Archive for the ‘Memory’ Category

Bach Cello Sonata No.1

October 11, 2017

In G.

And 5 and 6 as well.

Yo Yo Ma.

That is what I am listening to.

It was an intense day and I feel it slowly easing out of my body and sliding to the floor in a big puddle.

I could slide to the floor in a big puddle.

When I need to calm down and unwind I like to listen to this in particular.

It is sweet and I find it wistful, God I miss playing the cello.

There’s a spot about 1:50 into the first sonata and I can feel the bow in my hand, I can see my fingers striding over the neck of the cello and I can feel it between my legs.

I can get weepy thinking about it.

One would suppose that I would be past it, this yearning, but somethings stay with me a long time.

I don’t know that I ever really got over the loss of playing cello.

And I have had it suggested too many times to count that maybe I pick it up again.

I think.

Yes!

Let me do that.

In what fucking time?

I could give up writing in the morning.

I could play music for my morning spiritual fix.

I could not buy a car and buy a cello.

I could go over to Roland Feller and blow my heart out on a cello.

Roland Feller is the luthier for the San Francisco Symphony.

I went once, with a friend who worked out of the Burning Man offices when I was nannying there many years ago now.

He is a professional cello player and gigs about and plays with the San Jose Orchestra.

He gave me lessons for a while and one day took me to Roland Feller.

I would have never known that there was a luthier there.

It is an extraordinary nondescript house next to the Popeye’s Chicken on Divisadero Street.

There is no signage.

You have to make an appointment.

There is a gate and a call box and it looks like some cheap apartment, well, it’s in San Francisco so it’s probably not cheap, but the door opens into this gold mine of classical music instruments.

Violins.

Violas.

Stand up Bass.

Cellos.

Oh and the cellos.

I played a few different ones and I remember one in particular, it was luscious, the sound so rich, so vibrant, it made me quiver with delight.

My friend teased me a little that I was passionate and looked as though I might be having the sexy thoughts.

I had never had a cello quite that caliber ever before in my hands.

It was exquisite.

And one day.

Well.

I have written on this topic before, I will have another cello.

I’m not there yet.

But one day.

And in the mean time.

Well.

I have my Yo Yo Ma and I have Bach.

And Debussy.

And Chopin.

Oh the Chopin Cello Sonata in G Minor.

Oof.

So good.

The Bach is my favorite, but that Chopin is glorious too, passionate and brash and stupendous.

I love that I love classical music.

I don’t look the type.

Except, well, maybe that’s not true.

I feel like I might look the type, that there’s a brazen woman cellist in my heart.

Maybe she smashes herself on her music like I smash myself with my poetry.

Maybe one day the two will get back together again.

I don’t expect that I will ever be great, I never was great, but I had heart, yes, I had great big heart and I knew it and so did my most ardent supporter–my orchestra conductor, Mister Ziegler.

Where ever you are, you meant something to me that few teachers do.

He supported me, he was honest with me, he argued for me.

He brought in my mom and my step father, the fuck (egad, maybe I need yet another inventory on the man, christ), and sat them down and tried, oh how hard he tried, to convince them to not let me quit cello.

Quitting cello was not my idea.

It was my stepfathers idea.

We didn’t have enough money and my parents, god I can’t even say that, the man was never a fucking parent to me, he was a violent misogynistic sociopath, but not a parent, had bought a house in Windsor, outside the school system I was in at the time I was playing cello.

There was no thought of a tutor, I had one actually, that my conductor had arranged with the school and I was given said tutoring for free, but to move away from the school system I would lose that.

And the school that was closest to me, the one that I would attend, DeForest, well, they didn’t have an orchestra.

Oh sure.

They had band.

But no orchestra.

They had cut the funding for the orchestra.

You should see the football stadium though, a work of art that.

Anyway.

My conductor tried to argue that my parents continuing my tutoring or that I commute in to Madison for school and still stay with the cello.

Nope.

There were words, there was fire, I could see how hard my conductor was trying to get through to my parents.

My stepfather hated me playing.

He hated me practicing.

I got lost in the cello, I wasn’t there, I was gone, gone, gone, and he wanted me present and not in my fantasy world.

He also did not like that I read as much as I did, I shit you not.

What fucking parent doesn’t want their children to read?

When I was punished some of the worst punishments were being denied those things that I loved most.

Books and my cello.

Cello was first to go.

“Put it away and go clean the bathtub,” he said.

The the books were taken.

I don’t know what I did, I mean, I have absolutely no recollection of what I had done to deserve the grounding to my room one weekend, but he was diabolical.

I had no problem being grounded to my room, fine with me, I won’t have to look at you.

I’ll read, thank you very much.

But.

Oh my fucking god, the man had removed every single book I had in my room, everything was gone, it was stripped.

Thank God I had one underneath the mattress of my bed.

Fucking stashed my back up drugs thank you very much.

So.

It wasn’t much of a surprise, after the cello was taken and my stepfather and my mom left the orchestra room with me sadly in tow, that once we moved to Windsor I was to be denied academic access as well.

“She’s too proud, she needs to be humbled, she’s not allowed to do it,” he told my mom, who had tried in her own way to get him to give his permission to sway him.

I was trailing behind in the snow walking down Windsor Road in the middle of a cold ass night listening to them argue about me and the invitation I had been given to join an advanced English class-accelerated and an accelerated math class.

I didn’t care so much about the math, irony, I was actually able to attend that, I think my mom might have had a hook up or something with the math teacher now that I look back, but the English was resolutely denied.

I can feel rage in my chest when I think about that.

“Too proud, she’s just too fucking proud.”

And maybe I was.

Pride goeth before the fall.

I have been humbled in many ways, but I still like my books and I still love listening to cello.

And I am beyond proud of how I grew and became the woman I am today.

Despite the horrendous odds against me growing up.

I got out.

And you can’t put me down.

Nope.

I will not be ground down.

I will thrive.

I am thriving.

I am alive.

Happy.

Joyous.

Motherfucking.

Free.

And yes.

Proud.

 

 

 

 

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You Are A Magician!

October 10, 2017

I got the sweetest text tonight as I was wrapping up at my internship.

My boss had sent me a message extolling my baking prowess.

I made the family an apple tart tonight.

It was going to be a pie, but they only had tart baking dishes so I changed up what I was doing and made a butter pastry, yes, by hand, it’s not that hard, and did my version of apple pie filling.

The nice thing about it too.

All the apples came from their tree in the front of their house.

It reminded me of when I learned how to make apple pies.

I was twelve, we had just moved from Madison, Wisconsin, to Windsor, Wisconsin.

I went from being in an urban multi-cultural neighborhood and school to rural white country in a blink of an eye.

I didn’t think much of it at the time, the racial stuff, the class system and structure, I got lumped into the “farm kids” group even though we didn’t live on a farm.

And yes, I have drank milk straight from the pail underneath a cow’s udder, I remember very distinctly that it was warm, but I was no farm girl.

I can pass for one though.

I currently pass for very urban, the tattoos do that and my funky style of dressing, which has been evolving for years, but it is still quite urban.

However.

I can pass for a country girl too, not so much a farm girl, but I know a lot about living in the country and the seasons, canning and jarring, making preserves, putting up food for the winter.

We had a pantry in the cellar.

