Posts Tagged ‘Polk Street’

Open Heart

January 28, 2018

I have felt pretty fucking raw this past week.

I have gone through a lot and I have not walked it alone.

Today.

Ah.

Today.

I finally had a day without crying.

I got emotional, I had moments where I thought I would.

I had some strong longings, really fucking strong, to reach out and engage, but I remember that I don’t do this alone and that I have been given a lot of suggestions about how to navigate through my experience.

It doesn’t make it easier, in fact, it seems to make it harder.

But.

I suspect that the pain will be worth it.

That I will be left with something magic and special and worth it.

As I was told today, “the only way through is through.”

I am definitely going the fuck through it.

And.

Yes.

I did go and get myself some tattoos.

And yes.

They did ameliorate the pain a little bit, focused it in one location, shut my fucking brain off for a little while.

I got lost in the pain, floated around in it, distracted by the sound of the needle and the threading pain on my breast bone.

But it helped too.

And I love my new tattoos.

I got my lucky thirteen star.

For my thirteen years of sobriety.

I have a star for each year I have been sober.

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I had my artist, Danny Boy Smith, at Let it Bleed Tattoo on Polk Street, make the placement.

I had thought of doing it a little lower, but when he put it underneath my ear I was quite taken with it.

Of course.

Holy shit.

That was distracting.

Having the needle so close to my ear, very distracting, it seemed to intensify the pain, the noise did, and I was very grateful that it wasn’t that big of a tattoo, he handled it pretty quick.

I had already gotten my other tattoo and was pretty pumped up on adrenaline by that, so the star didn’t hurt that much, it was just the sound of the needle and the vibration in my ear that was a little more intense than I had expected.

My first tattoo.

Well.

Fuck.

It hurt.

Yes.

It did.

I love when people ask if getting a tattoo hurt.

Duh, motherfucker.

Of course it hurts, come on.

Needles being driven into your skin, no really, it’s like getting a warm massage.

However.

I will say, my adrenalin kicked in super fast.

In fact.

I noticed it before I was in the chair, I was getting nervous and my body temperature went up, my fingers got cold and I got a little sweaty upper lip.

Fight or flight response.

Jittery stomach.

Despite making sure that I had a good lunch and I had it later in the day so that my stomach would be full while I got tattooed.

I can’t imagine anything worse than being hungry while being tattooed.

No thank you.

Anyway.

Yeah.

The adrenalin got up there right away.

The placement was on my breast-plate.

It’s beautiful.

I love the piece.

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I feel like it really tied all the pieces together and it just feels like I got the right placement and I really love the design.

It was based on a very special Tiffany pendant I was gifted.

One of my favorite things that I have been given this past year.

God.

When I think of the gifts I have been given.

I am amazed.

Even this pain that I have been walking through.

It’s a gift.

I get to feel it.

I get to feel the depth and breadth of my feeling.

I got to see how much I love.

I love a lot.

I love hard.

I love with reckless abandon and passion.

And.

Well, fuck, that makes me proud.

I’m alive and I wasn’t afraid to be sorry, I don’t have regrets.

Not a fucking one.

Rather.

I am grateful for all these experiences.

I have been given so much love.

The fact that I was hit so very hard with my circumstances shows to me the amount of love I have.

It is enormous.

It boggles my mind.

I used to pine for a love like this and then I got it.

And I was amazed.

I am amazed, at what I have gotten to experience.

And though I don’t believe that I am done grieving yet, I don’t feel like it’s a loss any longer.

Ok, that’s not true, it does still feel like a loss, but I know that it’s becoming more than that.

It is an opportunity to love more, to allow myself to step out into the light and shine forward and be strong and generous and kind and compassionate.

With myself.

With others.

I don’t know what my love path looks like, but I do not have any doubt that I won’t get to travel further along it.

Darling, reach out, and take my hand.

I will walk this path with my hand open, waiting for you to take it into yours.

I have faith.

Love.

I have so much faith.

And I know how strong I am.

For having walked as far as I have already.

I will be able to do this.

Grateful and alight for the experience of love that I have gotten.

In complete faith, utter and complete faith, that this love is not done.

It is infinite.

It is grand.

It is eternal.

All encompassing.

A shining beacon.

A brightly lit heart.

Just like the inspiration for my new tattoo.

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Graduation Application

January 5, 2018

Holy fuck.

It’s happening.

I mean.

It’s been happening for years now, when I think about it, the getting to graduation bit.

But.

Whoa.

It’s really happening now.

I got a notification from my cohort’s student representative with the program that the deadline for the application to graduate is February 1st.

I have two more weeks before I’m heading back into the first weekend of classes for my last semester and I have to be on this shit in a major way.

There are quite a few hoops to jump through,

I am a tiny bit surprised that there is so much paperwork that has to be done, and at the same time, not at all surprised, the school is small and there often times seems to be a lot of unnecessary hoop jumping on the part of the students.

This is not something new.

So good information to have as I navigate the next couple of weeks before the semester begins, because I will also have another application due in February.

The application to the PhD program through the Transformative Psychology program.

That application is due at the end of the month.

The application to graduate from my Masters in Counseling Psychology will be due the 1st of the month.

Nicely bookending my weekend of classes and all the other things that I need to take care of to get through the month.

Plus.

I am going on a trip in February to the East Coast.

Holy bats.

February is going to be a big fucking month.

And although it’s only January 4th I can feel that this month is going to fly by.

This week certainly has, I was like, wait, what, tomorrow’s Friday?

How the hell did that happen so quick?

Back to clients, back to work, holidays over, get yourself busy.

Gratefully this week really was an easing in.

I didn’t have my solo supervision, that revs back up on Monday, just my therapy this week, and I also did not carry my full load of clients.

I’ve had three this week so far, two of those session were tonight, and I will have a phone session tomorrow at 6:30 p.m.

My last client of the week cancelled.

So I will actually get out in time to do the deal.

Maybe I’ll pop over to Our Lady of Safeway and get right with God.

