Posts Tagged ‘Air BnB’

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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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.

I Almost Called You

April 13, 2019

But, of course, I did not.

The sunlight was streaming through the windows at my studio, just flooding in, and the urge to call, just pick up my phone and call was so strong I gasped out loud with it.

I also yelled at you again today in the car, “sack up and be a fucking man.”

Ah, emotions.

Hello.

I miss you sugar, but I’m not calling.

You can reach out to me under certain circumstances and I’m sure you know what they are.

I don’t expect that you will.

Sometimes I think it might happen and I get hopeful, but I really don’t think you will.

But the light, at sunset, so majestic and golden, it reminded me of our early days together and the day/night/sunset that I fell in love with you.

And then I realized we’re in that time now.

It would have been just over two years ago this past week that I met you with your friend for an anniversary dinner at the Citrus Club in the Haight.

I had not planned on going and was surprised to get the phone call saying, come out and have dinner, it’s your anniversary.

But.

Having just recently found out that you had a crush on me, I decided to go.

I don’t think I changed so fast in my life, striped right out of those yoga clothes and dressed up and hopped on my scooter.

I got there so fast I was the first one there and waited nervously for you to show up.

You seemed nice, but noncommittal.

Of course, you told me later you’d basically given up on me and didn’t think there was anything going to happen between us.

But there was.

And not too soon thereafter.

May 3rd, 2017, our first kiss.

God.

It still makes my heart do all sorts of somersaults thinking about that and how quickly we found each other.

It wasn’t very long after that I fell in love with you, falling into your eyes as the sunlight beamed through the windows.

Oh lover.

So it was really hard to not call.

And there’s so damn much I want to tell you!

So much.

I’m going to Cuba!

Havana, specifically.

I just got my VISA ordered tonight before starting this blog.

There is so much to do before I go, so much homework, work work, therapy clients to see, studying to do, I have to take my Law and Ethics exam soon and I have just shelled out $295 to the Therapist Development Center for all the study materials to pass the test.

I have a lot to do before I go to Havana in July.

But, oh, Havana.

I’m so distracted by the trip that I find myself barely able to focus on the things that need to be addressed before I go.

I also really didn’t have the bandwidth at all to do homework the last couple of days as I’ve been up early and at work early both days, the kids are on Spring Break and the parents are working extra and the grandmother is coming for a visit.

I had to juggle  a lot of monkeys the last few days, no time for homework and no time after getting home from seeing clients to attend to it either.

But looking up Havana, Cuba on the net.

Oh, I’ve got time for that.

Yes, yes, I do.

I have done lots of research and nailed down some specific experiences that I want to have.

Mostly because I know that showing up with nothing planned is not a great idea for me as I will be a single, I assume, woman traveling to a Spanish-speaking country.  I’ve already been told I will get catcalls, etc. And since I don’t speak much Spanish I really want to be prepared.

Also that there’s intermittent to little WiFi.

That the ATM’s don’t take American credit cards or debit cards.

And that no American cards at all are accepted anywhere, basically everything is done in cash.

I’ll need to get CUC when I arrive at the airport.

You can’t get the currency outside of Cuba.

So it’s not like I can go to SFO and drop some money and get it, I have to bring a bunch of cash with me and then exchange it in Cuba when I get there.

The casa particular I’m staying at requires my payment up front in CUC when I check in.

That’s $320, for eight days including breakfast.

Hella good deal.

In fact.

I should be able to really do quite a lot of things on a fairly small budget.

And I think I will end up booking a bunch of Air BnB experiences.

I believe I can pre-pay these by card before I go and then I don’t have to haggle prices when I can barely speak Spanish.

There are a lot of super interesting things I want to do and I sort of gave myself an itinerary after doing some research on Air BnB and just Googling random things about Havana.

One day I plan on doing an “Authentic Cuban Food/Market Tour” where I will get a tour of a big market and a lunch at restaurant with a local chef.  I’m planning on doing this pretty much the second day I’m there, first day will be just getting settled in and chilling out.  That way I have an idea of how the markets work and what to buy and what things costs.

I want to do a street art and walking tour with some graduates of the University there, take photographs and get out of the heavy tourist areas.

I also want to do some shopping with a local fashion designer and artist.

I want to go to the museums of course and I also want to do an Art Deco tour.  This is with a professor at the University and I figure it’d be a great learning experience, I really like Art Deco and wandering around with a professor would be some great insight into the city.

I want to take a Salsa class, because, hello, dancing, Cuba, yes please.

I also want to do some rooftop sunsets and drive around in a vintage car.  I mean, come on, $65 for getting driven all around Havana and taken to rooftop pools?  Count me in.  I’ll be skipping the booze part, but there are non-alcoholic beverages provided, so I’m set.