And it was a cellar.

Oh, sure, we had a basement, but we also had a cellar too, an unfinished one with a dirt floor, which was spooky as fuck and after one winter of storing stuff there I declined to ever go near it again.

Some places are just too goddamn creepy and I had a penchant for reading Stephen King in highschool, which did nothing to help matters.

Anyway.

This country girl can also jam and she can bake.

My mom taught me.

We had an apple orchard on the property–4 Red Delicious Trees, 1 Golden Delicious, and 7 Cortland trees.

I don’t know that there are any Cortland apples in California, there might be, but I don’t recall seeing them in the stores.

I have dreamed once or twice about having my own apple orchard.

A modest one.

Maybe a hobby one.

I would be a famous writer.

Or better.

A writer who just made money writing.

I would have a big house and a small barn.

I would put up apples and preserves and make apple jelly and apple pies, apple sauce, and oh!

Apple butter.

So freaking good.

And of course.

Lots of apple cider.

I would write in my office in the barn and have a braided rug and a rocking chair, a big desk and a fireplace.

I would drink hot tea while the snow fell and be super content listening to the hush and crackle of snow falling.

I would fall asleep under large comforters.

I would have my bunny slippers of course.

It’s a sweet fantasy.

One I could imagine having here, partially, but it would be outside of the city, obviously.

Or.

Maybe I could just have my own house and I would have the trees that I like, a couple of apple trees, the Envy varietal or Pink Lady, I also really like the Mutsu apples.  And a persimmon tree.

Fuck I love persimmons.

And it’s persimmon season.

When I get done with my blog I will be having both and apple and a persimmon as my evening snack, I shall cut them up, sprinkle them with cinnamon, nutmeg, sea salt and pumpkin pie spice.

The best.

I might have a pear tree too.

And definitely a fig tree.

Then a little kitchen garden–tomatoes, lettuces, onions, herbs–rosemary, basil, oregano, thyme, carrots, cucumbers, broccoli, heck, maybe even some sweet corn.

But really I want tomatoes, like the ones my grandfather grew in his garden in Lodi.

My grandfather helped my mom quite a bit with the planning of our garden in Windsor, we had an acre of land and the back of it was a big sprawling yard, halved by a grape arbor and then the back was the orchard and the garden.

The garden wasn’t as big as my grandfathers and I remember my stepfather (step asshole, step asshat, step misogynist, oops, sorry, digression) got some weird ideas about what to grow.

One year it was a god awful amount of cabbage and he decided we were going to make sauerkraut.

We made so much sauerkraut that four years later I could still find it in the pantry in the basement, not the cellar mind you, but the basement.

Another year it was potatoes and broccoli.

There was also a small strawberry patch, some raspberries, and red currants as well as rhubarb.

One of my mom’s masterpieces was her strawberry rhubarb egg custard tart.

God damn it was a miracle.

And my mom taught me her pie crust recipe.

Which, to this day, I can see on its index card in her small recipe box, the way she wrote her letters and the fanciful swoops and curves of her lines and the flourishes.

When I think of my mom sometimes I think that her creative soul can be found in her cursive handwriting.

I didn’t even need to look at the recipe card after a few years, I had made so many pies that it was unnecessary.

I made apple pies, of course, until the cows came home.

This is a saying, not literal, although there was a farm just down the road that the dog liked to go occasion once in a while to piss off my mother by rolling in the cow manure.

There is nothing fouler to smell than a dirty dog in cow shit.

Anyway.

My mom taught me well and it was nice to dip back into those memories, to feel the seasons change, to think about fall abundance and harvest.

I miss baking sometimes and I’m a good baker, so it was super sweet and a bit special to make the tart for the family I work for.

I cooked a lot today for the family as it was a stay at home day for the kids, Columbus Day school observance, but the pie made me the happiest to make.

I didn’t need to taste it, I don’t eat sugar or flour, so that was out of the question.

But oh.

I smelled it.

And it was so good.

It reminded me of home, the days crisp and cool and the leaves turning and the grass still green but cold now on my feet when I was out picking through the windfall apples in the tall orchard grass.

I am so glad and grateful that I get to live in San Francisco.

But once in a while.

Yes.

I do get a touch nostalgic for the Midwest.

And baking today felt good.

Sweet.

Homey.

Cozy.

It stirred me and I was grateful for it.

And touched too, that the mom would send me such an effusive message.

I am glad they liked the pie.

I probably liked baking it more than they enjoyed eating it.

That might not seem possible.

But.

Well.

I think it is.

Committed Monogamous

October 4, 2017

Relationships are dangerous.

Oh holy fucking shit.

That’s it.

It only took 44 plus years.

And one scary, traumatizing, controlling partner to ruin me for traditional dating.

Not that I think that traditional dating is the answer.

There is no answer.

There is no right.

There is no wrong.

There is only the feeling of love and I don’t have a particular expectation around how I find that love or let myself have that love.

Oh.

I suppose I have definitely introjected the idea that I need to be married to be a whole person, to be enough, that I am somehow not lovable unless married.

And then.

There is the other, not so conscious thing that has been happening for me for over past eighteen years.

I say eighteen years because that is when I broke up with the one man I was in a significant long-term relationship.

We were together for five years.

We probably shouldn’t have been together for more than five minutes, but I’m not going to judge that young very lost, very sad, very fearful woman.

I didn’t know better and I got sucked in.

I got suckered in by my own naive ideas about what love was and how to be in a relationship.

What the fuck did I know about being in a relationship that had any kind of sustainability at the age of 21?

Especially when I look at where I had been the few years prior to the start of the relationship.

Homeless.

Helping out with my sister and her daughter and her first husband.

Helping out my mom, my dad, anyone who fucking asked because I only had this idea that if people needed me I had some sort of value.

That I might be enough, when I felt, although it was not acknowledged, I couldn’t acknowledge it to myself until I had two, almost three years sober, that I didn’t love myself.

That I had no idea how to do it because the love I had been shown was so deadly that I couldn’t escape it fast enough.

In fantasy, in sci-fi books, in chocolate bars, in music, in school, in the backyard of the house in Windsor, in crushing on “unattainable” boys who weren’t interested in me.

It was safer that way.

I found ways to fill that hole of loss of love.

Food became a big one.

Taking care of other people, that was great, focus on someone else and don’t think about myself, my needs, my wants, my desires.

I mean.

I wasn’t allowed to have needs, wants desires, so why even bother?

I would only be disappointed.

I came into my therapy session today talking about the weather, the turn of seasons into Fall, that I was being proactive, that I had purchased a light box to deal with the SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) that I have a history of experiencing.

I segued into a being proud of myself moment for acknowledging that yes, I could have gone to a 7 a.m. yoga class today, but then I would have been crazy pressured to make my therapy session, I would have gotten a quick fast shower, but no coffee, no breakfast, and just barely slapping some make up on and well, I like my makeup.

Not to mention my morning latte and bowl of oatmeal.

Plus I also knew that I wanted to be available for a phone call and if I went to yoga, I’d get less sleep, not eat, no coffee, and miss a phone call from a very important person.

I woke up this morning and reset my alarm, I knew I wasn’t going to yoga and I knew it was the thing to do.

I had my nice breakfast, I had my nice latte, I put on my makeup.

