Posts Tagged ‘community’

Officially Astounded

December 4, 2017

And just a tiny bit exhausted.

Just a tiny bit.

I did it!

I got all the things done today that I needed to do.

I did not think that was going to happen and I started to resign myself to the idea that maybe I was going to have to write my Drugs and Alcohol paper sometime over the week.

But.

Fuck yeah.

I did it.

I just printed off the paper a few minutes ago.

About twenty-five minutes ago to be exact.

I sat through my last CBT Webinar (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) and when it was done I made the executive decision to just crank out the paper.

I had done some reviewing of the material before the webinar and I felt like I had a really good idea of what I was going to write about.

In fact, I was sort of, sort of, haahahaha, fuck this online webinar class, annoyed with the CBT webinar, I really did not like the format, and wished that I did not have to sit through it as I had the Drugs and Alcohol paper so in my mind I wanted to get right on it.

But sit through it I did and when it was finished I flipped once more through my notes and got it done.

I’m done with it!

So much fucking relief.

It’s printed off and in my folder.

I still have a couple of small things to do to be prepared for the final weekend of classes, but the two big papers I needed to do are now done.

The relief is real.

I have a worksheet that I need to spec up for my final group project presentation, but I’m not going to go in with an actual paper script, I know so well what I am doing that I will be able to speak extemporaneously.

Thank God for extemporaneous speaking.

I did a bit of that today as well.

I had the final dress rehearsal for People Who Usually Don’t Lecture.

I got to hear all the talks and I was pretty engaged.

The project is really going to go off well and I’m very grateful to get to be a part of it.

Mostly to get to be in the same group of people doing big things in community.

It is really a nice feeling to be a part of something human and getting to connect with yet another group of folks that I might never have met except for having been invited to participate in the  project.

It is a blessing.

And I’m beyond grateful that I get to do it.

Granted.

Still nervous.

I get pretty nervous before speaking and this will be in front of 150 people as well as being on stage, lit and video recorded.

In fact, I was video taped today.

Which I was not expecting.

I wore a flannel and jeans.

Sigh.

Oh well.

I think I’ll be wearing a dress for Tuesday’s performance.

I want to look pretty and I have a feeling that I will be more confident dressed up.

I also just want to give a good talk.

The person going after me references me in his talk and it’s an honor to get to be on the same stage.

I leaked tears the entire time he was speaking and it was really just such a nice moment to hear how he was affected by me and also that he got to know, via my blog and various other ways, how much he affected me.

I am still mystified how that works, but human connection is something so powerful.

I am a creature who needs companionship and people and I am just so grateful for all the people in my life that I have gotten to know and be around.

It’s amazing.

It’s amazing too that I’m almost done with this semester.

By this time next week I will be done.

Well.

I might still have one last paper to write, might, that’s funny, I do have one last paper to write, it’s due the 15th of the month.

My last class is the 10th and it ends at noon.

So.

I’m going to go out to sushi with a girlfriend from school to Domo in Hayes Valley to celebrate, and then, yes, I will go home and write my last paper.

I’m not really looking forward to doing more work on that day, but it really makes the most sense, especially as the paper is due on a Friday.

I won’t really have a good block of time to work on it except that Sunday.

What I’m hoping is to enjoy a good lunch with my girlfriend and hang out and spend quality time with her and then get back here to the house and kill my last paper.

I want to get my Christmas tree next Sunday.

That’s the goal.

Finish my Jungian Dream Work paper and then go celebrate by getting myself a Christmas tree.

That’s how I like to roll.

I still can’t believe that I got all the two papers done this weekend that I needed to do.

Considering how overwhelmed I felt yesterday heading into my group supervision it really is something else to be on the other side of it.

Now I just have to get through the performance Tuesday and I’ll be golden.

I’ll be able to roll up on my last weekend of the semester very mellow and relaxed.

So, so, so grateful it’s almost done.

So very grateful.

Now.

Tea and climbing into my bed.

I’ve got a big week ahead of me.

Seriously.

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Reunion

September 6, 2017

And it was good.

She ran to me with the biggest smile on her face and threw herself into my arms.

Good thing I was ready for her or I would have been bowled over.

I picked her up and snuggled her in for a great big hug.

“I asked _______________ what the best part of school was,” the mom told me today, “and she replied, ‘getting picked up!'”

And so pick her up I did.

She was so happy to see me and I was so happy to see her.

I got to get her early from school and she and I had 45 minutes to kill before her brother got out of his class, so we went to get special treats from Bi-Rite.

Bagels and plums and boxes of milk with straws.

Bubbly water.

She likes it as much as I do so now I always get two bottles or she’ll drink all of mine and then burp at me and laugh.

God I love this child.

I love all the children I have gotten to work with, and I am always surprised to find that there is more love in me to hold and to give.

This family, though, they are special, and I am so blessed to get to work for them.

I got to talk to the mom about Burning Man and show off my photos.

I got to snuggle with my little lady and hold hands, I mean, there was no shortage of holding hands, she was literally on top of me from the first minute I picked her up from school.

I got to have marvelous conversations with the oldest boy and also I made him his favorite dinner.

Roast chicken.

“OOOOOOH,” he said, when he saw that I had a chicken in the pan on the counter, “roasty chicken!!”

I almost had to tell him not to touch it since it wasn’t cooked yet, it was pretty adorable.

And I got the sweetest text later in the day when I was at my internship after work, the dad sent me a message saying welcome back and thank you so much for the roast chicken and cauliflower, it was so good.

