Archive for the ‘Couch Surfing’ Category

I Am Here to be of Service

March 29, 2014

That doesn’t mean I’m gonna give you a blow job, I told my friend.

Who doubled up in laughter.

Super happy that I was able to help him out, I will probably be helping him out for a bit, he just had a pretty big surgery and has to be on crutches, in a cast, resting for a bit.

I live a block away.

Today all I did was bring him some soda for his tummy which was upset from the anesthesia and the pain killers he was on.

But I will be doing more and I like that.

I am playing it forward.

I told him as much, don’t be proud, let me help out.

I am a busy girl, I got things to do, but when a friend is a block away, I can stop by and bring groceries, plan on dropping off some homemade soup tomorrow, it’s the least I can do.

When I think about all the help that has been given to me, the couches, futons, attics, and beds that I have crashed on, the money that people have quietly slipped into my pocket when I was going through financial straits, the cups of coffee bought, the meals, the endless streams of love that I have gotten to be a part of, the least I can do is go run down to the 7-11 and buy my friend a couple of liters of soda.

It really, also gives me a great sense of being useful.

Which I think is one of the most satisfactory things to fill my emotional life.

My brain wants to know, “what’s in it for me?”

My heart, knows better and when I can help out, I am going to.

The feeling of doing a small thing like emptying another’s trash, really is the best high.

Yeah, I know, hard to believe that.

But there’s a deep gratitude here too, I remember, well, what it was like when, it’d be about nine years ago this very month, when I hurt myself horribly at work and for three months, three, I could not lift anything over five pounds.

I could not bend from the waist, which meant that I could not shave my legs, because I could not reach them.

I could not walk without using a cane.

And I could not walk very fast even then.

I could not make my bed or do my laundry.

I could not buy groceries.

And I was destitute at the time, I had very little income following in.

I ate a lot of ramen noodles and when I was feeling rich I ate cheddar cheese sandwiches on country bread with Best Food mayonnaise.

I was given money for groceries, rides here and there, mostly on MUNI, a friend gave me his monthly pass that he got from work and he rode his bike all over, people showed up at my house and gave me pep talks when I had to sell my record collection.

When I had to sell my two Technics turntables.

I cried.

I cried when I sold my music collection to Amoeba.

I remember a friend telling me to buck up, it was just stuff, and the records and cds that I sold kept me in food for another month.

I cried anyway.

I remember when rent was due and I did not have rent and some one out of the blue asked me to edit a history on Russian politics and gave me a check made out to me for $500.

The amount of my rent.

Those were the days, when rent in San Francisco was $500.

Not so much anymore.

It was cheap then, it was rent controlled, and though my room-mate turned out to be kind of a freaky person, he helped me out a lot.

Bought me take out pizza from Zante’s Indian on Courtland at Mission Street, did laundry, bought me groceries, made my bed.

So, this, helping a friend out, is just me playing it forward.

I look forward to getting to know him better too.

Sometimes you know someone peripherally through connections to a lot of other folks, six degrees of separation and all that, and you know you like them and they are cool, then you wind up in the same neighborhood and hey, neighbor, how can I be neighborly?

I get to help and I get to grow in my relationships to another human being.

I need people.

I cannot live in a bubble, despite not wanting to go out and socialize tonight.

I was invited to a little shindig over in Potrero Hill and another in the Upper Haight and I just wanted to head back to my hood, do some writing and chill the fuck out after the week of work.

Then as I was riding my bicycle down Lincoln Ave with the wild wind off the ocean invigorating my senses, I remembered the photograph my friend had posted up on his Instagram feed of himself in a cast and feeling stircrazy.

Voila.

I knew what I needed to do.

I hopped off my bike, sent him a text, got an immediate response, got some soda and for a couple of hours kept him company until the Chinese food take out brigade and Friday night video gang buzzed at the gate.

It was perfect.

I felt alive and helpful and needed.

Isn’t that what everyone wants, to feel needed and appreciated?

I don’t know that I can count my acts tonight as estimable acts, since I am writing about them and I consider an estimable act one in which you don’t toot your own horn, but I will say this, being of service is sweet and rich and brings a kind of depth to my life that I don’t get anywhere else.

It makes me a better person and if I get to help someone out during a challenging part of their life, then bring it on.

I am here to serve.

With pleasure.

 

 

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Early To Blog

January 2, 2014

Early to bed.

Home again home again.

Jiggedy jig.

Home.

God what a fantastic thing that.

I am so looking forward to crawling into my own bed tonight.

Just cannot wait.

Started my blog early, I am beat, I never blog this early, usually I have something going on something on my agenda, a thing, a person, an idea, a I dunno, somethin’.

But tonight I have bed on the mind.

Bed and an uninterrupted night of rest.

“Mommy, daddy?” She said with a small plaintive cry, that crept into my ear as I lay on the couch in the dark, the hooting and revelry in the Mission winding down a bit.

Although, it would wind back up at certain moments, a few times I wondered if there was a block party happening or a roving party, sometimes it was just fast cars and slamming doors, sometimes hollers for cabs or drunken revellers coming in from the night.

Either way, I was on high alert despite the hour and I had woken a few minutes prior wondering if I had heard a shuffling noise from the bedroom.

I had just drifted back down to a possible level of sleep when I heard her little whisper from the other side of the door.

I got up, looked at the clock, 3:40 a.m.

Ugh.

I opened the door to her room and found her having crawled out of her bed laying propped against the door face down on the floor.

I scooped her up, “mommy, daddy, home soon, let’s get back in bed,” and snuggled her back in, resetting the lullabies on her little music machine and quietly shutting the door.

I stood outside in the hallway for a moment listening as her breathing deepened and she went back to slumber land.

Slumber land where I will be tonight, repeat, in my own bed.

Ah, my own bed.

Nothing like a night on a strangers couch to make one realize how happy and wonderful it is to have one’s own bed.

I am not doing another over night nanny gig.

“What if someone gave you a $1,000 to do it?” My friend Calvin asked me as we headed to Trouble to catch up and have coffee, soon thereafter to be followed by Thai Cottage, a good New Years day combo.

