Archive for the ‘Artist Date’ Category

First Book Ordered

July 26, 2019

And summer is done.

Well.

Not quite.

I still have a few weeks before school starts, but I am already doing just a little reading for this upcoming semester.

I said I wouldn’t touch school books until after my trip to Cuba.

I got back Tuesday night at 7a.m.

My god.

My bed was so nice to get into.

I love to travel, I really do, but there is nothing quite like your own bed.

Especially after sleeping 8 nights on a really hard mattress.  I have to admit I was a little let down when I saw my room, but after doing a walking tour of old Havana with a local architect, I got over that shit.

My casa, in comparison to much around me, was really quite nice.

It is one thing to know about the Cuban embargo.

It is another thing entirely to experience it.

The country is poor.

I mean.

Really poor.

And dirty, the streets are disastrous, the cars are all old and there is no smog control, so much exhaust.

So much.

And not actually that many cars, lots of classics, yes, which was fun, I won’t lie, and super cool to see, but there were lots of horses and carts too.

Horses and carts people.

Traveling from Havana to Vinales one day for a trip to visit a tobacco and coffee farm, I counted more horses and carts than actual cars on the freeway.

ON THE FREAKING HIGHWAY.

More horses then cars.

I am not kidding.

These were some of the cars I got to see and go for rides in.  I actually went for more rides in classic cars than regular cars, I didn’t actually take photos of them all.

Sometimes I don’t want to act like a tourist.

Even though I am totally a tourist, I just couldn’t really bring myself to pose on the cars, it didn’t feel like me.

I did, however, quite enjoy cruising around in them, especially when they had A/C.

It was fucking hot.

It was humid.

So humid.

My hair did some batshit crazy things.

And I was constantly sweating.

Er.

Glowing.

I was glowing.

A lot.

 

As you can see, I was “glowing” quite a bit.

I also learned to wear my hair up real fast.

Real fast.

And I was hella grateful that I had brought a travel umbrella.

I actually didn’t use it that much for rain.

There were some showers and one big storm, with hail!

But mostly, I used the umbrella for sun shade.

I was reminded a lot of Burning Man in that regard.  I usually  bring a parasol for the hot days out on playa.

In fact.

Havana reminded me a lot of Burning Man and in some ways having had the experience of going to the event was actually very handy.

I had to bring everything that I wanted or needed.

There were no stores to buy sunblock or extra toothpaste.

I had to use my water filter bottle or buy bottled water, there is no drinking water from the faucets.

Everyone buys bottled water.

Everyone.

It was really dirty, Old Havana is all cobblestone and dirt roads.

I mean.

500 year old cobblestones ain’t clean.

Plus add dogs, cats, and chickens to the mix, garbage, and potholes everywhere.

I’m super glad my friend who had been before cautioned me to wear really sturdy shoes and to bring anything that I might want because I was not going to be able to purchase it there.

I cannot tell you what it was like to see people queuing up for chicken, or to buy one bread roll.

The black market is a real thing there and I found out that I had participated without even knowing it by eating beef one night.

All beef is allocated to the government, restaurants are allowed to have it.

I had it and that means that it was bought on the black market.

Most of the time though I did stick with Cuban classics and I was quite happy with that.

My casa had breakfast every morning, fruit–usually a slice  of watermelon, some papaya, 1/2 a banana and slices of mango with coffee followed by one egg and one slice of avocado.

No bread for me, which my host couldn’t quite understand, but I’m sure she was happy to have the extra roll I sent back each morning.

I dined in a lot of private restaurants, basically in people’s homes.

And I found a couple of cafes that became my haunts, Cafe Bohemia and Papa Ernesto.

Aside, Che Guevero’s given name is Ernesto.

 

This is Cafe Bohemia.

I was so happy to have Pellegrino and mango blended with ice, which they called frappes.  I had a lot of mango.

A lot.

My poop turned orange.

I know.

But it did!

I have never had orange poo before.

Anyway.

The cafe was a life saver as too was Mas Habana.

A restaurant I never would have stumbled upon on my own as it was down a super dirty street with a lot of construction on it.

But I had made a reservation to do a tour of the houses in Old Havana and my host wanted to meet there.

It was a fucking oasis.

An air conditioned oasis.

I went back every day from that point on, either for lunch or for dinner.

On my last day I went there for both lunch and dinner.

I was the queen of beverages at every meal.

San Pellegrino.

Mango frappe.

Cafe con leche.

I had the same amazing appetizer each time, sometimes it was just my meal since I filled up on all the bevvies, tostones rellenos–stuffed fried plantains.

OOOOOH.

So damn good.

Mashed plantains made into patty’s, fried, and then topped with smashed avocado and a shrimp.

I was in heaven.

 

Mas Habana was my little haven.

And on my last night, I splurged and had lobster.

Also black market.

But, fuck it, it was my last night and I knew it was going to be good.

It was in fact, amazing, bathed in a beautiful garlic broth and shelled for me.

All I had to do was scoop it up in a spoon and sigh with delight.

The staff was great and my last night discounted my bill, “for being such a nice customer.”

I am a good tipper.

Once a waitress.

Always a waitress.

I had many more adventures, but I’ve got to get up early tomorrow.

So more pictures to come.

And more tales to tell.

I have a few more days before I need to knuckle back down for school, I promise I’ll show and tell a bit more before I get buried in the reading.

Promise.

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Itinerary

July 5, 2019

I got on it today!

I mean.

I really did a lot of travel prep for my upcoming trip to Havana, Cuba.

I got my passport out.

I slowly, painstakingly, double, triple, quadruple checked how to fill out my Visa, then I filled it our correctly.

I got traveler’s health insurance.

You have to have proof of insurance for entry into Cuba, and though I am fairly certain my health insurance was ok, I didn’t want to risk being turned away for not having the proper insurance or paperwork.  So.  I just used the health insurance that Cuba Travel Services, who I used to procure my Visa, recommended

Frankly, $55 was worth not having to worry about anything.

Then.

I started booking things through Air BnB.