I do remember thinking to myself, heck, I could wear eyeliner today, but therapy.

I mean.

I do have a tendency to cry.

Then I thought, fuck, life is wonderful, what do I have to cry about?

But.

I trusted my gut.

Yeah, I still wore blue eye shadow, it was tasteful, I swear, but I didn’t give myself the winged black kohl liner look that would have put the vavoom on my makeup.

I restrained myself just in case I might cry.

Guess what?

I cried.

My therapist and I were talking about relationships, marriage, family and then I was talking about my ex.

I was talking about five years of living with an addict who was super controlling, although I had no idea at the time.

I talked about what it was like when I decided to break up with him and what happened.

I talked about how he hit me.

I talked about how he knew that I had been hit as a child and it was my boundary, and how he broke it.

I talked about being scared.

I talked about how he stalked me for two years before I could finally pull the trigger and call the cops.

I didn’t talk about the nightmares, but, ugh, they were awful.

I did talk about the police being called and that there were messages on my machine and how not even after listening to a half of the first one the police were ordering a restraining order on my ex.

We went to court after the initial one was filed.

My ex stood in court and asked for the longest one he could get

He knew himself.

He knew he would keep haunting me if he didn’t ask for the longest restraining order he could get.

It was for two years.

We saw each other about two weeks after it expired.

We had one last 24 hours of trying to make something work that was never meant to work.

I said my goodbye.

I was moving to California.

We spoke one last time when his grandmother died.

I had helped with her when she was becoming to senile to help herself.

I will never forget giving her a bath and her tiny frail little body and how she just sat in the tub and let me bathe her and wash her hair.

He thought I should know.

A lot of emotions came up as I talked to my therapist.

How I didn’t want to tell her about how he spit on me in front of my friends, in the face, because I was leaving him.

I will never forget the shocked look on my best friends husbands face, he was frozen in active disbelief of what was happening.

Another friends’ boyfriend intervened.

We drove back to my house with my ex tailing us like an insane man.

My friend’s husband managed to lose him and we took a circuitous way back to my house and, yes, I literally threw clothes into garbage bags and ran back to my friend’s car.

It was January.

It was cold.

I was heart-broken, lost, and in shock.

“Committed monogamous relationships are dangerous for you,” my therapist said with distinct clarity.

I had expressed that I hadn’t really been in a long-term relationship since I had left my ex.

And then she flipped the frame.

And then she gave me the most beautiful perspective.

She told me how it was something a lot of people did, they replicated the same relationships they grew up.

My father, alcoholic, violent.

My stepfather, misogynist, violent, I always remember the blood on the floor from the broken back window of the kitchen in Windsor when my mother had locked him out and he broke the window with his bare fist and turned the lock, the look of his hand, that image is frozen in my brain, bloodied grasping for the lock and turning it, how we ran out the front door and spent the night at my grandparents.

How we went back the next day.

The years of terror that followed that I wouldn’t let myself see as terrorizing.

Of course committed monogamous relationships are dangerous.

Jesus Fuck did you see what happened to my mom?

Did you see what happened to me the one time I get into a long-term relationship.

Not to mention the three-month crazy man I dated when I was 19 who introduced me to crack cocaine and threatened to kill me in a drug induced delusional state.

But who’s counting.

Then she gave me the gift.

She showed me that I had done the best I could to keep myself safe, that I had rules and bylaws  and ways of keeping myself so busy that I couldn’t date.

I spent the last fifteen years trying to figure it out and she went and did it in a session.

Oh.

Of course.

I did a lot of the work too, and she’s right, I did keep myself protected, but I also acknowledge that after a while it stopped working and I longed for a different experience.

And I’m having one and I’m amazed at my life and I’m ok with the fact that I spent so much time and effort taking care of that small little girl who kept being put in dangerous situations through efforts to maintain a “committed monogamous relationship.”

But.

Well.

I’ve grown up.

And emotional intimacy, though still a frightening area, is not the scary thing that I thought it was, it is sweet and sacred and amazing.

I had to go what I went through and I’m not sorry for it.

I am so grateful for getting out, that’s all, that I got out, that I grew, that I changed, it took years and so much work.

So much work.

But.

Fuck.

Worth it.

So worth all of it.

My therapist went over time with me today, it was the first time ever I had talked about the relationship in therapy and I touched into the terror and fear and pain that I was so busy keeping at bay, she brought me back.

She made sure I was back in the present.

She let me talk about the love in my life, the resources I have, my resiliency and that I wasn’t that person anymore, and that I had done an amazing job at taking care of myself.

She urged self-care and tender compassion for myself today.

I think I did ok.

I showed up at work and I showed up for my clients.

And I bought chocolate persimmons today at the market after I got out of my session.

I love persimmons.

I love myself.

I am lovable and worthy of love.

I am enough.

God damn.

Am I ever.

I fucking did it.

 

Maintenance

September 11, 2017

And slow movement  forward.

I have to give myself some credit here.

Even though I did not leave the environs of the Outer Sunset.

Oh mama, did I do a lot of stuff.

Sometimes my brain will give me grief, you’re moving too slow, you’re not going fast enough, there is stuff that needs to be done.

And sometimes I can let that old harangue take a back seat to all the spectacular, albeit small things, that I did do in my day.

All I have to do is look at my sumptious bed.

I made it.

That’s a big deal.

I put fresh sheets on my bed and washed all my linens and all the clothes in my laundry basket, I made my bed and all the pillows are lined up and it looks comfy and cozy and beckoning.

I’ll get to slide in between soft, clean, fresh, sweet smelling sheets at the end of my day.

Which is not too far off.

I love my bed.

I have a nice mattress.

I have a bed frame.

I have five fucking pillows.

Who the hell am I?

Remember?

I do.

Remember being a kid and having one flat, stained, squashed pillow?

Or.

When I upgraded to two pillows when I was a junior or senior in highschool.

I forget which, but I remember how I would double up those pillows and prop them just so underneath my head so that I could read late into the night whatever novel I was busy seeking refuge in.

I escaped in reading a lot.

Reading was my way out and the feel of those pillows, each folded in half, to prop up my head is a memory that I won’t forget soon.

Then.

There were the times when I didn’t have a pillow of mine own at all.

Or a bed, for that matter.

Sleeping on couches, in the back seats of cars, or the passenger side.

Being homeless on again and off again for years, squashing myself onto a friends love seat with broken springs, sleeping in a tent, “but I was camping,” I told her and she laughed, “we call that being homeless.”

Sleeping on a sheet of plywood on the ground.

Or.

When I moved up a little in that world, on a sheet of plywood that was being held up by a couple of plastic milk crates and there was a sleeping bag.

Homeless, on the abandoned airforce base in Homestead, Florida, just outside of Miami, in the early 90s after Hurricane Andrew had devastated the city, living in a hooch.

Good times.

How I got there is a story in and of itself.

But a bed.

Just seeing my bed, that it’s not a mattress on the floor, but a real live bed, is something that I don’t take for granted and when I think I’m not doing enough, well, just look at my amazing bed, so pretty with its duvet and big fluffy pillows.

So pretty.

So yeah, digress much, I made my bed today.

I went to yoga.

I took a shower.

I washed my hair and deep conditioned it and ate a lovely breakfast and drank a nice latte and wrote morning pages.

