Archive for July, 2013

Short & Sweet

July 21, 2013

I won’t write a super long blog tonight as I just posted a 1,000 + word one moments ago.

I was tempted to use it as my post-a-day blog post, but it was intended, is intended for another blog.

40 Represented.

About the experience of being a 40ish woman in the United States.

I was approached to write for it while I was in Paris and did indeed write a post for the creator.  She recently asked me to contribute again.

I had an idea after seeing  friend on Facebook turn 40.

A friend that though we are friends on Facebook, we have not spoken to one another in over 8 years.  I would have forgotten her birthday, had not the app prompted me to wish her a happy 40th.

40.

How did that happen?

Weren’t we all just having beers after hours in the Angelic Brewing Company?

Weren’t we just going to have brunch at the crazy waffle house restaurant, you could count on us all to have the same variation of things and none of it get eaten all up, the massive amount of food you got at this place was crazy.

My ex and I would split a strawberry waffle with whipped cream, get a side of hash browns, and a side of sausage.  S. & S. would get the omelet and a pancake in a pan, the Dutch Baby, with hash browns and bacon and both of them would get large glasses of fresh squeezed grapefruit juice.

R & B would omelet and waffle, strawberry as well, but with ice cream not whipped cream.

S & whomever she was dating at the time would get five egg omelet, hash browns, sausage, and side of silver pancakes.

No one ever finished.

It was assault by food.

We would laugh and joke and poke fun at one another and tell stories on each other, and the boyfriends listened and ate and stayed out of our conversations.

I love those ladies.

Although I see them not at all anymore.

So the blog, which you can just go read, examines those relationships and what happens over time to friendships.

Today, I got to see another friend, a dear friend, who I used to work with at the Angelic Brewing Company.

We had lunch and caught up.

The service was horrible, but the food, when it finally came was good.

The company, fantastic.

It’s good to see people who used to know me and I can get some deep perspective about what I have done with my life, really fast when I see how far I have come in regards to living a sustainable, joyful life.

It is like having a witness.

We get to bear witness to our struggles and joys and that too is what being a friend is about.

I also got to say I was walking through the I don’t know what I am going to do with all my free time really well.

So well, in fact, I forgot, after writing my initial morning pages and fielding a few e-mails for the design firm, to be concerned.

Then tonight as I am loading up my messenger bag with groceries, got to do it almost every time I travel, I saw there was a long message on my phone.

I had it turned off for a little while out of respect and had forgotten to turn the guy back on.

The test was long and at first confusing, then when I realized what it was asking, it became exciting, a little nerve-wracking, and chock-a-block full of adventure.

One of my families is going to the What the Festival in Oregon.

They had someone lined up to help with the baby.

Said person had to pull out.

Dad a musician, amongst other talents, is playing the event.

They need help.

I would get VIP access to all the shows, food, a ticket there, compensation, and lodging in their trailer.

Good prep for Burning Man.

I have never heard of the festival but once I saw the line up, after already saying yes, I looked at my wide open schedule and said yes, I got quite excited to go.

Check it out here.

I have yet to hear back from the mom, I sent the text out late, phone being off and all, but if they need me I would have a weekend to hang out at a music festival in Oregon, do some  nannying, hear some music, do some dancing.

Have an adventure.

Yes, please.

Sign me up.

Number One

July 21, 2013

This post does not really count as my daily blog post.

I was asked to contribute to a blog about women in their 40s.

I sent my first piece and she has asked me to contribute again.

Here, then is the piece I finished earlier today, which will come out in a few weeks on her blog 40s Represented:

 

What Was When

 

When we thought we would be best friends forever.

When we thought no other person, place, thing, or attitude could stand in our way.

When we were tied at the hip and our boyfriends begrudgingly made friends with each other, as there were no way we would choose a boyfriend over a friend.

Well, unless the sex was really good.

But even then, even then, it seemed that we would be together, forever, the four of us, always.

There was the time we realized that soon we would be heading away from each other, one to law school, one to graduate school, one to nursing school, one to get her Bachelor’s degree.  We did mushrooms as a ritual to bind ourselves to each other.  Our own little blood sister ceremony, except with psychedelics instead of actual blood.

We were inseparable.

That is what it felt like.

However, feelings are not facts, and the separation occurred and the boyfriends became husbands and the hobbies and jobs became careers and she graduated from law school, and she got her Masters, and she went to nursing school, and she lost her marbles and moved out West.

“Pusher, juice lady, pusher,” my friends gave me shit, I had mixed the mushrooms with frozen orange juice, ice, sugar, and champagne (mushrooms do not taste good on their own)

They gave me shit about a lot of things.

And they were always honest with me, pointing out foibles I would not have stood from other people.

“You’ve never had girlfriends, have you,” my best friend asked me one day after a long shift at the restaurant we all had met at, became friends at, became partners in crime, agents in arms, bestest girlfriends, ever, ever, and forever, amen.

“What are you talking about?” I asked my girlfriend and knocked back another swig of the Warsteiner she had poured into a frosted half liter glass mug and spiked with lemonade, a German summer drink called a Radler.

It was hot, the A/C was off for the evening, there was no one left in the beer hall and we were in the bier garden with our feet up on the benches, hanging out, talking smack, being girlfriends.

“Honey, you told B. that she had a ‘mom cut’ when she asked how you liked her new hair cut,” my friend said, “and she does, but you don’t say that to a friend.”

