Archive for September, 2013

All The Things

September 20, 2013

I have all my stuffs.

Tonight was the night to get the last things in storage.

Three boxes of which I did not unpack.

They were full of notebooks.

Jesus Christ on a pogo stick.

I have a lot of fucking notebooks and journals and manuscripts.

I had not remembered having so many.

I also did not remember all the art work that I had in storage.  One pen and ink drawing I did about 19 years ago, a print from a friend dedicated to me when I briefly edited an art magazine he was putting out in Madison, a photograph of a Flaming Lotus Girls piece that Jess Hobbs took, a print of a heart sign in Oakland on a decrepit building, a collage I did early on in my recovery, a painting of two wee animals smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee in a diner (two hamsters I believe) which is quite kitschy and super cute.

I found photographs of me from when I was a child.

My grandparents original wedding photograph that I need to have restored.

I think my mom was using it as a book marker and I happened to stumble upon the book and freed the photo.

Fully intending to restore the photo and never getting around to it.

My diploma from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a certificate of scholastic achievement for outstanding work for independent study under Professor Ronald Wallace.

Some bunnies.


I finally found my jack-a-lope velveteen bank.

I had thought it was lost and there it was peeping up at me from the bottom of a box of odds and ends.

Photos, stacks and heaps, some framed, most not.



My clock that I bought at a flea market in Paris four and a half years ago.

My collection of magnets.

Two from the Musee D’Orsay, one from the Tuileries, one from the Pompidou,three that I got at a book seller along the Seine, including Le Chat Noir and the Eiffel Tower being struck by lightning–all from my trip four and a half years ago when I vowed I would live in Paris someday.

I was not sure how or when.

I certainly could not have predicted I would four years later for a grand total of six months.

Other magnets from when I did the Aids LifeCycle ride and a couple from the MOMA, one from a visit I made to Madison, WI when I went back for my 20th high school class reunion, and a couple from a store in Noe Valley called The Urban Nest that went out of business a couple of years ago.

I also un-earthed a few maps from Paris, two different Metro maps, a ceramic sculpture of bunnies kissing that I found at a flea market outside of Pierre LaChaise cemetery and some hanging paper cut-outs from my favorite book store in Paris–Le Merle Moquer.

It was with fond memories that I hung up my photos and placed the paintings and pictures and organized the few other little tchotkes I have in my space.

A small red Radio Flyer wagon that my grandfather gave my grandmother.

A stained glass lamp that my best friend gave me over fourteen years ago.

Paper doll cut-outs of Alice in Wonderland with the white rabbit.

Photographs of Shadrach.

A couple of photographs that Zefrey Throwell took of me when we were early in our friendship.

Both of which I put out to remind myself how far I have come.

I have really come far.


Photographs of me nannying at Burning Man.

Note to self, get a copy of the photo of me and Juni from Action Girl, with the message “Property of Media Mecca” scrawled on her back in my hand with black sharpie marker.

Photographs of me between the ages of twenty-two months and four years old.

And the first piece of artwork I ever bought for myself in San Francisco.

A framed blue swallowtail butterfly that I bought at Paxton Gate the first week I moved to San Francisco.

As I placed things here and there and thought, hmm, I still need to get a better lighting solution to the room, I felt myself opening up and reliving the small victories of moving to San Francisco, all the places I have lived since I moved here in 2002:

805 York Street–20th & York.

2225 22nd Street–22nd Street at Alabama.

30th & Kingston.

25th & Kansas.

Capp Street & 23rd Street.

1170 Taylor Street # 12.

1170 Taylor Street #19.

The couches and beds and spare rooms throughout the city in Nob Hill, Potrero Hill, and Bernal Hill.

Folsom Street at 22nd.

Then Graceland in East Oakland.

36 Rue Bellefond, Paris, France.

Then back to Graceland in East Oakland.

And now, finally, 46th Avenue between Judah Street and Irving.

My things are unpacked.

My photographs on the wall, the bunny banks (3) and bunny ceramics (2) all placed about just so.

I am home.

It may take me another minute or two to tweak the last few things.

I could use a rug in the entry way and some better lamps–the overhead lighting is one setting–bright, but otherwise, that’s it.

That’s all she wrote.

I am moved in.

I am here.

I am putting down my roots.

All my things are now all in one place again.

There is nothing left in storage, there is nothing left to more to get.

I am in and all the things are too.


Really, so nice.

To be home.

Surrounded by memories.

Ready to make more.


All the Pretty

September 19, 2013

All the pretty, for you my sweet.

My heart just soared tonight as I crested the hill at Ulloa Street and 41st Avenue in the Outer Sunset.

The light.

It was pure gold.

Literally standing bathed in the golden hour.

I felt like it was mine for the taking and I am so glad I slipped my camera in my bag before I headed out.


Sunset, Ulloa Street at 41st Avenue

Especially as I had lunch with a new friend in Cole Valley today, let me stop and give a quick shout out to Zasie, didn’t know you had that cute little patio happening, I will be catching more action there.  So lovely, especially on a day with no fog and warm sun scattering the leaves along the sidewalk.

I love Indian Summer in San Francisco.

I felt pretty.

They sky felt pretty.

The sun felt pretty damn good on my skin.

Heck, I just realized that I ate outside twice today, dinner with my friend and her daughter on the patio behind the house, and lunch on the patio at Zasie, not bad for San Francisco.

In fact, I have dined al fresco more meals since I moved here than I have any where else I have lived in the city.

Maybe I will take my lunch down to the beach tomorrow.

I have the day off.

Anyone want to go to the beach?

I will be taking more photographs.

I did not have my laptop with me to share the photos I was approached about while I was at Burning Man, but we did sit at Zasie and then later at La Boulange, and talk about Burning Man, photography, art, artists, New York, LA, Paris, the art scene, photographers we both admired.

I got the gist for the project he would like me to tackle and we will be setting up another time to go over my photos and have him choose some for the site.

I am quite excited.

I am also feeling some nice validation.