It’s been a hot second since I’ve been in that neck of the woods.

I’ve a full day Saturday, dentist appointment at 9 a.m., hoping to get out with just a quick cleaning and get back to my neighborhood in time to go to yoga, then a shower, some late breakfast, and getting over to group supervision in the afternoon from 2-4p.m.

I’ll have a lull in between, maybe time to get a manicure.

I’ll hit my spot at 7pm in the NOPA and call it a Saturday.

Sunday I do have a ladybug coming over to do some work and I’m looking forward to that for sure.

Of course, I’ll want to get in a yoga class, and perhaps another bike ride, I really enjoyed doing that.

If the weather holds.

It’s been raining a fuck of a lot the last couple days and it looks like there’s still some more in the upcoming days.

So grateful for my car.

Really, so much.

Especially coming home tonight when the sky just sort of opened up out of nowhere, to not be on my scooter in the rain, such a blessing.

Anyway.

Sunday may be the day to kick out the graduation application.

I do want to get it out-of-the-way fairly quickly.

I don’t want it looming over me during the school weekend, especially as I will be occupied getting into my class routine.

Plus.

I will want to have the rest of the time to work on my application for the PhD program.

Which reminds me.

I need to talk to my advisor, who just so happens to be the head of my department, about getting a letter of recommendation from him.

The PhD program requires that one of my letters come from my academic advisor.

I don’t believe it will be too hard to get a good letter from him, he was one of my first teachers in the program, I had him my first semester, he admires me, he has asked me to help advise others regarding writing academically and he’s asked after my experience with teachers in the program and some interesting internal conflicts my cohort has gone through.

I really like him and he likes me and he’s been a great advocate of mine.

I have to make an appointment to meet with him ASAP.

I’m going to be talking to the Dean from the Transformative Psychology department on Monday, I want to line up my advisor for the following week when I’ll be heading into my first weekend of the semester.

But.

First.

A little fun.

And.

Oh.

A tiny bit of pain too.

I have my anniversary in 9 days and a dance party to go to–the fun.

And.

Yes.

A thirteenth star tattoo to get–the pain.

I’ll be heading into see Danny Boy at Let it Bleed on Polk Street on the afternoon of my anniversary after I get out of my group supervision.

Danny Boy’s done the last three stars for me.

I’m planning a pink one this go around, a small’ish one, on the right side of my neck, above the big black star that I got, my 11th year, which also happened to fall right after David Bowie’s death–Bowie was sober and his last album was Black Star–seemed quite apropos.

I’m excited.

There’s some big stuff happening.

Anniversary, graduation application, PhD application, life, love, doing the deal, work, clients.

All the things.

All of them.

No More Tattoos

February 20, 2017

There.

I mean.

I don’t know that I can say no more tattoos, tattoos I think will continue to happen, but.

No more tattoos there.

Specifically on my collar-bone.

Whoooee getting my touch up today was not intolerable, but I had some dread going back in, which is fairly unusual for me in getting work done.

Especially with something so small, but the location and the thinness of the skin over the collar-bone, really was, well not excruciating, but challenging for sure.

I have an idea for a tattoo I’d like to get next year but aside from that I have no other tattoo plans in sight.

In fact.

I was thinking that the one I get next year may be it for a good while.

Then again.

A lady can change her mind.

It’s just that I am not feeling the need for more ink.

Granted.

I’ll probably get to Paris in May and go to Abraxas and want a tattoo.

I do like me a tattoo as a souvenir of my travels.

I have two from Paris and one I got in New York.

The rest of my work has been gotten here in San Francisco.

I have had one primary artist.

Barnaby Williams.

He is currently at Tiger’s Blood in Alameda.

I first went to Barnaby when he was the owner of Mom’s in the Haight.

I had made an appointment to get a dragon tattoo from Barnaby.

I walked into the shop into a huge bear hug from the man and big mournful eyes.

“Hey,” he said quietly, “how ya doin’?”

I teared up.

“I’m ok, but um, I don’t want to do the dragon tattoo anymore,” I said, eyes blurred and starting to sniffle, “I want to get a memorial instead.”

He nodded.

Sat down and drew out the tattoo for me.

Two white French Tulips.

(Shadrach’s favorite flowers)

And the last line of the elegy that Dylan Thomas wrote for his father.

Until I die/He will not leave my side.

It was written in beautiful calligraphic script.

The flowers he outlined and used white ink on, white does not traditionally stick very well, but it seems to have weathered the test of time.

I have had the tattoo for 9.5 years and it still looks bright and fresh.

It was the biggest piece I had gotten up until that point.

The other two were small, a cover up on my left shoulder of my name in flames, a cover up that Barnaby later covered  up with a dragon, classic little known tattoo–the cover up of the cover up.

In the end, so far.

Barnaby has done two dragons on me, both left arm and right arm, and a beautiful pink Jackalope surrounded by French Marguerite daisies, my favorite flowers.

I have had work done as well.

By Ross K. Jones out of Idle Hand on Haight Street.

Although when I got tattooed by Ross he was out of a warehouse space in the SOMA before warehouse spaces in the SOMA were at a premium.

Ross tattooed my first set of stars.

Seven stars for seven years of sobriety.

To this day I can say that Ross has one of the gentlest approaches and best bedside manner of any tattoo artist I have had.

I have one tattoo from a guest Chinese tattoo artist at Abraxas in Paris when I was there last year at Christmas, his name was Bin and we “talked” via Google translator.

He did the Reve (pop a circumflex over the “e” in reve and you get “dream” in French) piece on my chest plate.

Despite the area being a thinner place of skin, he was fast, smooth, efficient, gentle, it was quite a bit less painful than I thought it was going to be.

Barnaby has done one star as well–he did number 10, which was a bit bigger than my other ones and I had him do an homage to Van Gough’s Starry Night painting, but I asked him to use yellow and pink in the tattoo (thereby balancing the pink of the other stars that I had and complementing the sky blue ones I have as well).