“Ok, sure, I might consider it, but man, it sucks, and nothing, nothing went wrong,” I replied.  “In fact, it was the perfect scenario, both the babies (I say babies, but it was an eleven month and a two and a half-year old, so not exactly babies) went down right on schedule.”

There was no struggle with the bed time routine, there was no, “I need to pee again, or I want water, or read me another story.”

It went off without a hitch.

I even watched a great movie, The Reader (ok, a bit depressing, but beautifully done) on the large flat screen television in the living room with the worlds largest cat on my lap keeping me warm.

I had hopped in the car from the Cole Valley gig and went directly to the Mission, 25th between Guerrero and Valencia, and got the low down at the house there.

I met the two and a half-year old little girl, adorable, the dog, ridiculously sweet and cute, got all emergency numbers programmed in my phone, got paid, and was invited to partake of anything I could need or want for food.

In fact, the dad left a twenty spot on the counter in case I had not had dinner (I had already eaten, but was very touched by the generosity) and said “help yourself to anything.”

Thanks, but no, not so much.

I did have a snack in the evening after I finished last nights blog and had started watching the movie, and breakfast and coffee this morning, but there is nothing quite like your own home with your own food and the things that make you feel comfortable therein.

Like I said, nothing went wrong.

No emergency, aside from re-tucking the little girl back in, and the inevitable cry of the baby, hungry for his first morning bottle, at 5:40 a.m.

Double ugh.

But just being on high alert at all times, not really getting sleep, not really resting.

“This is why I don’t want kids,” I thought as I stumbled up for the couch, to the kitchen, in the dark, grabbing a bottle from the fridge I popped it into a bowl in the sink I had set up the night before, just a few hours before really, and ran hot water over it.

I got the baby out of the crib, trying to not engage, I knew if I was quiet and calm I could probably get him re-settled in with a warm bottle and he might sleep another half hour or more.

I quickly changed his diaper, re-settled him in the crib, re-set his noise machine and slipped the warm bottle into his little paws.

I walked backwards out the door, shut it and lay on the couch again, dozing off fitfully until 6:33 a.m. when he hollered out he was good and ready to get up, so let’s go, lady!

And go I did.

It feels like the same day in some weird kind of way and not a holiday or a day off, it feels, really it is, like I worked some marathon shift and am now recuperating from it.

I got done at 10:15 a.m. and hustled over to Philz to meet someone and do the deal.

I was going to stay in the neighborhood, but we finished early and all I wanted was to get out of the Mission.

I wanted home, home by the sea.

I made a short pit stop at 7th and Irving to get my head screwed on straight and decided to eat out for lunch, forgetting that its New Years day and the few places that were opened were swamped with lines.

I climbed on my bike, shouldered my messenger bag with all my over night stuff and just hit it to the ocean.

I made an omelet and started the day over.

By 3:30p.m. I was back in my right mind, but still off a little, uncertain how to spend the rest of the day when I got the text from Cal saying let’s get coffee and though I had a full pot of French press at the house and a Philz Canopy of Heaven, large, and I need to be up tomorrow at 7a.m., I said, “yes!”

Finding myself in Trouble at 4:30 in the afternoon doing the unthinkable, having a large Americano, banking on the fact that I may be pushing over my caffeine threshold and getting the opposite effect.

Caffeine doesn’t “wake” us up.

Adrenalin does.

Caffeine triggers the adrenal glands to release adrenalin into our bodies, but the glands only have so much, so if you constantly are releasing adrenalin into your body eventually the glands have nothing left and you get the reverse action.

You get tired instead of awake.

I knew this and gambled.

Gamble paid off.

I am fucking zonked and it’s not even 8p.m.

I could have skipped writing this at all and gone straight to bed after dinner with Cal.  I figured I better not, though, don’t want to muck with my sleep schedule any more than I already did.

Besides you don’t “catch up” on sleep either.

And according to my Wikipedia:

However anecdotal evidence suggests that many individuals with ADHD already use caffeine to self-medicate themselves or their dependants, and they find that it has the opposite effect to normal, such as inducing a “calm-down” effect that encourages sleep instead of making them more active and stimulated.

Now, I ain’t saying I have ADHD, but I do have a racing brain and maybe a touch of the OCD thing, and I do find this to happen when I get over caffeinated.

And now, I am losing the blog’s focus altogether, hit by another wave of the sleepy.

Time to pack it in, time to crawl into my little blue bed down by the sea.

Night all.

Welcoming in 2014 high on caffeine, Thai food, and good company.

Not a bad start to my year.

Not bad at all.

Like a Hermit Crab

August 3, 2013

Carrying my life on my back.

I came into the city today to do a nanny gig this evening in the Castro–way up the hill, 19th between Noe and Sanchez.  No way this lady was able to ride all the way up, but the legs got a work out nonetheless.

I also came into the city to take care of my playa bike.

The saddle came in and I had an appointment at the bike shop to switch it out with the old uncomfortable (but quite stylish) saddle.

I would have pictures for you, but I don’t have the USB cable to transfer photographs.

Despite having had a number of weeks now where I go back and forth between the East Bay and all points San Francisco, I still forget some things to bring in the bag.

Or rather, I am trying to conserve as much room as possible and lessen the load by packing as intelligently as I can, which means, don’t bring it if the place you are going to be has it.

Like a towel.

Or a USB cord.

Well, I thought there would be one.

At least this time I had access to a power cord for a little while.  I knew I would not have to bring my laptop charger with me.  But I failed to bring the phone charger off my computer.

Nevertheless I did remember my toothbrush and my toothpaste.

Nothing says I don’t feel comfortable in a place like not having my toothpaste.

If it ain’t Arm & Hammer Baking Soda and Peroxide, well, my mouth just ain’t clean.

Jesus!

Fucking aside.

I just swatted a mosquito.

Where the hell did that come from?

I can’t remember the last time, yes, I can, it was when I lived on Alabama Street so many moons ago, like over 10 years back.

Damn.

I forget stuff like mosquitos when you live in San Francisco.

They don’t do very well with the damp and cold foggy chilliness.

I am just now drying off as well, once again doused by the sprinkler system along the bike paths in the Panhandle.

I swear to God they are moved directly into the path’s to soak unknowing bicyclists.