The way he spoke, the way he spoke about how I witness my world and my art, I felt like I was being acknowledged as an artist.

Which I am.

Yeah, I know, y’all got that nanny thing at the forefront of your minds.

But I am a creative and I do create and I told myself a long, long time ago that I was not the one with talent in my family for art.

You betcha.

She’s a smart one, that Carmen, but her sister’s the artist.

And the pretty one.

Today, well, I felt pretty, how could I not, swaddled in the light from the sun, that golden orb swinging low over the sea draping the world in a blanket of flaxen light.

Sky Light


And I felt like an artist.

I spoke about what I do, how I work, where my inspirations come from, how I frame my shots.

I am an amateur and there is a long road ahead of me with the photography, with the writing as well, but how nice is that?

I have a long road to meander down, pointing my camera at the world.

My favorite French film is La Petite Voleuse.

There are things about it that captivated me when I first saw it.

It tasted like real popcorn hot and drizzled with real butter fat, and sweet Pepsi in a paper cup chock full of crushed ice, and a Lindt dark chocolate bar, they sold the Swiss chocolate at the Majestic on King Street in Madison, WI, where I saw the movie.

I was seventeen.

I wanted to be the little thief, not necessarily the life that she came from, it smacked a little too close to mine, but the escape, the romance, the taking of photographs.

The heroine rides off on her own into her own sunset, along the coast, with a camera from a shop with promises to never steal anything else again, but the images she takes with that camera.

I imagine myself as that girl.

Riding along, perhaps not in the sidecar or a vintage motorcycle with my debonair, skinny, French boyfriend (although I do find myself whistling the little snatch of song he whistles to her the first time he presents her with a pair of sunglasses he has swiped from a street vendor while she sits in an outdoor cafe sipping from her white bowl of cafe au lait), but on my bicycle, taking photographs of the world.

Just like I did not know where I was going with this blog when I started it, I don’t know where I am going with the camera, but it does something to me, something gets inwardly re-arranged when I frame up the shot and something comes over me when I look back at the image and I edit it down.

I cannot quite describe it, but it feels right.

So I feel pretty with possibility and light and the gold dusted sand dunes on Ocean Beach which beckon to me to walk them and take more pictures, take more images and see what comes of it all.

Nothing may.

If only for the pure enjoyment of it all.

Which is ultimately what artists do, right?

I don’t write this blog for you.

I write this blog for me.

I look everyday at the stats and who is reading what, but I don’t write for the audience, that you are along for the ride is a thrill and a pleasure, but the stories are mine, the images too.

I create for me.

I love for me.

I love me as an artist.

I love that I get to be an artist.

I still may wake up tomorrow and doubt the veracity of it, but as I hear it said more and more and I type away every night, and scribble away every morning, as I point what ever camera I have on me toward the image that captures where I am exactly at this moment, a kind of poetry, I confirm it with in.

I am just a channel.

A conduit.

Another way for the beauty to come out and across from somewhere and something unknown, a core of unrelenting power and love.

My truth.

My art.

My words.

My photographs.

My pretty.


September 18, 2013

So, it’s not going the way you want.

Yeah, if I would be getting my way, I would have been kissed and going further down that road, but someone got braces.

Aw man.

And they’re cute, the braces, and it makes him even sweeter, compellingly adolescent in a way that is altogether too adorable.

But they don’t make for kissing.


At least not yet.

The braces are too brand new.

Is it wrong to want to run my tongue over them?

I mean, it’s not like he’s actually 16, just a little shy with them.

I totally get it.

There’s not a thing to be done about it.

I was thinking about a conversation I had with my dearest best friend back in Wisconsin.

She said, something to the effect of, “no one wishes that they had had sex sooner, they usually wish they had waited.”



For like, forever.

That’s just a feeling, though, I do wish things felt clearer.

I doubt anyone says things like, “be patient darling, in five and a half weeks, I will ravish you completely.”

Not even bad B movies are scripted like that.

So, can I be patient and see what happens?

Now that we both live on the same side of town, in the same city, on the same continent, and time zone, can I just show up and see what happens?

I suppose I don’t have much of a choice.

I like him.

I do.

I think there’s something here.

Not just something run of the mill.

Keeping it to myself for a bit longer.

But I am interested in seeing how it happens.

And now that I have given myself a few hundred words to suss out the feeling, which is just impatience, which is not a bad thing, not frustration, not anger, just a slight, I wish this was happening sooner, it’s, again, not a bad thing.

Nothing wrong with getting to know some one better before you take off the panties.

I mean, nobody wants to find out later that the guy they hooked up with is living with someone else, say, that sucks.  You might not have slept with him if you knew that.

Taking time to get to know someone is good.

And I wonder if the need to get it in now is more a defensive act on my part than a real need to be swept up in something romantic and passionate.

I mean, I want the romantic and passionate and take me now, please, but what if I want that so that I distract the person from finding out who I am?

What if this has nothing to do with the Mister, but everything to do with me?

I believe, more and more it does.

I want fast, because I don’t want you to get to know me and reject me for who I am.

The more time I spend with him, the better he gets to know me and reversely, I him.

There are people, in retrospect, that I would have chosen not to have dated or slept with if I had taken a little more time.

Some from the standpoint that they were lying about who they were and what they were available to be.

Some from the view of, if I had paid attention I would have seen that this person is, yes attractive, but not available, or not interested, or wants me for his own validation and not for what I bring or who I am.

When you take longer the person knows you, knows you moody, or happy, in tears, hears maybe that one story that you tell everyone, not twice, but three times, which is embarrassing.  Maybe you spill something on yourself or burp or god, I don’t know, you are human, not perfect, vulnerable.

And what am I expecting from this anyhow?

Time takes time.

And if I shift to a different perspective I can also see that since I moved last Monday, 8 days ago, I have seen him three times.

Ah, that’s pretty damn good if you ask me.

That’s more than I have seen my best girlfriends.

More than I have seen some of the most important people in my life, in a week’s time, much more.


I am.

I waited a year, I suppose I can wait a few more weeks.

