Archive for the ‘Photography’ Category

Family & Friends

August 1, 2019

I have some new ones in both categories.

I should be more specific.

I have new family of choice, not of origin.

Though heaven knows I have enough family out there that it would not surprise me in the least if a cousin had a baby and I had no clue.

What I am referring to is Cuban family.

I received the sweetest, most heartfelt gratitudes and thank you from the Cuban people I connected with when I was in Havana today.

Yesterday I finally hopped on Air BnB and reviewed the experiences that I had booked in Cuba.

Normally I don’t actually do reviews on Air BnB.

I have never booked experiences before though and I was asked by each person that hosted me to review them on the site.

Apparently it really helps them and considering the state of economics in Cuba I was more than happy to help in anyway I could.

I gave 5 stars (out of five) to all but one of the experiences.

The one I only gave 4 to wasn’t necessarily the hosts fault.  I gave a lesser rating to my trip to Vinales because the tour tried to pack too much into it.

First, Vinales is almost, not quite, but almost  two hour drive from Havana, so that’s four hours in a car, a classic car–which is at once super cool and also, not comfortable.  At least not nearly as comfortable as a modern car. It was a great car, but my legs were cramped for sure.

Second, the tour really could have, in my opinion, ended after the horse back riding and lunch.

The first thing we did was stop at the Vinales Valley visitor center and take in the panorama of the valley.

It was gorgeous.

After a little education about the valley we headed to a tobacco and coffee farm to learn about how they grow tobacco and to smoke cigars and drink rum.

I did neither of those things.

I did, however have coffee and I bought two bottles of coffee beans.

Yes.

I said bottles.

The country has almost no manufacturing capabilities, everything gets reused and recycled, so my beans came in reused water bottles.

Lovely beans too.

I have been having Cuban coffee every morning since I got back.

Then after the cigars, rum, coffee we went horseback riding through the valley.

It was gorgeous and unfortunately being on a horse did not really facilitate me taking a lot of photos.  No pictures of horses for you.

It was hot though, whew, sweat galore.

After the horses we went to a local paladar and had an amazing Cuban lunch–yucca, lobster, squash, beans and rice, stewed pork, chicken two different ways and I had, for my drink, a huge young coconut that I happily sipped all the juice from and ate the entirety of the insides.

Baby coconut is so freaking good.

Then we went to a cave.

Then we went to a mural.

I did not like the cave, it was too dark and wet and it was hot, it did not feel cool being underground and there were bats and we rode a boat at one point.

I did not need that experience.

Nope.

The best thing about the cave?

Literally the light at the end of the tunnel.

After that we got back in the car and went to visit a famous mural.

Now I am done at this point and the cave had been a pretty popular tourist destination so for the only time I was in Cuba, I had to wait in line to do something.

Never my cup of tea.

The mural was nice, but it was nice, not amazing and it was late and a free pina colada was not to my liking.  Just give me the water and get me home.

And that was my “worst” time?

Please, I got to ride in a classic car, meet cool people, go horse back riding, buy coffee from a Cuban farm, go spelunking and visit a national monument (the mural).  I have nothing to complain about.

The rest of my experiences reflected just that, nothing to complain about, nothing that I would have changed or made better.

I had a slight critique of feeling dropped at Mediteranneo Habana, but it was such a tiny glitch I didn’t give them a negative review.

It was a farm to table experience where I went out and had a tour of the farm that provides meat, milk, cheese, sausage, cured meats, chicken, pig, rabbit, vegetables, all the fruits–bananas, sugarcane, mango, guava, and herbs to this very highly regarded Mediterranean restaurant in Verdado.

The farm was beautiful and I was met by the manager of the farm, his family has been running the farm for 5 generations.  He was super kind, very friendly, had great English, and greeted me with a heaping plate of mango, watermelon, pineapple, and guava.

It was lovely.

I felt so welcomed and really got a grasp of what it is like to farm in Cuba.

Where almost all the farm’s production goes straight to the government.

They are not allowed to keep any of the beef they produce and only 10% of the milk they produce.  The milk they use to make cheese for the restaurant.  I tried four different kinds between the ricotta and the fresh mozzarella I was astounded.  They were so good.

The farm also gives the government almost all pork produced and a fair amount of the eggs and chickens.

I was amazed they are able to stay in production.