Danny Boy Smith, at Let it Bleed on Polk Street, has done two of my stars.

Number 11, which I had him do as a black star to homage David Bowie’s passing last year and also my 11th year in recovery.

And.

This current new star, star number 12.

Which is a soft pastel blue with black outline.

I like my tattoos.

They tell me a story.

They are beautiful art pieces.

I am connected to each in memorable ways and each has meaning to me.

They needn’t tell anyone’s story but my own.

I often forget I have them and will be startled occasionally when someone references them.

In Paris it was challenging, albeit not so much the last time I was there since it was winter, when I have shown off a lot of tattoos.

There are plenty of shops and plenty of people with tattoos in Paris, it’s become quite a bit more acceptable, but I have gotten some stares, tell you what.

Especially at the swimming pool or just walking the streets or going through the Metro stations.

I forget about them too, living in San Francisco.

It seems like everyone has one.

But some, well, some are better than others and I can tell the jail tats from the gang tats from the home-made gun tats and the sleeves of suddenly wealthy dot-com kids who made it big in the 90s to the hipster tattoos and throw back retro vintage Sailor Jerry tattoo art that is so popular today with the Millennials.

I was getting tattooed and pierced long before it was popular.

I don’t care about the time line on it, it’s just an observation.

I am grateful though, that I have had such great artists in my tattoo history.

I am proud of my ink.

Sometimes it is a mask to hide behind.

Sometimes it is a shield.

You cannot hurt me I have done the hurting already.

Sometimes it is art.

It is beauty.

The narrative of my recovery and the sheltering sky storms brewed up in my psyche.

Just another indelible way I wear my heart on my sleeve.

I’m serious.

Courtesy of Mat Moreno out of Three Kings Tattoo in Brooklyn.

I have a heart tattoo with cherry blossoms on my left inner arm.

Heh.

 

 

Poetry In Translation

February 6, 2017

Is like taking a shower in a raincoat.

Yes.

I went and saw a movie today.

That was a line between two of the characters.

It was lyric and sweet and the sweep of it was soft and gorgeous.

I was unexpectedly free this afternoon.

I had some things come up and I had to change my plans.

I had managed to get up and go to yoga, even though I really didn’t think I was going to after the late night I had last night.

I had turned off my alarm and just planned to let myself sleep in, but I was up in time to make the late morning yoga class and I went.

I really didn’t think I was going to, even after I had gotten out of bed.

I went and washed my face and brushed my teeth, drank a glass of water, took my iron supplement and flax-seed oil and went to get dressed.

I opened the door to the closet and pulled off my yoga pants from the rack and put them on.

I almost laughed out loud.

It was just so automated, my body telling my brain what it wanted to do and just doing it regardless of the brain that was like, no, you’re not going, my body was like, sorry Charlie, as my hands pulled up my yoga pants and then my sports bra and top, I actually chuckled at myself, I was that surprised.

Sometimes I have smart feet and they just carried me along despite my brains weak protestations that I could just go at another time.

Yeah.

Sure brain.

You get me into some hot spots you know, why don’t you just take a back seat today.

The yoga was good, but hard, I mean, it was a super challenging class, but I found myself letting it be hard and doing what I could to keep up and just being there was more than good enough.

I came back home, changed and made breakfast.

I did some inventory and decided that I needed to change-up my plans for the day, but I was till going to head down to Let It Bleed and see my tattoo artist.

I need some touching up on the star tattoo I got two weeks ago.

But.

Shoot.

It’s not fully healed.

“Nope, I’m not going to touch it, the skin’s too tight, it’ll end up tearing, you’ll scar, we need to wait a little longer,” he told me.

So.

No tattoo for me today.

Suddenly having time, I called a friend in the Mission, let’s hang out, I said on the message.

I started to walk towards the Mission and decided to go see a movie before I headed over to my friend’s house.

I ducked into Opera Plaza and saw Paterson.

It was just the perfect reprieve and the perfect place to watch a matinée on a rainy Sunday in San Francisco.

The theater was actually quite a bit fuller than I had expected and it was cozy, smelling of warm buttered popcorn and the soft warmth lulled me and the movie with its fluidity of images and poetic moments, its small details and artistry drew me in.

I left happy and content and meandered a nice mellow walk to my friend’s house.

We chatted, had tea, he fed me an apple and a thick slice of brie, we caught up, compared notes about this and that, school, mutual friends, life.

It was just right.

Then I headed over to Firewood Cafe up in the Castro and had a big heart to heart with my person about the events of my day and got some suggestions and afterwards we went over to Diamond and 18th and hung out with a big group of fellows and I got to be held and it felt so good to sit next to someone who loves me and gives me perspective and also doesn’t sugar coat anything and yet advocates for me in a way I am not sure anyone has ever done before.

And now home.

Some Jeff Buckley on the stereo, I was just talking about the show that I saw him in when he was on tour with his album Grace last night with my friend in Oakland.

I love you.

But.

I am afraid to love you.

How I heard the news when he died, drowning in a river, the Mississippi to be exact.

I was setting up the Angelic Brewing Company for that night’s dinner service and had cued up Grace to play on the sound system and one of the waitresses walked past and stopped and said, “God, weren’t you devastated when you heard he’d died?  I haven’t been able to listen to this yet, thanks for playing it now.”

I gasped.

I had remembered only that day wondering when he was going to be on tour again, impatiently waiting for his long over due album My Sweetheart, The Drunk.

I ended up giving him a eulogy in my speech class that semester and crying shamelessly during it.

Music moves me.

When he sang Leonard Cohen’s version of Hallelujah during the encore at the Barrymore Theater in Madison I just about collapsed with the joy and the exquisite pain of the music.

But you don’t really care for music.

Do you?

Things change.

But somethings are indelible on my soul and that song, those words, landed and stuck.

I have a great deal of perspective since then and have grown, moved, changed, evolved, but poetry is poetry is poetry.