The Visa I am traveling under is in the category of “Support of Cuban People” which is not a traditional tourist Visa, nor was it one of the two categories the current administration squashed.

“People to People” got pulled and so did the Visa that folks use if they’re on a cruise ship.

But.

In “Support of Cuban People” is still legitimate.

Plus I did my research and what I found was that Visa’s granted before the current restrictions were put in place will be honored.

I got my Visa in the mail the day before the sanctions came down.

I am so grateful that I listened to the little voice inside which told me to take care of my Visa before I traveled.

So, so, so glad.

I will have some restrictions on what I can and can’t do with this Visa, and frankly, I’m not bothered by them at all.

I can’t shop at military run or government supported stores or businesses.

Or stay in hotels operated by the government.

No big deal.

I am staying at a private residence that is called a “casa particular” which is pretty much a family owned bed and breakfast.

I had looked up some on Air BnB, but found nothing that was quite the right fit, then I googled for places and stumbled upon a Forbes article that called the place I’m staying one of the best secrets in Old Havana and I checked it out and made a request.

And.

Yes!

They have a room for me.

For 40 Cuban Peso a night including a full breakfast.

I’m pretty sure I posted up about the place before, but I really excited that I landed in such a sweet spot.

Plus, it’s in Old Havana, which is pretty much where I want to spend most of my time anyway.

I’ll be staying in one of the Art Deco rooms in Hostal Chez Nous next to La Habana Vieja, the old square.

I will pay when I arrive.

They don’t accept American credit cards for reservations.  I literally printed off the confirmation e-mail and I present that and the money in Cuban peso for my 8 night stay.

320 Cuban Peso.

For 8 nights including a full Cuban breakfast.

Seriously good deal.

And since I will have to bring plenty of cash, first converting to Euro because the exchange rate is better for Euro than the American dollar, I decided I would preemptively book some activities.

I had never really delved into the Air BnB activities before, really only just used it to book rooms for myself when I have traveled.

New York.

D.C.

New Orleans.

Paris.

I tend to do pretty well finding what I want to see and do without having to deal with a tour guide or the like.

But a friend of mine had gone Havana within this last year and sent me a private message about places to go and things to do that he highly recommended and two of them were Air BnB experiences.

So.

I checked it out and I was pleasantly surprised.

One.

As I can pre-pay for them and thus not have to carry as much cash on my person.

And two, that all the activities I booked fall under my Visa category, “Support of Cuban People” which made me very happy.

Most of the sites I researched suggested that it would be very unlikely that I would be asked for an itinerary, but just in case, I can show one in which every day I am doing something to support the Cuban people.

My first day in I didn’t book anything.

I was going to, but I figured I’ll be jet lagged and tired and may just want to check into the casa and chill out.

Maybe wander around a little bit and take myself out to dinner in the neighborhood, but nothing serious.

The second day I am going to go to La Marca  Havana’s only legal tattoo shop, also it’s first tattoo shop.  It is also an art gallery and what appears to be a pretty hipster little scene.  I tried to book online with them but it bounced back.  So I’m just going to show up and ask for a walk in appointment.

It’s in Old Havana and maybe a ten minute walk from where I’m staying.

I also plan on going shopping at Clandestina, Havana’s first independent clothing company that happens to be run completely by women.

I’m so in.

Next, yes, yes, I did.

I booked a classic car ride to tour the seawall and cruise along the Malecon.

Ironically, I’ll need to take a taxi to get there, but I couldn’t help but want to do at least one cruise around Havana in a classic car, I mean, really, I had to.

Wednesday I left pretty open.

I figure museums and cafes and I booked a couple of hours with an art student from the university to take me on a photo tour.

This I’m looking forward to, I love street art, and off the beaten track and that’s what this seems to be.  This was also the activity my friend raved about, so two hours in the afternoon wandering around taking pictures with a local student.

Totally down.

Thursday I picked a big adventure, basically committed myself to twelve hours of tour.

I booked a historical tour to the Vinales Valley, tobacco farms, coffee farms, a tour through some of the famous caves and horseback riding in and out of the valley.

What really nailed it for me was that they host come and pick you up where you are staying and drop you back off.

There’s no Uber there.

No Lyft.

I don’t speak Spanish.

Not much really, a few tiny phrases, and something about haggling with a taxi cab driver or getting lost really doesn’t sound like fun for me, so having the pressure taken off by getting picked up and dropped back off really sold me.

Plus.

Ahem.

The ride there and back is in a classic 50s convertible.

Um.

Hehe.

Yes please.

Friday I’ll be doing a ferry trip over the bay to a little known spot in Havana called Regla.  There was something about the trip that appealed.  I don’t know the neighborhood, but I like that it’s a tour guided by a women who is an art history graduate who lives with her grandmother and shows off the markets in the neighborhood.

Plus.

Ferry boat ride.

I’m a sucker for a ferry boat.

Then Friday night I am going clubbing.

But not by myself.

I’m a pretty self-assured woman, but I didn’t want to hit the clubs solo, but there was one place I really wanted to go, FAC The Cuban Art Factory, a gallery space with art and music and djs and it looks like the place to go.

I connected with a couple of women on Air BnB who I will meet up at a cafe and head over to the club and hang out with and get the lowdown and have a safety net.  Really quite pleased with this.

Saturday I’m doing a farm to table lunch with a local chef and then.

And then.

And then.

Holy shit.

It happened.

I was able to book a night with the Buena Vista Social Club!

I am over the fucking moon.

The experience was sold out the last time I looked and it appears that more shows go added.

Basically this lovely older woman books a dinner table for you at the club, you meet her, she’s bought your ticket, you hang out with her and two or three other folks, eat dinner at the club and get to see the floor show and hear the band play.

Never in a million years did I imagine when I bought that compact disc so many moons ago in Madison that I would actually be going to Havana and getting to see a performance of the Buena Vista Social Club.

Fuck.

I feel so grateful.