“It’s a total mom cut,” I said in defense, “why should I lie?”

“Because you hurt her feelings,” my friend said, “you don’t have girlfriends do you?

“Nope,” I said, and lit a cigarette.

I generally got a long much better with guys, they were easy to understand and I knew where I stood with them.  Women, however, strange nebulous creatures with emotions and make up and brunches, and family goals; nope, I did not have girlfriends.

Then, I took a risk, I took the risk that would be one of the biggest pay offs in my life, I said, “Would you be my friend?”

And she said yes.

She is still my friend today.

Despite being thousands of miles away, married, in a successful career, with three boys, and a home in a small scenic town on the Wisconsin, Minnesota border, we are still best friends.

Life happens.

Careers change.

People move.

Friends do horrible things to each other.

“You talked to me about the guy you fucked last night,” she said to me, tears standing bright in her eyes, “do you remember that?  Do you?”

We were at the airport and I was leaving, I was leaving after a disastrous 32-birthday weekend.  My friends had done an intervention on me.

“I was telling you about the baby I miscarried, and you were too wrapped up in your story of the guy you met in the bar,” tears overflowed, soft, slow, a dripping line of salt that corroded my heart, leaving me scarred by her hurt.

 

“I am sorry,” I said.

“I am done with you, I really am, they are trying to convince me, but I am done,” she finished.

I had contact with her once more, about a month later; she sent me magazines, a carton of cigarettes, and the novel Bridget Jones’s Diary.  She wished me luck, we chatted on the phone and then no more.

Eight years later I wondered where we had gotten to, what had happened, when, and who were we now.

Our collected group, smashed brains shrooming on the front porch of my house in the soft blooming July night so many years ago, declaring we would always be friends, to the end, to the death.

Forever.

But forever is a story that we tell ourselves before life intervenes and parents die, babies are born, and lovers ask to be partners ask to move away, careers burgeon, and houses are bought; the feeling though, at 40 is still there.

I cherish that time.

I don’t want to go back to it, but I am grateful for the time I got to have those women in my life.  They taught me the rudiments of friendship and I still look for those stalwart values in my current set of friends.

Not nostalgia so much as an honoring of those times and those memories and the seeds of friendship that were planted in my garden of female friends.

Sometimes a flower dies and you think, that was going to be a fixture in my garden forever, but you mulch it, and take the experience of it, and the memory of it, and use that to plant new seeds, new flowers, new friends.

I would not be who I am without those first girlfriends.

 

What happen is not a mystery, not shrouded in some gauzy film of noir, no, what happened was life.

 

No big secret there.

I honor those women, though, I always will.

They were in my thoughts as I traipsed about the cobbled streets of Paris on my 40th birthday and had lunch with a new girlfriend at a bistro in the Opera neighborhood and later at a café in the Montmartre with another new girlfriend.

“I am taking us all to Paris!”  I exclaimed, “For my 40th, we are all going to Paris.”

They did come with me, just not in the way I expected.

 

 

Crawling Out of My

July 20, 2013

Fucking skin.

I felt it prickle up and wondered if I was perhaps actually coming down with some sickness.

I felt feverish and unsettled and so far down the road in the future that no wonder I was uncomfortable in my body.  Future tripping is not a good trip for me.

Never was, never is.

I did have a little stroll down memory lane tonight though, faces and places of San Francisco  that I had not thought of in some time.  I am coming up on my 11th year of living in San Francisco.

Give or take six months in Paris.

And two and a half in East Oakland.

Oh, fyi, stay the hell out of Fruitvale tonight if you can, there’s an Occupy protest going on that looked like it was getting brisk and uncomfortable.  There was that tingle of uncertain electricity in the air, a balance that could be tipped either way, and I could see the riot gear and the batons dangling and I wondered, how many of the protestors actually live in or around Fruitvale.

I think if you do, live in the neighborhood, you were busying getting your Friday night El Gordo Loco taco truck on.

That place is booming.

Aside from constant vigilance while riding my bicycle down International Avenue, I have to pay extra attention to this corner, loads of people whipping in and out for some toothsome carnitas or al pastor.

It does smell divine.

But I never have stopped.

Even when I was in my I am gonna get crazy with my food mode.

I had that thought today, Enteman’s Chocolate Cake donuts with glazed sugar icing.

One box please.

Followed by crazy.

I deigned to go there.

But I did not.

I stumbled through the uneasy on my skin and said, hey you know, yeah that extra time I have, it’s not a bad thing, it’s gonna be a good thing, there will be loads of things to occupy you and your time.

Tomorrow I will go see a friend whom I have not seen in years, not since, I just realized I left my place up in Nob Hill.  She still lives on Taylor Street.  I am looking forward to seeing her and I also realized that I am nervous too.  She’s successful, does well, travels, has a great job, has money, I am assuming, and I am comparing and despairing.

Which may have accounted for some of the discomfort today.

When I run into people that I knew from my “former” life, I feel almost compelled to prove that I have done something big and bold and daring with my life.

Then I think, oh please, you have done plenty.

If not just in the success of living in one of the most expensive places on earth for over a decade, that has got to count for something.

I don’t have to prove myself, I don’t have to fix myself, and most of the time I just have to sit, drink a cup of coffee and listen to someone else for a little while, listen to their experience and share mine.

My experience is valuable.