And when I walked through the streets of San Francisco in the overcast grey and threatening rain I was glad for the light and the rain and the soft forlorn grey and the sweet surreal beauty of the sky over the Opera House, in the alleys of the Mission, the graffiti murals washed clean and bright in the tepid grey of the day, my heart shifted and the bloom of the umbrella over my head sheltered me and led me forward into the heart of the city that I am so-called to be a part of and belong to.

I am.

Even when the day was different then what I expected.

The open window lets the rain in.

The open heart lets the love in.

Thank you San Francisco.

I do so love you.

I do.

Thank you for loving me back.

It has not gone unnoticed.

No.

It has not.

 

Eleven

January 18, 2016

For eleven.

I got my eleventh star this eveningIMG_8287

I think she’s pretty.

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Courtesy of Danny Boy Smith @ Let it Bleed.

Deep in the heart of the Tenderloin.

Wow.

Not much has changed and so much has changed.

I am beyond grateful that the reason I was in the Tenderloin was to score a new tattoo.

Not to score.

I haven’t been over to Polk Street in quite sometime.

I used to live up at Washington and Taylor and would frequently ride my bicycle up Polk and then up further, up, up, up California Street, then onto Washington, ending at Taylor.

High.

Up above the crack smoke filled streets and the dirty self-medicating junkies and the cross dressing prostitutes.

I was surprised to see a couple of girls working the streets.

I mean.

I should not have been.

It is the Tenderloin.

Maybe it was just that I haven’t seen a working girl where I live in some time.

Not much action going on in the Outer Sunset.

Although I’m sure things are shaking and moving in and out of the 7-11 parking lot just down the street from my house.

I was glad to walk the streets and not be a street walker, to be coming from my last hour of classes at my first weekend back to my second semester of my graduate school program, to be heading to get a tattoo to celebrate my eleventh anniversary without picking up.

Rather than picking through the garbage strewn gutters or standing under an awning smoking a cigarette and wondering how the hell it all went wrong.

Instead.

I find myself wondering how the hell it all went so wonderfully right.

Graduate school reinforces that premise every time I walk the halls of the university.

Every time I sit in class and raise my hand.

Every time I have a positive interaction with a professor, a student, a fellow in my cohort.

I am full, constantly, of wonder and awe.

Not withstanding I am also a little tired, it was a big weekend, but I did it, I’m through, and I don’t know if it’s an actual lighter reading load then last semester or that I am used to doing the work, but it feels easier.

Perhaps I am just easing into it.

Gratefully so with much surrender.

And.

Really.

Just a stunning amount of perpetual incredulousness that I have made it this far.

I really should not be here.

If life were fair.

I would be dead.

I also have been recognizing, noticing, and in great awareness around the myriad of strikes that have just been against me for so long.

Poverty.

Drug abuse.

Alcohol abuse.

Sexual abuse.

Neglect.

Trauma, trauma, trauma.

I don’t think about it often, I don’t need to ponder the mysterious ways of the Universe, it was just brought home today in my first class of the morning.

I shared about not having real health insurance.

I have Healthy SF, in case you were wondering, but though it provides a lot of the things that having health insurance covers, it’s not the real deal.

And as I explained to my class over a discussion about what it is like to live with the constant, chronic, high level of poverty and what it was like to grow up–though I did not see it at the time–in that dire place of not enough, I realized it was a miracle, a fucking huge ass miracle, that I got out.

The cycle got broken.

I emerged.

A phoenix from the ashes of a crack pipe.

I mean.

Let me not put to fine a point on it.

But the affects still linger and I don’t always realize them.

The shame that comes from being poor, the hot lunch program at school, the American cheese in a box, being the scholarship kid, the kid in need, or the homeless teenager, who despite having a full ride to her first year at university, couldn’t keep it together to keep food in her dorm fridge.

The constant stress of not having the money to afford health insurance, with a few exceptions here and there, worrying about if I would get sick or hurt.

I related how when I did get hurt, my ankle injury, and how I was out of work for six weeks I was blessed with amazing friends who came out of the woodwork to help me.

The GoFund me that someone started so I could pay my rent that month.

The anonymous twenty dollar bill I found in my messenger bag one night.

The rides to and from places.

The gift card for the grocery store.

I have a community of love and friendship that I leaned into really hard.

But the affects of being raised with the absence of so much, I never really contemplated until, irony, no?

I got into graduate school.

Which is a privileged place to be.

Granted.

I am.

Again.

A scholarship kid.

No shame in that.

Although, yes, I admit,  I am loathe to share it with my cohort, I somehow, still think that I don’t quite deserve it and somebody will take it away from me.

In class today the lecture covered what happens to people who live under that kind of stress, who live with PTSD, poverty, drug abuse, alcoholism, for those that self-medicate in the streets, for the homelessness and the racism that we inflict on each other.

And I just felt like gasping for air.

My palms got hot, I got hot, my flight or fight or freeze got activated.

I was alive and charged up and saddened to hear what was being said and then reacting too, to some pretty naive comments made by some well meaning, but hyper privileged classmates.

So.

I shared.

I shared what it was like, what it is still like–do you know that I will get penalized by the government when I go to file my taxes for not having “real” health insurance–to be a person without.

The thing is.

I don’t believe I am a person without anymore.

I have so much.

Love.

Abundance.

Joy.

Stars–like eleven!

I have a good job, I am in graduate school, I live in San Francisco (still, haven’t gotten priced out yet!), I eat organic food and drink expensive coffee.

What I found fascinating, though, in class, from a very astute and experienced PhD professor, is that the affects of poverty don’t dissipate for about three generations.

A lot of the stress that I carry with me, even when I am flush, may well continue to be with me, to be in my body, to just be there.

I have felt it.

I have put name to it.

I have done inventory.

I remember once writing the fear a letter, saying, “dear fear, I hear you, you may be right, but I promise, I will take care of paying rent, you wont’ be homeless this month.”

I had it taped up to my wall by my writing desk for months.

It was when I was living up in Nob Hill.