Sunday morning I’m doing a cultural market and food tour with a lunch to follow with a lovely women who after I booked asked if I wanted to be included in a trip to the beach, Santa Maria beach.

Why yes.

Yes.

Yes I do.

So after the market and lunch I will go with her in a, yes, heh, classic convertible to the beach for a few hours of swimming and laying in the oh so white sand.

Pinch me.

Seriously.

Who’s life is this?

My last day in Havana I want to relax and chill out so I sent a query off to the Manzana Hotel to book a spa pass for their rooftop pool and spa facilities.

60 Cuban peso is not the cheapest, but the pool is so pretty.

I figure book a massage, lay out by the pool and just relax before I head back to the foggy fog.

I am so pleased.

And very excited.

So excited.

It feels really good to have this planned out.

And really.

I don’t think I could have done anything much better with my fourth of July holiday than work on the details for this trip.

Seriously.

Today I Ate

December 25, 2018

An entire book.

I mean.

I consumed it.

I chopped it up and snorted it down like it was some sort of happy drug.

I haven’t read fiction in so long it was an aphrodisiac.

I still feel a little high.

I did just like I said I would and I slept in this morning.

I woke up at 9:45 a.m.!

Holy Toledo.

I cannot remember the last time I slept that late.  I mean, maybe the ARTumnal Airpusher after party silent dance rave I went to in November, but even the day after coming home from a night of carousing and dancing I was still up by 8:30a.m.

I think.

So this morning was nuts.

I believe it was partially, at least this is my excuse, not that I need one, that it was so clouded over.

Dark and stormy.

Grey and misty and wet.

True San Francisco winter weather, not exactly rain, but mist and wind and rainy and all-pervasive.

San Francisco rain doesn’t really always come straight down, it seems to enwrap you and get everything soaked.

Without directly raining all that much.

So I slept in.

I might have even slept longer were it not for the siren song of my bladder yelling out about the big mug of tea I had before I went to bed last night.

I got up and was leisurely.

Like in a major way.

I think it was 11:30a.m. before I actually sat down for breakfast.

A phone call from my best friend was partially the reason, but mostly, I was just going slow and easy.

I enjoyed my late breakfast and wrote a ton.

A lot.

It was lovely.

And though I didn’t know exactly what I wanted to do, I did know I was going to need to make a run to the grocery store and maybe see what was playing at the Balboa Theater, which is just up the road from me.

Unfortunately I’d already seen one of the movies and the other I am planning on seeing tomorrow.

But.

La Promenade Cafe was open and so I took my book and settled into a big leather arm-chair by the front window and sank into my story.

I bought this book last summer, a few weeks before I was to start my fall intensive for school.

A day before I got my first text-book in the mail for said intensive.

I only read a few of the stories, it’s a collection of shorts from A.M. Holmes called Days of Awe.

I really like her work, I’ve only read her novels and was happy to find that the shorts were just as compelling and in a way very interwoven, so it felt like I was reading a novel in a way.

I read at the cafe and listened to music and people watched and thought how nice it was to actually be in a cafe in my new neighborhood.

The first time since I’ve moved here since mid-September that I actually did something other than laundry in the neighborhood.

It felt a little like getting settled.

I did another first today too, this one may surprise you, although it shouldn’t considering how busy I keep myself.

I went for a walk around my neighborhood!

Yeah.

I know.

I really haven’t done any walking, unless it was from my car to the house or from the house to my car.

I had gotten back from the cafe, unloaded my groceries, roasted a chicken, made a late lunch, sat on my couch, watched the rain, ate brown butter brussels sprouts and hot roast chicken and listened to Coleman Hawkins.

It was delicious.

The food.

The music.

The rain on the windows.

It felt outside of time, I couldn’t remember what day of the week it was, Sunday, Monday, it all blended together.

My tree looked pretty, I lit candles, it was so cozy.

Then the sun burst out for a few minutes and I thought I should go for a sunset walk.

I quickly bundled up, there was only a few minutes before the sun was going to set, and I walked out the door on 48th and down Balboa towards the sea.

As I got closer, I realized that there was a path that I hadn’t seen before and what do you know, it’s actually a little park!

Sutro Dunes!

I had no idea.

Sweet little wood slat path along the base of the grass and flower covered dunes.

In the twilight it was deeply moving and full of divinity.

It felt really good to just do a little stretch around the neighborhood, to see the Cliff House hanging like an ornament over the ocean, to smell the fresh washed air, to just be.

I am pretty lucky when I think about it.

I live by the ocean.

It is literally a block away from my house.

Although I don’t get down to it as much as I would like, it is always a solace to me and I see it every day when I leave in the morning.

I always say hello.

I am in perpetual awe of its beauty.

And I am not often home at sunset to ponder it.

It was a really lovely little gift to me.

I got back to the house right before the rain began again and settled back on my couch, my first day of really sitting on my couch too!

My first day really using my coffee table like a coffee table.

I drank a second homemade cafe au lait, so decadent to have two in one day at my house, and I read more of the book until I left to go do the deal up at 7th and Irving.

Which was also just marvelous.

Ran into some much-loved fellows and heard exactly what I needed to hear.

Came home, heated up dinner.

And yes.

Yes I did.

I ate the rest of the book.

I read 288 pages today.

It was not a chore.

It was the best feeling.

And guess what?

One of my text books for the next semester did come in the mail today.

I did not read it.

I was tempted.

But I realized, did I want to leave the A.M. Holmes until next summer?

Or was it actually ok to let myself have Christmas Eve without homework?

It was ok.

And it was so lovely.

Exactly the kind of day off that will sustain me for many weeks as I marshal my way forward towards this next milestone of learning and life.

Gratitude this Christmas for all the gifts in my life.

There are so many.

The best, I dare say, may be my relationship with myself and the life I have been given.

Grace.

That’s what it is.

Grace.

I have been blessed.

And may you be as well.

Merry Christmas to all.

And to all.

A.

Very.

Good.

Night.

I MADE IT!

December 22, 2018

Not only did I get through a very hectic week.

I finished all my papers!!!!

I’m fucking done!