And I may get asked out by someone else in the meantime.

There is no exclusivity here, there never was.

Just feeling it out.


What the fuck?

I am 40 and still figuring this out.

I am willing though, to be teachable, to try different things.

A few of my friends think he should be expressing some kind of interest, more so than he has.

I am not sure.

I don’t know the rules of etiquette.

When they throw me up in the doorway of a coffee shop and passionately make out with me, it turns out their motives are not so clear, not so nice, just carnal.

I wish to balance them both.

Some carnal with some polite.

I suppose this is just as much a learning experience as anything else that I am learning to do.

I did not become a good writer overnight.

I have been practising for years.

And I am not always so comfortable saying I am a good writer.

But I have had enough people I love and trust tell me I am, and I have found my words becoming sharper, bolder, more concise, and my stories more compelling with time, the time that it takes to do anything well.

So, maybe the braces, it’s just another stop along the way of this journey.

This dating thing.

I am already seeing him again this week, he told me so when he dropped me off.

I can believe in that.

As I am going nowhere, sinking my roots down, I am willing to wait.

Waiting only makes these things more delicious.

I like deliciousness.

I have patience.

Yes, I do.

I have patience.

How, ’bout you?


But, let’s not wait too long,



What Does A Carrot Peeler

September 17, 2013

Have to do with anything?

I once would not have been able to tell you, but the conversation I had with my mom on Sunday revealed itself to me this morning as I was standing in the aisle at Cole Valley Hardware looking at the carrot peelers.


Those things are expensive.

Then I heard the tone of my mother’s worry and anxiety around finances and I heard myself wish to not be of that mindset.

It takes a long time to change that sort of despair and belief that there is not enough in the world.

Mom was just talking about financial insecurity and I heard loud and clear where I pick it up from.

Then another voice, oh for Pete’s sake, buy the peeler, Martines.

This is the voice I am listening to more of, rather than the one of deprivation and there’s not enough, the one that says there is not abundance, there is not hope, there are people who have it all and you don’t get to be one of them, you need to suffer.

Yup, all this crap went through my head in the kitchenware aisle at the hardware store.

See, I bought a carrot peeler a few days back, at some janky ass little Asian cheapie junk store on Irving.

Don’t get me wrong, I fucking love Japanese dollar stores, they are awesome.

But the carrot peeler, it sucked.

And when I went to use it yesterday I ended up throwing it in the garbage.

Funny thing, I had looked a the exact carrot peeler I bought today and opted to not get it because it was too expensive and I’ll just get the cheaper one.

Cheaper not always better.

I almost put it back in the hardware store, I don’t have as many hours as I want and I….

Shut up.

I am fine.

There is money.

Buy the carrot peeler, buy the dish drain mat, buy the god damn nice soap dish, buy the ice-cube trays and while you’re at it, get some paper towels you eco conscious lady you, you like to use them.

Don’t deny yourself nice things.

I deserve them.

And if you saw the way I live you would say I am not exactly living high on the hog.

I am alright with my lot.

I am.

I was reflecting on that as well, as the baby napped, and I was doing my morning writing.

I am working a job where they say, help yourself to the tea, and we bought this one just for you.  Go ahead and write, in fact, here’s a notebook I found that I thought you would like.  Where I get to sit in the sun and watch the clouds roll by, where I am outside and giggling with a baby as he flirts with a gaggle of old ladies on tour in Golden Gate Park.

My job is pretty awesome.

I am wanted and needed and it pays my rent.

I could use a few more hours, but I picked up a half shift this week and found out that next week the mom won’t be going out-of-town and my hours won’t be cut.

I’ll make rent for October, as well as my student loan, and groceries, and I won’t have to dip into my savings.

Savings that I am setting aside for Paris.

Not to move back, but to pay for this move back.

I still owe Barnaby for the return ticket.

He gave me a year to pay it off and I want to have it paid before then.

However, I am not going to hurt myself trying to do so.

It is nice to have a few hundred dollars in my savings.

I like having that safety cushion.

And as I sat accepting that I could be a nanny for the next ten years and who cares?

I mean, really, who cares?

I get to write, I have gotten to travel, I get to giggle, to sit and read the New Yorker when the napping is happening, probably not much tomorrow as I have three babies on the day, but there are days I get the reading while the napping happens.

The commute in?

Twenty minutes.

The relaxing stroll around the block looking at houses.

Houses which I used to covet.

Houses which I don’t any more.

I may own one of those houses one day.

I may not.

But what I know today is that I have a home, a home that I can afford, it is small and cozy and just so.

I opened the door to the night as I went to bed yesterday evening.

I listened to the crash of the surf as I fell asleep.

I figured I could get up and close the door at any time if it got cold, although I probably would not have felt it as I bought myself a good comforter at Ikea, I spent the entire night with the door open and it was a soothing balm on my rest.

There is no need to change who I am or what I am.

I am not broken.

I deserve a good carrot peeler and a nice bed.

Spicy tea and sweet apples.

The quiet respite from the negative accusation that I have not done enough or am enough.

My life is yet from half over and there is still so much to learn and grow and be and get to do.

Listening to my mom I could have poked a hole in the fallacy of her thinking, but it was not my place, rather, what I learned and listened to and recognized is that she has always been taken care of.


And she is in her sixties.

I can extrapolate that out to myself.

I will always be taken care of.

Especially if I continue to do that work, of which I am not planning on dropping anytime soon.  I am going to be just fine and spending another eight dollars on something that will be helpful when I cook for myself seems a silly thing to quibble over.

Thus, the acceptance has not to do with  thinking there is a lack, I just got to accept I ain’t gonna get what I need, rather the acceptance is to recognize for myself that there is abundance.

I accept abundance.

This is acceptance.

Of reality.

The other is a fantasy I inflict upon myself.

Oh, yeah, that’s correct, my fantasies have nothing to do with success, but rather with deprivation, I’m good a dreaming up that crap.

Right here, right now.

I accept myself.

My job.

My art.

My voice.

My fucking authentic fabulous self.