This takes time and sometimes I wish my morning routine were not quite so long, but I do savor having some time to look over e-mails and do my writing and I did my morning prayers and readings too, important stuff, small stuff, in its own manner but really necessary.

I feel better for having the routine.

I also went grocery shopping.

And that does take up some time.

Especially that I had to go to three different stores.

I didn’t mind though, just got to it and picked up all the things to make all the things.

I made a pork and ginger, garlic, onion stir fry with baby portabella mushrooms and julienned sugar snap peas.  I had it with brown rice and half an avocado for lunch.

So good.

Then I put up the rest of it, some in the fridge and some in the freezer, as I like to have back up food for when I’m in class and often times my weekend before the weekend of class will be taken up with writing papers.

I have two to do next week.

They’re not horrible and shouldn’t take too long.

I figure I’ll kick them both out Sunday afternoon.

After the lunch cooking and weekly food prep I got down and dirty with my school books.

I flipped through all my syllabi and noted what I needed to read and I toggled about in my Cognitive Behavior class syllabi and saw when I needed to be online for a class webinar.

I just got out of it about 45 minutes ago.

So.

I pretty much read and did homework for four hours.

I feel like that’s getting some stuff taken care of.

I also roasted a chicken, for dinner and meals throughout the week and made up some more brown rice.

I like having my stuff stocked up for the week.

It’s maintenance.

It helps me with a certain level of comfort that I feel allows me to go about my busy week and still maintain a semblance of being a human being.

I love that I cook.

I love that I have good food to sustain me, that I went to yoga, damn my thighs are sore, that I stretched, that I wrote, and yes.

That it was sunny.

And instead of being rueful that I was not able to go out and play in the sun, I took advantage of it and threw a pillow on a patio chair out back and sat in the sun for a good two and a half hours doing my school reading.

There is something rather nice about being propped up in the sun and reading a book, even if it is for school.

I had some sweet phone calls.

I wrote a little poetry.

I managed my calendar for the next couple of weeks.

And now.

I’m just about done with my blog, I’m listening to Coleman Hawkins and thinking very sweet thoughts about the week to come.

It’s going to be a grand one.

I just know it.

Sometimes

September 7, 2017

Music makes me sigh.

Releases some unknown tension and I can relax.

I put on Yo-Yo Ma’s Bach Cello Preludes and it was like I was melting.

I heaved a big sigh and just sank into my chair.

My body hurts today.

My shoulder is a nuisance.

Apparently I pushed too hard in yoga on Monday or maybe it was carrying the baby as much as I did today, but ouch.

Ugh.

Getting old.

I’m sure I will look back at being 44 and laugh at myself thinking that I am old.

The fact is.

I don’t feel my age.

Oh.

I suppose my knees feel twice my age and my shoulder feels like a baseball pitcher being put out to pasture.

But.

Feeling my age?

No.

I don’t think I feel any certain age.

Although I do recall a time when I realized that all people below a certain age annoyed the shit out of me, I don’t subscribe to any particular feeling when I think, “I feel this old.”

The little girl I watch is four.

She likes to ask me about my age, “I’m 44 honey, eleven times older than you.”

And that is intense to contemplate.

I remember being four.

Pivotal things happened.

Then again.

I don’t remember a lot of being four either.

Um.

Pivotal things happened.

For the most part, however, I have an extraordinary memory and I’m good at replaying scenes as I have taken them in.

If I can hone in on a detail I am suddenly filling all the spaces with colors and sounds and emotional movement and music, with narrative, and it is as though I am watching a movie.

As I have gotten older some memories stick more than others.

Certain scenes, images, smells.

Oh.

A smell can carry so much weight in it.

Or a taste of something.

Tomatoes with salt from my grandfather’s garden.

Raspberries and milk with sugar in a green plastic bowl, raspberries I picked with my grandmother.

Apple cider.

The top sweetest part of the 2 gallon milk jug that we would pour the homemade apple cider into after running it through the press.

My grandfather unearthed an old apple press and rigged it to a lawn mower motor and we made cider using that press for years.

The house in Windsor that I moved to in 7th grade had an apple orchard, 4 Red Delicious trees (to this day I always wonder why the fuck they planted such boring ass apples, fodder for the press, all of them, we never ate them they were just such plain Jane apples) and 8 Courtland trees, plus four pear trees and one Golden Delicious–the animals and birds ate most of the Golden Delicious before they could even ripen, they were such amazingly sweet apples, almost translucent with sugar, you could see through the skin in the sunlight.

My mom would pour the cider into milk jugs and then freeze them in a giant freezer we had in the basement of the house.

The sweetest part of the cider would float to the top when it thawed and my mom tried valiantly to not let us drink any of the cider until it defrosted completely, but my sister and I often foiled her.

The cold, achingly sweet, syrupy juice taste will always stick in my memory.

Sometimes it is the smell of strawberries in the morning, reminding me of a very late night that became an early morning and it was warm and summer time in Madison and I was walking home from closing the bar and the after bar and I stopped by a vendor at the farmers market and bought a basket of strawberries and sat in the grass, kicking off my shoes and luxuriating in the feel of the soft, warm, dewy grass.

Sometimes it is a way a certain person smells.

Euphoria.

And I am smote with longing and love and desire.

Or the way someone’s skin feels against mine.

I think too, sensory, I’m going for the senses here, of a warm night, not many of them in San Francisco, a few years ago, when I walked down to the beach and the sand was still warm and the beach was deserted and the smell of bonfires wracked my memories.

And I was suddenly four-years old again, at a beach bonfire, with my mom and sister, who was already asleep, and my mom’s boyfriend, and there was the smell of driftwood fire and sea and that smell is some embossed on me, that to this day it really is one of my fondest smells.

Smell and memory are very tied to each other.

Riding my scooter to work this morning I passed a tavern on Lincoln that must have a popcorn machine, the smell was enticing and it was real popcorn, cooked in that oil that old-fashioned machines use and real butter smell.

I was suddenly in a movie theater, the old 99 cent movie theater on the far East side of Madison, that was probably actually the suburb of Middleton, that only had one screen and I was watching Woody Allen’s The Purple Rose of Cairo.

Which I didn’t get at all, but the movie was 99 cents and that’s why we were there and the popcorn was cheap and plentiful and I sat in that air-conditioned movie house and happily ate popcorn and watched a movie that I was too young to understand, but I remember the feel of the back of the movie seat in front of me on the bottoms of my feet and how I would press my feet hard into the seat to stretch and then curl back up into a ball and eat more popcorn.

Sometimes smells startle me too.

One day not too long ago I was riding up 7th and I smelled the smell of a tree, a tangerine tree in my mind, although I have no idea if it was tangerine or not, but my mom’s boyfriend had an apartment that had a tangerine tree outside of it and I would pick them and peel them sitting on the back cement steps while they got high smoking pot.

I was suddenly a little girl in a sundress with sticky fingers and bare feet and I could see all the tangerines in the tree and felt satiated with the ones I had eaten and sleepy from the sunshine.

Oh.

All the memories.

The best part of getting old, accruing all these luscious things that I get to stock pile in my brain.

In my heart.

In my soul.

All the amazing things.

There are so very many.

And I am grateful for them all.

Yes.