There were many “o’s” in the “so” part, it was pretty damn cute.

I made my salt and pepper roast chicken and then topped it with tarragon brown butter and I roasted off cauliflower with coconut oil, garlic, black pepper, and sea salt.

All sorts of yum.

The baby even seemed excited to see me.

It was a warm and sweet and kind welcome back.

I am super lucky to have this family and it feels like they think they are super lucky to have me.

It’s a mutual thing.

And it’s a short week at work, which is a nice thing to.

Helps to get me acclimated to being there again and helps to ease the transition into the next few weeks which will be busy weeks for the family.

I’m grateful for them, the job, the environment, the freedom to be myself.

I realize more and more how important it is to be my authentic self.

In work, in relationships, in my internship, at school.

I also realized that I don’t need Burning Man to do that any more.

That I have fully embraced my authenticity, that I live an out loud, passionate, committed, loving life.

I don’t have to run off to that thing in the desert to find expression for myself and who I am.

And thus.

I feel.

I may be saying goodbye to Burning Man.

I had a sweet burn, I had wonderful talks with many a lady out there and I feel like I deepened some relationships that I didn’t even know I was needing to deepen.

But the fact is I am not searching for anything or anyone and I don’t have to work so hard to work so hard to enjoy a vacation.

Maybe, just maybe, I want to go somewhere with a hot shower.

Maybe I want to lay on the beach.

Maybe I want to be pampered and not have to do a ton of work and organizing and fretting and figuring it out.

My God.

The amount of mental free space I currently have for not trying to figure out how to get to and from the event is mind-blowing.

I have so many other things that I would rather focus my time, attention, energy, and love on.

So.

Yes.

I believe this last burn was my swan song.

Ironic that I saw nothing burn.

I spent my time writing, getting blown up in dust storms, connecting with ladies I love, hanging out at camp and talking with people in my community.

It was perfect and I couldn’t ask for anything more.

I feel that I have been asking Burning Man to give me something for years.

And that expectation only hindered me and my growth.

Having finally seen that.

Well.

It doesn’t feel like I need to go so badly anymore.

Next year I’ve got the Aids Life Cycle ride.

And.

And!

AND!!

Graduation from my Masters in Psychology program.

The school has set a tentative commencement date.

Saturday, May 19th.

I can’t wait.

It’s going to be epic.

You should come.

Seriously!

Because you probably won’t see me at that thing in the desert next year.

Might as well catch me when I let my mortar board sail into the air with joy.

It’s going to be great.

It’s going to be amazing.

Because.

Well.

My life already is.

Luckiest girl in the world.

Luckiest damn girl.

 

Waiting

August 16, 2017

For more to be revealed.

I am waiting.

And.

Yes!

It’s happening.

Oh my God.

I have a ride to Burning Man.

Holy shit.

And the best part?

She’s a 74-year-old first time burner.

I want to have that much spunk when I’m in my 70s, let me tell you.

She and I were connected via some mutual friends who suggested to her that she contact me as someone who has experience going to Burning Man.

I said, sure, I’ll let her pick my brain, happy to share about food prep, how to get there, how to get back, how much water to bring, etc.

I had seen a post in a community forum for my camp that I will be staying with and it appeared that she was also looking for a ride to the event.

So.

Imagine my surprise when I get a message from her saying that she’s decided to not only drive to the event, but she wants to give me a ride.

What?!

I was not, in any way shape or form expecting to go to Burning Man with a 74-year-old woman virgin burner from Santa Cruz.

The playa hath provided.

Or.

God.

As the case may be.

I will not have to rent a car!

I will share drive cost, split the vehicle parking pass with her, and give her all the Burning Man tips she can possibly handle.

I can’t believe I have a ride!

I am so relieved.

And that she’s willing to go on my time frame, which allows me to go to class on Sunday.

The weekend the event opens, next weekend, holy shit, is the same weekend as my first weekend of school.

I have to go.

I’ll be in class Friday 9a.m.-4p.m.

Saturday 9a.m.-8p.m.

And.

Sunday 9a.m.-12p.m.

I’ll hop on my scooter, get home and throw myself together.

I will have to be packed and ready by 1p.m.

I’m sure there will be a little wiggle room, but the fact is we’ll want to get on the road as  soon as possible, it’s an 8-9 hour drive depending on the traffic.

Which on a Sunday really shouldn’t be too bad.

We will stop in Reno at the 24 hours SafeWay and buy ice, dry ice, water and anything that may have been forgotten in the melee to get out-of-town.

I am pretty seasoned at going, like I said, this is year eleven, and I pretty much have all my stuff ready, it’s just not all in the same spot.

And considering that I don’t live in a big space it won’t take me real long to compile everything and have it ready to go.

Really.

The packing shouldn’t take me more than an hour.

I figure I’ll suss that out this Saturday.

Get all my bins out, shake off the dust, so to speak, the dust never seems to quite go away, and get it all organized in one spot in the garage.

Depending on how much room she has in the car, which doesn’t sound like a ton, I may only take my one big cooler.

I have a large cooler and a medium size cooler.

The large one is the one I invested in for this year, it’s on wheels and holds a lot more than my medium size one, plus, it’s a much better insulated cooler than the one I’ve taken the last few years.

I have a ride!!

I am over the moon.

Aside from the fact that I get to be of service, I mean, she is an elder states(wo)man and it’s an honor and a privilege, I believe, to take someone who means a great deal to her community, to her first Burning Man.

At the age of 74.

How freaking radical is that?!

I love it.

I get to be of service and she’s really happy to have the company.

