Posts Tagged ‘Graceland’


July 29, 2016

Lit up with flames on top of it.


A metal light sculpture– “LIVE” and “DREAM” and “MAGIC” that you see on playa.



Which is my cover photo on my facecrack page.

It’s a lovely sculpture and it’s the intention I set for myself today in yoga.

Day five in a row, bitches.

I mean.


I am sore, but I also can feel the change in my body and I’m not nearly as sore as I would have thought I would have been if you had told me last week I was going to hit five classes in a row.

Making yoga while the sun shines.


As may be more apropos.

As the fog, er, lurks?


Muddles across the streets in big billowy clouds of fine white mist that feels like soft snow on my face as I scootered down Lincoln tonight.

No wonder my housemate went to Hawaii.

It’s summer in San Francisco.

Ie, freezing.

Especially out here by the ocean, by the beach, where it just whips in off the ocean and slither slides along the streets on soft cat fog feet.

So yeah.

Yoga, as much as I can get in before I head off into the heart of August when all things get weird and wild.

The days are going to be full and hearty and fast and next thing you know I’ll be in school and so it goes, this life, so big, so fast, so full of well, life.

I’m lucky I know it.

And while I can get in the yoga, I’m going to get it.

I’ll have a few weeks with being out of town, one week retreat, two weeks at work in Glen Ellen, half week at Burning Man.

I do hope that in all those places I will take the time to do my own yoga, to keep myself in the flow, so to speak, and not get rusty, now that I can feel myself getting some momentum with my practice.

Especially after the Facetime call I had this afternoon.

So out of the blue.

So unexpected.

So, very, very, very sweet.

It was from a man I had dated briefly before I moved to Paris, I was quite smitten and had things happened sooner, well, who knows, Paris had to be Paris and it was meant to happen the way it did.

We briefly reconnected when I moved back.


Ships in the night.

And I remember the last time I saw him.

I did not leave it so well, I was a little hurt and I think, no, I know, I had an expectation and I could not say what I wanted to save my life and when he leaned in to kiss me goodnight, I just opened the car door and got out.

There was some conversation before that, but not much, I was not the only person getting a ride home and I was being greedy, I wanted him all to myself.

I so often want it all, all or nothing.

And well.


I got the nothing.

I went in my house and didn’t call again and didn’t say why I was hurt and just walked away.

Toward what I thought was the real open door.

Or toward whatever I was thinking I was walking toward.

Fact is.

I was not in the place to be in a relationship with anyone.

I was too unsettled in my life, in my home, in my person, I was still grieving my move back from Paris and I was a wounded little cat that needed to hole up and lick her wounds for a while.

Wounds licked.


And forgotten.

Mostly forgotten.

A brief wave from the other side of the window at the Starbucks in Noe Valley a year or so ago.

I remember thinking who is that, why does he look familiar and why is he waving at me.



I watched him walk across the street with another woman and felt a pang and thought of the dinners we’d had, the kiss under the light at Graceland the ride to the airport, it was he that took me to SFO when I flew to Paris.

The last goodbye.

The heartache.

I remember I wrote a blog about it while I was on the plane somewhere over the Atlantic, my heart on fire and my words slipping on the keyboard like tears sliding down my cheeks.

All those things in a flash.

Standing on the corner of Valencia and 24th.

I had pulled out my phone and saw that I had missed a facetime call.

I didn’t recognize the name.

I mean.

I did.

It tugged at me, but I couldn’t place it.

It was also an abbreviated name, first initial and last name smashed together and I just had this moment.

Call it back now.

I did.

And whoa.


I was so surprised.

In a very good way.

We caught up and made plans to see each other Tuesday.

I have off Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday next week.

“I’ll be in yoga in the morning, but I’ll be free by noon,” I said.

“What kind of yoga,” he asked.

“Vinyasa,” I replied.

“Me too!” He exclaimed, “before you know it we’ll be doing yoga together.”

You know what?

That sounds pretty freaking fantastic.

I say this after watching a few couples now at the studio over the last few weeks, a boyfriend/girlfriend couple and a few couples that were married and it was really intriguing to see the dynamic and the play of the relationship in the studio, I found myself thinking, wow, I’d love to do yoga with a boyfriend.

Who am I?

Who the fuck am I becoming?!

I don’t know.

But you know what?

I kind of like it.


You know what else I like?

Putting on my big girl pants and researching renting a car to go to Burning Man.

Because I am over the anxiety of trying to figure out how to get there and back.

I priced it out and sure, yes, it’s more than I want to spend, can’t I just get in for free, fuck, just fly me out in a private helicopter, but there’s this idea of being radically self-sufficient really running a line in my heart right now, and I thought, fuck, I have gone to the event 9 times now, this is number ten, what would it look like if I just drove up and back on my own?

