Posts Tagged ‘Cuba’

One More Week

August 12, 2019

Of freedom.

From school.

Which is fucking hilarious as I carted around two gigantic text books today on the off chance of being somewhere I was going to read.

I learned to always carry my books with me, because inevitably the day will come when I don’t, (this past Saturday) when a client no shows and I have down time to read.

Or I’m at work and unexpectedly get time to read.

I probably won’t at all be able to do that at work tomorrow, I just don’t see it happening, but sometimes it does and as my time is super precious I use whatever I can get.

I have finished one of my text books for the fall semester and started in on another one and I am simultaneously reviewing a few articles for the class I will be guest lecturing on the 21st of September and reading a book for that class as well.

I did question myself a little about that today as I sat in a training in Berkeley for my agency, what am I doing teaching a class too this semester?!

But, I feel it’s good for me to do and I’m excited for the topic and the few people, outside of school, I have run it by, really like listening to me talk about it.

I find that encouraging, if someone who doesn’t have a background in psychology finds it fascinating, those who are pursuing the Master’s degree should like it too.

Or so I hope.

Regardless of whether they do or not,  I am learning as I prepare to teach.

Which is always how it goes.

Want to learn something on a deeper level?

Teach it.

I have had that experience over and over and over again.

And I’m grateful to get to go before an incoming Master’s cohort who are just beginning their journey and say here I am, in my second year of a PhD program, as a licensed Associate Marriage and Family Therapist with a burgeoning private practice.

I get to model what they can become and that’s really a sweet gift to give back.

I didn’t know how much work it was going to be and I’m pretty glad I didn’t, I did know I was right where I was supposed to be and I want to share all the things that I have gotten to learn over the past few years.

An hour and a half lecture will not encapsulate that, but it should be enough time to lecture on Reverie, which I find totally fascinating.

Reverie is something that happens in sessions where daydreams, wayward thoughts, fantasies, visions, intuitions, come to the therapist.

The first time it happened to me in a session, a dyad at school with a classmate, I got spooked.

I thought I had drifted off.

But there was something so potent about it, the image that came to mind, that I mentioned it to my professor who then told me that I had experienced  reverie and that it was clinically significant.

We discussed what I saw, how it was clinically relevant, and how to make an intervention around it.

It was fascinating.

It still is and there’s lots to talk about, and I won’t bore you with it at this time, since I don’t know that you’re really here to listen to me practice my lecture in Psychodynamics.

Heh.

Who knows why you’re here anyway.

I don’t.

I mean.

This blog has been dark for almost two years now, maybe actually it has been a little more than two years.

I don’t link it to social media.

I don’t post it anywhere.

This is just me noodling away at my keyboard.

There are perhaps of handful of folks that still follow me out there who know me, but most of the people that read this have no idea who I am.

Once in a while it gets read a whole bunch and I’ll be curious who has discovered it and why is it so fascinating.

Recently it was getting a ton of reads in, of all places, Hong Kong.

No idea why.

But for a few days, on and off for the last couple of months, literally hundreds of my blogs were being read in Hong Kong.

That was kind of cool to see.

I don’t know how many blogs I’m going to get out before the semester starts, I’ll be starting with some new clients this week and trying to get some homework done before the intensive.

One of my classes doesn’t have the syllabus up yet, which always makes me nervous, but the other two do and there is going to be some major work and a lot of reading to do this semester just for these two classes.

But.

I am not going to stop blogging.

Especially since I am going to actually try to incorporate my blog into a “Work In Progress” assignment for my class in Arts Based Research.

I know that I won’t be able to do a blog a day like I still managed to do with my Master’s degree.

That became really evident I am sure when my blogs took a total nose dive once I began my PhD and started building up my private practice.

The blog took such a hit.

But.

I have never stopped writing and I’m going to keep sending out these little missives to the Universe whenever I can.

It helps me to keep my writing chops and it helps me process all the things.

Like not speaking or being in contact with my ex and what that feels like.

Good and super hard all at the same time and scary and sad.

Or thinking about the time I was in Cuba, just recently and had an overwhelming spiritual experience at a Catholic church where Santoria is practiced.

Floods of tears, praying on my knees, and asking for forgiveness in front of a black Madonna.