Really the one thing that I have that is all mine and I have a wealth of it.

I do.

I sat in the falling gold spiked light at Atlas Cafe on 20th and Florida with a friend this evening, sharing our experiences, relating our solutions, laughing at ourselves.

I sat there in the warm sun getting more and more comfortable in myself, my body, my skin, I don’t have to check out and I can walk through this (whatever this is) some made up story of failure and loss and it’s not going to work out because I can’t see it coming.

Damn it, girl, don’t you know that’s when the most exciting stuff happens?

Some of the exciting stuff can be scary, the unknown, but usually what happens when I ride out the discomfort is that whatever it is ends up being better on the other side, I emerge enriched with another set of experiences.

Sometimes it is just to compare the two places in my minds eye, one full decade apart, the cafe, Atlas, was the first cafe I went to in San Francisco, it is located at 20th and Florida, my first place in the city was a sublet at York and 20th.

It was for two months.

It morphed into a longer time, then the house got put on the market, sold, and owner occupied in a matter of weeks.

Literally.

We had 30 days to get out and there was no paying our way.

I found another spot, not too far down the road at 22nd and Alabama.

Atlas was still my go to cafe.

I liked the patio where I could smoke and drink my lattes.

I liked the out door tables I would sit at and wait for my dealer to roll by on his way to drop me a few grams of blow.

I drank beer there, ate pizza there, did blow in the bathroom, although it was so close to my house that I preferred to go back to my place and do it privately, had blind dates that I met through craigslist.  It was my go to cafe.

It was my entree into San Francisco.

A decade later it is still there, a stalwart in a sea of ever burgeoning upscale neighborhood joints and eateries, still serving the smoked trout salad, still serving coffee in pint glass mugs.

I felt connected and known.

If only to myself.

I felt back in my skin.

And despite hopping on my bike to hit Rainbow, grab some groceries, and haul them back to the East Bay, I did not feel that I was marking time anymore.

I was just in the moment.

Just me, in San Francisco with my bag full of organic produce, my rolled jean pant leg revealing purple and teal striped socks, my one speed whip and my knowledge of the city.

I wore a hoodie today and a jean jacket; I know what July in San Francisco is like.

The fog flooded through the streets and I rolled right along with its chill breath into the night.

You Never Know

July 19, 2013

Who could be reading this blog.

Or who follows this blog.

I don’t.

Except, every once in a while someone I know will say, “I read your blog!”

Or, “I know that already, I read that on your blog,” and I can get a little prickly pearish.

I have a friend who once asked, “what didn’t you write about,” in regards to my time in Paris.

Smart man.

There were indeed things I did not write about.

Right about now I am missing the upcoming reading for The Bastille.

I got an e-mail from the editor in regards to how they were doing the reading, who will be there, and did I have last-minute thoughts about going.

Well, yeah, I would love to be there, you know, in Paris, reading a short story that I wrote, inspired by a trip on the Metro (although having absolutely nothing to tie the Metro to the story), out loud, outside, on the terrace to the Shakespeare & Company store.

Sounds like something out of a movie, you know.

Speaking of short stories, flattered today, to be asked to read a friend’s short.

It was good.

Not great, but good, and the potential for great was there.

I have to say, aside from getting text messages from folks thanking me for what I wrote, people asking me to read there work and critique it is also flattering.

I feel like I have something to offer.

And the ease of doing it is sort of astounding.

I chalk it up to reading a lot.

Writing a lot.

And thinking about writing a lot.

I have way with words, have I.

Sometimes.

The majority of folks that follow my blog are not folks I know, but when I get personal responses from my friends and community it is validating and makes me feel that every blog is worth while, that no matter what I think I am getting somewhere with this exercise.

It is also a way to keep tabs on me.

Who knows I am in East Oakland?

You do!

Who know when I have down time?

You do!

Speaking of down time, that dreaded commodity, I put it out to facecrack that I had down time and I will see if anything shakes out from that.  Whether work, recreation, or dating.

Not that I have ever gotten a date on facecrack.

There was a guy once, but I told him he had to actually ask me out, not just message me about having coffee.

That was a long time ago, though, I haven’t really gone on a date in a while.

Well, the mister, but he’s busy, or just not all that into me, despite the contradictory statements he has spoken, “I am attracted to you,” sounds like you’re attracted to me.

But the hasn’t sent a message, called, or asked on date in three weeks, says something entirely different.

Not that dating is going to fix me or make me different, better, or good.

I am just tossing out ideas to the Universe as to what I should fill my schedule with.

I thought about riding my bicycle out to Ocean Beach and to the nanny gig in Cole Valley, to see how long my commute would be.

Writing.

Submitting some more work.

Bugging my friend who has the manuscript to sit down and talk with me about it.

Reading.

I am going to be in the city tomorrow for nanny gig, but it is only three hours, 11a.m. to 2p.m. and I will have the afternoon until 6p.m. to wander around.

I shall meander to a book store or two.

I am assuming that by the time my two weeks roll around I will have actually filled them full.  And as though to prepare for the two weeks they will be gone, I do have a fuller nanny week then normal next week.

I bet the two weeks of quiet will be nice.

I am not cringing as much at the thought as I was.

I could take out my camera and do some down and dirty photographs of the ship yards.

I have been thinking about that for a few minutes now.