I wouldn’t be stressed.

I could leave when I wanted to.

I can go when I want to.

I could.

I can.

I will.

I get paid tomorrow and after I pay rent, yes, I think I will be renting a car for the event.

But before all that.








Are You There God?

November 4, 2015

It’s me Margaret.

I mean Carmen.

I mean.

Where the fuck is my passport?!


l can’t find it and um, bwhahahahahahaha.

I uh, kind of need it.

Because this lady is going to Paris for Christmas!








I can’t believe this is happening.

My ticket cost $500, the prices jumped between yesterday and today and my friend asked me to contribute to offset the miles and what was I going to say, no?


A round trip ticket from SFO to Charles de Gaulle for $500.

I would be insane to not do that.

I cut him a check on the spot and I’m off to Paris.

Flying out December 20th and returning the 27th.

Six nights in the City of Lights at Christmas.


I have goosebumps thinking of it.

My friend only asked that I be flexible, I like planning and figuring things out and having an agenda and doing all the things and well, he’s a little more spontaneous.

And I am so cool with that.

I do not care.


There are places I want to go and people I want to see, but I don’t have to have an agenda.

I have been to Paris three times, this will mark my fourth time going.


How lucky am I?

Plus, my dear friend, my dear Parisian friend, from my masters program at CIIS, will also be in Paris visiting her family the 19th through the 29th.

She joked about doing papers in a cafe.

I think not.

I am not doing homework in Paris.


I will write.

That’s a part of what I do.

No matter what the writing will happen.

And the buying of notebooks will happen too.

I am excited to visit the Papetrie’s, I need new Marie Clare notebooks.

I flipped through them all this morning before going to work.

I have looked for my passport one other time, I don’t even recall why, I haven’t had cause to do any traveling outside the United States since I moved to Paris three years ago the first of November 2012.

Three years ago I was in Paris, probably lost and hungry, cold and wet, and trying to figure out which way to go on a map.

I got lost a lot, but I always did find my way home.

Home, fingers crossed, I haven’t confirmed it yet with my host, will be a studio in the 7eme.  Which is near the Eiffel Tower.

A place my friend insists on seeing and going to the top of.

Something I have never actually done.

I have taken a horse-drawn carriage around it once.

And once, my first time there, I got lost and separated from the family I was traveling with and climbed the stairs to the second level trying to find them, but I never got to the top.

I will this time.

And I will make sure to walk around it at night when it lights up.

Especially since the studio is so close to the tower.

I know the woman from my time in Paris and she made me a really nice deal.

50 Euro a night.

My friend and I will split the cost of the studio and for about $650 I will have flight and accommodations.

Thank you very much.


Where the hell is my passport?

I went through every notebook, especially all the ones from my last time in Paris and looked for it, I scouted out all the obvious spots.

I live in a studio, there’s not a lot of places to look.

And I have looked once before.

I ransacked my place, neatly, I didn’t make a mess, and I did discover some sweet photos that I had forgotten I had, but I did not find my passport.

I wrote a little note and I dropped it into my God box.


That’s right.

I have one of those.

I like using it, it always works and it clears my head and you know, I’m a little eclectic and my God box is actually a magenta pink rabbit that I bought in the Marais district of Paris from a store that was near to the tattoo shop my friend worked out of–Abraxasis.

I dropped the note then e-mailed my friend in Oakland who was letting me stay at his place until I was settled here in my in-law.

Because that is the last place I can remember having my hands on it.

I spent sometime trying to see where it was in my mind.

I had it in my wallet when I first got back from Paris and remember stumbling across it at some point when I was digging out a card from the divider and realized it probably wasn’t the best idea to carry my passport on my person in East Oakland.

I can recall sitting on the bed in the room at Graceland and pulling the passport out of my wallet and then putting it in something, a book, a notebook, a file and stacking it with some other bits and pieces of paperwork on the secretariat in the room.

That’s the last time I can remember having it.

I also remember thinking to myself that I might be squirreling it away too well.

That I might forget where I put it.

And voila.

I fucking did.

I’m not going to beat myself up about it.

Instead, I sent my friend a message and hopefully it’s there in the room, maybe in the drawer of the little desk.

If it’s not.


Thank God there’s an embassy here and I will go down to it with all the pertinent documents and pay the expedited fee to get one in five days.

I don’t want to, I would rather the money to spend in cafes on postcards, notebooks, dinners out–nothing fancy, my friend, too cute, “I don’t want to go anywhere fancy for food.”

Neither do I.

Although I do want to go to Odette and Aime for dinner one night, it’s not fancy, and it’s the cafe I spent the most amount of time in, since it was on the same block where I lived, it’s just good home-made food and it will be nice to see my old stomping grounds.