Or when I was walking the cobblestone streets of Old Havana with my hair up, a long white dress on, a bright turquoise parasol protecting me from the sun and the feeling of awe in wonder at who I get to be in this life and where I get to go.

And.

Where I get to go home to.

San Francisco.

I am still here.

Hanging on at the edge of the city.

The ledge of the Western seaboard.

Two blocks from the Ocean.

The moon rise and the the dark breach of universe turning above me.

I am so fucking grateful to be alive.

It’s ok that I got my heart broke.

It’s ok that my rent’s ridiculous.

It’s ok that I’m still a nanny.

I get to do all these miraculous things.

It’s ok that I’m busy with my PhD and nervous to teach the class.

I get to do all these things.

Because.

I am graced.

Happy.

Joyous.

And so very.

Very.

Very.

Free.

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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!

 

First Book Ordered

July 26, 2019

And summer is done.

Well.

Not quite.

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

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

I got back Tuesday night at 7a.m.

My god.

My bed was so nice to get into.

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

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

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

It is one thing to know about the Cuban embargo.

It is another thing entirely to experience it.

The country is poor.

I mean.

Really poor.

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

So much.

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

Horses and carts people.

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

ON THE FREAKING HIGHWAY.

More horses then cars.

I am not kidding.

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

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

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

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

It was fucking hot.

It was humid.

So humid.

My hair did some batshit crazy things.

And I was constantly sweating.

Er.

Glowing.

I was glowing.

A lot.

 

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

I also learned to wear my hair up real fast.

Real fast.

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

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

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

But mostly, I used the umbrella for sun shade.

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

In fact.

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

I had to bring everything that I wanted or needed.

There were no stores to buy sunblock or extra toothpaste.

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

Everyone buys bottled water.

Everyone.

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

I mean.

500 year old cobblestones ain’t clean.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Aside, Che Guevero’s given name is Ernesto.

 

This is Cafe Bohemia.

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

A lot.

My poop turned orange.

I know.

But it did!

I have never had orange poo before.

Anyway.

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

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

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

It was a fucking oasis.

An air conditioned oasis.

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

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

I was the queen of beverages at every meal.

San Pellegrino.

Mango frappe.

Cafe con leche.

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

OOOOOH.

So damn good.

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

I was in heaven.

 

Mas Habana was my little haven.

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

Also black market.

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

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

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

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

I am a good tipper.

Once a waitress.

Always a waitress.

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

So more pictures to come.

And more tales to tell.

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

Promise.

Getting Closer

July 12, 2019

I am three days away from my trip to Havana, Cuba.

Three days.

Where the hell is my damn filtration water bottle and Cuban Spanish/English phrasebook?

Really Amazon.

This is not the time to drop the ball.

Of course, I have only myself to blame, but it is a little hilarious that these are the only things missing from my bag of stuff.

I am really set to go.

And.

I am not too worried about the phrase book and the water bottle.

They will show tomorrow.

I leave Sunday.

I was proactive today knowing that I wouldn’t want to have to deal with annoying things and took care of getting my laundry done.

I almost wore a dress today that I was planning on bringing to Cuba and I thought, um no, don’t sabotage the summery, warm weather, it’s even going to be warm at night, dress, for a foggy grey San Francisco day.

And then not have time to wash it before packing and heading out.

I wore a dress today that will not be coming to Cuba and did laundry and did a tiny bit of grocery shopping and really, I have nothing to do but see clients the next couple of days and get my nails done.

I am really excited.

I haven’t really been on vacation since last July when I went to France.

I am ready.

It’s been really nice having off from my nanny job, but I have been still seeing clients and I have more clients then I did this time last year.

I now have sixteen clients!

I am really happy to report that.

But with the extra clients comes extra supervision, extra paper work, extra scheduling.

Fortunately I finally got my phone and my laptop calendar’s synced up so that when I make a change on my computer it updates my phone and vice versa.

Such a huge relief.

Sometimes my calendar looks like I’m playing a game of Jenga or Tetris.

Tetris for sure.

I have eight more clients to see in the next two days.

One dinner with my person tomorrow night.

One manicure/pedicure.

And a night with hanging out with some girlfriends or doing fellowship Saturday.