I don’t know if those affects will always be there, as so much as been lifted, so much space has been made in my heart, in my body, so much psychic change has happened for me, that I believe these intergenerational traumas will end with me.

That is my belief.

And not only that.

The experiences, the wealth of knowledge, the how I got through, the how it works, the passing it on, they are the true measure of my abundance and ability.

These things mark me, but they are not me.

I am more than the sum of my parts.

I am the light that shines around the edges of those black stars.

I go forth.

Into this furthering light.

Into this ever expanding place of being held.

Always.

Further.

Into.

This deepening love.

 

 

Really, a weekend?

May 12, 2012

Well, not yet.

But I am going to have one.  Yes, yes, yes. Soon.

I will have two days off in a row.  Only, of course, after I work a good Saturday with me and the GM and the new guy.

I feel sorry for the new guy.  It might get messy.  He might be being thrown to the sharks.  Oh well, sink or swim, dude, sink or swim.

I designed two whole bikes from the ground up and sold them, thank you very much, today.  Plus, sold another that I had designed on Tuesday, and pulled one in from Los Angeles.  Four bikes.  Not bad for a Friday.

But the nicest part of my day was breakfast with Jeff.  We bumped into each other last Sunday after I had the crazy Sunday Street action happening and was way grumpy and just needed to sit and get centered with my people

And I am not talking my bike people.  For which, I am beginning to develop a little crew.  Some guy raced past me yesterday while I was out locking up a bike and I got a shout out, “nice bikes, Carmen!”

No clue who it was, did not recognize the voice, just that it was  a guy.  However, I did recognize the rims and the frame, one of ours.

Kind of fun.

When I saw Jeff I got the bestest hug and a suggestion that we get together and do breakfast.  We confirmed earlier this week and we met at Boogaloos for repast.

I had my favorite–the Zydeco–without the corn muffin, substitute grilled tomatoes, god I love you San Francisco, with black beans, scrambled eggs, salsa, and andouille sausage.  Loads of coffee and good old fashion catch up time with my friend.

I have known Jeff for seven years.

Jesus.  Seven.

We have grown up together and it is so nice to have some one in my litter that is still in the same town as I.  Lots of my litter mates have moved away.  I miss the little buggers.

Jeff and I sat, drank coffee, compared diets, sugar, no sugar, talked about our favorite homeless people–his is Kimberly, mine is Walter, aka Crazy Jose–dating, travel plans, and made plans to hit a yoga class at Laughing Lotus.

I saw the beautiful Astrud last night, with smashing hair, my God it was fantastic, and her outfit!  Christ, the girl can dress.  Bright blue jumper dress paired with canary yellow mesh shirt and a red cardigan and flat red leather sandals; paired up with her super short, sexy, newly cropped pixie in white blonde, I was blown away.

I want to be so styley!

Astrud gave me a couple of free passes to Laughing Lotus on 16th and Mission and I passed one to Jeff.  I know myself well enough to know that I won’t go unless someone is there with me.  Jeff will get me to go.  He promised to look up classes on-line, we will compare notes and then have a yoga date for some time next week.

Scared.

I don’t know why yoga scares me.  Maybe it is just the thought of adding in another thing into the mix.

Beth reminded me tonight that it’s not a bad thing to add more to the mix, just as long as it’s not work.

Good fucking point.

She also pointed out that ‘taco’ is slang for vagina.  Fish taco anyone?

Now, that makes sense, I get it, Manic-Taco at OkStupid.  But still, Manic pussy does not sound like good times to me.  It sounds like smoking meth in a porn booth down in the Polk Gulch.

Mama is going to pass on that one.

Beth also told me I am giving up too soon on OkStupid.  I did not delete my membership yet, but I have not gotten any nibbles yet for this taco.

Ahem.

Anyway.

Seeing Jeff put me in a really great mood to go into work and slay it.  I got so much done.  I was only momentarily annoyed when I got back to back designs, when I had planned on eating some dinner.  However, I had been given the distinct honor of being requested.

That was fucking cool.  And she designed one sexy bike.  In fact, Carlos, my co-worker, pointed out to her, that I was obviously happy with the bike build when the customer asked, because I did the happy dance.

I did.  It’s a nice bike.  Glossy white frame, chrome components, white rims, silver hubs, Brooks Honey leather bar tape on a white bullhorn to match the Brooks women’s honey leather B17 saddle and I got to pull out the Plemsco honey leather toe straps to pull the entire thing together.

We both did the happy dance.

It also was helpful that I did some additional writing this morning before heading out the door and into the day.  A little inventory that had to be done.  I called Carolyn, dropped it on her voice mail and was able to sail off into the sunny day, the stunning day, without a resentment in my head.

Such good relief.

All in all a really lovely day.

And I got some nice photographs.  I also popped into Cross Roads and poked around tonight after work, and although nothing jumped off the racks at me, I did happen to notice they are having a contest.

A fashion photography contest.

I do not know jack about fashion photography, but I do know I had taken some good photographs recently that might work for it.

Sure enough.

I went through the photographs I took last Thursday of Jayne Matthews and found a really divine one that I think will work for exactly what they are looking for.  She has a super cute sense of style and is quirky and adorable and sexy and I got a great shot.

I dropped her an e-mail asking if she’ll sign a model release and if so, I’m going to enter the contest.

I mean, why not?

Things are happening.

I like.

Down Time

November 4, 2011

What down time?

I popped into Mrs. Fishkin’s office today.  We are located in the same office space in the old New College building on Valencia Street.  I must say it is really nice to have friendly faces, adult faces, to interact with and engage with and get hugs from.  Oh, so very nice.

That and the realization that I did not hear any screaming today.  None.  I got to listen to adults, engage with adults, and people watch–when I had time, which was not very often.  It was pretty much go from the minute I walked in the door.  I had stuff  handed to me the moment I set foot in the shop.

