Archive for December, 2013

2013 in review

December 31, 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 12,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

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Small Reprieve

December 31, 2013

Before the big push.

I just got a message that I don’t have to start work until 10:30a.m. tomorrow, a touch over two hours of extra time in my morning.

Nice.

I will need it as I pack my overnight bag and prepare to spend New Years Eve kissing not one, but two sweet faces.

I will be doing a nanny share in the Mission while two sets of parents are out having two sets of fun.

I will get picked up with one of my charges from my nanny share in Cole Valley around 5:30p.m. then chauffeured over to the other families home in the Mission.

No break for me.

But then there’s the day after when I am finished with the gig at 10 a.m. and have the entire Wednesday free to recuperate and relax.

Perhaps to reflect on where I have been over the last year and where I will be going in the year to come.

That’s me, you know, Auntie Bubba, Girl on the Go.

Maybe I should rephrase that to, Weary Ass Woman who wants to sit still for a moment, but my brain won’t let me.

Not quite as catchy.

And there are lots of places I want to go to and two places this coming year I know I will be going.

The first is Florida and the second is Burning Man.

The ticket is bought for Florida, my family is awaiting, and I already committed to working Burning Man while I was working Burning Man this past year.

Other trips, journeys, whether interior or exterior, I don’t have much of a clue about.

I have some thoughts.

I would love to do a camping trip.

I have never seen the Grand Canyon, or Yosemite.

Could be time to do either or both, neither one are too far away.

Heck, I think I could even take the Amtrack to one or the other.

I wouldn’t even have to do a camping trip like I have it in my mind with all the tents and tricks and pots and pans and sleeping bags and canteens and stuff.

I could take a train, stay in a cabin and go for a walk.

All pure speculation and fantasy at this moment in time.

I don’t have any goals or resolutions for this New Year.

Keep practicing the principles in all my affairs and surrender to what is happening.  Get the fuck out of my own way, stop stepping on my neck, as John Ater has told me countless times. Be kind. Show up. Suit up. Be on time. Forgive.

Myself most of all and everybody thereafter.

Stop trying to control outcomes and just let them come out.

These are not really resolutions, they are just the current lesson plan on my desk in front of me, in this life, in this moment.

Nothing more.

I live a pretty damn good life.

A life of travel and words and photographs and experiences.

I got to add some experiences to my resume of life this year and I intend to do that as much as possible for as long as I can.

This year and next and the one after that as well.

Maybe I will even get that book over there published.

I have given up on my ideas of writing, what it should look like, and just settled into the groove of being content with the act of putting finger to keyboard, to strike the key, to send the message out via the medium, to etch into my brain, more so than the ether, that I am doing just alright.

“There is nothing wrong with waking up single on Christmas morning,” she said and I sat up a little straighter.

Yup.

My story for sure.

Nothing wrong with not having a date on New Years Eve.

Nope.

I mean I dated some one for five years and we planned on getting married and white picket fence and babies and all that fantasy stuff that though I can want or desire is not the same as wanting and desiring serenity and love of self, which may or may not include picket fence, et al; and we NEVER had the midnight kiss.

So, why should I be aggrieved to not have one this year.

Unless you, handsome, sober, sexy, slightly kinky, my age, non-smoking man, should read these words and find me on midnight tomorrow to slap a kiss on my mouth, you naughty man you.

Oops.

I think that’s fantasy again.

Steer clear.

Grateful to have a few extra hours tomorrow to rest to reflect perhaps, but not to wallow in my life.

No I choose to celebrate my life.

I have it pretty damn good.

I just had a resolution, though, pop into my head.

I resolve to spend more time with my friends.

I got a super sweet message from my best friend in Wisconsin about how this time last year I was calling her from the 7th Arrondissement in Paris, watching as the Eiffel Tower lit up with sparkle lights at midnight where I was babysitting for a bunch of folks out having a their version of making merry.

And how despite me not being overseas, we still have not had a chance to see each other face to face since I have returned.

Granted, it’s been seven months since my return, not a full year, but she’s right, it’s too long to have not seen her pretty face.

I was just about to write screw the camping trip.

But, I think I can do both.

Go camping and see my friend.

I don’t have to have it so black and white.

It’s not as though I don’t have options, I do and I can use them, and choices.  It’s not one thing or the other, it’s all things and then some more things that I probably have no idea are coming down the pipe.

The not knowing will not kill me.

Despite myself I am happy.

No need to question it.

Just accept.

Move on.

And enjoy sleeping in an extra two hours tomorrow.

Tumbled

December 30, 2013

I was in the washing machine.

And I stayed in it, I again, could not get out past the break.

I did not go to Sloat, too big, too sloppy, too scary, the waves were incredible this morning, slightly smaller this later afternoon when I went back out to the beach to sit and enjoy the sun.

When the temperature on your phone says it’s 72 degrees you get the fuck outside.

Because who knows how long that will last.

I also had laid down on my bed thinking I might actually take a nap after the morning surfing excursion, but when the sun flashed in through my back door I thought, I know better, I can take a nap on the beach.

Napping on the beach did not happen.

Such is my story.

Get up early, plan on napping, then never do it.

I was up at 6:30 a.m. and ready to go by 7 a.m. on the nose.

However, my ride slept beyond his alarm and I had some spare time.

Enough spare time that I considered throwing in the towel and skipping the entire endeavor completley.

Next time.

But my friend said, come on, let me get some coffee and I will be right over to get you.

So, after a later start than I was anticipating, but one which allowed me to write my morning pages and meditate before heading out, and with an extra cup of coffee under my belt, I loaded my borrowed board into my friends truck and climbed in the cab.

We headed down the highway to Pacifica.

The waves at Sloat did not terrify my companion, “those don’t look so bad,” he said, followed by, “look, there’s people surfing.”

Look I did and it looked too big for me.

He agreed to keep driving and we headed to Lindemar Beach, or Taco Bell Beach, as my friend called it.

There really is the fanciest looking fast food restaurant on the beach that I do believe I have ever seen.  It’s a Taco Bell, but it looks like a beach chalet.