I’m going, going.

Back, back.

To Paris.

Over the moon.

I am over the fucking moon.

Best Christmas present ever.

I might just have to pinch myself.

It doesn’t seem real.

But I’m going.

I’ll send you postcards.


Sealed with a bisous



All The Things

September 20, 2013

I have all my stuffs.

Tonight was the night to get the last things in storage.

Three boxes of which I did not unpack.

They were full of notebooks.

Jesus Christ on a pogo stick.

I have a lot of fucking notebooks and journals and manuscripts.

I had not remembered having so many.

I also did not remember all the art work that I had in storage.  One pen and ink drawing I did about 19 years ago, a print from a friend dedicated to me when I briefly edited an art magazine he was putting out in Madison, a photograph of a Flaming Lotus Girls piece that Jess Hobbs took, a print of a heart sign in Oakland on a decrepit building, a collage I did early on in my recovery, a painting of two wee animals smoking cigarettes and drinking coffee in a diner (two hamsters I believe) which is quite kitschy and super cute.

I found photographs of me from when I was a child.

My grandparents original wedding photograph that I need to have restored.

I think my mom was using it as a book marker and I happened to stumble upon the book and freed the photo.

Fully intending to restore the photo and never getting around to it.

My diploma from the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a certificate of scholastic achievement for outstanding work for independent study under Professor Ronald Wallace.

Some bunnies.


I finally found my jack-a-lope velveteen bank.

I had thought it was lost and there it was peeping up at me from the bottom of a box of odds and ends.

Photos, stacks and heaps, some framed, most not.



My clock that I bought at a flea market in Paris four and a half years ago.

My collection of magnets.

Two from the Musee D’Orsay, one from the Tuileries, one from the Pompidou,three that I got at a book seller along the Seine, including Le Chat Noir and the Eiffel Tower being struck by lightning–all from my trip four and a half years ago when I vowed I would live in Paris someday.

I was not sure how or when.

I certainly could not have predicted I would four years later for a grand total of six months.

Other magnets from when I did the Aids LifeCycle ride and a couple from the MOMA, one from a visit I made to Madison, WI when I went back for my 20th high school class reunion, and a couple from a store in Noe Valley called The Urban Nest that went out of business a couple of years ago.

I also un-earthed a few maps from Paris, two different Metro maps, a ceramic sculpture of bunnies kissing that I found at a flea market outside of Pierre LaChaise cemetery and some hanging paper cut-outs from my favorite book store in Paris–Le Merle Moquer.

It was with fond memories that I hung up my photos and placed the paintings and pictures and organized the few other little tchotkes I have in my space.

A small red Radio Flyer wagon that my grandfather gave my grandmother.

A stained glass lamp that my best friend gave me over fourteen years ago.

Paper doll cut-outs of Alice in Wonderland with the white rabbit.

Photographs of Shadrach.

A couple of photographs that Zefrey Throwell took of me when we were early in our friendship.

Both of which I put out to remind myself how far I have come.

I have really come far.


Photographs of me nannying at Burning Man.

Note to self, get a copy of the photo of me and Juni from Action Girl, with the message “Property of Media Mecca” scrawled on her back in my hand with black sharpie marker.

Photographs of me between the ages of twenty-two months and four years old.

And the first piece of artwork I ever bought for myself in San Francisco.

A framed blue swallowtail butterfly that I bought at Paxton Gate the first week I moved to San Francisco.

As I placed things here and there and thought, hmm, I still need to get a better lighting solution to the room, I felt myself opening up and reliving the small victories of moving to San Francisco, all the places I have lived since I moved here in 2002:

805 York Street–20th & York.

2225 22nd Street–22nd Street at Alabama.

30th & Kingston.

25th & Kansas.

Capp Street & 23rd Street.

1170 Taylor Street # 12.

1170 Taylor Street #19.

The couches and beds and spare rooms throughout the city in Nob Hill, Potrero Hill, and Bernal Hill.

Folsom Street at 22nd.

Then Graceland in East Oakland.

36 Rue Bellefond, Paris, France.

Then back to Graceland in East Oakland.

And now, finally, 46th Avenue between Judah Street and Irving.

My things are unpacked.

My photographs on the wall, the bunny banks (3) and bunny ceramics (2) all placed about just so.

I am home.

It may take me another minute or two to tweak the last few things.

I could use a rug in the entry way and some better lamps–the overhead lighting is one setting–bright, but otherwise, that’s it.

That’s all she wrote.

I am moved in.

I am here.

I am putting down my roots.

All my things are now all in one place again.

There is nothing left in storage, there is nothing left to more to get.

I am in and all the things are too.


Really, so nice.

To be home.

Surrounded by memories.

Ready to make more.