At least I saw them coming tonight and I was able to pocket my glasses before getting the full on dousing.  I got hit more tonight then I have before, but made it through.

This blog is sort of bouncing all over, but then again, so has my brain.

I was tied to the shop neighborhood not knowing whether the guys would be able to take care of my bike this afternoon or it would have to wait until later this weekend.

The GM was very sweet and said that I could have the work done there despite it not being one of the shop’s own vehicles.  Along with giving me shop prices for the other things I needed for the bike.

The grips were shot to hell.

Two years on playa and a couple of rough rides too and from the event had eaten up the handgrips.  I swapped them out and since I was putting on a white (GLITTER) striped Fat Banana saddle I decided to keep the thematic along those lines.

New white Oury hand grips.

New white chain (again the playa dust obliterated the old chain).

New silver bell (ditto).

New pennant flag for back bracket (white pole with dark purple flag).

All told, with labor……

$41.02.

Thank you Jeebus.

Er, that’s code, for my old GM’s name.

Sort of.

Heh.

I also felt like I was having a little carrot dangled in front of me when I had talked with him yesterday, it was mentioned that they were hiring full-time for front of house.

I did not bite.

I am holding out for better pay.

Not from the shop.

Just from the work a day world in general.

I don’t know what it will be.

I don’t know where it will come from.

I may nanny for a long time yet, who knows, but I will make more money.

I do however, always tell folks where I got my bike, I pass out their business cards, and I recommend them to everyone.

I still get stopped on the BART with my bicycle.

I may always.

I do love it.

I love both my bicycles!

I had packed up my bag today not knowing also whether I would have enough time to get the playa cruiser from my friend’s garage, to the bike shop, and then over to Cole Valley to my Burning Man family’s garage and then back to the nanny gig in the Castro.

The timing did not work.

So the bicycle is actually in the design office upstairs from the shop.

When I get done tomorrow afternoon with the nanny here in Cole Valley, I will take a bus over to the shop, leave my one speed here, pick up the playa cruiser (fat white wall tires freshly inflated and up to pressure) and ride it over.

I will drop the cruiser off and pick up my one speed.

It will be one hell of a work out.

But I will get it and it will be one last detail to deal with.

Really.

As today marks two weeks til lift off.

I mean count down.

I mean, all systems Burning Man.

I mean, well, you know what I mean.

Er.

I think.

I will be off to the great dust bowl in Nevada, my sparkle pony ride all ready to go.

I use “sparkle pony” with a little tongue in cheek.

I mean, I am a sparkle pony, I won’t deny it, but it was also a search engine term someone used in Australia this morning which led them to my blog.

That made me smile.

Almost as much as the new white glitter bomb saddle on my bicycle.

The smile will be at its height, however, when I safely navigate it back over here to Cole Valley.

And with that it’s almost time to hit it.

I have to go sneak upstairs and use the bathroom at the house, I am down in the guest room, and brush my teeth–the family’s asleep and I have been pecking away at the keyboard all clandestine like.

I may have forgotten the USB cord (photos of the fabulous bike tomorrow I promise) but I did not forget the toothpaste.

So fresh and so clean.

Clean.

I Can’t Believe I Said That

July 2, 2013

And oh, yeah, I said that.

My friend looked at me in the car, “what was that, I have never heard you talk like that before?”

I got flustered.

He was cute.

And then it hit me and I was embarrassed and I was also, OMG, more does get revealed!

When I am flustered I get big and loud and over the top.

“Oh yeah, I don’t do that anymore, bottle of Beam and blow jobs in the bathroom, and bags of coke, I’m all done with that,” I said rashly at the counter of Trouble while I was waiting for my Americano.

I couldn’t even blame the caffeine, I hadn’t gotten my coffee yet, unless you can pin it on the fumes and I was willing to try, but I hadn’t even realized what I was doing.

I have never, fyi, given someone a blow job in a bathroom or drank a bottle of Beam (I mean I have done the aforementioned, but not like I said it, not that way, not like it was Springbreakers gone wild or something).

It was only in hindsight that I saw what I did and why I said it.

The hindsight came really fast, like just maybe an hour later, after we had dinner at Judalicious, which was really good.

Raw vegan food.

And even though I am not currently practicing a vegan diet, I still like my veggies and it was scrumptious.

I am really going to like this neighborhood, I know it.

I got to see the progress on the studio, it’s coming along, I am excited, I am going to have my own little space, my own place to nest in.

“I so want to nest right now,” I told my friend, “I have absolutely nothing, but I also don’t want to have to move anything yet.”

“Slow down.” She said, “but if you do come across something you can put it in the garage.”

I had an offer on a love seat that friends of mine have let me use before when I was living up in Nob Hill, but the space was a little smaller than I remembered (still plenty big for me, just perfect actually) that I declined it tonight.

However, my friend, who will be my landlord, has a small chaise lounge in the garage that I can use and a little table with fold down leaves that I can use for my kitchen/writing-table.

Now all I need is a bed.

And bedding.

And towels.

And kitchen supplies.

And, oh, all of it, but that will come, I am not going to focus on that.

For the moment I am keeping tabs on the BART strike and whether or not I am going to be stuck in the city for the duration of the week.

My house sitting gig here in Cole Valley ends tomorrow.  I will nanny out of the space and at 5:30pm I will be free to go. I have some commitments to cover, after which I was planning to head to BART.

I was expecting to be in the East Bay tomorrow night and then to a nanny gig in North Oakland on Wednesday morning, then stay overnight at Graceland, regroup and head back in on Thursday for the holiday weekend and take care of some sweet kittens up in the Castro Hills.

I don’t think they’re going to allow me to bicycle across the Bridge.

So, if the strike is still on I may end up cancelling my gig on Wednesday and staying in the city tomorrow and Wednesday nights then heading over to the Castro house sit.

Or something like that.

I don’t really know.

I am certain, however, that I am not the only person affected by the strike and I am also certain that should I have to cancel my nanny gig in North Oakland they will understand why.

They had to cancel bringing the little girl into the city today.

I was supposed to have had one charge this afternoon.

Instead I was in charge of listening to a dear friend.

God it felt good to check in and chat and have coffee and tea and conversation and be real about life and who we are and writing.

We’re both writers.