Supplies are bought.

Although I would love to get a market basket purse, I have not found one that works well for travel and I won’t be bringing the one I bought in Aix-en-Provence last July, it is just too precious to stuff underneath the seat in front of me on an airplane.

I realized the other day that I was unnecessarily running around trying to distract myself with buying a purse when I needed to be feeling my feelings.

Oh feelings.

Man they suck right now.

I went to acupuncture Tuesday and the doctor tapped this spot on my tummy and said, “stuck emotions” and I just about burst into tears.

Yeah.

Those.

I had reconnected with my ex in an attempt to just be friends.

It just didn’t work.

I am not at all sad or upset or in anyway regret having seen him.

I missed him so damn much.

Miss him now.

But.

Being just friends with someone you are madly in love with might be the hardest thing in the entire world.

So.

Sunday I said I can’t do it anymore.

And I really want to ball my eyes out all the time, but it just keeps getting stuck.

Like right now.

I want to cry and the tears sort of start and then my body just hunches over and it stops.

Yeah.

Stuck emotions.

Reflux.

Tummy upset.

It’s all getting internalized.

I think I’m afraid that if I start I won’t stop.

I want to reach out.

I can’t.

I haven’t.

I won’t.

I want to anyway.

I did mail him a card on Monday and then my person said knock it off, no more contact.

I almost bought him a card yesterday and today too.

I still feel like there is so much to say.

So much.

And so.

I am just over here trying to breathe and let it go.

Let him go.

Even though I didn’t want to.

I had to.

I have to change.

I have to do something different.

I recognize I’m enough but I have to act it too and saying no more to trying to be friends was a part of that.

I don’t know what else is and I’m just going to try my best and believe.

I believe something wonderful will come of all this damn work.

It just has to.

I mean.

Seriously.

It fucking has to.

I have done so much work over these last two years.

I have suffered and cried.

And I have loved.

I have loved unlike anything I have ever done before.

No regrets.

No apologies to you who may have judgments.

I did what I did and I fell in love and I don’t have a single damn regret.

I would do it all over again.

And the love hasn’t gone anywhere.

I don’t suspect that it will.

So I will go somewhere.

I will change my scenery like no one’s business and I will immerse myself in a culture and people and experience and I will bring my best self.

Even if once in a while, it may be my sad self.

I will bring it all and I will dance and I will swim in the ocean and I will meet new people and have a new experience and adventures and take photographs and grow.

I have not died.

He has not died.

Although.

Yes.

It felt like a part of me died when he walked away.

I die a little more now thinking about it.

Perhaps that is what this is too.

I am too afraid.

That if I let it all out my heart will just die.

That it will just break this time.

Oh there.

Hello.

There are some tears.

Another reason to write, it gets the emotions unstuck.

The acupuncture helped, but the blog is the best.

That and my morning pages.

I cried a little writing them today.

I cried in my towel last night after washing my face.

Surprised myself.

Howled with grief.

The gasped and stopped it all back up.

Stuck again.

I keep reminding myself–

Those things worth having are worth the work.

What I am working towards is a free and untethered love,  completely out in the light of day, in the sunshine, transparent and honest and open and I am worthy of that.

So this pain.

Though it hurts.

Hurts so damn bad.

Is worth working through.

I am worth it.

I am enough.

 

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 Passed!

June 21, 2019

I passed my motherfucking Law & Ethics exam!

I am so stoked.

And.

Tomorrow is the last day that I work for the family nannying for six weeks.

They are off to Europe and I am off.

Well.

Not really.

I’m still seeing therapy clients, and tomorrow will be a full day, work in the morning with the family helping them get all their ducks in a row before they fly out, plus four clients in the afternoon and early evening, and solo supervision.

Plus.

Four client sessions on Saturday.

But.

Then.

Freedom.

No weekend of studying and listening to the audio tapes and taking the mock exams.

I mean.

The relief is real.

Last Sunday I studied for three hours and took two mock exams.

I felt blown the fuck out.

I let myself have off completely on Monday.

I only listened to the pep talk, which was good and helpful and then I had a normal day at work.

Well.

Not really normal, all the kids were off from school and both parents were out, one traveling and one working long hours.