I had to laugh and ask if I could just drop off my stuff in the office upstairs.  I took off my bike shoes, slipped on my nanny clogs, which shall now just be called my work clogs, and stashed my lunch and dinner in the fridge.  I also unloaded some coffee, Sight Glass of course, a box of my favorite tea, Celestial Seasonings Bengal Spice, a packet of unbleached coffee filters, my gigantic mug that Wendy bought me in Hallowell, Maine for a Christmas present four years ago (l like a big mug of tea, I do, I do), and a one cup coffee drip filter.

Then I got to work.

It was on.  I was a bit overwhelmed, the computer system, the quick books, the e-mail system, the in voicing, how to build a bike, what to look for in this build box, where to find that.  Say hello to customers, eves drop on conversations, get my bearings.  When I got the chance I brewed up a cup of coffee and dashed down the hall way upstairs to say hello to Mrs. Fishkin.  It was so good.  Makes me happy just thinking about it.

Guess what else makes me happy?

My new job.

I am going to be really good at it.  I can tell.  I am so grateful for that.  I did feel overwhelmed (at one point the General Manager was telling me to do something and I started to ask a question and I completely blanked.  I mean totally, like where am I blanked.  Oh yeah, eat your food!  Brain over load and empty stomach equals blank brain) and there is an ass load of stuff to learn and it will take me some time to get it all down.  But I can already tell that I am going to be good at the job.  And I like the people and I love the space and my friends are just down the hall and I love the location.

Although I will have to get used to a different bike commute.  I had forgotten the perils and delights of riding down Polk Street in the morning hours as well as riding around the Mission at night.  The bicycle traffic is heavy, the bar/restaurant scene was just starting to get going and it is Thursday, the happy hour was a happening.  Then again, fingers crossed, I won’t be commuting from this far away in a month.

I still have made no head way on a new place to live.  Putting in $600 into the search field on craigslist is a depressing activity.  It does not raise a lot of nibbles.  But I am sticking to my plan.  I also put the bonus money in the bank today after work and went to Rainbow for a few groceries.  I stuck one-third of the bonus right into my savings account.  Along with the ten percent that I have been directed to also put in.  I am basically tithing to myself.  It’s not much right now, but I feel better having a little buffer.  And I may very well need it for a damage deposit on whatever room I do move into.

I am fairly certain I will get the full amount back on my deposit for my current apartment, but it never seems to happen that you get back your deposit from your old place in time to put down the deposit for your new place.  I want to have that all settled out without having to negotiate.

The only draw back of the current job is that the space is cold.  Which is a nice change from doing the nanny share as the condo was always, always, always, over heated and stale.  The shop door basically opens out directly to the elements.  And boy, the temperature dropped today!  And it rained!  Fuck.  Hello winter.

Sigh.  I knew it was coming, but I was hoping for one last nice weekend.  Oh well.  I am going to have to update my rain gear.  I have “outgrown” my rain coat.  It’s an extra-large that was tight when I bought it and now it bags off me.  It’s a really nice rain coat, a North Face I dropped about $85 on, so I have been loathe to replace it, but it’s stupid big and since I got that little extra cash I think I will invest in a better fitted raincoat.

And a new sweatshirt.  I was hoping to get a Mission Bicycle Company sweatshirt, but they are out of stock.  The clothing there is a little on the boy centric side of town, hopefully having a lady about the shop will encourage some more feminine gear as well.  Especially as the girls love this bike too.

When I had a moment, and there were not a lot of them, the time really flew by, I off and on daydreamed about what my bike will look like when I get it constructed.  You know I am going to have to have one.  They are just to scrumptious.  I was thinking cream frame with a mossy green crank and soft pink and cream tires, drop bars, 11 speed internal gearing (everybody seems to think all the bikes are one speed or fixies and they’re not!  They have three speed, eight speed, eleven speed, and eighteen!), a brown leather Brooks saddle, and a messenger basket.

Or maybe….

Yeah, I’ll be getting back to that once I secure a room!  And not before.  The bike is total fantasy, I don’t need one, mine is completely fine and a good damn ride.  I also love, love, love, that I can park my bike inside.  I have had to park it outside the condo for the last year, regardless of the weather or the fact that I had various things stolen off the bike all year round.  It’s super nice to have a secure spot to keep it.  I don’t like having my bike on the street for too long, stuff happens to it.  Bicycle parts equal crack.

I do have a full brain and I did not really allot myself any down time, but I can foresee being really happy in my job and that’s exciting.  And the learning is exciting.  I learned more about computers and the internet and how to really get some work done.  I am learning skills that I can take with me everywhere.  I am super grateful for that.  And of course, I am learning about bicycles, which is also very cool.

I am looking forward to going in to work tomorrow instead of having trepidation.  That is a fucking miracle.

I will just remember to wear warmer clothing and bring a scarf!

An Honest Assessment

November 2, 2011

Which I knew I was going to balk at doing, but did anyway.

I did my spending plan for the month of November 2011 earlier today.  This meant that I sat down during nap time, screaming time (K’s still not napping, although again fell out on the couch as soon as I took her out of her sleep sack), and tallied up my numbers from October.

I spent over my budget on cabs and under on entertainment and books.  Sort of knew that was happening.  And I was pretty spot on with the rest.  That feels quite good.  In fact I was within fifteen dollars of my calculations.  I could have spent fifteen dollars more for the month.

I started tallying my numbers, basically keeping track of everything I spend, to the penny, about six years ago.  When I got into recovery I had shall we say, a wee bit of financial wreckage.

Sure, put that round on my card.  Yes, please, let’s get another gram of cocaine.  Or five.  I should really take my mom to London, she’s never been there.  Dear reader, a suggestion, never do an eight ball of cocaine and have a heart to heart with your mother from the front steps of the R Bar off of Polk and Bush while sucking down a Marlboro Light and figuring out whether or not you or your friend is going to sleep with the older sort of good-looking in a faded Mickey Rourke (bahahahaha I almost wrote Mickey Rooney) Bar Fly way.  Because the next thing you know when you get back to your home over on 22nd and Alabama and sneak in just before dawn so your room-mate doesn’t hear you, you may get on the internet and there may be a fantastic deal for a round trip ticket for two to London in your in box.