It was quite a behind the scenes look at farming and I really enjoyed my meal later at the restaurant.  The transition between the two was a little bumpy, but like I said, the food and the waiter who took care of me pretty much negated it.

And here I am at the end of my blog time, I’ve got to get up early for group supervision and I haven’t even got to the three top experiences that I went on.

They will have to wait for the next blog.

Buenes Noches!

 

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First Book Ordered

July 26, 2019

And summer is done.

Well.

Not quite.

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

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

I got back Tuesday night at 7a.m.

My god.

My bed was so nice to get into.

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

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

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

It is one thing to know about the Cuban embargo.

It is another thing entirely to experience it.

The country is poor.

I mean.

Really poor.

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

So much.

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

Horses and carts people.

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

ON THE FREAKING HIGHWAY.

More horses then cars.

I am not kidding.

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

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

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

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

It was fucking hot.

It was humid.

So humid.

My hair did some batshit crazy things.

And I was constantly sweating.

Er.

Glowing.

I was glowing.

A lot.

 

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

I also learned to wear my hair up real fast.

Real fast.

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

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

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

But mostly, I used the umbrella for sun shade.

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

In fact.

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

I had to bring everything that I wanted or needed.

There were no stores to buy sunblock or extra toothpaste.

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

Everyone buys bottled water.

Everyone.

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

I mean.

500 year old cobblestones ain’t clean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aside, Che Guevero’s given name is Ernesto.

 

This is Cafe Bohemia.

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

A lot.

My poop turned orange.

I know.

But it did!

I have never had orange poo before.

Anyway.

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

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

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

It was a fucking oasis.

An air conditioned oasis.

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

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

I was the queen of beverages at every meal.

San Pellegrino.

Mango frappe.

Cafe con leche.

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

OOOOOH.

So damn good.

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

I was in heaven.

 

Mas Habana was my little haven.

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

Also black market.

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

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

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

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

I am a good tipper.

Once a waitress.

Always a waitress.

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

So more pictures to come.

And more tales to tell.

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

Promise.

Itinerary

July 5, 2019

I got on it today!

I mean.

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

I got my passport out.

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

I got traveler’s health insurance.

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

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

Then.

I started booking things through Air BnB.

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

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

But.

In “Support of Cuban People” is still legitimate.

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

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

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

So, so, so glad.

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

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

Or stay in hotels operated by the government.

No big deal.

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

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

And.

Yes!

They have a room for me.

For 40 Cuban Peso a night including a full breakfast.

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

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

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

I will pay when I arrive.

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

320 Cuban Peso.

For 8 nights including a full Cuban breakfast.

Seriously good deal.

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

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

New York.

D.C.

New Orleans.

Paris.

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

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

So.

I checked it out and I was pleasantly surprised.

One.

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

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

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

My first day in I didn’t book anything.

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

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

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

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

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

I’m so in.

Next, yes, yes, I did.

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

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

Wednesday I left pretty open.

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

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

Totally down.

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

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

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

There’s no Uber there.

No Lyft.

I don’t speak Spanish.

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

Plus.

Ahem.

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

Um.

Hehe.

Yes please.

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

Plus.

Ferry boat ride.

I’m a sucker for a ferry boat.

Then Friday night I am going clubbing.

But not by myself.

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

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

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

And then.

And then.

Holy shit.

It happened.

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

I am over the fucking moon.

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

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

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

Fuck.

I feel so grateful.

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

Why yes.

Yes.

Yes I do.

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

Pinch me.

Seriously.

Who’s life is this?

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

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

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

I am so pleased.

And very excited.

So excited.

It feels really good to have this planned out.

And really.

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

Seriously.

Where Do I Start?

July 25, 2018

First.

Bon soir!

I have not seen my computer for a few days.

My best French friend insisted that we were to travel very lightly to Marseilles and so, no computer.

Also.

No makeup.

What?

I know I felt naked, until I didn’t.

But apparently, ahem, I still look nice without it.

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I think vacation looks pretty good on me.

It didn’t hurt that I have a tan.

Boy.

Do I have a tan.

The above photo was taken early in the evening yesterday on the island of Frioul.  If you look closely in the background you can see the city of Marseilles.  My friend and I took an early evening ferry-boat to Frioul and strolled around it and took photos.

It was such a pretty place, and it would have been great for swimming had we known.

Next time.

But.