I think it is a total win/win scenario.

I also feel like she’s not going to have any issue leaving a little early from the event, I’m pretty much hoping to leave as early as possible Sunday morning and get out an on the road.

I want as much time Monday to recuperate and take 18 different super hot showers and time to wash all my clothes and get the dust out of my hair.

Wow.

I am over the moon.

I have a ride.

Such a relief.

And yes, the thought of driving my own car was a lovely thought, but not the possibility of losing a big deposit on a rental from Burning Man dust.

One day.

Perhaps sooner than later.

I will have my own car.

And I will offer someone else a ride out to that thing in the desert.

Until then.

I am happy as a clam.

A dusty one, mind you.

To have this opportunity.

Luckiest girl in the world.

Or at Burning Man.

Seriously!

It’s Not Time

July 16, 2017

To write this blog yet.

But.

Well.

It wants to be written.

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

Denial.

I should fold my laundry and put it away.

I will wash my dinner dishes.

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

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

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

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

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

Anyway.

I digress.

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

Or the plum, as the case may be.

I bought a plum today.

A beautiful, gorgeous, fat black plum.

I’m not a big fan of plums.

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

A persimmon?

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

But a plum?

Nope.

But.

Ugh.

I usually buy one around this time of year.

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

I want stone fruit I eat cherries.

I love cherries.

Or.

Yellow nectarines.

So good.

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

I know, what kind of monster am I?

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

Me?

Not so much.

But.

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

My heart in my throat.

Tears prickling my eyes.

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

I thought about him.

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

I called it “Shadrach and The Plum.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Because.

Well.

Shadrach was like that.

He would give you what you needed without question.

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

His death anniversary is coming up.

Sigh.

Ten years now.

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

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

How can I be of service?

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

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

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

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

I did.

And I do.

I still hang in there.

I still show up.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Although, of course, how could I know?

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

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

That was the last thing I said to him.

Well.

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

I shared my story.

And.

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

I mean.

Fuck.

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

I hugged her again.

I’m a hugger.

And.

Told her to call me and lean in.

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

Well.

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

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

I still miss my friend.

He taught me so much.

Not just how to love.

But.

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

A lesson that took many years to sink in.

But in it did.

So.

Tonight.

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

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

All the things.

All the love.

And.

Always.

The best.

The sweetest, coldest, juiciest plums for you.

Always.

 

 

A Good Cry

July 12, 2017

And then back to living.

I saw my therapist today.

Yes.

A psychotherapist has a therapist.

Especially since I am a therapist in training, although, let me tell you, I felt like a therapist today, seeing clients, filing paperwork, checking all the boxes, circling all the things that needed to be circled and doing the work.

I can get super caught up in how much longer this road is and how the hell am I ever, I mean, ever, going to get 3,000 hours, but I can’t, I just can’t focus on that.

One hour at a time.

Fortunately I have some practice living a day at a time and when I reflect on how those days add up and all my accomplishments have come in small increments, but come they have, then I don’t have to get too caught up in the numbers.

It’s just a numbers game and I’m doing it the best I can as fast as I can without killing myself in the process.

I mean.

I still have to process all my own stuff, plus carrying around my clients in my head.

I do that now.

I have them in my head and sometimes I will think about them and once in a while I have a momentary flash, a connection, a thought or feeling and a little aha moment, that feels pretty special.

But.

Yes.

I do have to process my own stuff too, I have to look at my own emotional life sift through the chafe and dander and see what is needing to seen and what is needing to be let go.

I knew.

For instance.

I needed to titrate my social media intake today.

I woke up a bit emotionally hung over.

I cried a lot yesterday.

On and off all day, with one really big cry in the evening when I was talking with my person on the phone and going over the shock of what had happened and how the death of my friend had not just hit me, but many others, the numbers of people who showed up to be present for each other and for the family of the deceased was extraordinary.

Not to mention all the people in so many other places he had affected, who’s lives he had touched–Portland, Seattle, Memphis, New York, Los Angeles, Austin, Oakland.

Gah.

I can hear him saying “West Oakland” in my head and such joy at his goofiness suffuses me.

For he was joyful.

Oh sure, sad and fucked up and scared and young and insecure, who hasn’t been those things, but also bright and kind and funny and so there for you and warm and sweet and musically talented.

Oh the music the world has lost.

So.

Seeing all the pictures, all the photographs, all the expressions of heartbreak, my social media feed was just awash in tears and sadness.

I really had to not look after a while.

And I knew when I woke up having felt puffy eyed and sluggish and a bit off kilter that I wasn’t going to allow myself to wallow in the emotionalism of social media.

I needed coffee, some ibuprofen, and a good breakfast.

Sounds like a hangover, right?

Except instead of booze or blow it was emotion.

And as I expressed to my therapist today after plopping down on her couch and telling her I was going to cry and then immediately doing so, I also realized that some, a lot of the emotion I had in my body, on my heart, in my head, was not mine.

It was the communities.

And I’m grateful.

Really grateful.

I got to feel it and touch into it.

But.

I could not continue swimming in it any longer.

So I talked it out, processed it, linked it to other things, made traverses, expressed emotions, cried a lot in the beginning, but by the middle of my session I was going other places.

Oh.

It was all interconnected.

I am good at making connections.

And it was honest and insightful.

I am pretty good at those things too.

Not always.

I am a work in progress, people, don’t expect perfection, I am far, far, far from perfect.

But.

I am loving and kind and sweet, I would hazard.

I am compassionate and more importantly, I am empathetic.

