Archive for May, 2013

“Dear Carmen”

May 31, 2013

We like your writing very much.

Holy shit.

I am getting published.

I knew it was happening, or I should say, I had some suspicions it might.

The magazine contacted me while I was still in Paris and asked me for an author’s bio and a different file format for my submission.

I had forgotten about it.

and would like to publish “The Button Boy”

Wait, did yo say you would like to publish The Button Boy?

You did not.

Wait.

You did!

Jumpin’ Jesus on a pogo stick.

I cannot believe that my first publishing credit (ok, I am going to clarify that, it sounds like I have not been published and I have, The Peacock, also in Paris, published a piece I wrote, but it is a student magazine and I was not a student there, I knew the editor and she needed something in a pinch and I tossed out a little epistolary to accompany some photographs in the magazine, so technically I do have publication credits.  And there is this, my blog, which is published every night, but neither were submitted publications) is a short story.

Not only a short story, but a science fiction short story.

“May I make a suggestion,” my room mate said as I was laying my weary head down on the table top at 36 Rue Bellefond.  I was either beating myself up for not doing enough work, or I was castigating myself around my edits to my book, or I was dying of fatigue from having crammed in a full day of walking the cold, wet, mean streets of Paris, taking photographs and trying to live the idea, the fantasy, of the kind of life I was supposed to live in Paris as a struggling writer.

Where is my tiny violin playing for me right now?

“NO, I don’t want your suggestions,” is what I thought, “sure,” is what I said.

“Well, when you are tired of all this work that you are doing, and I know that it is work, you are putting in a lot of time, doing things in Paris, writing, taking pictures and stuff, why don’t you write something fun for you.”  He said unfurling the scarf from around his neck.

“You know, just write something completely out there, something that has nothing to do with what you’re working on.” He said and stepped toward the stairs, turning on the overhead light.

“Hmm, I hear you, you may be right,” I said.

I was being flippant.

But something dinged in my head.

Something said, he’s got a point.

Do you want to be happy or do you want to be write.

I mean “right”.

“I do have an idea for something, now that you mention it,” I said and he paused foot suspended in mid air.  “I saw something on the Metro the other day that I could not figure out what it was and I suddenly got a line, a sentence, and it’s been stuck in my head now for a week or so.”

“There ya go, buddy, write about that,” then he trundled up the steps and I sighed and went back to editing the photographs I had taken that day, a job in and of itself that took anywhere from an hour to two hours depending on how many I had taken during my walk about Paris.

in the next issue of The Bastille.

“You should come check it out!” She said to me one afternoon as I was rinsing out a tea cup in the kitchen of the Scots Kirk Church, “I go every Monday, it’s a lot of fun, and yeah, there’s some drinking, but most people are pretty chill and there’s some good stuff and I love going.”

I knew what she was talking about, I had seen the flyer for it in the window at Shakespeare & Company on one of my first visits to the famous book store across the river from Notre Dame.

Paris Spoken Word Open Mic.

I googled the event.

I made plans to go.

I did not go.

I had a baby sitting gig.

I got a case of nerves.

I was tired.

I was full of excuses.

I don’t have anything to say.

“Hey, I’m going to go this Monday,” Hannah said to me as we hugged outside 65 Quai D’Orsay.  “You should come, you don’t have to perform, I just like to watch actually, we can just hang out.”

“Ok,” I said, I had begun to see, with the help of someone wiser and more experienced and oh, I don’t know, not me, that I have limited perspective and that I often make fear based decisions and that I need to practice saying yes instead of no.

And fellowshipping is good.

So go.

I went.

I performed.

I got high from the adrenalin of getting on stage.

The lights bright, the faces rapt, I felt caught, captured, held, and I recited “While You Were Sleeping”.

I had them in the palm of my hand and I knew it.

Then, I was hooked.

I went back, I did more poems, I did “Cry Baby” and I did “Into the Pink”.  I read a long free verse poem called “Fevered”  I read an old poem about an old lover that I wrote on a break in between a double at Hawthorne Lane while having coffee at a cafe on Market Street in San Francisco back in 2002.

At one of the Open Mics the MC mentioned that The Bastille was closing down it’s next round of submissions, if you want to submit then go to blah, blah, blah.

I wanted to submit.

I had a feeling that I would get in.

I was feeling cocky and high from the performing.

I did not always nail it, but when I did.

I really did.

“So, I just wanted to let you know, I took your suggestion,” I told my room mate one evening.

“Which one,” he said without breaking a beat.

He had given me a lot of suggestions.

“The one about writing something fun,” I said.

“Oh!  Awesome, good on you,” he replied, settling down at the chair kitty corner from me at the table.  “What did you write about?”

“I actually wrote a short story, a science fiction short story at that, I have never written science fiction before, either,” I said.  “I was at Odette & Aime and I did not feel like I was done yet, but I was finished editing, I did a full chapter, and I read for an hour and I was just suddenly poked to take out my notebook and write something completely different.”

“Good for you!” My room mate exhorted again, then he told me about his day and I zoned out a little thinking about how I wanted to write more of these short stories, how good it felt to write.

We’ll be in touch to let you know when it will come out and to get a free copy to you.

I’ll send them “While You Were Sleeping,” “Cry Baby,” and something else, I thought as I looked over the submissions page.

A little voice said, send “The Button Boy”.

I had put it, the short, up on my blog and my friend had given me a really detailed and lovely response of his reaction to the story just a few days prior.

I never expected that they would choose it.

I never thought, boy, when I get my first piece published it will be for a magazine in Paris and it will be a science fiction short story.

SCIENCE FICTION!

Not a poem, not an essay, not one of my blogs.

A science fiction piece that I was inspired to write because I saw something on a little boys’ head that did not make sense to me, I made up a story to explain the unknown.

This is how Gods are created and constellations and mythologies, personal mythologies, my history.

I can still see that little boy and the gigantic plastic button, which I learned later is a hearing aid, on the back of his skull with a little wire running into the black nest of his short cropped hair.

I can see the car I am in on the Metro and I know where I am going.

And now I know what piece I need to work on next.

But just for this moment, just for today, I get to celebrate this little victory.

I get to bask.

Then back to work.

But for now, the basking.

Bask.