And I do like the driving around in vintage cars a heap, so I’ll be doing that more than once.  I have to do the drive along the sea wall in West Havana.  Bring it.

I’m also going to do a day outside of Havana, the spendiest thing I’m planning on doing, but when you look at everything the trip is offering, its super worth it.  For $120 a full 12 hour day, you get picked up at your place in a vintage car with A/C and driven an hour to Vinales, for a cave exploration, a hike into a tobacco farm, lunch, and horseback riding.  And they drive you back and drop you off where you’re staying too. Um, totally worth the price.

It won’t be Cuba without going to the beach, in yes, another vintage car, so I’ll be heading to the beach for sure, I’m still sourcing out the right fit here, as there’s a couple of different offers and I want to explore which beach feels right.

There are two other things I want to do that have nothing to do with Air BnB experiences that I found on the web and I am really excited about doing.

One is going to this fancy hotel with apparently the best rooftop pool in Havana and getting a day pass to hang out there all day, it’s $60 for the day and I think a day of just lying around a pool and using the spa facilities is worth the money and maybe sneaking in a massage too. Hence a day trip to the Gran Hotel Manzana.

And this private restaurant: La Guardia.

It looks amazing and if it’s good enough for Sting and Barack Obama and Natalie Portman, I definitely think it’s worth investigating.

Doing this research really made me think about you too, how we’d have such fun laying poolside, walking Old Havana, finding all the delicious things to eat, Cuban coffee, the beach, just all of it.

And I didn’t call and  won’t, but man, I think about you a lot.

Not every moment of the day, but when it comes to traveling you are so on my mind it’s a challenge.

I wish you well where ever you are.

I haven’t a clue to your schedule anymore.

I wish you would reach out and I’m ok that you won’t.

I’m still not over you, don’t think I will ever be, but I might, just might, be starting to get through.

Havana, Cuba, Baby

April 9, 2019

That’s right.

I am going to CUBA!

I just booked my ticket for July.

Yeah.

I know, Cuba in July is going to be hot, but fuck I don’t care, I like it hot, steamy, warm, bring it on.

You know where it isn’t hot in July?

San Francisco.

It’s fucking freezing.

It’s foggy, grey, dreary, damp, and hella cold.

Especially where I live, right out by the ocean.

It is not pretty.

The nice summer, the Indian summer glory that I hope no one ever really discovers except the locals is mid to late September and early October.

Then its glorious.

But July?

Forget it.

Crap weather.

I was going to go to Hawaii.

That had been the plan.

But.

I kept getting disgruntled when I looked.

So expensive.

The flights have been steadily going up and what had once seemed reasonable and doable began to look much less so, especially when the cost of the tickets easily eclipsed what I had paid for my round trip ticket to Paris in December.

Granted, Paris in December is during the off-season.

But one would think that Hawaii isn’t all that packed in July.

The tickets though and the cost of accommodations was depressing.

Do I want to spend that kind of money to lie around on a beach?

Will I get bored.

I suspected I would.

Would I get resentful and annoyed at the expense?

I think I would have.

Really I was mostly worried about getting bored.

I mean.

Sure, a nice lay around on a beach is all good, but I couldn’t actually imagine doing it for an extended period of time.

One friend said five days was his max and then he was done.

Another friend said a week was way too long and that it felt like paradise with strip malls.

I spent a lot of time on Air BnB trying to find accommodations I liked that weren’t too expensive or didn’t look like my grandmother’s kitchen.

Nothing against my grandmother, I love her, but do I want to spend a lot of money to stay in a place that looks like her kitchen?

No.

I did find one place and it was a bit more than I wanted but I compromised and figured better to stay somewhere that would make me happy.

And the site went down.

And there was a glitch in the dates.

And sorry, we don’t know what’s wrong.

But basically for two days straight I couldn’t book it.

I took that as a sign.

I felt bad for not wanting to go to Hawaii.

Shouldn’t I want to go?

I am sure it’s lovely.

But what do I like to do on vacation?

I like to walk around and see things, I like architecture, I like museums, I like, really like people watching.

I felt flummoxed and a bit baffled at myself, did I or did I not want to go to Hawaii?

When it came right down to it I realized I did not.

And that’s ok!

It’s ok to change my mind and its ok to know that I am a savvy traveler and I would really rather go somewhere more exotic and have an adventure in an urban environment.

I like cities.

I am a city kind of gal.

Don’t get me wrong, I love being out in nature, but when I think about traveling I want to go to a city.

I have always found the idea of Cuba and specifically Havana, very appealing.

All the Art Deco, the Prado Theater, the Habana Vieja (Old Havana), the churches and all the vintage cars, the colonial architecture, Cuban coffee, veranda life, sitting on a balcony or in a square having fruit and coffee, walking around and really seeing something different.

Also, there are plenty of beaches in Cuba.