“Paris misses your pink,” a friend wrote me in a message.


Slow and Easy

September 16, 2013

Sunday in the Sunset.

I could, um, I hesitate to admit this, but, yeah, I could get used to this.

It is almost too mellow for my tastes.

I like to be all get up and go and do and run and jump and bike and move out the way bitch.

But today, with nothing on my plate, nothing, I just showed up and discovered more of my new neighborhood.

I did the typical morning routine, with the exception of getting back into bed for 15 more minutes, why, because why not?  It’s Sunday and the day was a slow start, with a long, lovely burn.

Breakfast, some coffee, some writing, some meditating, and then, a walk.

Right along the Great Highway, right next to the sea.

I watched surfers catch waves, smelled the great salt breeze and shambled slowly from Judah to Quintara.  I had put a Japanese sweet potato in the oven and given myself an hour and a half to walk as far and as leisurely as I wanted.

I figured I would be back to the house by 1:15/1:30 p.m. and I would have my lunch on the back patio, a nice little routine I am enjoying the hell out of.

I called my mom and caught up with her.

I did my best to just look out at the sea and the sky and not think about work, or lack of or what I was going to do with the rest of the day.

Lunch, as I expected, was done when I returned, all stretched out and warm from my walk, and ready for a little mid-afternoon nibble.

Which I took in the back yard nestled into an Adirondack wood chair dressed in faded white paint.

I love how washed out and beachy everything looks.

I like how many people I saw barefoot.

Surfers in wet suits walking with their boards down the sidewalk.

Nothing but their boards, the wet suit, and sunblock on their faces.

It was a gorgeous day out, no fog, all sun.

My phone kept telling me it was chillier than it felt and I wonder how accurate the weather rumours I hear about the Sunset are true.

Then again, I believe, September and October are the prettiest months in San Francisco.  The Indian Summer days are blushed warm and exuberant and sunny.

Don’t tell the tourists.

I love these next few months in the city.

It usually dies off by Halloween, it’s almost like a switch is thrown, but I shall see what will come out here.  I do predict I will be here awhile.

After my lunch I got on the bike and headed up LIncoln toward 9th Avenue.

I wandered around the neighborhood a little, running into a random friend who as it turns out, was at Burning Man and we never saw each other.

Even though I was in her camp on at least four occasions.

Too funny to run into her at a restaurant sitting outside in the sun in the Inner Sunset.

After my tiny nibble of exploration I hopped back on the bicycle and rode a few more minutes to the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park.

I had gotten turned onto to them yesterday and out of curiosity,  I wanted to see what all the fuss was about.

It was fuss worthy.

The vast scope of plants and the flowers, the geese in the Great Meadow, the purple Japanese Higo Iris I saw by a small pond, all painted such a beautiful picture I was remiss to think that in all the years I have been in San Francisco, I never explored this part of the park.

I had an inkling it was there, but I never went into it.

I will be going again soon.

In fact, I believe there are all sorts of places out here I will be discovering.

In a slow and leisurely manner.

That seems to be the pace of things out here.

Slowed down.

Except right at Sunset.

Then I saw people actually running toward the beach to catch the last rays of the sun before it dipped into the ocean.

“Tonight the sun goes down at 7:17 p.m.” my friend told me as she pattered about the kitchen putting away dishes and folding laundry, getting things ready for the start of a new week.

“You are more than welcome to join us” she continued, “movie night, dinner, hanging out, the door’s open.”  She concluded and put away another stack of folded kitchen towels.

But the words, the sun sets at, kept ringing in the ears.

I wound my way back downstairs to my spot and had a quick bite of dinner, then I grabbed a bottle of sparkling water from the fridge and my camera and headed out the door just a few minutes after 7 o’clock.

I watched a door pop open and a girl in bare feet and bikini bottoms and a white tank top, fleet as a golden hart in the woods, ran laughing ahead of her boyfriend who was slow running after in his black worn down Converse and low slung jeans behind her toward the beach.

They dashed over the Great Highway and climbed the dunes to see the view.

The tops of the dunes were daubed with people faces turned out toward the horizon waiting for the last dip of sunshine before ending their days, packing their blankets, and heading back home.

The girl shivered as the sun bent low and her boyfriend wrapped his arms around her and they both faced out.

I dropped my flip-flops in sand and shuffled up the side of another dune, stopping to catch a photograph of the grass topped dunes to my right.

Dunes and grass

Dunes and grass

Then I turned toward the red line on the horizon.

The sunset was not as spectacular as I had hoped, yet, it filled me with a kind of warm wonder as the crimson cream color spread along the edge of the ocean separating the water from the gray cloud bank overhead.



I stayed for a few more minutes, but it appeared that was all the fireworks that were to happen this sunset.

I suspect I may catch a few more before my time here is done.

I suspect my time here is going to be a long one.

I can feel myself getting rooted in the sand like the grass on top of the dunes.

I walked to the beach twice today, rode my bicycle through the park, went to the Botanical Gardens in Gold Gate Park and ate my meals under the blue sky with the sharp tang of the sea to whet my appetite.

I may get used to this slowing down a lot faster than I think.

I might just become a beach bum.

Sooner rather than later.


Serenity by the Sea

September 15, 2013

“It’s so peaceful out here,” my ladybug said to me this afternoon as we walked from Trouble Coffee back to my place.

It is indeed.

I sat on the back porch twice today for my meals.

Lunch and dinner al fresco, the sun broke through the fog, the ravens took wing swooping and diving and occasionally deigning to sit upon a roof top and survey the world with bright eyes before careening off into the blue sky again.

I woke up rested in my new bed, ate a leisurely breakfast, did some writing and then a hot shower, coffee, and the meeting of minds at the coffee shop.

I caught a ride to the Upper Haight with her and went grocery shopping, returning via the N-Judah with sacks of supplies to eat my lunch on the porch right outside my door.

It is really sublime to open the door and step out to the sun and hear the crash of the surf and smell the ocean, just there, just a few blocks down, three to be exact, and feel so calm, so relaxed.