The beach was packed, in fact for a moment we despaired of finding parking, but parking was found and we clambered into our wetsuits.

I pulled on my new booties and was quite happy to have them.

Later, as I walked the beach toward sunset and the water caught at my toes in the surf as I was shooting photographs, I thought it was a damn good thing I had gotten the booties.

The water was far colder than the last time I had gotten in.

Maybe not far colder, but it was definitely noticeable and I believe I would not have stayed in as long as I did at Pacifica if I had not had the booties on.

It was hard to stay in period.

Grateful I did not have anything else to think about.

I was smashed around in the water, but I rode in a few times on the white water, the sets were coming in so fast that I barely had time to catch them, the much more experienced riders paddled out past the break and I got to see a lot of great riding.

When I wasn’t busy getting tossed head over heels.

Yup.

I got slammed by a few waves.

One in which I actually ended up doing a complete somersault under the water, I got hit so hard.

As disconcerting as I would have thought it to be, I have to say, it was actually fun.

I just let my body tumble through the wash cycle.

I relaxed into it.

Control issues.

Ha.

I had no control today.

Not over my body, over the water, over my friends arrival, or his leaving of me in the water.

He just scooted out and surfed and I stayed back and floundered.

But I learned.

I learned to see when the wave sets were coming in and managed to paddle through a couple of them and actually turn my board around and ride a couple in.

No, I did not get up on the board.

But, hey, it was my third time out, with someone who has been out only about 20 times.  I had no expectations, I was just happy to get myself in the water.

I also felt the undertow for the first time, a really strong undertow, and it was unnerving.

I get it now.

I think I always had a conception of what that means, but until you actually feel it, there’s no comparison.

And if the undertow was strong in Pacifica I cannot imagine what it would have been like at Ocean Beach.

There were still surfers out when I was down at Ocean Beach this afternoon and I saw something that literally made me say, out loud, “Oh my god, did that just happen?”

It was a big wave and there was a surfer riding the top of the wave and he was riding it straight across, not coming down the face, but moving over the top and as the top began to smoke and smash and curl over, almost crumbling into itself, he lifted off the top of the wave and did a complete 360 in the air.

I gasped.

That was some amazing surfing.

I mean, I am sure I can YouTube something like what I saw and be impressed, but to actually see that from the shore as I was walking in the late afternoon sunshine was astounding.

I don’t foresee much surfing for me at Ocean Beach during the winter months, and most folks have said pretty much the same thing to me, go to Pacifica or Santa Cruz and leave OB for the experienced.

I will probably have another day out with my friend next Sunday, we’re definitely going to go again, especially since he just got his first surf board from Aqua Surf Shop yesterday.

Between his new board and my new booties, we are ready.

And I knew when I was done and I did not force myself to keep going.

I just got out.

My friend was out for at least another half hour, but when I was yelling in my head, “paddle, paddle, paddle” as a wave came up on me, and my arms just weren’t listening, I realized I was done.

I had run out of gas.

Sitting on the beach, watching the waves roll in their sets, the children in wetsuits zipping around on boogie boards, the dogs chasing balls, and the surfers lifting up and over the face of the waves to glide with elegant ease into the next wave it was hard to even imagine how difficult it is from just a few feet away from sure.

It looks so easy.

But it’s not, at least not for me, and though I thought, man maybe I should just boogie board, I knew (though I will do the boogie board thing too) that I was not about to toss in the towel on the whole experience.

Just on the morning.

No regrets.

I got in.

I suited up.

I showed up.

I even managed to get out of my wetsuit without pulling off any of my limbs with it.

 

 

 

Punked Out

December 29, 2013

But still going.

I had an emotionally draining day.

One I knew might be, but was not exactly what I expected.

I knew I would cry and I wore no eye liner.

And waterproof mascara.

Cry I did.

I also did not finish with my endeavor, which was unexpected, it took longer than I thought to go through the things that needed to be said and I was busy writing down things that I did not even realize I was doing.

Control.

God do I want it.

Control and victimhood.

Get thee gone, motherfucker.

Ack.

Nope after an hour and a half at Tart to Tart my time was up and I parted ways with the work, but was still being worked over, internally re-arranged, you might say.

I felt out of it and drained and tired, and it took me a bit once I got back to get into any sort of routine, to get any momentum underneath me.

But I did.

I had a late lunch, went grocery shopping, and managed to get over to Wise Surfboards to buy a pair of booties for surfing.

I just confirmed that I will be getting picked up, me, my wetsuit, the new booties, and a borrowed long board, to go surfing tomorrow morning at 7a.m.

Sigh.

It’s 11:33 p.m. at the moment and I won’t, even my speediest typing, won’t get to bed before one a.m.  I will finish my blog by midnight, but I had a little caffeine later in the day to pick me up from bailing on the rest of the day, and though my body feels tired, my brain is a little busy.

I do have some tea cooling off and a small snack to nibble and maybe I will finish Before Midnight, which I have down loaded and been watching bits of over the last few nights.

I will unwind, but it won’t leave me with the usual number of hours I like to sleep, especially on a day off.  Then again, a day off could me a nap, which would not happen if say I was up late before I was to work a shift.

So, the balance being I will get up early, surf, and probably take a nap in the late morning or very early afternoon, right about the time when I used to get up and ponder this thing that some call brunch, which is really just a vehicle to cater to those hung over from Saturday’s revelry and nurse a bloody mary or mimosa while coating the stomach with greasy eggs Benedict.

Or, that is my experience anyway.

“You’re going out surfing tomorrow?” My friend said to me as we were parting ways, “good for you!  Where at?”

“Sloat,” I said.  Although when I went to buy my booties at Wise Surfboards I did remember how wild the water looked, how big the waves looked and whether or not I would actually be getting into the water at that time seemed farfetched.

“No, you can’t do Sloat, the waves are going to be way too big, who are you going with?” He asked.

I told him.