As soon as my friend said, “strip mall” I knew I wasn’t going to Hawaii.

I wanted something more.

So, yeah, I bought a ticket.

There’s some hoops to go through, you can’t really travel to Cuba on a tourist Visa, you must have a reason to go.

I did a lot of research and the category that best fit me was that I was going to support “the Cuban People” which means that I won’t be staying anywhere or buying anything that has any ties to the military or government.

Fine with me.

I’ll support the local artists and musicians.

I will stay, fingers crossed at Hotel Chez Nous.

You have to love that it’s a “French” named casa.

It’s considered a “Casa Particular” which means a local family that runs a “hotel” or sort of “boarding house”.

The rooms are in two different homes in Old Havana, one that is old school Colonial and the other is Art Deco.

You can’t reserve online, you have to make a request, so I sent off my request and hopefully I’ll be staying there.

The room I want is 45 Cuc, Cuban convertible peso (which is pretty much one Cuc to one dollar) a night!

I request the Art Deco single with a balcony.

That’s my style, sitting on a balcony in Old Havana, overlooking a square smack in the middle of Old Havana.

Yes please.

Bring on the sundresses, sandals, iced cuban coffees con leche, walks along the old port, visits to churches and museums, and yes, some spicy Cuban food.

God damn I am excited

I did not feel excited by Hawaii.

I feel ecstatic about Havana.

Nervous too, I don’t speak Spanish and there are some hoops to jump through to get the Visa but, overall I’m fucking thrilled.

But hell yeah, Havana, baby.

It’s going to be one hot, sexy summer.

Well, at least nine days of it will.

Heh.

 

Too Tired

April 6, 2019

To vacation.

I mean.

To book a vacation.

I just tried and frankly it’s just not happening.

I have been thinking about going to Hawaii in July and staying in Paia, Maui where my grandmother was born in 1928.

I looked at flights.

I looked at Air BnB.

Nothing was appealing.

Nothing made me excited.

Granted I’m pretty worn out from today.

Today was my first real full day back to work and back with clients.

I’m tired.

My body is sore.

I thought about going out and doing the deal up in Bernal after I saw my last client, but I felt rather kaput and just drove home.

I did a phone check in and decided I wanted to walk down to the beach for the sunset.

Which was not spectacular, but it was pretty in its own way.

I thought about the conversation I had with my boss about this upcoming summer.

The family bought their tickets for their summer travel and they will be gone for six weeks!

Six weeks!

I am going to have six weeks of paid vacation from June 24th through August 4th.

I am thrilled.

Even though I am so fucking tired it’s hard to be excited right now.

I sort of just want to make tea and call it a night.

But I also thought maybe I should look at flights and places to stay and honestly it just wasn’t at all thrilling

I need to sleep on it and not pressure myself into buying anything yet.

I am not sure why exactly I’m hesitating, but I am and I’m just going to honor that.

It doesn’t feel quite right to book a trip right now and i don’t know why, but it doesn’t feel good.

Of course, I also note to myself that it was hella easy to book for Paris and I basically leapt on the deal I found.

Which was only $7 more than the round trip tickets I was looking at for Hawaii.

Granted, I got one hell of a steal on the tickets to Paris, but something about them being the same price basically and I just sort of balked.

Maybe I don’t want to go to Hawaii?

Will I be bored with ten days of lying around on the beach?

I mean.

I don’t know.

I’m just going to chalk it up to I’m tired, I shouldn’t decide anything when I am tired.

Call it a night.

Make some tea.

Rest some more.

The days off have melted away and I’m not fully 100% but life is back to being 100% on.

So I think I will not beat myself up about feeling indecisive about booking a trip and just chill out tonight.

I don’t need to figure out anything right now.

Not a damn thing.

Nope.

But hey.

I am going to have six weeks off.

Got any suggestions?

Blue Hawaii

March 28, 2019

And Paris without you.

God damn it.

I’m still pissed at you.

Granted I have my own self to blame for that.

I should not have gone on social media.

I had you blocked.

Not because I was worried about you seeing me, no.

I didn’t want to be looking at your photos.

And I did it anyway.

I looked last night.

I know you’re in Hawaii and I knew you were going to be there and I had to look.

Ugh.

Wrong.

Wrong.

Wrong.

It doesn’t help that I want to go to Hawaii with you and that the trip I have tentatively planned for July has your name written all over it.

Or that I have thoughts about you in the ocean, swimming, your eyes wet and blue.

I’m so angry still and I’m still so damn sad.

Not as much.

Not every day.

And so, of course, the person to be angry with is me, I know better than to go onto social and look up your photos.

It hurts.

No more of that.

Although, why?

I can’t figure it out, a photo of us pops up every day, every day on my computer despite closing the photo app.