Bask.

Bask.

All the best,
 
David & the rest of the editorial team DSCF5360
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A “Relaxing Day”

May 30, 2013

At work.

Although it did not start out that way.

I got out of bed late.

Not way late, not so late that I would have to call a cab or jump BART.

Not that getting on BART is actually a time saver from here to North Oakland, it is about the same amount of commute time.

I still checked, just to make sure, just in case, maybe it would save me a few minutes of hurrying around this morning.

Nope.

I would get there faster on my bicycle.

So scurry it was.

Again, not a horrible scurry, just no time to do my morning writing.

I still got up, made the bed, did my other normal routines, got dressed, had breakfast, fed the cats inside and out and threw lunch and coffee fixings in my messenger bag.

That was the other thing, no time to make a pot of coffee.

Which is sad, but was necessary.

I dashed out the door with my bag full of food–lunch, dinner, and snack, notebook, extra almond milk for the eventual coffee, phone, two bike locks, keys.

I wheeled onto International Ave, blew one red light and then, no I did not slow down, but I slowed down.  I realized that getting there timely was not as important as getting there in one piece.

The world would not end if I was a few minutes late, but if I sped through too many intersections in my journey to be a perfect nanny, always on time, if not just a few minutes early, then my world may well come to an end.

I have too much to live for and have not come even close to doing it all yet for that.

I slowed my roll.

Not during the riding, but at every intersection, even putting my foot down to signal a stop at a few places.  Some intersections, yes, I rolled through, but I looked both ways and did it cautiously.  Some intersections I did not want to stop and settle waiting for the light, not as I was needing to be speedy, I was needing to keep my eye contact discreet.

There was some heavy dealing and prostituting going on this morning.

I thought maybe it was some residual left over from the long weekend, but damn Gina, it’s now Wednesday.  Time to slow your roll.

These are decisions, however, that have nothing to do with me and as I will continue to commute through these neighborhoods I don’t need to be casting a judging eye on what the populace is doing for work.

None of my business.

I am an observer though, and sometimes I cannot help but observe and sometimes my brain provides me with a funny soundtrack to go along with said observations.

“Not my choice of clothes for a morning stroll,” tight cheetah leggings and red broke down flip-flops.

“Welcome to the Friendly Manor,” read the sign, “a scary place to live,” my brain added as I rode past the number of drug deals going down, it was hopping at 10:30 a.m. around the shopping cart full of glass bottles.

It was cracking for sure.

“Not need to worry about being late,” my brain added as I arrived, four minutes early, tucked in my bike and went into the house.  Mom was taking care of business, dad was still in bathrobe and slippers and the little monkey was wearing, yes, monkey pajamas and eating scrambled “eggies”.

God I love this kid.

I have a thing for super smart little girls.

They make me happy to be a nanny.

Oh, I love my boys too, don’t get me wrong.

But I feel I have gotten to work with a couple of extraordinarily bright little ladies and I am grateful for the opportunity to be a part of their little girl lives.

Today mom was working from home for part of the day and suggested we take the car and go up to Little Farm.

Little Farm!

Yay.

I was stoked at the idea, it had been awhile since I had gone and it would be a fun little field trip and a chance to be outside with one little monkey instead of three.  Plus, I felt a remiss for not having as much interaction with the little lady as I normally do, juggling three babies is not the most optimal for quality time.

It was just maintaining time yesterday.

So, we took the car and headed up in the Berkeley Hills to Tilden Park.

Little Farm really is just that, a miniature farm in the middle of the park.

Cows, goats, chickens, a couple of geese, a hutch of bunnies, a children’s garden, rams, pigs.  You are allowed to feed the animals, only celery and lettuce, but you get to interact and it is designed to let children get close to the animals.

My girl even got close enough to pet a cow.

Which peed instantaneously, I saw it coming before it hit the ground and was able to avoid the splatter, but man that was close.

The pitfalls of nannydom are that often times you will find yourself doused with urine or poo or mashed carrots on your tights or smashed Cheerios in your bra, or sand!  I have had sand in the bra a few times.

But I was not ready to have cow urine added to the list.

I danced nimbly away and we finished our visit by feeding the last of the celery to the long-tongued brown cows in a nearby pen.

It was a great field trip and she fell asleep promptly in the car.

I got lucky, she still went down for a nap and I also got a late message from the mom of the little boy they do a nanny share with, who said, no coverage needed today, see you tomorrow.

I wasn’t even miffed at the loss of pay, I was relieved actually, to have a nap time that was actually a restful time for me.

I reviewed some e-mails for my friend’s business, made some phone calls, and yes, even took a call from a friend over a very late in the day cup of coffee on the back porch in the sunshine.

It was a long day for me, worked a few extra hours to help out the mom who is busy with work, but it felt like a breeze after yesterday.

So much so, I actually still took her to the park after her nap.

The sun was out and I wanted to be outside in it.

I feel like my body is still recovering from the three baby fest of yesterday, but it was helped along by an “easy day” and I am grateful to be done with my blog, showered (I did not get cow urine on me, but the ladybug did douse me anyhow), and laundry ready to swap over to the dryer.

Heck, I might even watch an episode of So You Think You Can Dance.

Hold the commentary, my brain has already provided it.

 

 

Jesus, God I am tired

May 29, 2013

Good gravy.

Good grief.

Good fucking thing I am only working one day a week like today.

Three kids.

I have never done three before.

Well, that’s not true, I did three in Paris on a number of occasions, however, they were 2 years old, five years old, and seven years old; I have never done three children in this age range.

Baby number one: three 1/2 months

Baby number two: twelve 1/2 months

Baby number three (who does not feel like a baby since she is so ridiculously smart): 20 months.

I am run ragged.

Add to that the commute, which was a grand total of two hours, one hour each way.  I left Graceland at 7:40 a.m. and arrived on Cole Street @ Frederick in San Francisco at 8:40a.m.

One hour on the nose.

I am uncertain how many miles I put on my bicycle itself, the ride from Graceland to the BART and then from Civic Center station to Cole Valley, probably four miles?

Perhaps a bit less.

Put up and down a lot of flights of steps and when I made the return trip I had stopped off at Rainbow to get some groceries.  The cupboards were bare, bare, bare.