Sexy.

I listened to him, he listened to me, we swapped tales, we hung out, it was great.

I love my friends.

“I know what that was about,” she said, “you were putting on an act, you’re big and tough and brave, but you know…”

“I am a fucking cream puff,” I said, and I blushed.

I literally blushed.

I was ashamed.

Not so much at what I said, I have said worse, but that it took me so long to figure out.

“Dating advice and writing advice,” I asked my guy friend.

“Which one first?” He replied, then paused, “dating first, because the writing thing will be easy and short.”

Which it was, bless him.

He gave me some insights, a lot of which I already knew and some that made sense, like getting out of my routine and doing something completely outside of my comfort zone, routine is good for me, the writing is really important, my recovery is tantamount, and I get stuck doing the same things all the time and not meeting new people.

“You wear your heart on a sleeve,” he once told me about my blog.

And it’s true, I do.

There are times I don’t want to be so vulnerable and I don’t want to talk about what is going on with me and there are things I do not write about here (that goes in my morning pages and nobody reads those, nobody.  Fuck, I don’t even read them.  I write the three pages and then shut the notebook and don’t look back, the act of doing is the relief, I shake all the crap out of my head onto the page and clear the decks for my day, I don’t need to go back and sift through the shit, I just need to clear the channel).

“Oh, my god, I see it,” I said, the blush fading off as the shame lifted and I saw, possibly for the first time, ever, what I do when I find some one attractive to me.

I get brash, I am brazen I say things loudly, overcompensation for myself, for that tender heart, and in essence I believe, it is an instinct that I have of protecting myself.

Because he thought I was cute too.

I puffed myself up, rolled into a fetal position like a little hedgehog and sent out verbal spiky prickles of don’t touch me.

I am a total softy and I don’t want people I just meet to see that.

I don’t want to get hurt, but I won’t get anywhere if I don’t let myself get past that.

I am going to have to if I expect to actually date men.

I need to be vulnerable.

Nobody wants to date a loud mouth, at least I don’t.

I want to be my authentic self and if that means I come across as shy, or soft, or vulnerable, then fine.

I am a cream puff.

So be it.

At least I didn’t eat any today.

 

That Was Not for Naught

June 18, 2013

Despite the immediate, somewhat childish tantrum building in my head.

I went into the city today to do some work, although I knew I could do it remotely.  I wanted to be in the office space, I wanted to provide myself with accountability.

I wanted that to not be a ticket on the windshield when I went to move the car.

D’oh!

Damn it man.

$62

That pretty much negated going into the city to work.

I only had a few hours to put toward the project, although when I left and had packed up I had some more thoughts that will bear exploring, but not today.  Today it was get back, after a coffee date at Four Barrel, to the East Bay without getting any more tickets.

It was not a horrible day, it was not, I got to see a lady bug and do some work with her and I had a delicious cup of Four Barrel, I know folks that might pay $62 to just do that, a little trip into the city.

I took a walk down Valencia Street, I went to Dog Eared Books, I bought a book and a new notebook–my last journal from Paris was filled this morning–I saw my friend Carlos on the street, I got a hug.

I saw so many folks out there, in San Francisco and here in Oakland, pushing shopping carts that the sting of getting the ticket was gone before too long.

I paid it immediately.

It’s not my car.

I do not want my employers to come back from their vacation and wonder what the hell their car was doing on the wrong side of the street, in San Francisco.

Not to say that they did not give me permission to drive it, they did, but I get to be honest and adult and take care of shit before it bites my ass.

I was trying to remember when the last time was that I got a ticket and I could not remember, although the feeling of it was similar, annoyance, anger, fleeting financial insecurity.  Then I thought, I did not die the last time I got a ticket, I paid it and went about my life and forgot that I had been given one.

I will drive into the city again tomorrow, but I already secured parking for it.  I texted the family I will be nannying for and asked if I could park in their driveway.  I was given a resounding thumbs up and I shall motor back over again tomorrow.

Counting down the days when I will not be crossing over the bridge so much or under the water via BART.

“You’re moving back to the city?!”  She asked me in line at Four Barrel.  An old friend who last I saw was in Oakland a few days back.  She too does a lot of work in San Francisco, not too strange to see her in a coffee shop in the Mission.

“Yup, Ocean Beach,” I replied.

“You’ll love it,” and she gave me a hug.

I will certainly love it more than this commute.

I have a new appreciation for everyone who does this on a daily basis.

I feel challenged doing it and tired and grumpy and over it.

I feel grateful that I have a reason to come and go for work, despite there not being a lot of it this week.  Two nanny gigs and a few things for the design firm.

It feels like I will break even coming and going and groceries for the week.

Not much else.

I am hoping to have rent for the new place set aside before I leave for Burning Man so that I may secure the space.  Although I feel confident that my friend is not going to pull the rug out from under me and tell me it’s not available.

I just want to have it set up.

I am grateful for all the places and spaces, beds, guest rooms, couches, and fold out futons that I have gotten to stay on, the couches, oh the couches I have surfed.

However, the thought of being in my own room makes my panties damp.

Sorry, but it’s true.

I can live pretty lean and I have done so for many years now, not as lean as the lady pushing a cart in the bicycle lane at Valencia and 19th, though, truth be told, she may have had more belongings in her heaped up cart than I own.

I am not saying extravagant, I am not saying over the top, although I won’t sneeze at that.

I am saying comfortable and my own.

Yeah, I know life is transitory, stuff is stuff, but I am tired of being rootless.

Perhaps I am just not as spiritually evolved, but I can say it here, if I can say fuck and shit and piss and burning man and sex and kissing, then I can say it here, I am ready for my own damn place.

I am a material girl.

At least I know it.

I want to hang a hammock from the back and have a big cushy bed with white bedding and a wrought iron frame.  I want to have mason jar lanterns and wooden crates for night tables, I want a desk/kitchen table combo, a nice chair, fluffy towels in the bathroom, a plant or two to call my own.

I want bookshelves and notebooks and pens and candles that smell pretty.

Oh, I want it all.

Being satisfied with what I have is good and I am.

I am lucky and grateful and blessed, I have good friends, and good coffee beans to grind tomorrow morning before I begin my journey back to the city, all these experiences that help me to realize what it is exactly that I want.

