Archive for October, 2012

Down to the Wire

October 31, 2012

Yet, it still does not feel like this is happening.

I am really quite ready to go, ready, packed, well almost, I will probably re-arrange a few things on the morrow, but really, ready is about where it is at.

I did a couple of little errands today, but mainly I just straightened out around Graceland and  had a lovely leisurely morning and early afternoon.

I wrote, I sent a few messages out–Paris bound way–I got another couple of contacts tossed to my in-box this morning, I talked with my mom.

I did a little laundry, stuck a few things in a little box and put them, my notebooks that I have filled since being at Graceland, and an odd or end of other things together and stuck them down in the basement.

I chatted up the kitties.

I chatted up the master of Graceland and thanked him and he I.

I bought a coat.

I went to a magnificent dinner at Chez Spencer. Oh. Was. It. Good.

Starter: bowl of wild mushroom soup with truffles and a disc or crisped parmesan.

Second: pan seared scallops, so delicate and buttery and cooked the definition of seared, with pea sprouts and micro greens tossed in a bright verde sauce.  I made my happy food face.

Which is apparently close to my sex face, or what may pass for my sex face.  A friend once said to me over a divine sushi dinner at Blowfish, that he suddenly could see what I looked like when I had sex, so engulfed was I in the luscious eel I was eating that I had closed my eyes in bliss and my smiled creased my face.

I also roll my hand along my thigh, like I am petting myself.

I have no idea when this came about but I did notice it once or twice and then I realized I was doing it tonight at Chez Spencer while eating the scallops and then again during the main.

Third course: house wood smoked Sonoma duck breast with spinach and black berries.  The fat was just rendered out and the breast was tender and rich and the bitterness of the spinach cut it so and the berries provided pluck and sweetness and my hand drifted over my thigh and I smiled and closed my eyes and went to a very happy place.

The company was not too shabby either.

Talking to my girl friend Radha last night over another glorious San Francisco dinner (really?  I have gotten to just be spoiled rotten lately with the lovely food–La Ciccia, Plum, Flour and Water, Chez Spencer.  Not to mention the plentiful garden here at Graceland serving up tomatoes and cucumbers and basil and raspberries and fresh figs from the fig tree!) at DOSA she said to me, “you really are going out with a bang.”

It is really true.

I have had such a nice leaving San Francisco time that I almost don’t want to leave San Francisco.

Almost.

I am ready to board that plane.

I have my phone dealt with, my student loans set up to withdraw automatically, my Skype account ready to go, my new coat (on sale at Anthropologie, thank you very much), my suitcase three-quarters packed, my ducks in a row.

Mmmmm, duck.

I have gotten to spend alone time in various forms with all my sweetest friends and cohorts and fellows.

I have my bike to pick up at the shop–lovingly boxed and ready to go.

All I need to do is show up for the next day and let it take its inevitable course.

I have one more phone call to make to my bank, to alert them that I am leaving the country and that is about it.

I have one more date with the Mister and a ride to the airport.

I still cannot believe that it all has fallen out the way it has.  I got a lover–whose face I am holding in my heart–the blue of his eyes against the sky as he looked at me at Dolores Park, the plush pillow of his bottom lip, the way he made me laugh, and his smile, creased warm flush face and wry twinkle when he brought pleasure to me–I see these pictures in my head and know, some where, some time, I will reflect upon them fonder than fond.

I got to have romantic dinners and walks and hand holding and movies with a romantic man and I get to have one more date before I go.

Radha looked across the table at me and said, “you deserve it, you deserve this love and you damn well do not get to feel guilty for it or wrong or anything but loved.”

I do not feel shame.

I do feel a little European, perhaps this is prep time for the next great romantic story.

I also just feel an overwhelming sense of place, in this time, in this body, in who I am at this moment.

I deserve this.  I worked so hard this last year–six moves, couch surfing, new job, losing the cats, taking a pay cut–but a happiness increase–Burning Man, getting the ticket to Paris, renewing my passport, seeing my mom for the first time in over five years, writing, writing, writing, and more writing.

Following my heart and my dreams and jumping in the middle of the deep end without hesitation.

Saying yes is sometimes the hardest thing to do.

When the Universe shows up at your door and you are standing there in your Hello Kitty pajamas and the sleep is crusted in your eyes you can either put on your faux fur slippers and do a little dance, a jitterbug that is a mixture of fear, excitement, and glee,  or you can shut the door, put on the snooze button, and bury your head under the blankets.

I choose to dance.

I choose to fly.

I choose to leap.

And I choose to wear a very sexy black dress out tomorrow night for my last night in San Francisco.

I am going out with a bang.

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Get into the River

October 30, 2012

Which in this case is the Seine.

I went out tonight with my darling friend Radha.

We met in the Mission and headed into the Fillmore District for some Dosa and some girl talk and catch up and say good-bye, all at the same time.

I was a little distracted as I was on my third phone call of the night to my cell phone service provider.  I had gotten pro-active this afternoon after getting back to Graceland from yesterday’s sleep over in the city.

The city which was much quieter than I expected with the after-math of the World Series win.   Although there were certainly folks out and about today with their championship colors on.

I had a moment last night were I admitted I was thinking about getting a jersey.  I have not had a sports team jersey since I was a kid growing up in Wisconsin and I sported some Milwaukee Brewers style.

Old school.

The moment has passed.

I do not believe I will be picking up a jersey, well, maybe, never say never, but I will be picking up a coat tomorrow.  I just checked the weather in Paris and yes, indeed, it is cold.  Wet and cold.

Sigh.