I’m gloriously happy.

The relief is serious.

Though for a moment today I got pretty upset when I saw an incoming e-mail from one of my professors asking people to just send the paper to his or the TA’s (teaching assistant) e-mail.

I was like, what?

I turned in that paper on Canvas, which is the online platform the school uses, on Sunday.

Time and date stamped that fucker too.

Sunday, December 16th at 5:16p.m.

I message my professor immediately and asked if he had not received my paper.

And he had not!

I was blown a little off course.

Here I was doing the happy dance of joy for having finished a 10 page paper, a 12 page paper, and a final project with two original poems, an essay, and two recitations of said poems, in the last four days.

Four days people.

I did that all in four freaking days.

Ok.

That’s not necessarily true.

There was some work that was done last week for one of the papers, but the final project and the twelve page paper had been done in the last four days, plus finishing and polishing the other paper.

I was miffed.

Fuck.

I had turned everything in on time and here was the professor who basically created this PhD program saying he’d not gotten my final paper.

Bah fucking humbug.

I sent him a message and let him know where I had submitted it and that I was at work sans computer.

The only freaking time this past month that I haven’t brought my computer and books and notebooks to work.

I went to work, having submitted my final paper yesterday (I was too kaput to post my happy dance blog last night, I barely got myself into bed with a cup of tea and some Peaky Blinders….mmmmm Cillian Murphy, happy to have you tuck me into bed, ahem).

So it was really nice to not drag my book bag and books and notebooks and laptop to work, I didn’t have to.

In fact, I realized later that my load was actually a little too light, forgot my lunch in the fridge.

But.

My.

It was really fine to go into work so unencumbered and not be thinking about what article or book I needed to connect all the dots on my final papers.

I floated into work.

Literally.

I also had the dream commute.

There was no traffic.

None.

And I went into work early, during what would be the worst commute time, but nada.

It was a freaking cake walk.

I got to work in less than twenty minutes.

I sat in my car and listened to French House music and sent off a gratitude list to a friend of mine.

It was such a nice mellow way to start the day.

I also went to my charges private school holiday music show.

It was so, so, so sweet.

It was just such a lovely way to ease into work.

And then later to drive back, have naps, and big snuggles and make homemade chicken soup for the six-year-old with her favorite alphabet pasta and to just have a fairly relaxed night.

Plus.

I had brought the kids their presents for Christmas and I got to watch them open them and all the gifts were met with resounding happiness.

I was quite pleased.

All three of them really liked their presents.

And the family was very sweet with me this year too.

A big bouquet of roses and tulips.

An Amazon gift card for $350.

Hello school books for next semester.

I’ve already spent $149 on one class.

And

I also got a $150 gift certificate to Peal Spa.

OOOOH.

You know I am all about it.

I haven’t been to a spa since, well, let’s say it was sometime in the early part of my second year of my Master’s program.

So, um, a bit.

I’m going to see about going next Saturday.

This Saturday, aside from not having any services available, I’ve got my holiday house-warming party happening.

I am excited.

I’m happy to have a place big enough to host a small gathering.

It’s not huge, so it will be cozy, but I figure not all the people who RSVP’d will actually show up at the same time.  I’ve had eleven people say yes, so I’m assuming half that number will actually show and maybe two of the seven people who said maybe.

I’m going to have a nice little spread.

Homemade chili with cornbread.

Veggies and my secret homemade dip (it’s so good I’ve been bribed for the recipe before).

Cured meat, salami, prosciutto, pancetta.

A variety of cheeses, really good Blue, since I like a nice blue–a triple cream-French Agur being on the top of my list, some gouda, a soft goat cheese, and a pecorino tartuffi that my person dearly loves.

Crackers and olives and pickles and salt and vinegar potato chips.

Tons of bubbly water and stevia sodas since I don’t do any sugar stuff.

Hot mulled cider.

And last, but certainly not least.

Homemade apple and persimmon pie with vanilla ice cream.

I think that will make the folks happy.

I haven’t asked anyone to bring anything and I didn’t say anything in the invite that there would be food, but I figure it’s nice to have a spread and with the exception of the pie and ice cream, cornbread, chips, and crackers, I can eat all of it.

I love some leftover chili, thank you very much.

I sort of doubt that there will be.

Anyway.

So that’s not happening, no spa day for me, but I will make sure I get it in soon, I will have a month break from school.

Not from work though I have the next four days off, aside from seeing a couple of clients int he morning and early after noon, I’ll be free to do whatever I like.

Christmas Eve I’m thinking of going to the MOMA.

And.

Christmas day will be with my person at a matinée, I’m planning on seeing The Favorite, at the Embarcadero Theater with him, then dinner in Chinatown with him and his person and another fellow and maybe another movie after, though I’ll probably bow out as they want to see Mary Poppins.

Please.

Sounds like paying to watch a movie about my job.

Anyway.

Me and three gay boys in Chinatown in San Francisco going to movies and eating Chinese food sounds like just about the perfect Christmas day.

Easy.

Oh!

And it turns out, my professor did find my paper, he just hadn’t looked in the right spot in Canvas (and I thought it was anti-intuitive, nice to have it confirmed by one of the professors having issues with it).

So that’s it.

I’m done.

I made it through my first semester of a PhD program.

Hooray!

 

 

Flanneur

July 22, 2018

Which means, “one who strolls,” in French.

Or something like that.

Google it if you’re not sure.

I am fairly certain, but my French is not that great.

It’s good, but not great.

I know enough French to get me in trouble, its assumed by my accent and the way I talk that I do speak it fairly well, but as I explained to a new English-speaking friend today, I get caught up in trying to say the right word and the rapid fire Parisians are three sentences ahead of me while I am still thinking of the word for “dressing room.”

Which is “cabine,” if you wanted to know, and I did remember, but not before the sales person figured out my French was not as good as assumed.

I actually didn’t really buy anything today, well, food, not that much is open on Sundays.

Oh.

There were tons of shops open in the Marais, but nothing really called to me, except, heh, the shops that weren’t open.