So serene.

After lunch I chit chatted with my friend, landlord, room-mate, but not really room-mate, our spaces are pretty autonomous even though we have a common entry way, there is enough space between her space and my place.

Yet, it is also near enough and open enough that I can just holler up the stairs and see what she is up to.

She had busy work, her weekends are geared to work and her daughter was recovering from a slumber party, who sleeps at slumber parties?  They should be called up all night and giggling parties, and she was pretty chill with her My Pretty Ponies corralled up in a nest of cushions on the floor.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon.

I checked in with my friend about furnishings she said I could borrow for the in-law and I showed her the new set up, my bed basically, and how the space was shaping up.

I got the go ahead on the chaise lounge in the garage and the next thing you know she has dusted off two chairs and pulled out a shabby chic beach blue table with folding leaves, and a couple of night stands and voila!

I am totally set up.

It is amazing.

I have a home.

It feels a tiny bit like a motel room to me as everything is so brand new and clean and un-marked.  I have not put any art on the walls or photographs.

I am awaiting the right time to go out to a friend’s house way out in the Excelsior and get my boxes out of storage–photos and art and notebooks, my grandfather’s spice rack, and if I am not mistaken a couple of lamps.

When those things are procured I will have my space fully realized.

That and a rug, a throw pillow for the chaise, and a soap dish for the bathroom.

And that’s it.

I have  a home.

I have a home I want to stay put in, for a long time.

This feels like home in a new way and in an old way too.

“I grew up in the bay area and my first memories are of the beach,” I told my ladybug as the sounds of the Beach Boys was playing at Trouble Coffee.

“I feel like I have come all the way home, after a very long meander,” I finished, sipping the hot Americano and looking out the door at the light in the sky.

That special kind of light that bounces off the water and paints the  buildings in sand washed warmth.

When the last tweaks on my in-law were done and I had a cup of hot tea in me I decided it was time to take my inaugural walk to the beach.

I slipped off my Converse and socks and put on a pair of polka dot flip-flops and headed to the ocean.

Flip Flops

Polka Dot Flip Flops

I took them off as soon as I hit the sand and climbed up the dunes to the crest to see the sea spread before me, splendid and board, all-encompassing, shattered with light and sunshine.

Sand Dune

Sand Dune

Pacific Ocean

Pacific Ocean

I breathed in deep.

Delighted to be here, the crash of the waves drowning out any noise in my head.

I understood in a split second why, early into my sobriety, I was drawn to the sea.

The noise was louder than the noise in my head.

The serenity of not hearing the constant monkey wrench grind of my thoughts and the chitty chitty bang-bang of useless dreck being constantly manufactured.

Just the bash of the waves and the crescendo of the surf.

It created a kind of dream like meditative state.

I felt like I was walking in a silence that was deep and powerful and lulling.

The lullaby of the ocean.

How have I lived this long without that noise in my ears?

I walked out to the surf and got my toes wet.

The water swirled around my feet and my heart soared above me, a kind of delirious feeling of vertigo threatened to over take me and I swayed watching the clear bubbles draining away back to the ocean as the tide pulled back out.

Dogs splashed past me, lovers leaned into each other and laughed, sharing a private moment on the vast beach.



The sun and sky.

The wind and the water.



I wondered, as I took my camera and aimed it at a kite surfer, will I get bored with this?

Will it become blase?

Or will it continue to delight and soothe and comfort me?

I tend to think the latter.

I am grateful to be here and excited to see what develops in this land of sand and salt.

The tears in my eyes were probably caused by the wind pushing its way past my glasses, my vision blurred as I pointed the camera directly to the sun and shot another photograph.

Kite Surfer

Kite Surfer

My heart burst with the beat of the ocean and I brushed the moisture off my face, pocketing my glasses, I stood, eyes closed, surf rolling over my feet, and said a few words of grace.

For graced I am.



Salt saturated.



Home by the sea.

Whole Lot Of Running Around

September 14, 2013

With not much accomplished.

Is what today felt like.

I write and emphasize “felt”.

I actually had a pretty chill day when I sit back and reflect on it.

The bike ride this morning from the Sunset to the Mission was quite nice and I do like the Pan Handle part of the commute in which I am sailing along beneath the canopies of Eucalyptus trees and the fog is misty my cheeks.

I am sure there will be time when I forget the simple pleasure of this ride and it becomes a get me from point A to point B sort of ride, but today, the novelty of it was still in force and I enjoyed the hell out of it, not trying to race to my destination, just floating along the path.

I got to the Mission early and locked up at the office on Valencia Street to get a message that the meet up had been changed to my friend’s house, which was fantastic as I was looking forward to meeting the new puppy in the household.

Such a sweet mop of a dog!

She’s like some floppy muppet, a golden doodle, and she came tumbling down the stairs and greeted me with soft, warm, sloppy kisses.

Not a bad way to start my visit.

My friend hosted the most divine little lunch and we had cups of tea and swapped Burning Man stories and caught up.

We also discussed how there is not much of a need for my services for her business right now.

And guess what?

I did not freak out.

I was too happy sitting in my patch of sunlight, enjoying her company, to give a hoot.

There is more out there for me and the absence of work for her does not mean that there is an absence of abundance for me, it’s just going to come from somewhere else.

And who knows, she may get busy in three days and need my help.

I felt a pick of anxiety and said, ok, that’s good, now move forward.

If I have learned anything in this last year of travel, rotating homes, couches, futons, house sitting, et al, is that I am always taken care of.

This does not mean I sit on my ass and wait for it to come to me, it just means that I don’t have to worry about the outcome of not having as much work right now as I would like.

It is ok for me to be a little light on the work at the moment.

Probably not for too long, but I can make rent right now for October if it were suddenly to be demanded.

I have enough.

I have enough brains too to get more work.

I may need to nanny more.

I may need to get my ass to a temp agency.

What ever.

The job (s) will come.

The money will come.

The anxiety about it can just not come.

“Why don’t you worry real hard about that and see what happens,” John Ater said to me once.