Swimming was had!

I had my first dip, then my second, yesterday in the Mediterranean!

Here I am a touch blissed out:

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My hair is all wet, I am sandy, I went for two swims in the Calanque and it was extraordinary.

First, a slight aside, must get back to swimming, being in the water and swimming felt so damn good.  Screw yoga, I think it’s long past time I get back into the pool.

Second.

Wow.

It was so, so, so beautiful.

A calanque is, well, fuck, I’m not sure I can quite describe it, a sort of wild hill area with dry rocky terrain along the coast that stretches from Marseilles to Cassis, there are all these inlets and beaches and coves, it’s a national park in France and frankly I can see why, they are true treasures.

The clanque that we went to was the Calanque of Sormiou.

It was exquisite.

I mean.

So gorgeous.

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This is the view from the top of an hour-long climb through the hills.

I will not mince words.

It was hot.

I was sweaty.

And I was not exactly happy to be climbing so much.

But.

Fuck.

Once I got to the top.

Wow.

I don’t know how high the climb was, and yes, what goes up must come down, we had to climb back out, gratefully the way is paved and if you have a tiny car and balls of steel you can drive in, but we walked, or climbed.

According to my little app on my phone that counts my steps we climbed.

We walked 26,450 steps yesterday.

Which is 12.4 miles.

And.

We climbed 51 floors!

51!

Ooh la la!

My legs.

But again.

It was extraordinarily beautiful and I’m so glad we did it, even if for a second there my friend made me wear a damp towel on my head for a while, she thought I might be getting close to heat stroke.

I guess I was pretty red in the face.

I certainly sweated a lot.

I think I may have actually lost weight this trip, despite the cheese and charcuterie I have eaten here.

I seriously have walked miles and miles and miles each day.

And swam.

Here.

Enough of my prattle.

More pictures of the beauty:

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I mean.

Come on.

It was like being on a movie set.

Except.

Well.

It was totally real.

Stunning beyond words, even now, looking at these photos, I’m like, really, I was just there yesterday?

Swimming in the sea.

It was truly one of the most beautiful moments, that first cool plunge into the ocean, the taste of the salt, so salty, and then popping up from the water and seeing the mountains arising around me.

I was blown away.

I swam far out until I got a little spooked, and then headed back in to let my friend take her turn.

We didn’t want to leave our stuff unattended on the beach, it has a reputation for thievery.

While my friend swam I unfolded the towel filched from the hotel onto the sand, put on more sunblock and lay back enjoying the hot sun, the sound of the water, the people speaking Italian to my right, the couple canoodling in Catalan on my left, and closed my eyes.

It was glorious.

My friend returned with tales of being nibbled on by a fish, which didn’t exactly compel me to get back in the water, but get back in I did.

Only to be flirted with by some gentleman who tried to tell me that I should be concerned about the sharks.

Thanks man, here’s a pointer on flirting with a woman, don’t tell her there might be sharks in the water, all it does is make a lady want to get the fuck out of the water.

I swam off laughing and telling him he was horrible for telling me such a tale.

Another stint of laying on the beach and then my friend and I packed up our things and began the long, arduous walk back.

I won’t lie.

It was hard.

And it was hot.

Very, very, very hot.

But.

I also would be lying if I didn’t say that there was a part of me that was very proud of myself for doing the climb and having a true adventure with my friend.

We made it back to Marseilles alive, had a late lunch, then went to the hotel and freshened up.

That shower, let me tell you, damn good.

After taking some time to rest we headed out to the ferry-boat and our trip to the island of Frioul.

The first photo I posted was from Frioul.

Here are a couple more, it was truly lovely.

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I have to say, the South of France was very special to see.

And I haven’t even told you about Aix-en-Provence or really about Marseille itself, but you know, I have one last day in Paris tomorrow and it’s time I got ready for it.

Bon soir mes amis!

Bon soir!

Flanneur

July 22, 2018

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

Or something like that.

Google it if you’re not sure.

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

It’s good, but not great.

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

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

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

Oh.

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

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

I mean.

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

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

Gorgeous light in the apartment.

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

Then!

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

I’m very excited.

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

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

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

So stoked.

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

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

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

So happy.

And.

Honestly, I could use a break from Paris.

I know.

What?

Did I say.

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

Not all waiters are horrible.

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

It’s a damn cute cafe though.