No, that’s too dangerous, you guys don’t have enough experience to do Sloat, go down to Rockway or Pacifica or Santa Cruz if you’re going to go out, Sloat scares me right now, the waves are huge, its way too dangerous,” he repeated with emphasis, his eyebrows going up and down of their own volition.

That’s what I thought too, then his friend showed me the wave report for tomorrow and I got goosebumps looking, yeah, not surfing Sloat.

I have been told this numerous times now, the winter is here and the waves are big.

Too big for me, that’s for sure.

I sent my friend a text while I waited for the train, hoping to hear back from him, and wondering whether I would pussy out of going if he suggested we head to Pacifica.

The lure of a warm bed calling to me to stay in it is no small thing.

He texted me just as I was sitting down to write and said, “Pacifica, and if the waves are too big we’ll go out to breakfast.”

Sigh.

Ok.

I texted back.

I know I will be happy when I am in the water and my new booties are keeping my toes warm and even if I don’t get up on the board, I will have the satisfaction of knowing I got out into the water.

Half the battle, more really, is just showing up.

I know I will get up, begrudgingly perhaps, but I will get up.

I will suit up and show up.

I have been trained well.

Turn toward compassion and humility.

That was what I got today and that is what might be the hardest thing about surfing, as I go out for the third time, being so amateur at something, so lost, I have to surrender to what is happening and though frightening, the lack of control is also freeing.

Control.

That was pointed out to me again and again and again.

How I want to control others, their reactions, the way they live, what they do, as though by doing so I will avoid being hurt, I will protect myself from pain.

But life is pain.

And joy and love and all sorts of other things, but yes pain.

Pain is where I grow and learn and through going through the pain I learn.

I learn that I can let go of the control and what I think should happen and on what timeline.

It’s always been out of my hands.

Now, more so than ever.

Just like the waves, too big for me to control or swim past.

Surrender to the nature of my humanity and stop struggling for something that I never had in the first place.

No wonder I got so tired today.

It takes a lot to keep up that facade.

It blocks what I need though, that old sunlight of the spirit, so here’s to letting it go and seeing what takes its place.

Surfing for one.

Apparently.

Who knows what else.

Naps too perhaps.

Sprinkled with acceptance, forgiveness, and most of all.

“Compassion,” she said, “show yourself some compassion.”

Ok.

I acquiesce.

I give up.

Compassion sounds a lot better than control anyhow.

Integrity

December 28, 2013

I so did not want to spend the early evening hanging out around the Mission, and that is funny, because there have been many, many, many times when I did not.

However I was due to be of service at 8p.m. and with work done for the week at 4:30p.m. I had some down time.

I spun by the bike shop, got my brakes tightened, had a little oil slipped onto the chain, chatted up my friends there and then headed to Rainbow to get a few groceries.

So sad the groceries at Rainbow.

Which is not usually the case, normally the fruit and veggies look spectacular, but the after holiday pickings weren’t so great.  However, the main reason I was there was to get myself a bag of Stumptown Holler Mountain and that was achieved.

Then over to Herbivore for my “I play a vegan on tv” dinner.

I am not a vegan, but they do have a super tasty plate that just makes me all sorts of warm and fuzzy and I get my Mexican in the Mission fix without eating suspicious meat or a lot of grease.  I get the Mexican beans and rice with fresh salsa and guacamole and fake sour cream with a little side salad and fake chicken and it really hits the spot.

Don’t know why, don’t care to analyze it.

Then a manicure because that is my splurge and a cup of tea and then the doing the deal and thankfully, as it was late and my bag was full of groceries, I got offered a ride home to the beach, my bicycle nestled into the back of a truck and voila!

Home.

Home.

Home where the house is clean and smells like me and says, “hello! Glad you are here.”

Here for tonight and off to be a bit busy this weekend, but not too over scheduled or over booked, just enough to provide a bit of structure and a bit of wiggle room should something fun pop up for me to do.

“Want to go surfing on Sunday?” My friend asked me tonight as I greeted him in the Mission.

“Yes!” I said, followed by, “when?”

“Sunday.” He said.

“Perfect!” I said.  Keeping that Sunday open I am! And I was able to say yes.

“What time?” I asked.

“In the morning,” he said slyly.

“Ugh.  Yes, ok, how early?” I asked, I guess I am getting up to an alarm on my day off.

“Eight?” He said.

“Ok,” I said with a small sigh, “I can do that.”

He looked at me and smiled, then cocked his head to the right slightly and said almost too quietly for me to hear, “seven?”

“Jesus, I suppose I could, good thing you already offered be a ride home tonight or I would not have said yes to that,” I joked.

Although, I would have.

This will make surf trip number three for me.

I think I will have a little something extra to do tomorrow, now that I know I will be getting into the water in the morning, time to buy some booties.

I did not mind surfing without them the last time I went, it was getting out of the water and walking on the beach when I could not feel my feet that made me a bit nervous.

That and walking back to the car, it was nice to have some protection on my toes.

So, looks like I will be getting in one more surf session before the new year commences.

I confirmed my work for this upcoming week and gratefully found out that the family will not need me next Friday.  I get  a three-day weekend!

That will make up for the very intense work week I will have with the overnight happening on New Years Eve.  I work a double or triple shift depending on how I look at it.  New Years Eve day I work my normal hours 8:45a.m.-5:30p.m. then I will hop in the car with the mom of one of my charges, with my overnight bag, and head over to her friend’s place in the Mission and nanny for two little monkeys overnight.

My shift officially is listed at 7pm Tuesday night until 10a.m. Wednesday morning.

Then I will have the rest of the day off.

Which I will need.

Work a regular shift on Thursday with my charge in NOPA and then three-day weekend.

Excellent.

I can do it.

Especially with the next two days off to write, surf, do some inventory, almost done, which is good since it has to be by 12:25p.m. tomorrow.

Ha.

Coffee with someone in the early afternoon, tea with someone in the evening, head up to Noe Valley, do that thing there, then back out to the beach.

Squeeze in a trip to a sporting good store to get myself some booties.