“Because I have noticed,” he continued as I squirmed uncomfortably in my seat wanting to tell him to fuck off, “that all that worry seems to work, as it never happens.”


But so true.

I have not gone hungry this last year.

I have always had a place to sleep.

I have always had a way to get to where I needed to go–by bicycle, bus, foot, train, plane, automobile, trolley, cable car, subway, Metro, or golf cart–I have never been dropped.

Why the hell should I believe that I will now?

So my friends announcement did not put the panic in me, it actually did the opposite, a small voice said, “nature abhors a vacuum, there is something even better coming for you, be ready for it.”

Ok, then.

I am ready.

I left her and headed back to the Sunset, I had brought my computer with me and did not want to haul it around anymore, I also wanted to free up room in my messenger bag for a potential grocery shopping trip.

I made a couple of quick pit stops–Community Thrift in the Mission, and a little Asian market on Irving street–to pick up a couple of household things I wanted to have.

I got a wooden spoon, a small bowl, a carrot peeler, some batteries, and a set of salt and pepper shakers–the old-fashioned metal canister kind.

The kind that used to sit on my grandparents kitchen table in Lodi, Wisconsin.

I have been finding myself thinking a lot of them, my grandfather’s garden, my grandmother’s pickles and relish dishes.  I have certain smells and tastes in my heart that always remind me of them–fresh dill (grandma’s pickles) in my fridge has been nudging those thoughts and remembrances.

Then the salt and pepper shakers, just a kind of nostalgic novelty now, I suppose.

But they took me back and I could taste the ear of corn from my grandfather’s garden, slathered in butter and the liberal sprinkling of salt from the fat cannister with the small handle on it’s side.

I dropped my goodies off at the house and scooted back out the door, the painters were touching up the last of the walls in my studio and I did not want to be in the way, really there was nowhere to hang out anyhow, so I hopped the N-Judah with aspirations of picking up a few more household items.

This did not happen.

However, I did connect with my friend Calvin and we sat and had iced teas and shot the shit and connected and gossiped and shopped for his girlfriend.

I got to see two of my favorite people in one day.

And I got a ride back to Church and Market to get reconnected with my people.

Then the N-Judah back to the Sunset, a late dinner of Thai Cottage take out left overs, so good and a cup of tea, and voila.

The running around and getting “nothing” done, a figment of my way too active imagination.

Rather a relaxing day in which I watched anxiety float away like the fog being burned off by the sun.

I do not know what will happen next.

However, I feel assured that it will be wonderful.

I am exactly where I am supposed to be and I don’t believe I am going anywhere soon.

Except, maybe, down to the beach.

Cut & Run

September 13, 2013


I turned, said, excuse me a minute, and pulled the water bottle out of my purse.

I took a large drink, finishing off the liter that had sustained me through hours of following small black arrows on the floor of Ikea, and breathed deeply.

Screw the budget, I will be ok, just get the help.

“Ok, do it,” I said to the guy at the Information help desk, one of many kiosks of hell that I had navigated around for hours, giving him the go ahead to charge me for another service at Ikea.

In toto, I spent $919.

Run away!

When I think about it, as I am reclined on my new bed with its five new fluffy pillows, new white duvet, new beachy duvet cover, new sheets, and mattress, it was worth every cent.

Frankly, I got away with a deal, if I am honest with myself.

I got a new bed, a new mattress, dishes for six, silverware, pots and pans, two sets of  glasses, bowls, knives, a can opener, pot holders, three frames (just finished framing my posters from Paris that I got at a book seller’s along the Seine the day before I flew back to the States), a toilet paper holder, three candles, a dish rack, plates, and saucers.

I did pretty fucking ok.

And my “I can’t go over that” money limit was $1,000.

I had no plans on spending it all, but I knew I could if I had to.

I worked my ass off at Burning Man and I am now reaping the rewards.

Or reclining the rewards, if you will.

But at that moment in Ikea when I was looking at the delivery costs and the assemble it costs and where the fuck is it in which aisle, I almost cut and run.





I had a bad, bad, bad case of the fuck-its.

In hindsight, that happened super fast, as soon as my friend and I were in her car, I realized that we had been in Ikea for almost four hours.


They know how to snag you and the lack of being able to see to the outside world,(sort of like being in a casino, now that I think about it), the unnecessary parading of you through rooms and rooms and corridors of things that you don’t need until you can get to the stuff that you do need, is exhausting and disorienting.

Add two trips to the bathroom and one to the “display” show rooms, after a full on onslaught of the regular store, and no wonder I was panic-stricken.

I caught my breath and turned and walked right through the





I said, ok, I will pay for that.

I will pay to have you deliver, assemble, and sort for me.

I hand it over, I am here to surrender, let me turn it all over to somebody else.

My friend went to check on something she was getting for her unit and as I stood there struggling to not go into financial shock, I have the money, I have the money, I have the money, I made a spending plan, I have a list, I stuck to the list, this is ok, the mantra of you are enough you have enough rolling through and calming me down.

Until I was calm.





I walked through the fear and said I would pay the piper.

Now, the fun part.

The guy at the desk said, no, that’s silly, let me save you the $40.

Go grab a cart, I will show you were the stuff is and you can load it onto the cart and take it to the check out and then go to the delivery people, you don’t have to pay to have me help you.

Well, ok, then.

I went, got a cart, and returned to the help desk.

He trotted ahead of me, I realized that he was probably doing something he was not supposed to do, and jogged along behind making wide turns with the flatbed cart to catch up to him.

He quickly pulled down the boxes and bits and ascertained everything that I needed and the next thing you know I am in line, having saved some dough, and my friend pulls up behind me and says, oh hey, that will totally fit in my car, you don’t have to pay to have that delivered, we can do this.


That was a brilliant turn of events.

I stayed put and I got the help I needed.

We got everything back to the house and I unpacked the vehicle, stacking things in their appropriate places.

While the unloading was happening my friend made herself some lunch and then I did the same and we ate on the back porch in a patch of sunlight that seemed to have poked through the fog just especially for our al fresco dining experience.