Sunday in Paris is a family day, a rest day, most places are closed and I decided early on today that I would do my best to take it easy today too.

I mean.

I still walked like seven miles, but at an easy, relaxed pace and I did end up taking the Metro home from my final destination as I wasn’t feeling like walking fourteen miles.

I could have, it’s still light out, the sun has not set and it’s nearly 9p.m.

Gorgeous light in the apartment.

My last night alone here, the family returns in the morning.

Then!

I’m off to the South of France at lunchtime.

I’m very excited.

It will be nice to be on a train for a little while, the ride is about three and a half hours, and it will be fantastic to see a new city.

My friend knows the area well, we are staying at her favorite hotel in Marseilles, which has a view of the port.

We will go to the big museum there and have a nice dinner, I’m sure, and on Tuesday we will be taking a car to the markets in Aix-en-Provence, then on the way back to Marseilles we will be going swimming in, I forget the exact French word for it, some secret little beach on the Mediterranean.

So stoked.

My friends return in the morning and I’ve been instructed to be ready to leave for the train station by lunch time.

Not going to be a problem, I’ll just be packing a few summer dresses, my toiletries, and my bathing suit.

I still cannot believe I will be swimming in the Mediterranean Sea!

So happy.

And.

Honestly, I could use a break from Paris.

I know.

What?

Did I say.

I have had this feeling before, I did last time I came, at one point in my trip, I’m done with the crowds, I’m done with being stared at on the Metro (I have a lot of tattoos and though one sees them a bit more than they used to, it is very rare to see a woman with as many tattoos as I have, and it’s warm, I’m showing a lot of skin, not obscenely, by no means, but it’s unusual, and man, I get the looks), I’m done with snotty French waiters.

Not all waiters are horrible.

But I usually have one or two that are assholes and I got that one today at a cafe I met a friend at on Rue Madame.

It’s a damn cute cafe though.

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I had my “usual.”

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I like coffee.

And I like the sparkling water.

I just finished up one now.

Nothing says I’m on vacation like the two of them together.

Plus.

Taking the time to sit still and enjoy them.

I tried to sit a little more today, but it can be hard, my brain tells me that I must go and go quickly and get in as much as possible and do, do, do.

A human doing, not a human being.

But today I let myself sleep in, I laid in bed after I woke up until 10 a.m.

Then a nice long shower, a leisurely breakfast, and some laundry, so nice to have laundry here, I am super grateful for that and not having to cart it to the mat down the block or up and down five flights of stairs.

Then coffee and writing.

I didn’t leave the house until after noon.

I decided I didn’t need to do the Louvre, that had been my sort of “plan” but that I could just walk and see where it led me.

I walked through the Marais.

I walked to the Seine.

It was gorgeous.

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I mean.

Come on.

I walked and walked and walked.

Then I crossed over this bridge and went into the Latin Quarter, which I don’t much like, way too many tourists, way too many, but it was on my way to where I was meeting my friend and I realized that I had plenty of time to just walk all the way there without being rushed.

And.

I stumbled upon the Cluny Museum!

Never having been, I popped in for a wonderfully air-conditioned visit and saw the famous tapestries.

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They were beautiful and it was a sweet little detour.

After that I walked over to the Luxembourg Gardens, but needing food I kept my eyes open for the right place to grab a bite.

And lo and behold!

A miracle!

Not only a new organic, locally sourced restaurant, but one with beautiful flowers everywhere, and, and, and!

A non-smoking terrace!

All the cafes, well, except this one, have smoking areas on the terrace, and everyone it seems, smokes, except my friend, thank God, and I made the grave mistake my first night eating outside and my food might as well have been dipped in nicotine.

It was gross.

And I used to be a smoker, so that’s saying something.

But this little spot, was no smoking and I was really happy.

The food was surprisingly good and the terrace was super pretty.

The service was a little spotty, but that was obviously because it was a new restaurant, turns out they’ve only been open three weeks, and I was more than happy to be patient about it.

Which I’m grateful for, because when my food did arrive, the waitress got my order wrong the first go around, it was superb.

Best lunch I’ve had here since I landed.

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A really beautiful crustless Quiche with vegetables, a green salad and these delicious sausages.

That and the atmosphere, made me super happy.

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And then I walked through the Luxembourg Gardens before meeting my friend at Cafe Madame.

A sweet, slow, “lazy” day.

Heh.

I still walked 15, 418 steps and climbed 15 flights of stairs.

And now.

Well.

It’s time for dinner and getting ready for my trip tomorrow.

I hope your Sunday is as lovely as mine was.

Bon soir!

 

The Light

July 21, 2018

Today was magic.

The light all day long.

Extraordinaire.

I was blown away by all the different kinds of it.

The light on the Seine.

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And in the sky above the Eiffel Tower as I crossed Pont Alma, a “pont” is a bridge, on my way to the American Church to see some friends this evening.

The light was also amazing coming through the church windows, but well, I don’t take pictures in churches, at least not most of the time.

I was happy to traipse through the light tonight after leaving the church to head to the Metro to go to the 11th Arrondisment to, yes, another place filled with light.

L’Atelier des Lumieres.

Oh my God.

It was extraordinary.

I mean.

I cannot quite put words to it, but there were often tears on my face as I sat in the dark listening to the beautiful music they scored the works of Klimt to as the light and color and shapes melted and merged and coalesced into all these beautiful paintings that I am so very, very fond of.

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Klimt is one of my favorite artists.

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So when I stumbled upon this show a few weeks back I made a mental note to myself that I would go.

And I went.

And I went after a fairly packed day of stuff previous to it, but it was perfect to go, it was actually a nice thing to do after my full day, as I sat still for close to an hour watching the show.

Previous to the show I had been at the aforementioned church way across town.

Before that a visit to Marche aux Enfant Rouge for a roasted chicken, cherries, apricots and a beautiful nectarine.

Before that shopping in the Marais.

I scored a dress!

I can’t believe I scored a dress in Paris.