Ah, yes, that works, thanks brain, sometimes you do come in handy, I will make a run over to Wise Surf Shop when I return from my noon get together at Tart to Tart.

That’s where I got my wetsuit and I believe their prices are a little more inline with my needs then Mollusk, which though adorable and half a block away is a little bit pricier.

I feel pretty good about that at the moment, the finances, being responsible girl I am.  I paid rent for January last night, paid my student loan, and just wrote a check out for Healthy San Francisco f0r the next three months.

Happy Holidays!

You’re financially sufficient!

Yes.

I also put money in the savings account and sent a message to Barnaby to figure out how to pay him the plane ticket money.  I want that out of my hot little hands before I decide to delay and get a new lap top.

I want the debt dealt with and done before the new year commences.

These things all mean that what ever money I make next week, it’s sort of bonus money.  Oh, there’ll be incidentals and groceries, there always is, but I don’t have to pay any bills with any of the money that I get the next week.

I can sock a good amount away toward the new laptop and I can get a pair of booties.

Good to know where I stand.

And soon to stand, on a surf board.

I don’t know that I will be able to get up on my third go out, but I am going to try to get up, even if it means just to fall off.

Showing up for it is the biggest battle.

Just showing up is 99% of my life right now.

Glad to do so, even if it means setting my alarm for 6 a.m. on a Sunday.

I shall.

My word means something today.

Today I have integrity.

Above And Beyond

December 27, 2013

That was the message, or part of, the message that I received earlier this evening.

Once again, doing my best to leave it better than I found it.

The house sitting gig done I plane on staying home for a while.

Yeah, I got an overnight gig to do for New Years Eve, but tell you what, as my stalwart little computer could tell you, I am going to make some money this month so I can get a new laptop.

This little guy has not got much left.

I am going to make an appointment at the Genius Bar, but as the Apple guy that I met at Burning Man said to me, the guy that works for Apple, not some dude handing out fruit, “time to throw it out and buy a new one.”

And my little gal has lasted four months longer then he was predicting, but she seems to be fading fast, and so, though I am not particularly looking forward to working an over night, I am looking forward to the extra cash.

I just wrote the last of my bills for the month, rent for January, and walked it upstairs to my landlord, so nice to be home, let me just say that one more time, and paid January rent a few days early.

Everything I make from here on out, with the exception of grocery money, is cake.

Not cake to eat, but perhaps cake to blog about.

Because, God forbid, I don’t blog.

I think I have a habit, but not one I am interested in kicking anytime soon.

I am busy though, doing some extra service this month, which is always good for me at this time of year, and being asked to go a few places I haven’t been to or parts of town I haven’t been around in a while.

I ate dinner after work on Clement Street.

Cannot remember the last time I did that, of course I cannot remember the last time I was on Clement street on my bicycle.

I’ll be in the Mission tomorrow night after work and then in the Inner Sunset on Sunday, I am definitely on the circuit.

But it keeps the mind off what the mind likes to masticate on.

“You haven’t been in a relationship in how long?” She asked me startled last night as we were getting ready to sit down to Christmas dinner and she was telling me of her and her husbands plans on having another child.

Well, yeah, I guess it has been awhile, but I am not on a schedule, a timeline, and I certainly don’t have an expiration date, so what ever.

I was also told by a friend who I happened to ride my bicycle past yesterday afternoon on my way to do the deal, that I looked 25.

I smiled and said thank you.

I didn’t argue.

I don’t believe that I look 25, but I know I don’t look my age and I am not worried about it, I don’t know what exactly has shifted over the last week or so, perhaps that constant writing about forgiveness.

Perhaps that inventory I finished writing today.

Yes, got some writing cranked out during my charges three-hour nap.

Oh, thank heaven for little girls that nap three hours, because despite my only having one charge I was a bit worn out from making sure the house was ship-shape before I left and I wasn’t feeling at the top of my game.

Santa brought me my period, thanks big guy.

Nothing says funny like a frantic women scurrying around a gay male couple’s pristine home trying to find sanitary products.

Maybe they had a female Air B-N-B guests, maybe one of the guys has a sister, there’s got to be something, I kept thinking as I opened every cupboard, closet, and drawer.

Jesus.

All I could think about was not ruining their eggshell sheets.

God damn.

There’s a premise for a comedy sitcom in that somewhere, I am sure.

I took care of things, but yeah, so tired a bit today, and though I pondered just taking a nap on the couch I knew I had some writing that needed to be finished by Saturday 12:15p.m.

I cranked it out.

How refreshing.

Used to be a time that this kind of work took a lot longer, but the more you do the easier it gets and the fewer things I have to write about.

I had one really big aha revelation and I am so grateful for that.

Really grateful.

Anyway, life feels a bit above and beyond for me, not sure what’s going to happen next, what new thing I am going to get myself into, I know I have a trip to make to Florida soon, but that feels very far away right now, even though I bet it’s just three weeks.

Now I have to look at the calendar.

Just over three weeks.

So much can happen in three weeks.

So much can happen in three days.

Sometimes in three hours.

Tomorrow I just have a four-hour day, and I am sure things will happen in that time.  One of which is to get some more massage work scheduled, I am ready for it after hauling a weeks worth of stuff in my messenger bag back to the house.

Glad to unpack that bag.

Knowing that I can go one week with what I have in that bag is pretty awesome, but since I don’t have to live that way, I prefer not to.

“I house sat once,” the husband of a friend of a friend said to me at dinner last night, “I hated it, never did it again.”

Haha.

That is such a normal person’s reaction.

I did not like it, so I did not do it again.

Well, the first time I tried crack it didn’t work, so I tried again.

Funny, how I have to repeatedly do things that I don’t like, as though I am trying to prove something.

Not sure exactly what that is, but I am done proving it with the house sitting, which is awesome, as I am home, and the only place I want to be is here.

In my little blue room by the sea.

I’m leaving up my Christmas tree a few more days just to get the full feel of it.

Now to stop repeating other things that don’t work for me.

Chronically single.

Diagnosed.