Every day your blue, blue, bluest eyes stare out at me as I see us on the red leather couch in the Air BnB we rented in D.C.  My eyes are closed, I’m kissing the side of your face and you have your arm wrapped around me.

Sometimes the photo makes me jump.

Sometimes I forget it’s there.

I have shut down the computer, restarted the computer, closed the app, and it just randomly pops back up.

Can’t get away from it and I use my computer all the time.

I mean.

Fuck.

I am working on a PhD I drag the damn thing around like it’s a security blanket.

And there you are, sweet face and dreamy and I know that we were in front of a fire and the color of your eyes and the shape of my face, and my hair tumbled down around my shoulders.

Ugh.

It hurts.

Not as bad.

I will admit that.

Things haven’t hurt so awful in the day-to-day.

Get me in my therapy sessions and I’m a fucking mess, but hey, that’s therapy and I leave it there in the wet balls of crumpled tissues streaked with mascara.

I joked with my therapist this past session that my tears must be some kind of napalm right now as I have tried three different kinds of waterproof mascara and the shit just slides off my eyelashes when I cry.

I yelled at you tonight.

In the car.

On the way home.

Thinking about you on an island and me here and then I’ll be going to Paris and well, fuck, you’re supposed to be in Paris with me.

Damn it.

We were supposed to do Paris.

You know it.

I know it.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Fuck.

Paris, baby.

You were supposed to go to Paris with me.

I hella splurged too.

I mean.

I got a place to stay, cute, bohemian, arty, obviously someone who was an avid flea market shopper, and I got a great deal, super cheap, $1,000 less than most of the other places I was looking at.

So I booked it.

And alas.

The woman got back to me and said she wasn’t able to let me rent it as she was going to be in Paris for Christmas.

Oh well.

I went back and looked some more and I looked at hotels and I really had to think about where I wanted to stay and why.

I wanted to make sure I was in the Marais, my best friend lives there and it’s my favorite part of the city and very central.

Hotels were not cheap and I went back to looking at Air BnB.

This one place kept calling me back and it was more than I wanted to spend, but then again, I knew I had the money in savings to cover it, I’d have nine months to save up more, I deserve to stay somewhere nice, the last two times I stayed in Paris I stayed with friends and didn’t pay for accommodations and the time before that I stayed in a hella cheap place and regretted it almost immediately.

I kept going back to this listing and then I said, fuck it.

I’m booking it.

It’s where I’m supposed to be and I’m going to let myself stay there.

Gorgeous tapestry wall paper.

Fireplace!

Full kitchen.

Dining area.

Plus red velvet chairs.

Couch with a red velvet throw.

Separate bedroom up this sweet curving stair case.

Big huge bed under the eaves.

Gigantic bathtub in the room!

Bathtubs are a rarity in French apartments, so to get one and it’s big, huge luxury.

It’s super pretty and I’m super grateful I booked it and I paid for the whole thing up front.

Done and done.

I was so excited when I booked it the night before last.

And then.

Tonight.

I wasn’t.

I was hurt and angry and thinking about you and your vacation pictures and I just yelled at you in the car, how we’re supposed to be in Paris together, walking the streets, eating all the food, cheese, chacuterie, drinking all the coffee, snuggling on the red velvet couch, having sex on the red velvet couch, the bed, the floor in front of the fire-place, the bathtub, meeting fellows in church basements, seeing all the sites, making out in public, holding hands.

I wanted to take you to the one cafe I know about in the 11th that’s super good and order food for you in French and then happy and replete I would walk you along the Seine to look at the Eiffel Tower when it lights up with glitter lights.

Damn it.

We were supposed to do Paris together.

I know that the sting will wear off, I mean, my trip is not until December, but right now, I feel hurt and sad and yes, angry at you.

Oh God.

The places I wanted to take you.

A walk in Pere LaChaise cemetary.

And the L’ile des Cygnetes, Island of the Swans, in the middle of the Seine, that has one of Statue of Liberty models on it that the artist did as he worked on the scale for the one sent to Americar.

Oh.

And all the outdoor markets, buying cheese and fruit and bread for you.

I wanted to take you to the amazing restaurant in Belleville that my friend took me to last summer and then go to Le Chat Noir and do the Paris Open Mic and recite you poems I have written about you.

But I won’t.

I won’t be doing any of those things.

I’ll be taking a bath under the eaves of a mansion on Rue de Parc Royale.

A bath with bubbles.

And I will sit in front of the fire and fingers crossed, not be sad to be alone, again, in Paris, without you.

 

There is So Much

March 23, 2019

To write about.

And where to begin?

I almost titled this blog, One Hour, as an homage to something quite big.

I also thought about naming it, “Are you Here?” as I suspect my ex is back in town.

At least it feels that way.

More about that later.

Then I thought I should write about my awesome and amazing Mike Doughty experience and having gotten to see him on Wednesday of this week and how I played hooky from clients and went out on a school night.