I was so hungry I did not get on my bike to come back to the East Bay to make dinner.  I sat on a little stool in the entry way to Rainbow whilst shoppers came to and fro grabbing baskets and pushing carts.

I zoned out and ate veggie sushi on brown rice, plantain chips, and a strawberry/banana organic fruit smoothie.

I felt depleted.

I still feel depleted.

My arms and shoulders ache in a way they have not in some time.

I constantly was picking up a child, burping a baby, feeding a baby, pushing a baby in a stroller with another baby in a sling strapped to my front, changing a baby diaper, checking the baby diaper, juggling the baby, dropping the baby.

Just kidding.

Although I did feel that I was walking a fine line a few times, the stairs and the child gates and navigating how to get two bunnies up and down and all around, let alone three.

You know you are having a moment when you need to stop and pray and ask God to help you open the baby gate.

God damn it.

I thought about climbing over it and I just could not bring myself to do it, it would have been horrid and unsafe and I could see me and a pile of babies at the bottom of the flight of wood steps in a very messy heap.

I paused and looked at the gate again and after a few more times of getting rattled, albeit not rattling the gate, the twenty month old was taking care of that for me, I got it open.

Thank you jeebus.

I am quite lucky that the house is nice and the set up has loads to offer and I like the parents and I adore all the babies, they really are just little peaches, and the topper, that which makes it bearable really, is that I don’t have them all at the same time.

I got them in waves.

I showed up at 8:40 a.m. drank all my water in my water bottled, wiped the sweat from my face, texted the family and asked to put my bike in the garage.

The next baby did not arrive until 9:30 a.m.

And thank God, the 12 1/2 month old baby is still taking two naps.

He was down sleeping while I received the second wave of baby.

Baby number two arrived fussy and ready for naps, and within five minutes was secured in the swing, swaddled, and warm and lights out.

I got a few minutes to orient myself in the house and make a cup of tea.

You know you’re a nanny when you reheat the same cup of tea more than once in the microwave.  In fact, I believe the tea-cup spent more time sitting in the microwave waiting for me to retrieve it then it did near my mouth.

Hard to juggle a tea-cup and two babies, let alone the three I ended the day with.

Tuesday are a “short day” for my eldest monkey, just three hours in the afternoon, the robust and brilliant 20 month old, who I, and I meant it with the highest compliment, accidentally called a wee space alien to the father when he picked up.

“I didn’t mean it like that, I love her, she is beyond adorable (and I do love her already, I realized yesterday when I got a text from the mom that I was missing her and the way she says her own little name), she’s just preternaturally smart and I forget that she’s not even two yet.”

“I know what you mean,” replied the dad, “I forget how young she really is too all the time.”

The pops had asked me how it was to juggle three kids, and I answered honestly.

It was difficult, it was a challenge, and I am grateful that it is only once a week.  I don’t think I could do three all the time.  Not unless they are a little older.

When the baby, which one? The smallest, the youngest, cries, I really have to pay him the most attention, get the bottle, burp him, rub his little tummy.

He was super gassy today.

Which is not a stinky thing, not really, when they are that young, but it is distressing to the baby and they, well, most babies scream.

He had an all out fit for about fifteen, maybe twenty minutes.

I don’t know for sure, I lost track of time, it just became an unending wail.

Change the diaper, rub the tummy, move the legs, burp the monkey, snuggle the monkey, try to give a little milk to soothe, grab a pacifier, rock back and forth, and back and forth on my heels.

Don’t even try to think about putting him down.

I am lucky that the third was not in attendance at this time.  I would have fallen over.

Once I work out my routine I will be fine and it will be merry.

And, I repeat, only once a week is this happening.

It is the only day I have overlap.

To think of how nervous I was about all the information I was going over for the new job helping my friend and then how much energy I expended today watching three babies.

I’ll let you have one guess which was harder.

So, despite being tired and a bit wrecked when I got home, I still fired up my computer, looked over the incoming e-mails that needed addressing, reviewed the things I learned yesterday and realized I had already learned something new and used a new gizmo on my Gmail account.

And voila!

I wrote my blog.

Now off to make some tea and crawl into some pajamas.

I am going to sleep.

Well.

Like a baby.

Ha.

Don’t Argue For Your Limitations

May 28, 2013

Because no one else is.

Everyone believes you can do this.

What ever this is.

It may take some time to learn a new system, or a new way of thinking, or a new way of doing, of getting organized and I just need to let myself be teachable and learn.

It is just like working at the bike shop.

Except that it is above the bike shop.

It was interesting to see how I felt saying hi to the guys in the shop, then heading off with my friend and new employer to her office to sit down and start in on what she needs me to do.

We were joined by another friend and her adorable dog.

Oh my god, wearing a brown color with pink polka dots, excuse me while I talk baby talk to the pup, too much cuteness going on here.

I am replacing said friend.

I do not know that I am a great replacement for said friend.

She blew my socks off when I saw how she was thinking and what she has done for the business and the skill set she has.

I was quite impressed.

“You’re not enough,” my brain started in.

Shut it.

I just need to sit, ask questions, and absorb information.

I know this process, it sucks, I want to be good right away, I want to know how it’s done right away, I want to be able to do it better than anyone else, right away, and here’s how I’ll do just that.

Except this is work beyond my learnings.

Oh, I can feel that I have a tiny finger hold onto it, I can see from past experience, actually working at the bike shop was a perfect comparison, that my skills are much deeper and greater than I give myself credit for, I just have not organized them yet to this job.

Makes sense, it’s the first time working for a firm like this.

I love it.

When I could let myself love it, I was loving it.

They spoke to me in English, this is already a plus, and I did understand some of the structure behind what needed to be done, I could see the basic needs.  I just don’t see the overall scope of it yet.

Despite it being right in front of me.

It is like a wall of colors and words and fonts and images that have yet to organize themselves in a clean utilized fashion for me.

It is a challenge and I am going to have fun.

Thank God for experience.

Thank God for knowing that negative Nancy-ass voice in my head is not a truth generating voice, it is a fear generating voice, and it lies.

Lies.

I can do this.

If I can learn how to ride clipless and complete a journey of 569 miles (I don’t care what the route map says, I rode 569 miles) on a bicycle, I can learn how to juggle calendars and use new software that I have not used before.