Just a Matter of Logistics Now

August 7, 2013

I got the commissary passes today.

I got the ride up secure.

I got the ticket, the early arrival pass, I got the can’t fall asleep at night because I am thinking about what I am going to wear on playa.


That’s where my head goes.

That and who am I going to hook up with.

But that is neither here nor there.

First is to get there, or rather to stay present with what is happening now.

I leave in ten days and I have started the conversation about work, on playa and leading up to playa, how to get my stuff to my family, I am going to need a ride into city, and what my schedule for that last week looks like as far as the nannying goes.

I picked up three more shifts this week!

That was a happy surprise.

One family got tickets to Outside Lands and asked me to cover this Friday and Saturday.  And one family has extra work to do at the Burning Man Head Quarters on Friday.

Friday is going to be an epic day.

I will be working in Cole Valley from 8:45a.m. to 5pm or thereabouts and then straight over to the Castro, up to 19th between Noe and Sanchez, until 10:30pm or so.

I am looking at a possible 13 hour day on Friday.

I am also looking to be financially secure for the week, so I am down for the deal.

Especially since I have the next two days off.

Which would explain why I was not too hesitant to drink a large cup of coffee this evening at Dolores Park cafe while I sat in the sun and waited for my friend Tami to come over and join me.

Of course when my brain is doing the tap dance of doom at 1a.m. and I am nowhere near falling asleep I may regret this action, but man, it was tasty in that kind of naughty you know better sort of way.

Yeah, that’s right, that’s how I get my transgressions on, I drink caffeine at 7 o’clock at night.

Watch out.

As the true weekend approaches I am sure that I will have a moment or two or fifteen when I think that I don’t have enough time to prep, but the fact is, pretty much what I told the mom today as we were discussing leave times, next Friday late afternoon, that I travel really light.

My playa bike is probably the biggest burden, and they already have it lined up in their garage, next to mom’s bike and the baby’s covered wagon.

Oh yes, I said covered wagon.

He has a Radio Flyer with an awning.

It is so posh.

I want to throw some pillows in it and have a cute boy pull me around while I sip iced coffees and, ok, even I know that is utter fantasy, but the wagon is beyond adorable, and I can see that it will be a handy little device for toting the boy.

Although I wonder if he’ll actually stay sitting in it for too long, completely beyond my concern at this point, but those are the weird little loop holes my brain will rabbit hole about.

How to secure the baby in the wagon that may or may not even go to the event depending on how much stuff they manage to get into their truck.

As long as I get into the truck with my few possessions it will all be fine.

Yes, that is totally self-centered of me, what of it?

I was asked to also work next Friday, to help with the baby while the parents pack and load.  I figure, may as well, make that money while the sun shines.   I then thought, how the hell am I going to get over to them on a Friday morning commute rush with my Burning Man togs?

Then I realized I could probably just pack it all up, catch a ride with a friend into the city on Thursday and on load into their garage, crash in the guest room and just be there, present, and ready to roll out when they are.


They are getting worked out.

I am uncertain what hours I am nannying next week, yet to hear from my Tahoe family, but they should be coming back into town and I do recall a brief conversation in regards to scheduling and I think I may actually work a full week before departing.

This is good.

It will keep me busy.

I will have tomorrow and Thursday of this week to finish any prep I have.

Not much there.

I realized I need to get either more batteries for my camera or get a recharger for US electrical outlets.  The battery recharger I have for my camera is European.

Other than that, I really cannot think of anything.

Oh, well, my bike basket hasn’t come in yet, but what ever, if it doesn’t it won’t be a huge inconvenience, I am sure I can pick up something easy and quick.

I really am pretty ready.

Feels good, exciting, a turning point again.

As of this Burning Man I will have lived outside of San Francisco for a year.

Last year I moved out of the creepy little room I had on Folsom Street, put the few things I did not get rid of into storage at a friend’s house, then went to Burning Man, taking all my worldly possessions onto playa.

Getting back I spent the next two months house sitting Graceland and commuting into the bike shop.

Then there was that six months in Paris.

And then back here to Graceland for the last three months.

That makes a year, one year out of the eleven since I made the big geographic from Wisconsin to California.

One amazing year of learning, crying, glitter, growing, moving.

Only to do it all over again.

Had I to know how many trains, buses, bicycle rides, airplanes, taxis, and cars I was to take in this past year, the Metro, the RER, the BART, the MUNI, the on foot, the tunnels, the EuroSTAR, the terminals, escalators, elevators, and stairs I would climb, the logistical nightmare of it all would have spun me out.

Just show up and be present, I tell myself, it always works its way out.



How the Hell Did I Miss

June 13, 2013

That exit?


So much for getting to Graceland and back in a timely manner.