I knew it was coming, but to see temperatures in the 30s was a little disheartening.  Then again, I do look forward to actually experiencing seasons there.  I miss Christmas looking like Christmas.

It is surreal to think that I will celebrate Christmas in Paris.  Or my birthday.  Or New Years Eve.  So many holidays that I have American associations with and now I shall get to make new ones.

Not too concerned about missing Thanksgiving, though, truth be told.  Since I stopped eating sugar and flour, this holiday has rather gone by the wayside.  I still wax a little nostalgic about cooking for the holidays, but this too shall pass.

I have my phone set to go onto seasonal stand by.  This is what the phone company will do for me.  I will still have my number and it will be mine for the next six months for $8.99 a month.  I won’t be able to make phone calls in or out or send texts, but I will get to keep my number and I will have my phone available to me to use with a French provider when I get to Paris.

The process was simple and just took a few minutes of my time this afternoon.

Then it got complicated.

I sent out texts and did not get responses, then I realized that my texts were not getting sent out.  I also realized that I was not getting any phone calls and then I tried to call my mom–who is busy being unnecessarily anxious for me–and I could not call out.

Uh oh.

Yeah, so, my service for the month is not supposed to be off until November 3rd.  But those handy folks at Sprint just went ahead and turned it right off for me anyway.

Mini freak out.

A phone call later, it is cleared up and I go back to resumption of my conversation with Radha over a gorgeous mound of halibut and curry at Dosa.  We also split a bowl of pumpkin and persimmon soup and a scrumptious salad and two bottles of bubbly water–I do like my sparkles.

I was reassured to be told that the service would be right back on, but in fact, it was not.

Nothing says frustrating like trying to co-ordinate meetings with people for the next day when you cannot get through and oh, yeah, I do have a time limit on what I can and cannot do in the next couple of days.

As I am leaving.

I took it as a sign to sit and enjoy Radha’s company and the fabulous meal and I did just that.

We talked life and men and dating and the new house she is buying and mutual friends and travel and love and Paris and work.

And writing.

I talked about my writing and my habits and my blog and my book and a screen play I started years ago that I want to flesh out and finish.  I have a lot to write about, it would appear.

Radha gave me the best suggestion and I was so taken by it that I have decided that I will do just that.

I will get into the river.

She shared her experiences with me around working in real estate in San Francisco and about faith and being in the middle of what is happening and she suggested that I do that same thing with my writing.

Not that I could not nanny or work in a cafe or lead a gaggle of tourists on a bicycle tour, I could, I may, but I don’t believe I will.

Instead, I am going to stop looking at little streams and trickles and look at getting into the middle of where I want to go.

Radha said, go work for a publishing company, go find out what it would look like to work in an agency, go be a copy editor, get into the field that you want to work in and get started that way.

I shared with her my writing habits–in the morning, in the evening, ain’t we got fun– and how I wanted to incorporate working on my book into the afternoon.  How I intend to take the time, to give myself some time to work on the writing and to not freak out about a job.

I tend to take jobs out of fear of financial insecurity.  I always have had this idea that there is not enough, so I better go grab what I can because nothing else better is around.

But there is better stuff, I just get caught up looking at things in fear.  I grasp instead of  opening up myself to abundance, I get caught in a loop of there’s not enough.

Just like there is enough sunlight for everyone in the park, there is enough money, abundance, love, joy, spirit for me as there is for anyone else.

I am taking her suggestion.  I am getting into the river.  I am following my heart.  There are publishing companies in Paris.  There are magazines in Paris.  There are places that could use a good intern or copy editor or writer.

I can do this.

I will do this.

I am jumping the fuck in.

Hell, I have already made the leap to leave the country, why not go dive into the water?

I hear it is mighty fine.

Crazy Town

October 29, 2012

And it’s not because I am leaving and my emotions are in a ruckus.

THE GIANTS JUST WON THE WORLD SERIES!

SWEEP THIS BITCHES!

Ok.

Now that this is out of my system, back to the blogging at hand.  Although I don’t know how good this one is gonna be, frankly the entire world is exploding.

Literally, illegal fireworks, helicopters, sirens, screams (mostly of joy, from what I can tell at this point), honking–lots of honking.  I am at what feels like the epicenter of the madness, but from various check ins around town, everywhere in town is the epicenter.

The Mission, however, truly does feel like ground zero.

I was looking for parking when it suddenly dawned on me that I was in a very intense little pocket of San Francisco if I was to get caught in the celebration.  I was on Albion Street next to Kilowatt and the third to last pitch was being pitched and the crowd exploded and I got a horrid hot flash of anxiety.

Not my car.

Not my car.

Not my fucking car.

Park now.

I saw the cops in riot gear and I sent a little prayer to the heavens, please, God, help me find parking.

I am not one to pray to the parking gods, I think that is silliness, but I just fucking did.

I found parking.  And I believe I will be staying over night in San Francisco.  I cannot fathom even attempting to move, it would be folly.  Especially since I am parked at 15th and Julian.  I would have some crazy people to get through and it is just not worth it.

Not that I don’t doubt the fans deserve to celebrate, they certainly do, I just do not need to risk some one else’s property to get back to the East Bay.

And I tell you what, it was hard enough for me to leave the East Bay today.

I did not want to come into San Francisco.  I did not want to say good-bye.  I did not want you to see me cry.

Boy howdy did you see me cry today.

A lot.

Oh well.

It was worth every single tear shed.  I love this city, crazy with glee, morose in the fog, rainy, sunny, cold, windy, salty San Francisco.

I can officially say I will be leaving my heart in San Francisco.