So I had all three kids all day long Monday.

In fact.

I got in an hour early and stayed 45 minutes late.

One parent got a delayed flight, so the other had to scrambled to cover me and get me out.

I was really grateful I had done all the rest of the studying on Sunday, despite being so tired of the material.

I didn’t do any studying after work Monday, in fact, the test prep folks don’t recommend it, I let all the work settle in and get situated, and hung out with my best friend and did the deal and went and ate at Marnee Thai.

Good company and good food.

No studying.

It helped.

I got up early Tuesday, ate a good breakfast, got my stuff ready for the day, I had to work and see clients.

And in retrospect that would be the only thing I change.

I was blown the fuck out by the time I got to work, my brain was scrambled and the adrenaline that had been coursing through my blood sucker punched me and I had a bit of a crash at work.

And I had all three kids and I had clients afterward.

The next time I take a test I will remember this.

Take the damn whole day off.

As there will be another test.

But not for about another year and a half, two years, which will be when I get all my hours accrued and it will be the last thing I have to do did get fully licensed as a MFT.

The board exam used to be one comprehensive test and it took four hours to do.

A few years back the BBS (Behavioral Board of Science) changed it and split it up into two exams.

The first exam, the Law & Ethics exam, has to be taken before you can renew your Associate Marriage and Family License.

The license has to be renewed after one year.

My license will expire on June 30th.

So I took it this past Tuesday, the 18th, to make sure that I had time and if something happened, like I got super sick, I could cancel and reschedule the test before my license expired.

There will be no expired license however.

I renewed the same day I passed my test.

The test was no joke.

And it was stress inducing.

Even the exam area was stressful.

No coats or jackets with pockets, no phone, no purse.

No watch.

I had to take off my watch.

The room was cold, thank God I had the sense to wear a cardigan, I had an intuition that the room was going to be heavily A/C’ed and it certainly was.

I did the test the exact way the prep course recommended.

Answered every question and marked the ones that I wanted to go back on.

I didn’t let myself get hung up on trying to figure anything out.

If I knew it, I knew it and answered.

If I didn’t know it, I spent a little extra time looking at the options, but I still answered it and then just marked it to come back to.

I did almost get stuck on the first one and then remembered, to do what was suggested, answer it, mark it, and move on.

I also took a bathroom break, which is allowed, but only for five minutes and they time you in and out.

I took three minutes.

I took the break after having finished the whole test.

The prep had recommended getting up, using the bathroom or walking around and letting your brain take a moment before going back into the test to the marked questions.

It was great advice and I came back in and answered all the marked questions, I had fifteen marked.

There were two questions that I thought were definitely experimental, the exam consists of 75 questions, 50 that you have to get right and 25 that are experimental, but the BBS doesn’t give a clue what the experimental ones are and I had absolutely no clue what the answers were.  I felt like I used good logic though, and that the purpose of the test, really what they are testing you on quite often, is if can you figure out the best answer by using logic.

The CA MFT Law and Ethics exam is comprised of 40% Law and 60% Ethics. Within the Law portion, 14% is dedicated to Confidentiality, Privilege and Consent, 16% to Limits of Confidentiality / Mandated Reporting, and 10% to Legal Standards for Professional Practice. Within Ethics, 18% is dedicated to Professional Competence and Preventing Harm, 27% to Therapeutic Relationships, and 15% to Business Practices and Policies.

Passing this exam on the first attempt is very important, as the Board of Behavioral Sciences (BBS) will require you to wait 90 days after failing the exam before you can retest, and you will need to take a 12-hour Continuing Education course on Law and Ethics and pay a $100 processing fee.

The California Law and Ethics exam consists of 75 multiple-choice questions. 50 questions are scored, and 25 questions are considered experimental and will not count toward your final score. The experimental questions can appear anywhere on the exam; the BBS does not indicate which questions will count and which are experimental.

I was told I would leave feeling like I wasn’t sure if I had passed.

I can say, this is true.

I really wasn’t sure.

I was hopeful.

But I wasn’t sure.

So.

The fucking relief when the exam paper printed up and the proctor handed me the results was huge.

HUGE.

They don’t let you know what your score is, only that you passed.