That was nuts.

And is it just me or is Oakland going the fuck off tonight?

Maybe it’s just me.

Maybe it’s always going off.

But I have never seen so much police action, hooker action, drug dealing action, and just plain action, action going down.

I was also wired up.


I got to the house sitting gig, took care of the cute cats, checked the list of things that needed to be done for the house, took a deep breath, and got my Google maps loaded in my phone.

I took the keys to the car, hopped in and headed out.

I made the right turn, the left turn, the get onto the highway and then I apparently missed the off ramp turn.

The next thing you know I am in fucking Orinda.

And that ain’t East Oakland.

I got myself off the highway, Google mapped my way back and missed the fucking turn off again.

Screw this.

I however remembered to do a few things.

“Breathe!” I said to myself out loud in the car.

I took a deep breath and looked out ahead of me and watched the moon slide across the sky, a low, crescent-shaped, creamy yellow cusp–a fairy tale moon.

Now when would I ever have seen that in my driving about if I had not gotten turned around and lost?

I would not have seen it and the image is seared in my brain it was so lovely.

As I headed back the way I had come, and then some, suddenly heading toward San Francisco, which is also not East Oakland, I just laughed and hit the Telegraph exit.

I actually ended up back tracking about ten blocks from where I started.

Screw it.

I was not getting on the freeway again.

I took the long way through town.

So what if I have to fill up the car with gas, it was worth it to not bother with trying to map my way back via the freeways.

And if I have been grateful before to not be working the corners in East Oakland, West Oakland, downtown Oakland and all places Oaklandish, I was even more so tonight.

At one intersection, I believe it was International Ave and 15th, there was a cluster fuck of traffic.  A cop had pulled into the middle of the intersection, cherries flashing, doors open, an a tall white male, maybe 40, was chasing a prostitute through the intersection.

I could not tell if he was coralling her toward the squad car, another officer on the side-walk or just playing tag, it was surreal, almost comical, the prostitute weaving in and out of the intersection, the number of cars trying to cross through, the cop wasn’t even moving that fast, he just plodded after the hooker, and the entire scene bathed in red and blue lights.

All I could think about was getting to Graceland, getting my shit together, getting out, and getting back to the house sitting gig so that I could write my blog so that I could get to bed so that I could get up and nanny in the morning and do a few things for my other job before I start-up with the nanny.

I got to Graceland, without incident, without hitting anyone, man people just pop out into the intersection, willy nilly, pedestrians every where, felt like being in a video game, and for the first time since I have been back, I was spooked at the house.

Something banged out in the yard, cat, raccoon, who knows, but after the drive I was a little shattered and I jumped.


No one is in the house, I turned off the alarm when I got there, and reset it immediately, but I was spooked and I flew about gathering my things.

I don’t know that I did the best at getting what I needed, I think I grabbed too many pairs of socks and not enough underwear, but I got my toothbrush and toiletries, my laptop and my cell phone charger, took care of the kittens and got out and back on the road.

I took the long way back through town, I did not even bother to try to map out the way on the highway, I was not going to risk getting lost.

And now I am here, not lost, typing away, making plans for tomorrow.

Grateful those plans include a nap.

One charge in the morning, who will nap early in the afternoon.  One charge later in the evening who will go to bed two hours before I leave.

I have pockets of time to do some work for the design firm and sneak in a snooze if I need to.

Because I am still wide awake and a little jazzed up from the drive.

Grateful I am not dancing around an intersection being cajoled by a cop to get my crack addled ass out-of-the-way of oncoming traffic.

Grateful I got to see that moon all soft smoke romance and hazy lit with promise.

Grateful I did not haul all my shit over on my bike.

Grateful I have money to fill up the gas tank.

Grateful that my friend Calvin got me an extra coffee at Sight Glass today, I needed the hit of caffeine.  That I had a lovely meal with a darling lady bug at Cha Ya, that I got to hug and kiss a sweet as cherry pie second grade graduate as she was sung lullabies by her mama to sleep.  That I had a cup of ginger lemon tea with my friend and said, please, let me help you out on Friday.

Grateful that I get to help.

Whether it is nannying, writing, or sharing some of my experience with another.

Or just laughing with my friends over various cups of tea and coffee.

My life, even when I am lost, is amazing.

That Blows

May 24, 2013


I got a text this early eve as I was finishing up with the nanny’ing asking if I would be making an appearance at the Grand Ave thingamabob.


Blew a flat tire this morning on my bike heading into work.

Thanking all the bicycle gods above that it was just a three block walk from the BART station and the gig I was heading to was also just five blocks from BART.

Had it been any other way I would have been royally screwed.

I couldn’t even get upset.

I had an inkling this was going to happen.