It’s not always the easiest place for me to shop.

I was very, very, very happy to get the dress.

Before the shopping?

Art.

Lots and lots and lots of art.

I went to the Musee Pompidou.

They had a great exhibition from the 1930s on architecture and furniture and then I gamboled through the permanent galleries and stumbled quiet without knowing it, unto the most beautiful art film I think I may have ever seen.

It was called “The Silence of Ani,” by Francis Alys.

It was stunning and I can’t even do it justice, but it was like watching a poem unwind.

Here’s a Vimeo of it, it’s about thirteen minutes long and well worth it.

Imagine seeing it in the middle of Paris, in the afternoon with no one else in the theater with you.

Superb does not do it justice.

And before the museum?

Yes I did.

I got a tattoo.

heh.

At Abraxas, where I have gotten all my Paris tattoos, on Rue St. Merrie in the Marais.

Speaking of all the light, here’s a shot of the tattoo after my long day of running around the city, just as the sun was setting in the kitchen window of the fifth floor walk up.

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And though there are probably a lot more things I can say about today.

I am also light-headed with the tiredness.

I think I will call it a night and let myself rest for a while and nibble on some of those delicious cherries I got from the market today.

Bisous!

 

Belle Femme!

July 20, 2018

I ignored the yell.

I got a few of them.

I really don’t mind being called a beautiful woman, but I wasn’t comfortable in the area of Paris that I was in and did not turn to look.

I am, however, comfortable being here.

I’ve been here since Monday, and yes, I know, it’s Friday, but I have been staying with friends and decided to do something different than usual.

I haven’t blogged, but rather, gone out with my best friend, walked everywhere, oh my God have I walked, played with her beautiful twin babies, hung out and drank coffee, been leisurely and warm, it’s been hot in Paris, eaten steak very rare, went to museums, and sometimes just rested on the couch in the fifth floor walk up where I am staying with my best friend in the Marais on Rue de Temple.

Yes.

You read that correctly.

Fifth floor walk up.

You know that app on your phone that tells you how much you’ve walked and how many flights of stairs you’ve done?

A LOT.

Let’s just say I have walked and climbed a lot.

Jesus.

Today it says I walked 6.4 miles and climbed 12 floors of stairs.

It lies.

I did more than that, I just didn’t carry my phone the whole time.

I probably did 18 or 20 flights of stairs.

Yesterday I walked even more than that, 23,188 steps, 10.6 miles, 14 floors (but more likely 24).

Plus.

Heh.

I’m staying in the loft of the walk up.

The flat is at the very top of the house, and when you go in through the door there is another flight of stairs and then I have to climb one more flight to get to the loft I’m sleeping in.

Now I know how my friend keeps her marvelous figure.

Fuck.

Imagine doing all that climbing with twins?!

She also taught me today to not wear face makeup, “you don’t need it.”

And.

To part my hair differently, “much sexier.”

And.

To wear matte lipstick, “gloss makes you look, well, you know.”

I do.

Slightly trashy.

So.

For the first time in I don’t know how long I wore no coverup or powder, I just did a little eyebrow makeup, mascara, and a matte lip.

She also said I should not wear any lipstick in the daytime, because you want to “pop” at night and how do you pop if you are already wearing lipstick?

I was going to go out tonight and eat in the neighborhood, I still could if I wanted to, it’s only 9:34 p.m. on a Friday night, everywhere is serving dinner, but I’m a bit tuckered out from my walking and stair climbing and I’m not sure I have it in me to do those five floors up and down again.

So yeah, I just did my sexy hair and matte lip to go to the Franprix and buy milk and fruit and sparkling water.

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But you know.

I felt sexy as fuck.

It’s fun to feel sexy just going to the market.

I did other things today, too, ate a big fat steak, very rare, at Comptoir de l’Arc, a resto near the Arc de Triomphe that is just off the tourist path and very much a neighborhood haunt.

It was full of true Parisians and it felt fun to be there.

I had gotten the tip-off to the restaurant from a friend when I lived in Paris 2012/2013.

It was specifically designed for the locals and unlike the majority of restaurants in the neighborhood which have jacked up their prices, it is really affordable and very good.

I was happy to be back.

And it was nice to hop out of the sudden rain that sprang up.

Not that I minded the rain all that much, not when it’s warm.

Paris in the summer and a light rain?

Lovely.

I’m on my own for the next few days as my friends are off to a wedding over the weekend, so I’m fairly sure I’ll be keeping you updated at least through the weekend.

But come Monday I’ll probably go radio silent again.

I’ll be heading out-of-town for a few days.

Originally it was to Ile de Re, an island off the West Coast of France, but the house became unavailable.

Next time.

Instead!

I’ll be going with my best friend to Gard de Nord on Monday morning and grabbing a TGV high-speed train to Marseilles!

Yes.

I am going to the South of France.

I am over the moon.

We booked a hotel for two nights and my friend is going to rent a car too.

We are going to stay the nights in Marseilles, but one of the days we are going to drive to Aix-en-Provence, where she used to live, and go see the markets and drive around and be hot.

It’s going to be very hot in the South of France.

But.

We will also be going swimming in the ocean, so you know, I’m ok with that.

Have I said luckiest girl in the world yet?

Yeah.

Like that.

Not Excited Yet

July 13, 2018

But I’m hopeful I will get there.

I realized tonight when I wrapped up with my last client that I only have one client left to see before I go to Paris.

Paris seems far away and a touch surreal at the moment.

I have been so busy walking through this housing situation that I have spent little to no time thinking about Paris.

Cue standing in the dental aisle at Walgreens this afternoon when I went in to fill a prescription.

Why am I standing in front of the toothpaste?

I have toothpaste at home.

I don’t need toothpaste.

But I kept coming back.

Until I remembered.

Oh snap!

I need travel size toothpaste!

I’m traveling soon.

I leave in three days!

It just has not really landed at all.

I am, of course, very much looking forward to seeing my dear friend.

I miss her so much and it was hard to finish my last semester of school without her.

Friends are so damn important.

