Posts Tagged ‘Los Angeles’

A Full And Grateful Heart

June 25, 2015

I got off campus!

I was able to scoot out tonight for a much-needed hour of reprieve.

I read some stuff.

Some things were said.

The deal was done.

Then a woman there gave me a great big hug and said, “here, take these, there’s a woman in the fellowship who brings them fresh every day, they’re obviously for you.”

“They” were a big bunch of Shasta daisies and pink freesia and Echinacea, stunning and sweet and my favorite flowers are daisies, I was so pleased, so warmed, so right exactly where I was supposed to be.

Then  a lady bug pulled up in her truck, she splits time between Sonoma and San Francisco and typically we meet in the city on Friday nights after I get done with work at the Church Street Cafe on Church and Market.

The sunset was happening.

The soft evening breeze caressed my face.

I had left the flowers on the hood of the car in parking lot and she had no clue that a gorgeous bouquet was waiting for her after we checked in and did our reading in the last golden rays of the sun setting in the West, just over Sonoma Mountain.

There was also a, I am not kidding, I do not jest, I couldn’t make this up if I had tried to, a choir practicing hymns in the Community Center behind which were we sat at the picnic table and read from the literature.

She underlined sentences.

I tried to not get choked up.

Watching her young face, framed with long sheaves of strawberry blond hair, catch the last drops of sun from the sky and glow ethereally in the light.

I was stunned

My life is stunning.

My joy and love know no bounds.

I can not believe that this is the life I am leading.

I drove back to Stone Tree with the fullest heart and the utmost gratitude for the sky, for the silhouettes of trees against the indigo dusk, for the navigation on my iPhone telling me where to turn in 1.2 miles turn left.

Thank God for navigation.

I would still be out there back tracking.

I kept telling myself that I should not listen to the voices in my head which said, “you just missed the turn!”

Shush voices.

You’ve never done me right and being directionally retarded, I was more than happy to rely on the navigation system on the phone.

I will be relying on it again as I leave Sonoma and drive straight to SFO on Friday.

I will leave here at 3 p.m.

The drive is 1.38 hours according to the navigation app and I shall drop the rental car at the place on 710 McDonnell road, where I was assured it would only take me 15 minutes to drop of the car and for them to revert the deposit of $150 back to my account.

$150 which I had to deposit since I used my debit card.

$150 which may take two weeks to get back to my account.

Whatever.

Small price to pay to have some autonomy here in Sonoma and how fortuitous when I was offered the trip down to LA that I would have a rental car under my care and all I would have to do is drive straight to the airport.

Is it odd?

Or is it God?

That is a rhetorical question, I know what it is.

I can see this beautiful design for living that I have been granted and I am charmed and loved, graced, and so blessed to have the things in my life that I have.

I mean.

I got some huge news with the scholarships.

Plural, remember.

Not one, but two.

I sent a thank you note to the head of the department letting her know how grateful I was that she had referred me to the scholarship opportunity that has been afforded me and was there any further action that I need to do.

She replied how pleased she was that I was awarded the scholarship and how much they are looking forward to working with me and that all I had to do was accept my financial aid package when it is sent to me.

Done and done.

I accept!

Then I have some one amazing and new, but not new, just never quite seen before, there all along, there doing the deal, just on the outskirts, just beyond my periphery, present in my life.

Such a gift.

This person.

Who is flying me down to Los Angeles to celebrate my success and joy and to accompany me about the museums and to look at the art and to do the deal and have some fun and then road trip it back to San Francisco.

He’ll be picking me up at LAX and we’ll be staying at an Air BnB in Santa Monica.

I think I have a date to go down to the boardwalk and ride the ferris wheel.

I have never been to the boardwalk.

I haven’t really been to LA.

I did ride into it on the Aids LifeCycle ride in 2010, but frankly by the time that adventure was done, I couldn’t care less what city I was in, I just wanted to go home.

The next time I went was about six years ago when I was in a production of Jackie B’s and I travelled down to do a show in Santa Monica.

I got done with work at 6:30p.m. on Friday, got picked up by a friend, and we drove through the night to get into Santa Monica and stay at a tiny house with 9 other people.