I have not even done any investigation with it yet, I don’t know if it’s because I ate some glass or hit a big divot and blew a pinch flat (what happens when your inner tube is “pinched” against the rim of the tire–mostly happens with the tire is under inflated).  Doubtful that it was the latter as I had filled up my tires right before heading out for the commute.

I took it as a sign from the Universe.

Take it easy today.

Slow down.


There would have been a time that I would have freaked out about this.  Today was not the day.  I did not feel stressed, again, fortunate to be as close to the BART station as I was, and I knew that whatever happened I was going to be just fine.

I texted my employer and let her know I had blown a flat tire and would be possibly five to ten minutes late.

Of course today was the day when she was on a tight schedule.

But, again, there was nothing for me to do but pay for the train ride and climb the steps to the platform with my bicycle over my shoulder.

Good thing it only weighs about 20 lbs.

As it turns out I made it to work three minutes early.

That is something I learned to do a long time ago–over compensate for the time it will take to get you there.  Also, under promise.

If you say to a table waiting to be sat in a restaurant, “that will be fifteen minutes,” and then it is “twenty-five,” you have automatically got your hands full with pissed off customers.

Nobody wants to wait longer than they are quoted.

I remember when I worked in restaurants and always pushed this home with the hosting staff, over-estimate the table time.

In the reverse, if you quote 25 minutes and the wait is 15 minutes you have saved yourself a lot of hassle and the customers are always happy to get seated in less time.

I had hopes of repairing to Manifesto Bike shop in Oakland at 40th and Telegraph today, but the monkey took a super long nap and the day was too tight to relegate that time to pushing the stroller, one-handed, and either carrying my bicycle or rolling it along on the rim.

I know the rim is super strong, Velocity B43, but I was not inclined to push my time.

I decided one of two things will happen.

I will either fix it myself tomorrow or I will take it in to the shop in San Francisco on Saturday.  There is the possibility that the tire is done, especially if I hit a good chunk of glass and if that is so I want to get a new tire.

I’ll pick up a Randonneur puncture resistant tire.

If the tire is not punctured I can fix it myself.

It will be a little messy, it’s the back tire, so I will need to take off the chain.

However, this too is a good thing.

I have been contemplating since I have been doing a longer bike commute flipping the rear wheel over to put it into a free rolling gear instead of having it in fixed.

I prefer to ride fixed, but it will be easier on my knees.

I have had a bit of knee tenderness since I have been riding so much more and for much more extended periods of time.  I don’t want to blow my knees out.  If I can save them a little trouble I will do so.

Even if riding fixed gear is “cooler”.

Having knees that work, in my book, is much hipper.

This too rolled through my mind as I waited for the BART train, I realized I was not upset that I had blown out the back and that it was the perfect excuse for me to take off the wheel and flip the hub.

God doing for me what I could not do for myself.

I also had the scheduling stuff get worked out.

I will show up where I need to show up, on time, since I will be able to have my bike on BART during morning rush hour, I just need to not exit at the Embarcadero (or get on at Oakland 12th or 19th–look at that!  ‘Fortunate’ to be at a less desirable BART station) and ride in the back cars and I should not have any problems.

Yeah, I don’t want to get up at 6:30 a.m. to get there on time, but it is just going to be for one day a week.  At least for the time being.

When their nanny is done in August that will change.

Who knows where I will be at that point.

I really do adore the hell out of Graceland, kittens, and roomies and sunshine, oh my; but holy shit, it is a commute and a half with where it is.

The part-time gig for my friend is in the city, although I should be able to do a lot of it remotely, and eventually, the majority of my nanny gigs will be in city.  I would be working three days a week in SF and two days a week in North Oakland.

It may make better sense for me to be located in the city.

I do not know how or where or if that will work.

I am just leaving it up to the Universe.

I am always taken care of, even when things don’t go the way I planned.

Who knows what holy terror I missed not being on a bicycle today?

Like the poor guy that died after he got hit and then dragged by a garbage truck on his bicycle today in San Francisco.

No thank you.

Happy to slow down.

Slowing down is where it’s at.

One More Night

May 17, 2013

Of the dog sitting/house sitting in North Oakland.

Graceland here I come.

I feel quite excited to get back to East Oakland.

Bet you never thought you would hear a girl say that.


I am ready to be in my own space and very ready to not be awoken at 4:30 a.m. by an excited little dog with a teeny tiny bladder.

And then again at 5:30 a.m. to feed her.

Once, maybe twice, I have managed to not get up that early to feed the dog, but those were only on days I let her sleep in the bed with me and after two nights of her in the bed I was not having it again.

Twelve days of this little beastie.

I’m about done.

And I like dogs.

The pay was not worth it by far, the effort far outstripped the recompense.