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I had my “usual.”

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I like coffee.

And I like the sparkling water.

I just finished up one now.

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

Plus.

Taking the time to sit still and enjoy them.

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

A human doing, not a human being.

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

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

Then coffee and writing.

I didn’t leave the house until after noon.

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

I walked through the Marais.

I walked to the Seine.

It was gorgeous.

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I mean.

Come on.

I walked and walked and walked.

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

And.

I stumbled upon the Cluny Museum!

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

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They were beautiful and it was a sweet little detour.

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

And lo and behold!

A miracle!

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

A non-smoking terrace!

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

It was gross.

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

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

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

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

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

Best lunch I’ve had here since I landed.

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

That and the atmosphere, made me super happy.

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

A sweet, slow, “lazy” day.

Heh.

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

And now.

Well.

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

I hope your Sunday is as lovely as mine was.

Bon soir!

 

Not Excited Yet

July 13, 2018

But I’m hopeful I will get there.

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

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

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

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

Why am I standing in front of the toothpaste?

I have toothpaste at home.

I don’t need toothpaste.

But I kept coming back.

Until I remembered.

Oh snap!

I need travel size toothpaste!

I’m traveling soon.

I leave in three days!

It just has not really landed at all.

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

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

Friends are so damn important.

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

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

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

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

I love San Francisco.

Sure.

It’s changed, but everything changes.

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

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

That took me to Alameda.

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

Or in Oakland.

Or in Berkeley.

I see myself in San Francisco.

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

And let me tell you.

I have been looking.

I have seen a few things, but not much.

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

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

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

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

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

I think it’s time I get excited!

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

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

Gah.

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

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

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

But.

Well.

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

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

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

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

God.

I love paper.

I love writing.

I wrote a love letter in the new notebook.

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

It is perfect for writing love letters.

And it was.

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

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

So no regrets about buying the notebook.

It will be used.

I will also buy more when I am in Paris.

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

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

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

And.

Yes.

I have contemplated a new tattoo.

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

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

I like that quite a bit.

Of course.

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

I promise.

Psst.

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

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

So good.

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Bunny rabbit lamps!

From Le Grand Strip, on Grand Ave in Williamsburg.

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

Bunny lamps!

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A triptych of feminist Latina women at the Brooklyn Museum.

Why, yes.

That is me in the middle.

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Mural in Fort Greene Brooklyn.

More to come.

Paris soon.

T-minus three days and counting.

But who’s counting?

 

When Was I Happiest

January 6, 2018

Today?

I just asked myself that.

In a prompting kind of way, hey you, you need to write your blog, get your fingers moving on that keyboard, make some fucking magic happen.

Because all of the seven people who read my blog really want to know what I did today.

Meh.

I recently got an update from WordPress that I have once again celebrated an anniversary.

Eight years of blogging.

Eight.

What the fuck did I write about?

So many things, so many thoughts.

I have published over 2,400 blogs.

My average blog is somewhere between 1100-1300 words.

But for the sake of simplicity, let’s just say 1,000.

That means that I have written over 2,4000,000 words.

Over two million words!

Who the hell knew there were so many words in my head?

I never suspected that I would be where I am in now in my life when I started writing this blog.

I was living on Taylor and Washington in a large studio that was on a cable car line.

I was working as a nanny in China Basin.

I made really good money.

More than I actually make now, if you can believe that, because it was all under the table.

I had a very nice Felt 35 racing bike that I did my commute on.

I was horribly lonely.

I felt like all I did was grind at work, I worked at least 50 hours a week.

Which is funny, as I put in about fifty hours a week now and go to graduate school full-time.

But at that time I was going through a lot of weird stuff.

I was desperately trying to get abstinent with my food, which I did do in that apartment, but it took a hot ass second.

I was trying, oh so very hard, to get some head way on my book, said head way has come to naught in many ways, but you know, I started this blog by publishing each of the chapters one by one in the pages.

If you should want to read some really bad writing, well it’s there.

For sure.

I had a friend read the book in manuscript form about four years ago and he told me with no mincing of words that if he didn’t know better he would have never believed that the person who wrote this blog was the same person who had written that book.

My writing, suffice to say, has gotten much better.

That’s what happens when you practice.

You get better.

I have had eight years of practicing this blog.

Some days I am so inordinately pleased with what I have written that I may actually go back and re-read a blog.