Sometimes too much and I get overextended and I give too much, I have been trained well in that way of life, being my mom’s caretaker, taking care of my sister, my oldest niece, an ex-boyfriend of five years who might as well have been my mother for all the caretaking he required, but I have grown a lot.

Oh, so fucking much.

And I know when I need to caretake and when the other person needs to do the job their own damn self.

And there’s no irony that I am in the care taking profession.

A. I am a nanny, I care take all day long.

B. I am a psychotherapist.

But it’s not my job to care take as a therapist and that’s a really intriguing thing for me.

I am also not there to make my client feel better, to sugar coat, or to shoo away uncomfortable feelings.

Uncomfortable feelings need to happen.

There’s nothing wrong with them.

I like to look at them as signposts, directions, “hey this thing you do, it doesn’t work for you.”

For instance.

There’s nothing wrong with anxiety or depression.

They are signs that the way things are going, the tools being used for living, well they might not be working so well.

I mean.

Booze was one hell of an amazing solution for me.

Until.

It was not.

So was cocaine.

My God.

I remember the first time I did a line of good blow.

It was like I had all the answers.

ALL of them.

And I was fine with the way those answers were conveyed and I rather scoffed at a friends warning that perhaps I like that drug a little more than was perhaps healthy.

Um.

Yeah.

But when those solutions failed I had to find a better way, a different way and there was depression there and there was anxiety and all sorts of other juicy psychological terms and conditions.

And slowly.

One step at a time.

I got to change what I did.

What I ingested.

What I thought and felt.

For something else.

I was given a significant solution to my problem.

Of course.

I won’t tell that to a client, they have to find their own way, I think that I am a mirror, an attachment figure, a person who can and will have to withstand the disappointments and anger and discomfort of others so that they can learn how to use that information and devise their own solution.

Therapy is not for symptom relief.

Just like alcohol, ultimately, and every other drug I took, weren’t for symptom relief.

I had to find a different way.

And I did.

And today when I walked out of my therapist office I felt a lightness and a joy.

I am alive.

I am not guilty for being alive

I have so much joy and passion in my life, such happiness, I felt light and though there is still sadness for the loss of this beautiful person, I have also a deeper connection to how alive I want to be and how alive I am allowed to be.

To be alive, in this moment, sober, and free.

It is amazing.

Happy.

Joyous.

Moved beyond words for my experiences and this amazing place I have been lead to.

Grateful.

So very grateful.

Thank you for being a part of my journey.

May it bless you too.

Seasons Of Grief

July 11, 2017

“I know we’ve never been very close,” she said to me, touching my arm, “but how you are walking through this, I just wanted to let you know, it is brave and beautiful and there are a lot of people sending you love.”

I gasped.

I wasn’t expecting that sentiment.

She continued, “and I know it’s probably really hard to understand, but sometimes,” she paused, “sometimes God breaks our hearts so that they can hold more love.”

I burst into tears.

She hugged me and went her own way.

I see her now and again.

Here and there, in rooms of churches, on a folding chair, with a group of acquaintances, a smile, a wave, but not much else.

I saw her tonight.

I touched her arm.

She hugged me, we both cried.

Our community lost someone today.

Someone very dear.

Someone who shined very hard when he was with us.

He was taken far too young.

I have known him for eleven years, I met him early on in my days of recovery.

I kept seeing him in my mind’s eye tonight, when he was so new, so fresh, such a kid, such a little fucking punk, with this huge heart and pretty face, and dirty skinny black jeans and his punk rock attitude and dangling cigarette sneer on his mouth.

All hiding a very scared frightened kid.

All that bravado and machismo hiding vast reservoirs of tenderness.

I was thinking about a particular afternoon.

It was sunny, we were all in the courtyard of this church at 15th and Julien in the Mission.

He was in Giants regalia and so was Silas and so was another fellow and they all had their arms wrapped around each other, and the smiles, the grins, the love radiating off them was glorious to behold.

I kept seeing that in my mind today and the tears would just start and how I got through the day without telling my boss I don’t know, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, and the kids wanted to play with me and I wasn’t the most present.  I kept getting texts and messages and phone calls and reaching out to people in the community.

I had to stay the fuck off social media after a while, it was just a constant stream of his face in photographs, so many of his goofy, stupid, grinning face.

The last time I saw him I smacked him.

“Stay, why don’t you,” followed by a hug, and a “knock it off our you’re going to die.”

He laughed.

I laughed.

We hugged again.

He died.

He died last night.

He over dosed.

I cried.

This morning, literally in my oatmeal.

I got the news and I was shocked.

Perhaps not surprised, I mean, I wish I could say that it was more of a surprise, but I knew what he did, I had heard his story so many times.

“Oh, yeah, gah, shooting up with a dirty rig and piss water from a public toilet down by the Civic Center, sticking the needle in my groin cuz I couldn’t find a vein.”

I countered with, “doing so much blow I throw up after snorting a line, all over my blow, so I let it dry out and I cut it, chopped it, and snorted it.”

High fives all around.

There is a kind a levity and humor, gallows humor, that comes with sobriety sometimes.

And joy.

So much joy.

His face when he smiled, when he played music.

So much fucking talent blown.

Ugh.

I remember loaning him some money, I can’t even remember when or for what and I just told him to not bother paying me back, “keep it and when you’re fucking famous and world touring you give me a backstage pass.”

“Deal!”  He said, “I love you, I would have given you a backstage pass anyway.”

I hope he’s got the best backstage pass right now.