Or so I thought, but tonight as I wheeled up and over 40th street heading to Grand Ave via Linda Street I knew that the pay off was in the getting to know the neighborhood.

Plus, I did have some money immediately in my pocket to help with some essentials, and that was truly a gift.

The fresh strawberries out of the back garden did not hurt either.

I know the neighborhood now well enough for when I do the big commute from Graceland next week.  I know how to get here, and I know where to go to take care of those needs that need to be taken care of on a pretty much daily basis.

I know where I can go do my banking as well.

It was a pleasure to deposit a check into my account.

It was a distinct honor to see in the memo area “AWESOMENESS”.

That made my day.

Getting paid by someone who thinks I am awesome.

Thank you.

I think your kid is awesome too.

Plus she had a two-hour nap today, which in anyone’s book is great stuff.

I finished Angela’s Ashes and flipped through a bunch of cooking magazines (food porn for the sugarless, flourless, meatless, dairy less, egg less lass) and some great books on homesteading and gardening while she slumbered.  That is a great perk to being a nanny, nap-time equals reading time (or writing time, but it is usually more reading time for me, the writing is too often disrupted).

I am ready to attack those raised garden beds at Graceland.

I re-familiarized myself with canning as well.

I don’t know that I will plant enough to warrant needing to can the produce produced, but it was a fun read up and it reminded me how much joy I take in those sorts of things.

I love to cook and despite the dietary restrictions I am really quite good and quite clever as to how I shop, cook, and eat.  I have had plenty of folks eat what I have made and not know that it was vegetarian or vegan.  Or give a good god damn.

If it tastes good that is all the matters.

For me, so much of that has to do with seasonings.

I need salt, pepper, herbs–tarragon, chives, rosemary, basil–garlic, spices–nutmeg, cloves, ginger, cayenne, and most especially cinnamon.  I also really love having raw cocoa powder.

I know how to make things not only palatable, but damn tasty too.

Reading through the cookbooks and the magazines, the gardening tomes and then leafing through some interesting books on Chinese medicine, I see that I have a good grasp on what works well for me.

I am thrilled that I get to have an opportunity to hit the dirt and get my hands in it.

I have no plans for tomorrow, other than taking care of the pup one last day, the owners will be flying into SFO at 7pm.  I will be gone by the time they get back to the house.  I will stay here until 5:30/6pm, have a last dinner here, take the pup for one last walk, tidy up, put the key in the mail slot and get the fuck out.

Aside from that, there is not a lot of the agenda for tomorrow.

A Skype date with a ladybug in Paris and getting myself back to Graceland.

Saturday I will be going into San Francisco and getting my things out of storage and bringing them back to the house.  I will put up my photographs, sort through my notebooks, hang up a few pieces of art, arrange all my bunnies (I have four now, one Jack-a-lope bank I got in Oakland on Telegraph from Scout before it closed, with my bunnies I was nannying at the time, one bunny bank I bought at Therapy on Valencia, one purple set of ceramic bunnies kissing from the flea market outside of Pere LaChaise cemetery when I was there four years ago and stayed in the 20th near the cemetery, and the newest addition–the bright magenta bank I use as a God box that I purchased at a store in the Marais of Paris this go around–on Rue St. Merrie.)

I like bunny rabbits.

I call people bunnies or monkeys.

And I wonder why I am a nanny?

I am also going to get back a quilt that Beth has that I gave her before I left for Paris.  I cannot believe that I will be sleeping under that again, I brought it from Madison, WI when I first moved to San Francisco.  I don’t know when I got it, but I know I had it when I moved over to East Gorham street after I left an ex-boyfriend.

That means it’s over thirteen years old?



It’s a great quilt.

A little worse for the wear, but still, in my favorite colors and it will fit nicely into the aesthetic of the room at Graceland.

I will need to pick up a little more bedding, a few more pillows, but that can wait for a moment.  I am mostly just happy with the thought of getting settled into a space that can be mine for a while.

I am looking forward to going home.

In East Oakland.

At Graceland, where there are kittens and sunshine and space and breath to be myself and re-collate myself, re-invigorate, and re-establish.





Girl Friends & Gardens

May 16, 2013

I had a moment of financial panic today when the mom at the nanny gig said, “we’ll be back to our regular schedule next week.”

Ie–three days with part-time hours.

And I don’t have other work.

And I need money.

And shut up.

You are fine.

The other gig will be starting soon and you will be ok, you are ok, you have food, you have a roof, you will get paid for this weeks work tomorrow, and you have a gig on Sunday.

All is good.

And when the brain says, “no, bitch, it ain’t,” you know where to go.

I was also to meet a friend tonight at 7 pm in Rockridge, an old friend, some one I have not seen in years, as she lives in Oakland I was living in San Francisco and I know from experience that whatever it is about getting from one place to the other, you stay put on your side of the bridge for the most part.