CONGRATULATIONS!

In all caps, just like that, you have passed the California Law and Ethics exam.

And like that it was done.

Such relief.

I almost burst into tears walking out of the test site.

I made myself sit in my car for a few minutes  before I headed out.

It was a damn big deal.

And I am very proud of myself for passing.

Super proud.

And so ready for a break.

Like.

Really fucking ready.

I just have to power through the next two days.

I can do that.

I got rainbow and sunshine and six weeks without nannying and a trip to Havana, Cuba to look forward to.

I passed my motherfucking Law & Ethics exam.

It was a good day.

 

So. Damn. Close.

June 14, 2019

One more week of my nanny gig.

Then.

The family leaves for six weeks for their annual summer vacation abroad.

I have six more days of work, officially a week from tomorrow will be the last day I nanny for the family for six weeks.

I love them.

I do.

And.

I am ready for a break.

Mostly as I haven’t really had a break yet.

I went from wrapping up my second semester of my PhD program to literally within days, starting to study for my Law & Ethics exam.

I am so over the studying.

I take the test on Tuesday.

I do feel quite prepared for it, but I’m still taking time to study as much as I can.

I am grateful that I scheduled it when I did, as the kids will be done with school tomorrow and on Monday I will go from having one for a half day, to having all three of the monkeys.

I had a little dry run on that today, doing the parents a favor and doing pickup from school with the littlest guy in tow, then running errands up in Noe Valley.

Running errands with three children is no joke.

I have a credit card in my name, small limit, that I use for the family, cafe visits for the kids, picking up groceries, dry cleaning, etc, and I got so busy doing things and juggling the bananas for the monkeys, I left the damn card at the fancy French bakery in Noe, Vive La Tart, when I had stopped to get them croissants for tomorrow.

Sometimes I just have to slow down.

And I did.

I paused and breathed and figured it out really quick that I had done what I had done and I retrieved the card without anything untoward happening aside from having to double back two blocks on the errands to pick it up.

It was worth it, in retrospect, just to watch the three of the kids holding hands and babbling at each other in Finnish.

When I engage with them in public it almost appears that I speak Finnish too, although, I don’t really.

Some basics.

Mom.

Dad.

No.

Elephant.

Crocodile.

Banana.

Milk.

I love you.

Potty.

Brother.

Sister.

Horses Ass.

Oh Yeah.

hahahaha.

Oops.

The middle girl picked that up last year from an uncle while they were visiting in Finland and likes to use it a lot.

A LOT.

Good thing that most people in the area don’t speak Finnish.

It was sweet to be out with them and they love going for rides in my car, which they have fondly dubbed, “The Marshmallow.”

I have an off white Fiat.

It does indeed look like a little marshmallow.

The mom makes sure to remimburse me money for gas for any times I use the Marshmallow.

It’s a nice thing to have.

I really have a nice job with them.

But I won’t lie.

I am ready for my therapy clients and less nanny hours.

I am hoping that over the vacation I will integrate more clients into my schedule.

I have expanded my hours and have more session time available.

Today I did a phone consultation, but it didn’t feel like the client was going to bite.

They are still the in the contemplation phase.

Sometimes it takes time to get into therapy.

Most people, at least in my experience, spend a bit of time thinking about going before they finally pull the trigger.

Which is fine.

I looked at the phone consult today as a way to practice and also to be of service to a person who wants some support.

It’s really nice to be of service.

I love being a therapist.

I know my practice will continue to grow and build.

I just need to get that pesky Law & Ethics exam out of the way.

Tuesday.

It will be here soon.

Then the week will wind down and the family will be off in a big jet plane and I will have down time.

Not complete vacation, I will still be seeing my clients, but I’m only in office four days a week right now.

I will have my complete time off summer vacation when I go to Havana, Cuba July 14th-23rd.

I am really ready for that.

But.

I will have, like I said, three days off a week, and much later starts to the day.

Time for little day trips, movie matinees, eating out lunches with friends, massages, museum visits, sitting in cafes with pleasure reading (what is that?!).

I am  very ready.

Soon.

It will happen soon.

Just a little more work before I get there.

So close I can taste the sleeping in.

So.

Damn.

Close.

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.

 


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