It will be good to reconnect, to have lots of time with her, and of course, to have the best and most brilliant of insider guides to the city that I love only second to San Francisco.

I am always so happy that I get to live here.

Yesterday I went and visited a friend who used to live in the city but has done what so many of my friends have done, moved out of the city across the Bay.

She lives high up in the Berkeley Hills and it was a beautiful home and a lovely, stunning really, view of the city, the bay, the fog pushing over Twin Peaks, but I could not imagine living there.

I love San Francisco.

Sure.

It’s changed, but everything changes.

And it’s still, to me, one of the most beautiful places in the world, especially to live.

I also ran an errand and took back a bicycle rack that a friend had loaned me last year for Burning Man.

That took me to Alameda.

Where I did see a few cute houses, but it felt so suburban and removed and I also could not see myself there.

Or in Oakland.

Or in Berkeley.

I see myself in San Francisco.

My focus on finding a place is focused on the city proper.

And let me tell you.

I have been looking.

I have seen a few things, but not much.

I have responded to a few things, but gotten no response.

I do feel like when the dust is settled here and all the paperwork signed and taken care of that I will be throwing all my might behind finding a new place.

I will also officially throw it up on social media and I’m quite hopeful that I will find a good place.

I have been quietly telling a few friends and starting to put the word out.

The fact is though, at this point, it’s so close to me leaving for Paris that I really should skip even looking, I don’t know that I could do anything or get anything together before I leave.

I think it’s time I get excited!

I think it’s time to contemplate what I am going to be doing, walking around in the best city to walk, seeing art, street art and art, art.

Getting to spend time shopping in the Marais at all the little paper shops for notebooks to smuggle home with me.

Gah.

I bought a book today to read on the plane and I couldn’t help myself, I bought a new notebook too.

It was too cool to pass up and I knew I must have it.

There was a little voice in my head saying don’t accrue any more stuff!  I need to get ready to move and the less to pack, the better.

But.

Well.

I couldn’t help it, I bought the notebook.

And I did some writing siting in a cafe waiting for my friend and her new baby to come and join me.

I don’t often sit in cafes in San Francisco and write anymore.

I do the majority of my writing here where I am sitting right now, at a tiny table in my tiny kitchen, heaped high with notebooks and folders and books.

God.

I love paper.

I love writing.

I wrote a love letter in the new notebook.

I think that’s why I decided I had to buy it.

It is perfect for writing love letters.

And it was.

After my friend left I had some down time to sit for a while before I headed into my internship.

To sit outside, in the warm late afternoon sun, with a bottle of sparkling water, at a park in the Mission on Valencia Street that I used to bring former charges too and write a love letter while looking up at the bright blue sky, well, it was something else.

So no regrets about buying the notebook.

It will be used.

I will also buy more when I am in Paris.

Along with my standard pair of earrings, lipstick/lip gloss or eyeshadow, postcards, museum magnets and whatever else small momento I feel I should need.

I am so looking forward to seeing Paris through my friends eyes that I will have to buy something outside of my normal repertoire of souvenirs.

I thought about perhaps buying a market basket, I do love how they look.

And.

Yes.

I have contemplated a new tattoo.

I have one in mind, I will see if it stands the test of time when I arrive.

There’s a shop in the Marais that I get my work done at and I’ll see if they have an opening when my friend is off to a wedding out-of-town one of the weekends I am there, get myself a souvenir that I can wear always.

I like that quite a bit.

Of course.

I will take lots and lots and lots of photos too.

I promise.

Psst.

Here are a few from my recent trip to New York.

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Back yard patio at a lovely little restaurant in Williamsburg, The Rabbit Hole, where I had the most amazing soup and salad–broccoli cheese consume and the salad was like a deconstructed BLT with avocado and fried leeks.

So good.

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Bunny rabbit lamps!

From Le Grand Strip, on Grand Ave in Williamsburg.

I swear to God I almost bought them, but not knowing where I am going to live stopped me.  Once I’m settled I may actually buy them, the owner said she could ship them for me.

Bunny lamps!

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A triptych of feminist Latina women at the Brooklyn Museum.

Why, yes.

That is me in the middle.

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Mural in Fort Greene Brooklyn.

More to come.

Paris soon.

T-minus three days and counting.

But who’s counting?

 

Being Proactive

July 9, 2018

I got a lot done today!

I also forgot a couple of times what day of the week it is.

Heh.

It is not often that I have the luxury of forgetting what day of the week it is, but I did today.

It was sort of nice to just do the next thing in front of me and let go of the results.

Life goes pretty smooth when I do that.

I am happy to report I got up and went to yoga.

Two days in a row!

And despite having the next few days “free” in the mornings, I won’t make another yoga class until Thursday or possibly Friday.

The classes available don’t quite fit my schedule.

A schedule that does have a few time slots of delicious opening, but that I have made some time to see friends and do lunches, grab coffees, catch up and connect.

I’d rather connect with friends right now than worry about making another yoga class appear in my schedule.

Suffice to say.

I am glad I went though, it felt good and I felt good for going.

I also did meet with a lady today and do the deal and I got a lot of work done to apply for the paid internship that I have been researching.

Namely.

I updated my resume for the position and I reached out to two supervisors to write me letters of recommendation.

Both gave me a resounding yes they would be happy to do so.

That felt really good.

I’m about half way done with what the application requires for the internship.

There’s a lot they want to see.

The rest of it is a matter of sitting down and doing some writing and figuring out a mission statement for myself and my vision of a private practice.

Fortunately, in my last semester one of my classes, Integrative Seminar, made a big point about this and I feel like all I have to do is go back through the notes I took to be able to give the internship what it’s looking for.

I also have to do a business plan.

That feels a little more challenging, but they have some templates and I’ve been reading over everything and I believe I can come up with something that will do the job.

It is certainly good practice no matter what comes of it.

I do feel good about the internship though, my friend whom I spoke to about it really felt that I would be a good fit and after speaking with her, I feel the same.