Now, excuse me while I go take my forgiveness pill.

And make a cup of tea to relax in my own sweet space.

 

Wash the Dishes

December 26, 2013

Wrap it up.

Bid adieu to Christmas.

Well, not quite, it’s still here, it’s still happening, the day has not quite ended, but I am back at the house sitting gig, my hands slightly softened from washing the dinner dishes at my friend’s house, the cat fed, the garbage taken out and another Christmas for me, put almost to bed.

A day of reflection and gratitude and sunshine.

Warm sunshine.

I took a walk this afternoon after doing my routine, that’s the nice thing about a routine, no matter what day of the year, I do it.

I don’t break away from it for my birthday or Christmas, or any other special occasion, I used to think that I could not afford to, but now I know that I do not want to.

My life, in great part, evolves because of the time I take in the morning to write, read, sit and be still, eat a good breakfast, and be settled in myself before going out into any day, any situation.

Christmas, then, being no exception.

Well, excepting I slept in a little.

The cat did wake me up to feed her, but I went back to bed after I did and that was luxurious and the nice hot shower after I woke up was lovely and the nice leisurely breakfast and writing and meditation.

Actually, said cat disrupted said meditation.

I was sitting in the big stuffed chair by the window in the back room, one of the only places the house gets any direct light, and there is a cat tree next to the chair.

About five, six minutes into my nice warm silent get right with God, the cat started washing it’s paws.

Yick.

Have you ever heard a cat clean it’s paws?

RASP, slurp, click, click, click (chewing it’s toenails), slurp, RASP.

Oh my god.

I stopped meditating right then and there.

But I received what I needed and I needed to get outside for a while, so I strolled up and down Dolores Street, enjoying the sunshine, the palm trees, the lack of traffic, the plethora of parking, and the occasional greeting being shouted out by other folks on their way to or from their holiday gatherings.

“Merry Christmas!”

He shouted, weaving around the sidewalk, “Merry, Merry, Merry!”

I crossed over to the other side of the street, definitely not engaging.

Although, I did find myself relaying a brisk, cheerful and bright “Merry Christmas” to a couple underneath the highway overpass who were torching up some rock.

It just sort of popped out.

And it was a better interaction than I had feared.

Which, all in all, most of my interactions are, even when awkward.

I think they are going to be awful, but they end up being fine, or good, or even great.

I don’t like taking CA Bike Route 25 because of that underpass, but it’s the only way to navigate Bayshore and it was the only way to go unless I wanted to go more than a mile or two out of my way and up and over Bernal Hill, and I still would have had to be on part of the wonky anyhow.

Made my hyper grateful that I was just there “visiting” that I did not have to take that kind of bicycle commute again.

I knew the underpass from years ago when I briefly worked in the Bay View wholesale vegetable and fruit markets doing some real basic data entry at wholesale market that a room-mate worked at.

I disliked the commute then, and I didn’t fare so well this time, but I got back and forth in one piece and the middle was lovely.

The house was warm and smelled amazing, in fact, it might just be the best meal I have had at the holidays in the last nine years.  The host had made the majority of the food to all the dietary restrictions of her guests–sugar and gluten-free–for all the mains and side dishes.

I had an amazing, beautifully cooked, home cooked, abstinent meal.

Now that is a Christmas miracle.

Of course there was amazing dessert for all, but I partook of  an adorable little raw fruit plate my darling host set down at my side without even asking.

I felt sweetly spoiled and taken care of.

That’s what the holidays for me are about and what, in my opinion, I miss about them from an earlier time.  Christmas was holy, special, a day were things weren’t open and places were shut down, where Christmas Eve was about the grandparents house and you had to make plans.

That it was not instant, effort was made, and when the effort wasn’t made it was really obvious.

The effort was made tonight and I felt really honored.

I also felt like I needed to show my gratitude and help where I could.

Which meant before the meal basically lighting candles, and having catch up conversation with old friends who had moved over to the East Bay.

But after the meal, meant washing the dishes.

And I don’t know what it was and I don’t know why I had my Christmas moment there, but that’s where I had it.

Normally, I have my Christmas moment in front of my Christmas tree at night watching it with the lights off, I get swept with an overwhelming feeling of gratitude and rightness coupled with sweet nostalgia for all past Christmas trees.

This time it was over the dish pan.

Maybe it was the little kids, three of them, two boys and a girl all around three years old, being coaxed to say “Merry Christmas,” for the camera.

Maybe it was the pattern of flowers on the eggshell china.

Maybe it was the smell of the meal being wrapped up and put away for delicious left overs or the wife of a friend saying, “let me get a dish towel, I’ll dry.”

But suddenly, I was in the kitchen at my grandparents house in Lodi washing dishes over the sink, looking out the back window at the golden light falling onto the snow from the bay window in dinning area, listening to my aunts gently gossip, my hands plunged in the water, washing a plate, being quietly swept up into the adult dramas as the younger cousins sat huddled impatiently around the Christmas tree waiting to unwrap presents.

Dinner dishes always were done before the presents on Christmas Eve were opened.

And I was there, in Lodi, in Wisconsin, smelling the turkey and ham, hearing the fire crackle, listening to my uncles talk gruffly with my grandfather and wishing I hadn’t had the sticky popcorn ball my grandfather had made–dyed either bright red or bright green, wrapped in clear cellophane, made with thick, gooey heavy corn syrup, heated up, then mixed up with the popcorn that my grandfather grew–and yet, I can still taste it and am grateful to it.

Rituals.

Traditions.

Routines.

They bind me to who I am and where I came from.

I can never decide if I am more Californian, having been born here, raised my first formative years here, having spent nearly the last eleven years in here.

Or Wisconsin, having moved there at the age of 5 and staying, with a few detours, for almost 25 years.

I suppose I am a mix of both and I can be grateful for that too.

As I navigated the pee smelling streets and passed the crack couple having their holiday hits, I realized that I can perhaps make a hybrid of the two parts of me here, that I started by allowing myself a Christmas tree this year.