But not very often.

I generally throw it down on the page, I”m just transcribing my thoughts, and really, thank god I have some fast typing skills, I’m just writing what I am thinking.

It’s a little like having a one-sided conversation with me.

Hey how was your day?

Let me tell you about mine, and then I’m unleashed upon you.

Or something like that.

I am reflecting as I did my Morning Pages this morning in the place where Morning Pages originated for me, about ten years ago.

Yeah.

If you thought writing a blog eight years in a row was something, check out my history with writing my Morning Pages.

Ten years, going on eleven.

I realized that this morning as I sat in Muddy Waters on Valencia and 24th.

I had a chiropractor appointment this morning and some time to kill before I had to be into work.

So instead of getting up stupid early, I let myself sleep in, packed my breakfast and brought it with me, planning to eat it at the cafe while having a cafe au lait before going into work.

The cafe is much the same as when I first started hanging out at it.

I had moved to a shared apartment in a rent controlled Victorian on Capp Street and 23rd and Muddy’s was the closest cafe to me and the one where I did a lot, and I do mean a lot, of sitting with another woman and reading out of a big blue book.

So many women in that cafe, before my regular Wednesday haunt, as well as my regular Saturday gig and many other times in between.

And it was also the scene of The Artist Way group that I was a part of for a year and a half.

It was an awesome group.

We met for an hour before rolling up the hill to a spot in Noe Valley on Wednesday nights.

We would grab the big round table towards the back of the cafe and anywhere from 6 to 10 of us would sit down for about an hour and share about the assignments we had done from the book.

We did one chapter a week, followed the instructions regarding the assignments, and talked about our experiences working the projects and doing the morning pages.

The book suggests that every morning you take time to write three pages long hand.

Emphasis on long hand.

No typewrite, keyboard, tablet, computer.

My blog does not count as morning pages and never has.

There is something so captivating about writing on paper with a good pen.

I was writing in one of my Claire Fontaine notebooks that I brought back from Paris this morning and I reflected on how it was in that group that I came to the realization that I wanted to go to Paris.

That I actually wanted to move to Paris.

It would take some years before I moved, but by participating in that group I realized how much I wanted to go to Paris and I took myself on a solo trip for ten days after doing the work in the book.

I took myself on artists dates, I went to museums, I bought myself nice paper, I sat and daydreamed in cafes and watched clouds roll by.

I looked out those same windows today and marveled.

Look how far I have come.

Look where I am now.

My best friend in Paris messaged me today about when I’ll be going back.

I have been to Paris five times since I made that decision, and yes, one of those times was to live there for six months.

I have re-written that book.

Although I still don’t think it’s at a publishable place.

I have written poems.

I have performed with djs in nightclubs reciting my poems.

One of them became a recording.

I have lectured on stage.

I have traveled.

I went to Burning Man, a lot.

I traveled to New York by myself as well as New Orleans to go see art.

I have taken 1,000s and 1,000s of photographs.

I have written millions of words.

I think I have a few million more.

I have done morning pages in Paris, London, Rome, New York, L.A., New Orleans, Madison, Wisconsin, Anchorage, Alaska, Burning Man, Reno, San Diego, Las Vegas, and probably a bunch of other places I can’t remember now.

But they all started one night in a Muddy Waters coffee shop on Valencia and 24th.

Opening a door that has led me down this meandering path of creation and love.

How lucky am I?

Luckiest girl in the world.

Sunshine & Rain

May 17, 2017

I got both today.

Loads of sun this morning and early afternoon.

Perfect for sitting on the deck of the houseboat and writing and drinking cafe au lait, watching the boats go by, flirting with the boat cats–there are three brown tabbies that nestle on the houseboat that is docked next to this one, soaking up the sun.

The rain was forecasted for tonight and the rain will last, according to the weather, but I am hoping there will be small reprieves when the sun comes out again, until I leave on Sunday morning.  There is a chance for sun again on Saturday and I do hope that happens as a friend and I are going to go hit the Clingancourt brocante and vintage market.

I expect that the rain will push me into the Louvre tomorrow to see the Vermeer show and drift about.

I don’t ever have a plan when I go to the Louvre, go in, get out, drop some postcards at La Bureau de Posts–nothing quite like getting the Louvre postal stamp on your postcard.

Slight aside.