I can learn how to interface.

I watched my friend multi-task e-mails and two huge computer screens and a mouse pad that’s not a mousepad, but is, and an Iphone and then just lean back and tuck her Mary Jane clad foot underneath her sweater dress and chat about the dog and the weekend and how things are going with this project, I was in awe.

I want to do that.

And I can.

Granted, I have some learning to do.

“Lucy”  I can hear Desi’s voice in the back of my head while she pretends to know how to dance, having snuck onstage in a red and white pleated skirt and samba top with a basket of fruit balanced just this side of precarious on top of her scarf wrapped head.

I can’t fake this.

However, I can fake a kind of confidence in myself that I do not have, but I do, if you catch my drift, until I get the basics under my belt.

I remember when I was working for this small law firm about five years ago and I did not know a thing about being a legal secretary or filing appeals at the clerk of courts office at 850 Bryant, or how to ask for the information the attorneys needed.

I did find out though.

And fast.

One of the partners was blown away that I had the tenacity to ask a set of questions of a potential client, questions that they were going to need to ask, and I just saw what needed to be done and did it.

Same with learning their accounting needs.

Same with learning how a to put my bike together, I have done it twice now.  I can break it down and set it up.  Granted last time I put the front wheel in backwards, but that got fixed.

Ok, sure only after riding it for three days, but it got fixed.

“Yeah, I took it in to the shop this weekend and ended up behind the counter at one point helping a customer and I felt good, but I knew it wasn’t the right spot,” I said.

“I like being of service but I don’t like being passively aggressively manipulated with flattery into doing something,” I continued.  “I found myself uncomfortable with how I was approached and how dismissive it was to be asked to work for them again via text, but then never have a sit down face to face offer made to me.”

We really want you to work for us but cannot summon the courtesy to have a cup of coffee with you to discuss our needs and your needs.

Really?

“So you’re learning what flattery is and you were able to see passive aggression in someone else, that is progress,” he said to me outside of Cafe Flore on Market street.

“Yup, and I suppose I could have said hey, yeah, I’ll work for you, this is how much I want, even though I know they would never pay it, I decided I did not like being treated the way I was being treated and did not even ask what the pay rate was, I just passed and said no thank you.”

“You are growing up,” he said, “how’s it feel making adult decisions?”

Weird.

But kind of weird in a good way.

I bet lots of people don’t know what they are doing when they start out, I’m starting out at something and I would not have been asked if they did not believe I was good, that I have potential, that I can be of service.

I have all those things.

I have been asked to do lots of things that I thought I would never be able to do because some one else said, “I think you would be good at this.”

My potential is always recognized by someone else.

Not me.

But at least I have stopped saying it out loud.  I paused and sat and listened and took notes and I am going in on Friday and look at that, I am suddenly working every day this week.

I took myself to Herbivore for a little dinner celebration of one.

I looked out the window onto the Valencia Street corridor and thought of how far I have come and all the things I have gotten to do and now am getting to do more and I felt overwhelmed and awed and scared, but scared in a good way, an exciting way.

A life changing way.

Just keep saying yes and move out the way.

This is my mantra.

I can do this.

 

Going Back In

May 27, 2013

Moving forward-looking backward.

This is what I don’t want to be doing.

I need to turn around and face forward, walk towards.

Towards San Francisco, let’s be honest.

See, every time I say, ok I am here in the East Bay, all I have to do is a little commute and every thing is cool, man, then I get on the BART train.

It’s not horrible, sometimes.

Then it is, like today, heading into the fray, literally, I had forgotten it was Carnival, I was on a car that was more crowded than a normal Sunday, and stinky, and loud, and I soon discovered why.

And I got to get off at 16th and Mission, which was a cluster fuck of crazy.

After having ridden too long on a car that stank of weed and beer and a long weekend.

I thought, I would live just about anywhere in San Francisco happy and without a care if I don’t have to do this commuting in and out so much any more.

When I am at Graceland, in the compound, I joke, but you catch my drift, I am happy, warm, cozy, on an island of loveliness.

The sun scatters down through the high palm trees and the cats run amok, inside and outside and the flowers bloom, the fig tree is pushing out gigantic globes of luxuriousness to be harvested later this season, the bed is comfortable, the bathtub, the claw foot mind you, is alluring, the sun smoothed out from the red and blue and yellow blocks of church stain glass windows spreading rainbows on the wood floors, beckons me to nap on the bench in the back room.

Then, I get on my bike and pedal out into the world and shall I say, my perspective is altered.  I cannot live on an island forever, I must foray out into the world.

What sucks, again, just a matter of perspective, but a hassle to deal with, is that I did no grocery shopping tonight.

I could not get out of the Mission in time to bust a move on Rainbow and once I was off the train in Fruitvale I just wanted to get back to the house.

Especially since I had the stank of vomit in my nose.

Some knuckle head from Hayward with an A’s cap askew on his tow head spewed chunks all over the last car.

Thank you jeebus that we had come up from under the Bay.

The entire car off loaded to move onto another train.

I could not believe how much vomit this kid had in his system.

Like, dude how many super burritos did you eat at El Farolito today?

Sad.

Such a waste.

I scrambled onto another car and was able to enjoy the rest of the ride and I had a fun conversation with a kid who had a beat up fixed gear who had all sorts of questions about my bicycle.

We bantered, flirted a little, not too seriously, albeit a bright, attractive, young man, his eyes were so red I could have gotten high if I stared at them too long, and I rode the rest of the way to the station chatting about riding fixed gear.

I am a little more comfortable on my bike then I was yesterday.

Reminded me of when I started riding bicycles in the first place.

I had moved out to Bay View and lived off Third Street at Palou.

The T-line had just gone in and the commute to work in the Mission was just too long.  I decided I was going to get a bicycle.  I could bring it in to my job and have a way to and from work that did not include the slow, still working out the kinks, new train line.

I walked into Pedal Revolution and told them I did not want “hip, slick, and cool, just something comfy I can get from point A to point B.”

They sold me a hybrid.

Which makes perfect sense, I would have done the same to me too.

Man, how far I have come.