I may come back to retrieve a piece of it or two, but this is my home, irretrievably and for always.  San Francisco is my home.  You have treated me so well, so special, so sweet.

You have been a dirty hooker too, but we won’t talk about that right now, we are waxing nostalgic.

I remember one day sitting at the top of Dolores Park looking over the city and I just did not know what was going to happen, how I was going to stay, and how that was going to look.  I did not want to go back to Wisconsin, I did not want to give up the ghost, I had been infected by this city and I could not shake the feeling that I was supposed to be here, here, home, here in the Mission.

“It’s kind of weird how many furniture stores are on this street,” Stephanie said to me as we walked down Mission Street over ten years ago.

I had just gotten a look at the room I was sub-letting in the Mission on 20th and York.

WOOOOOHOOOOOO GIANTS!

Sorry, got distracted.

This is harder to do than I thought–both acknowledging the feelings coming up around leaving and just writing my blog in the center of the madness.  I snuck into the shop to use the bathroom and print of my bicycle invoice to take on the plane with me–I have no intentions to pay customs on my bicycle as I come into the country.  I just printed off two copies, one for the bike box and one for me to carry on the plane.

I got a sweet, sweet, sweet message today from Barnaby.  He is just such a pumpkin.  He called me internationally to tell me he will be meeting me at the airport and we will go to the apartment and drop my stuff and then go to a cafe in the neighborhood (this is good I will want to have a bite of breakfast–landing at Charles De Gaulle at 8:40a.m.) then off to see folks and he has even arranged to hook me right into the necessary fellowship that I so need and crave.

He also said it was really, really, really cold.

I have not checked the weather yet and I am realizing that it may really be a good idea to get a winter coat before I go.  I love my Chrome hoodie and jean jacket layer combo, but it may not really be enough.  I am going to give it the old college try before I go to get myself an appropriate coat–the one Matt gave me too big, the one I got from my mom in Florida, not quite a good fit after I kept trying to make it so, so…time for a winter coat.

I have not thought about a winter coat is so long.

Crazy.

This whole thing is crazy.

Crazy wonderful and wild and weird and overwhelming.

I sat at the top of Dolores Park and cried.

I did not want to go home, I did not want to go back to Wisconsin, which had stopped feeling like home already and here was San Francisco, a jewel, a haven, a home and I was not ready to give it up.

I did not have to, as it turned out.

I do not have to now either.

It will always be home base.

Just not where I lay my head any longer.

They say home is where the heart is and as I make the last of my adieu’s, I can say this much is true.

Oh God.

That was a horrendous bad big firework and now the cops are here.

It’s time for me to go.

I love you San Francisco.

Please don’t burn yourself to the ground tonight, I want a city to come back to and visit down the road.

 

 

Knocking Off The Bucket List

October 28, 2012

I got another “experience” off the list.

I drove out to Muir Beach yesterday and lay on the beach.  I soaked in the sun, sat on the sand, read a little, lay down a little, smelled the salty air, and strolled the beach.

Muir Beach is probably my favorite beach in the world.  Simply because it is the first beach I remember from childhood.

It was much the same as the last time I visited.  Relatively isolated, but not that far from San Francisco.  It was a delicious drive from Oakland over the Bay Bridge, through the city, then over the Golden Gate Bridge, into Marin, dipping down into Sausalito and Mill Valley, then off on Highway One.

So many twists and turns and dips.  I love driving the One.  I love driving the One in a convertible with the top down and the sun on my face and the wind in my hair and the music on loud.

Tonight I drove my friends Beth and Matt from Noe Valley over to a Halloween party in the Mission on Harrison and 21st.  We took a detour, I mean when you are in a convertible, detours happen, and I headed up Potrero Hill so that they could get a glimpse of the city from the top of the hills.

“It looks like jewelery!”  Beth exclaimed.

It does.  The city was clear tonight, warm almost and from time to time I regretted wearing the wool hat I had donned for the evening, but it was truly perfect October weather.  Arguably the best kept secret–the amazing weather in the city during the month of October.

The city sprawled out glamorous and festive, bejewelled by the orange glow of the Civic Center, the tops of the Embarcadero Buildings festooned in proud creamiscle and neon orange, the glittery lights punching out the black crisp skyline. I could almost reach over into the lights and pick them like persimmons and diamonds and throw them as a sparkling confetti into the air.

I swung the car down the back side of Vermont Street.

Beth had never gone down and it truly is the curviest street.  Despite what they say about Lombard.  Bethie asked if I had driven it before, as we both walloped with glee as I spun through the tight corners.

I had.

I have taken a Volvo station wagon down it as well as an old Mercedes-Benz–both vehicles from the two different families I nannied for in Potrero Hill.

But it is different in a sexy sleek sassy black Audi convertible.

I felt wicked and seductive and though the ride ended quickly it was an experience.

So too, the drive, both back and forth from the beach yesterday.

A drive laced with memories.

I remember when I had visited my friend Brian in Berkeley, many years ago before I moved to San Francisco, and he took me to Stinson Beach.

I had not been there since I was four.

I remembered the twists and turns the crumbling edge of the land falling toward the bright blue sea.  The cut of the cliffs and the jut of the rocks, beguiled my memory and made my heart sore with remembrance and longing.

It was to be three more years before I would move back out to San Francisco.

I carried around a pocket full of shells from the beach and salt seared into my heart from the ocean.  I did not want to wash out my blue jeans for fear of losing that last bit of tang that I carried in the cuffs of my rolled up pants.

And the mermaids called each to each.

Muir Beach

Muir Beach

When my friend and I rode back from Stinson, I cried silently in the passenger seat, wrapped in a large blanket.  I had ventured out too far into the water and got drenched by a large incoming wave, wet, sad, home sick already, and I did not even live here yet.