I hope he’s playing up there with Hendrix and Jeff Buckley, with Lemmy from Motorhead, with all his favorites, just fucking jamming the fuck out.

Happy and smoking a cigarette and woo’ing the ladies.

He was a pretty boy, he was.

It hit home today.

And I was reminded of another thing that a friend said to me when my best friend died, almost ten years now, his anniversary fast approaches, at the end of this month, that “grief is not linear.”

It does not have a time frame.

It does not have a schedule.

It does not have an end or a beginning.

It will come in waves.

I saw a man tonight who used to work with my best friend and we both just sobbed on each other, it was too damn familiar, all the faces, all the people pressed together, all the tears.

I looked at him and said, “you better stick around, you just better.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” he replied.  “I heard the news and I thought of _______________ and I heard your voice and I just couldn’t not be here, I’m so glad you’re here.”

So many hugs tonight.

So many tears.

So many friends from my early days in recovery and all the memories and joys of seeing them.

And.

A reunion.

An old friend who let me go a long time ago was there.

We’d had a falling out of sorts, I don’t even know exactly all the details anymore, but we’d been best friends after my best friend died, she walked me through so much of that process and grief and we were super tight for two or three years after that and then a misunderstanding, a communication that misfires, conflict that we tried to resolve and just couldn’t.

She saw me.

I almost didn’t recognize her.

She stood up, we hugged and we both burst into tears.

There were a lot of “I’m sorry’s” and a lot of “so good to see you.”

We exchanged numbers.

She just friend’ed me again on Facebook.

Desmond.

You little fucker.

I really did not need you to die to reunite with my old friend, but I’ll take it as a parting gift, my sweet boy, that your passing brought so many people together tonight.

There were moments today when the tears wouldn’t stop falling and then.

Then.

Oh.

There were moments, so very many, when I was exquisitely alive, so alive I almost felt guilty.

Almost.

This life is so precious.

I will not waste it.

I will cram as much as I can in.

I will live.

I promise you.

I will live.

And I will love.

With all my heart.

So fucking hard.

So.

Hard.

I promise you.

All the life you did not live.

I will live for you.

And then some.

Promise.

Almost Got It

June 10, 2017

I thought I was social media dark on my blog last night when I posted.

Except.

Ha.

I was still linked to Twitter.

Figured it out pretty quick, went and deleted off Twitter, and it didn’t link to Facecrack and now, well, I’ve disconnected any sharing on the blog.

It’s just you and me and a couple of friends.

Shhhh.

Part of me want to let out some big scary secret.

But there’s no big scary thing to let out of the bag.

I am a pretty happy lady.

I had today off.

What?

I know.

A Friday.

Off.

My family that I work for is still super sick and I got the message last night after I logged off my blog that they thought it better for me to take off today as well and they’d see me Monday.

I have to say I was sorry for them, but also so grateful, I really don’t know what I would have done had I gotten a severe flu bug.

I hate vomiting.

I mean really bad.

So I’ll happily take my pass and take the day off.

I didn’t sleep in, I got up and went to an early yoga class.

But after that I did take a really mellow day for myself.

I balanced the check book, paid the phone bill, did lots of writing, got in some laundry.

Then I scooted over to Nordstrom Rack and spent a lot of time trying on clothes that didn’t work for me.

I had some high hopes, but the retail therapy was not to be had.

Then again, it wasn’t a total loss, I got a bra, two tank tops, two pairs of panties, some body lotion and some mascara.

It was worth the trip, just to pick up a couple of staples.

Sure.

I had hoped for a new summery dress or maybe a pair of pretty shoes, but fact is, I have bought myself some nice things recently and I don’t really need to do more shopping.

I was looking for something to keep my brain occupied.

It turns out that a woman I have been working with for the past three and a half years is no longer available to work with me and we had a long talk on the phone as I stood by my scooter in the parking lot at Nordstrom Rack.

The blue sky coming through the sky light, the cars parking, the sound of a shopping cart going by and someone who loves me saying, I have loved working with you but it’s time for you to find someone else.

I have never been let go quite like this.

In fact.

I have never been let go.

I have always been the one to find another person to work with.

It was definitely an experience.

Now.

The funny thing is, not funny haha, but interesting, odd, is it odd?

Or God?

I think.

Well.

I believe.

It was God.

As I have prayed a lot over the last week about the relationship.

Something was said to me last week when we met that hurt my feelings deeply and though there was some repair in the moment when she realized how hurt I was, there was still an underlying wounding that I carried with me for days.

I just didn’t know what to make of it.

It came out in my therapy session Tuesday morning.

And.

Well.

Yes.

As a matter of fact.

I bawled my damn eyes out.

Then I worked through it.

Then.

Later that day when I was checking in with someone else.

I got mad.

I mean.

ANGRY.

I was yelling cunt in a church courtyard, so yeah, maybe livid might even be an emotional marker.

I did calm down.

I did write a lot of inventory.

Then I sat on it for a couple of days and really just let myself calm the fuck down.

Thank God for getting to yoga three times in a row this week.

Totally took the edge off.

That praying and writing and more writing and then I did it.

I called, left a message, said what I was feeling and let go of the results.

The results?

I was let go.

And I have no regrets.

Not a one.

I was honest and I know that there was no bitterness in the parting and I’m grateful for the time we got to work together and I’m grateful that I get to have a new experience with another person.

Before it was happening I had felt this dread and sadness and overwhelm, how the fuck am I going to find another person to work with?

I’m too busy.

But.

When it happened.

I knew that it was right.

And I knew that I wasn’t being dropped.