I am still grateful for that bike though, it taught me that I am teachable.  It brought me too and from the Bay View and helped me haul groceries all over the city until I gave it up and switched to a one speed Pogliaghi steel frame an old lover left with me when he moved out of the city.

My room-mate at 23rd and Capp Street said, “you do not deserve this bike.”

He grunted, flipped it over, spun the back crank and shook his head.

Then he apologized, “sorry, I know that’s not very nice of me to say that, but it’s sort of like someone gave you a vintage Porsche and you asked, ‘what’s a Porsche?'”.

“This is that kind of good,” he shook his head again and, “enjoy the riding.”

Oh.

Man.

Did.

I.

Ever.

That bike was like when I realized I was not having orgasms when I was having sex.

I used to think, what is all the fuss about?

Then I found out.

That Pogliaghi was like that.

I felt like I was flying on silken wings, I had never ridden steel before, I had never ridden a one speed before, it was like someone handed me a Hitachi Magic Wand and said, “have fun kid.”

I smiled for days.

I could not wait to get on that bike.

Then I got hit by a car that turned right on 16th from Valencia without using a turn signal and bye-bye bike.

“You might be able to salvage it,” Clancy at Pedal Rev said, shaking his head sadly, “but, the frame is bent and it’s not safe, it could break at any point, you are going to take a huge risk anytime you sit in the saddle.”

I sighed.

“Take it, have it, I donate it to the shop, strip what you can use, and thanks for being honest with me,” I said.

“No.  Are you sure?”  Clancy pushed back his messenger hat and rubbed a hand through his red hair, “it’s still a really beautiful bike.”

“Yeah, but I can’t ride it, it’s yours.”  I walked out, borrowed a bike, walked, took the bus, and got around.  I managed until I got the Felt 35 road bike that I used for the Aidslifecycle, which I eventually sold to my co-worker at Mission Bicycle after I designed my current whip.

“How much did you pay,” he asked me admiring the rims.

“I did not pay retail, I used to work at the shop, I don’t even know what price to put on it, I was a kid in a candy store, I got to pick whatever I wanted, I mean, I have glitter paint, and an Italian saddle, hard to price that,” I said, but leaned in and whispered under my breath what I paid at cost.

“Holy shit, lucky you.” He smiled.

Then I was at Fruitvale and, disembarking, getting ready to ride down the three-day weekend busy streets with side shows happening here, and hookers hanging here, and crack a lack a lack happening there.

“I might have a room,” he said on the message.

“It’s in the Bayview.”

I live in East Oakland, that’s a step up.

I’m down.

When can I move in?

I already know how to get to Rainbow from your house.

Free Falling

May 26, 2013

After a year and a half of riding fixed gear I am back to a free wheel cog.

I thought I was going to die tonight.

Really.

I realized two things rather quickly, the bicycle felt out of control underneath my legs, and indeed it was, my legs no longer were regulating my speed and two, I had to relearn how to rely on my hand brake.

Fast.

I did not realize until I was barreling down 15th street from the top of Castro having left my darling friends to digest the great big delicious Thai dinner we had just eaten, just how much I have relied on my legs in the last year and a half.

What a difference a cog can make.

I took my bicycle in today to the shop to fix the flat and have them replace the Vittoria tire with a puncture resistant Randonneur.  I also said, as I filled out the tag, flip over the wheel, put it back to free wheel so I can coast and save my old lady knees from an early retirement.

I was slightly abashed but having had my fill of I am hipper than thou, who cares, I was ready to begin the return to coasting along.

“Why did you decide to ride in fixed gear?” My friend asked me.

“He was cute,” I replied, “and he gave me shit and I am vain.”

That sums up why I do things.

“Why did you take that acid?”

“He was cute.”

“How come you’ve gone vegan?”

“He’s cute.”

Good lord, do I do anything without the cute boy influence?

“You went to Paris for yourself,” my friend pointed out.

Yes, I did do that.

And said friend helped me to back up all my photos today!

All 4, 718 of them.

Hard to believe that I have taken that many photographs when once upon a time I took none at all, just the pictures in my brain.

That was my MO.

I am taking a memory.

I have  a great memory, but it is not photographic.

Having had a camera now, a good one, one that I can beat up and take to Burning Man and shove in a case and bump along on my back in my messenger bag and use every which way I turn, has been eye-opening for me.

I see things differently and I see things with a subconscious eye.

I do not always know until I go back and look at a photograph what it was that caused me to stop and take the shot.  There is always something.  I know when I see a frame I like, tree limbs, doorways, a line of lamp posts marching down the street.

But sometimes I am unaware of why I just found that certain something so appealing to look at.  I just took the shot.

“These are the last ones you took?”  He asked me as the cat watched sleepy and cozy in a red blanket across the way.

“Yeah, I stopped using my camera as much because I was afraid to down load any more shots to the computer, I did not want to bother with it,” I replied.   Realizing almost immediately that I have wasted three weeks of not taking photographs out of fear.

“Oh.  That’s not good,” he said.

He is a professional.

He is an amazing photographer.

He was encouraging me to not do that again.

“Did you guys get all the photography stuff figured out,” my friend asked as I was packing up my laptop and about to get onto my bicycle and go for the ride of my life.

“Yup.  All backed up.”  I said adjusting the bag on my shoulders.

“Thank God.” She said, relief coloring her words enough that I stopped and straightened.

“Have you not seen them,” I asked.

“Not enough, and I was so worried that something would happen to your computer when you were traveling and I would not get to see them.” She said, “I mean really worried.”

You were?

You were!

That coupled with a few comments that people have made to me over the last few weeks since my return have really hit me.

People were watching and reading and regarding.

My journey was not undocumented for any old reason.

Every time I took out my camera, every time I wondered what the hell was I doing out on a walk in the snow to capture the park bench at Square D’Anvers or the stairs around Sacre Couer, some one, some where was waiting and watching for them.

That is stupendous validation.

“Oh, you applied here!” She said to me today as I was meeting up with someone to discuss the importance of self-care.

“Amongst some other things, yes, I am currently working as a nanny and I have a friend I am going to help out with once a week, and the bike shop has asked for me back too, which is super flattering, but they have not made a money offer and I don’t think it’s the place for me right now.” I said as I smiled at her pretty face.