None of them were for naught if they got me to where I am today.

Not a single one.

Do NOT Go Softly

June 10, 2013

Into that good night.

These were the words that reverberated in my head as I looked up into the darkening gloom which advertised better than my watch how I have spent the entire, well, almost entire, day on the couch watching the West Wing.

I have not gotten dressed.

Albeit I have also not spent the day sprawled about naked.

I have been in my pajamas all day long.

This activity, or lack there of, was broken up by a few phone calls to my bestest girlfriend, and a few tears.

Sometimes you just got to take a mental health day.

Fortunate for me that day was today and it is Sunday and there was not much work to be done.

I did do some work, I was not a complete sloth.

I put in an hour on a proposal for a new client at the design firm and I made some phone calls.  I took out the recycling and the compost.

I made my bed.

And today I did not drink, smoke crack, cigarettes, tar heroin, snort cocaine, eat ice cream or have sex with strangers.

I ate a lot of popcorn, watched quite a few episodes from the first season of the West Wing and did my best to let myself have a down day.

I am not the kindest to myself and I knew this was coming.

I sort of courted it in a manner of speaking.

I think, no, I believe, I needed to let myself have a day to process the fear and let it dissipate out.  This had not been easy, these five weeks back.  I have made distinct progress getting back into the flow and the lay of the land, but that does not make it easy.

I have this tendency to not acknowledge my hard work.

I have both a super-heated and super-expanded ego and a martyr complex.

Neither thing are helpful.

That I can see them, that this happens in my life, that I will most likely continue to forget, relearn and excoriated myself will also continue to happen.

Of that I can be assured.

There is something though to all of this that I am hyper aware of, I am seeing it all.

I am seeing it.

I am talking about it.

I am acknowledging it.

Now, what I would like, and it’s a work in progress, so who the hell knows, is to take this information, I mean I have to treat it like it’s information and not get judgemental about it, to factor it in and not let it rule my life.

To be kind to myself, compassionate, and see that yeah, I have been holding on tight to those reigns and that it does not serve me to go pell mell like this about my life.

I will be up tomorrow and I will go to the city and do some work then I will come back to the East Bay and I will do some work and then I will go do some more work.

Now, that sounds like going off pell mell.

I know it, I can see it, and I am going to rectify it.

The first thing I must do is be aware.

Awareness, acceptance, action.

I cannot take action, which is generally the first reaction to anything that causes me discomfort, without acceptance of the situation and I cannot accept without awareness.

It used to be that it would take months, even years, for me to become aware of something.

It happens faster and faster now that I see things coming, that I intuit situations, that I have self-awareness and actualization around my own inner issues.

So, I let myself off, I shared with my dear friend and confidant and I watched a lot of television.

So be it.

I wrote too, I wrote this morning and I am writing now and I started writing the edits that my boss wants me to make around the new proposal.  I enjoyed researching and sitting with my notebook open jotting down notes and synonyms and antonyms and looking up adjectives.

I am a writer, this stuff is fun for me.

Really, it is.

I have a preponderancy to want to use original language, to get across an idea and to use succulent words to do so.  I know that I need clean, concise phrasing when doing this work and I know that I will make some mistakes, but the excitement that pelted around in my brain when I was looking over the document was not to be denied.

I have not felt this excited to do work in a long time.

To use my skills and craft and way-wordedness.

I think, no, I believe, that I will continue to quite enjoy doing this.

I am aware that I have been not so nice to myself and I am aware that there is no one else to blame for this.  Aware too that I have no desire to continue, I accept that this is a product of how I was brought into the world and I do not judge nor make judgements around my parents, my peers, myself, or my life.

Judgement does me not an iota of good.

But learning?

Learning is good.

Forgiveness is better.

Shedding some tears is just another way for pain to leave the body.

Shed a few tears, slide down on the couch, let my heart-break open in the twilight rooms of Graceland and spend some time recuperating and resting.

These things needed doing and I did them.

Now for the rest of tonight, I still don’t get to beat myself up.

I get to take the information gathered herein, yup, my old archaic word friend, and use it to strike a balance, in my heart, in my head, in my body.

See, and look with out dispute or despair and see that I am powerless and that is alright.

Surrender to it.

In the surrender I let go the idea that I am wrong or this is wrong, or that change is not a changing.

It is.

It’s all good.

And so am I.

Little jagged out around the West Wing, but you know, who wouldn’t be?

Spa Day

April 24, 2013

After the trains, buses, planes, and various Metro lines I took yesterday, both in Rome and in Paris, I was pretty tuckered out.

So much so that when the offer was made to me to come over to a friend’s house and stay while she was away in the states for the week, I balked.

No.

I don’t want to get back on a Metro to transfer to another Metro to hop on the RER C and head out to Vitry-Sur-Seine.

I want to cry in my tea and put my head down on the table and give the fuck up.

I felt done in.

Then the realization hit that my room-mate had a friend coming into town who was going to be staying for the next week, ie until I left back for the states, and perhaps getting on another round of trains was not such a bad idea after all.

I said yes, let me get myself together, drink a cup of tea and re-pack the bag I had just unpacked.

It took me an hour to unwind my frazzled self, a spot of food, what was left in the house before my adventures in Rome–potatoes–and two mugs of tea and I was ready to hit the road, Jack, once again.

When the hell am I going to slow down, I thought to myself as I transferred from Line 7 to Line 10 to the RER C at Gare d’Austerlitz, I shifted my bags and opened to the door to the train and stepped onto the platform.

How many platforms did I cross yesterday?

Express Bus 40 to the Trevi Fountain; Metro Line A to Termini; platform 34 on the Leonardo Express; the plane from Rome To Paris; RER B from Charles de Gaulle International airport to Gare du Nord in Paris; walk down the hill to the house, then back out the door to Metro Line 7 to Metro line 10 to RER C off at Les Ardoines, walk to the house.

Whew.

I was ready to sit the fuck down.

Apparently I was ready to sleep too.

I did that in spades.

I slept until 11:30 a.m.

It felt like much later, as the house has black out blinds in the living room where I was crashed out on the couch.