Maybe next year I make some traditions for me.

Or I visit Hudson, Wisconsin.

If I want a taste of that Midwestern thing.

That’s something to think about next year.

For tonight, a cup of tea, a cuddle with the cat, Downton Abbey’s Christmas Special, and I say thank you Father Christmas, it’s been a wonderful day.

Thank you, too to my friends who made sure I was included all the day long.

I feel loved and that, any day, Christmas, or otherwise, is a gift.

 

 

Christmas in the City

December 25, 2013

In the city by the bay.

Oh.

Oh.

Oh.

Yeah.

Like that.

What a gorgeous day today was.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Simply and unutterably, almost intolerably, beautiful for December in San Francisco.

I was almost done with my half day of nannying in the Castro, and though my little elf was a jolly doll to hang out with, I was ready to start my Christmas.

I took a load of photographs today, of which I just spent the last hour and a half sorting through and posting, some to facecrack, and one to my photography blog.

I may post more there, but as my computer was not happy about all the photographs and the blogging platforms and the down loading and shut down on me without my permission, I must say, I don’t know that I will be putting up a lot more photographs tonight.

But I will sneak in a few for you, because, well, it’s Christmas time and one of the gifts that I continue to give to myself because it makes me happy, and when I am happy I am a better person and damn it, that’s actually important.

“What principle are you practising today,” she asked me over the phone as I called to check in on my way to work.

“Brotherly love,” I said with a smile, I had already said good morning to every single person I had seen on my walk (since I was just a few blocks away house sitting already, I decided to leave the bicycle there and walk to the nanny gig) and smiled at them.

I continued to do that to the best of my abilities, wherever I went, to whomever I saw.

I have to say that by the time I made it to the 8p.m. at 2900 24th street I was a little blown out and had about enough of that principle at that time of night on Christmas Eve, but when the bum chatted me up not once, but twice, I just smiled and said, yes, you’re right and let it go.

I was reminded that I get to practice something on a daily basis that not most people practise, except, well, maybe, at Christmas  time.

It’s some how allowable to smile and say something bright and cheery at Christmas time.

Although, I do have my fur rubbed the wrong way when I am expected to suddenly throw showers of money on panhandlers because it’s the holidays.

Man, back off, I just paid my student loan payment today, don’t hassle me, I am working.

“Merry Christmas,” I said, and smiled instead.

That felt much better, let me tell you.

I even bought my little charge a Santa hat, he was all dressed up in Christmas colors, and I just couldn’t help myself.

I popped into the Walgreens at Castro and Market and picked him up a little velour red cap with fake white fur trim and a snowball pompom and watched faces light up with utter joy every time he hollered, “HI!” from his stroller.

The word is in contention for his first word, he waves and jumps up and down and wiggles and it is adorable.

He charmed the clerk so much once I had the little hat on his head, she came out from behind the counter to bat her eyes at him.

I felt like I was doing service, being of good cheer, and spreading some cute baby love to those around me.

And I took a ridiculous amount of photos of him.

I flooded mom’s phone with text messages and photographs.

Made me quite happy to do so, he’s such a photogenic child, it really is amazing.

Santa's Helper

Little Elf

Christmas Elf

Christmas Elf

Ornament

Ornament

I probably took 50 or sixty shots of him and the neighborhood today.

I left around 2:30p.m. in the afternoon with my time set up for Friday and a card with an hour and a half session with a body worker!

Yes, there really is a Santa Claus, and he wants me to get another massage.

Thanks boys!

I drifted to Castro and Market and hit up the F-Market line train down to the Ferry Building at the Embarcadero.

F-Market

F-Market

Shadow Selfie

Shadow Selfie, Ferry Building, SF

I wandered through the building headed toward the opposite side, taking in the crowds and the last-minute shoppers, the frenzied shop keepers and the bags and strollers, the tired children smacked out on sugar, the multitude of languages being spoken, French, German, a lot of Italian, and good old USA Midwesterners.

For a moment I thought about turning back around and saying forget this.

But I went through the building and headed outside, the light was gorgeous and I went to the ferry terminal, spoke with a gentleman there and bought the last round trip ticket out of San Francisco to Sausalito for the evening.

It left me with an hour to kill so I went back inside.

Hoping for some Hog Island Oyster action.

But they were swamped, the line too long, and the restaurant closing down.

So I just walked through the stalls and went to Book Passages and bought a magazine and a 50 cent postcard.  I sat in the book shop and flipped through a Nylon and wrote myself a little holiday note.

My tradition–to send myself postcards from my artists dates, it’s a cheap souvenir and I always remember what I did that day when I come across the card later.

I got up after a bit, checked my watch, ferry leaving in fifteen and headed to the terminal.

On my way I happened to pass the San Francisco Sea Food Company, and there they were, my Christmas oysters sitting fat and plump and tender atop some ice in front of the store.

Oh damn.

I bought five Blue Points and tipped the girl in the apron behind the counter and smiled, wishing her a Merry Christmas and a speedy end to her day.

Three oysters drenched in lemon juice.

Two oysters smothered in hot horseradish cream.

Oh heaven.

Thus fortified, I ducked over to the ferry, walked up the gangplank and set sail for Sausalito.

The $20.50 fare for the round trip worth it from the moment I stepped aboard.

The skyline.

Skyline

Skyline

The Bay Bridge.

Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge

The Golden Gate Bridge.

Golden Gate Bridge

Golden Gate Bridge

Then the cold wind whipping my hair around my face, thankful for my new warm scarf from my housemate, the tears streaming out of my eyes from the air blowing under my glasses, but my heart, so full.

To let myself do things like this and not listen to the head when it says, listen, it’s ok, you know, just stay back at the house with the cat and watch Sex in the City reruns on cable.

Because, you know that says Merry Christmas like nobody’s business.

I chatted with tourists from Houston, Texas and Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

I took photos for other folks.

I flirted, in a not too serious way with the boat hands and got smiles from grizzled ferry-boat operators ready for their Costco t-bones and six packs.