“How long have you been living in Oakland,” I asked her over tea tonight at, yes, I have to say it, ‘Gaylords’.

“About eight years,” she replied.

“Jesus,” I thought, and then said, “that’s about how much time I have, then you must have come back and forth a bit to the city.”

“Yeah, I still do,” she said, “I have work over there and I go back two to three times a week.”

Which is what I will be doing once I start in with the other families in San Francisco.  This is good information to have, if she can do it, so can I.

In fact, I would hazard that we are also not the only ones doing this.

Oakland I am getting to know you and the more I find out, the more I like.

“Do you like to dance?” She asked me.

Uh yeah.

In fact, I am going over to the city on Saturday.  A friend invited me to the Heart Deco fundraiser at Mighty.  I was not expecting to go over, I’m meeting a ladybug in the city in the early afternoon, then getting stuff out of storage and taking it back to Graceland.

Last thing I thought I would want to do is go back and do a night of dancing, but when friend with car says she’s going, well, damn, Gina, that’s a completely different thing.

“I love to dance,” I said.

“Have you heard of ‘ecstatic dance’?”

“Yes, in fact,” I paused, thinking back a few years to a night I was out one evening at Burning Man with a girlfriend, who had also re-located to Oakland, when we were dancing by the Pier out on the playa who had mentioned to me the same thing.

“You should do ecstatic dance,” that friend had said as we whirled around the Pier, “there’s this great group in Oakland.”

Cue me zoning out.

I am not going to got to Oakland to go dancing when I live in San Francisco.


Well, now, since I live in Oakland, it does not seem that far-fetched.

And wait!

They don’t serve alcohol and it’s on Wednesday nights and it’s early, like starts at 8pm and is done by 11 pm.  Oh my god, this ‘old lady’ is in love with the idea.  I could actually go out dancing on a school night and be home before midnight.

I have a date to get my ecstatic dance on for next week, tentative, my friend has a work gig early the next day, but if not next week, then the week following.

I am down.

I am also down with getting my yoga on, which will be the next frontier that I explore, and as it turns out my ‘new’ friend is also a yoga teacher.

Well, things just keep getting surprising here.


Pardon me while I tell my brain to shut up.







Uh, hi, yes, Carmen, welcome back to the East Bay, you’ve become a California cliché.

And I don’t really care, it feels so good.

At least I’m not living in an ashram, yet.


I will keep my sense of irony close to my chest.

And I will also add budding amateur gardener to the list.


Because there are garden boxes at Graceland begging to be attended to.

The master of the house said I could and as I was sitting and letting my anxieties over the day and my ‘worries’ about what and how and money and time and, and, and…


Patch of sunlight, quiet, garden.


I only have three days of work next week?

Right on.

I can work on the garden at Graceland.

How expensive are some seeds going to be?

You don’t know how to garden, said my brain.

Well, no, I don’t but I bet you dig a hole and put a seed in it and water it and weed out the funny looking plants and cultivate the ones that look edible and just see what happens.

And I do know how to garden.

We had a huge one back in Windsor Wisconsin where I grew up, and my grandfather had an enormous one behind his house in Lodi.  Now, granted, I did not do a lot of the work, my mom did and my step-father did, but I am and always have been, observant.

I remember a lot.

I remember how to compost and weed and how to plant and I have used a roto-tiller, not that  is even necessary at Graceland, there are boxes already set up.

I just need to invest in a few seedlings, tomatoes and cucumbers, maybe a basil plant, and some strawberries–ever-bearing most likely–I think it’s too late in the season to do others.

Heck, I could put in carrots and probably potatoes too.  Oh, and broccoli, so good.

Even if it’s just the tomatoes, that would be something else.

Oh, I can already taste them warm off the vine with some sea salt.

All those things that I turned up my nose at, girlfriends and yoga and gardening and meditation and going vegan and expressing myself in dance, barefoot to ambient music, hmm, maybe those are all things that would enrich my life and make me happy.

No wonder I have always turned up my nose at them.

I don’t want to be happy.

I want to be miserable.

I want to isolate.

I want to do it all on my own and fuck you very much.

Except, that I do actually want all those things.  I want a yoga practice, and a meditation practice and I want to write daily and eat well and plant things and watch them grow and giggle with a girlfriend as we dance around the room and not have any judgements at all about the woman in the corner who is so feeling the music she strips down to just her skirt and ankle bracelet in front of the speaker to better feel the vibe.

It turns out I do want all those things.

Look at me getting honest with, well, me.

I just had to go to Paris to figure out that everything I wanted was right here all along.

Taking a trip (not taking a trip).

Just don’t ask me to give up the coffee.


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