It was lovely.

Though not as lovely as the dinner I had later this evening.

“You need help,” my friend said to me as I sat with a bewildered look on my face trying to decipher the cartoon drawings that Ikea gives you with the 8 million pieces and parts of the bed frame.

“Call your guy,” she said.

“Ask him to come over early, before the movie,” she finished.

“I can’t do that,” I replied, anxious all over again.

The Mister and I were supposed to go see the 7 p.m. showing of Spark, A Burning Man Story, at the Roxie this evening, but the way the bed assembly was going, there was going to need to be a miracle for me to get it done before he arrived.

“Just ask for his help, I heard him say, if you need any help, to ask.” She looked at me and arched an eyebrow, “so ask.”

I am getting an idea of why I have been single for so long.

When you, meaning me, are as autonomous as I have been in my life, doing it myself, not asking for help, well, then why be in a partnership, I’ve got it all covered, can’t you see, I don’t need your help.

But I needed his help and I wanted his company.

So, with my friends assistance, I wrote him a text asking for help.

And lo, he replied of course, he’d be over in just a bit.

We never made it to the movie.

But I did get him in my bed, frame, that is.

Get your head out of the gutter.

It took forever.

Even with me having pulled it all out and laid all the pieces parts one end to the other, it still took hours and hours.

And it might be the best fun I have ever had setting up furniture.

Why have I been doing it all myself all this years?

I am an idiot.

Or just in fear.

A little of both, I suspect.

The bed, well, it’s made, with fresh sheets and a fluffy duvet and I am leaned up on some nice soft pillows and listening to some jazz.

And thinking about the dinner we had on the back porch, in the dark, with the crash of the surf in our ears, the mist of the fog on our faces, and some Thai Cottage take out in our tummies.

That and the text he sent me after he left about how I am scrumptious.


A new bed and I am scrumptious.

Here’s to walking through that fear.

I am done running away.

Here to stay.

For a good long while.

In my cozy new bed.

Sock I(kea)t To Me

September 12, 2013

Big deep breath.



And repeat.

It will be ok.

The store will not eat me.

It may suck up all my prudent reserve though, which I have sat and figured and re-figured out how much I can afford to spend at the Norwegian/Scandinavian, what is it anyhow, super store, in Emeryville.

The last time I went there it was for my studio in Nob Hill, many moons back, just after, yes that is correct, I came back from a nanny gig at Burning Man.

I am apparently all about the moving directly after I get back from Burning Man, I have done it three times now?  Maybe four.

I am, fingers crossed, done with the moving.

I am getting up early and going with my friend after she drops her daughter off at school.  I looked at a catalog today at work, a quick half day, and by the time 1 p.m. had rolled around I was ready with my list.

One bed frame.

One mattress.

Two side tables.

One “kitchen” table/desk.

Sheets, duvet, duvet covers, pillows, throw rug, can opener, dish strainer and mat, pictures ledges, frames, a soap dish, a throw blanket and a few other miscellaneous objects.

Maybe a pot for my new orchid.

I also went to the Farmer’s Market in the Castro by Cafe Flore today after I met with John Ater. I rode my bicycle back to the Sunset and my “room-mate” was leaving to pick up her daughter in the same neighborhood I was in and offered a ride to and from the market.

I was down.

Not having to haul groceries along on a bicycle in a messenger bag is a huge treat.

I am not going to say I am aghast at what I spent, but it was more than I would have had I not been with company and just really felt like treating myself well.

I deserve nice food.

And I bought some.

Damn you Frog Hollow fruit sample man.

Not like I don’t love them anyway, but I know what I a getting from them and it is always the nectarines.  I will enjoy a peach and that is what they are known for (their peaches have the highest measured fruit sugars of any peaches in California, probably in the United States), but give me a nectarine.

I like the tang and the lack of fuzz.

It is the end of the stone fruit season and now is the time to get those last-minute fruits.

I was just going to get the nectarines.

Then I was offered a sample of a Warren Pear.

Holy Toledo!

It blew my hair back, it has to be the best tasting pear I have ever had in my life, it tasted like it was dipped in honey and slowly glazed in the sun and soaked to the brim with translucent juices.  And only $4.90 a pound.

Good grief, Charlie Brown.

I bought a fucking five dollar pear.

I am looking at it perched in the kitchen on the plate with the other fruit I scored at the market–organic Golden Delicious, Fire Island Nectarines, and yes!  The first persimmons of the season.

I don’t hardly know where to start.

I also got baby pickling cucumbers, heirloom tomatoes, fresh dill, baby gem lettuces, Easer Egg radishes, and the most beautiful head of cauliflower I have ever seen.

Also a five dollar and change purchase.

The cauliflower!

But damn it was tasty in my dinner salad: 1 baby gem lettuce, 1/2 a Hass avocado, four sliced radishes, with the radish greens chopped up and tossed in, fresh dill, one baby cucumber, a handful of heirloom black cherry tomatoes, an organic carrot, one hard-boiled egg, and some sea salt, Bragg Amino’s, olive oil, and a splash of Gravenstein apple cider vinegar.

I had a nectarine for desert and felt so full and replete and satiated and happy.

I barely had room for my tea.

I was going to go down to the beach and finally take a stroll, but I found it easier to repose back to my little room–I had dinner with my friend and her boyfriend and daughter in the up stairs unit–and clean up my dishes and look over the Ikea online catalog one last time.

I am not going to be able to fit the bed frame and the mattress in the Pathfinder, so I am going to get the same day delivery, add-on $89, and I may even pay to have it assembled.

The dollar signs flashing like warning signs in my brain.

But, I also know that I deserve a nice bed to sleep in and a place to write my words and a chair to sit on, a home.

I am not going nuts.

I have a spending plan.

But I am also not going to cause myself unnecessary stress or anxiety.

“What’s the worst that can happen,” John Ater asked be today as I was re-telling the tried and true “tale” of my financial woes and worries.

“I couch surf,” I said and laughed.