Every time I go on the BART and it passes over the freeways and the penned up shipping container yards, I see photographs.  I don’t relish the idea of riding my bicycle through the neighborhoods, but I do the thought of what photographs I could take.

I want to take portraits of the prostitutes I see on International too, but I don’t think my camera would be welcomed.

There was a triumvirate of girls this evening working 18th and International, including one girl who had square cleavage.

I did a double take as I was riding my bicycle by and realized that she did not have pointy cleavage, rather that there were phones stuck in the cups of her bra.

I could also ride over to Alameda, I know from having ridden over there many years ago, that there are some very pretty avenues and areas.  It feels quite different from the East Oakland hood I am sequestered in.

I could see the movie Fruitvale.

I mean, I use the Fruitvale BART all the time, it would be interesting to see how the movie is.  I may have some direct experience with the local flora and fauna.

So many things to do.

I am sure my calendar will get booked up and until then, the best thing I can do is just focus on the next action in front of me and that looks like a fresh cup of tea.

And some proofreading.

Unexpected Free Time

July 18, 2013

Is not always something that I look forward to.

In fact, it rather fills me with dread, and there it is, the emotion I have been feeling all day, but until just now, did not realize was there.

I dread down time.

I don’t know what to do with myself and I have two weeks of it coming up.

The main family I nanny for will be in Tahoe for two weeks.

I will have my normal Tuesday gig, but other than that, nada.

I have been socking away the money from work pretty regular and have my fingers crossed to  have the deposit ready to go on the studio/in-law as well as maybe a little extra scratch to buy some household stuff.

Now, with two weeks of down time on my hands not only did I begin to get anxious about the lack of money coming in, I began to get anxious about spending the money I have managed to squirrel away.

Then I got anxious about being anxious.

Anxiety, fuck you, man.

I feel better after the bike ride, although not because it was a calm and relaxing ride home, it never is, but that the air felt good on my skin, the sun was still warm, but I was not too hot, I was goosebumped with gratitude when I saw the girls on every corner between 17th and 19th on International.

Thank you god for not having me be a hooker today.

There but for the grace of.

Fuck me.

I juggled checking out with some popcorn and ice cream in my head but I know that shit don’t work and counting days again around my abstinence is not something I want to do (18 to be exact) again.  I want to go back to counting years.

The bike ride was some exercise and that always does me good.

I had a good dinner.

I have had a nice cup of tea.

I did a few e-mails for the design firm, there, see, there is an hour or two that will be devoted to that.  And I also sent a text message to the families I do a day a week for letting them know I had open availability.

Date night anyone?

I got it.

I also tried to tell myself, with varying degrees of success, that there was something awesome that was going to happen.  I suddenly have two weeks off, except Tuesdays, that leaves a lot of time for adventures.

I could go to the museums, do the MOMA, the Legion of Honor, the DeYoung.  I have not been go any of the museums since I got back.

I could write.

Struggling with that a little.

The blogging and the morning pages are really important, but I have to creates some more writing for me.  I just get uneasy in my skin, questioning, again, what I am doing and why.

Neither of which are important, just doing the writing.

I could find an open mic to go to.

I could go dancing.

I could do a ferry ride to Sausalito or Tiburon.

I could make dates to see friends.

I could be open for an adventure.

I don’t have to know specifically what it is.

Or I could get other work, that could happen, part-time nanny gigs, or other work, I am open to doing other work.  I have to remind myself of that, other work.  I have this mentality at times that I will be stuck as a nanny all my life and I get weary of that outlook.

I had a touch of that today, the nanny malaise.

Helpful though, that my charge was such a pumpkin, she woke up in the most amazing mood.  I would have too, after having a two-hour and forty-five minute nap!

We went for a walk, picked wild black berries, I went to the bank and took out forty bucks for walk around cash, although I did not buy anything, I just like a bill or two in the wallet.  We went to the park, it was full of kids, but not too many, just the right mix of big kids to little kids.  We walked back to her house holding hands, I picked her jasmine blossoms and she ate “nanny mix” from a little plastic pink tub (today’s nanny mix: Annie’s Cheddar Organic Bunnies, dehydrated banana slices, Puffs, O’s, organic wheat crackers, and raisins).

And when I was having the worst I want to check out thoughts, which is just a way for me to hide from the fear, she pinched my arm.

She pinches when she gets anxious, which was an alert for me, my anxiety was coming across even if I wasn’t actively engaging in eating a pile of donuts, my mind was occupied.

And where did she pinch me?

The underside of my left arm, you know, the flap of skin that hangs there so delicately, like a flabby wing of flesh reminding you of every indulgence you ever took.

Thanks kid.

I took the hint and just breathed through the rest of the day.

None of this stuff is new and I wonder what it is that I need to learn or change in my relationships with myself and my environment, with my job and my fear of financial lack.

“You will keep repeating the same relationships until you have finished learning what you need to learn,” she said to me as I expressed my disillusionment with a room-mate situation.

Indeed.

So what is being learned here?

And can I take the knowledge in without checking out or trying to not feel?

Let’s fucking hope so.

I can’t handle another donut attack.

Yeah, I Got All My Basics Covered

July 17, 2013

I related to my room-mate and venerable host here at Graceland this evening.

We were talking Burning Man, time on playa, all things dusty.