And you may think to yourself, “hey, mom’s got cancer, again, and screw going back to see her in Wisconsin, let’s fly her out and go to London”.

The next thing you know I’m in a cab headed to Hawthorne Lane (whose brilliant idea was it to put me on the opening lunch shift?) sleep deprived and still intoxicated and I suddenly have a moment of, did I do what I think I did last night when I came in.  It wasn’t sleep with the guy at the bar.

OH

FUCK

ME

That and other slightly less or more, depending on the day of the week, stories to follow of how I blew to shit my credit card balances and ended up in a whole lotta debt when I first got some recovery time.

Can you say bill collector?

It was suggested to me that I read over this book, which I just loaned out to a friend (hey friend, I hope you’re reading!), How to Get Out of Debt, Stay out of Debt, and Live Prosperously, by Jerrold Mundis.  I read it and then I re-read it.  Then I balked.

Then I got some more calls from collection agencies.

Then one day I just did everything that I was told to do.

Six years later I have not incurred any debt.  I have lived on cash only.  I have not had one single credit card.  Although I get lots of offers for them, fuckers.

Then at the end of each month I sit down and I tally up what I spent on the month.  I tend to be a bit of a pinch penny with certain things, frugal, I suppose is a nicer way of putting it.

Scarcity thinking is more likely the truth.

When I first started doing the suggested work one of the categories that I did not have and would have not thought to budget for was clothes.  I had not bought myself new underwear or socks or bras in, well, an embarrassingly long time.  Now I have an allowance.  Right now, it’s not a whole lot.  Last month it was $100.  I spent $98.45.  Not bad!

I got some socks, a nice button down shirt, and 1 cotton t-shirt.  Things I needed.  I let myself have that category.

The other thing I do is I don’t eat out very much.  I buy most of my food.  Eating out is a treat and I allow it, but I don’t eat out but maybe once every other week.  I used to eat out a lot and then wonder where the fuck all my  money was.  Now I grocery shop and I only buy healthy, predominately organic, foods.  Fuck, even my eggs are from hens that eat vegetarian feed (as well they should be!  Do you know that Rainbow started posting a spread sheet of what happens at the egg farms they procure their eggs from.  Do you want to know if your laying hens have been de-beaked?  It will tell you.).

Anyway, I leaned.  I learned where I could trim money, really, I should know better, but last month I spent twice my alloted money on cabs.  This is a splurge that I need to drop.  Completely.  I could have gone out for two extra movies or bought a pair of jeans with that money.

But, I’m learning.

That person who made the original suggestion to me to (ah,  my cat’s grooming me, too sweet.  Who doesn’t like kitten kisses?) also suggested that as a living amends I not spend more than one-quarter of what I make on rent.

What?

Do you know where I live?  I live in San Fran-fucking-cisco.

Are you smoking crack?

Maybe you should be.

Ugh.

I have had some success with this, but usually my rent falls somewhere between 1/3 and 1/2 of what I make.

This is no longer an option.  I cut down every where I could without feeling like I was depriving myself when I did my spending plan today.  I kept all my “luxury categories” entertainment, books, writing, clothes, and cafes.  Granted I winnowed them down a touch to adjust to the lowering of my income.  However, I did not delete them.

Then I looked at what I had projected for housing–$800.  And I looked at what I was going to be short on projected income versus what I had put into my plan.  I was short about $241.  I redistributed some things, knocked down my clothing a smidge, and the cafe and restaurants a tiny bit.  Then I heard her voice with that living amends thing she was talking about.

See, my bright idea toward the end of my using was that I just needed to move out of the rent controlled room I had in the Mission, $500 including all utilities, to a more expensive apartment situation, $1150 with no utilities, because then I would not spend all my extra money on cocaine.

Uh, yeah, that did not work, in case you were wondering.

I was resentful at myself for doing that.  Shocker.  So, it was suggested that I not pay more for rent then I could afford.  Hence the suggestion that only 1/4 of my income goes to rent.

I took a deep breath.  I crossed off $800.  I put down $600.  And I repeated to myself, you are being taken care of better than you can even imagine.  Just take the next action in front of you.

I believe, exuberantly, fervently, and with much love, that the perfect place is currently getting itself ready for me (and my cats!), and it will not be more than $600 a month.

Hell, it will probably be less.

My god rocks it out like that.

Scary and Exhilerating

April 29, 2011

But first really, really freaking scary.  Riding my bike home tonight was nerve-wracking.  The wind was so gusty I nearly got knocked off and almost blown into a fellow bicyclist.  I got used to a certain amount of wind when I moved up to Nob Hill, especially riding up Polk St.  there just seems to be a natural funnel that carries itself from the Bay right smack down on you.

Especially when you just want to get home.

Tonight, though, it was windy everywhere.  It was windy at work, steadily increasing throughout the day from the morning through the afternoon.  I can say this much, I got my work out in today.  K’s mom sent me a text, as I was ironically headed to the park, that she wanted me to keep the girls out of the parks and the library for the rest of the week.

Gah.  She might as well have just sent me a text that said, “resentment now.”  I immediately got into an argument with her in my head.  I literally hushed my brain out loud.  “Stop it!” Then I texted her back, “sure.”

What else could I do?  Some times I really, really, really want to argue, and I know it’s just hopeless.  K’s mom and dad are germ phobes.  I will not future trip, potty training, I will not future trip, white carpet, I will not future trip, gun holster with disinfectant spray, stop future tripping.

I was however, asked to pick up some Yo-Baby yogurt for K. at the store (aka crack). So, I was allowed outside the house.  And though it was windy, it was sunny and I need to be outside, that is truly how I keep my sanity at work.  All day indoors is a way to make nanny go kookoo for cocoa puffs.