“You could always couch surf, you know,” he said to me this evening, the light golden and rich, haloed his blonde hair and his eyes sparkled with a bit of sexy French man charm.

“I could,” I replied, “I am in fact now, couch surfing, despite having rent paid at my place, the opportunity to be in a more spacious environment was given to me, so I took it.”

“I have,” I repeated, “done a lot of couch surfing, and you know, I’m about done with it.”

“Are you moving back in with your parents,” she said and leaned toward me eager to hear my response.

I just about spat out my tea.

“Uh, no,” I said, “that’s never really been an option, although, my parents have lived with me from time to time.”

“Oh,” she said, and stumbled around looking for the next thing to say.

I stepped in and saved her the embarrassment of assumption, “I’ll be staying with friends when I go back,” I concluded and looked up to see another friend coming toward me to kiss my cheeks.  Saved from the continuation of the awkward conversation I turned my complete attention to him, as he sprinkled me with “Ciao Bella’s”.  We hugged and caught up.  I am going to miss some people here, I surely am.

“You look beautiful,” he said to me.

I should, I thought, I got so much sleep and then instead of running out the door and trying to cram some last moments of Paris into the last week I am here, I gave myself a spa day.

Plucked, waxed, shaved, showered, deep conditioned the hair, manicure, pedicure.

While my nails were drying I nibbled a salad of raw vegetables and green olives and sat on the porch in the sunlight and read a book.

Life is not so hard when I stop the struggling.

I do need to focus on getting my feet beneath me, I know this quite well, I do not want to live on the generosity of my friends, I do not want to be a taker, I want to give.

We sat on the banks of the Seine tonight, reading from a book, passing the pages back and forth, talking about the wisdom expressed, sharing our experiences.  The sunset, firing her hair with red-gold and smothering us in love.  “I cannot say how much this means to me,” I said, tears forming in my eyes, “to be here, in Paris, sharing my experience, getting to work with you, on the banks of the Seine at sunset.”

What gifts I have been given.

What a life I get to lead.

Relaxed and at ease, and having an awesome hair day, if I do say so myself, I know that these next few days will have moments of fear, of challenge, perhaps of anxiety, but I believe, I truly do, that I am only going up from here.

The book I was reading today on the porch while my toenails dried in the warm French breeze, finally! Was Middlesex by Jeffery Eugenides.

There was a quote that caught me,  “to go forward, you have to go back to where you began.”

That is exactly what this feels like.

I am going forward by going back.

I am no failure for having come here, despite the financial repercussions of my actions.  If anything, they are showing me exactly what I want and knowing that I can begin to change the habits and patterns that do not work for me and find a way forward.

“We will stay close,” he said to me tonight, looking deep into me.  I felt my heart breaking open, breaking wider, allowing in even more love, I love you my dear, I do so very much.  “I will read your words, I will be close, we will see each other again.”

And we will.

Here in Paris.

Or on the playa.

Or where ever the Universe decides to drop me next.

Just hoping it is not on a couch, but in a room, a place to call my own for a while, to grow forward to make my way, to bloom with brightness and love the way the trees along the Seine were blooming tonight.

“I love you,” I said into her hair and the shell of her ear, “I love you so much,” we hugged good-bye and I plunged down the steps to the train station, another platform to cross another rail to ride.

Here in Paris.

Six more days.

A Room of My Own

April 10, 2013

With a door that shuts.

Ah.

That would be awesome.

Sunshine and lollipops.

Speaking of sunshine, there may finally be a break in the rain.

I am not minding the rain at the moment, especially at night, the smeared lights on the pavements are so rich in pigment I feel that I am stopping every other moment to photograph the reflections.

I am not mindful of the rain as it is also warmer.

Not quite warm yet, I am still wearing a sweatshirt and a jean jacket and I have half-gloves tucked in my pocket as well as a scarf around my neck.

It is not freezing, however, it is not numbing to walk, it is not I cannot fathom wearing tights, unless I am wearing tights under a pair of pants, weather.

By Sunday in the 70s!

Sunshine is promised and the weather in the 70s.

I am thinking an outing to Bois de Bologne.

I have not been yet and it seems the perfect place to go on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

It is also a short hop on the Metro from the 7th where I will be heading to a morning commitment.  Free after 1 pm I shall wend my way towards the woods.

Until then I have plenty to keep me busy.

I will be meeting up with a ladybug tomorrow afternoon at Bert’s after seeing my fellows on Avenue George V.  And as I am on the same Metro line, Line 9, I am going to hop on at Alma-Marceau and take the train to La Muette and go to the Monet museum in the 16th that has the largest collection of Monet paintings in the world.

Musee Marmottan-Monet.

It has over 100 works of Monet plus Renoir, Sisley, Manet, Degas, Pissarro, Berthe Morisot, and Gauguin.

Sounds like a good time to me.

Friday I have a similar day in the early afternoon then an outing to the suburbs to do a spot of baby sitting.

Saturday I see Corinne and Christina and loads of folks at 65 Quai D’Orsay.

Sunday, the woods.

Monday, more babysitting.

Tuesday, not the Louvre, but maybe climb the bell towers at Notre Dame.

Either that or finally go out to Clingancourt.

The huge flea market.

I will not go on a Sunday.

It is estimated that approximately 120,000 people converge upon the market on Sunday.  Plus with the weather being warmer and sunny, it will most likely be a mob scene.

Thanks, but no thanks.

I’ll have my last day with the mademoiselle next Wednesday and after wards I was thinking I would celebrate by heading to the Louvre and doing a long afternoon there.

Thursday and Friday are open to whatever way the wind blows me.

Saturday I fly to Rome.

Rome!

I will stay with the lovely Michelle, who happens to be a tour guide, and I will accompany her on her Sunday tour of the city.  I have no other real plans.  I am just going to show up and see what there is to be seen.

I’ll return on the 23rd, leaving me one week in Paris before I fly home.

Home.

I’ll be going to Graceland.

And not the one in Tennessee.

It sort of all fell together, as I felt like I was falling apart (what is that, if I’m falling down the hill, I am in God’s will?  Felt like falling for sure), without much trouble, a few shed tears, and a quiet resolution to do what comes next, what happens easily without manipulation, without geographic cures.