I had unearthed my bins, two medium size plastic bins, clear with snap tops, from the attic this past weekend.  I washed out my single person sleeping bag and ran it through the laundry.  I saw that I still have coffee filters for coffee, my electric teapot still works, and the bean grinder, albeit dusty, is capable of grinding up the beans.

I like a hot cup of coffee in the morning when the cool night has not dissipated from the playa, the sun’s slanting rays beckoning the oncoming heat, but not hot yet, not hot at all, in fact, still cold in the morning when I go to the port-a-potty in my pajamas, still cold enough to snuggle into a sweatshirt.

Coffee is a delicious treat for me on playa.

That and pink grapefruit sparkling Perrier.

I love me some bubble water, I do.

My life, my Burning Man life, and my life in general is small in stature, but big in experience.

I realize this after I got off a phone call from an acquaintance who I believe will become a friend.  We had a deep talk about life and it was quite powerful to share my experience.

I may not look like a wealthy woman, but my life is abundant in experience.

I am deep in the prosperity pool when it comes to having gotten to do things that not a lot of folks have done.  Whether it is traveling, living abroad (six months in Paris anyone?) writing a book, blogging every day, taking photographs, having a short story published, soon!  Or it is in the relationships I have with others, the way I get to hold a baby in my arms and know how to soothe it.

Or how to ask for a raise.

Did another family today.

That does not sound like I meant.

I asked another of my families.

Nope.

Third time, I uncomfortable in my own skin, simply stated, “my rates have to go up, as of August 1st.”

I acknowledged my discomfort in asking, but I also acknowledge my cost of living is going up, way up in August.

Oh, student loans, oh student loans, of thee I sing.

The loans they come out of forbearance and I also want to have the deposit down on the studio before I leave for the event.

That is doable.

I ca do it.

I will do it.

As I said before, I have all my basics, basically covered.

I picked up a three pack of baby wipes yesterday and that felt like, ok, I can do this now.

I do not know why the baby wipes were my signifier, but that they were.

I got boots, baby wipes, my Ipod player, which has been to four Burning Man’s and I am always astounded it still works, toiletries–sunblock, coconut lotion, extra toothpaste–my make up kit, extra socks, extra panties, my bicycle seat shipped today, and I got a parasol, the old one died in Paris.

It rained a lot while I was there.

I have a friend who has offered me bedding, just need to figure out how to get it.

That is the other logistical thing that comes up for me.

I will have to get my bicycle to my employers, which should not be too hard, but shall be amusing to see me ride it through the Wiggle on my way to their place in Cole Valley.

I can give the Fat Banana seat a test ride.

I will also have a purple pennant flag on the rear bracket and a retro style old skool throwback white plastic handlebar basket with red and blue daisies on it.

It will be something else, that’s for sure.

My employer asked if my Burning Man rates were the same.

Yes.

Absolutely.

Water, food, showers, transport there and back, my ticket, and a trailer to stay in.

Plus the agreed upon financial compensation, it’s going to be some work, work, work, but it should cover my first months rent and move in costs to the studio.

She also asked if I wanted a little introduction written up to send out to my camp mates, I will be camping with 30 people I do not know this year.

That too is going to be a different experience.

I am not excited about it and I am at the same time.

I will miss Media Mecca peeps, but I figure, I know where they live I will find them.

I was too thrilled to hear how she was willing to do whatever necessary to secure my services to really even give a thought to how I was to be introduced to my fellow camp mates. I felt honored and wanted and that I would be taken care of, just that is enough.

“This is Carmen, our nanny,” simple, easy, done.

I was afraid to ask for the rate raise, to ask, as well, as I get ideas, I get ideas, mmmhhhmmmm, that I won’t be taken care of, that I will raise my ask and people will go, what?  Are you nuts?

No way.

But I knew that not asking was going to make me crazier and that my basics has to include taking proper self-care of myself.

I will be able to really enjoy Burning Man knowing that my job is secure when I get back.

Despite having no idea how it will look.

I know there are people who want me and I want to work with them and I have got some fantastic kids to tend.

That is all I need to know for the rest of the day.

That pretty much covers it.

I mean, I got the baby wipes, what else could I possibly need?

I Was Wondering When

July 16, 2013

That was going to happen.

The mom said to me today when I went over to start the week with my little ladybug in North Oakland.

I told her my rates were going up.

She was so not surprised I almost kicked myself for not asking earlier.

But I did and I also said my rates would stay the same for the rest of the month.

Again, kicking myself, but that was what felt right in my heart when I asked and when I wrote about it.

I did not raise the roof on the rates.

The mom was surprised again when I told her what I wanted.

I apparently could have asked for more.

Again, hindsight is 20/20 and I am just grateful I asked at all.

This is all a learning experience anyhow and this will not be the last job I have.

Tomorrow I will tell the other families, it’s my long day in Cole Valley.

I think they will be fine with it as well.  Rates will change August 1st.

Although I will stick to the contract I set, verbal, with the family for Burning Man coverage.  That deal will stay the same.

The mom and I also talked about what will happen after Burning Man.

When I am moving to the Sunset.

“That’s not going to work for you, is it?” She said, “coming in from the Sunset to nanny over here?”

No, no, it’s not.

And I am glad she brought it up.

Of course, I do not know what my schedule will look like for the families in San Francisco.  I want to help everyone out, but I don’t want to commute from the outer sunset to North Oakland.

That just seems like way too much.

I do not have to future trip about it either.