One of my friends who happen to be in Paris at the same time I was ran into the shop I was in and flagged me down with big French “Bonjour!” and cheek kisses.

“Oh my god!  And you should help them with their website, you have a presence and their page needs some work!”

“It does?”

(I do?)

“Ah yeah, and you have readers and followers and could help them out.” She continued, “and you’re done with the bike shop, move on.”

I smiled, “so good to see you!”

“Yes, coffee soon when we can sit down and really chat.”

I have no perspective on myself.

I really don’t.

Thank God I have friends who love me and are honest with me and help me.

My computer is happily backing up onto a “cloud” somewhere (you know, up in the clouds with magic computer gods astride rainbow unicorns) and all my photographs are safe.

Which is a good thing, I thought as I flew down the hill heading toward Market street because when I die going thirteen times faster on my bicycle then when I was riding fixed it will be good to know that my photographs are safe in the hands of said computer gods.

And since I made it home, Speedy Gonzalez like, I now make this vow.

I will get out my camera tomorrow and start documenting again.

I may feel like I am falling down the hill, but there is direction and purpose–the fall line is there for a reason–even if I can’t see it now.

I will be able to soon.

And you will see it before I do.

I promise.

Street Art

Operator, i would like to make a collect call

 

Catching Up

May 25, 2013

With my friends.

Drinking coffee with my friends.

Debating the newest Daft Punk album with my friends, one good jam, and let us all cross our fingers that someone remixes the shit out of the rest of it.

Shit talking with my friends.

Eating spicy jerk tofu salad with my friends.

Eating french fries with my friends and looking out over the ocean from Louis’.

Drinking more coffee with my friends.

To the point that I handed off the last cup I had gotten half drunk to a friend.

“Here, you want some,” I said handing it off, “I can’t take in any more.”

Which is unusual for me, but I could feel the jittery tiredness begin to overtake my body, which means I had gone too far down the route of the highway of caffeine.

“It’s cold filtered coffee concentrate, you will want to mix it with milk,” the barista said.

Oh.

Yeah, how about some soy milk with that.

Ok.

And yes, that was concentrated.

Indeedy.

Yes, pardon me while I deconstruct that album with you, I can’t help it.

Tomorrow, more catching up with friends, I am super excited to have some sit down time and dinner and see some kittens and just general chatting and life and how are you doing.

Same thing on Sunday.

I get to see a friend who I have not seen in a while as he will be in town doing some work and we’re going to meet up in San Francisco.

Ah, San Francisco, you brat you.

I had a gorgeous day hanging out in Temescal Alley with my friend eating really awesome salad at the Mixing Bowl and drinking amazing coffee at the Dolly Donut, land of the “Naughty” cream filling and the coffee concentrate, and sitting on a bench talking general shite with my friend, then we went to the city and I was just seduced by the beauty of it again.

The way the new bridge is coming along and the glass shimmering towers, ok, who are all you people buying into Rincon One anyway, and where do you get your money, and do you want to share some with me?

Awesome.

I met up with another friend at Church and Market and we went out to the ocean.

“I got a car,” he told me, “and you need to change your phone number contact on your Facebook page, it’s your number in Paris.”

Oops.

Still we managed to connect and he wheeled me out to the ocean.

My first sighting since I have been back.

“How long have you been back,” my friend asked me earlier.

“Um, just over three weeks, not even a month yet,” I replied, although it feels like it has been longer.  In truth, it has not.  I have just done an insane amount of things in that time and I have been trying to cram as many people in as I can where I can and still do things, like, oh, you know, work.

Or procure work.

“Are you back at the bike shop,” another friend asked me tonight.

“No, they asked me back, but they did not give me a promise of better pay, and since I needed, need, to get on my feet financially, I decided to take on a nanny job that was offered to me,” I replied.

“Who cares where you work, you’re here,” she said and gave me a great big hug.

“You’re back!” He said and swaddled me in a gigantic hug, “you look great!” 

Thanks.

Thanks.

Thanks.

It is really nice to be welcomed back.

A little stressful trying to balance living in Oakland and going in and out of the city as much as I have.  That bridge really is a barrier.  When I am at home, when I am inside, typing away, writing, or sitting down in the morning, again writing, I feel safe, secure, sheltered.

Then I go outside and have to begin a long commute from here to there and that feels like a lot.  It feels like a bit of a struggle.  It feels like something I am uncertain for how long will this work.

“Listen, San Francisco is out of control with rents right now,” my friend said as we crossed over the bridge.  “Stay where you are and enjoy it and see what comes up, maybe you get a car, maybe you find work that can sustain less of a commute, maybe you just sack up and do what everybody else does and BART and carpool and deal with it, everybody commutes.”

Yeah.

But San Francisco, whoa, she was a calling my name today, even with the chilly ocean breeze flying in my face and my desire for a warmer neighborhood, I was freezing in my jean jacket and did not have nearly enough layers on, even then.

I did not want to get on the BART and come back.

However, there is nowhere else that makes as much sense for me right now.

The East Oakland is where I am, but it won’t always be where I am, that much is probably true.  The Bay area is where I will be, that too feels true to me, as far down the road as I can see.

Which truth to be told, I cannot often see very far down it.

Hell, I thought Paris was going to be it for the next ten years.

“How long where you gone for?” She asked reaching out to touch my arm, “and are you staying? You better be.”

“Six months, I was in Paris for six months,” I said and smile, “and yes, I am staying put.”

“Good we need you here, welcome home.”

Thank you.

It’s good to be here.

Can’t wait to see a few more friends tomorrow and regal them with tales too.

Perhaps just with a touch less coffee in my system.

Perhaps not.

I am starting out my day at Ritual.

That Blows

May 24, 2013

Literally.

I got a text this early eve as I was finishing up with the nanny’ing asking if I would be making an appearance at the Grand Ave thingamabob.

Nope.

Blew a flat tire this morning on my bike heading into work.

Thanking all the bicycle gods above that it was just a three block walk from the BART station and the gig I was heading to was also just five blocks from BART.

Had it been any other way I would have been royally screwed.

I couldn’t even get upset.

I had an inkling this was going to happen.