Yes.

I am.

Grateful beyond words.

Hello Friday

August 12, 2017

My God.

You smell amazing.

There is nothing.

I mean.

NOTHING.

Like coming home to a package from Chanel.

Oh.

God damn.

And even thought I knew what it was, I still unboxed it like it was a surprise.

I was so giddy.

So happy.

The biggest smiles.

And.

The most delicious of smells.

Yes.

That’s right.

I am back to my scent.

I have adored wearing Rose Flash, it’s been a nice little thing to have and I get sweet compliments on it.

But.

It is not Chanel.

It is not my scent.

My signature scent for decades has been Chanel Egoiste.

Pour Homme.

That’s for Man.

Yeah.

I wear a men’s cologne.

I never set out to wear a men’s cologne, it was a complete accident.

There are no mistakes in God’s world.

It was meant to be, but I didn’t know it at the time.

I found it at a discount store in the mall, one of those stores that specializes in products that have been discontinued.

It wasn’t in a box.

It must have been a sample from the big department store that was closing across the way.

I don’t know.

I had only been in the big department store once, I can’t even remember what the name of it was it wasn’t one that I was familiar with, then again it was in a land I was also unfamiliar with.

Iowa.

Yeah.

For a very strange year when I was 20 years old, I lived and worked in Newton, Iowa.

The short version of the story was that I was there to help my sister raise her child while her husband waited to get out of prison.

Actually they weren’t married yet, that happened at the prison a few months after I moved there with her to help her with my niece.

I swear.

This is the short version.

The long version is the book I wrote, the second in my memoir trilogy (yes I wrote a trilogy, no, it’s not published), called The Iowa Waltz.

Anyway.

We had moved there, my sister and I, as her fiancée was caught breaking bail in Wisconsin and was extradited to Iowa to serve out his sentence at the minimum security prison outside of Newton.

I got a job waitressing at Palma’s, this crazy Greek restaurant where the owner insisted that all the “girls” wear heels when working.

And dresses.

I might have gone to that department store to buy a dress, I think, in fact, that was why I was in the mall at all.

I certainly did not have a lot of extra money to spare, my sister was getting food stamps and WIC.

And I lied my ass off to get the bartending job.

My first shift the woman training me rolled her eyes, “you have got to be kidding me, you don’t know how to make a margarita?!”

It was a margarita night.

It was on special.

And.

It was strawberry.

I learned really fast.

And within a few weeks I was zipping around, tottering really, god how my feet hurt, the other bartenders and making pretty decent tips.

For Iowa, anyway.

The wife of the owner was the “bar manager” and she was a notorious Sambuca drinker and what is that Italian wine, god she drank it by the bottle and it was red and always chilled, Lambrusco?

And.

Fuck.

She smoked.

I mean.

I smoked, probably a pack a day at the time, but she smoked rings around me.

We were allowed to, oh the good old days when you could smoke while you worked.

Gagging.

Voula!  That was her name.

Shit, that just popped right up in my brain, I have not thought about that crazy bitch in a while.

Voula smoked three packs a day, easy.

It wasn’t that she necessarily smoked that much, but she always, I mean, always, had a cigarette burning in an ashtray.

And not just one, but five, sometimes six or seven.

“Do not put out any of her cigarettes, do not dump them, don’t do it, doesn’t matter if the ashtray is full to overfull, do not dump it, you will get the wrath of Voula,” my trainer told me.

She also told me under no circumstances to flirt with Voula’s husband.

Ew.

Yuck.

Why the fuck would I?

He was gross.

Balding, smoked just as much as she did, except he smoked cigars, and he had a big paunch and swinging jowls, I mean, not attractive.

“She will fire you if she thinks you’re flirting with him,” the head bartender told me, “she’s fired four girls in the last month.”

Fuck.

I won’t flirt, like I said, gross.

But.

I had drawn his attention.

And he made it clear.

I don’t remember what he said or how but it translated to I needed to buy another dress for work, and there was no mention of a clothing allowance or a uniform stipend, the money had to come out of my own pocket.

So.

The mall.

I must have found a dress.

And somehow I wandered into this strange little store next to the big department store, cheap trinkets, discounted stuff, old holiday decorations, odd toiletries and make up, junk basically.

But.

There.

On the shelf in the back right hand corner of the shop.

The bottle of Egoiste.

I do not know what compelled me to smell it.

I must have been registering it before I opened the lid and inhaled.

Oh.

Holy Mother of God.

It was the most amazing thing I had ever smelled.

Warm and spicy, musky.

Sexy.

Vanilla, coriander, sandalwood, rosewood, subtle cinnamon.

Not that I could have told you that then.

Fuck.

I was nineteen.

It just smelled amazing.

It blew my mind.

It was $19.99.

I had twenty-five dollars in my wallet.

I did not hesitate.

I bought it.

One of the best decisions ever.

I got fired two nights later when the boss lady’s husband decided to keep the bar open late and play poker with his buddies and he wanted a personal bartender.

Yup.

You guessed right.

Me.

I never once did a thing.

Nothing.

Didn’t matter.

I was fired when I came into work the next day.

“Get out of my bar,” she screamed at me, “you’re fired you fucking whore.”

Yeah.

And goodbye.

Funny thing.

I actually got my next bartending job because of her.

“Wait, what?  You worked for Voula for two months?” The woman interviewing me said, she was the owner of Boots and Spurs, why yes, I did work at Iowa’s largest country western night club, how did you guess?

I nodded, abashed, I had indeed gotten fired.

“You’re hired!” She exclaimed, nobody makes it two weeks with Voula, let alone two months.”

She laughed out loud, “hell, I only made it four days, she was one of my first employers, years and years ago now.”

“You must be amazing, when can you start?”

And so began my illustrious career in a country western nightclub.

But that’s a blog for another day.

Or you know, just read the book when I finally get it published, there’s plenty of stories there, believe you me.

Anyway.

I was hooked.

I fell in love in Iowa with a men’s cologne from Paris.

So many, many years ago.

And I got a bottle today in the mail.

Such an amazing gift.

I opened it and smiled and laughed and giggled and hopped up and down a little.

And then I opened it.

Oh.

That smell.

So good.

So, very, very good.

And just for a moment.

I was transported back to that small town mall in Newton, Iowa (home of Maytag Washing Machines!) and my 19-year-old self.

My god.

How far I have come.

How very fucking far.

Luckiest girl in the world.

Best smelling one too.

Heh.

 

 

 

Hello My Old Friend

August 7, 2017

So nice to get re-acquainted.

Not.

Fuck me man.

I got anxious today.

Now.

That should go without saying, having been diagnosed with clinical anxiety and clinical depression about a decade ago, that I would have anxiety now and then in my life.

But.

Shit.

I’d sort of forgotten.

Good grief.

It snuck up on me today.

Perhaps because I had suddenly some unexpected down time and that can make me a little tight in my chest, a little thread of something is wrong running down my spine, unscheduled down time, what the fuck will I do?

And I had plenty to do, I always have something going on.

I did loads of writing.

I did loads of laundry.

So happy the landlady replaced the washing machine, the gift of not having to go to the laundry mat next to the 7-11 on the corner of Judah and 46th is no joke.

I did yoga.

I had lots of lovely phone conversations today.

I went grocery shopping.