If anything it was God doing for me what I could not do for myself.

I get to have a new experience with a new person and I will get to grow and find out new things and have a new perspective and until that person comes into my life, I’m held by my community and I am not worried.

I am loved.

I am enough.

And I learned a lot.

Some of which I can’t share here as it’s just not my place.

But.

Suffice to say there was deep learning here.

And a deep gratitude for my community and for the people I talked to over the last few days and today and for feeling held and loved and having that love reflected back to me.

I know that I’m still going to have some feelings.

Abandonment.

Not lovable.

Not enough.

Yada, yada, yada.

Victim.

Martyr.

But.

They will pass.

And I will come out the other side stronger and better and more graceful.

Whenever God has “taken” something or someone from me I have been given the gift that he was waiting to put into my hands but I was too busy holding onto something that didn’t work out of some misplaced idea that I could fix it and make it better.

Not realizing God had the solution right in front of me.

My hands are empty.

I am now able to receive.

My heart is ready.

I will walk through this.

I have to.

There is not another choice.

There is only the present.

And all the gifts inherent.

I am loved.

And that is enough.

It always is.

I’m Done!

May 1, 2017

I’m done!

I’m done!

I am done.

I wrote my last paper for the semester today and I got it done faster than I thought I would, my friend in the cohort told me it was going to be a much easier paper to write than Trauma, that it would, in effect, write itself.

That was exactly my experience.

Almost spooky how it wrote itself.

Nine pages, 2,832 words.

It took about two hours to write, maybe two and a half.

I was shocked how quickly it happened and I had absolutely no problems or sticky spots, it just flowed out of my fingers and I was able to finish and have a really nice late lunch out on the back patio.

I did my typical Sunday gig and roasted a chicken and made a pot of brown rice while I was doing the writing.

I was rewarded with a yummy lunch eaten al fresco under the warm sun.

I was stunned, actually, I still am a little.

It all happened.

It all got done.

I even, shhh, read a little today after my meal and it was pleasure reading!

Holy shit.

I haven’t done that in a while.

I don’t have to read anything for school for the next weekend of classes, I’m done with the reading, I’m done with the papers.

I sent in my Couples Therapy paper last Sunday and did my Trauma paper yesterday and my Community Mental Health paper today, the Trauma and CMH paper I will be handing in hard copies of.

I will do a small presentation of my paper to my Trauma class but I don’t actually know that we are going to be doing a whole lot of work in my other classes.

I feel like I’ll just be floating through next weekend, just showing up and turning in the papers and making attendance for my classes.

I won’t have to be doing any catch up work or reading, I won’t have any papers or projects due after the final weekend.

All I have to do is show up and turn in the papers.

I can take it easy the rest of the weekend.

I won’t skip out on the classes, mostly because I want to see my friends and since I am paying for the experience, I’m going to go and have some experiences.

I am off to my second hour of supervision tomorrow morning before work and that’s really about my only school obligation for a few weeks until I start the internship.

I made it through!

God it feels good.

I did yoga today too, even though I am not a fan of the teacher that was the substitute, I showed up and got some stretching in and put in my time, it’s a practice I need to keep practicing.

I am breathing and being in my body and it helps to do that before I write my papers, takes the edge off, gets the anxiety out of my body and frees up my mind to do the work.

I am grateful for the little yoga studio in my hood.

I am grateful for my hood.

Seeing people I know, being seen.

Going to the coop, having dinner tonight at Thai Cottage.

I had a date as well.

We went to Thai Cottage.

There was kissing, but I did not invite him in.

I am actually quite proud of myself for that.

And I can’t actually tell if I want to pursue it or not.

I liked him, he’s attractive, smart, tattoos, sober.

But I went in and out of being interested.

The kissing was nice.

But it wasn’t the key to unlock the door to my studio.

I’ll have to go on another date.

I’m not usually this ambivalent.

It’s usually a yes or a no.

This guy is a maybe.

I’m not worried about it, no, not right now, I do have a lot happening this upcoming week, supervision tomorrow, therapy Tuesday, doing the deal, connecting with ladies to read books over tea, work, then school over the weekend.

Thursday one of my girl friends from the cohort will spend the night with me and we’ll head off to class together Friday.

And next week.

Paris.

Oh my God.

I can actually see getting on a plane now that I finished up all the final papers for class.

It’s not so surreal.

It’s happening.

I am so very excited.

It’s going to be so nice to have ten days off.

I ran into a friend in the fellowship yesterday and told him about my Paris trip, he’s a big Francophile and a photographer and his photos are on the walls of the cafe I was at, most of them alleyways in Paris, and it was with much excitement that I shared I was going.

He asked me to send Paris a kiss from him.

We talked about the museum pass and he said, “you got to get the three-day for sure.”

I’m actually thinking about getting the four-day, I’m going to be there for ten days, well eight when you take out the travel time, but still I can definitely do four full days of museums.

The other four days, Sacre Couer, The cemetary in the Montmartre, Pere LaChaise Cemetery, the markets, the broquantes, some clothes shopping, a tattoo from Abraxas, getting lost and then found in the Marais, walks along the Seine, the Luxembourg gardens, the Tuilleries, maybe a pop into Le Chat Noir and do the Paris open mic scene for old times sake.

There will be plenty for me to do.

And I get to do it without worry about school or internships or work, it’s all lined up.

I have a great job, a good internship, I’m wrapping up my second year of my Master’s degree, it’s all happening.

It feels so good to have these papers put to rest.

No stress for the rest of the week.

Just showing up for my responsibilities and recovery.