I went back to Madison with the resolve to make it to San Francisco and move here and make it.

Make it I did, but as I recounted earlier today at breakfast at It’s Tops on Market, seriously, if you have not gone, go, just for the ambiance, I love this place.  Best diner in the city me thinks, I came to San Francisco with a two month sublet and $2,000.

I am leaving for Paris with a three-month rental and $3,000.

If I made it then, I will make it now.

I did not have great financial success here in San Francisco, but I was fully self-supporting.  I did pay off all my IRS back taxes and I paid off and cleared out all my credit card debt.

The only thing left is my student loan.

Not bad.

Despite the lack of real financial gains, I did live here richly and well.  I have prospered here, I have survived here, I have made it far longer than many naysayers nay sayed.

Fuckers.

I was not sad last night when I left the Muir Overlook, nor was I sad watching the sunset outside of Stinson Beach–I stopped off in the town proper and bought a coffee and pulled back onto the One.

As I was driving, I came upon a turn out and whipped the car off the road and onto the ledge of the sea.  The cliff fell away into a tumult of waves and a shimmer of sun settled on my face.

It was going down and it was lovely to watch.

I took my hair down and let it whip about in the ocean breeze.

I remembered my mom and how fleet-footed and sure she was on the beach, nimble like a quick mountain goat gamboling about.

I want to always remember my mother that way–young, short-cropped brown hair, pants rolled up, picking her way down the Muir Beach path–so certain and so strong.

I drank my coffee.

The sun set.

I did not cry coming back to the city.

I felt replete.

Done.

Full.

I have had my share of experiences here and I shall wear them forward like the jewelry  of the skyline as I head toward my next life altering event.

Paris.

Running To The Edge

October 26, 2012

And looking right the fuck over.

I almost got vertigo and fell.  But I looked out across the Bay and to the city cast upon the opposite shore ringed by two bridges, swathed in cotton candy light and just starting to sparkle with orange as the light fell from the sky and the moon pushed its way up into the sky.

It was a gorgeous sunset.

Vista Point

Vista Point

I had not intended to catch the sunset from the opposite shore, the idea had just taken me and propelled me through traffic across the Bay Bridge and then over the Golden Gate.

I had been visiting a friend who, as it turns out, lives just a scant mile from me here in Oakland.  I had not seen her since Burning Man and we barely chatted there.  She had been unaware until just very recently that I was moving to Paris.  Unable to attend this Sunday’s shindig in the Park she demanded a visit.

Do come by, if you are in the area!  Some where in Dolores Park, I know not where, but I was informed there would be balloons, there will be a bon voyage party for moi.

2p.m. to 5p.m.  Wear your beret and bring your fake French accent, it will be tres amusant.  And I promise to NOT wear any eye liner or make up that is not very waterproof.

She and I had actually not really kept in very in touch over the last year and had much to catch up on.  Both of us have had a year of challenges and it was amazing to go over these past twelve months in detail and see really how far I have come on this journey and that I have been running to the edge all along even when I was not aware of what I was doing.

Look down!  I challenged myself as I stood on top of the wall at Vista Point, listening to the scattered conversations of the tourists.  I heard French, German, Japanese, Swedish, and I believe although I am not certain Hindi.

 

Waves

Waves

She and I swapped stories of trials and tribulations and she encouraged me to grasp that title of artist and to not only wear the label writer, but to also see myself as more than just that.

I do.

I will.

Yet, for a moment, let me swim in the sea of words that I have, love for myself for finally, finally, and with great fan fare, accept the title of writer.  I wear the mantle and I shall not slough it off any time soon.  Despite all the other jobs and duties I have, and there are many, I will continue down this path of art and embrace every word of it.

I met up with my friend after having taken the morning to do my thing, a lazy morning, slept until 9:30 a.m.  The cats were like, hey lady, it’s time to get up, what the hell, don’t you have a job to go do?

Nope.

Which left me feeling a little drift less, a little lost at sea, and a little confused as to how to take this time and embrace it and enjoy it and use it while I am here.  I got grounded with my morning routine, make the bed, make the coffee, read the books, get on the knees, ask to not be selfish, self-seeking, dishonest, and fearful.

Again and again, to not be fearful.

Make the oatmeal, wash the face, boil an egg, pick a few late season figs, take out the compost, feed the cats, snorkle the cats (cats needs snorkles dontcha know?), write some long hand, meditate.

By the time this was done I was well into my morning and not feeling quite so lost, I had time to set up an appointment for tomorrow to go to the Sprint store down on Market St.  and find out how to put my phone to sleep and what to do about service while I am away.

I am not paying International call fees, uh, excuse me, $2.99 a minute.

Kiss my grits.

I then got dressed and decided it was time.  Time to address my book.  I opened it up.

I started to read.

I started to edit.

I got grateful in waves upon waves upon waves.

I saw that I had a new vision and a new clarity with the words.

There have been times when I have been unable to look at the book, to fathom fixing it–it needs fixing–to muster the strength to edit it.  To even have the willingness to submit a bit or a piece of it to anyone.

I have thrashed the shit out of myself now for years over this book.

Then, suddenly, clarity, startling clarity in just a sentence, a change in pace, a small edit.  Then, another, a small addition, a paring of words that I did not see before.  Then, another, and another and suddenly I can see the book truly coming together in a way I have never seen it coalescing before.

It was not the right time.

It was not the right time until now.

I had to do all this writing, here, this blogging, I had to get my practise on, I had to master my edit and my voice and discover my flow and my narrative in my own heart.