I didn’t really play hooky, I just rescheduled them for later in the week, I had one tonight and I’ll see the other tomorrow after my regular Saturday clients.

Then I thought, oh yeah, I should call this, “Vive La France!”

As I bought a ticket to Paris last night!

Yeah.

So.

All the things.

All of them.

So much going on.

Plus, of course, the school thing that is happening and how I managed to get all my papers done and turned in on time and also how I got back some really amazing comments on my last couple of papers.

“Clarity, erudition, adept usage of third person, meticulous APA style,” I could go on, but then I think that’s just ego.

I”m right on schedule with school at the moment and extremely happy about that, despite feeling a little disconnected from school since I did not get much time this week at work to do homework.

The family had the flu.

Like seriously bad, fevers, aches, chills, super bad sore throat, coughing.

I do not know how I escaped, but I did.

I also got my flu shot this year so that might have helped and as soon as the family was diagnosed with the flu at the doctors they called me and said call my doctor and get Tamiflu, which is a preventative medicine that will work if taken within 72 hours of exposure.

So I’ve been taking that all week and seemed to have skated by the flu.

Thank fucking God.

I cannot afford to be sick.

And.

I don’t like being sick.

Even the small part of me that rather enjoys lying around all day in bed.

The rest of me drives itself crazy when I’m sick.

So I’m super happy I avoided it.

But man, work was a tough one this week.

Which made it easy to ask off for time to work with a client.

Yes.

It’s official.

This week I got my tenth client.

I took a leap of faith when the person reached out and offered expanded hours beyond what I have available.

Meaning.

Wednesdays I work from 9 a.m. to 5p.m. then see clients at 5:30p.m., 6:30p.m. and 7:30p.m.

I offered the client a 4:30p.m. slot.

Technically I’m working as a nanny, but I’ve been in conversation for months now that at some point I would slowly begin the transitioning down of nanny hours for therapy hours.

I hesitated for just a brief moment but knew, really knew, that I had to offer hours that would overlap into my nanny shifts.

And the client took the Wednesday slot.

Which means I have to be done at the nanny gig by 4p.m. now on Wednesdays.

One hour less of being a nanny.

One hour more of being a therapist.

Plus.

This new client found me on Psychology Today and was not a referral from my agency, meaning the client is full fee.

Yippee!

The more full fee clients I get the faster I will transition out of nannying.

I mean, I love the family, but $30/hour versus $140 an hour.

Well.

I know what works better for me.

Anyway.

That’s therapy business.

Then there’s Paris business which in a way segues into ex-boyfriend business.

Yesterday at work I was checking e-mails in a brief moment of time when I wasn’t picking up used Kleenex, hydrating some small child, washing dishes, drawing, cuddling, or making hot tea with honey and saw an interesting email from a friend.

It was an e-mail that he forwarded that there was a one day sale happening for round trip tickets to Paris.

Oooh.

I wasn’t planning on going to Paris this year, I’ve been planning on going to Hawaii in July,(but still haven’t done anything about it as I’m waiting on my employers to let me know when they’re going to be in Finland and if, probably not, but if they are also planning on taking me to Helsinki with them)  going to Maui and staying in Paia, where my grandmother was born in 1928.

But.

I was curious about the flights and a little bug got in my ear and so I searched and shit, the price was too good to pass by.

So I picked the best time for me to go, end of the fall semester, in December.

Yes.

That’s right.

I’ll be in Paris on my birthday and for Christmas.

I fly out of SFO on December 17th, landing the next day at Charles de Gaulle on December 18th, my birthday, in the early afternoon.  I’ll fly back on December 27th.

So I’ll be there from my birthday through Christmas.

I will sit in cafes, go to museums (the Louvre, the D’Orsay, the Jeu de Paume, the Pompidou–which is open on Christmas, I know where I will be, wandering the galleries there for sure on Christmas day, the Orangerie, the Palais de Tokyo, the Grand Palais, the Petit Palais, the Musee de l’Art Moderne), walk everywhere, read books, go do the deal with the Paris fellowship, hang out with my best girlfriend from my Masters degree cohort…we’ve already made plans to go to the ballet (I messaged her right after I bought the ticket).

I got the ticket from Air France round trip, direct flights there and back for $579.32!

I still can’t believe that!

My girlfriend asked me why December after exclaiming at the cost of the ticket.

I told her that my birthday and Christmas have been really tied up with my ex the last two years and maybe its better for me to be in Paris then in San Francisco and really just do something for myself.

I always wanted him to come to Paris with me and I had even brought it up in the days before we broke up that I wanted to plan a trip with him there.

It is such a screamingly romantic city.

And he’s such a foodie, he would have loved it.

I’m still sad we didn’t get to experience that together.

She understood.