Right now I am wondering, spacey, my apologies, if I am coming down with a little bug or if I just need more sleep; having gotten up so early yesterday and despite the having the time, I did not nap, nor did I go to bed early yesterday.

My circadian clock is pretty hard set.

I feel a bit whipped though.

I would normally go to bed early on a Monday anyhow, I have to leave for the BART to catch it in to the city to ride my bicycle to Cole Valley, by 7:40 a.m.

Door to door it takes a little less than one hour.

I get up, get dressed, eat breakfast, and sometimes I do my morning pages, but for the most part, the notebook usually ends up coming along for the commute and I write my morning pages at the nanny gig, sometime during the first naps of the morning.

Tomorrow I’ll have three monkeys, but the last monkey won’t get there until 2pm, so I may have the time to do a spot of writing.

It’s always a crap shoot though, I prefer to have written before heading out, but I am not sure I feel like getting up at 6 a.m. to do the work, I have already done that once this week and I do feel out of it.

Spacey for sure.

Marking time as well.

I don’t have any projects I am working on and that bothers me a bit.

I feel like I need to get something started, or do some work with the writing, get another short story working.

Especially as the short story I submitted to The Bastille is going to be published on the 22nd of this month–one week from today.

I feel a little lost at the moment.

Again, I am going to chalk that up to being tired.

In fact, this whole tired blog is tiring.

I may just put this puppy to bed now.

Same my energy for the onslaught of Baby Apocalypse tomorrow.

There’s Nothing Wrong!

July 15, 2013

I will stop trying to fix myself.

I almost screamed this into his voicemail.

Sorry, John, I was a little giddy from lack of sleep, meditating for a half hour at 6 am and having a spiritual conversation with someone before bicycling 8 miles at 8 am around Lake Merritt to go to Alta Summit Bates Hospital.

To get lost.

To get found.

To go, what the fuck am I doing here, and say thank you, I see that it’s working for you, but I gotta go.

I spent the rest of the day in a haze of gratitude, no way, no how, am I going to give up doing my daily writing to put myself through that experience again, instead I spent it gorging myself in an absolute blur of…

Words.

Lush, descriptive, well crafted, words.

Words so definitive and enticing that I read 423 pages of them.

In fact, I just put the book down.

Partially to draw out the pleasure, like a good little addict, there’s one really nice fat bump left on the plate before I split the bag with fingernail and dump the crumbs, thrusting the tip of my tongue into the small ziplock bag and then ceremoniously placing the crumbled bit of dead plastic in a tissue to ball up and push down into a public garbage can.

It has been a good, greedy, fat word day for me.

I have been reading The Art of Fielding, by Chad Harbach.

I first read of him when I was going to Paris.

There was an interesting article in the issue of Vanity Fair I had on the plane with me.  It was about getting agency and the odds of getting paid and published, and it spoke of how often he had to go back and re-work the story, all the bad jobs he worked while he continually wrote and crafted, excised and plucked the words perfumed with story from the heavens over Northern Wisconsin.

There is that too, it’s set in Wisconsin, Northern Wisconsin, but still a Wisconsin that I am familiar with.

One with humidity laced summers so wet with moisture in the air that just sitting still the back of my knees would break out in a rolling sweat.

The swollen sun setting in the thick tall grass, the corn, knee-high (by July) thrust impudent from the black loamy earth in the back corner of my grandfather’s garden in Lodi, Wisconsin.

I know the lure of nostalgia, and that lure is there whispering in the chop of waves breaking against the prow of the ferry-boat ushering picnickers from Devil’s Lake State Park across the Wisconsin River and back to all points Madison, Waunakee (the only Waunakee in the world), Sun Prairie, DeForest, Windsor, and the like.

It spoke to me rash and thick, like the breath on Lake Monona on a day when the high summer heat and the algae bloom have finally banished all thought of there ever having been a snow day on campus, the foetid wash of rot buttering the air like corn at the fair.

I don’t know if it was the book, the blurb, or the first few chapters that sprang up all the Wisconsin imagery, because at times I would get the feeling that I was not reading Harbach, but I was reading A Prayer for Owen Meany or The World According to Garp, it felt almost East Coast in style and feel.

Then like some one wrought homesick for lightning storms and the powdery smell of grass that was cut  wet in the morning to dry all day in the sun, a kind of high summer smell more romantic to me with possibility than perhaps any other smell.

Not that much did ever happen, occasionally a tumble in the orchard or a flirtation at the baseball diamond.

Mostly just me, walking the train tracks, balanced on one rail, feeling the heat bake-off the silca stone gravel heaped along the rails; sensing that there was something being whispered in amongst the snap dragon flowers and if only I could discern the language, break the spell, and tumble forward, I would somehow make it to the far off island, the hillock supporting one spare spreading Oak in the field, that I would cross over into fairy land.

Not that I knew what I wanted, I just had the ache, yearning and tight, that I can still feel– the hand print of it on my person and the wealth of sense knowledge, the pangs of being restless and too smart and not smart enough, wondering how it was that I could discern the shape of pepper and pink in the white clover that studded the field, next to the rich purple heads that seemed more grassy, less floral, and somehow, false.

Or the heavy nodding heads of peonies in the grass.

Florid pinks, fuchsias, punch drunk cream heavy whites with carnations of blood blooms, veins of red that splashed the rumbled edges of petals.

I never like the peonies as much as the other flowers, too much showiness.