The nanny position I was offered is on 42nd in Oakland.

Graceland is on 52nd.

Ten block bike ride.

I can do that.

I won’t mind bicycling to work again.  I have not bike commuted, really, since I left Oakland. I have relied on the Metro, which is a damn fine system, best in the world as far as my experiences go, but the constant vigilance from pick pockets and the crowded rush hour travels, I will not miss.

Although there will need to be a certain kind of vigilance riding around Oakland.

I am already prepared for that.

I am also prepared for a little bit of culture shock.

I have been here just long enough that it will be unnerving, I am certain, to return.

But return I am.

Three weeks from today I will fly into San Francisco International Air Port at 12:10 pm on Wednesday May 1st, 2013.

Three weeks.

I am nervous and excited, a bit scared, and to tell the god awful truth, relieved.

I realized this as I was tossing and turning last night, trying to fall asleep without constantly checking my e-mail and actively turning it over to the Universe, putting it out there and saying what ever happens, I am ok, I will be ok, it is ok, now go to sleep.

This morning feels so long ago, I have also been up since 7a.m. and I was not able to fall asleep until 2 a.m. despite having tucked myself in at 11p.m. last night.

Thoughts that went through my head, random and disjointed and weird–eating tomatoes with sea salt, plucked straight of the vine in the back yard at Graceland.  Fred, the feral, bumping my hands as I put out the food for the neighborhood cats.  The fig tree.

Sunshine.

Oh, the sunshine.

I will be over the moon, to mix my metaphors, to have windows that let in direct light.

And ceilings that I cannot touch.

I can stretch my arms above my head and touch the ceiling here, without standing on my tip toes.  It is a bit claustrophobic in here.

Wearing flowers in my hair, way random thoughts, but you don’t see it so much here, and you do in Oakland, and buying big ass hoops from the flea market outside the Ashby Bart station, in Berkeley, but just a quick hop down the road.

Wearing color.

Lots of it.

Being in the Burning Man community again.

I miss my peeps.

Paris has been amazing and I won’t ever say that it hasn’t, but my fucking God, it has been hard.  And not just hard in the getting lost or not being completely fluent in the language, but hard as in hard to earn a living and crazy with people and having to constantly be on guard and being a stranger in a strange land.

That kind of hard.

Worth the doing.

Worth the having.

And if it works out again to be here in the future, worth the coming back to.

But I will let you in on something, I am ready to be settled down for a bit.  I have done so much moving in the last few years, apartment to apartment to couch surfing, to in-laws, to house sitting, literally having all my worldly possessions out with me last year at Burning Man, living here on a futon folded up into a nook in a corner of the living room/dining room, I am ready to have my own space.

Just a room.

A room with windows, a wood floor, high ceilings.

A table to sit at.

A chair to write from.

Some where to put down some roots for a half a minute.

Maybe have a plant–a geranium, its spicy pepper scent filling my room.

I don’t need much.

I have proved that again and again, but I would like to stop for a moment.

I am cool with the nanny’ing and what ever else comes down the pipeline.

I just want a table to keep writing at and a patch of sunlight to do it in.

I am scared to start over.

But it is not a failure, it is just a new point of departure and I would not have the same appreciation for it, the room, the Oakland, the nanny, if I had not have had this.

The Paris.

Prep Time

February 22, 2013

I am going to do a little research.

Ok.

That was depressing.

I googled “woman age 40 stats”.

I have to say I am not fond of what I found.  Nor am I of the opinion that what mostly popped up was in any way applicable to me.

Either I am a raving lunatic who must make baby now.

Or.

I am losing my sex drive and have nothing to look forward to but the ravages of menopause.

I say fuck you to both those things.

I have been letting my thoughts percolate this week on the subject of being a woman of 40.  A topic I feel like I have done a lot of thinking about and a lot of playing with for this last year.  However, since I was asked to participate in this blog project, I have been coming back to it again and again.

Doing some sorting out of what makes me tick at 40 and what differences I see in my life and whether that has anything to do with anything regarding the actuality of what the age means to the society at large.

I don’t read a lot of papers.

I don’t watch the news.

I don’t get women’s magazines.

I do read “Voici” when I go babysit.

It is this hysterical French gossip rag.

I don’t have to understand much French to understand the scope of the magazine.

Besides the pictures really are worth a 1,000 words.

Not that the articles accompanying them are ever that long.

I have preconceived ideas, I suppose, of what 40 should look like.

It just looks like me.

My scope is limited.  Maybe I don’t have the same kinds of pressure to perform, to juggle marriage, children, career.

Working in a bike shop was a career, of sorts, I suppose, as is babysitting.  But they are certainly not the careers I think I would have seen myself pursuing at this age.  I just see what I am doing and think that it’s what I am doing.  It does not have much to do with my age.

When my age comes up for me it is generally a stick to beat myself with, as in I should be this, this, this, that and the other, like women I see who are my age.

I don’t look like women my age or act like women my age.

I just act like Carmen.

Do I need to put an age on that?

Do I need a signifier to go forward?

Nope.

The age has brought wisdom.

That I will give it, wisdom which comes with experience.

There is nothing I would go back and change, though.

No.

I like this me.

I like the work I have done to get here.

That is what I believe I will end up writing about for the blog project, the last year in a kind of retrospective, what happened to get me to Paris.  How I let go of things, the couch surfing at Calvin’s, the change of jobs, the losing the cats, the house siting in Oakland, the Lover, the Mister, the dating, the sex, the Burning Man, the service, the roll on suitcase.

I was also asked to be a contributor beyond the initial blog.

Which has me thinking too.

What goals do I have for myself, what am I doing now, where do I plan on going, how to move forward with my most authenticated self.  How to not care that I am 40 and acting like a student on holiday.

Well, actually, perhaps not acting like a student on holiday, the posters of the movie “Spring Breakers” in the Metro are cracking me up.  I am no spring breaker or spring chicken.

But I still get from here to there with a messenger bag, the new “back pack” oft-times and I am looking at Europe through the eyes of a student on vacation.

I found out through a friend recently about a train that runs from Paris to Florence/Milan/Rome/Venice called Thello and it costs, wait for it….

35 Euro one way.

That means for 70 Euro I can go back and forth to Venice.