Plus, I told her that it makes sense with my school schedule and it’s the slowest time of year for therapy clients….the last two holiday seasons were really slow and I hear that it’s that way for most therapist.

So.

Yeah.

Booked that ticket.

I don’t think I’ll stay with my girlfriend, despite knowing she’d let me, I think I want a little more autonomy and she’s got young twins, who are super sweet and adorable, but the house isn’t huge and as much as I loved staying with them, I don’t want to stress them out at Christmas.

I figure I’ll Air BnB in the Marais where they live, it’s super central and I know it well enough, and just be an independent lady at Christmas time in the City of Lights.

God.

There’s more to say.

The feeling of my ex being in town, and wanting him to reach out or to somehow bump into him, it’s big, but I’ve not got time to write more.

I need to get up early, lots of clients tomorrow.

So.

I bid you adieu and I’ll see you on the flip.

 

Ready to Fly

February 15, 2019

I’m at work.

The baby is sleeping.

The rain is falling.

The dad is home sick.

It’s Friday.

I have one client after work tonight then…

Three day weekend!

I’m so ready to be done.

I’m flying out tonight on a red-eye to D.C. to spend time with my best friend in Georgetown.

I do find it rather funny actually that I’m going to be there over President’s Day weekend.

Just sort of how it worked out.

Originally I was supposed to go before school started, but our schedules just did not sync up.

So.

Here I am officially into the month of February getting ready to jettison off for a much-needed mini-holiday.

And!

I’m done with my homework.

In fact, I am a touch a head of it.

I have been assiduously reading, writing, posting discussion posts, responding to discussion posts, et al.

I’ve actually finished the reader completely for one of my classes.

This is not to say that there isn’t work to do.

I’m in a fucking PhD program, there is always going to be work to do.

In fact, I’m sure my guilty student self-will arise any moment now and say something like, “you could pre-read for your other two classes too.”

But the fact is.

I need a break.

And sometimes that is just as important to acknowledge as it is to budget time to do the homework.

It’s been, well, stressful isn’t the right word exactly, but challenging at work this week.

The dad has been home sick every day.

EVERY DAY.

The whole family has gotten sick, and I as well, although not to the extent or severity of the baby or the papa.

For this I am so lucky.

Very happy.

Very grateful.

I caught it last week Thursday, tried to pretend I didn’t have it, had it land pretty solid Friday, spiked a fever while at my office seeing clients on Saturday.

Fortunate for me I had some clients cancel and no-show and I was able to chill out in my office after seeing two clients.

That actually helped me a lot in my advancement through my homework this week.

I wrote a paper and did a bunch of reading.

I wrote another paper on Sunday.

And then have read and posted discussions all week.

I’m just about past the point of feeling awkward with the dad around.

But, yes challenging.

I find I do as much work as I possibly can, but you know, I’m extremely efficient and Fridays the family traditionally orders in food, so I have no food prep or dinner planning to do.

The house is spotless.

I can’t access laundry since it’s next to the sleeping baby.

So I’ve done my homework and then realized, good lord, I still have another half hour or so of not having anything to do.

Somehow sitting on the couch trolling Instagram seems like a bad idea.

I figured if I was writing, it would at least look like I’m working on something.

Dad doesn’t need to know I’m writing my blog.

Plus.

Since I’m flying a red-eye tonight I am going to try to sleep on the plane rather than do homework.

Maybe, ooh, I could even watch a movie.

Ah.

That would be nice.

I do know that I will be happy to hit DC running, my friend will pick me up at the airport, drive me into town and then we’re going to do breakfast, coffee, and doing that infamous deal at a clubhouse near DuPont Circle.

After that I am checking into an Air BnB in Georgetown.

That I was happily given access to for early check in.

Super grateful for that.

Originally the check in was listed for 3p.m.

But I asked if it was possible to get in early and I got a sweet affirmative response last night.

So.

Napping.

And.

Napping in front of a working fireplace.

Yes.

I won’t nap too long, there’s only so much time I get with my friend.

I think we might do a fancy pants dinner out somewhere that evening and then Sunday really just hang out and walk around Georgetown, hit some cafes, grab lunch somewhere, maybe do some shopping.

You know, girl stuff.

And I fly back super early on Monday.

So early that I actually will have most of Monday available to me for life stuff that needs to be done.

I have to drop my car off for some maintenance and I’m hoping to get all my laundry done.

So.

Here’s to there only being two and a half hours left of my work day, one client, and a quick drive home to pick up my suitcase and travel bag.

I’m already packed.

All I have to do is remembered to bring my power cords for my computer and my phone.

God only knows l will likely check into my school work at least once.

Maybe twice.

I’m too paranoid about falling behind to not do that.

But really.

I do hope to take it easy and let myself gently off the hook.

I feel really good at where I am currently in this semester of work.

Sure.

That could change the next week.