I got an amazing congratulations baby card today in my travels about, one that says congrats on twins in French!  Super happy I found it, I will be dropping that off for sure from the Louvre.

Today I did the Pompidou as my museum.

And there was no need to do another.

It filled me up with art.

I saw a Vassily Kandinsky I had never seen before that I quite liked, I love his early works quite a bit, and this fell into that category.

I also saw some beautiful photographs and I took loads of photographs from the top deck of the Pompidou.

I got some great shots of Sacre Couer and also of the Eiffel Tower, the Eiffel Tower ones I am quite enamored with as the storm clouds were coming in dark and fierce.

The down pour that followed was insane.

I had met a friend at the museum and we ran through the streets, well, ok, I didn’t run, not so much, the ankle is getting better, but it is not racing through the wet streets of Paris better, between awnings and eventually we ducked into a Japanese restaurant.

Some hot tea and a little sushi later, semi-dry, and walking back to the houseboat on the Seine in the rain.

Sometimes when it rains in Paris it is fucking desperate and awful.

I remember when I moved to Paris in the winter of 2012 how bad it was, so cold, so dreary, but tonight it was neither, after the deluge, the rains were misty and softer and the streets got that glow from slick water on pavement and the streetlights, green, gold, crimson reflected on the pavement.

So gorgeous.

I got back wet and I had to take a lot of pains to get on the house boat without breaking my ankle, but I did, and I’m dry now and all sorted out.

I took some time to go through my photographs and post those up to my social media and I also took the things I bought today out of their packaging so that I would have more room to smash them all in my carry on.

I am about shopped out.

I spent just about all the money on shopping that I have earmarked for myself.

Um.

Because.

Heh.

I finally let myself buy some French lingerie.

I had to.

I have always wanted to and so.

Well.

I did.

I got two of the prettiest bra and panty sets ever and a body suit.

I couldn’t help myself.

It was trop cher, ma cherie, but I had it in my budget and so I let myself do it.

It felt pretty glorious and truth be told it was really letting myself have a treat.

A treat that I continued to let myself have by also getting a few more Claire Fontaine notebooks and some makeup from Sephora.

Yes.

There is Sephora in San Francisco, but I wanted to buy some here, I try to get a thing or two from the Paris Sephora since it was in Paris in 2002 that I first discovered the makeup store.

I bought a lipstick and some Urban Decay eye shadows.

Sure.

I paid a few Euro more than what I might have at home, but every time I use it, I will think of Paris and that is well worth the cost.

And.

Yes.

I got my tattoo!

C’est très superb!

I got the French word for non-conformist on my left forearm.

“Anticonformiste.”

In script.

It is super pretty and fits well with my other tattoos.

I had fun talking to the artist, Manish, who is visiting from Nepal.

I also got to have some cute conversations with a few gentlemen who walked into the store to get tattoos, one older man who was quite excited by my dragons and then proceeded to show me the one on his arm, beautiful work, and we chit chatted in French about tattoos for a while and where I got mine and how much fun they are.

All the fun stuff.

I have had such a lovely time.

And I still have a few days left for some more.

The rain speaks to me of sleeping in and a slow serene day at the Louvre tomorrow.

A demain, mes amies.

Et.

A bientot!

I Had A Day Off

April 11, 2017

And it was good.

I slept in.

I did not set my alarm.

I woke up a little before 10 a.m. and had a lovely, leisurely morning, couple cups of coffee, four pages of writing long hand, some quiet to connect with the day.

I had a few ideas of what I might do, but no specific agenda.

I really wanted to be open to whatever came up.

I knew I had to go grocery shopping and I had a little bit of an urge to go and get my nails done.

Groceries were gotten.

Nails were not done.

When I got back from grocery shopping I just decided to stay put, I wanted to be in the neighborhood, I wanted to chill out.

I also.

I realized.

Wanted to go for a bicycle ride.

The weather was perfect, 61 degrees, not too breezy, nice sunshine, scattering of clouds, no fog.

I pulled out my camera, my messenger bag, a bottle of water and pumped up the tires on my bike.

It had been a while.

I rode down 46th Avenue to Sloat Avenue, then on down to Great Highway.

I crossed Great Highway and pulled into the parking area at Sloat.

I haven’t been there in over a year.

There’s not much reason for me to get down to Sloat, I can just walk to the beach access point on Judah, but it was the perfect bicycle ride destination.