VENICE.

I can take an over night sleeper train for 35 Euro and go to Venice.

That is something.

I am going to do.

I have been writing I am a world traveller in my daily affirmations for what feels like years now and Venice is one of the places I have always wanted to go.  I could go for a weekend.

Walk, stay in a hostel, maybe couch surf, take a gondola, go to a museum, watch the light and see what the sky looks like in Venice.

70 Euro.

Less than what it cost me to go to London and back.

I want in.

Of course I am still looking for Euro for rent for next month and food and all that jazz.

But 70 Euro?

How can I not do that?

I also do not know when or how things are going to change.

But they are.

That too is something that being 40 has given me.

This utter belief that if I show up things work their way out.  They don’t always work out how I think they ought to or the way I had suspected they would.  No, the world spins to a different tune than the one the dj in my brain box has playing.

It is a better song to dance to, frankly, I get tired of the station my head plays.

Reality when I show up for it is fantastic.

I am doing the work.

Corinne pointed that out to me tonight as I sat on the couch rocking the baby and shedding a few tears, mostly tears of frustration over the thoughts I beat myself with, the 40-year-old stick that I need to retire.  “Your really do the work,” she said.

Firm.

Strong.

No bullshit.

I can always push harder and try harder and exhaust myself and wrack my brains with schemes.  Or I can just soften myself, lay down the bat, just because I have been using it for 40 years does not mean that I have to use it for the next 40.

I am not even middle-aged yet.

One day I will look at where I am now and see that it was all exactly the way it was supposed to be.

Because it already is.

Time For A Space Heater

February 1, 2012

Yikes.  It is cold in here!  I need to get myself a space heater ASAP.

Which will patiently wait until pay-day.  I have spent just about what I can afford to spend on my little home.  I also made the mistake of believing the my eye is a good measuring instrument.

It is not.

My perceptions are often not true to form.  And when you go flying into Bed, Bath, and Beyond on a mission for a curtain rod as you forgot it when you were buying your new curtains, and don’t have the exact dimensions of your new window, well, oops, it does not always fit.

I thought I could sneak in a trip yesterday to the store and I was quite proud of myself when I was in and out of Bed/Bath/Beyond (to the moon and back!) and Trader Joes in fifteen minutes.

Fifteen.

But, unfortunately, the rapidity of my trip was negated by the fact that I purchased the incorrect curtain rod size.  I need curtains.  You can see right into my room from the back patio area and yesterday Mama Aurora was talking to someone right out side my window and thank God I had a towel wrapped around me or they both would have gotten an after shower show. I will be returning to the scene of the crime, and although I will slow down enough to correctly purchase the right size!

Not going to let that happen again.  Yikes.  I do have some very sweet window treatments up.  I got a couple of nice little rigs for the windows (valances–I did not even know that I knew that was the item I was purchasing, but I bought two and they look right smart!).  One for the bathroom and one for the main room.  I also got a shower curtain, a spring rod to hang it from, a couple of bath mats and two nice new pillows.

They, the pillows, are so nice and new and squishy and wonderful that I may now need two more to replace the others I kept.  My bed, by the way, if I can just say it again, is so divine.  It is just the best thing coming and going.  Nothing, nothing, I say, gives a person more gratitude around having their own bed then sleeping on a red vinyl couch that is slippery for a month.

Granted, I was blessed to have that couch to stay on and I am forever grateful to all the people who put me up over the last eight weeks and change.  I have slept in attics, on couches, and in other people’s beds.  I have been fortunate to have slept on each and every one of them.  I have been like Goldilocks.

And now I have “just right”.

It is so alluring I want to go crawl into it right now.  It is also quite cold in here, as I stated at the beginning of this post, so the draw is really big.  I have a quilt and a comforter and a big huge stack of cozy pillows to pile around me.

Last night I heaved such a sigh of abandon upon crawling into my bed and pulling up the covers, if I were a person on the other side of the wall, well, I might have been tempted to believe there was a little somethin’ somethin’ happening in my room.

That is not the case.  Although, the freedom for that to happen is tempting.  But I am sticking to my guns on that.  No sexy sexy until I am in a relationship.

I have rather given up on that ever happening.  Although, I was pleased to run into a gentleman tonight that I have not seen in a few years and I feel like there were some sparks there.  Perhaps.

Hard to say.  I do know that it was really good to see him.  We have some mutual friends and even though we swim in the same school, his group of fish is in the Sunset and mine, well, mine is now in the Mission.  Funny how that happens, just a few neighborhoods away is like another universe.

The Sunset feels like galaxies away.  In reality, on my bike, the Inner Sunset is maybe a twenty-minute bike ride, the outer a half hour or so, depending on weather and traffic.  Yet, it feel so much longer and further away than that.

It has been a little while since I rode my bike out to the beach.  That would be a lovely thing to do.  Or I could also get a City Car share and drive out over the Golden Gate and go to Stinson Beach or Muir and do a little bonfire action.  I haven’t been to the either of those beaches in a while. Oh!  I could also go to Point Reyes and get oysters!  I feel a beach picnic coming on.

One of my most favorite things in the world is a bonfire on the beach.  I will manifest this soon.  I have a three-day weekend coming up, I will be helping out on a Saturday to allow a fellow co-worker a much need weekend off.  I am not doing back flips about it, but I like that I can help out.

It means I will work two weeks with odd days off.  One week I will have a three-day weekend as I will have the Monday off the week I work the Saturday.  But that means that the week that I go back to normal I will only have one day off.

Oh well, such is life.  I really am not complaining.  I think I will take one of those days in that three-day weekend and plan a car share and do a little day trip and possible night-time bonfire beach action.

I get  a head of myself.  For the moment I am focusing on getting the rest of the accoutrement for my new home–the proper curtain rod for the bedroom window, a throw rug for the by the bed, a space heater, and I need to pick up the shelving unit from Harrington’s.

I also want to get a microwave and a mini fridge.  I am going to make my space as self-sufficient as possible.

I think the space heater may need to be at the top of the list, however, my fingers are really cold from writing.  I am going to wrap this up, put on the kettle and heat up a big cup of tea and nestle into my cozy bed.

My bed.  Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways….

 


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