But for now.

Well.

Here’s to a three-day weekend!

 

Sneaky Blog

February 12, 2019

I really should probably look at my homework.

But.

Fuck.

I have done a lot in the last couple of days and I also really should let myself off the hook once in a while.

I wrote a paper yesterday as well as attended a three-hour training in Berkeley for my internship.

Day off, what day off?

I also did laundry and roasted a chicken for food prep and packed up my carry-on for a trip this weekend.

I am going to do a quick zoom in and out of D.C.

A friend gave me some miles and I’ve booked an Air BnB with a fireplace in Georgetown.

We’re going to hang out, go to coffee shops and eat nice food.

I might not even go out all that much.

Sit in front of the fire-place and toast my toes.

I am going to do as much homework as possible this week so that I can actually enjoy my time there.

The trip was originally supposed to be before I started up school again but my friends schedule got wonky and we had to push it out.

So.

I will have a quick two and a half days and I’ll be right back in it.

Next weekend will be my weekend off.

Of course it does mean staying on top of things and as of such I did read 65 pages of an article today.

No fucking article should be that long.

Just saying.

Thank goodness the baby took a long nap today.

Poor little guy.

He’s been sick.

Went with the mom to the pediatrician today and it turns out he’s got an eye infection, a sinus infection and an ear infection in both ears!

He’s going to get a whopping big dose of antibiotics in the next couple of days and hopefully it will all get knocked out.

And yes.

I do actually have his cold.

I suspected I was coming down with it on Friday.

Sure as shit, Saturday I was running a fever.

But there was really nothing to do about that.

I got up, I did my morning routine, I went and saw my clients.

Fortunately it never really got anywhere as bad as the little guy’s had.

I’m a tiny bit sick, more like a light runny nose and some yuck congestion in my nose and throat when I wake up in the morning.

It’s like I got the diet version of his cold.

It’s enough to be a little annoying, but not enough to knock me down.

I will admit I was in bed pretty early last night, just to make sure that I was getting enough sleep.

That is the thing I constantly have to do for myself, get enough sleep.

Other things are getting dropped.

Socializing.

Blogging.

My blogging has been slight and I’m not excited about that, but I have to address homework pretty much every day and there is just so much to read.

My God.

The reading is heavy.

I am so very grateful I knocked out three books before the semester started.

I’m also 3/4s of the way through one of my class readers, which is going to be really helpful as I move forward.

But there is just always something else to read.

And I am constantly being sent stuff to read as well.

I can’t do it all

And I can’t blog as much as I would like, but I feel like I’m in a good place right now, turned in that paper yesterday and today did a substantive post to one of my classes.

I need to check into the other two and see what’s on the agenda, but I don’t have to do anything quite yet.

Aha.

I actually did.

And I just did it.

Hopefully I didn’t screw with the flow of the blog, but yeah, I had an inkling there was something I needed to attend to in my Arts and Creativity in Leadership class.

And there was.

So.

That’s done and now I can say I checked in and took care of it and between that, the discussion posts, the responses to others I made today and all the reading, I’m pretty good with my efforts today.

Really.

As long as I stay sober today, ultimately nothing else matters.

But I do want to do the work to get this PhD.

It does feel really important.

I have had some people in and out of my cohort as well exhort me to do a book about what I am writing on and to have it full of photographs of my tattoos.

I am actually thinking about that quite a lot.

I do know some photographers.

I should start asking around.

Of course the two that pop up in my head first are professionals and would probably be a lot to use, but it may be worth it to start engaging in looking.

I would like to document my tattoos anyway and since I’ll be writing about them and my experiences I am also leaning very heavily towards adding them into my dissertation as well.

Which is something I can do with the methodology I’m using.

Things to think about.

I also have to remember I’m meeting with one of my professors next Friday, pop that on my calendar.

My online program piece uses a lot of Zoom meetings, but I can’t make most of them wtih my schedule.

I actually had one this Saturday, client cancelled, and I checked in with one of my professors who lives on the East Coast.

We had a great talk and he gave me some of the best compliments.

I mean.

I was really blown away.

He said, “Well, Carmen, I just think you’re brilliant, I really do.”

And.

He added a little later that he had something else to admit to, “I save your papers until the last to read, that way I have something to look forward to.”

OMG.

Best compliment.

I was so very flattered.

I really want to let myself enjoy this compliment too.

In the not so recent past I have used compliments like this to stress myself out, I better perform even better, I can’t disappoint now!

So for the last couple of days I have really held that for myself.

Of course.

The paper that was due yesterday was for his class and the first of the semester (for this class, not for the semester, I’ve already turned in two other papers thank you very much).

So.

Yeah, I had some anxiety writing it.

But overall, I think it was a good paper and he’ll like it and it’s ok if he doesn’t either.

I know that I have skills.