The voice, my voice in the book always seemed a little facile and a little flat, short of where I wanted, shy of who I was, and not enough of me, despite it being all about me and all about my experiences.

I am still rolling with the emotions around this.  The best part?  That they are not overwhelming, but soft, assured, and pert on their tiny cat feet.  I am not consumed by the story or too attached to it and I finally have an editing eye for the story.

I can see where it needs to be fleshed out and I can see what needs to be edited.

I leapt in.

I did.

I did not do a large amount, but I can start the building now.  I can begin the third legacy of my writing practise.  This is exactly what I had hoped for, but not quite conceived how I was going to do it.  I will do my morning routine, I will get my breakfast on and my coffee, my mediation, my soft-boiled egg, my readings, my morning writing.

Then when I am settled and have cleared the channel I will go into the book and work.  I may only get a few pages in like I did today, I may make great leaps and bounds.  I know not, but I know that I jumped today.  I saw the cliff and I leapt.

I worked until it was time to meet my friend.

Much tea and lots of hugs later I drove off into the golden glazed city.  I had a thought to go to the other side and see the sunset and I let the thought propel me over the bridges to Vista Point.

I took pictures,  I asked a tourist to take a picture of me.  I read the Lone Sailor monument.

How apt.

Third paragraph in it states–“there is one last chance to look back at the city of San Francisco, shining lights on the hills….”

And I like that Lone Sailor stood perched looking over the bay, the crucible in which I have been mixed and prepared to leap, despite, or maybe because of the vertigo.

The Lone Sailor

The Lone Sailor

 

The Lone Sailor

October 26, 2012

I went to Vista Point this evening at sunset and caught a few shots of my beautiful city by the Bay.

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Just a few more days in the Bay area before I fly to Paris.  I am going to take as many photos as I can.

Begin the Good Byes

October 25, 2012

And like that’s it is done.

I had my last day at the shop today.  I said good-bye to my co-workers.  I cleaned out my “desk” and I left my bicycle with the mechanics to break down and box for carrying on the plane.

This is it.

I am in the home stretch.

The last leg of this particular part of the journey–the last week of my decade in San Francisco.  And what do I do now?  Besides freak out that I don’t have income coming in?

I realized this morning, when exactly, I am not sure, but it was probably right before work, that I have always, at least for the last ten years, had a job lined up to lead me to the next place.

This time it is the place leading me to the job.

Rather like it was when I left Madison for San Francisco.  I had no job, no idea what was happening, a two month sublet in the Mission on 20th and York and about $2,000 in savings.

I was coming to San Francisco to find myself.

Self has been found, and found and found and found again.

I would like to rid myself of some of that self, that ego, that idea of who I am.

I was also coming to San Francisco to be the next great American novelist.  In fact, after two weeks of excruciatingly painful dropping of my resume everywhere and pounding the pavement, literally, combing Craigslist and shaking every god damn tree I could, I actually acquiesced to sitting down at the keyboard and starting to write.

I had an odd sort of faith.

I had a moment of what if I just took the time and dedicated it to the writing.  Maybe I would get some where.  I had paid off my sublet and I had a month and a half and about $1200 left in cash.

What if I just sat and wrote?

Two days later I was hired at Hawthorne Lane.  And the San Francisco saga began.

I did write for one day.  I did sit down and start.  I had some ideas.  I think, now looking back, I had the right idea, I just did not quite have the full monty of faith that I have now.

This time, ten years later, I have no idea where I am going to work, but I know it will come.

It always does.

I know that I will be taken care of.

I always am.

I know that I have a place to live for three months and I have $3,000 in savings.

I am also, acknowledging here and now that I am scared to move that money out of savings and into my checking account.  As though I may burn through it in the last week that I am here in the Bay area.

I do have a few desires to do a few things, so it is not completely out of the ballpark that I could blow through a bit of the money.

But unless I am dropping some big time cash to go to the World Series, I am not going to do so.  I would not sneeze at getting in, but I am hearing outrageous stories already about tickets and frankly I have cafe creme to pay for so that I may rent a spot at a cafe and write, write, write.

My friend sent me a text asking how it feels to be on sabbatical.

Weird.

It has not sunk in yet.  I still think that I need to finish up my blog so I can get my ducks in a row for tomorrow and I have to…

I do not have to do anything.

I have a place on Vermont and Mariposa that I will be going to tomorrow evening.  I have a tentative lunch date with a Burning Man friend.  But other than that, I do not have a single obligation to do a single damn thing.

All that free time.

Kind of freaks me out, truth be told.

Thus, this, this ritual, habit, dedicated work, is really good for me.  I gives me parameters to shape my day and a routine to lean into that is helpful.  I have pools of time surrounding me and I do not want to go over board on spending.

Yet, I also would like to allow myself the time and the energy and the finances to do a few things.

So, tomorrow after I have lunch, I am thinking I will head into the city and see what there is to be seen.  I am thinking it would be nice to go catch a ferry ride.  Maybe wander around Sausalito or Tiburon.

Maybe go to the MOMA?

Or the Legion of Honor or the DeYoung?

On one hand I have so many things I could do.

On the other, I feel a little afraid to do any of them.  I am not going to be jobless for long and I am going to have to spend money.  I could hole up here at Graceland scrimping everywhere, or I could open my arms and my pocket book, and allow myself a nice final week in San Francisco.

It does not have to be extravagant.  But it does not have to be miserly either.

I will be taken care of.

I will be taken care of.

I will be taken care of.

I have never been dropped on my ass and I cannot believe that I am about to be now.