“I start over,” I shook my head, “I know this, I know I am not going to be out in the streets in the gutter, I told myself to simmer the fuck down, the thoughts don’t help.”

Nope they do not.

I am not going to live the next part of my life with holding nice things, like pears and persimmons, or a soft mattress and a nice pillow.

I am not going to live with that kind of mentality.

I am embracing abundance and I believe that I will be allowed to live here, in this home in a manner that does not disregard financial responsibility, but also does not place me in a space of such frugality that I sleep my nights away on a blow up mattress.


This is my last night on a blow up mattress.

Tomorrow, the Ikea, the bed, the same day delivery, set it up and let me make it up with new pillows and sheets and a duvet and a throw blanket that is soft and cuddly.

If I blow my entire budget on my bed I will be ok with it.

I deserve it.

And I believe that I am being taken care of.

As long as I take care of myself.

To that end, I also bought myself a bouquet of sweet pansies and my first orchid.

I love flowers in my space.

My space.


I like the sound of that.

My space, my home.

My little nest.

By the sea.

Head Ache

September 11, 2013

I have had a head ache since right before I left work.

I keep telling myself I did the best I could, I am doing the best I can.

But despite my best efforts one of the babies bit the other baby and it broke my heart telling the mom.

I also felt like I did not respond in the way that was comforting.

I was also wiped out.

Not one of the three took a real solid nap today.

Nappus Interruptus.

When wee monkeys don’t have enough sleep and don’t feel like they are getting the kind of attention they deserve, shit can crumble fast.

I was on top of it, I really was, I was running up and down the stairs like a fucking sprinter, changing diapers, warming bottles, feeding this one and that one.

I had just gotten a re-settled down group when I smelled the offending smell.

Albeit a rather pleasant one as far a baby shit goes, let’s be frank here folks, some kids eat better than others, and this group of babies is super healthy, but yes, it still smelt and it was time to run upstairs to change this one.

Two of the babies use the compostable diapers and their parents have a service they use.

The other baby uses cloth diapers.

The other baby has to be changed upstairs, but now that I am writing this, I wonder, I could set something up, not that I can change anything that happened today.

I cannot.

The best I can do is forgive myself for not being super human and having 18 sets of hands.

At least I saw what happened and I responded immediately.

Thank god, I had just finished with the changing of the cloth pants.

Yeah, get over it, I am writing a blog about poo and if you can’t handle it, go read something else (the poo will finish in a moment), occupational hazard, you could say.

I was setting the fresh diapered child down on the mat on the floor, one of those awesome cushion ones that have interlocking puzzle pieces, when one baby leaned into the other and bit down on the little baby mouth.

I saw it happen like it was in slow motion.

I almost screamed at the child.

I held my breath, dropped to me knees, pulled them gently apart and scooped the smaller baby into my arms, who for just a moment I wondered, did the bite happen, there was pure silence.

Then the wail of terror and hurt.

It was horrendous.

I calmed the child down and it happened so fast that I did not think that the bite was a bad as it later appeared to be.

I took the other child and popped the baby into the crib, immediate time out.

I did not yell.

I did not scream.

I breathed deeply, soothing the other baby, and spoke in an even, saddened voice, expressing my thoughts on how we don’t bite the people we care about, how it hurts, that we are loving and kind and gentle.

The child understood and was so abashed I wanted to hold them both and soothe both at the same time.

While the third looked on in wonder, what the hell is happening?

And that makes me wonder, am I not cut out for three?

Is it just too much?

I felt rotten, but not as bad as when the second mom picked up her child.

I had examined the bite and did not see broken skin or bleeding.

The baby fed really well afterward, another bottle and a half and a pouch of pureed food, and had a third nap, waking happy and bouncy and wanting to interact with the other children.

But when examined the bite had swollen up, there was a red demarcation on his upper lip and it was obvious how hard the bite had been.

I was horrified and cue the instantaneous head ache which has throbbed in my brain since the mom took her child.

Worst nanny ever.

Just quit.

Then I thought, they are never going to want me to nanny again.

Then, the thought that saved my ass, if that happens, you will still be taken care of.

You are not being dropped.

You are not perfect and you cannot expect yourself to be.

I felt some relief at this, but the head ache had settled in for the duration.

It is also, come on, admit it, Martines, the stress of moving.

I moved yesterday.

I have been on the move for a really long time.

I am not settled yet, I am not in my sweet spot yet, I don’t have a bed yet.

Yes, there’s a blow up mattress, with a slow leak, ack, but fortunately, it is slow, that I have to sleep on.  And my friend has said we can make a run to Ikea on Thursday.

I will just get a bed there and assemble it and be done with it.

I am tired of looking on craigslist.

I just want a bed.

And a few other things to make the space more of a home.

Things will come together, the head ache will pass, I will forgive myself.

Really, I already have.

I did the best I could.

I was not putting the baby in a room with a rabid dog.

It was another sweet child.

Things happen.

I cannot protect them every second of every day.

Neither can their parents.


Sometimes I wish I could, I wish that there was no pain, no sorrow, no suffering.

I wish that teething didn’t hurt and that there was always cuddly nap time and good story telling, that poking and pinching and pushing and biting didn’t happen.

But they do.

I don’t believe that it is ever done, especially at this age, with malice, no child bites like that maliciously.  It is a call for attention.  It gets a reaction.

I have been bitten by every single child I have taken care of.

EVERY one.

I knew a nanny that got so fed up with a child she was taking care of that she bit the child back.

I have not and never will do that.

Never hit, never bite, never slap, or shake.

Just doing the best I can in the only way I know how.

I think it is more heart ache than head ache.

But the pain remains the same.

Funny, how, both children have probably forgotten, but it sits here on my chest like a weight of doom.

Gotta let it go, it does not serve.

Besides I have another day tomorrow to work and be present and that starts by taking care of myself, and that means, the hot shower, the cup of tea, the apple, and the wind down.

Grateful for the experience.

Grateful more for knowing that forgiveness of self is how to move past this.

There is no other way through.

But through.


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