about getting to bed.  I will be busy tomorrow.

But at lease I won’t be getting stoned online chat calls.

Seriously, it was liked getting prank called all day long.  I felt like I was on a Simpson’s episode with Bart calling into the shop and telling me to let Prince Albert out of the can.

Al Co Holic?  Are there any AL Coholics here?

Uh, yeah.

I see you there in the grass with your bong blazing right along.

Now, just stay there, ok?

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