For friends.

And fun.

Definitely can squeeze a little more fun in there for sure.

I got my papers done!!

So.

Over the moon.

Seriously.

Home

February 12, 2017

Sweet home.

I’m not there yet.

Even though I am home.

That’s not the home I am talking about.

“Welcome home,” he shouted into the dusty air, “ring the bell.”

I rang the bell.

I skipped the rolling around in the dust though.

Fuck that shit.

It’s dusty enough up in this mess.

Yup.

I’m planning my return trip to the playa.

It’s a little early, I suppose, but I am going to get my little early ducks in a row.

I’ve decided that I am not working this year.

I am going to go and just have fun.

I am going to stay with a different camp than I have before, I’ve been a member of the camp since it’s inception and have spent time there, and have friends there, and one of them mentioned to me that it was time to come out and camp with them this year and not work and really enjoy the festival.

The art.

The joy.

The get about and the get around.

I found out my when my first weekend of classes will be for the fall semester.

Last year they fell on the same weekend of the event and I was not able to go for the full amount of time.

I went up early and left early.

I was only there four days.

It was lovely and I’m super glad I went, but it was not enough and I didn’t get to see any of the burns because I left Wednesday morning of the event.

By plane.

There is that.

It was one hell of an amazing experience to fly out of Burning Man.

I don’t know if that is necessarily happening, but I’m going to let it all fall together.

I decided in my heart to go last Sunday and then I did some research and discovered that the low-income ticket application will open in a few days.

I need to update my profile and the minute it opens, February 15th, I will be applying for it.

One of the big reasons that have always worked the event is to get into the event.

But.

I don’t want to work it this year.

I want to actually go and not be tied down and when I researched a little I discovered I could definitely afford the low-income ticket and I will apply to it.

Then yesterday I discovered that the first weekend of the fall semester for my cohort will be the weekend before the event.

Thank God.

I can go!

Well.

I won’t quite say that yet.

I still have to clear it with work.

I will ask on Monday if it’s a possibility.

I already have a lot of my vacation time tied up to my trip to Paris in May, but I do have some days that are not accounted for and I want to use them for the event.

I may have to do some negotiation with the family in regards to it, but I think that they will be amenable to me going.

I sure do hope so.

It was me doing a happy dance today when I told my friend before class that I found out the weekend dates for the fall and that there was not a conflict with school, it set my day, I was super pumped.

Granted that feeling dissipated, class work was challenging and showing up for it and being present for the material made me completely forget about the event, about travel times and dates and plans and things and stuff and more things.

But.

When I got home and said “hello house,” I smiled, my eyes drawn to the print on the wall, a photo shot from above, from an airplane above the event and I remembered quickly.

Home.

And it will be the ten-year anniversary of my best friends passing and me taking his ashes out to the Temple.

It will be my 11th burn in a row.

It is a part and parcel of me.

There are experiences that I have had there that I cannot rationalize or explain.

Love and light and dirt and dust and spiritual transmogrification.

So many times.

Not just once, but time and time and time again.

Dancing the tango with a beautiful 24-year-old man from Norway who was tall and blonde and yes, heh, Nordic, with a gorgeous sweet accent and the bliss of being kissed under the stars, bent backward and kissed as though every song of the stars above depended upon the breath in and out of our bodies as we melted into the dust.

Riding out to the trash fence at sunrise on the art car “A Horse With No Name” and seeing the shots of fire thrown out against the playa, piercing and bright and bathing the dust with golden smote, softening the blue smoke bathed mountains with flames of light.

Running into a friend unexpectedly in a church pew by an organ and telling him a fairy tale in the mid afternoon heat and swelter.

Reciting poetry underneath the upraised arms of the Man and the face of the man when I looked into his eyes.

“Do you know how easy it is to fall in love with you when you recite poetry,” he said.

Why do you think I recite poetry?

I want you to love me.

And somehow.

I don’t know how.

I don’t need to know how.

I find myself easier in my person, able to let that love in, to be scaffold with it, to allow myself to be exactly who I am, hair bedecked with flowers, standing tall in cowboy boots with polka dot socks and my crinoline blowing in the breeze, my umbrella of poesy flowers opened to shelter me from the sun, face bedecked with smiles.

I am somehow more me and entirely at peace with who I am and how I am and it’s not so weird, it’s just me, and I’m not that unique, I mean, did you see what she was wearing?

Or not wearing.

Of course I want to go home.

It’s home.

Anchored in between the Black Rock Mountains and the Calico’s, underneath the rising moon and the setting sun, the howl of love that whisper whips across the playa until we are all crying out of our aloneness a coming together, a community, an expression of magic, yes.

That.

Magic.

May I always be a part of that kind of love and mystery.

And.

Yeah.

Fingers crossed.

I’ve cleared the first hurdle, school conflict, now to ask off from work for event.

Then.

I’ll get a ticket after that.

And.

Soon.

I’ll see you in the dust.

I’ll be there to welcome you home.

I promise.

 

Write Your Own

February 1, 2017

Happy ending.

He told me yesterday after giving me a stupendous hug.

“You’re a writer, write your own story,” he added, then, “you’re going to help so many people, Carmen, you really are.”

I felt bowled over with his love and confidence in me.

It is so very nice to have friends.

It is amazing to have the fellowship and community I have.

“You’re going to be in Oakland Saturday night?” She asked on the phone today when I had a moment at the park while my charge was playing in the sand box. “Of course I’ll go, I’ll pick you up from the BART station, we can grab some food and catch up.”