Maybe not mad skills, but I do think I have some writing chops.

Grateful as hell for that.

And with that.

I bid you adieu.

It’s time to attend to a few more school things before winding it down for the night.

Sweet dreams.

Sleep tight.

Don’t let the bedbugs bite.

(I have always wondered how one does that?)

Heh.

20,650 Steps

June 27, 2018

That’s how much I walked today.

I wasn’t even sure I was going to write this blog.

I just got out of a bath at the Air BnB I’m staying at in Brooklyn and I laid down on the bed and closed my eyes and I could have stayed there all night.

I mean.

I think I was lying there for at least five minutes, maybe more.

I got up though to put on lotion.

My skin has been changing a little, getting a little dryer as I get older and I don’t like how it feels, so I got up, slathered on some lotion and figured I would at least make an attempt at writing something.

I really did walk that many steps.

I actually walked more than that, I didn’t carry my phone with me all day, so there were a couple of flights of steps not counted and some pattering around the house exploring, but mainly, I was on the move today.

From flying out last night to landing here this early afternoon to strolling all over Brooklyn, I had quite a day.

I am pretty damn beat.

I got about three hours of sleep on the plane.

Not my best showing.

But I am sure I will catch up on that tonight.

And since I’m not on a schedule I can sleep as long as I like.

I have two plans for tomorrow.

The first is the Brooklyn Museum to see the David Bowie Exhibition and the Judy Chicago show.

The second is to see an old friend from SF who moved here years ago and go do the deal tomorrow night at 7:30p.m.

He and his girlfriend started something up a little while back that apparently is like what recovery is in San Francisco.

I had to laugh, since I’m a regular attendee at a spot that models itself after recovery in New York.

It’s always better where you got the message first.

So I will get a little piece of San Francisco tomorrow night, which is sweet.

It’s nice to still be connected to friends 13 years later.

I don’t foresee as much walking tomorrow as I did today.

The walking was actually not really planned.

I decided to walk around the neighborhood a little after I had gotten settled in and had taken a nice shower to wash off the airplane travel.

One block lead to another and another and another.

I like the neighborhood.

Very residential, lots of row houses.

God, I love the brown stones in Brooklyn.

And I love the culture of sitting on the stoop or in the front part of the brownstone, what would be a yard, but is just a square of cement patio.

I loved seeing so many people sitting out on the stoops and watching the neighborhood go by.

I felt like I fit in.

I could see living in Brooklyn, this part of Brooklyn anyway, I’m not quite as much of a fan of Williamsburg, which is quaint, but doesn’t have the row house appeal of this part of Brooklyn.

Bed-Stuy, Fort Greene, Clinton Hill.

Gorgeous houses.

They get fancier and fancier the closer to the water you get.

By the time I had walked to the Brooklyn Heights promenade I was pretty in awe of the houses.

So pretty.

Of course, I’ve only been here when it’s warm, I don’t know that I could deal with the winters, I know they are vicious.

I had enough winters being in Wisconsin as long as I was.

It’s warm, the day was warm, not too hot, it will get warmer as I stay.

Today was about 80 degrees, by Saturday it’s supposed to be low 90s.

It’s going to be hot, hot, hot.

But I will enjoy that too, when the sun goes down and I’m still outside walking around in a light weight dress.

I wore my bibs out today and got lots of compliments on them.

I also got lots of compliments on my tattoos.

I was actually surprised to not see more folks with tattoos, could just be the part of the city I’m in, who knows.

I had a conversation outside a coffee shop on Lafayette Avenue with a youngish girl who wanted to pick my brain as she was planning her first tattoo.

We had quite the conversation.

I like that I can just fall into talking with people, it feels nice.

I did have a moment of feeling a tiny bit lonely tonight when I was back at the Air BnB having procured food from the Whole Foods three miles away.

That was the last stop on my walk, and I have to say, I was a bit out of it by that point.

But.

I did manage to wrangle up breakfast food, coffee, snacks, cold brewed coffee, bottled water, and fruit for the rest of the week.

I plan on eating breakfast at the house and then other meals out.

Although I only ate one meal out today, and it wasn’t with much fan fare, though I have to say, it was nice to eat it outside on the patio at the joint I went to in Fort Greene.

Dinner I didn’t have it in me to plan, cook, or go out for, I was too tired after getting back from the grocery store.

I made oatmeal and a hard-boiled egg.

I’m sure I will eat out plenty the rest of the week.

Anyway.

I’m happy to be here and excited for sleep and to see what the rest of the week shall bring.

Here.

Let me at least leave you with a few photos:

2018-06-26 17.11.47-2

2018-06-26 16.52.54-1

2018-06-26 16.50.11-2

2018-06-26 16.48.11-2

2018-06-26 15.03.36-2

And now.

Now.

It is time for the rest.

Seriously.

 


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