I cooked food for dinner.

I had a scrumptious salad for lunch on the back porch during the half hour of sun that came out in the Outer Sunset.

Man.

It has been foggy.

I’m about ready for that to be over weather wise.

I went and got right with God.

I did some meditation.

Life is great!

And.

I ordered books for school and looked over another syllabus that got published for my fall semester.

That’s when I noticed it, the corroding of my nerves, the odd feeling in my body, the small shivers of panic.

Oh.

Hello.

I had forgotten you.

And.

Oh.

Hello.

Fuck off.

I don’t need you around.

I mean.

I really don’t.

Anxiety pulls me out of the moment, catapults me into the future, where there is not god, there is nothing, there is only fear and terror and pain.

And it’s always a bad future.

It’s not a sweet, kind, gentle, loving future.

Nope.

It’s a.

YOU’RE GOING TO FUCKING FAIL SO YOU BETTER MOVE YOUR ASS NOW.

Kind of future.

And I still might fail.

And that’s ok.

I mean.

It is at least familiar.

I know this feeling, I have had it before, and I can live through it.

And I didn’t have a panic attack.

I had the scattering of one at the beginning of the last semester when I was super uptight about practicum and getting my internship nailed down.

Fortunately I was having a work day where the mom and baby were at her office and I was going to pick up the monkeys from school.

I had some down time at work to do cleaning and fold laundry and prep stuff for dinner and I got an e-mail regarding some financial aid thing and then another about registering for practicum and something in me just popped.

I got super wound up and it felt like a cement bucket of fear was riding on my chest and creeping up my throat.

Yay!

Anxiety.

For two and a half years I took antidepressants to deal with the depression and anxiety.

I stopped right around my five years of sobriety.

I came off them real easy.

I had been on the lowest dosage anyway.

But.

I felt like I didn’t need them anymore and I was riding my bicycle a lot and nannying some pretty energetic kids and I was doing ok.

I was also began eating a diet abstinent from processed flour and all sugars (except those occurring naturally in fruit, bring on the apples!) and that was a big thing too.

My diet got really clean, I got daily biking exercise, and I was out in the sun a lot pushing a stroller to and from multiple playgrounds.

The anxiety dissipated.

And.

The depression fell away.

I lost lots of weight.

I got happy.

Sure.

Shit happened.

Life happened.

When it was a dark and rainy winter the depression would slide back in a little, but for the most part.

Nothing.

Until.

I started grad school.

Anxiety nightmares.

Stress dreams.

Mild depression each winter semester.

Nothing that I couldn’t titrate with a touch more sleep or with a little more exercise and then I added some flax oil into my diet and rode it out.

The anxiety was easily the worst my first semester of school.

Now.

Today.

Not so much.

But.

It was there.

And truth be told.

It annoyed me.

It pissed me off.

I was like.

No.

NO.

I am not doing this again.

I know what this looks like and I know how to handle it and.

AND.

It never has been that bad.

It never has been the nightmare of not having enough time to do all the things and read all the things and write all the papers that my over active imagination likes to tell me it’s going to be.

Not once.

Not.

Never.

I never stopped blogging, which I told myself I would drop if it got bad.

I never stopped doing morning pages, ditto, I’ll stop if I can’t handle the writing load.

Oh.

Sure.

There were days here and there when I didn’t.

But I was pretty steady through it all.

I also know from experience, this for me is the most basic form of faith, that I always get things done.

And that there really is no need to be anxious about things.

I sent out a few messages, got some sweet responses.

Made a phone call to my person.

Wrote out a gratitude list.

And went about my day.

There are things I am going to have to do and my fall semester this year will look different from my last two as I am in practicum and I am seeing clients and I’m basically a practicing psychotherapist.

Not a psycho.

Haha.

Sorry.

Gallows humor is probably not the most attractive thing in a therapist.

Or is it?

Anyway.

I reached out to my supervisor about my schedule and I saw some openings and some things that I may have to adjust to and change-up.

But.

Overall.

I got this.

I got my books ordered.

I am still waiting for the release of one more syllabus though, I may still have to purchase a few books, but that’s fine.

I got my first text-book in the mail and I started reading it yesterday and yes, it will start traveling with me as I go about my week.

I worked through the anxiety.

I had a nice quiet talk with myself, assuaged my worries, gave myself the you can do it pep talk and basically really breathed into it.

All in all.

I can handle this and I was told that this would be a challenging year.

Haven’t they all been?

But.

That I have seen others walk through it and I know if they can do it so can I.

Plus.

I have a pretty amazing support system, fellowship and community.

I’m going to be just fine.

Because.

I already am.

Today.

Right now.

In this beautiful moment.

There is nothing wrong, and my life.

Well.

Let me just say.

It’s fucking fabulous.

Amazing really.

Luckiest girl in the world.

Seriously.

All The Pretty Bicycles

August 5, 2017

I got another donation today for the ALC!

Aids LifeCycle that is.

I’m registered to do the ride next June, just scant weeks after I graduate with my Masters degree in Psychology.

That’s going to be one hell of a month, let me tell you.

I suspect though, that the riding and training are going to be just exactly what I need to not be too focused on school, graduation, my internship, all of that.

The exercise will be good for me.

Aside from fine tuning my legs and ass.

I miss by bicycle commuter legs and derrier, let me tell you.

Yoga is nice and I’m totally loving my increased flexibility, but my bicycle behind has gone the way of my one speed parked in my garage since I started doing all my commuting on my scooter.

Aside.

It fucking rained this morning!

I heard it and registered it while I was sitting and wrapping up my morning writing.

I remember thinking, “that’s weird, it sounds like it’s raining.”

But I didn’t really think it was raining.

It was raining.

I got to ride my scooter to work in the wet and I was not anticipating that this morning.

It ended up being fine and the rain ceased a bit when I got to the Inner Sunset and Laguna Honda was dry, it did rain a little bit in Glen Park, but it passed by the time I was done with work.

Thank God.

I don’t like riding when it’s wet.

I didn’t like it on my bicycle.

I don’t like it on my scooter.

I can do it on either, although I have not tried riding my one speed to my job in Glen Park.

I could.

But man.

It would be a haul.

I would have to avoid the hills, I couldn’t make it up the big hills.

I would have to go around.

Making the 6.6 mile commute to work about 8.5 miles.

This means heading all the way up Lincoln, cut through the Pan Handle, take the Wiggle, hit 17th to Valencia, Valencia to 30th and Church and I would still have to climb Chenery to Fairmount.

It would likely take me 50 minutes on my bicycle.

On my once speed, on a road bike I bet I could winnow it down to 45 minutes.

I can scooter it in 20 minutes and I am not sweaty when I get to work.

If I had a geared road bicycle, which is what I will have soon, I thought I was going to buy one while I was on break from the family, but stuff just kept coming up and the press for the bike was never very heavy on me.

Now that I have two donations under my belt and I am starting to get emails from my ALC representative I’m starting to feel itchy for a road bike.

It’s been seven years since I had my road bike.

It was a Felt 45, 56 cm.

I got it for $500 from a rider on the tour who had upgraded to a nicer ride, he totally gave it to me for such a deal.  Here is the most recent version of the bike that I had on the ride in 2010. Only about $2900. No sweat.