I got no sleep.

Did the dress rehearsal.

Wandered around in a sleep deprived haze and ate lunch at an old-fashioned diner on Santa Monica Boulevard.

I remember seeing a lot of tourists and being hot.

That’s it.

The show went off and I spent the night back in that same house, cramped, and dirty and tired and then my ride went and hooked up with someone and left me to my own defenses, leaving me to ride around in the back of someone’s camper with no concept of when I would get back to San Francisco.

I feel that this trip will be far different.

And I am so looking forward to it.

The museums.

The company.

To get to share my celebration and joy with another person and go to museums?

Please.

Who am I to say there is no God?

Or love.

If you will.

I am loved.

I am so loved.

My heart is full of daisies.

Sunshine.

And bright sweet love.

And with that.

I am.

Back on the beam.

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There Are No Words

June 23, 2015

I mean.

Really.

There are no words.

So.

I’ll let the e-mail speak for itself while I try to catch my breath and let my tea cool off enough to sip on it.

Spontaneous crying may happen at any point in the writing of this blog, FYI.

To wit this is the e-mail I opened an hour ago:

Dear Carmen,

Congratulations!  On behalf of the California Institute of Integral Studies Diversity Leadership Scholarship Committee, I’m happy to inform you that you’ve been selected as a recipient of the J.C. Kellogg Integral Counseling Psychology Scholarship. This scholarship provides recipients with $10,000.00 per school year for the 3 years of the ICP/W Programs.

The Financial Aid office will be sending you a revised Awards Package in which this scholarship will be included.

Wishing you all the best!

With warm regards, Pauline

Pauline E. Reif, MA, MFA

Admissions Counselor

California Institute of Integral Studies

I can barely breathe.

I don’t have to take out student loans.

ANY.

NOT A FREAKING ONE.

The Opportunity Scholarship I was awarded was for tuition solely, nothing to sneeze at, let me remind you–$50,000–basically paying, directly, my first four semesters of six semesters of tuition.

Now.

To get this.

To be recognized again.

I.

Oh.

There’s the tears.

Pause.

Breathe.

This means that I won’t as I said, have to take out any additional student loans, suffice to say I am still paying on my undergraduate student loans, $32,000 left on that.

Anyone feeling like paying those off, you just let me know.

It’s the only debt I have.

No credit cards, no scooter payments, no words, no freaking words.

I called my best friend and relayed the news and she said I should run around barefoot in the grass like Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music.

She, Julie Andrews character, was a nanny too!

Nanny’s be getting it on.

I kicked off my flip-flops, tumbled down the flagstone steps and ran around the paddock of grass that encircles the back of the house here at Stone Tree–laughing, crying, sharing with my friend the news, slightly hysterical, definitely giddy.

Normally I would have read that e-mail much sooner, but I have been busy with the little boy wrangling and the swimming and the black berry picking and the wild plum harvest and the walking the dog and taking pictures and soaking up the sun.

It wasn’t until I was sitting on the back patio, all the boys fed, watching a movie with the parents, that I picked up my phone to check my messages and to have a cup of tea while the sun set, golden spiced and delicious, fingers of shadows blue indigo ripe and full of barn swallows reveling in their dinner at dusk.

I was also texting with a friend, said friend who I get to see on Friday in LA for much museum sightings and plain old celebrations.

Seriously.

I get to celebrate more.

I don’t know how to do that, I am so overwhelmed with it, but I do know how to be grateful, I do know how to humbly accept with thanks the gifts that have been given to me, I get to see how important it is that I walk through these doors and take these gifts and share them with my fellows, my community, my family.

I just.

Whew.

Lost my train of thought.

Trying to breathe and take it all in.

It’s a lot to take in.

And.

Knowing, having the faith that once I started the process that I just had to continue to show up, one day at a time, one moment, giving my best in each moment, being utterly present and myself.

Life is going to happen.

But life without more student loans is also going to happen.

I am so honored.

I’m going to work so hard.

I’m still going to work for my family, of course, I just found out that I won a full ride to school, not a full ride to live in San Francisco.