Not enough scent.

And that was what caught me.

The scent of story and the bildungsroman of it all, the coming of age, it was Infinite Jest,  the break down of the young tennis pro, without the footnotes, The World According to Garp with its full on love of the coach (wrestling still has not been so wrought with words than that story), it was Updikean and despite wanting to be all things Melville (in scope and lust of detail) where it shone, is still shining, I haven’t finished, leaving those last bits of cake to languish in the frosting where I will lick it off surreptitiously in the dark light of my room while the rest of the house falls asleep, is in the narrative.

It also felt like it was often about to veer off into being overwrought, too many plot twists and turns and overstylization and there were times I thought, nope, no one talks like this, but then something would pop and I would be drawn back in.

I found myself rooting for the story, for the characters.

And though I did see the craft of it and I do believe it a tiny bit overworked, it is a good book.  Perhaps not a great book, but a really good one, one which propels me to do for myself and encourages my own literary dreams.

A book is a book worth its weight when it encourages the vocabulary in my own heart and paints me a picture.

I watched a long movie today, in a book, sequestered at times in the stained glass afternoon light of sun, with a demanding Maine Coon cat on my lap, it will be made movie (I bet the book is optioned already), but I won’t see it, the film so strong in my head.

I love words.

I love to read.

I got my book on today.

It was good.

A Little Scared

July 14, 2013

A little wired.

A little relieved.

I ran into an old friend of mine whom I had not seen in years and I knew the minute his face lit up and we hugged that the gig was up.

The gig has been up and I have been nervously looking around saying, that’s not what I want to do, nope, not looking at that, you people freak me out.

Then there’s the other part of me, the rational, I could use some help with this, here’s the solution, feel free to pick it up or go back to crazy town.

I chose to call him back, minutes after riding my bike down 24th from Noe Valley to the 24th Street BART.

Which was surrounded by cops, van loads of cops, cops in riot gear.

If I thought yesterday’s lock down in the Nordie’s Off the Rack was disconcerting, rolling through the intersection at Valencia and 24th through flanks of cops in riot gear and vans blocking the street was even more so.

What the fuck is going on out there?

Zimmerman decision.

Oh.

Yikes.

Man, the last few days I have just rode my bicycle through some odd places.

I slowly pedaled toward the station which was surrounded by motorcycle cops and quietly asked one of them if BART was still running.

“Yes.”

Excellent.

I scooted myself down the stairs, doing my best to ignore the mob of people across the street at 24th and Mission making some getting angry noises and the bellow of one skinny white boy with a megaphone extorting folks to get really pissed now.

I just want to get on BART and get home.

I clambered down the stairs with my messenger bag full of groceries and saw I had just missed the train back, it was going to be another 18 minutes.

You could call him you know, I thought, my friend had given me his number and then said, “call me now so I have it in my phone,” I believe if he had not have said that I would not have called.

Not when I did.

Not tomorrow.

Not ever.

I would just keep trying to do it my way and then at some point I would pop from the pressure of keeping my food shit together.

You could call him now, you know, you could just ask.

GRR.

The window was open and though afraid, how come I have got to walk through this fear shit all the time?  I decided I better slip on through before that window closed again.

“Hi, it’s Carmen,” I said, after the fifth ring I figured there was going to be no pick up, but damn it, he did.

I could almost here the glee in his voice when he said hello back.

Gotcha.

Yup.

So, I asked for help and took out a piece of paper and wrote down exactly what was said and now I have, sigh, a wake up call to make in the morning and a place to go at 8:30 a.m. and some explicit instructions on how to start my day.

The road narrows.

Indeed it does.

But I am tired of trying to figure it out on my own and though my alarm clock is now set for 6 a.m.

On a Sunday?!

On a Sunday.

I am alright with it.

First of all, I can take a nap tomorrow if I need to.

Second of all, I will continue to get the same results unless I take some different actions, I want to take some different actions.

I also saw John Ater tonight who just said, “tell them your rates are going up and don’t underbid yourself.”

I did not even get to say well, I um, shouldn’t I, uh, shit.

Nope.

All the thunder stolen right out from underneath me.

Just tell them your rates are going up.

I will craft an e-mail tomorrow.

Most likely after I get back from my 8:30 a.m. all the way the fuck across town bicycle ride.  After I make a 7:15 a.m. check in phone call and sit quietly for a half hour.

I am so dreading this I was already trying to figure out how I was going to get to sleep to even get six hours of sleep.

I keep telling myself that all along this has been waiting and I can let go of the misery if I just follow some simple rules and I won’t be obsessive about the thoughts and I can try something different.

It’s just something different, which always induces fear, even when it is something good different.

There’s nothing wrong with getting up early, it’s not like I had some big plans tonight.

Watch a show, troll the interwebs, drink some tea, read a book.

I say this as I watch the clock tick forward toward midnight.

I dont’ want to do this thing.

I never have.

I have shied away before.

But in the shying away I believe I have been practicing contempt prior to investigation.

I have to go investigate.

I am not going to say it won’t work until I give it the old college try.

So, here’s to me getting up early, following someone else’s instructions and saying, my way sucks, I give up, how about I try something different.

Can’t hurt to try.

Enforced Retail Therapy

July 13, 2013

I got up today and was mellow, quiet, head full of peace.

Oh, thank you Jeebus, the writing I did last night worked.