Ugh.

The Felt was great, sturdy, I was able to do all my training rides on it, but it didn’t have the top granny gear, which I want this go around my knees are ten years older, and there were a couple of hills on the ride when I did it in 2010 that I had to stop on and rest.

I didn’t walk a single foot.

I didn’t push my bike.

I never took the sweep vehicle for a ride to the next rest stop.

Although one time the van passed me and the driver told me that she almost pulled me out, I was in an active bonk.

A bonk is what happens when you’re on a long ride and you haven’t eaten enough to fuel the ride, it generally happens on long rides.

I remember well that it was a long training ride that day, I was some where out past the Nicasio Reservoir on my way to Pt. Reyes, it was a century ride I’m pretty sure (100 mile ride) I think, I don’t recall exactly and I was very much looking forward to stopping and eating and my brain was loopy and I was slow and I couldn’t figure out why it was taking me such a long time to climb the hill I was on.

I was totally bonked.

I got off my bike and just about fell over.

My friend saw me and ran inside the deli and got me a loaded baked potato.

I literally was sitting on a parking lot cement curb marker in the middle of some supermarket parking lot in Point Reyes with sweat and tears running down my face eating a hot potato so fast I can still feel what it felt like falling down into my tummy and when the food hit I got high.

I am not joking.

I bonked once on the ride to L.A.

Again.

Thank God for my mentor and riding partner, he saw it happening.

I had agreed to run a meeting on the beach and instead of going to dinner had hustled down to do the hour on the beach at sunset and I am super glad I did, it was glorious, but then standing in line for dinner I began to faint, like weaving on my feet as I stood there waiting for my turn to queue up to the steam tables.

And the line was long.

My friend saw another friend and hustled me over to her and told me to stick my head between my knees he’d be right back.

He came back with two pints of milk.

“Drink this now!”

I didn’t argue, just sucked down the milk, the effect was electric.

I almost threw up, then the milk sugars roared through my blood.

While I was getting re-calibrated my friend hopped back into the dinner line and brought me back a tray which was basically a pile of mashed potatoes.

“I can’t eat this for dinner!” I exclaimed.

“You will eat all of that and then you can have some protein, you have zero blood sugar, you got to get it back up or you’re going to the med tent.”

He was quite right.

Anyway.

I had a lot of adventures and misadventures.

The four flat tires and getting stung by a wasp on a training ride to Petaluma and back.

Now that’s a story.

For another blog.

The point is.

It’s time for me to get the road bike.

I might wait until after Burning Man.

I might not.

If I end up having to do the rental car, which is what it’s looking like, I may eschew the cost of getting a playa bike, as I’ll have to get a bike rack and that’s another couple hundred and I don’t know, I’m thinking maybe I just fucking walk the event like I did my first year.

The road bike has to be and I will invest in a good one.

I have done a little research and I’m getting it narrowed down.

But.

Yeah.

It’s time.

I can feel it in my bones.

Time I got my bicycle on again.

Thank you so much to my two donors!

You rock.

And if you want to donate.

Just click here.

I’ll update you as things move along.

Be assured.

You’ll probably get hella tired of reading about my bicycle adventures.

But.

They’ll be fun.

I promise.

 

So Many Things

July 24, 2017

This Sunday.

Although I did not set foot out of the Sunset.

I almost didn’t get out of the Outer Sunset, but I did manage to scooter up to a lovely little church shrouded in the heavy fog this evening.

Wow.

The fog tonight was no joke.

It was super spooky riding home and the visibility was little to none.

I went very slow.

Grateful to be in a neighborhood that was quiet and sleepy and muffled.

The few cars I did pass basically blinded me with their headlights refracting in the fog.

So careful.

So slow.

I don’t want to die.

I say that with and without tongue in cheek.

There has been a lot of death around lately.

I joked, in a rather morbid way, the other night, the God must like taking folks in July.

“What is under that fear,” I asked her today.

“Well…..” she said somethings and got closer and closer and then, “I’ll drink and then I’ll die.”

“So, you’re afraid to die,” I said softly.

I am too.

I remember the first time someone spelled that out to me.

I hadn’t made the correlation from the resentment I was holding onto to the point that I was ultimately afraid that I was going to die, that so many of my fears stem from that oh so basic fear of death.

Oh.

There’s littler fears, smaller fears, the classic ones that come to my mind are always the same, fear of being unlovable, fear of being abandoned and alone.

Always they come up.

But tonight.

Well.

It was just plain old fear of getting hit by a car on my scooter because the visibility was so bad.

I was very glad I had my scooter jacket on.

Aside from the fact that it’s a great windbreaker and it has padded elbows, shoulders, and a back piece, it is also pink and has reflective fabric sewn into it.

I’m pretty visible.

I mean, nothing is 100%, but I would say that I have more visibility than someone who is riding in a black jacket, that’s for sure.

I’m running around in loops.

Get to the point.

Today another person died.

Taken off life support.

I knew her a little while after I got into recovery, she’d been around, on and off, for at least ten years, maybe eleven of my time doing the deal.

Always a bright light, always a lovable woman.

She came in and out a lot, there were many times I saw her after a relapse and they were not pretty.

But.

She got out and she was doing well and had relocated back to the Midwest and was doing it, she had two years when she died, had gotten married, had a great job, she was a step mom and happy, and you could see it in her photographs and in her cute little quips and fuck, she just recently recommended to someone in our community who recently had a baby that they reach out to me as she knew I was a “great nanny.”

She’d been a nanny too.

We often times would commiserate about our families, and more often swap pictures of the babies we worked with, our charges, and we would share stories of endearment about them and our nanny adventures.

It takes a special kind of person to love unconditionally children that way that she did.

That’s what she was doing.

Swimming.

Teaching a child how to swim.

If I understand the story correctly.

And she drowned.

She was pulled out and they tried to resuscitate her and she spent some time in the ER, but she never came back.

She passed this morning and once again I find myself taking a big break from social media and trying to titrate how much I take in.

I did reach out to a dear friend of mine and offer some support.

He’d dated her and though the relationship hadn’t lasted, I know how very important she was to him and how much they still stayed in touch.

He was devastated.

He’s got a great support system though.

And I think of the community and support system I get to be involved with, all the gratitude I have for my fellowship.

And.

Yes.

Sigh.

I think about Shadrach.

He would have run the marathon today.

He was supposed to ten years ago today.

But that was not what happened.

Ten years ago he was hit on his scooter and though not outright killed, he was in the ICU on life support for a week, he was killed that night.

He just hung around long enough for us all to say goodbye.

And sometimes it feels like there was never enough time to say goodbye or never will be and I keep going on living and when I used to feel guilty I just feel graced now that I get to be so exuberantly alive.

I bitch about going to yoga.

But fuck.

I get to go to yoga.

I get to do so many things.

All the things that he didn’t get to do.

And I wonder about this woman too, what things did she not get to do.

I am grateful that I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that she was at the best place she’d ever been in her life and that God took her at the peak of her experiences.

But that doesn’t mean it’s not sad.

God damn it’s sad.

She was so freaking young.

I’m forty-four.

I think she was about to turn 40 this year.

I just recall that we were close in age.

Sigh.

Shadrach would be 42.