Yes.

Oh yes please.

Community.

Love.

Friends.

All the things that I need to get me through the day and through the week.

And it’s been a good week.

I had a great day at work today.

I felt super helpful.

I got to run errands, pick up one of my charges from school while the mom was at the one month old check up for the baby at the doctors, my little ladybug charge went with mom and I got to pick up big brother at the school.

We had a wonderful chat, ended up running into a classmate on the way to the train, detoured and climbed the hill to Dolores Park.

My office with a spectacular view.

The boys ran around the park for an hour, then I got a text from the mom, and headed back to the house, stopping at the little organic market on the way back to the house.

I was greeted with much affection and hugs, I got loads of hugs today from my charges.

Such sweetness.

And.

Oh.

It happened.

It finally happened.

“Oh!  Can you take the burping machine,” the mom asked, handing me off the baby, to go help the little lady bug in the bathroom with a sudden need for mom.

It happened so fast and unexpectedly and it was just divine.

She passed me the sweet, warm, soft bundle of baby.

Oh.

Oh my.

The smell.

Oh, God.

My first thought, “I want one.”

So bad, God, I want a baby.

Tears welled up in my eyes and I breathed his scent in deeply.

All babies have that scent that milky, sweet, skin soft, bread baked with love and dusted with buttered pixie dust.

I can’t quite describe it, powdery, warm, human, I was lustful with the longing to have one of my own immediately, now, now, now and the tears, oh they held, hung up in the bottom lashes of my eyes, trembling just there, but never quite cresting to slide down the round tops of my cheeks.

I turned to the window, the huge, gigantic wall of glass with the entire skyline of the city spread out below, the sun spinning it’s last light a golden crust of fire illuminating the glass buildings and spraying red gold brilliance into the heavens, and shifted the baby up on my shoulder a little bit.

He sighed, gurgled, and settled.

I patted his back softly, I crooned my little song.

I have a lullaby that I always sing to my charges, it’s a version of Hush Little Baby Don’t Say A Word, that I have adapted for me, the nanny, not the mom, not the dad, to sing.

Hush little baby, don’t say a word/I’m going to buy you a mockingbird

And if that mockingbird won’t sing/I’m going to buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring turns brass/I’m going to buy you a looking class.

And if that looking glass should break/I’m going to bake you a chocolate cake.

So hush little baby, don’t say a world/I’m going to buy you a mockingbird.

Then.

I croon a hum.

Not a song, no words, just a soft repetetive hum, up and down, soft and low.

And I sway, foot to foot, a rocking motion that seems innate inside my body, so natural and comfortable I don’t even realize I’m doing it.

I remember once sitting next to someone while I was rocking a charge to sleep in my arms and sitting there, in a folding chair, listening to what I needed to hear and attending to the little boy child in my arms, an eighteen month old who was teething pretty hard, and just swaying in that chair, that warm lump of child draped across my breast, and the man sitting next to me whispered, “I think that little boy might be the luckiest male alive.”

“I wish someone would rock me in their arms until I fell asleep while singing me lullabies.”

It wasn’t until much later that I realized he was hitting on me, I was rather stupid at that point of my recovery.

Sometimes I have blinders on.

Anyway.

I stood there, swaying back and forth and crooning my little wordless tune and he sighed, and melted asleep.

Tears again, but not so heavy, just a misting on my face and the mom and daughter came out of the bathroom and mom said, “oh, he fell asleep!  Would you mind holding him while I finish up dinner?”

Would I mind?

“I obviously hate this,” I said and smiled, my heart so happy to be holding this little mite of a human being, this precious cargo entrusted to me, such simple delight.

Such a gift.

I held him for an hour, he slept high on my breast, held in the crook on my right arm, warm head nestled into the curve of my neck, tucked just there under my chin, soft and warm and perfumed with all things love.

And.

It got better.

I mean.

How it happened I could not have orchestrated.

I could not have directed, it just happened.

The family ate dinner, dad was late coming back from work, and they sat down.

They chatted and laughed and we shared the view.

The mom and the little girl ran off to a bedroom to hunt up a library book and the oldest brother approached me, “can you read me this story?”

We pulled out a big chair, I sat down gentle, with his baby brother still sleeping on my shoulder, then he crawled into my lap, I put my arm around him and he settled into my lap, curled up in a boy ball, his feet in stripe socks nestled on my knees.

I read him the story.

His brother slept on my right shoulder, he cuddled into my left.

Then his sister came by and leaned into the chair.

I reached up, stroked her corn silk hair and smiled.

I was completely surrounded with love and trust and sweetness and vulnerability.

It was amazing.

Then someone poked someone and someone else pulled someone else’s hair and I had to settle them down and point to the baby, but we settled back in and I read the story until it was time to go.

Magic.

It was extraordinary.

And I carried that magic with me, a bubble of gossamer love and light, the cusp of the new moon sailing off toward Venus, the midnight blue threads of clouds scudded  with white bottoms and grey satin shimmers.

I felt a sail, a sloop, a crooning slip of love sending me home on the rails of city lights.

Write your own happy ending.

Write your own fairy tale.

Tie it up with a black grosgrain ribbon and hang it from the star shining above the new moon.

Kiss it into being and tuck it under your pillow to dream upon.

Give it pumpkin colored tulips in a tall Mason jar.

Spin it colored pastel and light like a globe of hope and desire.

Overcome the old sad story you’ve told yourself all your life.

And write your own damn happy ending.

I mean it.

Just do it.

Right.

Fucking.

NOW.

 

 

 


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