I could care less about my job, the money, any of it, I had a quiet head and that was such a blessing I went about my morning with nary a care.

Just do the laundry, do the writing, drink some coffee, and log a little bit of time for the design firm sifting through e-mails and projects.

I only had a few things on my agenda today.

Pick up a package at FedEx and swing by Sugarlump to have an iced coffee with a lady, followed up by more getting what I need over at 2900 24th Street and then back to Graceland for a mellow evening in.

In between this I had some thoughts, maybe, just maybe, I would actually go buy that pair of jeans that I have been talking about getting since I decimated my last pair in Paris four months ago.

I got my package at FedEx–my playa boots–and walked leisurely over to 766 Valencia Street to chat with the guys at the bike shop about the saddle I ordered for my Burning Man bicycle, just a nice little heads up that I had a package coming in my name.

It’s nice to have a place to send stuff.

I popped into the design office, sorted through the junk mail, put the other mail on her desk and slit open the box.

Please let them fit.

They did!

And they are so cute I am tempted to not wear them at Burning Man.

The dust will kill them.

However, they were cheap enough that should I decide I must have another pair upon my return I can buy another pair.  The beautiful thing for me is that for the first time in seven years, yes, I am about to turn a Burning Man seven, I got myself a new pair of boots specifically for the event.  Something comfortable for three weeks of being on playa.

This year I feel like a lot of work is going to be waiting for me out there and I need to be prepared for it.  Socks, underpants, boots, baby wipes, tights, one utility belt, hats, sunglasses, sunblock, a parasol, and the little bit of gear I need to make my bike a comfortable ride.

I am finally seeing my importance in regards to self-care out there is the number one thing I can do for my enjoying the event.

I will be of service, that’s a huge point to me going, there’s a community that I get to help enjoy the event and I love that I am a little cog in the machine.

But to really do my job, I have to take care of my basics.

I also got a lovely message from a dear friend who has some extra bedding for me to take up to the event.

Rock on.

As I broke down the box to recycle I decided that I was going to go to Nordstrom’s Off The Rack and look for a pair of jeans.

It was time.

I stashed the boots in the office and went to the bike.

I hopped on, not trying to get anywhere too fast, there was a small voice I heard quite loudly that said, take it slow today, and I crossed Valencia street on foot pushing my bicycle across, rather than try to snake through the traffic.

I cut over at 14th then turned onto Bryant to hit the Trader Joes/Nordie’s/Pier One/Pete’s/Bed, Bath, Beyond block of stores.

There was a cop car screaming behind me and I pulled into the left lane to let it pass while another car almost cut me off getting out-of-the-way of the police car.

I noticed the guy sitting by the newspaper dispensers on 8th opening a bottle of Two Buck Chuck from Trader Joes with a wine key.

Clever that.

He spare changed me in a quiet voice but was quite intent on opening the bottle in his hands.

That reminds me, I want to stop at Trader Joes and grab a few things, my brain debated while I was walking my bicycle into the parking structure, which way do I want to go?

Left to the grocery store?

Right to the clothes store?

I was prompted to the right, my gut said go there, grocery store after.

Thank God I listened.

Had I been locked down in Trader Joes for an hour and a half I do not want to know what would have happened, 13 days abstinent on my food program, it might have been a challenge more than I could have taken.

As it was I meandered over to the Nordie’s, locked up my bike and went inside.

It was fairly quiet, not as many folks as I thought there would be and I felt like I must remember this time, so that if I had to shop there again I would do so during this hour, there was barely a person in the store.

I went through the racks looking, not seeing anything, taking my time poking around, they had just re-arranged everything, so I was getting a new look at the lay out when the music was interrupted and a woman’s voice came over the loud speakers.

“Attention Nordstrom’s shoppers, by direct order of the San Francisco police department the store is now on lock down.  No customers may leave or enter the store.  Please remain calm and stay away from all windows.”

What the fuck?

For a moment I thought, some dip ass is shop lifting and they are going to be winnowed out, there was a homeless cross-dresser in the women’s lingerie that I was pretty sure was stuffing tights down his/her baggy pants.

I ignored the announcement and went back to perusing the racks.

Wait.

Did it say, stay away from the windows?

I flinched back from a large pane glass window as another fleet of cop cars went screaming by.

What the hell?

Music interrupted again.

“Attention shoppers, please be aware that the Nordstrom’s Rack store is now on lock down by direction of the San Francisco police department.  We will alert you when you may leave the store.  Please stay away from the windows and do not panic.”

Ok.

Backing away from the windows and taking a haul of clothes to a dressing room to hide in.

I tweeted my status and was hit up by a few folks who let me know a gunman had fired at the Jewelry Center just around the corner.

Well, looks like I have all the time in the world to try on pants.

Again, thank God I did not go grab my snack first.

By the time I had gone through all the pants, yes, I did find a pair, the store was finally allowed to release the shoppers.

I paid for my jeans, a few new pairs of panties, and a new tank top, stuffed it all in my bag and walked out over to Trader Joes.

It was like the zombie apocalypse.

There was no one there.

No cars in the lot.

No customers in line.

I zoomed in and out in three minutes.

Hopped on my bike and headed through the worst traffic I have seen in the SOMA.

Grateful for my bicycle today.

Grateful for the retail therapy.

Grateful I did not get shot.

It really is nice to be alive.

With a new pair of jeans to be alive in.


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