I have a plane ticket.  I have a bicycle.  I have my computer.  I have a notebook.

Oh!  I need to get some pens.

There, that is something I can do.  Get pens, check.

Ha.

Now that I have a concrete errand, it will all fall into place.

I could go to the beach and watch the sunset.

The fear is also that I will have emotions.  That it will truly begin to seep in, that this is it.  Bye-bye, hasta la vista, au revoir, so nice to know you, got to go.

I got teary at work.  I cannot imagine what it will be like to say good-bye to other places.  I said good-bye to a few more faces today as well.

One of whom was the owner of the cafe next to the shop.  He hugged me and said, looking directly into my eyes, “you are going to make it, you are so positive and bright and upbeat, you are going to be great, don’t look back.”

This man hardly knows me.  I say good morning, I smile, I laugh, and I am seen for being a good positive person.

Thank you for seeing me.

Thank you for your words of encouragement.

I had a man walk by on the street tonight as I stood at the corner of 2900 24th Street about to cross over holler out my name, I turned and recognized a guy I helped with a bike build months ago.  He trotted over and hugged me.  I barely remembered his name, but it came out, “hi Noah!”  I hugged him right back.

We chatted and I told him today was my last day at the shop and he asked me what was going on and I said, “moving to Paris next week.”

“You are going to be amazing there!  People are really going to eat you up, awesome for you!”

I smiled, I did not know how to respond, then the lesson that I was taught and taught well comes to the fore and saves my embarrassed self, “thank you.”

Thank you.

OH.

There.

That is what is scary about a weeks worth of time.  Not the money, oh honey, I am going to be just fine.  No.  It is this, the owning up, the opening up, the honestly acknowledging how important this decade has been to my life, my growth, my person.

How much I will miss you, how fond I have grown of you, how warmly I am welcomed and greeted and seen.

You see me and I am better for it and it is hard for me to acknowledge that you like me and even love me.

Some one told me tonight that he loved me, some one that I had a barely passing acquaintance with.  I believed him completely and I expressed it right back and it brings a lump into my throat and my heart pounds bigger in my chest and this knot of pain blossoms into awareness of how meaningful you all have been to me.

Can I just carry you all in my hip pocket?

Will you make it through customs with me?

Will my heart hold it all or will it collapse into a pile of burnt love ashes?

Broken and ravaged and burnt to a crisp of romantic nights walking by myself along the edge of a park, looking up at the San Francisco sky line, in wonderous awe that I, little old Carmen Regina Martines, from Windsor Wisconsin, lived here, in San Francisco.

I can’t make up my mind what to do because my mind does not want to acknowledge what is happening and it does not want my heart to break.

But I say, fuck it.

Break my heart.

Ravage it.

Ravish me.

Because every time my heart breaks, it breaks open bigger and I feel more and I am able to carry more and I know that I will carry this, you, all of it, with me, through the ticketing gate, down the runway, and into the wide open sky.

My heart burnt and taken by you, will rise and soar anew on stronger wings, and you will all come with me.

Every blessed one of you.

Rolling With The Top Down

October 24, 2012

Letting go of financial insecurity.

I am allowed to drive across the Bay Bridge with the top down on the convertible and the seat warmer on high and the music on loud.

I am allowed.

I was half way to talking myself out of not using the car to drive into the city tomorrow.  Parking is expensive.  I dropped $22 on the garage today.  Then I thought, screw that.  I am fortunate to have a car, and I do not know for how long I will get it and use it, don’t be afraid of gas money and parking money.

Be ok with it.

It is a gift.

I was driving back to Oakland, headed to the freeway on ramp via Bryant Street after getting to say good-bye to a wonderful group of my friends.  I shed a few tears tonight.  It is challenging to get up in front of people who you love and say I love you and you have been there for me and without you I would be nothing and nowhere.

I did it.

It was hard to say and so good.

So good.

I am so amazingly blessed with the people who I have gotten to know in San Francisco.  Just seeing a few of them tonight really brought it home.

San Francisco is my home.

I am leaving on a wonderful note, Giants in the World Series, the city experiencing strong economic growth, and all the places that I have gotten to go, all the people whose lives have touched mine and mine perhaps there’s.

I was writing this morning before work and I was really struck by the depth of growth that I have experienced here and the quality and diversity of people I have met.

It really is astounding when I took a moment.

I wrote a few of those names down in my journal, just the barest fraction of people who have been a part of this leg of the journey, and I was blown away by gratitude and I shed a few tears before I even got out the door.

I was suffused with love.

I brought soup to my GM and figs to a co-worker and I said thank you to another co-worker and gave him a stupendous hug today.  I wanted to grab  the builder and squeeze his cheeks, I called people who had a new bicycle waiting for them and the day passed by in a blur.

I bought a few inner tubes to pack up with my bike and talked to the GM about doing an exit interview.

I have never done one.  I think it’s important.  I feel like I could benefit from it and I can impart a few things too.  I will say it is gratifying to see how much work I put into my job and how well that has helped shaped where the business is at.

I got to be a part of some ones dream.

The owners did not know what they had going when they started.  And I got to be a part of that journey for a little while.

How freaking cool.

I also mused today about my lover and the man I am also seeing here and there when the time permits.

I was struck, very suddenly, with the realization that had this happened before I bought my ticket that I may not have bought my ticket.  And had I not bought my ticket I would probably not have gotten to have either experience in the dating world.

That was amazing.

First to see that I often toss aside what I want for some one else or just the idea of some one else.

Second that I got the hell out-of-the-way and my I don’t really care attitude actually helped in going out with both of them.

