Posts Tagged ‘hitting bottom’

You Get Around

May 5, 2015

I do.

“I follow you on Facebook and read your blogs, it’s good to see you in person, you really cram a lot of stuff into your day,” he told me as we were filing out of the room tonight.

I smiled.

I believe I thanked him for reading.

It’s nice to know that folks read these things I put out into the Universe, so often without much thought or effort, it would seem.

Although there is always much thought.

The effort really has to do with sitting down at the keyboard and figuring out a title.

Once I have a title, I don’t need anything.

I knew I was going to be writing “Inbound to Richmond District” the minute I saw it on the NextBus app.

There was something really musical about it to my ears.

And I do get around, but I suspect, many of us do, I just happen to document the getting around.

This brought to mind all the places I have lived in San Francisco as I enter my second year of residing in one spot.

It’s about a year and three-quarters, Labor Day weekend, just after Burning Man, will mark two years here in my little studio by the sea.

I can’t remember the last time I lived in one spot for two years.

It must have been when I was up in Nob Hill and technically I did move, albeit across the hall, but that was a move and challenging in its own ways.

I also may have resided at 23rd and Capp for two years, but I’m not certain I did, it feels like it was two years.

But as I explained to my charge today, “feelings are not facts,” I said with a smile and also relayed the message that “this too shall pass, the good news is you will have feelings, the bad news is you will have feelings.”

Then I tickled the grumpy out of him.

He is just such a sweet pie.

“Carmen! Carmen! Carmen! You have a star in your hair!” He excitedly reported to me.

“I do!” I replied, “what color is it?”



Close enough kid.

“Silver,” I said, “you like stars, don’t you.”

“Yes!” He said and picked up his stuffed cat, “Meow Meow really likes stars too,” then he began to sing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, replacing the twinkle twinkle part with meows.”

Oh my god.

The cute.


Wait, don’t stop.

“Stars are beautiful, you are beautiful,” he continued, “you must be a star.”

I just about fell out of the bed.

I was waking him up from his afternoon nap.

“You must be a star too,” I said and squeezed his little paw in mine, “Meow Meow is definitely a star as well.”

“Meow!” He said and kissed me.

My job might tire me the fuck out, but it is surely satisfying, yes, yes it is.

We had adventures to the park, both Dolores Park–in the morning, and Mission Playground in the afternoon, plus a trip to BiRite and to the market on the corner.

It made me remember when I discovered all these places when I first moved to San Francisco.

All the sites, the personal treasure map of love that San Francisco has imprinted on my heart.

The first time I went to Dolores Park was before I lived in the city, so that must have been in 2000 or possibly 2001.

Or The Elbow Room.



Kilo Watt.


The Roxie Theater.

When the New College was still the New College and I could still go to Osento and take a hot tub.

I still say I need to go to Osento sometime soon and then realize once again that it is gone.

It actually, or where it used to be, abuts the property of the people I work for.

I might have been naked on the roof of the spa soaking in the steam on a wood bench catching twinkling stars in between the clots of fog moving over the courtyard, the two wood barrel saunas, the outdoor shower, and the cold plunge–my current boss in her backyard hanging out on the other side of the fence.

I remember times when I was the only person there.

It was lovely.

You may have gathered that I lived a good portion of my time in the Mission.

My first residence in San Francisco–Labor Day weekend–it’s like my personal version of New Years, was a two month sublet at 20th and York.

I stayed past my two months and when another woman moved out of the room downstairs, I took it over.

I think I was paying $650 with everything included.

Granted there were five ladies living there, but we each had our own space carved out, technically the house was a three bedroom–all three upstairs–but one of the girls had carved out a weird little bedroom out of the kitchen pantry and then there was the studio/inlaw in the basement that I had.

It was great.

Until the house was sold and there was an owner move in and in less than two months we had to all get out.

I think it was actually 45 days, it happened so fast.

I found a room on craisglist, for less than I was actually paying at the house with all the girls, on 22nd and Alabama with a wild woman from Northern Italy who had been living in the house so long that she basically paid her rent by collecting from the two room mates and turning around and paying the landlord.

I could have cared less.

I was paying $500 a month for a huge room and access to the kitchen, bathroom, the gigantic glassed in back porch, where I spent three agonizing weeks drifting in a hammock, sleeping like the dead, out sick from work with Mono when I was 31.


At freaking 31.

And it was my second time having it.

I had it the first time when I was 17.

Good times.

While I was living at 22nd and Alabama I had a friend turn me on to cocaine and his dealers number.

After some months of battling a rapidly growing habit, I decided, like a truly rational addict, that I should move out because I had the opportunity to move into a big beautiful house on 25th and Potrero (you would have never guessed how lovely the house was from the facade on Potrero–wood floors, Italian marble, skylights, pocket doors, fireplaces in two rooms, an office, two bedrooms, one and a half baths, laundry in the basement and the prettiest garden in the back) for $1100 a month.

That’s what my problem was!

My rent was too cheap!

If I just moved somewhere that was more than double my rent then I wouldn’t spend as much money on blow.

That didn’t work out so well.

But I did subsequently hit my bottom.

And the rest.

Well is his (her) story.

And I got around a lot after that as well.

Living at the following places:

Kingston and 30th.

Potrero and 26th.

Palou and 3rd.

Capp and 23rd Street.

Washington and Taylor.

Not once, but twice–the infamous move across the hall.

Homeless for three months couch surfing when I quit my high paying nanny job and went to work at bike shop in the Mission (crashed in the attic of a former family I nannied for on 25th and New Hampshire, “housesat” for a month at a friend of friend’s house that I met only once at a wedding, where I did her make up for the ceremony on a tiny side street at the bottom of Bernal Hill, and then on the couch of my friend who lives in Nob Hill on Clay Street) making half the salary I had been used to.