I decided that since I wasn’t able to go to the park, but could go to the grocery store, I would do some shopping for myself too.  I walked from China Basin and third to Peasant Pie on the UCSF Mission Bay campus and fueled up on coffee.  Then, ignoring the excited pterodactyl cries from the girls as we passed by the park area, I walked over to Whole Foods on Kansas and DeHaro.  I picked up the few things I can’t get at Rainbow, whilst comparison shopping, every once in a while Whole Paycheck has something cheaper than Rainbow.  Then I headed over to Trader Joes on Division and 9th.  I also popped in and out of Bed, Bath, and Beyond and used the bathroom at Nordestrom’s Off the Rack, then I hit Brannan and walked it back down to 4th.  Where I turned right and went to the SafeWay to buy the yo-crack-baby yogurt.

K. & S. had been lulled into a somnolent haze of Cheddar Bunnies and Sunny Day Snack Bars and apples and tangerines and O’s and some scary “special” kids club treat a cashier had given us (since when are s’mores a snack option?  OR cinnamon rolls, Trader Ho’s).  They were somewhere in between resigned and sugar crashed.

And the wind kept a blowing.  So, I got the walk of a lifetime.  Briefly made me want to get one of those pedometer thingys to see how many steps I take in a day.  I wonder if it accounts for amount of effort used to push a double stroller with two toddlers, a diaper bag, groceries, cat food, water bottles, snacks, sunscreen, sun hats, scarves, sweatshirts, and collapsible shade structure in high winds?

I went out again briefly after naps, but just around campus, mainly to get a coffee.  The wind was stronger.  In fact, K’s mom suggested perhaps I not go outside at all.  Grrrrrr. Already outside.  So back to the house.  Breathing and being thankful for my job, I am grateful for my job, my job is great and my girls rock.

In fact, S. said “rock on” today.  I love my job.  She’s 17 months old.

I was, however ready to leave tonight, regardless of how strong the wind.  Although I did contemplate more than once about just strapping my bike onto the front of a bus and getting along the MUNI way, but after passing not one, but three buses on my bike in a head wind, I changed my mind.

I got to my destination.  Did what needed to be taken care of and was rewarded with walking out to unlock my bike in the midst of a drag bingo event happening at the church where my bike was locked outside of.  I was putting on my bike light and unlocking my stead, when a couple more ladies came trotting across from the SafeWay parking lot in heels and fishnets and thongs.

God I love San Francisco.

I giggled waved hello to the pretty ladies and got on my bike.  Wherein I got the exhilaration of riding down hill being pushed by the wind then cross winded, then back to head wind.  But what made my night, was that this was the fifth week in a row that I have ridden my bike all the way up California Street without stopping or walking.  And I had a load of groceries in my messenger bag, plus cat food!  I remember when I moved here and I had to get off my bike and start walking up California 1/3 of the way between Polk Street and Hyde Street.

Now I can ride all the way to the top.  That is amazing.  I feel skinnier just thinking about it!

Body by bicycle, thank you very much.

And double stroller.

God Is A Hot Shower

April 12, 2011

I could have stood under the spigot easily for another twenty minutes.  But unfortunately my friend Stephie’s voice rang in my ears about wasting water and what a precious commodity it is.  She taught me this when she saw me brushing my teeth many moons ago and I let the water run the entire time.  She reached over and turned off the water and said I was being wasteful.

I was.  I was also irritated that she corrected me, but I’ve never done it again and I’m usually pretty darn conscious of how much water I use for washing up, toilet usage, brushing my teeth, showering, etc.

But repeat, I could have stood underneath that hot shower of water for quite a while longer.  There is an inherent danger to taking showers when I’m not pressed for time.  If I take one in the morning before work I really have to make it happen.  I cannot dilly dally.  Likewise on the weekends, I’m often up and about and going and getting it done before my hair has even dried.  But on occasion I come home from work and doing the deal and have a few minutes to spare and the hot shower siren calls oh so sweetly to me.

So, now I’m all drowsy and relaxed and not quite sure where this blog is going but, I figure since I’m on the topic of God, I’ll go with it.

 

God is also

Love

Sobriety

Abstinence

Sonya snuggling into me at nap time when I sing her “Hush Little Baby”

Nap time

Sunshine

Hot coffee in the afternoon on a walk with the girls in the stroller from the friendly ladies at Peasant Pie

Rolling around in the grass giggling with the girls

Play dates with Juniper in the Mission where it ends up being Caesar Chavez day and there’s a street fair and a parade–ostentatiously all for Juniper

Going to Burning Man with Mrs. Fishkin

Being able to bicycle all the way up California St. without stopping (from the Polk Street side, still can’t do it from the other side, incline is too damn steep)

Not online dating

Sleep

Organic apples sprinkled with sea salt and pumpkin pie spice

Home made soup

My garden gnome Max

The bunny bank on my desk/kitchen table

This blog–I cannot tell you how many people have told me that they read it and follow it and look forward to reading it.  It has become such a gift I can’t begin to explain it

Writing everyday

Asking for help

Doing the deal

My rocking chair

Mom

John Ater

Pell Kennedy

Thomas, long hair, now short

Tami

Joan

Cass

Stephen

Angela

Nikki

Kris

Brian

Jennifer

Megan

Frankie and Uni

The sound of the cable car lines running and the little girl who just nervously shrieked as the operator let up on the brake and it careened down Washington St

Grace Cathedral’s carillon ringing in the 9 o’clock hour

Hot ginger tea

The tick tock of my wind up clock

The anti-freak out flowers I was given

Other people’s experience

Asking for help

Not smoking

Not eating sugar

Smiling at my own silliness

Dancing with the girls at work

Finding old pictures of June Bug and Reno on my cell phone

Laughing

Reading a good book–just finished Juliet Naked by Nick Hornsby

The breeze coming in through my window

The smell of jasmine

Poetry

House music

Oh, my I could go on…..

Being asked to play the part of Florence in the play In Our Own Words and saying yes

Going to Austin to see Liz!

My guess is that God is everything.

 

Even a colonoscopy.


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