I have not even done any investigation with it yet, I don’t know if it’s because I ate some glass or hit a big divot and blew a pinch flat (what happens when your inner tube is “pinched” against the rim of the tire–mostly happens with the tire is under inflated).  Doubtful that it was the latter as I had filled up my tires right before heading out for the commute.

I took it as a sign from the Universe.

Take it easy today.

Slow down.

Walk.

There would have been a time that I would have freaked out about this.  Today was not the day.  I did not feel stressed, again, fortunate to be as close to the BART station as I was, and I knew that whatever happened I was going to be just fine.

I texted my employer and let her know I had blown a flat tire and would be possibly five to ten minutes late.

Of course today was the day when she was on a tight schedule.

But, again, there was nothing for me to do but pay for the train ride and climb the steps to the platform with my bicycle over my shoulder.

Good thing it only weighs about 20 lbs.

As it turns out I made it to work three minutes early.

That is something I learned to do a long time ago–over compensate for the time it will take to get you there.  Also, under promise.

If you say to a table waiting to be sat in a restaurant, “that will be fifteen minutes,” and then it is “twenty-five,” you have automatically got your hands full with pissed off customers.

Nobody wants to wait longer than they are quoted.

I remember when I worked in restaurants and always pushed this home with the hosting staff, over-estimate the table time.

In the reverse, if you quote 25 minutes and the wait is 15 minutes you have saved yourself a lot of hassle and the customers are always happy to get seated in less time.

I had hopes of repairing to Manifesto Bike shop in Oakland at 40th and Telegraph today, but the monkey took a super long nap and the day was too tight to relegate that time to pushing the stroller, one-handed, and either carrying my bicycle or rolling it along on the rim.

I know the rim is super strong, Velocity B43, but I was not inclined to push my time.

I decided one of two things will happen.

I will either fix it myself tomorrow or I will take it in to the shop in San Francisco on Saturday.  There is the possibility that the tire is done, especially if I hit a good chunk of glass and if that is so I want to get a new tire.

I’ll pick up a Randonneur puncture resistant tire.

If the tire is not punctured I can fix it myself.

It will be a little messy, it’s the back tire, so I will need to take off the chain.

However, this too is a good thing.

I have been contemplating since I have been doing a longer bike commute flipping the rear wheel over to put it into a free rolling gear instead of having it in fixed.

I prefer to ride fixed, but it will be easier on my knees.

I have had a bit of knee tenderness since I have been riding so much more and for much more extended periods of time.  I don’t want to blow my knees out.  If I can save them a little trouble I will do so.

Even if riding fixed gear is “cooler”.

Having knees that work, in my book, is much hipper.

This too rolled through my mind as I waited for the BART train, I realized I was not upset that I had blown out the back and that it was the perfect excuse for me to take off the wheel and flip the hub.

God doing for me what I could not do for myself.

I also had the scheduling stuff get worked out.

I will show up where I need to show up, on time, since I will be able to have my bike on BART during morning rush hour, I just need to not exit at the Embarcadero (or get on at Oakland 12th or 19th–look at that!  ‘Fortunate’ to be at a less desirable BART station) and ride in the back cars and I should not have any problems.

Yeah, I don’t want to get up at 6:30 a.m. to get there on time, but it is just going to be for one day a week.  At least for the time being.

When their nanny is done in August that will change.

Who knows where I will be at that point.

I really do adore the hell out of Graceland, kittens, and roomies and sunshine, oh my; but holy shit, it is a commute and a half with where it is.

The part-time gig for my friend is in the city, although I should be able to do a lot of it remotely, and eventually, the majority of my nanny gigs will be in city.  I would be working three days a week in SF and two days a week in North Oakland.

It may make better sense for me to be located in the city.

I do not know how or where or if that will work.

I am just leaving it up to the Universe.

I am always taken care of, even when things don’t go the way I planned.

Who knows what holy terror I missed not being on a bicycle today?

Like the poor guy that died after he got hit and then dragged by a garbage truck on his bicycle today in San Francisco.

No thank you.

Happy to slow down.

Slowing down is where it’s at.

Logistical Nightmare

May 23, 2013

That’s what my brain says when it gets overloaded.

I was trying to manage everyone’s schedule and not succeeding.

Shocker that.

I also was realizing that I am a commodity and if you want me you have to work with me.  There are certain things I can do and certain things I cannot do.

I cannot figure out the logistics of three children for one day.

I tried.

I know there’s a solution, but I am not capable of providing it at the moment.

I am plum fucking tuckered out.

I was tired the minute I saw the e-mail.

I was tired the moment I tried to tell one family what the other families intentions and needs were.  I got more tired and then teary and then, yes, I cried in front of my employer.

I lost my train of thought, I could not make eye contact and tears just slipped and slid down my face.

“I’m a crier,” I said with a self-deprecating shrug of my shoulders.

“Just so you know, this will happen on the occasion, but I won’t break down in front of the kids, I promise.”

Which is true she was already down for naps having fallen asleep in my lap while I was reading a Doctor Seuss alphabet book to her with the sounds of the ocean on the noise machine in the nursery.

I tried to see my way into a little perspective this evening.

Let’s see today is day 22 since being back from Paris.

It feels like year 22.

I got in on May 1st.  In that time I interviewed with and met four different kids and four different sets of families.  I also moved into a “new” neighborhood with all the challenges therein, got over a horrendous case of jet lag, gone in and out of the city to talk with folks, meet with folks, and do those things that need to be done.

I have logged a lot of miles on my bicycle, house sat in a strange house for eleven days, agreed to pick up another house sitting gig, baby sat for friends, did a sit down at another table for the job I actually want to be doing, and gone grocery shopping a few times.

Note to self, there has got to be a better way.

I feel entirely stretched too thin.

And not thin enough, literally, at the same time.

I have to breathe and just know that whatever happens I am not going to die and I am not going to be a nanny for the rest of my life and yes it is awesome that people want to work with me, it is an ego feeding proposition, but when I am working this hard to stay just there, just sustaining, I am in the exact same place I was in Paris.

This is too hard.

That is what this feels like.

Too hard.

Too much bicycle riding past people with jacked up tires and loud sound systems that are not paying attention to the road conditions.

“Sweet Jesus,” I shouted and swerved to the right, “are you trying to kill me?”