I was so glad to be on my bicycle again, so happy to be in the fresh sea air, in the sunshine, to see the stretch of the coast line.

How lucky am I to get to live here?

So lucky.

After hanging out at Sloat for a while on a big rock I hopped back on my bicycle and turned down Great Highway.

I realized after biking about a half mile or so that the other side of Great Highway was still closed off for sand removal.

But.

It looked really clear and clean.

And.

There where bicycles and skateboarders and joggers just cruising down the middle of the highway.

I crossed over at Lawton and rode my bike back down to Sloat again and then turned around once more for the thrill of riding in the middle of the highway, the wrong way, on my bicycle.

I stopped and took a few pictures with my camera and just was super happy to be out, to have a day off, to not be at work, to not be thinking about school.

I promised myself I would take today and not do homework, not stress about the internship, not get myself worked up.

I wanted to be relaxed and not rushed.

And I was.

And it was divine.

I rode down Great Highway towards Lincoln Ave and then on a whim, I passed my turn at 46th and headed up to 41st.

I wanted to check out Swell, the bicycle shop on Irving at 41st.

I had an idea about seeing if maybe they had beach cruisers, you know, since I’m going to Burning Man, I wanted to look for a playa bike.

They do not have cruisers, but they had some beautiful bikes.

And.

“Carmen?” I heard my name being said out loud as I ogled a Brooks cut out saddle in Navy Blue leather.

“Hey, it’s Yuri! From Pedal Revolution? Do you remember me, I’ve got long hair now,” he said with a laugh.

No shit.

His hair was super long.

“Oh my God, Yuri!” I said and we hugged.

Yuri sold me my first bicycle in San Francisco.

And saw me go through a lot of bicycle commuting, upgrades, and challenges.

Pedal Revolution is a non-profit bicycle shop in the Mission that teaches and trains underprivileged kids how to work on bicycles.

They also sell bikes and parts.

Swell is a swankier version of that shop.

We shot the shit, caught up, showed him my whip, I talked to him about thinking that I might actually get a new bike, not that I don’t love my one speed, but it’s a one speed and working in Glen Park (yes I know, I scooter there) but that I might want to at some point invest in a road bike again.

We also talked about the Pogliaghi I used to have.

And he showed me a gorgeous Bianchi touring bike that has a three-ring shifter on it, perfect for hill climbing, that was really super reasonable.

$1500.

I am seriously considering it.

Well.

I’m putting it on the back burner, but I have been thinking that I miss my bicycle commute.

And that was a big part of getting out today,  I also wanted and needed the exercise after spending three days of sitting on my ass at school.

Anyway.

It was nice to be recognized and to talk bicycles and get a little geeked out about a possible new ride.

I love my whip, but the knees get older and I am not as up to doing the hills on it that I used to.

The flats, no problem, but hills are hurt and I don’t want my knees to hurt.

I was also thinking that it would be nice to do rides again over the bridge.

I do miss those long rides to Marin when I was training for the Aids LifeCycle ride.

After my chat at Swell I rode home and signed up for a yoga class.

I had some time to kill before the class so I walked over to Trouble and treated myself to a cafe au lait and some neighborhood people watching.

I haven’t done that in a while either.

45 minutes of sitting in the sunshine and watching the world go by.

Then off to yoga.

A great class.

And when I got home I had a message on my phone about joining some friends for dinner in the Haight to celebrate an anniversary.

I said yes, I didn’t even shower, I jumped out of my yoga clothes, into my bib overalls, and hopped on my scooter.

Dinner and hang out with friends at the Citrus Club in the Haight with one of my all time favorite bowls of hot and sour soup that the city has.

Making this a fantastic day off.

Really.

So good.

Grateful beyond words for my sweet, full, happy life.

Seriously.

Luckiest girl in the world.

 

Slow Down

December 29, 2016

He said and patted my arm as we were heading up the stairs to the MOMA’s membership desk.

Then he did a mimicry of me and my busy self.

Oh shit.

I had someone else do that to me recently.

I was a bit abashed.

And as I sit here, having slowed way the hell down today, after the MOMA and lunch out with my friends, I came home, and read.

I didn’t nap.

I was actually a little afraid to nap.

Who the fuck is afraid of naps?

I am.