I make enough working full-time at what I do to live a sweet, comfortable life, with good food in my fridge, a snick of money in my savings account for emergencies and the basics pretty well covered.

My rent and cost of living is below average in San Francisco.

I’m going to have to work, but I won’t have to work as much.

And since the family is going to only need me part-time when the boys are both in matriculation one in pre-school and the other in kindergarten; it works out that I have the right work environment to support my graduates school endeavors.

I won’t have to take out student loans, I won’t have to take out student loans, I won’t have to take out student loans.

Pardon me.

I am crying again.

I spent the day gamboling with the dog, picking blackberries, digging trenches with the boys, playing tag, swimming, it’s a nice pool I felt so happy to be in the water, I even did a few laps and I suspect that I will do a solo swim on my own at some point.

Maybe even tonight when the families get all the boys tucked in for the night.

I will definitely go outside and watch the stars and let the tears fall and though I am alone, I know I am not lonely.

I have friends.

I have family.

I have support and love and kindness immeasurable in my life.

I am the luckiest girl in the world.

And I get to go to LA?

Please.

Who is this woman?

I was talking to my person earlier today as I walked through the garden, checking out if any of the produce was ready to be picked, nothing yet, but some fresh herbs and the berries and plums, which I was happy to just pop into my mouth, and I expressed that I was so astounded by my life.

And this was before I got the second scholarship news.

I saw this arc of my life, this huge parabola of experiences that I have had and marveled, utterly marveled at how I have come this far.

So far.

From being in the back of that VW Bug when I was four, running across country, with my mom and her boyfriend, my little sister and two cats (and let us not forget the large screen television set that took up half of the back seat–which was why I was in the nook between the back seat and the window, my nest of pillows bolstering my view of the passing sky) running away from an eviction, to another uncertain and tenuous beginning for my mom back in Wisconsin.

To now.

The drive up here to Sonoma, the sun, the color of the sky, the dusty grass-covered hills, the spreading oaks and my heart, so full, so open to everything.

And then this?!

Jumping Jesus on a pogo stick.

I really have no words.

Even though I just wrote a 1200 word blog.

Bahahahahaha.

Thank you God.

Thank you friends, family, community, my fellowship, my employers, everyone.

Thank you everyone.

I wouldn’t be where I am without you.

And where I’m going isn’t worth going without you too.

I heart you to the moon and back a 1,000 times.

I love you “this big.”

I mean.

THIS BIG.

SO BIG.

So very big.

There are no words.

Let It Go

June 22, 2015

Let it all go.

Revel in the sunshine, thick, golden, syrupy sunshine, splayed down the mountains.

The song on the radio.

The blue sky above.

My foot on the pedal and I’m off to Glen Ellen for a week for work.

I was anxious this morning, I find traveling extraordinarily exciting and fulfilling, but there’s always a touch of anxiety around it, what to pack, how to pack, am I taking too much, too little, do I have my toothbrush?

It was also a day of coordination, clean up the house, make sure my ducks were in a row, tidy up the back yard from the bonfire the other night, make the bed, water the plants, do a little grocery shopping so that I was able to eat for the day, but not my typical three market shopping.

Just a run up to Other Avenues–a pint of strawberries, a 1/2 dozen eggs, a travel size box of toothpaste.

I may or may not, the verdict is still out, being going to LA at the end of the week.

I have let go any expectations, I don’t want to force things, I am liking the idea of a friendship and going slow so LA might be off the table.  I haven’t heard either way, but I know, I know without a doubt, that there is nothing wrong.

I mean.

I am working in sunshine all week.

I may get to go to LA at the end of it.

And next week?

Atlanta.

I am going to get to wear summer clothes, no scarves thank you very much, for the next two weeks.

That is such a huge gift.

I love San Francisco, but I love sunshine too.

Having been previously diagnosed with seasonal depression when I was younger (not to mention the clinical anxiety, and depression I was diagnosed with as an adult) sunshine is like medicine to me.

I love Wisconsin, but I don’t think I can ever live there again.

Not enough sunshine.