“Damn, he almost hit you,” said the girl in the car as I pedaled on.

He was not even on International, it was Telegraph or Broadway, somewhere fair and pretty and innocuous, or so I thought, it was too early in the day for the swerving and I just slowed it down, just slow it down.

I have what feels like too much and not enough.

I also am living in Tuesday.

Today is Wednesday and who knows what will happen between today and next Tuesday.

I don’t have to.

I don’t have to figure it out.

I don’t have to manage it.

There are six adults to the three kids I will be responsible for, there is one place where I will watch them, they can all figure out the pick up and drop offs.

And nap times.

Well, that will be my responsibility.  And he won’t be sleeping in the stroller the whole time either.  Just the thought of having three kids to wrangle and this one only naps in the stroller while this one naps in the carrier strapped to your body while you push the other kid around makes me want to vomit up the banana I just ate.

That would be a waste, my body needs the potassium, I feel depleted from the bike riding.

There was also the thinking that I would not be able to have my bike on BART during the morning rush hour commute.  To get to Graceland in East Oakland to the house in Cole Valley by 8:45 a.m. made me cringe at the thought of how early am I going to be getting up to get there.

I can’t do this shit for very long.

Either I work harder, how, fuck if I know, or work smarter, again, not too sure what that looks like, or I give myself a break, I am going to have to or I am going to crack.

I also know that this is all change and not knowing what things look like and where they are going and not having a set routine in place yet leads to squirrels chasing none existent nuts in my head.

The only thing I want to do is sit down with my friend who wants me to work for her and learn the ins and outs of what she needs.  The better to show me what I need.

Yet, to do that I need to be self-sufficient here, now, and take care of getting up and running with the money.

I accept the consequences of my actions.

Going to Paris broke my bank and I am just going to have to suck it up and work it out.

This is not going to last.

There is nothing wrong.

My head says I cannot possibly do this.

And I probably could not for very long.

But I can for a just a little bit longer.

 

Four Prostitutes

May 22, 2013

Three homeless people.

Two drug dealers.

And a pimp on a BMX bike.

Really?

You’re marketing tricks from a BMX bike.

That’s actually kind of impressive.

Are you like Jr. pimp?

I made a little travel on down the road to the In Between Fellowship on International Ave.

In Between crazy and crack addled.

Damn.

But I got what I needed and I got back safe and sound, not harassed, not bothered, pretty much left alone.  Oh, there was a truck that slowed down and a van that did two circles around the block I was walking down, but that could have been for me or the heavy-set woman walking ahead of me with three-inch roots above the bottled blonde weave.

Or whatever it was, but it was not natural hair.

Nope.

I don’t think so.

I got home and walked into the wafting smells of warm popcorn and melted butter.

Good times.

I opened up my laptop, made a cup of tea and settled down to write.

I keep telling myself to take each day as it comes.

I don’t know exactly what is going to happen, how long things will take, and where I am going to go.  I know this much, I am going to get my bicycle legs back and in spades.

I was pretty punked today and I realized it had something to do with the 6.5 mile long bicycle ride I took to work.  And then back.

13 miles round trip.

“You know you could take BART,” my room-mate said to me as I lay on the floor yawning and rubbing the ears of a fluff monster.

“Yup, except that it’s probably faster on my bicycle,” I replied and stretched my arms up over my arms.

I will get my “sea legs” back in about a week.

I have been riding every day since the bike came out of the box.

Literally.

However, today was the first day I did the full round trip bicycle ride.  I will be doing it at least three times a week.  I don’t mind, I like the sun on my face and the wind at my back.

Or in my face as the case was this afternoon.

But the ride is flat and quick.

40 minutes there.

40 minutes back.

That is an hour and twenty on my bike.

There’s your gym work out.

I’ll be fit and in shape, not that I am terribly out of it, in no time.

My schedule got busy today as I fielded a few phone calls and texts and some messages on Facecrack attack.

I will work and do the deal tomorrow, with a new addition, a year old who will for 1.5 days a week be a part of the nanny situation in North Oakland.

Where, small aside, I was told by man today on the way to the park with my charge, “I am not afraid of your tattoos!”

He gamboled across the street, crossing San Pablo against traffic, muttering under his breath, carrying what I believe was a relic of a radio transistor, I wanted to shout at him, “just wrap that shit with some aluminum, you’ll get better reception!”

But I held my breath, held the stroller handle bar tight in my hand and kept walking.

My calendar is looking interesting all over the place.

I found out that the family in North Oakland will be on vacation for a week and a half in June.

The day after I was approached by a family from Austin, friends from Burning Man, who wanted to secure my services mid-June to take care of their little boy for the weekend as they  were to be going outside of the city to a wedding.

They will be able to leave him with me at the house and I will be able to take care of one wee visiting monkey and the two cats at the house.

Graceland, though lovely, and alluring with popcorn scented air, is not child friendly.

Serendipitous that I will be house sitting and be able to provide care for the friends and provide care for the family I work for.

I was not even allowed to get into fear about the eleven days the family was to be out-of-town and I was to not have work with them.

That, the disadvantage to not being full-time, is the thing with having part-time hours every which way with four different families, I don’t have paid vacation, or health insurance, or benefits.

In my previous incarnations of nanny I had paid time off and sick days built into my pay rate.  I don’t this time around.  However, I don’t feel too concerned.  I feel like everything is working out exactly as it is supposed to.

I was also making enough that I was able to pay my own health insurance out-of-pocket.

What I would like is to not worry about that.

But if I am going to be riding my bicycle from East Oakland to North Oakland three days a week at 13 miles per day round trip, it may be in my best interest to secure medical care.

Or a job that will provide me with such.

Or freelance work.

Or, well, I don’t know.

I do know that I am not homeless digging through trash cans on International Avenue, and I am not pushing a stroller at night with garbage bags hanging off it, nor am I turning tricks to purchase drugs.

I am alright.

I am in the correct place at the right time.

Doing what is in front of me and saying yes to nannying and house sitting and preparing myself for what happens next.

Life is exciting.

A little exhausting at times, but I have a lovely bed to climb into just above the endearing scent of warm popcorn to buoy me up the stairs on my weary legs.


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