I also have to acknowledge that in the 8 days since I found out the internship that I thought I would have had fallen through I have done a lot of footwork to find a new one.

I have researched and reached out.

I had a coffee date to sit with my friend and find out if it was a good fit for me.

I reached out to two supervisors for letters of recommendation.

I also reached out to the woman who I was going to intern with and asked her if she still had any interest in renting out office space to me.

I don’t know that it makes sense for me to rent my own office.

In fact.

I don’t think that I could afford it.

Hell.

When I look at what’s available on craigslist as I navigate through my current living situation, I can’t afford what’s out there to rent, let alone a full-time office space.

The best bet for me is to do what my friend does, she shares the office she works out of with another therapist.  She’s in her office two days a week with clients, the other five days the licensed MFT is using it.

I figure that the woman who was going to supervise me does have office space availability, I mean she did when we talked and unless something has changed she probably still does.

Thus the email inquiry.

I also asked if she might still want to supervise me, but under the auspices of the internship who would pay her the rent on the office and pay her a fee for supervision and then the internship with take out admin fees from my account and whatever is left over would be my paycheck.

It will probably take some months before I even get money, but if I do it right and I work at it in a steady way, I could be making a decent amount after about half a year.

Not enough to quit being a nanny, not by far, but enough to help pay the bills and maybe go down to part-time nannying instead of full-time.

Of course.

I also have my school program coming up to contend with.

I have been thinking it will be much like my Masters degree the last year of it, working pretty much full-time as a nanny for my current family, seeing clients after work, and then doing my homework on the weekends.

I will slowly accrue hours.

And that will be alright.

As long as I’m not stagnating.

It’s work, but work towards an end goal.

And I really like being a therapist.

It feels good and right and it feels like this is how I bring more love into the world.

I saw the Mister Rogers movie, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” today with my person.

It was so good.

I was so happy he persuaded me to put aside our recovery work for an afternoon and just go duck into a movie theater and watch an amazing movie.

If you haven’t seen it, go!

It was astounding.

And I grew up watching Mister Rogers, so it felt especially poignant.

I also appreciated it and the principles of spirituality, basic child psychology, inclusion, and love that he was obviously basing his life work around.

It was a beautiful movie and I left feeling hopeful and happy that as things progress it’s all going to work out.

I just have to keep love in my heart and be honest in my person.

I have faith I can do that.

I really do.

And I’m Packed!

June 25, 2018

Just like that.

I have a few more things to toss in my suitcase, but I am 85% of the way there and that feels lovely.

I was just going to leave it for tomorrow, but when I pulled out my suitcase from the closet I just naturally threw some things in and the next thing you know I’m just about done.

I have more outfits than I probably need, but I figure I may want to have day outfits and night outfits.

I also figured out what shoes to wear with my little black dress, which frankly was a relief as I actually did go shoe shopping today and found nothing.

Note to self.

I don’t ever need to go to Stonestown Mall again.

I don’t often frequent malls and there is a good reason why.

I actually bought nothing there and I was pretty damn proud of myself that I got out unscathed.

I met with my person tonight and told him how my brain wants me to ruin my whole trip because I can’t find the proper shoes for this one dress.

We both laughed uproariously.

I was serious and not all at the same time.

And then when I got home tonight from doing the deal I just pulled the dress, put it on and tried on all the shoes.

And I found the ones that worked

I also threw in an extra pair of shoes and an extra dress just for fun in case I decide to go with something else.

But really.

I am totally covered.

One little black dress, two black sundresses, one that is flowy and delicate and could easily translate into an evening dress.

One pair of vintage bib overalls because I fancy them and they’ll be fun to wear when I’m tooling around the museums.

One boho flowy off the shoulder navy blue/indigo dress with purple flowers.

Perfect for brunch at Balthazar.

The new red dress I picked up at Anthropologie which could be both day or night.

I mean.

I have more than enough clothes.

Plus I have my travel outfit picked out and ready for putting on tomorrow.

Something that will be comfortable to travel in and chic enough to land in New York city and blend right on in to the masses.

I feel really happy and quite astounded that the day is finally coming that I get to go on this trip that I have had planned since March.

Tomorrow will end up being a touch busier than I was originally going to be, but only because I agreed to be of service and drive my person around town after I get back from my car maintenance service in Berkeley.

I figure it will be nice to help him run some errands in my car and we’ll have a nice lunch together before I head out.

I won’t really meet up with him next week as I’ll be getting in Sunday from my trip at the time we normally meet.

It will be fun to just hang out with him.

He sees me so well and I am happy to get to spend time with him.

I have a package to drop off and a letter to mail, rent to pay for July, since I will be getting back on July 1st I just figure I will pay my rent before I go, like I usually do, a week in advance.

That way I won’t be tempted to overspend on the trip.

I have enough money for my travels and what I want to do, but I’d rather have the rent paid before I go then wait until afterward.

Yup.

I’m ready.

Just a little laundry in the wash now and I’ll put clean sheets on my bed in the morning.

It’s lovely to travel and I have such a good time doing it.

But it’s also, always, really nice to come home.

And nothing is better than coming home to a clean house and a fresh made bed.

I feel pretty squared away on everything that needs to be done and just ready to hop on that plane and fly out.

Super grateful for this time and that I get to go.

I love traveling.

This will be my third time to New York.

I realized today too, that every time I have gone I have stayed at an Air BnB in Brooklyn.

One on Myrtle Ave in Bushwick.

One on Dekalb Ave in Clinton Hill.

And this one I’ll be staying at is on Lafayette Avenue in Bed-Stuy.

It appears that I like Brooklyn.

Or that I like that it’s cheaper to stay there then in the city proper.

I do think there will be a time when I stay in Manhattan itself.

For now though, I am truly happy I get to go and I have a great place to stay and so many awesome things that are planned to do, I’m over the moon.

In fact!

There will even be a full moon when I am there.

The strawberry moon.

How freaking sweet is that?

Warm night walks through New York under a full moon.

I am so very down with that.

Yes I am.

Over the moon seems just about right.


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