And I love the Outer Sunset and the beach and I know without any doubt in my mind that I will always live by the ocean, how can I not, it soothes me, it cradles me to sleep, “you can hear the ocean from here!” He said opening up the back door to my studio.

But.

I could really do without the cold summers and fogginess.

I know it’s the tradeoff for having rent I can afford in the city, although the rents in the neighborhood have gone up and if you had told me a couple of years ago that I would be living in the Outer Sunset I would have told you to go fire up your crack pipe.

I yearn for sunshine.

So.

This work trip, a gift.

All travel, really a gift.

I watched the ocean sparkle and glimmer with light this afternoon on the way out to the airport, my employers had me rent a car and Uber out to SFO to pick it up, and was stunned again by the beauty that is just there, right there for me to access.

I enjoyed the ride.

I love car trips.

I like driving.

But I like being a passenger even more.

The watching out the windows, the light moving past, the glamour of road travel.

Yes.

I am a weirdo.

I think road travel has a certain kind of glamour to it.

It also has a certain sound track and I spent a lot of time flipping through the radio stations on the car before I found what I liked.

It should be classic rock and maybe some blues and ballads to sing to.

A little folk is lovely, but classic rock does it for me.

It’s how I grew up, it’s what was playing on the radio when my mom and sister and mom’s boyfriend took the first big road trip of my life from California out to Wisconsin.

I was four and a half?

Five tops.

Riding in the back of the Volkswagen Bug, listening to music, watching the clouds scroll by, and the light, the light always capturing me, doing something magical and alchemic to my soul.

My heart burnished with 70s rock melodies and high bright blue skies and sunshine.

No wonder I wanted to move back out West as soon as I graduated from college.

Once I had made the first initial foray I knew I would never come back.

My mom told me she knew that when I got to San Francisco there was no turning back for me, she had not wanted to buy me the plane ticket, it was a gift, one of the few my mom got right on the nose (I asked for it specifically, it may have been the only time in my life I really asked for what I wanted from my mom and she gave it to me.  Thanks mom.) and I knew she regretted it on some levels, her baby flying the coop at the ripe age of 29.

When I drive in California, those songs come back to me, the sunshine comes back to me, I am overwhelmed with sense memory and the smell of the air, the slight oceanic tinge, the dry grass, the time of day even will envelop me with memory.

Some concrete and tangible.

Some vague, yet, so strong, so filled with meaning and emotion I could feel my tender heart, well, growing more tender.

I teared up driving into the sun under a canopy of spreading oak trees as I turned up Sonoma Mountain Road heading to the house the family has rented for the next week.

There was something about the sun dappling through those branches, the Steve Miller Band on the radio, and the smell of it all that made me so aware of how amazing my life is and how much work and effort it has taken to get back here, having circled back and completed this revolution of change and growth in my life.

To be exactly where I am at.

The still point.

Of.

Perfection.

See You In An Hour

June 20, 2015

What a nice surprise.

I wasn’t expecting to have a date tonight, but things change.

“That was not the plan,” I told my friend tonight outside on the curb across the street from the Safeway in the Castro, “not the plan at all,” then I appropriately blushed.  Thank God it was already dark outside and it could just as well have been the red neon light from the Burger Joint then my face flushing.

He laughed, “nothing ever goes as planned.”

This is true.

I have had a few changes in my schedule, small ones, these last few days and watching how that has happened and the way it has shaped me day is interesting.

Typically, yeah, I know, it’s a Friday, but typically on a Friday, I would be making a cup of tea.

Check.

The teapot is just about to boil.

And writing my blog.

Double check.

Writing the blog.

But I would not be going out further.

When I am writing the blog it is usually indicative of the day being finished and the only thing that I am going to do after I put “pen to paper” is watch a download on my laptop.

I don’t know when tonight will end as the last time I hung out with the man, we were up talking until 5:15 a.m.

Thank God I don’t work tomorrow.

In fact.

My entire day opened up, I have, wait for it, nothing planned.

NOTHING.

I mean I will find an hour to do that thing that I do every day, but since I’m not working and not meeting with the people I usually meet with, I can be flexible with that.

I can go anywhere.

I can do anything.

Tomorrow is a big white clean slate.