I still am not used to the idea of romantically dating one person and sleeping with another man.  One of them knows of the other and that too is strange, but really, come on, it’s funny too.

Or fun.

Or weird.

Or just another experience and I bet I am not the first person who has had this experience.  Nope, I am not terminally unique.

And I am not sitting with mismatched flip-flops on the side of the road at the intersection of Bryant and Division waiting for life to end.  A moment of gratitude so intense spilled over me.

As I have been sitting on the curb side smoking a cigarette scraped up from god only knows where wondering where the hell I would be going next and in envy of the woman at the stop sign in the convertible with the wind in her hair and the top down and the music splashing over the top of the doors and into my lap.

An ocean of sound and experience and love that washed over me and threaten to swallow me and wring my heart dry in its hot dusty pain, then it was gone, the car, and I was left in the back wash of desire and envy and pain.

Pain I caused myself out of fear.  Out of lack.  Out of constant want.

Want what you have, love what you have, love who you are, and let go of the fear.

I told myself, so what that it is going to be a cost to fill the tank on the car and so what if I pay another twenty spot to park tomorrow.  I am not going to spoil the moment by worrying about not having enough.

I have enough.

I have food.

I have a place to lay my head.

I have a ticket to ride.

I pulled the car over and dropped the roof down.  I cranked up the heat.  I turned up the stereo and I sailed over the Bay Bridge with the moon shining down on me, I sang my song at the top of my lungs and I smiled until it almost hurt my face, almost.

When I hit the High Street exit, High on Crack St., I did turn the channel on the radio, and hit a big old patch of gangsta rap and said, why not, when in Rome, or East Oakland, and blew it up, rolling down International, white girl with a big grin on her face and some loud music, top down, bumping it back home.

Here’s one for all the girls sitting on the corner with mismatched hearts and thin sole shoes.  I feel the thinness of those sandals in the balls of my feet and I acknowledge the pain that came from that, but I am done paying, I have paid my dues.

I am rolling a different way now.

And I am not afraid the cost.

I am enjoying the ride.

I fucking earned it.

 

You Have So Much to Write About

October 23, 2012

Nancy said to me tonight as we took a brief moments shelter from the rain, and the over the top, don’t give a fuck that it’s rainy, San Francisco Giants are in the World Series melee happening in the Mission.

She is right I do have a lot to write about.

Memoirs and poems and children’s stories and short stories and novels and screen plays.

I am turning 40 in Paris.  I realized last night, not the age part, but the 40 part that despite all the grousing and all the I have not done anything with my life crap that my brain feeds me, I have not only done something with my life, but I made a decision.

“Honey,” John Ater said to me, “MADE A DECISION, is what is says, not think about it, make a decision.”

It does not matter if it is “right” or “wrong” there is no right or wrong.  There is only action or inaction.

Thinking about doing something is not actually doing it.

Wishing I was a size ten when I was a size 28 and day dreaming about what I would wear was not making a decision.

Not eating sugar for almost three years (October 29th, 2009 last time I had sugar) and changing how I eat and what I eat and exercising and riding a bike and being patient and taking suggestions and getting help was the action that led to the day-dream becoming reality.

That may not be the way for some.

I still get looks of astonishment when someone hears I do not eat sugar (which includes not eating honey, not eating evaporated cane juice, not eating anything that has sucralose, because the fake sugar fucks with me just as hard) and then in complete bafflement when I add, and I don’t eat flour either.

What do you eat?

Oatmeal.  Fruit.  Nuts.  Vegetables in so many varieties it is kind of astounding.  I can tell you with distinct taste points the difference between a Japanese Sweet Potato and a regular yam, I could do it blind folded.  I can tell you that Brussels sprouts taste better after having been blanched then seared blackened in brown butter and sprinkled with sea salt.

I know the difference between lentil varietals and corn and different kinds of wheat.  I can name and tell you how each different kind of apple in the bins at Rainbow tastes like.  I eat really well, most of the time my co-workers exclaim over my lunch, and it is not a, “Oh, geez, poor Carmen, her lunch is so sad devoid of flour and sugar.”

No.

It’s more like, “what is that you made?  Do you have extra?  And look, Carmen, up there, as they attempt to sneak a fresh picked pear tomato and leaf of basil off my plate of divinity.

And now, now, I am a size ten.

So, despite what my head said, “I feel fat,” yesterday before I headed out to do my shopping, fyi, in case you were wondering, “fat” is not a feeling.

I was feeling not enough, not pretty enough, not wanted enough, not what ever enough.  I was also in fear, because I have this idea that there is just not enough.

I expressed to Nancy as she lit up her smoke and the station wagon full of screaming children caromed down 24th street with horns blaring, that I have given myself permission to be successful.

And a successful woman dresses successfully.

I winnowed out the last of the clothes today and donated them away.  I have a very slim wardrobe, it will all fit quite easily into my roll-on, I see no problem there.

I got one beautiful outfit for myself to wear in Paris.  I may even break it out before then.  One gorgeous pair of Vince black corduroy pants (long in the leg and accentuating all the right spots), one cashmere sweater in soft grey stripes with a plush cowl neck (my first cashmere!) a beautiful new gray silk push up bra, and a silky long sleeve under shirt that I will probably wear until it falls to bits because it was so soft on my skin in black.

I put on those pants and that shirt and that sweater and stepped out to look at the mirror and who the hell is that gorgeous, skinny woman?

Oh.

That is me.

I guess I am not fat.

Fuck my stupid brain.

I give myself permission to where beautiful things, to spend money on myself, to write, to travel, to be successful.

I give myself permission to be financially successful and to actually make money.

I give myself permission to be an artist who succeeds with her art.