I don’t feel the sads the way I did a week or so ago when I was walloped with emotion, but it is there, soft, and slow, and muffled, like the fog, creeping in and nestling down in my heart.

So.

I lit some candles and I will have a moment and I have looked at his handsome face today in the photographs I have on the wall.

And I will say thank you friend for showing me how important it is to live to my fucking fullest every damn day.

Sometimes it’s tiring.

But.

Fuck.

I get to be tired.

I am so lucky to be here.

If life was fair I would be dead.

I am not.

I am here and I promise.

YOU.

I will keep loving with all my heart.

Loving so damn hard.

Regardless of how much it can hurt to live.

The pain is worth it.

I get to live.

I get to love.

I get to.

I am so, so graced.

 

It’s Not Time

July 16, 2017

To write this blog yet.

But.

Well.

It wants to be written.

Even though I opened up my WordPress site and sat and stared at the blank screen and thought, I don’t have a thing to write about.

Denial.

I should fold my laundry and put it away.

I will wash my dinner dishes.

So instead of starting to write I got up and put my laundry away and I did the dishes.

I even pre-emptively filled the kettle for a cup of tea after I finish writing.

I know, hot tea, sounds excruciating to think about in July, but it’s July in San Francisco, I’m in bunny slippers and thought for a minute about turning on the heat.

It’s chilly here in July, unlike anywhere else.

Although there was some warmth in the city today after the fog lifted and I got out of the Outer Sunset, I even put on a little sunblock just in case.

Anyway.

I digress.

It was when I was filling my kettle that I realized that I was avoiding the elephant in the room.

Or the plum, as the case may be.

I bought a plum today.

A beautiful, gorgeous, fat black plum.

I’m not a big fan of plums.

I mean, they’re nice and all, but I wouldn’t typically choose to buy a plum, not really my thing.

A persimmon?

Get the fuck out of my way, I’m buying them all.

But a plum?

Nope.

But.

Ugh.

I usually buy one around this time of year.

And it’s not because it’s stone fruit time.

I want stone fruit I eat cherries.

I love cherries.

Or.

Yellow nectarines.

So good.

Not the white ones, only the yellow, and not peaches.

I know, what kind of monster am I?

I don’t like the texture of skin on a peach and the fruit is typically too soft for me, I know friends who would kill for a perfect peach.

Me?

Not so much.

But.

There I was at Gus’s Community Market on Harrison and 17th in front of the plums and I saw it and just reached for it.

My heart in my throat.

Tears prickling my eyes.

I picked out the biggest, prettiest plum in the pile.

I thought about him.

I wrote a story about it once upon a time, a children’s story, about sharing.

I called it “Shadrach and The Plum.”

It was about a little boy and how he shared his most precious treat, a big juicy sweet plum (insert some ee cummings here and an icebox please) with a little girl at school who had forgotten her lunch.

He sat down next to her with his brown paper bag and saw that she had nothing in front of her, her parents had sent her to school with no lunch, he thought to himself as he took the food out of his paper sack, “I’ll share my lunch but not the plum, plums are my favorite, she’s can’t have my plum.”

He asked her, “do you want some of my lunch?”

She nodded eagerly and pointed to what she wanted, “I want the plum.”

He didn’t say a word, he just handed it to her and ate his peanut butter sandwich and drank his milk.

I heard about her later when I read the story I had written to his family.

In hindsight I don’t know if it was the best idea, they were still grieving, it was their first Christmas without him and here I was some girl from San Francisco wearing flowers in her hair and her heart on her sleeve reading a story about lessons we learn from our friends.

Because.

Well.

Shadrach was like that.

He would give you what you needed without question.

I might get teased about it later, I might be razzed, but he always saw me so much clearer than I saw myself.

His death anniversary is coming up.

Sigh.

Ten years now.

And sometimes it still feels like I’m in that ICU at General holding his hand, or in my room on in that crazy old Victorian on Capp and 23rd, sobbing my heart out into a pillow as I prayed and prayed and prayed to God.

I knew better than to ask God to save Shadrach, I pretty much knew he was gone, I never said boo about it, I never tried to change anyone’s mind about their hopes and I certainly did not express any of my doubts about him waking up from the coma to his family, I just kept showing up and asking them what they needed, put I kept asking God to help me through it and the only way I knew how was to not focus on myself.

How can I be of service?

I was brought up that way, in my recovery community.

“How do I do this?”  I called a friend who had just lost a mentor, a man who had 43 years of recovery and who I also knew quite well, the past week.

“You show up and help his family and you ask ‘how may I be of service?’ and you help them that way, and that’s how you get through.  And through you will get.”

He told me how brave I was and how much he loved me and that I could hang in there.

I did.

And I do.

I still hang in there.

I still show up.

I saw that damn plum and almost cried, but as a reminder that I get to live today I bought it.

I did what I needed to do today and I went where I was supposed to go and when I saw someone in my community who was losing it over the recent loss of our young mutual friend tonight, well, I held her hand and I didn’t let her run out of the room.

I just held her and hugged her and hugged her more until she got all the sobs out.

“You don’t do this alone,” I told her, “don’t run out.”

“I can’t handle all this death, it’s too much,” she said and tried to break away again.

I hugged her some more and then I told her some stories.

I told her about losing my best friend to a scooter accident, my best friend who was sober, who was committed, who was about to run the SF Marathon.

The same marathon that is about to be run here on the 23rd of this month.

The signs just went up by the park and I thought of Shadrach, I thought of how beautiful he was when he was running and how strong and graceful.

I thought of the last thing that I said to him, the best gift the moment, that moment when you realize you have to say something or regret it for the rest of your life.

Although, of course, how could I know?

“Shadrach, I just have to tell you, if I never see you again you have to know how beautiful you are right now, you are just glowing,” I touched his arm.

He raised an eyebrow at me and was about to say something witty and cryptic and instead he smiled at me and hugged me to him.

That was the last thing I said to him.

Well.

It was the last thing that I said to him when he was still coherent and not brain-dead in a hospital bed for a week before his family pulled the plug.

I shared my story.

And.

I told her about another woman we both know and how she lost her best friend on the day of his one year sobriety birthday, how he was hit by a bus coming home from his anniversary party.

I mean.

Fuck.

I told her she didn’t have to do it alone and that she was strong enough to shoulder it and that she was lucky, lucky that she got to feel the depth of love she felt for this person who just died a few days ago, that she could be grateful for the time she got to know him.

I hugged her again.

I’m a hugger.

And.

Told her to call me and lean in.

It’s not easy grieving and sometimes I felt like the sadness of Shadrach’s passing would never leave me, but it did.

Well.

That’s also not true, but it lessened, or I got used to it I suppose.

Although seeing that big purple plum sitting on top of a Mason jar on my kitchen counter brought it all home.

I still miss my friend.

He taught me so much.

Not just how to love.

But.

More importantly, that I was lovable and worthy of love.

A lesson that took many years to sink in.

But in it did.

So.

Tonight.

I will raise my plum to my lips and taste the sweetness and let my fingers be sticky with gratitude and love and memory and honor my friend and all the gifts he gave me, so many years ago now.

All the love he planted in my heart that has grown and flourished and bloomed.

All the things.

All the love.

And.

Always.

The best.

The sweetest, coldest, juiciest plums for you.

Always.

 

 


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