In fact.

As of 11:15 pm tonight I have a bunch of big clean open space and time.

That is exciting.

Not nerve-wracking.

I’m wide open to the possibilities, however they present themselves.

I am excited for my life.

I mean, I am excited a lot, all the time.

“Did I read your blog right?”

A friend texted me this afternoon.

“Did you get a full scholarship to grad school?!

Yup.

I did.

And if that’s not exciting enough, I have a date for a Friday night too.

Not bad, Martines, not bad at all.

Pretty fucking awesome, because I have a date with someone I really like and it’s not a blind date with some yahoo off a dating website.

I have not checked Match.com or OkStupid since the night he asked me out.

“You mean, when you asked me out,” he’s teased me a few times.

Sure.

That night.

I don’t care, I don’t have to be right, I can just be happy.

I didn’t ask him out, he asked me (see, I can’t do it!!) but I will acquiesce that position any time) I would rather be happy with him than right.

Being right never makes me happy.

Small or big things.

Being right just makes me an uptight asshole afraid that if someone else is right that there is something wrong with me.

Nothing is wrong here.

Nothing at all.

It’s Friday.

After all.

That in and of itself is a happy thing.

Today was a happy day too.

The boys were a bit wound up when I got to work, there is much excitement for the weekend, the family is leaving for Sonoma tomorrow, Glen Ellen to be exact, for the next ten days.

I will be going there Sunday evening.

I’m not working until Monday, but I figure I’ll grab the rental car from the airport and head up early Sunday evening so that I am settled in and ready to start Monday morning rather than drive up super early on Monday and be off kilter the whole day.

I am not as anxious about spending the week with the family as I thought I would be.

Of course.

My mind has been preoccupied with other things.

Heh.

Oh, that does remind me, I need to buy a swim suit before I head up to Sonoma, the one I have is more of a lounge by the pool suit than a swim laps suit and I suspect I will be in the pool a lot over the week with the boys.

Plus, I may do some lap swimming on my own.

I won’t be riding my bicycle for a week and that means I need to find something else to do for my exercise.

I use my bicycle for transportation, not really for exercise, but it kills two birds with one stone and I need to exercise, I get wonky in the brain if I don’t.

I will foresee swimming laps and long hikes.

That should keep the brain chemistry balanced.

I will also be checking out the fellowship in Sonoma, I haven’t really done so before, I’m curious to see what is there.  I won’t be coming into the city for my regular routine at all.  I’ll be in Sonoma until I fly out to LA on Friday.

I got the thumbs up from the employers to get off a little early on Friday, I’ll zoom the car back to the airport and hop a plane and be heading down the coast.

I googled the LACMA last night.

I can’t wait.

Another museum to add to my list (The Louvre, Musee D’Orsay,  Musee de l’Orangerie, The Dali Museum, Musee de Quai Branly, Musee Carnvalet, Musee Rodin, Centres Georges Pompidou, National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Palaise, Le Petite Palais, Musee Marmottan Monet, Guimet Museum, Maison de Victor Hugo, I’ve been to a few museums in Paris, heh, The MOMA in San Francisco, The Legion of Honor, the DeYoung, The Cartoon Museum, The Museum of Jewish Diaspora, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, the Metropolitan Museum in New York, National Gallery London, Palazzo delle Esposizioni in Rome and the Davinci Museum, then the old standby’s The Wisconsin Historical Museum, The Milwaukee Art Museum, and The Art Institute of Chicago.  Oh, and the Anchorage Museum when I was up in Anchorage in December taking a break from sitting bed side while my dad was in a coma–God I needed that break.

I am probably forgetting one or two or three, but obviously, I have a special thing for museums.

For art.

“I’m not a Burner,” he said, “I’m probably not ever going to go.”

And that’s ok.

Burning Man is a museum for me too–all the art, that’s what I go for, that and the community that has grown up around me there.  I have made some amazing friends there and have had my heart lit on fire by the art.

I’m ready for the LACMA and maybe the Getty.

I’m ready for more happy.

But then again, I always am ready for more.

More experiences.

More life.

More love.

Bring on the weekend.

I am ready.


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