I have made the decision.  I am acting on it.  I am a writer.  I fully one hundred percent will pursue this career.

The best is yet to come.

I will turn 40 in Paris and I will live longer than another 40 years and my god, how much I will write, how much I have already written, and how much there is to do.

So much.

I have more than half of my life to spend pursuing this dream.  I have spent the majority of my life denying it.

No longer.

The path was always there, I just did not know I was on it.  I thought I would do what you wanted me to do and I tried and I had some success here and there, I am a smart monkey after all, but when it all came down to it I was always wanting, whether acknowledged or not, to write.

Well, here it is.

I am writing.

I am going to where I will write more.

I am following, albeit in a more sober fashion, in Miller’s footsteps, in Hemingway’s footsteps, in Moliere’s footsteps, Anais Nin, anyone?  Oh, the countless authors that paved the way that went to Paris that said, I am a writer, I will go find my garret, my cafe, my people, and I will write.

I am not Dorothy Parker, and you know what?

I do not want to be.

I am Carmen Regina Martines.

And you will be hearing a lot more of me.

I have so much to tell you, so much to write about.

Sit back, get comfy, I am going to be here a while.

Life in the Fast Lane

October 22, 2012

Or at least the lane that has FASTtrack.

Oh, I have my hands on a car.

Living the American Dream for a few days.  I have wheels.  My friend loaned me his car today so that I could get a few of the last-minute errands done I needed to do without having to haul around on my bike or use BART.

Such a relief.

I have a suitcase.

I have travel sized toiletries.

I have groceries to last me the next ten days.

TEN!

I leave in ten days.

Holy cats.

I winnowed out my closet today, taking one last good look through.  Tomorrow, with the assistance of said vehicle I will take my last few things to Buffalo Exchange and sell them off for cash.

I will also return Jennifer’s tent that I used at Burning Man.  Note to self get up and air that puppy out one more time and shake as much dust off as possible.  Despite telling Jennifer a number of times what the playa does to your possessions, I do not believe she quite understands.

I feel a little remiss returning the tent.  I do not know that it will be good for regular camping at this point.  However, I will do my best to shake out the lingering bits.  I am super grateful I do not have to haul that into the city on my bicycle.  That would not make for a pleasant commute.

I am actually not sure how long I will have the car for but as I drove home tonight after a very successful pillaging of Nordestrom’s Rack, Bed, Bath, & Beyond, and Rainbow, I got some ideas of how long I would like to have it.

Like forever.

It is a sweet little ride.  Black Audie two door convertible.

Ah yeah.

I am over the moon that I was able to get all the things on my list today off my list today.

Over the moon.

I got the suitcase, a sweater, a scarf, a pair of black cordoroy slacks, socks, underware, bras, all the miniature travel crap you need to travel.  Not that I really need toiletries, I will just buy them when I get to Paris–Monoprix anyone?

But it will be nice to not have to shop for a few days and technically I will be en route for 24 hours.

I leave the morning of November 1st at 10:20 a.m.

I arrive the morning of November 2nd at 8:40 a.m.

I had a mini-stress out over how I was going to get through customs with my suitcase and my bicycle yesterday while still in the throes of my illness.

I don’t have to know, now do I?

It will happen.

I will take the train and then I will take the Metro.  And if the box is to unwieldy I can just get a cab.  I will make it to Barnaby’s place just fine.

I mean my place.

Holy cats, I say it again!

My place.

My mom reminded me to send her my Paris address as soon as I have it.  I need to shoot an e-mail off to Barnaby requesting just that.  I know it is Rue Crespin du Gast and I know that it is in the 11th Arrondisement, but aside from that I do not know specifics.  I believe it is in the 700s, and I need a little more information if my mom is going to send me a birthday card this year to my house.

To my house!

In Paris!

I am moving to Paris.

Wow.

Buying the little travel size toiletries then buying the suitcase, really nailed it down.  I am going and I am going soon.

Two days left at work.

Two.

Then off to new endeavors.

But before I go, some saying good byes.

When my friend picked me up from BART this early afternoon I got nostalgic as we were driving up and over Nob Hill to where his other car was parked.  The view from the top of Sacramento Street.  The lanterns swinging in China Town.  The view toward the Golden Gate Bridge–Angel Island and Alcatraz gleaming in the blue of the bay–I got misty eyed.

I told my friend I would get it all done today and return his car tomorrow.

He said, no worries, and we’ll figure it out.  Use it as long as you need it.

I may need it to say good-bye to a few spots.

I may.

I almost pulled over tonight on the way back across the Bay Bridge to make that stop I talked about in my Bucket List blog, Treasure Island.

The night is clear, the view would be spectacular, but I also was running a little later than I had originally planned.  I ran into Matt tonight and we hung out and then fellowshipped and had great big huge salads with friends and since I had a vehicle we popped over to Rainbow and did some grocery shopping–he lives in the neighborhood, but it was really nice to extend a ride to him–considering just how many times he has helped me move!

So I skipped the turn off, but I will go see it soon.  Whether in this vehicle or another, it is not so important, I know it will happen.

It is lovely getting to have this perspective before I go.

Sad yes, painful, a little, lovely, yes, golden and sumptuous, and sad and divine.

Love finding me when I finally let myself have it.

Matt played me a song tonight in the car that a friend of his played for him–it was about true love and how it will always find you in the end.

Because we forget that it is searching for us as well, it is when we stop hunting, stop living life in the fast lane, slow down, embrace what is front of you, and leap knowing you don’t know what is on the other side, love will find you.

Love will catch you.

And together you will fly.

With brand new carry on luggage.


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