Then a teeny tiny box of an in-law in the Mission on 22nd and Folsom.

My bathroom was my kitchen was my garage (I hung my bicycle on a rack above the toilet).

After that.

Graceland in East Oakland for two months.

Then Paris–Rue Bellefond–in the bobo (bohemian bourgeoise) arrondissement, the 9th, just between Square D’Anvers and Cadet Metro Station for six months.

Then back to East Oakland for two, maybe three (?) months.

Can you say culture shock?

And finally.


46th Avenue between Judah and Irving Street.

And yes.

I moved in right after Labor Day weekend.

Where the hipsters meet the sea and the surfers rule the coffee shops.

And one wild woman with curly hair (pink!) rides out each day (well five out of seven anyway) six and a half miles, right back to the Mission, on her sparkle-pony whip of a bicycle.

I may be living in the same spot for a little while.


I still get around.

Plasticine Porters

January 11, 2013

Looking glass eyes.

I had England on my mind, obviously the Beatles.  I was on a train, Metro Line 9 coming home from the American Cathedral this afternoon.

I had climbed in over a man sprawled out in the front seat.

I thought at first he was passed out drunk.

He was nodding out.

I leaned against the door on the other side as the push of passengers grew.

I noticed the girl out of the corner of my eye, she reminded me of my sister, the hair style, a crazy comb over, home done dye job, and the slash marks of a cutter running up her arm.

She was well-groomed, if cheaply, and I could not pin what was wrong with her, but there was something wrong.  I tried to not stare, but her visage kept snagging my attention.

The man nodding out had a phone that would not stop ringing and a bag of bags,  I could not tell if there was actually something of worth in the sacks, he did not strike me as homeless.

Fucked up.

Right that.

Homeless, not so much.

The girl to my right vibrated.

She adjusted the volume on her headphones and looked up.

Holy fuck.

She had on some space alien contacts.

That’s what was off.

Her eyes were the color of robin’s egg blue, but there was not reflection in them, there was no gloss, it was a flat color, like paint chips laying across her eyes.

Super spooky.

I could not get the image out of my head.

Later when I was doing a little writing I heard a line, then another line, I scrambled for my notebook and jilted out a little sonnet.

Speed Ball

Sitting, staring, blank face, in the front car,

wearing plasticine porters over her eyes, arms

cut ripe fruit seasons of pain mar

soft crescent white skin.  He lays, charms

fled, nodding in/out, blank sprung, phone

trilling in his pocket, shopping bags spread

about his trainers.  He runs, to have

space, wide open under cowboy dreams, maul

at his mind–the skies blue, her eyes hid

brown behind fake lenses, she stares

thrum, thrum, thrumming like a bent slid,

a broke slide into home base.  January flares

cold bright sores of living encapsulated

cringe cuckold on the train soon evaporated.


I suppose I have train travel on the brain.

I will be on the EuroStar tomorrow afternoon slipping below the waves and headed to London.

I will not be taking much, my passport, please to stamp me in and out, yes, thank you.

A change of clothes.

My lap top.

My camera–charging up the batteries now as I write.

Barnaby asked me if I was excited this morning.

I was not.

I am sort of getting there.

Downloading an app for London metro transit actually helped, seeing the names and the Tube and the words all in English.

That lit a little flame of excitement.

Truth be told, I am more nervous than anything else.  Falling out of my routine, having to find my way about another new city.  I have also, not, um, the best memories of the last time I was in London.

No, not really.

I hit my bottom there.


I drug along for another few days, pun totally intended.  I was in London January 2nd 2005-January 9th 2005.  I drank like a crazy person, always in the pubs, with my mom, smoking fags like there was no tomorrow.

And for me, there felt like there was no tomorrow.

I had whipped through my resources so fast, splurging (if you can call taking out a cash advance on a very strapped credit card, splurging) on a room in a nice hotel for my mom and I.

A week with ones mum in  a hotel room.

Detoxifying from cocaine.

That is a sexy bottom.

I detoxed via martinis in the hotel bar and pints across the way at the pub.

I figured as long as I was not using cocaine I was safe.

I was wrong.

Three days later, back in San Francisco, having got my mom off to Wisconsin on the 10th,  eight grams of cocaine, more margaritas than I want to remember, a strip poker game with my dealer at a girl friends house on Polk Street, with some one who had a Polaroid camera (fuck me), a six-pack of beer, sex with a guy I had picked up at Blondie’s on Valencia Street, a bottle of vodka, numerous packs of cigarettes, the last of my money, and voila!

Please, God, help me.

I cannot say exactly what happened.

However, I will say this.

Things changed.

Boy howdy.

Standing in the front car of the Metro today with my book to shield my eyes drifting between the junky and the speed freak, I thought, I am beyond lucky.


Graced is what I like to call it.

Yeah, I am not excited to go back to London and be reminded of that ugliness, but I get to go.   I get to go with a fresh perspective and I get to go and re-live it with fresh eyes.

Not eyes glazed over or ever turned inward in self-hate, anger, and self-pity.

Eyes turned outward, lamps of blazing love to saturate the London skyline with.

I will go and really see the city.

I am going on a budget, but I am going solvent.

I paid the rest of my January rent to Barnaby today.  I paid for the EuroStar ticket in cash.  I made arrangements so that people know I am coming in.  I have researched where I will be going.

It will not be to the pub.

It won’t be to the hotel bar.

It won’t be to the dealers.

It will be somewhere much more free.

Happy, and joyous like.



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