If they are past a certain point of time in the day, then I get afraid I wouldn’t get out of the house again if I lay down (and I did get out for a little while this evening to do the deal, which was super handy).

So I read.

And that was relaxing.

And I roasted a chicken and that made my little studio warm and cozy.

I posted up the photographs I took at the MOMA and I just hung out at the house and was chill.

I am contemplating a yoga class in the morning, but truth be told, I may not go, just let myself rest, sleep, lay about.

Even if it kills me.

Because it won’t be for always and there’s a good chance I will still go out and deal with a few things.

I have been in intermittent communication with the mom in my new gig and we have been trying to figure out a time to meet and talk about the job and sign the contract.

Said job starts on Monday.

But.

Mom is pregnant and due December 30th.

Today is the 28th.

So.

Like any second now she could be going into labor.

In fact, a couple of times I thought to myself today, we’re not going to end up being able to meet, she’s in labor, or she’s about to have the baby.

But I got an email this evening asking if I was available tomorrow or Friday.

I have an appointment downtown that is going to take up some time on Friday, so I said tomorrow.

I will skip yoga, rest, and await her time frame.

I am not about to get pushy with a mom who’s due to deliver at any second.

She gets to set the time.

I get to be available.

And yes, the cold is lingering and it felt improbably worse tonight then it has in a few days.

I think it’s gone and going away and then it’s back.

Annoying thing.

I have things to do.

Places to be.

Ugh.

Shut up brain.

Let it go.

I did my FAFSA renewal yesterday, for my federal financial aid package for grad school next year, and I had this tremendous anxiety over come me when I started to think about all the things I needed to do and how I was squandering my time off and I should be working on my practicum cover letters and applications and arranging to go to open houses and get my resume written and my letters of recommendation.

Boy howdy.

My brain knows so well how to sabotage me enjoying a day off and getting a massage.

Thanks brain.

SHUT UP.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a really sweet day today and saw some yummy art and hung out with two of my favorite people and then got treated to lunch at an amazing Zagat rated Chinese restaurant.

Which was nice.

Since i got a fucking $81 parking ticket on my scooter.

I plugged the meter!

I swear.

I used my debit card, it registered as having charged me for $3.40 cents, hours of time, and I happily traipsed off to the museum with my camera.

I came back and there was a ticket.

For 12:45 p.m.

What?

I paid long in case we decided to stay at the museum and have lunch in the cafe.

I should be covered until 2 p.m.

I used my card, it charged my card, I wrote it down and balanced my check book.

Because that’s how I roll.

I don’t have a credit card, everything by cash and I tally as I go and I also keep a running log in my checkbook register.

You know, those funny little things in the back of a check book.

Yeah.

I use them.

All the time.

I checked, yup, I had put a notation down for $3.40 and then I thought!

Oh hey!

I’ll check my bank balance online and I’ll contest the ticket!

I checked my bank balance.

The charge had not gone through.

What the fuck?

I don’t know if it was user error or meter error, but there was nothing left for me to do but get out my check book again and pay the ticket.

Can’t contest it if I don’t have evidence that I paid.

Because if it didn’t pull from my account, then technically, I didn’t pay.

Sigh.

Cost of living in the city.

Grateful I got a couple of cards from family with cash in them this Christmas.

Oh well, really, I’m not too upset about it, I really had such a lovely day, I don’t want to focus on the negative.

In the grand scheme of things, one parking ticket is not going to break me and what a gift that I had money, disposable income, to pay it off within hours of getting it.

That is something to be happy about.

So too, the option and availability to rest and not push myself.

Sleep in tomorrow.

Don’t set the alarm.

Rest.

Read a book in bed.

Chill the hell out.

And if the mom gets back to me, yes, I’ll venture out and I’ll have a coffee with her or tea and see how I can help and be of service in my new job.

If she doesn’t, it’s all good, I know that I will show up and be ready to go on Monday.

Everything is alright, I didn’t drink or use today.

I didn’t smoke a cigarette or eat a big pile of donuts.

I spent time with two fabulous men who I dearly love and got to see art and eat amazing Chinese food.

I have a blessed life.

Really.

I do.

And I am allowed to slow down, to feel the feelings that need to be felt, and to rejuvenate before the busy gets well, busy again.

Everything, I gently remind myself, is exactly, and I do mean EXACTLY, how it should be.

It always is.

Seriously.


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