Then I got a quick walk, and I do mean quick, it was only a twenty-minute layover before the ferry turned back and there would be no more running for the night, around Sausalito and a few more photographs.

Skyline, Sausalito, CA

Sausalito Skyline

Back on the boat I thanked the operators again and headed back outside.

I munched an apple I had bought yesterday at Rainbow Grocery, a beautiful deep crimson red Arkansas Black Heirloom apple, and watched the dark indigo sky swallow up the bay.

Then, well, you know me, more photos.

Alcatraz

Alcatraz

Bay Bridge

Bay Bridge

Skyline

Skyline

Magic.

It was absolute magic and the best gift I could have given myself.

Merry Christmas friends.

May all your dreams come true this year.

Love to you from San Francisco.

And to all.

A good night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All The Pretty Lights

December 24, 2013

“Slow down,” I told myself, as I navigated the Wiggle back “home”.

Home, is where the house sit is.

I was up at 7th and Irving after work taking care of a commitment and having some last-minute check ins with some ladies, good to have service to keep me steady no matter where I lay my pillow.

But I am ready to have home be my home again.

Out at the edge of the sea.

Where it is warmer.

This house, though more than quadruple the size of the place where I live is constantly cold, it gets little to no direct sunlight and is an interior apartment, it stays cold.

Plus, like so many of the older Victorians in the city, it does not have insulation.

Even on nights when it is not that chilly out, it feels cold.

Oh, boohoo, I can hear my friends from Northern Wisconsin pipe up.

But, if you think about it, no one, and I mean no one is sitting in a house in Wisconsin that registers the same temperature as the outside temp here.

Nope, most folks like there interior domicile to probably be around 68-70 degrees Farenheit.

This place does have lovely gas heaters in the old fireplaces in the front and back rooms, so at least when I am in the bedroom the warmth sticks and me and the kitty can get cozy.

Of course, the internet it is not working so good from the back or front room.

Haha.

So, I am in the kitchen with the chilly air, no heater in here, nope.

Oh well.

I at least chatted with the guys who I am sitting for and got the television on, it had to be reset, so it wasn’t just a matter of turning it on and off, but once I did, I spent close to fifteen minutes scrolling up and down the 700 plus channels.

Nothing to watch.

Nothing to see.

Screw that.

I turned it off and realized what a time suck just that was.

I could have been nearly done with my blog and already enjoying my evening snack and finishing up Bad Santa.

Oh my god.

So fucking bad, so fucking good.

Billy Bob Thornton is fucking brilliant.

I am about half way through, and truth be told I may wait until after Christmas to continue watching it, it’s a little dark, but I am glad I downloaded it.

Tonight instead of the 700 plus channels of dreck, I shall be watching a Downton Abbey Christmas special.

Now that is up my alley.

I will also try to down load another version of Elf, the one I got was not good quality, that and Holiday Inn.

My plans seem to be holding steady for the holiday, but who knows what may happen, God laughs when I make plans.

Tomorrow I am working until 2p.m. then I am off for the rest of Christmas Eve and Christmas day.

I am off to the Ferry Building, off to Sausalito, off to take photographs of the skyline from across the bay.  Off to eat oysters from Hog Island when I get back from the ferry ride and there’s a very good probability that I will hit a 7:05 p.m. movie at the Embarcadero Theater.

Either 12 Years a Slave.

Or The Dallas Buyers Club.

Leaning more toward the latter.

But I’m just going to play it by ear.

Same for Christmas, although my plan is a little more concrete.

I will meet my lady friend Beth at 2900 24th Street at Florida, hit a cafe for some coffee, either Philz or Haus, or SugarLump, whichever happens to be open, I think Philz is typically open until about 2pm, if memory serves.

Then hang out for a little bit and after ward ride our bicycles over to Christmas dinner with friends.

Simple.

Easy.

Hoping that I won’t stick my faulty agenda in there anywhere and just show up.

Half the battle, that, just showing up.

I do that fairly well.

The city is empty and when I did slow my roll down, following the arrows on the street unconsciously along the bike route, I spent a lot more time looking up and out at the houses, the pretty Christmas lights and how people had decorated their homes.

I felt extraordinarily grateful to be looking at and appreciating all the pretty lights.

One of my favorite games over the holidays was one I played with my sister when we were on road trips to and from Milwaukee for my step-fathers family Christmas, or to and from Lodi for my mother’s family Christmas.

I much preferred the trip to Lodi, although there were not nearly as many lights, Milwaukee being a city and Lodi a tiny town of 2,200, maybe 2,300 folks.

I would stare out my side of the window into the dark inky indigo night speckled with stars, God’s Christmas lights, and count the strands adorning the homes as they flashed into view taking this turn or that as we headed from my grandparents home back to Windsor.

Sometimes it was very, very, very cold and it felt as though the world was under a glass dome of ice, but I always remember getting used to it.

The only time I believe I ever felt scared about the cold was my sophomore year in highschool, the school district actually shut down for two or three days, the temperature with wind chill registered at -70 to -75 degrees Farenheit.

I remember that cold.

It was deep and hit fast.

The dog did not want to go out to pee.

I did not want to outside to walk the dog.

It was a chore to get to the mailbox.

I remember sitting huddled on the couch in what we called the library, and had we any money it might have been, but it was more like the only room in the house that we could possibly keep moderately warm.

My room might as well have been outside.

I was beneath the attic and my closet door opened to the attic door which opened up a flight of non-insulated stairs.

I could see my breath when I walked in my room and my parents never let me leave the door open to collect any of the heat that might be rising from the downstairs.

It was Siberia.

When my mother and step-father divorced, my mom actually took the room and I moved into her old one.

Not nearly as cold.

In fact, I don’t remember being cold in that room, I remember being warm and that is where so much of my adult person seems to have been raised.

I am still quite childlike and I still tend to listen to the little kid in me that is nervous about not having enough, even though I completely do, I have so much.

I was admiring the lights, thinking of all the gifts in my life and sailing around the corner of the street, Christmas is here and though I don’t know how it’s supposed to all go down, to plan or not to plan, it’s here and I am grateful that though it is a little chilly in my abode, it ain’t no -70.

Wishing all my friends and family in colder climbs warm cheery hearths and loads of love as the Christmas day approaches, I am thinking of you with so much love in my heart.

Well, I am not cold anymore.

I Am Seeing A Pattern Here

December 23, 2013

My friend said to me as we sat on the bench outside of Philz Coffee at Folsom and 24th.

I had deliberately not planned anything except one thing, meet a lady, have some tea, and go do that thing were I sit in a room for an hour and listen to other people’s crazy.

Other than that, I wanted, as I have been trying to do, to have a free Sunday.

So, when I received the text asking me what I was up to I was able to say, nothing really, chilling, hanging out, maybe a wander through the Mission.

Let’s meet!

She was on call and had to stay in her neighborhood, the Mission, and I for once, was back in the Mission.

Rearing its busy, confused head with tourists, locals annoyed with the tourists, hipsters staying in for the holiday, people complaining about the Air B-N-B situation at their TIC that was trying to get bought out and not for an owner move in, but so that the land lord could rent out the place to tourists.

I will say the Mission is a long way from being full on Disney, but it’s happening.

Truth be told, I don’t have much of an opinion about it all, I find it interesting for sure, the neighborhood changing, the increase in traffic, the people looking at maps, the number of younger and younger people.

Or maybe, I am just getting older, I remember when Philz was actually manned by Phil.

When the coffee shop was a quiet local secret.

Before they had the mugs and the hats and it was cash only and Phil would hand feed me spoonfuls of some coffee blend he was making up.

“Here, now, try this,” he said with deep sensual pleasure, skimming the foam off the coffee roast after having poured piping hot water over the fresh grounds. That same concoction a few weeks later was to become Canopy of Heaven, a very special light roast coffee blend.

Light in roast, high in caffeine–which also may explain why it, Canopy of Heaven and his other light roast, Greater Alarm (blended up for the firefighters who worked the overnight shifts in the Mission) became my favorites.

I learned from Phil that just because those beans are darker roasted does not mean they have more caffeine, nope, it is the exact opposite–the lighter the roast, the higher the caffeine, and the more tender, I believe, you have to be with the bean, to coax out the flavors–lemon, currant, butterscotch in Canopy of Heaven–as opposed to letting it get too bitter.

Oh.

Yum.

Then the heavy cream.

I do mean heavy.

It’s not half and half.

It’s not milk.

It’s not regular cream.

It’s MANUFACTURING CREAM.

Jesus on a pogo stick, when Phil told me that, well, no wonder.

Manufacturing cream is whipping cream, you know the stuff you put on top of pumpkin pie or a Belgian waffle.

Sinful.

I remember when there was no counter, no line, no tables, a battered store front with weird art and odd posters, no restroom, coffee sacks in heaps on the floor, the cooler had six packs and the odd bottle of Champagne in it, eggs, sad-looking bananas by the front, and a couple of old battered metal shelves with the strangest array of grocery store items ever.

It was a down and dirty Bodega with a guy in a fedora hat winking at you while he made you a pour over coffee.

Now it’s being served on Virgin Airlines.

Um, yeah.

And that is what the Mission is.

It’s now in all the tour books and that’s cool, you know, that means money into the local economy, but sometimes when I am waiting ten minutes to order a coffee from a person who is ironically being condescending to the people in line–do you want to get a tip dude–I do miss the old Mission.

However, the coffee, as always, was really good, and the company amazing.

We sat outside, watched the world go by, talked about an upcoming trip she is planning, one in which there is a Paris leg to it, and I down loaded, probably way too much information into her brain, and then, as well, about the house sitting gig I am at and the person who was staying at the house.

They Air B-N-B the front room.

I felt a little bit too much like a concierge.

On one hand I don’t mind sharing tips and tricks to San Francisco.

The guest wanted to ride the Golden Gate Bridge and I told him where to go, whom to rent from, how to get there, what to avoid, when to go, how to get back–take the ferry–and a few other details.

I had no problem with that.

But I did take a little issue to having to show him a few other things and having someone rely on me for information when I was trying to get out into my own day.

And I was not about to clean up the mess he was making.

I recounted some things and told my friend how I was thinking, acting, and learning.

She told me my pattern.

Actually she and a few other folks recently have.

And I am listening.

Truly I am.

I don’t want to isolate anymore by being too busy to see my friends because I am house sitting, cat sitting, being tour guide to strangers I don’t know, dog walking, or baby sitting on nights when I am not working as a nanny.

I isolate myself by making busy.

I get busy.

I don’t have to feel.

We walked.

The sun shone down.

We went down Balmy Alley and I took photographs.

Murals

Murals

It made me chuckle.

I was a tourist in my own city, in my old neighborhood, I was a tourist, no longer quite a local, I live in the Outer Sunset, you know that place way over on the other side of the mountain, Twin Peaks, in the land of Nod.

It’s so much more mellow and quiet where I am, although, truth be told, there’s a bit of the gentrification happening there as well.

In the end, though, I don’t mind, I don’t care, let them eat cake, or hand crafted artisan chocolates with crushed sea salt harvested on the Solstice by young women with owl tattoos and labia piercings under the new moon, in the end, ultimately, I love living here.

Getting to live here.

Getting to be here.

I parted with my sweet friend to get lunch and ride my bicycle down Folsom Street to Rainbow.

I stocked up on the rest of the things I will need as I continue to do my house sitting gig and I vowed to let myself be not quite so busy, not quite so isolated, to get out into the world and see it.

Even if it means I look like a tourist in my own town.

And, speaking of tourists, I returned home this evening to find the Air B-N-B guest had left, cleaned most of his mess, and I now have the house to me, myself, and I, plus one very cute orange tabby cat.

Getting again to get grateful for the fact that I still get to be in the Mission, if just for a few more days, before I return to the beach.

Either way you slice it, I am in San Francisco.

And though I may play a tourist on tv.

This is my home.


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